Everlasting God

Ever sung a song that picked you up when you were down ... one that seemingly lifted out of your pain and helped you to experience God in a different way? This song did just that for me a few months ago and I still soar when I sing it in worship to our Everlasting God.

Which Reality?

I often find myself going through the day subconsciously talking to God. On one such day a few weeks ago I heard myself thinking "I am a realist". What I heard back surprised me. This thought instantly came back to me: "Which reality?" Over the past few weeks I have thought a lot about this one ... it is a challenging thought. I am very comfortable with the reality that I can see with my eyes, feel with my hands, hear, smell and taste. I am not so comfortable with that reality that can only be discerned with my heart ... that place of faith. It reminds me that:
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life--even though invisible to spectators--is with Christ in God. He is your life.(Colossians 3:3 MSG)
There is an eternal invisible reality that can be occluded by that visible and audible reality that screams at us and demands our immediate attention. Jesus spoke of this reality and likened it to the unseen wind:
Jesus said, "You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation--the 'wind hovering over the water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life--it's not possible to enter God's kingdom. (John 3:5 MSG)
I like the way that The Message says that the invisible moves the visible. Like the reality of the invisible wind, the reality and presence of God's Spirit in our lives will impact our visible world. It puts a whole new spin on being a realist.

Delayed Justice

I think that all of life is a struggle for faith. Life presents things to us that almost make it impossible to believe. I guess that is part of the mystery of faith.

Often justice seems to be something that God works over time instead of in the moment/hour. This dynamic really causes most of us to stumble because bad things happen to the innocent and faithful ... delayed justice seems like no justice at all.

Trusting God in and after bad experiences can be a difficult thing to navigate because of the temporal injustice that we have suffered. Such was Job's struggle - he was declared blameless by God and yet experienced a level of perceived divine injustice that most of us cannot relate to. In the end God didn't explain the why of the injustice. Such is the nature of temporal injustice.

Justice for Job came at the end of the book when God affirmed Job and restored his life. Justice was delayed but justice came. Often this is not the case though ... often people die at the hands of injustice. I think that this is where faith in the goodness of God has to kick in. We will persevere in faith if we believe that God is good ... if we know that He loves and cares for us.

The cross: this is where I often end up when justice seems to have escaped me ... when life is difficult and overwhelms me. I look to the cost of my salvation - the extravagance of the love of Jesus on the cross ... I cannot get past it ... His love for me and His goodness gives me hope ... even when justice is delayed.

A New Name for a New Identity

Identity plays such a vital role in the way that we walk out our faith. Fellow minister and Kansas Citian Dr. Sam Storms sent me an email a few days ago that captures the importance of our identity in Christ. The text of Sam's message is below.

A New Name for a New Identity (Rev. 3.12-13)
Dr. Sam Storms

As mentioned in the previous meditation, Christians often struggle with a sense of identity. They fail to grasp who they are by virtue not merely of creation but especially regeneration and redemption. A failure to embrace our new identity and the privileges and responsibilities that come with it can be devastating. Virtually every assault and accusation of Satan is grounded in his effort to convince us we are not who God, in fact, declares we are. If the enemy can persuade you that you are a spiritual impostor, an interloper, an unwanted and unqualified intruder into the kingdom of God, his victory is virtually assured.

On the other hand, if I’m able to rest securely in who I am in Christ, an identity forged by forgiveness not failure, by his goodness rather than mine, I am enveloped and enclosed in a veritable fortress of strength and protective love. No assault will prevail. No accusation will stand. No insinuation, however subtle, will undermine my confidence or sow seeds of suspicion in my soul. I am who he says I am by virtue of what he has done and will do. It’s just that simple.

This is the great practical payoff of a glorious principle based on a God-ordained promise in Revelation 3:12. Look at it again:
“I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:12-13).
If ever you and I needed to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” it is now. So may God enable us to listen carefully and confidently.

Here is your current identity and ultimate destiny if you know Christ truly. It consists in having inscribed on your body, soul, and spirit the name of God, of his city, and of his Son! There is, of course, as is the case with virtually all spiritual realities, a sense in which this is already true of us though not yet consummated. What we are now, we shall be in eternal verity, forever.

First, written on us is “the name of my God,” says Jesus. There is a rich background in the Old Testament for this statement. One hardly knows where to begin. But let’s start with Exodus 28:36-38, where we read,
"You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, 'Holy to the LORD.’ And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron's forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD” (Exodus 28:36-38).
It doesn’t stop there. Consider these several instances of God’s people receiving his name:
“ . . . everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (Isaiah 43:7).

“I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:5).

“The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give” (Isaiah 62:2).

“You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse, and the Lord GOD will put you to death, but his servants he will call by another name” (Isaiah 65:15).
In the priestly blessing that we often cite today as a benediction, God declares that “they will put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (Num. 6:27; see also Deut. 28:10 and Daniel 9:18-19).

In ancient times, especially in the world of magic, to know someone’s name was to gain power over them. As a counterpoint, then, to be called by God’s name certainly suggests his sovereign rights over us as his children. It also points to ownership and consecration: our lives should be dominated and determined by our identity as his own, shaped and fashioned in godliness according to his glorious image.

Second, Jesus promises to inscribe on us “the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven.” This should come as no surprise, given what the NT says about our citizenship in the New Jerusalem (see Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22; Phil. 3:20).

Furthermore, in Revelation 21:2-8 the people of God are virtually identified with the New Jerusalem. In other words, to bear the name of the city of God is more than simply a way of identifying its citizens, its rightful inhabitants. There is also a sense in which we are the New Jerusalem (cf. Isa. 56:5; Ezekiel 48:35)! At minimum it is a way of stressing our permanent and ever so intimate presence with God and his presence in and for us, forever.

Lastly, and perhaps most important and precious of all, we shall bear Christ’s “own new name.” Note the emphatic position of the adjective, literally, “my name, the new.” Christ’s new name can hardly be any of those with which we are already familiar, such as Lord, Messiah, Savior, Son of God, Son of Man, Word, etc. “New” (kainos) means more than simply different or recent, as over against what one formerly was designated. Here it means new in quality, belonging to and characterized by the life and values of the new creation for which we have already been re-born (2 Cor. 5:17).

This “new name” is another way of alerting us to the fact that there awaits us a fuller, indeed infinitely expansive, revelation of the glory and beauty of Christ beyond anything we have seen, heard, or understood in this life. Whatever we know of Christ, however rich the treasures we enjoy of him in the present, whatever knowledge or insight into the unsearchable depths of his wisdom, knowledge, ways, and judgments we are graciously enabled to experience, all is but a sub-microscopic drop in the vast ocean of a spiritually macroscopic revelation yet to come!

Let’s also not forget that being given a new name in biblical tradition is most often associated with the idea of receiving a new status, function, or change in character and calling (see Genesis 32:28). I can’t even begin to speculate on what this entails for us in the ages to come!

And what, precisely, is this new name? We don’t have a clue! In fact, its secrecy or hiddenness is one of its priceless qualities, for an unknown name suggests again that we who are called by it and have it inscribed on our souls are invulnerable to the enemy’s attack. What Satan does not know, he cannot destroy. To be called by this “new name” is to be preserved for fellowship and intimacy with our Lord that none can touch or disrupt.


For more of Sam's teaching visit Sam's website here.

Generous Blessings

My good friend John Gilman is up to bat again. I got an email from John speaking about the blessings of generosity. Here are a few excerpts from his message:

Over forty years ago, a ministering friend asked to meet. We visited for a few minutes and then he told me he was in debt and sinking. He, his wife, and I worked together on their finances for three years and finally they were free.
One pleasant surprise is the hidden long-term good the ministry accomplishes. Adopting biblical financial practices is far more beneficial than just financial freedom and increased giving.

John references the following scripture then extrapolates the many blessings found in it ending with a classic John Gilman exhortation:
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, "HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER." Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
God’s many blessings for the generous person:

  1. The joy of generosity.
  2. Whoever sows generously will reap generously.
  3. God’s love for cheerful givers.
  4. All grace abounds to you.
  5. So you’ll have all that you need in all things at all times.
  6. And you’ll abound in every good work.
  7. Increase your store of seed for righteousness.
  8. Enlarge your harvest of righteousness.
  9. Become rich in every way so that
  10. You can be generous on every occasion.
  11. Supplying the needs of God’s people.
  12. Many expressions of thanks to God.
  13. People praising God for your obedience and generosity.
  14. People praying for you.
  15. People’s hearts going out to you because of God’s grace through you.

Let’s do as much good as we can get away with.

Love, John