Saturday, July 21, 2007

How awesome is this place!

Another thing is noticed in the passage about Jacob in Genesis 28. He had seen that the Lord was right there and marveled that he did not know it. Now Jacob exclaimed, "How dreadful, or awesome, is this place. This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

More than seeing that God was actually there and active on his behalf, was his realization of the seriousness of what was happening. We can agree that God surely is working, but have little or no emotion or awareness of the holy ground we are on. If nothing changes, we haven't gotten it. In other words, our response should be: Wow, I didn't realize all that was going on. This is amazing! Things cannot stay the same. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Moses found himself confronted with God's presense at the burning bush. God, declaring it holy ground, said "remove thy shoes". His life was about to change dramatically. Isaiah fell in fear at the vision of the presense of the Lord. Likewise Joshua before the captain of the Lord's host. Holy encounters produced new men. For Jacob, the many layers of his thick-skinned stubborness were being steadily and patiently pealed away by the Lord, not brutally but gently.

There seem to be two lessons learned that night. The first: The Lord was there and he knew it not. The second: Since the Lord was right there and intimately involved in hour by hour, day by day events, Jacob determined to see God as his protector and provider for the rest of his life. It was a life becoming less about himself and more about his God. Things were changing, not because he had to, but because he was deeply affected by the awesomeness of God and wanted to.

"This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." His daily life was God's business. His life was His house and His gate. What comforting and encouraging news! That was the truth for Jacob, and it is just as true for us.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What we see in others

"Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh. . . .if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." The believer has been changed by God who now sees Christ in us, a sweet smelling savor. There has been major heart surgery, actually a transplant, and an exchange has been made: His righteousness for our sins. We have been given a new identity. We have been made ambassadors with the ministry of reconciliation, and again, amazingly given the righteousness of Christ himself. (II Corinthians 5)

With these things in mind, we are told to henceforth know no one after the flesh. The critical argumentative nature has been dealt with at the cross. Why do we take up our old dead attitudes towards each other? These things ought not so to be, as James says. We frequently behave as though nothing has changed. What an insult to the One who brought about our conversion from those old ways!

I was struck by that phrase in verse 16 of chapter 5 of II Corinthians. Our dealings with each other as believers have a new dimension, new thought patterns, and a new way of speaking. Hasty cruel degrading speech is replaced with patience, long suffering, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, and in general giving each other a break. Instead of being quick to think and say the worst of someone, God gives us the ability to see the best and to edify. Anyone can tear down. We have all been trained well at that.

Rare it is that turbulant situations are met with calm, peaceable wisdom. That is what God does. That is the response that only He can cause to become perfectly natural and normal. The cross is his perfect remedy for our needy speech condition. "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." Ps. 141.3

It is not a short-lived determination to avoid speaking ill, but a reminder that the old man who complains and criticizes has been dealt a death blow. That is no longer us! The "real us" has been changed. When we see in ourselves the work of Christ in transforming our behavior, we can then see the same amazing work in others.

Monday, July 09, 2007

And I Knew it Not

Life couldn't have been better, and yet he didn't get it. Security was his, a marvelous inheritance, counsel, guidance, protection, everything he could think to ask for. Still he didn't quite grasp it, and did not comprehend all of the guarantees that were his. He was living as though he didn't believe it. This is Jacob of Genesis 28:10-19.

It took a dream to wake him to the dimension that he had not seen. The dream from the Lord showed him that he had been and would continue to be in the presence of God for the rest of his life. Angels were seen busy in communication to and from the heavens in the very place where Jacob stood. Above all stood the Lord reminding Jacob that He was the God of Abraham and Isaac. All of the land would be given to him and to his children. Blessings would follow him as well as God's presence and his divine protection. "I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."

His response: "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not." This was the dream that was not a dream. This was Jacob's wake-up call. How could he have missed all of this? What was he thinking? "He was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place? This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

The timing is interesting. Jacob would need this encounter with the Lord in light of the events that he was about to face. The reality was that God was ever-present and very active in all of Jacob's daily activities. "I am with thee, and will keep thee in all the places whither thou goest." He is hands-on and sovereign in all of the affairs of men. Too often oblivious to his presence, we behave like little children covering our eyes thinking that our parents can't see us. And like Jacob we awake from our sleep and say in amazement, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not."