Philippians 3:10-11 My goal is to know him, and the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead
I’ve read and commented on, preached, memorized, and shared these verses more times than I can recall. These verses have been a driving force for my life. I understandably have paid a lot of attention to the process – i.e. to know the power of the resurrection, I must walk in the path of suffering and death.
But this morning, the living active word of God got my attention with something fresh. Most translations begin v10 “that I may …” but the CSB renders that phrase, “my goal is…”
There is a “that” or “so that” behind all that we experience in Christ, so that in the work of God, there is always a goal to be achieved. So, I like this wording, so I backed up behind and then looked after. Paul is giving a personal testimony, before. He talks of his upbringing in the Hebrew faith, his education and training as a Pharisee, but then he shifts in vv8-9 and says, “I have suffered … loss of everything”.
But NOW, I have always seen this as “the resurrection” and “The suffering” and “The death”, all leading to The Power of the Resurrection. But Paul says in v11, that his assumption is that He will BE resurrected, at the end… and he says, “I haven’t already gotten that”. But – “forgetting the past… reaching forward… I pursue the prize promised”.
So what is the GOAL?
Power? Suffering? Death?
NO… Look back at the common denominator… “that I may know… my goal is to know”
Yes, I have a righteousness by faith, and I am positioned IN Christ, BUT I want, right now, to know HIM. the power of HIS resurrection… the fellowship of HIS sufferings… conformed to HIS death… Not just at the end, but TODAY… NOW
Jesus, I received you, and I know you, but I need to KNOW YOU MORE.
So, v7 everything that was a GAIN… all good stuff, but it is nothing, it is of no credit, other than and only that it brings me to and reveals Christ to me.
He is the Answer
He is who I seek
He is my Hope
I want to KNOW – ginosko – not head knowledge but experiential knowledge. Literally it translates here, “to come to know by experience” It is the fullness of knowledge
Oh, some people or things you experience and move on – been there, done that, got the hat. But Jesus, I don’t want to be satisfied in knowing a similar power, or a similar suffering, or a similar death, I want to know YOURS. I want ot know YOU
When you think you’ve learned it all you draw near and realize, I’m only just beginning to see a dim reflection – I want to know Christ MORE.
Is it tough? Yep. Is it painful? Sometimes. Is it beyond value? ABSOLUETLY
My Goal should not be a “divine experience”. My Goal is to KNOW JESUS by Experience, to participate jointly with him and his work, for his glory. He IS the goal, and everything else simply fades away as nothing more than a vehicle toward knowing Christ.
v15 Therefore, let all of us who are mature think this way. If you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you.
Jeremiah 1:8 says, “do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to rescue you. This is the Lord’s Declaration.
Fear – seems like I have spent a good portion of my ministry talking about fear or the lack thereof. I talk with people about following the plans of God, or dealing with conflict, or addressing a challenge, and the response often begins, “Oh, I’m afraid that ______________”.
I’ve come to the conclusion that fear is based on lies we believe most of the time. We believe, “I can’t”, “I’m alone”, “No one knows”, or “No one cares.”.
Notice in Jeremiah 1; this is the call of Jeremiah. When God calls, the evil one, the Father of Lies, knows that God is at work, that God’s Word is true, and so he comes against us with lies.
Jeremiah 1:4 – the word of the Lord came to me…
Here is truth. Here is an unthwartable plan. v5 I chose you before I formed you in the womb. I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
I appreciate the honesty in Jeremiah’s testimony here. “But I protested” – Can’t you hear the great liar whispering into Jeremiah’s ear? “Oh no Lord God!” satan always calls into question the Word of God and the Goodness of God… always… that’s how he got 1/3 of the angels to abandon heaven. It’s how he got Adam and Eve to Fall, and I guess first Lucifer, the lead worshiper in Heaven, had to lie to himself. He lied that God wasn’t good and his Word, his Plans, weren’t right and so he purposed in his heart to rebel. So, here Jeremiah, “Oh no Lord… Look…” Have you ever tried to correct God’s understanding of a situation? Or is that just me and Jeremiah? “Look…” and here come the lies. “I don’t know how to speak since I am ONLY a youth.” The lies are “I’m uninformed”, “I am unable.”
v7 “Then the Lord said to me: do NOT say, ‘I’m only a youth.’” – Do not lie to yourself and say, “I can’t because I’m only________________ anything.” You are exactly who God made you to be and if he is calling, and you are where you are supposed to be, or are going where you should go, then you ARE able or you will be enabled.
Do not say, I’m only….for you will go to everyone I send… and speak whatever I tell you
The reason we need not fear is because wherever God leads he always proceeds. He has already cleared the way, opened the door. So, say what he says to whom he sends. Because, where he leads he proceeds, where he guides he provides, so do not be afraid of anyone.
My Father never directly quoted this verse to me, but he lived it and taught it as he lived. He was fearless. He taught me to be fearless when I was in the plan of God. I’ve done my best and been successful, I believe, in passing that down to my sons.
do not be afraid… FOR 1)I will be with you – We are never alone, and 2) to rescue you. Someone cares, someone knows, someone is able, and if needed, He is my rescue, so do not be afraid
v9 – the Lord reached out… touched my mouth and told me… Listen, I’m a firm believer in hard work and preparation, but we will never do that alone. If God is calling, he will touch you, has touched you, in the exact realm where he will use you. I have filled your mouth with words… The best way to get rid of bad water in a fixed container is to fill it with good water until all the bad has flowed out. If I want to empty myself of MY words and wisdom, I must let God fill my heart, my head, my mouth with HIS Words.
And then God comes again with the fear eliminating word, “See” – ra’ah = access, become aware, consider – I have appointed you today – That word “appointed” = to root and tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build and to plant
God has a plan – He has called you, he has charged you, he has commissioned you, he has conditioned you – So GO, without fear. You CAN, you Know How, God Loves you, You are NOT ALONE!
Do not be afraid of anyone, anything, anywhere, anytime.
If God is for us, tell me who can be against us
Isaiah 51:16 (CSB) — 16 I have put my words in your mouth, and covered you in the shadow of my hand, in order to plant the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, “You are my people.”
Every year when I go to the SBC Annual meeting, I come home and report to our body, then I bring a short message that resonates in my heart from the week’s meeting. Sometimes it is a passage that was preached, or a topic / issue. This year it was an Old Testament passage resonating in my head while I ruminated on the issues and joys before us.
You can go to our FACEBOOK page if you want the full message at First Baptist Ferguson. I will just include here the text of the message part of my report. Yes, I reported on the Sexual Abuse Task Force, and the new Unity Initiative that is beginning. But I also reported record years of giving and ministry to and from the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board. To the ends of the earth is what we do as Great Commission Baptists.
But we are facing a critical moment in the future and so the words of Deuteronomy 30:11-20 were ringing through my head – “I place before Life and Death, Blessing and Curses, and I tell you to CHOOSE LIFE”
Here is my message:
So… we are on the ground in Orange County at John Wayne International, and the pilot comes on in that “pilot voice” and says, “well folks, we are going to take off hard and fast, we are going to climb quickly, but don’t worry, we are going to level off at 30,000 feet, and then we are going to back the speed off a little and settle in slower.”
Well, I’m thinking, “I’m all for leveling off, because I don’t want to end up in outer space, but IF you CAN fly faster, do it. We are 15 minutes late taking off, so get it! What are you worried about, getting pulled over?” “We are late, so let’s go. I know YOU don’t have to be there, you are just flying, but WE got places to be. Are you worried that an air force cop is going to pull you over in his F-22?”
Can’t you see him pulling out from behind a cloud, lights flashing; and your American Pilot is like, “aww man…” and they pull him over, hast to land in a cornfield in Iowa, and it messes up everything, kills the schedule. So, yeah, “we got to back it off, might get a ticket”
I’m also mindful today that it is Juneteenth – President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, made an executive order, that all persons held as slaves (within the rebellious areas) are and henceforward shall be free – But people were still fighting the battle, and some parts of the south didn’t even get notice. But it wasn’t until 17 months later on June 19th, 1865, that General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas and declared:
“the people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the Unity States, all slaves are free…
Our job is to proclaim freedom. That’s why Jesus came, that’s why he died and rose again.
Sadly, while we addressed the revelation of sexual abuse and continued efforts to address the need for unity and reconciliation in ethnic disparity in society and the church, there was still a minority that want to decry those efforts. And the question comes, “why are some people opposed to dealing with abuse and racial injustice, why?”
And my response is “Why? Why? The Answer to ‘why?’ is NOT hard to determine, but the bigger question is HOW can this BE among God’s people?”
Failure to love and care for people is not the WAY of the people of God
I John 3:10-16 is very clear. This is how we know what love is, Jesus laid down his life. It teaches that we know who the followers of Christ are. If we are born from above, we will love. If we don’t love, we either don’t know Jesus or we are betraying that knowledge. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 says that we are to be purveyors of Reconciliation.
So, I’m not going to preach a long message, but look with me at an Old Testament message from Moses at the end of his ministry.
Deuteronomy 30:11–20 (CSB) — 11“This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach. 12It is not in heaven so that you have to ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ 13And it is not across the sea so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ 14But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it. 15See, today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16For I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live and multiply, and the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17But if your heart turns away and you do not listen and you are led astray to bow in worship to other gods and serve them, 18I tell you today that you will certainly perish and will not prolong your days in the land you are entering to possess across the Jordan. 19I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20love the Lord your God, obey him, and remain faithful to him. For he is your life, and he will prolong your days as you live in the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Just an outline, it’s so clear that I don’t have the time nor the need to break it down.
So, as we close write these points down: The Way to Blessing, the Commands of God:
It Is Not CONCEALED v16
It’s not hidden or hard to understand
Not difficult… not beyond your reach
This is NOT advanced stuff… this is Kindergarten stuff
It is CLOSE… you can say it, it’s right in your mouth, I don’t have to teach you, I don’t have to give it to you, just remind you.
It is in your heart… it is part of our DNA as the people of God
It is a COMMAND
The Hebrew word is tsavah = to lay a charge upon, command, order, appoint
This is what God is laying on us, FBCF, Great Commission Baptists
It is CLEAR
Love God – our love for God drives our actions for him, or they will not continue
Walk In His Ways – that’s the Hebrew word halak = to go, come, accompany, – his ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts, God is not waiting for us to tell him where we are going – God is GOING and he wants us to accompany HIM.
Keep his commands – keep – means we are to observe and act according to what he says. We must allow his commands to direct our steps
Proverbs 6:23 (CSB) — 23For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life.
So, it is not concealed, it is a clear command, but then notice
It is CONDITIONAL
So that – if you then you… if you then I … this is conditional God is wanting to lead us somewhere, but we have to maintain the conditions. Oh but IF we love God and walk in his ways, and keep his commands… then we…
May live … chayah = live, alive, come alive – HIS WAYS ARE LIFE – 1 John 5:3 says that his ways are NOT a burden – no he is saying this is LIFE – this is a way for the person, the church, a convention to have LIFE
And Multiply – Hello Church growth experts – we don’t so much to have to run all over, looking for it. It’s right here, it’s in your mouth, in your heart, so it’s in your head – Love God, Walk in his Ways, Keep his Commands, and you will be alive, and then rabah = abundance, become many, enlarge, multiply – and then…
The Lord will bless you in the land –
But then notice, this is Two-Way Conditional promise.
If your Heart Turns away – i.e. if you love yourself, love your preferences, love your style instead of God’s ways – yes even Baptists have idols
(if) you do not Listen – oh yes you heard, but did you LISTEN – shama = give earnest hearing
If you are led astray to worship other gods – oh so many things we worship instead of God – styles, traditions, politicians, whatever you call it… there is only ONE to worship
If … Then v18
You will certainly perish, and will not prolong your days in the land
The Call / The Choice v19
I call heaven and earth as witness… I have set before you
Life and death
Blessing and curses
This is Life and Blessing
Or Death and Curses
God isn’t wanting to argue with us, he’s just offering us a choice – what do you want in? But I’m urging you,
Choose LIFE – LIVE – this is a generational offer, you and your children
The choice is always there
And we might want to stop right there but what kind of song would that be?
The Coda –
Doug, come to the Piano for me – Doug knows what a Coda is. A “Coda” in Music, is the concluding passage or movement, typically forms an additional theme or structure – It’s like the vamp, the tag, the outro.
So, in the Beatles song, “Hey Jude”, The song just has 3 basic chords, in the key of F. Doug play and “F”, that’s the Tonic – Home
And then a “C” – that’s the Dominant, the V
And now a “Bb” – that’s the Sub-Dominat, the IV
That’s most of the Song.
Don’t make it (C)Bad, Take a (Bb)Sad song
And make it (F)Better. Re-(Bb)member to
Let her into your (F)heart, And you can (C)start to
Make it (F) Better
And the song is 3 minutes long verses and chorus
Basically F, C, Bb – I – V – IV – with some walking chords between in the chorus.
But then comes the CODA – that Circle with a Cross in the Middle (oh I could preach that for a minute.
Sometimes the Coda is a short ending tag, a slight variation with something added to the structure. But in “Hey Jude” Paul Plays the I (F)… and then he plays a bVII (Eb) followed by the IV(Bb) and he goes on for 4 minutes
Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na
Na, Na, Na, Na – Hey Jude
Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na
Na, Na, Na, Na – Hey Jude
And so here is his Coda – Moses says
Love the Lord your God, Obey Him, Remain Faithful To Him…
Ok, we know these chords…
“hey Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad song, and make it better… Remember to let her under your skin, then you begin to make it … Better … Better… Better… Better… Better
Love the Lord your God, Obey Him, Remain Faithful to Him
Here is where the Coda Changes to the bVII
For He is your LIFE
He will prolong your days
As you live in the Land
Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na
Na, Na, Na, Na –
He is your life
He will prolong your days
He will give you life in the land
This is True for the SBC
This is True for First Ferguson
This is true for the people who live in your House too
There is A CHOICE for us… Life and Blessing, or Death and Curses … HE IS YOUR LIFE… CHOOSE Will he be Your Life?
Job 42 – Whew… what a story… and if you have read about his “friends” Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar (sound like Tolkien characters) they thought they knew a lot, but weren’t really great friends. A lot to be said for just sitting quietly with your friend in misery. But bottom line is Job was blameless, more was happening in his life than any of them knew. They were faithless, faulty in their understanding of God, and Job could have written them off, as could have God, but instead, God was at work and invited Job into the story regarding his friends.
v10 says After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and doubled his previous possessions.
So, let’s back up and take a run at this in the way my mind wrapped around it in my devotion today –
there are several things I see, in that the prayer for Job’s friends was antecedent to the blessing for them and for Job himself. And that says that care, concern, and compassion was antecedent to the prayer, and finally antecedent to all of THAT was his knowledge of God
v2 I know you can do anything – stop for a minute, if God is Sovereign over all, then he can do anything he deems is right, holy, just, and proper. But, the idea that he MUST, from our human understanding, is faulty. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, so we cannot fully understand, so we cannot dictate to Him anything. But, he CAN do anything that does not violate his Sovereignty, Holiness, and Righteousness. And if he CAN do anything, then…
no plan can be thwarted – batsar = to cut off, make inaccessible, enclose, impossible – Not MY plans, but HIS plans. So, first, they must be FROM him, and FOR him, and BY him. If God plans it… it will happen. We sometimes ask, “why didn’t God _______, and I have to answer 1) We did Not Ask – you have not because you ask not 2) Our Sin got in the way 3) It is not in God’s plans, because God WILL do what he purposes to do, but he may do it with someone else if it is his plan, but we don’t want in or our actions disqualify us. v3 says who is this who conceals my counsel with ignorance? Job 38:2 says who… obscures my counsel with ignorant words – Oh, how often we are in the way because of what we say. No plan of his can be THWARTED – I love that old style word. Matthew 29:26 says with God all things are possible. Genesis 18:14 says Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the appointed time, I will come. Nothing is impossible for God, so it must be HIS WILL, and then in HIS TIME. At the appointed time.
v3 Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wondrous for me to know – “wondrous” – pala = surpassingly extraordinary – My yes, so often we bring our ordinary understanding to the EXTRA-Ordinary things of God and wonder why it doesn’t go our way. We act wrongly, we pray wrongly, and we respond wrongly. – “I’m sorry, Lord… I’m ignorant of this stuff… it is beyond my ability to even know.”
Now, understand Job got here by engaging God. He wrestled with what he knew. He wrestled with God. And he listened and learned
v4 you said, “listen now, and I will speak, when I question you, you will inform me?” We often want to question God, but we aren’t willing to be still and listen as he question us. In a previous chapter God says “brace yourself like a man and I will answer you” Oh we think we are so grown, and we question God, but are we grown enough to take the answer?
v5 I heard reports about you…” Other testimonies about God are good, but we need firsthand knowledge
“but now” – do you have some “But Now” realizations about God? Have you engaged him?
“now my eyes have seen you…” To See we have to be seeking. To see, we have to be looking. To see and understand, we must be willing. Psalm 123:1 I will lift my eyes to you like a servant on his master’s hand… eyes on the Lord until he shows favor
v6 “therefore I reject MY words and I am SORRY for them” – I have to exchagne my plans for his, my knowledge for his, my desires for his, my hope for HIM. He IS my HOPE. Don’t focus on having something, focus on having HIM.
Empathy and Identification
Now I don’t believe we can receive or obtain salvation FOR someone else, but there is plenty of scripture where intercession FOR people has caused God to stay his temporary judgment because of the empathetic identification and Intercession of a faithful one for another.
The Lord tells these three faithless friends, who have given false testimony about Job and about God, to now “ASK JOB” to intercede for them. So, they went to Job, humbled themselves, and Job felt it. He empathized with them, and he interceded for them. I believe some places don’t have God’s blessing because 1) people rejected God who didn’t know God 2) the people of God did not pray for them and intercede for them.
v8 my servant Job will pray for them… the people of God, serving God, will pray FOR people who do not know, do not believe, because that IS the heart of God. God’s heart beats for intercession, for reconciliation. That is the response of a grateful heart, gratitude for what God has done for US, we intercede for someone else.
v9 “and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer”. What will happen if WE, the servants of God, will pray for the faithless people who are our neighbors and friends
v10 “after Job prayed… the Lord restored… v12 the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first – OH my, will God make us twice as wealthy? Oh I don’t know, but that’s not the point. I don’ t know about in this short lifespan, but my eyes are on eternity. This lifespan is only the beginning. And I know that Ecclesiastes 7:8 the end of a matter is better than the beginning. I know, with Job, that My Redeemer lives and will stand again on this earth and so I know that one day, for eternity, the last part of my life will be blessed more than the first!
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 (CSB) — 16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Faithful folks, pray for your neighborhood and your community. Take everything you’ve experienced and learned about God, let it drive you to pray for your neighbors, your naysayers, you “no-way” people, that they may see the way, and be reconciled to God. And even if not, know that the Lord’s blessing for you at the end is better than at the first!
Several years ago, living in USA military community in Germany, I was invited to participate in physical training (PT) with the Chaplain Corp of the army. So all the chaplains and assistants, commissioned and non-commissioned. The Command chaplain gave me my own PT uniform. Shorts and a T-shirt – he didn’t give me socks. They had just changed from light color to black. So I wore Black Socks. I was the only one, in about 50 with Black Socks. I was “out of uniform”. And everyone was asking, “who’s the guy in black socks?” They all wanted to be able to wear black socks but couldn’t
Philippians 2:12 Paul doesn’t say “work it in” but “work it out.” Jesus told us we are a City on a hill that can’t be hidden, a light meant to be visible, not covered. Then in v13 Paul continues, God is working IN us to both will and do what pleases him. I know some days we don’t WANT to “work it out”, but keep it in, yet God in You, the Holy Spirit, in the will of the Father, with the message of the Son’s Gospel, makes you WANT to, and creates the opportunity while giving the power to work it OUT.
Then Paul tells us HOW to work it out.
V14 – cut out the grumbling and arguing … Hello Somebody, Hello Church.
V15 Why? So you may be blameless, pure, and faultless.
The challenge for the church of Jesus Christ is great and we need not make it worse by ruining our reputation with our grumbling and arguing. Paul reminds that we are in the midst of a crooked and perverted Generation, and we need to be different in the best ways. Oh my have you read “Christians” on social media, come on. We are to SHINE like STARS
V16 “BY”… see here is the thing. The people of God WILL stand out… we ARE different… One BLACK Sock in a sea of WHITE will stand out. The Question is “by what will we be known?”
Will they say, “there are those people of God, always complaining about something, always fighting with someone”. Is that how we are to be known? No
V16 “by holding firm to the word of life” – what is the word of life? John 1.4 “in him (Jesus) was life and that life was the light of men 5 that light shines in the darkness and yet the darkness did not overcome it.”
If we would be known for being people that shine light, offer life, give hope in the darkness, oh my if only that is what we were known for. Love where there is no love, life where there is no life, hope where there is no hope.
I don’t have to argue with darkness just shine light. I don’t have to put down darkness, make fun of darkness, just shine the light.
And if I give my life to be a pure, faultless, blameless giver of light, then I, like Paul, v17 “I am glad and rejoice” why because it was an act of worship on the altar of God, a gift of life to a dying world. And Paul closes as do I v18 “and you should also be glad and rejoice with me.”
By the way, a few weeks after my PT with the chaplain corp the army changed the “uniform” to black socks to match the rest of the uni and I was then known jokingly as the “civilian pastor who got our socks changed.”
In my daily reading I was directed to John 2:17 – The disciples saw Jesus turn over the tables in the Temple and they quoted David’s Psalm 69 and noted “zeal for your house will consume me” – It’s nice that they noticed that, but they missed the point of Psalm 69. I turned there, and just walked through it. For me the focus of Psalm 69 is that service to God is hard, people don’t like it, and what do we do in the midst of that kind of trouble?
Walk through it with me
v1 Save Me, God – (well that’s certainly always a good place to start)
v2 I have sunk in the deep mud and there is not footing. I have come into deep water and a flood sweeps over me – (Been there? OH we are just getting started)
v3 I’m weary from crying, my throat is parched (why? from crying out to God) My eyes fail, looking for God (Oh my, you ever been looking for God so long, you can’t see anything?)
v4 those who hate me without cause are… numerous… enemies… are powerful
v5 God you know my foolishness (most everyone else does too)
v6 do not let those who put their hope in you be disgraced because of me… Lord of Armies (oh know who you are praying to. David is praying for himself, but he is in a battle inside and out, and so he prays to the Commander of the Armies of the Lord)
v7 I have endured insults because of you(not an accusation just a statement of reality, all been there)
v8 I’ve become a stranger to my brothers (serving is a lonely place)
v9 (here it is from John 2:17) Zeal for your house has consumed me the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me (oh the Lord’s house is a great place to be, and defending her can be a blessing and a curse)
v10 I have mourned and fasted (isn’t that what I’m supposed to do) but it brought insults (even doing the right thing can bring attacks
v11 sackcloth… and I was a joke (whew)
v12 those who sit at the city gate talk about me and drunkards make up songs about me – (wow, if this wasn’t serious it would be hilariously funny – I’m just serving and I’m becoming a city joke)
v13 But, as for me, LORD (he is STILL Lord, in the midst of it all) my prayer is for a time of favor… abundant faithful love, God, Answer me with sure salvation (Oh now we are getting somewhere, Lord just give me a little glimmer of favor, love, and an answer, but the answer I seek is CERTAIN SALVATION)
v14 (he calls back to the problem of vv2) Rescue me from the Mud… From the Deep water
v15 don’t let the floodwaters sweep over me (I wonder if Isaiah was thinking of Psalm 69 when God spoke in Isaiah 42:2,3 “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and the rivers will not overwhelm you… For I am the Lord your God”
v16 Answer me… for your unfailing love is GOOD (Oh we must know that God’s answers and provision are about HIS Goodness, and His Love for us, but that should still make us feel not entitled, but overwhelmed with gratitude and confidence that he would love me)
v17-28 – these verses are basically a series of verses that can be summed up “let justice roll…”
v29 but for me… let salvation protect me (oh man if I would just trust that the Salvation and Deliverance of God will take care of all things and tip the scales and all we have no comparison to the joy that waits for us… So)
v30 I will Praise God’s namewith song and exalt him with thanksgiving (if we can let praise be lifted, sing in our challenges, praise in our problems
v31 that will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with horns and hooves (the greatest worship we give God is to praise him in the midst of distress, challenge, struggle, service)
See my title People, Person, and Praise – The People of God (zeal for the house of the Lord) in the Place that bears his name, will be the object of our service zeal. They will also get us through the mud, mire, deep waters, give us a place to stand when we can’t feel the bottom
The Person – Jesus – who is our Hope and Salvation will come, will judge, will provide – I will set my hope on HIM, not for the things I want or even need, but HIM – He is our hope, our light, our song
So let the Praises RISE
Let the Praises Tell the Humble who will hear, let them see and they will rejoice and take heart as they seek God – somebody is looking somebody wants to know v32
v33 For the Lord listens to the Needy and does not despise his own who are prisoners (sometimes we are imprisoned by the very call we are in, but he will set us free in due time)
v34 let Heaven and Earth praise him
v35 For God will save Zion (Zion is the place that bears his name. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Church is the building he is building, he will save the people and the place where his name dwells)
v36 The descendants…will inherit it and those who love his name will live in it!
Yes You Lord… from the miry mud to the streets of gold
I will trust in you
I will wait for you
I will hope in you
FOR YOU are Faithful, YOU are Good
Oh do you see the common denominator in the People, Person, Praise – YOU LORD – Make it about Jesus, Make it FOR Jesus, and Jesus will be enough, the answer, and our Inheritance
I know it’s hard today servant of God, but oh Jesus is enough
Revelation 7:10-11 BECAUSE YOU have kept my command to endure, I Will also keep you from the hour of testing… I AM COMING SOON. Hold on to what you have so that no one takes your crown
In the letters to the churches in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, he always begins with a name that states his right to speak, then an assessment, a conclusion of challenge, and an expectation, “let anyone who has ears listen”. To the church of brotherly love, Philadelphia, beginning in v7 he identifies himself as The Holy One, the True one, the One who has the Key of David (Authority) to open and close doors definitively, decisively, then, I place before you an open door that no one can close…
He says in v8, you have little power… YET… Oh I love the conjunctions of God. Yet. Listen, don’t pray for tasks that equal your power, but for power equal to the tasks, because, you have little power. YET, remember Paul said that God chooses the weak to confound the strong… So, when he says you have little power, it isn’t a “diss” but it’s not a call to get stronger, but it’s just a statement of reality, that God has opened a door of opportunity that we cannot open.
Why? v8, You have kept my word, you have not denied my name… We often close our doors of opportunity because we won’t stay the course, and stay with The True One. When we do not stay with him, we become liars and make him appear to be a liar. He is calling, Keep my word… keep to my name… Our Relationship is important. V9 those who claim a relationship, but don’t have it are in fact satan worshippers.
Yet, in the midst of a lying generation – lying about the authority of God, lying about the nature of God, lying about the coming of God… We have held to his word. That is, our actions as obedient followers are true to his name and his word. In our expectation, believing that he is coming, in our surrender, knowing he is God, Good, and Gracious, we have NOT denied him, but instead freely confessed him. So…
Because… there ARE Conditional Promises – Except a man be born again… no one comes to the Father BUT BY ME… So because, in spite of little strength, we have kept to his word, name, commands, it is not saying we are perfect, or even “good”. But notice the command was to endure – hypomone = a remaining behind, a patient enduring, steadfast, perseverance. Oh, I like that picture, remaining behind, enduring. He doesn’t say “keep up with me”, he says “keep coming AFTER / BEHIND me.” Keep coming child of God. I can’t always “keep up”, but I can get up and Keep Coming.
Because you have kept (guarded, watched – tereo) …I will ALSO KEEP… Oh we could talk about what we THINK this means, and there is a time and a place for that eschatological discussion, but for NOW… know this, God always KEEPS MORE for us, gives more TO us, than he asks from us. And so here he says I will ALSO KEEP you from the hour of testing. Oh, I certainly have what I believe this means in the short term of a 7-year period… but ultimately those who endure, who keep going, will find that what we have endured is nothing in comparison to what he has kept us FROM because we obeyed him. What we have endured is nothing compared to the joy set before us, what he has prepared for us… and then just know this…
I Am Coming Soon
The world is hard, just like he said it would be in John 16:33 I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world, but Be Courageous! I have conquered the world. Jesus is not GOING TO Win, he has ALREADY WON, he just hasn’t come to complete the transaction yet.
So, Hold On to what you have, so that no one takes your crown. Oh they can’t steal your salvation, they can’t steal what’s in my heart, but they may try to steal my hat. They might take my opportunity to be a pillar in the Temple of God, my place of honor and recognition. What do you have? Faith, Courage, Strength in Suffering, and a stephanos – Crown of victory, medal of valor if you will. But I am mindful of Hebrews 10:37-39 – we are not of those who shrink back…
Jesus is Coming Soon – “coming “- erchomai = to arrive, to be center stage, – “Soon”= quick, swift, faster. Certainly, he is coming sooner than yesterday, but when he comes, it will be swift, quick, fast so
He is Coming, and he has more for you, than you have given him, so much more than we could ever imagine.
An hour is coming, and has come when each of you will be scattered. I have told you these things so that IN ME you will have peace. You WILL have suffering in this world. BE COURAGEOUS. I have conquered the world
Jesus said, “Oh NOW you believe.” How often we make little steps out of “belief” and into faith. God shows us the same thing he’s BEEN showing us for months, or years, and we finally GET IT, or at least part of it; our eyes are opened and God says, “now you see.”
“Now You Believe” – so just go on with your revelation? No… this revelation is for the hard stuff still to come. “an hour is coming, and HAS come” You GOT THIS. It is IN the struggle that we are forced into the Master’s presence. At the Master’s feet, or on our backs, knocked down by life, we focus on his voice and his message and v30 says “by THIS we believe”. How many hard things have happened that were the vehicle that moved you OUT of “self-competency” and INTO faith in God? And this new knowledge / revelation, is FOR THIS HOUR
An hour is coming and has come
There is something coming and we are now at the threshold and the increased knowledge and faith you have received is what will get you through the next chapter to come.
You will be scattered i.e. “you ain’t seen nothing yet”.
The enemy is riled up too… you will FEEL alone. But if we are on the obedient, God-honoring, Spirit empowered mission, you are NOT ALONE, never alone, “because the Father is with me”. Jesus understood what we must, that we will never be alone in the plan and purposes of God. So he says, “now that you believe… let me tell you why I revealed this… What’s God saying today? Believe and Go
So that – those are some of my favorite words in scripture – God is always a SO THAT God, not a SO WHAT, God.
So that you may have PEACE – Eirene = welfare, peace, be undisturbed
God’s revelation comes not for your permission, not even for your embrace… but that you might not be disturbed by the struggle, but have PEACE, not in the information, because peace comes not from the information but is a gift of the Holy Spirit
I’ve written in line with this theme many times, but as we advance toward Resurrection Sunday, I was reading Romans 6 again this week.
v5 For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection
Paul talks much in his writings about what is coming for those of us who believe. Ephesians 1 comes to mind that the power of the resurrection is for us who believe or toward us who believe. Chapter 2 tells us we are seated with him in heavenly places. Paul says in Philippians 3 that he will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.
We like the concept of what we WILL BE. Amazingly often even self-proclaimed atheists will speak of deceased family members as “looking down on us.” I heard a prominent sports figure this week talk about his Father as “looking down and watching”. But this person is an atheist, yet we like the concept of a better world to come.
But Paul says IF…
Some folks don’t like conditional statements, but you can’t get around it. You can’t fly, unless you are in an airplane. You can’t breathe underwater, unless you have scuba gear. Conditional is part of our life.
We certainly want the likeness of the resurrection, but it doesn’t come by accident, it comes as we are united with his death
if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death
Paul says in Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection… Oh it would be great to stop there, but he continues …and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death…
Everybody wants the resurrection, but not everybody wants to die. So then, two things must happen. TWO? Yes TWO. “But I only see one pastor, united with him in death. Yes, I must die to self, surrender in faith to the work of Christ, and be united with his death, but THAT WORD, alludes to more.
“united”– symphytoi = united. But the primary definition of that word is congenital. Oh, do you see it taking shape? You know that word right? It means a disease or physical abnormality present from birth; a particular trait from birth. Do you see it? We, because of Adam, have a congenital disease called “sin”, which leads to death. I, you, we are born dying sinners.
v4 says that we were buried with Christ in Baptism in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too walk in newness of life.
So then, the CONDITION is, if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly alsobe in the likeness of his resurrection
What has to happen then is REBIRTH. I need a new birth, and that new birth gives me a new congenital condition called:
The Resurrection Life – Hallelujah! Yes Lord, Thank you for the Cross, The Empty Tomb, and the Opportunity for Salvation by Grace through faith, into LIFE.
John 11 is famous for the death and resurrection of one of Jesus’ close friends, Lazarus. Jesus gets word that Lazarus is sick and dying. But Jesus, in his Omniscience, knows that Lazarus is already dead. He says “this sickness will not end in death, but is for the glory of God”.
The last time they had been in Judea, they had attempted to stone him to death in John 10. So, when Jesus says, “Let’s go to Judea again”, the disciples aren’t keen on the idea. “uh, Teacher, they tried to stone you, and you’re going there again?” I like that “you’re”, meaning, “we’re”.
Has God ever called you to go back to a place where things were hard the last time? Have you been asked to revisit a place where you were attacked before?
I once got invited to come back to a church shortly after being at a camp with them where a person got angry with me over a minor sporting event and things got out of control. “Well Lord, ok”. Then when I got there, the issue hadn’t blown over. While I was speaking the Lord told me to do something. He told me to give my check to that person. You should know at this moment, coming out of a natural break in my schedule as an evangelist, I hadn’t worked in 6 weeks. This was my first check in 6 weeks. Ultimately, I did what God told me to do. The person didn’t want it, but I gave it anyway, publicly, and told them God told me to, and just to pray and ask God what to do with it. Then I had to go home and explain to my wife what I had just done, which of course she said, “maybe he needed it.”
Well the disciples said, “Jesus is this a good idea?” And Jesus response is a bit cryptic at first, v9 “aren’t there twelve hours in a day? If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the LIGHT OF THE WORLD” (emphasis mine). Later he explains, “Lazarus is dead… let’s go to him” and Thomas replies, “let’s go too so that we may DIE WITH HIM”. Not sure if he was expecting to die with Lazarus or with JESUS. But “let’s go”.
What does it mean to “walk in the day”. I don’t think it means from 06:00 to 18:00. It means to walk in the “light of the world” the “light of God”.
1 John 1:7 says, “if we walk in the light we have fellowship… the blood of Jesus cleanses”
Isaiah 2:5 says “come let us walk in the Lord’s light”
Psalm 56:13 “you rescued me to walk before God in the Light”
Psalm 89:15 “happy are the people who know the joyful shout; Lord they walk in the light of your face” – what is the joyful shout? “Jesus Saves”
Isaiah 9:2 “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light“
John 8:12 “I Am the light of the World”
are you with me? Jesus IS the Light. He doesn’t just contain light, give light, he IS Light. If we walk in HIS revelation, we can trust where we are going. But often he doesn’t “shine” light on everything, just the area he wants obedience, “Let’s go to Judea”. That was the only light he was giving them at first. He didn’t tell them the whole situation, or what he was going to do. Yes, an Amazing thing was going to happen. Perhaps the greatest act, before the Cross and Resurrection, was Jesus raising Lazarus. They were going to see the high point. And yet that High Point was also going to bring about renewed effort to KILL him, which was a LOW point for Him and a HIGH Point for all of us who would receive.
They had no idea what he was going to do, what would happen, maybe they will kill us… but if “failure” is the result of OBEDIENCE, then it is never failure, it is following in faithful obedience, and he will say “well done.”
That Wednesday night, I gave some money to a student, and went home with the satisfaction of obedience, and didn’t give it a second thought. Flash Forward 4 years. I was speaking at a Youth Camp. One Evening outside, I heard a voice say, “Pastor Jim can I talk to you.” The person was shadowed in the night. I came over, and stepped into the light and saw the face of that young man from 4 years before. He looked at me and said “I don’t know if you know who I am…” I said, “Yes I know who you are.” And then he said, “The last 4 years have been for this moment… You were right, I was wrong, I’m sorry, but you should know that God has called me into the ministry and I’m in school studying to be a youth minister.”