Monday, June 30, 2008

Seek the Lord Even When Contending

Psalms 109:21 KJV
But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for thy name's sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.

David is writing under the obvious occasion of some betrayal of one he had loved.
Psalms 109:4-5 KJV
For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.
And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.


It could be Saul or it might be Absalom or another unknown friend, turned against him. It happened a number of times in David's life and career of serving the Lord. It is used of Peter to speak of Judas' betrayal of Jesus Christ.

David's prayer is quite vindictive. So strongly so that it would likely be unwise for us to make this a matter of personal prayer except to see it as a prayer against those who betray Jesus Christ - and even in those cases we might continue to pray for their soul's salvation and repentance.

What I did notice is that even though David had this intensity against his enemy, he still had his heart set upon the Lord. Life brings enemies our way; especially if we live godly in Christ Jesus. We may have to deal with the enemies in one way or another.
In some cases they may need to be turned to the police
In some cases they may have to face the discipline of the church
In some cases their might have to be confrontation and strong rebuke


In none of those cases should we lose our sincere desire to seek the Lord and to see his hand of blessing in our lives. Christ is the focus. Christ alone. There are things we must attend to, but in the midst of them we can still have Christ as the focal point of our hearts.

May it ever be so.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Observe

Psalms 107:43 KJV
Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

A wise person, one who understands the lovingkindness of the Lord, is the person who observes those things God does. The Psalm is a litany of the works of God
How He redeems His people from the hand of the enemy vs 2
How He gathers His people from the four corners of the world vs 3
How He delivered them out of their distresses vs 6
How He leads them to His habitation vs 7
How He satisfies the longing soul vs 9
How He binds those in affliction who rebel against His words vs 10-11
How He saves them who cry in their distresses vs 13
How He commands the stormy winds vs 25
How He turns rivers into wilderness vs 33
How He turns the wilderness into standing water vs 35
How He blesses those who are multipied greatly vs 38
How He brings low those who are oppressed and afflicted vs 39
How He pours contempt upon the princes vs 40 and
How He sets the poor on high vs 41

As we study these things we are warned
As we study these things we are urged to cry on the Lord
As we study these things we come to know the power of God


The wise man will observe and study them and
Then that wise man will come to know the love and kindness of the Lord

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Our Glory

Psalms 106:20 KJV
Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.

Years ago I heard a preacher mockingly talking about a man's hair as his "glory." Really we have a lot of things that are our "glory."

For Israel, they made a molten calf their glory
Some of us strive so had for worldly positions because they are for us our "glory." We measure ourselves by those possessions.

Our glory might be a motorhome
Our glory might be an immense house (or in some cases hoses)
Our glory might be our money and our ability to influence people with it
Our glory might be our boat
Our glory might be our skills at a hobby
Our glory might be a car


But the shame of it all is that we have something that could be so much more glorious. The passage tells us that God wants to give us His glory. He wants to be such a part of our lives that our true glory is our relationship with Him.

And what else could be more glorious than that?

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Meditation

Psalms 104:34 KJV
My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

John Gill says of these meditations
Of the glories, excellencies, and perfections of his person;
Of his offices, as Mediator, King, Priest, and Prophet, the Saviour and Redeemer
Of his works of creation, providence, and redemption
Of his word, the blessed truths and comfortable doctrines of it
Of his providential dispensations, and gracious dealings with his people in the present state


How weak and anemic our meditations of the Him often are. We spend so little time in meditation in the first place. We are too busy rushing about
To see the next person
To plan the next event
To hear the next entertainment
To make the next dollar
We save very little time in our lives for slow, thoughtful meditation upon spiritual things. It is one of the reasons fewer people seem to seek after God. Busy-ness crowds out deeper thought that inevitably lead to thoughts of eternity.

And when we do meditate upon the Lord too often those thoughts are on the most shallow of subjects;
How has he cared for me today?
What has He done for the world today?
Who has He brought to help me today?


No wonder our meditations are not as sweet as we would wish and no wonder we cannot be "glad" just "in the Lord."

I want to make my faith deeper than that. I want to come to that place in my life where God’s glory is all that I really need to delight in. Where I can “be glad in the Lord.”

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Generation To Come

Psalms 102:18 KJV
This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.

There are, throughout the Word of God, passages similar to this one that remind us that both the writers of the various portions of the Word of God and God Himself knew that what was being written was written for generations to come as well as to those who were the very first readers of these Words.

This verse, and ones like it, give me reassurance that the Book is
As fit for more
As appropriate for me
As application to me

As it was for the people who lived in the days when these words were originally penned.

And I live in amazement to think that some 3000 years ago, this writer, under the divine inspiration of God; saw into the future and said in effect, "This shall be written for [Marvin McKenzie] and [Marvin McKenzie] shall praise the Lord.”

Thank God for His omniscience, and care to reach into the future generations, of which we are a part, and make the Word come alive for us.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Holy

Psalms 99:3 KJV
Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.

Holiness is the grounds of the seraphim's praise in Isaiah six. We, His people ought to praise Him for that same holiness.

God is holy in His person
vs 5
God's nature is holy, pure and separate from sin.
God's character in holy and pure and separate from sin

God is holy as the LORD
vs 6
I am reminded I have a Saviour. I am reminded that God became man and dwelt among us, taking on Himself the nature of man and becoming sin for us. And yet even in that state, He is holy.

God is holy in His name
vs 3
Just the name of God is so holy that we must bow and give praise. We have lost our reverence. We have lost our fear. We have lost the attitude of praise in the smallest aspects of God's personage.

God forgive us and restore us.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Marvellous Things

Psalms 98:1-3 KJV
O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.
The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.
He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.


Truly God has done marvelous things! And those things all resound around Salvation

Salvation is His victory.
Salvation brings glory to the Lord first and foremost. God is the one who designed salvation, God is the one who provides salvation and God is the only one who is honored in our salvation

Salvation is open to the heathen.
Meaning those who are not of Israel. God would never have had to save us but God has openly showed the way of salvation to us. No one is outside of the mercy of the Lord. No one is so lost as they could not be saved in Jesus Christ.

Salvation remembers Israel.
God has set Israel aside for the time being and is calling out a people out of every nation and tongue. But Israel is still the apple of His eye and God's plan still includes the complete rescue and restoration of His people.

He hath done marvellous things! Therefore I will sing and rejoice in Him!

Monday, June 23, 2008

He is Coming

Psalms 96:13 KJV
Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

A few things are for sure

The Lord is coming
It has seemed like a long while. Many things have happened in this world since He first made the promise He would come again. But He is coming.
He came the first time as babe in the manger. They would not accept Him as their Saviour and they crucified Him. But He said He would come again. He is coming.

He is coming to judge
The first time He came as a lamb. He came to take away the sins of the world. He came not to condemn but to save. The next time He comes it will be as a lion. He will come to judge. He will come to deliver His own and He will come to deal with the wicked.

He will judge with righteousness and truth
Jesus is our righteousness and Jesus is our truth. When we come to Him in faith all our judgment is done away in Jesus Christ. What a Saviour. What a Redeemer!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More than Over ninety and Nine

Luke 15:7 KJV
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

All of us who become believers and strive to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord eventually become the ninety and nine. When we first get saved and begin to live for Christ it can often seem like there is a celebration going on for us. Everything about the Christian life seems new and it seems so promising and refreshing. But sooner or later, we are the ones left so the shepherd may go out and find other lost sheep.

So what about the ninety and nine? Does God have no real joy in them? Is there no consolation on their behalf? The answer I think may be found in Luke 15:29-32 KJV
And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

The elder son would be likened to the ninety and nine. He did not leave, into a life of sin. He did not go lost. When his brother came home and his father celebrated the elder son did not understand. There had never been a celebration for him, though he had done right.

His father told him in verse 31 where the elder was to gain his satisfaction:
Thou art ever with me
What joy a child of God may have if he meditates upon this thought. Ever with God. He is always there; we have access to His throne at any moment.
We have His counsel
We have His company
We have His comfort and
We have it ever with us.

All that I have is thine
We are joint heirs of all that belongs to Christ and all that is Christ. We will share in His glory. Paul said Romans 8:18 KJV
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Growth in spiritual maturity comes about when we get past having to need a celebration and we find instead satisfaction in being with Christ and sharing in His inheritance in heaven.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

First Second and Third Persons

Psalms 91:9-10 KJV
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.


I see in this passage three persons;

First there is the Lord
He is the object about which the Psalm is given.
He is the refuge
He is the most High.

Later in the Psalm the Lord becomes the speaker in through prophetic speech, but here He is the subject about which the speaker speaks.

Secondly there is the Psalmist
While the penman is not now certainly known, many believe this was King David and I see little reason to question it.

And thirdly there is the reader/hearer
As this was a song, it would have been originally meant to be heard. The speaker or singer, whichever, makes this bold assertion;
"Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling."


I am reminded of Paul in the sinking ship telling the rest of the people on board, "fear not, for I believe God." Paul's faith, he believed, was sufficient for them all! The Psalmist says in very similar tones, "Because you have made the Lord, my refuge, your habitation, no evil shall befall thee."

This is the worker of the preacher and the Christian witness. We share our faith. We pass it out. We tell people what we know to be true from God's Word and as they place faith in it, God does for them what He has already done for us.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Are There Few?

Luke 13:23-24 KJV
Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

I am reminded of the human tendency to think that bad things "won't happen to me." In other words;
I know that reckless driving can lead to tragic accidents but if I drive recklessly, it won't happen to me. Or
I know that eating certain foods is linked to getting cancer, but I can eat them and it won't happen to me.

That type of a mentality.

Here is one who assumes he is saved. If he is, or not; I know not. But I know a lot of people who assume they will go to heaven; who in fact assume really everyone will go to heaven.

This is a valid question and one that students of the spiritual do well to think upon. Is it the many or the few who will be saved?

Is salvation merely a formality because in fact God will save everyone?
Is salvation the choice of man and any attempt to approach God will be accepted?
Is grace so free that God does not care what we believe in order to save us?

Or is the gift of salvation really strait as Jesus said?
Jesus said "strive." And while there is no work in salvation, it is clear there is a "struggle" that must be overcome in order to be saved. We must finally come to the place where we place no confidence in the flesh and good works. So long as we think we have any thread of goodness that could make us deserve heaven, we aren't to the place where Christ saves.

Few are saved because few ever give up the battle to earn their own way instead of trusting Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sparrows

Luke 12:6 KJV
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?

John Gill's Commentary says, "....a single sparrow, a bird of little value and worth, is taken notice and care of by him; it has its life from him, and is provided for with food by him, and is under his protection; nor does he ever forget it, nor can any thing be done to it, without his permission; it cannot be struck, so as to cause it to fall on the ground, or be taken in a snare, or be killed in any shape, without the knowledge of God: his providence reaches to the minutest creatures and things, and much more then to rational creatures, to men; and still more to his dear children, ministers, and apostles."

Could we not learn much of the grace of God in simply pondering the little things He has created. God's Word says that even those sparrows of such little financial value, have such importance to God that He never forgets them.

It was fine to use the animals for food or otherwise, for that is the reason God placed them upon this earth.
The sparrow was used as a poor man's sacrifice to the Lord. This passage is not admonishing us for taking their lives. Only reminding us to value their lives (the point of the sacrificial system was to see the great cost of sin. If the worshipper placed no value in the life he was about to take, the sacrifice would be meaningless.)

I am of the opinion that if God so appreciates the sparrow as to never forget those that were slain in the sacrifices, then we could appreciate the Lord more by studying and appreciating his creatures.
We may, as it were, see through them to God.

And of course the Lord's purpose in using this illustration was to demonstrate God's value in us.
If He will never forget the sparrow, we can be assured He will never forget us. Just as the sparrow's life was still expended, our lives on earth may also be sacrificed for the cause of Christ. One sparrow may go free and another be taken. So God has different and unique plans for each of us; some will pay a greater price for their faith on earth. Some will possess a lesser degree of trials. In each case however, God never forgets.

And God will present the true rewards for the faithful, not on this earth, but in heavenly glories.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Time and Time Again

Psalms 86:4-5 KJV
Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

Yesterday I read a piece that reminded me that God's mercies are new every morning. Time and time again we may come to the Father and lift up our souls unto Him. And time and time again we find that He gives rejoicing and joy and wonderful grace.

Our Lord truly is
Good and
Ready to forgive and
Plenteous in mercy


Like a fresh water spring, ever bubbling with new, fresh and pure refreshment; so the Lord offers new, fresh and pure mercy each and every time we call upon Him.

And I find that is how I need it. It would never have done if we had gotten all we could want in one fell swoop. Because I find that I have fresh reasons to need both God's mercy and grace each and every day.

Many times it is because I have discovered a new sin in my own life.
It is amazing how we can go for years blind to some sin, hidden away in our heart. We arrogantly go forth as if we have become somebody in Christ's family; only to discover one day that our sins are hidden deeper than we could have imagined and those petty things we put off early in our faith were mere pebbles in comparison to the wickedness that is buried in our hearts.

Sometimes and oftentimes I need the fresh mercy and grace because of the changes in life circumstances.
This world is a roller coaster that I was in no way designed to enjoy. Things change. Some of those things are the things that I cling to for security and peace of mind. My world gets rocked frequently as those things that have been my stay and stability seem to be removed from me one after the other.

In the midst of this I find great joy in knowing that the Lord is good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Him.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rejoice in This

Luke 10:19-20 KJV
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.


The Lord gives us a real piece of wisdom in these verses. He tells us that as believers we will have power.
Power to see souls saved
Power to encourage those who are down
Power to see families turned around again
Power to see marriages strengthened
Power to see young people make right choices in life


Spirits will be subject unto us.
We will have the ability to change a sour spirit to a joyful one.
We will have the ability to change a mean spirit into a generous one
We will have the ability to change a wicked spirit into a righteous one


And it is thrilling to be used in this way. We see it happen fairly frequently in the church setting.

But Jesus said not to find our joy in these things. "Rather," He said, "rejoice because your names are written in heaven." The results we see in our ministries and Christians often come in waves. Just as the miracles of the Bible do not happen to the same intensity in every generation, so the results of our ministries will vary in their intensity. If we find our joy in the results of our ministries only, then we will find times when joy is dull. But being saved, having our names written in heaven; that will never ebb and flow and thus it is something that may bring consistent joy to our souls.

I have resolved therefore to spend more time studying and meditating upon salvation and the great doctrines surrounding it. It is not enough simply to accept I am saved. If I would rejoice in it, I believe I must become expert in all that is a part of it as it is found in God's Word.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Soon

Psalms 81:11-14 KJV
But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.
So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels.
Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!
I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.

God desires that we would hearken to him and do so continually. We must not faint. The answer to our needs will soon be here.
Soon God's promises will be kept
Soon our hopes will be realized
Soon.

But Israel did not hearken so God gave them up to their own lusts. There is little worse than being left to our own devices.

God help us hearken and wait. Soon Jesus will come for us.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Waiting for Him

Luke 8:40 KJV
And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.

This passage struck me this morning because of its contrast with
Luke 8:37 KJV
Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.

These Gadarenes investigated and found that Jesus had healed the demoniac and that the demons had entered into the swine and they had drowned in the sea. Having such a powerful witness to the nature of Jesus Christ, they wanted Him to depart.

And yet there was another crowd waiting for Him and who gladly received Him.

In life today there are
Those who want Jesus to have a place in their lives and
Those who want Jesus completely out of their lives

But there is a third group, not mentioned in the text but nevertheless present; they are
Those who just ignore Jesus altogether

And they believe that by ignoring Jesus they escape either condemning themselves by asking Him to depart from their lives or being confronted with needing to turn to Jesus in their lives.

I want to be among those glad wait for Jesus and gladly receive Him day after day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Set Our Hope in God

Psalms 78:4-7 KJV
We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:
That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:

I read the other day that church life, or the life of a pastor, is like a carousel; it goes up and down and spins around (but we are supposed to enjoy it.) I can sure see that same principle lived out in this Psalm. God told Israel to teach these things to each generation of children so they would set their hope in God and not forget the works of God.

Throughout Israel's history we find
Periods of rebellion against God followed by
Periods of chastening from God followed by
Periods of turning to God

And then the carousel would spin all over again.

When we consider the history of Israel since the writing of this Psalm, we can see that little has changed with the exception that at this point in their history God has set them aside - meaning that He likely is not chastening them to the degree He did at one time. For this season God has another purpose and He is carrying it out. One day His attention will turn again to Israel and the book of Revelation informs us that they will once and for all set their hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep Him commandments.

The challenge for us today is, do we create for ourselves this very same type of carousel ride?
Are our spirits not steadfast with God?
vs 8
Do we tempt God by asking for things for our lust?
vs 18
Do we just flatter God with our mouth and lie to Him with our tongues?
vs 36
Do we turn back and tempt God limiting Him and seeking signs?
vs 41
Do we deal unfaithfully with the things of God?
vs 57

If we would set our hope in God we would want to remember
Psalms 78:38-39 KJV
But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Building

Luke 6:46-49 KJV
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.


There are some things assumed in this parable

That we all build a house.
Jesus is speaking about the life we have and our use of it; what we do with our life and what we build with our life. Paul tells us that he laid a foundation and other men build thereon.
We build our lives with the education we obtain
We build our lives with the relationships we create
We build our life with the choices that we make

That the floods will come and beat upon that house.
Some of those flood obviously happen in this life.
Illness
Economic hardships
The loss of friends and family
The ultimate fulfillment of this truth has to do with the judgment we all face after death.

To these assumptions Jesus said
First that some build deep foundations that will survive the floods and other build perhaps beautiful structures, but that are all on the surface and are soon ruined in the storms.

Secondly, that the difference between the two is whether we hear and do what Jesus said. This is most significant to those of us who attend church or who grow up going to church. We are the ones who hear, we are the ones who say Lord, Lord but the question is, will we be the ones who do the things He says.

It is not enough to only hear. Hearing is good because faith cometh by hearing. But it is not enough to stop at that. In order to build a life that survives the floods of this life and the judgments of the next we must take heed and do.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Forsaking All

Luke 5:10-11 KJV
And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.


The Bible says of Peter James and John, who were all three partners in a fishing business, "...they forsook all and followed Him." The term seems radical. Webster's 1828 dictionary says that it means, "to abandon, to renounce, to reject." Not only did they forsake the business, but the Bible says they forsook all. Gill says this would have included the fish they had just caught, their nets, their ships, their servants, their relations, their friends. All were abandoned; not simply carefully laid aside in such a manner that they could be taken back again if and when they elected to do so. These were forsaken to follow Jesus.

This kind of Christianity is radical and in most cases Christians rationalize it away. Indeed, in some cases maybe it is not necessary. However it is at least interesting to note that these were the three Apostles in the inner circle with Christ. They saw and heard things that the others did not Peter was the great evangelist on the day of Pentecost and John is the only one of the Apostles believed to have died of natural causes (although he was also persecuted). James, of course, was the first of the Apostles to be martyred - not the first Christian, the deacon, Stephen holds that place. One could consider that to be a negative, but in fact it can also be considered an honor.

My point is simply that radical Christianity is what leads to a radical relationship with Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Who Only

Psalms 72:18 KJV
Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.

I found it interesting that both only and wondrous have in their definition the concept of separation. God is a God of separation. He is holy and separate from this world. He is distinct. God is above and easy to spot. He is not hidden camouflaged in our world but near at hand and so different from this world that anyone looking may see Him.

God alone does the wondrous things
There is none like God. As in Moses day, the magicians may attempt to imitate but they can never even duplicate, let alone originate the wondrous works of God. The doctors and lawyers of this world; the philosophers and religious gurus of history none have done the wondrous things that God alone can and has done.

God does only wondrous things
The works of God are all wondrous and good. They are unique from anything that men have done. God has made nothing ordinary and common. All He has done is wondrous in all ways.

We sometimes lose sight of that. We grow accustomed to the wondrous and when we do we can see God as we ought. God give us eyes to wonder!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Labor

Colossians 4:12 KJV
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

Ephaphras was one of them most likely in the sense that he was from that church. But he is also one of them in the sense that he is not above them. He is not out of touch and out of reach. He is a real man they really know and who really knows them.

Epaphras is representative of any Christian because we all know someone and some church in the same way that Epaphras knew them.

Epaphras laboured fervently for them. What a great testimony that is! We need believers who will labour fervently one for another.


Epaphra laboured fervently in prayers. We seldom see prayer as being such fervent labor or as being something that is that effective. We are thankful when we hear that someone prayed for us; but I doubt that we see it as the great boon it really is.

Epaphras had this goal in prayer; that they would stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. His prayers were not on the earthly plane so to speak. He wasn't praying for their jobs, or their health. He wasn't even praying for the protection from the enemies of the Gospel. He prayed fervently for them for spiritual things.

How I want to learn to pray the same.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The God of Israel

Psalms 68:35 KJV
O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.

It is important that we see this not only as a mere doctrinal but as a practical fact. God gives strength and power unto His people so

We want to be His people.
We want to make sure that we are saved. God gives strength and power unto His people but only really unto His people. While all are His by virtue of the creation the Word of God makes it clear that His people are those who are His through a personal relationship with Him.

We want to seek His strength and power.
He is the right source and the best source for strength and power.
Not the authorities of this world
Not a union of many people
Not the political process

God gives us strength and power

We must rest in and rely upon that strength and power
God promises to give it so we must expect it and rest upon it. We must believe we have it and act in accordance with it.

In those times when strength seems weak and our power seems low, we must come to promises like this one in God's Word and get a refill.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Reasons to Praise

Psalms 65:4 KJV
Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

The Psalmist goes from here to recount over and over the praises of the Lord. This is one of those good passages to keep in mind when we want to give the Lord praise but perhaps our situation has made giving praise more of a difficulty. Dwelling on a passage like this has wonderful praises built into it.

That God has chosen us and caused us to come to Him
That we shall be satisfied with the goodness of His house
That He is the God of our salvation and through it given us confidence
That His strength set the mountains in their place
That He stills the seas and the tumult of the people
That He settles the furrows and sends the showers for our necessary food

Give God the glory He deserves. Give it to Him every day. Give it to Him went you don't feel like it. And if you can't find other things to praise Him for, praise Him through this Psalm.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Better Than

Psalms 63:3 KJV
Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.

Here is a reason to praise God every day; "Because [His] lovingkindness is better than life."

Better than life itself is the fact that God loves us and expresses that love through salvation offered in the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The greatest of all our possessions is our life. And if God's lovingkindness is better than life.

Then it is also
Better than health
Better than wealth
Better than success
Better than having what we want
Better than a great job
Better than a loving spouse
Better than obedient children
Better than ease and luxury
Better than a new car
Better than a bigger house
Better than good friends
Better than having no enemies
Better than world peace
Better than visiting family
Better than a dream vacation
Better than a warm sunny day


God's lovingkindness is better than everything. And since we have that in the midst of anything, we always have reason for our lips to praise Him.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Point to Christ

Proverbs 6:20-23 KJV
My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.
When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.
For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:


I am attempting to apply the New Testament principle that the law was given to lead us to Jesus Christ to this passage of the Bible.....

Verse 21
It is Christ I want to attach myself to, rather than the laws of the OT. It is Christ I must seek. It is Christ I want to walk with and abide with.

Verse 22
Then; Jesus shall lead me, Jesus shall keep me and Jesus shall talk with me.

Verse 23
Christ is a better lamp than the Old Testament law; Christ is a better light than the Old Testament light and Christ is a better way than the Old Testament way.

It is very common and much easier to claim to understand that the Old Testament's work is to lead us to Christ but then still insist that righteousness comes through obedience to the Old Testament laws. It seems to me instead that Christ is all and in all. Ours is not to ask Jesus to save us and then clean up our lives by obeying the Old Testament. Ours is to depend upon Jesus Christ completely.

All of the law of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ who then said
Mark 12:30-31
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
(KJV)

If we will bind ourselves to Christ alone so that He leads us, keeps us and talks to us, and if we will obey thes two simply commandments; Christ will do the rest.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Lesser Matters

Mark 14:4 KJV
And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?

It struck me today that while the Pharisees were plotting to kill the Lord and Judas was planning to betray the Lord, the disciples were busy getting upset over a petty piece of money.

The disciples may have thought they were justified in their indignation. They may have seen this as a righteous bit of business. But in the scheme of things, considering the weight of what was on Jesus' shoulders, it was trivial and paltry. So too, we are prone to have our minds occupied upon things of little worth. Those things we think have such matter and importance
Matters of money
Matters of politics
Matters of business
Matters of commerce
Matters of justice

Are mostly wasted matters in contrast to matters of eternity and matters of the spirit.

It was true that they did not yet know what Judas was thinking or what the Pharisees would do to the Lord. They were occupied upon the temporal because they could not see the eternal contest that was about to begin. But even that is just like our case. We argue over these lesser matters because we are not capable of seeing the greater ones. And that might be the exact reason we ought not let ourselves get caught in that trap. Our minds and spirits must be purposely freed from earthly matters so we are available to witness the eternal ones when they do show themselves. And we never know when they will so we must be available at all times, which means unencumbered with the trivial things at all times.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An Appropriate Prayer - Anywhere

Psalms 57:5 KJV
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.

This is something the child of God can pray at any time and under any circumstances. Regardless of the situation we may find ourselves in:
If it is a good time in our lives when victories are pouring in
If it is a more difficult time when it seems like the enemies are overwhelming us
If the sky is sunny
If the clouds have overtaken
If we are surrounded by friends
If we are encompassed by foes

Still we can pray, "Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth."

Sometimes we know we ought to pray but we do not know how to pray as we ought. We lean on the Holy Spirit of God to pray with groanings which cannot be uttered. But what are we to do? I have been on my knees speechless. I have known times when I had no word to say. And sometimes probably the best thing we can do is remain, still speechless and quiet. But at other times it would be very appropriate to pray, "Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth."

Once in a while we are called upon to pray in a public gathering. I am loathe in those times to pray some trite nothing. This would be a very appropriate request in those times. For certainly there is no time when our heart does not desire that God would be exalted and that His glory would be known. "Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth."

And it is no vain repetition for David repeated it twice even in this Psalm.
"Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Therefore they fear not

Psalms 55:19 KJV
God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.

My focus is on this phrase, "because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God."

Gill's commentary says, "...this is to be understood of sinners, ..... who have no changes in their hearts, nor in their lives, but continue in their natural and sinful estate, without any impression of the power and grace of God upon them. Or they have no changes in their worldly circumstances, from good to bad, ..... things go well with them, and they are not in trouble as other men; they are at ease and quiet, and are settled on their lees; ... Or they have no regard to their last change by death; and are not afraid of that, .... they put away this evil day far from them; think nothing about it, as if it would never be, and as if they had made an agreement with it that this change should never come upon them."

I think it is significant who David is referring to. He says of him,
Psalms 55:12-15 KJV
For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:
But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.
We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

I think this is very likely a reference to King Saul, or to Ahithophel or even to his son, Absalom. David says that the reason they did not fear God as they ought was because they "have no changes." Life was too predictable and passive in their case. Because they did not have appropriate conflicts, they did not come to appreciate a relationship with the LORD.

We must never despise the days of difficulty but praise God for them as they draw us to Christ.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Pre-Cross Inspection

Mark 11:11 KJV
And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

This is His triumphal entry. Once the pomp was finished the Bible says Jesus "...looked around about upon all things..." before leaving the city for the night.

I see this as a kingly inspection
Jesus Christ had every right to see that everything was where it belonged. He is the legitimate king of Jerusalem.

I see this as a precursor to His crucifixion
Jesus made a last minute check to make sure everything was in place for the most important event that would happen in human history; the cross upon which the sins of all mankind would be taken away.

I see this as perhaps a melancholy moment
Although I do not like to use that term so much with the Lord; certainly He was not depressed about what was about to happen, but surely the weight of His cross was already bearing heavily upon Him.

I see this as a touching moment
I sometimes like to enter the auditorium of the church by myself and simply enjoy the quiet. I will walk through the room, touching the chairs and praying for the people who will sit in them. In many cases I will even know the name of the person who most often sits in a particular place. Perhaps Jesus was visualizing some of the wonderful people He knew and praying for them.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

David's Reaction to Doeg

Psalms 52:8-9 KJV
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.


David wrote this, according to the superscript, when Doeg the Edomite told Saul that David was in the house of Ahimelech. This was no doubt a trying time in David's life. And he does proclaim that judgment will be upon his enemy. But David ends the Psalm with confidence in his God. Several things can be noted

He would grow
Like a green olive tree, David intended to grow and produce fruit for the Lord. His growth would be the direct result of the fact that he was planted in the house of the Lord. Nothing will produce spiritual growth for the Christian except continual presence in God's house.

He would trust
In both those times of success and those times of trial his plan would be to trust in the mercy of God.

He would praise
The mark of the Christian needs to be thanksgiving to his God

He would wait
God is good before and to His saints. We need both the times of success and the times of tribulation in order to build our walk with the Lord. In those times of difficulty our proper place is to wait in God's name. He will do us good.