Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Moving Is Never Easy

            Seven years ago, in January 2006, I wrote my first blog post ever on this very blog.  Back then, the blog had a different title, "The Word Was God."  While the title has changed, the heart has always been to know and preach nothing but Christ.
            Seven is a significant number in the Bible.  It's usually understood to signify completion.  I'm not big into numerology, whether biblical or otherwise.  Still, I'm intrigued that I'm announcing a biggish change seven years after starting this blog.  What's the change?  The Voice of One has moved.  In other words, The Voice of One's time on Blogger is now complete.
            Please continue reading The Voice of One at its new site,  If you have been following the blog, I hope you'll keep following it at the new site.  It's easy to do.  There's a big orange button in the upper right of the blog that says, "Follow."  Just click it  :)  Also, if you have linked The Voice of One to your blog or website, I hope you'll update the link.
            I look forward to sharing Christ in my new venue.  My prayer, as always, is that "the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:12, 13).  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit (Gal. 6:18).

Saturday, December 22, 2012

God with Us

            During a census driven by greed, in a town to which His parents had no choice about going, after a journey made laborious by labor pains, in an anonymous stable, in a trough nosed by beasts, Jesus was born.  When necessities infringe on us, when unfair circumstances direct our paths instead of signs from God, when hardship and strain attend us instead of angels, it is tempting to think God is not with us.  Yet, it is precisely in situations such as these that we find Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).  We may hear testimonies from those blessed by heavenly signs (such as the wise men), or by the company of angels (such as the shepherds), but these should not be occasions for bitterness or grumbling against the Lord.  For, like Mary, we have carried the Son of God within.  We have freedom in Him even when we have no choice (2 Tim. 2:9).  The presence of New Life gives us rest even when the world won’t give us a room for the night.  He is the one to whom all signs lead, of whom all angels sing.  We are of the same family as the King of Kings (Heb. 2:11).  In tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, or nakedness, God is with us; “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35-39).


Sunday, December 02, 2012

What Are We to Think?

            When we compare how Saul and David became king, what are we to think?  The anointing of Saul (who would later reject God’s word) was accompanied by signs, songs of worship, a group of prophets, and a mighty move of God’s spirit which enabled Saul himself to prophesy (1 Sam. 10:1-11, 15:24).  So pronounced was this incident that, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” became a household expression in Israel (1 Sam. 10:12).   Saul’s reign began when Samuel publicly presented him to Israel.  He was received with shouts of “Long live the king!” even as Samuel reminded them they had rejected God (1 Sam. 10:19, 24).
            Scripture calls David a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).  Yet when it came time for his anointing, he was off tending sheep.  His family thought so little of him they didn’t even seek him when Samuel came to them, and even the Lord’s prophet didn’t perceive that David was the Lord’s chosen (1 Sam. 16:5-13).  After David’s anointing, there was no public fanfare.  He returned to tending sheep.  The Spirit of the Lord came upon him but in secret (1 Sam. 16:13).  Eventually, he rose in the ranks of Saul’s kingdom, but when his popularity made him a threat, Saul chased him out of Israel and hunted him like an animal.  David was forced to live in caves and even among the Philistines he loathed, whose champion, Goliath, he had slain as an early evidence of God’s favor (1 Sam. 17:50, 27:1).  Even after Saul died, David’s ascension to the throne was slow.  Israel didn’t accept him all at once but only by degrees (2 Sam. 2:4, 5:1-3).
            What are we to think of these things?  God directed His prophet to anoint Saul, and He accompanied this act with all the hallmarks of His favor: signs, worship, prophecy, and public acclaim.  Why does God do this for the king he has rejected?  Why such a move of His Spirit to install a king who has supplanted Him at the request of His own people?  And why allow David, the king after His own likeness, to be dismissed, to suffer ignominy, to live as a fugitive, and to be accepted with little that would indicate God’s favor?  Since Israel rejected God as king, could we expect that His king would be received?  Should we expect that the Lord’s servant be above his Master?  No indeed, we should not (John 15:20).  Likewise, Saul would’ve done well to beware that all spoke well of him (Luke 6:26). 
            These things clearly underscore the fact that “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).  We cannot trust in the appearance of God’s favor in our lives.  We would do well not to seek or cultivate those blessings God gives to the unrighteous as well as the righteous (Matt. 5:45).  It is better that we seek and cultivate those blessings that come because He finds truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6).  “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matt. 6:6).  God help us to live from the inside out, and to care more about what He sees than what others only think they see.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pentecost: Christ's Anointing

An excerpt from a booklet I'm working on about the feasts:

On Pentecost, Peter explained the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this way: "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.  Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear" (Acts 2:32, 33). God anointed Jesus with the fullness of the Holy Spirit, choosing Him to be Christ (="Anointed One") (Acts 2:36).  Christ's anointing then flowed down to the church, joining Christ and His people into one body through one Spirit. 
Sharing in Christ’s anointing means several things.  First John 2:20 says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.”  The Holy Spirit reminds us of everything Jesus said, testifies of Him, and leads us into all truth in Him (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:13-15).  The Holy Spirit also supplies the capability and competence to minister and represent Christ in the ways He has called (2 Cor. 3:5, 6).  Scripture mentions many abilities the Holy Spirit may give us.  Speaking in tongues, writing songs or poetry, governing, metalsmithing, pastoring, interpreting dreams, giving to charity…there are, literally, as many spiritual skill sets as there are people (Ex. 31:1-5; Dan. 1:17; 1 Cor. 12:4-11, 28; Rom. 12:6-7).             
As we give ourselves in the ways God has called us, it is vital to remember that the anointing is on Christ, not on us.  We share in it simply because we are in Him (Eph. 1:13).  Some conceive of the anointing as an almost temperamental, flighty presence: if we have spent enough time with God and are living up to His expectations, then He will anoint us.  If we have failed in some way or if we aren’t at our spiritual peak (“prayed up” or “filled up”) because of some lack of discipline, then the anointing will leave us or not show up when we need it.  But the anointing is on Christ, and, since we are in Christ, the anointing cannot be removed from us unless we can be removed from Christ.  Anointing is every bit as unchanging in Christ as His blood and forgiveness.  It is always available, not because we behave, but because we believe (Gal. 3:2).  It isn’t recent sins, failure to pray enough, or lack of Bible study that affects the flow of God’s Spirit.  It is the unbelief of meditating on these things that robs us of the anointing that is always ours in Christ.  If we believe the truth, we believe that our union with Christ—and therefore with the anointing of His Spirit—never changes.  Believing this, in turn, will improve our morals, our prayer life, and all the other things we try to maintain for fear of losing the anointing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Full Harvest of Christ

           The feast of Tabernacles celebrated the maturing and harvesting of the whole crop (Lev. 23:39).  Often, the idea of harvest is associated with evangelism, “reaping” souls for the kingdom of God.  But evangelism is probably more like scattering seed and conversion like seed sprouting. No one harvests seeds or sprouts.  Only mature plants bearing grain or fruit are harvested.
            In the parable of the sower, seed is scattered over all kinds of soil.  What distinguishes the good soil is that it produces a crop of 30, 60, or 100-fold (Matt. 13:23).  Jesus taught that many people receive the word and are converted for a time.  But seeds and sprouts only fulfill their purpose if they produce fruit worth harvesting.  Additionally, fruit from individuals is welcome but does not constitute a full harvest.  Ephesians 4:13 gives us a sense of the harvest God is looking for: “…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  It is the whole measure of the fullness of Christ in His body that the Feast of Tabernacles foreshadows.  This is the harvest God desires. 
            Ephesians 4 also describes how we grow into the full harvest of Christ.  It starts with holding to each other, keeping the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace (Eph. 4:11, 16).  As we hold to each other, we function in the measure of grace apportioned to us (Eph. 4:7).  Grace is given to each of us so that we can pass it on to those around us.  For some of us, this means moving in the ministries Paul mentions—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4:11).  But we shouldn’t limit the manifestation of God’s grace to five ministries, as if Paul is giving a definitive list.[1]  Leaders and ministers are important but we will by no means attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ if only leaders contribute.  We can only grow and build ourselves up in love “as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16).  That means every member of the church has grace from God that is vital to the growth of the church.  In this vein, Paul gave the Corinthians the following guidance about their services: “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  Everything must be done so that the church may be built up” (1 Cor. 14: 26).  Whatever your specific role in the body of Christ, it is divinely important.  Be encouraged that you are deeply needed!

[1] In 1 Corinthians 12:28 Paul gives a slightly different list.  This suggests he is just giving examples of ministries.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dancing or Dignity?

          As the ark entered Jerusalem, David worshiped and danced to the point of becoming undignified (2 Sam. 6:16).  Michal, David's wife, despised David, and told him so: "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" (2 Sam. 6:20).  David replied, "I will celebrate before the LORD.  I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes" (2 Sam. 6:21, 22).  Michal remained childless the rest of her life (2 Sam. 6:23).
          I've often thought that Michal was childless because the Lord cursed her womb.  But perhaps, since Michal wouldn't join David in worshiping to the point of humiliation, David withheld himself from union with her.
          Will we join to Jesus, the Son of David, when He is undignified and being with Him means we are humiliated in our own eyes?  Jesus became most undignified and humiliated at the cross.  Will we dance with Him when circumstances lead to a "cross" in our lives?  Or will we despise Him and choose the barrenness that preserves our dignity but means we can bring forth no spiritual life or fruit?

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Full of Glory

An excerpt from my booklet about Ezekiel that I posted last year.  I had this on my heart & decided to re-post it.  If you want to read the whole booklet, click here:


The popular view of heaven as part utopia, part family reunion, is not entirely unbiblical.  But it tends to make personal wish fulfillment the focus of salvation instead of Christ.  In fact, we could go so far as to say that for some, Christ is little more than the means by which their wishes will be fulfilled in the afterlife.  Heaven is also presented as a reward for good behavior, a place where we are finally free from suffering.  In the world to come, we will be freed from all forms of suffering caused by the effects of sin in this fallen world (Rev. 21:4).  But we will not be freed from glory, from the self-sacrificing, other-centered fellowship that is the divine nature.  Participating in the divine nature IS salvation (2 Peter 1:4).  If we haven’t had self-motivation eradicated but have only behaved until our desires are finally gratified in heaven, from what have we been saved?  By contrast, God has much more in mind than simply rewarding us.  He wants all things to be full of glory, to be permeated by that selfless inter-relating—“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). 
            What do we mean when we talk of all things being full of glory?  Let’s put it this way: imagine a world where every last thing is Christ: every river, every stone, every blade of grass.  This is something like what Ezekiel’s third vision shows us.  Christ is the temple, the altar, and the offering. He is the priest presenting the offering, He is the sacrificial flesh eaten by those who minister.  He is the land and each inheritance marked out.  He is the 12 tribes and the nation of Israel.  His Spirit is the river that makes everything live as it flows past trees of all kinds, which trees He is.  “Christ is all, and is in all” (Col. 3:11).  There is nothing in what Ezekiel sees that is not Christ.  And this is where God has placed us.  This is the One into whom we have been baptized (1 Cor. 1:30, 12:13).  Despite the conditions through which we sojourn, despite the lack of Christ we see around us and in us every day, God would have us know that our reality, the place where we live and move and have our being, is precisely this place where there is nothing but Christ, where Christ is the elemental composition of everything, where He is the length, the height, the breadth, and the depth (Eph. 3:18).