MEDITATE, MEDITATE, MEDITATE – Biblical meditation is the key that unlocks the greatest storeroom in the house of God’s provisions for the Christian. Indeed, saturation of our souls with the Scriptures is the secret of satisfaction of our souls! Someone has said that 1 in 100 Christians read Scripture regularly; 1 in 1000 memorize Scripture; but only 1 in 10,000 meditate! As Spurgeon says “No spiritual exercise is more profitable to the soul than that of devout meditation; why are many of us so exceeding slack in it?” He goes on to exhort us to “Read the Bible carefully, and then meditate and meditate and meditate.”
The psalmist affirms “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he MEDITATES day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3) As John Piper says “The deepest mark of this blessed person in Psalm 1 is that he delights in the Word of God. Bible reading and Bible memorization and meditation are not a burden to him, but a pleasure.” He adds that if Bible reading is more of a drudgery than a delight “We must pray for God’s enabling to help us delight in his Word.”
J I Packer explains that “MEDITATION is the activity of CALLING TO MIND, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God (found foremost of course in the Scripture)…It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.” And I would submit the best way of “calling to mind” the Scriptures is to first place them in our mind by intentional memorization. Are you actively MEMORIZING Scripture? If you are not, you will find it difficult to meditate on Scripture “day and night” as advocated in Psalm 1.
Cows chewing cud are often used as an illustration for Biblical meditation. Cows eat the grass and then settle down for a good, long chew. They bring the food back up from their stomachs and rework what they’ve already eaten, assimilating its goodness and transforming it into rich milk. Time-consuming? Yes. A waste of time? Not if they want to give good milk! So too, reading snips off the grass, while meditation chews the cud! God’s Word is not meant to be fast food, so take time for a good long chew. Indeed, reading the Bible without meditating on it is like eating without chewing. What digestion is to the body, meditation is to the soul.
We must read Scripture every day
And meditate on what God said
To fight temptation from the world
And live a life that’s Spirit led. – Sper
As John Piper observes one of our greatest weaknesses in our digital age “is that we do not meditate on the great things of God. Our lives are unbelievably distracted. We are experts at multi-tasking, surfing, and skimming, but it is harder than ever to MEDITATE. Therefore, it is imperative to intentionally cultivate MEDITATION on God’s Word. But how? I call it “going out to pasture”—resting and ruminating (like a cow chewing) on the Word of God, savoring it for the sake of life. If possible, find a consistent time, place, and plan. Then read slowly and carefully. Reread and reread. Read out loud. Read prayerfully. Read with a pen in hand. Memorize texts that you read.” Indeed, memorization is a first step to meditation. You cannot chew what you have not placed in your mouth!
Puritan Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) adds “It is not hasty reading—but serious MEDITATION on holy and heavenly truths, which makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee which gathers honey, but her abiding for a time on the flower which draws out the sweet nectar (cf Ps 19:10; 119:103). It is not he who reads most, but he who MEDITATES most, who will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”
Spurgeon adds that “Meditation and prayer are twin sisters and both of them appear to me equally necessary to Christian life. I think meditation must exist where there is prayer, and prayer is sure to exist where there is meditation.” Indeed, meditation fits a man for supplication!
Jehovah instructed Joshua on how to possess his possessions as he prepared to enter the promised land – “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth (How is this best achieved? By memorizing the Word), but you shall MEDITATE on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (Joshua 1:8). Joshua was to meditate on God’s Word so that he might possess a land promised by God. Dear Christ follower we too are to MEDITATE on God’s Word so that we might possess not a land but a LIFE, an abundant LIFE promised by Jesus (Jn 10:10). And we will be enabled to “possess our possessions” and become partakers of His divine nature as we meditate on the truth that we have been granted Christ’s “precious and magnificent promises” in addition to “everything pertaining to life and godliness.” (2Pe 1:4,3) As Spurgeon says “Grasp these sweet promises, thresh them out by MEDITATION and feed on them with joy.”
What made C H Spurgeon such a powerful preacher of the Word? There are probably many answers to this question, but the following quotes from Spurgeon suggest one of his “secrets” – “I quarry out the Truth when I read, but I smelt the ore and get the pure gold out of it when I MEDITATE! For lack of MEDITATION the Truth of God runs by us and we miss and lose it. Our treacherous memory is like a sieve—and what we hear and what we read runs through it and leaves but little behind—and that little is often unprofitable to us by reason of our lack of diligence to get thoroughly at it. We must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation therefrom. I often find it very profitable to get a text as a sweet morsel under my tongue in the morning and to keep the flavor of it, if I can, in my mouth all day!”
“I will MEDITATE on all Your work and muse on Your deeds.” (Ps 77:12) Spurgeon exhorts us to “meditate much on heaven, for it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.”
“O how I love Thy law! It is my MEDITATION all the day. Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my MEDITATION.” (Psalm 119:97-99) Spurgeon – “It is an admirable plan to fix your thoughts upon some text of Scripture before you leave your bedroom in the morning—it will sweeten your MEDITATION all the day.”
Are you having trouble falling to sleep? Redeem the time like the psalmists – “My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may MEDITATE on Your Word.” (Ps 119:148) “When I remember You on my bed, I MEDITATE on You in the night watches.” (Ps 63:6) “If day’s cares tempt us to forget God, it is well that night’s quiet should lead us to remember Him. We see best in the dark if we there see God best. Night is congenial, in its silence and darkness, to a soul which would forget the world, and rise into a higher sphere. Absorption in the most hallowed of all themes makes watches which would otherwise be weary glide away all too rapidly. Meditation causes the lonely and hard couch to yield the most delightful repose – repose more restful than even sleep itself. We read of beds of ivory, but beds of piety are far better. Some revel in the night, but they are not a tenth so blessed as those who ruminate on the Word of God.” (Spurgeon) “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will MEDITATE.” (Psalm 145:5)
As Spurgeon said “Words of the mouth are mockery if the heart does not MEDITATE. The shell is nothing without the kernel; but both together are useless unless accepted; and even if accepted by man, it is all vanity if not acceptable in the sight of God.” And so may our prayer ever be “Let the words of my mouth and the MEDITATION of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Amen (Psalm 19:14)
(1) Primer on Biblical Meditation
(2) Memorizing His Word
THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE – What does 2016 hold for each of us beloved? Our Father knows (best). We do not. G Campbell Morgan wisely said therefore “Let the year be given to God in its every moment! The year is made up of minutes: let these be watched as having been dedicated to God! It is in the sanctification of the small that hallowing of the large is secure.”
“Time that is past we can never recall.
Of time to come, we are not sure at all.
Only the present is now in our power,
Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.” -Anonymous
Time is a strange commodity — we cannot save it, retrieve it, relive it, stretch it, borrow it, loan it, stop it or store it , but can only use it or lose it. We can’t call “time out” in the game of life and there are no “instant replays” as in the game of football. Job in the midst of the trial of his life was very sensitive to the brevity of life declaring “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle…my life is but breath… my days are swifter than a runner. They flee away. They slip by like reed boats, like an eagle that swoops on its prey. Man, who is born of woman, is of few days, and full of trouble. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He flees like a shadow and does not remain.” (Job 7:6-7, 9:25-26, 14:1-2) A poet phrased it well — “When as a child I laughed and wept, time crept. When as a youth I dreamed and talked, time walked. When I became a full grown man, time ran. When older still I daily grew, time flew. Soon I shall find in traveling on, time gone.” And so while we cannot control the length of our days, yet by God’s grace we can control their depth, for we know that our Redeemer lives (Job 19:25) and that He is on our side (Ps 124:1-2–note, cf Ro 8:31-32–note).
Our vigor is fleeting, our best years are brief,
Our youth passes quickly—time’s ever a thief;
But hope yet becomes us—death’s sting holds no power;
We have a Redeemer—an unfailing Tower. —Gustafson
James wrote you “do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:15) When the great artist Raphael died at the early age of 37, friends and relatives carried his marvelous but unfinished painting The Transfiguration in the funeral procession. His family felt that because of the limited time he was allotted to use his creative genius, the painting was an appropriate symbol of his unfulfilled earthly aspirations. That half-completed picture has another meaning–a message that should impress itself on all of us: Life is fleeting and death may come unexpectedly. We should treasure each hour as a gift of great value and use it to the best advantage. And so we do well to pray the prayer of Moses the man of God “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.…. Our lives last seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years. Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow; indeed, they pass quickly and we fly away….SO TEACH US to number our DAYS, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:1-2, 10, 12–note) The root meaning of the verb translated “NUMBER” is “to weigh” or “to measure.” We are to place each DAY in the divine balance so that it tips the scales in such a way that will bring glory to God and blessing to the lives of others. Remember that there is no time after time, but there is an eternity. Indeed, time is but the fringe of eternity!
Reflect for a moment what time of day it would be today if Moses’ normal life span of “70 years” were were squeezed into a single 24-hour day. For example, if you are 59, the time is approximately 8:30pm. For me as I approach my 70th birthday, it would be near midnight! In fact, this Christmas I considered asking my children for a watch called the “Tikker” which not only tells time but calculates your estimated life span, and displays a running countdown of your remaining time! It is advertised as the watch “that counts down your life, just so you can make every second count!” That’s not a bad tagline Biblically speaking! So the question is…
How much time? We are never sure,
But at least we have today
To seek to do the Master’s will,
In all we do and say. —Fitzhugh
David a man after God’s own heart echoed a prayer similar to Moses — “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my DAYS are numbered–how fleeting my life is.” (Ps 39:4NLT) Did you notice that the prayers of both men specify “DAYS” not years? Most men number their life in years, but wise men number their lives in DAYS. David goes on to write “BEHOLD, Thou hast made my DAYS as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight. Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah…. And now Lord what do I wait for? My hope is in You” (Ps 39:5,7–note) For what are you waiting? And how can you be sure that what you’re waiting for is going to come to pass? In light of the brevity of life, David’s HOPE was in Jehovah. Biblical hope is not “hope so,” but “hope sure,” a mindset that gives us an absolute assurance that God will do good to us in the future. The “Tikker” is ticking. Today is the DAY for us to seek God’s presence and power to enable us to be the people He wants us to be. And finding HOPE in our eternal God gives meaning for our daily lives however long or short. As Spurgeon explains “a handbreadth is one of the shortest natural measures, being the breadth of four fingers; such is the brevity of life, by divine appointment; God hath made it so, fixing the period in wisdom. David’s “BEHOLD” calls us to attention. To some the thoughts of life’s hastiness will bring the most acute pain, but to others the most solemn earnestness. How well should those live who are to live so little! Is my earthly pilgrimage so brief? Then let me watch every step of it, that in the little time there may be much of grace.” Selah – Pause and reflect on these things remembering that it is not HOW LONG you live that counts, but HOW WELL you live. Don’t spend time. Invest it! Don’t spend it on futility. Invest it in eternity! “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl 9:10).
One life for Christ is all I have,
One life for Him so dear;
One life for doing all I can
With every passing year. —Brandt
Moses and David were both seeking God’s wisdom to live in the eternal now, to live in light of eternity, knowing that TODAY is the only DAY of which one can be certain. We need to give God our days, confident that He will take care of our tomorrows. “Yesterday is but a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is all of the cash that you have. Spend it wisely.” Indeed, we are stewards of every God-given DAY. DAYS wasted can never be recovered. No man ever possessed the same moment twice! One DAY we will all give an account for the opportunities God gave us each day of our life (2Cor 5:10–note). We have all been allotted the same amount of time each day. May God grant that we learn to view every minute as precious, seeking to use it for His glory, for as the poet put it “I have only just a minute – only 60 seconds in it./ Forced upon me – can’t refuse it/ But it’s up to me just how I use it; I must suffer if I lose it./ Give account if I abuse it./ Just a tiny little minute – but eternity is in it.” Amen
SO THE QUESTION IS “AM I REDEEMING THE TIME OF MY LIFE?” To help answer that question ask yourself what do you really value most in life? Undoubtedly God, Jesus, family, etc are at the top of your list. But did you remember to include “TIME?” Ephesians 5:15-16–note has been called the Bible’s key to TIME MANAGEMENT. In these passages Paul commands all believers “Therefore (because we have been awakened from spiritual stupor and spiritual death and have the light of Christ – Eph 5:14–note) BE CAREFUL(a command to continually take heed, be alert, be vigilant, to discern with Spirit enabled vision) how you walk, not as unwise men (foolishly), but as wise, MAKING THE MOST OF (REDEEMING) THE OPPORTUNITY (Kairos) because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:16) Notice that the evil of our day should motivate us to redeem the time each day. C H Spurgeon paraphrases Eph 5:16–note–“See then that ye walk circumspectly (being careful to consider all circumstances and all possible consequences), not carelessly, not thinking that it is of no importance how you live; but looking all round you, “walk circumspectly,” watching lest even in seeking one good thing you spoil another.” In other words, if we walk wisely, we will be careful not to let the good steal God’s best! Charles Hummel, author of “Tyranny of the Urgent,” wrote that our “greatest danger is letting the urgent (secular, temporal) things crowd out the important (divine, eternal things).” Our problem is that too often we live by life’s demands, instead of by God’s priorities. Remember that life is too short for us to do everything we want to do, but it is long enough for us to do everything God wants us to do.
Paul gives a parallel command in Colossians to “Conduct (command to make this your habitual practice enabled by the Spirit) yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, MAKING THE MOST OF (same verb as Eph 5:16) the OPPORTUNITY (KAIROS). Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” (Col 4:5-6–note) The verb MAKING THE MOST OF (REDEEMING) (Eph 5:16, Col 4:5) literally means to “buy out of the market place” as would a wise merchant diligently seeking the best bargains, taking care not to miss the fleeting “opportunities!” MAKING THE MOST OF is in the present tense which calls for us to make redemption of time our daily practice, buying up the strategic opportunities which God providentially places in our path. If we are walking wisely (Eph 5:15–note), filled with (continually controlled and enabled by) God’s Spirit (Eph 5:18–note), we will be spiritually alert to divine OPPORTUNITIES and will begin to view people and circumstances not simply as encounters (or irritations) but as opportunities (and “invitations”) to impact eternity, as we learn to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Cor 4:18–note).
Think of redeeming the time this way – If each day someone gave you $1440 (the number of minutes in a day) and said spend it or lose it, most of us would be quite motivated to wisely spend every dollar! A survey asked “What do you have to live for?” to which 94% answered they were just enduring today and living for tomorrow. That is living unwisely (Eph 5:15–note). Too many people miss TODAY because they are worrying about TOMORROW (cf Jesus’ words in Mt 6:34–note). Adrian Rogers said “We face the future out of breath, because we have been fighting tomorrow’s battles today!” Instead of killing time, redeem it. Instead of counting the days, make your days count. “ETERNITY will be appreciated only in the measure that we have rightly handled TIME!” Spurgeon said “‘NOW’ should be the watchword of the wise.” LATER may be too late! Right NOW counts for eternity. To make our life count for eternity, we must be wise in how we spend our time today. What will your eternal harvest be? A popular slogan says, “Life Is Short—Party Hard.” But God, Who gives us eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, reminds us that “Life Is Short—Live It Well!” It’s not how long you live that counts, but how well you live, for a life lived for God will count for eternity. To make the most of our earthly existence, we must lose ourselves in the will of God, living “the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1Pe 4:2–note).
I do not ask for honor, fame
While life’s short race I run,
But for a will to do Thy will
And then Thy glad “Well done.” —Meadows
In Ephesians 5:16 the word TIME is the Greek word KAIROS which can also be translated as OPPORTUNITY (as in Col 4:5) or SEASON (Ps 1:3 in the Lxx). In ancient Greece “Kairos” was a mythological character who had a forelock by which you could seize him when you met him, but who was bald in the back, so once he had sped past (his statute had wings on his feet), he could not be seized again. And so kairos refers to a fixed and definite period of time during which something can be accomplished that cannot be accomplished after the time has passed. The idea of kairos is not “clock time” (Gk – chronos) but what one writer refers to as “kingdom opportunities.” The time/opportunity for bringing forth fruit is the spring SEASON in which the tree bears fruit (Ps 1:3). Once the season has passed, there is no fruit. And so in a spiritual sense kairos is the time which God allots to each believer to bring forth “spiritual fruit.” Therefore it behooves us, enabled by the Spirit, to “Seize the Day” (Carpe diem) because Tempus fugit (Time flies)! Kill time and you murder opportunity. History records that when Hannibal could have taken Rome he did not, and when he later sought to he could not. As Horace Mann put it “Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.” Kairos represents the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable. Kairos can be a moment or a season, but always refers to specific times in which opportunity is “ripe”, so that when the time passes, so does the opportunity.
Our English word OPPORTUNITY is derived from the Latin “ob portu.” In ancient times before modern harbors, ships had to wait for the timing of the tide before they could make it safely to port. Thus “OB PORTU,” described the ship waiting “FOR PORT,” ready to seize the crucial moment when it could ride the tide into safe harbor. The captain knew that if he missed the passing tide, the ship would have to wait for another tide to come in. God gives each of us many “ob portu’s”, but we must be spiritually wise and Spirit filled in order to see and seize them. As Charles Swindoll said “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities (ob portu’s) brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Shakespeare’s famous line from Julius Caesar conveys the same thought: “There is a tide in the affairs of men (an “ob portu”), Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.” Napoleon said, “There is in the midst of every great battle a ten to fifteen minute period that is the crucial point (kairos). Take that period and you win the battle; lose it and you will be defeated.” In short, KAIROS conveys the sense of an “opportune time,” a “window of opportunity”. “Opportunity is the flower of time which blooms for a moment and is gone for ever.” (G Barlow) John Broadus said “Opportunity is like a fleet horse that pauses for a moment at one’s side. If you fail to mount him in that moment, you can hear the clatter of his hoofs down the corridors of time. That opportunity is gone forever.” Jonathan Edwards America’s greatest theologian understood Paul’s charge to REDEEM THE TIME and as a young man wrote “Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can. Resolved: to live with all my might while I do live.”
A farmer’s clock ran amuck one morning and struck seventeen. The man of the house jumped up and ran all over the place, saying, “Get up, it’s later than it ever has been before!” It is later than it ever has been by God’s eternal timepiece. It is later than you think! Today you are as young as you will ever be. Don’t vacillate! Don’t hesitate! Don’t procrastinate! Time is loaned to us and, as good stewards of Christ, enabled by His Spirit we must use it wisely. Let us each redeem the golden moments of opportunity while we still can! “Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” (Ps 144:4) As Spurgeon (who went home at age 59) said “A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour!” Spurgeon in fact reduced our lives to four words “Sown, groan, blown, gone!” As Larry Moyer said “Decide now what you want written on your tombstone, then live your life backward from there.” Stated another way, instead of counting your days, make your days count! Ask yourself what would you change if this day were your last? In fact, we should live every day as if it might be our last, for one of these days we will be right!
Now is the only time we own
To do His precious will,
Do not wait until tomorrow;
For the clock may then be still.
John Piper reiterates that the “OPPORTUNITY will never come again. The days are evil; opposition is great; be wise as serpents (Mt 10:16). Understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:17-note)…These words ring with a sense of urgency. They are like the words of a platoon leader addressing his unit just before they enter combat. The air is tense and your heart is beating fast and, even if you love battle, your hands are sweaty. “Watch your step; be smart; don’t miss your opportunity; keep yourself lean for the battle!”…In other words, the Christian life is a vigilant life, defensively guarding itself from the subtleties of the evil days and offensively redeeming the time to strike for love and righteousness again and again. We are a vigilant people at war with unbelief and evil. O to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me…Surely God means for our minutes on earth to count for something significant. Paul said, “In the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” (Php 2:16–note). In the same way, I have good hope from the Lord that my “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1Cor 15:58–note). And I commend this promise to you. No minute need be lived in vain. Eternity will render it significant if lived in faith for the glory of God. In the end we rest in this: “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15–note).
Adoniram Judson a famous missionary to Burma wrote that “A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated throughout eternity. The same may be said of each DAY. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever. Each DAY will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny. How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, (enabled by God’s Spirit) resolve to send the DAY into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more DAY is irrevocably gone, indelibly (forever) marked.” Eternity will reveal whether we have made the right use of time for what we weave in time we will wear in eternity. David Brainerd whose candle burned so brightly that God brought him home at the relatively young age of 29 wrote in his diary “Oh, how precious is time; and how guilty it makes me feel when I think I have trifled away and misemployed it or neglected to fill up each part of it with duty to the utmost of my ability and capacity. Oh, that I might not loiter on my heavenly journey!” It’s too late to redeem the time that is past, but not the time that is passing! Clocks don’t move backwards! So don’t replay those old tapes of failures of unfaithfulness. The hands of the time of your life that count are the ones moving “clockwise!” So enabled by God’s Spirit and His Word, make every second count for eternity!
Time that is past you can never recall,
Of time to come, you are not sure at all;
Only the present is now in your power,
Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.—Unknown
Adrian Rogers offers some practical thoughts on redeeming the time: (1) Learn to live in the eternal now. Today is the only day you have. Redeem the time. (2) Stop saying, “If I had time.” You do have time. (3) Stop worrying about tomorrow, and stop waiting for tomorrow. Give God today, and He will take care of tomorrow. (4) Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today. Cut yourself loose from the past. Bury your failure in the grave of God’s forgetfulness (read Micah 7:18-19, Isaiah 43:25, 44:22), and let Him give you a brand new day. (5) If you have not accepted Christ, now is the time “for He says, “At the acceptable time (kairos = the opportune time!) I listened to you and on the day of salvation I helped you”; behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (kairos),” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” (2Cor 6:2)
Let us pray like the old Puritans in Valley of Vision — “Turn my heart from vanity, from dissatisfactions, from uncertainties of the present state, to an eternal interest in Christ. Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen, and is only an opportunity for usefulness; GIVE ME A HOLY AVARICE TO REDEEM THE TIME, to awake at every call to charity (love) and piety (godliness), so that I may feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant, reclaim the vicious, forgive the offender, diffuse the Gospel, show neighborly love to all. Let me live a life of self-distrust, dependence on Thyself (Thy Spirit), mortification, crucifixion, prayer.” Amen
Dear reader, may God by His Spirit cause each of us to so order our steps that when that great day comes we might hear those glorious words “Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful in a few things, I will put your in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your Master.” (Mt 25:21) “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:12–note)
The famous missionary C T Studd penned these words…
Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice,
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave.
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes and fears,
Each with its days I must fulfill,
Living for self or in His will.
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Now take a moment, as you ponder the moments of your life which remain and the poignant words of Robin Mark’s song…
When It’s All Been Said and Done
There is just one thing that matters.
Did I do my best to live for Truth?
Did I live my life for You?
When It’s All Been Said and Done
All my treasures will mean nothing.
Only what I’ve done for love’s reward,
Will stand the test of time.
IMMANUEL, EMMANUEL (GOD WITH US): We can condense all the truth of Christmas into three words “God With Us,” not just as a baby in a manger, but as Immanuel, the omnipotent Creator of heaven and earth!Immanuel is a transliteration of the original Hebrew word derived from Immanu (with us) and El (God), while Emmanuel is a transliteration of the Greek “Emmanouel.” Whether spelled with an I or an E “every name of Christ is like a honeycomb dripping with honey, and luscious are the drops that distill from it.” (CHS) Indeed, Jesus’ Name IMMANUEL emphasizes His nearness, for His birth brought the infinite, holy God within reach of finite, sinful man. God came to live WITH US us so we could live WITH HIM! The Son of GOD became the Son of MAN that He might change the sons of MEN into sons of GOD (1Jn 3:1), who can forever “draw near with confidence (boldness) to the Throne of grace” through Immanuel (Heb 4:16). God grant us grace to come aside from our frantic pace and meditate on the great Name Immanuel, the mystery of godliness “revealed in the flesh.” (1Ti 3:16). “O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His Name (Immanuel) together.” (Ps 34:3) “Blessed be His glorious NAME (Immanuel) forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen.” (Ps 72:19)
Immanuel! God with us in His meekness;
Immanuel! God with us in His might,
To bind our wounds, to gift with strength our weakness,
To bring us, redeemed, to the home of light – Morgan
Matthew Henry wrote that “By the light of nature we see God as a God above us (Ps 19:1-2); by the light of the Law we see Him as a God against us (Col 2:14); but by the light of the Gospel we see Him as IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US.” He was God FOR us before He became God WITH us, and it was because He was FOR us that He became God WITH us. And so C H Spurgeon rightly says IMMANUEL “is eternity’s sonnet, heaven’s hallelujah, the shout of the glorified, the song of the redeemed, the chorus of angels, the everlasting oratorio of the great orchestra of the sky.” “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as Man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.” (John Wesley) Let us praise the One Who is both transcendent and yet approachable, God Most High and yet God Most Close, God With Us, Immanuel!
IMMANUEL WAS FORETOLD – The Name “Immanuel” occurs only three times in the Bible, but the truth of “GOD WITH US” permeates the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. We first see Immanuel as God with Adam, the “LORD God walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day” (Ge 3:8), Creator communing with creature, until that awful day when “sin entered into the world and death (symbolic of separation entered) through sin” (Ro 5:12). Thereafter God’s interactions with man were generally MORE REMOTE (the Lord descended upon a mountain that could not even be touched! Ex 19:18, Heb 12:18-19), LESS PERSONAL (pillar of cloud by day and fire by night Ex 13:21-22) and LESS ACCESSIBLE (Only the high priest could enter the Holy of holies once per year – Lev 16:31-34). And yet because of His abounding lovingkindnesses (Ps 103:8), God “set eternity in our heart” (Eccl 3:11), giving every person a deep yearning to intimately know Him, for “that which is known about God is evident within us.” (Ro 1:19) But it is not enough to know that God is “up there” or “out there” somewhere. We want to know that God has come down to where we are, that He knows where we live, that He knows our name, that He cares about us, that He has “walked this lonesome valley” we walk. We want to know that we are not alone in the universe. Even wise Solomon asked “will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth?” (2Chr 6:18) In His great grace and mercy, God answered through the prophet Isaiah who foretold that “the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him IMMANUEL” (Isaiah 7:14). And so our hearts sing “O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear.”
IMMANUEL WAS FULFILLED – The young boy looked into the sky and asked his mother, “Is God up there?” When she assured him that He was, he replied, “Wouldn’t it be nice if He would put His head out and let us see Him?” What the boy didn’t understand was that God has let us see Him—in Immanuel. We don’t have to guess what God is like. Nor do we have to wonder if He’s alive. Matthew described His miraculous birth writing “Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold (pay attention!), the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His Name IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” (Mt 1:22-23) Not God without us! Not God against us! But God with us! While Emmanuel in Isaiah 7:14 was a sign of God’s deliverance of Israel from temporal trouble, the Name Immanuel in Mt 1:23 is a sign of God’s deliverance of sinners from eternal trouble! The Father sent Messiah to earth as a Man and the eternal “Word became flesh” (Jn 1:1, 14). In Immanuel, the Infinite became Finite, the Divine became Human, while remaining fully God and fully Man, veiling His Majesty (2Pe 1:16) in Meekness (Mt 11:29). The King of glory became the servant of men (Php 2:7-8, Mk 10:45). “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2Cor 9:15)! Little wonder that as John Wesley lay dying in 1791, he roused himself, opened his eyes, and exclaimed “The best of all is, GOD IS WITH US!” Then he closed his eyes and fell asleep in Jesus, His Immanuel! Indeed, as Spurgeon affirmed, Jesus Christ is “IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor.” “There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins, And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains, Lose all their guilty stains.” (William Cowper)
The Gospel of Matthew opens with “Behold!…IMMANUEL…GOD WITH US” (Mt 1:23) and closes with the assuring words “Behold! I AM WITH YOU always!” (Mt 28:20) Immanuel is with us through His indwelling Spirit (Ro 8:9), in His Word and by His providential care. GOD WITH US allowed Jesus to be crucified as the God-Man, so that He could be GOD IN US, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). And if He is GOD IN US, then He is also GOD FOR US for a Paul says “If GOD IS FOR US, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Ro 8:31-32) “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as Man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel. Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King!’” (Charles Wesley)
IMMANUEL WILL ENDURE – From Genesis to Revelation, from “the garden of Eden” (Ge 2:15) to “the paradise of God” (Rev 2:7), God is IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US. John testifies to the surpassing richness of the future grace to be revealed to us (Eph 2:7, 1Pe 1:13) writing “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is WITH MEN, and He shall dwell WITH THEM, and they shall be His people, and GOD HIMSELF SHALL BE WITH THEM.” (Rev 21:3) Jesus descended to be GOD WITH US so that as a Man He might be “pierced through FOR” US (“for our transgressions”). (Isa 53:5) After His resurrection Immanuel’s wounds remained visible to His disciples on Earth (Jn 20:20, 27) and will remain visible to His bondservants in Heaven. Standing in heaven, John writes “I saw between the throne a Lamb standing, as if slain (~His scars!)” (Rev 5:6) As one has said, “the only man-made thing in heaven will be the scars of the Savior.” “The first Heaven and the first earth” will pass away (Rev 21:1), but the Lamb’s scars will endure eternally, marks that will forever testify of His unfailing covenant love. As Spurgeon says “Wonderfully true is this fact: when you and I come to the closing scene of life we will find that Immanuel, “GOD WITH US” has been there. He felt the pangs and throes of death. We will be raised in His likeness, and the first sight our opening eyes will see is the incarnate Lamb of God, GOD WITH US. We will see Him as Man and as God, and throughout all eternity He will maintain the most intimate relationship with us. As long as ages roll, He will be “GOD WITH US.” Both His human and divine life will last forever, and so too will our life.” He came in time as Immanuel on earth that He might be in eternity our Immanuel in heaven, God with us, we with Him, bound fast by the unbreakable union of the everlasting, new covenant in His blood, forever sealed by the marks on His glorified body! Hallelujah! Let us gratefully exalt “All hail to Thee, IMMANUEL, we cast our crowns before Thee; Let every heart obey Thy will, and every voice adore Thee. In praise to Thee, our Savior King, the vibrant chords of Heaven ring, And echo back the mighty strain: All hail! All hail! All hail IMMANUEL!” (D R Van Sickle)
IMMANUEL APPLIED: In our daily experience, when trials unexpectedly assault us, do we run to the Strong Tower of Jesus’ Name IMMANUEL that we might be safe (literally “lifted up” above the fray)? (Pr 18:10, Ps 91:14) I fear many of us (myself included) are too often like the children of Israel who showed their lack of faith asking “Is the LORD among us or not?” (Ex 17:7) We need to take up the shield of faith (Eph 6:16) and remind ourselves that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Heb 13:8) and that He has promised “I will absolutely never, not ever, leave you, no, never, not ever forsake you.” (Heb 13:5 five negatives in Greek!) Indeed, what we need even more than deliverance from trouble is the firm confidence that Jesus is our IMMANUEL in the midst of our trouble. The secret of peace is not a plan or program but a Person, IMMANUEL, God with us (cp Ps 20:7). David testifies “those who know (intimately, by experience) Thy Name (IMMANUEL) will put their trust in Thee.” (Ps 9:10) Knowing and trusting in His Name IMMANUEL is God’s antidote for fear. When Israel feared the giants in the land God had promised them, Moses reminded them “the LORD is WITH US. Do not FEAR!” (Nu 14:9) When “giants” arise, danger threatens or calamity strikes, we can be assured of Immanuel’s personal presence and power to comfort and calm our storm tossed souls with His encouraging words “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Jn 14:27) In our “valley times,” we do well to remind ourselves of David’s affirmation that “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I FEAR no evil, FOR (David explains why he has no fear) YOU ARE WITH ME (Immanuel), Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps 23:4) In Isaiah God tenderly exhorts us “Do not fear, for I AM WITH YOU. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isa 41:10, cf Dt 20:1, Isa 43:5). Enabled by the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7), let us put our faith in His Name IMMANUEL and put our fears to rest! And when fear knocks at our door, may God grant us the grace to send faith to open it! “Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Ris’n with healing in His wings.” (C. Wesley)
IMMANUEL SUMMARIZED: Spurgeon declares “If GOD be WITH US, we are in ennobling company, even though we are poor and despised. If GOD be WITH US, we have all-sufficient strength (2Cor 12:9), for nothing can be too difficult for the Lord (Ge 18:14). If GOD be WITH US, we are always safe, for none can harm those who walk under His shadow (Ps 57:1). Oh, what a joy we have here! Not only is GOD WITH US, but He will be with us— with us as individuals, with us as families, with us as churches. Is not the very Name of Jesus, IMMANUEL—GOD WITH US? Is not this the best of all, that GOD IS WITH US? Let us be bravely diligent and joyously hopeful. Our cause must prosper, the truth must win, for GOD is WITH THOSE who are WITH HIM!”
PRAYER: Consider praying Spurgeon’s prayer “Blessed IMMANUEL, we gladly obey You! In You our darkness ends and from the shadow of death we rise to the Light of life. It is salvation to be obedient to You (Jn 3:36). It is the end of gloom to the one that was in anguish to bow himself before You. May God the Holy Spirit take of the things of Christ and show them unto us, and then we shall all cry— “Go worship at Immanuel’s feet! See in His face what wonders meet! Earth is too narrow to express; His worth, His grace, His righteousness.” to which we add “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Amen
Play Michael Card’s song…
DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD: The Double Cure For Our Fretting and Fulfilling Our Desires – In Psalm 37 David is old (Ps 37:25) and thus speaks wise words of an a man after God’s own heart who has spent much of his life dwelling in the presence of Jehovah. And so first let us observe that David uses the verb FRET 3 times in the first 8 verses (Ps 37:1,7-8), interweaving it with God’s antidotes for fretting. In fact he exhorts us to do several things to counter fretting (Ps 37:2 understand evildoers final fate, Ps 37:3 Trust in the Lord, Ps 37:3 Do good, Ps 37:3 Cultivate faithfulness, Ps 37:5 Commit your way to the Lord, Ps 37:5Trust Him, Ps 37:7 Rest in the Lord, Ps 37:7 Wait patiently for Him) but one activity that is unique is the command (not a suggestion) to “DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD.” Notice that the verb fret has an interesting derivation from an Old English word (fretan) meaning to devour, which gives us a vivid picture of fretting, which is allowing something to “eat away” or “gnaw away” thus producing an envious, agitated, vexed or worried mind. Unfortunately fretting comes far too naturally to our fallen flesh, the old adversary, that Adamic nature still resident in our mortal body (Ro 7:18–note, Gal 5:17–note). And so in Ps 37:4 David gives us God’s antidote, charging us to change our focus from fretting on evil doers to delighting in our good God, writing “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Unfortunately my flesh too often “inverts” the order of the passage and focuses on my reward (the fulfilling of my desires) rather than the fulfilling of my responsibility (delight). David’s order however clearly shows us that precepts come before promises, responsibility before rewards and delight before desires. So I need to take an honest inventory – “Am I truly delighting in the Lord?” To answer that question let us meditate on what it means to DELIGHT. And let us pray like the godly Puritan Richard Baxter “May the living God, Who is the portion and rest of His saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly that loving Him, and DELIGHTING in Him, may be the work of our lives.” Amen
In Psalm 37:4 the Hebrew verb for DELIGHT (anag) is a command which charges us to find our enjoyment in Jehovah. Another Hebrew word for delight (chephets) means to bend toward or incline toward, a very fitting description of what our attitude should be toward our Almighty God! A NT parallel of Ps 37:4 is Php 4:4–notewhich is also a command to continually “Rejoice in the Lord.” If we attempt to DELIGHT in God out of a sense of duty, it will not be a delight but a drudgery! But God never gives a commandment without also providing the enablement. So how do we arouse a desire to delight and rejoice in the Lord? Simply put, we can’t but God can! Paul commands us to work out our salvation (e.g., to DELIGHT), explaining that this is possible because “God is working (Gk = energeo ~ continually energizing) in us, giving us the DESIRE and the POWER to do what pleases Him.” (Phil 2:12-13NLT–note) Note that we are both responsible and dependent! And so we work out what God’s Spirit works in! We daily make the choice to renounce reliance on self efforts to muster up the affection to delight out of a sense of duty, and instead rely on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ alone can stir in our hearts this DESIRE and give us the supernatural power to DELIGHT in Jehovah. As A W Tozer said “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit (and) when the Holy Spirit shows us God as He is we admire Him to the point of wonder and DELIGHT.” James Smith explains that “Sin has taken our attention off of God – and fixed it upon ourselves, or the things around us. Grace calls our attention off of everything else – to fix it upon God. It directs us to DELIGHT in the Lord.” Puritan Stephen Charnock adds that “This DELIGHT (in Ps 37:4) springs from the Spirit of God. Not a spark of fire on your own hearth is able to kindle this spiritual DELIGHT; it is the Holy Spirit Who breathes such a heavenly heat into our affections. The Spirit is the fire that kindles the soul, the spring that moves the watch, the wind that drives the ship. Just as prayer is the work of the Spirit in the heart, so DELIGHT in prayer owes itself to the same Author.” As an unknown Puritan prayed “When I think upon and converse with Thee, ten thousand DELIGHTFUL thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.” (Valley of Vision)
May God’s Spirit stir our hearts to delight in the LORD as we pray David’s words asking that we might “feast on the abundance of Your house and…drink from the river of Your DELIGHTS.” (Ps 36:8, Jn 4:14, 7:38-39–note) “Dear fountain of DELIGHT unknown!/No longer sink below the brim/But overflow, and pour me down/A living and life-giving stream!” Amen (William Cowper)
What does delighting in the Lord look like practically? If we delight in a person, we desire to be in their presence and to hear their voice. Indeed, we should seek to be like the blessed man whose “DELIGHT is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Ps 1:2–note) And like the psalmist who “opened wide his mouth and panted, because he longed for God’s precepts.” (Ps 119:131, 40) We need to daily chose to “delight in His commandments, which we love.” (Ps 119:47) We should be like a young couple who is so in love that their greatest desire is to be in each other’s company prompting them to rearrange all their priorities! Why? Not because that was their duty but because it was their greatest desire and delight! This begs the question “Do I DELIGHT in God’s Word like this? Do I set aside time to commune with Him in His Word because I DELIGHT in hearing to His voice? Has my quiet time become “too quiet,” because I have begun to see it more as a duty than a DELIGHT?”
May God’s Spirit revive our hearts according to His Word (Ps 119:25) that we might be like Jeremiah who said “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the DELIGHT of my heart.” (Jer 15:16–note) If we truly DELIGHT in Jehovah, we desire not only to spend time with Him, listening to His voice in His Word, but also longing to speak with Him. We need to imitate godly Nehemiah who prayed “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who DELIGHT to fear (reverence) Your Name.” (Neh 1:11) And may our heart be like “Mary, who was listening (cpPs 81:10b) to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet” and not like “Martha (who) was distracted…worried (fretting) and bothered about so many things.” Indeed, may we delight in Jesus’ words that “There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:38-42) Remember, beloved, that our Lord desires our delight before our duty, our presence before our presents! Father grant that by Your Spirit we like the saints of old might discover that the one thing that is important in time and eternity is to sit lost in DELIGHT at our Savior’s feet communing with Him through His Word and prayer. Amen
To DELIGHT in the Lord is to desire to be near Him, to be like the OT saints who cried “My soul longs for Thee, as a parched land. Selah.” (Ps 143:6) “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I DESIRE nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps 73:25-26) When we DELIGHT in the Lord we come to understand more fully that “the nearness of God is our good,” (Ps 73:28) and that “a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Ps 84:10) And as we learn to delight in Jehovah, we will desire even more to daily be in His presence, for “In His presence (literally before His face) is fulness of joy. In His right hand there are pleasures forevermore. (Ps 16:11) So let us each morning enabled by His Spirit choose to DELIGHT in Jehovah and beseech Him to “hide us in the secret place of His presence.” (Ps 31:20) “Let us come before His presence (face) with thanksgiving. Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms” (Ps 95:2), confident that He will make us “glad with the joy of His presence.” (Ps 21:6) Indeed, as the writer of Hebrews encourages, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence (boldness) to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need (which is ALL the time!)” (Heb 4:16–note) “O God of my delight, Thy throne of grace is the pleasure ground of my soul.” (Valley of Vision)
WILL GOD GIVE ME ALL MY DESIRES? – Some suggest that Ps 37:4 is a promise that we will receive whatever we desire. And most of us have fallen into the trap wondering “Lord, why don’t You give me what I desire since it is not a bad thing?” When we are frustrated by a promise it may be because we are not interpreting the promise correctly! When we examine the context, we observe that Psalm 37 tells us not to fret or be envious of the wicked and not focus on what they have or what they seem to be getting away with. Instead we are to focus on Jehovah, the great I Am Who promises to “supply all our needs (not our wants) according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” (Php 4:19–note) And when we compare a parallel passage like 1Jn 5:14–note, we see that we need to ask for desires that are “according to His will” not our will. (see also qualification of abiding in His Word – Jn 15:7) As Spurgeon says those “who delight in God desire or ask nothing but what will please God.” In other words as we practice the presence of God, daily delighting in Him, in His Word, in prayerful communion with Him, gradually His Spirit transforms our heart so that our desires become His desires and it is those desires He will grant. Indeed, our desires will be His desires when our heart sings “Take my will, and make it Thine. It shall no be no longer mine. Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself and I will be, ever only, all for Thee, ever only all for Thee.” (Frances Havergal) If God has our hearts, He can trust us with His blessings. So let us DELIGHT in God and He will become our greatest DESIRE! And if all we desire is God, God will give us all we desire…Christ Jesus Himself, “in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col 2:3–note) The path to true fulfillment in this short life does not lie in preoccupation with self but in selfless preoccupation with Jesus, our all in all (Heb 12:2–note, Col 3:11–note). Beloved, true contentment becomes our experiential reality when God’s will is more important than our wants and when we come to realize that Jesus is everything we need for time and eternity!
While it is amazing grace that saved sinners can DELIGHT in the Lord, it is even more amazing that He takes DELIGHT in us! Like a diamond miner who picks up a rough, dull stone and rejoices with delight, God delights over unlovely people. He knows what precious gems, through His Spirit’s shaping and polishing, sanctified sinners will become in Christ, yea, even becoming His own treasured possession (Dt 26:18, Titus 2:14–note)! And so the prophet exults that “The LORD your God is in your midst. He is a warrior Who can deliver. He TAKES GREAT DELIGHT in you. He renews you by His love. He shouts for joy over you.” (Zephaniah 3:17NET)
May our prayer daily be like the words of the devout Puritans in the Valley of Vision – “If Thou seest in me any wrong thing encouraged, any evil desire cherished, any DELIGHT that is not Thy DELIGHT, any habit that grieves Thee, any nest of sin in my heart, then grant me the kiss of Thy forgiveness, and teach my feet to walk the way of Thy commandments. Produce in me self-despair that will make Jesus precious to me, DELIGHTFUL in all His offices, pleasurable in all His ways, and may I love His commands (delight yourself) as well as His promises (desire fulfilled). Give me the saving lamp of Thy Spirit that I may see Thee, the God of my salvation, the DELIGHT of my soul, rejoicing over me in love (Zeph 3:17–note).” Amen
Take my life and let it be,
Consecrated Lord to Thee.
Take my moments and my days
And let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my will, and make it Thine.
It shall no be no longer mine.
Take my heart heart, it is Thy own.
It shall be Thy royal throne.
What do you do when you don’t desire to delight in God? Clearly this is an important question so I would strongly encourage you to watch the 6 part series by Dr John Piper on what do I do…”When I Don’t Desire God” –
GOD’S POIEMA: Beloved, if you are IN CHRIST by grace through faith (Eph 2:8,9), do you know what God says about you in Ephesians 2:10? You are God’s “WORKMANSHIP, created IN CHRIST JESUS for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The Greek word for “WORKMANSHIP” is POIEMA which gives us our English words POEM and POETRY. Poiema means “something made” and in context is something made by God Himself. As a new creation skillfully and artfully created IN CHRIST JESUS (2 Cor 5:17), have you ever thought of your new (supernatural) life as a work of “divine poetry?” Beloved, as believers “each of our lives is the papyrus on which the Master is producing a work of art that will fill the everlasting ages with His praise.” (S Gordon) You are God’s masterpiece. You are His poem. You are His work of art. When we look at ourselves this way, we begin to understand our incredible value in Christ. Indeed, as C S Lewis said “We are a divine work of art.” “If Rembrandt’s artistic masterpieces have great, undisputed value, would not God’s one-of-a-kind human masterpieces convey even greater value?” (D Robertson)
Timothy Keller asks “Do you know what it means that you are God’s workmanship? What is art? Art is beautiful, art is valuable, and art is an expression of the inner being of the maker, of the artist. Imagine what that means. You’re beautiful, you’re valuable, and you’re an expression of the very inner being of the Artist, the divine Artist, God Himself. You see, when Jesus gave Himself on the Cross, He didn’t say, “I’m going to die just so you know I love you.” He said, “I’m going to die, I’m going to bleed, for your splendor. I’m going to re-create you into something beautiful. I will turn you into something splendid, magnificent. I’m the Artist; you’re the art. I’m the Painter; you’re the canvas. I’m the Sculptor; you’re the marble. You don’t look like much there in the quarry, but I can see. Oh, I can see!” Jesus is an Artist!” And you beloved are His crowning achievement, His masterpiece!
The idea of poiema is that our new life in Christ is like a poem which expresses “form and pattern along with beauty. Like the underside of grandmother’s cross-stitch, the everyday of our lives may look to be knotted and hopelessly tangled. But when we turn the fabric over, we see design and beauty that was there all along but that we never foresaw.” (Gage) Perhaps you don’t feel much like a work of divine poetry, but regardless of how you feel, the truth about you as God’s workmanship, is that you are His “MASTERPIECE” (NLT), His “HANDIWORK” (NAB), His “WORK OF ART” (NJB), in fact, a work of art that is one of a kind! You are “custom designed”, “tailor-made,” by the Master’s hand. “Each of our lives is the canvas on which the Master is producing a work of art that will fill the everlasting ages with His praise.” (John Phillips)
J C Philpot – Consider what is here declared of those who are saved by grace through faith—that they are God’s “workmanship”—the fruit and product of His creative hand. All, then, that we are and all that we have that is spiritual, and as such acceptable to God, we owe to the special operation of His power. There is not a thought of our heart, word of our lips, or work of our hands, which is truly holy and heavenly, simple and sincere, glorifying to God or profitable to man, of which He is not by His Spirit and grace the divine and immediate Author!
C H Spurgeon says it this way – “You have seen a painter with his palette on his finger and he has ugly little daubs of paint on the palette. What can he do with those spots? Go in and see the picture. What splendid painting! In an even wiser way does Jesus act toward us. He takes us, poor smudges of paint, and He makes the blessed pictures of His grace out of us. It is neither the brush nor the paint He uses, but it is the skill of His own hand which does it all.” (Praise the Lord!)
Indeed, the redeemed should sing out like David “I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.” (Ps 139:14)
As Spurgeon says “If we are marvelously wrought upon even before we are born, what shall we say of the Lord’s dealings with us after we quit His secret workshop, and He directs our pathway through the pilgrimage of life? What shall we not say of that new birth which is even more mysterious than the first, and exhibits even more the love and wisdom of the Lord.”
O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
The only other NT use of the Greek word poiema is in Romans 1:20-note where Paul writes “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through WHAT HAS BEEN MADE (All one Greek Word – POIEMA) so that they are without excuse.”
As creationist Henry Morris says “God has written two poetic masterpieces, as it were, one in the physical creation, one in the lives of men and women redeemed and saved by His grace (Eph 2:8). Both give eloquent testimony to the eternal power and Godhead of the Creator-Redeemer.” Two great “divine poems” – the created world and re-created, redeemed men and women in that world. Even as the “heavens are telling of the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Ps 19:1-note), we too as God’s MASTER CREATIONS should never be ashamed to let others see His WORKMANSHIP in us by our Spirit enabled obedience to Jesus’ command to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they see your GOOD WORKS, and glorify (give a proper opinion of) your Father Who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:16-note) As new creatures in Christ, we need to remember that we were created for God’s glory, and created for good deeds, because it is by our good deeds that our Father gets all the glory (cf Ps 115:1-note). Indeed, the chief end of each of our lives is “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” (Westminster Shorter Catechism) In summary, Eph 2:8-10 teaches that we are saved not BY good works but FOR good (supernatural) works and in the mystery of His amazing grace He even rewards us for those Spirit enabled works (cf 2Cor 5:10-note, Rev 22:12-note)!
Dr W H Houghton, pastored the Calvary Baptist Church in NYC and later served as president of Moody Bible Institute. When Dr. Houghton became pastor of the Baptist Tabernacle in Atlanta, a man in that city hired a private detective to follow Dr. Houghton and report on his conduct. After a few weeks, the detective was able to report to the man that Dr. Houghton’s life matched his preaching. As a result of Houghton’s faithful life as God’s “POIEMA“, that man became a Christian.
In Ps 143:5 David prays “I remember the days of old. I meditate on all Your doings. I muse (meditate) on the WORK (LXX = POIEMA) of Your hands.” Have you meditated on the truth that now IN CHRIST, you are “the WORK (poiema) of” His hands? It is good to meditate on what God has made and rest in the confidence that “He Who began a good work in you will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus.” (Php 1:6-note).
Regarding the works we as God’s workmanship are to work out, E W Moore writes that “The works are ready, waiting for us, all we have to do is to be willing to be led into them. How many disappointments we should have been spared in life if we had always acted on this conviction. God knows what we are fitted for far better than we know ourselves. He who made us knows whereof we are made. He won’t put “square pegs into round holes. If we would be useful in Christ’s service our wisdom is “to have no plan except to enter into His plan for us and imitate Paul who said “Lord, what do you want me to do? (to which Jesus replied) “Arise and go to Damascus and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.” (Acts 9:6NKJV, Acts 22:10) Lowell adds that “No man is born into the world whose work is not born with him; there is always work, and tools to work withal, for those who will.”
Great Master, teach us with Your skillful hand;
Let not the music that is in us die!
Great Sculptor, hew and polish us; nor let
Hidden and lost, Your form within us lie!
ILLUSTRATION – Kent Hughes – “In Christ we are of untold worth. This great truth may be hard to actually take hold of as we exist in frail human bodies carried along in the rush of modern-day busyness. Some of us have had things happen which make us doubt our worth. But we are His “workmanship” — His work of art. Moreover, we are in process (Phil 1:6). Michelangelo was once asked what he was doing as he chipped away at a shapeless rock. He replied, “I’m liberating an angel from this stone.” That’s what God is doing with us. We are in the hands of the Great Maker, the ultimate Sculptor Who created the universe out of nothing, and He has never yet thrown away a rock on which He has begun a masterwork. His tools are Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, His Word, and the preaching of the Word.” And often God’s Spirit uses difficult circumstances or difficult people to sculpt our character into His “masterpieces” conformed to the image of His Son (Ro 8:29).“In Christ” we are of untold worth. This great truth may be hard to actually take hold of as we exist in frail human bodies carried along in the rush of modern-day busyness. Some of us have had things happen which make us doubt our worth. But we are his “workmanship” — his work of art. Moreover, we are in process.
Joni Eareckson Tada who became quadriplegic after a tragic accident, describes herself as God’s “poiema” in her book A Place of Healing writing “(God) has a plan and purpose for my time on earth. He is the Master Artist or Sculptor, and He is the One Who chooses the tools He will use to perfect His workmanship. What of suffering, then? What of illness? What of disability? Am I to tell Him which tools He can use and which tools He can’t use in the lifelong task of perfecting me and molding me into the beautiful image of Jesus? Do I really know better than Him, so that I can state without equivocation that it’s always His will to heal me of every physical affliction? If I am His poem, do I have the right to say, “No, Lord. You need to trim line number two and brighten up lines three and five. They’re just a little bit dark.” Do I, the poem, the thing being written, know more than the poet?”
THE CRAFTSMAN’S TOUCH – Dennis Fisher writes “I recently saw a documentary about the making of a Steinway piano. It traced the meticulous care that goes into crafting this fine instrument. From the cutting of trees until the piano appears on a showroom floor, it goes through countless delicate adjustments by skilled craftsmen. When the year-long process is complete, accomplished musicians play the piano and often comment on how the same rich sounds could never be produced by a computerized assembly line. The secret to the final product is the craftsman’s touch. When the tabernacle was built, we see that God also valued the craftsman’s touch. He chose the craftsman Bezalel and said of him: “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood” (Ex. 31:3-5). Today God’s Spirit dwells in the hearts of believers (who are His temple – 1Cor 6:19). Yet the call to craftsmanship has not ended. Now each individual believer is God’s “workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10-note). The Master Craftsman is the Holy Spirit, who chips away at flaws in our character to make each of us like Jesus (Ro 8:28, 29). And as we yield to His workmanship, we will find that the secret to the final product is the Craftsman’s touch.” (The Craftsman’s Touch – Our Daily Bread)
The Spirit is the Craftsman
Who makes us like the Son;
He’ll mold and shape our being
Until His work is done. —Sper
The Father gave us the Spirit
to make us like His Son
Jon Courson reminds us that “God is saying, ‘You are My poetry. You’re special to Me. I’m not giving up on you.’ He is making you something not only useful but beautiful, something that is poetic.” Indeed, every believer is God’s poem in a world of prose, God’s beauty in a world of gloom, God’s fine art in a world of moral degradation. And God’s most marvelous creation is making spiritually dead men alive in Christ! Created in God’s image (Ge 2:7), yet born in sin, we are redeemed and re-created in the image of His Son. Dear saint, don’t ever forget that you are the subject of Christ the Creator’s (Jn 1:3) two creations, and as the result of His second creation, you are His ultimate workmanship, His most lyrical poem, His crowning achievement, His greatest masterpiece and you will be “on display” to show the universe the full extent of His creative genius throughout eternity! Hallelujah!
Life is a song we must sing with our days
A poem with meaning more than words can say
A painting with colors no rainbow can tell
A lyric that rhymes either heaven or hell!
We are living letters that doubt desecrates
We’re the notes of the song of the chorus of faith
God shapes every second of our little lives
And minds every minute as the universe waits by
The pain and the longing
The joy and the moments of light
Are the rhythm and rhyme
The free verse of the poem of life
So look in the mirror and pray for the grace
To tear off the mask, see the art of your face
Open your ear lids to hear the sweet song
Of each moment that passes and pray to prolong
Your time in the ball of the dance of your days
Your canvas of colors of moments ablaze
With all that is holy
With the joy and the strife
With the rhythm and rhyme of the poem of your life
With the rhythm and rhyme of the poem of your life
GIVE THANKS – IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS FOR THIS IS GOD’S WILL FOR YOU IN CHRIST JESUS – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
IN EVERYTHING – The Greek word for “everything” is “pas” which means no exceptions. There is a silver lining to every cloud. God is with us whatever befalls us (Heb 13:5). It is God’s will that we find joy in prayer in Christ Jesus in every condition of life.
As Ruth Bell Graham well said “We can’t always give thanks FOR everything, but we can always give thanks IN everything.”
Job is a prime OT illustration of the supernatural response of thanksgiving even in the face of overwhelming troubles (If you are experiencing trials and afflictions [and most of us are!] read Job 1:13-20). IN the midst of his manifold afflictions, Job declared, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) And in the end he was able to say “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees Thee… And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning,” (Job 42:5, 12) “Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (James 5:11)
Gratitude is always a God-honoring attitude.
For all the heartaches and the tears,
For gloomy days and fruitless years
I do give thanks, for now I know
These were the things that helped me grow!
Ephesians 5:20 says “ALWAYS (at all times) giving thanks for ALL THINGS in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” How is this possible? Certainly this is not our NATURAL inclination! But it is possible by God’s SUPERNATURAL provision. In other words, what is IM-possible, is HIM-possible! Paul had just commanded us to continually “BE FILLED with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18). What “fills you” will “control you” and in Ephesians 5:20 the Spirit enables us to accomplish supernaturally what we cannot accomplish naturally.
As John Piper asks “How can we not be thankful when we owe everything to God?”
Indeed, he who thanks God for His mercies shall never want a mercy for which to thank, for “Every stream should lead us to the fountain.” (M. Henry)
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
— J Oatman
Ray Pritchard writes that “The foundation of gratitude is the expectation of nothing. If one expects nothing then anything is bonus. If one expects more than he receives, then he is disappoint. We are so prone to complain because roses have thorns than to give thanks because thorns have roses! “In everything give thanks.” How do we do this in a practical sense? First, thank Him for your blessings. Second, thank Him for how He has helped you in your trials. Third, thank Him for His presence every day. Fourth, thank Him for His promises for the future. As a Christian, our whole life is to be one great, “Thank you, Lord.” This is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus.”
We should be ready to give the Lord thanks
For blessing as well as for test;
Hearts that are thankful is all that He asks;
Let’s trust Him to give what is best.
If you pause to THINK, you’ll have cause to THANK, because God’s GIVING deserves our THANKSGIVING.
Paul exhorts us “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS (present tense = continually, as our habitual practice) through Him (Christ Jesus) to God the Father.” (Col 3:17) How is it possible to live a life of continual thanksgiving? As Jerry Bridges says we must “first renounce all confidence in our own power and then rely entirely on the power of the Holy Spirit. We must be ENABLED, not merely HELPED. What’s the difference? The word HELP implies we have some ability but not enough; we need someone else to supplement our partially adequate ability. By contrast, ENABLEMENT implies that we have no ability whatsoever. We’re entirely powerless. We can do nothing (cp Jn 15:5). But when by faith we renounce self-sufficiency and embrace reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit, we receive divine empowerment, enablement, and strength for personal transformation and ministry.” In short, the Holy Spirit enables us to continually manifest an attitude of gratitude.
Andrew Murray – A joyful, thankful life is what God has destined for us, is what He will work in us. What He desires, that He certainly does in those who do not withstand Him, but receive and suffer His will to work in them.
Notice that in 1Thes 5:16 (Rejoice always) and 1Thes 5:18 we see joy and giving thanks which Paul also associates in Colossians 1:11-12 in the phrase “Joyously giving thanks to the Father.” Paul’s juxtaposition of thanksgiving (eucharisteo) and joy (chara) is not surprising for both words are related to the the same Greek root (charis) which is our word “grace.” Indeed grace is the foundation for saints enabled by the Spirit to “joyously give thanks” when the circumstances are not very joy filled! And remember the lost world is watching. Will I respond naturally or supernaturally. The former draws attention to me, but the latter brings glory to the Father (Mt 5:16)! The secret of abounding joy is a Spirit wrought, grace based gratitude attitude. Remember, when you can’t change the wind, allow the Spirit to enable you to adjust your sails!
Thanksgiving is the vibration of the soul’s heart-strings under the soft touch of God’s benevolence.
F F Bruce – Ingratitude is one of the features of pagan depravity in Ro 1:21 (For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or GIVE THANKS; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.); the children of God are expected (and enabled by the Spirit) to “abound in thanksgiving” (Col 2:7; Col 3:15, 17, 4:2; Eph 5:4,20)
J. C. Ryle – Thankfulness is a flower which will never bloom well excepting upon a root of deep humility.
Warren Wiersbe – An attitude of gratitude is a wonderful weapon against unbelief, disobedience, a hard heart, and a bitter spirit. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, let’s be thankful for what we do have, because God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him… We can’t control the circumstances of life, but we can control how we respond to them. That’s what faith is all about, daring to believe that God is working everything for our good even when we don’t feel like it or see it happening. “In everything give thanks” isn’t always easy to obey, but obeying this command is the best antidote against a bitter and critical spirit. The Scottish preacher George H. Morrison said, “Nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness, and is an insult cast in the face of God.”
D Edmond Hiebert – When we realize that God works all things out for good to those who love Him and are yielded to His will (Ro 8:28, Ge 50:20), thanksgiving under all circumstances becomes a glorious possibility “He who can say `AMEN‘ to the will of God in his heart will be able to say ‘HALLELUJAH‘ also.”‘
Consider what the Lord has done
For you and those you love;
Then give Him thanks with hearts of praise
For blessings from above.
We don’t need more to be thankful for,
we need to be more thankful.
God grant us the Spirit wrought grace to emulate Matthew Henry’s high standard , writing in his diary on the day he was mugged “Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.” Beloved, one of the greatest marks of spiritual maturity is the ability to give thanks when it is difficult!
G. K. Chesterton was once asked what was the greatest lesson he had ever learned to which he replied “The greatest lesson I have learned is to take things with GRATITUDE and not take them for GRANTED.” Chesterton added that “You say grace before meals. All right! But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, walking, playing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” Thanksgiving as a lifestyle is faith in action.
Thanksgiving to God comes (super) naturally when we count our blessings. We be would much less apt to protest the command to give thanks in EVERYTHING if it were our habit to give thanks in ANYTHING. Empowered by the Spirit, we need to focus on our “haves,” not our “have-nots.” As the psalmist says “Bless (praise) the LORD, O my soul, and FORGET NONE of His benefits; ” (Psalm 103:2). Indeed, praise to God comes naturally when we count our blessings.
M B Babcock encourages us “Be on the lookout for mercies. The more we look for them, the more of them we will see. Blessings brighten when we count them. Out of the determination of the heart, the eyes see. If you want to be gloomy, there’s gloom enough to keep you glum; if you want to be happy, there’s gleam enough to keep you glad. Better to lose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings by counting your troubles.”
David Cooper writes that “Thanksgiving delivers us from a victim mentality and gives us a victor’s mentality. I once read that nothing can help the person with the wrong mental attitude, and nothing can stop a person with the right mental attitude. And the right mental attitude to overcome our obstacles and win our battles is thanksgiving.”
Missionary Benjamin Weir was held hostage in Lebanon and imprisoned under miserable conditions for 16 months. In his first interview after his release, he was asked how he spent his time and how he dealt with boredom and despair. His answer stunned the reporters. He simply said, “Counting my blessings.” “Blessings?” they responded. “Yes,” he explained. “Some days I got to take a shower. Sometimes there were some vegetables in my food. And I could always be thankful for the love of my family.”
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
ILLUSTRATION – Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today. A ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois was part of a life-saving squad. In 1860, when a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan. Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process and his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.
ILLUSTRATION – As Pastor H A Ironside was about to begin his meal in a restaurant, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited in to sit and as was his custom, he bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, “Do you have a headache?” Ironside replied, “No, I don’t.” The other man asked, “Well, is there something wrong with your food?” Ironside replied, “No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat.” The man said, “Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!” Ironside said, “Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does too!”
ILLUSTRATION – A woman had a parrot who always complained about everything. It was Thanksgiving Eve, and she was preparing the Thanksgiving meal. The parrot complained about everything as she worked. Finally, she had heard enough. She took him out of his cage and opened the refrigerator to put him in to punish him, “You’ll stay in the refrigerator until you cool off and get control on your tongue,” she said as she put him and closed the door. The parrot was stunned. Shivering, he caught a glimpse of the Thanksgiving turkey, skinned, legs pointing upward from the pan. The parrot said to the turkey, “Good heavens, man! What did you say?”
“In Everything Give Thanks!”
Mid sunshine, cloud or stormy days,
When hope abounds or care dismays,
When trials press and toils increase
Let not thy faith in God decrease—
‘In every thing give thanks.’
“All things we know shall work for good,
Nor would we change them if we could;
‘Tis well if only He command;
His promises will ever stand—
‘In every thing give thanks.’
“He satisfies the longing heart,
He thwarts the tempter’s cruel dart,
With goodness fills the hungry soul,
And helps us sing when billows roll.
‘In every thing give thanks.'”
As David a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22) said “I will GIVE THANKS to the LORD according to His righteousness, And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High… I will GIVE THANKS to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Thy wonders… Therefore I will GIVE THANKS to Thee among the nations, O LORD, And I will sing praises to Thy name… The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall THANK Him… Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And GIVE THANKS to His holy name… I will GIVE THANKS to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Thy name forever… With my mouth I will GIVE THANKS abundantly to the LORD; And in the midst of many I will praise Him… I will GIVE THANKS to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.” (Ps 7:17, 9:1. 18:49, 28:7, 30:4, 86:12, 109:30, 139:14)
Father grant by Your Spirit through Christ Jesus that we might be enabled to be “imitators of those (like David who continually gave thanks to You and) who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Heb 6:12) Amen
O GLORIOUS DAY – One in thirty New Testament passages refer either directly or indirectly to the Second Coming of “the King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Rev 19:11-16–note) Twenty-three of the twenty-seven NT books mention that He is coming again. Finally, for every biblical reference to Jesus’ First Coming there are eight that point to His return! Clearly Jesus’ Second Coming is a truth which the Spirit desires for Christ’s Bride to frequently ponder so that we might be daily “looking (with a sense of longing and eager expectancy) for the BLESSED HOPE and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (Titus 2:13-note) In a word, the Spirit knows that what we are LOOKING FOR will (or should) determine what (better WHO) we are LIVING FOR! Using a great song by Casting Crowns as the background, below are a “chain” of Scriptures that describe THAT DAY….that GREAT and GLORIOUS DAY! Take a few moments today to prayerfully ponder these passages that describe THAT DAY “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,” (2Th 1:7), that GLORIOUS DAY when “the Son of Man will appear in the sky…coming on the clouds of the sky with power and GREAT GLORY.” (Mt 24:30–note) Remember…IT COULD BE TODAY! Maranatha (Our Lord, Come!). Or as Jesus says in the Book of the Revelation (in the very last words of Scripture) “Yes, I am coming quickly.” (To which we cry) “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20-21–note) Christ’s imminent return should prompt “expectant obedience!” Are you living in light of our Lord’s imminent return?
“One DAY He’s coming. O GLORIOUS DAY!” (Casting Crowns) – ‘The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and GLORIOUS DAY of the Lord shall come, for you yourselves know full well that THE DAY of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which DAY your Lord is coming. THAT DAY will come on you suddenly, for just as the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in HIS DAY. And we know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. Therefore, since the night is almost gone, and THE DAY is at hand, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will confirm us to the end, blameless in THE DAY. Indeed, we know Whom we have believed and are convinced that He is able to guard what we have entrusted to Him until THAT DAY, and to keep us sealed for THE DAY of redemption, for He who began a good work in us will perfect it until THE DAY of Christ Jesus.
Be glad in THAT DAY, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. In the future there is laid up for us the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to us on THAT DAY and not only to us, but also to all who have loved His appearing in the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on THAT DAY, and to be marveled at among all who have believed. Therefore be encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see THE DAY drawing near and pray that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until THE DAY of Christ, when THE DAY dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. To Him be the glory, both now and to THE DAY of eternity. Amen. (Acts 2:20, 1Th 5:2, Mt 24:42, Lk 21:34, Lk 17:24, 1Jn 3:2, Ro 13:12, 1Cor 1:7-8, 2Ti 1:12, Eph 4:30, Phil 1:6,Lk 6:23, 2Ti 4:8, 2Th 1:9-10, 1 Jn 3:2, Heb 10:25, Phil 1:9-10, 2Pe 1:19, 2Pe 3:18)
Play O GLORIOUS DAY by Casting Crowns
One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine
Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day
Oh, glorious day
Oh, glorious day
AMAZING GRACE – Vance Havner once gave the following acronym for GRACE…
G stands for Gift, the principle of GRACE. (Eph 2:8-9–note)
R [stands] for Redemption, the purpose of GRACE. (Eph 1:7–note)
A [stands] for Access, the privilege of GRACE. (Ro 5:1-2–note)
C [stands] for Character, the product of GRACE. (2Cor 5:17–note)
E [stands] for Eternal Life, the prospect of GRACE. (Titus 3:7–note )
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of GRACE and truth….For of His fullness we have all received, and GRACE upon GRACE. For the Law was given through Moses; GRACE and truth were realized through Jesus Christ….For you know the GRACE of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (John 1:1, 14, 16, 17–note, 2Cor 8:9)
Almighty God, Your GRACE impart,
Fix deep conviction on each heart;
Nor let us waste on trifling things
The life that Your salvation brings. Amen
Jude Commentaries – Click for literally 100’s of resources – commentaries, etc
Jude’s Purpose: Expose the false teachers who had crept into the fellowship unnoticed and encourage the saints to stand firm in the faith and rescue the perishing.
Key Words: Lord (Jude 1:4, 5, 9, Jude 1:14, Jude 1:17, Jude 1:21, Jude 1:25), Faith (Jude 1:3, Jude 1:20) Keep/Kept (Jude 1:1, 6, 21, 24), Ungodly (Jude 1:4, 15, 18), Beloved (Jude 1:1, 3, 17, 20), Judgment(Jude 1:6, 9, 15), Remember (Jude 1:17), Angel/Archangel (Jude 1:6, 8, 9), Holy Spirit(Jude 1:19, 20). See discussion of key words, a vital component of inductive Bible study.
The following outline is adapted from J Sidlow Baxter’s Outline entitled “Contend for the Faith”
WHY CONTEND EARNESTLY – APOSTATE TEACHERS (Jude 1:3-16).
HOW TO CONTEND EARNESTLY – OUR RESOURCES (Jude 1:17-23).
In all contending for the faith we must “keep ourselves in the love of God,” the counterpart of which is that the love of God must be in us. We must love, even while we contend against the errors of apostatisers (Contend without being contentious!). We must love their souls even while we oppose their words and deplore their ways. Sometimes it is delicately difficult to keep these separate, but the love of Christ in our hearts (cf Ro 5:5,) will put wisdom on our lips….There are some who “contend” against us. Endless counter-contention with them is useless. But there are others who need “snatching out of the fire”; they have been deceived, and in one sense or another, i.e. by bewilderment, remorse, doubt or danger, are in the fire. And there an still others on whom we are to “have mercy with fear,” i.e. being cautious lest in seeking to bring them back we should defile our own garments. (J Sidlow Baxter)
Jude is the only NT book devoted exclusively to confronting “apostasy,” meaning defection from the true, biblical faith. Jude does not quote the OT directly, but there are at least 9 obvious allusions to it. Contextually, this “epistolary sermon” could be called “The Acts of the Apostates.” – John MacArthur
Application: Fight for the truth! Stand up against error! The book of Jude is the very definition of punchy and pithy proclamations—with its short commands and statements popping off the page like machine-gun fire. But in our day and age, punchy has become rude or unacceptable. In many circles the forcefulness of Jude will not be tolerated, the crowds preferring a softer and gentler side of the Christian faith. But Jude reminds us that there is a time and a place for the aggressive protection of the truth from those who would seek to tear it down. How can you participate in defending the truth from error? – C R Swindoll