May 26, 2015

Hell as a Termination Point

by Steven Dilla

May26

Psalm 79.2
They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.

For the authors of scripture, heaven’s location is a secondary reality to the goodness, mercy, and grace of God. Hell’s location is secondary to the reality that God has been rejected.

“Damnation is the state of the human soul when it is cut off from God, and salvation is the state of the human soul when it is united with God,” explains Douglas Beyer. “It isn’t imposed on us by God from the outside, but arises from the nature of what God is.” (Beyer composed a wonderful summary of C.S. Lewis’ understanding of hell, from which many of Lewis’ quotes this week were drawn.)

Hell is the termination point for those who cut themselves off from God and are finally left with no other options. We see this supremely in the personification of evil — for whom hell was designed. “Satan’s monomaniac concern with himself and his supposed rights and wrongs is a necessity of the Satanic predicament,” C.S. Lewis writes in his Preface to Paradise Lost. “Certainly, he has no choice. He has chosen to have no choice. He has wished to ‘be himself,’ and to be in himself and for himself, and his wish has been granted.”

We underestimate how rejection of God builds until it consumes. In The Great Divorce Lewis wrote, “It begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticizing it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no ‘you’ left to criticize the mood, nor even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine.”

Prayer
Lord, thank you that what saves us from these choices isn’t brute strength to make better choices but the overwhelming glory of your mercy and grace as given to us by your son. Like the psalmist we see evil all around us. Help us also to see the reality of evil in our own hearts and the way it sets us on a path to destruction. Father, set our sights on Jesus, our hope of glory. Overwhelm us with your grace.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 35 (Listen – 4:41)
Psalm 79 (Listen – 1:50)

Life and Death Apart from God
Part 2 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
May 25, 2015

Choosing Hell

by Steven Dilla

May25

Psalm 78.52-53
But God brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the wilderness. He guided them safely, so they were unafraid; but the sea engulfed their enemies.

“Hell is the greatest monument to human freedom,” C.S. Lewis contends. Although the idea of hell is contentious in modern society it is difficult to dismiss — our desire for justice demands punishment for the wicked. This tension is not new and symbolism found in the Psalms offers help reconciling a loving God and the idea of hell.

The sea was a place of terror for ancient people. Without modern maps, weather prediction, or the possibility of rescue, everyone knew someone who went out to sea and never returned. For Hebrew writers the sea was a symbol of evil — one which God would destroy in the end.

The sea engulfing the enemies of God is one of evil meeting its full end. The ancient Egyptians brutally enslaved God’s people, callously disregarded God’s words, and relentlessly pursued Israel after their divine liberation. Evil’s consumption of itself was the natural crescendo of their wickedness.

The story of the Exodus is our story. Jesus’ insistence that he is revealed in every scripture means that we can’t reject the idea of hell until we find Christ in our understanding of it.

Of those who reject the idea of hell Lewis asks, “What are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what he does.

“There are only two kinds of people in the endthose who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘THY will be done,’” Lewis observes in The Great Divorce. “All that are in Hell choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek, find. To those who knock, it is opened.”

Prayer
Father in modern society’s rejection of eternity we have lost the idea that our actions have consequences. Hell may be a chosen, but heaven is not earned. We owe heaven to your mercy and grace on us. Lead us this day in the pathway of your Kingdom.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 34 (Listen – 2:59)
Psalm 78.38-72 (Listen – 3:34)

Life and Death Apart from God
Part 1 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
May 22, 2015

A Song of Praise

by Bethany

May22

*Editor’s Note: Last week we explored how to fill our prayers with arguments before the Lord. This week, we model prayers that do that.

Lord,

We are tired this morning. Help us. Open our eyes so that we may see wonders in your Word. 

O God. How mighty is your great name! Maker of heaven and earth and the universe. That you should hear our whispers when we are half awake. That you should spend time with us while millions pray. That you should call our feeble flesh the temple of the Holy Spirit. That you should speak to us personally through the Word and Spirit. O God, what condescension! What unutterable mercy to attend to us! Help us believe and feel this truth: that we are your people and that you are our God.

Today, we come together — 4,000 of us who read this devotional daily — and we raise our voices as one, saying with Psalm 75, “We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.” Yes, we pray that you would give us grace, blessings and favor. For we are a people who need you. Define us as your people and be our God.

We do not ask for your grace, blessings and favor only for our sake; we ask these things for the sake of your great name. When you tied your name to us, your people, you tied your glory and reputation to us. When the nations see how you bless us, they will see how great you are. Therefore, we pray that you give us grace, blessings and favor. That your way may be known on earth. That your saving power may be proclaimed among the nations. Fill us with joy in you. Give us delight in our salvation.

As we consider our nation, Lord, we wonder, “Who are we? Where are we? How did we get here? Where are we going?” We are in a state of confusion. Instead of being a city on a hill, we are a full of infighting and pettiness. 

Sadly, Lord, this is true even for the church. We have accepted relativism and tolerance over truth and virtue. Yet your Word teaches us that only the truth will set us free. Forgive us. Let us cling to truth so that we may receive your grace, blessings and favor. For the sake of your great name.

Amen.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 31 (Listen – 5:52)
Psalms 75-76 (Listen – 2:33)

Arguing with God
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

 ___________________________________

This Weekend’s Readings

Saturday: Numbers 32 (Listen – 5:22); Psalm 77 (Listen – 2:12)
Sunday: Numbers 33 (Listen – 4:53); Psalm 78.1-37 (Listen – 3:46)

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
May 21, 2015

Peace for the Hurting

by Bethany

May21


*Editor’s Note: Last week we explored how to fill our prayers with
arguments before the Lord. This week, we model prayers that do that.

Lord,

Meet with us this morning. Awaken us with a song of praise in our hearts and on our lips. Give us a vision for service in our cities. Incline our hearts to the Word and not to getting gain. Fill us with your Spirit of wisdom, joy and righteousness. Make us happy children, spouses, parents, friends, citizens and colleagues. Bind our hearts to one another and bind our hearts to you through the new covenant that is sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

As we look at the world around us, we see great turmoil. Not only is there confusion in our own country, there is disorder throughout the nations. 

We pray, as the psalmist did in Psalm 74; “Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name. Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long. Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.”

Do not leave your work unfinished. What you have begun, do not fail to complete. You are an unchanging God, who will do in the future what you have done in the past. For you do not turn from your purpose and cannot be thwarted in your design.

Therefore, go before us, as you did with the Hebrews. March through the wilderness and shake the earth. Cause the heavens to pour down rain in abundance. In your goodness, provide for the needy, displaced, homeless, and weak. Make yourself known to them. 

You are a God who cares for victims of violence and oppression. You spread your cloak over refugees and foreigners. For your people were aliens in a land not their own and you sustained them. We were aliens without an inheritance to your promises and you adopted us through Jesus. Therefore, heal your people and use us as your hands and feet.

Amen.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 30 (Listen – 5:52)
Psalm 74 (Listen – 2:34)

Arguing with God
Part 4 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
May 20, 2015

A Fitness for the Display of Grace

by Bethany

May20

*Editor’s Note: Last week we explored how to fill our prayers with arguments before the Lord. This week, we model prayers that do that.

Lord,

How great is our dilemma! For silence best becomes us in your presence, but love inflames our hearts and causes us to speak. Were we to stay quiet, the stones would cry out; yet if we speak, what shall we say? 

As A.W. Tozer shows in The Knowledge of the Holy, the nearer we approach the throne, the less sure our words become. Teach us to know what we cannot know, for no one – apart from the Spirit – knows the things of God. Yet we yearn to know what cannot be known, to comprehend what is incomprehensible, to touch and taste the unapproachable. Deep calls to deep and we long to return to you. Let faith support us where reason fails.

There is a wall, infinitely high, that separates us from you. Our sin is a great obstacle to knowing and enjoying you. Therefore, have mercy on us this morning. For our iniquity is great. 

Why should you go about doing little things? You are a great God and we are great sinners. For we confess the words of the psalmist in Psalm 73, “Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.” We cannot hide from you. Our sins are laid bare before your eyes.

Yet in our unworthiness, there is opportunity. For there is a fitness in us for the display of your grace. The greatness of our sin makes us perfect platforms for the greatness of your mercy to be displayed. Let the greatness of your love be seen in us. The power with which you restrain yourself is great indeed. 

So we creep down at the foot of your throne, crouching low and crying, as Charles Spurgeon  in Order and Argument in Prayer, “O God, do not break us. We are bruised reeds. Oh! Do not tread on our little lives. They are but as the withering grass. Will you hunt us? Will you come out? Will you watch us? Because we are so little and because the greatness of your mercy can be shown in us even though we are so insignificant, we plead that you would have mercy on us.”

In Jesus, in whose name we plead, we have the final answer to our dilemma. We come to you through his wounds and mediation. In him, your steadfast love is good. Turn to us, according to your abundant mercy. Save us and build up your people so that your name will dwell among us.

Amen.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 29 (Listen – 5:05)
Psalm 73 (Listen – 2:56)

Arguing with God
Part 3 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 172 other followers