The Deception of Sin and The Truth of Redemption

Photo: "Antelope Canyon, Arizona", by Lucas Loffler (PD)
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life— that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may have fellowship along with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

We are writing these things (to you) so that our (your) joy may be complete.

Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. 

If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing (not living according to) the truth. 

But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 

If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. 

But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One.  

He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.
-1 John 1:1-2:2 (HCSB)

The message that John opens his letter with, is that Jesus Christ came, for real.

He really came and he really lived out his life in full humanity.

John saw him, heard him, and touched him.  It was all real.  He really came to earth and he really can deal with everything in our lives on earth.  He really invites us into fellowship, which is communion, joint participation, sharing, and intimacy(1).


Here is a break-down of what John writes; in his very dense, first sentence, of his open letter:

What was from the beginning,
  • what we have heard
  • what we have seen with our eyes, 
  • what we have observed  
  • And have touched with our hands
Concerning the Word of life— That life was revealed,
  • And we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— 

What we have seen and heard: We also declare to you,
  • So that you may have fellowship along with us; 
  • And indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 
-1 John 1:1-3




It is incorrect to say that Jesus Christ's humanity was not real.  His humanity was completely real.

Those who believe that his humanity was not real, carry that thought forward, to believe that our humanity does not matter.

And so, they do not believe that Jesus redeemed our humanity.

It takes faith to believe that Jesus is Lord and Christ.  Philosophy or religion that tries to explain and commandeer Christianity has no place for Jesus' full diety and full humanity.

The virgin birth and Christ's preexistence make no sense to the human mind.

If he was fully God and fully man, he can fully redeem mankind, so that we can live godly lives today, on earth, before we get to heaven.

And this is the introduction or backdrop to John's first epistle: The diety and humanity of Christ, who brings redemption to humankind.  And what does he redeem us from?  He redeems us from sin.
Jesus Christ the Righteous One.
He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world. -1 John 2:1f-2
To say that "Sin does not matter", or, "I have no sin", or, "There is no sin", is to deny why Christ came or what he is powerful to do  And that denial is deception.

You are deceived, if you say these things.

Sin has been an issue since the very beginning.

And the Devil's work, and those on his team, has always been to get people to sin and get wrapped up in the bondage of sin, until a people's lives are garbage heaps of sins.  These are habitations of demons, who find a places in our lives, to hang onto: infecting and dis-easing.

The snake wants people to not believe in sin or to re-frame sin as something other than sin, so that their lives, the lives of sinners, are delusional, deceived, and as far from God as possible.

If sin is real, but you don't want to deal with it's reality or it's absolvement, you must come up with some rationales.  That is what people do.

Oddly enough, people deny sin, even in the church.  There are Christians who walk in and encourage one another in a life-style of sin-denial.

The idea of sin as, "so passe", was prevalent in early times and still is now.  I got the idea that John gives three antithesis' and corrects each one, from FF Bruce's book on John's Epistles:


Antitheses (deception):

  1. If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing (not living according to) the truth. 
  2. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us
  3. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Thesis (truth):
  1. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 
  2. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
  3. My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One.  He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.
Application:
  1. Walking with Christ and together with those in Christ is walking in the light of truth and a cross-walk.  His light exposes sin and his blood cleanses it.  If you say you are a Christian, but walk in darkness, you are simply lying. Get past your self-deception and come into the light and be cleansed. You can not walk in darkness, but claim to be walking in the light. Sin has been dealt with, but we continue to process it, being sanctified, as we walk on. To walk with Christ (to be a Christian) is to walk in the light, have fellowship (experience gracious relational love) and to be saaaaaaaaaved - salvation is an experience and a process called sanctification.
    It's not a "two-parter", but called being a disciple, where Jesus trains us to be like him.
  2. We don't want to be "in denial" about our sin.  Becoming Christlike is a life-long process.  We may stumble and fall forward, but we persevere, having our lives restored, that were crashed and wrecked by sin.  Confession is not something just for the Catholics or in fictional stories.  Even priests need confession.  We can confess our sin, if and when we sin, no matter how big or small the sin is.  It is humbling to confess, but God gives grace to the humbled.  What you don't confess, does not get redeemed, healed, and forgiven.  To not confess, if you sin, opens the door to pride and deception.  The core of pride is the deception that you are better than others and don't need God.  Don't be deceived, but walk with Jesus in truth.
  3. We don't want to be in denial or deception about sin and the need to take it to Christ.  We also don't want to say, "Go ahead and sin, because there is always forgiveness".  Sin is destructive, self-destructive and hurtful to all those around us.  Sin grieves God (Eph. 4:30).  But, if we do sin, Jesus is our intercessor and has our sin covered.  He, our Lord, is the Righteous One, Messiah.  He is Lord and Savior.  He is King and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).  He is the Redeemer (Job 19:25, Matt. 1:21, Lk. 1:68, Rom. 3:23-4, 1 Cor. 1:30).  The core of Christianity is walking with the Redeemer.  I have been redeemed, am being redeemed, and talk about his redemption.  His revelation is that He is the King who redeems and makes us into his missionaries, who are his children and ambassadors.


____________________________

Seeing The Other Side of The Mountain

The Bear Went Over The Mountain by yancy9, CC BY 2.0
For now the winter is past; the rain has ended and gone away.  The blossoms appear in the countryside. The time of singing has come, and the turtledove's cooing is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs; the blossoming vines give off their fragrance. Arise, my darling. Come away, my beautiful one.
-Song of Solomon 2:11-13

Some of us have been waiting for springtime for a very long time.  We have been in a sort of hibernation, waiting for our wintertime to be over.  I believe it is finally that time.

The winter has finally passed.  You will no longer complain about a distant God, but now have a voracious appetite for the Bible, to read God's written words.  You will hunger for and desire to feed on the word of God.

We have been like a bear in hibernation, who was looking forward to spring.  We would awaken and venture out of our caves, again and again, only to find thick winter clouds obscuring the other side of the mountain.  Then, we would go back to our cave and hibernate some more.  We would keep getting the grace to awaken, but we could not see the other side of the mountain.

There was not enough sun shine for us to see, because of the cold clouds.  We have believed that the mountain was there, but our vision was obscured by the winter clouds.

Then, again, we had the grace to wake up, once more, and things were different.  The winter was now over and we can see the other side of the mountain.  We went back and demolished our winter den and have been heading for the other side of the mountain.

Now, on the other side of the mountain, it is spring, and we can begin to see the river, that we will cross to the other side of, into our destinies, on our life journeys.  Spring is now here for many people.


Do you know this song?


The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain
The bear went over the mountain, to see what he could see.
And all that he could see, and all that he could see
Was the other side of the mountain, the other side of the mountain
The other side of the mountain, was all that he could see.

The bear went over the river, the bear went over the river
The bear went over the river, to see what he could see.
And all that he could see, and all that he could see
Was the other side of the river, the other side of the river
The other side of the river, was all that he could see.

Ravaging Wolves

Photo credit (PD)
Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
-Matthew 7:15-16

I had a dream with two scenes that were connected. In scene one, I observed a conversation of sorts, where a person or persons were possibly leading a person, in my care; astray. I knew I needed to talk to my person, my son. A man behind me encouraged me. I was about to talk to my son, when the people in question re-appeared, so I said, to my son, "let's go for a walk", intending to school him about what these others were possibly up to.

Then, we got up to walk, into scene two; and I saw 3 or 4 wolves attacking and ravaging one alone sheep. It was terrible and I only got the chance to notice and see this, then I awoke. The two scenes were so different, yet were about the same thing.

Beware of false prophets. These are people who:
  • In God's name, teach what is false.(Strongs)
  • Pretend to speak the word of the Lord (prophesy) but in fact are phony (an imposter).(HELPS)
  • Specialize in "the art of misimpression," like about how they were "commissioned" by the Lord to touch the world with their message. But when in fact, they operate by self and for self so they must be exposed for what they are – and are not!(HELPS)
  • Are, "Acting the part of a divinely inspired prophet, utter falsehoods under the name of divine prophecies, a false prophet"(Thayer's Greek Lexicon)
They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravaging wolves. The word ravaging means robbing, as in snatching. The same word is translated, in Luke 18:18, and elsewhere, as robber (HCSB, NIV), swindler (NASB), and extortioner (ESV, KJV).

A ravaging wolf steals life. It snatches an animal that can not defend itself. Ravenous means hungry to snatch. The picture that the NT authors give us, by using the same word to describe a wolf's activity or motivation and a human's, is a desire to steal, rob, or take from others. Swindlers and extortioners are on the lookout for targets to rip off.

Jesus says that false prophets are secretly (inwardly) robbers, swindlers, or extortionists. Rapacious is a synonym for the same word that is translated "ravage". Rapacious means "aggressively greedy". Greedy is defined as, "intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food."

We might think of false prophets as people that make predictions that don't come true. False prophets, at their core though, are people who counsel you towards the wrong path. They counsel you towards idolatry, selfishness, immorality, and false religion that does not make Jesus Lord.

The false prophet has an appetite for hurting people, by luring them away from the path of Christ. And they might preach Christ, but it is "pseudo" or phony.

The false prophet does not need to claim they are a prophet. Sometimes they do, but often, and I think more often, they are in the flock, in the church, with the other sheep. You can meet a false prophet anywhere. The marker is not where you find them, but that they are a fake, a fraud, or an impostor. Inside and underneath their facade, they are wolves.

Wolves are hunters, killers, wild, and not at all related to sheep. Wolves kill and eat sheep inhumanely, cruelly, and savagely; because that is who they are. A hungry wolf hunts and kills aggressively and mercilessly.

How do we spot these people?  They will have bad fruit in their lives.  All Christians are called to be fruit inspectors or observers.  We can do this without being condemning or handing out grades.

People who are garden variety false prophets, who are not in any way famous, who are right next to you, who have crossed your path in your life; might look and sound like a Christian, so how do we discern?  It's the fruit.

Now, many Christians do not have good fruit.  It is not all bad, but there is room for improvement.  That is just called immature.  We are all on the path to maturity and we all have imperfect fruit, but we have good fruit.  Bad fruit is something else.  Jesus didn't say they don't have fruit, but implied that their fruit gives them away.  What is their life producing?

True Christians, who have Christ, have His Spirit, who grows the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.  The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) is:
  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control
I believe that the context of a text helps us interpret the text.  Right before Jesus warns us about false prophets who come to us in sheep's clothing, but are really wolves; he says this:
Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it.  How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.
What or who is the narrow gate?  True Christians encourage each other about the narrow gate.  Even if a person is the most creative seer-prophet, they will encourage you to go through that narrow gate, which is Christ.  False brothers and sisters want to get you off that path and into the wide way.

And what is it that Jesus says after his "watch out for false prophets" saying?  It is his hard word, "I never knew you":
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’
This is a scary saying of Jesus. He says there are folks that he will have to say, "I never knew you!" to.  When I fellowship with someone and exchange encouragements, I want to hear that they know him and he knows them.  I want to see authentic relationship in that area.

I recently had a family member of mine share that they prayed to the Lord.  That is something that thrills me, because Jesus is able to say, of that person, that he knows them.  I cannot fathom what it would be like, it is so horrible to think of, that Jesus would say, "I never knew you!"

False prophets don't "know him", and he (Jesus) does not "know them".  This means there is no meaningful, intimate (in-to-me-see) relationship.  That person may quote scripture and teach, while not knowing him, or being known by him.

The shocking picture in Matthew, that I also was shocked by in my dream, are people who are hungry, greedy, swindlers, extortioners, and robbers.  Wolves don't rob sheep or rabbits of their cash of jewelry.  They rob them of their lives and they do not do it nicely and they are in a hurry to do it.

When we bring the metaphor over to people, we have selfish people who are hungry to rip people off, but, like a swindler or extortionist they are charming, at least at the beginning, when they want to draw you in, before they have robbed you.  These people do not just have a differing opinion about theology or salvation, but they are opposed to authentic Christianity, and want to destroy it.  And they do it through deceit.  That's the big one that Jesus warns us about.

When someone is playing nice, but lying, it is a rude awakening to realize you are being lied to and deceived.  It happens every day, in the world.  And the enemy brings it to the church through people he uses to be deceivers.  Sometimes, perhaps oftentimes, the deceivers are themselves deceived; but they are still deceivers, liars and practicing evil.  Jesus warns us, "Watch out!"

Can a nice person be a deceiver?  Yes.  Can they yet be saved?  Yes.  


Hebron - Joining, Teaming Up, Alliance

Matteo Rosselli, The triumphant David, (PD)
Some time later, David inquired of the Lord: “Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?”

The Lord answered him, “Go.”

Then David asked, “Where should I go?”

“To Hebron,” the Lord replied.

-2 Samuel 2:1

After Saul had died and it was finally time for David to become Israel's king, he went to live in Hebron.  "The name Hebron comes from the root-verb חבר (habar), meaning to join", writes Arie Uittenbogaard.  The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, has it, that Hebron means association or league.  David took a step up and into his kingship, but it would still be over 7 years before he began to reign from Jerusalem.  

Even though David was "the man" God chose, and of whom Jesus, would be called, "the son of David"; he needed to join himself to allies, associates, and team up or bind himself to those who were "friendlies".  Jerusalem, and much of the people of God were not ready for him yet, but Hebron was.

Hebron became a place where David put down some roots, because he stayed there over 7 years.  It turns out that David was king in Hebron for 7 years, then in Jerusalem for 33, totaling 40.  David was anointed by Samuel at about the age of 10, when Saul had been king for 15 years.  It took Saul 25 years to step aside, in death; which is what happened at the end of 2 Samuel, chapter 1.

Jonathan, Saul's son and David's close friend, died in battle, with his father.  David had been friends with Jonathan for about 20 years.  During the past 10 years and the last 10 years of Saul's life, he pursued David and wanted to kill him.  So, for 15 years, David had a "grace period", with Saul, where he grew and Saul deteriorated. (See William H. Gross, Chronology of David's Life)

Instead of a gracious understanding and a "changing of the guard", David was banished and then pursued, with a death sentence, for 10 years.  Imagine being called, actually receiving a dramatic call, to full-time ministry.  It does not get much more dramatic than the prophet Samuel giving you the word, in front of your family!  Yet, it would be 25 years until 2 Samuel 2, when David would join himself to a place in Israel that would recognize the calling that God put on him.

What if David is the practical model for how it works?  Called at age 10 or so, but it is not official until about age 35 and it is not completely official until age 42.  What if David's life shows us that it can take 25 years and then another 7, for your calling to come into fruition?

If you were born in 1980, got your dramatic prophetic call in 1990, as a child; then went through 25 years of life, good and bad, in the school-of-hard-knocks, then, you might be ready to step into your destiny today.  I can think of some people that I knew in 1990 who are flying today in ("full time") ministry: traveling, speaking, and publishing.  They were far over the age of 10 in 1990, so their 25 years had already started then.

I also think of many more people who have crashed and recovered and been in the wilderness.  Everyone is different and God does not do cookie cutter lives, but there is a principal here of prep. time.  

The wilderness is an important metaphor for anyone who wants to serve the Lord in their life.  You will go to the wilderness and you need to understand what God wants to do with you there.  The wilderness times are very important.  You will go there.  All Christians go there.  

God teaches you things like how to be a warrior and how to worship, in the desert.  This seems paradoxical, but it is true.  You learn to be, then do.  In the promised land (speakin' metaphorically), you do from who you are (who you "be"), who you have become (be-come) in the desert.  It is a tragedy for Christians to try to "do", when they have not done the "be".  They haven't become and they don't do from authentic being.

Back to my verse:  At the strategic juncture of Saul & Jonathan's deaths, David inquires of God, "Should I go up?", or, "Shall I move?", in the MSG & NLT Bibles.  And God answers, "Yes".  There is a time to go or to move.  We do have a geographic will of God sometimes.  God might say, "Don't go", or where to go; or God might leave it open to you; or put a wall in your path, if you try to go someplace he has forbidden.

I am taking the position that names in the Bible are oftentimes meaningful.  Hebron means something here.  And what it means is "joining".  God has "alignments" or "alliances", or people that he has for us to "team up with".  David already had cohorts, but his move to Hebron was a joining with "friendlies" who would accept or affirm him.

There comes a time, and now or very soon or coming soon, might be that time, when we join up, team up, and make alliances, in the Lord.  God has people he wants us to join with, at strategic times.  David stayed in Hebron for 7 years, then moved on and up to his final place, in Jerusalem.  Hebron was in-between the wilderness and Jerusalem.

All of life is in-between, transitional, or a sojourn.  There are liminal times, when we are profoundly in transition.  There is a liminal time called transition, in the birth of a baby, that is critical.  There is a liminal time, when boys transition to being men and girls transition to becoming women.

If we miss these transitions, we will be hampered, retarded, delayed, or immature.  We get this picture with the children of Israel, that did not, then could not, and were barred by God, from entering in to the land of promise.  The author of Hebrews teaches on this and applies it to the Christian's life (Heb. 3).

There might be special, strategic, times when it matters who you join with and where you live.  And in that special time, God might direct you, if you ask him.  And God might tell you where to live or who to do life with, join with, ally with, and team up with.  What is your assignment and who are you meant to be aligned with?

_____________________________
For more study on liminality:

Communitas (from liminality) - Alan Cross on Alan Hirsch
Dis-orientation and renewal, by Len Hjalmarson  (click on the liminality link)





I heard The Bells On Christmas Day

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
-Luke 2:11-14 (KJV)

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Christmas is normally and by default, a very happy day.  I remember the first Christmas after my grandpa died.  My grandma was so different.  This Christmas, was filled with the most sadness, of any for her.  Christmas is different when you are grieving.  (1)

The poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was grieved on Christmas, in 1863; and wrote the poem, Christmas Bells.  He had lost his second wife, Frances, in an accidental fire, two years previous; and he just received word that his oldest son, Charles, had been wounded in battle.

There are at least two versions, in my memory, of "I heard The Bells on Christmas Day".  I am not even certain if the happy sounding one is based on Longfellow's poem.  The tune for the Longfellow-based song is somewhat melancholy, yet hopeful.

A hard aspect, or difficult part or the Christmas story, is the story of all the infants (boys under the age of two) who were murdered, told in Matthew, chapter 2.  Recently, when a young boy died in a tragic accident; I read comments in that town's local newspaper's on-line version, where people opined that God caused this untimely and tragic death.  "No!", is what I said, when I added my voice to the comments thread.  God does not kill little boys on purpose in accidents.  But accidents happen.  God allows it.  We live in a fallen world that is being redeemed, and the job is not done.

This coming Christmas will be very different for that family.  But, God gave us the gift of grieving our losses, to be healed.  Every adult has scars in their lives that are healed wounds.  Broken hearts can and are healed, but we still bear the scars and sadness from our losses of our loved ones.  Those who loose a child may very well live out the rest of their lives with a hole in their hearts where something is missing, until heaven.

The bells are ringing because good tidings are being announced.  Jesus came to redeem the world.  This place has sadness, but God has come to give us joy.  A spiritual battle is being fought for the souls of all.

Christmastime is also a time of redemption.  It cost God to redeem us.  The enemy is going to fight it.  Life will be difficult, but there will be joy.  We will get knocked down, but never defeated.  Death can not even defeat us.

There is great sadness and joy in the Christian life.  Our feelings are alive, so we feel both and we don't need to numb them, like non-believers try to do so often.  We don't have to be stoic or in denial.  We don't have to be rugged individuals.  No.  We will weep.  Jesus wept and so will we.

Sorrow is better than laughter (Ecc. 7:3) and many people, oftentimes rich or well-off people (most of us in America), need to learn grieving.  Instead of seeking to consume more and be entertained more, we need to mourn (James 4:9).

God's working to redeem the world is wild and sweet.  God works within the frame of humans who have free will to choose, with a seemingly infinite capacity deceive our selves.  But the biggest deception is that God is not God.  That he is not loving, or just, good, powerful, truthful, merciful, or a hundred other unique attributes of God.

Fallen human beings have hearts geared to their desires (1 Jn 2:16).  God changes the Christian's heart and the Christians begin to live in Christ.  The Christian living in Christ lives in love; God's love through Christ and now that love is their rule of life towards others.  The life and command of Christ is to love other Christians (1 Jn. 2).

Christmastime (which is all the time) is a time to give and receive gifts, but it is also a time to reflect of on the redemption that the gift of Christ brings.  He redeems the ugly to be beautiful.  Because he came and paid for sin and rose from the dead, I have joy after my mourning.  I have hope that the world does not have (1 Thess. 4:13).


I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

____________________________________
1. This post is from a series:
Gifts From God: Christmastime all The Time
Feliz Navidad!
What Child is This?

Feliz Navidad!

Photo By srqpix (CC BY 2.0)
But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.
-Luke 2:10-11

Feliz Navidad!  The voice is heard, that says, "Feliz Navidad!"  "Feliz" means blessed, fortunate, lucky, magnificent or grand; splendid, satisfied or content; opportune or timely. (1)

Here are some examples of this word in the Bible.  I looked feliz up in Spanish translations.  Here are the verses, in English, with the word in italics that was feliz in the Spanish translation:

Happy are the people with such blessings.
Happy are the people whose God is Yahweh.
-Psalm 144:15
Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding, for she is more profitable than silver, and her revenue is better than gold
Anyone who listens to me is happy, watching at my doors every day, waiting by the posts of my doorway.  
Be wise, my son, and bring my heart joy, so that I can answer anyone who taunts me.
-Proverbs 3:13-14, 8:34, 27:11
He also said to the one who had invited Him,“When you give a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers, your relatives, or your rich neighbors, because they might invite you back, and you would be repaid.  On the contrary, when you host a banquet, invite those who are poor, maimed, lame, or blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
-Luke 14:12-14
Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense:  “I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa.
-Acts 26:1c-2a
A wife is bound as long as her husband is living. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to anyone she wants—only in the Lord.  But she is happier if she remains as she is, in my opinion.  And I think that I also have the Spirit of God.
-1 Corinthians 7:39-40
Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.
-Ephesians 6:2-3
For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
-Titus 2:11-13
Feliz is more than "happy".  It means "good fortune has come", or "you are fortunate".  Remember "Felix The Cat"?  He is more than a happy cat.  He is blessed.

Don't misunderstand.  It does not mean "famous", but "fortunately blessed".  It means "lucky", in the sense also of a person who has received blessings.  When we sign a letter, "blessings", we are saying, "may you be receive good fortune".

Navidad is Spanish for Christmas or "birth of Christ" or "Christmastime". Navidad is from the Latin word nativitas, meaning "birth".  So, "Felice Navidad" means "Blessed Birth", but since is has referred to The Blessed Birth, it also means "Happy Christmas".

This is a continuation of the message I posted from last week, Christmastime All the Time.  Some of us are now coming into a special season of receive gifts.  So, here is what you can do: believe, receive, give thanks, and keep being generous.

Christmas in August?  Christmas is harvest time.  In fact, Jesus was likely born in the fall, around the time of The Feast of The Tabernacles.  As they say, "look it up!"

My next post, What Child Is This?, will carry on this theme.  Feliz Navidad!



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1. Websters Spanish Dictionary

He Was Despised

By José de Madrazo Agudo (1781-1859) [PD]
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn't value Him.
-Isaiah 53:3

"He was despised", is hard for me to believe, when I love Jesus and see who he is.  People who despised him obviously did not see who he was.  

Despise means "look down upon".  It also means to devalue or have contempt for.  

The world is a place of despising.  We look down on one another.  When Jesus came on the scene, he experienced this.  

He was despised as a teacher.  They misunderstood him and they criticized him.  John Wesley wrote this, in his book on The Sermon on The Mount:
He could not fail to be accused of being a teacher of novelties. He was called an introducer of a new religion. (ch. 7, first page)
"He was despised".  If I am in the least bit despised, I am in good company, because he was despised.  He is still despised.

"To despise", the Hebrew meaning here, originally; means "to hold in low esteem".  The end of the verse, "We didn't value him", expresses this.  The lack of valuing and despising go together, in using someone for our selfish needs.

To despise Jesus is to use him for my selfish needs, while not valuing him; as in, "What does he want from me?"  I don't care, if I just want stuff from him.  That is despising.

Not bowing, not taking up my cross, and seeing him as a commodity, is despising Jesus.  Ignoring his "hard words" is despising him.  Trusting in his grace, his unconditional love, and his forgiveness; while not giving my whole life, my everything, to him is despising him.  That person does not hate him, but in truth, does not value him, if you look at the actions of their life.  That's despising.

Hypocrisy, double-standards, being a-law-unto-your-self, and living a life where you say, "do as I say and not as I do", is despising him.  That person does not hate him, but despises him.  Jesus' commands and his teachings are inconvenient and painful.  We call him Lord, but don't do what he says, because we despise him.

If you don't die to your self and if you don't take up your cross and follow him, then you will despise him.  You will not value him.

The only way to live the life of esteeming him and living in adoration of him, not just in what you say, sing, and pray, but in how you live, how you treat all the people on your path and how you even treat your self, with authentic godly love from Jesus; is to bow your life to the king and let him live through you.  It is that simple and seemingly impossible, unless you let it be done to you by and through his grace.

He was despised, but he had dignity through Father's love and that love is given to us as well.  Though people despise us - they don't hate us, but they devalue us and use us as a selfish commodity for their selfish needs; God gives us dignity and worth.

When God spoke from heaven, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased", that was the opposite of despising.  That was commendation, adoration, love, praise, and massively honoring.  When God sees Jesus in our lives, Jesus living out our lives or us living our lives in him; that is how he feels and what he says.

He was despised.  That's a fact.  It is something to ponder.  He will be despised today and we do not want to be one who does take part in that.  And if it happened in his life, it will happen to us.  Nothing to be surprised about.



Time, Times, and Half a Time (Kairos)

Francesco de' Rossi, Time As Occasion (Kairos) (PD)
The woman was given two wings of a great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent’s presence to her place in the wilderness, where she was fed for a time, times, and half a time.
-Revelation 12:14

What time is it?  It is important to understand the times.  There are two basic kinds of time in the NT.  Kairos times and chronos time.  Kairos is the appointed time, special time, or time of opportunity; and chronos time is just the passing of time.

To say, "It was the time when we got married", is kairos time.  Another example is , "Harvest time".  The harvest is at an appointed time, when the produce is ready to be brought in.  Time (chronos) is passing throughout the year, but only one time is harvest time (kairos).

Kairos comes out of chronos.  In other words; strategic, opportune times come out of regular, normal times (general, daily routine times).  For example, a woman experiences a time of pregnancy and a time of birth.  Some pregnancies and births seem simple, but for many other mothers and children, it is very dangerous.  There is opportunity and danger in kairos seasons and times.

In Revelation 12, the word is "kairos".  Revelation 12:14 is an echo of Daniel 7:5 and 12:7.  The phrase, "Time, times, and half a time", based on Daniel's prophecy, that is believed to have been first fulfilled with the time of Jewish suffering from 167 to 164 BC, under the Syrian despot, Antiochus Epiphanes (1); means, according to the NIV Study Bible,  "a limited period of unrestrained wickedness".

But, in Revelation 12, John uses this apocalyptic time symbol for a 3 1/2 year period of intense persecution, as a time of hiding, of being hidden by God.  The wings of the eagle take the woman away from danger, to a place of refuge, where she is protected and nourished.  Perhaps she is also trained, if we use the whole Bible to interpret what happens in the desert.  The desert is a place of growth.

In Revelation 12, we have "second exodus" imagery (2).  The woman, who represents Israel(3), flees from the dragon, who represents Satan.  Wings of an eagle lift the woman and take her to safety.  Who does the eagle represent?  I don't know, but it is God's gracious care.

The woman is lifted and taken to the desert.  The text (I have the CEB open) reads, "the great eagle", "her place in the desert", and "so she could be taken care of".  This is not just "an eagle" or "a flock of eagles", but "the great eagle".  This sounds like John is saying that it is an archangel or God, Holy Spirit.  I love how it says, "her place".  Even in the desert, God has a place for you, a place that will be home, even if for a set time.  Then, it says, that she will be taken care of.  The desert is not a place of banishment, but a place of nurture.

The picture that John seems to be painting in Revelation chapter 12, is that the early church(3) will have an exodus into the wilderness, and be pursued as the Israelite's were by Pharaoh.  This will be for a time, and during that time, God will deliver and care for the church in the wilderness.

In researching this topic, I found the theory or belief that "time" here, and in Daniel 7 and 12, equals 1000 years.  I think they call that "apocalyptic time", so "time, times, and half a time" would be 3,500 years.  I am not arguing for that or against it.

It looks like we can deduce that "time" in this verse (Rev. 12:14) means year, because nearby, John gives the same period of time in days (12:6), (1,260 days); and months (13:5), (42 months).

My point, or take-away, is that "time" here is kairos time, a special, significant, strategic time.  John was prophesying a coming kairos time of a limited period of persecution and hiding.   Throughout the times (chronos), there have been these seasons and we might, or some of the worldwide church might be in one right now.

The point is that these strategic times come and we need to be aware of them.  There is a time for preparation and a time for battle.  Those are two different times.  We need to be aware of what time we are in.  We are in a different time and season that we were in the past.

This is a corporate and individual issue.  For example, one couple is courting, another couple are newlyweds, another couple have small children, and another couple are watching their now adult children get married, and start their own homes.

Corporately; churches, cities, states, and nations have times and seasons that are strategic.

Esther 4:14 is a verse to look at, which says, "For such a time as this".  Grab your Greek OT and see how they translated that verse.

I believe we are in a special time.  God is always on the move.  There are windows of opportune time and periods of siege, when we let God protect us and teach us.  Siege and wilderness and different, by the way.

Knowing the times should be part and parcel for all believers.  Distraction and passivity, consumerism, and selfishness are all available, to keep us from God's kairos.  There's no better time than right now, to freshly commit to God and take up your cross and follow the one with the nail pierced hands into his destiny for you.



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1. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, p. 241
2. Fee, Revelation, p. 176
3. Ladd sees, "the woman is the heavenly representative of the people of God, which he calls the ideal Zion or ideal church in heaven", (Ladd, Revelation, 1972).  If we say that the woman represents the church, some will cry "foul" and say she is Israel.  And when we say, "She is Israel", some would ask, "What about (where is) the church".  The church is the (spiritual) Israel in Rev. 7, and it is (ethnic) Israel in Re. 12.  But spiritual Israel, the people of God, are birthed through Messiah, who comes out of ethnic Israel.  Cannot it be "both-and", rather than "either-or"?  I'm pretty sure that the seven churches in Asia Minor, were comprised of Jews and Gentiles, ethnic Israelite's and converted Gentiles, not to Judaism, but to Christ.  Isn't this the "new man"(Eph. 2:11-15) or the "grated branches" into the olive tree, of the people of God (Rom. 11:11-31)?

Gifts From God: Christmastime All The Time

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.
-Matthew 7:7-12 (HCSB)

God is the supreme giver of gifts.  The ultimate gift from God is Christ (John 3:16).  What are the gifts that you are asking God for?  Giving and receiving gifts was invented by God. (1)

Christmastime is all the time with God.  The word "Christmas" evokes thoughts of gifts and giving gifts.  We have the greatest gift and we give gifts to one another in celebration of that gift.  

Christmas also might mean Christ + Mass.  Catholic Christians call their church meeting "Mass".  "Mass" is thought of to mean "Eucharistic service", (the Catholic church service is usually a two-part affair consisting of communion and a Biblical exposition) from the Latin "messe"; but "mass" also comes from the late Latin, "missa", as in "dismissal" ("to let go, send"), calling to mind mission, as in the great commission.  The idea being, "Having taken Christ into your being (or being reminded of such), and with prayers being sent to God; now go out, as his agents, into the world, spreading the good news.  You are dismissed."  That's what "Mass" means.

A reminder that although people say Eucharist means holy communion, the definition of the word is "thanksgiving".  Saying "grace" before a meal is eucharisteo, "To give thanks", or literally, "Thankful for God's good grace".  In the gospels, Jesus gave thanks before meals.  What I understand is that Catholics say, "The Eucharist", for communion, meaning, "The Thanksgiving".

The Eucharist is a Thanksgiving Dinner.  (2)

Christmas is when we celebrate God's gift.  God is always celebrating Christmas and we get to join in.  The Christian life is filled with a reception of God's gifts.  

God's ethos is that he is a giver and God's children become and learn the ethos of being givers.  Remember that as Christians, we are under or in and live through grace.  I don't break the ten commandments (we keep the Sabbath differently under the law of Christ), because I am in God's grace, not because I am under the law.  I have the living desire to be a generous giver, because I am in God's grace.

I am convinced that God always has more gifts and wants to give us more.  We are the ones who decide how much we will get.  We get gifts from God by pursuing God.  

Every day is Christmas with God.  The Christian life is one of receiving gifts and being generous.  It really is that simple.  God gave, God gives; I receive and am thankful (a Eucharistic life); and then in turn, I am generous.

When Jesus teaches us about His Father's generosity and benevolent goodness towards his children, he ends with this statement, saying, "In the light of what I have just taught you about my father's care for you - to keep asking, seeking, and knocking for what you desire; because God is a father who gives gifts to his children, surpassing what the best human fathers do - in light of that truth, whatever you want done for you, do that for others."

Jesus teaches us to, in a sense, "Give what we want to get".  If you want a promotion, then promote others.  If you want to find a wife or husband, help others to find their future wife or husband.  If you need more money, give money to those in need.  If you need _____, then give ____ to others that need it.

The ethos of the kingdom is generosity.  God starts it and we get to play, and God keeps it going, as we go with it.  Christ-mass-time is all the time and Christmas is a time of receiving and giving.

Children eventually learn to receive and give at Christmas.  We also learn that we don't give to get, but give from generosity birthed in our lives in God (John 3:16).  We get, then give to get to give.

Jesus addresses earthly fathers in Matthew 7, saying that, "As you give gifts to your children, Father gives gifts to you", and "Keep asking for what you desire, keep believing your heavenly Father for those gifts."

Jesus implies that there is often a time between the times, of waiting for something you desire - that thing you want.  He says, "You want something", "Keep asking for it", "God will give you the desire of your heart, as He is a father who gives his children gifts"; "And while you are asking with faith, but have not received it yet, give what you want to another person who needs it."

Jesus also tags that last statement with stating that this is what the whole Law and the Prophets are saying.  This is the golden rule of, "Give unto others what you would have them give unto you".  We are not under law, but we are in the kingdom that is themed with generosity.  The King is generous and we his subjects are generous.

The kingdom is about generous living.  

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Footnotes:

1. This post is part of a short series on Christmas.  Here are the others:
Feliz Navidad!
What Child Is This?
I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day

2. The Eucharist is a Thanksgiving Dinner. The Corinthians celebrated the Eucharist or Communion in a meal.  The first Christians had plates of food in front of them, and perhaps some flies buzzing around the room, and crumbs and spilled wine on the floor.

What does this all have to do with gifts from God?  What is has to do with God's gifts is that feasting is a gift from God.  Jesus Christ is a feast.  He is a full meal.  He is a long drink.  He is also someone we continually feed upon, 24/7.

The gospel is wild and overflowing.  It can not be contained.  When God gave the gift of manna in the desert, it was very plentiful.  They filled bags with it.  

The Inexplicable Choice of Sorrow - Psalm 16:4

"Evangelists", by Yuri Avalishvili, CC BY-SA 3.0 
The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves (The sorrows of those who choose otherwise) will multiply (shall be multiplied); I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, and I will not speak their names with my lips.
-Psalm 16:4 (HCSB (New Berkeley(1)))

Choices.  People make choices.  David says, in the midst of his words about choosing to follow and come under the protection, care, and benevolence of God, that many people choose otherwise.  They take another god or gods: little gods, or idols.  David observes how they pursue idolatry and how that lifestyle reaps a multiplication of sorrow in lives.
Sorrow is defined as:
A feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.
synonyms: sadness, unhappiness, misery, despondency, regret, depression,despair, desolation, dejection, wretchedness, gloom, dolefulness,melancholy, woe, heartache, and grief.
In the midst of ten other uplifting verses, verse 4 of Psalm 16 is the one sad one.  It does not seem to be a rebuke or a call to repentance for the people of God who have gone wayward and become spiritual adulteresses, but a "just saying", matter-of-fact, or it-is-what-it-is, truthful assessment of the human race that the people of God are surrounded by.

I have not wanted to write on this verse, because it is ugly.  It is not good news.  The fact that people "choose otherwise" and "wed themselves" to another god, is repulsive to me.  It is distasteful and mind-blowing.

But, I get it, that we all need salvation and deliverance.  I was not born saved.  I had to be saved and set free.  I was deceived and in bondage.  Jesus saved and delivered me.  The thought of not serving him is distasteful, but I understand and have compassion for those who are deceived and in bondage.

Humans were designed for relationship with God, the one and only God.  That relationship involves bowing down to and coming under the reign of God, and receiving care from God.  We worship and serve God.  We obey God and live our lives before God with one another.  God is good and God is love, by the way.

God does not force people to come into relationship with him.  He relentlessly loves people who have not chosen him and is kind to them.  Yet, many people choose to wed themselves otherwise.  We are designed to be worshipers and serve God and be cared for by God.

We are Christ's bride, as Christians; and in the OT, the people of God were metaphorically, God's wife.  The idea is a covenant relationship where we have fidelity to God, and we are taken care of by God.

Folks who say, "no thanks", to God, then and now, are choosing to be vulnerable to idolatry.  By choosing not to follow God, they are open to following someone else.  And who you follow is your "god".

David observed the pagan religions of his geographic area, who did "drink offerings of blood", and "spoke the names".  This was the popular pagan idolatry that surrounded Israel.  David, in line with the OT commands, says, "I will not do that".

Remember that the first of the 10 commandments is, "No other gods", and the second is, "No graven images (carved idol or representation of a god used in worship)".

Something we observe, is that if a person does not choose God, that they often choose "gods".  It is easy to see this with people in other religions, especially ones that involve prayer and/or have statues (idols).

Sometimes, people who say they have 'no religion' are also choosing another god or gods.  That god or those gods are things like their self, humanism, or libertine-ism, for example.  Narcissism is a very popular religion today.  Money also gets a lot of worship.  And money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money is.

What David is saying in this side-note in Psalm 16, verse 4; is that these other paths that people choose, are paths of deep sorrow, sadness, and grief.  There is no happiness outside of the God of the Bible, the One God, The Creator, and His Christ.  Those outside, who have chosen others, can only distract themselves, get "mood altered", be in more of a delusion, and be more and more deceived, becoming deceivers. Death, destruction, and massive heartache is their inheritance.

Those who choose otherwise and wed themselves to something else, are choosing against and are not wedding themselves to what David celebrates.  Let's look at all of Psalm 16 one more time, to get the context.

Looking at the whole of Psalm 16: what Gods people get and what those who "pass" and choose sorrow:

A Davidic Miktam (secret treasure or golden songs (Ps. 16, 56-60))

Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You.
   I said to Yahweh, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.”
-Protection & refuge, all that is good comes from God.

As for the holy people who are in the land, they are the noble ones.
   All my delight is in them.
-God gives nobility to all his followers and we delight in them.

The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves will multiply;
   I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, and I will not speak their names with my lips.

Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing;
   You hold my future.
      The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
      Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
-God is our source, provider, and sustain-er; of a pleasant life and beautiful future.

I will praise the Lord who counsels me—
   Even at night my conscience instructs me.
-God's children are taught my him.

I keep the Lord in mind always.
   Because He is at my right hand,
      I will not be shaken.
-A byproduct of encountering God is how we continually think, which affects how we feel and act.

Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices;
   My body also rests securely.
-Another byproduct is that we have continual gladness and a rejoicing spirit, and we are blessed with rest.

For You will not abandon me to Sheol;
   You will not allow Your Faithful One to see decay.
-Children of God are never abandoned or left to rot.

You reveal the path of life to me;
   In Your presence is abundant joy;
      In Your right hand are eternal pleasures.-The life in God is joy in abundance and authentic pleasure that never ends.

These underlined words and the notes in italics, are what those who choose another god do not get.  Instead, they get multiplied sorrows.  The question becomes, "If not choosing God is that bad and they don't get all these good things, then how do they possible stay in it or not change their minds?"

The Bible says that sin is temporarily enjoyable (Heb. 11:25).  I think that the word "choose" is important.  People choose, people make choices over and over.



Previous posts on Psalm 16:


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Footnote
1. Berkeley Version note

Sing to God When Things Are Bad

Photo by Mark A, Wilson (PD)
Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!

Sing to God; make music to praise his name.  Make a highway for him to ride through the deserts.  The Lord is his name.  Celebrate in his presence.

Sing to God. Sing praises to His name. Make a road for Him Who goes through the deserts. The Lord is His name. Be full of joy before Him.
-Psalm 68:4 (ESV, God's Word Translation, New Life Version)

(This re-post, with added content)
When you are in trouble, sing to God.  There's no time like when we are under attack to praise the Lord.  

When we sing to God, we are opening a door to welcome the Lord into our presence.  We are making a roadway.  We are making a landing strip.  Singing to God and praising the Lord release faith, and God responds to faith.

The deserts are the dry places, the places that are barren and seemingly lifeless.  The desert is less civilized and is where outlaws go.  Most people do not want to live in the desert, because it is less habitable or hospitable.  

Being in the desert is like being barren. unfruitful, and dry.  In a word, uncomfortable.  When we sing to God and praise the Lord, we make a place for him to come into and through the desert.  

You start with singing in warfare and you end in celebration for his presence.  The enemy is routed.  God makes a way where there was no way, like a stream in the desert.  It looked impossible, but you exercised some faith and praised God anyway.

The enemy wants you to sink down to his level, to use carnal, fleshly weapons against him.  Singing to God goes around all of that and defeats him every time.  

The enemy also encourages us to turn against ourselves and grind on our problems, without God in sight.  Singing to God dismantles that and humbles the pride of thinking that we can think or worry our way to answers.

We worship, praise, and sing to God; because we do not know what to do and are at our wits end.  Sometimes, worship is expressing thanks, and reciting truths, that we are so glad have been revealed to us.  But, in the darkest or driest or most hopeless places; that might not be what our worship sounds like at all.  

God never elbows a severely depressed person and says, "chin up, cheer up, gotta praise me now..."  No, no, and no.  Singing to God can come from a devastated heart.  Lament is the highest form of worship.  

When the psalmist wrote, "you've turned my mourning into dancing", he meant it, that he had been mourning, before God met him and touched him.  It's not a cliche.  Mourning is real and lamentations are real.  Being sorrowful and filled with grief are real and part of the Christian's life.

When we are under attack or in a dry and lifeless place, or lonely "nowhereville"; sing.  Sing to God in that empty place, that depressed place, that hopeless place.  Sing to God in your mourning.  Sing your sorrows to God.

Sing, just sing.  Praise God.  Bless his name, no matter what.  It will change the atmosphere, annoy and rattle the enemy, and attract God to come through your situation.  You will end up in celebratiom and being an encouragement to others.

God is So Good, by Kevin Prosch
And God is so good.
And God is so good.
He rides upon the wings of the wind,
He is exalted by His name Jah.
He walks in the midst of the stones of fire,
To be His sons is our desire.
And God is so good.
And God is so good.
You reign on high in majesty,
And the widow's heart causes to sing.
You hear the cry of the fatherless,
And the depths of Your love who can Comprehend?
For the natural things speak of the invisible.
Look around and see,
Who could deny the wonders of His Love?
And God is so good.
And God is so good.

Hear My Voice

Correggio, Ritratto di uomo che legge, (PD)
God, hear my voice when I complain.  Protect my life from the terror of the enemy.
-Psalm 64:1 (HCSB)

Pray!  Do you hear the call to prayer?  There is a time to pray more.  Praying is talking or sounding off to God.  "Hear my voice", literally means "Listen to my sounds".  Prayers can be groans, cries, and tears.

The door to the secret place of prayer is the cross.  When you have gone through the cross, you loose everything and gain all he has for you.  Then you take up your cross and walk after him.

The sound of your voice is purified when you have been through his cross and carry your cross.  You have very legitimate complaints to air, because you have an enemy who hates Jesus' work in the world and wants to stop you.

So there is warfare and roadblocks in your life.  There is a conspiracy being planned and executed against you.  This is why you must pray and partner with Almighty God, for his destiny, plan, and inheritance for you to come forth and go forward, for the glory of Christ.

Secure Living (Psalm 16:9)

"Down on his luck" by Frederick Mc Cubbin (PD-US)
Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body also rests securely.
-Psalm 16:9 (HCSB)

Resting securely is a gift from God to all his children.

We need peaceful, restful sleep; and we also need rest while we are awake.  There is a time to work and a time to rest.  We don't want to be restless.

David wrote may of his psalms when we was running from an enemy who wanted to kill him.  Although he was called to become king, David lived for a period of time as an outcast, in tents and caves, in the wilderness.  David lived in the opposite of the clear prophecy over his life.

David had good reasons to feel restless.  Restlessness is when you have too much adrenaline pumping through you, and you feel like you might have to flee danger.  When we read the history of David's life, we can understand why he would struggle  with this issue.

Yet, David was able to rest securely.  The answer, from David, lies in the word "therefore", that points up to what he wrote in the previous verses.  In other words, he says, "In light of this (what I just said)".  Let's find out what the "therefore" is there for.

These are the reasons that David can rest securely:
  1. Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing;
  2. You hold my future.  
  3. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
  4. I will praise the Lord who counsels me— even at night my conscience instructs me.
  5. I keep the Lord in mind always.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  
These five actions or relational manifestations from God upon David's life and our live's, give us security and secure rest.  We feel safe and we rest in safety, from God.

The Lord is your portion.

Our security, safety, and secure rest is in God.    Whatever other people have does not matter.  What matters is that you have God.  You are on a journey of appropriating God.  You are learning how to lay hold of your inheritance and to live in, by, and through it.

God holds our futures.

We don't have to worry about or try to control the future, because God holds our futures.  He is very big on futures.  I need to walk into my future with God, who is and has my inheritance.

God has a 'lot' for each one of us.  God has made each of us uniquely fit for a life within certain boundaries.  God knows where you fit in this world and wants to place you there.  God gives us spheres of influence and has a geographic plan for our lives.

Contentment is an important value.  Many poor people are content and many rich people are discontent.  Finding God's assigned boundary lines for your life brings contentment.

Inheritance is a big deal in the Bible.

We are supposed to pass on an inheritance to our grandchildren.  It says "children's children", because your inheritance from your parents is not for you to spend, but to pass on to your children.  You can spend or enjoy it, but it is meant to be something you enjoy and then pass on.  The idea is land, houses, and farms or vineyards.  Spending it all on your pleasures is not the wise or godly thing to do.

Inheritance also is the important qualities that you pass on.  I learned in family counseling school to look at a person's grandparents and great-grandparents, if possible, to discern the root cause of a problem cropping up in a person's life today.  A blessing or a curse may have come down as an inheritance, from a person's previous generations.

It is an insight to keep in mind that there are invisible negative inheritances that are active in a person's life that need to be dealt with by appropriating the blood of Jesus and his resurrection life.

An active, ongoing, intimate relationship with God.

The next thing that leads to a life of secure living, is having an active, ongoing, intimate relationship with God.  Every believer needs to be receiving counsel from God.  Your sleep should be a time when your spirit is free to rest in God and receive counsel.  The reigns of your heart should be tugged at and shaped in the night while you sleep.  This is your inheritance.

Practice the presence of God.

Lastly, we live securely - we are not insecure, because we practice the presence of God.  This too is the inheritance of all Christians.  Remember when Jesus said to the first disciples, "I will not leave you as orphans, I am coming to you", and he was talking about the Spirit of God, who is abiding with us and in us (John 14:17-18).  

We can not forget the third member of The Trinity.  The Christian life is impossible without having a relationship day by day, with the Spirit of God.  This is the inheritance of every believer and without him, your life will be very anemic.

Every insecure feeling is an opportunity to grow in God.

Every neurotic fear that comes up is an opportunity for growth.  A neurotic fear is when we over-react or over-control, incongruously to the challenge faced.  A fear, anxiety, or worry may be completely not neurotic, as in real and authentic.  For example, fear of not having money or fear of death.  We have our anchor of our being in God.  We want that anchor to also be a power line that connects us, with our fear or anxiety, to God.  

If I am insecure and if my rest is being robbed by anxiety; salvation, healing, or freedom may be had from Christ.  The good news is good news for my whole past and even my family line.  The man who beat his wife and children, then got saved, had to learn to apply salvation to that violence that his daddy and granddaddy taught him.

By the same token, some of us need to learn to apply the gospel and salvation, healing, and deliverance to our histories, that affect our restlessness today.  It may be hard to face the original pain, suffering, loss, or abuse.  But, we need to give him all those painful memories.

Someone coined the phrase, "If you can't feel it, you can't get it healed", and that is true.  When the over-reacting happens, or the need for control due to a fear of being out of control, or when the need hits to self-medicate to stop the pain.  When the insecurity hits, we need to close our eyes (if you are not driving) and learn to bring Christ to the feeling, as in letting him into that dark room.

This is the ending stanza of Psalm 16, beginning with verse 9:

Therefore
My heart is glad
And my spirit rejoices;
My body also rests securely.
For You will not abandon me to Sheol;
You will not allow Your Faithful One to see decay.
You reveal the path of life to me;
In Your presence is abundant joy;
In Your right hand are eternal pleasures.



I have previously written on Psalm 16:

Psalm 16:7
Psalm 16:7 (a second, different one)

Footnote:

The NIV Study Bible notes state that, Psalm 16 is "A prayer for safekeeping", and "A psalm of trust", and the title, "A miktam is a term that remains unexplained, though it always stands in the superscription of Davidic  prayers occasioned by great danger (see Ps. 56-60)"

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For further study:
Two Hours to Freedom: A Simple and Effective Model for Healing and Deliverance by Charles H. Kraft
The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Healing by Francis Macnutt
Healing The Wounded Spirit by John and Paula Sandford