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Morning Reflections – 7/31

Morning Reflections is a series of brief reflections on my daily morning readings; one chapter of Pslams and one of Proverbs.

Psalm 61 and Proverbs 31

Psalm 61 is full of prayers and petitions, both for merciful guidance for himself (lead me to the rock that is higher than I) and for blessing for the king (May he be enthroned forever before God). After all his prayers, he ends with v8, “So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.” This is a fitting end for all our prayers as well as really the only right response. Our ultimate hope in seeking God’s guidance ought to be to secure his blessing for ourselves and those we love, however even beyond that it should be that we might praise him more fully, praise him more faithfully. Indeed, when he answers, what else can we do? There is no repayment for the favors of God, only to give ourselves entirely, as we are, to him and his purposes.

Proverbs 31:4 says “Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings.” Seeing as these are the words of King Lemuel to his son, who will one day be king, the words are highly applicable. One who will be king should indeed not give his ways to those who will destroy him. Undoubtedly women have been a snare to many a king in Israel. Solomon and David are among Israels greatest kings, and both of them suffered greatly for their lack of discretion in this department. A king strength is not for indulgence, but to “defend the rights of the poor and needy (v9).” Interestingly, this is done not through warfare, but through “opening your mouth”, as twice the phrase is mentioned. A kings role is to rule by statue and to promote equity and righteousness through legislation. By decree a king works on behalf of his people. A mute king is no king at all. In contrast, what a king Christians have! King Jesus never spoke a sideways word, nor one that fell to the wayside. When he opens his mouth it is pure justice, righteous judgment, healing wisdom, and words of life. We gladly own you as king, oh Jesus, because none other rules so powerfully as you do by your decrees. In them we are safe and protected, cared for and sustained. May your kingdom come and your will be done, Lord!


Morning Reflections – 7/30

Morning Reflections is a series of brief reflections on my daily morning readings; one chapter of Pslams and one of Proverbs.

Psalm 60 and Proverbs 30

Psalm 60:11 says “Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!” This is an emphatic statement, and for anyone who names the name of the LORD, it should be ever on our lips. This is especially true in our day, where temptations to pragmatism and human wisdom are ever so sophisticated and prevalent. We must be all the more certain that we need the help of the personal powerful sovereign of the universe and be all the more eager to secure this help. The psalmist had no illusions; it would be God’s help or no help. Man simply cannot produce the power that is needed, nor work the salvation that is desired.

Verses 1-3 are the psalmists recollection of God’s hard dealings with his people; Perhaps God on occasion needs to show his awesome power against his people whereby they learn that the salvation of man, (ie, their own!) is in vain. Being taken to task by the God of the universe is by no means pleasant; it is then indeed when we begin to yearn for God’s favor the most… I do believe God desires to give it to us all along, we just need to be prepared for it, lest we trample it underfoot in gross unthankfulness. Affliction is a great buffer against the heinous sin of ungratefulness.

Agur, the author of Proverbs 30, is aware that the Lord is ready to afflict, which is why he wisely requests honesty of heart and sufficiency in God. His great fear is that he deny the Lord in the pride of his wealth or profane the name of the Lord by thieving out of poverty. He fears the Lord, and in that his wisdom is manifest. Proverbs 30:7-9 would be a great one to memorize, especially for youth who seek to live right before the Lord.

Morning Reflections – 7/29

Morning Reflections is a series of brief reflections on my daily morning readings; one chapter of Pslams and one of Proverbs.

Psalm 59 and Proverbs 29

Twice in this Psalm the author recalls of the gentile heathens: “Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.” Whether the psalmist hears of their scoffing and indulgence from outside the city, inside the city, or is merely speaking in generalities of his enemies; one thing is clear: he will have no part in it. He would rather retreat to his own fortress, the God who shows steadfast love, the God who is his strength. Notice how he owns God. you are MY fortress, you are MY strength, you show ME steadfast love, you have been to ME a refuge. His people ought to take refuge in him, separating themselves from the indulgences of worldly scoffers.

v8 in the proverbs says “Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.” Abraham was wise in his hopes of turning away wrath from Sodom, a heathen city that meets and even exceeds the description in the psalm. Yet the author of this psalm seems more interested in their prolonged destruction, until they are consumed completely. How shall we reconcile the two? I guess these attitudes are simply two facets of the same diamond, two friends that need not be reconciled. The heart of the psalmist is found in v13, that his enemies “may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth”. Scoffers may repent or be silenced, but their ignorance will not continue unabated. The wise may turn away wrath from a city for a time, or from a person for an eternity by the gospel; but the psalmists desire shall in the end be realized.


Morning Reflections – 7/28

Morning Reflections is a series of brief reflections on my daily morning readings; one chapter of Pslams and one of Proverbs.

Psalm 58 and Proverbs 28

Psalm 58 begins with a hypothetical question about the gods of the earth. Do they decree what is right? Do they judge the children of man uprightly? The response is immediate; No. The Psalm then continues with indictments against the wicked and prayers to capital “G” God, the true God, to frustrate, destroy, and ultimately bring the enemy to nothing. In the final two verses the Psalmist anticipates the coming victory and judgment of the wicked when the true God who actually does decree what is right and actually does judge the children of man uprightly comes to do, well, just that.

Verse 10 is what grabbed my attention. “The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.”

Seems a bit gratuitous, don’t you think? Bathing in someone else’s blood? We don’t often think in these categories, but not only does the Psalmist seem quite comfortable with this idea, we have to own the fact that those words were inspired!

How can we bring ourselves into agreement with the seeming violence of the psalm? How can we join the psalmist rather than judge him in his bloody foot bathing? How can this be right?

The key is to recognize that if God indeed is the judge, then the judgment is indeed just, and the execution is righteous. Whatever his judgment, it cannot be other than a righteous, pure, and perfect judgment. If it were not so, he would no longer be capital “G” God, but just another little “g” god among the rest whom the psalmist dismisses two verses in.

The temptation of Psalm 58:10 is to appraise the judgments of God. In contrast, it calls us to bathe our feet with the psalmist. In reality, what else can we do? Though there be blood in the streets, if it is of the Lord, we say Amen. His judgments cannot be anything but wisdom in action, holiness on display, justice executed to perfection. Whoever acts otherwise simply cannot be God.

Perhaps this is exactly why Proverbs 28:5 says “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.” God simply will not play nicely with any notion of justice erected outside of himself; the very notion of justice is bound up in the person-hood of God.


Creation, Evolution, and The New Birth

Had some musings today about evolution and whether God “could have used it”, or “might have used it”, or “did use it” in bringing our world and our race into existence.

I have a new response next time that comes up in discussion.

The Bible tells us that this physical world is an extension of a spiritual realm, and that the physical is patterned after the spiritual and the temporal after the eternal.

Examples of this: marriage. Though marriage came before Paul wrote the letter of Ephesians, we read there that the marriage institution was patterned after the relationship Christ would have with his church: from the start, the physical relationship was patterned after the spiritual one.

We see the same thing in the tabernacle and temple of the OT. Concerning the tabernacle, Moses was told sixteen times to make it according to the pattern given him. God’s concern in this regard is understood when we consider that there were important spiritual realities that God wished to communicate through that physical construct; some of which can be seen in the book of Hebrews, where we read that there is a “tabernacle not built with hands, not of this creation” (Heb 9:11) that is greater than the physical one.

These are two of just a few that could be pointed out.

So if the physical is patterned after the spiritual, then wherever in our bible we see a spiritual reality connected to a physical one, we ought to consider the physical as an extension of the spiritual and not the other way around.

This is where creation comes in.

I’ve understood for a while that the Bible uses creation language when it comes to the new birth. 2 Corinthians 4:6 is foremost in my mind at the moment: “God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Paul is plainly referencing salvation, or the new birth, to creation. It was back in Genesis 1:3 that God said “Let there be light”. Here Paul uses it to describe the Christian conversion, where the heart is opened to see with the eyes of faith the glory of God in the person and work of Jesus. This is an act of God upon a person described elsewhere as a transfer from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Christ (Col 1:13), being made alive from the dead (Col 2:13-15), being once darkness and now light (Eph 5:8). This is just to name a few.

A common thread between all the analogies used to reference salvation is that it is an instantaneous event. There is a stark contrast. You were this, now you are this. Notice there is no mention of a journey or process in between. Crossing from death, from condemnation to justification, from death to life happens in a moment, and that is the consistent testimony of the New Testament.

So then. If there is indeed a scriptural precedent for connecting God’s action in the physical creation to the spiritual reality of the new birth; then we ought to consider the spiritual birth as the precedent for the creation event, and when we do so, we are left with no room for anything other than a spontaneous creative act.

No process. God said, and it was.

There was no light, then there was light.

And if the first “and God said…” was a spontaneous creative act; then there is no reason to believe any of the others were any different. Land, sea, fish, birds, plants.

I hope I can look further into this connection in the future. I want to divide scripture rightly, and so at this point I am just hypothesizing, but it is worth digging here because I think this is legitimate. Looking forward to spring break, maybe I’ll get to chew on this more then…

Loving the Rod

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” ~ Hebrews 12:5-6

Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. ~ Job 5:17

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. ~ Hebrews 12:10-11


Scripture makes known to us our Heavenly Father’s intention to discipline all his children as an expression of his love for us. By all accounts it seems that discipline ever lies between us and holiness; whatever measure of personal holiness we have yet to attain, we shall reach it through the path of discipline.

It has been my thought that if it is his holiness we are after, it will come through receiving his discipline. Self discipline leads to self-righteousness, God’s discipline leads us to the humble holiness he delights to see in us.

God alone knows the fullness of joy that accompanies personal holiness, and it is his incredible love for his children that causes him to take up the rod of discipline and with it lead us into that joy. He seeks our holiness because he seeks our happiness, and not the brand the world offers mind you. This happiness is invincible.

We ought to consider this deeply. To see the Rod of the Lord is to see his father heart for us his children. I believe each son and daughter is uniquely special to the Heavenly Father, and his Rod is uniquely crafted and wielded for each of them.

It is quarter after 3 in the morning, and my wife and I have been up since 1am with Graeme (our 1 year old). We’ve gone down the list: not sick, not teething, not scared, not hungry, not thirsty… still he won’t settle and sleep. Now we can attribute this to any number of things, and some of them may even be legitimate causes for a son that won’t sleep tonight. But there is only one interpretation of tonight that I can embrace with my whole heart: this is the Rod of the Lord.

Tonight we received his discipline. Tonight he has come to move us along in the way of holiness. Tonight he has looked upon us in love, and in his great wisdom he has chosen a rod that was made just for us, and he has wielded it perfectly on our behalf. He is truly extravagant toward us!

Seeing the rod of the Lord in your circumstances makes it possible for us to give thanks to God in all things. It helps us to see how special and specific his love is for us, how uniquely he sees us. He uses the Rod so wonderfully, so skilfully, so perfectly! Just for me! Oh how he must love me! His intimate knowledge of us can be seen in each and every stroke, if we wish to see it.

We should choose to see the Rod; to look for it, and to love it wherever we find it. It shouldn’t be hard to find, for God’s word tells us repeatedly that the rod is real and that the rod is there, disciplining us; sometimes heavy, sometimes light, always constant, always effective, and always wielded to perfection in sovereign, omnipotent hand of the Father whose love never fails us.

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. ~ Proverbs 13:24

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent ~ Revelation 3:19

May there be no wasted strokes!

The Purpose of Trials; and a Poem

Trials and struggles are part of the Christian experience. God has ordained them, and he brings them about according to his wisdom, love, mercy, and his perfect good pleasure. God uses them skillfully to bring about any number of desirable results both in and for his children.  Trials are the means by which Christians receive disciplining, guidance purifying, softening, strengthening, refocusing, reminding, rebuking, refining, preparing, and teaching occur. It is no wonder that we are told not to be surprised at them.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” ~ 1 Peter 4:13

Testing! There’s another one for the list!

I think, however, that often the greatest purpose in our trials will be hidden from us if we are only considering ourselves. I think that perhaps the greatest purpose our trials will serve is to be an encouragement and blessing to others.

Consider Job.

His trial was probably the most fiery trial any man apart from Christ has faced. He literally lost more than most of us will ever have in a lifetime, all within a few short minutes. When he finally got an audience with God, he wanted to know WHY he had suffered so much. After all this suffering, surely God will step in to encourage his faithful servant right?

Wrong. How’s this for an answer

“Who is this that darkens my counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you and you make it known to me.” ~ Job 38:2-3

What follows are one hundred and twenty five verses, three whole chapters, of sheer glory, power, majesty, sovereignty, wisdom, and strength; all of which belong to God, and to him alone. After his incredible trial, Job meets God and is FAR from comforted; the encounter left him despising himself.

Perhaps you have read the book of Job and been comforted before. As I read Chapters 38 and 39, I got so pumped up that I am going to crash pretty soon. (Sometimes scripture has the same effect on me that energy drinks do!) Countless millions have been inspired, awestruck, uplifted, and humbled through Job’s trial.

The fiery trial for him resulted in untold blessings for others.

Sounds a bit like Jesus, doesn’t it?

It is in this spirit that I will share a poem about a fiery trial that I experienced just a few months ago. Essentially, for about six days I had thoughts and feelings that I was not actually saved, that I would spend the rest of my days apart from Christ and have hell as my eternal home after I died. I was unable to defend myself against them or rally any sort of hope or joy or faith, and especially in the first two days, I was barely able to function as these thoughts and feelings dominated my mind almost constantly.

It was terrible in and of itself and even worse because of it’s effect on my wife, whom had experienced me as very spiritually solid up until this point.

One of the things I found through this trial was the knowledge that I could lose absolutely everything; my joy, my purpose, my mental health, my emotional stability, my ministry, my favor with people, my wife, my job, my son; I could lose it all, and yet I can never loose the work of Christ on my behalf. Through this trial, I was reminded that the righteousness of Christ is stored up for me in heaven, far far removed from my ability to ruin it. I can’t loose it because it isn’t my righteousness. It is Christ’s, and it can never be lost or ruined. That means I can loose it all, and I’ll still have that.

Off to 5 south with me? so be it! I may very well wind up a terrified, whimpering, shell of a man, more of a worm; and yet I’ll be alright, because Christ’s righteousness is mine, and as sure as he lives I shall have it in the end.

I know that God ordained this trial for a number of reasons personal to me. I trust that there will be purpose in it beyond myself; that it will be an encouragement and testimony to the greatness of God and the glories of his salvation.

This Week ~ by Kaleb Penner

This week I thought I’d go to hell
At times it seemed so sure
And even just the thought of it
was a hell to endure
This week I thought I’d go to hell and oft my soul did quake,
and many nights I tossed and turned; sweating, wide awake.

This week I thought I’d go to hell, the prospect seemed so certain;
That on the day I die I’d wake behind the fiery curtain.

This week I thought I’d go to hell, I thought that God would throw
my never ending soul into the darkest depths below.

for all the youthful years wherewhich I did not heed the LORD,
though all along I sung his songs and looked upon his Word.

And though I’ve claimed him as my own I’ve often this week felt
that I am really an apostate who has even fooled himself.

This week I felt I’d go to hell, that nothing could retain me;
hopelessly I groped for hope, my faith unable to sustain me

This week I thought I’d go to hell; for fire that once burned bright
within for Christ and rightouesness seemed lost in darkest night.

This week my heart condemned me, my thoughts and feelings too;
and so my heart did fear and thus became hard through and through.

My hope was spent, my mind was bent, I was a total wreck.

Yet in this state a truth so great did keep my soul in check.

That God made him who knew no sin to become sin for me

And if that be the case then I may certainly go free.

For if he became my sin, and died, then what is left of me?

My sin is dead, not else remains but life eternally!

This week I thought I’d go to hell
but when the week was through, I said
“my thoughts and feelings can be damned;
the work of Christ holds true”

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

“”He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” ~ 1 Peter 2:24

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.” ~ Isaiah 53:5-6

“Jesus said, “It is finished.” ~ John 19:30


Special thanks to John Fitzpatrick who was such a great encouragement to me through the “trial” week. I must also credit Ray Comfort, I read his blog post on Job today and his main point found its way into this post. “Give credit where credit is due…” (kind of  Romans 13:7)