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His Word“Forever, O LORD, Your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89 ESV).

As we read the Word of God, let us hope that we do more than just read and even just memorize what it says. Unless we begin to perceive the Author Who penned the Word of God through the living quills of human writers, we have seriously missed the point of the Bible. As we seek to navigate through life with not only mere survivors’ mentalities, but that of victors whose lives have significance and purpose, we must begin to perceive that the Bible is not simply a list of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots”. Neither is it merely a historical document or compilation of masterful literary works.

Oh, no. The Bible is quite actually the written record of the Living Word of God Himself. In its beginning, it points to the Living Word, Jesus; throughout its account of our world in its youth, it is Jesus to Whom it directs us. Even as that written Word draws to its grand conclusion, spelling out for us those things which have not yet all come to pass, its Subject, as well as its Author, is Jesus Christ.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3 ESV).

Oh, the tragedy of having read the Bible and not really seen the One Who stands behind it… the One Who stands full of grace and truth. In the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry before His crucifixion, He labored and sought to bring illumination to the gloomy condition of all of humanity… but for so many, their eyes were darkened. Indeed, those who professed to know the Scriptures simply refused to recognize its Author, though they were staring Him in the face. Nor could their ears discern the sweet melody of God the Father speaking to them through the Person of God the Son, Jesus. It did not matter that all that He said and all that He did was in fulfillment of the very Words they believed that they upheld. Though the Living Truth spoke the truth to them, they would not acknowledge the legitimacy of His testimony.

Jesus said, “…the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about Me that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Who sent Me has Himself borne witness about Me. His voice you have never heard, His form you have never seen, and you do not believe the One Whom He has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:36b-40 ESV).

How tragic! How ironic! Those who had spent their entire lives searching the written revelations of God had reduced it to rules and regulations, forgetting in the process that the point of the Law of God was to bring us close to Him.

David, who penned tremendous portions of the Old Testament, passionately pursued his relationship with His Creator, recognizing the inestimable worth of the Word that God had given the world. For him, the Word of God was a means by which we can come to know the Lord, and has been entrusted to us for showing us His ways, His purposes, and His presence.

And so David could write, “In Your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of Your mouth…. Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors” (Psalm 119:88, 24 ESV).

Even as God Almighty imparted His Words of life to His people in ancient times, those words were not given to place burdens upon His people, replacing the slavery of Egypt with an entirely new kind of slavery. His Words were given that they might become truly free – free to be what they had been created to be; free to pursue a divinely appointed destiny; free to truly become alive, with the distractions and undue bonds of selfishness amputated from their existence. Truly, the Words of God were “not just idle words for them, they were their life” (from Deuteronomy 32:47).

So what is the relevance of the Word of God for our daily living? And what does the Word of God counsel us to do? Is the pursuit of righteousness and a genuine life of faith realistic… especially when all the world seems to be out of control and all morality a thing of some forgotten age of long ago?

In Deuteronomy 30 God says that “This commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments and His statutes and His rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it…. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life…” (verses 11-16 and 19-20a ESV).

Whatever ideas one may have about the Word of God, it must be understood that the Word has been given to us so that we may embrace Him… for He Himself is our life. Without His Word, we cannot come to know Him. And without Him, we are dead things though our bodies breathe and move and go about their daily business.

So… invited as we are to seek His face, to meet Him in the written revelation of Himself that we call the “Bible”, and to partake of life as we come to know Him and learn to trust Him, what will we choose today? Life…or death? Blessings… or curses? May we each choose today to pursue His offer of life.

“With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep Your statutes. I call to You; save me, that I may observe Your testimonies. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in Your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promise. Hear my voice according to Your steadfast love; O LORD, according to Your justice give me life.” (Psalm 119:145-149 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Out-Loving God…

If you were to have bumped into the humble “carpenter-turned-messiah” of Nazareth on one of His many walks along the dusty roads of the Judean corner of the Roman Empire, you undoubtedly would have been intrigued by the teachings He uttered, been awed by the miracles He wrought, and been astonished by His unique claims.

Of course, you would not have been alone. After all, “… the crowds were astonished at His teaching, for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29 ESV).

If you were to actually sit under His teaching and joined Him on His trek “to proclaim good news to the poor… to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18), you may have mustered just enough courage to speak up and ask Him, “Lord, what is the most important thing in life?”

To this, He would have perhaps turned and looked at you with a smile of warmth and understanding. “The most important thing?” He might have mused. “Just this. To love God.”

I can imagine your response, unsure of all that He might have meant. You scratch your head and ponder aloud, “To love God? Well, I don’t mean to be rude but doesn’t that sort of go without saying?”

Perhaps He would arch an eyebrow. “Does it really?” He asks you as you shift uncomfortably under His penetrating gaze. He goes on, “You see, when I say that the most important thing you can do is to ‘love God’, I mean for you to really love Him… with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. I mean for you to love Him with both deep affection and with wild abandon and passion. I mean for you to think deeply and meditatively about His love for you and all His promises, as well as offer your body daily for His glory, keeping it available for His purposes. I mean for you to take all that you are, all that you’ve ever been, and all that you may become and place everything under the feet of your Father in heaven” (adapted from Mark 12:29-30).

Maybe you would catch your breath. Perhaps you’d awkwardly clear your throat and mumble something like, “Wow! All that, huh? You mean that we’re to love Him that much?”

I think He would then smile kindly at you, place His hand on your shoulder and say, “Yeah. That’s exactly what I mean.” Maybe He would then give your shoulder a reassuring squeeze and bend close to your ear. “Don’t be afraid though: You can’t ‘out-love’ God. Just wait and see,” He might have said with a wink.

You can never out-love God, but He’s worth all the love that you can give Him.

You can never out-love God, but He’s worth all the love that you can give Him.

And if afterward you stood on a hill called Calvary, beneath an old rugged cross, you might have remembered all that He had told you. Maybe both a deep sorrow and a calm peace would strangely fill your heart. “He was right,” you’d think. Watching the love of God bear the horror of the cross for the sake of your sin, you then might have said to yourself, “I can never out-love God. But He’s worth all the love that I can give Him back.” And then you’d walk away, never the same, seeking to be emptied of yourself and filled up with Him.

“You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:18-21 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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To many people, troubles seem to have recently increased in the world in epidemic proportions.  Satanic persecution, orchestrated by the Islamic State and Boko Haram, rightly disturbs us and hopefully moves us to action.   The potential for catastrophic impact as the Ebola virus mercilessly spreads unabated in African cities, moves us, it is to be hoped, at least in sympathy.  The racism, hurt, distrust, and anger uncovered in the events at Ferguson, Missouri, should pierce our hearts and spur us on to reconciliation and change.  The epidemic of children and women preyed upon by human traffickers abroad but also here in our own region should enflame within us a will to seek justice and a desire to set right what is wrong in our world.  And the terrible toll of drugs on our local community in the form of lethal overdoses and broken lives is all too clear.

It is as if all the world, even the cosmos itself, is caught in torment.  And the truth of it all is that all of Creation is convulsing in agony. What we are seeing is simply the physical manifestation of what has been spiritually true since the Fall in the Garden of Eden. The news that we hear and the images that we see have been there all along in the eternal realm but, for some of us, are only now beginning to really catch our attention, forcing us to abandon our tendency to focus on the material realm over and beyond the spiritual.

Consider well that in the beginning of time, we were given both the gift of fellowship with the El Shaddai (God Almighty) and lordship under Him over all Creation. In that time, there was still a prevailing sense of serenity and peace since open hostilities did not yet exist between Creation and Creator. When the Lord walked in the garden, humanity could hear and recognize His voice.

“When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?  Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:3-6 ESV).

We were not merely formed from the dust and then put to work as lowly slaves, but were given rank and honor as children indeed, with purpose and provision to fulfill that purpose for the glory of God and for the mutual pleasure of God and ourselves.

But when humanity turned its back upon the divine invitation offered by the Holy and Majestic One, we not only forsook the amazing gift of relationship with the Father but gave up also His power and provision in ruling over that which had been entrusted to us. When our relationship with God was broken in that moment of rebellion, the toxic carcinogens of selfishness leaked into and contaminated the entire Cosmos.

The beautiful heaven and earth that a loving and awesome God had made? It was broken.

The suffering we see and about which we hear, paint the picture of the deep and desperate need of all men and women for God’s grace to be unleashed in and through their lives.

The suffering we see and about which we hear, paint the picture of the deep and desperate need of all men and women for God’s grace to be unleashed in and through their lives.

And so the whole world continues still… broken… hurting… and groaning under the weight of its massive disconnect from God. And so the human race continues still… broken and hurting, also groaning under the weight of our massive disconnect from God.

Even after all this time, with humanity still struggling today with itself, the world, and our Maker, it seems that the greatest tragedies in life are not really nestled within the face of disaster or even of painful suffering… but are instead hidden within what is too often our response to such tragedies. As devastating as these things are, they are nothing like the calamity and sorrow that they could be if no one cared and lifted a finger to help.

And what does it mean for us to really care anyway? It means only this: that we allow compassion from the Father to well up within us and saturate us so thoroughly that our hands and feet move as His would move in our place, with the character and countenance of God “oozing” out of us into the lives of others.

How desperate the hour, too! Creation longs for Godly lordship to be reinstated over the earth! How the Earth craves for righteousness to again prevail in our activities, our actions, and our attitudes! How it yearns for the healing hand of God to fix what has been broken! How it wants… no, how it needs to see the face of Jesus in us!

“The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him Who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:19-22 ESV).

Truly, the world groans. The utter suffering we see and about which we hear, all too readily paint the picture of the deep and desperate need of all men and women for God’s grace to be unleashed in and through their lives.

The question then arises… what are we going to do about it? Are we to simply go on as if nothing is happening in the world around us? Do we rally our own defenses and batten down the hatches for ourselves, hoping against hope that natural disasters and personal calamities never happen to us? Do we only passively lament the trials and tribulations of others in need, clicking our tongues and shaking our heads sadly, yet never altering our steps to make a difference in the life of someone else?

God forbid! Let our hands and feet respond even now to the call of God to serve Him by serving others! Let our bodies respond to their true callings and bring Him glory by yielding themselves as instruments of His loving lordship over this planet that He has entrusted to us.

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV).

And as we kneel humbly, yet earnestly, seeking His great power and wisdom to sustain and guide us, we may count on His faithful and good promises of love, help, and guidance in the days ahead.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to You. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid…. I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 14:27; 16:33 ESV).

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Let Not the Seed Spoil

“Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed Him. And going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed Him” (Mark 1:16-20 ESV).

 When the obedience of faith in Christ has kindled God’s divine spark of eternal life, how exciting it is to see a man or woman surrender his or her life for God’s plans and purposes! And how awesome is the privilege of seeing someone move from being a mere “church attender” to that of being a true disciple of Jesus! Every occasion of having witnessed that amazing spiritual metamorphosis has brought to me an incredible joy that, without doubt, must pale in comparison to the pleasure that God feels when someone turns from whatever spiritual counterfeit for which they had been settling to the one and only source of life and hope that humanity has: that of Jesus Christ.

 There are times when God moves in a person’s life and ignites within him or her a passionate devotion that begs to return a harvest of praise and service to the Lord. “And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to Him, He said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.’ As he said these things, he called out, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’”(Luke 8:4-8 ESV).

 But though a person may find within him or herself a sense of calling to a certain task or vocation, and while he or she may initially take up the mantle for the task divinely assigned them, at some point along the way, the eyes of the soul perhaps shifts, passion wanes, and the calling is forgotten. With such a “cooling of the coals” going on within a person’s heart, he forsakes the path to which God has led him. Just think: If an obedient and trusting acceptance of God’s commissioning on you is a cause for celebration, then the tragedy of your falling away cannot be described with words that human mouths may utter, but only by the tears that our Father sheds in sorrow.

 

There are times when God moves in a person’s life and ignites within him or her a passionate devotion that begs to return a harvest of praise and service to the Lord.

There are times when God moves in a person’s life and ignites within him or her a passionate devotion that begs to return a harvest of praise and service to the Lord.

Jesus, having just told a group of listeners this story about the seeds and the soil explained what it all meant. “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard. Then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.” (Luke 8:11-14 ESV).

 How sad when a child of God, though called to walk with Him in a way especially designed for her, turns away for whatever reason. It occurs to me, though, that if God’s people remain in love with their Savior and their feet remain faithful to the trail especially chosen for them, they are a truly formidable force. Just consider the implications for the world if Christians would take the Bible’s admonition in 1 Timothy 4:14-15: to not neglect their callings and unique spiritual giftedness to till the soil of the corners of the Kingdom of God to which He has appointed them!

 As God calls to you to leave the stagnant and fruitless fields of complacency, will you rise up and go with Him or would you have Him pass you by? It is time to be more than just an “attender of church services” but now become instead a servant of the Living God. Has He placed a need in front of you for which you have the remedy? If He has indeed placed within you a hunger for more than the common life, now is the time for you to step into the role that He has ordained by releasing to Him any self-will, fear, ambition, greed, pride, and even a love for comfort. Don’t wait to follow the Savior. Don’t put off knowing Him better. Don’t delay the fruit He might harvest through your life. Let today be the day you pick up your calling and walk with Jesus.

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away” (Luke 8:15-18 ESV).

 Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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