Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 22:6-11

My Lord,

Who am I that I have been rejected a million times and despised a million times more?

You say, “Speak of my love” and it falls on deaf ears. You say, “Speak of my power” and it means little to the strong. You say, “Speak of my glory” and their eyes remain blind.

However, you saved me. You made me with your hands. You are the one who started my heartbeat. More than that, when I was wicked and evil and when I despised your holy name, you did nothing but see me and let your grace and love fall on me.

Once more, you were always my God. Even after  my mother abandoned me and while my father sought to destroy me, You were my God.

Even when I didn’t know you, your righteousness and holiness tainted my walking corpse and I tasted of your power.

But your mercies come quickly: you followed that up with your heart in place of mine.

Be ever so close to me. Be the whisper that draws me out–yes, even into the wilderness. Because if I have You, then I have everything I need.

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves.  Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.

Here is Love: He is the One Who Knows Us – Romans 8:27

Romans 8:27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

This is a fantastic God

What compares to the knowledge of God when He alone reveals all truth and science to us? Yet, he is not merely the best supercomputer in the world with every single piece of knowledge and scientific fact ever. 1

What compares to the knowledge of God that he numbers the stars in the all of the cosmos, grains of sand on all the beaches and even the number of the hairs on your head? But he is not the greatest calculator that can count really, really high.

What compares to the knowledge of God that he not only knows the past but knows the future. He is not some brilliant scientist who has discovered time travel. He knows the future because he made the future.

What compares to the knowledge of God that he searches the whole world but he is not merely the best surveillance system ever.

This is the God who actually, perfectly knows each and every one of us. But what does that even mean in our world today? Where we put ourselves on social media but only show the world what we want them to see. But every single one of us are yearning to be truly seen and truly known—maybe not by everybody but by somebody.

Maybe we think, “I hope that God sees the good inside of me.” But what if this God saw a lot deeper than that. What if he saw past your social media posts, and then your walls, and then past your personality? What if he could peer inside your soul and see the deepest corners of your heart? What would God see then?

What if he saw your bad? Your fears, your doubts, your sin, your trespasses? You might think if he saw that, he couldn’t possibly want you or even love you?

Here’s the truth: he knows all of that. But this is the mind of the Spirit: way before you were born, the stars were placed in the sky or even before there was even dirt, he made up his mind about you.

Long before Genesis 1:1, he saw into the future and saw you not at your best or your greatest but at your weakest, sickest, and most terrible. Before you could even fathom a thought, God thought of you, loved you, and set the plan in motion not only to create you but to save you.

Who is truly like this God who is not scared nor frightened of your deepest sins? Who is like him whose heart breaks for what broke yours? Who grieved over your pain and also, who was rightfully jealous when you ran away from him?

Ah, but he knows you and sees you truly for who you are.

His reaction is not one of condemnation and tosses you away. He does not strike you down where you stand. He does not turn his back on you. Instead, he comes after you: not like the Devil Lion who would only consume your soul but the like the Protective Hound who simple chases you down, places you gently into his jaws and carries you back to safety.

I know this to be true because he sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who came not into the world to condemn you but only through him, to save you.

My Beloved, if you are his adoptive, precious child then do not fear that God knows you inside and out as he is only here to remind you of your fears and weaknesses. That is the Devil’s job. But Rejoice! For God sees you, knows you, loves you and wrote your name in His Son’s book of life. Run to him! Flee to him! Let him comfort you in the only way a perfect Father could ever do.

But what if you don’t know God like this? What if this is all foreign to you? Just know that our precious God made sure there is more than ample room at the foot of the cross of Christ for you.

Let the Almighty God take you into his strong arms as he begins to constantly, consistently, thoughtfully, and lovingly pray and intercede for you according His own will because he loves you.

I pray that everyone who reads these words would know that God didn’t create you and left you behind. He didn’t save you and then distance from you. God didn’t rescue you and then be disconnected from you. No! He saved you, pulled you in close, whispers blessings into your ear, rejoices and sings over you in gladness! 2

Because he loves you.

Oh, the mighty love of God be will with us all today and forever. Amen.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.

Notes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 1-3
  2. Hosea 2:14; Zephaniah 3:17

Ordo Salutis I: The Overflowing Love of God

To proclaim ourselves as Christians to proclaim that we believe and trust upon Christ as our Saviour and Lord. 

At that beautiful moment when God saved us, we hope and pray that each one of us are immediately surrounded by other brothers and sisters in Christ that are willing to walk alongside us in love, encouragement, teaching and exhortation.  It is my sincere hope that no newly saved person is ever alone by themselves trying to figure this thing especially when the cross of Christ has not only saved us to Himself but we have been reconciled to each other. Here at ground zero, we are given a new heart and new desires by God.  Desires to want to know more of him, to know and love Him more and more each day.

But how is it that we are actually come to salvation by God?  This is the question that the idea of the Latin term “Ordo Salutis” (or the Order of Salvation) attempts to answer.  If we have some knowledge of the Bible, the better question would no doubt be:

“What did God have to do in order to save His people to Himself?”

In order to answer this, we have to fully dive into the Scriptures to see what God has revealed about what salvation is.  We cannot rely on superstition, church history or simply what “feels good”.  We must seek out what God says about salvation.

So in this series, we are going to attempt answer questions such as, “Does the Bible teach about God electing us to salvation?”, “Are we predestined by God?”, “What is free will of man?” and “Can a person truly be saved without the outward appearance of a new heart?”.

So in this, we begin with the Golden Chain (emphasized in orange) found in this passage:

Romans 8:27-30 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

In verse 30, Paul did not simply throw the words “predestined”, “called”, “justified” and “glorified” at us as though their order matter not.  Paul was very careful in ordering them in the way that he did to give us the idea of what all occurred on the part of God in order to save us. 

Before we begin to take this passage apart and split into different doctrines, I want to know some of your thoughts.  Keep in mind that they are no wrong answers.  I want you to be as honest as possible because I simply want to know where you are coming from and what your perceptions are.

Here are your questions to ponder for our next lesson.  Feel free to answer in the comment section:

  1. What does predestination mean to you?
  2. Do you believe that God predestined our salvation?
  3. What is free will?

Passages to read for our next lesson:

  • Romans 8:27-30
  • Romans 3:1o-12
  • Genesis 3:1-21 (What was Adam and Eve doing before God clothed them?)
  • Genesis 6:1-9 (What was Noah doing before God bestowed grace upon him?)
  • Genesis 12:1-4 (What was Abram doing before God called out to him?)
  • Isaiah 6:1-7 (What was Isaiah doing before God revealed His glory to him?)
  • Acts 7:54-8:3; 9:1-6 (What was Saul doing before God saved him?)

I am very excited to walk alongside you in this study.   I strongly encourage you to do all things, especially reading the word of God, bathed in prayer and seeking out His understanding and His will in all things.

May God bless us all in this journey.

Mark 8:22–26 Jesus Opens Our Eyes So That We Would See God

Mark 8:22–26      And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

  1. Is it even possible to see God without God?
  2. How do we get to see God and his goodness?
  3. If we cannot see it, how are we able to see God? What can we do?
  4. Is it possible to truly know God without the help of God? Could we study and go to a lot of church and go to Bible school and really know God?

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

 

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 22: 1-5

God!

Where are you?

I am in trouble!

Sin and wickedness have surrounded me. Everything goes dark and cold. Satan and his minions look upon my flesh with lust and hunger.

Temptations are too much. I cannot do battle. My muscles are weak, small, and frail.

I cry and scream: HELP ME, O GOD!

But you are my powerful Champion. You are the people’s Savior. You are invincible. You are forever strong.

I have praised you in the past and my lips shall sing of your praises for as long as I draw breath and beyond.

Your people before me trusted you and I trust you now. You have never failed me. Even when there have been moments when I didn’t know your goodness, you were always good.

You have rescued my grandmother and my dad.

Now rescue me!

Save me, O God.

My life is in your hands.

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves.  Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.

Here is Love: He is Our Mediator – Romans 8:26

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

When coming to the full acknowledgement of the pain and anguish of sin that he seems to never be able to overcome, Paul cries the same incredible prayer in the same spirit as the tax collector in the synagogue:

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?1

And I believe the totality of Romans 8 is the extended, thorough, exegetical explanation to his powerful nine word answer: “Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord! 2

So let’s suppose that we find ourselves in the same shoes as Paul. We see our sin and we even try to wrestle it and overcome it and try choke the life out of it but we all know that our strength is neither perfect nor mighty. It wanes day to day and even moment to moment. We are not as strong as the Almighty Savior who counted it as all joy to ascend to the cross and hand over his life as a ransom for many.

What shall we do? Do we give up hope? Do we scream out “Forget this! This is too much for me to handle. I will never succeed! Why even try?”

But don’t you see? Your cries are exactly like those of the children of Israel. The Old Testament is your prayer and the New Testament is your answer.

You can’t make it? God knows and He shows us His great love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us? 3

Remember before God saved you to himself and filled your heart with His Holy Spirit? When you were “once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” 4

Yes, God was mindful of you, saw you, and saved you despite your own wickedness, evilness and malice towards the Himself.

If God be so good and powerful to do that, what do you think He’s going to do when you know you are weak, sick and more need of a Savior? Leave you? NO! You are His precious adopted child to whom all that belongs to His only begotten Son also is yours.

That gift includes the world. 5 But that includes something much greater than all of anything that we could want or desire on this earth:

God himself.

God the Father, whose mind, compassion, grace, sovereignty, and love is yours.

God the Son, whose life and body were in your place on the cross so that you could be with “His God, your God, His Father and your Father”. That’s yours.

God the Spirit, by whom is the power, connection, intimacy, closeness and the very voice that brings you and God together forever never to break apart or be forgotten. That’s yours.

By the power of the same Spirit that Jesus was able to walk this earth and live as we should have lived.

By the power of the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

If His Spirit dwells in you, you are now fully completely alive.

God WOULD NEVER ABANDON YOU, FORSAKE YOU, NOR FORGET YOU.

So why would he leave you at your weakest?

Paul goes on to say:

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” 6

When sin crouches like a hungry lion ready to devour our souls.

When the Devil and his demons shower you a million arrows of arrows to consume your flesh.

When everything that has worked before and now nothing does.

When you are at loss for words and nothing comes out.

That’s when the almighty Spirit steps in, shatters the mouth of the lion, shields us and absorbs every single arrow aimed for our hearts. He actually gives you the power to overcome all fears, anxiety and sins, and speaks perfectly to God, our Father, on your behalf. Giving what is the very best for you when you couldn’t figure that out yourself.

That is powerful love.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.

Notes:

  1. Romans 7:24
  2. Romans 7:25
  3. Romans 5:8
  4. Titus 3:3
  5. Hebrews 1:1-2
  6. Titus 3:4-7

The Evangelical Case Against Donald Trump

Since the 2016 Presidential Election, I definitely regret many things. Most of which, the lashing out in anger against Trump, his Nazi administration, and his White Evangelical followers who empowered him.

But all of that anger and frustration is really all in vain. You see, for all of that energy spent, I have gain nothing. I have not done anything significant. Nothing has changed.

Nothing has changed because I haven’t really been about anything significant. To be against something is not really being for anything. To oppose something really isn’t anything. What I need to be about is something that will conquer evil and oppression. And that something is the gospel of Christ.

I have stated many times that racism, bigotry, hatred, xenophobia are not mere social issues that most Evangelicals have grown up falsely believing but are actually antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But to say such a thing is to assume that readers here know what is the gospel and why do those things actually oppose it.

What is the gospel of God? Simply stated: the gospel is the power of God in salvation for those who believe. (Romans 1:16)

Yes, the gospel are the words that absolutely declared what God has done and what God will do to save His people to himself. No more and no less.

This goes all the way back Genesis 3 when all of the universe was broken by the mere breaking of God’s law. All things, including mankind, began its descent into chaos and death. But God the Creator, came to mankind and spoke the good news that He himself will reverse this descent and restore all of those things back to himself. This first proclamation of the good news is called the protoevangelium 1. We know that the people whom he preached this news to, Adam and Eve, believed because while they slept, God took away their own works of self-righteousness, slain an animal and spilled its blood (as a foretelling of what would need to happen in order for his people to be saved) and covered Adam and Eve with his own works righteousness 2.

God completes his promise of restoration, goodness, holiness, and perfection by doing the nearly the very same thing later but this time, it was when the Father sent His Son to be slain in His people’s place for their sins. His Son became human, and his name is Jesus Christ, lived a life by the power of the Holy Spirit, gave up his life so that he could die, but by the power of that same Spirit, he arose into life and now He is ascended to the right hand of his Father.

When that happened over two thousand years ago, those people who have come and trust in God to save them, their salvation was completed. Their salvation was finished because what God had promised to do, he alone can finish the work and by the very definition of God, he has to complete the work. He has no choice because He is all powerful and is the only one who can fulfill those promises.

Do you believe and trust in God and what He has done? Then that salvation is for you.

Listen, if you don’t believe, then the gospel is not for you.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 3

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 4

What the gospel does not contain is any amount of hatred, this includes racism, bigotry, and fear.

We know that God does not save a particular people group, as has so many preachers falsely taught that God will completely save the inhabitants of Israel. When in fact, we look throughout the Bible and we find that God saves only those who came to trust and believed in Him. You are not born into this salvation, whether be by birth or by your will, but by the will of God who saves. 5

So racism cannot be justified by the gospel so it is not part of the gospel. The gospel has no room for such a sin. (We know racism to be a sin. See Numbers 12:1-16)

Bigotry is the intolerance of someone who is different from you or thinks differently from you. Here’s the thing that many churchgoers don’t realize: the gospel is not an answer on a multiple choice test. It is the absolute truth. All of “truths” in the world that differ from this is actually not true. Many people in the world including many people in the church oppose this because we don’t want anybody condemned and we want everyone to have a chance to be saved. But we know that there is no other name by which we are saved 6.  So with that in mind, and in the truest sense off the word, all of those who do not believe God are different from you and they think differently from you. And you want to what? Be intolerant to their existence when in fact, there was a time when you were an enemy and a traitor against the God of the universe?

So that the God of the universe was not intolerant to you, so you should not be intolerant towards others.

“Yes but they are sinning and we shouldn’t associate with sin.” Yes, we shouldn’t associate with sin but we are to love the sinner because they are prisoners are who are held captive in their sin. And you want to kick them out of their church? Where else can they hear of the God who actually saves? Check to see if your church actually preaches the gospel week in and week out. If your church doesn’t preach the gospel, then go ahead and remove such sinners from your church. Without the gospel of Christ preached, there is nothing for their souls there anyways.

So we can clearly see that bigotry is not part of the gospel. The gospel has no room for such sin.

Lastly, we come to xenophobia which is defined as “intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.” We have seen a hatred against people who are outside this country coming in and we use everything not Biblical to justify our stances. But to know and read the Bible is to know the heart of God for the stranger, the immigrant, the outsider, the alien, the lost. And God loves and cares for them and seeks out to find them and bring them home.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. 7

“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. 8

And for those who say we no longer have to follow the Old Testament, I say this. Literally, this is the parable of the Good Samaritan 9. Like, literally.

In other words, we were once lost but now found. 10

So we can clearly see that xenophobia is not part of the gospel. The gospel has no room for such sin.

So now we see that everything that Donald Trump has stood for—all around hatred—is at complete odds not with society with the gospel and against God himself.

So we can say with the utmost certainty racism, bigotry, hatred, and xenophobia are gospel issues because the Bible makes that painfully clear.

Notes:

  1. Genesis 3:15
  2. Genesis 3:21
  3. Romans 1:16
  4. John 3:16
  5. John 1:12-13, John 3:1-15
  6. Acts 4:12, John 14:6
  7. Leviticus 19:33–34
  8. 1 Chronicles 29:14–15
  9. Luke 25:10-36
  10. Luke 15:1–32

French Liturgy

For you, little child, Jesus Christ has come, he has fought, he has suffered. For you he entered the shadow of Gethsemane and the horror of Calvary. For you he uttered the cry, ‘It is finished!’ For you he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and there he intercedes — for you, little child, even though you do not know it. But in this way the word of the Gospel becomes true. “We love him, because he first loved us.”

– French Reformed Baptismal Liturgy

The Foot of Faith

“Through him that loved us.” Here is the great secret of our victory, the source of our triumph. Behold the mystery explained, how a weak, timid believer, often running from his own shadow, is yet “more than a conqueror” over his many and mighty foes. To Christ who loved him, who gave himself for him, who died in his stead, and lives to intercede on his behalf, the glory of the triumph is ascribed. And this is the song he chants, “Thanks be to God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jews Christ.” Through the conquest which he himself obtained, through the grace which he imparts, through the strength which he inspires, through the intercession which he presents, in all our “tribulation, and distress, and persecution, and famine, and nakedness, and peril, and sword ” we are “more than conquerors.” Accounted though we are as “sheep for the slaughter,” yet our Great Shepherd, Himself slain for the sheep, guides his flock, and has declared that no one shall pluck them out of his hand. We are more than conquerors through his grace who loved us in the very circumstances that threaten to overwhelm. Fear not, then, the darkest cloud, nor the proudest waves, nor the deepest needs—in these very things you shall, through Christ, prove triumphant. Nor shrink from the battle with the “last enemy.” Death received a death-wound when Christ died. You face a conquered foe. He stands at your side a crownless king, and waving a broken scepter. Your death shall be another victory over the believer’s last foe. Planting your foot of faith upon his prostrate neck, you shall spring into glory, more than a conqueror, through him that loved you. Thus passing to glory in triumph, you shall go to swell the ranks of the “noble army of martyrs”—those Christian heroes of whom it is recorded, “THEY OVERCAME HIM BY THE BLOOD Of THE LAMB.”

No Condemnation in Christ Jesus by Octavius Winslow