The Curse of the Fall

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The Curse Resulted – by man’s sin. Gen 3:14-18
The Curse Reversed – during the Lord’s Reign. Isa 65:25
The Curse Removed – in the new Heaven and Earth. Rev 22:3

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Wondrous love

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Be not deceived, beneath that thorny crown lay all the authority of Godhood. Only a thought, a single world from those parched lips and the earth would have opened up beneath the feet of His tormentors. One word and a battalion of over seventy thousand eager angels would have sped from heaven to destroy this world and its wretched inhabitants.

He speaks from the cross. What is it that He says? “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Oh what kind of wondrous love is this?

– J.B Nicholson, Counsel Magazine, Nov-Dec 1997.

Valley of Baca (Weeping)

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Psalms 84:4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,

ever singing your praise! Selah

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

6 As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.

7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

The Valley of Baca, also called Valley of Weeping, was a valley that was often dry and difficult to travel through, but was the path that many Jewish pilgrims had to take as they travelled annually to Mt. Zion (or Mt. Moriah), where the temple was, to celebrate the feasts.

It would be among the more difficult parts of the journey, as the heat and dryness tests every pilgrim’s resolve to obey the Lord’s command and reach their destination for the feasts in anticipation and excitement of the feasts.

The Christian pilgrim is also in this dry, difficult valley. The world we live in is one we have to pass through before reaching our destination – home in Heaven. But while we walk here, our faith and trust in God gets tried and we are brought to realize that we can’t go through this valley on our strength. We will end up like the valley – dry, thirsty and despondent.

In the psalm above, the psalmist describes the people who are blessed (happy) as they pass through the valley. These don’t escape the valley, but go through it, and come out joyfully victorious. He’s not just ‘passed through’ but found joy in going through.

For instance, the phrase “how blessed are those” in verse 5 is, in Hebrew, written as “Oh the happiness of the man.” – what an expression of joy and happiness, even in the valley of weeping.

Let’s take a closer look at the one who is described as happy. He is…

V4: one who stays in the temple and praises Him continually. Those who have gone before are surely blessed as they are with the Lord in Paradise. But the verse can also mean something to us still here. The Lord says, “where your treasure is, there your heart is also“. I have met some men and women whose hearts are so occupied with the Lord that it’s as if they are already with Him. They are full of praise and thanksgiving. Surely we could be happy (blessed) by laying our treasures in Heaven and not here on earth.

V5: the one whose strength is the Lord. The one who realizes that it is the Lord who gives strength to go through the pilgrimage. The strength to persevere through times of disappointment and sadness, tragedy and loss. The strength to prepare and serve in ministry, it’s all His strength, not ours. Natural ability will only sustain us for a short period before we realize that we’ve gone dry and thirsty and have no strength to carry on.
Paul said, “when I am weak, then I am strong” 2Cor12:10. We will only be able to draw from His strength when we stop relying on our own.

V5:  in whose heart are the highways to Zion. The heart can also be translated ‘inner man’. The hidden person who no one can see. When our inner man is completely dependent and close to the Father, it does not despise the way of difficulty. It takes every trial and sees the hand of God in it and finds comfort, rest and hope in the One who leads him.
How do we strengthen our inner man?
I believe time spent in conscientious reading of His word, really soaking in what He has ‘written for our learning‘. This is how we ‘hide the word in the heart‘, that we may not sin against Him. We invest time in our hobbies and interests, and it gives us nothing in our times of trial. Let’s invest our time into something that is of eternal value.

Unhurried time in prayer is also how we find rest in His presence, where the exchange of wills occur. When His will becomes ours, so does the ability, because ‘it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.’ Phil 2:13

So there, this is the happy  man, who is full of praise and reliance on God’s strength, finds well springs, even pools, of refreshing,  in an arid valley.

Are you feeling stuck in the valley of Baca? Don’t be discouraged. Though it is the path we must take, the Lord can and has provided the way and means to go through it. Himself. Forsake any unfruitful and sinful ways and return to God and find refreshment for your soul in His grace and love.

You will then be able to go front ‘strength to strength’ (v7), i.e. from one place of strength, to another, and, ultimately, whether through death of the Lord’s Return,  be at the destination and stand in His presence.

How do you Know He is Unknowable?

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The agnostics’ conundrum.

The learned scientists of the agnostic school — in plain English, the school of ignorance — know, by reason of their own ignorance, that while all other instincts are provided for, this one, as strong as any, has and can have no provision made for it. And the One whom they have decreed to be the Unknowable, by that very decree they declare they know so well as to know that He cannot (or will not) reveal Himself to man! For if He be the Unknown, they cannot even pronounce Him the Unknowable and if He is not the Unknown, then the Unknowable He cannot be. – F. W. Grant

Worship

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Baby looking up wow

“But in worship — considered in and by itself, in the proper significance of the act — we lose sight of ourselves and our blessings, and are occupied with what God is in Himself, and what He is for us as revealed in Christ.” – E.Dennet (emphasis mine)

The blessedness of having nothing

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Father, i want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long, and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell without rival.
Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious.
Then shall my heart have no need for the sun to shine in it, for Thyself will be the light of it, and there shall be no night there.

In Jesus name.
Amen.

– Tozer AW, Pursuit of God, Chapter 2.

Lord, send the wind!

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Our kite

Titus, Sophia and I were playing kite at a nearby field, but though there were winds, there just wasn’t enough wind to get the kite airborne.

So I told Titus, “Why don’t you ask God to send some wind?”

Titus stood still in middle of the field, closed his eyes and prayed aloud, “Lord can you please send some wind so we can fly our kite? Amen.”

A second later (literally, a second later), a huge gush of wind came across the field, and, as if as a bonus, it came in the right direction, from behind me and towards the kite, and lifted it high into the sky!

Its difficult to describe in words the happiness and joy that was in our hearts when it happened.

We had great wind for the next hour and we enjoyed flying the kite. (I think I enjoyed it more than the kids!)

More importantly, I think God took the opportunity to teach Titus yet another lesson on believing that God answers prayers. Even little ones.

I learnt something too. Even though I had asked Titus to pray, I had some sense of skeptisism that doubted if God will actually send the wind. Praise God that Titus didn’t have such an attitude, and how wonderfully God responded to such simple faith.

I was reminded of James’s warning,

James 1:6-8 “But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.”

Do you need some wind in your life? Are you having trouble ‘lifting off’ from the dumps you are in?

May I suggest you look to God in simple, childlike faith, and ask Him for some wind.

Mat 21:22 “And whatever you ask in prayer, if you believe, you will receive.”