Thursday, April 3, 2014

Because He is we can be!

This morning I wanted to take comfort in the Psalms.  Psalm 5 is a favorite.  The Psalm runs back and forth between the Enemies of David and his God.  And we can learn much about this God whom David loved.  Most of you my readers love Him also - this therefore ought to bless you!

1-3
Give ear to my words, O Lord,
Consider my meditation.
Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.

These verses are for me a pattern.  I have for many years used the early morning as a time devoted first to God, although frequently not as wholeheartedly as I ought.  These verse tell me What, and When, to Whom, and even Why!

·         What - Prayer.  We read of words of meditation or groaning.  Have you ever noticed the groaning we sometimes feel deep within?  Dig deep my friend, pour out your soul to the Lord.  This is what we are to do.

·         When - in the morning.  Not that we shouldn't pray at other times, but here we read that David chose to speak to the Almighty in the morning.  Our Lord also did this frequently (Mark 1:35).

·         To Whom - plainly God above.  But take note of the phrase, "My King and my God" He is more than God to us, as King we our our allegiance.

·         Why - "my voice You shall hear in the morning."  While we may pray anytime, we have here and explicit permit and promise that He hears our morning groaning’s.

4-6
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,
Nor shall evil dwell with You.
The boastful shall not stand in Your sight;
You hate all workers of iniquity.
You shall destroy those who speak falsehood;
The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

These verses contrast the true and living God with the evil workers of iniquity.  God's holiness is demonstrated in stark relief against such an evil back drop of sin. 

7-8
But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;
Make Your way straight before my face.

This is the beautiful resolve of the righteous.  It is because of our faithful trust in the mercy of the Lord we come to worship.

·         Because He is faithful we can be.

·         Because He is holy we can be.

·         Because His name is on our lips and before the world - for His namesake, we are made holy through the sanctifying worship of holy living.

Oh Lord! Make your way straight before me!

9-10
For there is no faithfulness in their mouth;
Their inward part is destruction;
Their throat is an open tomb;
They flatter with their tongue.
10 Pronounce them guilty, O God!
Let them fall by their own counsels;
Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions,
For they have rebelled against You.

Here we see the imprecatory part.  Evil is bad and we ought to be glad when it is dealt with properly.  We ought not gloat or glory in an evil doer getting his due, but instead consider that the name of the Lord is at stake and God must be vindicated. 

·         They are not faithful

·         Even their deepest part is destruction.

·         Their very throat is an open grave, demonstrating that they are dead.

·         They are liars.

Verse 10 is very telling.  Lest anyone cast a claim that God is unfair or unkind - It is their own counsel which brings them down!  It is not God's lack of concern for them which fails them - It is their own sin which gets them! (Read for comparison Eze. 18:33, & 33:11)

11-12
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

Here is a last stanza for those trusting in God.  And that is the point.  We never read of the righteous trusting God because of their righteousness, but because of God's mercy, God's holiness, and God's holy namesake. 

·         He is our defender.  Our joy is found in Him because we also bear His name!

·         He is our shield from the very darts and attacks of the wicked.

·         He blesses the righteous not for any personal righteousness they have, but because their righteousness is entirely and wholly derived from Him.

Someone once said, "He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him if He will have him"
Indeed.  And we must do the same - trusting Him.

Let me close with my wife’s favorite verses, Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

You Dictator!


"You're a dictator.  You said, 'That chair is not to be moved anywhere but there' and you don't follow your own rules, so you're a dictator."

My son said this without malice or anger of any kind.  In sort of a matter of fact way - and the whole family erupted in laughter, including me!  And rather than argue about the appropriateness of such accusation publically - I let it pass.

But I haven't stopped thinking about it.  There is a running joke that I have heard and used before that might defend me.  Whenever I overrule the 'majority opinion' in my house, I simply tell them that I am not running a democracy, but a benevolent dictatorship!  :-)  But being told outright, “You’re a dictator" has a certain sting that smarts.  So I want to defend my leadership, whatever it is, Dictatorship, Democracy or stewardship.

 In considering the matter, one thought occurs, however I lead - will likely be the way they lead later on in adulthood.  Is a dictatorship necessarily bad?  I have to say that I think not.  But it must be carefully looked over.  Since we are people who are not perfect and quite apt to err, due to sin a dictatorship can get out of hand and no longer be benevolent.   So the Dictatorship has its place - as long as the dictator realizes he is not perfect.  He is not God. 

For example - when parenting the younger child, at times it makes sense to simply dictate the rule and apply it as necessary since children are not able to grasp the depth of a matter.  Later on the matter may be understood and therefore great care must be taken in enforcing rules.  It may even be the case that some rules be tossed out as only good for a child, who, now that he is an adolescent, no longer needs it.

So when raising children we do create arbitrary fences to teach them what those moral rules look like to the concrete mind.  (This in itself, is a somewhat dangerous practice, in that it may confuse them later in life as to works and faith) 

However when the concrete mind gives way to rational thought, so must some of the fences. (I say some of the fences, due to the weakness of our flesh.  Each of us knows our besetting sin and ought not to put ourselves in temptations way) 

What I am thinking of is Dictatorship with Stewardship.  Stewardship, in this context, is understood to be as the raising of our children to adulthood knowing that, at least to some degree, we will be held accountable for the result.  And to Whom do we steward the child?  God, of course!

I am ever so aware of the fact that in 8-10 years my own children will be moving out, marrying, getting jobs, going to college, and not necessarily in that order.  My influence in later years must be a strong as that of the earlier years - when it was relatively easier.  Fences are easier to rule by, since these are clear markers to discern whether a boundary has been crossed or not.  But ruling by a moral principle takes a great deal of time, love, care, discernment, and dependence upon God.

My friend, Do you know the heart of your child?  You absolutely must know it and have captured it in order to raise them in these later years.

So the end of the matter us that I believe I do need to obey my own rules and not be a dictator any longer.  But at the same time my family is in transition from fences to moral principles.  I as the head of household must be ready to examine old fences, to see if they should be taken down or moved.  Not an easy task, since I have 3 children - all in various stages of maturity.  But it is part of the job.

Oh - I did put the chair back at the desk and sat in the approved one!

Lord - Help us as we raise our children!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What is His purpose and ours?

17 Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, 18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” (Matthew 20:17-19)

With so much commentary these days on what is God's purpose for your life I would like to propose that on occasion we won't know that purpose.  And sometimes we may never know.  Sometimes we may be forced for a season to move forward with the Lord, and not grasp His purpose in the matter.

Trust Him! Is He not the most trustworthy of men?!  We trust other men - yes with a bit more comprehension... Yet here is the Lord of the universe - Should we not trust Him, even if without all comprehension?!

Don't misunderstand me here.  Do not read this as a liberty not to read or study or seek understanding - But as an admonition to trust the all-trustworthy One, whose care for you has been established on the Cross (cf .1 Peter 5:5-7)
 
28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
 
This verse directly addresses something I once pondered and was challenged by.  The 1st catechism question is, "What is the chief end of man?"  In my human wisdom I struggled with the answer, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."  As I was memorizing it I kept on changing the word 'enjoy' to 'serve' .
 
Yet here (verse 28 above) is a justification for the question - we are not primarily here to serve God.  We do, as a matter of course, but in the manifold wisdom of God all we ever do IS service to Him, whether grudging, or intentional.  He providentially moves us along as He wills.
 
But as we do what we do - primarily we are to enjoy Him.  This is a fundamental difference and we ought to think on it more. 
Trust Him!
Enjoy Him!
 
He is worthy!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

In the Spirit or in the Flesh?

Read Matthew 18

This whole chapter is reminiscent of the sermon on the mount, and is another challenge to my heart. Consider the television... Is there any good thing there, or should we get rid of it altogether.  And even so - I live in a such a culture that to effectively escape such a time waster as television, I must get rid of the computer and the internet service altogether.

In the end it comes down to this: A personal discipline not to waste time on frivolous matters.  And a personal discipline for a time may be done in the flesh.  But is ought not to be so.  It must ultimately be a work of the Spirit.

In the flesh, for a time - until weakness strikes and I fail, I can stand the test.  But even so, am I standing?  In the flesh I do not obey the commands of the Word, fearing that I dare not let my guard down.  In the flesh, I become a legalist.

It is only in the Spirit victory can be attained.  And in the Spirit I must be humble.  I will be humbled by the Lord in my most obvious weakness.  I will be humbled by the world, those of whom cannot grasp my real motivation and will tag me as a legalist - because that's what it appears to the eye of flesh.

Lord,
     Give me Spirit led discipline to deny myself when I am becoming too worldly, and a humble heart to do so - when the world mocks me, and a tender ear to listen and obey the Spirits call - regardless of how it looks to this world.  Make me a Godly man, Lord.  Amen

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Harold Camping dead at 92

Yesterday evening I read that he had succumbed, and perusing some of the comments made concerning this made me sad.  Indeed - I am quite frequently stunned at my own reaction to someone's death.  Ever sense I lost Mom and my brother Scott I guess I feel death more sharply.  And don't think for a minute that I am or ever was a follower of Mr. Camping.   But the comments I read were not warranted.  Though Mr. Camping's repentance of his predictive ways was less bold and sharp than I would have desired, he did repent. 

And what comes to my mind was that there are 2 possibilities for him.  Two possibilities which lead to only one response, humble sadness.  And that is distinctly NOT the response I was seeing in those comments.  Possibility one is that he was not truly repentant and that he, having led many down the path of deceit and disillusionment now is facing God's wrath - in which case we as believers ought not celebrate.  Or secondarily his repentance may have been as genuine and humble as a believer can have - in which case a response would certainly not be the snide comments I read yesterday. 

Should we be offended at a supposed believer making terribly false/wrong claims and shaming the name of Christ?  YES!  A thousand times over!  Yet if his repentance was true - and we cannot know except by evidence that he stopped his predictive ways - then I believe we ought as believers to have a more subtle muted response to his passing.  There but for the grace of God go I. 

The following is a Facebook note written May 23rd, 2011 - immediately after the last failed 'prophecy' of Mr. Camping.  (LINK:https://www.facebook.com/notes/dave-cox-ii/harold-camping-is-a-prophet/10150186485610869)
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Harold Camping IS a prophet.  But not just any prophet... He's a false prophet.  People who knew of the failed 1994 prediction knew - and no one should have been deceived. But many were, sadly.  And many more will now be jaded, and become mockers, scoffing. Sadly, though the Scripture warns us about false prophets and many anti-christ’s in the last days, this incident will simply bolster the opinion of many who do not agree with Its' beliefs.

Anyone can be misled, and we should not treat those who were Camping followers with contempt or pity.  But as for Mr. Camping himself, he ought to repent of this, publically and boldly, since he boldly and very publically proclaimed these things.

I mentioned in the subject of this note, that Mr. Camping is a Prophet... a false prophet.  One interesting irony is that he IS helping to fulfill at least this prophetic statement, from 2nd Peter 3:1 - 4, "Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”"  Just like Caiaphas the high priest who prophesied that one should die for the nation (speaking of Christ), though Caiaphas did not know the truth of the very thing he prophesied.  Nevertheless, Mr. Camping's failed prediction will fuel the scoffers' fire.

Truly the end days are upon us, but who would dare to manipulate the plain teaching of Scripture?  Matthew 24:36 says, "“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."  The whole of Scripture tells us we should be preparing, yet not with a particular date in mind.  We are told of the seasons.  May we be wise and gain our wisdom from the Lord, and not our own schemes.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Angry without a cause?

Why am I so angry!?

what shall I do about it...
I am not justified in my wrath - but my peace does not return.
I myself am as guilty as the rest,
Nothing I can do can rectify it.

I am as hopeless as one can be.

Yet I believe.

I cannot comprehend that God would love a wretch so much as I.
I, who am perhaps more guilty than they, and yet try to justify myself...

I am afraid.
What if they know.

how can I defend myself?

I for whom Christ died?!  and how is He glorified in choosing a foul fool wretch like me anyhow? 
Why do I somehow think I should be privy to know?  Who am I but a dog...

There is no peace, my God says, for the wicked, and I know that by experience.

Oh Lord! help this foolish man!  Hold me together - make me yours.  Satisfy me with your lovingkindness.  For excepting your touch - I would destroy all whom I say I love. 

Hear my prayer Oh God!  Forgive me...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A devotional commentary on Isaiah 38 (to be read).

A life.

     No matter how long - is too short,

              Especially when told the end of it.

      For we were not supposed to die,

But live.

Hezekiah was told by God to get his house in order, “for you shall die”.  When a man tells another such a thing it is shocking, but it is only the opinion of another man.  Men have been wrong before, and will be so again.  But to receive such a message from the living God – that cannot be ignored!

Yet, though in bitterness, Hezekiah prayed, “Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.”

Dare any man bring to remembrance his ways before the Lord?!  I know I would be afraid, even ashamed, to do so, for who can stand before the Lord?  None, not even one.  But the one trusting in God’s love & salvation – he could stand…  Again I ask, Who dares to presume upon the Lord?

Indeed Hezekiah’s account (38:10-15) describes his struggle to stand reconciled before the living God.  I especially appreciate verse 14, “My eyes fail from looking upward. O LORD, I am oppressed; Undertake for me!”  In verse 16 Hezekiah begins to take a line from Psalm 46:10 (Be still, and know that I am God) and rests from all his defenses.  Oh that we would do likewise!  We cannot stand before Him!

He now begins to account for his sins and is quickly reminded that God is his only hope and has already delivered him from death of a much darker sort – the pit!  In verse 16 – 20, he simply repeats that the living shall praise Him and in that, Hezekiah means two things. While in physical life we do praise God, but after such life is over – only the living – not such as go down to the pit, will praise the Lord, and then in perfection!

Father, may my words be to your praise now and after my departure from this earthly pilgrimage.  Amen.

Originally published 23 March 2011 at 12:13 here:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/dave-cox-ii/a-devotional-commentary-on-isaiah-38-to-be-read/10150116984765869