Heaven Pt. 163: Soul Secure

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If the Lord had not been on our side—
    let Israel say—
if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
    when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
    the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
    would have swept us away.

Praise be to the Lord,
    who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
    from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
    and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth Psalm 124: 2-8

I once met a man who believed that because he had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior that  he would never experience death. He actually thought he would live in his fleshly body forever. Of course that was not truth; It was reaaaaallllly  bad theology.

We laugh at such extremism but I have experienced this same  mindset to varying degrees in many Christian brothers and sisters, devout men and women who take the Scriptures and make them say what they want rather than what they mean. Psalm 124 is a case in point. Some would take this Scripture and have it say “Because I know the God who made Heaven and Earth my enemies can never touch me.”

The problem of course is that sometimes the enemy can touch us. Sometimes the enemy can do far more than touch us. Just ask the man who wrote Psalm 24. On another day, in another place he said.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me,

so far from my cries of anguish?

2My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,

by night, but I find no rest.b

3Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;

you are the one Israel praises.c

4In you our ancestors put their trust;

they trusted and you delivered them.

5To you they cried out and were saved;

in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6But I am a worm and not a man,

scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

7All who see me mock me;

they hurl insults, shaking their heads.

8“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,

“let the Lord rescue him.

Let him deliver him,

since he delights in him.”

9Yet you brought me out of the womb;

you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.

10From birth I was cast on you;

from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11Do not be far from me,

for trouble is near

and there is no one to help.

12Many bulls surround me;

strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13Roaring lions that tear their prey

open their mouths wide against me.

14I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint.

My heart has turned to wax;

it has melted within me.

15My mouthd is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

you lay me in the dust of death.

16Dogs surround me,

a pack of villains encircles me;

they piercee my hands and my feet. Psalm 22: 1-16 NIV

I know this is a prophetic Scripture about Jesus but it was also written out of the very real experiences of David’s life on the lam (no pun intended). So what happened to escaping from the fowler’s snare? What happened to God’s help? Well it was there all the time. Help just didn’t look like David wanted it to look at that particular moment.

God doesn’t promise to always spare us from trouble. In fact, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” John 16. Heaven isn’t Earth and Earth isn’t Heaven, so let’s stop pretending they are the same.

Even in Psalm 124 God doesn’t promise that we would always escape from bodily harm, although in the NIV that looks to be what He is saying. The truth that is actually being taught though is,” our souls escape from the fowler’s snare” 124:7. (nephesh malat- souls escape)

Even when the enemy has the power to touch our physical realities, he has no power to touch our souls, because our lives are hid with God in Christ according to the Apostle Paul. Child of God, there is a place in the anointing which brings us blessing beyond the curse so that we can say with Paul, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. ” 2 Cor. 4:8,9

If it feels like you are under attack today and that you are trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea with no good way out, take heart. The devil may have a hold on you for now but his grip is slipping and he has no power whatever to capture your soul. The real you inside is safe in God’s hands and shall be so as God’s plans for your life are fulfilled. Your life cannot be touched by anything in this reality. The battle of the moment may go to Satan but the victory of forever belongs to you!

Heaven Pt. 162: Bigger Than

Thunderheads over the Lower Lake, Killarney

Thunderheads over the Lower Lake, Killarney

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1,2

Have you ever climbed a mountain? I have. What I can’t believe about mountain climbing is that there are people who actually do it for fun. I remember climbing this one mountain ( I remember it because it was the only mountain I ever climbed). I remember looking up to see the peak. I remember making my way up the steep thigh-killing trail, my breath tearing out of my lungs in great gasps.

I kept saying to myself “just a little further and you will have made it. The top is right around the corner!”

I remember coming out of the trees on that summit only to discover that what I thought was the top was just an outcrop masking the view of the real peak which was some half mile up in the distance. I think I wept.

Mountains are like that: tricky, turn-coat, hiding their bigness in the clouds and aiming to steal your joy at every turn of the path (sorry mountain climbing lovers I just calls ’em likes I sees ’em). The truth is if we keep our eyes on the mountains we will lose hope pretty quickly. Honestly, if you’re looking at the mountain and it seems to big for you to climb you’re only seeing the half of it. The real mountain is worse than you know.

But there is HOPE. You won’t find it looking at the mountain though. Hope is found in the Lord. He’s the maker of Heaven and Earth and He is bigger even than your mountain. Never forget to factor God in on your mountain climbs. He’s the greatest asset you have and He is the only reason you are going to make it up and over whatever mountain stands in your way. As Scripture says, “It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights Psalm 18:32,33

If God should think the mountain is to big for you to climb He will help you move it straight out of the way. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” Mark 11:23,24

Let me encourage you, stop looking at the mountain. Start looking at the God who is bigger than…

The Heaven posts are a devotional study through the Bible using the word “Heaven”. To find other Heaven posts go to my Pastor Wrinkles page above and click on the “Heaven posts” drop down.

Heaven Pt. 161: Unmoving

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For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119:89

I admit it I am blinded by my culture to the things of God. There are pieces of the Scripture that I don’t get, I struggle with or I just plain don’t like. But that’s not because there is anything wrong with the Word of God. There is something wrong with me. There are pieces of me that are still tied to this old world and its systems.

The Bible says in Psalm 119:89 that the Word of God is “settled in Heaven.” The meaning of the word settled is -to be stationed or appointed to a particular place.  What the verse teaches us is that the Bible is fixed in a heavenly viewpoint. It explains Heavenly precepts. Since the foundation of our race and culture, our world system, its operation and its values have been diametrically opposed to that Heavenly viewpoint.

None of us come to the Kingdom of God out of a purely heavenly viewpoint. We come to the Kingdom out of the world system. That is why the only way to come to God is through repentance. Repentance is not just about giving up bad habits. It is about changing our minds. We have to change our minds about the way things work. We have to accept that much of what we have been taught is just straight up drivel no matter how much sense it might seem to make.

When my world-view comes into conflict with the Bible it is a signal that I need to repent that I need to change my mind. It is not a signal that the Scripture needs to be redefined to keep up with culture. The Word is settled in Heaven and in case you didn’t know that is the culture that will one day rule the Earth in totality. Its systems  never change. They are set by God and we don’t get a vote.

The Heaven posts are a word study through the Bible about the word “Heaven”. To read other Heaven posts go to the Pastor Wrinkles page listed in the search bar at the top of the page.

Longing For the Isle Of Hope

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. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And 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. 4‘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.” Rev. 21:1-4

This song has been running through my mind for the last couple of days. Every time I play it I find myself almost collapsing in tears (which for those who know me is saying something). The song is but an echo.  I don’t weep for the past or for the glory of a bygone America. I am weeping out of a longing for the real “Isle of Hope” Christians are heading towards. But the echo in the song is enough to get the tear ducts working.

Lately I have found my hunger for that place called Heaven increasing. Perhaps its the growing state of hunger and pain I see in the world around me. Perhaps its just the consuming desire I have to see the King of that far off land face to face. Whatever it is a chord has been struck and a certain sense of homesickness  is resonating within me. I have only a desire to see Jesus and to bring many people with me to that meeting!

Even so Lord Jesus come quickly!

Is there a song that stirs deep feelings of longing for eternity inside of you?

Pastor Wrinkles: Quotes From the Sin Under the Sin

These quotes came from today’s sermon at Cornerstone Church.

“Sin is something that goes against God’s plan for human flourishing.” Pastor Brad Hackett

Sculpture at the library of Trinity College

” All sin comes down to unbelief which in turn becomes self-righteousness.” Pastor Brad Hackett

“The marvelous thing about God is He never sends anyone where they do not chose to go.” Pastor Brad Hackett

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“man sinned. God suffered.” Pastor Brad Hackett

“Satan is in Hell because he thought he could do a better job of running Heaven than God, but he is running Hell the same way he’d run Heaven. Hell is a counterfeit of Heaven. Everything Satan does is a counterfeit of something God does.” Pastor Brad Hackett

Heaven Pt. 159: God Stooping

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Praise the Lord.[a]

Praise the Lord, you his servants;
    praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
    both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised.

The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
    his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
    the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
    on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
    as a happy mother of children.

Praise the Lord. Psalm 113

One of my commentators recently asked a question about the incarnation of Christ, “How do you come to the conclusion that “God became human” when the young girl (Myriam/Miriam/Mary/Maria) became pregnant from a child without sexual contact with any being?  Where in your Bible can you find such a thing? That Jesus would be human without limitation is contradicted in the same proof of him not being God, by him not knowing everything and having to learn everything, plus being able to be tempted and by being able to die and to come into hell for three days.
God knows everything, has no beginning (= not born) has no end (= can not die) plus according to the Bible is an eternal Spirit Who can not be seen by man or they would die. Jesus was seen by many, who did not fall death, and even took some out of dead and proofed after his resurrection out of the dead, that he was not a Spirit..” (sic)

The writer of this comment seems stuck on the implausibility of God becoming a man. I can understand that. How is such a thing even possible? How could the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, eternal, invisible God become a limited, uneducated mortal bound by the laws of time and space?

Psalm 113 verse 6 gives us the simple answer, “He stooped”.

A miracle by its definition takes the impossible and makes it possible. A Miracle takes the unexplainable and reveals it (even if most times it doesn’t explain it).

The incarnation (God becoming man and yet remaining God) is a miracle revealed by Scripture if not explained:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-14

 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,” Col. 1:15-19 

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Col. 2:9

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4: 14-15

Scripture doesn’t tell us how it is so; It just says it is so. I am pretty certain that is because even were He to explain it we could never understand it, at least not from our current perspective.

I have to tell you though God becoming man is not the most unfathomable thing in the whole Christmas story. Honestly, God WANTING to become a man is far more incredible to me.

“I don’t know why Jesus loved me. I don’t know why He cared. I don’t know why He sacrificed His life. Oh but I’m glad. I’m glad He did.” Andrae Crouch

Ready, Set, Done

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ready-set-done-7/

The daily post has given us this instruction today…

As it’s been a while since our last free-write… set a timer for ten minutes. Write without pause (and no edits!) until you’re out of time. Then, publish what you have (it’s your call whether or not to give the post a once-over).

To see how others have spent their ten minutes click on the link above.

Here is what I have been thinking today.

Christ Came To Us So That We Might Go To Him

As it is the Christmas season I am preparing, per usual, a funeral service. It seems that every year about this time I find myself doing at least one or two of these funeral events. I suppose it is all part and parcel of being a pastor, and I suppose some would find that really sad. I don’t. Well let me qualify that I don’t find it sad if the funeral I am doing is like the one I am putting together right now. The man who has gone on before us was a Christian man, Not a perfect man, not a man who had it all figured out but a Christian man. He was one of the men who understood that he had nothing to offer God in himself but that God had everything to offer him. And this man chose to take God up on His offer.

I suppose some might think Christmas is a terrible time to do a funeral (like it would be less terrible at some other time of the year…trust me for those left behind there is no good time for death to happen). I think there is another way to look at death at this particular holiday season, though. You see, one way to understand the incarnation of Christ is to see it as God paving the road from Heaven to Earth through the first advent, Christ’s birth. Death at this season then can be seen as a man or  a woman taking the very same road in the opposite direction. Before Christ there was no road into the presence of the Father. The way was shut and those who died had no direct access to the kingdom of Heaven. Today because of Christmas or because of Christ’s coming the way is open and this man this imperfect man who didn’t have it all together but who knew and trusted Jesus has now taken the long road Home! Today  that man is singing “Joy To The World” in a different place and while that is sad for those of us who miss him, I find it hard to begrudge him the Christmas gift he has waited for all these many years.

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Heaven Pt. 158:So Very High

The Heaven posts are a devotional word study through the Bible using every reference to the word “Heaven”.

The Way By the Cliffs of Moher

The Way By the Cliffs of Moher

“he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;”

Psm. 103:10,11

Sometimes in my place of prayer I become overwhelmed with a sense of my own sinfulness. I feel like Isaiah standing in the Temple of the Lord,  who said “ “Woe to me!…I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 6:5

Does that ever happen to you?

At such moments I could easily be swallowed alive by the feelings of guilt if it were not for a truth buried even more deeply within me. That truth is Jesus loves me! Jesus forgives me! Though my sins were as scarlet He has made them white as snow! AND If Jesus has forgiven me who am I not to forgive myself?

The truth is His love is higher than the Heavens. How high is that? Well I guess it depends on which Heavens we are talking about?

Is it higher than the first Heaven the Heaven which the birds fly in? Well then that is about a mile high. That’s pretty high but I think God’s love is bigger than a mile.

Then is it higher than the second Heaven. the Heaven where the planets and stars dwell? Well that is much higher. We are talking light years not miles. And who knows where the end of the universe is? Well no one on this planet, but still our universe is measurable. I think God’s love for me is even bigger than that.

It is higher than the third Heaven, a place beyond the boundaries of time and space, framed in eternity a thing itself unaffected by time. The distance to it cannot be measured by any of our human standards. That is the love God has for me, immeasurable by my standards and yet it is even higher than that!

Let’s suffice it to say God’s love is so big and vast and immeasurable I cannot lose it. If I don’t want God’s love I purposely have to throw it away because there is no other way to get rid of it. Now there’s a guilt killer if ever there was one!