WATCHING AND WAITING – This thought would give me hope, and through my struggle I would eagerly wait until my change comes. I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. And so my soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. So I will wait for the LORD Who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob. I will even look eagerly for Him. I will watch expectantly for the LORD. I will wait for the God of my salvation, waiting expectantly for God’s Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, Who delivers us from the wrath to come. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait (in great anticipation and patience) for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. For we through (the enabling power of) the Spirit, by faith, are waiting eagerly for the hope (absolute certainty) of righteousness, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ (Who promised) “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” Maranatha. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. (Job 14:14, 19:26, 27, Ps 130:6, Titus 2:13-14, Isaiah 8:17, Micah 7:7, 1 Th 1:10, Phil 3:19-20, 1 Cor 15:51-52, 1 John 3:2, Gal 5:5, 1 Cor 1:7, Rev 22:12, 1 Cor 16:22-24)
BEEN THINKING ABOUT NEW TESTAMENT COMMANDS – It is clear that our Father places considerable emphasis on Commands in Scripture, for there are at least 1642 commands in the New Testament alone.
As followers of Jesus Christ, our obedience to God’s commands is one tangible way to say “We love you Lord!” Jesus repeatedly stated this principle – “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments….If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” (John 14:15, 23, 24)
Beloved, we dare not miss Jesus’ point! Love is not a sentimental emotion, as often portrayed in modern day Christianity. Adrian Rogers once quipped “Now, folks, when people truly love God, you don’t see it just when they stand in the congregation and sing “Oh How I Love Jesus,” but they obey Him.” Yes, God is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16), but God is also Light (1 Jn 1:5). Love and Light counterbalance one another. We cannot say we love God and choose to walk in the darkness! John says “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth, but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 Jn 1:6-7) The way we live our life, the choices we make each day, will ring forth loudly in heaven either as “I love You Lord” or “I don’t love You Lord”! There is no middle ground regarding love of Jesus and love of the world (1 John 2:15), of walking in the light versus walking in the darkness.
But praise God, Jesus knows that our old “Adamic” flesh nature (still present in all believers) continues to tempt us, on one hand, to run from God’s commands (thus leading to licentiousness) or, on the other hand, to attempt to carry them out in our own fleshly strength (which leads to legalism and frustration). But “thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:57) for He has given us the Helper, “the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Php 1:19b, Jn 14:16, 26) Who indwells every believer (Romans 8:9) and Who provides us with both the DESIRE and the POWER (cf Php 2:13NLT = “giving you the DESIRE to obey Him and the POWER”) to walk in His Spirit and to not carry out the desire of the flesh (Gal 5:16). Our part, our responsibility under grace not law (Ro 6:14), is to daily work out our “salvation with fear and trembling,” making choices that are pleasing to God (Php 2:12). Notice that even the DESIRE for such “holy” choices must be “energized” or enabled by the Spirit. Or to say it another way, every commandment of God includes the enablement by His Spirit. As Spurgeon said “Love is a practical thing; love without obedience is a mere pretense. True love shows itself by seeking to please the one who is loved. May God the Holy Spirit work in us perfect obedience to the commands of God, that we may prove that we really do love Him! The obedience which God’s children yield to Him must be loving obedience. Do not go about the service of God as slaves to their taskmaster’s toil, but run in the way of His commands because it is your Father’s way. Yield your bodies as instruments of righteousness, because righteousness is your Father’s will, and His will should be the will of His child.” And as an aside, the best way to know God’s will is to say “I will” to God.
In addition to His Spirit, the love of Christ compels (urges, impels) us (2 Cor 5:14) to choose to obey His commands, “for this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3). And Oh what a reward Jesus promises us in John 14:21 declaring that “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose (manifest) Myself to him.” Adrian Rogers explains “disclose Himself to us” by asking “Aren’t we talking about the manifest presence of God? Do you see how the Bible links the manifest presence of God with keeping the commandments of God? Because, when we disobey God, we grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30); we quench the Holy Spirit (1Th 5:19). The Holy Spirit of God is in us to make God real to us…Can you say: “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known?” Do you know why Jesus is not real to many of us? We’re just not obeying His word. Do you want Him to manifest Himself to you? Would you like for Jesus to be real? There’s no way apart from obedience!”
When we obey we partake of Jesus’ promise that “If you keep My commandments, you will abide (dwell, live experientially) in My love.” (Jn 15:10) “We must keep our Lord’s command if we would bask in His love. If we live in sin, we cannot live in the love of Christ. Without the holiness which pleases God, we cannot please Jesus. He who cares nothing for holiness knows nothing of the love of Jesus. Conscious enjoyment of our Lord’s love is a delicate thing. It is far more sensitive to sin and holiness than mercury is to cold and heat. When we are tender of heart and careful in thought, lip, and life to honor our Lord Jesus, then we receive tokens of His love without number. If we desire to perpetuate such bliss, we must perpetuate holiness. The Lord Jesus will not hide His face from us unless we hide our face from Him. Sin makes the cloud which darkens our Sun: if we will be watchfully obedient and completely consecrated, we may walk in the light, as God is in the light, and have as sure an abiding in the love of Jesus as Jesus has in the love of the Father. Here is a sweet promise with a solemn “if.” Lord, let me have this “if” in my hand; for as a key it opens this casket.” (Spurgeon) Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey!
The highest motive for obeying Christ is to obey because we love Him. As Spurgeon said “Obedience must have love for its mother, nurse, and food. The essence of obedience lies in the hearty love which prompts the deed rather than in the deed itself.” A working mother returned home one wintry day to discover the driveway cleared of snow, the rugs vacuumed, and the dishes washed and put away. This was far more effort than the list of chores had required. “What got into you?” the amazed mother asked her children. “We just wanted to show you we love you, Mom,” was their answer. Obeying out of love takes the burden out of doing what God requires. And so we see that love and obedience are intimately intertwined — Obedient love and loving obedience! As our obedience expresses our love for God, it enables us to experience His love for us.
Master, speak, and make me ready,
When Thy voice is truly heard,
With (loving) obedience glad and steady,
Still to follow every word.
One final thought — EVERY encounter with each of the more 1600 NT commands is an opportunity to jettison self-reliance and to yield to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Supernatural commands from the supernatural God can only be carried out with reliance on His supernatural power! The Spirit is called the Helper, but don’t let His Name mislead you. To say that we need His “help” is to imply we have some ability of our own to obey and are in need of just a little “spiritual push” so to speak. It is better to say that we need Him to “enable” us to obey divine commands, for the word “enable” indicates that without His power we cannot obey (cp this same principle in Jn 15:5, 6:63). Webster says “enable” means “to supply with power, physical or moral, to furnish with sufficient power or ability!” In Philippians 2:12-13, Paul describes the incomprehensible, mysterious synergism between man’s free will and God’s sovereign provision of His Spirit! To say it another way followers of Jesus are 100% dependent on His Spirit (Php 2:13), while at the same time are 100% responsible to obey (Php 2:12)! We’ll discuss this “100/100 principle” in greater detail in a future post.
Lord, with my lips I say “I love You,” but with my life I behave as if I don’t. When these two are in conflict, I know that it is my life that is speaking the truth. I don’t want this conflict, Lord. By learning to depend on the Spirit’s enabling power, I desire to prove with my life that I am speaking the truth when I say, “I love You Lord.”
We love You, Lord Jesus,” we often will say,
But are we as ready His will to obey?
Let’s heed what God’s Spirit would have us to do—
That’s how we show Him a love that is true.
—D. De Haan
To love God is to obey God.
How much we are willing to obey is the measure of our love.
Does my life say “I love You Lord?”
SPIRIT-FILLED BELIEVERS – Have you ever thought of yourself as an “artesian well” for Jesus? Probably not. But if you are obeying Paul’s command to continually “be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18–note), you are functioning spiritually much like an artesian well functions geophysically! How so? Paul reminded Timothy “You have not been given a spirit of fear but of power and love and sound mind.” (2 Ti 1:7–note). The word for “power” is dunamis which gives us our English words dynamo, dynamic, etc. Dunamis speaks of power which is residing in believers by virtue of our new nature – new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17–note). The “effecting Agent” of that power is of course the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8–note) Who dwells in us now and forever throughout eternity! (1 Cor 3:16, John 14:16) Hallelujah! Paul was telling Timothy in essence “you are to live this new life in Christ not in dependence on your own natural strength, but in dependence on the power (dunamis) provided by the Spirit Who dwells in you!”
C H Spurgeon put it this way regarding our power versus God’s power:
Power in the creature is like water in the cistern.
Power in the Creator is like water in the fountain.
Spurgeon’s comment reminds me of the geophysical dynamics which give power to an artesian well (see diagram below). The artesian well flows freely because of the power of pressure from water at higher levels. What a practical picture of the power of the Holy Spirit flowing to us and through us “with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49).
What does an artesian well have to do in order to function effectively?
(1) Stay low! Spiritually this is not even subtle – “God is opposed to (“stiff arms”) the proud, but gives grace (cp “Spirit of grace” in Heb 10:29–note) to the humble.” (James 4:6–note). So the message is “Stay humble!” Understand that in order to daily experience His power to live a supernatural life (e.g., to break the chains of addiction – Ro 6:11-note, Ro 7:6-note, Ro 8:13-note, to love our wife continually as Christ loved the Church – Eph 5:25-note, to continually let no unwholesome word proceed from our mouth – Eph 4:29-note, etc, etc), we have to continually humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6-note).
(2) Stay “open!” We have to allow the flow of the Spirit to keep flowing. Sin impedes the flow of the Spirit (grieves Him – Eph 4:30–note, quenches Him – 1Thes 5:19–note), so we need to be sensitive when we have offended Him by our thoughts, words or deeds, and we need to confess and repent (1John 1:9–note). Proverbs 28:13–note says “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes (~”repents of”) them will find compassion.”
AND WHAT IS THE RESULT?
Amazing grace flows down from on high and as our Lord Jesus Christ promised, from our “innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” as the Spirit’s flow of power is unimpeded and unhindered! ( Jn 7:37-39–note).
Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, affirmed this axiomatic truth declaring
“Depend upon it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack supplies. All God’s giants have been weak men (and women) who did great things for God because they reckoned on His being with them. God uses men (and women) who are weak and feeble enough to lean on Him.” (cp 2 Cor 12:9-10–note)
THIS BEGS TWO QUESTIONS:
(1) Am I daily leaning on Him, humbling myself before God, yielding myself to Him as a living and holy sacrifice (Romans 12:1–note), fully cognizant that it is not by my power or my might, but by His Spirit (Zech 4:6), that I will be enabled to live a supernatural, abundant life in Christ? (John 10:10)
(2) Am I “keeping short accounts?” We all sin daily, and just as we need to bathe daily to cleanse the dirt from our body, we need to confess daily to cleanse the sin from our soul. (cp John 13:10)
John promises that “if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7–note) Thank You Jesus!
Oh Father, our simple prayer is “let the river flow” through Your children so that we might experience the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, our blessed Fountain of Living Water (Jer 2:13, John 4:10). Amen
We have not because we ask not (James 4:2)…
Brothers and sisters in Christ, in light of the growing spiritual darkness in America, the Church of Jesus Christ needs to experience a flowing river of Biblical Holy Spirit power!
So take a few minutes to allow God to move and ask Him in song to “Let the River Flow.”
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)
Recommendation: Check out our newly rebuilt website – Preceptaustin.org – which has the equivalent of over 50,000 “8 x 11 sized” pages of conservative, “Bibliocentric” resources (commentaries, sermons, verse by verse exposition, sermon illustrations, devotionals, etc).
READY FOR GLORY – On March 1, 1981, the famous British expositor D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones lay on his deathbed. From 1939 to 1968, he had served as the pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel. Now at the end of his life, Lloyd-Jones had lost the ability to speak. Indicating that he did not want any more prayers for his recovery, he wrote on a piece of paper: “Do not hold me back from glory.” What a picture of “perfect peace!”
The Bible says “The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in Thee. The LORD Who keeps you will neither slumber nor sleep. He Himself has said “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid.” “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones. For the godly who die will rest in peace. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, for to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. To live is Christ, and to die is gain, for to be with Christ is better by far! (Isa 26:3, Ps 121:3-4, Heb 13:5-6, Isa 43:2, Isa 41:10, Ps 23:4, Ps 116:15, Isa 57:1, 1Co 15:55, 57, 2Co 5:1,8, Php 1:21, 23)
C H Spurgeon said “It is a grand thing to see a man (like Martyn Lloyd-Jones) dying full of life. God makes His dying people to be like the sun, which never seems so large as when it sets.” And remember that a sunset in one land is a sunrise in another!
The glories of heaven await
All those who believe in God’s Son.
The trials of life will fade
When we see the Heavenly One.
Glorious Day! Oh, Glorious Day! (PLAY SONG)
THE HEART OF JESUS
COME TO ME ALL WHO ARE WEARY AND HEAVY-LADEN AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.
J H Jowett wisely wrote “This exquisite passage is like a flower which one is almost afraid to touch, lest he should spoil the delicate bloom. Yet to disturb the flower may awake a fragrance and distribute it to others.”
J C Ryle adds “There are few texts more striking than this in all the Bible—few that contain so wide and sweeping an invitation—few that hold out so full and comfortable a promise.” (Come Unto Me)
Indeed, as I began to compile the notes on this great passage, it became obvious to me that the simple words of Jesus were so profound that an entire book, even a library of books, could not exhaust their meaning. C H Spurgeon delivered 12 sermons on Mt 11:28-30 and yet said that one could not preach too often on these passages! Spurgeon wrote “there are mines of instruction here. Superficially read, this royal promise has cheered and encouraged tens of thousands, but there is a wealth in it which the diligent digger and miner shall alone discover. Its shallows are cool and refreshing for the lambs, but in its depths are pearls for which we hope to dive.”
And so the following comments are meant only to give you food for thought as you ponder these great words from our Savior. Let me strongly encourage you to treasure Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 in your heart (Memorize His Word), so that you will be able to meditate on them (Meditation) and allow your Teacher the Holy Spirit to minister deeply to your soul. You will not be disappointed.
THE GREAT INVITATION:
Come! The greatest invitation that ever issued from a Man’s lips. “Come!” Come the first time for salvation (Justification). In the context of Jesus’ preceding words in Matthew 11, this is the primary interpretation of His call to come…
COME TO JESUS
Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
View Him prostrate in the garden;
Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
While there must be this initial coming to Jesus for salvation rest found in justification, by way of application, there is a need for every saint to daily “Come” and allow the Spirit of Christ to grow us in grace and Christlikeness (2Pe 3:18–note) (Sanctification see Three Tenses of Salvation).
And then there will be a final invitation to “Come!” when Jesus invites us to come away to Him (if we pass away before He returns) or to come up to Him (if we are here to experience the Rapture – 1Th 4:17–note) and be with Him forever and ever in the eternal rest of Paradise! (Glorification). “Therefore comfort (present imperative-command to continually encourage) one another with” Jesus’ invitation to “Come!” (1Th 4:18–note)
I came to Jesus as I was,
Dear reader, at whatever stage of your life you find yourself, will you not hear the gracious invitation that falls from His perfect lips?
Will you not come dear struggling sinner, trying to make yourself acceptable to the Holy God?
Will you not come dear struggling saint, trying daily to earn your Father’s approval, trying daily to defeat that besetting sin that only the Spirit of Christ can defeat as you learn to cooperate with Him (Ro 8:13–note)?
And dear saint, will you not live in the light of His final call to “Come!”, allowing this firm anchor motivate a deep desire for daily purification (1Jn 3:3–note) and growth in likeness to Christ, your Lord?
And here is the great assurance that the One Who calls us to “Come” now will Himself come very soon, a coming for which we pray “Come Lord Jesus”…
Come – Not “do this” or “don’t do that” but simply “Come”. Note also that Jesus does not say come to the church, to a creed, to a clergyman, to a “denomination” or to anything but to Jesus Himself, to a vital, dynamic, radical relationship with the Living Lord. As Oswald Chambers says “Personal contact with Jesus alters everything.” Do nothing else but come to Him, for He alone is the way, the truth, the life (Jn 14:6). There is salvation rest in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved (the first time and then every day thereafter!). (Acts 4:12) Jesus is the narrow gate, the narrow way that leads to the rest of eternal life (Mt 7:13, 14). Inherent in Jesus’ call to come is that the hearer come now and not wait nor procrastinate – when you hear His invitation, that is the day of salvation (cp 2Cor 6:2).
J C Ryle exhorts us “Beloved brethren, see that you refuse not Him who speaks to you this day. If a letter came to you from the ruler of this country you would not despise it. If you were sick, and advice came from a wise physician, you would not reject it. If you were in danger, and counsel came from your best and truest friend, you would not make light of it. Then hear the words that Jesus sends to you this day. Listen to the King of kings. Then body and soul shall be His. (Come Unto Me)
Spurgeon as usual says it well “‘Come’; He drives none away; He calls them to Himself. His favorite word is ‘Come.’ (Ed: “Come” was the call to His first disciples – Mt 4:19YLT) Not, go to Moses – ‘Comeunto me.’ To Jesus Himself we must come, (How?) by a personal trust. Not to doctrine, ordinance, nor ministry are we to come first; but to the personal Saviour.
How do we come to Jesus? The most “generic answer” is by faith and trust in Jesus.
Oswald Chambers adds that “The attitude of coming is that the will resolutely lets go of everything and deliberately commits all to Him.”
Adam Clarke says “Come to Me” “in the New Covenant implies simply, believing in Christ and becoming His disciple or follower.” Are you a follower of Christ? Have you come to Jesus?
William MacDonald elaborates on what it means to “Come” writing that “To come means to believe(Acts 16:31); to receive (John 1:12); to eat (John 6:35); to drink (John 7:37); to look (Isa. 45:22); toconfess (1 Jn. 4:2); to hear (John 5:24, 25); to enter a door (John 10:9); to open a door (Rev. 3:20); totouch the hem of His garment (Matt. 9:20, 21); and to accept the gift of eternal life through Christ our Lord (Ro 6:23).
James Smith addresses believers writing that “All true Christians know Christ—not with a mere theoretical knowledge, which may be obtained from books; but with a knowledge which the Holy Spirit works in the heart. We know Christ . . . in the glory of His person, in the perfection of His work, and in the riches of His wondrous grace. We so know Christ, that He stands out before us, as the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely One. And the more we know Him—the more intimate we wish to become with Him! We not only know Christ—but we need Him. And the longer we live—the more we need Him. Nor do we merely need Christ, but we need everything in Christ, or that Christ has. We need . . .His blood to cleanse us, His righteousness to clothe us, and His Spirit to sanctify us. We need Christ daily, hourly! As we need Christ—so we come to Christ. Not once for all, but we continue to come. We must come to Him . . .in every trial, in every trouble, in every conflict, to unburden our minds, to find rest for our souls. We come to Him . . . for wisdom, for strength, for holiness. Much of experimental (experiential) religion consists in coming daily and hourly to Jesus!”
Come (1205) (deute) is an adverb which means “Come here!” or “Come on!” in the sense of a command or an exhortation. Deute is used with the plural imperative either expressed or more often understood (as in Mt 11:28). For example in Mt 4:19 Jesus says “Follow Me” or more literally “Come you after me” where the adverb deute functions as an aorist imperative, a command to do this now!
Spurgeon outlines Jesus’ special invitation…
1. It is personal — “Come unto me.” God directs to Christ, not to His members.
David Guzik observes that when Jesus commands men and women to “Come unto Me”, He demonstrates “His authority…This invitation is unthinkable in the mouth of anyone else but God, and woe to the men who call people to themselves instead of Jesus! (Matthew 11 Commentary)
Oswald Chambers comments on Jesus’ invitation to “Come” = When you hear those words you will know that something must happen in you before you can come. The Holy Spirit will show you what you have to do, anything at all that will put the axe at the root of the thing which is preventing you from coming to Jesus. You will never get further until you are willing to do that one thing. The Holy Spirit will locate the one impregnable thing in you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him.
THE GREAT CONDITION:
All – This Greek word generally means all with no exceptions, and yet in the present context the all is in a sense restricted…restricted by Jesus statement to those humble souls who acknowledge their weariness of struggling with sin. This “all” is God’s “all merciful antidote” for the horrible “all” of Ro 3:23 where Paul says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus is speaking to a Jewish audience but with the “all” He flings opens the gates of salvation to sinners from every tribe, every tongue, every people, every nation! As a Gentile believer, I praise God for this “all” from the lips of the Redeemer of mankind!
J C Ryle expounds on the “all” – The “laboring and heavy laden” describes all who are pressed down and burdened by a feeling of sin. It describes all whose consciences are set at work, and who are brought to concern about their soul—all who are anxious about salvation, and desire to have it—all who tremble at the thought of judgment, and know not how to get through it, and of hell, and are afraid of falling into it; and long for heaven, and dread not getting to it; and are distressed at the thought of their own sinfulness, and want deliverance. All such people appear to be the laboring and heavy laden to whom Jesus speaks….This was the state of mind in which we see the jailer at Philippi. He was roused from sleep by an earthquake. His fear brought his sin to his remembrance, and he came and fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” This is the state of mind I desire to see in each of you, for the beginning of all saving religion. You will never come to Christ until you feel your need. You ought, everyone, to feel laboring and heavy laden….But to all laboring and heavy laden souls, whoever they may be, to you Jesus speaks—to you is this word of salvation sent. Take heed that it is not in vain. Jesus speaks to ALL such: none are left out. (Come Unto Me)
John Gill – The persons invited are not ‘all’ the inhabitants of mankind, but with a restriction: ‘all ye that labor and are heavy laden,’ meaning not those who labor in the service of sin and Satan, are laden with iniquity and insensible of it: those are not weary of sin nor burdened with it, nor do they want or desire any rest for their souls; but such who groan, being burdened with the guilt of sin on their consciences and are pressed down with the unsupportable yoke of the Law and the load of their trespasses, and have been laboring till they are weary, in order to obtain peace of conscience and rest for their soul by the observance of these things, but in vain. These are encouraged to come to Him, lay down their burdens at His feet and look to Him, and lay hold by faith on His person, blood and righteousness.
Matthew Henry – The character of the persons invited: all that labor and are heavy laden. This is a word in season to him that is weary (Isa. 50:4). Those that complain of the burden of the ceremonial law, which was an intolerable yoke, and was made much more so by the tradition of the elders (Luke 11:46); let them come to Christ and they shall be made easy….But it is rather to be understood of the burden of sin, both the guilt and the power of it. All those, and those only, are invited to rest in Christ that are sensible of sin as a burden and groan under it, that are not only convicted of the evil of sin—their own sin—but are contrite in soul for it; that are really sick of sin, weary of the service of the world and the flesh, that see their state sad and dangerous by reason of sin, and are in pain and fear about it: as Ephraim (Jer. 31:18-20), the prodigal (Luke 15:17), the publican (Luke 18:13), Peter’s hearers (Acts 2:37), Paul (Acts 9), the jailer (Acts 16:29, 30). This is a necessary preparative for pardon and peace”
John Calvin – He now kindly invites to Himself those whom He acknowledges to be fit for becoming His disciples. Though He is ready to reveal the Father to all, yet the great part are careless about coming to Him, because they are not affected by a conviction of their necessities. Hypocrites give themselves no concern about Christ because they are intoxicated with their own righteousness, and neither hunger nor thirst after His grace. Those who are devoted to the world set no value on a heavenly life. It would be vain therefore for Christ to invite either of these classes, and therefore He turns to the wretched and afflicted. He speaks of them as ‘labouring’ or being under a ‘burden,’ and does not mean generally those who are oppressed with griefs and vexations, but those who are overwhelmed by their sins, who are filled with alarm at the wrath of God and are ready to sink under so weighty a burden.
Adam Clarke explains – The metaphor (all who are weary and heavy laden) appears to be taken from a man who has a great load laid upon him, which he must carry to a certain place: every step he takes reduces his strength, and renders his load the more oppressive. However, it must be carried on; and he labors, uses his utmost exertions, to reach the place where it is to be laid down. A kind person passing by, and, seeing his distress, offers to ease him of his load, that he may enjoy rest.
The Jews, heavily laden with the burdensome rites of the Mosaic institution, rendered still more oppressive by the additions made by the scribes and Pharisees, who, our Lord says, (Mt 23:4) bound on heavy burdens; and laboring, by their observance of the law, to make themselves pleasing to God, are here invited to lay down their load, and receive the salvation procured for them by Christ. (Ed: Are you laboring to make yourself “pleasing to God?” This is a subtle trap into which we all so easily fall because we have been so well trained to be “man pleasers” and think that we can please God in the same manner we have learned to “please” men!)
Penitents (those who feel or show sorrow and regret for against the Holy God), burdened with the guilt of their crimes, may come to this Sacrifice, and find instant pardon (cp 1Jn 1:9, Pr 28:13–note).
Believers, sorely tempted, and oppressed by the remains of the carnal mind (the “flesh”), may come to this blood, that cleanses from all unrighteousness; and, purifies from all sin, and powerfully succors (Literally, succor means to run to or run to support; hence that which provides help or relieve when in difficulty, want, distress or suffering) in every temptation (every trial), they shall find uninterrupted rest in this complete Saviour.
All are invited to come, and all are promised rest. If few find rest from sin and vile affections, it is because few come to Christ to receive it. (Comment: How often we refuse to “Come” because we enjoy our sin more than we desire the Savior at that moment. God help us to “Come” quickly to Jesus!)
Note that Jesus directs His call to the heavy burdened, to the weak, not the strong. “He called those who sensed they must come to Him to relieve their need instead of living in self-sufficiency.” (Guzik) God is ever opposed to the proud, but stands ready to give abundant grace to the humble of heart. (James 4:6–note) Therefore ” Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:10–note)
Jesus’ invitation in the New Testament to come and be refreshed recalls Jehovah’s offer in the Old Testament to His people to rest in the New Covenant…
For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes. (Jer 31:25).
Weary and heavy laden – As Jesus said elsewhere it is not the (spiritually) well who need a physician but the (spiritually) sick. Do you even see your need to come to Jesus? As MacDonald says “In order to truly come to Jesus, a person must admit that he is burdened with the weight of sin. Only those who acknowledge they are lost can be saved.” As discussed earlier, while Jesus’ invitation is especially a call to come to Him for salvation, the call is also applicable to saints who are weary in their struggle to live the Christian life in their own strength.
Are weary (2872)(kopiao from kopos = labor, fatigue) This root word kopos (see word study) is used in secular Greek of “a beating,” “weariness” (as though one had been beaten) and “exertion,” was the proper word for physical tiredness induced by work, exertion or heat. Kopiao means to to exhibit great effort and exertion, to the point of sweat and exhaustion. To physically become worn out, weary or faint. To engage in hard work with the implication of difficulty and trouble. The work described by kopiao was left one so weary it was as if the person had taken a beating. Kopiao describes not so much the actual exertion as the weariness which follows the straining of all one’s powers to the utmost. Figuratively kopiaomeans to become emotionally fatigued and/or discouraged and thus to lose heart and/or give up. Thepresent tense presents the pathetic picture of one who is persistently physically weary and tired, spiritually exhausted, discouraged and ready to “throw in the towel”! Does that describe you dear reader? Then Jesus’ words of promised presence and power are perfect for you dear weary one!
John MacArthur – Weary translates a present active participle and refers figuratively to arduous toil in seeking to please God and know the way of salvation. Jesus calls to Himself everyone who is exhausted from trying to find and please God in his own resources. Jesus invites the person who is wearied from his vain search for truth through human wisdom, who is exhausted from trying to earn salvation, and who has despaired of achieving God’s standard of righteousness by his own efforts.
Illustration of Very, Very Weary – The date was August 15, 1930. On that day, a 45-year-old New York State Supreme Court Justice named Joseph Crater, after spending an evening eating out with friends, hailed a taxi and was never seen or heard from again. It remains one of the most mystifying Missing Person cases in FBI files. The FBI immediately suspected a kidnapping by someone who held a judicial grudge against Justice Crater. But that didn’t seem to pan out. They then suspected Mafia activity because Justice Crater was an enemy of the Mafia. But, again, that led nowhere. There is only one clue which remains to this day. When Mrs. Crater returned to their apartment the evening her husband disappeared, there on the table was a large check made out to her and a note attached to the check in her husband’s handwriting which simply said, “I am very, very tired. Love, Joe” Maybe you can relate to Joe Carter– tired and stressed out in life thoughts of Checking out! Maybe you can relate to Joe Carter– tired and stressed out in life thoughts of Checking out! 2% of Americans are regularly dealing with stress –Those most likely to deal with stress are those in their 40’s.
I walked life’s path with worry,
Spurgeon….expounds on the meaning of weary…”all ye that labor,” in whatever form.
In the service of formal religion, in the attempt to keep the law, or in any other way of self-justification.
In the service of self to get gain, honor, ease, etc.
J C Philpot on “weary” – The Lord’s purpose in laying burdens upon us is to weary us out. We cannot learn our religion in any other way. We cannot learn it from the Bible, nor from the experience of others. It must be a personal work, wrought in the heart of each; and we must be brought, all of us, if ever we are to find rest in Christ, to be absolutely wearied out of sin and self, and to have no righteousness, goodness, or holiness of our own. The effect, then, of all spiritual labor is to bring us to this point: to be weary of the world, for we feel it, for the most part, to be a valley of tears; to be weary of self, for it is our greatest plague; weary of professors, for we cannot see in them the grace of God, which alone we prize and value; weary of the profane, for their ungodly conversation only hurts our minds; weary of our bodies, for they are often full of sickness and pain, and always clogs to our soul; and weary of life, for we see the emptiness of those things which to most people make life so agreeable. By this painful experience we come to this point: to be worn out and wearied; and there we must come, before we can rest entirely on Christ. As long as we can rest in the world, we shall rest in it. As long as the things of time and sense can gratify us, we shall be gratified in them. As long as we can find anything pleasing in self, we shall be pleased with it. As long as anything visible and tangible can satisfy us, we shall be satisfied with them. But when we get weary of all things visible, tangible, and sensible—weary of ourselves, and of all things here below—then we want to rest upon Christ, and Christ alone.
Heavy laden (5412) (phortizo from phortos = something carried [Acts 27:10 = freight of a ship], from phero = to bring or carry) means to load or burden with something, to cause someone to carry something, to overburden. Phortizo in a figurative sense describes overburdening someone spiritually (with ceremony, rules, laws, etc).
In the only other NT use Jesus used phortizo to describe the lawyers (prototypical “legalists” in a spiritual sense) placing impossible religious demands on the the people, especially the “burden” of keeping the law.
Luke 11:46 But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down (verb – phortizo) with burdens (noun – phortion) hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
Heavy laden here in Matthew is in the perfect tense which describes a past completed action (at some point they became weary) with ongoing effect (they are still weary). They are pictured as overloaded like beasts of burden.
MacArthur adds that in the passive voice the idea is “that at some time in the past a great load was dumped on the wearied person.” He goes to explains that while “weary refers to the internal exhaustion caused by seeking divine truth through human wisdom, heavy-laden suggests the external burdens caused by the futile efforts of works righteousness.”
Jesus bore every burden we could never bear, just as prophesied by Isaiah…
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
Spurgeon writes that all who are “heavy laden” are called….
Laden heavily because weary, vexed, disappointed; despairing.
James Montgomery Boice explains that “The phrase “weary and burdened” does not refer to physical weaknesses or to what we might call the burdens of a difficult life, though it may include them. It chiefly refers to a sense of sin’s burden and the need of a Savior. The context makes this clear, for the earlier verses describe the rejection of John the Baptist and Jesus by the Jewish masses, followed by the Lord’s denunciation of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for their failure to repent at Jesus’ preaching.They were not burdened by sin. They were getting along just fine. Still, there were people who were burdened, and these people believed that Jesus could lift sin’s weight and turned to him to do it.These people listened to Him, trusted Him, and found salvation. (The Gospel of Matthew – Baker Books)
THE GREAT PROMISE:
I will give you rest – Note that we are not invited to come to a doctrine which is systematic (as good and necessary as that might be), but to a Savior Who is Divine, to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself is our Rest! Are you learning how to abide in Him, to rest in Him? If not, you will grow weary even of “well doing”! It seems that many of God’s children are growing weary of following Jesus, and are being swept away into the bypaths of this technologically tempting, but temporal world system which is headed by Satan (1Jn 5:19). As a result many of God’s children are restless (“weary and heavy-laden”) and desperately need to hear and heed Jesus’ sweet call to “Come” to Him. He will give a rest the world can neither give nor understand!
Paul gives us a clue to how we can learn to abide and shows us the “fruit” of this learning – Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am (Test question – Do you give thanks in every circumstance? 1Th 5:18 Do you consider it all joy when you encounter various trials? James 1:2. As you practice these disciplines of gratitude and joy, you will come more and more to learn that it is only as you relinquish your “rights”, your “power” and rely on the indwelling enabling power of the Holy Spirit that you will begin to learn the secret of the “Christ life”.). 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil 4:11, 12, 13)
I will give – Rest is a divine gift, but note that Jesus’ promise of rest is conditional. It is conditioned on the individual making the personal choice to “Come” at His bidding! He is “gentle and humble in heart” and so He will not coerce or force us to come to Him against our will!
Thomas Brooks writes on “I will give you rest”- “Come,” says Christ, “and I will give you rest.” I will not show you rest, nor barely tell you of rest, but I will give you rest. I am faithfulness itself, and cannot lie, I will give you rest. I who have the greatest power to give it, the greatest will to give it, the greatest right to give it, come, laden sinners, and I willgive you rest. Rest is the most desirable good, the most suitable good, and to you the greatest good. Come, says Christ; that is, believe in Me, and I will give you rest; I will give you peace with God, and peace with conscience: I will turn your storm into an everlasting calm; I will give you such rest, that the world can neither give to you nor take from you.
Augustine has a well known quote that relates to the divine rest that Jesus offers “Lord, Thou madest us for Thyself, and we can find no rest till we find rest in Thee!”
Samuel Rutherford wrote “There are many heads resting on Christ’s bosom, but there’s room for yours there.”
How blest Thy saints! How safely led!
Note that this rest is not just any rest, but is rest which is given by Jesus. In Hebrews 4:3 and Hebrews 4:5the writer quotes God as describing the rest available to believers as “My rest“. Therefore this rest is in every sense a divine rest, the rest the Creator Himself enjoys, a rest that is joyous, satisfying and productive, in every sense a supernatural rest. Can you grasp that incredible truth? In a world that is becoming increasingly restless, believers have the invitation to trust in a quality of rest that is literally “other worldly.”
Oswald Chambers comments that Jesus says “I will give you rest,” i.e., I will stay you (Ed: Support you from sinking, sustain you with strength). Not – I will put you to bed and hold your hand and sing you to sleep; but – I will get you out of bed, out of the languor and exhaustion, out of the state of being half dead while you are alive; I will imbue you with the spirit of life, and you will be stayed by the perfection of vital activity.
David who was often surrounded by tumultuous circumstances (and had learned to rest in the Lord) wrote…
Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him.
Comment: Rest in this psalm is a verb and is in the form of a command for the reader to rest and be quiet in God, which parallels Jesus’ command to Come and enter into His blessed rest!
As we have alluded to earlier, every believer enters the rest of justification and that only once, but then every believer must learn to enter His blessed, divine rest daily, yea, even moment by moment (the rest of sanctification). It is available, but it requires a choice to trust Him (see more discussion on this topic below). And so when the circumstances of the day seem too much to bear, we do well to recall that there is always an invitation to share the yoke with One Whose strength never fails and the result is rest for our souls.
Are you learning the secret of daily entering into the Savior’s rest
In light of the preciousness of God’s rest, the writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers…
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)
Comment: While this passage is referring in context to the rest of salvation (justification), the principle is still applicable to believers to be diligent to enter the rest Jesus provides continually in our journey of sanctification.
Rest (refresh) (373)(anapauo from ana = again, back, or even as intensifying the meaning of the verb +pauo = to cease or give rest) means to cause someone to become physically refreshed as the result of resting from work which is what Jesus did with his disciples in Mark 6:31.Anapauo can also refer tospiritual refreshment or revival which is Jesus’ sense here in Mt 11:28.
Vine writes that “anapauo signifies “to cause or permit one to cease from any labor or movement” so as to recover strength. It implies previous toil and care. Its chief significance is that of taking, or causing to take, rest; it is used in the middle voice in Luke 12:19, “take (thine) ease,” indicative of unnecessary, self-indulgent relaxation. In the papyri it is used technically, as an agricultural term.
Our English word “refresh” means to restore or give new strength or energy to, to invigorate, to relieve after fatigue, to reanimate after depression, to revive what is drooping, to restore or maintain by renewing supply. Each of these nuances could be applied to our spiritual life and the effect of the rest that Jesus gives us when we come to Him. For example, when Jesus refreshes, He restores our strength or gives us new spiritual strength, He relieves our spiritual fatigue, He revives our drooping spirits, etc.
In Jesus’ parable of the rich farmer (Lk 12:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23), He contrasts rest with anxietyabout this life and its attendant fear of being without earthly possessions (which usually end up “possessing” the possessor!)…
And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease (Young’s Literal = “be resting“- anapauo is in the present imperative – he is “preaching” to his soul to rest – contrast the “Jesus way” – simply come to Him, take His yoke, learn from Him, then your receive supernatural rest, not the ethereal, fleeting “rest” the world and worldly possessions offer! There is simply no comparison!), eat, drink and be merry.”‘ (Luke 12:19)
In this parable, the “rich man” thought that he could “rest” (take ease) in the fact that he had earthly goods, but Jesus shattered this false hope (for him and for all who trust in earthly possessions) by pointing out that true rest comes from knowing that the Father in heaven cares for us (Lk 12:24, 28,30, 31) and will provide all we need (cp Php 4:19).
When we’re discouraged spiritually
Rest for the restless soul is found in the Word, in Jesus the Incarnate Word Who invites us to “Come“…
For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isa. 30:15)
Dost ask who that may be?
J Vernon McGee in his commentary on the book of Ruth writes that “This is a rest that only a Godly Redeemer can provide. It is the rest of redemption. After God created the heavens and the earth, Scripture instructs us that He rested. That was a Creation Rest. All was good and complete, and nothing needed to be done to improve it. Then man sinned, and God broke His creation rest. “His ox was in the ditch,” and God began to move to get man out of the ditch of sin. From that day on, God has not rested. Christ said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). God will not rest until redemption is finished and sin is destroyed….The redemption restthat is provided today for a lost sinner is to cease from his own works and trust his Redeemer-Kinsman to provide his rest. Hebrews 4:9, 10 tells us, “There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.” This is the rest that comes when we no longer trust our works but receive His work of redemption on the Cross as the penalty for our sins. Furthermore, we are instructed to rest in Him daily and to commit our every problem and difficulty to Him, as Peter wrote, “Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you” (1Pet 5:7). Only in our great Redeemer is there rest for the restless heart of man from the threshing floor of this world, with its chaff, stubble, and crowd. (Ruth and Esther : Women of faith)
Can you trust God to take care of your needs? There is no rest in this life without trust in His life giving provisions. As believers, those who have experienced the initial reality of resting our restless hearts in Christ, what is the greatest problem we face? Do we believe God can meet it? Can we—will we—trust him? If so, God’s Word, in the present passage, the Incarnate Word Himself, offers rest. Spurgeon said that “Faith is reason at rest in God.” The writer of Hebrews said “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). “Now we who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3).
James Smith reminds us as believers “There is no rest for the Christian in this world. There will be always something to disturb, perplex or distress him; it is an enemy’s land.”But Jesus says, “I will give you rest.” He does so by enabling us to . . .rely on His Word, recognize His hand, submit to His will, and trust in His perfect work. He assures us . . . that our sins are forgiven; that we are safe in His keeping; that His presence shall always be with us; and that all things shall work together for our eternal good.
We can rest on His faithfulness—for He has been tried, and found faithful.
We cannot rest . . . on our graces, on our comforts, on our friends, or on our possessions.”
We may rest on Jesus alone.
Spurgeon comments: He calls the rest still his own, and feels full liberty to return to it. What a mercy it is that even if our soul has left its rest for a while we can tell it — “it is thy rest still.” The Psalmist had evidently been somewhat disturbed in mind, his troubles had ruffled his spirit but now with a sense of answered prayer upon him he quiets his soul. He had rested before, for he knew the blessed repose of faith, and therefore he returns to the God who had been the refuge of his soul in former days. Even as a bird flies to its nest, so does his soul fly to his God. Whenever a child of God even for a moment loses his peace of mind, he should be concerned to find it again, not by seeking it in the world or in his own experience, but in the Lord alone. When the believer prays, and the Lord inclines his ear, the road to the old rest is before him, let him not be slow to follow it.
John Newton asks “HOW is this rest to be obtained? Blessed be God, in that way which alone can render it attainable by such unworthy indigent creatures. If it was to be bought—we have nothing to offer for it. If it was given as a reward of merit—we can do nothing to deserve it. But Jesus has said, “I will give you rest!” Our title to it cost Him dear; He purchased it for us with His own blood; but to us it comes freely. Sincere faith in Jesus puts us in immediate possession of the first-fruits, the pledge of this inheritance; and faith will lead us powerfully and safely, through all hindrances and enemies, to the full enjoyment of the whole. FAITH unites us to Christ; gives us an immediate interest in all the benefits of His life, death, and intercession; opens the way of communication for all needful supplies of grace here, and insures to us the accomplishment of all the Lord has spoken to us of, in a state of glory. “He who believes shall be saved;” (Mark 16:16) —saved in defiance of all the opposition of earth and hell; saved, notwithstanding he is in himself unstable as water, weak as a bruised reed, and helpless as a newborn babe! What Jesus will give—none can take away. Only remember that it is a free gift.Receive it thankfully—and rejoice in the Giver. Let Him have all the glory of His own undertaking. Renounce every other hope and every other plea—but His promise and mediation. Commit your souls to Him—and then fear nothing. “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!” (Dt 33:27) He will fight your battles, heal your wounds, refresh your fainting spirits, guide you by His counsel while here, and at last receive you to Himself! (The Present and Future Rest of True Believers)
Spurgeon’s notes on Mt 11:28…- This text is often preached from, but never too often, since the sorrows with which it deals always abound, and the remedy is always effective. This time we purpose to view it from our Lord’s side. He entreats the weary to come to him. He beseeches them to learn of him. He not only receives those who come, but begs them to come. What is this desire which burns in his bosom? And whence comes it?
Let us carefully consider—
I. WHO IS HE?
1. One who has been rejected, yet he cries “Come unto me.”
2. One whose rejection involves us in fearful guilt, yet he is ready to forgive, and to bestow rest upon us if we come.
3. One who knows his Father’s purpose, but fears not to give a pressing invitation to all who labor and are heavy laden.
4. One who has all power to receive such as come, and to give rest to them all. This is no vain invitation saying more than it means.
5. One who as the Son of God is infinitely blessed, and yet finds new joy in giving rest to poor restless men.
II. WHOM DOES HE CALL, AND WHY?
1. Laborers, with more than they can do: disquieted, unhappy. These he calls to himself that he may give them rest, and cause them to find rest.
2. Heavy laden ones, with more than they can bear: oppressed, sorrowful, ready to die.
3. The poor and illiterate who need to be taught.
4. The spiritually burdened, who much need a helping hand, and can only find it in him.
III. WHAT CAUSES HIS DESIRE FOR THEM?
Not his own need of them.
Not their personal worthiness.
Nor aught that they are or can ever be. But,—
1. He has a love to our race.
“My delights were with the sons of men”: Pr 8:31.
2. He is himself a man, and knows the needs of men.
IV. HOW THEN SHALL WE TREAT THIS CALL?
1. It is very earnest, let us heed it.
A W Pink asks – What did our Lord here signify, when He bade all the weary and heavy laden to come unto Him? It is quite evident that coming to Christ is something more than a physical act. Coming to Christ in the sense He here invited, is a going out of the soul after Him, a desire for Him, a seeking after Him, a personal embracing of and trusting in Him. It is the heart turning from the love of sin—to the love of holiness; from Self—to the Savior! A saving coming to Christ denotes a turning our backs upon the world—and turning our hearts unto Him as our only Hope and Portion. It is the abandoning of every idol—and the surrendering of ourselves to His Lordship. It is the repudiation of our own righteousness and every dependency, and the heart going out to Him in loving submission and trustful confidence. It is the entire going out of Self with all its resolutions and performances, to cast ourselves upon His grace and mercy. It is the will yielding itself up to His authority to be molded by Him, and to follow Him wherever He may lead. In short, coming to Christ is the whole soul of a guilty and self-condemned sinner—turning unto a whole Christ, in the exercise of all our facilities, responding to His claims upon us, prepared to unreservedly trust, sincerely love, and devotedly serve Him. (Excerpt from The Call of Christ)
J C Ryle asks “What is the invitation to the laboring and heavy laden? Jesus says, “come unto Me.” I love that word “Come.” To me it seems full of grace, mercy and encouragement. “Come now,” says the Lord in Isaiah, “and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Come is the word put in the mouth of the king’s messenger in the parable of the guest-supper: “All is now ready; come unto the marriage.” Come is the last word in the Bible to sinners. “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come.” Jesus does not say, “Go and get ready.” This is the word of the Pharisee and self-righteous. “Go and work out a righteousness. Do this and that and be saved.” Jesus says “Come.”
Jesus does not say “Wait.” This is the word of the enthusiast and the fanatic. “You can do nothing. You must not ask; you cannot pray; you must sit still.” Cold comfort for troubled souls. Jesus says come.”
Come is a word of merciful invitation. It seems to say, “I want you to escape the wrath to come. I am not willing that any should perish. I have no pleasure in death. I would gladly have all men saved, and I offer all the water of life freely. So come to Me.”
Come is a word of gracious expectation. It seems to say, “I am here waiting for you. I sit on my mercy-seat expecting you to come. I wait to be gracious. I wait for more sinners to come in before I close the door. I want more names written down in the book of life before it is closed forever. So come to Me.”
Come is a word of kind encouragement. It seems to say, I have got treasures to bestow if you will only receive them. I have that to give which makes it worth while to come: a free pardon, a robe of righteousness, a new heart, a star of peace. So come to Me.
Brethren, I ask you to hear these words and lay them to heart. I plead for my Master; I stand here an ambassador; I ask you to come and be reconciled to God.
I ask you to come with all your sins, however many they may be. If you come to Him they will be taken away. I ask you to come as you are. You feel unfit; you say you are not good enough. The worse you think yourself, the better prepared you are. Christ is not a Savior of those who think they are righteous—but of sinners. I ask you to come now. No other time is your own. The opportunity past, the door will be shut, and yourself dead. Come now. Come to Christ.
Ah! brethren, I fear that many of you will not take one saving step—will not come to Christ. You go on content with your own devices, like Balaam; like Felix, you never finally come to Christ.
I warn you plainly that you may come to church, and come to the Lord’s table, and come to the minister, and yet never be saved. The one thing needed is actual coming to the Savior, actual coming to the Fountain, actual washing in the blood of atonement. Except you do this, you will die in your sins.
Gird up your loins like a man, and resolve that you will come. Do you feel vile and unworthy to come? Tell it to Jesus. Do you feel as if you know not what to say and do when you come? Tell it to Jesus. Tell Him you are all sin; tell Him you are all weakness; tell Him you feel as if you had no faith and no power, no grace and no strength, no goodness and no love—but come to Him, and commit your soul to His charge. Let nothing keep you back from Christ.
Tell Him you have heard that He receives sinners; that you are such a one, and you want to be saved. Tell Him you have nothing to plead but His own word—but He said Come, and therefore you come to Him. (Come Unto Me).
Octavius Winslow adds that “The life of faith is a constant coming to Jesus for daily, hourly, and fresh supplies.
Let every circumstance and event, every trial, sorrow, and need, be an echo of the gracious life inspiring words: “Go to Jesus!”
Go to Jesus, confessing sin. Go to Jesus, unveiling grief. Go to Jesus, telling need. Go to Jesus, breathing love, desire, and hope.
You are still in the land of famine and of need. But your heavenly Father would remind you that He has anticipated and provided . . .for all your requirements, for all your history, for your daily demands, in Him whom whose fullness fills all in all.
Take the hard heart, or the broken heart; take the cold heart, or the glowing heart; take your barrenness, or your fruitfulness; take the sunbeam of prosperity, or the cloud of adversity; take the joy, take the sorrow; take all to Jesus!
Let Him participate in all, keep you in all, sympathize with all; for Jesus is your Brother, raised up to befriend, relieve, and preserve you in your time of need.
J C Philpot asks “Are you ever weary . . .of the world, of sin, of self, of everything below the skies? If so, you want something to give you rest.
You look to SELF—it is but shifting sand, tossed here and there with the restless tide, and ever casting up mire and dirt. No holding ground; no anchorage; no rest there.
You look to OTHERS—you see what man is, even the very best of men in their best state—how fickle, how unstable, how changing and changeable; how weak even when willing to help; how more likely to add to, than relieve your distress; if desirous to sympathize with and comfort you in trouble and sorrow, how short his arm to help, how unsatisfactory his aid to relieve! You find no rest there.
You lean upon the WORLD—it is but a broken reed which runs into your hand and pierces you. You find no rest there.
So look where you will, there is no rest for the sole of your foot.
John MacDuff addresses the question…
“Oh, where can rest be found?” This is the cry of weary, care worn humanity.
This is the cry embracing every nation and every climate, from the yearnings of heathendom to the longings and aspirations of the present hour. From the tumultuous sea of the world’s unrest, this cry has gone up like a dirge of baffled souls, “Oh, where can rest be found?”
“Come unto me,” is the address of many siren voices, titillating tones of questionable or forbidden pleasure, leading only to . . .unrest, disquiet, heart weariness, life failure; tinted soap bubbles with a momentary iridescence, then collapsing.
The existence of many is a pursuit after spurious and counterfeit rest, misnamed “happiness”; an aimless, vapid life of pleasure; engrossed with objects which bring with them no sense of satisfaction; a dull, weary round on the world’s monotonous treadmill.
Some strive to find rest through the gateway of ethical systems and philosophic tenets.
Others, through the gateway of human merit.
Others through . . .ceremonial observances, fasts and vigils, penances and pilgrimages, rites and ceremonies, creeds and dogmas.
These, and such as these, are alike spurious and unavailing.
“Oh, where can rest be found?”
Matthew 11:28 is the answer, the only real answer!
LEARNING TO REST (Isaiah 30:15) – Many Christians are anxious and troubled. Although they are experiencing the “rest” of salvation that accompanies the forgiveness of sins and are looking forward to the eternal “rest” of heaven, their souls are still in turmoil. Fearful and doubting, they seem to be continually burdened by life’s problems. A closer look at their anxiety can reveal the reason for their distress. Having never learned to rest in the Lord, they fail to experience the “quietness and confidence” (Isaiah 30:15) that comes to those who daily fellowship with Him through Bible study and prayer.
An unknown author has penned a verse describing the problem:
We mutter and sputter, we fume and we spurt;
Don’t let yourself become a victim of fruitless fretting. If you do, you’ll lose the peace and joy that is your rightful heritage. Instead, set aside part of each day to talk with God, thanking Him for who He is and what He has done for you. Then, by reading His word and believing His comforting promises, your faith will grow stronger and a supernatural peace will flood your soul. Jesus said, “Come to Me,…and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). Have you learned to rest in Him? – Henry G. Bosch
When we put our problems in God’s hands,
A band of explorers in Africa hired some villagers to help them on their journey through the jungle. The group set out and pushed on relentlessly for several days. Finally the tribesmen sat down and would go no farther. When asked the reason, their leader answered, “We’ve been going too fast. We must pause and wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies!”
Many Christians who have overextended themselves in a flurry of church activities or other worthwhile pursuits have experienced a similar feeling. Being so preoccupied with helping others, they suddenly feel as if they have left behind the most important part of themselves—their soul. They have lost intimate contact with the Lord.
If our schedule leaves no time for rest and nurturing our spiritual life, we are just too busy! God does not ask us to be constantly on the go, rushing here and there. Sometimes He wants us to “rest a while” so that our souls can “catch up” and be refreshed for the challenges that lie ahead.—H. G. Bosch
REST BY THE FIRE – When guests at The Houstonian Hotel in Houston, Texas, enter the main lobby on a searingly hot summer day, they are often surprised to see flames dancing in a huge stone fireplace. If it’s scorching outside and the air conditioning is humming away, why have a fire burning inside? Because people like to gather around a fire. The gas logs don’t produce much heat, but there’s something warm, inviting, and relaxing about the flickering light. It seems to say, “Pull up a chair, sit clown, and rest awhile.”
As I read the Bible, I often sense that weary, anxious people were drawn to Jesus Christ in much the same way that travelers today are drawn toward the fireplace in that Texas hotel.
A Christian who loves Jesus is sometimes said to be “on fire for the Lord.” What a great way to describe the warm, inviting presence of Christ that radiates from the lives of His children before the eyes of weary people in a troubled world! —D. C. M.
RESTING ON JESUS – A missionary in Africa experienced great difficulty in trying to translate the Gospel of John into the local dialect. He faced the problem of finding a word for believe. When he came to that particular word, he always had to leave a blank space.
Then one day a runner came panting into the camp, having traveled a great distance with a very important message. After blurting out his story, he fell exhausted into a hammock nearby. He muttered a brief phrase that seemed to express both his great weariness and his contentment at finding such a delightful place of relaxation. The missionary, never having heard these words before, asked a bystander what the runner had said. “Oh, he is saying, `I’m at the end of myself, therefore I am resting all of my weight here!”‘ The missionary exclaimed, “Praise God! That is the very expression I need for the word believe!”
REST IN THE STORM – I heard about a submarine that was on patrol during wartime and had to remain submerged overnight. When it resurfaced the next day, a friend on another ship radioed the captain, “How did you fare in that terrible storm last night?” Surprised, the officer exclaimed, “What storm? We didn’t know there was one!” Although the ocean’s surface had been whipped into huge waves by high winds, the vessel was not affected because the waters below remained calm and tranquil.
Someone once outlined the words of Isaiah 26:3 this way:
You—a Precious God.
Perfect peace—a Priceless Possession.
Whose mind is stayed on You—a Present focus.
Because he trusts in You—a Powerful faith.
The believer who is confident of God’s providence, who rests in His grace, and who relies on His Holy Spirit will experience the miracle of His quieting peace. —H. G. Bosch
When we fix our mind on Jesus,
From nature we can learn a lesson about the importance of rest. Built into the life of every tree are stages of dormancy. In his book As a Tree Grows, W Phillip Keller points out that in northern climates the dormant phase is in the winter, and in the tropical regions it is during the hot, dry season. “It is important to understand,” says Keller, that dormancy is not death. A tree may appear to be dead, it is true. The leaves of deciduous trees will be all stripped off in the fall, leaving a stark skeleton. The tree is nevertheless very much alive—but at rest.” He added that this dormancy is immediately followed by a period of active growth. The dormant phase is a rebuilding and reconditioning for the upsurge of vigorous activity ahead.
Some Christians think that inactivity is a waste of time. They see the occasional lulls that come into life as being unproductive. But that is not necessarily the case. Notice what Christ did for His disciples after they had finished a strenuous period of evangelistic activity He led then into the wilderness to rest so they could be restored for further service. —D. C. Egner
Time in Christ’s service
RESTING ON THE BIBLE – Resting on the Bible: — In Newport church, in the Isle of Wight, lies buried the Princess Elizabeth (daughter of Charles the First). A marble monument, erected by our Queen Victoria, records in a touching way the manner of her death. She languished in Carisbrook Castle during the wars of the Commonwealth — a prisoner, alone, and separated from all the companions of her youth, tilt death set her free. She was found dead one day, with her head leaning on her Bible, and the Bible open at the words,
Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
The monument in Newport church records this fact. It consists of a female figure reclining her head on a marble book, with our text engraven on the book. Think, my brethren, what a sermon in stone that monument preaches. Think what a stunning memorial it affords of the utter inability of rank and high birth to confer certain happiness. Think what a testimony it bears to the lesson before you this day — the mighty lesson that there is no true rest for any one excepting in Christ. -Happy will it be for your soul if that lesson is never forgotten.
Here is an excerpt from the related Wikipedia article – Following her death, her grave was largely unmarked until the 19th century, with the exception of her carved initials: E[lizabeth] S[tuart]. Queen Victoria, who made her favourite home at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, commanded that a suitable monument be erected to her memory. In 1856, a white marble sculpture by Queen Victoria’s favorite sculptor Carlo Marochetti was commissioned for her grave that depicted Elizabeth as a beautiful young woman, lying with her cheek on a Bible open to words from Gospel of Matthew: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Above the sculpture is a grating, indicating that she was a prisoner, but the bars are broken to show that the prisoner has now escaped to “a greater rest.” The plaque marking the sculpture reads: “To the memory of The Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Charles I, who died at Carisbrooke Castle on September 8, 1630, and is interred beneath the chancel of this church, this monument is erected as a token of respect for her virtues and of sympathy for her misfortunes, by Victoria R., 1856.” (Princess Elizabeth of England)
MEDITATE, MEDITATE, MEDITATE – Biblical meditation is the key that unlocks the greatest storeroom in the house of God’s provisions for the Christian. Indeed, saturation of our souls with the Scriptures is the secret of satisfaction of our souls! Someone has said that 1 in 100 Christians read Scripture regularly; 1 in 1000 memorize Scripture; but only 1 in 10,000 meditate! As Spurgeon says “No spiritual exercise is more profitable to the soul than that of devout meditation; why are many of us so exceeding slack in it?” He goes on to exhort us to “Read the Bible carefully, and then meditate and meditate and meditate.”
The psalmist affirms “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he MEDITATES day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3) As John Piper says “The deepest mark of this blessed person in Psalm 1 is that he delights in the Word of God. Bible reading and Bible memorization and meditation are not a burden to him, but a pleasure.” He adds that if Bible reading is more of a drudgery than a delight “We must pray for God’s enabling to help us delight in his Word.”
J I Packer explains that “MEDITATION is the activity of CALLING TO MIND, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God (found foremost of course in the Scripture)…It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.” And I would submit the best way of “calling to mind” the Scriptures is to first place them in our mind by intentional memorization. Are you actively MEMORIZING Scripture? If you are not, you will find it difficult to meditate on Scripture “day and night” as advocated in Psalm 1.
Cows chewing cud are often used as an illustration for Biblical meditation. Cows eat the grass and then settle down for a good, long chew. They bring the food back up from their stomachs and rework what they’ve already eaten, assimilating its goodness and transforming it into rich milk. Time-consuming? Yes. A waste of time? Not if they want to give good milk! So too, reading snips off the grass, while meditation chews the cud! God’s Word is not meant to be fast food, so take time for a good long chew. Indeed, reading the Bible without meditating on it is like eating without chewing. What digestion is to the body, meditation is to the soul.
We must read Scripture every day
And meditate on what God said
To fight temptation from the world
And live a life that’s Spirit led. – Sper
As John Piper observes one of our greatest weaknesses in our digital age “is that we do not meditate on the great things of God. Our lives are unbelievably distracted. We are experts at multi-tasking, surfing, and skimming, but it is harder than ever to MEDITATE. Therefore, it is imperative to intentionally cultivate MEDITATION on God’s Word. But how? I call it “going out to pasture”—resting and ruminating (like a cow chewing) on the Word of God, savoring it for the sake of life. If possible, find a consistent time, place, and plan. Then read slowly and carefully. Reread and reread. Read out loud. Read prayerfully. Read with a pen in hand. Memorize texts that you read.” Indeed, memorization is a first step to meditation. You cannot chew what you have not placed in your mouth!
Puritan Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) adds “It is not hasty reading—but serious MEDITATION on holy and heavenly truths, which makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee which gathers honey, but her abiding for a time on the flower which draws out the sweet nectar (cf Ps 19:10; 119:103). It is not he who reads most, but he who MEDITATES most, who will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”
Spurgeon adds that “Meditation and prayer are twin sisters and both of them appear to me equally necessary to Christian life. I think meditation must exist where there is prayer, and prayer is sure to exist where there is meditation.” Indeed, meditation fits a man for supplication!
Jehovah instructed Joshua on how to possess his possessions as he prepared to enter the promised land – “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth (How is this best achieved? By memorizing the Word), but you shall MEDITATE on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (Joshua 1:8). Joshua was to meditate on God’s Word so that he might possess a land promised by God. Dear Christ follower we too are to MEDITATE on God’s Word so that we might possess not a land but a LIFE, an abundant LIFE promised by Jesus (Jn 10:10). And we will be enabled to “possess our possessions” and become partakers of His divine nature as we meditate on the truth that we have been granted Christ’s “precious and magnificent promises” in addition to “everything pertaining to life and godliness.” (2Pe 1:4,3) As Spurgeon says “Grasp these sweet promises, thresh them out by MEDITATION and feed on them with joy.”
What made C H Spurgeon such a powerful preacher of the Word? There are probably many answers to this question, but the following quotes from Spurgeon suggest one of his “secrets” – “I quarry out the Truth when I read, but I smelt the ore and get the pure gold out of it when I MEDITATE! For lack of MEDITATION the Truth of God runs by us and we miss and lose it. Our treacherous memory is like a sieve—and what we hear and what we read runs through it and leaves but little behind—and that little is often unprofitable to us by reason of our lack of diligence to get thoroughly at it. We must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation therefrom. I often find it very profitable to get a text as a sweet morsel under my tongue in the morning and to keep the flavor of it, if I can, in my mouth all day!”
“I will MEDITATE on all Your work and muse on Your deeds.” (Ps 77:12) Spurgeon exhorts us to “meditate much on heaven, for it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.”
“O how I love Thy law! It is my MEDITATION all the day. Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my MEDITATION.” (Psalm 119:97-99) Spurgeon – “It is an admirable plan to fix your thoughts upon some text of Scripture before you leave your bedroom in the morning—it will sweeten your MEDITATION all the day.”
Are you having trouble falling to sleep? Redeem the time like the psalmists – “My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may MEDITATE on Your Word.” (Ps 119:148) “When I remember You on my bed, I MEDITATE on You in the night watches.” (Ps 63:6) “If day’s cares tempt us to forget God, it is well that night’s quiet should lead us to remember Him. We see best in the dark if we there see God best. Night is congenial, in its silence and darkness, to a soul which would forget the world, and rise into a higher sphere. Absorption in the most hallowed of all themes makes watches which would otherwise be weary glide away all too rapidly. Meditation causes the lonely and hard couch to yield the most delightful repose – repose more restful than even sleep itself. We read of beds of ivory, but beds of piety are far better. Some revel in the night, but they are not a tenth so blessed as those who ruminate on the Word of God.” (Spurgeon) “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will MEDITATE.” (Psalm 145:5)
As Spurgeon said “Words of the mouth are mockery if the heart does not MEDITATE. The shell is nothing without the kernel; but both together are useless unless accepted; and even if accepted by man, it is all vanity if not acceptable in the sight of God.” And so may our prayer ever be “Let the words of my mouth and the MEDITATION of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Amen (Psalm 19:14)
(1) Primer on Biblical Meditation
(2) Memorizing His Word
THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE – What does 2016 hold for each of us beloved? Our Father knows (best). We do not. G Campbell Morgan wisely said therefore “Let the year be given to God in its every moment! The year is made up of minutes: let these be watched as having been dedicated to God! It is in the sanctification of the small that hallowing of the large is secure.”
“Time that is past we can never recall.
Of time to come, we are not sure at all.
Only the present is now in our power,
Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.” -Anonymous
Time is a strange commodity — we cannot save it, retrieve it, relive it, stretch it, borrow it, loan it, stop it or store it , but can only use it or lose it. We can’t call “time out” in the game of life and there are no “instant replays” as in the game of football. Job in the midst of the trial of his life was very sensitive to the brevity of life declaring “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle…my life is but breath… my days are swifter than a runner. They flee away. They slip by like reed boats, like an eagle that swoops on its prey. Man, who is born of woman, is of few days, and full of trouble. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He flees like a shadow and does not remain.” (Job 7:6-7, 9:25-26, 14:1-2) A poet phrased it well — “When as a child I laughed and wept, time crept. When as a youth I dreamed and talked, time walked. When I became a full grown man, time ran. When older still I daily grew, time flew. Soon I shall find in traveling on, time gone.” And so while we cannot control the length of our days, yet by God’s grace we can control their depth, for we know that our Redeemer lives (Job 19:25) and that He is on our side (Ps 124:1-2–note, cf Ro 8:31-32–note).
Our vigor is fleeting, our best years are brief,
Our youth passes quickly—time’s ever a thief;
But hope yet becomes us—death’s sting holds no power;
We have a Redeemer—an unfailing Tower. —Gustafson
James wrote you “do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:15) When the great artist Raphael died at the early age of 37, friends and relatives carried his marvelous but unfinished painting The Transfiguration in the funeral procession. His family felt that because of the limited time he was allotted to use his creative genius, the painting was an appropriate symbol of his unfulfilled earthly aspirations. That half-completed picture has another meaning–a message that should impress itself on all of us: Life is fleeting and death may come unexpectedly. We should treasure each hour as a gift of great value and use it to the best advantage. And so we do well to pray the prayer of Moses the man of God “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.…. Our lives last seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years. Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow; indeed, they pass quickly and we fly away….SO TEACH US to number our DAYS, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:1-2, 10, 12–note) The root meaning of the verb translated “NUMBER” is “to weigh” or “to measure.” We are to place each DAY in the divine balance so that it tips the scales in such a way that will bring glory to God and blessing to the lives of others. Remember that there is no time after time, but there is an eternity. Indeed, time is but the fringe of eternity!
Reflect for a moment what time of day it would be today if Moses’ normal life span of “70 years” were were squeezed into a single 24-hour day. For example, if you are 59, the time is approximately 8:30pm. For me as I approach my 70th birthday, it would be near midnight! In fact, this Christmas I considered asking my children for a watch called the “Tikker” which not only tells time but calculates your estimated life span, and displays a running countdown of your remaining time! It is advertised as the watch “that counts down your life, just so you can make every second count!” That’s not a bad tagline Biblically speaking! So the question is…
How much time? We are never sure,
But at least we have today
To seek to do the Master’s will,
In all we do and say. —Fitzhugh
David a man after God’s own heart echoed a prayer similar to Moses — “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my DAYS are numbered–how fleeting my life is.” (Ps 39:4NLT) Did you notice that the prayers of both men specify “DAYS” not years? Most men number their life in years, but wise men number their lives in DAYS. David goes on to write “BEHOLD, Thou hast made my DAYS as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight. Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah…. And now Lord what do I wait for? My hope is in You” (Ps 39:5,7–note) For what are you waiting? And how can you be sure that what you’re waiting for is going to come to pass? In light of the brevity of life, David’s HOPE was in Jehovah. Biblical hope is not “hope so,” but “hope sure,” a mindset that gives us an absolute assurance that God will do good to us in the future. The “Tikker” is ticking. Today is the DAY for us to seek God’s presence and power to enable us to be the people He wants us to be. And finding HOPE in our eternal God gives meaning for our daily lives however long or short. As Spurgeon explains “a handbreadth is one of the shortest natural measures, being the breadth of four fingers; such is the brevity of life, by divine appointment; God hath made it so, fixing the period in wisdom. David’s “BEHOLD” calls us to attention. To some the thoughts of life’s hastiness will bring the most acute pain, but to others the most solemn earnestness. How well should those live who are to live so little! Is my earthly pilgrimage so brief? Then let me watch every step of it, that in the little time there may be much of grace.” Selah – Pause and reflect on these things remembering that it is not HOW LONG you live that counts, but HOW WELL you live. Don’t spend time. Invest it! Don’t spend it on futility. Invest it in eternity! “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl 9:10).
One life for Christ is all I have,
One life for Him so dear;
One life for doing all I can
With every passing year. —Brandt
Moses and David were both seeking God’s wisdom to live in the eternal now, to live in light of eternity, knowing that TODAY is the only DAY of which one can be certain. We need to give God our days, confident that He will take care of our tomorrows. “Yesterday is but a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is all of the cash that you have. Spend it wisely.” Indeed, we are stewards of every God-given DAY. DAYS wasted can never be recovered. No man ever possessed the same moment twice! One DAY we will all give an account for the opportunities God gave us each day of our life (2Cor 5:10–note). We have all been allotted the same amount of time each day. May God grant that we learn to view every minute as precious, seeking to use it for His glory, for as the poet put it “I have only just a minute – only 60 seconds in it./ Forced upon me – can’t refuse it/ But it’s up to me just how I use it; I must suffer if I lose it./ Give account if I abuse it./ Just a tiny little minute – but eternity is in it.” Amen
SO THE QUESTION IS “AM I REDEEMING THE TIME OF MY LIFE?” To help answer that question ask yourself what do you really value most in life? Undoubtedly God, Jesus, family, etc are at the top of your list. But did you remember to include “TIME?” Ephesians 5:15-16–note has been called the Bible’s key to TIME MANAGEMENT. In these passages Paul commands all believers “Therefore (because we have been awakened from spiritual stupor and spiritual death and have the light of Christ – Eph 5:14–note) BE CAREFUL(a command to continually take heed, be alert, be vigilant, to discern with Spirit enabled vision) how you walk, not as unwise men (foolishly), but as wise, MAKING THE MOST OF (REDEEMING) THE OPPORTUNITY (Kairos) because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:16) Notice that the evil of our day should motivate us to redeem the time each day. C H Spurgeon paraphrases Eph 5:16–note–“See then that ye walk circumspectly (being careful to consider all circumstances and all possible consequences), not carelessly, not thinking that it is of no importance how you live; but looking all round you, “walk circumspectly,” watching lest even in seeking one good thing you spoil another.” In other words, if we walk wisely, we will be careful not to let the good steal God’s best! Charles Hummel, author of “Tyranny of the Urgent,” wrote that our “greatest danger is letting the urgent (secular, temporal) things crowd out the important (divine, eternal things).” Our problem is that too often we live by life’s demands, instead of by God’s priorities. Remember that life is too short for us to do everything we want to do, but it is long enough for us to do everything God wants us to do.
Paul gives a parallel command in Colossians to “Conduct (command to make this your habitual practice enabled by the Spirit) yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, MAKING THE MOST OF (same verb as Eph 5:16) the OPPORTUNITY (KAIROS). Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” (Col 4:5-6–note) The verb MAKING THE MOST OF (REDEEMING) (Eph 5:16, Col 4:5) literally means to “buy out of the market place” as would a wise merchant diligently seeking the best bargains, taking care not to miss the fleeting “opportunities!” MAKING THE MOST OF is in the present tense which calls for us to make redemption of time our daily practice, buying up the strategic opportunities which God providentially places in our path. If we are walking wisely (Eph 5:15–note), filled with (continually controlled and enabled by) God’s Spirit (Eph 5:18–note), we will be spiritually alert to divine OPPORTUNITIES and will begin to view people and circumstances not simply as encounters (or irritations) but as opportunities (and “invitations”) to impact eternity, as we learn to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Cor 4:18–note).
Think of redeeming the time this way – If each day someone gave you $1440 (the number of minutes in a day) and said spend it or lose it, most of us would be quite motivated to wisely spend every dollar! A survey asked “What do you have to live for?” to which 94% answered they were just enduring today and living for tomorrow. That is living unwisely (Eph 5:15–note). Too many people miss TODAY because they are worrying about TOMORROW (cf Jesus’ words in Mt 6:34–note). Adrian Rogers said “We face the future out of breath, because we have been fighting tomorrow’s battles today!” Instead of killing time, redeem it. Instead of counting the days, make your days count. “ETERNITY will be appreciated only in the measure that we have rightly handled TIME!” Spurgeon said “‘NOW’ should be the watchword of the wise.” LATER may be too late! Right NOW counts for eternity. To make our life count for eternity, we must be wise in how we spend our time today. What will your eternal harvest be? A popular slogan says, “Life Is Short—Party Hard.” But God, Who gives us eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, reminds us that “Life Is Short—Live It Well!” It’s not how long you live that counts, but how well you live, for a life lived for God will count for eternity. To make the most of our earthly existence, we must lose ourselves in the will of God, living “the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1Pe 4:2–note).
I do not ask for honor, fame
While life’s short race I run,
But for a will to do Thy will
And then Thy glad “Well done.” —Meadows
In Ephesians 5:16 the word TIME is the Greek word KAIROS which can also be translated as OPPORTUNITY (as in Col 4:5) or SEASON (Ps 1:3 in the Lxx). In ancient Greece “Kairos” was a mythological character who had a forelock by which you could seize him when you met him, but who was bald in the back, so once he had sped past (his statute had wings on his feet), he could not be seized again. And so kairos refers to a fixed and definite period of time during which something can be accomplished that cannot be accomplished after the time has passed. The idea of kairos is not “clock time” (Gk – chronos) but what one writer refers to as “kingdom opportunities.” The time/opportunity for bringing forth fruit is the spring SEASON in which the tree bears fruit (Ps 1:3). Once the season has passed, there is no fruit. And so in a spiritual sense kairos is the time which God allots to each believer to bring forth “spiritual fruit.” Therefore it behooves us, enabled by the Spirit, to “Seize the Day” (Carpe diem) because Tempus fugit (Time flies)! Kill time and you murder opportunity. History records that when Hannibal could have taken Rome he did not, and when he later sought to he could not. As Horace Mann put it “Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.” Kairos represents the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable. Kairos can be a moment or a season, but always refers to specific times in which opportunity is “ripe”, so that when the time passes, so does the opportunity.
Our English word OPPORTUNITY is derived from the Latin “ob portu.” In ancient times before modern harbors, ships had to wait for the timing of the tide before they could make it safely to port. Thus “OB PORTU,” described the ship waiting “FOR PORT,” ready to seize the crucial moment when it could ride the tide into safe harbor. The captain knew that if he missed the passing tide, the ship would have to wait for another tide to come in. God gives each of us many “ob portu’s”, but we must be spiritually wise and Spirit filled in order to see and seize them. As Charles Swindoll said “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities (ob portu’s) brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Shakespeare’s famous line from Julius Caesar conveys the same thought: “There is a tide in the affairs of men (an “ob portu”), Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.” Napoleon said, “There is in the midst of every great battle a ten to fifteen minute period that is the crucial point (kairos). Take that period and you win the battle; lose it and you will be defeated.” In short, KAIROS conveys the sense of an “opportune time,” a “window of opportunity”. “Opportunity is the flower of time which blooms for a moment and is gone for ever.” (G Barlow) John Broadus said “Opportunity is like a fleet horse that pauses for a moment at one’s side. If you fail to mount him in that moment, you can hear the clatter of his hoofs down the corridors of time. That opportunity is gone forever.” Jonathan Edwards America’s greatest theologian understood Paul’s charge to REDEEM THE TIME and as a young man wrote “Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can. Resolved: to live with all my might while I do live.”
A farmer’s clock ran amuck one morning and struck seventeen. The man of the house jumped up and ran all over the place, saying, “Get up, it’s later than it ever has been before!” It is later than it ever has been by God’s eternal timepiece. It is later than you think! Today you are as young as you will ever be. Don’t vacillate! Don’t hesitate! Don’t procrastinate! Time is loaned to us and, as good stewards of Christ, enabled by His Spirit we must use it wisely. Let us each redeem the golden moments of opportunity while we still can! “Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” (Ps 144:4) As Spurgeon (who went home at age 59) said “A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour!” Spurgeon in fact reduced our lives to four words “Sown, groan, blown, gone!” As Larry Moyer said “Decide now what you want written on your tombstone, then live your life backward from there.” Stated another way, instead of counting your days, make your days count! Ask yourself what would you change if this day were your last? In fact, we should live every day as if it might be our last, for one of these days we will be right!
Now is the only time we own
To do His precious will,
Do not wait until tomorrow;
For the clock may then be still.
John Piper reiterates that the “OPPORTUNITY will never come again. The days are evil; opposition is great; be wise as serpents (Mt 10:16). Understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:17-note)…These words ring with a sense of urgency. They are like the words of a platoon leader addressing his unit just before they enter combat. The air is tense and your heart is beating fast and, even if you love battle, your hands are sweaty. “Watch your step; be smart; don’t miss your opportunity; keep yourself lean for the battle!”…In other words, the Christian life is a vigilant life, defensively guarding itself from the subtleties of the evil days and offensively redeeming the time to strike for love and righteousness again and again. We are a vigilant people at war with unbelief and evil. O to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me…Surely God means for our minutes on earth to count for something significant. Paul said, “In the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” (Php 2:16–note). In the same way, I have good hope from the Lord that my “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1Cor 15:58–note). And I commend this promise to you. No minute need be lived in vain. Eternity will render it significant if lived in faith for the glory of God. In the end we rest in this: “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15–note).
Adoniram Judson a famous missionary to Burma wrote that “A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated throughout eternity. The same may be said of each DAY. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever. Each DAY will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny. How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, (enabled by God’s Spirit) resolve to send the DAY into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more DAY is irrevocably gone, indelibly (forever) marked.” Eternity will reveal whether we have made the right use of time for what we weave in time we will wear in eternity. David Brainerd whose candle burned so brightly that God brought him home at the relatively young age of 29 wrote in his diary “Oh, how precious is time; and how guilty it makes me feel when I think I have trifled away and misemployed it or neglected to fill up each part of it with duty to the utmost of my ability and capacity. Oh, that I might not loiter on my heavenly journey!” It’s too late to redeem the time that is past, but not the time that is passing! Clocks don’t move backwards! So don’t replay those old tapes of failures of unfaithfulness. The hands of the time of your life that count are the ones moving “clockwise!” So enabled by God’s Spirit and His Word, make every second count for eternity!
Time that is past you can never recall,
Of time to come, you are not sure at all;
Only the present is now in your power,
Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.—Unknown
Adrian Rogers offers some practical thoughts on redeeming the time: (1) Learn to live in the eternal now. Today is the only day you have. Redeem the time. (2) Stop saying, “If I had time.” You do have time. (3) Stop worrying about tomorrow, and stop waiting for tomorrow. Give God today, and He will take care of tomorrow. (4) Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today. Cut yourself loose from the past. Bury your failure in the grave of God’s forgetfulness (read Micah 7:18-19, Isaiah 43:25, 44:22), and let Him give you a brand new day. (5) If you have not accepted Christ, now is the time “for He says, “At the acceptable time (kairos = the opportune time!) I listened to you and on the day of salvation I helped you”; behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (kairos),” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” (2Cor 6:2)
Let us pray like the old Puritans in Valley of Vision — “Turn my heart from vanity, from dissatisfactions, from uncertainties of the present state, to an eternal interest in Christ. Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen, and is only an opportunity for usefulness; GIVE ME A HOLY AVARICE TO REDEEM THE TIME, to awake at every call to charity (love) and piety (godliness), so that I may feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant, reclaim the vicious, forgive the offender, diffuse the Gospel, show neighborly love to all. Let me live a life of self-distrust, dependence on Thyself (Thy Spirit), mortification, crucifixion, prayer.” Amen
Dear reader, may God by His Spirit cause each of us to so order our steps that when that great day comes we might hear those glorious words “Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful in a few things, I will put your in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your Master.” (Mt 25:21) “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:12–note)
The famous missionary C T Studd penned these words…
Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice,
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave.
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes and fears,
Each with its days I must fulfill,
Living for self or in His will.
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Now take a moment, as you ponder the moments of your life which remain and the poignant words of Robin Mark’s song…
When It’s All Been Said and Done
There is just one thing that matters.
Did I do my best to live for Truth?
Did I live my life for You?
When It’s All Been Said and Done
All my treasures will mean nothing.
Only what I’ve done for love’s reward,
Will stand the test of time.
IMMANUEL, EMMANUEL (GOD WITH US): We can condense all the truth of Christmas into three words “God With Us,” not just as a baby in a manger, but as Immanuel, the omnipotent Creator of heaven and earth!Immanuel is a transliteration of the original Hebrew word derived from Immanu (with us) and El (God), while Emmanuel is a transliteration of the Greek “Emmanouel.” Whether spelled with an I or an E “every name of Christ is like a honeycomb dripping with honey, and luscious are the drops that distill from it.” (CHS) Indeed, Jesus’ Name IMMANUEL emphasizes His nearness, for His birth brought the infinite, holy God within reach of finite, sinful man. God came to live WITH US us so we could live WITH HIM! The Son of GOD became the Son of MAN that He might change the sons of MEN into sons of GOD (1Jn 3:1), who can forever “draw near with confidence (boldness) to the Throne of grace” through Immanuel (Heb 4:16). God grant us grace to come aside from our frantic pace and meditate on the great Name Immanuel, the mystery of godliness “revealed in the flesh.” (1Ti 3:16). “O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His Name (Immanuel) together.” (Ps 34:3) “Blessed be His glorious NAME (Immanuel) forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen.” (Ps 72:19)
Immanuel! God with us in His meekness;
Immanuel! God with us in His might,
To bind our wounds, to gift with strength our weakness,
To bring us, redeemed, to the home of light – Morgan
Matthew Henry wrote that “By the light of nature we see God as a God above us (Ps 19:1-2); by the light of the Law we see Him as a God against us (Col 2:14); but by the light of the Gospel we see Him as IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US.” He was God FOR us before He became God WITH us, and it was because He was FOR us that He became God WITH us. And so C H Spurgeon rightly says IMMANUEL “is eternity’s sonnet, heaven’s hallelujah, the shout of the glorified, the song of the redeemed, the chorus of angels, the everlasting oratorio of the great orchestra of the sky.” “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as Man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.” (John Wesley) Let us praise the One Who is both transcendent and yet approachable, God Most High and yet God Most Close, God With Us, Immanuel!
IMMANUEL WAS FORETOLD – The Name “Immanuel” occurs only three times in the Bible, but the truth of “GOD WITH US” permeates the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. We first see Immanuel as God with Adam, the “LORD God walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day” (Ge 3:8), Creator communing with creature, until that awful day when “sin entered into the world and death (symbolic of separation entered) through sin” (Ro 5:12). Thereafter God’s interactions with man were generally MORE REMOTE (the Lord descended upon a mountain that could not even be touched! Ex 19:18, Heb 12:18-19), LESS PERSONAL (pillar of cloud by day and fire by night Ex 13:21-22) and LESS ACCESSIBLE (Only the high priest could enter the Holy of holies once per year – Lev 16:31-34). And yet because of His abounding lovingkindnesses (Ps 103:8), God “set eternity in our heart” (Eccl 3:11), giving every person a deep yearning to intimately know Him, for “that which is known about God is evident within us.” (Ro 1:19) But it is not enough to know that God is “up there” or “out there” somewhere. We want to know that God has come down to where we are, that He knows where we live, that He knows our name, that He cares about us, that He has “walked this lonesome valley” we walk. We want to know that we are not alone in the universe. Even wise Solomon asked “will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth?” (2Chr 6:18) In His great grace and mercy, God answered through the prophet Isaiah who foretold that “the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him IMMANUEL” (Isaiah 7:14). And so our hearts sing “O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear.”
IMMANUEL WAS FULFILLED – The young boy looked into the sky and asked his mother, “Is God up there?” When she assured him that He was, he replied, “Wouldn’t it be nice if He would put His head out and let us see Him?” What the boy didn’t understand was that God has let us see Him—in Immanuel. We don’t have to guess what God is like. Nor do we have to wonder if He’s alive. Matthew described His miraculous birth writing “Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold (pay attention!), the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His Name IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” (Mt 1:22-23) Not God without us! Not God against us! But God with us! While Emmanuel in Isaiah 7:14 was a sign of God’s deliverance of Israel from temporal trouble, the Name Immanuel in Mt 1:23 is a sign of God’s deliverance of sinners from eternal trouble! The Father sent Messiah to earth as a Man and the eternal “Word became flesh” (Jn 1:1, 14). In Immanuel, the Infinite became Finite, the Divine became Human, while remaining fully God and fully Man, veiling His Majesty (2Pe 1:16) in Meekness (Mt 11:29). The King of glory became the servant of men (Php 2:7-8, Mk 10:45). “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2Cor 9:15)! Little wonder that as John Wesley lay dying in 1791, he roused himself, opened his eyes, and exclaimed “The best of all is, GOD IS WITH US!” Then he closed his eyes and fell asleep in Jesus, His Immanuel! Indeed, as Spurgeon affirmed, Jesus Christ is “IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor.” “There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins, And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains, Lose all their guilty stains.” (William Cowper)
The Gospel of Matthew opens with “Behold!…IMMANUEL…GOD WITH US” (Mt 1:23) and closes with the assuring words “Behold! I AM WITH YOU always!” (Mt 28:20) Immanuel is with us through His indwelling Spirit (Ro 8:9), in His Word and by His providential care. GOD WITH US allowed Jesus to be crucified as the God-Man, so that He could be GOD IN US, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). And if He is GOD IN US, then He is also GOD FOR US for a Paul says “If GOD IS FOR US, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Ro 8:31-32) “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as Man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel. Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King!’” (Charles Wesley)
IMMANUEL WILL ENDURE – From Genesis to Revelation, from “the garden of Eden” (Ge 2:15) to “the paradise of God” (Rev 2:7), God is IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US. John testifies to the surpassing richness of the future grace to be revealed to us (Eph 2:7, 1Pe 1:13) writing “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is WITH MEN, and He shall dwell WITH THEM, and they shall be His people, and GOD HIMSELF SHALL BE WITH THEM.” (Rev 21:3) Jesus descended to be GOD WITH US so that as a Man He might be “pierced through FOR” US (“for our transgressions”). (Isa 53:5) After His resurrection Immanuel’s wounds remained visible to His disciples on Earth (Jn 20:20, 27) and will remain visible to His bondservants in Heaven. Standing in heaven, John writes “I saw between the throne a Lamb standing, as if slain (~His scars!)” (Rev 5:6) As one has said, “the only man-made thing in heaven will be the scars of the Savior.” “The first Heaven and the first earth” will pass away (Rev 21:1), but the Lamb’s scars will endure eternally, marks that will forever testify of His unfailing covenant love. As Spurgeon says “Wonderfully true is this fact: when you and I come to the closing scene of life we will find that Immanuel, “GOD WITH US” has been there. He felt the pangs and throes of death. We will be raised in His likeness, and the first sight our opening eyes will see is the incarnate Lamb of God, GOD WITH US. We will see Him as Man and as God, and throughout all eternity He will maintain the most intimate relationship with us. As long as ages roll, He will be “GOD WITH US.” Both His human and divine life will last forever, and so too will our life.” He came in time as Immanuel on earth that He might be in eternity our Immanuel in heaven, God with us, we with Him, bound fast by the unbreakable union of the everlasting, new covenant in His blood, forever sealed by the marks on His glorified body! Hallelujah! Let us gratefully exalt “All hail to Thee, IMMANUEL, we cast our crowns before Thee; Let every heart obey Thy will, and every voice adore Thee. In praise to Thee, our Savior King, the vibrant chords of Heaven ring, And echo back the mighty strain: All hail! All hail! All hail IMMANUEL!” (D R Van Sickle)
IMMANUEL APPLIED: In our daily experience, when trials unexpectedly assault us, do we run to the Strong Tower of Jesus’ Name IMMANUEL that we might be safe (literally “lifted up” above the fray)? (Pr 18:10, Ps 91:14) I fear many of us (myself included) are too often like the children of Israel who showed their lack of faith asking “Is the LORD among us or not?” (Ex 17:7) We need to take up the shield of faith (Eph 6:16) and remind ourselves that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Heb 13:8) and that He has promised “I will absolutely never, not ever, leave you, no, never, not ever forsake you.” (Heb 13:5 five negatives in Greek!) Indeed, what we need even more than deliverance from trouble is the firm confidence that Jesus is our IMMANUEL in the midst of our trouble. The secret of peace is not a plan or program but a Person, IMMANUEL, God with us (cp Ps 20:7). David testifies “those who know (intimately, by experience) Thy Name (IMMANUEL) will put their trust in Thee.” (Ps 9:10) Knowing and trusting in His Name IMMANUEL is God’s antidote for fear. When Israel feared the giants in the land God had promised them, Moses reminded them “the LORD is WITH US. Do not FEAR!” (Nu 14:9) When “giants” arise, danger threatens or calamity strikes, we can be assured of Immanuel’s personal presence and power to comfort and calm our storm tossed souls with His encouraging words “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Jn 14:27) In our “valley times,” we do well to remind ourselves of David’s affirmation that “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I FEAR no evil, FOR (David explains why he has no fear) YOU ARE WITH ME (Immanuel), Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps 23:4) In Isaiah God tenderly exhorts us “Do not fear, for I AM WITH YOU. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isa 41:10, cf Dt 20:1, Isa 43:5). Enabled by the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7), let us put our faith in His Name IMMANUEL and put our fears to rest! And when fear knocks at our door, may God grant us the grace to send faith to open it! “Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Ris’n with healing in His wings.” (C. Wesley)
IMMANUEL SUMMARIZED: Spurgeon declares “If GOD be WITH US, we are in ennobling company, even though we are poor and despised. If GOD be WITH US, we have all-sufficient strength (2Cor 12:9), for nothing can be too difficult for the Lord (Ge 18:14). If GOD be WITH US, we are always safe, for none can harm those who walk under His shadow (Ps 57:1). Oh, what a joy we have here! Not only is GOD WITH US, but He will be with us— with us as individuals, with us as families, with us as churches. Is not the very Name of Jesus, IMMANUEL—GOD WITH US? Is not this the best of all, that GOD IS WITH US? Let us be bravely diligent and joyously hopeful. Our cause must prosper, the truth must win, for GOD is WITH THOSE who are WITH HIM!”
PRAYER: Consider praying Spurgeon’s prayer “Blessed IMMANUEL, we gladly obey You! In You our darkness ends and from the shadow of death we rise to the Light of life. It is salvation to be obedient to You (Jn 3:36). It is the end of gloom to the one that was in anguish to bow himself before You. May God the Holy Spirit take of the things of Christ and show them unto us, and then we shall all cry— “Go worship at Immanuel’s feet! See in His face what wonders meet! Earth is too narrow to express; His worth, His grace, His righteousness.” to which we add “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Amen
Play Michael Card’s song…
DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD: The Double Cure For Our Fretting and Fulfilling Our Desires – In Psalm 37 David is old (Ps 37:25) and thus speaks wise words of an a man after God’s own heart who has spent much of his life dwelling in the presence of Jehovah. And so first let us observe that David uses the verb FRET 3 times in the first 8 verses (Ps 37:1,7-8), interweaving it with God’s antidotes for fretting. In fact he exhorts us to do several things to counter fretting (Ps 37:2 understand evildoers final fate, Ps 37:3 Trust in the Lord, Ps 37:3 Do good, Ps 37:3 Cultivate faithfulness, Ps 37:5 Commit your way to the Lord, Ps 37:5Trust Him, Ps 37:7 Rest in the Lord, Ps 37:7 Wait patiently for Him) but one activity that is unique is the command (not a suggestion) to “DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD.” Notice that the verb fret has an interesting derivation from an Old English word (fretan) meaning to devour, which gives us a vivid picture of fretting, which is allowing something to “eat away” or “gnaw away” thus producing an envious, agitated, vexed or worried mind. Unfortunately fretting comes far too naturally to our fallen flesh, the old adversary, that Adamic nature still resident in our mortal body (Ro 7:18–note, Gal 5:17–note). And so in Ps 37:4 David gives us God’s antidote, charging us to change our focus from fretting on evil doers to delighting in our good God, writing “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Unfortunately my flesh too often “inverts” the order of the passage and focuses on my reward (the fulfilling of my desires) rather than the fulfilling of my responsibility (delight). David’s order however clearly shows us that precepts come before promises, responsibility before rewards and delight before desires. So I need to take an honest inventory – “Am I truly delighting in the Lord?” To answer that question let us meditate on what it means to DELIGHT. And let us pray like the godly Puritan Richard Baxter “May the living God, Who is the portion and rest of His saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly that loving Him, and DELIGHTING in Him, may be the work of our lives.” Amen
In Psalm 37:4 the Hebrew verb for DELIGHT (anag) is a command which charges us to find our enjoyment in Jehovah. Another Hebrew word for delight (chephets) means to bend toward or incline toward, a very fitting description of what our attitude should be toward our Almighty God! A NT parallel of Ps 37:4 is Php 4:4–notewhich is also a command to continually “Rejoice in the Lord.” If we attempt to DELIGHT in God out of a sense of duty, it will not be a delight but a drudgery! But God never gives a commandment without also providing the enablement. So how do we arouse a desire to delight and rejoice in the Lord? Simply put, we can’t but God can! Paul commands us to work out our salvation (e.g., to DELIGHT), explaining that this is possible because “God is working (Gk = energeo ~ continually energizing) in us, giving us the DESIRE and the POWER to do what pleases Him.” (Phil 2:12-13NLT–note) Note that we are both responsible and dependent! And so we work out what God’s Spirit works in! We daily make the choice to renounce reliance on self efforts to muster up the affection to delight out of a sense of duty, and instead rely on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ alone can stir in our hearts this DESIRE and give us the supernatural power to DELIGHT in Jehovah. As A W Tozer said “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit (and) when the Holy Spirit shows us God as He is we admire Him to the point of wonder and DELIGHT.” James Smith explains that “Sin has taken our attention off of God – and fixed it upon ourselves, or the things around us. Grace calls our attention off of everything else – to fix it upon God. It directs us to DELIGHT in the Lord.” Puritan Stephen Charnock adds that “This DELIGHT (in Ps 37:4) springs from the Spirit of God. Not a spark of fire on your own hearth is able to kindle this spiritual DELIGHT; it is the Holy Spirit Who breathes such a heavenly heat into our affections. The Spirit is the fire that kindles the soul, the spring that moves the watch, the wind that drives the ship. Just as prayer is the work of the Spirit in the heart, so DELIGHT in prayer owes itself to the same Author.” As an unknown Puritan prayed “When I think upon and converse with Thee, ten thousand DELIGHTFUL thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.” (Valley of Vision)
May God’s Spirit stir our hearts to delight in the LORD as we pray David’s words asking that we might “feast on the abundance of Your house and…drink from the river of Your DELIGHTS.” (Ps 36:8, Jn 4:14, 7:38-39–note) “Dear fountain of DELIGHT unknown!/No longer sink below the brim/But overflow, and pour me down/A living and life-giving stream!” Amen (William Cowper)
What does delighting in the Lord look like practically? If we delight in a person, we desire to be in their presence and to hear their voice. Indeed, we should seek to be like the blessed man whose “DELIGHT is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Ps 1:2–note) And like the psalmist who “opened wide his mouth and panted, because he longed for God’s precepts.” (Ps 119:131, 40) We need to daily chose to “delight in His commandments, which we love.” (Ps 119:47) We should be like a young couple who is so in love that their greatest desire is to be in each other’s company prompting them to rearrange all their priorities! Why? Not because that was their duty but because it was their greatest desire and delight! This begs the question “Do I DELIGHT in God’s Word like this? Do I set aside time to commune with Him in His Word because I DELIGHT in hearing to His voice? Has my quiet time become “too quiet,” because I have begun to see it more as a duty than a DELIGHT?”
May God’s Spirit revive our hearts according to His Word (Ps 119:25) that we might be like Jeremiah who said “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the DELIGHT of my heart.” (Jer 15:16–note) If we truly DELIGHT in Jehovah, we desire not only to spend time with Him, listening to His voice in His Word, but also longing to speak with Him. We need to imitate godly Nehemiah who prayed “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who DELIGHT to fear (reverence) Your Name.” (Neh 1:11) And may our heart be like “Mary, who was listening (cpPs 81:10b) to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet” and not like “Martha (who) was distracted…worried (fretting) and bothered about so many things.” Indeed, may we delight in Jesus’ words that “There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:38-42) Remember, beloved, that our Lord desires our delight before our duty, our presence before our presents! Father grant that by Your Spirit we like the saints of old might discover that the one thing that is important in time and eternity is to sit lost in DELIGHT at our Savior’s feet communing with Him through His Word and prayer. Amen
To DELIGHT in the Lord is to desire to be near Him, to be like the OT saints who cried “My soul longs for Thee, as a parched land. Selah.” (Ps 143:6) “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I DESIRE nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps 73:25-26) When we DELIGHT in the Lord we come to understand more fully that “the nearness of God is our good,” (Ps 73:28) and that “a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Ps 84:10) And as we learn to delight in Jehovah, we will desire even more to daily be in His presence, for “In His presence (literally before His face) is fulness of joy. In His right hand there are pleasures forevermore. (Ps 16:11) So let us each morning enabled by His Spirit choose to DELIGHT in Jehovah and beseech Him to “hide us in the secret place of His presence.” (Ps 31:20) “Let us come before His presence (face) with thanksgiving. Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms” (Ps 95:2), confident that He will make us “glad with the joy of His presence.” (Ps 21:6) Indeed, as the writer of Hebrews encourages, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence (boldness) to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need (which is ALL the time!)” (Heb 4:16–note) “O God of my delight, Thy throne of grace is the pleasure ground of my soul.” (Valley of Vision)
WILL GOD GIVE ME ALL MY DESIRES? – Some suggest that Ps 37:4 is a promise that we will receive whatever we desire. And most of us have fallen into the trap wondering “Lord, why don’t You give me what I desire since it is not a bad thing?” When we are frustrated by a promise it may be because we are not interpreting the promise correctly! When we examine the context, we observe that Psalm 37 tells us not to fret or be envious of the wicked and not focus on what they have or what they seem to be getting away with. Instead we are to focus on Jehovah, the great I Am Who promises to “supply all our needs (not our wants) according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” (Php 4:19–note) And when we compare a parallel passage like 1Jn 5:14–note, we see that we need to ask for desires that are “according to His will” not our will. (see also qualification of abiding in His Word – Jn 15:7) As Spurgeon says those “who delight in God desire or ask nothing but what will please God.” In other words as we practice the presence of God, daily delighting in Him, in His Word, in prayerful communion with Him, gradually His Spirit transforms our heart so that our desires become His desires and it is those desires He will grant. Indeed, our desires will be His desires when our heart sings “Take my will, and make it Thine. It shall no be no longer mine. Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself and I will be, ever only, all for Thee, ever only all for Thee.” (Frances Havergal) If God has our hearts, He can trust us with His blessings. So let us DELIGHT in God and He will become our greatest DESIRE! And if all we desire is God, God will give us all we desire…Christ Jesus Himself, “in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col 2:3–note) The path to true fulfillment in this short life does not lie in preoccupation with self but in selfless preoccupation with Jesus, our all in all (Heb 12:2–note, Col 3:11–note). Beloved, true contentment becomes our experiential reality when God’s will is more important than our wants and when we come to realize that Jesus is everything we need for time and eternity!
While it is amazing grace that saved sinners can DELIGHT in the Lord, it is even more amazing that He takes DELIGHT in us! Like a diamond miner who picks up a rough, dull stone and rejoices with delight, God delights over unlovely people. He knows what precious gems, through His Spirit’s shaping and polishing, sanctified sinners will become in Christ, yea, even becoming His own treasured possession (Dt 26:18, Titus 2:14–note)! And so the prophet exults that “The LORD your God is in your midst. He is a warrior Who can deliver. He TAKES GREAT DELIGHT in you. He renews you by His love. He shouts for joy over you.” (Zephaniah 3:17NET)
May our prayer daily be like the words of the devout Puritans in the Valley of Vision – “If Thou seest in me any wrong thing encouraged, any evil desire cherished, any DELIGHT that is not Thy DELIGHT, any habit that grieves Thee, any nest of sin in my heart, then grant me the kiss of Thy forgiveness, and teach my feet to walk the way of Thy commandments. Produce in me self-despair that will make Jesus precious to me, DELIGHTFUL in all His offices, pleasurable in all His ways, and may I love His commands (delight yourself) as well as His promises (desire fulfilled). Give me the saving lamp of Thy Spirit that I may see Thee, the God of my salvation, the DELIGHT of my soul, rejoicing over me in love (Zeph 3:17–note).” Amen
Take my life and let it be,
Consecrated Lord to Thee.
Take my moments and my days
And let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my will, and make it Thine.
It shall no be no longer mine.
Take my heart heart, it is Thy own.
It shall be Thy royal throne.
What do you do when you don’t desire to delight in God? Clearly this is an important question so I would strongly encourage you to watch the 6 part series by Dr John Piper on what do I do…”When I Don’t Desire God” –