Payh Blog
Lift Your Eyes to the Hills
Jul 24, 2017

LIFT YOUR EYES TO THE HILLS

“I will lift my eyes to the hills. From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2


Growing up in Colorado Springs, I had the glorious privilege of waking every morning to the majestic view of 14,000 foot Pikes Peak, surrounded by pine covered foot hills, a view of which I never tired. I know some of what King David meant as he exclaimed, “I lift my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help.” He likely had in mind those hills upon which Jerusalem was built. Here was his help situated in his worship of God and even possibly his birthplace, Bethlehem, nearby among the hills surrounding Jerusalem, which would also, long after, be the birthplace of his seed, his Master and Lord.
But then the hills also bring to mind to the student of Scripture the famous “mounts, hills, mountains” of the Word of God. The sign of God’s covenant promise, the rainbow, was first signified at Mount Ararat, where Noah’s ark came to rest after the flood receded and where an altar was built to worship God in thanksgiving for the miraculous deliverance from the waters that killed all living on the earth, except for Noah and his family. Then there is Mount Moriah, where Abraham was sent to sacrifice his son, Isaac, but God provided a ram substitute for Isaac in the last moment. This was a sacrifice to signify a later perfect substitute for our sin penalty, the Lord Jesus, on Mount Calvary. These two mounts could well have been the exact same location separated by centuries.
Another was Mount Sinai, where Moses met with God and received God’s Law in the form of two stone tablets, carved out with letters by the finger of God. Then there was Mount Carmel where Elijah did battle with the false prophets of Baal and God sent down fire to consume water, altar, and sacrifice. Later, now in the New Testament, there was the Mount of Transfiguration, where the Son of God received the imprimatur of His Father in the presence of Moses and Elijah and His three close disciples. Then there was the mount in Galilee upon which Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount in which He fleshed out the purpose of the Gospel in our lives in the Beatitudes; and then the Mount of Olives on which Jesus prayed prior to His crucifixion, sweating drops of blood; and Mount Calvary where the Son of God was sacrificed for our sin; finally, the Mount of His ascension into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God. All of these mounts are of great significance in the accomplishment of your salvation, intended to be remembered and increase your faith in the God who loves you.
So, lift your eyes to the hills, those mounts from where you draw your strength. What happened there on those “hills” were God’s planned works, bringing to fruition your salvation, a centuries-long foreshadowing of Mount Calvary in these Old Testament foretastes of what was to come (remember Jesus opening the Old Testament Scriptures to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus to reveal Himself in all its pages), and then following His crucifixion on Mount Calvary, His ascension-return to heaven from yet another hill-top. Yes, lift your eyes to “the hills” from which comes your strength. Be reminded of these events pointing down through the centuries to each step of God’s plan to bring about His salvation, and now, today, in the those long centuries beyond Calvary which precede the certain return of His Son from heaven. There are many centuries of saints lifting their eyes to those hills drawing strength from God who ever acts for you to be His. Then, in the end, believers will lift their eyes to view Jesus’ glorious coming on the clouds.
David’s words ring true for those who hang on God’s own words with the same passion in which David wrote them. This is how the Word of God engages you through His Spirit. His Word is so much more than mere stories upon stories and strings of names. It is a woven tapestry ever giving more revelation of fresh understanding to those who are unrelenting students of its pages. The Word of God never grows old or boring. If it does, it is not it that is boring, but its inattentive reader who is. The Word of God is living and dynamic. It is its critic, naysayer, and indifferent ignorer who are really dead. Your prayer should always be for the Spirit of God to open your eyes and ears to behold and appreciate wonderful things from its pages. Your faith rests and is increased on its ever revealing of Jesus, the fellowship of whom you yearn to grow into greater and greater intimacy.


“Teach me to feel that thou art always nigh. Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear, to check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh. Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.”
(4th verse of George Croly’s hymn, “Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart,” 1854)
 

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Standing in the Place of God
Jul 18, 2017

Standing in the Place of God

“On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers arrogantly back to God and dares to defy Him? Will the thing which is formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” Romans 9:20 (AMP)


There are a number of professions in the world in which the practitioner of that particular profession makes decisions or judgments which imitate God; they are in a very real sense acting in their capacity just as though they were God or equal to Him. Admittedly, to do their job, they must make a decision one way or the other. It is expected they make a decision; the job calls for it. Judges, doctors, employers, college professors, lawyers, etc. make judgments which can be critically important to the life of an individual, and in some cases even their death. The decision can also mean success or impoverishment, continued sustainment or ruin, healing or dying. Their job requires they decide something.
However, these decisions are not made without a moral responsibility. If they really do stand, relatively, in the place of God in determining someone’s future, livelihood, health, freedom, incarceration, success or failure, or death, it is, you would think, a decision to be made with great caution, judiciousness, fairness, and justice. Such would, at the very least, be a decision and/or judgment which requires great humility, not arrogance; if made confidently, then a confidence balanced with trembling, for you ought to presume, whether knowing it or not, that you are standing, relatively, in the place of God in the life of this person. These professionals may not even believe in God, and consequently, they are relying solely on their own competence, wisdom, and ability to arrive at a most weighty conclusion. But do they really feel the weight of such a decision? A decision made with their mere human ability alone?
The person who contemplates suicide or does take their life presumes to stand in the place of God. God gave life and He can take it away, but who are you to determine your life should come to an end? Yet many do. There are those who hold a gun in their hand and often on a whim choose to criminally take the life of another, quickly and devastatingly. They most often do so with seemingly no regret or grief. They show no regard for the preciousness of life. They act as God but are actually a devil. Then there are those who live their life as though no God exists to guide it. They take matters into their own hands and are convinced they have the freedom to live their life as they darn well please. Yet when they end up poorly, they blame God, even when they do not really believe He is! Figure that.
The truth is God does exist. He is! And you have much to do with God, and He has much to do with you. We will one day stand before Him and be thoroughly convinced we should have considered Him far more in the living and deciding of our lives. Today is never too late to do just that!
God has stooped to make Himself personally available to you. He has in the person of Jesus Christ made Himself visible to you. He shows Himself powerfully in the power and magnificence of His awesome creation in which you live, marvel, and wonder. He does answer prayer. He is not silent! He is always near to you wherever you are in the world. He knows the words of your mouth before they roll off your lips. You cannot escape His presence, as Psalm 139 makes abundantly clear. He alone can lead you in the way everlasting! God is, and therefore you are, and ever will be – either in a wonderful state or in a terribly poor one.


“When this passing world is done, when has sunk yon glaring sun, when we stand with Christ in glory, looking o’er life’s finished story, then, Lord, shall I fully know, not till then, how much I owe.”
(1st verse of Robert Murray McCheyne’s hymn, “When This Passing World Is Done,” 1837)
 

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True Strength Versus Notoriety
Jul 07, 2017

True Strength Versus Notoriety

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18


One writer described Paul Anderson when he said, “He is the strongest man in the world, and he also lifts weights.” Paul had a lifelong motto that declared clearly where his strength lay: “If I, the strongest man in the world, cannot get through a day without Jesus Christ, how can you?” Paul Anderson certainly gained notoriety in certain segments of the world through winning the World Championships in weight lifting, as well as winning the Olympic Gold Medal, setting world records, and exhibiting his strength as he gave testimony of his faith in Christ; but he did not have the same notoriety as say a Marilyn Monroe, or FDR, or JFK, or Barack Obama. These personalities were known universally. This was because Paul Anderson did not seek to be as they, but to devote his life and gifts to the sole cause of Jesus Christ by establishing Christian homes for troubled young men that they might come to know Christ.
This is why the Apostle Paul said that God “…chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise [in the world’s eyes]; God chose what is weak in the world [again in the world’s eyes] to shame the strong [in the world’s eyes]; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God…Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” Just as this, “If I, the strongest man in the world, cannot get through a day without Jesus Christ, how can you?”
There are those who are notorious and world famous in the knowledge of the world, particularly movie stars, great sports figures, political leaders, and entertainment idols; but are they able to guide your steps toward eternal life, or is it toward a perishing end? The “modus operandi” of the world is so obvious that St. Paul could describe the world’s social environment perfectly in the first century. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Are we ourselves guilty of being drawn to the famous and notorious? Is it because everyone else is? Our curiosity about their personal lives is such that we cannot get enough information. Does this description of the world in 1 Corinthians not give you pause to gain a correct perspective of the world and its infamous people over against the comparative perspective of an “all-seeing and all-knowing God?” You must fight the urge of a fallen nature of participating in the adulation and consuming appeal of those who will not allow you to boast in the Savior alone. The love of the world is a constant, mesmerizing draw to those who are otherwise engaged in fighting the good fight – the fight of Romans 7.
How do you guard against succumbing to the world with a “Vanity Fair” attraction or the “Greek Sirens” stupefying one toward shipwreck? By opening the eyes of your heart and mind continually to the appeal and persuasion of Jesus, “who was tempted in all ways as you, yet was without sin.” He won your salvation not only obediently on the cross, but by bearing His cross of temptation through an obedient life, all for the intense purpose of your salvation. You ought to live with His perfect example always before your eyes, as Hebrews 12:1-2 challenges you, “running the race of life with endurance, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith!” It is a constant battle of the will, yet always emboldening your will through faith. You will fail, stumble, and fall, but He is there to pick you up. As Jesus promises in Hebrews, “I will never fail you nor forsake you!”
Stare the perspective of the world down, renouncing it as a perishing manner of life. Disregard the notorious, finding strength in your boast of Jesus, “whom to know is life eternal.”


“While life’s dark maze I tread and griefs around me spread, be thou my guide; bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow’s tears away, nor let me ever stray from thee aside.
(3rd verse of Ray Palmer’s hymn, “My Faith Looks Up to Thee,” 1830)
 

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American Flag
Jul 05, 2017

Allegiance

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as His heritage.” Psalm 33:12


“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” If you are not too young and are an American citizen, you made this pledge so often in school that it quickly became solidified in your memory. But you were never forced to pledge allegiance once the Supreme Court decided against its 1940 ruling and made it completely voluntary to recite the pledge in 1943. Allegiance, as prayer, is not compulsory, in fitting with the fact that America is by and large a practicing Christian nation by the majority profession of its citizens, buttressed by church attendance.
Christianity is a fully volunteer involvement. There is no compulsion to believe for anyone who chooses to become a Christian. It is only acknowledged that a true understanding of God’s grace is that His grace is truly irresistible. Those genuinely born again by the Spirit of God come freely into a new birth because God’s marvelous grace so envelopes them that they do not resist it. As Paul says, “The love of Christ constrains me.”
Consequently, there is also no compulsion to pledge allegiance to the country which is your home and of which you are a citizen by birth or choice. There are those who have brought federal suits to do away with or change the wording of the pledge, simply because if they or their children have to even hear others say it aloud, they are offended. But this is no democratic understanding, and these objectors reside voluntarily in a country which is democratic. They are not under any compulsion whatsoever to pledge allegiance to this country which actually strives to defend and protect them and provides them numerous personal benefits.
Genuine patriotism does not arise from compulsion either. It is simply the expression from one’s heart of love and gratitude for the country God assigned to them as their birth home, and by some as their home through their voluntary, desired adoption. There is no sin in showing patriotism to one’s homeland as long as the believer does not allow his or her patriotism to supersede the acknowledgement and faithfulness to where their ultimate citizenship resides: heaven! As Paul writes in Philippians of every believer, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”
The Psalmist writes, of no nation in particular, that that nation is blessed whose God is the Lord! But a nation which at one time acknowledged God as their Lord may turn at some point from such belief and behavior to serve the gods of this world; consequently, with His blessing removed, a curse supplants it.
As of this July 4th, we are still trusting that America’s God is the Lord “lest He come and strike the land with a curse.” If we desert Him, God may remove His blessing from this great country. Persecution is already taking place for Christians who dare to obey and honor God with their lives, faith, and businesses in the face of attacks on their faith. Unfortunately, more and more justices support their persecution.
It is my hope that in the aftermath of July 4th you will again thank God for His blessings on you and your homeland and that you will recommit yourself to the godly cause of “liberty and justice for all,” especially liberty in Christ; for, “if Christ shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” In any case, blessing or curse, we look forward to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and His promise of a new heaven and a new earth! Allegiance to Him above all brings this sure reward.


“Ever lift thy face upon me as I work and wait for thee; resting ‘neath thy smile, Lord Jesus, Earth’s dark shadows flee. Brightness of my Father’s glory, sunshine of my Father’s face, keep me ever trusting, resting, fill me with thy grace. Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what thou art; I am finding out the greatness of thy loving heart.”
(4th verse of Jean Pigott’s hymn, “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting,” 1876)
 

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