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Receiving God’s Revelation

January 4th, 2019

To the faithful You show Yourself faithful,
to the blameless You show Yourself blameless,
to the pure You show Yourself pure,
but to the crooked You show Yourself shrewd.
For You save an afflicted people,
but You humble those with haughty eyes. (Psalm 18:25-27)

The first meaning of this passage is not about God so much as it is about us. “The human heart makes its God like itself, and to the pure and just He will be a pure and just God, to the cruel and unjust, cruel and unjust” (Ellicott’s Commentary). This mirrors the truth found elsewhere in Scripture:

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8)

God will have to break through by His Word and His Spirit these misconceptions in our hearts of who He is in order to provide us with an accurate revelation. And even then, there seems to remain in most of us some taint of our flesh upon the image we hold of God.

Faithful and Blameless and Pure

To the faithful and blameless and pure God shows Himself as such. He fulfills His promises and no accusation from mankind can stick to His reputation and blemish it. His integrity is perfect, and no evil or moral impurity exists in His heart. We can go further and speak of what the Bible says elsewhere of His patience with mankind: “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in loving devotion” (Psalm 103:8). This also true, that a patient, gracious, and compassionate man sees God as patient, gracious, and compassionate.

But the three traits mentioned in Psalm 18 – faithful, blameless, and pure – speak to the inner core of God’s character, and the others – patient, gracious, compassionate – speak to how these inner core qualities express themselves in His dealings with mankind.

  • Faithful means “pious” or “kindness”
  • Blameless means “without defect”
  • Pure means “sincere” and “honest”

We would expect nothing less from the Holy God, the Creator of all there is.

The inner revelations by His Word and Spirit, connected with the disciplines of spiritual growth in our lives, are intended to have an increasing impact upon us to change our hearts that we may see God more and more as He truly is. No where is this truth more plainly laid out for us than in the Beatitudes:  “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt. 5:7-8). The growth we have by His Word and Spirit provides us with an opportunity to grasp these truths with faith, and when we do then we see God more clearly, and these truths resonate in our hearts and minds more thoroughly, deeply, and frequently.

All spiritual growth is predicated on this pattern of God’s revelation of Himself to our hearts and our claiming through faith His revelation, then comes transforming growth, as we are increasingly made into His image. This point is driven home repeatedly in scripture, in Ephesians, for examples:

“I ask that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope of His calling, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power to us who believe.” (Eph. 1:18-19)

“And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:17-19)

How do you see God? The more you know of His Word, the more you walk with His Spirit, the more you will be transformed into His image. And the more you are transformed the more heart knowledge you will gain of God.

But to the Crooked

The words in Hebrew could be translated “twisted” – “To the twisted you show yourself twisting.” The crooked or twisted man has a misshapen idea of all men. He suspects them of the same indiscretion and dishonesty that is in his own heart, and he likewise sees God through this same lens. This is the man who says, “I know what you are thinking,” as he accuses others of perverseness, simply because this is what he is thinking.

The repercussion of being such a crooked person is a divided heart that fails to perceive the finest things in the universe properly, if at all. Tennyson described the outcome of this type of thinking when he wrote: “He that shuts love out, in turn shall be shut out from love.” The crooked person may be loved deeply, but he will never feel loved beyond just sporadic moments of emotion, not in deep rivers of conviction. He loves the world and the things in the world, which we are commanded not to love (1 John 2:15), and is dominated by the sinfulness of the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). 

So he lusts after power, possessions, and praise, and is willing to compromise moral things to gain them. He will start a false rumor against someone in order to gain some compliment. He will damage another person’s reputation so that he will gain more power. He will use dishonest means to gain possessions, and he will pride himself on how he appears in the things that he has gained unethically – whether it be clothes, a car, a house, or an office. And all the time he suspects others of being twisted like him, and even thinks that God is twisted as well. He expects God to curse him, judge him, punish him, and trick him. 

This man is not formed in a vacuum and it is likely that from his childhood he only knew of conditional love, attention and compassion that must be earned. His parents may have fed his mind constantly with statements of the unfairness of life, the capriciousness of God, and the weakness of compassion. Put downs, insults, and selfishness may have characterized his home more than encouragements and kindness. 

It takes a great miracle of God for such a person to turn to God. He may choose a religion – many twisted people do – but he cannot see God until his heart is touched by God. But God is in the business of performing miracles. God changes hearts and minds and souls and gives sight to the spiritually blind. It takes a miracle of God in our hearts for a soul to be saved, and God can give the twisted the gift of repentance and of new life in Christ. They can find that God will save them and change their twisted thinking. 

Goodness and Awareness

This does not mean that the good man must be naive and blind to the ways of the world. It is interesting that concerning Christ it was said, “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25). The world is sinful, as the Bible repeatedly points out. But the good man, the man who has integrity, tends to see potential in others that the others do not see in themselves, and the twisted man doesn’t. It is said of love that it “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). 

Paul described this attitude when he wrote: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28). And it was in this spirit that he counselled the man of God to be patient with those who stubbornly resist the truth (2 Tim. 2:24-26). 

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Salt and Light

August 22nd, 2018

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. (Matthew 5:13-15 ESV)

There are two ways Christ said that His followers will give witness: salt and light. And the realms in which we will bear witness are also different: earth and world – “earth” or ge in Greek, meaning the planet on which we live and “world” or kosmos in Greek meaning the world system, with its values, perspectives, and spirits.

These two words cover two different ways we bear witness: tangible and intangible, practical and philosophical, concrete and metaphysical, on earth among people’s physical and material needs and in the realm of ideas and truth and spiritual warfare. Anytime the church has leaned only toward one of these and neglected the other it has become a church out of focus and out of the will of God. Both are essential to do in order for the church to truly bear witness.

The Salt of the Earth

The church can only become the salt of the earth as it ministers to the people of this planet in practical and meaningful ways. Salt was used for three primary things in Jesus’ day: a preservative, a flavor enhancer, and a curative. In those days before refrigeration, salt was an essential ingredient for the preservation of foods – and to this day it is still used this way in many places. By salting and drying fish and other meats, they could preserve food. But salt makes otherwise bland tasting things enjoyable, and it also fought against bacteria and could disinfect scrapes, cuts, and even sore throats.

The church of Jesus Christ is called to serve as a preservative in society. Through the Bible’s teachings and Christian values society has been incredibly benefited. The establishment of just laws, the respect for workers’ rights, laws related to just compensation, fair punishments, and even the treatment of aliens all originated in the Old Testament Mosaic Code. The establishment of hospitals as we know them today was highly influenced by Christian compassion. The church of Jesus also serves as a curing force, seeking to make peace between peoples, seeking to bring inner and outer healing.

Salt comes from the earth. Whether it is dug out of mines or made from dehydrating ocean water, it is a substance that is from the earth. And the church comes from the earth as well, from the people of this world. So we are called to go back into the world as servants and ministers – this is included in the very idea of the Greek word for “church” ekklesia, which literally means “called out ones.” We are not to isolate ourselves from the world’s societies. Rather we are to visit them, care for them, love them, and minister to them: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27 ESV).

The Light of the World

“Light” is other worldly and originates in the sun. Without the sun, earth would merely be a cold rock floating through the universe.Though Christ applied this to a lighted-city on a hill or a simple oil lamp in a house, His entire use of this term light indicates divine enlightening and not merely new human thoughts and ideas.

Rather than “earth” Jesus used the word “world” which relates to the world system. This is how the word was used in 1 John:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

This refers not to the people of the world – for John 3:16 says that God loves the world in that sense – but rather to the world system that is fallen and evil. It is presided over by the fallen angel Lucifer or Satan who is described as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).

As light we enlighten. Christ is also called “The Light of the World” (John 8:12), and we are only the light of the world as we abide in Him. We are light by preaching the gospel, confronting falsehoods and Satanic lies. As light we proclaim the truth of God’s Word.

Two essential things we are to do to bear witness to God: help and teach. How are you fulfilling your calling in these areas as a follower of Christ?

 

Daily Devotions, Uncategorized