Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘strength’

Looking Back…Looking Ahead

Two years have gone by and so much have happened along the road that I am travelling. But one thing I have known for sure, my Lord Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” and therefore, I have strength and hope. Thank you Lord!

Read Full Post »

Psalm 93

1 The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
2 Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.

3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the Lord on high is mighty!

5 Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore.

 

More than a week has passed since I meditated on this psalm during the early morning hour yet the conviction to write my thoughts on it has been very persistent since. Alas, using my qwerty board I begin pouring out words concerning the Lord our King.

Thus the psalm begins by depicting  the Lord as the eternal King and, at the same time, describing His rulership (verses 1-3):

  • He reigns as the sole supreme Ruler.
  • He is robed in majesty.
  • He is powerful.
  • His power is displayed in creation (world) and His firm and sustaining control on it.
  • His rule is eternal, without beginning and without end, just as He is eternal.

In verses 4-5, the psalmist leads the reader’s attention now to a particular part of the created sphere – the river and the sea. He further goes to describing displays of nature’s force and power.  A handful of commentaries present flood and sea as metaphors for the nations that are waging war against the people of God and ultimately God Himself. Although this may be a plausible analogy but nothing empirical within the psalm itself directly or even vaguely alludes to it. The psalmist’s transition between the powerful God (v. 1-2) and the power of displayed in nature (v. 3-4) is his prelude to a marvelous truth which I will explain as we go further. Let’s review the given imagery of river and sea:

  • The river in verse 3 (Hebrew nahar rendered ‘flood’ in a handful of translations) could either be the Nile or  Jordan or the Euphrates, depending on who the psalmist is, whose name is not identified. Nevertheless, the focus is the raging swell of the river when it fills with run off from surrounding hills each time the heavens open its floodgate and release enormous amounts of rain that could go on for days. The roaring sound that is produced must have been a testimony of the power of the raging water. We could think of the recent storm-induced floods in Taiwan where buildings along the side of the river were swallowed by the rampaging waters, and in Istanbul, Turkey where big buses and container trucks were moved hundreds of meters from its original position as the mighty waters powerfully moved through a large section of the city. Scores of deaths were reported on each calamity.
  • The ‘thunders of water’ metaphor is tied up with waves of the sea in verse 4. Again a display of nature’s power when a squall would come upon the sea. Again there is no reference to a particular sea – could be the Red, or the Sea of Galilee (see Matthew 8:23-27) or even the Mediterranean. Witnessing a storm that could move the sea waters to swell resulting to towering and undulating waves moving towards the shore and producing a loud crashing sound as the shore line becomes a barrier to its onslaught towards land brings a realization to the psalmist of the immensity of its power. 

Notice now the flow of thought from verses 1-2 which tells us of the strength or power of the Lord who is the King, to verses 3 -4 which describes the power of nature.  Although there is a shift from the greater power to the lesser power, I believe the emphasis is hinted by what is said about the Lord in verse 2 – that His throne is established from everlasting to everlasting.  What do we need to understand with this truth?

  • That the power of nature displayed in the roaring river and the raging sea is not permanent. As soon as the storm would stop, the river and the sea shall return to calmness. In contrast, God powerful rulership is without beginning and without end. It is permanent.
  • And since we have now the unchanging nature of God to comprehend, this reality lends a hand to the wonderful truth in verse 5.  Earlier I mentioned that verses 1 to 4 has become a prelude to something that will form as a bedrock of our faith.

In verse 5, we are now told that God’s decrees are very trustworthy.  Not only shall the decrees of the all powerful King come to pass, but more so His decrees are unchanging as He is.  The reason why His decrees are trustworthy is because of His immutability. When God speaks, it comes to pass and remain to be so.  And the reason I said this shall become the bedrock of our faith is because the promises of God for those who are in Christ shall not cease nor will they ever change.

  • And when the Lord said that the one who repents and believes, even entrusts himself to the only One who saves – Jesus Christ – shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16) – this decree will never change. That in believing what the Lord Jesus spoke and the One who sent Him has eternal life, he will not come into judgment, but has crossed from death to life (John 5:24) – this decree will never change. 
  • That when Jesus said that none of His sheep will be lost (John 6:39; 10:27-28), that the good work began in us by God will be completed on the day of the return of the Lord (Philippians 1:6) – these words shall remain. 
  • That He who foreknew us, also predestined, called, justified and glorified us in the Son (Romans 8:28-30) will never change His mind.
  • That He who promised that He will come back to gather His people into the everlasting kingdom of God is trustworthy.

Consequently, the Lord’s unchanging decree is equally true when Jesus said that “unless you repent you shall likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-5). And His everlasting decree is as much a dread to the sinner who chooses to go on his way than to repent and turn to Jesus Christ alone in faith alone, for the forgiveness of sin resulting to eternal life.

 And because the Lord is the trustworthy King who spoke His decrees, there is none like Him from everlasting to everlasting. The last phrase of verse 5 leads and reminds us of two things:

  • As the word of God is sure and incorruptible , therefore, holy is He indeed.
  • As our faith is grounded on the eternal truth of God, we are to adopt a behavior fitting His royal presence in our lives by the Holy Spirit who enables us to walk in the reality of God’s holiness imparted to us through Jesus Christ. “Become perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”, says the Lord Jesus Christ. And in Christ alone are we once-and-for-all made holy before God as much as by the same token of grace are we being changed from glory to glory (Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 10:1-10; 2Corinthians 3:18).

C. H. Spurgeon commented that this psalm is most impressive and wrote this concluding praise to the Lord:

O Thou who art so great and gracious a King, reign over us for ever! We do not desire to question or restrain Thy power, such is Thy character that we rejoice to see Thee exercise the rights of an absolute monarch. All power is in Thine hands, and we rejoice to have it so. Hosanna! Hosanna!

So be it Lord, amen!

Read Full Post »

Ephesians 6:10 – ‘Be strong in the Lord…’ – “Endunamousthe en Kairos” in Greek. A sampling of the root verb endunamoo in the New Testament is listed below to give us an idea how it is used in the Scriptures:

  • Acts 9:22 – But Saul increase all the more in strength…
  • Phil 4:13 – I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.
  • 2 Tim 2:1 – You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus
  • 2 Tim 4:17 – But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message…

When I was much younger in the faith, I thought this phrase “be strong in the Lord” necessitates that I muster the power up by doing certain ‘spiritual disciplines’ or speak aloud certain verses repetitively (yes, I was once an unknowing victim of the certain heretical practices in the first church I was planted until God mercifully opened my eyes to see and also tamed my tongue).  It was not until further study of Scriptures and guidance from godly men that I get to grips of what ‘be strong in the Lord’ meant.  It is an empowering that comes from the Lord.

To understand the phrase better, I would like to refer to D. A. Carson’s sermon on the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:15-21, emphasizing a petition to God to strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner being.  Without going deeper into the prayer itself at the moment, we observe here that the empowering comes from God.  Carson notes that the Holy Spirit is already indwelling in each believer from Ephesians 1.  However, our problem is that we do not simply understand what is now available to us.  Moving two chapters earlier, Paul petitioned for the saints;  let us read Ephesians 1:18ff

(v.18) Having the eyes of our hearts enlightened that you may know…(v.19) what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe according to working of his great might (v.20) that He worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead…

…while the reason for the above requests are all based on the realities written in Ephesians 1:2-14. You will agree with me that this is truly a power-packed strengthening from God for us in Jesus Christ when we comprehend the implications on Christian living! The idea of what a dynamite is made of and can potentially do is an analogy we can apply. Incidentally, we derive the english word ‘dynamite’ from two related Greek words:  dunamis and endunamoo.  To summarize, the power comes from God and is made available to us through Jesus Christ mediated by the Holy Spirit. In prayer, therefore, it becomes necessary for us to ask for a progresssively increasing understanding of this spiritual blessing.

The first part of verse 10 (be strong in the Lord) also concerns the biblical teaching of the Triune God who revealed Himself to us.  Although I do not intend here present a long discourse on the Trinity, it is necessary, however,  to briefly mention here  that the one Lord (the “I AM”) revealed Himself to us the three distinct, yet inseparable Persons – God the Father, the Son-Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit. A brother asked me why ‘Persons’ and I gave him a simple reply: that we cannot use ‘God’ because to say ‘three Gods’ would really be terribly wrong, anti-biblical and blasphemous. Also, the term Persons implies interaction within the Triune God, and while being transcendent over His creation, the Lord also compassionately condescends towards sinful man through the Son – Jesus Christ. I recommend Dr. James White’s book entitled “The Forgotten Trinity” for an excellent exposition of the subject.

We continue with the second half of Ephesians 6:10 – ‘… and in the strength of His might.’  This part of the verse tells what kind of strength is available to us. The Greek reads ‘kai en to kratei tes ischus auton’.  The word ‘kratei’  was used for ‘strength’ but it also can mean dominion .  ‘Ischus’ is used for might which means ability.  Their respective meanings tie in well with the flow of thought in the Ephesian epistle itself.  The Lord’s dominion over His church and the His ability that He endows the church by the Holy Spirit is the source of our strength.  From here, we need to briefly piece out from the Ephesian letter what God has done to demonstrate His power. 

Carefully going through each of the verses in Ephesians 1:2-14, will assist us to gain information regarding the power of God available for those whom He has predestined to believe in His Son.  Three times, Paul gave the reason why God did so – for the praise His glory! Therefore this empowering from God is a blessing to us only through His Son and will result to the praise of His glory.

Notice also, the piece de resistance (the high point) of God’s display of power is the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that same power God exerted to raise His Son from the dead is the empowerment now available in us through the mediation of the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 1:20 states this fact.  How powerful can that be can?  It would definitely be more than what we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)!

For those who love sci-fi movies (that includes me), awesome power is displayed when a single laser beam would destroy an entire planet. A few years back, I watched a a non-Christian documentary on the ‘Big Bang Theory’ – the theory about the beginning of the universe from nothingness to the first instance light resulting from a cataclysmic explosion.  Well of course that is a theory and the accurate account is written in Genesis. However, my miniscule mind could only arrive at a comprehension of a limited amount of power, but God’s strength displayed in the resurrection of His Son is more than what I, or any of us, could imagine. 

By this, we view power not in the amount of energy generated or expended (humanly speaking) but in the uniqueness of the work of God; in that no one has ever authored nor accomplished such a feat. It would take no less that the eternal Son to incarnate, live a sinless life, offer His life by dying on the cross and rising up on the third day to accomplish the plan of God to gather for Himself a people that will be for the praise of His glory! Paul wrote to the Corinthians that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor. 2:1-10) – the Gospel of God in His Son, Jesus Christ. It would take His life to transform sinners to saints – now that’s truly powerful!

Paul prays that the believers may know “what the immeasurable greatness of His power towards us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the age to come and God put all things under Jesus’ feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fill all in all (Ephesians 1:19-23).

In Jesus Christ we are partakers of the same power and that indeed in Him are we strong, in His might are we able to face the enemy with assurance of victory.  May the Lord be gracious to grant us an increasing understanding of this truth day by day and through the Holy Spirit be made strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

 

 Soldiers of Christ, Arise

by  Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Soldiers of Christ, arise
And put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Thro' His eternal Son; 
Strong in the Lord of hosts
And in His mighty pow'r.
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts
Is more than conqueror. 
Stand, then, in His great might,
With all His strength endued;
But take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God, 
That, having all things done
And all your conflicts past,
Ye may o'ercome through Christ alone
And stand entire at last.
 From strength to strength go on,
Wrestle and fight and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down
And win the well-fought day.

 

Part 2 – Last But Not The Least                              https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/panoply-series-part-2-last-but-not-the-least/ 

Read Full Post »