Month: April 2021

Lost between two worlds – Lot

The Pastor's PenLot is a perplexing man who knew the truth of God yet followed the sinful passions of his heart. Certain of circumventing divine judgement, Lot stubbornly blundered on with the life of his choosing. Wrong choices, bad company, and a life of hypocrisy were calculated risks Lot settled for.

Lost between two worlds – LotThe lengthy story spans Genesis chapters 12 to 19 with many twists and turns. Lot was Abraham’s nephew. They lived and carried out business together with much blessing from the Lord. When the time came to separate, Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord (Genesis 13:12-13). The LORD said… the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave (Genesis 18:20).

Wanting the benefits of prosperous business in the bustling metropolis called Sodom, Lot willingly sacrificed his conscience, his testimony, and eventually his family for the lifestyle of his choice. Through a series of many foolish decisions, and his unwillingness to turn back and start again, he sacrificed all. Had it not been for the grace of God, he would have lost his soul also.

Lot would have thought that he was getting away with his dualistic lifestyle. But, as is always the case, the day of unforeseen reckoning arrived. Lot’s near-sighted and shallow belief of double standards was about to reap its reward.

Genesis 19:1 recalls the two angels of judgement arriving, with Lot sitting in the gate of Sodom. This was the position of a city leader who would vet the people entering the city. Lot’s compromised beliefs had enabled him to rise to leadership of this wicked city. Peter records that Lot was greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (2 Peter 2:7), but conscience proved insufficient to motivate Lot’s separation from wicked Sodom.

The morning of judgement day arrived. Rescuing angels were inside the house urging Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So, the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city (Genesis 19:15-16). Weirdly, Lot did not want to be rescued this way. But God’s mercy prevailed over Lot’s reluctance.

Well, God kept His promise of judgement (Genesis 18:20-33). The LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire… and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground, God destroyed everything (Genesis 19:24-25).

Genesis 19 leaves Lot in the pitiful cave of despair. Having lost everything except his two daughters and a supply of alcohol, Lot sadly reaps the fruit of his life. Tragically, his daughters enticed him into a drunken stupor, then committed incest with their father so they could have children.

Learning from Lot, 2 Peter 2:9 explains God’s mercy with a warning. The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment. We learn that God is faithful to his Word, to His justice, and to relationships which He has established with wayward people of weak faith and dubious living. While we struggle to understand the life of Lot, and we certainly do not approve of his double standards, we understand with gratitude, that only the grace of God keeps us, as it did Lot.

 

God the Intercessor

God the Intercessor Believers in Jesus Christ are never abandoned by God, nor are they ever without a voice in heaven. Just as the work of Christ and the Holy Spirt powerfully actioned our salvation, so these two members of the Godhead continuously defend us before God the Father.

Isaiah, prophesying of the coming Messiah, foretold that Jesus would make intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12). God ordained, that through His Son, He would act between sinful humanity and Himself to reconcile the two parties. He knew that He would have to do everything needed to rescue spiritually dead sinners and keep them rescued.

God the IntercessorAs fantastic as it is that Christ died and rose again for our justification, that was not the end of His work. Christ Jesus is the one who died …who was raised, and is at the right hand of God …interceding for us (Romans 8:34). Christ’s declaration of innocence (Justification) over our inconsistent lives is maintained by Christ Himself. Incredibly, Christ lives to make intercession for every single born again child of God (Hebrews 7:25). Knowing our every stumbling which involves sin, Christ is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). Relentless in His defence of the redeemed, Christ, the one mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5) tirelessly maintains His accomplished redemption on our behalf. Our salvation is not susceptible to variation or weakened by any personal insecurities.

Similarly, the Holy Spirit works ceaselessly in maintaining the integrity of fellowship within the relationship Christ establishes on our behalf with the Father. Life and our fleshliness so often repress our heart’s ability to communicate well with God, even to the point of silencing our ability to pray coherently. Obviously, our relationship with the Lord does not change, and we humanly lack the inner resources required for such a relationship to exist.

Understanding this, and knowing us intimately, God the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

The Holy Spirit is the believer’s liaison with the Father, at a level beyond our comprehension. Although the exchange of fatherly searching and Holy Spirit groaning on our behalf is invisibly silent to our senses, this ceaseless engagement is both essential and real. These intimate discussions take place without our knowledge or participation, yet we are the focus of their talks.

Whether in the darkness of night, or the heat of the day, our fears, doubts, failings, and fleshly insecurities are privately and exhaustively laid out before the Almighty. There, before the throne of grace, the most intense dialogue takes place between Father and Spirit on your behalf. Nothing is overlooked. Nothing is excused away as being irrelevant or inappropriate. In fact, this intensely interactive exchange over your weakness within the Godhead meets your every need and satisfies every facet of the Father’s will. No wonder the apostle Paul says that human words are deficient for the job, and only Holy Spirit groanings are sufficient to communicate in this divine exchange.

Therefore, in our prayers, let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Knowing our prayer shortcomings and inadequacies, the Holy Spirit steps in to complete the communication. Let us walk and talk with the Lord today in the confidence and security of His gracious work of intercession.

God Unequalled

God Unequalled
God, the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see (1 Timothy 6:15-16). Paul reminds Timothy that God is without equal, which is precisely what believers need to remember today. Existing in eternity, God is unmatched in every sphere of His character. The Lord asked Isaiah in 46:5, “To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike?” Obviously, the answer is, NOBODY! 

God Unequalled
There is no alternative to Jehovah, no better option than Yahweh. His loving compassion and sovereign rule are incontestable. His will and His justice are perfectly executed in every age. God proves Himself to be precisely as declared to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7. The LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.

This is what we Christians believe, and these truths are to be kept in the forefront of our minds throughout uncertain and changing times. While the world rationalises God out of its thinking, we tightly hold onto the indomitable reality of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

With fear being common throughout the nations, and governments putting such great effort into social control, believers in Christ need to reason through their faith in God just as the prophet Habakkuk did. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places (Habakkuk 3:17-19). Holy God exists above the tyranny of this world, and we should never evaluate Him by the defiant disbelief of this world.

The world works to remove certainty, to destabilise relationships, and obliterate God from people’s minds. But faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), which means we are certain of the God in whom we hope. We are convinced of biblical truth which brings into reality the assurance of faith.

As Christians, we stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17).

The methods employed by faith are not the methods of this world. Believers look to Christ, to God’s Word, and to the sanctifying control of the Holy Spirit. With our eyes wide open, we look to the Lord with confidence. We do not hide or ignore the present-day conditions of the world, rather, we understand that the friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant (Psalms 25:14). In Christ we are safe and secure, no matter what the world says or does.

“H” is for Heaven

The Pastor's Pen
Heaven, it’s the eternal home of every believer in Jesus Christ! And believers wait for their transportation to take up permanent residence there.

Concluding his exhortations to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14), Paul affirms the realities of heaven for believers. Our walk of faith is not a stagnant existence without purpose or destination. Our present-day goal of Christlikeness inspires us to press on in our walk of faith, knowing that glorification of Christ shall reach its zenith when we are in His presence.
“H” is for HeavenFor those with faith in Christ (Php 3:9), our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself (Philippians 3:20-21). Heaven is God’s predetermined destination for every believer. It is presently the place where residency is written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27). It is where our resurrected life in Christ finds an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:4). Heaven is predetermined, fixed, and secure in Christ.

Heaven is our Saviour’s home, who is presently preparing it for His return to gather up His bride and take her there (Jn 14:1-3; 1Th 4:13-18). So, Christ’s Church, His bride, waits with expectation for this transformative event. Heaven shall not send angels for this job, not even the Cherubim or Seraphim, but the Saviour Himself shall be dispatched by His Father (Mk 13:32). In this victorious event, with jealous love, Christ shall transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body. Christ’s creative power shall again do His work of recreation in His followers. Paul explains in Romans 8:23, we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

No power on or under the earth will be able to resist the sovereign glorifying return of Christ for His Church. This indomitable exercise of the Lord’s will, that enables him even to subject all things to himself, shall be irresistible. Heaven awaits us, and we await our Lord of lords and King of kings, who shall do our final work of transformation into heavenly suitability.

With the certainty of heaven in Paul’s sights, he reminds the Philippian believers how they should live in response to this awe-inspiring hope. Philippians 4:1; Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. Just as heaven is real, and just as Christ’s return to rapture His Church is real, so believer’s response to these certainties is to be real also. Christians are to stand firm with resolute determination, unmovable in these truths of heaven and Christ’s return. This is foundational to the longevity of our Christian walk this side of heaven.

Jesus taught in John 12:26, that if anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him. To follow Jesus is to serve Jesus. One of the ways in which the Father honours those who follow His Son, is by ensuring that they will always be with His Son in heaven. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out (John 6:37). Today, may we rest and rejoice in the certainty of heaven and our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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