Trusting God for Truth

My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preaches loose in the world.

So here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ — the Son of God who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person — comes from God and belongs to God. And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming. Well, here it is, sooner than we thought!

1 John 4

“And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God.” Wow.

What then do we have to boast in, or trust, after those words? Our only unity with God comes through Christ. This means that everything else — which sometimes feels like everything in it self — that I am trusting must be dropped; it does not correspond with trusting God alone. God is the only thing I need without question, and if I am treasuring anything else as an absolute need I am disagreeing with God’s diagnosis of my heart. I am trying to love idols and God at once.

Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.

I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the rock, his ways are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

They are corrupt and not his children; to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation. Is this the way you repay the LORD, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the people according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.

In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. The LORD alone led him, no foreign god was with him.

He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, with curds and milk from the herd and flock and with fatted lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the foaming blood of the grape.

Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; filled with food they became heavy and sleek. They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock their Savior. They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God — gods they had not know, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear. You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.

The LORD saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding. For a fire will be kindled by my wrath, one that burns down to the realm of the dead below. It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains.

“I will heap calamities on them and send my arrows against them. I will send wasting famine against them, consuming pestilence and deadly plague; I will send against them the fangs of wild beasts, the venom of vipers that glide in the dust. In the street the sword will make them childless; in their homes terror will reign. The young men and young women will perish, the infants and those with gray hair. I said I would scatter them and erase their name from human memory, but I dreaded the taunt of the enemy, lest the adversary misunderstand and say, ‘Our hand has triumphed; the LORD has not done all this.'”

They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them. If only they were wise and could understand this and discern what their end will be! How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up? For their Rock is not like our Rock, as even our enemies concede. Their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah. Their grapes are filled with poison and their clusters with bitterness. Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras.

“Have I not kept this in reserve and sealed it in my vaults? It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”

The LORD will vindicate his people and relent concerning his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free. He will say: “Now where are their gods, the rock they took refuge in, the gods who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up to help you! Let them give you shelter!

“See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear: As surely as I live forever, when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take judgment on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh: the blood of the slain and the captives, the heads of the enemy leaders.”

Rejoice, you nations with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.

Moses came to Joshua son of Nun and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people. When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you — they are your life. By them you can live long in the land you are crossng the Jordan to possess.

On that same day the LORD told Moses, “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. Their on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. Therefore you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.”

Deuteronomy 32

The Legend of His Love

My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don’t waver. Stay on track, steady in God.

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them to see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious — the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Philippians 4:1, 4-9

So what is loving God anyway? In my last post I alluded to the fact that love for God grows, as we sow seeds of God-knowledge gleaned from God’s Word in the fertile soil of an open heart.

If that sounded like I am posing as some kind of expert, then read on; that perception will be diffused by by the fact that at my best I have more questions than answers, more confusion than logic. But, getting more of Christ integrated in my heart is worth all of that. The more questions I ask, the more He is able to raise my estimation of His love. I want to be more committed to being open to Him, that He may be exalted, than holding onto knowledge, that I would rather flaunt for my own exaltation.

It’s so crazy though, this is not me! I don’t care about what does not begin or end with me. And God never abides by this standard. In fact, He’s not even on the same page with me on this. (On second thought, I guess it’s kind of foolish to even imply that we’re even sharing the same book!)

My¬† spirit wants what my flesh can never sympathize with. Up to this point I have mostly described my flesh — the lowly, self-central orientation and ambition that reflects the ever-present reality of my sin. My flesh is in absolute opposition to Christ and His gospel. But, the more the life of the spirit takes over me, the less I am controlled by the flesh, and the more I am aware of the dangers of being submitted to its ways.

Check out this awesome description from Titus 3:3-8 of the difference between living in the flesh and living in the spirit.

It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come — an eternity of life! You can count on this.

Life by the flesh is according to sin, demonstrating our enmity with God, while life by the spirit is according to the Holy Spirit, demonstrating the extreme grace of God. Think about it, who are we to deserve this type of internal change? This power and love that uncovers and exposes our sin is the only thing that can free our hearts from the trouble and captivity to evil that we know in this world.

I think that God meant His love to mean more than we ever expect. It accomplishes what nothing else in all time or creation could: it coverts and comforts the heart of man like nothing else can even falsify. It’s meant to intrude on the full-expression of our sin so that the full-expression of love — how we are really meant to live (knowing the best of life; it’s absolute abundance) — can take over and re-direct us.

If you think about it, the love of God is like a legend. The kind of legend that is the key to a map. We read the map to learn where we are and how to get to where we want to be, but without the legend the information we’re supposed to get from the map cannot be accurately translated. The same is with God’s Word; unless we get love — which is the very nature of God — we will not be able to perceive what He is doing, or why, with any veracity.

So, let us pay close attention to the legend. His love is better than life; for, without love — and nothing less than the perfect love of God — all else in life is empty. Let this be our prayer if we want more life, more love, more God in Christ Jesus:

God — you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.

So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; my arms wave like banners of praise to you.

I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy; I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises! If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold onto you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.

Those who are out to get me are marked for doom, marked for death, bound for hell. They’ll die violent deaths; jackals will tear them limb from limb. But the king is glad in God; his true friends spread the joy, while small-minded gossips are gagged for good.

Psalm 63