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Monday, October 2, 2017

When My Heart is Overwhelmed

To the chief Musician upon Neginah, A Psalm of David.
Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee,
when my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For thou hast been a shelter for me,
and a strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever:
I will trust in the covert of thy wings.
 (Psalm 61:1-4)

A friend just lost her son. He was a beautiful young man, one of the most naturally talented people I have ever known. But, he has suddenly passed away. I grieve with his parents and siblings. I am overwhelmed.

I need something. I need to know how to pray.

God brought this phrase to mind. When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. That certainly describes me at this moment, when I’m beyond my means to understand or cope. You see, her son was the same age of one of our children. They were friends. They grew up together, went to camp together. This could so easily have been my child. His mother is my friend, a lady who always points me to Christ.

I need to go to the Rock. Who is this Rock?

The Scriptures are clear. These are just a few of many:
  • He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he (Deuteronomy 32:4).
  • There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God (1 Samuel 2:2).
  • And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer (2 Samuel 22:2).
  • The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation (2 Samuel 22:47).
  • The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted (Psalm 19:46).
  • In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God (Psalm 62:7).
  • And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Jesus is the Rock! He is the God of my salvation, my fortress, and my deliverer. The Bible leaves no doubt.

When my heart is overwhelmed, I go to Him. He’s ready to hear my cry, but not only that: Jesus is able to give me what I need: shelter. What a concept! When I am grieving, when my heart doesn’t even know how to express itself, I cry out to Jesus, and He provides shelter. What a lovely word!

And that’s not all. He’s a strong tower from the enemy. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of castles. They are always built on hills, and they have guard towers and turrets. Jesus is that guard tower. He looks out for us. He puts up that extra line of defense—when we are overwhelmed.

The following phrases present two more pictures: I will abide in thy tabernacle forever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. The first is abiding in God’s tabernacle forever. This is speaking about an eternal trust—a future hope—of being in God’s habitation. We can think of this as heaven. The next one is really sweet. It speaks of chicks being covered with their parent’s wings. They’re all snuggled next to and covered up with those wings, protected.

That’s what God does for us. He gathers us to Him and holds and keeps us tight, sheltered, protected. Jesus looked over Jerusalem and said, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings (from Matthew 23:37).

My heart is overwhelmed, and I know where to go.

I will shelter.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

When God Chooses the Clothes: Looking at Bible Passages You Might Have Missed

A few years back, I was doing a personal study about a biblical view of clothing. You already know the key passages about not putting on gold or pearls or costly array (from 1 Timothy 2:9) but rather putting on a sweet attitude: good works, and a meek and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4).

What you may not have noticed—or maybe you did—is when God puts clothing on a person, it is amazing! Let’s first just read the passages about how God dresses people. (Note: several of these are allegories that teach spiritual truths.)
  • For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head (Psalm 21:3. God puts the crown on David’s head).
  • All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee (Psalm 45:8-9, 13-14, upon the occasion of the marriage of Solomon to Pharaoh’s daughter, but also talking about the Lord. See Hebrews 1:8; Ephesians 5:23; and Revelation 19:7).
  • Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver (Song of Solomon 1:10-11. About Solomon and his bride and an allegory of Christ and the church).
  • I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10).
  • I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 16:10-14. Allegory of what God did for Israel).
  • Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created (Ezekiel 28:13. God even clothed Satan in a gorgeous way before he sinned.)
  • Now Joshua (a high priest) was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by (Zechariah 3:3-5). 
  • And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold (Revelation 4:4).
  • After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands (Revelation 7:9. These are the Tribulation martyrs.)
  • Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints (Revelation 19:7-8, the bride of Christ—the church).
  • Speaking of Jesus: His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean (Revelation 19:12-14).

So, what have we learned from how God chooses clothing?
  1. God spares no expense when blessing His people. He chooses the best, the most elegant, and the finest materials.
  2. God loves us and wants to provide the best. He expresses His love through His provision. (Now, this provision may not be fully appreciated until we're in heaven, but we can be sure He is preparing the best for us.)
  3. Practically speaking, we might want to change our views about what a Christian woman might and might not wear. Notice in the Ezekiel passage that God provides gorgeous embroidered clothing, shoes, and fine jewelry. She has pierced ears. God says she (Israel) was beautiful, perfect, and comely.
  4. We can appreciate salvation with the image of exchanging filthy rags for white, fine linen. What Jesus did for us is amazing! He clothed us in His pure righteousness! We should stand in awe and be filled with praise.
  5. The only messy garment in heaven is Jesus’ blood-stained robe. He wears it as a perpetual reminder of the price of salvation.
  6. Jesus wears many crowns. He is, after all, the King of kings!