The New Girl Arrives

August 31, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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This has probably been the longest period of time I’ve gone without adding a new post to The Deep End. Although I’ve taken a break or two in the past, this time the occasion was very special. On August 21, 2013, God placed our fourth daughter, Lucy Nicole, into our family and into our care. It had been 13 1/2 years since the birth of our third daughter!

My wife was extremely brave throughout a difficult ordeal, and it was a little touch-and-go for a couple of days. During the night before Lucy was born, we found and claimed this promise from the Word of God:

Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut [the womb]? saith thy God.

Isaiah 66:9

I know that someone will probably say that this is out of context – that the verse is talking about the nation of Israel rather than the literal birth of a little baby girl – but we found it extremely comforting, and believe that God used it to help us through a difficult time. The Bible contains both principles and precepts, and I refuse to be disabused of the notion that God is 100% faithful and has the ability to finish absolutely everything that He starts, in a way that perfectly serves His ultimate glory. Nor do we discount the possibility that God arranged her birth on 8-21, when Romans 8:21 and 22 talk about the pain of childbirth and the deliverance of the children of God. The Lord was (as He has been throughout our marriage) amazingly gracious and loving to us, and mom and baby are home safe and sound and doing well. We thank Him and worship Him for this great gift placed into our trust and stewardship. May we, with His help and in His power, be faithful to teach her about Jesus and His Gospel, and to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

We kept the baby’s name a secret throughout the pregnancy, and my wife and her friends referred to her simply as “The New Girl,” but the main reason we like the name “Lucy” is that it is derived from the ancient word for “light,” and “Nicole” is from a word meaning “victorious people.” Certainly, Christians are victorious people of the Light!

There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all [men] through him might believe. He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light. [That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

John 1:6-12 (emphasis added)

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12 (emphasis added)

But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:57 (emphasis added)

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:4-5 (emphasis added)

Delaying Dutifully During Deliverance

August 14, 2013 at 10:42 am | Posted in Exodus | 10 Comments
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God’s people cried and sighed and groaned. Then they were delivered, and it did not really have anything to do with their own strength, merits, or attributes. We call them “God’s chosen people” because God did the choosing. Like Christians today, they could not boast of themselves, when basically all they did was: “get chosen.” The Lord does not choose His people in the same way that a captain picks teams for volleyball. God doesn’t always pick the best players based on past performance. He often picks the puny and rejected so that He gets the glory.

When the prayers of the Israelites were answered, they must have cheered. “We’ve been delivered!” But then they paused before the Red Sea and they heard the distant hoofbeats, the churning chariot wheels, the trumpets, the war cries… coming from just beyond the horizon. “What if,” they wondered, “God delivered us only for this! For a slaughter?”

Waiting on God is sometimes harder than working for God. Sometimes it’s easier to cry out to God in a faithless panic than to wait faithfully with God-honoring calm assurance for Him to do what’s best. Our battles are supposed to be the Lord’s battles. Our deliverance is really God’s deliverance. If you were chosen by God to be saved, remember that He did the saving. And now that the flesh, the world, and the devil have a bull’s eye on your forehead, and they want to kill you, how are you going to fight? Will you compromise? You can’t compromise with the devil or any of God’s enemies. Will you scheme and manipulate? Will you fight the battle with carnal weapons: gossip, hypocrisy, backbiting, self-help books, common sense? Or will you wait to see the Lord fight the battle. Obey Him and get into the Red Sea, as crazy as that sounds, and just go where He leads.

And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Exodus 14:10-14

Moses basically told them, “God’s got this under control – shut your mouths.”

And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:

Exodus 14:15

“Shut your mouths and go forward.” What if, as Christians, we just shut our mouths from complaining and grumbling and slyly airing our complaints about God? What if we just went where He told us? Just forgave everybody who cheated us and lied to us and played dirty tricks on us? Just gave it to God even though it seems like we can’t afford not to fight back? Just loved everybody we met – especially the seemingly unlovable?

When Jesus rescued me, He brought me out of a condition much worse spiritually than bondage in Egypt. What in the world makes me think He can’t get me across the Red Sea and into Canaan?

Esther: A Panorama of Humanity

August 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Posted in Esther | Leave a comment
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The Book of Esther surveys a wide range of human behavior in a few short chapters. We see wantonness, drunkenness, anger, lust, treachery, pride, hatred, and duplicitous scheming being acted out in vivid colors. But we also see courage, wisdom, and perseverance, and the tale ends in a marvelous manifestation of God’s sovereign working of all things together for the ultimate good. May Christians today see ourselves as providentially placed and purposed by God for the accomplishment of His glorious plans. Below are links to a few highlights from the Book of Esther:

1. Excessive Celebration
2. God’s Invisible Hand at Work
3. Motivation for Evil
4. Prep Time
5. The Earthly King and the Heavenly King (*)
6. Beware the Forestalled Feast
7. Pride vs. Providence

* most-read post in series

Seven Marriage Resolutions

August 8, 2013 at 10:35 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 2 Comments
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The great “love chapter” of the Bible (I Corinthians 13) is not, strictly speaking, about marriage, but marriage is certainly supposed to be nourished by real love, and real love never stops pursuing.

Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

II Corinthians 12:14

The Apostle Paul gives more evidence of his love for the Corinthian church in II Corinthians when he says he is ready to come see the Corinthian believers for the third time. In marriage we must have a desire to pursue our spouses over and over again. Real love is content with the person, but it can never be content with the depth of the intimacy.

Paul did not want to be burdensome to the church in Corinth, and your pursuit of your spouse should not be burdensome to him or her. This is romance, not stalking. Real love respects boundaries while seeking permission to be let inside the boundaries. Marriage is not about what you can get from your spouse. It is about getting to your spouse.

Well-meaning but misguided parents turn their children into idols, and, if you are not careful, you will do the same to your spouse: depending upon your spouse to meet needs which can only be met by Jesus. As Jonathan Edwards taught, what you idolize, you will eventually demonize when that idol (as it must) lets you down.

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

II Corinthians 12:15

Notice that Paul was “very glad” to sacrifice himself, and to allow the church members to sacrifice him. His love for them was not dependent upon their behavior. It was based upon their relationship in Christ, and his relationship to Christ.

Lists of resolutions became somewhat fashionable in evangelical Christianity around the time of the movie Courageous and the literature that supported it, so I don’t want to seem like I’m just jumping on the bandwagon here, but I did write a list of resolutions that I made to my wife pursuant to this lesson. May the Lord help me to keep them.

1. I will love you against all odds and will never stop loving you
2. I will do my best to be a blessing, not a burden, to you.
3. I want you for you – not what you have or what you can do for me.
4. I am willing to give everything I have for you.
5. I will take responsibility for your welfare.
6. I will never be satisfied with the love I have for you – I will always seek to love you more.
7. I will not use you or exploit you or treat you as thing. I will treat you as God’s daughter.

From What Were You Saved? (C)

August 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Salvation | 7 Comments
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In the first part of this lesson we looked at salvation through:

Christ’s A.gony
and
Christ’s B.ruising

Now we will see:

Christ’s C.onquest

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:6

We must disabuse ourselves of the notion that we deserve sympathy from God – as though Christ had to die for us because we were weak, uneducated, and ignorant, and that if we had just been a tad more obedient, God could have blessed us apart from the Atonement. No, friends, the “ungodly” in that verse are you and me, and it is a reference to our rebellion and the extreme nature of our iniquity.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

These “sinners” in Romans 5:8 are enemies of God – God-hating and God-mocking people. The term “sinners” should conjure up the image of a desperate, wicked gang of vile criminals trying to drag the Prince of Peace down from His throne and put Him to death. That is the category to which we belonged when God through Christ did what He did in Romans 5:9: “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

What we are saved from is not, strictly speaking, a “what” at all. It is a Who. We are saved from God and His wrath. When we hear Jesus on the Cross say, “It is finished,” He is saying that God is not unjust. He did not waffle regarding sin. He did not ignore the dilemma of a just God seeming to declare the wicked to be righteous, nor the just to be condemned (Proverbs 17:15). God Himself poured out the stored-up wrath for all believers’ sins for all time on His Own Son – on Himself – because only He could withstand it and only He would be acceptable to satisfy God’s justice and truth – God’s holiness and God’s love – God’s wrath and God’s forgiveness.

Why did God look away from Jesus on the Cross?

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

The Father didn’t look away from His Son out of weakness. There is no weakness in Him. He looked away from His Son because the Son had been made sin, and sin is detestable to the truly holy God.

And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Ephesians 2:16

Enmity is hatred that includes the cause of hatred. Jesus slew the hatred between God and man that existed because of man’s sin.

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.

Psalm 11:5-6

In the Garden of Gethsemane, before His Crucifixion, Christ prayed about letting the cup pass from Him. That was the cup of God’s wrath, and it was filled with His wrath because of my sins. If you are truly a Christian, God’s wrath may never be poured out on you, because Jesus drank every drop! There is none left for God’s children.

Now I hope you know from what you need to be saved. What a tragic thought that God crushed His Son for you, but you haven’t received Him. What we deserve is the wrath of God, and that wrath would send us to the Lake of Fire to burn in torment for all eternity. My prayer today is that you would see what your sin has cost Him, and that you would cry out to Him to save you. Otherwise, you are rejecting Him, expressing hatred for Him, and making yourself His enemy. It’s one or the other. He made you and He alone has the right to judge you. Will you trust Him right now? This could very well be your last chance. Will you be saved before it’s too late?

The Trap of Losing Long-Sightedness

August 2, 2013 at 10:54 am | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 1 Comment
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The birth of Samson is recorded at the end of Judges Chapter 13, and the next three chapters tell the story of his life. As his deeds are being described, the phrase “and it came to pass” is found seven times.

In Judges 14:11 he was about to celebrate the feast at his wedding to a woman he had no business marrying. In Judges 14:15 his wife was being persuaded by Samson’s enemies to betray him by revealing the answer to his riddle. In Judges 14:17 he gave in to her. In Judges 15:1 he bickered with his father-in-law. In Judges 15:17 he had just finished making up a silly little song to celebrate killing 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. In Judges 16:4 he made another bad choice in romancing a forbidden woman. In Judges 16:16 he was annoyed with her for trying to coax another secret from him. Sinful partying, illicit lust, gambling, fits of anger, marital squabbling, family bickering, and pointless word games. Judges 15:20 tells us that Samson “judged” Israel for 20 years. You would think, in that length of time, a man with Samson’s tremendous supernatural strength and Holy Spirit-anointing would have been able to make more progress in delivering his people from Philistine oppression.

Alas, it appears that he was more preoccupied with the here-and-now than he was in accomplishing the long-term objective assigned to him by the Lord. If you are a Christian – especially a Christian man – are you thinking about (and living) your life with the “eternal” or the “temporal” in view? Are you planning mainly for the next weekend or for the next generation? Are you building your Heavenly Father’s eternal kingdom or playing games in the personal little kingdom you have constructed around yourself?

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4:18

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

It is important to take a “long-term” view of our lives in light of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in light of the fact that what we do here on Earth, during the brief time we are given, does matter.

Here is the last time the phrase “and it came to pass” is used in the account of Samson:

And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.

Judges 16:25

Samson, who had lived much of his life as if it were one big joke, was now being made the butt of his enemies’ joke. Will you and I pass through this world lightly skimming the surface, seeking shallow entertainment and amusing distractions? Or will we plunge in with a determination to make a lasting impact, with the ripples from our lives spreading on into future generations, and even into eternity, to the glory of our great God?

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