Archive for January, 2011

The Heart of Good Man vs The Heart of Evil Man

January 30, 2011

In the post, Above all else, guard your heart, we learned from Proverbs 4:23 which says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Where does it flow to?  Our actions and our speech.  Again, Proverbs juxtaposes the heart of man aligned with God versus the heart of man aligned with sin.  If one is not aligned with God, you will be aligned with sin; no doubt about it.  To attest to that fact, listen to what we are told in Romans 8:5-8 “5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”

While Romans 3:12 tells us “all have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”  Despite that, the blood of Christ covers the sin in man clothing him in the righteousness of Christ as it is God who justifies.  A justified man is the good man. He is the man who has trusted in Christ for the salvation of his soul from the consequences of his sin.  An unjustified man is the evil man for he has spurned the grace of God which justifies him before the Almighty God.  As a consequence of their choices, the heart of the ‘good man’ produces one end while the heart of the ‘evil man’ produces another end.  Look at how the Word of God compares the products of these hearts.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  Luke 6:45
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. Matthew 12:35

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. Proverbs 10:20
The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense. Proverbs 10:21
Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given. Proverbs 25:11
Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear. Proverbs 25:12

I hope that you see the alternating contrasts that vacillate between good and evil behavior.  Here, the result of the tongue manifest the heart of the good man and the evil man.  Proverbs 10 tells us that the words of the good man are valuable while the words of the evil man are of little value.  Ten also tells us that the good man nourishes many with his words while people die because of a lack of nourishment from the evil man.  Likewise, Proverbs 25 contrasts them as well.  There it deals with the judgements or rulings of both men.  The good produces good decisions, rulings or even a rebuke is seen as beneficial.  The absence of anything stated in that chapter conveys the poor value or lack of value of the words of the evil man.

Think about those in your horizon.  Who, by virtue of their words, add life to your perspective or beliefs?  Who is a snare for you?  Chances are that the one who adds value makes statements that are aligned to the Word of God.  He or she may not be, but the principles of their words are founded by Jehovah.  Where is your heart?  Is it set on Christ?  Is it set on the Words of Jehovah? If not, you will find yourself aligned with the evil man.  Let’s take the right path.

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Above all else, guard your heart

January 29, 2011

Over the past few weeks, I have been dealing with Matters of the Heart in the past posts.  Today is no different.  The text is Proverbs 4:23 which says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

The Hebrew word for heart used in Proverbs 4:23 is leb (lāv – said as in save). This is the counter part to the Greek word for heart (kardia).  In either case, we come to the same conclusion about what the heart is.  Below is the definition for heart (leb).

1) inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding

a) inner part, midst

1) midst (of things)

2) heart (of man)

3) soul, heart (of man)

4) mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory

5) inclination, resolution, determination (of will)

6) conscience

7) heart (of moral character)

8) as seat of appetites

9) as seat of emotions and passions

10) as seat of courage

The action required in this verse is to guard or keep your mind, will, appetites and passions. Why are we asked to guard or keep our hearts?  To remind us, the prophet Jeremiah provided us with a godly view of the human heart.  We tend to think that we have good hearts.  According to the Word of God, we don’t.  See what Jeremiah said in chapter 17 verse 9:

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” NIV
“The heart is more deceitful than all else; And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” NASB
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” NKJV

Just as we began on January 2 with the post Where is your Heart, we continue to examine the condition of the human heart and explore the remedies that the Almighty God has provided to cure it from its disease: sin.  In Proverbs 4, the reader is being told how to gain godly wisdom.  Nearly at the end of the admonitions, verse 23 appears.  God tells us to guard or keep our hearts as everything we do comes from our hearts.  If we want to represent God and live godly, then we must tend to our hearts.  That deep part of us where we mull over thoughts that drive us or becomes our passions which move us.  Like we saw in Luke 7 yesterday in the post She Got Jesus’ Heart.  Jesus revealed what was His passions.  What were the things that drove Him.  It is the work of God bring glory to Jehovah, the Almighty.

Now that we know we are to guard our hearts or keep our hearts, how do we do that?  Just like anything else that we guard or keep.  We watch over it to protect it.  We ensure that it is in the proper environment.  We must bathe our hearts in the Word of God through what most evangelicals call the basics of the Word: hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate on the Word of God.  That’s not rocket science.  We just need to believe that our hearts are sick.  If we don’t truly believe that, we carry on as if our hearts are not in danger.  Remember, Above all else, guard your heart.  Now, let’s go do it.

 

When she got Jesus’ heart

January 28, 2011

When we tell someone that my heart goes out to you, we should really reconsider saying that if it does not lead to action.  The Super Model, Jesus, demonstrated what it means for someone to have your heart.  Our text is Luke 7.

11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.

14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

What do we mean when we say my heart goes out to you?  If it isn’t what Christ meant, it does not matter.  What did Christ really mean when he said, “Don’t cry”.  In the NIV, the version above, the words his heart went out to her is translated in other versions as such:

He felt compassion for her – NASB
he had compassion on her – KJV
He had compassion on her – NKJV

Regardless of the version, the original Greek word is splagchnizomai. It means to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity).  The words to be moved are vital to the essences of splagchnizomai or compassion. In every instance where that word is expressed, there is an action that follows.  Godly compassion leads to action to change the course of a current reality or circumstance. We can’t dictate it, but we certainly benefit from it. How did the widow gain access to the compassion of Christ?  Verse 13 starts off with, “When the Lord saw her,…”  The key to have Christ or God to move on our behalf is for Him to see us. He tells the woman not to cry.  Crying is certainly a natural and normal reaction at the loss of a loved one especially the only son of a widow.  The difference is that Jesus was not just saying don’t cry, but that I am going to do something to cause your tears to dry up, to turn your frown upside down.  As we see in verses 14-15, Jesus has the power to change our sorrows if He so chooses.  Not every circumstance of God’s compassion leads to the bringing to life of one who has died, but when Christ has compassion on the hurting, it always leads to the rejuvenation of life when He sees you. Several verses (see) seem to indicate that when we pray out of our humble dependency and agony that are linked with a promise of God, He moves.

For the people who have surrendered to Christ, we should be encouraged.  God will do everything in our hearts to have us keep the faith, to stand firm.  2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”  If you want Jesus heart, give Him yours and all His promises are yours.

Consequences of a Divided Heart

January 27, 2011

There are all sorts of clichés that tell us its wrong to be divided.  For example, United we stand, divided we fall is a common statement used to emphasize unity.  God has this same expectation of us.  Whether we follow Christ as Lord or not, God expects us to be devoted to Him, to not have a divided heart pursuing other things.  Exodus 20:3 says, ““You shall have no other gods besides me.”  Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  Matthew 22:36-38 says, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.”  Any way we slice it, God expects, no has commanded, us to not have a divided heart.  He wants it all.

Beyond Christ, we turn to the man who is credited as being the wisest man on earth, Solomon.  Without doubt, Solomon was aware of God’s mandate to love only Him as God. 1 Kings 11 is our text.  Please read it as I will pull a few verses out to make the point, but it is more lucid when you have read the context.

1 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.

7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.

9 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command. 11 So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

Because Solomon refused to unify his divided heart back to God, God divided what he had given to Solomon.  What is rivaling God’s rightful place as number one in our hearts?  Is it pleasing people to be popular?  Is it a preoccupation with acquiring wealth?  Is it wanting to be powerful? Is it boasting about what you have or have done?  He will call us into account giving us an opportunity to repent, but if we fail to repent, He will judge us and act if we don’t surrender our hearts. God will deal with those idols now and at the final judgement.  Solomon, proclaimed by God as the wisest man, refused to let God rule his heart.  His kingdom was torn from him; yet only for the sake of God’s promise He did not take the entire kingship from Solomon.  God was true to His heart to Solomon and the people. As a consequence, God wants all of our heart.  Give the LORD God all of your heart.

Do not let your heart be troubled

January 26, 2011

We are told in Colossians 3:15 to let the peace of God rule in our hearts, so peace is a matter of the heart.  We all would love to be at peace.  As I see it, there are a multiplicity of issues bombarding the people I live, work, play and fellowship. I too face similar challenges. Most see our daily endeavors as escapes from the travails of life; however, the mind is never totally free from the issues that plague us if we don’t follow Christ’s directives.  The plauges in Exodus were sent for those who were not following the LORD God’s directive to let His people go worship Him.  For those of use who claim Christ as Lord, we clearly will have troubles, hardships and trials in this life.  Despite that, peace (eirēnē) is a vital operative of what Jesus told His disciples.  In John 14, Jesus is comforting His disciples as He is giving them basically their final marching orders.  He is leaving them, but He was not going to leave them alone.  He told them He was going to provide them with His Spirit who would teach you them all things and will remind them of everything He had said to you.  The Spirit reminds us (if we have read and studied) and enables us to follow the commands of Christ.  In the first verse of John 14, Jesus said, “1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”  First we must believe, then we are enabled by the Spirit to not let our hearts be troubled because Christ left His peace with us.

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. NIV
27
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. NASB
27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. NKJV

We must believe that Christ has given us peace through our belief in He and the Father.  Jesus tells the disciples to challenge their troubled hearts with faith in the Father and the Son. They did not have to give into the emotions of fear and despair – they really could let not your hearts be troubled. What are you fearful about? What is troubling you?  Is it a relationship?  Is it money?  Is it a job or some other challenge that infringes on the peace that Christ left for you and expects you to partake? The key to not letting your heart be troubled is to have faith in who Christ is and what Christ has said.  He is the Son of God who left the Holy Spirit here to enable us to live in PEACE.

A Strict Rule of Thumb

January 24, 2011

Rule of Thumb is defined as a practical principle that comes from the wisdom of experience and is usually but not always valid.  Dictionary.com gives the following as an example:  “When playing baseball,  a good rule of thumb  is to put your best  hitter fourth in the batting order.”  In the current explanation, the rule of thumb is a principle with broad application that is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation.  This is why the word strict is used in the title.  While we are to maintain the generality of the situation, we must maintain a strict adherence to the expected behavior.  This is seen very clearly in our text today which we have visited before as we looked into the matters of the heart.

In addition, my pastor, Robert Benson, has been preaching from the same text.  In Colossians 3:15, we are given an imperative.  It says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”  In Pastor Benson’s explanation, he is using the text in the context of how to put on The New Life.  You can click the link to listen to previous messages. My position has been one of the matters of the heart which began with the post Where is Your Heart?.  That arose from Luke 12:32-34.  In those verses, Jesus said that our hearts will be where our treasure is. In Colossians, we have Paul directing us what to do with our hearts.  Let implies it is up to us.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.  Rule is derived from the Greek word brabeuō (bra boo oh). It means 1) to be an umpire 2) to decide, determine 3) to direct, control, rule.  In either sense, peace should regulate how we feel and think; therefore, how we act.  What is peace? Again, the Greek word is eirēnē. It means:

1) a state of national tranquillity

a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war

2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord

3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)

4) of the Messiah’s peace

a) the way that leads to peace (salvation)

5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is

6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

Eirēnē is the same word in one of my favorite verses, Philippians 4:6-7 “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In order to let peace rule in our hearts, we must trust God.  We be convinced that God has the best of our estate at heart regardless of the circumstance.  This is truly difficult.  It requires that through every circumstance we see it through the lens that God is sovereignly ruling even in the midst of an unfavorable and distasteful situation.  This is mean truly for me.  One recent example is when I received word that the school where I work will host summer school for the second consecutive year with another school.  For a variety of reasons, I objected.  Objecting was not necessarily the error.  It was that peace did not rule my heart.  I was not tranquil or exempt from rage and havoc nor would have my actions led anyone to salvation.  This is why God led me to title this A Strict Rule of Thumb.  God’s position is that regardless of the situation (generality) we are to let peace rule in our hearts (strict adherence to the rule).

What usually moves you from ?  Even as I am writing this, my daughter comes in and discusses with me the aforementioned situation.  As we talked about the summer school situation, she simply asked, “so Daddy, you don’t like people telling you what to do?”  Of course, my wife just died laughing. Being told what to do moves me.  It reveals the pride that so envelops my heart which is exactly what God is working on – The Matters of the Heart. What is it that moves you from the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is?  God’s admonition is for us to allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts. Undoubtedly, we will be confronted by that which moves us from the tranquil state that God offers us, that God has directed us to reside.  Be on your guard and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.

 

Amazing Love

January 23, 2011

Going in a different direction this morning.  As I sat ironing my son’s church clothes about an hour ago,  I felt the LORD calling me to commune with Him.  I hesitated, but He persisted.  Parts of the song, Amazing Love, by Newboys came to mind.  I just began to think on the fact that when I trusted in God’s/Christ’s promise that He forgives sin and gives eternal life (John 17:3) when one trusts in Christ as the Son of God who was sent into this world as Savior and Lord.  I am forgiven of the sins in my life.  Lord knows that they are too numerous for me to count.  He knows them, but He forgives me.  Listen to the words of this song.

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, to honor You

You are my King
You are my King
Jesus, You are my King
You are my King

In I Samuel 8, God condemns the people for wanting a king other than God himself.  In verses 7-10, “the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”  When we pursue someone or something other than God, we are rejecting God.  God told me this morning that Sports Center can’t add anything to your life.  I got on my knees and began to listen to the LORD.  He did not say anything miraculous or revelatory.  He just wanted some time with me.  Imagine that.  God wanted me.

As these words “I’m forgiven because You were forsaken; I’m accepted, You were condemned; I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me Because You died and rose again” resonated in head, I just felt a sense of adoration for God.  He sent Christ, and Christ came to bring me forgiveness.  With all of the sinful things that I think, say and do, I am too grateful to be forgiven.  I posted about forgiveness earlier.  We all know it’s tough to forgive one who has hurt or offended you, but think about the hurt and offense we commit against God when we reject Him; yet, He still forgives.  If you have committed your life to God through following Christ Jesus, then you know the beauty of forgiveness and no condemnation.  It’s an awesome experience.  We can’t help but be propelled and compelled to forgive when we have been forsaken or offended.  If you have not committed your life to Christ, you should do so.  Don’t know how? Just ask me.

My prayer for those of us who know Christ is that we would truly honor Christ in all we do because He died and rose again.  You don’t want me to sign this song.  If you would like to hear that song sang well, just click Amazing Love.  Be blessed as you worship today.

The Greatest Sign of All Time

January 21, 2011

Since the creation of man, God has been consistent in His message to man.  He loves man and wants fellowship with mankind.  He has spent every waking moment of time demonstrating His desires to us.  To reiterate, I hope we can see that God is always on time.  God keeps His Word and He wants us to remember it.  God Himself says that the signs should not be for our belief but to help us to remind us of who He is.  As I stated earlier, by hardening your heart, you forfeit unconditional love, peace, joy, no condemnation, assurance, redemption and forgiveness and many more benefits. Believe the signs(that God has already given you, namely Jesus Christ); worship God, and be blessed.  This was the message from yesterday.  As promised, we will see how God honors His promises in the time in which He says.

John 4 gives us another poignant example of the faithfulness of God while revealing that He honors His Word in His time.  We just need to believe.  Our lack of belief shows that we need to set our hearts on Him rather than the things of this world.  God continued to give signs to people throughout the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, Jesus himself is the sign that God, Jehovah, is the only true God.  Jehovah sent the Son to convey that He really wants us to believe in Him.  This entire chapter could be titled the belief chapter as each interaction with the various people shows that Christ is either calling people to believe in Him as the Son of God and God himself.

I want to focus on verses 43-54.  In verse 45, we are told that the people had seen all that Jesus had done.  What did Jesus do that they remembered? His turning of the merchant’s tables in the outer courts of the temple (John 2:13-27). Jesus predicted His own miraculous resurrection (John 2:18-22). Also, Jesus performed many other unspecified signs during this time in Jerusalem (John 2:23-25). (David Guzik).  This key because He was making the point that the people from His own town did not honor Him as the Son of God despite seeing the signs and wonders He performed.  This is key.  God wants us to believe but not because of signs.  As I stated earlier, Christ himself is the most miraculous sign that could ever be.  Think on this that God would become man.  The creator being subject to that which He created.

As with the 430 fulfillment of bring the Israelites out of Egypt, Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:2.  Christ condemns the penchant for man to rely on signs before he believes.  Listen to the words of Christ in verse 48. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”  The man’s response shows that how God wants us to respond to what He says not necessarily some sign. Not believing what He said is the thing that caused the God’s anger to burn at Moses. We just want Him to attend to what we want not realizing that in following Him is truly the way to fulfill all our desires.

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.”So he and his whole household believed.

When we take God at His Word, we activate His action described in His Word.  Notice Jesus said, “Your son will live.”   The man took Jesus at His Word and left.  If he had not been satisfied, the man certainly would not have left without fighting more for the life of his son.  Look at verses 52 and 53 which tells us what he discovered.  The moment that Jesus made that declarative statement, “Your son will live” is the exact time that the man’s son got better which evidenced what God, Jesus Christ, had said.

Are we taking God at His Word?  No, or at a minimum not nearly enough.  We have a challenge folks.  Take Jesus at His Word and activate His promise.  The moment we believe is the moment He activates His promise.  Notice now, it’s not what we dream up, but the exact Word of God, so put the breaks on all the name it and claim it.  Put the breaks on speaking things into being.  We are not God, so we can’t speak anything into being.  We can however, get into His Word to find out who the Father and the Son are and what they said to help improve our lives.  The moment we believe the promise is the moment that God activates His promise in our lives and possibly the lives of our households (see v.53).

Jesus is the greatest sign God has or will ever produce.  The moment you believe in the Words that Jesus is the Son of God sent to save us from the wrath of God because of our disobedience to God’s Word, you, like the boy, will get better; you will live.  Be blessed.

The Sign of Time

January 20, 2011

In the post A Tale of Two Hearts: Do You Believe In The Signs?, the matters of the heart exposed that those whose hearts are pliable believe the LORD and those whose hearts are hardened don’t believe the LORD.  Our belief reveals what we feel, think and behold about God that is His character.  It is in the promises that God reveals His character.  He is revealing that He is faithful and true worthy of our trust; however, we struggle with remembering His faithfulness which is why He instituted the Passover at the end of Exodus 12.

Setting the stage for the purpose of the Passover was the proclamation of God keeping His promise.

40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come.

What is the promise?  The text gives us a hint. Verse 41 says “at the end of the 430, to the very day, all the LORD’s division left Egypt.”  430 years earlier, God made a promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”  Remember when Jacob’s family came to live with Joseph in Egypt, there were seventy members of his family whom God multiplied to more than an approximated 1.2 millions members in a little more than 200 years.  This is how famed commentary Matthew Henry describes it.

See how punctual God is to his time; though his promises be not performed quickly, they will be accomplished in their season. 6. Of the memorableness of it: It is a night to be much observed, v. 42. (1.) The providences of that first night were very observable; memorable was the destruction of the Egyptians, and the deliverance of the Israelites by it; God herein made himself taken notice of. (2.) The ordinances of that night, in the annual return of it, were to be carefully observed: This is that night of the Lord, that remarkable night, to be celebrated in all generations. Note, The great things God does for his people are not to be a nine days’ wonder, as we say, but the remembrance of them is to be perpetuated throughout all ages, especially the work of our redemption by Christ. This first passover-night was a night of the Lord much to be observed; but the last passover-night, in which Christ was betrayed (and in which the passover, with the rest of the ceremonial institutions, was superseded and abolished), was a night of the Lordmuch more to be observed, when a yoke heavier than that of Egypt was broken from off our necks, and a land better than that of Canaan set before us. That was a temporal deliverance to be celebrated in their generation; this is an eternal redemption to be celebrated in the praises of glorious saints, world without end.

I hope we can see that God is always on time.  God keeps His Word and He wants us to remember it.  God Himself says that the signs should not be for our belief but to help us to remind us of who He is.  As I stated earlier, by hardening your heart, you forfeit unconditional love, peace, joy, no condemnation, assurance, redemption and forgiveness and many more benefits. Believe the signs(that God has already given you, namely Jesus Christ); worship God, and be blessed.  Tomorrow, we will see that Christ reemphasized this same point in John 4.

 


 


A Tale of Two Hearts: Do You Believe In The Signs?

January 19, 2011

As you travel anywhere, you will see signs giving you directional information.  There are street signs that tell you where you are.  There are road signs like Road Closed, Flash Flood Area, One Lane Bridge, Soft Shoulder, DIP, Road Flooded and the like Stop, Yield, Merge, Detour, Keep Right, Deer Crossing, Roundabout, Rail Crossing are all examples of traffic signs warning us possible dangers.  With the number of tickets and accidents, we know that people don’t always follow the signs; however, when have you ever seen, read or interpreted a sign that you did not believe or at least consider?

I venture to say that you have believed all of them.  Whether you followed them is an entirely different story.  The notion of signs as a means to convince people isn’t anything new.  As we continue to address matters of the heart, this notion of believing the signs surfaced in my reading for the post A Tale of Two Hearts.  Remember Exodus 3 where “There the angel of the LORD appeared to him (Moses) in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.”  God, the pre-incarnate Christ, appeared to Moses as a sign that it really was God who was calling him.  Based on his response, Moses believed that it was God.

God called him to go to the people to share the message that He has seen their plight and has heard their cry. Moses, like we do, asked what if the people don’t believe me. God showed Moses the signs to share with the people. Exodus 4:29-31 tells us how the people responded.  “29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.”

Now Pharaoh, who had already expressed his disbelief, also along with other Egyptians were also shown signs by God through Moses.  The are known as the 10 plagues.

1. The Plague of Blood – Exodus 7
2. The Plague of Frogs – Exodus 7
3. The Plague of Gnats – Exodus 8
4. The Plague of Flies – Exodus 8
5. The Plague on Livestock – Exodus 9
6. The Plague of Boils – Exodus 9
7. The Plague of Hail – Exodus 9
8. The Plague of Locusts – Exodus 10
9. The Plague of Darkness – Exodus 10
10. The Plague on the Firstborn – Exodus 11
Like everyone else, they were given signs but because their hearts were hardened, they did not believe the signs.
The response of Pharaoh was entirely different.  He did not believe nor did he worship God.  He finally relented and did what God told him, to let his people go to worship Him, but Pharaoh and the Egyptians did not worship God.
What are the signs that God has shown you?  Have you, like Pharoah, failed to believe in the signs?  Are there grave consequences for you not believing the signs of God?  Yes! Ultimately, your soul will be destroyed, but in the here and now, you will continue to ignore the signs that are intended to give direction and protection.  As a consequence, you will experience the ills of the very circumstances in which the signs of God try to divert you from. By hardening your heart, you forfeit unconditional love, peace, joy, no condemnation, assurance, redemption and forgiveness and many more benefits. Believe the signs; worship God, and be blessed.