Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Be Still and Know

November 10th, 2017

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the nations; I will be exalted on the earth. (Psalm 46:11)

There is no more holy duty for believers than to still our hearts - barring worry and anxiety from them - and dwelling on the revealed knowledge of God. There is likewise no spiritual activity that is more rewarding for us than this.

Be still - the original Hebrew uses a verb form that emphasizes this as a completed action - an intransitive verb, for all you grammarians. It does not merely say to slow down for a second, or to let our busy and anxious thoughts dwell on a different topic. It means to come to an end to our distractions and to sink down in the reality of God, putting the entire weight of our minds upon Him.

The 46th Psalm is about anxious worrying, fretting about all sorts of worst case scenarios. “We will not fear,” the inspired author says, “though the earth gives way,” in order to swallow us up, it would seem, “though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea” (46:2). It is the unbalanced and unchecked constant thinking about all that can go wrong that destroys spiritual peace in our lives.

There is a point to considering what could go wrong, and to making proper preparations, but our faith in the reality of God, in His faithfulness and power, adds another dimension to this matter. A worrisome mind may prepare logistically for dire circumstances, but at the same time never feel at rest with out a heart of faith in God.

And know - the knowledge of the truth of God can come only by His revelation. He must enlighten our minds before we may know that He is God, and that truth must be embraced with faith in order to be personally appropriated. “No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

There are some scholars who believe this verse is primarily directed to the nations, and not to the believer. It is the proclamation to those who are not yet His people, calling them to believe and obey Him, to bow before Him and worship Him. If that is the case, it cannot not be said that it means nothing to the believer. It does in fact proclaim a truth that we believers must embrace in our hearts.

The prophetic timeline - we also note that these last two statements, of God’s exaltation among the nations and upon the earth, are placed in order properly according to the prophetic timeline. The first, to be “exalted in the nations” speaks of worship, and means literally to be exalted in the hearts of the many different peoples upon the earth. The Greek translation of the New Testament era used the word “ethne” or “ethnic groups” to convey this thought. As the gospel goes out and is preached among the nations, many bow their hearts to God in faith and believe in Christ, and He is exalted in their hearts.

The second prophetic statement of being “exalted on the earth” speaks of geography - the word is “eretz” and it means the earth itself. When Christ returns He will set up His Millennial Kingdom and reign on earth, fulfilling the kingdom prophecies of the Old Testament.

These two thoughts, of current faith among the people of the world and of a future kingdom established on earth, are meant to bring comfort to our hearts. God is at work in the world and He will bring people of all nations to genuine faith, and He will ultimately establish His kingdom on earth.

These are truths that we are to rest in and take to heart. Faith gives soulful balance to the preparations we make for what the future may bring tomorrow.

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Paul’s Victory over His Thorn

September 28th, 2017

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:8-10 NIV)

Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” that led him to the sustaining grace of God. All believers relate to this reality in Paul’s life.

What was his thorn in the flesh? We do not know for sure and there have been many suggestions - recurring malarial fever, a strange birth defect, endless speculations. The lead favorite from what we can glean from scripture was some sort of eye disease which left him with poor vision, an unsightly appearance, and painful discomfort. That is based on two statements of Paul:

I am sure you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if it had been possible. (Gal. 4:15 NLT)

See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! (Gal. 6:11 NIV)

The second verse above suggests that the letter to the Galatians had been written by a secretary of sort, an amanuensis who wrote legibly. This was a common custom of that day before word processors and printers. But at the end of the letter Paul took the pen in hand himself and due to his poor eyesight his writing was large.

But this is still mere conjecture and we do not know for sure. The lack of certainty about what it was specifically has allowed people with a variety of physical problems to identify with Paul.

What had he done about it? Three times he had pleaded with God to remove it, suggesting three separate seasons of prayer for the problem to be healed. We may also assume that he had sought some medical attention, for Dr Luke, the “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14), traveled with him. But despite prayer and medical attention it was unhealed.

His breakthrough came through faith. God spoke to him in this instance that His grace was sufficient for him. Paul gained victory over his condition not by its removal but by his faith in the power and purposes of God. The spiritual always transcends the earthly and physical with God, and He is willing to sacrifice the physical to enrich the spiritual in our lives. God used this physical weakness to teach Paul to depend on God constantly, and not upon himself.

Using our imaginations we can catch a glimpse of the power of this act of God. Paul would never have become the man of God that he did become without this thorn in the flesh, for it brought him to regularly depend on God. It helped him rise up in faith and in the power of God, and not in the power of Paul. He found constant spiritual strength in his weaknesses.

How are you weak? What ways of weakness has God entrusted to you that you might stand in His strength? There is nothing wrong with asking for healing and deliverance - even Christ prayed that the cup of suffering on the cross be removed from His life. But when God gives His answer then we are to accept that this problem comes by God’s permissive will and through it we will learn more about the grace and power of God than we would ever learn on our own.

This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.(1 John 5:4b NIV)

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