GNB 95

September 6, 2022

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:

“Therefore if you have any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2.1-11)

TODAY’S REFLECTION:

There is a way God desires things to be and Jesus is the image of it. If we are to take the Word at its face value and hold its truth to be correct, then we must confess and profess “equality with God is not something we should grasp for ourselves.” In the form of a human being but most assuredly in the form of God, Jesus was granted the right to again sit at the right hand of God. In the throne room of Heaven, the Triune presence of the fullness of God is dwelling without end, without question and without doubt. Those three descriptors may well serve as the parameter of “living by faith apart from living by sight.” Wisdom, on the part of the believer, is the ability to say with confidence “all that I see is not all that is to be seen.” There are powers at work constantly enacting their will for God or against God. Our desire to “see” God should be at critical mass at this very moment. In the Old Testament, only one person could venture behind the curtain of the Holy of Holies and “see” God; and that happened only once a year. He entered into the presence of the Almighty on earth with a rope tied around his ankle. The purpose of the rope was to pull the body of the fallen priest out of the Holy of Holies if he fell dead. What would be the cause of death? Was it “seeing” God? No, there are those who “saw” God and lived. So, what was it the coroner would identify as the cause of death? It would be “seeing without wisdom, seeing without believing, seeing without a pure heart.” In other words, I might say it was “seeing without faith.” Mighty ones of God, followers of the way of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, God’s only begotten Son, the Messiah, our Lord, Savior and friend, we must see with faith. We must observe the signs of this time in light of the signs of the time. The time is the Day of the Lord, His glorious appearing as if on the clouds descending from Heaven in His return to earth. This time is the birth pangs of that most certain end which will come whether humanity admits to it or not. The Day will come whether whether we confess and profess the truth concerning this time or not. We have no control over it coming or its presence. Jesus said, “No one but God in Heaven knows neither the time nor the hour of the day; not the angels in heaven above or in the depth below- and not even Me!” The mystery of God challenges the human intellect, the human spirit and the human will. And the Day is certainly a mystery recognized only by those who have been made wise in their surrendering to the Holy Spirit of God. You see we do not need to know the “when” of that Day in order to prepare for it because it will come like a thief in the night at our most unprepared hour. So, if it will come at any time, we must be always prepared. We will never be fully ready except that we “walk by faith and not by sight.”

This is the call to pursue wisdom as that which can only come from God. He may, and does, reveal such wisdom daily in our trial and tribulation, in our doubts and questions, in His joy and peace, in the expected and anticipated revelations of His love and righteousness. In all of those things we “see” the more that is there which our spiritual eye observes because our perception is by faith in the Word of God who tells us there is more. Without faith, we will be no better than the CHP who walks through the curtain to make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the people he serves. That sacrifice is not the paschal lamb chosen from the royal flock consecrated by religious tradition and prayed over by the population of hopeful believers. It may well have been that every priest who walked through the veil did so blindly, figuratively speaking with their eyes closed. Woe to the first priest who presented himself before God on behalf of the nation of Israel with any sacrifice after God had declared through the prophets, “I no longer desire your sacrifices because they have become meaningless, purposeless and empty offerings. What I want is for you to know Me!” (Hosea 6.6). To come before God with anything less than our very best is to be numbered among the wicked. We see the dichotomy of that understanding in Psalm 50. It was written by the very psalmist who threw off kingly dignity and danced before the Lord in His presence in his undergarments. He understood, as “prophet, priest and king,” the value of knowing God and honoring him with the wisdom derived by faith. It was that kind of wisdom which allowed him to stand before Goliath in a profession of faith to be a living sacrifice for the good of Israel. It was that kind of wisdom which also allowed him to stand before God in faithful confession when the son born from his affair with Uriah’s wife died. He had seen the power of God to save and the power of God to reconcile. But, what of those priests who did not share such faith, faithfulness and wisdom? What of those whose intents were to “go through the motions” and hope for the best for themselves. They must have closed their eyes to the truth of God’s presence revealed in all His glory and wonder. Not since the days of Isaiah in the year that King Uzziah died, do we hear of one “seeing God and live.” (Isaiah 6) That is until Jesus.

Now comes the truth of the wisdom we are called to seek and receive. Here is the benefit of the call to own our title made true by having faith in Jesus as the Christ. We are called to be members of the royal priesthood of all believers who can enter into the presence of God without fear of death. The curtain of distance between God and humanity which was hung and then rehung in the Temple in Jerusalem until its destruction in 70 A.D. has forever been removed. Even today, if the Temple stood in Jerusalem, we would be able to “see right through it” because our faith is in Christ alone. We would “see” knowing that God’s mercy, grace and love is not only sufficient to meet the true needs of our lives but all we need to see the truth. Jesus said as much to the disciples who were represented by Philip’s question as Thomas raised his concerns with a lack of understanding of Jesus’ admission of departure. Philip’s question was more of a command than a question; it was more “questionable.” He said in response to Jesus’ declaration of “I AM the way, the truth and the life; no one can come before the Father save by Me;” “Show us the Father and that will be enough.” Enough what? Is it satisfactory to merely catch a passing view of God as did Moses or Elijah who were hidden in the cleft of a rock by the hand of God so that they only glimpsed the glory of God who went by? Surely, we do not want to die just to see God. But, what a way to go if we were to die seeing God! Except that is not the way, the truth nor the life that is intended for us. What is intended for us is the life of Christ in whose image we have been first made upon God’s profession of faith and then remade upon our own profession of faith. Jesus said Philip, “How long must I be with you? How long have I been with you? Do you still not believe that the Father and I are one? If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father because I AM in the Father and the Father IS in Me. At least believe because of the miracles if nothing else; but believe!” What is the benefit and blessing to which I allude? It is nothing less than getting to look upon the face of God and live. I am not speaking of merely surviving to tell of the experience. I am speaking of living into the full measure and stature of Jesus the Christ. It is that work we are called to do as we minister to one another and to all those who make their confession of faith and profession of faith to become His disciples. It is going through life with our eyes wide open to see all that God is doing on our behalf because of His great love for us and more. I would remind us of the story of Elisha and his servant who were surrounded by the great armies of King Aram in Dothan. (refer to 2 Kings 6) At sunrise, they went out from the city to pray and were confronted by the vast enemy who stood against them. The servant became afraid. Elisha calmed him in prayer to God saying, “I ask, Lord, for you to open the eyes of my servant to see the truth and be wise.” Then he said to his servant, “Look and do not be afraid for those who are with us far outnumber those who are with them.” At that moment, the servant saw what Elisha had already seen. There surrounding the armies of King Aram were the armies of the Lord in a vast fiery array. But, they did not attack. Their presence was meant to be a comfort and an assurance to Elisha and his servant.

Mighty ones of God, He is for us. He has no desire to be against us. He has set His fire around us and in our midst to keep us from all manner of harm and evil as we walk by faith and not by sight through this world calmly and confidently, boldly and decidedly. The armies of King Aram were blinded as Elisha’s servant gained his faith vision. They were led into Samaria where the King of Israel was waiting. When their eyes were opened they found themselves surrounded by the King’s vast army. But, there was no attack except of kindness and mercy. They were given food and water and the word as to say: we could have destroyed you but the God of Israel has saved you. Then they were allowed to return to their homes and they never again sought to wage war on Israel again. Is this not the way of Christ Jesus? Is He not the bread of life, the living water and the Word of God given to each of us who look upon Him and the see the more of us in His lifef? Do we not see Him at work in the midst of our distress to capture the hearts and minds of the enemy so they may comfortably and confidently surrender their lives and their souls to Him who is truly their salvation as King of kings and Lord of lords? Is this not the One whom we have committed ourselves to serve all the days of our lives? Is He not the Good Shepherd who leads His flock through the valley of the Shadow of Death to rise up to enter into the perfect rest of His Father’s House? Has He not promised to prepare a place for us so that we may be with Him for all eternity? Yes, this is the One who did not consider “stealing a position to be God or storm the castle of God’s presence to take power, dominion and authority.” Instead, He choose the path of righteousness and walked among us as He did and does in Heaven. We are able to see the Father at work in Him and through Him. It is our opportunity for others to see the same in us. Are we not one in Christ and Christ in us? This is the depth of true wisdom and the measure by which we shall be known on earth as it is in Heaven.

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Father, You are most wise and good and kind and merciful. Open our eyes that we might see more than the glimpses of truth which we have allowed ourselves to see through the fingers of doubt and fear. It is with wide open eyes that we shall go into all the world to make disciples in every nation. We shall pray and proclaim that which is true for us all- Jesus is Lord, He is the way, the truth and the life and there is no other way to live and be truly free. In Jesus’ name, we pledge ourselves to walk by faith and not by sight. AMEN.

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