King Ego

Who Am I?

Our small planet is now home for 7.6 billion living persons. Each person is mostly software (intangible, invisible)

We are Mostly Software, not Hardware

— though we focus daily on living in a body, forgetting soul and spiritual (which is the real you) — we sojourn for now in a mere camping tent (skenos) — our physical body. You are a created spirit, you live in a body. Your soul is generated at the interface.


Ego is a Latin (and Koine Greek) word for the personal pronoun “I.” The real innermost you is a spirit. You are not your body, nor your mind, nor the sum total of all your experience. Our ego makes us each feel we are the center of everything, until we realize everyone else feels the same way. We are self-referential until we fall in love, or meet God. Our outward pride makes us think higher of ourselves than we ought to think, our inward pride makes us stubborn and intractable.

The spirit is non-tangible and undetectable by any legitimate scientific instrument.

The Limits of Science

A supreme Spirit is responsible for us being here in the first place! Our Creator is the Great “I AM” and we are each “i ams” created in his image and likeness. We are whole when we enter into and live in union with Christ!

One sees the self-disclosure of God especially when He talked to Moses:

...Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’ ” (Exodus 3:13-14)

Logically each individual spirit (you and me) should see itself as subject to, and dependent upon, the Great Spirit, the God above all gods. He is the Great I AM and we are lesser i ams —we are created, dependent spirits. The human spirit, interacting with the inner world and the outer world generates what is called in the Bible the soul (mind, heart, emotions, and will). It’s where we each gain a sense of our unique personhood.


 

 

Jesus,

by the way,

identified Himself seven times as one with the Great I AM.

His enemies were not amused.

 

 

 

 


The “Self”

 

This unique personal identity of a person is called in psychology the “self.”

Think of self-sufficient, self-assured, self-confident, self-destructive, self-exalting.

The subject of self-identity is complicated and not easily reduced to a few words.

 


God is person to Person

God offers a standing invitation for each person on earth to know Him one-on-one. This is not the same as being more, or merely, religious, or serving God from outside His family looking in. It is intensely personal—and God hates hypocrisy. He is Lord of lords, King of kings. If you go directly to Jesus you are talking to the Man in charge!

Jesus is a Person like you and me. He has emotions, a great mind, and will power. It’s a huge insult to treat Jesus impersonally as less than He really is.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

How We Got Here in the First Place

There are many secular and religious theories about the origin of life and how we all got here. Vast secular libraries are now accessible by most everyone, anywhere. Example, Wikipedia: The Beginning of Human Personhood.

For purposes of this discussion, the model here is based on the revelation of the Bible which has been made known to us down from our Creator. It's "information from outside the system." This world-view can be confirmed in experience by all those who grant permission to Jesus Christ to make Himself and His universe known to us. (Jesus is the reliable Discloser of all hidden realities).

...Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30)

Every day about 156,000 people die while 360,000 babies are born. That’s one birth every 8 seconds, one death every 12 seconds, a net gain of one person every 14 seconds (census.gov)

When a child is conceived, a vast genetic archive from the father is joined with an equally large archive from the mother. This occurs at the time one tiny male sperm is admitted into the much larger ovum from the mother. At the point of fusion, God in sovereignty “quickens” the newly formed zygote by giving us our identity as a unique person.

Thus we are all “created spirits!” This third element, a created spirit from God, joins the developing embryo imparting life to a new person. That “person” is known to God from conception, from another dimension.

Will that new person come to personally know his or her Creator during his lifetime? God wishes none to perish—for any reason!

But the world which we are all born is enemy-held territory—temporarily.

The Strongholds of Inner Space -- A New Creation -- Not a Chance

It appears that the successful sperm—competing with perhaps 200-300 million other sperm—has won the lottery by chance. I don’t think so—since there is no such thing as “chance.” God is perfectly able to bring the right sperm to the elect ovum at the right time. “With God nothing is impossible.”


[Sperm cells cannot divide and have a limited life span, but after fusion with egg cells during fertilization, a new organism begins developing, starting as a totipotent zygote. The human sperm cell is haploid, so that its 23 chromosomes can join the 23 chromosomes of the female egg to form a diploid cell. Note from Wikipedia]

Here in every conception is repeated over again the original creation of Adam:

And the Lord God formed man (mankind) of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (ruach, spirit); and man became a living being (nephesh, soul). (Genesis 2:7)

Made in the Image of God

But we are all destined to die because our birth into the world was always “in Adam.”

The Ruin of Creation

For since by man (Adam) came death, by Man (Jesus) also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

Each new individual carries 50% of his or her genetic inheritance from the father and 50% from one’s mother. Our core sexual identity is determined by a chromosome in the sperm received at conception from our father. It’s important to remember that we are carriers of a vast genetic inheritance that originated about 100 generations ago in the original genome God created in Adam/Eve, the first human.

The Complexity of the Genetic Code

We are created spirits occupying a temporary physical house. Our mortality is centered in our temporary (damaged) bodies which must ultimately be replaced:


Side Note on the “body”

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent (skenos) , is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, (oikos) eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)

(This passage is about new bodies kept in readiness for the followers of Jesus. Everyone else, those outside of Christ, also receive bodies at the end of their mortal lives, but for a very different end.)


Recently discovered: A flash of light at conception

At least as many persons have died ahead of us as are now alive. The total could be at least 15 billion, perhaps as many as 100 billion, since Adam.

A friend asked me about the fate of aborted fetuses and small children. 40 million annually in the U.S. alone?

I would like everyone to know God, but God never violates our free will nor barges-in when not wanted. God is the source of Life, in fact He is THE Life. Disconnected from Him we can’t survive on into eternity as He would like for us to do.

Humans need a support system to exist and flourish in, for our allotted time down here on the planet. “Someone” created all infrastructure needed for us to live in. We have bodies to house us, resources such as food and water and housing and friends... We have virtually no control over anything though we like to pretend. (Infrastructure continues on into the next life though I can’t imagine much structure or housing is needed in hell. Water is very scarce there according to Luke 16). God is the Creator and Owner of all of nature.

The physical creation is only a microcosm in the surrounding macrocosm. The latter vast realm is multidimensional.

Who is running things? Some systems built into the body are automated by design. Nature is orderly but mysterious. Living creatures are amazing to watch: The entire universe is highly orderly though currently flawed. The management of all things is in the hands of a Living Being infinitely greater and higher than any of us.

The universe is impersonal insofar as we insist on seeing things naturalistically. God is intensely personal! Many think they know Him when they may not!

Think of Jesus as the one real person in the universe, the great I AM. Allow Jesus to be your new life while you can enjoy your status as a servant of Jesus, a dependent “i am.”

Our body is a temple and it is in the holy of holies of man where our deepest loyalties are housed. (The nature of the ego, the psyche, and our self-identity is a separate issue).

The “will” is the doorkeeper of the heart, at the gate between spirit and soul. Before we begin to know God in a personal way we are described in the Bible as spiritually dead. This means we are by nature unresponsive to the Spirit of God. We are motivated instead by emotions, desires, habit, tradition, and externals coming in from the outside. God never violates our will and our freedom of choice! (The will can be in bondage to harmful forces and influences, of course.)

The Ego Plus

Nothing has been here about arrogance, self will, ambition, low self-esteem, self-righteousness, contrition, arrogance... these are all states of the ego, conditions of the spirit.

Persons who are spiritually dead are neither unconscious, nor extinct, nor lifeless. The term "dead" (as in "dead in trespasses and sins") in this context means the individual does not yet have a personal relation with God the I AM. For example, pride and humility are usually thought of as opposites. Aware Christians become accustomed to recognizing both characteristics in themselves and in others, knowing that

“God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

What is crucial for every follower of Jesus is walking with, trusting in, relying upon Jesus, 24/7/365.

"i am" in union with "I AM."

“.. the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

 

All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord,
When they hear the words of Your mouth.
Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
For great is the glory of the Lord.

Though the Lord is on high,
Yet He regards the lowly;
But the proud He knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
(Psalm 138:4-8)

An important study for all followers of Jesus is Galatians 2:20, because the ego must be transformed in every true follower of Jesus. (Psalms 138:4-8)

The Exchanged Life -- Christ in You

Following Jesus often means forsaking everything and following Jesus unconditionally.

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

“Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
(Luke 14:25-35)

Jesus deals personally with every one of His followers. He has “all the time in the world” to be intimate and personal where everyone us. Yet is not caught short in managing the earth and everything, everyone in it!

 


Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah.


From Ray Stedman:

My mentor, Ray C. Stedman said some profound things half a Century ago. I find his insights into the ego, the persona, the spirit, and human nature are more relevant now than ever. From Ray,

Pride is the great enemy of mankind, yet it is one of our commonest feelings.

The Word of God warns against pride because it cuts us off from the grace and goodness that God wants to give. Isaiah warns that prideful man can never obtain anything from God. God gives only to those who recognize their need. This is exemplified in our Lord's opening words in the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," {Matt 5:3}.

There is a beautiful promise contained in Chapter 44 of Isaiah to which we come today. The chapter opens with these wonderful words, spoken by God through the prophet:

"But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you from the womb and will help you:
Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your descendants,
and my blessing on your offspring." {Isaiah 44:1-3 RSV}

Here is pictured the refreshment of spirit that God gives to those who are thirsty, those who recognize the dryness of their lives and who come to him for supply. Notice that the promise extends even to their offspring. Here is a great word for families: God will bless them if they take the place of suppliant need before him.

As we have already seen many times in Isaiah, all this is to be ultimately true of the nation of Israel. We must never steal these promises away from the Jews. God will fulfill them literally one of these days. But this is also applicable to those who, by faith in Jesus Christ, have become sons and daughters of Abraham. These promises, that God will pour water on the thirsty, and streams on the dry ground, are made to us, as well. This is one of the most remarkable paradoxes in the Scripture. What man could ever devise a plan that if you fail, you win, if you lose, you will succeed, if you are broken, you will be lifted up? But that is God's plan. He always deals realistically with us. He will not force us to be humiliated, but he wants us to face the whole picture. He is totally honest. He knows exactly who we are and what our problem is. The folly of man is that he seeks to smooth that over and to pretend to be something he is not. All this is remarkable proof that the Bible is a divine Book, for no man would ever come up with a program for success that starts with an admission of failure.

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were in Palm Springs, sharing in a ministry with Dr. Lewis Smedes, a professor from Fuller Seminary. He went to the Los Angeles county jail one day to spend a few hours helping some of the prisoners there with their spiritual problems. As he was eating alone in the cafeteria at lunch time, he met a man, a lawyer, who spends a whole day each week helping prisoners in the county jail. But he did not use his legal expertise to counsel them. He sought instead to help by reading the Scriptures to them and aiding them in spiritual matters.(In order to help in that he wore a clerical collar.) Dr. Smedes said to him, "Don't you find it rather depressing, working with these losers all the time?" The man replied, "I don't look at them that way. To me there are only two kinds of people in the world: the forgiven and the unforgiving. These men and women are locked up physically. You can find a key, open the door and let them out, but no one yet has found the key that opens their inner life except God." That is a beautiful expression of what Isaiah is saying. If you are locked up inside yourself, prisoner to your own pride and self-sufficiency, God can open the door and let you out. This is what he promises to do and has done for centuries.

The prophet goes on to give God's disclosure of the kind of God he is.

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
"I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
Who is like me? Let him proclaim it,
let him declare and set it forth before me.
Who has announced from of old the things to come?
Let them tell us what is yet to be.
Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any" {Isaiah 44:6-8 RSV}

Critics of the Bible sometimes complain that God is constantly bragging about himself. But this is not empty boasting. It is simply declaring reality. It is an attempt on God's part to save his creatures from the folly and danger of following false gods. The passage goes on to describe the stupidity of the idol worship that the Israelites were falling into. The prophet describes a metal smith who melts metal, pours it into a mold to make an idol of it, and in the process he becomes tired. Isaiah points out what a ridiculous thing it is that a man makes a god who has no power to help him even while he is making it. Then he describes a carpenter who carves the figure of a man out of a block of wood, then uses the chips that he has carved off the block to build a fire to warm himself. He then bows down and worships the idol, seeking deliverance from something his own hands have made. What a ridiculous concept!

When we read a passage like this we are tempted to say, "Surely this does not apply to us. We are not idol worshippers." But we are really not that far removed from this kind of practice. As I drive down here on Sunday mornings I often notice people out in their yards worshipping a shiny, bright, metal idol. They pour expensive fluids into it, polish and shine it, and bow down before it. Have you ever noticed the change that comes over them when they get into it and take off down the street? Mild, inoffensive people, who never utter a word in anger, blast out of their driveways, leaving a trail of rubber as they depart, transformed with an illusion of power. We worship the automobile, which has become the symbol of luxury, beauty and power.

Silicon Valley is one of the great idol-manufacturing areas of the world, shipping out computers, these strange machines with their flashing lights and weird symbols, to the worshipers of knowledge in the far corners of the earth. Many today worship the god of sex, thinking that sex will satisfy them and fulfill their needs. But the god of sex will not deliver them. It is true we do not have idols of wood and stone any longer, but the ideas behind them remain the central idols of the American people.

The prophet declares of the idolater, Verse 20:

He feeds on ashes; a deluded mind has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?" {Isaiah 44:20 RSV}

The folly of worshipping any god other than the true God is that people deceive themselves. They are left dissatisfied, feeling, they have been feeding on ashes. The soul, as well as the body, needs food. It looks for that which satisfies. But those who look for satisfaction in drugs or sex discover that they have been feeding on ashes. They have been deceived, failing to recognize that there is "a lie in their right hand." The right hand is the symbol of what you grasp, who you look for help from. But those who follow idols are unable to see that they will not satisfy, but will leave a taste of ashes in the mouth. Many businessmen worship the god of power. They are climbing the corporate ladder to the top, seeking honor and recognition, dreaming of the prerequisites of the presidency of the company. When they have all they want, however, they will find it has turned to ashes. Many students worship knowledge. They feel confident that the wonderful things they are learning will help them control life. But it all turns to ashes. They do not recognize the "lie that is in the right hand."

The only hope, as this passage makes clear, is found in the God who formed us. God says:

Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant;
[remember the ashes upon which you have been feeding]
I formed you, you are my servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you. {Isaiah 44:21-22 RSV}

Over and over again, as we have seen all through this prophecy, the heart of God breaks through to plead with his people to find their satisfaction in him. He pleads for them to turn from these false values and seek his face and his forgiveness, which he has already provided for them, having "swept away their transgressions like a cloud." They may claim this forgiveness by believing that it applies to them...

...God is the God of history. He is in control, whether men know it or not. He regulates the affairs of nations and takes full responsibility for all that they ultimately do, even though they do not recognize this. What an encouragement this ought to be to us when we see the high and the mighty of earth strutting about in vain ambition, making great promises of what they are going to do. Let us recognize that they only can do what God says they can do.

Cyrus and the Persian people were followers of Zoroaster, a philosopher who believed in monotheism (a single god), whom they called the god of Light, and another supernatural being opposing him, whom they called the god of Darkness. Here God claims that he created both light and darkness. He goes on:

I make weal and create woe, I am the Lord, who do all these things. {Isaiah 45:7b RSV}

In the phrase "weal and woe," God is speaking of circumstances; that he is behind the circumstances of calamity, as well as of blessing. We must view the tragedy at Cape Canaveral in the light of a verse like this. As the moral Judge of the universe, God says that he takes responsibility even for disasters but as the Savior of man he also is behind the blessings that come our way. Isaiah strongly sets forth the fact that God is in total control of all of life.

Seen in that light, how shall we evaluate the proud boasts of men that they are in control of their own destiny? God takes that up in the very next passage, at Verse 9, Chapter 45:

"Woe to him who strives with his Maker, as an earthen vessel with the potter! Does the clay say to him who fashions it, "What are you making?" or "Your work has no handles?" {Isaiah 45:9 RSV}

It would be ridiculous if clay were to say to the potter, "I don't like the way you're doing this. This design does not appeal to me at all." Listen to the irony of this passage.

Woe to him who says to a father, "What are you begetting?"
or to a woman, "With what are you in travail?"
[as though these events were under human direction.]
Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:
"Will you question me about my children, or command me concerning the work of my hands? I made the earth, and created man upon it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host." {Isaiah 45:10-12 RSV}

This is the God with whom we have to deal. How incredibly arrogant of man to criticize the workings of a God like that! This passage is designed to humble man in his proud confidence and to show him how dependent he is upon the God whom he dares to criticize. C.S. Lewis well has said, "To argue with God is to argue with the very power that makes it possible to argue at all." How foolish man is to attempt that!

From this passage we learn that human folly takes many forms: either self-sufficiency -- man imagining that he is God and that he can run the world -- or idolatry, where man trusts something else as god other than the true God. Either one, according to this account and as confirmed by history, results in slavery and tragedy. This is what is behind the rise of totalitarianism in our day.

Some years ago I ran across a very astute statement about this subject. Someone has written:

If a man does not believe in God, his own ego becomes the ruler of his life. Since there are no standards of right and wrong existing apart from himself, right becomes that which pleases him, and wrong that which does not minister to his ego. Since he himself is the supreme consideration, he is restrained by nothing but his own wishes, and easily reaches the conclusion that the best possible world is one in which his will is supreme. He therefore enforces it upon others to the limit of his ability.

The denial of God thus becomes the seed from which totalitarianism develops. Freedom is possible only if men believe in God and seek to do his will. William Penn was right when he said that if men will not be governed by God, they must be governed by tyrants.

That is a remarkable statement of what the Scriptures declare -- that throughout history, behind the rise of slavery and bondage, is this inevitable substituting of the supreme will of an egoist for the mind of God. God's answer is found in Verses 22-23 of this same chapter:

"Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other. {Isaiah 45:22-23 RSV}

How hopeless it is for man to find his own way out of the morass which he has made for himself! The Spirit of God used this verse to speak to the heart of a fifteen-year-old boy in England in the last century. That boy, Charles Hadden Spurgeon, took shelter in a little Methodist chapel on a cold and snowy day in 1850. As there was no preacher, the deacon read the text, "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth," and seeing a lonely boy sitting in the back, the deacon (who could not speak very well) addressed him directly and said, "Young man, look unto God and he will save you." Spurgeon said, "I looked, and I was saved." He went on to become one of the great preachers of the English church.

But this is the out which God offers to mankind: "Look to me." Do not look to science, or to technology. These are fine in themselves, they give certain creature comforts, but they cannot deliver you. They cannot satisfy you or meet your need. If you pursue them they will turn to ashes. God is the only Deliverer from human hurt and failure...

Many times (like Jesus weeping over Jerusalem), God bewails the fact that men in their obstinacy will not come to him and be set free. The chapter and the section close with this revealing word:

"There is no peace," says the Lord, "for the wicked." {Isaiah 48:22 RSV}

The wicked are not necessarily murderers and criminals. They are anyone who has any god other than the one God. God is Lord of his own earth and heaven. He is the One to whom we must look for life, liberty, joy and peace. Yet men turn their backs on this God who can supply all they need, and walk off into restlessness and lack of peace.

In this context, I often think of a cartoon I once saw of a little boy who had put some of his belongings in a scarf, tied them on a stock, put them over his shoulder, and kept walking around and around the same block. A policeman who saw him go around several times said to him, "Son, what are you doing?" The boy said, "I'm running away from home." The policeman said, "Why are you just going around the block?" The boy replied, "Because I'm not permitted to cross the street." How many people wander restlessly around and around the same course, seeking something new, something different, but they are not permitted to cross the street. Ultimately there is nothing left for them but to go back into the house. When they do, they will not find a harsh Judge but a loving Father who says,

"Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!
For I am God and there is no other. By myself I have sworn,
from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return:" {Isaiah 45:22-23a RSV}

Here is something as inevitable as anything in all of life. This is a solemn word of God.

'To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength. {Isaiah 45:23b-24a RSV}

Paul picks up these words in the book of Philippians and says they are true of Jesus. He is the One who fulfills this. Because of his obedience unto the death on the cross,

God has exalted him and has given to him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow...and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. {cf, Philippians 2:9-11}

It is our privilege to do that now, when confessing his name means salvation. Ultimately the whole universe will confess it, but then it will merely be an admission that he was what he claimed to be. Till then, "there is no peace to the wicked."

If someone here is seeking peace, may I urge these words upon you. These are not empty promises. God means this. He does speak peace to a troubled heart, to those who feel empty, lonely, miserable and rejected. God offers to "pour out water upon those that are thirsty and streams upon the dry ground."

From the sermons of Ray C. Stedman, https://www.raystedman.org,
Especially https://www.raystedman.org/old-testament/isaiah/god-of-space-and-time



What Must I Do to be Saved?

...And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.

Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.”

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days.

But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”

Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said,

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. (Acts 16:9-34)


August 29, 2019
Edited August 31, 2019, by AZL

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