02 December, 2009

~Week 10 of 10: "Before His Throne" study - and One Last Assignment~

NOTE: Click on GCC ~ Before His Throne tag at end of this post to see others in this series.

Week 10 of 10: "Before His Throne" study - and One Last Assignment

Submitted by Leah Page on Tue, 12/01/2009 - 5:15pm

My original intent was to compose, here, a "summary" of what would have been our 10th week together, but I didn't realize I would find it so difficult, having not been in class with you our last evening! Apparently I rely more heavily on your feedback in class for my own "note taking" than I realized. Nevertheless, I thought I would at least attempt the "next best thing" with the hopes that you might be encouraged to do ONE LAST ASSIGNMENT in preparation for tomorrow night's final "After Party."

No worries, it won't take long. In fact, time-wise, it will take very LITTLE time in comparison to all the work you have already done.

We started this journey together in Ephesians 1, reading through the various characteristics that were readily apparent as "identifiers" of those who are "in Christ." The repetition of variations on this phrase alone in this chapter are telling, but I think our study through Malachi (with points all throughout Genesis to Revelation as we visited hither and yon!) has (I hope!) made some of the real, transforming truths of what we do in fact possess and who in fact we really ARE if we are IN CHRIST even that much more precious to you.

Thus, I thought it would be appropriate to "book end" our time in Malachi with another high-point chapter, (and perhaps you can already guess of what book I am thinking even before I tell you!). Before I give you the assignment, however, I would like to travel Malachi with you by just highlighting some of these themes:

*What are God's first words? "I have loved you" ~ God's "peculiar" covenantal affection for his people

*Were is the honor due God as a Father? Where is the fear and reverence due God as a Master?

*What kind of sacrifice is PLEASING to God? ~ unblemished, firstfruits, the sacrifice offered from faith, the sacrifice of a broken and contrite spirit, a living sacrifice!, a sacrifice of praise

*What does it mean to "fear the Lord" aright? ~ "...Perfect love casts out fear...."

*How can we approach the Throne of Grace with confidence? OUR "righteousness" is as filthy rags! ~ JESUS, the beloved son in whom the Father is well pleased; HE has made the once for all unblemished (!), holy sacrifice. HE is our "ark of safety" ~ preserving us "to the end" that we might be saved.

*Are we "performing" our righteousness only with an expectation of the Lord's benefits and rewards? Have we neglected to "incline our hearts" to the Lord, recognizing that HE is our reward? Are we loving his GIFTS more than we love HIM?

*Are we resenting his apparent lack of justice in judging wickedness, having forgotten we ourselves stand in desperate, dependent need of his mercy and grace?

*Are we thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought? ~ Are we ... esteeming ourselves (whether "highly" or "lowly"?) rather than fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith?

And finally, I am reminded especially of our comments at the beginning of class, echoed and repeated as we've progressed. Why did we sign up for this study? I hope it has proven to be a means of getting to know God more, as he really is, as he has revealed himself to be, with the preciousness of even our "fear" of God becoming more apparent. But in the end, our "knowledge" is not merely as the acquiring of more and more information - It is, rather, "knowledge" quite literally "in the biblical sense!"

It is for intimacy with our God, for we are his people, redeemed by his hand, and as we know him more we LOVE him more! And whether now as through a glass dimly, or then when finally face to face, we "know" in such a way that it spills over into worship. In a class I am currently auditing concerning "the knowability and incomprehensibilty of God," the expression continually repeated has been that "Doctrine is for Doxology!" Meaning, that we study and examine and learn the WORD of God because it is BY MEANS of the Word of God that we know HIM in person; and for the one who is being saved, this becomes the spring from which our worship overflows!

So. If you're still with me after all of the above,

Here is your assignment. :)

Set aside approximately 40 minutes during which you are confident you will not be interrupted. Read through Malachi, all four chapters. Slowly. Perhaps out loud so you can really remember all we've looked at. Then, with Malachi fresh in your minds, turn to Hebrews chapter 12. And again, read through this whole chapter, slowly, perhaps out loud. But don't just read for information. Pause to think about God, what he has shown you these past few weeks.

Some describe tasting wine as this kind of experience - Look at its color, swirl it around in the glass, take a deep breath in through your nose and see what kinds of aromas you can discern - a hint of apple or peach, close your eyes and think of the grapes on the vine, and then finally, having done all this, take a sip, let it sit on your tongue, roll it around in your mouth exploring the various different kinds of flavors it can change into in just that moment, and only after you've paused sufficiently, swallow. Read Hebrews 12 like you're "tasting" it in just this way, let your mind remember all the various Scriptures we've looked at over the past few weeks, pray your way through the verses, thanking God for how he's taught you, convicted you, comforted you, and sit at his feet and worship him. If he brings a song to mind, sing it! If he brings a sin to mind, confess it! If he brings a loved one to mind, intercede for them in prayer. BE with him through his word. [ABIDE!]

Thank you for finishing well, ladies. It has been an honor to "lead" you and to be a student WITH you of God's word. I am looking forward to our next adventure beginning in January - "Lord, Only You Can Change Me"! (a study in the beattitudes).


WE are God's JEWELS!

Submitted by Leah Page on Mon, 11/23/2009 - 11:16am

(John MacDuff, "The Night Watches")
"And they shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in
that day when I make up my jewels!" Malachi 3:17

"MY JEWELS!" (margin, My special treasure!)

Of what favored creatures does Jehovah thus speak?
Is it of seraphs?
Is it of angels?
Methinks, at such a title, even they would take
the dust of abasement, and veiling their faces,
cry, "Unclean! unclean!"

But, marvel of marvels! It is redeemed sinners
of the earth; the fallen children of men; once rude,
unshapely stones, lying in "the horrible pit and the
miry clay," amid the rubbish of corruption, who are
thus sought out by grace, purchased by love, and
destined through eternity to be set as jewels
in the crown of the eternal Savior!

A jewel in Immanuel's crown!

Not only raised from the ash heap to be set among
princes; but to gem through eternity the Forehead
that for me was once wreathed with thorns!

"And they shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in
that day when I make up my jewels!" Malachi 3:17