Devotional 198: A Two-Way Filter

As G-d cannot look on sin, we would do well to remember the reverse is also true. It’s why many won’t believe, but accountability is inevitable. So are the consequences.

Genesis 3:6-8

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was  pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Exodus 20:18-19

The People Afraid of God’s Presence

18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

Luke 5:6-8

And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

As believers, we know we serve a holy G-d who cannot look on sin in any form, no matter how small, no matter our own rationale for performing it outside of the fact that we allowed something other than the Holy Spirit to guide us away from that which tempted us to fall.

G-d walked freely with Adam. How that looked, we have no idea, but the word says nothing of veiling His presence from the first man until his mate fell to the serpent’s temptation, and he followed suit. It was only when they covered themselves that G-d stopped walking with them, and veiling and the shedding of blood became necessary (to make the skins that covered the rest of them).

The Israelites, whom G-d actually chose, were so prone to sin and backsliding that they left it to Moses to go speak to G-d rather than collectively stand in His presence, as they saw Him making thunder in the mountains.

Peter, after the great haul of fish that almost broke their nets, asked that Jesus depart from his sinfulness, as his own mercurial nature got convicted in the presence of Christ’s steadfast holiness.

Again, we see it when the demons asked Jesus if He was there to torture them before the appointed time. (Matthew 8:29) They also know there will be a day and time for their own end, regardless of their master’s power.

The witch of Endor rebuked Saul when he told her to bring forth Samuel. (1st Samuel 28:9-19)

James tells us blessings, praise, and curses shouldn’t issue forth from the same mouth. (James 3:10).

But they do, and more often than not. It’s the very reason we must plead the blood of Christ over us, for there’s no withstanding His judgement if we don’t. Think on this: if G-d put dark clouds around His Son as he took on our sins while on the cross, how much more will He condemn the enemies of the Kingdom who don’t believe they are sinners, and accept the message of forgiveness before Christ comes again in glory?

Yet there are those who say that in their humanity they’ll stand before G-d, hurling accusations and questions. And there are those believing He is only all love for love’s sake, and will not hold them accountable for their sins. Indeed, they seek preaching that reinforces unaccountability. More likely, they will be like John, falling at His feet as though dead. But unlike John, they will be cut off, to use Solomon’s phrase, ‘without remedy.’ (Proverbs 29:1)

As holiness cannot abide sin, sin can not abide with holiness. In us, it may move faith aside, but never replace it. It can cause us to stumble, but never to fall. It can break off our fellowship, but not destroy it outright. We’re under the covenant of grace, written by the Almighty, signed by the Son, and sealed by the Spirit. Let us remember to rejoice in the day, to walk in the light, and to seek the Lord while He may be found. He will not cast out any who come seeking.

Shine your light in a dark place today, take the outstretched hands, and lead them as far as they wish to walk. Let the Spirit of G-d do the rest.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

As we reread and study the horrible manner of your death in our place, we cannot begin to imagine the pain of being cut off from the Father’s sight, whom you’ve always known and never been without until that moment you took our sins, and He could not look and still be G-d.

Forgive us, Lord, that we continue to call on You for mercy, grace, understanding, compassion, and power, while we continue to fall into sins of rebellion, backsliding, compromise, and spiritual dullness.

As the prince of this world has no part in you, may we too, with your guidance and power, send him away from us and all those we hold dear in like manner: by the power of the Father’s word.

Let us respond in love to Him, who knew us long before He formed us, knowing we were weak, knowing we would suffer when we were called as you, Lord Jesus, revealed Him to us.

If we must be in rebellion, let it be toward the darkness that seems ever ready to snatch us off the path of righteousness and cast us into the darkness of sinful pleasure or the panic of frantic desperation, taking our eyes off you to indulge in worldly behaviors.

We are disobedient, but yet You walk with us.

We are fearful of G-d’s thunder, but You take us by the hand to come toward Him, knowing He is good.

We are sinful and treacherous, but You look on us with love, and don’t leave us to our unrighteousness. (Luke 22:54-62)

Today, in Your presence, we, like Zaccheus, call Your attention to what we have done to cast out the darkness in us. (Luke 19:1-10) In so doing, we return (once more) to reconcile with the One who loves us for all eternity. Even so, to share it with us as we continue to weave a three-strand cord of righteousness, holiness, and purity.

May Your words be sealed to my spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 92: Grasshopper Eyes

Numbers 13:30-33

30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

The Lord had promised them freedom from slavery, which He delivered in a spectacular fashion; they’d all witnessed the power and favor of Jehovah first hand, in ways that no other people of the earth had before, but just before claiming the promise, they replaced His vision with their own, their doubt for His assurance, and His good pleasure to deliver them into a land of no lack with a desert experience full of hardship and death.

They are not alone. Example after example is offered to us that when we are called to do the work of the Living G-d, we do not often give Isaiah’s reply, but rather that of Moses.

Exodus 4:10

10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

Or Gideon’s:

Judges 6:14-15 

14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

15 So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

Or the army of Israel:

1 Samuel 17:8-11

Then (Goliath) stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

It is now no less fearful for us, whom the Savior has now called out of the world to finish the work of the Kingdom of Heaven, to do the will of the Father, which hasn’t changed, and to enter in to rest, rule, and reign with Him in the work of praising the Father forever, and dwelling in peace among ourselves.

Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t work for that? Who wouldn’t we tell about that, so they could come with us?

But we have an enemy, and our flesh doesn’t desire that which makes it uncomfortable, for as we have a Savior who has chosen us for Kingdom work, He paid a terrible cost, as did His disciples, even to this day. But the suffering had an end, and He now sits in inconceivable power and glory at the Father’s right hand.

We must go through one to get to the other, so our Teacher tells us to count the cost, deny ourselves, die to ourselves, take up a daily cross, and follow Him down the Narrow Way.

Our Savior reassures us: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

So too, did G-d reassure His servants, telling them He would fill their mouths, be with them, instruct them, guide them, and answer them. The phrase, as it pertains to actual fear, and not the reverence of the Lord, occurs 103 times.

G-d knows what He created, and well does he know our hearts, spirits, and minds. How could it not be so, if the hairs on our heads are numbered, and the length of our days set from the beginning.

If, as the Word says, we are wilting flowers, withering grass, vapors, breaths, fleeting, and our spirits not reconciled to G-d, we are better off trusting and accepting that which God will do through us by faith.

We are marked men and women, and the call is irrevocable. It is we who turn back, run away, and hide from it in our frailty.

G-d would have it that you answer the call, and enter into His rest through faith in the atoning work of His Son, who tells us there is already space:

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)

A house that contains mansions…. the G-d we serve, and love, and worship, is bigger than that.

Don’t make yourself small in His sight.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven, 

I confess today, I have not always stepped forward with Isaiah’s desire to be sent to do Your will. My response has been one of fearful doubt, or I pretend not to hear, and go blithely on until I reach the dead end, crouch down at the end of the alley, and wait for darkness to hide me from Your sight. I hope the whole time it isn’t true that You see at midnight as You do at noonday, though I know it is.

Create in me a renewed heart of flesh, and not stone. Make my spirit right, make it as fertile soil where Your word takes root. Give me ears to hear, and in hearing, a will and heart to understand. 

I would not be tossed into the sea as Jonah, or given over to my enemies like Sampson, or give another my glory like Barack.

Replace my quavering spirit with Yours, my fast-beating, fearful heart with Yours, my hating, angry emotions with Your peace, my compromising with Your steadfastness, my backsliding with Your resolve to drink from the cup.

I lay my life down to You today, right now, as an imperfect fleece, dry and knotted, full of spots and stains and blemishes, and I say to You today, right now, water it with the dew of Heaven, and purify it for Your glory, and to Your purposes. 

I would like to say that on the peak of this mountain, where You see a mighty warrior imbued with the power of the Holy Spirit, I will not have to ask again, but I know I will.

And the beauty of knowing You is that You know it too, and will answer when I call.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

May it be done to me as You have said.

Amen.