Thursday, March 31, 2016

6 Senses

We have six senses. We each tend to have more of one or rely more on one than others. For me it is smell. Neuroliguistic programmers say our smell is captured in many ways in our brains, bringing images and experiences alive. I believe that is true. There are not a lot of Bible verses about smell, and a number referencing taste. Taste and smell go together. Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him.” How can we taste the Lord?  I believe it is clear in Scripture that we taste the Lord by His Word, in the Bible. In fact, Psalm 119:103 tells us, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Tasting God’s word in a function of study and meditation. It is taking in His precepts until they are part of us. In fact the Prophet Ezekiel takes this to heart hearing God saying to him, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll…Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you. So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness” (Ezekiel 3:1-3).  You see, God wanted His people to hear the words of warning and healing, but they were stiff-necked and would not hear them.  Proverbs tells us that, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. 

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether, more to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:7,9,10). I love this theme of the Word of God being sweeter than honey. Taste and see that the Lord is good. The words of the Lord come to our smell and taste, but also our sight. Psalm 119:105 tell us that, Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.”  God’s word is our visual guide as we walk. We are to, “Trust in the Lord with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Do you hear the Lord when He calls? “I will hear what the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints” (Psalm 85:8). Often Scripture says to “those with eyes to see and ears to hear” before a proclamation of truth. In Isaiah 6 God warns, “Keep on hearing but not understanding; keep on seeing but do not perceive…lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.” God asks how long will they not hear or see and be healed.

Has God touched you and healed you? He touched Isaiah’s lip with a hot coal saying, “Behold, this has touched your lips, your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged” (Isaiah 6:6). When calling the prophet Jeremiah he said, “Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: ‘Behold I have put My words in your mouth.’” (Jeremiah 1:9).  The woman with a12 years of issue of blood touched Jesus and His healing power touched her in return.

“Taster and see that the Lord is good” we read in Psalm 19. The Bible is replete with sight references and it should because most of us are secretly from Missouri and have to see it. Listen to the Apostle John quoting Jesus concerning His needing to die. “ A little while longer and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:19). On resurrection day, Jesus walked with the two men to Emmaus, but they were kept from recognizing Him, perhaps by Satan. He opened the Scriptures to them. They heard but did not see. They reached their destination, and Jesus appeared to be going further. They invited Him to join them for dinner. It was only when He gave thanks to His Father and broke the bread that they saw that “their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:31). They could feel their hearts had been burning within them. They were now able having heard, tasted and seen the Lord to believe and say, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon…and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread” (vv. 34-35).   Sight is thought to be the primary sense of men. But we need more so often. We can see better when we get further away or higher often, like climbing a mountain. Only when we come down and view from afar does the whole mountain come into focus. But there is a spiritual sense where we must get lower, on our knees or face to see.

Our sixth and strongest sense is spiritual. It is the power of the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 5:14 the author speaks of spiritual maturity and how all of our senses are engaged. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  Now that is the full use of our senses empowered by the Holy Spirit who will guide us in all truth. In the famous hymn Amazing Grace, John Newton, the former slaver turned minister writes, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
     Was blind, but now, I see.”
“Faith comes through hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). This hearing and seeing in through the power of the Holy Spirit working within you to invite and receive Jesus into your heart with all your senses. “Taste and see that He is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8).


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New

Easter and spring are about new: A new creation, a new life, a resurrected life, a new song, a new job or baby or a new way of living life. I am choosing to look at life afresh or in a new way this year. Easter brings the hope of a new life in Jesus Christ who has risen from the grave. Perhaps you don’t connect to that thought like some members of my own family. They say Christianity is OK, but don’t give me any of this Jesus stuff. That is very painful and sad to hear, because it points not to new life but to death. Yes, not recognizing the fact that Jesus died and rose from the grave for each of us is to disregard God’s plan for you and to seek your own life where you are captain or driver. It’s all about “me” you might say. You can’t have it both ways; either God or you are in charge. So I’m singing a new song this spring.

In 2014 I wrote a book called Great is God’s Faithfulness. It is based on the psalms and the theme of faithfulness. Psalm 40 deals with faith persevering in trial:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
    He turned to me and heard my cry. 
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand. 
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in Him.

God is faithful to lift us out of the pits of life and put a song of praise in our mouths and heart. It is the image of the resurrection of Eastertide. It is new life in Christ, who died for you and me. He pulled me out of a death spiral into new life when I was in the lowest place even though I was a hospital CEO. He pulled me from death again when given a mortal diagnosis by world-renowned physicians. He miraculously healed me when they did not know what to do. I sang a new song. What about you? Perhaps you have not had a miraculous healing, but God can still do it.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. 
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.” 
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him; 
it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord (Lamentation 3:22-25).

This is a new dawn; the sun is rising as I look out the window on a new day. The birds are singing in hope. This again is about God’s faithfulness to those who seek and wait for Him. Many times in the psalms David speaks of a new song that is the new covenant in God through Jesus Christ and His life, death and resurrection. The last reference to this new song is the one sung by the 144,000 Jews around the throne in heaven praising Jesus in Revelation 14. If there are any Jewish people reading this now, keep your eyes and hearts open for your redemption draws neigh.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The promises of God are perfect and new. He has taken away your sin and given you His righteousness.  Just as God clothed Adam and Eve with new clothes in Genesis, He wants to do the same for you and me. “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14). God is saying, put off the old self and put on the new that does not gratify the fleshly desires, but those of God. This is a renewing, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).

The entire Bible is about God’s covenant relationship with us from old to new. The Book of Revelation ends with the coming of the New Heaven and New earth when Christ comes to make all things new again. He is returning soon to do just that. So be ready. “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

This is the great promise; God is coming again to make all things new. But first we must trust in Him, be renewed.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

"He is not here, He is risen!"

On Easter morning Jesus rose from the grave and conquered death. Jesus wants all people to get up and walk. He beckons us as He did the man crippled for 37 years lying beside the Pool of Bethesda, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” (John 5:8). We know from the story that at once he got up and walked because he was healed. But notice in this story that Jesus also asked this man if he wanted to be healed. Why? Because he had lain at the poolside so long he had become accustomed to being a cripple. Are you used to being a cripple? Do you just accept your lot? Have you given up trying to reach up?  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). Paul kept going saying there is “one thing” for him and that is pressing on toward the goal Christ has called him.  Have you given up because the world is just too much for you? Yes it is without God’s power in you.

 “Come”  (Matthew 14:28) Jesus said to Peter as He exhorted him to get out of the boat and walk on the water, and he did. Yes, Jesus and Peter walked on water overcoming nature. Jesus is God and can overcome all things. He has given to His believers the same ability. He has risen from the grave, ascended to heaven and sent His Holy Spirit to live with and within us. He beckons to us saying, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).  God wants us to get up and walk. “He will teach us His ways, so that we can walk in His paths…let us walk in the light of the Lord”  (Isaiah 2:3&5).

God wants all to walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1). But so many walk in darkness or the ways of the world. “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). It takes courage to overcome our fears and bad habits. We may indeed have troubles, we all do. But Jesus said, “In this world you will have trials, but take heart I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).


This Easter morning, walk in the light of His resurrection, “He is not here, He has risen” He has risen indeed!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Angels

Angels
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11).  This incredible Psalm starts talking about “those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (v.1). It seems that trusting in God has its benefits!  Angels? You say. There isn’t such a thing.  Well, I trust in the Word of God, the Bible, which tells us that we each have guardian angels.

Reread the story of Jacob, “the deceiver” who was going to meet with his brother Esau after bamboozling him out of his inheritance and blessing from his father Isaac. “Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, ‘this is the camp of God!” (Genesis 32:1-2). It reminded him of his dream from Genesis 28 where at Bethel, the house of God, he saw the angels of God ascending and descending the ladder to heaven. This is where he was promised the land that God has promised Abraham for his descendants. God worked and works in dreams His will to convey.Be alert.

Jesus was tempted to use the angels to protect him by Satan in his own temptation in Luke 4.  We do not want to put the Lord God to the test. Yes, angels were at Jesus’ disposal, but it is God who redeems and saves us. He protects us, perhaps through his angels. God uses them, as he did with Gideon who was easily frightened.  In Judges 6 we read of the angel of the Lord demonstrated God’s power and presence. He did the same for Joshua in Judges telling of God’s covenant.

In Psalm 34, David “sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame…The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (Psalm 34:4-7).


Daniel was protected by angels closing the mouths of lions. Peter was freed from prison in Acts 12 by angels. Have you been “Touched by an Angel?” Probably you have without knowing it. I have written of seemingly miraculous deliverances in Alaska and other places in my life. These are not coincidences or luck. This is God acting and sometimes through His angels whom He commands.