Understanding God’s Word – Nehemiah 8:4-8

Seek Out God’s Pastor/Teachers To Better Understand God’s Word.

4 Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.

5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.

Reverential Respect

In an insightful view of ancient worship, Nehemiah records the gathering of ALL of the people who were able to understand the law of God in Jerusalem after the wall was rebuilt.  After he opened the scroll (the book) of the law, the people stood up.

God is a holy God.  He desires, and deserves, our respect in all things.  In the same way that our Earthly fathers desire respect from their children, God desires (and more rightly deserves!) our respect.  Standing up when God’s law is about to be read is a way to show that respect.  It shows that we are attentive to it, and that it deserves our full and undivided attention.

Powerful Praise

Ezra next praised our great God, YHWH.  In response, the people raised their hands and responded with “Amen, Amen!”  This meant “truly, truly!”  It is a sign of acknowledgement and agreement with what is being said.  We hear it and we do it.  But how often do we think about it?  How often do we take the time to truly ponder how we respond to God and His word?

Wonderful Worship

The people then bowed down and worshiped God with their faces to the ground.  Do we show the same respect for our Father in Heaven?  Are we willing to bow down and worship the King of kings and Lord of lords?  Is our view of God so high that we bow down with our faces to the ground?  Do we give everything in worship to Almighty God, or do we merely acknowledge Him with words?

Concisely Convey

Due to the lack of modern convenience of sound systems and, in that location, a parabolic-shaped theater setting, the Levites (designated priests of God amongst the Israelites) were spread in the crowd of those gathered.  As they read the word of God to the people, they made sure that the people understood what was being read.

Reading without comprehension is filling time, or even giving lip service to the material being presented.  To honor the author, we should take the time to ponder and understand what the author intended for us to get out of their writing.  The Levitical priests, as they read God’s word, made certain that the people understood what was being read to them.  They took to the time to explain the full meaning of the law of God.

We need to understand what we are reading so that we can apply it in our lives.  When we read God’s word, and then don’t understand it, we may say “wow, that was interesting”, but what effect will it have on our lives?  How will it draw us closer to God and each other?  How will it penetrate our hearts to show us ourselves?  The word of God can only act as a mirror to our soul, properly reflecting what is there, when we can see what is in the mirror.

It is imperative that we seek out teachers of God’s holy word who have a clear and accurate understanding of it.  The selection of our teachers will greatly influence our understanding and application of the word of God.  And while God will certainly honor our attempts to live out what we know, He greatly desires that we understand His word more and more each day, so that we can participate in His character, and know Him more fully through living out His word in our lives.

Today, take the time to re-read the section of scripture that you read, and see if God reveals more about it to you, or more about you to yourself.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I take the time to fully understand the meaning of scripture that I am reading?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have graciously recorded for us the history of Your people and how You have interacted with them.  Thank You for Your diligence in doing so.  Help me to better understand Your word so that my life can be transformed from what it was into what it should be.  Help me, Holy Spirit, to better understand the word of God.  Show me where in my life that I need to make changes so that I will better honor You, Lord God Almighty.  Help me to take more time, and do more research, so that I will have a fuller, richer, and accurate understanding of what I am reading.  Help me to put it into action, for Your word is living and active an is able to help me to recognize my innermost feelings and desires.  Help me to align my heart with Yours, Oh God!  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

God’s Favor – Isaiah 61:1-3

God Displays His Favor Upon His Son

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

Faithfully Fulfilled

God has faithfully fulfilled many of His promises to us already in scripture.  Jesus Christ fulfilled the first part of this scripture.  He has indeed fulfilled it:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Jesus proclaimed that He was there to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, not to abolish them.  Jesus faithfully fulfilled all that was prophesied about Him, down to the minutest detail.  He perfectly fulfilled all scripture about Himself so that the Father could be glorified and so that God would not be mocked, for He is not a liar like men.

Bind the Brokenhearted

Jesus promises to bind the brokenhearted.  And oh, how many woes await us each day!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

It is a good thing that Jesus has overcome the world!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

God restores what was broken and lost.  Even though there are consequences for our actions, God is able to restore and bring order and peace into chaos and unrest.

Proclaim Parole

God has freed the prisoners!  We were held in a prison of darkness, because we could not see the light.  Jesus is the light of the world.  Now that we have seen the light, we can join Him in displaying the light.  Lies and deceit keep us from seeing the truth.  Jesus IS the truth:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus doesn’t just model truth; He IS truth.  “The Truth” is a title, not just a reflection of reality.  Jesus is the only accurate model of unvarnished truth that we have.  God has been gracious to proclaim freedom from darkness by sending The Truth into the world.  Now that The Truth has come, we are without excuse.

Value and Vengeance

God has pronounced His favor upon us.  By sending His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for our sins as He was tortured and crucified, He has given us great mercy and grace – great favor.  He has done so much more than we can imagine!  We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing!  We are more than conquerors in Christ!  No weapon formed against us will prosper, and we will refute every tongue that accuses us, since this is our heritage and vindication from God!  Regardless of our circumstances, we have been greatly blessed!

But there is a flip-side to this.  For those who refuse to accept the Lord’s favor – His mercy and grace, there will be a terrible day of vengeance.  God, after doing everything that He could possibly do to win His image-bearers back over to Himself after His enemies try to drag them away, will eventually need to show the next portion of His character – JUSTICE.  God is a perfectly just God, and He will rule and reign in righteousness.  God cannot abide evil (rebellion against Himself), and He will, after exhausting every effort, bring forth the penalty for disobedience to a perfect and holy God – first, physical death, and finally, eternal separation from Him – complete spiritual death.

Comfort and Console

God greatly desires to comfort and console those who are grieving over their sin.  He will give us oil of joy instead of mourning and a crown of beauty instead of ashes (used by the culture at that time to show great anguish in grief, mourning, and sorrow).  God has provided us, though the sacrifice of the perfect lamb of God, the promised Holy Spirit as our down-deposit for our inheritance.  We have Him to console us, to comfort us, and to guide us.

Towering Trees

God sees us through the robes of righteousness of Christ that have been imputed to us (legally declared to be ours).  As such, He sees us as Oaks of Righteousness.  He sees the righteousness of Christ rather than our filthy rags.  Just like a bank account, we may not see the money, but it is there, registered in our name.  Given the vast wealth of righteousness that is afforded to us through Christ, should we not then incorporate more and more of it into how we live?  Should we not display this immeasurable (spiritual) wealth just as we show off our homes, cars, jewelry, and other items that we seem to hold dear and treasure?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I take the time to try to grasp just how truly rich I am in Christ?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your generosity is beyond my comprehension.  You have given us uncountable wealth in Your Son, Jesus Christ, through His sacrifice for us.  Help me to better grasp just how far and wide Your love is for me.  Help me to internalize it, and to rejoice in it, as the cares of this world continually claw at me to drag me down to its depths.  Give me a right understanding of Your word, that I may embrace it more and more each day.  Help me to display to the world Your righteousness, for You have declared me to be an Oak of Righteousness.  Thank You for this and for all things, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes:

*The word used elsewhere in the scripture for the Gospel means “Good News”.

**During the year of Jubilee, the captives were set free, and land was supposed to be returned to its rightful owners.  Jesus may very well have been declaring that particular year a year Jubilee as God was freeing the captives.

Praise the Lord – Psalm 148:7-14

EVERYTHING Under The Earthly Heavens Should Praise God

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the Lord.

Earthly Encounter

The Psalmist begins this part of the Psalm by entreating all creatures, weather, and even the Earth to praise God:

  • Ocean Creatures
    • Every creature in water is commanded to praise God.  From the fish to whales, from shrimp to sharks, every creature should give praise to their Creator.
  • The Ocean Itself
    • The Psalmist also commands the ocean to give praise.  God’s word tells us that the water of this world has a mind of its own, and without boundaries, would once again cover the Earth.
  • Weather
    • Every manner of weather should praise the lord – lightning, hail, snow, clouds and winds.  The Psalmist covered water in earlier verses.
  • Mountains and Hills
    • Even the mountains and hills should praise their Creator.  After all, if the rocks can cry out…
  • All Trees
    • The Psalmist entreats the trees of the Earth to praise God, and by implication, all plants.
  • All Animals
    • Every creature, cattle, and small animal should praise God as well.
  • Every Creature That Flies
    • The birds of the air already cry out to God in the early morning hours, seeking food, shelter, and assistance from their Provider.
  • Humans Placed By God In Authority
    • All people whom God has placed in authority over others should praise the Lord.  Their Creator has given them special privilege, and with great privilege comes great responsibility.  One of these responsibilities is to praise the One who raised them up, and to do His bidding.
  • All People, Young And Old
    • Every person on Earth should praise their Creator.  We have voices to sing, hearts to rejoice, and life to give thanks.  Every person on Earth should praise the One who gave them life and provides for their every need.

Present Praise

Everyone and everything should present praise to the One who is worthy of all praise.  God deserves praise for all He has done.  It is man who sinned and brought the curse of sin upon this universe.  God created everything good, and it was good until the fall of man.

Excellent Exaltation

It is God and God alone who is to be exulted.  Men, in pride, want to exalt themselves before others, to establish their pecking orders and to feel important.  But God should receive that Exaltation instead, being the one who gave each man life, appointed him in his proper place, and provides for him everything he has, even his very breath.

Prominent Position

God’s position in Heaven should be sufficient for us to realize that He and He alone is worthy of praise.  Man seeks to go to the heavens, but that is only a physical distance from where God created and grounded us.  God sees us through the glassy sea and knows our every move.  God’s position is far and above any vantage point that man could even conceive of occupying.

Supreme Strength

God has raised up for His people a horn.  The horn represents strength.  That strength is the God-man Jesus Christ, who was born among men, and now sits at the right hand of God, interceding for us in prayer day and night.  All authority in Heaven and the universe has been given Him by the Father.  He is King of kings and Lord of lords.  God has raised Him up to His proper position.  He has regained the keys of Death and Hades which man had lost.  He is able to deliver us from all of our troubles.  He is worthy of praise.

People of Praise

Because of the great work that God has done, His people should be a people of praise.  Life is difficult.  Many encounter situations that overwhelm us and threaten to crush us emotionally, physically, and even spiritually.  But God is able to help us to overcome.  And in His continual outpouring of provision, power, and His presence, His people should be a people who offer continual praise to the One who so richly deserves it.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: How can I praise God today?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for all that You are, all that You have created, and all that You provide.  Help my heart to be in continual praise to You for all things, even my difficult challenges.  Remove from me the enemy of my soul as he tries to drag me down with lies and leverages my pain against me and You.  I pray, Father, that the ones who try to torment me would be sent to their permanent place of dwelling, the Lake of Fire.  Remove them from their position of power and strip them of their ability to cause harm.  Protect me and my family from their actions, and remove all strongholds from our minds that we would be able to praise You at all times for all things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Praise the Lord – Psalm 148:1-6

All Creation Should Praise The Lord

1 Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for at his command they were created,
6 and he established them for ever and ever-
he issued a decree that will never pass away.

Powerful Praise

The Psalmist commands that all creation praise the Lord!  God is worthy of all praise and honor and glory.  The majesty of God is being called to remembrance by the Psalmist as he ponders how great God’s creation truly is.  And then the Psalmist begins to call individual parts of creation in the heavens to join him in his praise of God:

  • All Angels
    • Angels throughout the Bible have praised God.  We are instructed in the word of God that four creatures surround the throne of God and continually praise Him day and night, forever and ever:
    • 6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

      In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

      “‘Holy, holy, holy

      is the Lord God Almighty,’

      who was, and is, and is to come.”

      9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

      11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
      to receive glory and honor and power,
      for you created all things,
      and by your will they were created
      and have their being.”

  • Heavenly Hosts
    • The Psalmist then entreats the Heavenly Hosts to join:
    • Solar System
      • The Sun and the Moon are called to praise God.
    • Silvery Stars
      • All of the stars in the sky are called to praise God.
    • Highest Heavens
      • There were three heavens according to the Jews.  The first heaven was the clouds.  The second heaven was the great expanse of the Universe where the sun, moon and stars existed.  The highest heavens was where God’s throne exist, in the spiritual realm.  Here, the highest heavens were called to worship God.  Any aspect of heaven apart from angels was also called to worship God.  Today, that would be both heaven itself, and all the captives who were freed and now are in the presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
    • Wispy Waters
      • The waters above the skies is a bit of a mystery.  Is the Psalmist referring to the clouds?  Thunderstorms? Jet streams?  This is not very clear here, but by inference it is referring to any aspect of the sky that is not air.

Created by Command

The Psalmist reminds us that God has created everything through His spoken word by command.  We are to remember that we are created creatures, and the creators has the authority over the creation.  Because of the beauty, perfection (before the fall), and the ongoing care and involvement of our Creator, creation itself is called to praise God.

And as Jesus said:

37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Forever Faithful

God has established the heavens, including the Sun, Moon, and stars forever.  When the Son of Man returns in Glory, He will purify them of the curse of sin, wiping away their shame and replacing their groaning with rejoicing in the One who created them, forevermore crying out in praise to The Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and thus restoring that which once was before the fall of Adam.  For God is faithful in all that He does, and He has promised to restore that which was tarnished by sin.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I praising God as I should?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for reminding me of Your goodness, faithfulness, and creativity.  Help me to praise You as You deserve.  Even in my most terrible circumstances, give me the same heart-attitude that You gave to Paul when He was praising You in song while shackled in prison.  May my praise to You be pleasing to Your ears, and may it lift my heart.  Help me to be filled with Your joy, that I may have the strength to do all that You command me to do, and be.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

Provision From God – Psalm 146:6-10

God Is The One Who Supplies All Of Our Needs And The Needs Of Others

6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them-
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8 the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

Capable Creator

God is a most wonderful creator.  He created the heavens and the Earth.  Every day he paints the sky with clouds and the light of the Sun.  He continually creates as life abounds of every type, knitting together children in their mother’s wombs, causing seeds to burst forth from the ground to grow into plants, and eggs hatching to become other creatures.  There is no aspect of life that God is not intimately involved.

Faithful Forever

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  And He has shown Himself faithful in every aspect of His character.  Because God is love, He cannot be unfaithful in anything.  God’s love always seeks out the betterment of others, and His word will never pass away.  His faithfulness is a sign that He can be trusted, and that His character is rooted in goodness and righteousness.

Compassionate Caregiver

As creator, God is also compassionate towards His creation.  He especially shows this aspect of His character in how He upholds the cause of the oppressed.  When men (and women) seemingly abandon others, God rises up to defend their cause.  God created ALL men and women in HIS image, and He assists the oppressed among us, as well as feeds the hungry.

Freedom Fighter

God desires that no one be a prisoner to sin.  He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to come and free the captives.  Even those who have been wrongfully imprisoned by men can have their souls freed by God.  Physical imprisonment cannot stop God from freeing men for eternal relationship with Him.  God will go to great lengths to set the captives free, bending Heaven and Earth to do so when someone seeks Him out with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.  And if God so chooses, He can free them physically as well.

Rejoicing in Righteousness

Part of God’s very nature is righteousness.  He is greatly pleased when He sees it, because His very existence is bathed in it.  It resonates true with Him, and He rejoices when He sees His children walking in righteousness.  Just as a parent is proud of their child when they are being polite towards others and living a life of serving others in joy, so does God when we do the same.

Helpful Hospitality

The Psalmist reminds us that God has a special place in His heart for the foreigner among us.  To be sure, God is referring to the foreigners who are among us lawfully.  God gives the sword to rulers to punish those who refuse to obey the law.  Civil disobedience is only tolerated by God when the rulers of a nation are using laws to oppress the people, obfuscate the truth, and deny lawful image-bearers of God their freedom.

God provides great hospitality towards the foreigners among us, as well as the fatherless and widows.  God does not forget those people who are unable to provide for themselves.  He fully expects the righteous among us, whom He has blessed with plenty, to help those in need.  And while He expects this of us, He does not expect us to give out free food and cash to lazy, indignant, self-righteous, and discontent people purveying a victim mentality:

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.

Just Judge

God is not indifferent to the suffering of people.  Neither will He put up with wickedness:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

God is righteous, and although wicked people may be allowed to continue on in their wickedness for what appears to humans to be an eternity, God is giving them every opportunity to change their mind and be saved.  Although it is a burden upon us when wicked people oppress us, and may even cost us our livelihoods, the material possessions that God has provided to us to manage, and perhaps our very lives, we are sheep being led to the slaughter, witness for God, so that the wicked might turn towards God.

And if they do not, let your heart be at rest.  For in death, they will surely pay in full for what they have done here on Earth.  Jesus came to pay our fine, but in refusing payment, they will endure for all eternity the punishment that is justly received since they cannot pay the price to redeem themselves.

Righteous Ruler

The Lord God Almighty reigns forevermore in Heaven upon His throne, rightfully in His play of power and glory, overseeing all that He created and ruling in righteousness as He pleases.  Let us not forget the sovereignty of God, and the wonderfully good implications that His righteous rule entail.  For nothing can happen in the universe without the express prior knowledge and permission of Almighty God, who is righteous, protector, provider, overseer, and master over all.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Where do I go first when I am in need?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You show Yourself to be righteous in all that You do, even in allowing the wicked to prosper.  Help me to have a perspective that places You in Your proper role in all things.  Give me the wisdom to recognize in my darkest situations that You are right in the center of them.  Help me to be Your eyes, ears, hands, and mouth as other struggle in their daily lives.  May Your light show through me that people will be drawn to the light and seek freedom from darkness.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Spread the Word – Isaiah 12:4-6

The Lord Expects You To Tell Others What He Has Done

4 In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

Powerfully Proclaim

Has the Lord God Almighty done something wonderful in your life?  Has He redeemed you?  Has He helped you to overcome?  Has He provided for you?  Has He healed you?  Has He made you triumph over your enemies?  If so, proclaim to the world what God has done!  And even if He hasn’t done that for you (maybe you haven’t needed anything like that done for you yet?), proclaim what He has done for the Jews and the Gentiles:  He sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the final sacrifice for sin and adopted you as His child!

Regale the Record

When you tell the world what He has done, tell them of the great and mighty things God has done for others as well.  Tell about how He took Abraham, the son of an idol maker, and made his progeny more than the sands of the sea.  Tell of how He parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites as Pharaoh and his army were chasing them down, and delivered His people while destroying their enemies.  Tell them of how He struck Saul of Tarsus blind, revealed Himself and renamed Saul as Paul, and what He did through Paul’s life.  Don’t forget to tell about how God has kept every promise and fulfilled every prophecy He has made so far, all in perfect timing, because God is All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and All-Present in His creation.

Exalt and Exclaim

God is to be exalted above every name and everyone.  He is worthy of all praise, honor, glory, power, dominion, and deserves to be made known to all.  His righteousness is perfect, and even the angels surrounding His throne cry, “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”  If the angels in His presence declare the holiness of God, should we not also do the same?

Sing Songs

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!  So you don’t sound like the singers in Pentatonix.  So what?  With what breath God has placed in your lungs, and with the lips and vocal cords God has given you, make a joyful noise unto Him!  Do you not think He knows what skill (or lack thereof) He has given you with regard to your voice?  Is it that:

  • You cannot sing?
    • Has the Lord taken your voice from you?  If so, use what God has provided to you to make a joyful noise to Him.  Clap, whistle, stomp your feet!
  • You don’t want to sing?
    • If not, why?  The joy of the Lord is your strength.  Find your joy in Christ, and let it come out of you again, even in your pain, misery, and despair.  Overcome for just a few minutes.  Don’t let the enemy of your soul get the better of you!
  • You aren’t trained to sing?
    • Take classes.  As your worship team at your church to help you.  Take that smart phone you have, record your voice as you sing, and try to match people who are singing.  Ask God to help you to use your voice to honor and glorify Him.  He desires that you do this, so He will make a way…

Everyone, Everywhere

We have been commanded by our Savior to go out into the world, making disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All means ALL.  Tell everyone!  You are the messenger, the mail-delivery person.  Deliver the mail!  Do you job!  Don’t worry if people get angry at you.  They are angry at the message – this is to be expected.  They cannot separate the message from the messenger, so they may lash out at you because they can’t reach up into heaven to strike against God Himself.  It is an occupational hazard.

Shout Shamelessly

Do you feel the overwhelming desire to shout praises to God because of His goodness, mercy, and grace?  Let it out!  God is giving you the OK to do so.  We need to express to Him our joy in what He has done for us.  The world may think we are crazy.  But God is pleased when we seek to please Him first and not worry about what the world thinks.  Don’t let the enemy of your soul stifle your praise for God because of the whispers in your ear telling you that you shouldn’t: God’s holy word says that you SHOULD!  If David could dance and leap before the Lord in joy, why shouldn’t you?

God is Great

We cheer on our Football Team, our Basketball Team, our Soccer Team, our Hockey Team, our Baseball Team, and every and any other team that is out there.  Why, then, can’t we cheer on our God?  Should we not proclaim to all that God is Great?  Do we only reserve praise, shouts of exclamation, and roars of excitement for sporting events and concerts?  What’s the difference?  Do you not shout for your team to win even if you are at an away game, wearing your team’s jersey, aware that others may not be so thrilled with your choice of team and their success?  If you are willing to do this for “mere mortals”* at a sporting event or in a public gathering where the games are shown, why wouldn’t you do this for your God who is MUCH greater than any sports team?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I proclaiming the works and goodness of Almighty God to others more often and more loudly than I cheer on mere mortals?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are too gracious to me.  Help me to let the world know of what You have done.  Help me to get my priorities straight, and to give You the greater honor and glory that You so rightly deserve.  Help me to be bold in telling the world about You and what You have done for them and myself, and I pray that the Holy Spirit prepares the hearts of any who hear me so that they would receive the seeds that are sown, and be ready to say “Yes!” to Jesus.  Remove the cultural inhibitions that I have, and make me bold for Christ.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


  • You have never met a “mere mortal”.  The Bible instructs us that everyone dies once, then goes to face judgment.  Each and every human being you encounter has an eternal destiny, and though the body may be destroyed, at the second coming of Christ, the graves will open and the sea will give up the dead, and all will be summoned before God, either at the White Throne seat of judgment where the wicked will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire with Satan and the fallen angels, or take their place at the right hand of God where they will receive their reward in righteousness.  There is no in-between.  Let there be no mistake about it – everyone has an appointment with the Holiest Judge of All – The Lord God Almighty.  With that in mind, look at others now with a different sense of purpose.

 

Give Praise to God -Psalm 105:1-4

The Lord God Almighty Is Worthy Of All Praise

1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.

Profoundly Praise

The heart of this Psalm is praising the Lord for what He has done.  The author immediately begins with a command to praise God: not just in private; but to announce to the world what He has done.  As image-bearers of God, we are to loudly proclaim, as the works of His hands, the glory of the One who created everything and even now directs the paths we take.

It brings great glory to God when His people, who are called by His name, proclaim what God has done.  Not only what God has done in the past (as recorded in the Bible), but also what God is doing right now.  After the fall of man through Adam, God hasn’t rested.  He has constantly been at work in the lives of everyone and in the order, motion, and the progression of all things that are occurring.

We would do well to remember that God’s name, YHWH, means “I am He who exists and is dynamically involved in your life.”  We are to publicly praise God for who He is and what He has done.  The Psalmist next describes three ways to do this.

Symphony of Song

The first way that we can praise God is through singing.  When you have time (OK, you can stop laughing now…), search through the Bible for the words sing, singing, sang, and sung.  Throughout the Bible, the only times that these words are used are when human beings are using their voices in song.  Nowhere does it say that angels, who are mightier than humans, express their praise to God in song.  The angels proclaim the glory of God, but they don’t sing of it (at least the Bible doesn’t record that anywhere).  But we are told to make music and sing to God as part of our praise and worship of Him.

Singing God’s praise may be a function that is given only to humans, in that singing evokes an emotional response that resonates within us.  The angels will never know of the glorious and inexpressible joy that we have from our release of the bondage of sin and invitation and acceptance into the household of God.  We have been given the great opportunity to make a joyful noise to the Lord in gratitude for all that He has done.  Even if you sing out of key, or can barely make a sound, use all of your might to express your joy to the Lord as best you can in song, for it is not only for the benefit of man that we sing praise about the Lord, but it is to extol and recount the glory of the Lord and His mighty works.  And when we make every effort to glorify God in song that expresses the deepest desires and emotional state of our hearts, it pleases God to hear us express it in this manner.

Revel and Rejoice

As part of our praise experience, we are to glory in His name and rejoice in our hearts as we contemplate all that God has done for us and through us.  Our hearts are to be tuned to praise God rather than ourselves or others.  Nehemiah said that the joy of the Lord is our strength.  We should have the attitude of gratitude when it comes to the Lord.  As we remember how the Lord has helped us and brought us through deep waters (our most difficult trials), our hearts will be tuned to rejoice in the One who has done all of these things.

See and Seek

And, as part of our praise, we should always look to the Lord and His strength, and seek His face always.  We are to constantly desire to be in the presence of the Lord God Almighty.  We are most protected and strengthened when we are in the will and the presence of the Lord.  When we make it our heart’s desire to seek the Lord in all things, our very lives pour themselves out to Him in a continual song of adoration and praise.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I have the attitude of gratitude?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, my heart rejoices in You.  May I ever seek Your face, and desire to be in Your presence.  When I sin, I am appalled at what I have done.  But when I repent, You are faithful to forgive and help me to draw close to You again.  Give me the strength to get back up when I have fallen.  Help me to recount all that You have done, that men may know of Your mighty works and deeds, and know Your heart that is filled with love for Your creation.  Give me a new song to sing, that my praise would be ever vibrant and changing, not a mere repetition of words to music, but a continual outpouring of praise and adoration towards You that is impossible to stop.  May all praise, honor, glory, power strength, and dominion be Yours forever and ever, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Discernment and God – Philippians 1:9-11

Perfection In Love Provides Discernment For What Is Good

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Lengthening Love

Paul was given, as part of his gifting by the Holy Spirit, a heart to see the people of God grow in their knowledge and discernment. Paul recognized that since God is love, increasing in the very defining characteristic of Almighty God would provide the perfect place for the development of knowledge and insight into the wonderful character of our Creator.

As we grow in love, we grow in the understanding and capability to actively participate in the character of God, and therefore to know Him experentially. This gives us the opportunity to increase in our discernment of what is good and proper. Love fulfills the law, and love shows us the way to what is good. For of every good giving and every perfect gift, love is the most powerful and lasting of them all.

Increase Insight

Paul desires that we develop the insight into the character and experiential knowledge of God. It is not merely enough to learn about something. To truly understand it, you must embrace it and experience it. It them becomes real for you, and as you practice anything, its nuances and the depths of its virtues become apparent.

For instance, it may look wonderful to jump from an airplane, free-fall for a while, and then pull the cord to release the parachute to glide gently to the Earth. This all looks good, fun, and liberating, but until you actually do it, you won’t experience the thrill of free-fall, the wind against your face, the buffeting of the air against your body, the temporary feeling of liberation from gravity, and the majesty of seeing the land beneath you from a great height.

You won’t experience the nuance of controlling the parachute with your controls, moving left and right, leveling and directing your glide, working with and against the currents of the air, and the moment of truth as you try to gently end your flight without causing harm to your body as you either suddenly or slowly decelerate your fall with your feet and legs. It only becomes real to you when you do it. Words cannot truly describe what the body must experience. And words cannot truly describe what the spirit must experience as well.

Develop Discernment

As we exercise our spirit through the practical application of love, we will have the wonderful opportunity to increase our capacity to discern what is good. Exercising love provides the circumstances in which we can more fully understand and discern what is good and right. This gives us the perspective of wisdom – the practical application of knowledge – that helps us to grow spiritually wise.

Discernment is a vital tool in the life of a disciple of Christ. Discernment provides the filter through which paths can be assessed to end in good or evil. Discernment give the disciple insight to grow in love and the character of Almighty God. Without discernment, we will fall for every trick of the enemy, and find ourselves ruined, and possibly find our faith shipwrecked:

1 Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Because of this the land dries up,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea are swept away.

4 “But let no one bring a charge,
let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
who bring charges against a priest.
5 You stumble day and night,
and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother-
6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

“Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children.”

Filled with Fruit

The fruit of righteousness comes from and through the experiential knowledge of following Jesus Christ – obeying His commands.  When we obey Jesus, we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit has He did when He walked the Earth two thousand years ago.  And when the Holy Spirit of God indwells us, and we give Him permission to work in us and through us, we will be filled with the fruit of the Spirit:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Producing Praise

When we are walking in the spirit – being filled with the fruit of the Spirit by the One who provides the fruit, we live a life that bring glory and praise to Almighty God.  As we bear fruit in accordance with the will of God, we develop discernment concerning both how to bear fruit, and what we should avoid in order to bear more fruit.  Just as an arborist prunes trees so that the dead wood no longer burdens the tree, and increases the available nutrients for the good branches, so does discernment help us to stop feeding the dead wood in our lives.  It is only when we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit that we are living a life that is correctly modeling our divine calling and nature as image-bearers of Almighty God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: Am I increasing in the insight and discernment by allowing the Holy Spirit of God to bear fruit through me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, it is the greatest honor to bear fruit for You.  You have given me life as a branch unnaturally attached to the vine, grafted in for Your pleasure.  You prune my dead wood, and help me to grow and bear even more fruit for You.  Help me to recognize the dead wood in my life, and to deny it any thought or energy.  Help me to let it die, and be pruned off, so that I would grow in grace, wisdom, and discernment of what is good, proper, and holy.  Help me to be sustained by Your nourishment, for You provide for all of my needs.  Guide me in the way I should go, and help me to do all that You have planned for me to do in Your will and Your way.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Give Thanks to God – Psalm 136:1-3

Always Give Thanks To God

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

Thoroughly Thankful

In this Psalm, the author stresses that we should give thanks to God.  Everyone benefits from God’s grace and mercy whether they realize it or not:

  • Every breath is a gift from God
  • The sun rises on the good and the evil
  • He causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust
  • Every good giving and every perfect gift is from God.

The list goes on and on.  We are the recipients of a loving and faithful God who greatly desires to pour out His blessing upon us.  We are directed to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for us.  The author then goes on to list some very good reasons to give thanks to God:

God is Good

The first of these is that God is Good.  God is the embodiment of everything that is good.  He is holy – there is no evil or malice within Him.  His holiness is so perfect, that even the angels who surround His throne righteously declare the character and nature of God.  No human being can gaze upon His face without being utterly destroyed.  Moses was only allowed to see His trailing glory, and his time spent with God was so close that Moses’ face glowed, and the people were frightened.  Since God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we can always count on the goodness of God.  And as such, He and He alone is worthy of praise and worship.

God of gods

The next aspect of God that the author takes note of is that He is the God of all gods.  This is not to say that there is any God other than YHWH; this is merely to highlight and denote that God is above all.  Those who worship false gods and idols do not worship the One True God.  There is none like Him.  All power, authority, and dominion is YHWH’s and His alone.  He delegates authority as He sees fit.  But God will not share His glory – for only He is worthy of all glory.

Lord of Lords

The third aspect of God that the author takes note is that He is Lord of lords.  This rightly implies that YHWH is sovereign over all.  No one and nothing is His equal nor above Him in power and authority.  He created all things, and in Him all things have their being.  All authority is invested in Him, and He gives out authority as He sees fit.  He is the ruler over all.  And when the Judgment of God comes, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord:

By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear.

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Lasting Love

Because God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we can count on his enduring love.  God loves us in a way that we cannot even fathom.  Just as God gives parents the ability and desire to rejoice in and see the benefit of their children, God’s love for us – His children – is a million-fold greater.  We cannot even conceive of the love that God has for us.  And when the Son of God comes again in glory, and gathers the righteous to Him and the unrighteous to judgment, we will fully know as we are fully known in love by the One who is God, King of kings and Lord of lords.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I truly have a thankful heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Lord God Almighty, You are worthy of all praise and worship and glory.  May the meditations of my heart be upon You always.  Help me to cultivate a heart that is thankful in all circumstances.  Help me to always remember that You do not change, and that Your love endures forever.  Give me strength through my trials that I may not falter, but gaze upon Your glory and beauty.  Show me where I need to grow, and provide the necessary circumstances to get me there.  Help me to be thankful through it all, that You may receive the glory that You so rightly deserve.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Help from God – Psalm 70:1-5

God Is Close To The Poor And Needy

1 Hasten, O God, to save me;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.

2 May those who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
3 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
4 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”

5 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Lord, do not delay.

Speedy Save

Most of us, when faced with an issue, generally cry out, “save me now!”, rather than “It’s OK, Lord. I’ll be fine.  When you have the time, would you please take a look at my situation?  I’ve got all the time in the world…”  When we are in need, our need is usually immediate.  Even David, in his prayers to God in the Psalms, cries out for immediate aid from His Creator.  It is perfectly OK to cry out for immediate assistance. God knows that we are but a mist, here today and gone tomorrow.  Be authentic with God; let Him know just how desperate You are for His help.  God already knows, and appreciates the honesty.

Request Redress

God has said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”  Each of us has, in our hearts, a great desire to see justice fulfilled.  Most of us want to see it fall upon others rather than upon us.  We seek to have any and all slights and wrongdoings righted immediately.  Yet God is full of mercy and grace.  He sent His one and only Son to die for us on the cross while we were yet His enemies.  How much more, then should we desire mercy and grace for others?

And yet, here David cries out for his enemies to be put in shame and confusion, and to be turned back in disgrace.  David understood that his cause was just, and he greatly desired to see justice, as well as mete it out.  It is OK to desire justice and to ask God for it.  When we are yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit, we are doubly troubled when injustice comes upon us.  This is both a test to grow in patience, mercy and grace, as well as an opportunity to grow in the desire to see justice from the perspective of a holy and just God.

Promptly Praise

In everything, we are to give praise.  David reminds us here that we are to rejoice in God, and to praise Him who saves us from our troubles.  Praise for Almighty God should always be on our lips.  Even Job, stripped of his wealth, health, and everything he held dear, upon hearing of the loss, put on the ashes of grieving, but immediately praised and worshiped God, the one who provided him with all that he had and all that he was.  We must always remember that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away – blessed be the name of the Lord.

Declare your Desperation

It takes humility to come ask for help from anyone.  It is no different with God.  David declares his dependence upon and need for help from the One who provides for him and can help him in every situation.  David declared his desperation for God’s help by rightly declaring that he is poor and needy:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
3 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do we declare our unconditional dependence upon Almighty God to Him in humility and with regularity?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You and You alone are able to deliver me from my troubles.  I declare my complete and total dependence upon You, for You are the one who created me and provide all things for me.  It is You, O Lord, that deliver me out of my sins and from all of my troubles.  It is You, Lord God, who are able to overcome the impossible and bring glory to Your name in the most difficult of circumstances.  Remember me this day, Father; act divinely on behalf of Your servant.  Grant me to victory from my enemies.  Put them to shame, Lord God, who seek my ruination when I have done nothing wrong.  Deliver me from their clutches, and reveal to the world Your mighty Right Hand when You deliver me so that the world may praise and glorify Your name.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Lift Praise to God – Psalm 68:32-36

Sing Praise To His Holy Name

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God!

Sing a Song

Has your cup been filled with joy?  Has the Almighty fulfilled your needs?  Has He shown His sovereignty and vanquished your enemies?  Sing praise to the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!  God loves to hear our praise and worship.  He enjoys seeing us in worshipful adoration of Him, for He is worthy of all praise and glory and honor.  Let us remember to give to God that which He is owed.  Let our hearts be filled with contentment, and may that manifest itself in the form of worship and singing.

Glorify God

We must glorify God as His witnesses.  If we do not, surely the rocks and stones will cry out in praise to God and glorify His name.  We have been created to worship.  Let us remember our callings and bring to God that which He and He alone truly deserves.  We spend so much time petitioning God for what we need and desire that we sometimes fail to remember to praise and glorify His name.  The  provision of God becomes our focus rather than the Glorious One who has graciously provided for our needs.  To forget God after He has provided is to almost take Him for granted.  Let us make sure that the One who has died for our sins is magnified and glorified.

Proclaim His Power

When we proclaim the power of God to the world, He is uplifted before men so that they will hear of His great and mighty deeds.  How else will the lost know about God unless we tell them?  God has seen fit to make some exceptions to reach people beyond the reach of our voice, especially in areas that are heavily influenced and dominated by Islam.  God has seen fit to reveal Himself to them in their dreams and through visions.

This is both a recrimination towards His disciples who won’t face death to proclaim His name, as well as to show us that God is very interested in bringing knowledge of Himself to them, just as He did with Nineveh.  He revealed Himself through the prophet Jonah to a people who could not tell their right hand from their left.  His words, not mine.  God is revealing Himself in a display of mighty power and compassion, mercy, and grace, to a people who have dedicated their lives to the eradication of  His children.  Just like He did with Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul.

Praise your Provider

Our hearts should reach out in praise to our provider and savior.  It is the hallmark characteristic of a person who is grateful and content.  In Western Culture, it is difficult for us to acknowledge that we would need the assistance of anyone else to help us.  We are taught by culture that to seek help is a sign of weakness.  This is then exploited by the weak to overpower the strong – displaying the absolute need each and every one of us has for our savior’s help in order to discredit us for our failure to be the rugged individualists and self-sufficient people that our culture demands us to be.

The truly grateful person will ignore the call of culture to show gratitude for the one who provides assistance to You.  This attitude of the heart – the desire to praise God – is one that all of the Old Testament heroes of the faith displayed in the private and public lives.  Let us emulate them and praise God for all that He has done and is doing.  Remember – the story isn’t over yet.  And once we get to Heaven and we are in His presence for all eternity, we will have the wonderful opportunity to do what we have practiced here on Earth through trial and joyous times – praising the One who lifted our heads out of the mire, washed us off, and called us His own.  May all praise and honor and glory and power and dominion and strength be unto the Lord God Almighty!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I praising God the way that He deserves?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown me in Your word just how much You love me, in that Your Son Jesus Christ died for me while I was yet a sinner.  Give me a heart of gratitude that I may worship You as You deserve, and praise Your holy name in private and public, that all may know of Your righteousness, compassion, mercy, grace, justice and holiness.  Help me in my time of struggle to lift You up with songs and prayer.  Guard my heart against any root of bitterness that tries to take hold in the grievous trials that I endure.  Keep my eyes fixed upon You, that Your glory and peace would calm my heart, and that I would praise and worship You continually.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Thirsting for God – Psalm 63:1-5

My Soul Thirsts For You In a Dry And Parched Land

1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Serious Searching

David wrote this Psalm in response to his time in the desert of Judah.  David, a man after God’s own heart, earnestly sought God out day and night.  He spent his time desiring to be with God.  And his time in the desert of Judah was no exception.  We can learn from David’s example here and elsewhere the depths to which he longed to be in the presence and have fellowship with God.

Truly Thirsting

David’s soul was thirsting for God.  David has documented elsewhere in the Psalms that one day in the courts of God is better than a thousand elsewhere.  He also compared his thirst for God to that of the parched deer:

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

David’s soul longed to be in the presence of God.  At that time, the presence of God was physically in the tabernacle tent.  But now, thanks to the finished work of Christ, we are the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, the naos of God.  We have been given full access to the throne room of God.  No longer must we thirst for the presence of God and access to Him; we have the Living God as a down-deposit within us, and complete and unfettered access to Him whose David’s soul so greatly longed for.

Desiccated Desert

And while David mentions the physical desert that he was required to traverse in the exile imposed by Saul, we can have our own “desert experiences” when God seems far away, and our trials and circumstances threaten to overcome us and overwhelm us.  When faced with crushing pressures and difficulties, the child of God merely needs to go to their inner closet – their place alone in their mind away from the influences of the word, the flesh and the devil – and seek God, who is right there beside us.

Deserts tend to make us weary and thirsty, depriving us of much-needed water.  Deserts can seem like the source of living water has been cut off.  But the word of the living God is able to bring forth the living water in our souls and remind us to seek Him who is the source rather than focusing on the ones responsible for trying to seize it from us.

Longing for Love

David remembers that God’s love is better than life.  The feeling of being loved in the midst of our circumstances helps us to regroup and focus on the giver of peace rather than the destroyer of contentment.  When we focus on and long for the love of God, the pain and pressures of the moment can be drowned out in the peace that surpasses understanding.  For there is no fear in perfect love.  David remembered this and greatly sought and cherished the love of God.

Practicing Praise

It is interesting to note that David said he would praise God as long as he lived.  David praised God whether he felt like it or not.  It was a discipline in his life.  Regardless of the circumstances that David found himself in, David’s heart was set on praising and glorifying God.  David had good company in this endeavor, as Job, bereft of his children, his belongings, and his health, praised and worshiped God.  He understood his place in all things, and God’s place in all things, and acted accordingly.

Willful Worship

David discipline in his spiritual life didn’t stop at just praise.  He worshiped God regardless of his circumstances, recognizing and glorifying God for who He is.  This discipline is also shown in David’s life when he fasted and prayed for a week for his firstborn child with Bathsheba, whose life God took as a result of his sin.  The Bible records what David did after learning of his child’s death:

19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.

Singularly Satisfied

David reflects in this Psalm that being in the presence of God is as refreshing to his spirit as food and drink is to his flesh.  He comments that with singing lips he will praise God.  David’s life was an intentional, continual effort to praise, worship, and glorify God.  And David, like all men, had his moments of weakness where he experienced epic fails in his life and lapses of judgement in his character.  But in all things, David’s heart was continually turning towards God.  May we be able to say the same about ours.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What is my first response to difficulty in my life?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us Yourself through Your Son, Jesus Christ, for whoever has seen the Son has seen the Father.  Help us to remember those who have gone before us, that we may remember Your goodness and grace, Your mercy and your holiness, everything being displayed in perfect unity and balance.  Help me Father to have a heart that praises You, worships You, and seeks You especially when the most difficult of circumstances arise.  Show me the way everlasting, and help me to walk alongside You as the world increasingly threatens to destroy me because of You.  Strengthen my spirit as it is crushed by hatred and evil, and may the experiences that occur refine me that I may show love and kindness to even the cruelest of people.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Glory of God – Isaiah 42:8

To God Alone Be The Glory

I am the Lord; that is my name!  I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.

Name above all Names

The name of the Lord is the name above all names.  The Hebrew tetragrammaton for the Lord God Almighty is YHWH.  It means, “I am He who exists [without beginning or end] and is dynamically involved in your life”.  Also known as the great I AM, I AM is His name!  God and God alone may claim this name, for there is no one else who is un-created, existing before time and space, eternally present, and without end.

God and God alone is the one who created all things, and in Him all things are held together.  Only God is perfect, and in His character there is no defect.  God is perfect love, perfect mercy, perfect justice, perfect patience, perfect peace, perfect kindness, perfect goodness, perfect faithfulness, perfect gentleness, and perfect self-control.  And in Him can be found perfect joy.  God is perfect, for He and He alone is complete, lacking in nothing, with every aspect of His character in perfect strength, balance, and harmony.

Garnered Glory

Because of the perfect nature and character of God, He and He alone deserves and embodies all glory.  And He states here that He will not yield His glory with anyone.  God has provided His creation with abilities and capabilities.  There is nothing that we have that we have not received from God.  No one can create something from nothing, or even create something form what exists apart from God.  What we find, what we create, what we invent, all has its source in the sovereign will of God, for nothing occurs in the universe without God’s express prior approval and knowledge.

The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life continually tell us that we are the center of the universe and should receive glory.  We fail to take into account the overwhelming evidence of God’s involvement in our lives, and that it is only through Him and His graciousness that we can even take a single breath of air.  God and God alone is the embodiment of glory, and He will not yield it to another.  Satan’s downfall was that he desired the position and glory of God.

Portent of Praise

Likewise, God is the one who is deserving of all praise as well as glory.  For if it is God behind the scenes who created all things, provides all things, holds all things together, and sovereignly authorizes all things, should it not be God who receives the praise and glory?  Do we praise the tool, or the craftsman, once the masterpiece is finished?  God alone is worthy of praise.  Men are tested by their praise – what do they do with it?  Do they internalize it, believe that they have done something apart from God and feel worthy of it, or do they yield it to the One who is worthy of it and who has provided them with the means, motive, and opportunity to accomplish whatever feat has been wrought?

Praise is dangerous to hold on to.  In anyone less than God, it may easily drive one to become inflated, filled with pride, and seek to promote self rather than promote the glory and grace of God.  It is good that God does not yield His praise to another, for we are not capable to doing with it what should be done – reflecting the true glory and character of God.  Rather, we often believe the lie that somehow we are innately capable of existing or doing things apart from the Living God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I pointing all praise and glory back to the rightful owner, The Lord God Almighty?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You that Your Son, Jesus Christ, has shown us the way to live in His perfect example.  Help me today to reflect Your perfect character in all that I do.  May all praise, glory, honor, dominion, and strength be Yours and Yours alone.  Help me to remember my place in humility before You in every thought, word, and action.  And when I am tempted to keep any glory or praise that is rightfully yours that has been given by what You have done through me, help me to remember that You and You alone are worthy of these things.  Help me to remember that I am merely a tool, and You are the one who wields Your tools to bring about the circumstances that will provide You with the maximum amount of glory.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Combat Training with God -James 3:7-10

How Can Salt Water Come Out Of A Fresh Water Spring?

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Triumphantly Tamed

Man has indeed tamed many beasts – those that roam the Earth, fly above the Earth, and swim in the waters of the Earth.  God has given man the mandate to rule over all living creatures of the Earth.  And man has been somewhat successful in his attempts at this.  James notes this to make a comparison to man’s utter failure at one very important aspect of control – his own tongue.

Terrible Tamers

Mankind is terrible at taming the tongue.  Very few have complete reign over their tongue.  The Bible tells us that out of our mouth is the overflow of our hearts.  Good men bring good things stored up out of their mouth, and evil men bring evil things.  And since no one is inherently righteous, we bring up evil things out of the storehouse of our hearts.  Very few people are able to say the right things when placed under great adversity.  We should remember that, and hold our tongues, for we will be acquitted or condemned by what we say.

Praise and Profanity

In the same way, James reminds us that we bring forth out of our mouths both praise and cursing.  While this sounds normal to us, it is anything but normal.  God ALWAYS brings forth good things out of His mouth.  Even His judgments are good and righteous.  Yet we as humans bring forth both good and evil.  How is this possible?

Disturbing Dilemma

James asks that question: how can we bring forth both praise and cursing out of our mouths?  We are not to be double-minded.  Before we knew God, we were bringing forth evil out of our mouths.  Our sin nature had us in bondage.  But now that we have been redeemed, and God has placed a new heart within us, we should only be bringing good things out of our mouths.  Praise should always be on our lips, not cursing.

How can a good tree bring forth both good and bad fruit?  It cannot.  It should not.  We must always remember that as God’s image-bearers, we are responsible for showing the world the Father, reflecting the Son, just as Jesus reflected the Father.  When we bring both praise and curses out of our mouth, we are not bearing the image of God properly.  Make the choice: ensure that the words from our mouths are in alignment with God’s character.  We have the choice, and should exercise it in the most holy of ways.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I bringing forth praise and/or cursing from my mouth?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given us freedom from the bondage of the slavery of sin.  Thank You Father for the very precious gift of the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to remember Your holiness as I struggle with frustration and the temptations of evil to do and say what is counter to Your character.  Strengthen me to choose to do the right things and say the right words, that You would be glorified.  Unite my heart with Yours that I would bring praise from my mouth and not cursing.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Sovereignty of God – Job 1:6-12

Nothing Happens In All Of Existence Without The Express Prior Permission And Knowledge Of Almighty God

6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Supreme Sovereignty

The Lord God Almighty is the only non-created being ever to exist.  He has existed before time, matter and the angels.  And in that, God and God alone has ultimate sovereignty and authority over all that has been created.  John the apostle tried to show this in the very first verse of his gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The interesting part about translations is that they don’t always capture the full meaning of the original.  In this particular case, the Greek work for “was” is En, and the verb is conjugated as “was continually (with no beginning)”.  This speaks of the eternity of Jesus (who is the Word of God), and of God, with whom He is:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Created Creatures

God reveals something very powerful in this passage.  ALL of the demons, and even Satan himself, are created beings:

  • The devil can be in only one place at a time
  • As a created being, he is subordinate to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  As such, he was required to present himself before God to give an accounting of his activities and whereabouts.

Powerful Praise

When faced with trials and tribulations, we don’t have all of the facts.  In the case of Job, God highly praised him before Satan.  Scripture speaks of our trials in a favorable way:

  • Trials produce perseverance, which makes us complete, lacking in nothing
  • Trials are to be put in the joy column of our spiritual accounting ledger (the Greek word “count” in James 1:2, hEdEsasthe, is an accounting term as well as an imperative command!)
  • Trials are a way that we identify with Jesus, for the student is not greater than the teacher

When faced with trials, we must remember that God may be praising us as well, and the trials can be a testing of that praise.  If so, we should count it as joy, for if God is praising us, we have truly received the highest praise possible.

Allowed Authority

And as we suffer through trials, we must remember that they are sovereignly allowed in our lives.  Nothing happens to any of us without God’s notice or express prior approval.  In this passage, Satan complained to God that he had placed a hedge of protection around Job and his possessions.  It was only until God permitted Satan the authority to harm all that Job had been provided by God that he was able to do anything.

As we are going through our trials, we must remember that God is sovereign, and that nothing escapes His attention.  Additionally, we must remember that He is the one who has sovereignly approved or appointed our trials.  And while these trials may not directly benefit us (with the possible exception to produce perseverance), they will be used to bring glory to God.  And they may well be used to open the eyes of some who, in seeing the sincerity of our faith and trust in God through the most grueling and difficult circumstances, may see that our faith is not in vain.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I remembering that God is with me as He allows the trials of my life to destroy that which keeps me from drawing close to Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious and beautiful to behold.  Help me to remember Your goodness as I am struck down by sickness and foes.  Help me to remember Your sovereignty as You allow unseen spiritual forces to assault and harass me.  Help me to remember Your faithfulness when You allow me to be dragged through the valley of the shadow of death.  Help me to persevere, and praise you as Paul did after he was severely beaten and placed in prison.  In all things, help me to remember that You and You alone have approved these trials.  Help me to not despise Your discipline, though the trials that You have appointed may not end until I am rejoined with You in Heaven.  For You are good in all that You do, Lord God Almighty, and none may lay a charge against You.  In all this, help me to remember Your character, for if man had done this, it would be bearable to be found worthy of suffering disgrace for Your name.  When there is no one who can be identified as being responsible for the trials – no one I can pray for – it is unbearable.  This I ask in Jesus Name, Amen.

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Promise of God – Psalm 100

God’s Love Endures Forever

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Wonderful Worship

One of the best opportunities that God has given us is to worship Him.  Human beings were made to worship.  We will always worship something or someone, whether it is God, ourselves, someone else, or something else.  There is a deep cry within the human heart to worship, and we will worship whether we realize it or not.

God has made us, and we can worship Him in song and praise.  It is only natural that we seek to give Him praise since He is the author of all good things.  Before Adam sinned, God declared that all He had made was good.  We should be grateful for that in song and praise.

Additionally, since God has redeemed us as His people, we can rejoice that we have fellowship with the one who created us.  Jesus has won back what Adam has lost, and in that, we can as children go before His throne with our petitions and praise.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to praise the One who has released us from prison and will gather us home with Him.  We can even reach out to God as Paul and Silas did after being stripped of their clothing and being severely beaten with rods and flogged.  Let nothing interfere with your praise of Almighty God.

God is Good

Regardless of the circumstances going on in the world, God is good.  Many times we question that when terrible circumstances such as loss, injustice, pain, and suffering occur.  However painful these are, they are merely the cost and effects of sin.  Yet still, God is good.  He is unable to be anything else but good.  His character endures forever, for God does not change like we do.  And when devastating circumstances appear in our lives, we can be assured that God has not changed, but merely is allowing us to develop perseverance.  And may it have its effect, that we would be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Lasting Love

God’s love never fails, for God is love.  When we feel abandoned or afraid, we can remember that God is love.  When great and wonderful things are happening in our lives, let us remember that God is love.  For this is immutable – God loved so much He gave his only Son, and that since we have believed upon Him, we have eternal life.  We have been given this promise, and can rejoice in the one who made it for He is faithful.

Forever Faithful

In a world that is giving itself over to moral relativism and secular humanism, we can rejoice that God is faithful.  Every promise He has ever made God will fulfill.  We live such short lives that many times we don’t see the fruit of the promises that God has made.  But even in that, we can look back and see that God is faithfully keeping His promises, just as He promised, at the appointed time that He promised (when provided).  His faithfulness should bolster our faith in Him and give us reason to trust Him through all of the difficulties in life.  Let us remember God’s faithfulness as we go out into the world today and see so many people show their faithlessness in broken promises and outright evil.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Is my heart full of praise and worship for God when I am enduring crushing trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I praise and worship You for You are worthy of it and so much more.  May my heart cry out to You for You are good regardless of my circumstances.  In all things, may You be glorified and Your holy name praised.  Help me to praise You when I am downtrodden and it feels like You have forsaken me, for You have promised to never do that.  Help me to patiently wait for You and Your deliverance from my circumstances, for You are always faithful.  Strengthen me in my weakness.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Blessing of God – Psalm 5:11-12

The Lord Is A Shield About The Righteous

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Royal Refuge

God desires us to seek refuge in Him.  We are to go to God for all of our wants and desires.  It is God who is able to provide us with refuge from all things.  We can seek refuge from God in three ways:

Singing Songs

David was one of the most prolific song writers that we know of in the Bible.  Many of the Psalms were written by him.  David provided us with an example of joyful singing before God in praise and worship.  The Lord enjoys it when we worship Him in song.

Even for those who have not been blessed by God with a voice to sing, we are given a command to make a joyful noise to the Lord.  The Hebrew word eriou is a command and is literally translated “[raise a] shout you!”  Let your heart give praise to God in a shout for all He has done!

Bathed in Blessing

God blesses the righteous, and with the blood of Christ we are declared righteous before Him.  Oh, the many blessings of God!  We are blessed in that we are blessed!  If you ever want to see a short list of some of the most important blessings of God, read Ephesians chapters 1-3.

Sovereign Shield

God is a shield about us and the lifter of our heads.  He desires to gather us like chicks under His wings.  He is our refugeGod is our shieldNo one can snatch us out of His hand.  God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.  Even when we are in the valley of the shadow of death, God is with us.  He shields us from the second death.

There is nothing that God cannot sovereignly shield his people.  Yet we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.  God may use you as a witness to the unbelieving.  If this is the case, do not fear the tribulation that God has appointed you to bear.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: Am I praising God as I seek refuge in Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious and beautiful beyond description.  You shield us from so much more than we can possibly imagine.  Thank You for your vast and encompassing protection.  Help me, Father, to not forget all that You do in my life.  May my life be a blessing to You.  May Your praise be on my heart and my lips even as I suffer in this life, knowing that You will remove all pain and all tears in Your time.  Help me to endure and to faithful until You call me home.  This I ask and pray in the name of Your Perfect and Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Humbled by God – Jonah 1:17

It Is A Terrible Thing To Fall Into The Hands Of The Living God

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Angry Answer

Jonah was faced with, in his mind, an impossible situation:  Preach destruction to a people that he wanted God to destroy, knowing that God would show them mercy.  Rather than proceeding with God’s plan, Jonah fled in the hopes that he would not be embarrassed should God relent of his stated position to destroy Nineveh, also greatly desiring the destruction of his enemies.

The sailors who drew lots to determine who was responsible for their difficulties determined it was Jonah.  When confronted with his disobedience by the sailors, Jonah does something odd.  Rather than repent, or tell them to take him to a port near Nineveh, he instructs them to throw him overboard!  He would rather die, drowning in the water, than be responsible for the Ninevites repenting to the Lord.

Powerful Provision

God calmed the storm immediately after Jonah was thrown overboard.  Not only did God relent against the ship and crew, they began to fear God and worship Him.  God, rather than destroying Jonah, wanted to bring about some character refinement in him, and instead of letting him drown, sent a fish to swallow him.

God often wants to do more with us and through us that we would like.  We sometime fight Him kicking and screaming, because our flesh interferes with our obedience.  And, as in the case of Jonah, it was so much so that he forgot to take into account the lives that were with Him, to the point that he probably didn’t really care if the sailors died with him.  But even in that, God provided for both the sailors’ safety, and for the safety of Jonah.  We can be assured that God will provide for us in our time of need.

Contemplative Confinement

Imaging the stench of being in the belly of a fish for three days and nights.  Jonah was so angry and distraught with what God was asking him to do, that it took him THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS before he could bring himself to repent.  How much anger would that take?  It must have been something very powerful to compel Jonah to wait so long in such a difficult situation.

Most likely, a root of bitterness had taken great hold in Jonah’s heart towards the Ninevites.  God will often use a situation where we are called to be compassionate towards, and reach out to, our enemies to remove a root of bitterness that grown within us.  Jonah’s root was very well entrenched.  How many of us would have waited THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS to finally surrender to God?  Most of us would probably, in that miserable condition, have surrendered in the first few minutes.

Regardless of the situation that we find ourselves in, God will use the perfect situation to humble us in our pride, anger, bitterness, or whatever situation that we have that causes us to act contrary to the will of the Living God.  For it is only God who is able to get us to see ourselves for who we really are, and to provide opportunity for reflection and repentance.  We can only hope it won’t take being in the belly of a fish to do it.

Awesome Acknowledgement

And out of these trials comes a greater understanding and acknowledgement of the character and nature of God.  Jonah’s prayer to God shows that He yields to God’s sovereign rule in his life:

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.

7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.'”

When we come out of the other side of our humbling, we will praise, honor, and glorify God in Heaven for who He is and for our salvation through the difficulty.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  What does it take from God to help us to change our minds and humble ourselves before Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are able to humble the proud and bring low all who resist You.  You are full of mercy and grace, patiently dealing with me in Your own way.  Help me to not resist Your discipline, Lord, but rather to embrace it and be changed by it so that You would be glorified.  Help me to remove all resistance to You in my heart, that You would have unfettered access to the deepest, darkest regions of my soul, places where even I dare not visit.  Shed Your perfect light in all of the areas of darkness, and redeem what was lost by me through sin and pride.  Show me what You desire of me that I may do it, and do it with a cheerful heart, knowing that it is Your will.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Forgiven by God – Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

It is a blessing to be forgiven. What a relief!  It is also expected that we will forgive as we have been forgiven.  So why is it so hard to forgive when we have been forgiven so much?  We suffer three injuries every time we forgive:

  • The Initial Offense – We suffer from the harm that happened because of the event
  • The Pain of Reconciliation – We must come to terms with the pain of offense and let that pain go, since we consider it as though it never happened
  • The Absence of Justice – We suffer knowing that since we have chosen to forgive, justice will not occur for the offense

Yet, we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven.  But why does it seem that every day people are getting more evil than ever?  Perhaps this is why (Matthew 24:12-13):

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Besides, everything has already been paid in full already.  Just as some physical injuries take longer to heal than others, the pain of sin and forgiveness can take longer for certain events.  Either way, we are called to be perfect like God.  So, like everything else in life, practice makes perfect – make forgiveness the first state of mind when someone wrongs you.  And let God take care of the rest.  Lean on Him for strength and healing.  For:

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Be an oak of righteousness; forgive as God has forgiven you.  And let God give you the oil of joy and a garment of praise.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have forgiven us more that we can even comprehend.  From the worst of sinners as Paul described himself to the ones who led good lives, we have all sinned and fallen short of Your glory.  Forgive us this day our trespasses, and help us to forgive the trespasses of others.  Strengthen us as we deal with the consequences of not only our own sin, but the sin of others.  Help us to remember what it cost You to forgive our sins, that we might put everything into perspective.  Touch our hearts and comfort us as we draw close to you.  This we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Psalm 84:10

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. (NIV)

The sons of Korah had it right when they declared that being in the presence of God was far more desirable than being somewhere else.  In His presence, we experience koinonia, or what we call fellowship, with Him.  We bask in His peace, comfort, strength, and quench our thirsty souls with His living water.  We praise and worship Him not just with our words but with our entire being.

Are we of the same mind?  If we place ourselves in the following circumstances, can we say the same?

  • Watching my child score the winning point(s) for their sports team
  • Riding my motorcycle on the open road on a crisp Fall morning with the sun shining brightly and the leaves of the trees in a full riot of color
  • Watching my favorite sports team with my friends triumph in their final match-up
  • Eating my favorite meal at my favorite restaurant with my best friend

The temporal pleasures of this world are wonderful to enjoy; let us now enjoy the eternal pleasures by worshiping our Lord and Savior in truth and spirit.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father, you are so gracious to us.  Your mercies renew every morning.  You knit us in our mother’s wombs, even though You knew everything we would think, say, and do – even before You created the universe.  May we now seek You with all our our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  For those that cannot meet with us today, visit them in a mighty way.  Tend to their needs and desires, and surround them with Your peace and presence.  You are so good to your people!  May we pour out our praise and worship to You this day.  You are all-mighty God, and deserve this and so much more.  Give us traveling mercies as we assemble together this day, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?