Thursday, May 10, 2007

Psalm 110: 3 We obey because God is right.

Psalm 110:3 “Your people shall be volunteers (willing) in the day of your power.”
There are many lessons that can be learned from this chapter dealing with the kingdom of God and Christ’s rule, but I want to look at the word translated “willing” or “volunteers.” When we really see the Lord and really know in our hearts who He is, we will follow Him because we know He is right. How often in life have we disagreed with someone or ignored their advice, and then later found out how wrong we were. How many times have you had to say to someone, “You were right.” This is the essence of some of the praises in scripture which address God's goodness and uprightness. He is a God of truth and without injustice; True and upright is He.” (Deut 32: 3-4).
Not everyone obeys God with the purest of motives. Some people serve Him as long as He is doing something for them, as long as they can “get something out of it.” Some serve when its convenient or costs nothing. Psalm 78 says that Israel went through the motions of obedience but without a change of heart. They gave outward conformity without inner transformation. Others obey because they fear the threat of discipline or punishment.
David, on the other hand, repented and asked God to change his heart (Ps 51:10). He asked the Lord to uphold him with a “willing” spirit [Ps.51:12]. In the original Hebrew it is clear that “willing” refers to David’s own spirit rather than to God’s. David is asking God to bring him to a higher level of obedience. He sees and understands God's love. He has a vision of who God is. David’s prayer resonates with the character of the people noted in Psalm 110: 3. “Your people shall be willing in the day of your power.”

Ps 18: 30; Deut 32: 1-6; Romans 11: 33-36.
One of the greatest revelations we can have is to really see with our mind and spiritual eyes that God is right and His ways are perfect. What He tells us in terms of how to live and behave is actually the best way to live. This truth will help us in the face of every temptation. God is right. He is never wrong. His ways, His word, and His judgment are all right and true.
If we were to really see and know this truth, we would offer ourselves to obey and serve Him without reservation. We would say no to the lies that come to us in the temptations of the flesh, the devil, and the world system. We would say yes to God. If we only knew who it is who speaks to us, if we really knew Him and the gift He brings (John 4:10), we would not wait for Him to ask, we would be volunteering freely to serve Him and His will.

God allows evil because He does not force men to submit against their will. The people who serve God are not robots programmed to serve. They follow Him because He is a wonderful and awesome God. He is right and His way is perfect.

Rebellious men in this age often yield and surrender in the face of great power simply because they have been overwhelmed or overcome by a force they are unable to resist. This is an unwilling surrender. But when men stand before Almighty God our Creator in that great day of the Lord they will not only simply yield but will face the clear, absolute, and incontrovertible truth that God is right and has always been right. In that day everyone will realize the utter and total foolishness of his own ways and will be compelled by the sheer force of reality and truth to admit that God is righteous and that rebellious man was in error. There will be no lies or deception in the presence of God. There will be no pretending, no games, no manipulation, no false accusations, no perversions of truth, no legal technicalities to obstruct justice. God will judge righteously according to absolute truth. Man will be absolutely naked except for those who in repentance and obedience have been justified by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and His blood which was shed for us on the cross. These will be clothed with His righteousness.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

False Teeth and Sin

Steve was a homeless fellow at Myrtle Beach when one of the hurricanes came through a few years ago. Huddled in a corner alone and frightened he cried out to the Lord for mercy and said, "Oh God, if you will bring me through this thing safely, I will get rid of my cigarettes and my false teeth!” Then having made it safely through the storm, he got rid of his false teeth and went around toothless, but hung on to his more pleasurable sins such as profanity and whoremongering. When I asked him about his logic in the matter, he told me that it is a sin to wear false teeth because the Bible warns us about things that are false. He told one of his friends, “You don’t want to be wearing false teeth when Jesus comes back. But then again, you just as well go ahead and smile and look pretty cause it will be too late then.”
This story is true, and we smile at the crazy logic involved. However, the world often sees the church in this light. We often "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." I think this is what Jesus meant when he said the sons of this world are often wiser in their generation than the sons of light (Lu.16:8). When the church gets religious it ends up like the children playing games in the marketplace, irrelevant and not touching people in the realities of their lives (Mt11:16-17). It also loses touch with the heart of God.
I learned in a sociology course in college that one of the unspoken requisites for being an accepted part of a group is that everyone in it consciously and subconsciously ignores the inconsistencies of the group. I pastored for many years, but I think I've seen the church more clearly since being in a "secular" profession for the last five years. Being on the outside gives a different perspective. Not seeing the forest for the trees is a true saying. Therefore, we should not quickly dismiss our detractors. While they may see us in a distorted light, yet very often they will see and point out faults that our friends can not see.
This season of being on the outside has caused me to cry out to see the real church. What will the church be like when the Holy Spirit is allowed to develop it without all of our impositions.
God is going to work according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. He is going to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think, and He is going to do it in, with, and through the church.