Devotional 176: The Return of Understanding

34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”

36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.

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If indeed the only inevitable thing is the working out of G-d’s plan, there is not much to say about the current circumstances facing the nations. The sparks of trouble are surely flying upward, and brother rises against brother to curse and not bless.

The rudderless tongue pushes words on the patterns of the wind, which blows without discretion or selection, leaving behind damaged people in sorrowful circumstances.

Guns, fires, racial slurs, murder, intimidation, harassment, brutality, protests, signs, slogans, and a restless, chaotic current have gripped the souls of men and blocked their view of heaven. They turn deaf ears to the Word, hiding the veil of politics behind it like the Pharisees, forgetting there is a G-d in Heaven from whom there are secrets, and for whom a thousand years is as a day to man.

We proclaim ‘G-d bless America!’ but we have not blessed G-d, and He does not accept the honor of the lips only, when the heart is far from Him.

In our humanity, there are people we don’t like, and in our worldview, there are things about the governing of nations we have issues with. It has always been that way because the Gospel is not preached, lived, or these days, possibly, even believed among the leaders.

As believers, we are told to fear G-d, and honor the king. He is watching to see if we do so, even if the king is mad and in need of humbling.

That which we call ‘time’ is indeed fleeting, and getting further away from us as we continue to insist on enjoying ourselves in the midst of a plague. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but it shouldn’t become a priority.

Let us rest in the knowledge that the Father has already seen the end result of all this strife, and if He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and revere the Son, and submit to the voice and power of the His Spirit, He has promised He will heal the broken heart and avenge the innocent.

Let us leave the divine justice to the only One who can judge rightly, for He is worthy, and the Father has put all into his hands.

Like Nebuchadnezzar had to be humiliated before He gave G-d glory, let us pray together, unceasingly, that we don’t have to do that here in the US. or anywhere else in the world. Let us give our offering for anything we have against each other, go before the Throne and place it on the altar, and be reconciled in this hour while His hand is yet still.

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Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

We cry out to you once again, having lost our way.  Our leaders have assumed the mantels of proud kings, so as a nation we have now become blind to Your will, deaf to Your Word, and bereft of power in ourselves to bring good from evil.

Return our reason to us, Father, and let us stand once again in Your light, under the loving hand of our Lord Jesus who leads us to the path of reconciliation, and the power of Your Spirit, convicting us of sin and guiding us into all Truth.

Let us give You glory and honor among us once again, kneeling not in protest, but subjugation to Your loving will, and reverence for the King of all Creation, as we repent of our sins, our bloodlust, our hate, fear, anger, and rebellion against You.

Grant us mercy, Father, for behaving like beasts of the field and submitting to Legion, who gratifies our emotions and flesh, and robs of us discretion, discernment, and wisdom.

Your servants stand in the gap, Father, interceding before the hour strikes when You smite us for our prideful ways, our fearful arts, our wild emotions, and our evil thoughts.

Let our understanding return to us as we raise our eyes to You, repenting with godly sorrow, that excellent majesty reflecting Your power, might, and glory, be restored to us once more as we enjoy the covenant of grace in one accord, one nation, indeed under G-d for the time remaining to us.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.

 

*art by Daniel Blake

Devotional 85: Repentance and Remission

Luke 24:44-49

The Scriptures Opened

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise[a] from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

We’ve met the unbeliever who tells us of the contradictions between the Old and New Testaments, but since they don’t have the Holy Spirit, to reveal the truth of the Word, they read it with no understanding and no guide; they are indeed reading a language that’s foreign to them, so they point to the Councils, to Rome, to the frailty of error-prone, sinful men, to colonizing races who created the Bible for purposes of control, and overall  dismiss it as another variation on international myths.

But under the Spirit’s guidance and prompting in writing this blog, I tend to connect verses that line up. It is not a matter of picking and choosing that which agrees with my subject, it is because the Word of the Father is consistent, and reinforces itself.

While we may not understand it all in some matters of G-d’s sovereignty (and yes, we are free to ask about it), if we need any more proof to know that agreement in what’s written across the years is Spirit led, He confirms it with His own words: The Law, Prophets, and Psalms all speak of His work here on earth.

It is now our work, and the churches of America have found themselves adrift because so many are not preaching the repentance and remission of sins, they’re making G-d into some kind of magic genie.

The Prayer of Jabez, written years ago, was being used like an enchanted talisman as the prosperity gospel gained a following; people increased their offerings so their material and financial blessings would increase as well.

G-d knows our hearts, and as He sees in the night the same as the noonday (Psalm 139:12) that is the reason our sins will find us out. There’s no such thing as a secret organization, and there will be no such thing as a hidden sin. We confess and repent (sin no more), and then forgiveness.

It is of those who don’t confess and repent that Jesus speaks of when He says,

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

While we have been chosen and called out of world, and while we are called to minister the Gospel,we are yet capable of sinning.

Remission is a return to an unaffected state, where we are free of the influences of sin.

Jesus tells us to take up our cross, and Paul tells us to crucify the flesh. This is so we remain in a state of spiritual purity in spite of being bound by earthly things. The covenant of grace is for the remission as we repent, but we are cautioned (Matthew 6:22-23)

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

We cannot claim we follow Christ living worldly existences, but if all fall short, then all will attempt it, and all will fail. It’s just a matter of time and degree. We are blessed indeed to have a cloud of witnesses that encourage us to continue fighting  (Hebrews 12:1) and an Intercessor constantly before the Father on our behalf  (Luke 23:34)

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

If  our faith is as filthy rags before You on our best days, our effort to repent is likely worse. Crucifixion was a harsh, painful, bloody process, and with the exception of the Resurrection, a permanent condition.

It is not so with us, Lord. Our sins are constantly taken down and reused, even enjoyed, though the times in between may grow longer. Blessed are those whose hearts have been truly changed, and who follow the command to sin no more.

I have not guarded my heart, stilled my tongue, or made a covenant with my eyes. I ask for Your help to do these things,  but when I feel the tug of Your staff, or hear the still, small voice of the Spirit checking me, I pull away. I am a rebellious, tempestuous sheep who will not stay inside the fence of Your protection.

My purity is hopelessly soiled until I get on my knees and submit to Your cleansing hand, washing me in the holy blood of Your sacrifice until I once again am guiltless before the Almighty.

I thank You for new mercies, for endless grace, for long-suffering love, and for coming after me in spite of my sinful nature.

Today, O Lord, I ask that You receive me: I confess my sins to You, and I repent of all that I’ve done to grieve you in the year of G-d’s favor. I am sorry that I’ve broken fellowship. I’m sorry for the days when the Father is as abstract to me as the math of astronomers. It is knowledge too wonderful that I can’t attain, and therefore spurn.

I’m sorry when I’m as faithless as those to whom I’m supposed to minister, and they see no difference, for then I am denying You before men, and practicing lawlessness.

I beseech You, once again, that I not go on sinning so grace may abound, but I know that even today, if I fall, You will receive me again if I return.

Strengthen me, Lord, and restore me so that when I return, I may strengthen my brothers and sisters.

I ask it by the power in Your Name.

May it be done to me as You have said.

Amen.