A WORM AND NOT A MAN – Psalm 22 is often called the “Crucifixion Psalm” or “The Psalm of the Cross” and is clearly a Messianic psalm giving a detailed prophetic description of our Lord’s crucifixion almost 1000 years before the actual event. Spurgeon writes “For plaintive expressions uprising from unutterable depths of woe we may say of this psalm, “there is none like it.” It is the photograph of our Lord’s saddest hours, the record of His dying words, the lachrymatory (containers used in Roman tombs to collect funeral tears) of His last tears, the memorial of His expiring joys. Before us in Psalm 22 we have a description both of the darkness and of the glory of the Cross, the sufferings of Christ and the glory which shall follow (Heb 2:9). Oh for grace to draw near and see this great sight! We should read Psalm 22:1-31 reverently, removing the sandals from our feet, as Jehovah instructed Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:5), for if there be holy ground anywhere in Scripture it is in this Psalm.” “And can it be that I should gain, An interest in the Savior’s blood? Died He for me, who caused His pain—For me, who Him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” (C Wesley)
Matthew and Mark both quote from Psalm 22:1 as they record Jesus’ cry of anguish “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mt 27:46, Mk 15:34). In verse 6 we encounter a most unusual description of Messiah – “I am a WORM and not a man.” While there is no record of Christ uttering these words on the Cross, there is little doubt that these words were on the heart of our Lord. As Jon Courson says “Great is the mystery (of godliness) that God became a man (1Timothy 3:16). But greater still is the mystery that the MAN became a LAMB (Jn 1:29) and the LAMB became a WORM to save you and me!” As Spurgeon says Psalm 22:6 “is a miracle in language. How could the Lord of glory (1Cor 2:8) be brought to such abasement as to be not only “made for a little while lower than the angels” (Heb 2:9), but even lower than men? What a contrast between “I AM” (Jn 8:24,28, 58) and “I AM A WORM”! Yet such a double nature was found in the Person of our Lord Jesus when bleeding upon the tree. He felt Himself to be comparable to a helpless, powerless, down-trodden WORM, passive while “crushed for our iniquities,” (Isa 53:5), and unnoticed and despised by those who trod upon Him. “He was despised and forsaken of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from Whom men hide their face. He was despised (disdained, held in contempt), and we did not esteem Him (Literally, “we estimated Him as nothing”).” (Isaiah 53:3) He selects a WORM the weakest of creatures, which is all flesh; and becomes, when trodden upon, writhing, quivering flesh, utterly devoid of any might, except strength to suffer. This was a true likeness of Himself when His body and soul had become a mass of misery—the very essence of agony—in the dying pangs of Crucifixion. Man by nature is but a WORM (Job 25:6, Isaiah 41:14); but our Lord Jesus puts Himself even beneath man (Php 2:7-8), on account of the scorn that was heaped upon Him and the weakness which He felt, and therefore He adds, “and not a man!” Indeed, as William Cowper wrote, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform!”
Spurgeon goes on to observe that “There is a LITTLE RED WORM which seems to be nothing else but BLOOD when it is crushed, it seems all gone except a blood-stain; and the Saviour, in the deep humiliation of His spirit, compares Himself to that little red worm. How true it is that “He made himself of no reputation” (Php 2:7KJV) for our sakes! He emptied Himself of all His glory; and if there be any glory natural to manhood, He emptied himself even of that. Not only the glories of His Godhead, but the honors of His manhood He laid aside that we might come to “know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich.” (2Cor 8:9) “Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.” (Isaac Watts)
Warren Wiersbe adds that Psalm 22:6 is surely a description that applies “to our Savior. “I am a worm and not a man” is a forgotten “I AM” statement that speaks of how little value the leaders of Israel and the Roman officials placed on Jesus of Nazareth. A WORM is a creature of the ground, helpless, frail, and unwanted. Isaiah 52:14NIV predicted that Messiah would be terribly disfigured by His enemies and not even look human – “Just as there were many who were appalled at Him–His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness (so that He seemed to be “not a man”).” Isaiah’s description recalls the words of Stuart Townend’s beautiful modern hymn “How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turned His face away. As wounds which mar the Chosen One, bring many sons to glory (Heb 2:10).”
As mysterious as is the figure of the King of glory (Ps 24:7-10) condescending to become like a mere WORM, the picture is even more profound when we examine the original language. The Hebrew word for WORM is TOLA, which most scholars associate with a CRIMSON WORM (Coccus Ilicis) that in ancient times was crushed to procure its blood-red SCARLET dye (Hebrew for “scarlet” is same word TOLA), the SCARLET dye used to adorn the “ten curtains” of the Tabernacle (Ex 26:1), “the screen for the (one) doorway of the” Tabernacle (Ex 26:36, cp “I am the door” Jn 10:9), the Veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies (Ex 26:31, cp Jesus’ cry with a loud voice, yielding up His Spirit and the Veil of the temple tearing from top to bottom, opening “a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His [torn] flesh” – Mt 27:50-51, Heb 10:19-20) and the beautiful garments of the high priest (Ex 28:5-6, Jesus became our “merciful and faithful high priest” Heb 2:17). Indeed, how deep is the mystery of these OT uses of TOLA which depict a WORM in Ps 22:6 and in 33 OT passages (most in Exodus) depict the blood-red SCARLET material which foreshadowed the Messiah, even His work of redemption on the Cross! Little did the Roman soldiers comprehend the deep significance of the SCARLET robe they placed on Christ, mocking Him with their cry “Hail, King of the Jews” (Mt 27:28-29)! And so we see the Holy One of Israel Who was “made for a little while lower than the angels” (Heb 2:9), then even lower than man, and yes finally made like a mere TOLA, a helpless “crimson worm,” a WORM that was crushed beneath the load of our sin, “having become a curse for us.” (Gal 3:13) “Well might the sun in darkness hide, And shut His glories in, When Christ, the mighty Maker died,For man the creature’s sin.” (I. Watts)
And so it should not surprise us to see the Spirit use the Hebrew word TOLA to picture our SIN! In Isaiah 1:18 Jehovah gives the universal invitation “Come now, and let us reason together. Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow. Though they are red like CRIMSON (Hebrew = TOLA!), they will be like wool.” In a display of God’s amazing, mysterious grace, the Spirit chose the same Hebrew word (TOLA) to depict MESSIAH and SIN! Indeed Paul explains this deep mystery, writing that the Father “made Him Who knew no sin to be SIN on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2Cor 5:21) When Christ was crushed by the weight of our sins, like a crushed crimson worm (TOLA), He shed His blood, that our sins might be covered by His crimson flow and we might be forever clothed in Christ’s “garments of salvation, wrapped with His robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10). These deep truths recall the original words of Isaac Watts’ hymn “Alas! and did my Savior bleed, And did my Sovereign die! Would He devote that sacred head, For such a WORM as I?” And the answer is a resounding “Yes!” His crimson blood for our crimson sin, that we might be washed whiter than snow! “Hallelujah What a Savior! Thank You God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen”
Play this wonderful modern hymn…
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (by Stuart Townend)
How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure
That He should give His Only Son, to make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turned His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One, bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross, my sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life; I know that “It is Finished!”
I will not boast in anything: no gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ; His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom
For more detailed discussion:
THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – The last prophet of the Old Testament wrote “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My Name the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS will rise with healing in His wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (Mal 4:1-2) And so the Old Testament closes with the prophecy of the day of the Lord and the coming of the Sun of Righteousness. The New Testament ends with the testimony “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the BRIGHT MORNING STAR.” (Rev 22:16) Who promises that to those who “hold fast until I come…who overcome (not a special group but all believers – see 1Jn 5:4-5)…who do my will to the end…I will give the MORNING STAR” (Rev 2:25-28) Christ Himself as our eternal possession! Hallelujah! The prophet Daniel adds “those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Da 12:3) Dear tried and true saint remember that though we live in a time of great spiritual darkness, the MORNING STAR heralds the SUN RISING with healing in His wings. In the meantime, we must hold fast to (and be held fast by) “the prophetic word made more sure, to which we do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the MORNING STAR arises in our hearts.” (2Pe 1:19) The darker the night becomes the brighter the MORNING STAR shines and the nearer must be the hour of the fulfillment of the pledge of the Sun of Righteousness to come again. This blessed event, the Second Coming, is the hope of the church, the hope of Israel and the hope of the world. Just as the sun drives away darkness and clouds, bringing light and joy, so the Sun of Righteousness will appear to forever dispel gloom, oppression, and injustice. “As the sun is full of light, the ocean full of water, Heaven full of glory, so may our hearts be full of Thee, O Sun of Righteousness.” (A Puritan Prayer)
The One described as the Sun of Righteousness can be no other than Jesus Christ Himself to Whom the ends of the earth will sing “Glory to the Righteous One,” (Isa 24:16), the “Righteous Branch of David shall spring forth” (Jer 33:15), the One Who “loves righteousness and justice” (Ps 33:5), the One Who brings healing in His wings causing the unrighteous to “become the righteousness of God in Him” (2Cor 5:21), for “by His doing (we) are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us…righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1Cor 1:30) And at the end of this age the Sun of Righteousness will rise “to judge the world in righteousness” (Ps 96:13), and “all the arrogant and every evil doer will be chaff.” (Malachi 4:1) “In His days the righteous will flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more,” (Ps 72:7) and in that day “the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14) May our song ever be “Christ, Whose glory fills the skies, Christ, the true, the only Light, Sun of Righteousness, arise, Triumph o’er the shades of night, Dayspring from on high, be near, Daystar, in my heart appear.” (C Wesley)
Spurgeon writes that while the Son of Righteousness rising with healing in His wings was “fulfilled once in the first advent of our glorious Lord, and will yet have a fuller accomplishment in his second advent, this gracious word is also for daily use. Is it dark time with you reader? Does the night deepen into a denser blackness? Still let us not despair: the Sun will yet rise. When the night is darkest, dawn is nearest. The Sun which will arise is of no common sort. It is the Sun—the Sun of Righteousness, Whose every ray is holiness. He Who comes to cheer us, comes in the way of justice as well as of mercy, comes to violate no law even to save us. Jesus displays the holiness of God as much as His love. Our deliverance, when it comes, will be safe because it is righteous. Our one point of inquiry should be—“Do we fear the Name of the Lord? Do we reverence the living God, and walk in His ways?” (Mal 4:2) Then for us the night must be short; and when the morning comes, all the sickness and sorrow of our soul will be over forever. Light, warmth, joy, and clearness of vision will come, and healing of every disease and distress will follow. Has Jesus risen upon us? Let us sit in the light of the Sun. Has He hidden His face? Let us wait for His rising. He will shine forth as surely as the sun.” And while we wait we sing “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)
Ralph Erskine rightly said that “The sun in the sky is only a shadow of the Sun of Righteousness and of His glory.” The sun is the great star of our galaxy but the Son’s brilliance infinitely outshines the sun. Balaam prophesied of a Star, the Sun of Righteousness, declaring “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A STAR shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter (King) shall rise from Israel.” (Nu 24:17) Habakkuk saw an incredible vision of the Sun of Righteousness rising declaring “His radiance is like the SUNLIGHT. He has rays flashing from His hand, and there is the hiding of His power.” (Hab 3:4) The wise men asked “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His STAR in the east, and have come to worship Him.” (Mt 2:2) Zacharias filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied of the coming of the Sun of Righteousness, saying “Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the SUNRISE (DAYSPRING – KJV) from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace (“with healing in His wings”).” (Luke 1:78-79) Peter, James and John saw Him on the mount “And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the SUN, and His garments became as white as light.” (Mt 17:2) Paul was healed in a moment by the Sun of Righteousness when “at midday (he) saw on the way (to Damascus) a light from heaven, brighter than the SUN, shining all around.” (Acts 26:13) John “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” and beheld the Sun of Righteousness testifying that “in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the SUN shining in its strength.” (Rev 1:16) And because Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness, John writes “the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1Jn 2:8) and in that glorious day to come “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Rev 21:23) Hold on, dear stormed tossed child of God. The Sun of Righteousness will soon rise with healing in His wings! “One day He’s coming. O glorious day! O glorious day!” (Song by Casting Crowns)
Spurgeon again applies the truths of Sun of Righteousness – “Believer, in the midst of plenty there is a famine if your Lord is absent. The sun may shine, but if Christ is hidden all your world is dark and it is night (cp Jn 13:30). Is the Bright and Morning Star gone and there is no other star to yield a ray of light in its place? What a howling wilderness this world is without our Lord! If we do not see Him our flowers wither, our enjoyable fruits decay, the birds stop singing, and storms overturn our hopes. All the lights of earth cannot produce daylight if the Sun of Righteousness is eclipsed. He is the Soul of our soul, the Light of our light (Jn 8:12), the Life of our life (Col 3:4). Dear believer, what would you do with the temptations and cares of this world if you did not have Him? What would you do when you awaken and prepare for the day’s battle if you did not have Him? What would you do at night when you arrive home exhausted and weary if there were no door of fellowship between you and Christ? Blessed be His name, the Sun of Righteousness. He will not leave you. His promise is sure, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5 – Greek has 5 negatives!) When you think what life would be like without Him, it magnifies His preciousness.” May our prayer daily be “Sun of my soul, Thou Saviour dear, It is not night if Thou be near; O may no earth-born cloud arise, To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.” (John Keble)
The Sun of Righteousness has come. He has risen from the grave! He is here. He has risen in the hearts of those who fear Him with a sense of reverence and awe! And He will come again “on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Mt 24:30) and we will come with Him “clothed in fine linen, white and clean, on white horses” (Rev 19:14)! O glorious day! Indeed, the Sun of Righteousness has come and He has risen, shattering the power of sin and death that we might be justified by grace through faith in His glorious Gospel of peace (Eph 6:15). Then the Sun of Righteousness rose from the earth (Acts 1:9-11), sending us His Spirit, the Helper, the Spirit of Truth (Jn 15:26), that we might might be sanctified and transformed from glory to glory, as with unveiled faces we behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord (2Cor 3:18). And yet the best is yet to come for when the Sun of Righteousness rises with healing in His wings “we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” (1Jn 3:2-3) and “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” for “this perishable will put on the imperishable and this mortal will but on immortality” (1Cor 15:51-54) Dear child of God, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Ro 8:18) Therefore “let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary,” (Gal 6:9). Instead may God’s Spirit grant us faith to wait for the LORD that we might gain new strength (exchange His strength for our weakness) and mount up with wings like eagles, able to run and not get tired, able to walk and not become weary (Isa 40:31), ever mindful that the Sun of Righteousness says “Yes, I am coming quickly.” And so we cry “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev 22:20)
FAMOUS LAST WORDS – The last words of any dying person are always worth our full attention. Is not the question when a loved one passes, “Did they have any LAST WORDS?” And so we desire to hear the LAST WORDS which are indeed the greatest words from the greatest Man the world has ever known! Let us linger over the FAMOUS LAST WORDS of our Savior, Redeemer and Friend, His last words at His CRUCIFIXION, His last words after His RESURRECTION and His last words after His GLORIFICATION.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS AS HE WAS CRUCIFIED – Jesus spoke seven times while hanging on the Cross.
(1) He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).
(2) He promised one of the criminals crucified with Him, “Today you shall be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
(3) He remembered His mother, “Woman, behold Your Son!” and to John, “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26-27).
(5) “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said ‘I thirst.'” (John 19:28).
(6) He uttered His cry of victory – “When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” (Tetelestai – “Paid in Full!”) (John 19:30).
“Yes, indeed / Finished, ev’ry jot / Sinner, this is all you need / Tell me, is it not?” (Ira Sankey)
(7) “Father, INTO THY HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” And having said this, He breathed His last.” (Luke 23:46)
When our Savior cried out these FAMOUS LAST WORDS from the Cross “with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Behold, the VEIL of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mt 27:50-51), the VEIL through which we now “have confidence (boldness) to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the (rent) VEIL, that is, His (rent) FLESH.” (Hebrews 10:19-20)
FAMOUS LAST WORDS AFTER HE WAS RESURRECTED – His last words to His disciples (which includes us beloved) were “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:18-20) “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
FAMOUS LAST WORDS AFTER HE WAS GLORIFIED – Our glorified Redeemer spoke His last words in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible – “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end….Yes, I am coming quickly.” (Rev 22:12-13, 20)
To which we cry “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
An ancient legend says that in the early church a believer was about to be martyred for his faith in the Messiah and as they tied his hands to the stake, they asked if he had any LAST WORDS, to which he jubilantly shouted “HE IS RISEN!” Unknown to the authorities, in the surrounding hills, the followers of Christ had gathered to watch the execution. When they heard the martyr’s last words “He is risen,” they cried out with one voice “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”
HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Below are the powerful words of the great Phillip Bliss hymn “Halleljujah! What a Savior” (Sung by my home church, The Austin Stone)
Man of Sorrows! what a Name
For the Son of God, Who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD February 11, 2012
ANISTEMI – GREEK WORD STUDY July 31, 2012
BOOK OF JOB – OVERVIEW July 30, 2012
BOOK OF NUMBERS – OVERVIEW July 27, 2012
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL? July 26, 2012
BACKSLIDING – DRIFTING AWAY FROM GOD July 23, 2012
EL ELYON – GOD MOST HIGH on July 20, 2012
ESCHATOS – GREEK WORD STUDY July 18, 2012
EL ROI – THE GOD WHO SEES July 14, 2012
BOOK OF JEREMIAH – OVERVIEW August 29, 2012
HABAKKUK COMMENTARY – CHAPTER 2 August 26, 2012
1 Peter 2:1-3 COMMENTARY August 21, 2012
HABAKKUK COMMENTARY- CHAPTER 1 August 18, 2012
BOOK OF HABAKKUK – OVERVIEW August 16, 2012
EL OLAM – EVERLASTING GOD August 12, 2012
COMPROMISE August 9, 2012
BOOK OF PROVERBS – OVERVIEW August 6, 2012
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR THE BLESSED HOPE? September 30, 2012
THE LORD OF HOSTS – JEHOVAH SABAOTH September 26, 2012
POIEMA – GREEK WORD STUDY September 24, 2012
MALACHI COMMENTARY – CHAPTER 1 September 22, 2012
BOOK OF MALACHI – OVERVIEW September 14, 2012
HABAKKUK COMMENTARY – CHAPTER 3 September 10, 2012
FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT-RICHLY INDWELT BY THE WORD Sept 2, 2012
CHRIST JESUS OUR HOPE October 17, 2012
CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT October 11, 2012
BIBLICAL PEACE – PART 2 November 20, 2012
BIBLICAL PEACE – PART 1 November 18, 2012
A POWERFUL PRINCIPLE: HOPE IN GOD November 7, 2012
THOUGHTS ON HALLELUJAH December 28, 2012
THOUGHTS ON THE “QUIET TIME” December 19, 2012
THE WILL OF GOD December 5, 2012
ABBA, FATHER January 22, 2013
THOUGHTS ON A “MARANATHA MINDSET” January 9, 2013
THOUGHTS ON HOSANNA January 5, 2013
SHEKINAH February 24, 2013
SHALOM February 13, 2013
GOD IS ABLE February 9, 2013
OUR SPIRITUAL ADOPTION February 1, 2013
THE LAMB OF GOD March 27, 2013
THOUGHTS ON JOY & HOPE & PERSEVERANCE & PRAYER Mar 14, 2013
IMMANUEL, EMMANUEL (GOD WITH US) March 6, 2013
TETELESTAI – IT IS FINISHED! PAID IN FULL! April 5, 2013
JESUS NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES May 31, 2013
CHRIST OUR ROCK OF REFUGE (Part 2) May 28, 2013
CHRIST OUR ROCK OF REFUGE May 23, 2013
CHRIST: THE SMITTEN ROCK May 16, 2013
CHRIST THE ROCK OF OUR SALVATION May 6, 2013
JESUS, MIGHTY GOD (EL GIBBOR) June 19, 2013
FATHER KNOWS BEST August 26, 2013
PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME August 21, 2013
BIBLE COMMENTARIES August 8, 2013
A LIFE TO IMITATE – JOHN BERRIDGE September 5, 2013
CHRIST OUR HIDING PLACE October 22, 2013
ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED October 3, 2013
JEHOVAH EZER – Part 2 November 15, 2013
JEHOVAH EZER – Part 1 November 6, 2013
HE IS… November 2, 2013
INDELIBLE GRACE: Inscribed on His Hands January 5, 2014
2014 A YEAR OF GRACE January 1, 2014
MIGHTY TO SAVE (Part 2) February 15, 2014
MIGHTY TO SAVE (Part 1) February 11, 2014
CHRIST THE BREAKER (Part 1) March 24, 2014
MIGHTY TO SAVE (Part 3) on March 4, 2014
THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST on April 22, 2014
CHRIST THE BREAKER (Part 2) April 14, 2014
CHRIST OUR SANCTUARY May 19, 2014
CHRIST OUR SANCTUARY-Part 2 June 29, 2014
LIGHT AFTER DARKNESS June 10, 2014
PRAYER on July 27, 2014
WRITTEN INDELIBLY IN BLOOD August 27, 2014
PAUL’S CALENDAR – TODAY…THAT DAY August 25, 2014
OUR BODY, HIS TEMPLE August 14, 2014
ARE YOU ENTANGLED? September 19, 2014
THE BIBLE AND ILLUMINATION October 17, 2014
THE REFINER’S FIRE November 10, 2014
IMMANUEL, EMMANUEL (GOD WITH US)-Pt 2 December 16, 2014
LORD, GIVE US UNDIVIDED HEARTS (Psalm 86:11) – Integrity (see note) is derived from “integer” (a whole number as opposed to a fraction) and speaks of the quality of being undivided. O, to be men and women of integrity, lights shining in the midst of the darkness in such a way that the world might see our undivided hearts and this would bring glory to our Father Who is in heaven. (Mt 5:16, cf Php 2:15).
A great prayer in 2015 would be to pray (daily) David’s words…
“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth.
UNITE MY HEART to fear Your Name.”
The NIV has “Give me an UNDIVIDED HEART.” Pastor Ray Pritchard paraphrases it “Put me together, Lord, because right now my life is scattered in a thousand directions!” (The Undivided Heart)
An UNDIVIDED HEART, O Lord,
Is what we need each day,
For we are prone to compromise
And wander from Your way.
-D De Haan
The men of the tribe of Zebulon “helped David with an UNDIVIDED HEART” (literally “without a double heart” = undivided loyalty) (1Chr 12:33) They were “all in,” of one heart, all the time, nothing held back.
Spurgeon commenting on Psalm 86:11 said “Having taught me ONE WAY, give me ONE HEART to walk therein, for too often I feel ‘a heart and a heart’ (In Ps 12:2 “double heart” in Hebrew literally = “a heart and a heart”), two natures contending, two principles struggling for sovereignty (Gal 5:17). Our minds are apt to be divided between a variety of objects, like trickling streamlets which waste their force in a hundred rivulets. Our great desire should be to have all our life floods poured into one channel and to have that channel directed towards the Lord Alone. A man of DIVIDED HEART is weak (cf Jas 1:5-8), the man of one object is the man. God Who created the bands of our nature can draw them together, tighten, strengthen, and fasten them, and so braced and inwardly knit by His uniting grace, we shall be powerful for good, but not otherwise. To fear God is both the beginning, the growth, and the maturity of wisdom (Pr 9:10, Job 28:28), therefore should we be undividedly given up to it, heart, and soul (cf Mk 12:29-31).”
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
(Play Fernando Ortega’s vocal)
May we all be motivated by the Spirit (Php 2:13) to imitate men like Paul (1Cor 11:1,Heb 6:11-12) who said “this ONE THING I do. forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:13-14)
And remember that “the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2Chr 16:9)
Lord, by Your amazing grace and enabled by the power of Your Spirit, give us undivided hearts to fear Your Name, in the Name of Jesus, the Name above all names (Php 2:9-11). Amen
Listen to Rich Mullins great song “My One Thing” that speaks of an UNDIVIDED HEART
Click the link to read a convicting, practical message by Ray Pritchard on “THE UNDIVIDED HEART”
SEE RELATED TOPICS:
MAY WE LIVE WISELY IN 2015: REDEEMING THE TIME, “THE TIME OF OUR LIFE” – Before reading on, pause and make a list of the things you value most in life. Undoubtedly God, Jesus, family, etc are at the top of your list. But did you list “TIME?” Ephesians 5:15-16 has been called the Bible’s key to “Time Management,” but might be more aptly called the key to “Life 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) 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 (“fools”), but as wise, REDEEMING THE TIME (making the most of every opportunity) because (explains why we must redeem the time) the days are evil (Corollary: The evil of our day should motivate us to redeem the time each day).” (Eph 5:16) If we are continually filled with God’s Spirit (Eph 5:18), He will enable us to be on “high alert” for spiritual opportunities which we can seize before they are gone. What opportunities are passing before us today? How will we respond? Will we even see them? We don’t want to be like agnostic Mark Twain who said “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.” As followers of Christ may we imitate Paul’s example and live as if every minute counts—because it does! (Read 1Cor 11:1, Heb 6:12) It takes only a moment in time to be kind, but that moment will bear fruit that lasts throughout eternity. Indeed, as Wiersbe reminds us “No good deed done for the glory of Jesus Christ will ever be forgotten before God. No loving word spoken in Jesus’ Name will ever be wasted. If we don’t see the harvest in this life, we’ll see it when we stand before the Lord. Even a cup of cold water given in the name of Christ will have its just reward” and hear “Well done!” (Mt 10:42; 25:31-46)
Some lives are darkened by want and care;
The lack of sympathy brings despair;
Seek out such souls and their burdens share,
Redeeming the precious time.
Adoniram Judson a famous missionary to Burma wrote that “A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity and 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 (Read 1Ti 4:7-8, Rev 22:12). How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It is too late to mend the days that are past (Read what Paul did with his regret-Php 3:13-14). The future is in our power (when we are in His hand). 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.” Like Adoniram Judson we need to embrace an eternal perspective in this temporal world. Too often we number our years and not our days. However we live one day at a time, and so we should instead number our days that we might make them count for eternity. “So teach us to number our days that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:12)
A day is full of many hours just waiting for your using;
and there are many ways to spend them,
so be careful in your choosing.
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! Don’t vacillate! Don’t hesitate! Don’t procrastinate! Time is loaned to us and, as stewards of Christ, we must use it wisely. Let us each redeem the golden moments of opportunity while we still can! We do “not know what our life will be like tomorrow. We are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) “Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” (Ps 144:4) “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.” (Ps 90:9, 10) 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!” He even reduced our lives to four words “Sown, groan, blown, gone!” Dear Father, in light of the fact that our life is but a vapor and the “night is almost gone and the day is at hand,” (Ro 13:12) by Your Spirit grant us the desire and power to obey Jesus’ command to “lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” remembering that “where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.” Amen (Mt 6:20-21)
The grain stands white in the harvest field
And rich the fruitage which it will yield.
Step in today and the sickle wield,
Redeeming the precious time.
Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel awoke one morning and read his own obituary in the local newspaper. It read, “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before, and he died a very rich man.” It was Alfred’s older brother who had died; a newspaper reporter had bungled the epitaph. But that account had a tremendous impact on Nobel, who decided he wanted to be remembered for something different. As a result, he initiated the Nobel Prize to reward individuals who foster peace. He said,“Every man ought to have the chance to correct his epitaph in midstream and write a new one.” Alexander Graham Bell said that “When one door closes, another one opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.” In Christ and enabled by His Spirit, we are given a golden opportunity to see those divinely opened doors and pass into the inheritance beyond, even “writing” a new “eternal epitaph!” 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! In fact, we should live every day as if it might be our last, for one of these days we will be right!
The Lord soon comes, His own to take,
And of their stewardship reckoning make;
Blest will he be, that for Jesus’ sake,
Has ever redeemed the time!
The 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.” Joseph Parker described “a king of Sicily who was called “The Lingerer,” not because he stayed till opportunity came, but because he stayed till opportunity was lost. There is a time to wait and a time to act. Overlong waiting means loss of chance!” 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. On such a full sea are we now afloat; And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.” History tells us of Hannibal that when he could have taken Rome he would not, and when he would he could not! Hannibal missed the “opportune time,” the brief “window of opportunity,” even as believers can if we lose our eternal perspective!
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.”
Now is the only time we own
To do His precious will,
Do not wait until tomorrow;
For the clock may then be still!
Opportunity is the flower of time which blooms for a moment and is gone forever. Napoleon said, “There is in the midst of every great battle a ten to fifteen minute period that is the crucial point (cf kairos). Take that period and you win the battle; lose it and you will be defeated.” D. L. Moody recalls an incident in his ministry that brought him great distress because he failed to redeem the time. “On the night when the courthouse bell of Chicago was sounding an alarm of fire, my sermon was upon ‘What Shall I Do with Jesus?’ I said to the audience, ‘I want you to decide this question by next Sunday.’ What a mistake! That night I saw the glare of flames, and knew that Chicago was doomed. I never saw that audience again!” Redeem the time!
Lost souls are hastening down to doom
Without a ray to dispel the gloom
Give them the Gospel, their path illume,
Redeeming the precious time.
Jonathan Edwards America’s greatest theologian understood Paul’s charge to “redeem the time” and so 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.” The 16th-century reformer Philip Melanchthon kept a record of every wasted moment and took his list to God in confession at the end of each day. Little wonder that God used him in such mighty ways. Like these great saints before us, we too should spend time wisely, by investing in 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.
Noah Webster said that opportunity is the convergence of a favorable juncture of circumstances, but in God’s universe the convergence of circumstances is not left to “chance” or “fate” but is under His providential control, so let us pray daily for God’s Spirit to open the eyes of our heart” (Eph 1:18) to recognize and seize the fleeting opportunities God gives us. Most of us are familiar with Garage Sales – if the ad says the sale begins at 8AM, you can be sure there will be “redeemers” on site thirty minutes early, lest they miss the best opportunities which go fast! As J H Jowett says “in all these purchasings everything goes to the early buyer. To be first in the market must be our constant aim. Let us regard every moment as precious treasure, and before the enemy of our souls can lay his hand upon it, let us be up and buy it for the Lord.” Indeed, may we be as determined as shoppers eager for temporal trinkets, making the most of every opportunity to purchase timeless treasures!
The time is short!
If thou wouldst work for God it must be now;
If thou wouldst win the garland for thy brow,
Redeem the time.
With His reward He comes; He tarries not; His day is near;
When men least look for Him, will He be here;
Prepare for Him!”
John Piper reiterates the truth that the “OPPORTUNITY of a lifetime” may “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). 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). In the same way, I have good hope from the Lord that my “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1Co 15:58). 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).
The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To say just when the hands will stop;
At late, or early hour.
As we have seen the idea of KAIROS is not “clock time” but what one writer calls “kingdom opportunities” those openings for ministry that often come at inconvenient times – a friend who wants to talk, a child with a problem, the chance to lend a hand to someone in need. Paul is encouraging us to keep our lives uncluttered so that we are prepared to respond when the need arises—lest the fleeting kingdom opportunities, which are “the best,” be squeezed out by “the good” in our busy schedules. Think back on your last 24 hours – were there some “kingdom opportunities” you saw (or see now in retrospect) and which you rushed past because you were “too busy”? Are we so task oriented that we miss the “kingdom tasks” God gives us the privilege to experience? May His Spirit give us all “kingdom vision”! Amen
The good we do is never lost,
Each kindly act takes root,
And every bit of love we sow
In time will bear rich fruit.
Beloved, it is too late to redeem the time that has passed but not the time that is passing. We can always make more money, but we cannot make more time. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. And when our time on this earth is over, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” to give an account to the One Who gave us the priceless gift of TIME (2Cor 5:10). May God grant us His amazing grace that we might make the most of the rest of our time on earth, knowing that one day soon we will enter into the “rest of our life” in Christ. Amen
Now may we all take a moment, to prayerfully ponder the days God has numbered for each of us, as we listen to the soul stirring 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)-Pt 2: Whether spelled with an “I” (Hebrew ‘Immanu =with us + El = God) or with an “E” (Greek = “Emmanouel”), Jesus is our IMMANUEL. So let us come aside from the hectic pace of the season for a moment and meditate on the great Name Immanuel, the Name which was Foretold, which was Fulfilled and which will endure Forever.
IMMANUEL WAS FORETOLD – The Name “Immanuel” occurs only three times in the Bible, but the great truth of “GOD WITH US” saturates 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–note), 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–note). Thereafter God’s interactions with man were generally more remote (Jehovah descended upon Sinai with fire, a mountain that could not even be touched! Ex 19:18, Heb 12:18-19–note), less personal (pillar of cloud by day and fire by night Ex 13:21-22) and less accessible (Only the Levitical high priest could enter into Jehovah’s presence and only once per year Lev 16:31-34–note). And yet because of His great lovingkindnesses, 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–note) 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–note). 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 EMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” (Mt 1:22-23–Spurgeon’s sermon “God With Us”) 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 Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14–note), “the mystery of godliness, Who was revealed in the flesh.” (1Ti 3:16). As someone said “God did not send Christ to us. God came to us in Christ.” Immanuel, the Infinite became Finite, the Divine became Human, while remaining fully God and fully Man, veiling His Majesty (2Pe 1:16–note) in Meekness (Mt 11:29–note). The King of glory became the servant of men (Php 2:7-8–note, Mk 10:45). “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2Cor 9:15–note)! 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 (CHS) 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 “Lo! I AM WITH YOU always, even to the end of the age!” (Mt 28:20–note) Warren Wiersbe writes “What a tremendous assurance – “I am with you always!” In Mt 1:23, Jesus was called “IMMANUEL,” God with us, and in Mt 28:20 He reaffirms that Name. He is with us through His Spirit, in His Word, by His providential care, and with His divine presence. This is the promise that has encouraged and enabled messengers of Christ down through the years.” Indeed, Immanuel was God FOR us before He became God WITH us, and it was because He was FOR us that He became God WITH us. 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–note). And if He is GOD IN US, then He is also GOD FOR US as Paul affirms asking “What then shall we say to these things? 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–note) “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 FOREVER – From Genesis to Revelation, from “the garden of Eden” (Ge 2:15) to “the paradise of God” (Rev 2:7–note), God is IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US. John testifies to the surpassing richness of the future grace to be revealed to us (Eph 2:7–note, 1Pe 1:13–note) 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–note) 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–note) 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–note) It has been 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–note), but the Lamb’s scars will never pass away, marks that will forever testify of His unfailing covenant love. Spurgeon says “Wonderfully true is this fact: when you and I come to the closing scene of life we will find that Emmanuel, “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 will our life.” He became Immanuel on earth that He might be our Immanuel throughout eternity, 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! As Immanuel, Jesus entered time as a Man to die in our place, and arose a Man to be eternally our Immanuel. Hallelujah! Let us joyfully sing “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)
APPLICATION: In our daily experience, when trials unexpectedly assault us, do we run to the Strong Tower of Jesus, our IMMANUEL that we might be safe (literally “lifted up” [above the fray!])? (Pr 18:10–note, cp Ps 91:14–note) 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–note) and remind ourselves that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Heb 13:8–note) and that He has promised “I will absolutely never, not ever, leave you, no, never, not ever forsake you.” (Heb 13:5–note five negatives in Greek! Cp Josh 1:5–note) Indeed, what we need even more than deliverance from trouble is the sure knowledge that Jesus is our IMMANUEL in the midst of the trouble. The secret of peace is not a plan or program but a Person, IMMANUEL, God with us (cp Ps 20:7–note). David testifies “those who know (intimately, by experience) Your Name (IMMANUEL) will put their trust in You.” (Ps 9:10–note) Knowing and trusting in His Name IMMANUEL is God’s antidote for fear. When Israel feared the giants in the land God had promised to give them, Moses reminded them “the LORD is WITH US; do not FEAR!” (Nu 14:9) When danger threatens or calamity strikes, we can be assured of Immanuel’s personal presence and power to comfort and calm. In our valley times, we would 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 (explains why “no fear”) YOU ARE WITH ME, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps 23:4–note) 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–note, cp Dt 20:1, Isa 43:5). Enabled by the Spirit of Christ, 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. “Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface, Stamp Thine image in its place: Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love.” (C. Wesley)
IMMANUEL SUMMARIZED: “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.” (CHS)
PRAYER: Let us consider echoing 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 3:36ESV). 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
A sign shall be given, A virgin will conceive
A human baby bearing undiminished Deity
The Glory of the nations, a Light for all to see
And Hope for all who will embrace His warm reality.
IMMANUEL, OUR GOD IS WITH US
And if GOD IS WITH US, who could stand against us?
Our GOD IS WITH US, IMMANUEL.
For all those who live in the shadow of death
A Glorious Light has dawned
For all those who stumble in the darkness
Behold, your Light has come.
So what will be your answer? Will you hear the call
Of Him Who did not spare His Son but gave Him for us all
On earth there is no power, there is no depth nor height
That could ever separate us from the love of God in Christ.
For more detail on Immanuel see
Are You Thirsty for Living Water? – Thirst is a basic God-given longing for water which is accompanied by a sensation of dryness in one’s mouth. In the same way, spiritual thirst is a God-given longing for Jesus “the fountain of living waters” (Jer 2:13), accompanied by a sense of “dryness” in one’s soul (cp Ps 42:1-2–note Ps 63:1–note). A man can live weeks without food, but only a few days without water. Even as water is necessary for life, so too the “living water” from Jesus is necessary for life everlasting. Absence of both physical water and “living water” means suffering and sickness, dearth and death, one temporal, the other eternal! A source of fresh water sustains life in both a physical and a spiritual sense. And yet no matter how much we drink from the world’s “broken cisterns” (Jer 2:13) of wealth and achievement, we only become thirstier. Seeking to satisfy our thirst with the things of this world which “is passing away” (1Jn 2:15-17–note) is like drinking sea-water, for the more we drink, the thirstier we become. Puritan Richard Sibbes said “All earthly things are as salt water, that increaseth the appetite, but satisfieth not!” Man was made for eternity, and the things of time can never satisfy! The Rolling Stones’ were right: “I can’t get no satisfaction!”…at least not from the world’s water, which is like a mirage that promises but is never able to satiate our deepest needs, for “everyone who drinks of this “water” will thirst again.” (Jn 4:13–note). Thomas Brooks reminds us that “A man may have enough of the world to sink him, but he can never have enough to satisfy him.” A thirst for God can only be satisfied by Christ, Who freely gives Living Water (Jn 4:10–note, Jn 7:38–note, Rev 7:17KJV–note). Indeed, only when Jesus is our sole Source of satisfaction, shall we experience supernatural satisfaction in our soul. “Therefore you will joyously draw water from (His) springs of salvation.” (Isa 12:3–note) Is He enough for you beloved? As the Psalmist said “He has satisfied (is “enough” for) the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” (Ps 107:9–note) Augustine prayed “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Spurgeon (CHS) adds that “The Lord sets us longing for Himself and then completely satisfies us with Himself. That longing leads us into solitude, separation, thirst, faintness and self-despair, and all these conduct us to prayer, faith, divine guidance, and finally to satisfying of the soul’s thirst and rest (in Christ). The good hand of the Lord is to be seen in the whole process and in the divine result.” And remember that if I am not satisfied with what I have (in Christ), I will never be satisfied with what I want (in the world)! In what or whom are we seeking soul satisfaction? Too often when we are spiritually thirsty, we are tempted to go everywhere except to the Source, Jesus Christ. Remember that “Jesus quenches our thirst personally, not by proxy.” And the risk of not going to the Source is that “untended fires soon die and become a pile of ashes.” We need to repent and re-kindle our love for Jesus (Rev 2:4-5–note) and the best kindling is to let the living and abiding word Word of Christ dwell in us richly (1Pe 1:23–note, Col 3:16–note) and to pray about everything (Php 4:6-7–note). “The Lord wants us to come to Him, To quench our thirsty soul, For from Him flow life-giving streams, To heal and make us whole.” (Sper)
Robert Browning said “I thirst for truth, but shall not reach it till I reach the source.” Whether Browning ever drank from the Source, I do not know, but He was right. Scripture reveals that the Source of Truth for which all men thirst is a Person, Christ Jesus. In one of the greatest invitations in the Bible “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is THIRSTY, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’” (Jn 7:37-38–note) Ray Pritchard writes that “Jesus’ words must have shocked His hearers with their stunning simplicity for His short statement contains the essence of the Gospel message. It is centered in a Person-JESUS CHRIST. It is offered to all without restriction-IF ANYONE (cp Joel 2:32, Ro 10:13–note). It is predicated upon human need-IF ANYONE IS THIRSTY. It demands a personal response-LET HIM COME TO ME (cp Mt 11:28–note). It invites personal participation-AND DRINK (cp Mt 11:29–note).” Over and over, God offers redemption to rebellious men – “Ho! Everyone who THIRSTS, come to the WATERS…Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what DOES NOT SATISFY?” (Isa 55:1-2–note) “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Ps 34:8–note) As John Piper pithily says “Compared to His excellencies, all the world is an uncooked egg white. But the honey of heaven makes the eyes glow!” Indeed, “Blessed (spiritually satisfied independent of circumstances) are those who keep on (present tense) hungering and keep on (present tense) thirsting for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Mt 5:6–note) Spurgeon writes “if you be but willing, you are invited; therefore COME! You have no belief and no repentance. COME to Him, and He will give them to you. COME just as you are, and take ‘Freely,’ without money and without price. He gives Himself to needy ones.” In the Revelation God declares “It is done (cp Jesus’ cry on the Cross = “It is finished”-Jn 19:30–note). I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to the one who THIRSTS from the spring of the WATER OF LIFE without cost.” (Rev 21:6–note) And again “the Spirit and the bride say, “COME.” And let the one who hears say, “COME.” And let the one who is THIRSTY COME; let the one who wishes take the WATER OF LIFE without cost.” (Rev 22:17–note) As Billy Graham once said “God puts no price tag on the Gift of gifts—it is free! Preachers are not salesmen, for they have nothing to sell. They are the bearers of Good News! (as are all saints)” Indeed, “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is GOOD NEWS (the Gospel) from a far country” (Proverbs 25:25). I pray all who are reading these great Gospel invitations can sing with gusto the words of Bonar’s great hymn…
I came to Jesus, and I drank,
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.
Are you Spiritually Depleted? Do you feel like you are sinking in a slough of despond? Perhaps you feel like David who prayed (a pattern we do well to imitate) “Deliver (save) me from the mire (“temporal trouble” – CHS), and do not let me sink.” (Ps 69:14–note, cp “deliver us” in Mt 6:13–note) Mexico City is sinking according to a report stating that “So much water has been pumped out from the aquifer beneath the city to satisfy its 18 million thirsty residents that the ground is collapsing at a stunning rate,” sinking 30 feet in the past century. Is a similar dynamic occurring in you, spiritually speaking? You’ve given so much to others that your energy is gone and you feel drained and depleted, as if your life is collapsing in on itself. What started as a noble venture to help thirsty people has become a journey through the desert. If this describes you beloved, recall that Jesus said, “If ANYONE thirsts, let him come (present tense – keep on coming) to Me and drink (present tense – keep on drinking). He who believes in Me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ and this He spoke concerning the Spirit.” (Jn. 7:37-39–note) And speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus said “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water (present tense = continually) springing up to eternal life.” (Jn 4:14–note, Jn 6:35–note) So yes, one drink of His living water saves us forever (Heb 7:25–note), but daily drinking sustains our spiritual vitality (Mt 4:4). And so Jesus paints a picture of an indwelling, ever bubbling supply, one which produces not just a trickle but rivers (plural) of living water as the Holy Spirit flows forth from our innermost being. As Jesus explained “It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (Jn 6:63–note) In summary, Jesus is the Fountain of Life, His Spirit the Flow of Life, and His Word, the Word of Life (Php 2:16–note), the means of experiencing the living water, as the Spirit daily enlightens our heart and transforms our inner being into the image of Jesus from one degree of glory to another (Eph 1:18–note, 2Cor 3:18–note). Indeed, although our Christian life sometimes seems like a waterless waste, Jesus’ living Word is ever able to quench our thirst in those times of spiritual declension. His trustworthy word to sinking saints is “I the Lord, am your God…open your mouth wide and I will fill it” (Ps 81:10–note), promising “I satisfy the weary (Lxx = thirsting) ones and refresh everyone who languishes (Lxx = hungers).” (Jer 31:25) When by faith we believe the promise that Jesus’ divine power has granted to us everything necessary for life and godliness (2Pe 1:3–note), we begin to experience the Spirit’s rivers of living water which are more than enough to refresh us in times of spiritual depletion. “Well of water, ever springing, Bread of life so rich and free, Untold wealth that never faileth, my Redeemer is to me.” (Clara Williams)
Father, I fear that too often I drink from the stagnant, broken cisterns of this passing world, fully aware that they can never satisfy my deepest longings. Forgive me and enable me to find in Christ Alone the only “fountain of life” (Ps 36:9–note) that can quench my thirsting soul. And by Your Spirit, may Christ’s life and fruit flow forth from me as rivers of living water, flowing in such a way that others may see Your Son in me and be drawn to drink of His living water. Amen
Play Horatius Bonar’s “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”
I heard the voice of Jesus say
“Come unto Me and rest.
Lay down Thy weary, one, lay down,
Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
So weary, worn and sad.
I found in Him a Resting Place,
And He has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
Behold I freely give,
The living water, thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink and live.
I came to Jesus, and I drank,
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
I am this dark world’s Light.
Look unto Me; thy morn shall rise.
And thy day be bright.
I looked to Jesus and I found,
In Him my Star, my Sun,
And in that Light of Life, I’ll walk,
Tell traveling days are done.
THE REFINER’S FIRE – Job said “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10–note) Gold is tested by fire. Saints are tested by adversity! None of God’s children enjoy the Refiner’s Fire, but all of us experience it to one degree or another, at one time or another. It may or may not always be a physical trial, but it is always a spiritual trial! And we often find ourselves with a gamut of emotions (anger, fear, despair, frustration, etc) and questions like “Why me?,” “Why now?,” etc. But as someone has said God takes us into His “darkroom” to develop our character (Ro 5:3-4–note). And so when you are in the darkness, hold on to what God has shown you in the light. As Corrie Ten Boom puts it “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” We need to remember that the darker the night, the brighter the stars. The hotter the fire, the purer the gold. Even as a gem cannot be polished without friction, neither can a saint be perfected without trials. The more a tree of righteousness is shaken by the wind, the deeper he or she becomes rooted in Christ Jesus. In the final analysis, affliction is the saint’s school of faith and trial is the school of trust. In light of the fact that faith-testing times can be faith-strengthening times, our great Teacher writes many a bright lesson on the blackboard of affliction, for some of life’s greatest lessons are learned in the school of affliction! “All God’s testings have a purpose, Someday you will see the light. All He asks is that you trust Him, Walk by faith and not by sight. (Zoller)
C H Spurgeon, who experienced many physical and spiritual trials, said that there is no education like adversity, testifying “I have derived more real benefit and permanent strength and growth in grace, and every precious thing, from the furnace of affliction, than I have ever derived from prosperity. Stars may be seen from the bottom of a deep well, when they cannot be discerned from the top of a mountain. So are many things learned in adversity which the prosperous man dreams not of. Troubles, like files, take away our rust; like furnaces, they consume our dross; like winnowing-fans they drive away the chaff, and we would have but little usefulness, if we had not been made to pass through the furnace. And in all our troubles we have found the character of God a comfort, for the Refiner is never very far from the mouth of the furnace when His gold is in the fire.” While God never promised we would miss the storms, He has promised we will make the harbor! As Wiersbe said “When God puts His own people into the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much.” He is not an arsonist, but a Refiner! “Though times be dark, the struggles grim, And cares rise like a flood, This sweet assurance holds to Him: My God is near and good.” (Hager)
At age 68 I am experiencing the most severe trial of my life (and faith) as my wife of 45 years is suffering from severe anorexia nervosa which is causing her to progressively withdraw from daily interactions with family and friends. And so as I was reading Spurgeon’s sermon on Job 23:10–note (“Whither Goest Thou?”), I was moved to share excerpts with you beloved, as I know many of you are undergoing trials which don’t seem to be either momentary or light! My prayer is that God’s Spirit will use these truths to fortify you in the fire you are experiencing so that when you come forth like pure gold, you might bring great glory to the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus. Amen
Spurgeon’s Sermon – “TRIALS are no evidence of being without God, since TRIALS come from God. Job says, “When He has tried me.” He sees God in his afflictions. The devil actually wrought the trouble; but the Lord not only permitted it, He had a design in it. Without the divine concurrence, none of his afflictions could have happened. It was God that tried Job, and it is God that tries us. No trouble comes to us without divine permission. All the “dogs of affliction” are muzzled until God sets them free. Nay, against none of the seed of Abraham can a dog move its tongue unless God permits. Troubles do not spring out of the ground like weeds that grow randomly, but they grow orderly as plants set in the garden. God appoints the weight and number of all our adversities. If He declares the number ten they cannot be eleven. If He wills that we bear a certain weight, no one can add half an ounce more. Since every trial comes from God, afflictions are no evidence that you are out of God’s way.
Besides, according to the text, these trials are tests: “When he hath tried me.” The trials that came to Job were made to be proofs that the patriarch was real and sincere. Did not the enemy say: “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” [Job 1:10-11]. The devil will have it that as dogs follow men for bones, so do we follow God for what we can get out of Him. The Lord lets the devil see that our love is not bought by temporal goods, that we are not mercenary followers, but loving children of the Lord, so that under dire suffering we exclaim, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). By the endurance of grief our sincerity is made manifest, and it is proven that we are not mere pretenders, but true heirs of God. (Ro 8:17–note)
If you have met with TROUBLES, remember they will come to an end. The holy man in our text says, “WHEN He has tried me.” As much as to say, He will not always be doing it. There will come a time when He will have done trying me (1Pe 1:6–note, 1Pe 5:10–note). Beloved, put a stout heart to a steep hill and you will climb it before long. Put the ship in good trim for a storm, and though the winds may howl for a while, they will at length sob themselves asleep. There is a sea of glass for us after the sea of storms (Rev 4:6–note). Only have patience and the end will come. Many a man of God has lived through a hundred troubles when he thought one would kill him, and so will it be with you. You young believers, you that are bound for the kingdom, but have only lately started for it, be not amazed if you meet with conflicts (Phil 1:29–note, 2Ti 3:12–note). If you very soon meet with difficulties, be not surprised (1Pe 4:12–note). Let your trials be evidence to you rather that you are in the right, than that you are in the wrong way; “for what son is there whom his father does not chasten?” (Heb 12:7-8–note) He that will go to hell will find many to help him thither; but he that will go to heaven may have to cut his way through a host of adversaries (Acts 14:22). Pluck up courage (Jn 16:33). The rod is one of the tokens of the child of God. If thou were not God’s child you might be left unchastened; but inasmuch as you are dear to Him, He will whip you when you disobey. If you were only a bit of common clay God would not put you into the furnace; but as you are gold and He knows it, you must be refined. And to be refined it is needful that the fire should exercise its power upon you (1Pe 1:6-7–note). Because you are bound for heaven, you will meet with storms on your voyage to glory (1Th 3:2-4–note).
Have you confidence in God as to these storms? Can you say, in the language of the text, “When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold”? If you are really trusting in Jesus, if He is everything to you, you may say this confidently, for you will find it true to the letter. If you have really given yourself up to be saved by grace, do not hesitate to believe that you will be found safe at the last (2Ti 4:18–note). Trust Christ for everlasting salvation: mark the word “everlasting.” (2Pe 1:11KJV) I thank God, that when I believed in His Son Jesus Christ, I laid hold upon final perseverance: I believed that where He had begun a good work He would carry it on and perfect it in the day of Christ (Php 1:6–note, 1Th 5:24–note). I believed in the Lord Jesus, not for a year or two, but for all the days of my life, and to eternity. I want your faith to have a “hand” of that kind, so that you grasp the Lord as your Savior to the uttermost (Heb 7:25KJV–note). I cannot tell what troubles may come, nor what temptations may arise; but I know in whose hands I am, and I am persuaded that He is able to preserve me (2Ti 1:12–note), so that when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. I go into the fire, but I shall not be burned up in it. “I shall come forth.” Like the three holy children, though the furnace be heated seven times hotter (Da 3:16-19–note), yet the Son of God will be with me in the furnace (Da 3:25KJV–note), and “I shall come forth” with not even the smell of fire upon me (Da 3:27–note). Yes, “I shall come forth,” and none can hinder me. It is good to begin with this holy confidence, and to let that confidence increase as you get nearer to the recompense of the reward (Jas 1:12–note, 2Co 4:17–note). Hath He not promised that we shall never perish (Jn 10:28)? Shall we not, therefore, come forth as gold?
This confidence is grounded on the Lord’s knowledge of us. “He knows the way that I take” (Job 23:10–note): therefore, “when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” If something happened to us which the Lord had not foreseen and provided for, we might be in great peril. But He knows our way even to the end (Ps 1:6–note), and is prepared for its rough places. If some amazing calamity could come upon us which the Lord had not reckoned upon, we might well be afraid of being wrecked. But our Lord’s foreseeing eye hath swept the horizon and prepared us for all weathers. He knows where storms lurk and cyclones hide away; and He is at home in managing tempests and tornadoes. If His far-seeing eye has spied out for us a long sickness and a gradual and painful death, then He has prepared the means to bear us through (2Cor 12:9-10–note). If He has looked into the mysterious unknown of the apocalyptic Revelation, and seen unimaginable horrors and heart melting terrors, yet He has forestalled the necessity which He knows is coming. It is enough for us that our Father knows what things we have need of and “when he has tried us, we shall come forth as gold.” Amen.
Listen to the words of Cowper’s incomparable hymn
“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
See Commentaries related to suffering…
1 Peter 6-7 Commentary
THE BIBLE & ILLUMINATION – To illuminate means to have something brightened with light and made clear to the eyes. Figuratively, illumination can mean to be be enlightened spiritually. Simply put, illumination in the spiritual sense is “turning on the light.” The Source of spiritual illumination is the Father, the Channel is the Holy Spirit and the supreme Goal is that He shine “in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2Cor 4:6–note) While some might say this is a bit too mystical, it is thoroughly Biblical. Indeed, illumination is something we should pray for even as Paul prayed for the saints at Ephesus asking that “the eyes of (their) heart (the core of one’s being) be enlightened, so that (they) may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing (Gk – exceedingly extraordinary) greatness of His power (dunamis – inherent supernatural power to to live a supernatural life = “Resurrection power” – Eph 1:20–note) toward us who believe.” (Eph 1:18-19–note) Paul was not praying for new revelation, but for spiritual illumination of truth they already knew. And that is our desperate need, every time we open the Book we should beg God: “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law.” (Ps 119:18–note). As D L Moody said, Spirit led “study of God’s Word brings peace to the heart. In it, we find a light for every darkness, life in death, the promise of our Lord’s return, and the assurance of everlasting glory.” This begs a question – Every time you open the Book, do you ask the Author to open your heart to receive the truth? If you do, you can rest assured that with God’s Word as your map and His Spirit as your compass, you are sure to stay on course. “Oh, that Thy words, like the beams of the sun, may enter through the window of my understanding, and dispel the darkness of my mind!” (Spurgeon) “I scanned the Scriptures thoughtlessly—My haste had closed my ear; Then prayerfully I read once more—This time my heart could hear.” (Gustafson)
The Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit and the Holy Word operate together. As Puritan Stephen Charnock wrote “The Word is the chariot of the Spirit, the Spirit the Guider of the Word.” Jesus promised His disciples that “when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” (Jn 16:13) Hallelujah, He has come and now indwells all His children, Paul explaining that “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Ro 8:9–note) Paul also taught that “the natural (unregenerate) man cannot accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1Cor 2:14–note) In contrast believers have received “the Spirit Who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” (1Cor 2:12–note) John wrote that we “have an anointing from the Holy One” (1Jn 2:20–note), going on to explain that “the anointing which you received from Him abides in you (the indwelling Spirit 1Cor 6:19-note), and you have no need for anyone to teach you.” (1Jn 2:27–note) John is not saying we don’t need teachers (Eph 4:11–note; Acts 13:1), but wants us to understand that each believer is capable and responsible to study the Word for themselves, because the Spirit Who inspired the Scriptures, has anointed and indwelt every believer. As Alexander Maclaren said “He who has the Holy Spirit in his heart and the Scriptures in his hands has all he needs.” O blessed holy book, the Bible, for there is no other book wherein the Author Who wrote it is always present with you, ever ready to explain what He wrote! Spurgeon agrees that “If you do not understand a book by a departed writer you are unable to ask him his meaning, but the Spirit, Who inspired Holy Scripture, lives forever, and He delights to open the Word to those who seek His instruction.”
Spurgeon reminds us that “God, by His Spirit, brings old truth home to the heart, gives new light to our eyes, and causes the Word to exercise new power over us.” Warren Wiersbe adds that “Illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit, and we must depend on Him to teach us new truths and to remind us of truths we may have forgotten (Jn 14:26b). When (we are) “in the Spirit,” (Rev 1:10–note) the Word comes forth with power and penetration. We experience what the little girl in London meant when she said to her mother, “Mother, is Mr. Spurgeon speaking to me?” The Word becomes personal….The blessing doesn’t come because we hear the Word; it comes because we do the Word. Anything else is pure deception. (Jas 1:22–note)” Indeed, it is better to live one verse of the Bible, than to recite an entire chapter. As Jesus taught “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” (Jn 13:17)
Order or Chaos? – Tony Evans observes that “In revelation, God discloses His truth. Through inspiration, He sees that it is recorded for us. And by the illumination of His Spirit, He enables us to understand and apply it. When you get all of this working in your life, you’re going to grow as a follower of Christ! (1Pe 2:2–note,2Pe 3:18–note) In Genesis 1:2 the Spirit hovered over “the surface of the waters.” In Genesis 1:3 God said, “Let there be light.” Light was not present until the Spirit of God hovered. Why is that important? When the Spirit of God hovers and the Word of God speaks, order comes out of chaos. That’s what happened in creation. The earth was “formless and void” before the Spirit and the light came (Ge 1:2). Does your life ever feel formless and void? Ever feel empty, chaotic in your life? Guess how you move from chaos to order? You do so when the holy Word is mixed with the hovering Spirit. That’s not just reading your Bible. That’s asking God to illumine what you read and submitting your heart to it. Then God’s Spirit brings order out of chaos.” The psalmist echoes this truth writing “The unfolding (unveiling giving understanding) of Thy Words gives light. It gives understanding to the simple.” (Ps 119:130) The Spirit’s illumining work is not to change the sense of the Scriptures, but to restore us to our senses!
Illuminated Bibles? – In a sermon on the Holy Spirit, Spurgeon asked “Do any of you have an illuminated Bible? “No,” says one, “I have a morocco Bible,” or “I have a marginal reference Bible.” Ah! that is all very well, but have you an illuminated Bible? “Yes, I have a large family Bible with pictures in it.” Yes, but have you an illuminated Bible? “I don’t understand what you mean by an illuminated Bible.” Well, it is the Christian man who has an illuminated Bible. He does not buy it illuminated originally, but when he reads it – “A glory gilds the sacred page, Majestic like the sun, Which gives a light to every page, It gives, but burrows (hides) none.” “There is nothing like reading an illuminated Bible, beloved. You may read to all eternity, and never learn anything by it, unless it is illuminated by the Spirit; and then the words shine forth like stars. The book seems made of gold leaf; every single letter glitters like a diamond. Oh! it is a blessed thing to read an illuminated Bible lit up by the radiance of the Holy Spirit. Hast thou read the Bible and studied it, my brother, and yet have thine eyes been unenlightened? Go and say, “O Lord, gild (overlay with gold) the Bible for me. I want an expounded Bible. Illuminate it; shine upon it; for I cannot read it to profit, unless Thou enlighten me.” Blind men may read the Bible with their fingers, but blind souls cannot. We want a light to read the Bible by; there is no reading it in the dark. Thus the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, by suggesting ideas, by directing our thoughts, and by illuminating the Scriptures when we read them.” (See link to sermon below) “Open my eyes, that I may see, Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me; Place in my hands the wonderful key, That shall unclasp, and set me free.” (Scott)
Parakeet or Paraclete? – Jesus promised His disciples (and us) “the Helper (Gk – Paraclete), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name and He will teach you all things.” (Jn 14:26) M R DeHaan tells the story of visiting a retired pastor who had a parakeet named Gibby who would say things like “Gibby is the prettiest bird in all the world” without any understanding of what he was actually saying. Many Christians go through the motions of Bible reading without the slightest idea of the true meaning of the text. It is better to read one verse in prayerful dependence on your “Paraclete (Helper), than to rattle off a whole book from memory like a parakeet! We would all do well to ask the question Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch “Do (I) understand what (I) am reading?” (Acts 8:30) – “Ever-present, truest Friend; Ever near Thine aid to lend; Guide us as we search the Word, Make it both our shield and sword.”
Problem With the Signal? – Tony Evans writes that “Before cable television came into my neighborhood, I used a television antenna. I had a workman come out one time because I was having problems with my reception. He said, “Your signal is strong, but your antenna is not pointed in the right direction.” The Word of God is strong. There’s no problem with the “signal.” But our heart’s antenna is often not pointed in the right direction. A lot of us are fiddling with our lives trying to fix them when the problem is that our spiritual antenna is not pointed toward God. Therefore, we cannot pick up the Spirit’s signal.”
Travesty of Information without Illumination! – A seminary professor visiting the Holy Lands met a man who claimed to have memorized the entire Old Testament in Hebrew! Needless to say, the astonished professor asked for a demonstration. “Where shall we begin”? asked the man. The professor who was an avid student of the psalms replied “Psalm 1.” So for two hours the man effortlessly and flawlessly recited the Psalms from memory as the professor sat in stunned silence. When the demonstration was over, the professor discovered something even more astonishing about the man-he was an atheist! Here was a man who intellectually could go through the Scriptures, but without the Spirit’s illumination the Scriptures never once went through him! Richard Lenski commented that “For all spiritual things, our thinking abilities, however keen and sharp, are not sufficient. The Lord must control, guide, enlighten our understanding.” Many books can inform, but only a Spirit illuminated Bible can transform! (2Cor 3:18–note)
Intellect and Illumination – Paul understood our need to couple intellect and illumination exhorting Timothy to “Consider (seek to intellectually grasp the meaning = Our Responsibility) what I say, for the Lord (the Spirit) will give you understanding (God’s Promised Provision) in everything.” (2Ti 2:7–note) John Piper explains that “So many people swerve off the road to one side of this verse or the other. Some stress, “Think over what I say.” They emphasize the indispensable role of reason and thinking. And they minimize the decisive supernatural role of the Spirit in making the mind able to see and embrace the truth. Others stress the second half of the verse: “for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” They emphasize the futility of reason without the Spirit’s illumining work. But Paul will not be divided that way. (We must) embrace both human thinking and divine illumination. For Paul, it was not either-or but both-and. If God does not open our eyes, we will not see the wonder of the Word. We are not naturally able to see spiritual beauty. When we read the Bible without the help of the Holy Spirit, the glory of God in the teachings and events of the Bible is like the sun shining in the face of a blind man. (We must be) desperate for God and hungry for God, and this must set us to pleading and crying out to God for His help in reading the Bible. We must pray for it—“Open my eyes.” (Ps 119:18–note) And if we would stay alive in God and be real and authentic and intense in our love for Him, we must be desperate to have this enabling every day. So pray, pray, pray.” May we daily be like the psalmist who declared “I rise before dawn and cry for help. I wait for Your Words. O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Ps 119:147, 97)
Tender Heart – Without a heart for God, we cannot hear God’s Word. Proper understanding of spiritual truth is not dependent on a keen intellect but on a tender heart, a heart that is “humble and contrite of spirit, and which trembles at My Word.” (Isa 66:2) We don’t as much need physical eyes to read the Bible, as we need the spiritual eyes of our heart enlightened to love the Author. The story is told of a poor, blind French girl who obtained a Braille copy of Mark and learned to read it with her fingers. But eventually her fingers became so calloused she could no longer distinguish letters and words. In desperation for the Word, she cut the calluses in an attempt to restore the sense of touch, but sadly the scarring had the opposite effect. Faced with the reality that she must give up her beloved Book, with weeping she pressed the Braille copy of Mark to her lips, lamenting “Farewell, farewell, sweet Word of my Heavenly Father!” To her surprise, she discovered that her lips were even more sensitive to touch than her fingers had been! And from that moment on she “read” the Bible with her lips, and doubtless offered praises like the psalmist who cried “Let my lips utter praise, for You teach me Your statutes.” (Ps 119:171)
May our prayer ever be…
Open My Eyes, That I May See
by Clara H Scott
Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp, and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see:
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Ev’rything false will disappear.
Open my mouth, and let me bear
Gladly the warm truth ev’rywhere;
Open my heart, and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.
Spurgeon’s Sermon The Holy Spirit Your Teacher
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