Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ God’s Book of Remembrance

          I know what it is like to enjoy looking through a photo album and remembering people who have meant so much to me. Even with our daycare youngsters, they enjoy flipping through our photo albums and remembering children who used to be with us. Knowing what this is like makes this verse all the more remarkably wonderful:

16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. (Malachi 3)

          This continues the theme of those who tremble at the words of Jesus.[1] As we consider what this looks like for those who “fear the LORD and esteem his name,” we are also invited to consider what it is like for God himself to see this taking place in our lives.

          Which brings us to this fascinating introduction of “a book of remembrance”. In this book were written the names of those who trembled at the words of God. He saw who it was that spoke to one another out of their fear of God. He actually “paid attention” to them and “heard them”.

          Along with recording these people in his book of remembrance, God declared through the prophet how he felt about these people. He wanted them to know that “they shall be mine”, that these people were clearly going to be identified as his own people.

          However, he was identifying that this was in reference to a coming “day when I make up my treasured possession”. These people could expect good things from the LORD on that day. And, they could expect that it would then be very clear who it was who served God and who did not.

          This is of great encouragement during this lifetime when it is not clearly apparent who loves Jesus and who does not. At the time that the prophet Malachi wrote down this revelation from God, many people were self-dependently carrying out the outer demands of the law while enjoying the pleasures of the world. They looked very similar to those who were loving and serving God with hearts of true reverence and awe.

          What God revealed to those who feared him was that he was listening in to their talks about him, the Bible studies where people were talking to one another out of their fear and reverence and worship of God. He wanted them to know that he heard them as distinct from those who were just carrying out religious activities. He knew they were his, and he wanted them to know that being his meant they were his “treasured possession”.

          Jesus spoke of a day when every person will stand before him in judgment. He pictured some people as the sheep of his pasture, and the others as goats that did not belong to him. The sheep heard the sound of their Shepherd’s voice calling them into his presence forever, and they gladly followed him then as they had followed him during their earthly lifetime. The goats heard the sound of a stranger’s voice, the voice of someone they had never cared to know, and yet they were powerless to refuse him as he ordered them out of his presence forever.

          There will be days when those who belong to God are overwhelmed with the animosity of the world, the attacks of the devil, and the incessant harassment of their own flesh. We are given this paragraph from Malachi to encourage us that God has his book of remembrance holding us near to his heart as he prepares for that day that we will be seen as the beloved children of God we have been from before the beginning of time.

          From my heart,



[1] See Pastoral Ping, January, 30, 2013 ~ “Hearts that Tremble at Jesus’ Words”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ Hearts that Tremble at Jesus' Words

          I am beginning to meditate on the second and third chapters of Revelation, which contain seven letters to the seven churches. I am looking at the pattern of the letters to immerse myself in the themes they contain. One of these themes is that each of the seven letters contains the statement, “the words of…” followed by some description of Jesus taken from John’s vision in chapter one.

          This drew me to consider the wonder of Jesus giving us his words. It wouldn’t really matter if what he had to say was good or bad, the fact that it was his words, from his heart, with his purity and love directing every syllable, would mean that the truthfulness of his words would be the best thing we could ever hear. As II Timothy 3:16-17 makes very clear, if Jesus words were to teach us, reprove us, correct us, or train us in righteousness, anything that would change us and make us more like Jesus would be a good word.

          As I considered the significance of these words to my life, I recalled that there was a Scripture somewhere that spoke about people trembling at the word of God. When I looked this up, I discovered that there were three Scriptures expressing this response. First, “Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice.”[1]

          Since this is the breathed-out word of God, we can take it that trembling at the words of God is a good thing. In this case, some people were trembling at the words of God because of the way other people were rebelling against God’s words. They knew what God said; they knew what the people were doing; and they were afraid of how God would carry out his word against their nation.

          The second passage expressed this: But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”[2] While there were many in the land who spurned the word of God, God gives his own word that he is on the lookout for even “one” who responds to his word with humility, contrition, and trembling.

          The third Scripture gives this encouragement to those who tremble at the word of God: “Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word: ‘Your brothers who hate you and cast you out for my name's sake have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy’; but it is they who shall be put to shame.’”[3] It is obvious that those who follow God’s word can be hated by their own “brothers”, and even “cast out” of fellowship with God’s people. What matters is what God thinks of these things.

          This is all particularly significant in light of the seven letters to the churches. The number seven in the book of Revelation indicates completeness. We can take the seven letters as the complete word to the complete church. If we pray through those letters honestly, we will know how Jesus sees our own churches. Since the letters include things Jesus commends, but also things he condemns, it is imperative that we tremble at the word of God as we honestly pray: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”[4]

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)


[1] Ezra 9:4
[2] Isaiah 66:2
[3] Isaiah 66:5
[4] Psalm 139:23-24

Monday, January 28, 2013

Revelation Videos ~ The Vision of Jesus

In Revelation 1:10-20 John describes the vision of Jesus as our Great High Priest in the midst of the Churches. There is great benefit in meditating upon this vision and hiding the wonderful truths in our hearts. You are invited to join our home church in our journey through this book. Many treasures await.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ The Three Dimensions of Heart Freedom

          For quite a while our home church has been exploring the contrast between two life-styles. The first is the life of the Sark (flesh), and the second is the life of the Spirit. The Greek word “sark” is what God chose to communicate that sin has cursed us with a part of ourselves that wants to do its own thing, enjoy the pleasures of sin, live independent of God, and decide for ourselves what to do.

          The apostle Paul gives a very clear description of the sark-life in Romans 7 and 8 where the English word “flesh” translates the Greek word “sark”. He contrasts this to life in the Spirit. Before the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death[1], we are bound to live in our sarks. Now that the Holy Spirit has set us free from sin and death, we are able to live in step with the Spirit[2].

          This past week our focus has been on the contrast between the way the sark wants to pick through options and decide what to do, and the way the Spirit wants us to follow him wherever he leads. When our sark is trying to do the right thing we will be wrong no matter how much we have thought it through. When the Spirit of the living God is leading us, walking in his will is always right even when the world around us believes we are wrong.

          God has given his children a new nature in Christ Jesus that is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.[3] This seems to be the fulfillment of what God promised when he told Ezekiel, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”[4]

          Jesus’ brothers now have the option of listening to their sark, or living in this new heart by the Holy Spirit. Paul expressed concern about this in writing the Corinthians: “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.”[5] Much of the problems Paul had to address with the Corinthian believers was simply that they were living as “people of the flesh”, or sarky-people, instead of living in their new hearts by the power and help of the Holy Spirit.

          One thing that is becoming clear to us is that handling things in the sark, or handling things with our new hearts, leads us down two very separate roads. So, we have been spending considerable time seeking to understand how to stay in our new hearts in facing everything that comes against us. This has led us to three basic dimensions of heart-freedom.

          First of all, when we are speaking to God about what people have done to us, how they have affected us, and what we have done to others, we can only act as witnesses of those things. We do not have the knowledge or wisdom to judge others, nor to accuse them. We can only present to God our testimony of what we have witnessed.

          Secondly, everything we bring to God we leave with God. We give witness to what has happened, including confessing our own sins. We then leave it to God to judge the situation, and apply his will however he pleases. He does not need our advice, opinion, reminders or suggestions. He is greater than we are, so we only need to testify and then trust.

          Third, we walk with God however he leads us. We put off trying to figure out what to do, and seek him to know what he is doing. If he chooses to work on our healing, we heal; if he leads us into forgiving people who are coming to us in repentance, we forgive; if he reminds us of sins on our part of a problem, we repent; if he brings specific people into our lives who need specific ministry from our part of the body of Christ, we minster to those people as God leads us.

          Our freedom to live in our new hearts in the Spirit requires that we submit to God’s place as Lord and judge over everything and everyone. It also requires that we surrender to our place as dependent children of the living God.

          This was already made very clear in this Scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”[6]

          We could paraphrase this something like, “Trust in the LORD with all of your new heart, and do not lean on the understanding of your sark, your flesh. In all the things you are going through live in constant acknowledgement of God’s presence with you, and the Holy Spirit will lead you according to God’s will.”

          As I said, exploring these things has brought us to a lot of discussion and prayer about how to stay away from our sarky-side, and stay in our new hearts where we are living by the Spirit. I welcome any sharing about your journey in this. For the moment, this Scripture seems to summarize the calling set before us: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” [7]

          From my heart,


PS: Many people fail at the Leave-it-to-God part of heart-freedom because they haven’t yet witnessed to God about what is inside them.

© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)


[1] Romans 8:1-2
[2] Galatians 5:25
[3] Ephesians 4:20-24
[4] Ezekiel 36:26
[5] I Corinthians 3:1
[6] Proverbs 3:5-6
[7] Galatians 5:25

Friday, January 18, 2013

Considerations ~ January 18, 2013

Here are some thoughts from my time with God this morning:

The Spiritual/Material Connection

          “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches”.[1] Here is the connection between the spiritual world of God and the material world of man. A voice tells John to take the things he is going to see in the spiritual realm and write them down into words that can be received into the material realm. This connection of our material/spiritual makeup as the one creature in Jesus’ image and likeness, with the material/spiritual makeup of Scripture, brings a distinctive tremble to the wondering heart.

Spiritual Measure for Spiritual Truth

          Here is the problem with science: it has no tools by which to measure spiritual realities. Some arrogantly conclude that spiritual things do not exist. Others go looking beyond science for spiritual indicators of spiritual truth. Those who turn to the Bible discover that the greatest person in the spiritual realm has chosen to make his impossible-for-science-to-find thoughts known in material words that can be written down on material paper with material ink in a material book. The world now has the most amazing connection between the spiritual and the material: a material book of spiritual words that invite us into a spiritual experience of the Spirit-God who created the material world. How do we come to know God who is Spirit? Through his spiritual Son who became material flesh and lived in our material world long enough to make a way for material people to enter his spiritual kingdom.

Written to be Lived

John was told, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches”.[2] The churches are told to “read aloud… hear… and keep what is written…”.[3] John’s faithfulness to his side of the work of God urges us to the same faithfulness on our side.

From One Wonder to Another

          If anyone wonders if God really made man from dirt, just look at what happens to us when we die. Meditating on the work of Jesus Christ to form dirt into a man brings about a whole other kind of wonder.

Comfort From the Cost

          I sometimes am bogged down with the hurt of people rejecting me because they consider the cost of knowing me to be too high. Then I look at Jesus (Heb 1:2-3) and see my Older Brother stooping to gather dirt together to make the first man (Gen 2). In his eternal mind is the consciousness that he will, himself, one day take on a body of dirt in order to suffer all that it would cost to finally have me for himself as a beloved brother (Eph 5:1-2; Heb 2:11). The contrast between these two pictures is my great comfort.

God’s Word is a treasure. Jump in with both feet, and receive what God has given.

From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

[1] Revelation 1:11
[2] Revelation 1:11
[3] Revelation 1:3

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ From Delighted to Despised to Dearly Loved

          Isaiah 53:3 tells us this about Jesus: He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

          The prophecy of Jesus being despised and rejected was written approximately seven centuries before he came. This was a clear description of one of the things people should have recognized in the Messiah. “Look for a man who, among other things, is despised and rejected by men,” cries the prophet. “Look for a man who was characterized by sorrow, who had a strong friendship with grief. Watch for someone who comes into towns with a message that causes men to despise him, to hold back from him the esteem he clearly deserves.”

          I have long been amazed at the intricate complexity of prophecy that God set into Scripture so that there would be no doubt that Jesus was both “the founder and perfecter of our faith”.[1] What hit me this morning was the way in which Jesus communicated to us that he knew full well what he was going to endure in redeeming “a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works”.[2]

           In the garden of Eden, God told the serpent that the offspring of the woman would crush the serpent’s head.[3] However, the serpent would also bruise the Messiah’s heel, revealing that the woman’s offspring would suffer. This shows that Jesus already knew that he would only have a people like himself through suffering, through redemption, through adoption, through being despised and rejected.

          The prophecies about the Messiah’s suffering that are recorded in the Psalms were not only letting us know a thousand years before Jesus’ coming that God was putting descriptions into place that would prove the word of God. Each description of the Messiah’s suffering was also an announcement to the sinful children of God, “Jesus knows how he will be treated when he comes! Jesus knows how he will suffer! Jesus knows what it will cost him to redeem his brothers!”

          Jesus was willing to be despised and rejected for me because I was so dearly loved to him.[4] Prophecy says over and over again, “My love knew what I was getting into. I knew I would be despised and rejected. I knew I would be grieved, sorrowful, stricken, smitten, afflicted, pierced, crushed, chastised, wounded, burdened, oppressed, judged, cut off, buried, anguished, poured out to death, numbered with transgressors, and burdened with the sin of many”.[5] And, that’s just one chapter of the Old Testament!

          Another way we are told that Jesus knew what he would suffer is described like this: “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…”[6] There was such a great joy set before Jesus that caused him to despise the shame of the cross, and endure all the suffering the cross brought his way. This was a different joy than what he already had in his relationship with his Father. This was a joy he could have if he endured the cross.

          This joy was his delight in having us as his family.[7] He would have the joy of redeeming his brothers so that they could be adopted into the household of God and bear the love of God in their hearts forever. Satan would be thoroughly defeated, and the sons of God would be thoroughly victorious in the victory of Christ. Jesus had joy in what he knew was ahead, and so he “endured”!

          This helps me understand one more thing about the book of Revelation: it tells us what is ahead so we will endure! The joy set before Jesus was that he would have us as his brothers. The joy set before us is that we will have him. At the end of the Revelation it is described like this:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[8]

          This is the joy set before us that helps us endure. Whatever happens along the way to heaven, the story ends with God dwelling with his people. All the gifts of God we experienced in part will then be experienced in full. The down payment on our inheritance will become the fullness of our inheritance[9]. God himself will dwell with us, and we will be his people. God himself will be with us as our God. He will personally wipe away our tears with such comfort that our pain will be quickly forgotten. There will be no more death to ruin our relationships. There will be no more mourning, no dirges, no crying. Grief will be utterly gone. Neither will there be any pain. We will not have anything from which to protect ourselves since all painful things will be gone.

          So, here is the way we are to see Revelation: “Look at the joy set before you, and endure!” If we let Revelation show us the joy set before us, will receive help to endure until the end just as Jesus endured for us.[10] Peter affirms this when he says: “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”[11] And Hebrews adds another witness with this exhortation: So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.[12]

          May our joy in that everlasting city that is to come encourage us to endure whatever we face for the glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~


[1] Hebrews 12:2
[2] Titus 2:14
[3] Genesis 3:15
[4] Ephesians 5:1-2
[5] Isaiah 53
[6] Hebrews 12:2
[7] Hebrews 2:11
[8] Revelation 21:3-4
[9] Ephesians 1:13-14
[10] Matthew 10:22; 24:13
[11] I Peter 2:21
[12] Hebrews 13:12-14

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Video: "Brothers and Partners in Jesus"

In Study 11 of our Revelation series we look at the brotherly partnership we share in all kinds of things the church goes through.

Pastoral Pings ~ Unimaginable Answers to Prayer

          Tuesday night our home church had our prayer meeting. We presented things to the Living God in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, and are now waiting in expectation[1] for his answers. As I began seeking God the next morning, I was drawn to consider a particular dimension of what his answers may look like.

          My attention came to rest on this expression from God’s word: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…”[2]This led me to wonder what I could expect to see this week if God was going to do “far more abundantly” than all that we asked, thought or imagined in prayer.

          The first consideration has to revolve around things God would do in ourselves that we couldn’t even imagine needing to be done. After all, the God-chosen blueprint for our maturity is that we end up being like Jesus. Our sarky inability to see ourselves honestly means that God will have to keep surprising us with exposure of things that are wrong with us, and invitations into his mind-boggling work of making us like his Son.

          Presuming that we have prayed that God’s will would be done in ourselves as it is done in heaven,[3] we have to expect that he will do things in us that are beyond our imagining or asking. This means that we should see things on a daily basis that are of the “deeper” and “higher” variety. The “deeper” things are unexpected disclosures of things that are broken inside us at a deeper level than we have looked before. The “higher” things are the unexpected insights into things about God we have not experienced before.

          It should be no surprise that we are surprised with both the “higher” and “deeper” whenever we pray for anything at all, since God’s work of making us like Jesus is the biggest work he is doing in our lives. This is why people who set out to really get to know God also find that they also begin to really get to know themselves. The Beatitudes[4] make it clear that hungering and thirsting for God’s righteousness begins with feeling, even mourning, our poverty of spirit.

          One thing that helped me the most to appreciate what God is doing in me right now is associated with the apostle John on the Island of Patmos.[5] As I considered various reasons that he was isolated like that, I was encouraged with the picture of God’s work in John at that time. As I sometimes find myself isolated from the larger expressions of the body of Christ, John’s example of continuing “in the Spirit”,[6] encouraged me to seek the fullness of the Spirit in my own “Patmos” experiences. No matter what I am going through, I want to be “filled with the Spirit”[7] as God’s word commands.

          Once I have seen how God is doing unimagined and unasked things in me, I spend the rest of the day watching for how he continues the surprising answers to our prayers in things going on around me. I cannot itemize the different things I have noticed God doing simply because they involve other people. I will just say that, the very morning after our prayer meeting, I had a couple of talks with people that I now have on my prayer list. By week’s end my prayer list has grown based on things I have seen God doing this week that I hadn’t thought to ask for.

          My main point in this is simple: watch and pray;[8] and pray and watch.[9] The two together will help us watch what to pray for, and then watch for answers to our prayers that stretch us beyond what we thought or asked. If we will write down the people we suddenly meet, or the situations we suddenly face, and consider them part of God’s answers to our prayers, and then bring these things back to prayer meetings with the expectation that God will still be doing more than we can ask or think, we will find our hearts feeling a rising surge of joy even while things are not turning out the way we thought or imagined.

          In the end, it is only when we delight ourselves in the Lord, including his unimagined and unasked answers to our prayers, that we truly experience the desires of our hearts.[10] After all, we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ,[11] so it makes sense that we would delight to do our Father’s will as much as he does,[12] even when that will of our Father is a completely unexpected expression of the plans and purposes of God in us and around us.

          Conclusion: If we truly want God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, we must expect to experience his will in all kinds of unexpected, unimagined, and unasked ways.

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

[1] Psalm 5:3
[2] Ephesians 3:20
[3] Matthew 6:10
[4] Matthew 5:1-12
[5] Revelation 1:9
[6] Revelation 1:10
[7] Ephesians 5:18
[8] Matthew 26:41
[9] Colossians 4:2
[10] Psalm 37:4
[11] Romans 8:29
[12] John 4:34; Psalm 40:8