Abide in Me

John 15:1-5:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Andrew Murray Abide in Christ:

“During the life of Jesus on earth the word he chiefly used when speaking of the relations of his disciples to himself was ‘Follow me.’ When he was about to leave for heaven, he gave them a new word, in which their more intimate and spiritual union with himself in glory should be expressed. That chosen word was “Abide in Me.”  It is to be feared that there are many earnest followers of Jesus from whom the meaning of this word, with the blessed experience it promises, is very much hidden. While trusting in their Savior for pardon and for help, and seeking to some extent to obey Him, they have hardly realized to what closeness of union, to what intimacy of fellowship, to what wondrous oneness of life and interest, He invited them when He said, “Abide in me.” This is not only an unspeakable loss to themselves, but the Church and the world suffer in what they lose. If, in our orthodox Churches, the abiding in Christ, the living union with Him, the experience of His daily and hourly presence and keeping, were preached with the same distinctness and urgency as His atonement and pardon through His blood, I am confident that many would be found to accept with gladness the invitation to such a life, and that its influence would be manifest in their experience of the purity and the power, the love and the joy, the fruit-bearing, and all the blessedness which the Savior connected with the abiding in Him.”

These are the critical words of our Christian life “Abide in Him!” What closeness of union, what intimate fellowship, what wondrous oneness, what vitality of life is available with Jesus Christ, our true vine! What an awesome invitation from our Lord “Abide in me and I in you” yet how many Christians have failed to realize and claim this magnificent promise. The parable of the vine and the branches is one of the most important truths that we will learn as Christians. It is not talking about salvation, it is talking about fellowship, the vital union of the believer to the Lord Jesus Christ after conversion.

The important question we must ask ourselves as Christians is “What do we abide in during the day?” What draws us in and captivates our mind and heart? What do we rest in? What do we go to that determines the image that we have of yourself and what carries our thinking? What are the controlling thoughts or things that moves our emotions? What is our driving passion? It is all related to what we abide in. We all abide in something so we must examine our lives to see what or who we are abiding in.

Do you know what you abide in determines the character that you manifest to the world? What ever we abide in produces the fruit of that abiding into our lives. We are what we abide in. We become one with what we abide in. To have faith we must abide in Him. We cannot fully trust Him if we are not abiding in Him. To love like him we must abide in him. To have joy, peace, assurance and hope, we must abide in him. Our spiritual growth is directly proportional to our abiding in him. We cannot be effective witnesses for Christ if we do not learn to abide in him. This is not just a cute phrase of Christianity as it takes discipline, perseverance, determination and faith to let go our ourselves and abide in Him.

What are some of things we have abided in? Fear, worry, condemnation, unworthiness, guilt, shame, routine of daily living, our perception of reality fed and influenced by the world, our work, our earthly relationships, the business of life, the me world of ourselves? What we abide in affects everything in our lives. We grow into what abide in. What kind of fruit do you think this produces? The fruit in our lives is a direct result of what we abide in. This is a fundamental truth to Christianity that we must abide in Him. This is more than just being saved, cleansed by his blood and redeemed from our sin. This is about what we are feeding on, what we are embracing and what we are living in. Jesus is the “Word” and he went on to say in verse 7 to say that to abide in him is to “abide in his words”

Andrew Murray: “It is only by frequent repetition that a child learns its lessons. It is only by continuously fixing the mind for a time on some one of the lessons of faith, that the believer is gradually helped to take and thoroughly assimilate them. I have the hope that you will realize the precious words, “Abide in me,” with the lessons connected with them in the parable of the Vine. Step by step we shall get to see how truly this promise-precept is meant for us, how surely grace is provided to enable us to obey it, how indispensable the experience of its blessing is to a healthy Christian life, and how unspeakable the blessings are that flow from it. As we listen, and meditate, and pray as we surrender ourselves, and accept in faith the whole Jesus as He offers Himself to us in it.”

The Greek word for “abide” means-to remain, not to depart, not to leave, to continue to be present, to maintain unbroken fellowship, continue to be operative in him by his divine influence and energy, to cleave, to hold fast and to be knit to, to be held or kept continually, and to remain as one. It occurs 118 times in the New Testament, 40 of which are in the Gospel of John.  The word borrows a context from the Old Testament where God is portrayed as consistently faithful and steadfast in His commitment to men.  This consistency is made evident in sending His Son as the redeemer.

Think about this meaning in our relationship with Christ.

This word abide speaks of a vital union. We do not depart from it, or leave it, but we hold fast and cleave to Christ in fellowship. We truly are one with him.

In our relationship w/God, abiding in Jesus is the screw that holds everything together & makes us useful to Him. In Him we live and move and have our being.

“Abide” is in the aorist active imperative in the Greek which calls for a definitive, decisive and deliberate choice-“Do this now, at once, once and for all!” It conveys a sense of urgency. “Check it off! Get it done!” The verb is describing the result of something that happened in the past and gives rise to the action you are commanded to take in the present. The response is fitting for what happened before. All that Christ has done for me in his death and resurrection, atoning for my sin, making me alive again in Christ, our natural and logical response is to abide in Him.

John 15 indicates the closest possible relationship between God the Father and the Son.  This verse extends the same relationship to those who believe in Jesus as the Christ.  In other words, the same harmony and fellowship that Jesus experienced with the Father is offered to Jesus’ followers.

Luke 19:5,6: And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

Are we joyfully running to Jesus to abide in Him, to allow him to occupy our house , allowing Him to be our life in everything and the head of our house?

The vine and branches teaching of Jesus is a parable. A parable brings life to truth via illustration. This parable gives us the best and most complete meaning of the Lord’s command “abide in me” and the union to which he invites us. The connection between the vine and the branch is a living one. No external, temporal union will suffice; it is not the work of man or the flesh. It is a divine union created by the work of God.

The first great truth in this parable is Jesus Christ is the true vine. The Greek could read “The Vine; the Genuine” He is the genuine, the one and only true vine. All other vines that we may try to attach ourselves to our counterfeits of the true vine. The world has many vines, but not one of them is the true vine. Not one of these vines produces the fruit of the spirit, but rather the fruit of the flesh. Read Galatians 5:22ff to see the vivid contrast of fruit. Jesus Christ is the vital energy of our lives that produces the fruit of the spirit. What a privilege and honor to be a branch of the true vine.

The Heavenly Father is the vinedresser. The Heavenly Father is actively involved as the vinedresser making sure the branch stays fruitful and tender. It means one who has the care of a vineyard; whose office it is to nurture, trim, and defend the vine, and who of course feels a deep interest in its growth and welfare. The figure means that God gave, or appointed his Son to be, the source of blessings to man; that all grace descends through him; and that God takes care of all the branches of this vine – that is, of all who are by faith united to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus infused his life into the branches, his strength, his love and everything he is in the world. Both Jesus and the Heavenly Father are actively involved in our life as a branch. Their work is vitally connected to the holy spirit of God that we receive as a gift at the time of the new birth. This threefold connection is essential to the true vine and branches producing fruit.

Branches: A tender and flexible branch; specifically, the shoot or branch if a vine, a vine-sprout. There is an inseparable connection between the branches and the true vine.

Palestine appears to have been a vine-growing country from the earliest historic times. The whole Old Testament witnesses to how greatly Palestine depended upon the vine and its products. The cultivation of the vine requires constant care or the fruit will very soon degenerate. As the grapes ripen they must be watched to keep off jackals and foxes (Song 2:15), and in some districts even wild boars (Ps 80:13). The watchman is stationed in one of the towers and overlooks a considerable area. When the grape season comes, the whole family of the owner frequently take their residence in a booth constructed upon one of the larger towers and remain there until the grapes are practically finished. It is a time of special happiness. To plant vineyards and eat the fruit thereof implied long and settled habitation.

Everyone has a vineyard. We are all branches connected to something. Who is your true vine? Who is the vinedresser? What fruit are you producing? Who is tending to your vineyard? It is a vineyard of a sluggard or a vineyard of the Savior? Does it produce the life of God or the sin of the world?

Proverbs 24:30-34: I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,31 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.32 Then I saw and considered it;  I looked and received instruction.33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Is our vineyard overgrown with thorns and broken down by years of neglect rooted in the flesh? This a perfect picture of the sin nature and our vineyard before Christ. No good fruit comes out of this vineyard.

The visual picture of the vine & branches tells us that the central idea is a vital union. A parable teaches one main truth and the main truth here is abiding in Him, in this vital union so we can produce fruit. His thrust is not on becoming a Christian, but on becoming a productive Christian. A branch is good for one thing…bearing fruit.

Christ in his teaching said four basic things to us: [1] Come to Me (as Savior) [2] Learn of Me (as Teacher) [3] Follow Me (as Master) [4] Abide in Me (as Life). Abide is the highest requirement of Christ & therefore applies to His faithful disciples

  1. Action: Abiding, Result: Fruit 2. Action: Pruning, Result: More Fruit 3. Action: Continued Abiding. Result: Much Fruit. When we’re abiding, fruit comes naturally.
  2. The fruit in view here is not produced by the branch but by the Vine itself! a) Without abiding, a branch cannot produce even a bud of real fruit. b) The vital sap comes from Him alone. c) Nothing, yes nothing of genuine or eternal value. It’s only plastic fruit!
  3. Without Me you can do nothing…Lasting!
  4. “Nothing, nothing, nothing you do w/your talents, gifts, money, or time, can save one soul, or can bear even one little spiritual grape…w/o Christ!”

“I in You” – That is, “if you abide in me, I am in you, and I will teach, guide, and comfort you.” This he proceeds to illustrate by a reference to the vine. If the branch should be cut off, in an instant, it would die and be fruitless. As long as it is in the vine, “from the nature of the case,” the parent stock imparts its juices, and furnishes a constant circulation of sap adapted to the growth and fruitfulness of the branch.

Apart from me you can do nothing. Apart-separate, without, no use of, no association with, without connection and fellowship.

Nothing: Is an absolute negative in the Greek. Literally “not one thing” Absolutely nothing (not one thing) is produced that is godly, righteous, or just apart from our abiding in Christ. The works produced are worthless, they have no true value, they do not last, they are temporal. Why do we do so many things in our daily lives without Christ? We often do not think about him hours upon hours, days upon days. Our abiding becomes weak and our fruit putrid. Nothing is being produced that is of profit to the kingdom of God unless we are abiding in Him.

We think we can handle some things on our own. “I don’t need you Jesus and the divine energy of the vine for these little things! I will just leave the big things to God.” This word “nothing” shouts out a resounding “No!” We need to be deliberately conscious of the connection before we do anything at all. We need to pray, meditate, reflect, ponder, and trust. We do not jump hastily into anything and seek God’s approval later. For the truth of the Christian life is that connection to Him is the basis of every action that has divine purpose behind it.  So even if the rest of the world is unaware of the underlying connection, we as His followers must not be unconscious in our actions.  In order to accomplish what He purposes, we must be connected to Him.  He connects us to God’s will.  To act without acknowledging or employing this connection is to misconstrue our purpose.  Not one single thing that matters in God’s great scheme can be accomplished without this deliberate connection. The believer can each day be pleasing to God only in that which he does through the power of Christ dwelling in him. Every sliver of our being, every moment of our life, every thought and feeling belong to Jesus, that from him and for him we may bring forth fruit to bring glory to his name.

All life and strength proceeds from Christ alone. Hence it follows, that the nature of man is unfruitful and destitute of everything good; because no man has the nature of a vine, till he be implanted in him. We are implanted in Him at the new birth. We are a new creation. We have a vital, living union with Christ. The fullness of Christ fills to overflowing every member of the Body of Christ. Christ is in us and by the Spirit of God, our divine seed and connection, we are built by God to be His habitation.

Yet so often we do not experience this union. It is more real than the fingers on our hand, but we fail to walk in it. Andrew Murry addresses this point in Abide in Christ:

“And yet you have had to complain of disappointment: as time went on, your expectations were not realized. The blessings you once enjoyed were lost; the love and joy of your first meeting with your Savior., instead of deepening, have become faint and feeble. And often you have wondered what the reason could be, that with such a Savior., so mighty and so loving, your experience of salvation should not have been a fuller one. The answer is very simple. You wandered from Him. The blessings He bestows are all connected with His “Come to ME,” and are only to be enjoyed in close fellowship with Himself. You either did not fully understand, or did not rightly remember, that the call meant, “Come to me to stay with me.” And yet this was in very deed His object and purpose when first He called you to Himself. It was not to refresh you for a few short hours after your conversion with the joy of His love and deliverance, and then to send you forth to wander in sadness and sin. He had destined you to something better than a short-lived blessedness, to be enjoyed only in times of special earnestness and prayer, and then to pass away, as you had to return to those duties in which far the greater part of life has to be spent. No, indeed; He had prepared for you an abiding dwelling with Himself, where your whole life and every moment of it might be spent, where the work of your daily life might be done, and where all the while you might be enjoying unbroken communion with Himself. It was even this He meant when to that first word, “Come to me,” He added this, “Abide in me.” As earnest and faithful, as loving and tender, as the compassion that breathed in that blessed “Come,” was the grace that added this no less blessed “Abide.” As mighty as the attraction with which that first word drew you, were the bonds with which this second, had you but listened to it, would have kept you. And as great as were the blessings with which that coming was rewarded, so large, yea, and much greater, were the treasures to which that abiding would have given you access. The intercourse was not only to be unbroken, but most intimate and complete. He opened His arms, to press you to His bosom; He opened His heart, to welcome you there; He opened up all His divine fulness of life and love, and offered to take you up into its fellowship, to make you wholly one with Himself. There was a depth of meaning you cannot yet realize in His words: “Abide IN ME.” And with no less earnestness than He had cried, “Come to me,” did He plead, had you but noticed it, “Abide in me.” By every motive that had induced you to come, did He beseech you to abide. Was it the fear of sin and its curse that first drew you? the pardon you received on first coming could, with all the blessings flowing from it, only be confirmed and fully enjoyed on abiding in Him. Was it the longing to know and enjoy the Infinite Love that was calling you? the first coming gave but single drops to taste ’tis only the abiding that can really satisfy the thirsty soul, and give to drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at His right hand. Was it the weary longing to be made free from the bondage of sin, to become pure and holy, and so to find rest, the rest of God for the soul? this too can only be realized as you abide in Him-only abiding in Jesus gives rest in Him.”

“Come to Him” is only the first step of the gospel. “Abide in Him” is the lifelong commitment with magnificent blessings in this life and the life to come.

Look at the context of this passage of John 14:31b: “Rise, let us go from here.” Jesus was walking toward the Garden of Gethsemane to face his most difficult trial. Jesus told them that the ruler of this world is coming and that he has no claim on me. These words are critical in our walk of sanctification, in our not conforming ourselves to the pattern of this world, in our shining as lights in this dark world. Do you want to endure the pressures and cares of this age? Abide in Him. We cannot shine as lights in opposition to the idolatry all around us unless we are producing fruit from the life of the vine. Unless everything we are is deriving from him. We need to rise up and abide in him now without further delay.

Andrew Murray: “Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us, and through us. It is a work He does for us … Our part is simply to yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform.”

I John 2:6: Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Colossians 2:6,7: Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Amplified: As you have therefore received Christ, even Jesus the Lord, so walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots of your being firmly and deeply planted in Him, fixed and founded in Him, being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.

NLT: And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

How do we abide in Him. By childlike faith. Faith is the foundation of abiding. Without faith we fail to abide in vital union with Him. How do we build our faith? How do we grow our faith? By hearing the Word of God and hiding it in our hearts (Romans 10:17). Studying, meditating, memorizing, pondering on His Word is vital to abiding in Him. We must abide in His words if we are to effectively abide in Him (John 15:7).

Receiving Christ Jesus the Lord is the first step. We must be rooted and built up in him to where we walk like him on the earth. When people see the branch, they see the vine. The same life that is the branch is in the vine. When people see us they see Christ. Our words, our actions and our character reflect Christ because we are in vital union with the true vine.

Andrew Murray: “But, alas! I hear someone say, it is just this abiding in Jesus, always bearing His yoke, to learn of Him, that is so difficult…What a mistake to speak thus, and yet how often the words are heard! Does it weary the traveler to rest in the house or on the bed where he seeks repose from his fatigue? Or is it a labor to a little child to rest in its mother’s arms? Is it not the house that keeps the traveler within its shelter? do not the arms of the mother sustain and keep the little one? And so it is with Jesus. The soul has but to yield itself to Him, to be still and rest in the confidence that His love has undertaken, and that His faithfulness will perform, the work of keeping it safe in the shelter of His bosom. Oh, it is because the blessing is so great that our little hearts cannot rise to apprehend it; it is as if we cannot believe that Christ, the Almighty One, will in very deed teach and keep us all the day. And yet this is just what He has promised, for without this He cannot really give us rest. It is as our heart takes in this truth that, when He says, “Abide in me,” “Learn of me,” He really means it, and that it is His own work to keep us abiding when we yield ourselves to Him, that we shall venture to cast ourselves into the arms of His love, and abandon ourselves to His blessed keeping.”

Who would, after seeking the King’s palace, be content to stand in the door, when he is invited in to dwell in the King’s presence, and share with Him in all the glory of His royal life? Oh, let us enter in and abide, and enjoy to the full all the rich supply His wondrous love hath prepared for us!

One of the great enemies of Abiding in Him is forgetfulness. This is one of the great flaws of the human heart to fall into habitual forgetfulness of God. We have a tendency to not remember God on a daily basis as the heart wallows in this sea of forgetfulness. A parent’s heart would be crushed if their beloved child forgot them. A bride’s heart would be wounded if her groom forgot about her love and devotion to him. There may not be a worse feeling for someone than to feel that you have been forgotten. No one wants to be a distant memory. Yet God is consistently forgotten day after day in the busyness of our hectic lives. We forget the amazing love, mercy and grace of God that has been poured into our lives in countless ways. We forget God’s words of instruction to guide us through the uncertainty and confusion of our times. We forget God’s constant plea for a deeper intimacy and relationship with Him. God easily disappears from our thoughts with a troubling constancy. The heart forgets. The heart does not remember. God fades from our memory with a relentless persistency, and the heart of God is grieved that His very own children have so easily forgotten Him.

Can a virgin forget her ornaments or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. (Jeremiah 2:32, ESV)

You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth. (Deuteronomy 32:18, ESV)

The Hebrew word for “forget” means to ignore, to wither, to cease to care, and to be oblivious of from want of memory and attention. We must not allow God to wither from our hearts by ignoring Him and giving Him little attention. We cannot cease to care about God being at the center of everything we do and everything we are. We must never let God be labeled “the forgotten one” in the depth of our hearts.

It is sad to say, but most of us give more attention to our grocery list than God. We have become consumed with everything else, but God. We are consumed with our television shows, our music, our careers, our schedules, our success, our sports, our families, our education, our politics, our fitness, our comforts and our finances. We remember more about our IPhone apps than we remember about God. We remember the latest sport scores and statistics more than we remember God. God has to be more than just on our mailing list when we send Him a nice card from our hearts twice a year on Christmas and Easter. For a Christian, God should be more alive, important, and thought of, than any earthly thing. God has to be the living and burning passion of our hearts. We cannot follow the ways of this world where God is dead in the hearts of people. God must be more than a fleeting thought or a desperate prayer when we are in trouble. God must become the lifeblood of our heart, and the reason for every breath we take. We must cultivate in the soil of our hearts an expectation and excitement of knowing, experiencing and fellowshipping with God in a deep and meaningful manner. This is what it means to abide in Him.

A.W. Tozer in Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews says:

How many Christians really harbor within their own spirit the daily expectation of God’s presence? How many truly expect a personal encounter with God? It is quite important to cultivate a daily expectation of God’s presence in your day … Each day presents a new opportunity to experience God and fellowship with Him. Nothing should so occupy the mind of the Christian than discovering God in his day … My encounter with God today may be of such a nature as to alter the course of my entire life. With a sacred expectation for me to dwell upon each morning, as I get up, I look for God in all the circumstances of my day. Let me give personal testimony that I never anticipate a day without experiencing the presence of God … Start the day seeking God’s presence and search for Him all through the day and revel in the gracious encounter of God throughout the day.[i]

The Hebrew word for “forget” has even a deeper meaning when we look at its word picture. Remember that Hebrew is a pictographic language, and each letter of the Hebrew alphabet represents a picture. Every word in Hebrew is formed by adding these pictures together to visually illustrate the meaning of a word.

The Hebrew pictograph for the word “forget” is Shin-Kaf-Chet and means what destroys the fence around the open palm or hand. The open hand of God has given us life, blessings, and purpose. The open hand of God has given us instructions for life in His Word. He has also put a fence or protective boundary around our heart that allows us to live separate from the chaos of this broken world. To forget is to tear down and destroy this fence.

Skip Moen in his “Hebrew Word Studies” explains in more detail this pictograph for the Hebrew word “forget”:

To forget is to tear down the fence that provides life … God fences us in on purpose. The broken world is a dangerous and unhealthy place. God protects with His instructions, often in ways that we cannot comprehend. When we forget, we tear down the fence that keeps life and chaos apart. When we forget, we let sin in. When we forget, we open the door (as Paul says) and life tumbles.[ii]

We can never forget the great blessing of the vine and the branches and abiding in Him. It is a commandment of our Lord. Abiding in Him is the security, the fence that protects us from the world and the devices of our enemy. Abiding in Him is the antidote for the chaos of this world. No matter what is raging around us, we can abide in Him. Joy, peace and rest comes from abiding in Him. Fear melts away, anxiety evaporates, and worry disappears when we abide in our vital union with the true vine. Let His life flow through us and into our speech, our love, our touch and our heart. As He is so are we in this world. What will happen to our lives, our growth and our walk if we abide in Him? It is life-changing. The harvest of fruit will be abundant 30, 60, 100 times greater than we could imagine. Just as he commanded us to “Come” in the call of salvation, he now commands us to “Abide” in the call of fellowship. Nothing is more important in our Christian life than to obey this commandment to abide in Him. It is essential in the chaos of this world that we do not allow our hearts to forget this crucial truth-“Abide in Him.”

[i] A.W. Tozer, Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews (Bloomington: Bethany House Publishers. 2010), 1842, Kindle Edition.

[ii] Skip Moen, “”For Whom the Bell Tolls (2), Hebrew Word Study, February 25, 2011, http://skipmoen.com/2011/02/25/for-whom-the-bell-tolls-2/

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Guarding the Heart: The Christian’s Sacred Duty

God Almighty has given us a clear commandment concerning the heart, and that is to stand watch, remain vigilant, and guard the heart from intrusion by outside forces. This is not a wish or a request from God. It is a direct order from our Supreme Commander, who lovingly but firmly calls, “My child, do this for Me. Guard your heart with great fervor and diligence! You must be watchful over your heart daily, for your heart is the key to your spiritual life and the intimacy and depth of your relationship with Me.”

Guarding your heart is simply not optional in God’s eyes. If you don’t guard your heart, then your words, actions, attitudes, motives, and life will never reflect the risen Savior and will never shine forth with His glory. Yes, we live in a society where we tend to hold onto so many temporal things, yet so few of us ever take heed of the need and divine requirement to guard our hearts.

If we fail to keep and guard our hearts, then we have failed God, failed in our walk with Him, and failed in the calling He has placed on our lives. The heart is the key to everything in the Christian life, and we can never take a vacation from our duties concerning its health. We can never allow ourselves to become careless, apathetic, or lazy in watching over it.

Do you long to be rich in faith and strong in the Lord? Do you want to be full of His love and compassion, speaking His words with kindness, boldness, and conviction? Do you want to know a deep and intimate bond with your heavenly Father where your fellowship with Him is so alive that you hear His voice, feel His heart, and become His hands, feet and heart to the world? Do you want to see the power of God made manifest in your life, where signs, miracles, and wonders follow your sharing of the gospel? Do you want a life-changing, earth-shaking faith that is a vibrant, energetic, and beautiful representation of the glory and majesty of the Almighty?

It all starts with your heart, for the heart is everything you are. And this heart must be molded and built by God to reflect His glorious image and be the home where He dwells without hindrance or impediment. Your heart must be the control center for the movement of God in your life and the outreach center for the movement of God into the world.

However none of these wonderful things can ever be sustained if your heart is left unguarded. The heart is under vicious attack daily by the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4, ESV) who wants to cripple, sicken, and twist it, so that it becomes dead to the things of God. You have probably heard the phrase “the battlefield of the mind,” which accurately depicts one phase of spiritual warfare. But the ultimate battle and the relentless goal of the enemy is to crush the heart. Every strategy, method, and device of the devil is designed for this purpose. Once you become a born-again Christian, your heart is thrust into a raging battlefield more intense than Gettysburg, more ferocious than Iwo Jima, and more brutal than Omaha Beach.

Watchmen on the Walls

Do you see why guarding your heart is not an inconsequential task? It is, in fact, the key to victory in every phase of Christian living. This is so clearly seen in Proverbs 4:23, which identifies guarding the heart as the most important thing we can do for God: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). This is our number one priority. We cannot seek Him, love Him, worship Him, and do His will with complete devotion every day unless we first become committed protectors and keepers of our hearts.

The Hebrew word translated in this verse as “keep” is natsar, which means to guard, protect, or maintain out of a sense of responsibility; to watch, preserve, and guard from dangers. The central idea here is holding fast and protecting something entrusted to you. This word also means to observe with great diligence, keeping very close, even to blockade. This Hebrew word was also used to describe a prison guard keeping watch over prisoners or a sentinel at a guard post. It is sometimes translated “watchmen” and “watchers” in the Bible. The root of the word is translated as “watchtower.”

God has entrusted to us a monumental responsibility, and He expects us to carry out this awesome task with the utmost faithfulness. Our hearts are vulnerable to the perils of this world. The heart can be easily broken, turned or hardened, and it must have a diligent overseer who will not cower but hold fast against the enemy’s schemes. We must be watchmen of our hearts, faithful to keep a lookout from the watchtower, day and night, for any approach of the enemy. We are to be attentive security guards, continually watching and evaluating the threat posed by our surroundings and our contact with the world, its images, and its ideals.

We should enthusiastically take this mantle of responsibility upon ourselves for we are obeying God’s command and training our hearts to carry His banner into battle, wholly spending every fiber of our beings for His glory. And we can be triumphant and victorious, rooted in God, and bringing a foretaste of heaven into everything we do and touch. Don’t you think that kind of heart is worth guarding? No wonder the devil expends so much energy targeting our hearts, for a guarded heart lays waste to his schemes and works upon the earth and shatters his kingdom with the glory and power of God. A guarded heart stands like a mighty fortress of God’s grace, goodness, love, and mercy in the midst of the wicked, destructive darkness of this age.

Your heart has a God-given mission, and it must be protected at all costs so that you can make a difference in this world. If you don’t guard your heart with every bit of diligence you can muster, it will eventually wither to God and become hardened to every purpose, every leading, and every whisper coming from the heart of God.

The Branch and Your Heart

The root of this word natsar also has another interesting meaning: “to shine, sparkle, bloom, or sprout.” In its noun form, this word is translated as “branch.” Jesus Christ is referred to as “a righteous Branch” in the Old Testament:

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel shall live in safety. This is the name by which he shall be called: The Lord our Righteous Savior. (Jeremiah 23:5–6, NIV)

Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from this place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne.” (Zechariah 6:12–13a, NIV)

In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. (Isaiah 4:2, NIV)

As we guard our hearts, we allow Christ to bloom and sprout in our hearts. God desires that your heart to be a reflection of Christ, and by protecting the heart, you allow this image to grow and develop from a tiny sprout into a mighty branch. The branch implies that something is living and growing, and the heart is the holy greenhouse where the image of Him can grow and thrive into maturity.

The heart of every Christian should be a place where the King of Kings reigns and exercises His authority, directing us to do what is just and right. Our hearts should blossom with the life of the Spirit of God, bearing His glorious fruit and showing the world just how special it is to bear the image of our Creator. The believer’s heart should be the temple of the Lord, where the fire of the presence of God burns brightly and purifies the heart into a fortress of holiness. We are to have the heart of Christ, the mind of Christ, the thoughts of Christ, the zeal of Christ, and the actions of Christ. This mighty Branch will become a tree of righteousness in our hearts that directs and compels us to live according to His righteous standards, pouring out ourselves for the lost, the needy, the poor, and the broken. Then our hearts will sparkle for our King.

God Helps Us Guard Our Hearts

Can you accomplish this sacred duty of guarding and protecting your heart in your own strength, ability, and power? Are you alone in this monumental task of watching over your heart with great diligence day after day? Are you even capable of shielding your heart from all the attacks of the enemy? Of course not, and God doesn’t expect you to fight this battle alone.

You cannot be the watchman of your heart without help from God, for you desperately need His guidance, His wisdom, His instruction, His insight, His promises, and His strength to effectively guard your heart. You are doomed to fail miserably without God Almighty laboring with you to keep your heart holy and pure. This truth is borne out in Scripture as we examine another verse in which the Hebrew word natsar is used:

But God himself took charge of his people, took Jacob on as his personal concern. He found him out in the wilderness, in an empty, windswept wasteland. He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him, guarding (natsar) him as the apple of his eye. He was like an eagle hovering over its nest, overshadowing its young. (Deuteronomy 32:9–12, MSG)

You are God’s personal concern, and He takes charge of your care by wrapping His arms tightly around you and guarding you as the apple of His eye. The word “apple” here is the Hebrew word for “pupil,” the dark center of the eye where light enters in. The pupil dilates to control the amount of light that enters the eye, and this light forms an image on the retina so we can see what we are looking at.

The pupil is one of the most vulnerable parts of the human body. If left unguarded, you could easily damage and perhaps lose your precious sight. So God designed the human eye with many safeguards and protections, since even the tiniest particle can cause searing pain. For example, the eye is deeply entrenched in the skull, so that the forehead and cheekbones act as natural barriers. It is also protected by the eyelid and eyelashes. Even your hands are in a position to raise up and protect your eyes from foreign objects.

Likewise, the heart is highly vulnerable to damage from foreign objects. The heart is essential to our spiritual eyesight and must be guarded so it is does not become blinded to the things of God. Indeed, just as the health of the human body can be often be discerned by examining the pupil and its condition, so also the spiritual health of a person can be discerned by examining his or her heart.

It’s interesting to note that this Hebrew word for “pupil” literally means “little man or daughter of the eye.” The pupil acts like a mirror so that you see a tiny image of yourself when you look into eyes of another person. God helps us to guard our hearts so that when He looks into our heart, He will see the image of Himself, a reflection of His love, compassion, and grace. What an amazing and profound truth that God wants to see Himself when He looks at your heart! He wants to see there a masterful reproduction of His nature and characteristics. He wants to see a heart that beats like His, that sees the world through His eyes and loves people as He does.

Watchman in the Vineyard

In Bible times there were watchmen who watched over and guarded the vineyard against animals and thieves. Rev. G. M. Mackie, the author of Bible Manners and Customs, elaborates on this custom:

The vine has always had an important place among the industries of Palestine. … Vineyards are found all over the country, but the most suitable is the hillside, or the gently sloping ground at the foot of a hill. … The vineyard requires a great deal of preparatory work. A wall has to be built around it. … In the case of a large vineyard, a winepress has to be dug and a shelter made for the watchman.[i]

A watchman was appointed over a vineyard or group of vineyards. He stood watch, day and night, to frighten away wild animals and to challenge and report on intruders. He roamed about at night, but in the daytime he was stationed in a conspicuous spot: a booth made of four stout poles fixed into the ground, with a boarding lashed across halfway up, and a covering of oak leaves. Here the guard sat and watched by day. Sometimes a permanent stone structure took the place of the booth to serve as both a watchtower and place of shelter.

In that day—“Sing about a fruitful vineyard. I, the Lord, watch (natsar) over it; I water it continually. I guard (natsar) it day and night so that no one may harm it.” (Isaiah 27:2–3)

God wants your heart to be a fruitful vineyard for Him, and He will help you guard and watch over it night and day so that nothing may harm it. The Hebrew word rendered as “harm” in this verse means “to visit, attend, search out, or pay attention to with a hostile intent for the purpose of bringing harm or evil.” Although the devil prowls about, searching out your heart for the purpose of bringing it harm, your God is there with you, standing as watchman of the vineyard, helping to protect your heart from the enemy’s hostile schemes and fiery darts. He labors with you to prepare, water, prune, dress, and nourish the heart. God does not want your vineyard to be overgrown with thorns and thistles of fear, unbelief, anxieties, bitterness, and strife. If you will heed His voice, He is showing you what to work on in the vineyard so that your heart can be vibrant with the life of the Lord and fruitful for His glory.

In Rees Howells: Intercessor, Norman Grubb writes:

When the divine owner takes possession of a property, He has a twofold objective: intense cultivation and abounding fruitfulness. But if the land is fallow ground, He can only till it acre by acre. We shall see the Owner now at work in his newly-claimed estate.[ii]

When you allow God to ascend to the throne of your heart as the owner of this vineyard, He begins an intense and thorough work on every aspect of the heart to cultivate His fruit in your words, your actions, and your motives. God tills the ground of your heart so it is tender and receptive toward Him and becomes deeply rooted in the love and worship of God. He then plants His seeds and lovingly and diligently manages their growth into a beautiful healthy vine that will bear much fruit. He cultivates the vine with the warm light of His presence, His life-giving words, and the flowing waters of His Spirit so that the vine extends upward, seeking out Almighty God alone. Then truly, your heart is a great treasure worth guarding day and night so that the enemy cannot steal, kill, and destroy this sacred vineyard that God has so lovingly built.

Do not allow yourself to become lazy or slothful in this great duty of guarding your heart, or it can in little more than a season turn into a wasteland of dry, hardened soil overgrown with weeds, thorns, briers, and dead vines. God is calling to you, “Come and watch with me! Let’s watch and pray over the vineyard of your heart so that it remains fruitful, and so that the enemy does not breach its walls and lay waste to it.” Does this remind you of an invitation and command from our Savior almost 2,000 years ago in a garden where the enemy was lurking?

A Sleeping Heart Is Unguarded

After supper, on the night before his execution, Jesus went with His disciples to a garden where He sometimes prayed.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come.” (Matthew 26:36–45, NIV)

Even today, our Lord calls to us with the urgent command to watch and pray with Him in the task of guarding our hearts. But so many have fallen asleep at their post. Three times in this passage Jesus commanded his disciples to keep watch with Him, yet they could not even do so for one hour.

The Greek word translated here as “watch” means “to be keenly alert in a constant state of readiness for trouble or danger; it is an intense, unremitting watchfulness; a mental alertness; the condition of the mind opposite to sleep.” The Greek gives us a picture of a man awakening himself from sleep or slumber and refraining from sleep so he can be alert and watchful. This word was used in Greek literature to describe a man crossing a raging river while stepping on slippery stones—he must be keenly alert and pay strict attention to exactly where he’s stepping or he will fall into the water and be swept away.

The Greek word for “watch” is here used in the present imperative, meaning this is a command of our Lord that we are to continually and habitually follow. It calls for a long-term commitment, a way of life. This is no mere suggestion of possible devotion; this is a commandment of the Lord that is absolutely vital to our spiritual life.

“Watch and pray,” He says. Watchfulness and prayer are like two sentinels who must maintain constant and vigilant guard over the entrance to the heart. You cannot guard your heart without maintaining a constant state of vigilance alongside the Lord. The enemy is at the gate, and you must stand guard with a watchful eye, an alert ear, and much prayer. If you fail to do so, breaches begin to form in the walls surrounding the vineyard of your heart, giving the enemy access. The devil wants to devour you and destroy your heart so that it does not reflect to the world the beauty and glory of God. This is why you must be on the lookout at all times, under every circumstance. Time and time again, the Lord calls your name and asks, “Will you watch with me?” Will you heed His call or continue to slumber?

God has given His people His Word, His power, and His Spirit so that we keep watch and prevail over the enemy. Yet the church has fallen asleep at the most desperate hour when everything is at stake. Christianity needs to wake up now! We are at war, and we can no longer afford to nod off while on duty.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8, NKJV)

Christian, do you not know your heart has a personal enemy that is bent on its destruction? He is always looking for the unguarded and slumbering heart so he can pounce on it and viciously consume it. The devil lives and rages in hostile opposition to everything that might honor Jesus Christ, and this is why you must remain alert and vigilant. For who can guard his heart against a lion when he is asleep?

The Greek word that gives us “devour” in 1 Peter 5:8 means to drink down and swallow up completely, to gulp down entirely, and to cause something to pass from the mouth into the stomach. This same word is used in the Septuagint—the Greek translation of the Old Testament—to describe the great fish that swallowed up Jonah. It was also used of the Egyptian army that was swallowed up by the Red Sea after Israel made safe passage through the waves when parted by the mighty hand of God. The word paints a picture of complete and sudden destruction.

The Devil wants to completely swallow up your heart like the great fish gulped down Jonah. Satan wants to overwhelm your heart with engulfing waves of fear, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness so that it is swallowed up and rendered useless for God’s kingdom. Or perhaps he is trying to consume your heart with the thoughts, imaginations, philosophies, culture, and idols of this age.

Paul calls the devil “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The word “age” here is aionos in the Greek and is enlightening as to Satan’s ways of devouring the heart. Trench’s Synonyms of the New Testament elaborates on its meaning:

[This word] comes presently to signify all which exists in the world under conditions of time … the course and current of this world’s affairs … All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitutes a most real and effective power, being the moral, or immoral, atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again to inevitably exhale.[iii]

The devil is the god of the course and current of this world’s affairs as well as the ideas, fashions, opinions, and passions of the culture. He molds and twists a humanistic atmosphere designed to swallow and devour the heart. And people breathe in this atmosphere like they breathe in air, not realizing they are inhaling a demonic toxin that will corrupt, suffocate, harden, and utterly destroy the heart.

John MacArthur, in his sermon “Fundamental Attitudes for Spiritual Maturity,” says:

[The devil is] always active and he’s always looking for an opportunity to overwhelm us. His aim is to sow discord, to break fellowship, to accuse God to men, to accuse men to God, to accuse men to each other, to undermine confidence, to silence confession, to get us to stop serving God. He’s always after us. He is called in John’s Gospel three times “the prince of this world.” He commands the human system. So as he is moving around, seeking whom he may devour, it is not that you have to come into contact with him individually to fall prey, because he orchestrates a whole realm of demon beings and he orchestrates and controls the whole world’s system. And so from his seat as prince of the world, he orchestrates an environment which in and of itself can devour us.[iv]

The devil is orchestrating a cultural environment at every level of society to blind the heart from the glory, grace, and wonder of God. His schemes overwhelm the heart with pressures, bondage, and oppression. Just look around you. This is an atmosphere where God is not wanted, and its lusts and momentary pleasures of self-gratification are absolutely fatal to the human heart and the purposes God has wonderfully planned for each of us.

This is why we will never be able to successfully and consistently guard the heart unless we become men and women set apart from the world and devoted to prayer. We can stop the lion in his tracks if we choose to carefully protect our hearts as a sacred treasure and pray with mighty boldness and confidence in the faithfulness and goodness of our heavenly Father.

Prayer Guards the Heart

E.M. Bounds, in his classic The Necessity of Prayer, wrote of the importance of prayer to the effectiveness of the armor of God:

Note carefully that the Christian’s armor will avail him nothing, unless prayer be added. This is the pivot, the connecting link of the armor of God. This holds it together, and renders it effective. … It is all important and absolutely essential to victory, that prayer should so impregnate the life that every breath will be a petition, every sigh a supplication. The Christian soldier must needs be always fighting. He should, of sheer necessity, be always praying.

The Christian soldier is compelled to constant picket duty. He must always be on his guard. He is faced by a foe who never sleeps, who is always alert. … Watchfulness is a cardinal principle with Christ’s warrior, “watch and pray” forever sounding in his ears. He cannot dare to sleep at his post. Such a lapse brings him not only under the displeasure of the Captain of his salvation, but exposes him to added danger. Watchfulness, therefore, imperatively constitutes the duty of the soldier of the Lord …

The inseparable companions and safeguards of prayer are vigilance, watchfulness, and a mounted guard … When will Christians more thoroughly learn the twofold lesson, that they are called to a great warfare, and that in order to get the victory they must give themselves to unsleeping watchfulness and prayer? [v]

Prayer is a mighty catalyst for the purification and godly transformation of the heart. It’s an invitation to God to become intimately involved in every detail of your life. Prayer awakens your heart to the voice of God and helps to direct you in the paths and ways of God. As Christians, we have so underestimated the explosive power of prayer. Eric Ludy, pastor of the Church at Ellerslie in Colorado, has said, “Prayer is nuclear power, world renovating in its epic strength. When used according to the pattern of Scripture, prayer alters history, alters the natural world, and alters the human soul … Prayer is the catalyst behind everything godly taking place in the earth.”[vi]

I’m not referring here to a ten-second prayer said before you eat, or the weak, distracted, half-hearted prayer you mutter under your breath while running out the door or falling into a deep sleep. I’m talking about prayer delivered with guts, audacity, humility, and confidence. This is a wrestling prayer, the kind that requires focus, determination, passion, tenacity, and persistence. This is prayer born of an unwavering trust in God at all times and in all circumstances. This is prayer that conveys an intense and relentless love and passion for God. This is the prayer of a warrior, one that shakes the kingdom of darkness to its core and brings to pass the will of God upon the earth. There can be no anxiety, fear, timidity, or doubt in this prayer. You are in the field, your position is under attack, and you are in contact with the Lord of hosts—clear communication and unwavering faith in your Commander is critical if you are to push the enemy back.

The Greek word translated “pray” in Matthew 26:36–45 means speaking out with desire, worship, and devotion in a direct manner, conscious that you are talking face to face with God. This is prayer with a specific purpose delivered in complete trust and faith that God will answer, and indicates the warmth, depth, and passion of an intimate, face-to-face conversation. This is communion so close that God and you are gazing at each other’s faces and listening intently to each other’s whisper. There may be weeping, groaning, joy, suffering, laughter, and adoration. Yet always this prayer is spoken with deep respect and thankfulness toward God.

This is the true nature of the mighty prayer that revolutionizes the human heart and safeguards it from the roaring lion. We will never be able to effectively carry out the command of God to guard our hearts above all else unless we make this type of prayer a habit and way of life. We must spend significant, passionate time in communion with God if we are to become useful vessels in His holy mission of rescuing and restoring the hearts of others through us.

Did you know that the day that even before God breathed life into Adam in the book of Genesis, He designed people to be praying human beings? The human heart was formed by God to be immersed in prayer as a way of life. Since man took his first breath, we were to live and breathe this relationship. It’s as vital to our spiritual life as physically breathing is to our physical life. We cannot have healthy hearts, and we cannot guard our hearts from the enemy unless prayer is an integral part of our everyday lives.

Leonard Ravenhill, in his book Why Revival Tarries, says that victorious living can only come through “sustained watches in the prayer chamber.” He quotes the venerated John Chrysostom, early church father, concerning the supernatural power of prayer:

The potency of prayer has subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of a thunderbolt. Prayer is an all-sufficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings.[vii]

Ravenhill goes on to say, “The prayer closet is not merely a place to hand the Lord a list of urgent requests. Does prayer change things? Yes, but prayer changes men.”[viii]

Prayer is the great catalyst for the transformation of the human heart, in both the person praying and the person prayed for. But as Eric Ludy said, “True prayer demands more of our lives than most are willing to give, and therefore few ever taste of its power and delights.”[ix] Prayer will change every nook and cranny of the human heart, altering its course, composition, and temperature. And yet the prophet pleaded to God, saying of his people, “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins” (Isaiah 64:7). It’s amazing to me still that the hearts of God’s chosen people could be devoured to the extent that not a single one was calling on God’s name and wanting to take a hold of Him, even after all the magnificent things He had done for them.

The word translated “lay hold” in the Hebrew means “to fasten upon, to seize, to be strengthened to do extraordinary deeds.” There is a confidence, boldness, and bravery to this word, and it is used in the Scriptures to describe the mighty acts of David, Joshua, and Samson. There is no fear, doubt, or surrender in this word, but rather, courage, perseverance, audacity, and fortitude. We must arise and fasten ourselves to the Father in prayer and seize upon His unlimited strength and power. Prayer not only guards the heart, but from prayer we are energized to charge into battle and rescue the broken, the crushed, the forgotten, the maimed, the hurt, and the hopeless of heart for Almighty God.

Healing the Breach

This guarding nature of prayer is also brought to light in the Hebrew word mishmar, which is translated as “guard” in Proverbs 4:23. This word means to keep diligent watch over a prisoner; the condition of being guarded, watched, and controlled. This word is also used in the book of Nehemiah concerning the rebuilding of the wall and gates of Jerusalem in the midst of fierce opposition from the enemy.

But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard (mishmar) day and night to meet this threat. (Nehemiah 4:6–9, NIV)

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had destroyed the wall of Jerusalem that surrounded the city when he conquered Judah. One hundred and forty years later, the wall still lay in utter ruin, and it was heavy on Nehemiah’s heart to go to Jerusalem and rebuild it. G. M. Mackie, in Bible Manners and Customs, explains the importance of the wall to a city in Bible times:

Thick high walls and fortified gates do not pose much of a deterrent to modern armies, but in the biblical era they were very effective, even against large, well-equipped armies … The wall came to be a symbol of protection. Throughout most of the Old Testament a thick, high wall around a city made it almost impossible to conquer.[x]

Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king of Persia, and even though he obtained permission from the king to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall, he was to face incredible opposition. Nehemiah and his men were ridiculed, insulted, laughed at, threatened, and attacked. Many of the people of Judah caved into the pressure, saying that their strength was giving out and that the enemy would kill them before the wall could be completed. But Nehemiah stood steadfast.

He encouraged the people not to be afraid, reminding them of how great and awesome the Lord is and charging them to fight in His strength for their families and homes. He knew that God was the strength, the foundation, the protection, and the power behind this audacious work. Nehemiah was a man of prayer, and met the relentless assault of the enemy by watching and praying day and night, and God heard his prayers. Nehemiah 4:13 says that God frustrated the plot of the enemies to stop the work. Miraculously, the walls and gates of Jerusalem were rebuilt in just fifty-two days.

Prayer helps to build a spiritual wall of protection around the heart to guard it from infiltration by the enemy. But prayer also helps to repair the broken walls around the heart and make them strong again. Most Christians today have massive breaches in the walls surrounding their hearts, and this allows the devil nearly unfettered access to wreak havoc and misery in their lives. As Christians, we cannot be content with broken-down walls that leave us vulnerable to attack.

Prayer is the catalyst to mend and repair these breaches in the walls so the heart can become a mighty fortress for our God. Prayer frustrates the plans of the enemy to capture the heart and gives us the power and strength to stand against all the insults, threats, and assaults of the devil. Prayer aids in the recovery of our hearts from a condition of breakdown and ruin by bringing restoration, order, security, and peace. Prayer enables God to do His miraculous work in our hearts in order to accomplish His good will and extraordinary purposes. Prayer allows God to take His rightful position as the keeper and protector of our hearts.

Guarding the Sacred Romance

The Hebrew word mishmar comes from the root shamar, and this word’s very first usage in the Bible sheds some additional light on guarding the heart:

And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep (shamar) it. (Genesis 2:15, KJV)

Notice first of all that God took Adam. This is a beautiful statement of a precious possession and protection of someone so valued that God took Him into the closest and innermost chambers of His heart. The Hebrew word rendered here as “took” means to grasp and seize, to take hold of, to take possession of, and to carry away. This verse describes the first time Adam and His magnificent God looked at each other face-to-face, the first encounter when their hearts touched as Father and child. What a breathtaking moment that must have been! O, how God loves His children! He grasped hold of Adam, lovingly took possession of Him, and drew Him close to His bosom and embraced Him.

This is the ultimate love story, the sacred romance that is beyond anything else seen or experienced in the heavens and the earth. Think about how special the moment is when a mother gives birth to her first child and the parents first hold the precious baby in their arms, staring at their offspring with great love. Yet the encounter described between Adam and God was at a much deeper and more intimate level, a thousand times more intense and passionate, as the heart’s desire of the Creator stood before Him. God snatched Adam into His presence with joyful anticipation of their fellowship. God revealed to Adam His heart, His character, His love, and His goodness and bestowed upon him a part of Himself: His glorious image. God took Adam so they could begin a relationship on a heart-to-heart basis forged with a deep bond of love. God desired above all else to have Adam’s heart.

God next put Adam in the Garden of Eden, this awesome paradise that He had planted and prepared for His child. The Hebrew word for “put” means to rest, to settle down and remain; to pause and to quiet. It was used in the Old Testament to describe God’s Spirit resting on a person, God’s blessings resting on a person or house, and the dedication of something before the presence of the Lord. Adam was placed in the garden so his heart could rest in the presence of God. It was a place where his heart was to be stilled with awesome wonder and adoration as he began to know His magnificent God. The heart was to rest in everything that God is and overflow with His peace, His joy, His presence, His strength, His wisdom, His goodness, His faithfulness, and His majesty. Here, their intimate relationship was to grow, flourish, and become firmly established. The garden was to be the sacred place where the heart makes its home in God.

The real beauty of this verse and its truths about guarding the heart reach their apex in the meaning of the words “dress” and “keep.” Richard Howe, in his article “Rethinking Adam in the Garden,” says that according to Hebrew grammar and word usage, the words “dress” and “keep” in Genesis 2:15 do not refer Adam’s responsibility to the Garden of Eden, but rather, to Adam’s relationship with God and his responsibility to love, worship, and obey Him. [xi]

The Hebrew word for “dress” is abad and is primarily translated as “serve” in the Old Testament. This word is used to describe both the serving and worship of God and the serving of false gods or idols. The Greek equivalent to this word in the Septuagint is kollao, which comes from the word for glue, and literally means to glue, cement, fasten together, cleave and cling to. In the modern vernacular, it means to “stick like glue” to someone. It is to attach oneself firmly to something and not let go. It is to be steadfastly united with strong affection and desire, to be so close and cohesively joined that nothing could loosen or break this bond of love. It represents the highest form of commitment and devotion that overflows into praise, worship and service.

Fear the Lord your God, serve (abad) him only and take your oaths in his name. (Deuteronomy 6:13, NIV)

Serve (abad) the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (Psalm 100:2, ESV)

They served (abad) their idols, which became a snare to them. (Psalm 106:36, HCSB)

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve (abad) him with all your heart and all your soul. (Joshua 22:5, ESV)

The word “keep” in Genesis 2:15 is translated from the Hebrew word shamar, which means to exercise great care to watch over, to preserve, and to guard. Examples of shamar translated as “keep” in the Bible include Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 8:2, 1 Kings 8:48, and Proverbs 4:4. Here it conveys an attitude of attentive care and protectiveness, realizing the preciousness and sacred honor of God’s words and exercising great care so that they are not broken in your heart or fall to the ground. The commandments, words, and precepts of God are such priceless treasure that they must be preserved, guarded, and kept in the heart at all cost.

All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep (shamar) His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of His creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, AMP)

Adam’s primary responsibility in the Garden of Eden was to pursue, love, cherish, treasure, and serve God with every fiber of His being. Adam was to be always focused on God, cleaving, fastening, and clinging to his heavenly Father with passion and zeal. God created the heart of Adam with a fierce hunger to know and experience everything about Him, and to this day, the heart of a person will never be satisfied, never be fulfilled, and never be content unless it finds its home in God.

In this truth lies the fundamental way in which we are to guard our hearts, and that is by fiercely guarding our relationship with God. We guard and protect our hearts by intensely holding onto God in love and growing in intimacy with Him. This is the key to the condition of the heart, and it’s the key to protecting our hearts from the attacks of the enemy. Our hearts must stick and cling to God like superglue. We must devote ourselves to knowing Him, loving Him, honoring Him, and serving Him. Then God will dwell in our hearts and build us up to stand firm like a rock in the midst of uncertainty and fearful times.

This fundamental key to guarding the heart is really a twofold process. We must first guard and protect our relationship with God, and secondly guard the heart from setting any idol on its throne. Idolatry at its most basic level is a failure to guard and protect the heart. Idolatry will weaken and take the heart out quicker than anything on earth. It’s the number one cause of all spiritual heart disease. Idolatry means we have turned our hearts away from God and looked instead to something else for satisfaction, enjoyment, and fulfillment.

You must choose the object of your devotion and commit to whom or what you are going to serve. This is the critical decision in life we all must make, and your choice will determine whether your heart stands strong for God or gets devoured by the enemy. The heart cannot serve two masters. Your heart must declare its allegiance and proclaim its god. Are you going to love, cherish, and serve, the one true God or a false idol? The enemy has a host of idols that he is continually pressuring us to sell out to. The temptation is great, the lure is fascinating, and it takes great diligence and spiritual awareness to guard the heart from idols.

Later we will spend a whole chapter of this book delving into the idols of the heart because this topic is so critical in understanding the condition of our hearts.

Keeping the Word of God Alive in Your Heart

The second way to guard your heart is to keep the priceless words of God, as revealed in the Bible, alive and abiding in your heart with relentless obedience, steadfast love, and breathtaking reverence. The Word of God represents His thoughts, His truth, and His character, and it has the ability to shape and mold the heart into a mighty reflection of God Almighty that can withstand the storms of life and the insanity of the world’s evil.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might sin against you. (Psalm 119:9–11, ESV)

My son, pay close attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep (shamar) them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. (Proverbs 4:20–22, NIV)

You must faithfully immerse yourself in the words of the Lord every day and allow them to become a part of you. The words of God are to be at the center of your thoughts, meditations, motives, desires, and deeds. You must not let His words fade or depart from your heart. Do not harden your heart to His voice. God’s words must become the living and breathing essence and functioning fuel of the heart that defines your purposes, direction, and growth.

The words of the Lord are just as important to the spiritual condition and health of your heart as physical food is important to the health and condition of your body. Remember the words of Jesus, that “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, ESV). The heart cannot be spiritually alive and in tune with God without depending on His Word as its source of food and nutrition. An inadequate spiritual diet will lead to spiritual malnutrition and weakness against the onslaught of the wicked one.

E.W. Bullinger, in How to Enjoy the Bible, says:

A low condition of spiritual health is produced by improper feeding or neglect of the necessary food which is the Word of God; and the end is a resort to all the many modern fashions and novel methods and widely advertised nostrums in the Religious world in the attempt to remedy the inevitable results. The Root of all the evils which abound in the spiritual sphere at the present day lies in the fact that the Word and the words of God are not fed upon, digested, and assimilated, as they ought to be.[xii]

We digest and assimilate the Word of God as we think, meditate on, confess, and believe it. This prevents the heart from becoming hardened by man-made rules and religious regulations or seduced by the fascination of culture as controlled by the evil one. The Word of God acts as a giant buffer and shield for our heart against the devil, the flesh, and the world. It fights off idolatry, diseased ways of thinking, and wrong motives and desires.

Meditating on the Word of God is the exercise the heart needs to keep it healthy for God and immune to the attacks of the enemy. Indeed, the words of God will be an absolute delight and joy to those who feed upon it, and their hearts will be aligned with the will of God, the purposes of God, and the work of God:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16, ESV)

Etching the Word of God on Your Heart

You are called by all the grace and magnificence of God Almighty to be His child, and it is imperative that you make you hearts a mighty citadel of His words if you are to walk in the light and glory of that calling. But you will fail to guard your heart if you fail to pursue and hold fast to His words as He commands you:

And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6–7, AMP)

The Hebrew word that gives us “whet,” “sharpen,” “penetrate,” “teach,” and “impress” in this verse is shanan, and it means to inoculate, pierce through, and impress upon the heart like words cut into a stone tablet. We must write the Word of God on the tablets of our hearts, piercing the heart and inoculating it against spiritual disease and idolatrous viruses. His words are to be engrafted and impressed on the heart through diligent study, prayerful reflection, and focused meditation.

In modern medicine, people are inoculated with a vaccine to protect them from sickness and disease and boost the immune system. Our word “inoculate” comes from two Latin roots: “in,” meaning “within,” and “oculus,” meaning “an eye.” It literally means “to put an eye within,” thus to monitor and watch against harm. The Word of God acts as the eye within the heart, monitoring and protecting the heart from the deadly spiritual diseases of fear, idolatry, anxiety, lust, hardheartedness, bitterness, and depression.

Can you see why the words of God are so important to guarding your heart? The Word of God acts as a great spiritual vaccine, and “eye within” that constantly watches for harmful viruses and contaminants trying to invade the heart and sap your spiritual health and strength.

The Word of God is the impartation of the living God to men and women, infusing the human heart with the active life and vitality of the Creator of heaven and earth.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, AMP)

The Word of God is alive! It’s more alive and vibrant than any idea, philosophy, or religious thought ever conceived in the mind of humanity, for it is the very life of God Almighty. The Word of God breathes, speaks, encourages, warns, stirs, pleads, conquers, moves, and communes with the human heart like no other book ever written. The Word of God brings pulsating vigor of limitless quality to the heart and awakens it to the call and holy purpose of God’s voice.

Hebrews 4:12 also tells us that the Word of God is full of power! His Word is an unstoppable force more powerful than a million nuclear bombs. The Word of God is always working, always producing, always transforming, and always active, bringing the glory and might of God into every circumstance, problem, or relationship when it is believed. The Word of God is the great energizer of the human heart, giving it strength and protection against the suggestions, words, and ideas of the wicked one.

In 1812, German geologist Friedrich Mohs devised a scale of mineral hardness based on the ability of mineral to scratch another. The scale ranks minerals on a scale from one to ten, with ten representing the hardest substances. On the lower end of the scale we find talc, which doesn’t make much of an impression on other minerals. On the higher end of the scale we find diamonds, among the hardest substances known to man. But God’s Word is far sharper and more penetrating than any diamond! The Word of God can penetrate into the deepest core of a person’s being and cut away the cancerous growths of fear, depression, sin, and selfishness. With the mighty double-edged sword of His Word, the Great Surgeon can cut away every bondage and oppression and root out every form of darkness from the heart. The Word of God can further protect the heart by pruning away what is fruitless and dead, thus allowing the heart to heal and grow in the love, grace, and light of God.

Enter the Judge

The Word of God is the ultimate judge of our spiritual condition, according to Hebrews 4:12. God’s Word discerns the heart’s temperature, whether it is on fire for the Lord or waxing cold in the icy waters of the world. This yet another reason the Word of God is so important as protection for the heart, because it is the perfect judge of every motive, intent, belief and thought. The Word pronounces its verdict as to which thoughts and motives are unworthy of God or born of the flesh and must be cast out of the heart to maintain its purity.

In Hebrews 4:12, the Greek word translated “judging” (AMP) or “discerning” (ESV) is kritikos, and this is the only time this word is used in the New Testament. It means to divide, to separate, to discern, and to sift out and analyze evidence. Only the Word of God is capable of exposing our true attitudes, plans, purposes, desires, and motives, and only the Word of God can penetrate into the deepest recesses of the heart and shed pure light upon its true condition. It reveals where the heart is weak, diseased, contaminated, and in need of purifying and strengthening. It shines a spotlight on fear and unbelief so we can identify it and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, eradicate it from the heart.

According to Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament:

There can be no escape from the penetrating, searching application of the word of God. … Is it not true that people are made to see their real character under the exhibition of the truth of God? … Men then are made to look upon their motives as they had never done before, and to see in their hearts feelings whose existence they would not have suspected if it had not been for the exhibition of the truth. The exhibition of the truth is like pouring down the beams of the sun at midnight on a dark world.[xiii]

Psalm 119:105 (ESV) reads, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The Word of God is pure and bright, and its revealing light is like a blazing sun exposing every area of darkness in the heart. This brilliant light enables us to walk the paths that God has set for each of us and gives us spiritual insight to see where we are going, for we cannot guard our hearts if we are blinded by the darkness. If we will only immerse ourselves in the Word, determined to remain in its unerring light, we will not turn from the path of God to explore the dark alleys of the world.

The Word of God has the glory, power, and life of God pulsating in every single word. These words will not only protect the heart but also heal and transform it. Jeremiah 23:29 says, “‘Is not my word like fire?’ declares the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’” The Word of God is a mighty flame that will burn up the refuse and chaff that is clogging our hearts. Like silver that is purified by fire, the Word of God will cleanse our hearts of all impurities, setting the heart on the holy course of its divine destiny.

This same verse says the Word of God is like a hammer that will shatter the shell of a hardened heart into a million pieces, allowing the heart to be tender, kind, and loving in the service of others for God. The Word is like a jackhammer that breaks up the concrete that may have formed around the heart because of past rejection, abuse, hurt, and disillusionment.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might sin against you. (Psalm 119:9–11, ESV)

You must seek God with your whole heart and never wander from the rock-solid, God-empowered shelter of His commandments. Never let your attention drift away from the Word of God, for you cannot guard your heart when you have strayed beyond the protective walls of God’s truth.

Incline Your Heart: Stretching Toward God

Have you ever seen a movie where someone is in mortal danger and she is stretching out her hand, as far as her muscles will allow her to reach the hand of a friend who is trying to save her from deathly peril?

Psalm 119:112 (ESV) reads, “I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.” The Hebrew word rendered here as “incline” is natah, and it means to stretch out or extend toward someone or something. This enlightening word provides us another key on how we can guard our hearts. We must stretch our hearts, reaching out to God with every ounce of energy, desire, and devotion so we can seize and grab a hold of Him. It’s like the Olympic runner who stretches forth his body with every bit of strength at the finish line.

This stretch toward God is a stretch of faith, trust, and confidence in His faithfulness and character and the promises in His Word. We stretch toward God by devoting time with Him in prayer, meditation, study, and worship, by challenge ourselves to go deeper on every level in our relationship with Him. We stretch toward God by pursing Him with reckless abandon, allowing ourselves to be consumed with Him, and aching to experience Him fully as our living, joyful reality.

Workout routines often employ a stretching exercise in which a person stretches his arms as high as he can above his head and then bends over and stretches his hands down as far as they can go. This stretching builds flexibility, agility, and growth of certain muscles, making them better able to handle the stresses they will face in the workout and in daily life. Stretching reduces muscle tension, increases range of motion, promotes circulation of the blood, and enhances muscle coordination and energy levels. Stretching also protects a muscle from injury by keeping it flexible, warmed up, and loose for the pressure and stress of the exercise that is to come. Stretching enlarges the boundaries of a muscle so that it can do far beyond what we thought possible. When a muscle is not stretched and exercised, it becomes weak, brittle, and inflexible and begins to atrophy.

When you stretch your heart toward God, you are building spiritual flexibility, strength, agility, and growth in your walk with God and developing a godly defense against the hardening and weakening of your heart in its devotion to the Lord. When you stretch toward God, you’re not only expanding the capacity of the heart to overcome the stresses you are bombarded with daily, but you’re actually expelling fear, worry, and anxiety from the heart and replacing them with the joy of the Lord. Stretching toward God enables you to run farther and with greater endurance than you ever thought possible, breaking through the barriers of unbelief and enlarging your heart’s capacity to do the will of God. It allows the Spirit of God and the power of His Word to circulate and flow through your heart like a mighty river, purifying and igniting your heart with a flame of passion to do your utmost for the Highest.

God is calling you to stretch out your heart toward Him, even if your circumstances seem impossible. God is challenging you to expand the boundaries of your heart and push your faith and trust in Him into the realm of the impossible, the improbable, the extraordinary, and the astonishing. Take joy in knowing that the same Hebrew word natah is also used to describe God’s stretching His hand and heart toward you so that He can snatch you into His arms to lovingly hold and protect you. God is stretching His mighty hand toward you! Turn, stretch, and extend your heart toward Him with all of your strength and devotion!

Conclusion

In the next section, we will look more closely at three main portals, or entryways, to the heart—the eyes, the ears, and the thoughts—all of which must be diligently guarded. These are the doorways to the heart, and if we don’t watch over them and take care to monitor them, then the heart will be shaped and molded into the pattern of this world and not to the glory of God. God warns us what will happen if we neglect this vital duty:

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12, NASB)

What a tragedy to allow our hearts to fall away from the living God and let evil and unbelief take root there! This falling away can be very subtle at first, so that you don’t even realize your heart is turning away from Him. This is why guarding the heart is a full-time occupation. The enemy is crouching at the gates of your heart, always looking for an opportunity to infiltrate, to corrupt, and ultimately to destroy.

You must not allow unbelief even a temporary visitor pass to your heart, for it will not want to leave until it has defiled the entire heart. Unbelief is always an affair of the heart, and it separates the heart from the beauty and faithfulness of God and it hardens the heart against His voice. Unbelief causes the heart to distance itself from God and turn its allegiance elsewhere.

Christian, guard your heart! Do not delay. Do not slumber. Do not let your heart become a battlefield casualty. The fulfillment of your calling depends on it. Christian, guard your heart!

[i] Reverend George M. Mackie, Bible Manners and Customs, (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898).

[ii] Norman Grubb, Rees Howell: Intercessor (Great Britain: Lutherwood Press, 1952), 560, 561 Kindle.

[iii] Richard Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1953), 216, 217.

[iv] John MacArthur, Fundamental Attitudes of Spiritual Maturity, Sermon: February 25, 1990.

[v] E.M. Bounds, The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds (Redford: Wilder Publications, LLC 2014), 6641, 6681, Kindle.

[vi] Eric and Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer: A Passionate Communion with God (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2009), 27, 28.

[vii] Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1959), 141.

[viii] Ibid.,142.

[ix] Eric and Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer: A Passionate Communion with God (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2009), 122.

[x] G. M. Mackie, Bible Customs and Manners (New York: Fleming H, Revell Company, 1898).

[xi] Richard G. Howe, “Rethinking Adam in the Garden,” Outline presented on website:

http://richardghowe.com/index_htm_files/RethinkingAdamintheGarden.pdf

[xii] E.W. Bullinger, How to Enjoy the Bible (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons LTD, reprinted 1970), xiii.

[xiii] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications 1962), 1255.

Excerpt from The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Key-Everything-Christian-Life/dp/1483447928/ref=sxts_sxwds-bia-wc-p13n1_0?crid=2YTTLZSI2U01H&cv_ct_cx=the+heart+the+key+to+everything+in+the+christian+life&dchild=1&keywords=the+heart+the+key+to+everything+in+the+christian+life&pd_rd_i=1483447928&pd_rd_r=8bcd8062-bf30-4b80-96f1-cb52f58bbeb2&pd_rd_w=RLWbX&pd_rd_wg=ALjjP&pf_rd_p=13bf9bc7-d68d-44c3-9d2e-647020f56802&pf_rd_r=BZ4KRF13WX2QAF53GCQ4&psc=1&qid=1597060468&sprefix=the+heart+the+key%2Caps%2C178&sr=1-1-791c2399-d602-4248-afbb-8a79de2d236f

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The Generation of the Unrestrained Tongue

There may not be a more destructive thing on the face of the earth than the tongue. Words spewed from the tongue have ruined more lives, caused more hurt and wreaked more havoc than anything known to the human race. Our mouths have the potential to destroy our families, our friendships and our church. Words are always the catalyst for violence, for wickedness and for lawlessness. Satan’s entire kingdom is built upon the treacherous and deceitful use of the mouth. Our mouths are capable of producing the most deadly poison that spreads like a cancer and causes chaos to everything in its path. The sin nature that is born into every one of us is uniquely wired to the mouth and is the flame that carries the hate, anger, bitterness, pride and violence of sin into manifestation in the world. The mouth that was created to glorify and praise God is now used to despise Him. The mouth has become the weapon of choice in this age.

Our lives are fed and framed by the words that come out of our mouths. Words invoke the spirit realm into action. Words either advance God’s kingdom or Satan’s kingdom. Words can bring life or death into any circumstance, problem or challenge in life. Our mouths are the key to the quality and depth of our lives and hold the key to our spiritual growth and development as Christians. The words that flow out of our mouth are an indication of the true condition of our heart. It is estimated that we speak on the average 7000 words a day. How are our words affecting those around us? Do they build up or tear down, Do they help or hurt those around us? What fruit is our mouth producing?

We have an ultimate arsenal and weapon of victory and that is our mouth, our jawbone, confessing and believing the Word of God and like Samson we can slew a thousand of the enemy’s best strategies and schemes as not one devil spirit in the host of hell can stand against a Holy Spirit-charged mouth that speaks the Word of God with bold faith and confidence. But as Christians we have allowed our mouths to be patterned and molded by the world so they speak just like the world speaks. For too long, Christians have allowed their mouths to be full of fear, anxiety, distrust, deceit, pride, jealously, ignorance, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, envy, strife, selfishness, unthankfulness, condemnation, hatred, gossip, grumbling and complaining. Not only does this destroy your life, but it destroys your witness for Christ. Our mouths should be sanctified and come out from the world and reflect the heart of God and the purity and love of Christ. We must ask ourselves this critical question: who is the Lord of our mouth? Who does our tongue glorify?

We live in the times of the unrestrained tongue. Hate, anger, and slander are spewing out of the mouth at an alarming rate. People use social media as a platform to run off at the mouth and vilify, condemn and rebuke. There is no civilized discussion or genuine debate. The news media fuels this fire with talking heads that love to malign, disparage and ruin those that oppose them. If you don’t agree with me, I will slander you and label you the most vile names like a racist or bigot. The mouth races at an Olympic pace with its venom to destroy all in it path. The Bible accurately describes this generation of verbal hatemongers:

Psalm 50:19a: You give your mouth free rein for evil.

Psalm 52:4a: You love all words that devour…

Psalm 52:2 Your tongue plots destruction..

Jeremiah 18:18 Come let’s strike him with the tongue..

Psalm 73:9: They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.

Psalms 109:3: They encircle me with words of hate and attack me without cause.

Psalm 10:7 (NIV): His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.

Proverbs 18:7: A fool’s mouth is his destruction, And his lips are the snare of his soul.

The mouth that runs to evil and loves to destroy follows the pattern of the god of the this age, the Devil who is the chief slander and false accuser who uses his mouth to kill, steal and destroy. His deceptive and slanderous tongue goes back to Genesis 3 when he slandered God and His Word.  The word “devil,” is the Greek word “diabolos,” and means a false accuser and slanderer. It describes one who throws out accusations and false charges to hurt, destroy, and damage its object of scorn. It comes from the word dia meaning “through,” and ballo meaning “throw or cast.” It was used not only of those who bring a false charge against one, but also of those who disseminate it … and do so maliciously, insidiously, with hostility. The tongue is one of the devil’s main devices in this world to accomplish his evil purposes.

The tongue has the power to heal or destroy, to build up or tear down, to hurt or to bless. .

Proverbs 18:21: Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.

Message: Words kill, words give life;  they’re either poison or fruit—you choose

How powerful the tongue is? It has the power to bring life or death. We eat of the fruit of our tongue all the days of our lives and this verse literally proclaims a mind-boggling truth that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Most of the devil’s attack comes through words where he proclaims false accusations, deceit, lies and confusion. The fiery darts of spiritual warfare are often words. We don’t want to assist him by having our mouth full of the same deadly things. Do our words bring life or death?

Do our words reflect the love and compassion of Jesus or the chaos of the world. Is our tongue obeying God or is it led astray by the Devil. Who is Lord of your tongue?

There is a verse in James 1:26 that contains an astounding and sobering truth.

NLT: If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

Phillips: If anyone appears to be “religious” but cannot control his tongue, he deceives himself and we may be sure that his religion is useless.

Voice: If you put yourself on a pedestal, thinking you have become a role model in all things religious, but you can’t control your mouth, then think again. Your mouth exposes your heart, and your religion is useless.

It has been said that the “tongue” is one of the most exercised muscles of our body. It has been estimated that in a typical week, the average person will speak enough words to fill a 500 page book! However, for the Christian, the use of the tongue must be a matter of careful forethought and discipline. The Bible warns that believers who do not bring restraint to their tongue and speech have been deceived — and without such control over their words, their religious acts are worthless and hypocritical. It is a deception for any of us to think that Jesus can be Lord over our life, without also becoming Lord over our tongue.

Jesus gives us some critical insight of the source of tongue and a warning about our responsibility concerning the tongue.

Matthew 12:34bf: For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

The heart is the source of what our mouth speaks. Our heart is the essence of who we are and the center of our will, emotions and mind. Our of the heart come the issues of life. Our heart is built by what we hear, what we see and what we think. As Christians we must ponder what overflows out of our mouths daily? What flows out of our mouths at work, at home, in our marriage, in our church and in our relationships? What flows out of your mouth about God? Our mouths have been garbage containers for way too long and it is time to empty the trash container permanently and fill it with the awesome good things of God, the beauty of His splendor, the praise of His mighty works and the grace that He has freely given us.

Psalm 71:8: My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.

Does your mouth declare God’s splendor all day long? Or is it full of complaints, grumblings, dissatisfaction, anger and fear?

Look at these awesome verses on the mouth and the tongue.

Psalm 19:14 (NIV) May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

This should be the verse for our spiritual check-up daily that the words of our mouth and the mediation of our heart be pleasing to our Lord.

Psalm 40:3: (NIV): He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.

The song in our mouth can exhibit the goodness of God for others to see and inspire them to put their trust in the Lord or our words can drive people away from God’s heart because of their venom, poison and fear. Our words literally can lead people to Christ or push them away.

Psalm 89:1 (NIV): I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.

When was the last time your mouth was full of God’s faithfulness?

Psalm 81:10 (Amplified): I am the Lord your God, Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

Who do you want to fill your mouth, God or the world?

Proverbs 21:23 (NIV): He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from troubles.

Often the trouble we are experiencing is because we recklessly opened our mouth without even the thought of guarding it.

Psalm 141:3 (ESV): Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

We need the Lord to set a guide over our mouths and keep watch over our lips. We need God’s help to control our tongue. We need to ask ourselves what is coming out of the door of your lips?

Psalm 17:3 (HSCB): You have tested my heart; You have visited by night; You have tried me and found nothing [evil]; I have determined that my mouth will not sin.

Our mouths lead us into sin more than any member of our body. Don’t allow your mouth to feed your sin nature.

Proverbs 4:24 (NIV): Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Romans describes what the sin nature does to the mouth.

Romans 3:13: Amplified: Their throat is a yawning grave; they use their tongues to deceive (to mislead and to deal treacherously). The venom of asps is beneath their lips.

NLT: “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their speech is filled with lies.” “The poison of a deadly snake drips from their lips.”

“Their mouth (words) is like the odor of a newly opened grave.”

Tombs were sealed not only to show respect for the deceased, but to hide the sight and stench of the body’s decay. The full import of this picture can only be appreciated in hot climates like the Middle East. Imagine the effect of the oppressive heat on decaying flesh! An ugly picture is being painted. As an unsealed tomb allows those who pass to see and smell what is inside, the unregenerate man’s open throat—that is, the foul words that come from it—reveal the decay of his heart.

The fangs of a deadly serpent lie, ordinarily, folded back in its upper jaw, but when it throws up its head to strike, those hollow fangs drop down, and when the serpent bites, the fangs press a sack of deadly poison hidden “under its lips,” at the root, thus injecting the venom into the wound. You and I were born with moral poison-sacks like this. And how people do claim the right to strike others with their venom-words! to use their snake-fangs!

Verse 14: There mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.

Isn’t this a perfect description of the tongue of this age?

Cursing refers to wanting the worst for someone and publicly expressing that desire in caustic, derisive language. It represents open, public expression of emotional hostility against one’s enemy.

Bitterness (pikría from pikrós from pik- = to cut, prick) means pointed or sharp, a bitter, pungent taste or smell.

Pikria was used literally to describe plants that produced inedible or poisonous fruit. Greeks defined this word as long-standing resentment, as the spirit which refuses to be reconciled. So many of us have a way of nursing our wrath to keep it warm, of brooding over the insults and the injuries which we have received.

In the NT pikria is used in a metaphorical sense to describe animosity, resentfulness, harshness or an openly-expressed emotional hostility against an enemy. Pikria defines a settled hostility that poisons the whole inner man. Bitterness reflects a smoldering resentment, a brooding grudge–filled attitude, an unwillingness to forgive or a harsh feeling. Bitterness is the opposite of sweetness and kindness It harbors resentment and keeps score of wrongs.

Pikría or bitterness: It is the spirit of irritability that keeps a person in perpetual animosity, making him sour and venomous. Bitterness applies to the bitterness of spirit to which people give vent by bitter words.

God tells us bitterness has no place in the church.

Ephesians 4:29-32: Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin).

Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).

And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.

No corrupt communication should be coming from our mouths as Christian. Our words should edify and not corrupt.

Unwholesome (sapros from sepo = cause to decay, to putrefy, to rot away, be corrupted) describes that which is rotten, putrefying, corrupt, disgusting, perishing, rank, foul, putrid, worthless. In secular writings sapros was used to describe spoiled fish, rotten grapes on the ground, and crumbling stones. The basic meaning relates to the process of decay. Sapros is used of things unusable, unfit, and bad. It describes that which is harmful due to the fact that it is corrupt and defiling.

Using this vivid metaphor Paul commands believers to put off speech like one would toss out rotten fruit or fish!

In Psalm 64:3 the tongue is called “a sword.” This sword has certainly damaged, bruised, wounded, and killed more people than all the swords in all the wars since history began.

Is there something that could be numbered greater than the incomprehensible amount of stars in the heavens? What about the sands by the sea, every blade of grass, or we could add all of these things together. There would still be something that would exceed them in number! It’s the things said by this little monster called the tongue. This uncontrollable little red rebel that lives in a red cave guarded by two rows of white soldiers called teeth. Think about how many words are being spoken today just over all the telephones worldwide. And how about all the words slung around the globe by our TVs and radios? The tongue has done more damage than any other instrument in the human body.

I said, “I will guard my ways, That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle, While the wicked are in my presence.” (Ps 39:1)

That I sin not with my tongue. Tongue sins are great sins; like sparks of fire ill words spread, and do great damage. If believers utter hard words of God in times of depression, the ungodly will take them up and use them as a justification for their sinful courses. If a man’s own children rail at him, no wonder if his enemies’ mouths are full of abuse. Our tongue always wants watching, for it is restive as an ill broken horse; but especially must we hold it in when the sharp cuts of the Lord’s rod excite it to rebel.

James 3 is a commentary and admonition on an area of a person’s life that no one has successfully tamed: the tongue. God has created us with an instrument that can sing His praises yet curse His name. Our tongues compliment and criticize, comfort and offend, instruct and deceive. Since giving our lives to God, however, we have embarked on a lifelong task to tune this instrument to harmonize with God’s melody. And what an arduous and intensive task that is!

The first twelve verses of James 3 inform us how strong and wild this “little member” is in each of us. Like a bit controls a horse, or a rudder turns a huge ship, the tongue has the ability to do things far beyond its size. It can start wars, condemn innocents, ruin lives and careers, separate friends and family, and worst of all, lead others to throw away their salvation. It is so vital that we control the use of our tongue!

Here is James chapter 3 is the great “handbook on tongue control”…

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire (“to cause the process of burning to begin – ‘to ignite, to kindle, to set ablaze, to start a fire, to light a lamp.”) the entire course of life,[a] and set on fire by hell.[b] For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,[c] these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

If Satan has a scorched-earth policy in his warfare against the Christians, then the tongue is the front line of attack. James rings a clear warning. A transformed tongue must be a top priority for those on the growing edge of discipleship.

MacArthur explains this as “Like physical fire, the destructive effects of evil speech expand, not only contaminating ourselves but also everything we influence throughout the course of our life. To a large extent, we are known by the way we talk. Over the long haul, what we say gives others a pretty good idea of who and what we really are. That principle applies to good things as well as sinful, but James’s emphasis here is entirely on the negative aspects of our speaking—such as gossip, slander, false accusations, lying, filthy language and stories, and other sins of the tongue—that can destroy individual lives, families, schools, churches, and communities.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

The tongue that destroys is often rooted in bitter jealously and selfish ambition. It is false to the truth and causes disorder. It promotes earthly wisdom instead of the wisdom from above. It is not pure, it is not peaceable, it is not gentle, it is not open to reason, it is not full of mercy and good fruits and is not impartial or sincere. The tongue becomes unspiritual and demonic. It reaps a deadly destructive harvest. The tongue is the match when lit can cause an emotional inferno of harm. It has the potential to burn down everything in its path. An uncontrolled tongue is like a world hostile to and ignorant of God. It is the part of us which disobeys, defies, and rebels against God. The tongue is always ready to pounce and inflict vicious wounds. Only God can tame it. He tamed it at the foot of the cross, but we must reckon it dead to the sin nature and alive unto God and use it as an instrument to His glory.

When the doctor examines us, one of the first things he does to determine our physical condition is to say “Stick out your tongue!” James is saying in a sense “Stick out your tongue so I can assess the condition of your heart”. This principle applies to the life of the person whose religion is pure and undefiled, for the tongue reveals what is in our heart.

Wiersbe – The tongue cannot be tamed by man, but it can be tamed by God. Your tongue need not be “set on fire of hell” (James 3:6). Like the Apostles at Pentecost, it can be set on fire from heaven! If God lights the fire and controls it, then the tongue can be a mighty tool for the winning of the lost and the building up of the church. The important thing, of course, is the heart; for it is “out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). If the heart is filled with hatred, Satan will light the fire. But if the heart is filled with love, God will light the fire.

I Peter 3:8-10: Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life  and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil  and his lips from speaking deceit;

Keep thy tongue from evil. Guard with careful diligence that dangerous member, the tongue, lest it utter evil, for that evil will recoil upon thee, and mar the enjoyment of thy life. Men cannot spit forth poison without feeling some of the venom burning their own flesh. And thy lips from speaking guile. Deceit must be very earnestly avoided by the man who desires happiness. Our seeing good days is in direct proportion to how we keep our tongue from evil.

Philippians 2:14-16 (KJV): Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

All (pas) means all without exception. The Greek reads literally ”all things do”, all being placed first for emphasis that there are to be no exceptions!

We cannot shine as lights in this world if we are always murmuring and disputing. We run the race of life in vain if our mouth is full of grumbling and complaints.

Murmurings (goggusmos from goggúzo = to say anything in a low tone, is an audible expression of an unwarranted dissatisfaction. an expression of one’s discontent. Grumbling, grudging, murmuring, complaining (making formal accusation or expressing dissatisfaction, resentment, displeasure or annoyance).

In secular Greek there is a use of goggusmos describing grumbling dissatisfaction at disappointed expectations. The idea is that a supposedly legitimate claim is not met. What is denoted is a strong personal attitude.

Barclay adds that…

It describes the low, threatening, discontented muttering of a mob who distrust their leaders and are on the verge of an uprising.

Commenting on goggusmos in this passage in John 7 Barclay writes that…

It indicates a kind of growling, discontented undertone. It is the word used for the grumbling of the children of Israel in the wilderness when they complained against Moses. They muttered the complaints they were afraid to utter out loud. Fear can keep a man from making a clarion call of his faith and can turn it into an indistinct mutter. The Christian should never be afraid to tell the world in ringing tones that he believes in Christ.

I wonder, if there had been a secret video camera recording your life this past week, how much grumbling would have been captured on film?

Complaining about our lot in life might seem quite innocent in itself, but God takes it personally. (Erwin W. Lutzer)

If Christians spent as much time praying as they do grumbling, they would have nothing to grumble about.
Spurgeon offers an antidote for a complaining, murmuring spirit writing that…

If we complained less, and praised more, we should be happier, and God would be more glorified. Let us daily praise God for common mercies—common as we frequently call them, and yet so priceless, that when deprived of them we are ready to perish. Let us bless God for the eyes with which we behold the sun, for the health and strength to walk abroad, for the bread we eat, for the raiment we wear. Let us praise him that we are not cast out among the hopeless, or confined amongst the guilty; let us thank him for liberty, for friends, for family associations and comforts; let us praise him, in fact, for everything which we receive from his bounteous hand, for we deserve little, and yet are most plenteously endowed. But, beloved, the sweetest and the loudest note in our songs of praise should be of redeeming love. God’s redeeming acts towards his chosen are for ever the favourite themes of their praise. If we know what redemption means, let us not withhold our sonnets of thanksgiving. We have been redeemed from the power of our corruptions, uplifted from the depth of sin in which we were naturally plunged. We have been led to the cross of Christ—our shackles of guilt have been broken off; we are no longer slaves, but children of the living God, and can antedate the period when we shall be presented before the throne without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Even now by faith we wave the palm-branch and wrap ourselves about with the fair linen which is to be our everlasting array, and shall we not unceasingly give thanks to the Lord our Redeemer? Child of God, canst thou be silent? Awake, awake, ye inheritors of glory, and lead your captivity captive, as ye cry with David, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Let the new month begin with new songs. (Spurgeon, C. H. Morning and Evening: Daily readings December 1, Evening)

“Disputings” means an intellectual rebellion against God. Disputing implies a questioning mind and suggests an arrogant attitude by those who assume they’re always right. Arguing with others in the body of Christ is disruptive. That’s why Paul spent the first part of chapter 2 on humility. The more specific ideas of questioning, doubting, or disputing the truth of a matter. It is the reasonings of the natural mind in independence from God. It is useless and ill-natured disputings and doubtings rooted in self.

Both murmurings and disputings originate in unbelief and are the enemies of faith. They show a lack of trust in God and an exaltation of self.

Proverbs 13:3: He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.

Proverbs 15:4 (NIV): The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Most of us do not escape life without being deeply touched by such actions from others. But how incredibly sobering it is to see ourselves in these actions of others, to realize that we are guilty of the very things that may have hurt us deeply! We, too, are responsible for spreading the flames of a fire that devours and destroys all in its path. The evil of our tongues is as limitless as the evil James describes. A sharp tongue is a weapon, no less as effective as a pointed spear or a sword honed to a razor’s edge. A sharp tongue has no place among the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It does not express love, spread joy or promote peace. It shows no patience, kindness or goodness in its words. It betrays faithfulness and gentleness, and most of all, it shows no measure of self-control.

My sharp tongue has been a contradiction to the convictions I have expressed nearly all my life. I never saw it until I had to come face to face with the jabs, slices, and pricks of other sharp tongues, and to feel the fires they started within me. I would beg the Father for understanding, of why such communication should exist and why I should receive it with such bitterness—until I finally saw, as David did, that I am the guilty one.
James 5:7-9 (ESV): Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

So many of our rewards in heaven at the judgment seat of Christ will be determined by the words that came out of our mouth while we lived upon the earth. What is your mouth full of? Isn’t it time that our words heal, that our words bless, that our words bring grace, that our words touch hearts because our words are His words and flow out of a loving relationship with our God. Determine to always check the contents of your mouth so that you can glorify God in word and deed. The world is so negative, so accusatory, so angry, so miserable, and so lost isn’t it about time Christians sanctify their mouths as we can never be His hands and feet to the world until we are His mouth first. Are your words bringing life or death? Restoration or hurt? Gossip or deliverance? Strife or peace? Depression or joy? Dismay or hope? Health or sickness? Love or hate? What is your mouth full of? Your life depends on it! Your rewards at the judgment seat of Christ depend on it. In this generation of the unrestrained tongue, let our tongues shine as lights in this dark world of slander and hate. Let our tongues reflect our love for the Lord Jesus. Our tongues were designed to glorify and praise God all the days of our lives. We can turn the world upside down and it all starts with our tongue. We choose whether our tongues are conformed to the world or conformed to Christ. Who is the Lord of our tongue?

 

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Psalm 37:1-8: Words of Strength in the Midst of Troubling Times

Psalm 37:1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers.

BGT  Psalm 36:1 τοῦ Δαυιδ μὴ παραζήλου ἐν πονηρευομένοις μηδὲ ζήλου τοὺς ποιοῦντας τὴν ἀνομίαν

NET  Psalm 37:1 By David. Do not fret when wicked men seem to succeed! Do not envy evildoers!

LXE  Psalm 37:1 <A Psalm of David.> Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, neither be envious of them that do iniquity.

NLT  Psalm 37:1 A psalm of David. Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.

KJV  Psalm 37:1 <A Psalm of David.> Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

ESV  Psalm 37:1  Of David. Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!

NIV  Psalm 37:1 Of David. Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;

ASV  Psalm 37:1 Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, Neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness.

CSB  Psalm 37:1 Davidic. Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong.

NKJ  Psalm 37:1 <A Psalm of David.> Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

NRS  Psalm 37:1 <Of David.> Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers,

YLT  Psalm 37:1 By David. Do not fret because of evil doers, Be not envious against doers of iniquity,

DON’T FRET OR
BE ENVIOUS

This is an especially interesting psalm as it was written by David when he was older and gives us a perspective on life from a man after God’s own heart. Therefore we would all do well to read and meditate often on this great psalm to hear the wisdom of an aged man.

David addresses a question that has plagued the people of God in every age and that question is why do the wicked seem to prosper while the righteous suffer? This same problem is a theme in Psalm 73, Psalm 49 and the book of Job. And frankly, no matter how godly you are, chances are excellent that you have struggled with this problem from time to time.

Spurgeon introduces this psalm with these words “May the Spirit of God graciously apply this Psalm to our hearts, comforting us as no one else can! Is he not the Comforter, and what better cordial has he for our spirits than his own Word?” (Exposition)

Spurgeon – The Psalm opens with the first precept. It is alas! too common for believers in their hours of adversity to think themselves harshly dealt with when they see persons utterly destitute of religion and honesty, rejoicing in abundant prosperity. Much needed is the command, Fret not thyself because of evildoers. To fret is to worry, to have the heartburn, to fume, to become vexed. Nature is very apt to kindle a fire of jealousy when it sees lawbreakers riding on horses, and obedient subjects walking in the mire: it is a lesson learned only in the school of grace, when one comes to view the most paradoxical providences with the devout complacency of one who is sure that the Lord is righteous in all his acts. It seems hard to carnal judgments that the best meat should go to the dogs, while loving children pine for want of it. (Treasury of David)

NET Note – The psalmist urges his audience not to envy the wicked, but to trust in and obey the Lord, for he will destroy sinners and preserve the godly. When the smoke of judgment clears, the wicked will be gone, but the godly will remain and inherit God’s promised blessings. The psalm is an acrostic; every other verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Ludovic de Carbone, quoted by John Spencer – Would it not be accounted folly in a man that is heir to many thousands per year that he should envy a stage player, clothed in the dress of a king, and yet who not heir to one foot of land? And though he has the form, respect, and apparel of a king or nobleman, yet he is, at the same time, a beggar, and worth nothing. Thus, wicked men, though they are arrayed gorgeously, and fare deliciously, wanting nothing, and have more than a heart could wish, and yet they are but only possessors for the godly Christian is the heir. What good does all their prosperity do them? It only hastens their ruin, not their reward. The ox that is the laboring ox lives longer than the ox that is in the pasture; the very putting of him there hastens his slaughter; and when God puts the wicked men into fat pastures, into places of honor and power, it is but to hasten their ruin. Let no man, therefore, fret himself because of evildoers, nor be envious at the prosperity of the wicked; for the candle of the wicked shall be put into everlasting darkness. They shall soon be cut off, and wither as a green herb.

One cause of fretting – Want of faith in God. I have read that one of Cromwell’s friends was a fretting Christian, to whom everything went wrong. On a certain occasion, when unusually fretful, his sensible servant said, “Master, don’t you think that God governed the world very well before you came into it? Yes; but why do you ask? Master, don’t you think God will govern the world very well after you go out of it?” “Of course I do.” “Well, then, can’t you trust Him to govern it for the little time you are in it?” (J Scilley)

Do not fret because of evildoers – CSB = Do not be agitated. NJB = Do not get heated. If there was ever an exhortation for our modern world as we enter a new decade (the decade in which Jesus might return – setting no dates of course), it is this exhortation/admonition “Do not fret.”

Spurgeon rightly says this is “A common temptation. Many of God’s saints have suffered from it. Learn from their experience. Avoid this danger. There really is no power in it, when once the heart has come to rest in God. But it is a sad affliction until the heart does get its rest. “Fret not because of evildoers.”

Fret (02734)(charah) means to burn or be kindled with anger, and in the Hithpael, charah is used 4x (Ps 37:17,8Pr 24:19) always meaning “to worry” and describing the  agitation, irritation or vexation resulting from active worry. Charah is  used in reference to the anger of both man and God.

The Septuagint translates fret or charah with parazeloo which literally means to stimulate alongside and speaks of emotional excitement or reaction and thus means to be provoked to jealously, rivalry or anger. This root verb zeloo is derived from the verb zeo which means to be hot, to seethe, bubble, boil, from the sound of boiling water. So we get quite a picture of a heart which is fretting because of evildoers! The verb parazeloo is a command in the present imperative with a negative, which means stop letting this happen or do not allow it begin! The implication is that some of David’s readers had begun to fret over evil doers.

Gilbrant – Chārāh is used in several stems in the OT, us  ually having the implied meaning of “to be angry.” The verb emphasizes the kindling and burning aspects of anger. This primary nuance is attested in Talmudic and Middle Hebrew. There is evidence of the translation “rage” found in Yaudic, Middle Hebrew, Targumic, Arabic and Syriac.

In the Qal stem, the noun ʾaph (HED #653) is usually the subject, yielding the Hebrew idiom, “nose was kindled.” Although ʾaph is often omitted, e.g., “it was kindled.”

Often the anger of a human is kindled. When Potiphar’s wife made the false claim that Joseph had made sexual advances on her, Potiphar’s anger was kindled, and Joseph was thrown in prison (Gen. 39:19f). Moses’ anger burned when he came down from Mount Sinai after receiving the Ten Commandments because of the sin which the Israelites committed in making a golden calf (Ex 32:19).

When the Philistines extorted the answer to Samson’s riddle from his wife, Samson’s anger was kindled, and he killed thirty men in Ashkelon (Judg. 14:19). When Saul heard that Nahash the Ammonite had threatened to gouge out the eyes of the Israelites, he became angry and raised an army to defeat the Ammonites (1 Sam. 11:6).

Often the Lord is the One Who becomes angry. While the Lord met with him at the burning bush, Moses tried to make excuses for not going to Egypt, and the Lord became angry with him (Exo. 4:14). The Lord was so angry at Israel for making a golden calf that He threatened to destroy them (Exo. 32:10). The Lord was angry at Miriam and Aaron for opposing Moses (Num. 12:9). The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah for touching the Ark (1 Chr. 13:10), and He was angry at Judah for their continual idolatry and rebellion (2 Ki. 23:26; cf. Ps. 106:40).

Chārāh is used twice in the Niphal stem, meaning “to be angry” or “to rage.” Isaiah prophesied that everyone who raged against Israel would be ashamed and disgraced (Isa. 41:11). In another passage, Isaiah notes that all who are incensed against the Lord shall be put to shame (Isa 45:24).

The verb is used in the Hiphil stem once in the sense of kindling wrath (Job 19:11), but in another passage it means “earnestly.” Baruch, son of Zabbai, earnestly (literally, “burned with zeal”) repaired a section of the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 3:20).

In the Hithpael, the verb means “to worry.” David enjoined people to not worry over evil people because they will soon wither like the grass (Ps. 37:1f). Proverbs contains similar advice: “Fret not thyself because of evil men… for there shall be no reward to the evil man” (Prov. 24:19f).

Chārāh is found in two occurrences in the rare, causative Tiphel stem (same force as Hiphil). Jeremiah speaks of “burning to outrun” horses (Jer. 12:5) and “burning to outdo” others by having more and more cedar (Jer 22:15). (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

Charah – 90v – angered(1), angry(18), angry*(5), became(1), became angry(4), became furious(1), became…angry(3), burn(5), burned(29), burns(1), compete(1), competing(1), distressed(1), fret(4), kindled(15), rage(1), very angry(1), zealously(1). – Gen. 4:5Gen. 4:6Gen. 18:30Gen. 18:32Gen. 30:2Gen. 31:35Gen. 31:36Gen. 34:7Gen. 39:19Gen. 44:18Gen. 45:5Exod. 4:14Exod. 22:24Exod. 32:10Exod. 32:11Exod. 32:19Exod. 32:22Num. 11:1Num. 11:10Num. 11:33Num. 12:9Num. 16:15Num. 22:22Num. 22:27Num. 24:10Num. 25:3Num. 32:10Num. 32:13Deut. 6:15Deut. 7:4Deut. 11:17Deut. 29:27Deut. 31:17Jos. 7:1Jos. 23:16Jdg. 2:14Jdg. 2:20Jdg. 3:8Jdg. 6:39Jdg. 9:30Jdg. 10:7Jdg. 14:191 Sam. 11:61 Sam. 15:111 Sam. 17:281 Sam. 18:81 Sam. 20:71 Sam. 20:302 Sam. 3:82 Sam. 6:72 Sam. 6:82 Sam. 12:52 Sam. 13:212 Sam. 19:422 Sam. 22:82 Sam. 24:12 Ki. 13:32 Ki. 23:261 Chr. 13:101 Chr. 13:112 Chr. 25:102 Chr. 25:15Neh. 3:20Neh. 4:1Neh. 4:7Neh. 5:6Job 19:11Job 32:2Job 32:3Job 32:5Job 42:7Ps. 18:7Ps. 37:1Ps. 37:7Ps. 37:8Ps. 106:40Ps. 124:3Prov. 24:19Cant. 1:6Isa. 5:25Isa. 41:11Isa. 45:24Jer. 12:5Jer. 22:15Hos. 8:5Jon. 4:1Jon. 4:4Jon. 4:9Hab. 3:8Zech. 10:3

Alan Carr notes that “In verses 1-2, envy is condemned! Especially when the object of that envy is a lost person. Sometimes, it does seem like the wicked prosper while the godly suffer, yet, we always need to remember that our earthly existence is as close to Hell as we are ever going to get. For the wicked, however, their few days of pleasure are short and they have no future beyond this life. In fact, this world is as close to Heaven as they will ever be!”

Be not envious toward wrongdoers – NET Note comments that “The context indicates that the psalmist has in mind the apparent power and success of sinners.” Later David says “Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” (Ps 37:7) Envy speaks of a a feeling of grudging admiration and/or desire to have something that is possessed by another. Why would we be envious? Because some wrongdoers seem to be “getting away with” their doing of wrong. Our problem is we look at their supposed temporal gain, and forget that their temporal gain will yield a dividend of eternal loss! We need a proper perspective of their passing prosperity!

Envious (jealous)(07065)(qanah from qin’ah = zeal, ardor – from color produced in face by deep emotion) means to be jealous, to be envious, to be zealous. The picture is that of intense fervor, passion, and emotion. Zeal is an eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something and implies energetic and unflagging pursuit of an aim or devotion to a cause. Even a godly man like Asaph fell into the “envy trap” in Psalm 73:13 (see also Ps 73:1314)(see note below). And how did Asaph escape this pit of envy? Ps 73:17 gives us the answer for Asaph (and for all of us who fall into envy like he did) – “Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end.” There it is – the presence of God reversed the perversion of envy! It did then and it does now, which fits perfectly with David’s command in Psalm 37:4 to “Delight yourself in the LORD!” That is in essence what Aspah did.

THOUGHT – Take a moment to read the “fruit” of Asaph’s renewed perspective in Psalm 73:17-28 (And consider memorizing Ps 73:25-28 – you won’t regret it – the Spirit has repeatedly brought these words to my mind over the years), for this can also be our experience if we imitate Asaph’s pattern.

The Septuagint translates be not envious with the verb zeloo which means to be filled with (controlled by – what fills you, controls you!) jealousy, to be moved with envy (this “movement” is not in a good “direction”!), or to have intense negative feelings over another’s achievements or success. The Greek in fact is a command in the present imperative with a negative, which means stop letting this happen or do not allow jealousy to creep into your heart (read the rotten fruit of zeloo in James 4:2+ = “You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.”).

Wiersbe also asks “Why do we envy the wicked? They seem to be prospering; they seem to be so happy. But what do they have that we need? In God we have everything we need. Whenever we find ourselves fretting, it’s probably because we are measuring ourselves against others. That’s the wrong thing to do. Instead, measure yourself against yourself. You’re not competing with others; you’re competing with yourself. Also measure yourself against the Lord Jesus Christ, because He is the One you are to be like: “The measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

John Trapp – Queen Elizabeth envied the milkmaid when she was in prison; but if she had known what a glorious reign she should have had afterwards for forty-four years, she would not have envied her. And as little needeth a godly man, though in misery, to envy a wicked man in the ruff of all his prosperity and jollity, considering what he hath in hand, much more what he hath in hope.

Spurgeon – Neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. The same advice under another shape. When one is poor, despised, and in deep trial, our old Adam naturally becomes envious of the rich and great; and when we are conscious that we have been more righteous than they, the devil is sure to be at hand with blasphemous reasonings. Stormy weather may curdle even the cream of humanity. Evil men instead of being envied, are to be viewed with horror and aversion; yet their loaded tables, and gilded trappings, are too apt to fascinate our poor half opened eyes. Who envies the fat bullock the ribbons and garlands which decorate him as he is led to the shambles? Yet the case is a parallel one; for ungodly rich men are but as beasts fattened for the slaughter.


J H Jowett – “Fret not thyself.” Do not get into a perilous heat about things. Keep cool! Even in a good cause fretfulness is not a wise helpmeet. Fretting only heats the bearings, it does not generate the steam. It is no help to a train for the axles to get hot; their heat is only a hindrance; the best contributions which the axles can make to the progress of the train is to keep cool.

2. How, then, is fretfulness to be cured? The psalmist brings in the heavenly to correct the earthly. “The Lord” is the refrain of almost every verse, as though it were only in the power of the heavenly that this dangerous fire could be subdued.


Shall the imperial eagle, whose undazzled eye drinks in the splendours of a cloudless sun, envy the worm that never rose an inch beyond its native dust? Shall the sun itself envy the flickering rush-light which the feeblest breeze can extinguish? Shall the heaving ocean, bearing on its bosom the richest merchandise, and reflecting from its deep blue eye the glories of the firmament, envy the little summer pool, which a passing cloud has poured into a foot-print? Sooner shall such envy be called into existence than the true child of God envy the “workers of iniquity.”

John Cox on fretting  –

1. Fretting in many cases supposes envy. “Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, neither be thou envious,” etc. Asaph did this, and ha forcibly describes this painful and injurious process in Psalm 73 (Ps 73:2 “But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. 3 For I was envious [same verb used in Ps 37:4 by David = qanah] of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”). It became too painful for him. He questioned the rectitude of Providence and the wisdom of God. Just then he was stopped; like Job, he said, “Once have I spoken, but I will proceed no further”; he fell on his face, confessing, “I am foolish,” “I was envious!” and soon the scene changed from darkness to light, from complaining to communion, from fretting to rest in God.

2. While the fretting mood lasts, while we are troubled because God withholds certain things from us which He gives so abundantly to others, expectation from God is excluded. Hope pines when the heart frets, and peace flutters outside that soul which care corrodes, and which complainings fill with discord.

3. Yet many excuses are often made for this line of conduct; and the more it is indulged in, the more it is justified. “Wherefore should a living man complain? If a sinner, he has no right to do so; if a saint, no reason:” for a sinner deserves hell at any moment, and a saint, though most unworthy, is on his way to a glorious heaven; and his very trials and deprivations are a means of preparing and training him for that better world.

Fret-Free Living

Do not fret—it only causes harm. —Psalm 37:8

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 37:1-11

Does it bother you to see how much attention is paid in today’s culture to people who stand for all the wrong things? Perhaps it is entertainment stars who get the headlines while espousing immoral philosophies in their music, movies, or programs. Or it could be leaders who openly thumb their noses at right-living standards.

It would be easy to fret about this and wring our hands in despair, but Psalm 37 suggests a better way. Listen to David’s wise advice: “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity” (v.1).

While it is right to be “salt and light” (Matt. 5:13-14) in this tasteless, dark world—attempting to counter sin by reflecting Jesus’ light wherever possible—we cannot let negative forces cause us to live in anger and wrath (Ps. 37:8). Instead, we must rely on God to have the ultimate say about evildoers: “They shall soon be cut down like the grass” (v.2). Beyond that, we should take David’s approach: (1) “Trust in the Lord, and do good.” (2) “Feed on His faithfulness.” (3) “Delight yourself also in the Lord.” (4) “Commit your way to the Lord.” (5) “Rest in the Lord” (vv.3-7).

We may not like what we see and hear from some aspects of society, but remember this: God is in control. Trust Him to do what is right. And don’t fret. By: Dave Branon  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

When tragedy, heartache, and sorrow abound,
When evil appears to have conquered the right,
We center our heart on our Father’s great love,
For He will bring hope in the darkest of night.
—D. De Haan

Don’t despair because of evil; God will have the last word.

Habits Of A Healthy Mind

Trust in the Lord, and do good. —Psalm 37:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Psalm 37:1-8

There is much said today about improving our health by developing habits of optimism, whether facing a difficult medical diagnosis or a pile of dirty laundry. Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, says we should try activities that build joy, gratitude, love, and other positive feelings. We know, however, that more is required than a general wish for good feelings. We need a strong conviction that there is a source of joy, peace, and love upon which we can depend.

Psalm 37:1-8 gives positive actions we can take as an antidote to pessimism and discouragement. Consider these mood boosters: Trust in the Lord, do good, dwell in the land, feed on His faithfulness (v.3); delight in the Lord (v.4); commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him (v.5); rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him, do not fret (v.7); cease from anger, forsake wrath (v.8).

Because they are connected to the phrase “in the Lord,” those directives are more than wishful thinking or unrealistic suggestions. It’s because of Jesus, and in His strength, that they become possible.

Our one true source for optimism is the redemption that is in Jesus. He is our reason for hope! By: David C. McCasland  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Lord, we can’t manufacture hope, and even if we tried it wouldn’t be real. Help us to find hope in You because of what Jesus has done for us. We know You are walking beside us.

When there’s bad news, our hope is the good news of Jesus.


Worry-Free

Do not fret because of those who are evil. Psalm 37:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Psalm 37:1-9

Trying to stay aware of current events has its downside because bad news sells better than good news. It’s easy to become overly concerned about the criminal acts of individuals, crowds, or governments over whom we have no control.

Psalm 37 gives perspective to the daily news. David begins by saying, “Do not fret because of those who are evil” (v. 1). Then he proceeds to outline for us some alternatives to becoming overly anxious. In essence, David suggests a better way of thinking about negative news in our world.

What would happen if, instead of worrying about events beyond our control, we chose to trust in the Lord? (v. 3). Wouldn’t we be better off to “take delight in the Lord” (Ps 37:4) rather than fret without limits? Imagine the freedom from worry we could have if we would “commit [our] way to the Lord” (Ps 37:5). And how calm we could be by learning to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”! (Ps 37:7).

News of trouble we cannot change offers us an opportunity to set boundaries for our concerns. As we trust God, commit our ways to Him, and rest in Him, our outlook brightens. The struggles and trials may not disappear, but we will discover that He gives us His peace in the midst of them. By: Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Lord, we see danger and trouble all around us. Help us not to worry but instead to trust and rest in You. Show us the peace that comes from waiting patiently on You.

Obstacles give us the opportunity to trust God.


Alan Carr – STEPS TO PEACE IN THE PATHS OF LIFE

Since we are told not to worry when we see the wicked prosper, how are we supposed to deal with this problem? Well, in verses 3-8, the Psalmist offers us an alternative to worry. There are some simple steps offered here, that if followed, will enable us to find peace, even during the most trying times of our lives. Now, notice with me these Steps To Peace In The Paths Of Life.

I. Ps 37:3 CONTROL YOUR WALK

The emphasis of this verse is for the believer to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. When this is accomplished, the result will be the Lord’s smile upon that life.

A. The Command – The Psalmist issues a two-fold command in this verse.

1. Trust God – That is, walk by faith and not by sight. We must remember that things are never as they appear to our human vision. Even when things look like they going totally wrong in our lives, God is still working out His eternal purposes in us, Rom. 8:28. Therefore, we must learn to trust the Lord in all of life!

(Ill. There are times when God’s way is difficult to figure out. During those times when you cannot trace God, learn to trust Him anyway. Remember, “The just shall live by faith“, Rom. 1:17. The life of faith is the ONLY way to please the Lord, Heb. 11:6!)

2. Do Good – this is a command to holy living! God expects His people to live a life that is honoring to His name! If God’s people could ever learn that God is pleased when we live for Him, we would see Him bless us in great ways. The formula for success in the Christian life is found in Matt. 6:33. It is as simple as trusting in the Lord and living for Him!

B. The Comfort – When we do His will, He will take care of us! How well David knew this! He was an old man who had seen the Lord allow him to sit on his enemies throne. He knew that serving God always paid off!

(Ill. The whole point here is this: if you will walk with your faith in God and will live your life to please Him, He will commit Himself to taking care of you – Phil. 4:19.)

II. Ps 37:4 CONDITION YOUR WILL

A. The Command – “Delight” yourself in the Lord! This word means to “take exquisite delight” in the Lord. When life goes bad, we tend to focus on the problems that arise around us. When this happens, we become defeated and depressed and fall into sadness. However, at all times of life, we are challenged to let the Lord be the focus of our attention! If we can focus on Who He is to us, what He has done for us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:“, Eph. 1:3, where He is taking us, and how much He loves us, even the darkest day can be endured because we know something better awaits us down the road!

B. The Comfort – When we are lost in Him, then our will and our desires will be lost in Him as well. When this happens, He will lift us out of our sadness and fill us with His glory!

(Ill. By the way, I think that latter portion of that verse is a promise we can claim! When the Lord is our delight, we will only want the things which bring Him glory and which please Him. When we arrive at that place, God will open the windows of Heaven and give us every desire of our hearts!)

III. Ps 37:5-6 COMMIT YOUR WAY

A. The Command – “Commit” your way unto the Lord. This word means to “roll onto“. The idea here is that we are “roll” the burdens of life over onto the Lord. The Lord has not asked His children to carry the burdens of life alone. He tells us that bring them to Him, Matt. 11:281 Pet. 5:7. We do not have to bear the heavy burdens of life all by ourselves. We have a God who cares ans commands us to bring our burdens to Him!

(Ill. In the middle of the storms of life, let us learn the truth that we are not in them alone! We are to commit our “way” to the Lord and trust Him to take care of us. This was the resolve of Job when he was called upon to suffer, Job 1:20-21Job 23:10Job 13:15. Let this also be the resolve of our hearts this evening!)

B. The Comfort – The whole emphasis here is that when we are walking in faith, placing our burdens on the Lord, He will take care of us. We may not like the way we are called upon to trod, but in the end, the faith of the child of God will be vindicated! Friends, God is never hurried by our worry! He does not get excited when we struggle against the situation we find ourselves in. What He is looking for is faith, obedience, and yieldedness in the midst of the struggles of life. His promise to us is that our faith will never be in vain!

IV. Ps 37:7 CONSECRATE YOUR WAIT

(Ill. We are told in this verse to “rest” in the Lord and wait for Him. The word “rest” means “to be silent“. Then, we are told not to “fret“. This words means to “to blaze, to get hot“. It carries the idea of getting ourselves worked up into a rage over the condition of the world and over the valleys we have to walk through. Our duty during the difficult days of life is to be patient and silent while the Lord works out His purposes in our lives.

(Ill. This is not easy, but this kind of attitude was modeled for us by the Lord Jesus Himself. When He was abused, mocked, crucified, etc, He did not respond, but endured His afflictions in yielded silence, Isa. 53:7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” Therefore, regardless of the burden you are called to bear, learn not to whine, but to bear it for the glory of God, waiting patiently on Him to work out His will in your life. This isn’t easy, but it is an attitude that God can bless and use for His glory!)

V. Ps 37:8 CONQUER YOUR WRATH

(We are commanded here to refrain from anger. It is easy to get bitter at God, the church, etc, when the problems of life mount up against us. When we see the wicked live their lives of ease while we walk through the deep, dark valley, there is a tendency to become angry with the Lord. However, we must be careful that we do not abandon righteous for evil in the day of our affliction.

(Ill. God’s will for us is that we stay the course! There will be an end to our struggles down the line, but for the moment, we are to abide in the will of the Lord faithfully and allow Him to have His will in us. Ill. I doubt any of us will ever suffer like Paul did for the glory of God, yet when he reached the end of his life, he was able to say that he had fought a good fight, he had finished the course, he had kept the faith2 Tim. 4:7. I want to be able to say the same thing! How about you? If so, learn not to be angry with the Lord! Learn that righteousness does pay off in the end, just consider verses 9-11! God is working in you to develop His image more perfectly, sometimes, this require Him to put pressure on our lives. Never give up! Rather, give in to Him and He will see you through!

Conclusion:

All of this sounds difficult. It sounds like we are to just lay back and allow life to take us where it will. However, the truth is that the commands in these verse are a call to action – Trust, Delight, Commit, Rest, Cease! God is calling us to take control of ourselves as we yield to Him. He is calling us to be involved in the process! You see, I may not can control when happens in my life, but I can control how I respond to what happens! I am the master of what I do in these areas of life. Let us determine this evening that we will seek the Lord’s way through the valley and that we will take these five precious steps to peace in the paths of life.


The World We Live In – As the Lord’s return draws near, godlessness is increasing. Standards that have stood for decades are falling all around us. Crime, lawlessness, and disrespect all seem to be growing. If that’s the way you’ve been looking at things recently, the psalmist David has good news for you. There is hope! There is a positive way to look at life.

Here are David’s recommendations for facing a world marked by “evildoers,” whose day in the sun is as fleeting as grass in the desert (Ps. 37:1-2).

  • Trust God (Ps 37:3). The alternative is to trust people with the future, and that leads to disappointment.
  • Do good things (Ps 37:3). The more good we do, the less chance evil has to succeed.
  • Delight in the Lord (Ps 37:4). Take delight in God and His will, and He promises to provide what you need.
  • Commit your way to God (Ps 37:5). He will bless your efforts.
  • Wait patiently for the Lord (Ps 37:7). He will prevail.

The more we immerse ourselves in God, His Word, and His promises, the less we will fret over the troubles of this world. Sure, it’s a tough world we live in, but with God we can be victorious! —Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

For all His children, God desires
A life of calm, not flurry;
His will for every day is this:
That we should trust, not worry.
–Anon.

To make it in a tough world, keep in touch with God.

Psalm 37:2 For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb.

BGT  Psalm 36:2 ὅτι ὡσεὶ χόρτος ταχὺ ἀποξηρανθήσονται καὶ ὡσεὶ λάχανα χλόης ταχὺ ἀποπεσοῦνται

NET  Psalm 37:2 For they will quickly dry up like grass, and wither away like plants.

LXE  Psalm 37:2 For they shall soon be withered as the grass, and shall soon fall away as the green herbs.

NLT  Psalm 37:2 For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

KJV  Psalm 37:2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

ESV  Psalm 37:2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.

NIV  Psalm 37:2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

ASV  Psalm 37:2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb.

CSB  Psalm 37:2 For they wither quickly like grass and wilt like tender green plants.

NKJ  Psalm 37:2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb.

NRS  Psalm 37:2 for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.

YLT  Psalm 37:2 For as grass speedily they are cut off, And as the greenness of the tender grass do fade.

For – This is a great term of explanation, which helps us understand David’s command to not fret or be envious (Ps 37:1).

They will wither quickly like the grass – KJV = “they shall soon be cut down like the grass”. The KJV is so different because the Textus Receptus uses a different verb for “cut down” (namal), whereas the NAS, ESV, etc use the verb malal (below). As Spurgeon says describing the illogical nature of the reaction of envy of the wicked “No one envies the grass, let it be never so green; no one envies flowers, let them be never so fragrant, for we know that grass must be cut, and that flowers must wither. Let us look upon the wicked in the same light; their time of perishing shall soon come, their end hasteth on apace; therefore, let all envying be out of the question, since they are such short-lived beings. Evil cannot last. It is a feeble plant, like the grass and weeds which the mower’s scythe soon cuts down, and leaves to wither in the blazing sunshine.”

Treasury of David on wither quickly like the grass– The scythe of death is sharpening. Green grows the grass, but quick comes the scythe. The destruction of the ungodly will be speedy, sudden, sure, overwhelming, irretrievable. The grass cannot resist or escape the mower.

Wither (04448)(malal) means to languish, wither, fade and was used poetically to describe the mortality of humans, who bloom like a flower and then wither (Job 14:2; cf. Ps. 90:6), or a person who withers like the branch of a tree with dried up roots (Job 18:16). In Ps. 37:2, the evil person is compared to grass which withers according to seasonal cycles.

Thomas Tymme on wither – O bitter word, which will make the ears of them that hear it to tingle! O sentence intolerable, which deprives sinners of all good things, and bringeth them to all woe! The Lord sometime accursed the fig tree, and immediately, not only the leaves, but also the body and root were wholly withered (Mt 21:19-20): even so, that fearful curse of the last day shall be no less effectual; for on whomsoever it falleth is shall so scorch them (cf Rev 20:15), and shall so make them destitute of God’s grace, that they shall never more be able to do, to speak, think, or to hope for any good thing (cf 2 Th 1:8,9).

And fade like the green herb 

Treasury of David on fade like the green herb . The beauty of the herb dries up at once in the heat of the sun, and so all the glory of the wicked shall disappear at the hour of death. Death kills the ungodly man like grass, and wrath withers him like hay; he dies, and his name rots. How complete an end is made of the man whose boasts had no end! Is it worth while to waste ourselves in fretting about the insect of an hour, an ephemeral which in the same day is born and dies? Within believers there is a living and incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever; why should they envy mere flesh, and the glory of it, which are but as grass, and the flower thereof?

While this description in context speaks of the ungodly, this truth is just as apropos to the godly! The Bible repeatedly emphasizes the brevity of our earthly life, that we might be assiduous and judicious to redeem the precious moments God allots to each of us to prepare for eternity. This is a sobering thought as today is January 2, 2020, not only a new year, but a new decade. At age 73 this could well be the last new decade I experience on earth. This thought motivate me to not waste time of trivial, temporary pleasures and play toys, but to seek each day His Kingdom and His righteousness (Mt 6:33) and His good and acceptable and perfect will for my life (Ro 12:2b). My prayer for all who read these thoughts is that the first you would take some time to ponder this thought because it is so easy to procrastinate and secondly that you meditate on the following passages asking God’s Spirit to speak to your heart, not just your head. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Job 7:67  “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, And come to an end without hope. (7:7) “Remember that my life is but breath; My eye will not again see good.

Job 9:2526   “Now my days are swifter than a runner; They flee away, they see no good. (9:26) “They slip by like reed boats, Like an eagle that swoops on its prey.

Job 14:12   “Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. (14:2) “Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.

Psalm 37:2   For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb.

Psalm 39:56  “Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah. (39:6) “Surely every man walks about as a phantom; Surely they make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.

Psalm 90:4-6910  For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.  5You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.  6In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away. (90:9) For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. (90:10) As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.

Psalm 102:311 For my days have been consumed in smoke, And my bones have been scorched like a hearth. (102:11) My days are like a lengthened shadow, And I wither away like grass.

Psalm 103:1516  As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. (103:16) When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.

Psalm 144:4 Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.

Isaiah 38:1213  “Like a shepherd’s tent my dwelling is pulled up and removed from me; As a weaver I rolled up my life. He cuts me off from the loom; From day until night You make an end of me. (38:13) “I composed my soul until morning. Like a lion–so He breaks all my bones, From day until night You make an end of me.

Isaiah 40:67  A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. (40:7) The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.

James 1:1011  and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. (1:11) For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

James 4:14  Yet 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.

1 Peter 1:24   For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF,

2 Kings 19:26  ‘Therefore their inhabitants were short of strength, They were dismayed and put to shame; They were as the vegetation of the field and as the green herb, As grass on the housetops is scorched before it is grown up.

Related Resource: 

Psalm 37:3  Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

BGT  Psalm 36:3 ἔλπισον ἐπὶ κύριον καὶ ποίει χρηστότητα καὶ κατασκήνου τὴν γῆν καὶ ποιμανθήσῃ ἐπὶ τῷ πλούτῳ αὐτῆς

NET  Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity!

LXE  Psalm 37:3 Hope in the Lord, and do good; and dwell on the land, and thou shalt be fed with the wealth of it.

NLT  Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

KJV  Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

ESV  Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

NIV  Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

ASV  Psalm 37:3 Trust in Jehovah, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on his faithfulness.

CSB  Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely.

NKJ  Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

NRS  Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

YLT  Psalm 37:3 Trust in Jehovah, and do good, Dwell in the land, and enjoy faithfulness,

Trust in the LORD and do good – Trust and do are the first two of 4 commands in this verse.

Trust (Rely)(0982)(batach) speaks of being confident or trusting and pertains to placing reliance or belief in a person or object (Ps 112:7Isa 26:3Batach expresses sense of well-being and security from having something or someone in whom to place confidence. Most of the uses in the book of Psalms refer to trust in Jehovah. Trust  is translated in the Septuagint with the verb elpizo which means to hope, to look forward with confidence, to express a desire for some good with full expectation of obtaining it. In short this verb is not the meaning in the common vernacular of “hope so,” but to the contrary describes a “hope sure!” Elpizo is in the aorist imperative which calls for this to be done now and without putting it off or procrastinating.

Wiersbe says that the “word translated “trust” (e.g., used in Pr 3:5+) means “to lie helpless, facedown.” It pictures a servant waiting for the master’s command in readiness to obey, or a defeated soldier yielding himself to the conquering general. (Be Skillful) Higgins agrees that the Hebrew word batach “means to stretch out or to lie face down. It is a picture of a man totally stretched out on his face before God. The message of his posture is his total helplessness and dependence upon God. It bespeaks that he is totally yielded to that will. Matthew reminds us of the Lord Jesus that He “fell on his face, and prayed … not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mt 26:39). (What the Bible Teaches – Proverbs)

Spurgeon notes that here “you have the secret of the active life of the Christian. The root of his activity lies in his faith: “Trust in the Lord.” The outward manifestation of his inner life is in the good that he does (ED: INITIATED AND ENERGIZED BY THE SPIRIT AND FOR THE GLORY OF GOD); and where there is this faith, proved to be living faith by good works, there follows the promise (WE WILL DWELL AND LIVE SECURELY).”

Treasury of David on Trust in the Lord. Here is the second precept, and one appropriate to the occasion. Faith cures fretting. Sight is cross-eyed, and views things only as they seem, hence her envy: faith has clearer optics to behold things as they really are, hence her peace. And do good. True faith is actively obedient. Doing good is a fine remedy for fretting. There is a joy in holy activity which drives away the rust of discontent.

Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness – Here David gives 2 more commands. NLT says “Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.” NRS has ‘you will live in the land, and enjoy security.” NIV  “dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.”

Treasury of David on dwell in the land. In “the land” which floweth with milk and honey; the Canaan of the covenant. Thou shalt not wander in the wilderness of murmuring, but abide in the promised land of content and rest. “We which have believed do enter into rest.” Very much of our outward depends upon the inward: where there is heaven in the heart there will be heaven in the house. And verily thou shalt be fed, or shepherded. To integrity and faith necessaries are guaranteed. The good shepherd will exercise his pastoral care over all believers. In truth they shall be fed, and fed on truth. The promise of God shall be their perpetual banquet; they shall neither lack in spirituals nor in temporals. Some read this as an exhortation, “Feed on truth; “ certainly this is good cheer, and banishes for ever the hungry heart burnings of envy.

NET Note says the Hebrew literally is “”tend integrity.” The verb ra’ah means to “tend, shepherd” and is probably used here in the sense of “watch over, guard.” The noun ’emunah, (“faithfulness, honesty, integrity”) is understood as the direct object of the verb, though it could be taken as an adverbial accusative, “[feed] securely,” if the audience is likened to a flock of sheep.”

Spurgeon – It does not say, “Young man, verily thou shalt prosper in business.” It does not say, “O ambitious man, thou shalt dwell in a palace, or revel in luxuries, “but it does say to thee, O humble-minded Christian, trusting in God, “Verily thou shalt be fed.” You know, when the word “Verily” is used, there is something upon which God sets his seal as being true: “Verily thou shalt be fed.” God’s “Verilys” are better than men’s oaths. Believe, then, Christians and let there be no more fretting about your temporal trials. I know you have come in here tonight very anxious, and vexed with care and grief; take this “Verily”, and lay it, like Isaiah’s lump of figs, upon the boil, and “Verily” you shall soon be healed.

Wiersbe – David reminds us: “For they [the wicked] shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good” (Psalm 37:2,3). When you fix your eyes on the Lord and trust and obey Him, that fretful spirit quiets down, and peace comes to your heart. Whenever I stop trusting the Lord for my needs and for His help, my heart becomes heavy and burdened, and then I become fretful and worried. So “trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3). God takes care of His own.


Learning To Trust

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. —Psalm 37:3

Today’s Scripture: Isaiah 66:7-13

When I stuck my camera into the bush to take a picture of the baby robins, they opened their mouths without opening their eyes. They were so used to having mama robin feed them whenever the branches moved that they didn’t even look to see who (or what) was causing the disturbance.

That is the kind of trust that loving mothers instill in their children. That is the kind of mom I am blessed to have. Growing up, I could eat whatever food she put on the table without fear that it would harm me. Although she made me eat things I didn’t like, I knew she did so because they were good for me. If she cared only about what was easy for her, she would have let me eat junk food. No matter what Mom told me to do, or not to do, I knew she had my best interest in mind. She wasn’t trying to keep me from having fun; she was trying to protect me from being hurt.

That is the kind of relationship we have with God, who compared Himself to a mother: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (Isa. 66:13). As His children, we have no reason to fear what happens to us nor to envy what happens to others: “Do not . . . be envious of the workers of iniquity” (Ps. 37:1). When we trust His goodness, we are fed by His faithfulness. By: Julie Ackerman Link  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Lord, we’re thankful for this example of motherhood. But even more, we’re grateful for Your faithful “mothering” of us displayed in Your compassion day by day. Help us to find rest in You. Amen.

  God’s care surrounds us.


Timing Is Everything

All things work together for good to those . . . who are the called according to His purpose. —Romans 8:28

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 37:3-11

It was quite a few months before I realized that what I thought was a coincidental meeting had been good timing on my future husband’s part.

From the balcony of the church, he had seen me, deduced which exit I might be using, raced down two flights of stairs, and arrived seconds before I did. As he casually held the door and struck up a conversation, I was oblivious to the fact that his “impromptu” dinner invitation had been premeditated. It was perfect timing.

Perfect timing is rare—at least where humans are concerned. But God has specific purposes and plans for us, and His timing is always perfect.

We see that timing in the life of these Bible characters: Abraham’s servant prayed for a wife for Isaac. God answered his prayer by bringing the young woman to him (Gen. 24). Joseph was sold as a slave, falsely accused, and thrown into prison. But eventually God used him to preserve many people’s lives during a famine (45:5-8; 50:20). And we marvel at Esther’s courage as Mordecai reminded her, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Est. 4:14).

Are you disappointed in the pace of God’s plans? “Trust in the Lord” (Ps. 37:3). God will open doors when the timing is perfect. By: Cindy Hess Kasper  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Have faith in God, the sun will shine
Though dark the clouds may be today;
His heart has planned your path and mine,
Have faith in God, have faith alway.
—Agnew

God’s timing is perfect—every time!


The Need For Nourishment

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. —Psalm 37:3

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 37:1-11

Our grandson Cameron was born 6 weeks prematurely. Undersized and in danger, he became a resident of the hospital’s neonatal unit for about 2 weeks until he gained enough weight to go home. His biggest challenge was that, in the physical exercise of eating, he burned more calories than he was taking in. This obviously hindered his development. It seemed that the little guy took two steps backward for every step of progress he made.

No medicine or treatment could solve the problem; he just needed the strength-giving fortification of nourishment.

As followers of Christ, we are constantly finding our emotional and spiritual reserves drained by the challenges of life in a fallen world. In such times, we need nourishment to strengthen us. In Psalm 37, David encouraged us to strengthen our hearts by feeding our souls. He wrote, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness” (v.3).

When weakness afflicts us, the reassurance of God’s never-ending faithfulness can enable us to carry on in His name. His faithful care is the nourishment we need, giving us, as the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” says, “strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow.” By: Bill Crowder  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Feed on God’s faithfulness to find the strength you need.


A Strategy Of Patience

Read: Psalm 37:1-11

Trust in the Lord, and do good . . . . Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. —Psalm 37:3,7

Patience should characterize the life of every believer who is trying to do God’s will. This virtue is illustrated by John Wooden in his book They Call Me Coach. The author, who was head basketball coach at UCLA for many years, said, “In game play, it has always been my philosophy that patience will win out. By that, I mean patience to follow our game plan. If we do believe in it, we will wear the opposition down and will get to them. If we break away from our style, however, and play their style, we’re in trouble. And if we let our emotions command the game rather than our reason, we will not function effectively. I constantly caution our team, ‘Play your game. . . . Eventually, if you play your game, stick to your style, class will tell in the end! This does not mean that we will always outscore our opponent, but it does ensure that we will not beat ourselves.’”

In Psalm 37, God is saying, in effect, “Do what’s right and trust Me. Regardless of how badly you may seem to be losing, just do My will and leave the outcome to Me. I’ll make sure that eventually you’ll be the winner.” Such a strategy will not only keep us from beating ourselves, it will lead to glorious victory! By Mart DeHaan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

To know our work is not in vain,
As partners of the Lord,
Provides the patience that we need
To wait for God’s reward.
—Sper

You can’t lose if you stay with God’s game plan.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 

BGT  Psalm 36:4 κατατρύφησον τοῦ κυρίου καὶ δώσει σοι τὰ αἰτήματα τῆς καρδίας σου

NET  Psalm 37:4 Then you will take delight in the LORD, and he will answer your prayers.

LXE  Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall grant thee the requests of thine heart.

NLT  Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

KJV  Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

ESV  Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

NIV  Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

ASV  Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in Jehovah; And he will give thee the desires of thy heart.

CSB  Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.

NKJ  Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

NRS  Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

YLT  Psalm 37:4 And delight thyself on Jehovah, And He giveth to thee the petitions of thy heart.

DELIGHT NOT
DRUDGERY!

The first use of delight in the NAS, ASV, NRS, CSB and ESV versions is found in Genesis 3:6 which reads “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight (Hebrew = taavah; Lxx = arestos = pleasing) to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” Although the Hebrew verb taavah is not the same verb (anag/anog) used by David here in Psalm 37:4, clearly the passage in Genesis is still very instructive! It should serve as a reminder that delight is a powerful force in our soul and it can be used for bad (even bringing catastrophic consequences as did Eve’s delight which opened the floodgates of sin – cf Ro 5:12+) or it can be used for good as David explains in the present passage. In short, what we delight in can lead to either a curse or a blessing. And so this begs the important question that each of us must honestly answer “In what do we delight?” This is not a minor question, as Eve’s delight in Genesis 3 illustrates! So let us take time to ponder David’s wisdom in this passage, even memorizing it and then “chewing on it” (meditating on it), so that we might enjoy the blessings of meditation, even as promised in the book of Joshua

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that (PURPOSE OF MEDITATION) you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it (FIRST OBEDIENCE); for then (BLESSINGS) you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. (Joshua 1:8+)

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary says that “Delight is a more permanent pleasure than joy, and not dependent on sudden excitement.” There may some truth in that statement, but in the NT clearly joy is a part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22+), so it can certainly be long lasting, as long as we are daily choosing to be filled with the Spirit and walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16+). Webster also says that to delight is to “To affect with great pleasure; to please highly; to give or afford high satisfaction or joy; as, a beautiful landscape delights the eye; harmony delights the ear; the good conduct of children, and especially their piety, delights their parents.”

Delight yourself in the LORD – Notice the order – First the command to be obeyed, then the promise to be received. Delight (see more detail below on 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! Paul gives us a New Testament parallel in Php 4:4+ which is also a command to continually “Rejoice in the Lord.”

To delight in the LORD is to find our highest degree of gratification in Him, to experience our greatest pleasure in Him, to find that He is the One who supremely satisfies our soul. He is the source of our joy. He is the one who pleases our soul. Or stated another way “When our delight is in the love of God, our desires will be in the will of God. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, we will want the things that delight Him.” (Wiersbe)

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 (present imperative) your salvation in fear and trembling (IN CONTEXT OF PS 37:4 OBEY THE COMMAND TO DELIGHT) (Phil 2:12+), explaining that this is only possible because “God is working (Gk = energeo ~ present tense = continually energizing) in us, giving us the DESIRE and the POWER to do what pleases Him.” (Phil 2:13NLT+) Note that we are both responsible (WORK OUT) and dependent (SPIRIT IN US)! To state it another way, we are to work out what God’s Spirit works in! We must 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 says 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)

PRAYER – Father by Your precious Holy Spirit stir our hearts to desire to delight in the LORD that we might “feast on the abundance of Your house and… drink from the river of Your DELIGHTS.” (Ps 36:8Jn 4:147:38-39+). In Jesus’ delightful Name. Amen

“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

Spurgeon comments on Psalm 37:4 “This is a most precious verse, its sweetness who can tell? Do not think first of the desires of thy heart, but think first of delighting thyself in thy God. If thou hast accepted Him as thy Lord, He is thine; so delight in Him, and then He will give thee the desires of thy heart. Delight is a Christian’s duty. To sorrow, to mourn, to despair, — these belong not to the believer: “Delight thyself in the Lord.” Here is a river to swim in, Christians, plunge into it. Here is a bottomless abyss of delights, the Person, the grace, the works, the attributes of our covenant God; and here is a promise given to each one of those who carry on this excellent duty, “He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

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 a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22+) 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 37:5 = Trust 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 a picture most of us are all too familiar with, the picture of allowing something to “eat away” or “gnaw away” at our minds, resulting in an envious, agitated, vexed or worried mind. Unfortunately fretting comes far too naturally to our fallen flesh, our Adamic nature still resident in our mortal body (Ro 7:18+Gal 5:17+). And so in Psalm 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 fallen 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 clearly shows us that precepts come before promisesresponsibility 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

Wiersbe says that “If we delight in the Lord, and seek to please Him in everything, then something is going to happen to our own desires. His desires become our desires. We start to say with our Lord, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34). Our praying, then, is simply the reflection of God’s desires in our own heart… To cultivate a heart that desires what is good, a heart that delights in the Lord (Ps 37:4), is the first step toward the life that overflows with the blessing of the Lord.” (Bible Exposition Commentary).

Treasury of David on Delight yourself in the Lord. Make Jehovah the joy and rejoicing of thy spirit. Bad men delight in carnal objects; do not envy them if they are allowed to take their fill in such vain idols; look thou to thy better delight, and fill thyself to the full with thy more sublime portion. In a certain sense imitate the wicked; they delight in their portion—take care to delight in yours, and so far from envying you will pity them. There is no room for fretting if we remember that God is ours, but there is every incentive to sacred enjoyment of the most elevated and ecstatic kind. Every name, attribute, word, or deed of Jehovah, should be delightful to us, and in meditating thereon our soul should be as glad as is the epicure who feeds delicately with a profound relish for his dainties.

Adam Clarke – his will, desire, affection, every motive in his heart, and every moving principle in his soul, are on the side of God and his truth.

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 1:2note) And like the psalmist who “opened wide his mouth and panted, because he longed for God’s precepts.” (Ps 119:13140) 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?”

THOUGHT 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 15:16note) 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 (cp Ps 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+)

“O God of my delight,
Thy throne of grace
is the pleasure ground of my soul.”
(Valley of Vision)

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 26:18Titus 2:14+)! And so the prophet Zephaniah exults (speaking to Israel, but in principle applicable to saints)

“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+)

PRAYER – 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+).” Amen

Take My Life and Let It Be
(It is easy to sing this and yet not sincerely mean what we sing!)
(As an aside if you are serious about this short life, this hymn would be a great prayer to offer up to the King!)

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.

THOUGHT – 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

The wonderful truth is that we who were once hostile to God, can now delight in Jehovah. And even more amazing is that He delights in us for we are “accepted in the Beloved.” Amazing grace indeed! Ps 16:3note As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

Douglas Carew notes that in Ps 37:4 “A close interplay exists between “delight … in the LORD,” and “desires of your heart.” The path to true self-fulfillment does not lie in a preoccupation with self but in selfless preoccupation with God. When the psalmist sets his heart on God, God reciprocates by making him truly fulfilled. And since no one seeks after God on their own, we are continually dependent on the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us to give us the desire and the power to seek the face of God.

When something delights us, we are preoccupied with it and we tend to protect and guard our time so that we can more quality time with the object of our delight.

To delight is to take pleasure or enjoyment from an object (in Ps 37:4 not an object but a Person, Jehovah) and implying the object has desirability! Delight in something or someone depicts a high degree of pleasure, or satisfaction of mind. While the verb is different, the idea is similar in Ps 1:3 where read that the “blessed” man (Ps 1:1) is the one whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Ps 1:2) In other words, how does he show he truly delights in the Word? He spends time with (in) the Word. He makes the Word a top priority. By the same token if we truly delight in Jehovah, we desire to spend time with Him, to listen to His voice in the Word, to speak with Him in prayer. And we make those items top priority. Even as I write this, I am convicted — I might tell you I delight in the LORD, but honestly do the actions of my live, my priorities, my passions, etc validate my claim to delight in the LORD?

C S Lewis was right when he said “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

A W Tozer writes “when the Holy Spirit shows us God as He is we admire Him to the point of wonder and delight.”

When we delight ourselves in the Lord, we will desire the things that delight Him. When our delight is in the love of God, our desires will be in the will of God. If what we desire is God, God will give us what we desire.

Delight (06026)(see more in depth discussion on anag/anog) is a verb which means to be soft, to be delicate (in Pual stem) but also means to delight oneself in (“to take exquisite delight” – BDB), to be glad in or to enjoy (in Hithpael stem), especially taking delight and pleasure in God (Job 22:26Isa 55:2Psalm 37:4). To find enjoyment in (implying the desirability of the object). Delight is in the Hithpael imperative (command) which primarily expresses a “reflexive” action (thus the pronoun “yourself“). The idea is to enjoy oneself and in Ps 37:4 the object to enjoy is God.  The idea of this verb delight is that the one who obeys this command to delight (obeying enabled by the power of the Spirit) experiences a sense of joy in the Lord. The picture is of one who enjoys the Lord, taking pleasure in Him, experiencing satisfaction in Him. It is the call for us as finite created beings to take exquisite delight in the infinite, transcendent, majestic, glorious Creator of the universe. Delight is the picture of my being highly pleased and fully contented with God’s Person and Presence. As David so beautifully puts it in Psalm 16:11 “Thou wilt make known to me the path of life (ultimately this is Jesus Himself… He alone is the Way… the Life! Jn 14:6). In Thy presence is fullness of joy. In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.” The Hebrew word “fullness” pictures satisfaction or sufficiency by simply being in the Lord’s presence! To be pampered encourages us to spoil ourselves with God’s presence!

The Septuagint (Lxx) translates the Hebrew word anag here in Psalm 37:4 with the verb katatruphao (used only here in the entire Bible) in the aorist imperative which is a command to do even with a sense of urgency. Do what? Take delight in Jehovah! But as already explained, if we are honest, our fallen flesh does not naturally gravitate toward but away from God. In other words our natural tendency is not to delight in God. Therefore we must depend on the Holy Spirit to give us the desire and the power to delight in Jehovah (Php 2:13NLT+). When we make the choice to delight in Him, we fulfill the command to work out (present imperativeour salvation in fear and trembling (Php 2:12+)! God’s Spirit sparks the urge and gives the power to delight, but we are not robots and we must still choose to delight. It is the mysterious “marriage” of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. When Spurgeon was asked how he reconciled God’s sovereignty and man’s free will he responded “I never have to reconcile friends!” See discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands (or “How to Keep All 1642 Commandments in the New Testament!”)

As an aside the root verb for katatruphao is truphao and is used only once in the Bible (James 5:5+ = “lived luxuriously“). In this sole  NT use of truphao, the verb is clearly conveys the negative sense of living in pleasure for oneself. Now think about delight in the context of Ps 37:4 and you get the picture of “living luxuriously” in the presence of Jehovah. Contrast the world’s counterfeit which is material wealth, thinking that this “idol” will bring us lasting delight, when in fact James says it will bring “a day of slaughter!” (Jas 5:5+) Only in the presence of Jehovah is there fullness of joy.

THOUGHT – This begs the question of all of us “Where are we seeking our delight? In this passing godless globe (cf 1 Jn 2:17+) or in our eternal glorious God? There is simply no comparison. This will be a constant battle because our flesh desires to delight in the temporal babbles and bangles with which we are continually enticed, while the Spirit continually leads us to desire to delight in the eternal. Walk by the Spirit and you will delight yourself in Jehovah. Or as Paul says “Walk (present imperative) by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Gal 5:16+)

Isaiah 58 God gives a wonderful (conditional) promise related to delighting in the LORD  –

If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure (NOUN = chephets – the related verb chapes means to incline toward, to take delight in, to be pleased with) on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight (NOUN = ONEG), the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure, and speaking your own word, THEN (WHEN YOU HAVE MET THE PRECEDING CONDITION) you will take delight (SAME VERB USED IN PS 34:7 = anag in Hithpael; Lxx = peitho = to trust) in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isa 58:13-14)

Jehovah in essence is saying that the path of true “self-fulfillment” paradoxically lies not in a preoccupation with self (NOTE 4X REPETITION OF “YOUR OWN” ABOVE) but in a selfless preoccupation with God (in this case specifically His Rest). As we set our heart on God as our chief delight, God reciprocates supernaturally by making us truly fulfilled!

God grant that the chief desire of our heart would first and foremost be to take great pleasure in Your presence. Amen

When we delight ourselves in the infinite God, our finite desires begin to be changed by His indwelling, transforming Spirit (cf 2 Cor 3:18+) into His eternal desires and “the things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

So the Sabbath was to be a day of delight, a time of enjoyment for Israel (Isa 58:13). And if Israel turned from selfishness to selflessness on this day, God would cause them to “take delight in Jehovah!” Not to mention He would take them on the “ride” of their life! And so to delight in this day was to delight in Jehovah, in fact to delight in “the Son of Man (Who) is Lord of the Sabbath (our Rest, our cessation from labor!).” (Mt 12:8Mk 2:28Lk 6:5)

THE DESIRES OF
YOUR HEART

And He will give you the desires of your heart. – The way to have our heart’s desire is to make God our heart’s delightDelight in God and He will become your greatest desire! If God has our hearts, He can trust us with His blessings.

Treasury of David on the desires of your heart. A pleasant duty is here rewarded with another pleasure. Men who delight in God desire or ask for nothing but what will please God; hence it is safe to give them carte blanche. Their will is subdued to God’s will, and now they may have what they will. Our innermost desires are here meant, not our casual wishes; there are many things which nature might desire which grace would never permit us to ask for; these deep, prayerful, asking desires are those to which the promise is made. (CHS)

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 (cf Ro 12:2), 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+) 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 (cf Heb 12:2+Col 3:11+).

THOUGHT – 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! (See also Christian Contentment)

Some writers suggest that Psalm 37:4 is a promise that we will receive whatever we desire, which like making the verse a “genie in a bottle,” which we rub and ask for what we desire. This is not what this passage means! But if we are honest, 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+) The first prerequisite  (something that is required in advance) to receive the desires of your your heart is to obey the command to delight ourselves in God and God Alone. The following passages give us some additional prerequisites for receiving the desires of your heart –

(1) Ps 145:19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.

Comment – We have a holy fear of the Lord, not a holy dread, but a reverential awe of His majesty and glory and power. (See The Fear of the Lord)

(2) John 15:7 If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you.

Comment – What’s the condition? Abiding. Abiding in Him, letting His Word abide. How might we let His Word abide in us or dwell at home in us? Surely one way would include memorizing His holy Word so that as we walk around during our busy days, we might be enabled by His Holy Spirit to pause and ponder or meditate on His holy Word

(3) 1 John 5:14+ And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

To summarize the preceding passages – We are delighting ourselves in Jehovah, manifesting a reverential awe of Him (Ps 145:19), and asking according to His will (which we are more likely to do when we are abiding in His Word, because His will is most clearly revealed in His Word).(1 Jn 5:14)

Matthew Henry – “If God give us Himself to be our joy, He will deny us nothing that is good for us. No delight is comparable to the delight which gracious souls have in the Almighty; and those that acquaint themselves with him, and submit themselves entirely to him, shall find his favor to be, not only their strength, but their song.”

Ultimately, where then is GENUINE DELIGHT TO BE FOUND?—the answer is simple, in Christ alone. Find your chief joy in life in Him.

In Christ Alone
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.


Where Is true “DELIGHT”? IN CHRIST ALONE

  • Not in Unbelief—Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: “I wish I had never been born.”
  • Not in Pleasure—Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: “The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone.”
  • Not in Money—Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.”
  • Not in Position and Fame—Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: “Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.”
  • Not in Military Glory (Might)—Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, because he said, “There are no more worlds to conquer.”

Delight thyself also in the Lord! Trust in him was recommended before, and now, this being added also, how plain is it that your ease and rest is the thing designed! Is it fit to receive so much kindness with neglect? Again, he delights in you; I speak to such of whom this may be supposed. And it is indefinitely said, “His delights were with the sons of men, “Proverbs 8:31. Think what he is, and what you are; and at once, both wonder and yield. And what else have you to delight in? what thing will you name that shall supply the place of GOD, or be to you in the stead of him? Moreover, who should delight in him but you—his friends, his sons, those of his own house? Think what life and vigour it will infuse into you, and that “the joy of the Lord will be your strength, “Nehemiah 8:10. How pleasantly will you hold on your course, and discharge all the other duties of this your present state? You must serve him. Dare you think of throwing off his yoke? How desirable is it then to take delight in him whom I must serve; which only makes that service acceptable to him, and easy to myself! Further, this is a pleasure none can rob you of; a joy that cannot be taken from you. Other objects of your delight are vanishing daily. Neither men nor devils can ever hinder you delighting in God, if your hearts be so inclined. And were you never brought to take pleasure in any person or thing to which you had a former aversion? One that had wronged you might yet possibly win you by after kindness. Give a reason why you should be more difficult towards the blessed God that never wronged you, and whose way towards you hath constantly imported so much good will! And consider that your condition on earth is such as exposes you to many sufferings and hardships, which, by your not delighting in him, you can never be sure to avoid (for they are things common to men), but which, by your delighting in him, you may be easily able to endure. Besides all this, seriously consider that you must die. You can make no shift to avoid that. How easily tolerable and pleasant will it be to think, then, of going to him with whom you have lived in a delightful communion before! And how dreadful to appear before him to whom your own heart shall accuse you to have been (against all his importunities and allurements) a disaffected stranger! John Howe’s “Treatise of Delight in God.”

James Smith – “Delight yourself in the Lord — and He will give you the desires of your heart!” Psalm 37:4

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 . . .

  •   look to the Lord,
  •   come to the Lord,
  •   trust in the Lord,
  •   wait on the Lord,
  •   hope in the Lord, and
  •   even delight in the Lord.

“Delight yourself in the Lord.” Take delight — not in health, or wealth, or position, or character, or friends, or in anything that is changeable — but in the unchangeable Lord. Delight yourself in His glorious character — as gracious, merciful, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
Delight yourself in Him, as . . .

  •   the father of the fatherless,
  •   the friend of the friendless,
  •   the hope of the wretched,
  •   and the Savior of the lost.

Delight yourself in His gracious covenant, which . . .

  •   anticipates your needs,
  •   provides for your needs,
  •   limits your trials, and
  •   provides strength for the day, as every day’s work requires.

Delight yourself in His paternal relation. He is not only your God — but your Father!

  • He cares for you, with a father’s care!
  • He loves you, with a father’s love!
  • He pities you, with a father’s pity!
  • He will receive you to Heaven, as to your father’s house!

Delight yourself in his precious promises. They are but drops from His ocean of love! They are intended to . . .

  •   show His love,
  •   display His grace,
  •   manifest His care,
  •   draw out your confidence,
  •   banish your fear, and
  •   assure you of all necessary supplies.

Delight yourself in his special providence. A providence that . . .

  •   marks your steps,
  •   directs your paths,
  •   measures your troubles,
  •   bounds the rage of your enemies,
  •   numbers the very hairs of your head, and
  •   makes all things work together for your good!

God in His providence, superintends all your affairs, even the most minute — so that nothing can happen to you by ‘chance’, or inadvertently do you harm!
“Delight yourself in the Lord.” This is more than . . .

  • hope in the Lord, or
  • believe in the Lord, or
  • wait on the Lord, or
  • love the Lord, or even
  • rejoice in the Lord.

To delight is to make God your joy, your exceeding joy, your highest pleasure. Peter speaks of “rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory!” and David says, “I would go unto God, unto God my exceeding joy!” Here are our patterns.

But if we would delight ourselves in the Lord, then . . .

  • we must often and devoutly read what He has said of himself in his word;
  • we must seriously and prayerfully think over it;
  • we must realize its truth and importance;
  • we must trust in his faithfulness and love;
  • we must walk with him in familiar and holy fellowship; and
  • we must resign ourselves and all we have to him to be used by him, and disposed of just as he sees fit.

THE INDUCEMENT. “Delight yourself in the Lord — and he will give you the desires of your heart!” If we delight ourselves in the Lord — then our principal and ruling desire will be his glory. Our hearts’ daily cry will be, “Let the Lord be glorified!” We shall drink into his holy mind, and becoming like-minded with him — thus we shall desire only those things that please him. Our subordinate desires will be generated by his grace, and be regulated by his holy word. He will therefore gratify us, by giving what we wish, or by working what we desire. He will satisfy us, by bringing our minds into unison with his, so that with Jesus we shall say, “Not my will — but may yours be done.”

He will delight us, either by giving us what we ask for — or some sweet manifestation of his love and grace instead. What we desire, or somethingbetter — he will give us, if we delight ourselves in him.

The way to be happy then — is to delight in God. To ensure our own way — is to seek the Lord’s. God’s will is best and wisest — ours therefore must be subordinate.

Delight in creatures only produces disappointment, dissatisfaction, and discomfort; but delight in God ensures satisfaction, comfort, and certainty. To delight in God, is only to prefer . . .

  •   the ever-flowing fountain — to the shallow stream;
  •   the glorious sun — to the dim candle!
  • the fullness — to the shallow vessel.

We have never made God our object and our end — without being blessed. We have never preferred the creature — without smarting for it.

Delight in God — is one of the elements of the happiness of Heaven; and is at once the joy and dignity of our ransomed nature. Delight in creatures— is a great cause of the misery and unhappiness of earth; and proves that . . .

  • our nature is fallen,
  • our hearts are corrupt, and
  • our understandings are darkened.

Gracious Lord, teach us to delight . . .

  • in you, in your law,
  • in your people,
  • in your ways,
  • in approaching to you,
  • in doing your will,
  • in suffering your pleasure — that in any way and every way we may promote your glory!

O Lord, I would delight in you,
And on your care depend;
To you in every trouble flee,
My best, my only friend!

When all created streams are dried,
Your fullness is the same;
May I with this be satisfied,
And glory in your name!

No good in creatures can be found
But may be found in thee;
I must have all things, and abound,
While God is God to me.


Getting What We Want

Read: Psalm 21:1-7

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. —Psalm 37:4

A certain airline pilot had a peculiar habit. Whenever he took off from his hometown of Minneapolis, he would ask the copilot to take the controls. Then he would stare intently out the window for a few moments.

Finally the copilot’s curiosity got the best of him, so he asked, “What do you always look at down there?”

“See that boy fishing on that riverbank?” the pilot asked. “I used to fish from that same spot when I was a kid. Whenever a plane flew over, I would watch it until it disappeared and wish that I could be the pilot.” With a sigh he added, “Now I wish I could be back down there fishing.”

It’s natural to spend time thinking about where we’d like to be or what we’d like to have. But we must evaluate our desires to make sure they are consistent with what God says will truly satisfy.

King David found satisfaction by putting first things first. His joy was rooted in the strength of the Lord and the salvation He provided (Ps. 21:1-2). It was because David sought the Lord that God gave him the desires of his heart (37:4).

When our desires conform to God’s will, we’re not likely to waste time wishing for things that can’t satisfy. Real joy comes not in getting what we want, but in wanting to be close to God.By David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Fret not for want of earthly things—
They’ll never satisfy;
The secret of contentment is
To let the Lord supply.
—DJD

Contentment comes when we realize God has everything we need.

Psalm 37:5  Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

BGT  Psalm 36:5 ἀποκάλυψον πρὸς κύριον τὴν ὁδόν σου καὶ ἔλπισον ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν καὶ αὐτὸς ποιήσει

NET  Psalm 37:5 Commit your future to the LORD! Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf.

LXE  Psalm 37:5 Disclose thy way to the Lord, and hope in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

NLT  Psalm 37:5 Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.

KJV  Psalm 37:5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

ESV  Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.

NIV  Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

ASV  Psalm 37:5 Commit thy way unto Jehovah; Trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass.

CSB  Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act,

NKJ  Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

NRS  Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.

YLT  Psalm 37:5 Roll on Jehovah thy way, And trust upon Him, and He worketh,

Commit your way to the LORD – “Give it over into God’s hands, and then confide in him as completely as a little child confides in its mother. Give it up to him to rule it, and to guide thee and lead thee in every step. Put the helm of your ship into the hand of the Almighty Pilot. Leave the guidance of your pilgrimage to him who has led many caravans across the desert aforetime, and who has never suffered any to perish. What an easy way this is; and yet how hard do we find it to carry it out! It is to unload ourselves, and put our burden on our God. Oh, that we had the sanctified common-sense to make us fulfill this duty!” (Spurgeon)

Treasury of David on Commit thy way unto the Lord. Roll the whole burden of life upon the Lord. Leave with Jehovah not thy present fretfulness merely, but all thy cares; in fact, submit the whole tenor of thy way to him. Cast away anxiety, resign thy will, submit thy judgment, leave all with the God of all. What a medicine is this for expelling envy! What a high attainment does this fourth precept indicate! How blessed must he be who lives every day in obedience to it! Trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Our destiny shall be joyfully accomplished if we confidently entrust all to our Lord. We may serenely sing

Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
O lead me by thine own right hand,
Choose out the path for me.”

“Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it matters not,
It leads me to thy rest.”

“I dare not choose my lot,
I would not if I might;
But choose Thou for me, O my God,
So shall I walk aright.”

“Take thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill;
As ever best to thee may seem,
Choose thou my good and ill.”

Trust also in Him, and He will do it. – KJV = “He shall bring it to pass.”

Spurgeon – “He shall bring it to pass.” It is quite certain that you cannot “bring it to pass,” so you will be wise if you leave it with him who can do what you cannot.

Oswald Chambers – Don’t plan without God. God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the plans we have made, when we have not taken Him into account. We get ourselves into circumstances that were not chosen by God, and suddenly we realize that we have been making our plans without Him— that we have not even considered Him to be a vital, living factor in the planning of our lives. And yet the only thing that will keep us from even the possibility of worrying is to bring God in as the greatest factor in all of our planning. In spiritual issues it is customary for us to put God first, but we tend to think that it is inappropriate and unnecessary to put Him first in the practical, everyday issues of our lives. If we have the idea that we have to put on our “spiritual face” before we can come near to God, then we will never come near to Him. We must come as we are.

Don’t plan with a concern for evil in mind. Does God really mean for us to plan without taking the evil around us into account? “Love…thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Love is not ignorant of the existence of evil, but it does not take it into account as a factor in planning. When we were apart from God, we did take evil into account, doing all of our planning with it in mind, and we tried to reason out all of our work from its standpoint.

Don’t plan with a rainy day in mind. You cannot hoard things for a rainy day if you are truly trusting Christ. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1). God will not keep your heart from being troubled. It is a command— “Let not….” To do it, continually pick yourself up, even if you fall a hundred and one times a day, until you get into the habit of putting God first and planning with Him in mind.


Peace In The Storm

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. —Psalm 37:5

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 37:1-11

During a terrible storm on the ocean, a small passenger ship rolled precariously in the roaring tempest. The furniture and anything else that could move was tied down, and the passengers were confined to their bunks for their own safety. Many on board thought the vessel was doomed.

Finally, a passenger who was determined to find out if there was any hope for survival set out to see the one who was in command. Clinging to the walls and handrails, he made his way to the wave-lashed deck, up a ladder, and into the wheelhouse. He noticed that the ship was nearing land and was between some jagged rocks. It became apparent that the captain was trying to reach the safety of a calm bay up ahead. Knowing he could not make himself heard above the roar of the wind and waves, the captain just turned wordlessly to the worried passenger and smiled. Reassured, the man returned to the others and said, “Don’t be afraid. All is well. I’ve seen the captain’s face, and he smiled!”

When we are battered by the storms of life, we may be tempted to give in to feelings of hopelessness. But if we look to our sovereign Captain and commit our way to Him (Psalm 37:5), we will find peace even in the midst of turmoil. We can trust Him to bring us through the storm.   By: Henry G. Bosch  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

God’s unseen presence comforts me,
I know He’s always near;
And when life’s storms besiege my soul,
He says, “My child, don’t fear.”
—D. De Haan

God may calm the storm around you,
but more often He’ll calm the storm within you.


Panic Prayers

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. —Psalm 37:5

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 37:1-8

In her book Beyond Our Selves, Catherine Marshall wrote about learning to surrender her entire life to God through a “prayer of relinquishment.” When she encountered situations she feared, she often panicked and exhibited a demanding spirit in prayer: “God, I must have thus and so.” God seemed remote. But when she surrendered the dreaded situation to Him to do with it exactly as He pleased, fear left and peace returned. From that moment on, God began working things out.

In Psalm 37, David talked about both commitment and surrender: “Commit your way to the Lord,” he said, “trust also in Him” (v.5). Committed believers are those who sincerely follow and serve the Lord, and it’s appropriate to urge people to have greater commitment. But committing ourselves to God and trusting Him imply surrendering every area of our lives to His wise control, especially when fear and panic overtake us. The promised result of such wholehearted commitment and trust is that God will do what is best for us.

Instead of trying to quell your fears with panic prayers, surrender yourself to God through a prayer of relinquishment, and see what He will do.  By: Joanie Yoder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine.
Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride;
I now surrender, Lord—in me abide.
—Orr

Prayer is the bridge between panic and peace.


Not What I Planned

Rest in the Lord. —Psalm 37:7

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 37:1-8

This isn’t the way I expected my life to be. I wanted to marry at 19, have a half-dozen children, and settle into life as a wife and mother. But instead I went to work, married in my forties, and never had children. For a number of years I was hopeful that Psalm 37:4 might be for me a God-guaranteed promise: “He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

But God doesn’t always “bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5), and unmet desires stir up occasional sadness. Like mine, your life may have turned out differently than you planned. A few thoughts from Psalm 37 may be helpful (even though the psalm is primarily about comparing ourselves to the wicked).

We learn from verse 4 that unfulfilled desires don’t have to take the joy out of life. As we get to know God’s heart, He becomes our joy.

“Commit your way to the Lord” (Psalm 37:5). The word commit means “to roll.” Bible teacher Herbert Lockyer, Sr., says, “‘Roll thy way upon the Lord,’ as one who lays upon the shoulders of one stronger than himself a burden which he is not able to bear.”

“Trust also in Him” (Psalm 37:5). When we confidently entrust everything to God, we can “rest in the Lord” (Psalm 37:7), for He is bringing about His best for our lives. By: Anne Cetas (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

As I walk along life’s pathway,
Though the way I cannot see,
I shall follow in His footsteps,
For He has a plan for me.
—Thiesen

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. —Proverbs 16:9

Psalm 37:6  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.

BGT  Psalm 36:6 καὶ ἐξοίσει ὡς φῶς τὴν δικαιοσύνην σου καὶ τὸ κρίμα σου ὡς μεσημβρίαν

NET  Psalm 37:6 He will vindicate you in broad daylight, and publicly defend your just cause.

LXE  Psalm 37:6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day.

NLT  Psalm 37:6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

KJV  Psalm 37:6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

ESV  Psalm 37:6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

NIV  Psalm 37:6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

ASV  Psalm 37:6 And he will make thy righteousness to go forth as the light, And thy justice as the noon-day.

CSB  Psalm 37:6 making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday.

NKJ  Psalm 37:6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.

NRS  Psalm 37:6 He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

YLT  Psalm 37:6 And hath brought out as light thy righteousness, And thy judgment as noon-day.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.

Treasury of David on And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light. In the matter of personal reputation we may especially be content to be quiet, and leave our vindication with the Judge of all the earth. The more we fret in this case the worse for us. Our strength is to sit still. The Lord will clear the slandered. If we look to his honour, he will see to ours. It is wonderful how, when faith learns to endure calumny with composure, the filth does not defile her, but falls off like snowballs from a wall of granite. Even in the worst cases, where a good name is for awhile darkened, Providence will send a clearing like the dawning light, which shall increase until the man once censured shall be universally admired. And thy judgment as the noonday. No shade of reproach shall remain. The man shall be in his meridian of splendour. The darkness of his sorrow and his ill repute shall both flee away. (CHS)

Spurgeon – Thou canst not make the light and the noonday; that is a work that is far beyond thy power; but thy God can give thee both light and noonday. He can clear thy character from any slander that may have befouled it, and he can crown thee with honour and glory in place of the contempt that is now cast upon thee. Leave your character with God; it is safe there. Men may throw mud at it, but it will never stick long on a true believer; it shall soon come off, and you shall be the more glorious for men’s slander. It is better to trust (Ps 37:5) our character with God than with the ablest counselor. Scandal may pass over a fair name for a while and cloud it, but God is the avenger of all the righteous. There will be a resurrection of reputations, as well as of persons at the last great day. Only we must commit it to God.


Losing To Win

He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. —Psalm 37:6

Today’s Scripture:Psalm 37:1-11

While James E. Rogan was a US Representative from a district in California, he was faced with a crucial decision. He had been elected by the slimmest of margins in an area that usually voted for the other party. An extremely important public issue with immense moral implications was being considered. If he followed his conscience, it would cost him re-election. If he followed political expediency, he could be certain of another term.

The congressman went with his convictions and voted for what he knew in his heart to be right. He was not re-elected. Afterward, he said, “It hurt to lose. But I’ll never regret my vote . . . . It is easy for elected officials to succumb to the illusion that the greater good is served by their self-perpetuation in office. But something larger gets lost. . . . the ability to lead.”

As followers of Christ, we are commanded to live by the principles of the Bible. At times, that will cost us popularity or success. Truth may cost more than a lie; conviction more than convenience; honesty more than cheating.

For now, it looks as if the world is winning and Christians are losing. We need to remember that “those who wait on the Lord . . . shall inherit the earth” (Psalm 37:7-9). When we do what is right, we gain the Lord’s approval.  — By: David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

When Jesus said to follow Him
Regardless of the cost,
He promised He would surely give
Much more than would be lost.
—Sper

To lose is not always failure.

Psalm 37:7  Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.

BGT  Psalm 36:7 ὑποτάγηθι τῷ κυρίῳ καὶ ἱκέτευσον αὐτόν μὴ παραζήλου ἐν τῷ κατευοδουμένῳ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ ποιοῦντι παρανομίας

NET  Psalm 37:7 Wait patiently for the LORD! Wait confidently for him! Do not fret over the apparent success of a sinner, a man who carries out wicked schemes!

LXE  Psalm 37:7 Submit thyself to the Lord, and supplicate him: fret not thyself because of him that prospers in his way, at the man that does unlawful deeds.

NLT  Psalm 37:7 Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

KJV  Psalm 37:7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

ESV  Psalm 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

NIV  Psalm 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

ASV  Psalm 37:7 Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for him: Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, Because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

CSB  Psalm 37:7 Be silent before the LORD and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans.

NKJ  Psalm 37:7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

NRS  Psalm 37:7 Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.

YLT  Psalm 37:7 Be silent for Jehovah, and stay thyself for Him, Do not fret because of him Who is making prosperous his way, Because of a man doing wicked devices.

Rest in the LORD Heb “Be quiet before the LORD!”

Treasury of David on Rest in the Lord. This fifth is a most divine precept, and requires much grace to carry it out. To hush the spirit, to be silent before the Lord, to wait in holy patience the time for clearing up the difficulties of Providence—that is what every gracious heart should aim at. “Aaron held his peace:” “I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it.” A silent tongue in many cases not only shows a wise head, but a holy heart. And wait patiently for him. Time is nothing to him; let it be nothing to thee. God is worth waiting for. “He never is before his time, he never is too late.” In a story we wait for the end to clear up the plot; we ought not to prejudge the great drama of life, but stay till the closing scene, and see to what a finis the whole arrives. (CHS)

Spurgeon on Rest – That is the sweetest word of all: “Rest.” Go no further. Fret no more. Bear thy burdens no longer. Make this day a Sabbath to thy soul: “Rest in the Lord,”-And wait patiently for him:-Do not be in a hurry. The Lord has infinite leisure, so partake of it as far as thou canst: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:”-

and wait patiently for Him;

Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,

Treasury of David on Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. There is no good, but much evil, in worrying your heart about the present success of graceless plotters: be not enticed into premature judgments—they dishonour God, they weary yourself. Determine, let the wicked succeed as they may, that you will treat the matter with indifference, and never allow a question to be raised as to the righteousness and goodness of the Lord. What if wicked devices succeed and your own plans are defeated! there is more of the love of God in your defeats than in the successes of the wicked. (CHS)

Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes

Spurgeon = This earth is not your rest! You shall fly the wide world over till your wings are weary, but you doves of Christ you shall find no rest till you come back to the hand of your Noah & nestle in His ark of Covenant Grace. “Rest in the Lord” says the text & in saying so it does, as it were, condemn all other pretended rests & fancied refuges! May everyone of you who have wandered hear the voice of Wisdom & may your hearts say, “Return unto your rest, O my Soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you!”


Praying And Waiting

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. —Psalm 37:7

Today’s Scripture: Nehemiah 1:5-11

A Christian couple was deeply distressed because their married son and his family had quit going to church and were giving God no place in their lives. As their friend, I advised them to continue showing love, to pray, and to avoid starting arguments. But at the family’s annual Christmas gathering, the father gave his son a lecture in the presence of the other siblings. The son and his family left in anger and broke off all contact with his parents.
It’s hard to rely on prayer alone when you want something to happen right now. But that is what Nehemiah did. He was distraught by the news that the Israelites in Jerusalem were in grave danger (Nehemiah 1:3-4). He was a man with great leadership ability and in a favorable position to receive help from the king he served, so he was eager to help his people. But he knew that he could be executed for coming into the presence of a Persian king without being invited. Therefore, though he had asked God to give him the opportunity immediately, he trusted God enough to wait. Four months later, the king opened the door for him to make his request (2:1,4).

It’s not always easy to be patient, but God can be trusted. Wait patiently for Him. By: Herbert Vander Lugt  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Praying, resting, waiting, trusting—
These are words that tell a story;
As we wait for God to lead us,
He responds, “Just seek My glory.”
—Hess

Delay is not denial—pray on!

The Treasure Myth

Read: Psalm 37:7-20

What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul. —Mark 8:36

When the great ocean liner Titanic sank in 1912, it was rumored to have gone down with a fortune in jewels and gold. That longstanding myth was dispelled, however, by the discovery of the ship’s manifest, which showed that the ship was carrying raw feathers, linen, straw, hatter’s fur, tissue, auto parts, leather, rabbit hair, elastics, hair nets, and refrigerating equipment.

There is another persistent rumor about riches. It is widely believed that a wealthy person should be honored and valued, even though he may be ungodly. On the other hand, a godly, self-disciplined person is considered by some to be of little worth if he is not wealthy.

David, the author of Psalm 37, cautioned the poor and needy not to be envious of the rich and prosperous. In time, the cargo manifest of the ungodly will be uncovered, revealing that their lives contain nothing of enduring value.

This life is only the beginning of an everlasting existence. So don’t look longingly at the ungodly and their riches. They have no lasting treasures. Instead, be like those who wait with patience for their eternal God (vv.7,9)—no matter what their economic situation may be. They alone know where to find real treasure. By Mart DeHaan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Some people think they have it all
When riches come their way;
But their great loss will be revealed
On God’s accounting day.
—Bosch

It’s better to be poor and walk by faith
than to be rich and walk by sight.

Put On Hold

Read: 1 Samuel 1:1-18

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. —Psalm 37:7

I’m sure you’ve had it happen to you. You call the appliance store and ask for the service department. “Can you hold?” a cheerful voice asks, and before you know it you’re hearing music. Every so often a taped message assures you that your call will be answered. You wait and wait. You think, I could have driven over there and back by now! You feel forgotten and that nobody cares.

Sometimes it seems that God has put us on hold. We pray and pray about a matter of extreme importance, but nothing happens. Nothing!

I’m sure that’s how Hannah felt. She was asking God for a baby. Childlessness was a curse in her day. To make it worse, her husband’s other wife ridiculed her mercilessly. Hannah wanted desperately to give her husband a child. She prayed out of deep pain and bitterness. Yet year after year she did not conceive.

How can we reconcile the apparent silence of God to our repeated prayers? Remember that God’s wisdom surpasses our own. What we’re asking for might harm us. We can’t see the whole picture. Our timing is not God’s timing.

When God puts you “on hold,” don’t grumble. You can entrust your most cherished longings and desires to Him, and then patiently wait for Him to answer. By David C. Egner  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

When we call out to You, O Lord,
And wait for answers to our prayer,
Give us the patience that we need
And help us sense Your love and care.
—Sper

When God puts you on hold, don’t hang up!


Go Fever

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Numbers 14:39-45

On January 28, 1986, after five weather-related delays, the space shuttle Challenger lumbered heavenward amid a thunderous overture of noise and flame. A mere 73 seconds later, system failure tore the shuttle apart, and all seven crew members perished.

The disaster was attributed to an O-ring seal known to have vulnerabilities. Insiders referred to the fatal mistake as “go fever”—the tendency to ignore vital precautions in the rush to a grand goal.

Our ambitious human nature relentlessly tempts us to make ill-advised choices. Yet we are also prone to a fear that can make us overly cautious. The ancient Israelites demonstrated both traits. When the 12 scouts returned from spying out the Promised Land, 10 of the 12 saw only the obstacles (Num. 13:26-33). “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are,” they said (v. 31). After a fearful rebellion against the Lord that led to the death of the 10 spies, the people suddenly developed a case of “go fever.” They said, “Now we are ready to go up to the land the Lord promised” (Nu 14:40). Without God, the ill-timed invasion failed miserably (Nu 14:41-45).

When we take our eyes off the Lord, we’ll slide into one of two extremes. We’ll impatiently rush ahead without Him, or we’ll cower and complain in fear. Focusing on Him brings courage tempered with His wisdom. By: Tim Gustafson (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Before making a quick decision, consider why you want to make it quickly. Consider if it will honor God and what it might cost others. If you are afraid to make a decision, think about why that might be. Most of all, pray!

A moment of patience can prevent a great disaster.

Patience

Read: Psalm 37:1-9

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. —Psalm 37:7

It may take only a year for a construction crew to put up a tall building, but God takes a century to grow a sturdy oak. So too, the Lord may seem to be working slowly to accomplish His purposes in our lives, but His grand designs take time.

The great New England preacher Phillips Brooks was noted for his poise and quiet manner. At times, however, even he suffered moments of frustration and irritability. One day a friend saw him pacing the floor like a caged lion. “What’s the trouble, Dr. Brooks?” asked the friend. “The trouble is that I am in a hurry,” said Brooks, “but God isn’t.” Haven’t we often felt the same?

Jonathan Goforth (1859-1936), a missionary to China, was convinced that the city of Changte should be his field of spiritual labor. But his faith was severely tested as he was mobbed and threatened when visiting the city. Finally, after 6 frustrating years, permission to begin his work was granted. Within 3 days of reaching Changte he had received no less than 35 offers of land, among them the very site he had chosen earlier as the most ideal spot for the mission.

Wait patiently for the Lord (Ps. 37:7). If you do, you’ll find that He will give you what’s best—in His time! By Henry G. Bosch  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Wait, and in waiting, listen for God’s leading,
Be strong, the strength for every day is stored;
Go forth in faith, and let your heart take courage,
There is no disappointment with the Lord.
—Anon.

God is never in a hurry, but He is always on time.

Psalm 37:8  Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.

BGT  Psalm 36:8 παῦσαι ἀπὸ ὀργῆς καὶ ἐγκατάλιπε θυμόν μὴ παραζήλου ὥστε πονηρεύεσθαι

NET  Psalm 37:8 Do not be angry and frustrated! Do not fret! That only leads to trouble!

LXE  Psalm 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself so as to do evil.

NLT  Psalm 37:8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper– it only leads to harm.

KJV  Psalm 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

ESV  Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

NIV  Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.

ASV  Psalm 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: Fret not thyself, it tendeth only to evil-doing.

CSB  Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated– it can only bring harm.

NKJ  Psalm 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret– it only causes harm.

NRS  Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret– it leads only to evil.

YLT  Psalm 37:8 Desist from anger, and forsake fury, Fret not thyself only to do evil.

Cease from anger and forsake wrath;

Treasury of David on Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Especially anger against the arrangements of Providence, and jealousies of the temporary pleasures of those who are so soon to be banished from all comfort. Anger anywhere is madness, here it is aggravate insanity. Yet since anger will try to keep us company, we must resolvedly forsake it. Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. By no reasonings and under no circumstances be led into such a course. Fretfulness lies upon the verge of great sin. Many who have indulged a murmuring disposition have at last come to sin, in order to gain their fancied rights. Beware of carping at others, study to be yourself found in the right way; and as you would dread outward sin, tremble at inward repining.(CHS)

Spurgeon on cease from anger – You cannot do that unless you “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” Angry passions fail upon the fire of fretfulness. A fretful spirit soon comes to be an angry spirit, and when we begin to be jealous of evildoers, we are very apt to become evildoers ourselves. Many an honest man has snatched at hasty gain, because he was envious of the prosperity of the unrighteous; and then he has pierced himself through with many sorrows in consequence. But “fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” There is an old proverb that it is hard for an empty sack to stand upright. Therefore, when you are in temporal trouble, ask the Lord to fill you with his grace, for then you will stand upright, and by-and-by you shall be delivered.

Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.


Oswald Chambers – One of God’s Great “Don’ts” – Fretting means getting ourselves “out of joint” mentally or spiritually. It is one thing to say, “Do not fret,” but something very different to have such a nature that you find yourself unable to fret. It’s easy to say, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7) until our own little world is turned upside down and we are forced to live in confusion and agony like so many other people. Is it possible to “rest in the Lord” then? If this “Do not” doesn’t work there, then it will not work anywhere. This “Do not” must work during our days of difficulty and uncertainty, as well as our peaceful days, or it will never work. And if it will not work in your particular case, it will not work for anyone else. Resting in the Lord is not dependent on your external circumstances at all, but on your relationship with God Himself. Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God. Have you been propping up that foolish soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God to handle? Set all your opinions and speculations aside and “abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about whatever concerns you. All our fretting and worrying is caused by planning without God.


Keep Me From Wrath

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. —Psalm 37:8

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 37:8-11

I have a friend whose note cards are imprinted with a picture of Rodin’s The Thinker, the famous sculpture depicting a man in sober reflection. Below the picture is this inscription: “Life is not fair.”

Indeed, it is not. And any theory that insists that this life is fair is illusory and deceptive.

Despite the overwhelming unfairness of life, however, David in Psalm 37 prays that he will not retaliate but will instead rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him to bring justice to the earth in due time (v.7). “For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth” (v.9).

Our wrath tends to be vindictive and punitive. God’s wrath is untainted by self-interest and tempered by mercy. His wrath can even be His relentless love that brings our antagonists to repentance and faith. We must not then avenge ourselves, “for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord . . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19,21).

This must begin in the heart, the wellspring from which the issues of our lives flow. May we cease from anger, forsake wrath, and wait patiently for the Lord. By: David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Lord, help me not retaliate When someone wants to pick a fight; Instead, give me the strength and faith To show Your love and do what’s right. —Sper

Revenge restrained is a victory gained.

Courtesy of https://www.preceptaustin.org/psalm-37-commentary

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Babylon and Its Spirit of Influence

Revelation 18:4 records this sobering command: “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.'”

This is sobering because the course of this world is closer than ever to reaching its anti-God fullness. There has never been a time in the out-working of God’s purpose when this advice is more urgently needed.

Among mankind, the course of the world did not begin in the original Babylon but in the Garden of Eden with the disbelieving conduct of Adam and Eve. They introduced the alien spirit and conduct among mankind—they were mankind at that time. Under the deceitful influence of Satan, they disbelieved God, following the Devil’s line of reasoning and conduct. They spread it to their children, who spread it to their children, and so forth.

In that manner, it became the way of life of all of mankind until God called a few, and they repented. It was in the city of Babylon, first under Nimrod and then under Nebuchadnezzar, that its concepts were perfected and forced on concentrated masses of people. These people then imposed it on others through whatever methods necessary.

God dealt with those two Babylons, destroying them. God directly confronted the first by destroying the people’s ability to communicate with each other, and they were thus scattered over the face of the earth. He dealt with the second less directly by raising up the Medo-Persian Empire to destroy Babylon’s powerful influence.

With both of those Babylons, the influence was localized. The first was concentrated in a small area, and its ways were imposed on relatively few people. The second Babylon’s geographical influence was greatly expanded, but it was still contained within the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent. However, its armies, economic and educational policies, and religions forced anti-God ways on many more people. Most importantly, among those affected were the ancestors of the peoples who make up the modern Western world—the part of the world now known as the bastion of Christianity—and they were among those most strongly affected. The effects of that contact reverberate to this day in our cultures.

Now we have reached the time the Bible calls “the last days” or “the end time.” We stand on the cusp of the Tribulation and Day of the Lord, and God’s Word prophesies that Babylon will once again be on the scene of events—only this time its powerful influence will be felt worldwide. This time, Babylon not only has dominant armies, powerful economic and educational systems, and strongly entrenched and popular religions, it also has extremely effective mass communication networks to disseminate its ways into the minds of men, influencing men against their Creator and His people.

Thus, God’s urgent warning to take action while one can. The influence of Babylon is imposed through communication. It occurs when we experience countless examples of misguided conduct by those who—unknown to them—are already enslaved by its evil influence.

The Battle to Resist

The apostles Paul and John speak of this largely unrecognized burden mankind carries. In II Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul writes, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

Additional subtle influence occurs when a person experiences Babylon’s ways and words and fails to monitor the attitudes he picks up and lives. Perhaps above all, men must deal with the inaudible but nonetheless attractive and powerful spiritual communication of Babylon’s invisible ruler, the prince of the power of the air, and his hordes of equally invisible demons. Resisting it can be a daunting task even for those aware that this communication is occurring; it calls on one to be constantly on guard. Nevertheless, resisting the communication is the key to blunting Babylon’s siren call.

God admonishes us to come out of her, but there is physically no place to go! The influence of Satan through Babylon’s powers of communication is everywhere. In Revelation 12:9, the apostle John confirms we have no place to run because this world’s ruler and his assistants have been permitted to communicate with and deceive mankind over the whole earth: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” We have been born into this ready-made, deceived world, taken it for granted, and absorbed it until God revealed an alternative.

Compared to previous Babylons, the major difference in what we now face in modern Babylon lies in the intensity, availability, and receptivity of its communication. As far as we know, mankind has never before been confronted by these twisted, persuasive, demonic powers as he is today. They now have the global use of the visible and audible influence of radio, music, movies, television, and the Internet, in addition to the entrenched systems of thought and standards of conduct.

There is no place to run. The battle to resist, then, is almost entirely internal—it is fought right where we live and conduct the business of life. What we must believe, and trust with steely determination and discipline, is that God never gives a person a responsibility impossible to perform (see the principle in I Corinthians 10:13). What God commands of us we can do! Therefore, if He commands we come out, we can come out right where we are. The coming out will not be a physical leaving of a geographical area but a departure from Babylon’s spiritual and physical influence.

This is not to say that changing one’s physical location will not be helpful in fighting the spiritual battle—just as not frequenting a den of iniquity has definite advantages! It is logical to assume that the intensity of evil communication would be worse in the heart of Babylon than out in the hinterlands. However, we must acknowledge the reality that we can take Babylon’s influence with us wherever we might go on earth. Even going to live on a deserted island will not spare us the burden of the influence Babylon has already exerted on us.

The Power of the Air

Revelation 18:2 adds additional information regarding the ubiquitous nature of evil communication: “And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a habitation of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird.'” In God’s description of Babylon’s evil qualities, He links demons with birds—not just any birds but unclean and hated birds, ones that display in their natural characteristics activities humans find disgusting and revolting.

America’s national symbol, the bald eagle, is beautiful to behold and majestic in flight, but it is also a carrion eater, feeding on the dead, and a vicious killer, relentlessly and ruthlessly seeking to devour. Then there is the vulture, ugly to behold, which strips the flesh of anything, including unburied human dead. Other birds, like certain types of owls, have somewhat similar characteristics, yet are nocturnal in their habits, seeking to attack and kill under the cover of the darkness of night. They also seem to seek out ruins of buildings as their habitats, places that men perceive to be cursed.

God paints Babylon as a dangerous place inhabited by predators, as if it is the very generator and purveyor of all evil on earth. Babylon has spread its influence over the whole earth, but in another sense, its heart and core are in one place. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1-3:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

In this chapter’s first ten verses, Paul is showing that the children of God—us—who were once objects of God’s wrath, are by His grace legally and spiritually freed from the clutches of Satan’s dominion. However, the influences of the world Satan has fashioned remain to be dealt with and overcome.

Satan is described as a spirit who is “prince of the power of the air.” This phrase has a familiar ring to it, but alternative translations may be better suited to understanding. The New English Bible calls him “commander of the spiritual powers of the air now at work among God’s rebel subjects.” The Concordat Literal New Testament renders it as “chief of the jurisdiction of the air, the spirit now operating in the sons of stubbornness.”

Webster’s gives as one of the usages for jurisdiction, “the limits, or territory within which authority may be exercised.” This particular jurisdiction is where air exists, tying in with the word “heavenly” in Ephesians 6:12: “[We wrestle] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Here, “heavenly” (epouranios) refers, not to the place of God’s throne, but to the first heaven, the air surrounding the earth in which birds fly. This also links with Revelation 18:2 and its “unclean and hated birds,” symbolizing demons. Birds operate in the same heaven Satan commands.

God gave Satan and his demon assistants substantial authority over everything from the earth’s atmosphere on down to the earth itself, which includes us, its inhabitants. We must never forget that, in large part, our wrestling, as Paul terms it, is with these spirits. We inhabit the same space they do. (Ed. Adam gave this authority and power that God had originally given him in Genesis 1 to the Devil in the Garden of Eden as an act of high treason. Luke 4:5, 6)

These evil spirits indeed use deceived people to carry out their plans to destroy those in whom God lives. These people are likely under the strong influence of those spirit authorities, and because they are deceived, they are unaware that they are being used! They are not necessarily possessed, as the Bible shows some are, but influenced by demons to act against our best interests.

Communicating Through Air

Air is that substance, that realm, through which most communication travels. Sound is possible because of the vibration of air. Communication involving electronic media, satellites, television, radio, the Internet, etc., travels through the air. In fact, when speaking of radio transmissions especially, it is common to refer to them as “airwaves.”

An amazing discovery is worth considering in terms of the transmission of attitudes and thoughts. There are forms of communication that require no sound, but they nonetheless involve the ability of air to be the common medium for communication.

Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto authored a small book, Hidden Messages in Water, which is a brief explanation of things he discovered in his studies of the crystallization of water. In it, he writes of vibration, saying that every cell in our body is vibrating at the rate of 570 trillion vibrations per second. Perhaps the major reason we are able to see, in addition to being able to hear, is because of the vibrations of the air we breathe and live in! Air makes visible communication possible in addition to audible communication.

The bulk of Mr. Emoto’s book is concerned with the structure of water and how it is affected by its environment. As we know, each snowflake, which is nothing more than frozen water, is made up of an endless series of six-sided, crystal-shaped ice formations. It is claimed that nobody has ever seen two of the exact same formations. Emoto discovered that the crystal formations of water become distorted and misshaped under negative circumstances. As long as the water is pure, its crystals are beautifully shaped, but when it becomes poisoned in some way—say, with bleach—the crystals become ugly. In some cases, they will no longer even form.

More amazingly, he also discovered that the crystallization of even pure water becomes distorted in the presence of a human in a negative attitude. Simply, in the presence of anger, envy, frustration, or a negative fear, the beautiful crystals of even pure water begin to deform. Somehow, the person’s negative vibrations, their self-centered, angry, and envious thoughts, are communicated to the water, and it reacts.

From our own experiences, we know that things of this sort are possible in the human world. If a person comes into our presence in an angry attitude, we quickly know it because it is communicated. The communication may not be verbal—visual communication is enough. We sense it, and almost immediately, we react by putting up our guard.

Plants, too, respond positively to the loving concern of those taking care of them. We find this acceptable because we know that plants are living entities. But this is water. Is there some form of life in water itself? In John 7:37-39, the apostle writes:

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any one thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, which those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Is there more to His statement than meets the eye? I do not know.

I cannot personally account for what Mr. Emoto reports. No one can say how the person’s attitude is transferred to the water. Is there demonic influence? At present, it seems likely that this ocean of air, in which we move and which supports our lives, communicates the vibrations that alter the crystals.

A factor God wants us to realize more completely and fully is that we are not alone in this ocean of air. Even as vicious sharks and barracuda prowl the water, their demonic counterparts, symbolized as foul and unclean raptors and carrion-eaters, inhabit the ocean of air right along with us. It is essential to our spiritual well-being to heed Paul’s warning in Ephesians 6:10-12 that our battles are against these creatures, and they are fighting tooth-and-toenail to hang on to what they believe is theirs by first-occupancy rights. Earth, the Bible plainly tells us, was “their first estate” (Jude 6, KJV). They hate us because we are becoming like the Father and Son, and because they know this earth, our inheritance, will be taken from them and given to the sons of God, those who are in His image.

On the surface, they have advantages over us because they are invisible to our eyes. As spirit beings, they apparently vibrate at a different frequency than we do, thus our eyes are not naturally equipped to see them. In addition, they can communicate their thoughts and attitudes to our minds through the very air that supports our lives without us even being aware.

If human thoughts and attitudes can be communicated through the air to plants and water, why can demonic thoughts not be communicated to another living being—us—without them overtly revealing themselves? Most people in this world do not know they are deceived or how they became deceived. Satan and his demons have not sat us all down to tell us, “We are here to deceive you.” We know only because God’s Word reveals this truth to us, and we believe it. Despite this happening in our lives, deception can still be communicated to us unless we are astute enough to take care that it does not happen again.

Nevertheless, deception and its resulting behaviors have been communicated to us through the culture we were born into. The culture, the world around us, is the medium of this corrupting communication. We have been freed from deception by God’s revelation of Himself, but the urgent admonition from our Lord and Savior is, “Don’t be passive concerning the responsibilities your liberation has imposed. Take action because the communication can be reabsorbed, enslaving you once again.”

This World’s Course

In Ephesians 2:2, Paul writes of “the course of this world.” The Greek word kosmos, translated into the English word “world,” essentially means an “orderly system.” To human eyes beholding all the activity throughout the earth, the world looks anything but orderly. It looks confusing, to say the least. However, that conclusion depends on one’s perspective.

What is going on to discerning eyes, the eyes of one to whom God has revealed Himself, is an orderly system of deception cloaked by restless activity among humans involved in constant wars, thousands of religions, evil conduct, corrupting entertainments, and other distracting, time-wasting business and social vanities. All of this restless activity is in reality nothing but a smokescreen hiding a sinister influence from discovery.

Notice something to which we generally do not pay much attention. The word “world” appears as the object of the preposition “of.” This prepositional phrase modifies “course,” showing us that Paul is speaking of a specific “course” available to us to choose from among others. The Greek word translated “course,” aion, is especially interesting. At first, it indicates “an age,” “an indefinite period of time,” and by extension, “perpetuity.”

However, Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament Words provides an interesting alternative, saying that it also means, “Time viewed in relation to what takes place during that period” (emphasis added). Aion, then, does not have to mean simply “time” in some form: Vine shows that it is correctly translated “place” in Hebrews 5:6. Other commentators go into greater detail, but we will quote only two highly respected ones that other commentators frequently cite as authorities.

First, Richard C. Trench is a resource virtually every commentator eventually quotes on the definitions of biblical words. He defines aion as:

. . . all that floating mass of thought, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims and aspirations at any time current in the world, which is impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitutes a most real and effective power, being our moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably exhale.

Aion, translated as “course” in Ephesians 2:2, is the vague, ever-present immaterial realm that we are surrounded by and live in. It is interesting that Trench ties his definition to air, in that, even as we unconsciously breathe air in and out to sustain life, the course of the world is every bit as necessary to carnal life and is affecting us invisibly and constantly.

Second, Johann A. Bengel adds that aion is, “. . . the subtle informing spirit of the Kosmos, or world of men who are living alienated and apart from God.” This is what Germans termed zeitgeist, the spirit of the age—the “informing spirit”! The term “spirit” is used to indicate the invisible, immaterial influence whose characteristics are absorbed and then manifested in the attitudes and conduct of the general population of a given people.

An American commentator, Kenneth Wuest, is very helpful at this juncture:

To distinguish between aion and kosmoskosmos gives the over-all picture of mankind alienated from God during all of history, and aion represents any distinct age or period of human history as marked out from another by particular characteristics.

Course in Roget’s International Thesaurus, under the heading “tendency,” has such synonyms as “thoughts,” “zeitgeist,” “spirit,” “disposition,” “character,” “nature,” “makeup,” “bent,” “slant,” “frame of mind,” “attitude,” “inclination,” “mind-set,” “drift,” “perspective,” and many more. It may be easier to understand “course of this world” by rephrasing it into statements such as, “according to the disposition of this world”; “according to the character of this world”; “according to the nature of this world”; “according to the makeup of this world”; “according to the mindset, drift, or perspective of this world.”

This is the spirit from which we must be converted. It is the unseen foundation and fountain of our pre-conversion conduct, and it is the same spirit still motivating us when we act carnally or in the flesh. Despite conversion, it remains within us, compressed like a spring that is ready to jump into action and influence our conduct. (Ed. Kosmos is the corporate consciousness of the people of this world who are in rebellion against God’s authority. It binds together the unbelieving world and describes ordered existence apart from God and His grace. Satan is the founder and chief perpetrator of this kosmos rebellion bringing almost all of mankind into this spirit of rebellion. This spirit of kosmos can be intoxicating, charming and alluring, but it is deadly to those who embrace it.)

Men Choose Evil

A major characteristic of this spirit is that it is habitually self-centered rather than God-centered. A simple example illustrates how it became this way. In Genesis 1:31 God takes satisfaction in all He had made, declaring it “very good.” Included in this is Adam and Eve’s nature, as they were already created by this time.

Thus, at the beginning, mankind’s nature was not corrupted by contact with this world. Genesis 3 records the episode of their confrontation with Satan that began the evil transformation of their basic nature. God did not create their nature as evil, but it became evil through the influence of another spirit that they chose to follow without any intervention from their Creator.

The same process continues to this day, as each of us is born into this world and comes under the influence of the same spirit that influenced Adam and Eve to turn from God. We are all born with a slight pull toward self, but not with the evil that eventually develops and manifests itself in our conduct. Evil is not—cannot be—passed on through procreation, but it is fashioned anew by the spirit of the age into which each person is born. It is a converted parent’s responsibility to God and his children to ensure the right spirit dominates his home so the children can be properly nurtured. (Ed. Sin is passed to our progeny through the blood, but Jesus Christ conquered sin and death and through his perfect sacrifice, sin no longer has to have dominion over us. It is a daily battle in our hearts and minds to walk by the spirit rather than the fleshly spirit of this age. Sin is always crouching at the door, ready to pounce if we give it access to our lives.)

People in the world understand this to some extent when they observe with maxims like, “The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree,” “Like father, like son,” or “Like mother, like daughter.” This world’s Christians, to avoid responsibility for their evil, have blamed God for creating us this way. But God did not make us this way. Mankind, represented by Adam and Eve, chose to become this way, and all of their descendants, including us, have chosen the same path under the influence of the same evil spirit who offered Adam and Eve the choice. This accounts for the course of this world.

Jeremiah 17:9 shows us how evil God judges the source of our unconverted motivations to be: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” The Revised Standard Version translates this as, “The natural heart of man is desperately corrupt; incurably sick.” It is so bad, so evil, it cannot be salvaged by repairing it! It must be completely replaced. This is what the conversion process—our calling, repentance, justification, and sanctification—accomplishes.

We need to understand more completely why this aspect of God’s command to flee Babylon is so important. We can be easily deceived about it, misunderstanding why God says the human heart is incurably sick. In Luke 11:13, Jesus makes an easily overlooked comment: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” The way He says this implies that those before Him were thoroughly, not partly, evil.

He flat out calls them evil! There is no equivocation, no modification of this verse in the heart of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus Himself was called “good” in Matthew 19:16, but He immediately corrects the speaker, saying, “No one is good but One, that is, God.” This is God’s assessment of human nature, not man’s.

Jesus is saying that, just because human nature knows how to and actually does some good things, it does not alter the fact that it is still incurably evil. Our pride tends to blunt God’s assessment, rising to defend us from the condemnation of what we are compared to, the standard—God.

Consider this example: Most people judge Adolph Hitler to be thoroughly evil. However, many of his closest companions claimed that he loved children and dogs. Most people would judge that as good. This dichotomy even in such a man begs a look into another set of scriptures.

An Evil Mixture

The apostle writes in James 3:8-12:

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

People say human nature is a mixture of good and evil, but in terms of living in the Kingdom of God, that evil mixture is unacceptable. Is God Himself a mixture of good and evil? I John 3:2 makes abundantly clear that we shall be like Him, and there is not one spot of evil in Him. (Ed. 1 John 1:5 says that God is light and in Him is no darkness AT ALL!)

We are seeing what we need to repent of. Unless we realize that it is not merely what we have done but what we are that needs radical changing, we will have a terribly difficult time overcoming and growing.

By now, we should have plenty of evidence to understand that salvation absolutely must be by grace. Human nature is an evil mixture that we cannot make good. Even in a converted person led by the Holy Spirit, the course of this world is still just below the surface. Matthew 16:21-23 shows how easily a disciple of Christ can become the means of communication from demons:

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Peter did the speaking, but Jesus spoke to Satan, attributing the source of the disciple’s action. His verbal outburst was against God’s will that Jesus suffer and die. Without recognizing it, Peter permitted himself to be a willing conduit for Satan’s will!

Several years ago, I clipped an abstract of a book, Wrestling with Dark Angels, which was advertised in a book catalog. The abstract reads:

They’re those inner “voices of reason” that try to convince you that wrong is right, that evil is good. They’re Satan’s dark angels, and you fight them every day. Some of today’s most respected theologians help you better understand these supernatural forces so you can combat them effectively—and win the war for your mind.

The solution for us today is to combat that influence by means of the continuous influence of God’s Holy Spirit flowing from our relationship with God through Bible study, prayer, meditation, occasional fasting, and obedience. Being in the spiritual presence of God and His Son Jesus Christ is the antidote. It is our shield and the means to flee Babylon.

John W. Ritenbaugh

Courtesy of https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/PERSONAL/k/1095/Communication-Leaving-Babylon-Part-One.htm

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Underestimating Jesus

By E. W. Kenyon

One cannot conceive of anything that will cripple faith and put the believer in bondage more quickly and surely than underestimating what He is, and what we are in Him. Along with that will come an underestimation of the Word.

We will say right out, “Oh, I believe the Bible is the Word of God.” And yet we turn to the arm of flesh for help.

And when we pray, we do not come with that quiet assurance that we would if some banker had given us his word in regard to our financial standing at the bank.

This is an unconscious underestimation of the Word, and it is an unconscious underestimation of the integrity of the Master Himself, who is the Author of this Word.
This leads to weakness, to doubt and fear. It makes a vacillating type of faith.
We become what James calls “a double-minded man that is unstable in all his ways.”

What will change it?

When we realize what He has done for us in His great Substitution and in the New Creation.

We should meditate on the fact that we are partakers of the divine nature. “These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have Eternal Life, even to you that believe on His name.” (I John 5:13).

If we say over and over again to our hearts: “I am a partaker of God’s very nature. I have in me His faith nature. This makes me a child of faith. I have been begotten of the Living Word through the Holy Spirit. The real me was recreated in Christ. I have the very nature of the Father and the Father is love, so I have in me the love nature of the Father,” if we meditate on this, we will no longer be “double-minded men.”

Repeat it over and over again.

Hold it as a constant affirmation before your mind that you are what He says you are; that you are a partaker of His very nature as He has declared.

And you remember that “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” That Greater One is the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the one that in creation gave the color, the beauty and fragrance to the flowers, to vegetation, to the trees. He is the one that takes of the nature of the Father, and through the Word, builds it into us.

He builds the beauty of Christ into our conduct. He touches our reasoning faculties until the things that He has made in the floral world assume a new interest. and their beauty is enhanced and their fragrance enjoyed as never before.

I can remember the night that I received Eternal Life. It seemed as though I hardly touched the sidewalk on my way home. It was a cold winter night in January, but, oh, how beautiful the snow and the frost. Yes, the trees stripped of their foliage assumed a beauty I had never noted before.

The Holy Spirit had taken possession and was unveiling the wonders of His grace to me.
An underestimation of the Holy Spirit, of the Word, of Jesus, will keep us in a state of flux, in a realm of uncertainty.Fear will dominate us; doubt will bind us, and hold us in the realm of weakness.

But when we come to know Jesus as our Lord, as the Mighty One at the right hand of the Father who ever lives to make intercession for us, our great lawyer that looks after every legal need of ours in Christ, we will no longer be dominated by fear and doubt.

We should come to know the reality of the Holy Spirit’s reality, which is all unveiled to us in the Pauline Revelation.

I urge you to go back and read Romans, and First and Second Corinthians again. Then abide a while in Ephesians, in those first three chapters especially, until you are lifted out of the realm of the senses into the realm of the new man in Christ Jesus.

The fear of seeing what we are in Christ, and of acting as though we knew what we were, has kept us in bondage and robbed us of the reality of His finished work. How slow we have been to act what we are in Him. The Spirit, through the Word, has declared what we are in Christ. Ephesians 1:7 “in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the remission of our trespasses”-and it is according to the riches of His Grace.

That is not a theological redemption. This is not Paul’s philosophy. This is the Father’s description of what we are in His Son, and He says “in whom we have our redemption.”
From Whom and What are we redeemed?

What He Made Us

Satan is the God of Darkness. We have been delivered out of Satan’s Dominion, out of the realm and authority of Darkness. We have been delivered out of the dominion of Sin, for “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” We are delivered out of the authority of Disease, for Romans 8:11 says: “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

Not only have we a redemption that is literal and absolute, but we are a new creation, and Satan has no dominion over us. Jesus is the Head and Lord of this new creation.
We have been taught so long and so persistently about our weaknesses and our lack of ability and our unworthiness that we hardly dare say that we are what He says we are. We are afraid that people will misunderstand us and think that we have become fanatical.
But He says: “Wherefore if any man is in Christ (and we are in Christ) he is a new creation: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new, and all these things are of God,” and we are reconciled to Him.

We are a part of His very dream.

Satan has no dominion over this new creation.

Ephesians 2:10 says we are created in Christ Jesus, that when Jesus arose from the dead the work of the new creation was consumated in Christ. It became a reality in us when we took Him as our Savior and confessed Him as our Lord.

The Father in His Word has declared what we are in His Son. That declaration is the truth.
I may not have grown up to it, may not have- appreciated it, but it stands there with an open door inviting me to enjoy all the fullness that is mine in Him.

He declares what we may do in the name of His Son. We haven’t appreciated it perhaps, but He gave to us the power of attorney to use His Son’s name. Jesus said, “Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask and receive that your joy may be made full.”
Seven times Jesus repeats this, giving us the legal right to the use of His name.

Philippians 2:9-10 tells us that this name is above every name, and at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, beings in Heaven, beings on earth, and beings under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God my Father.

Not only that, but Jesus said after He arose from the dead, “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.” Disciple means a student, a learner. He never said, “Go and make converts;” he never said, “Go and make churches,” but “Go and make disciples.”

There will be schools of Christ. Every believer will be a student of this living Word. What Masters they will be!

Not only do we have that power to use the name of Jesus to cast out demons, or to heal the sick, but that Name gives us access to the Father, and is the absolute guarantee of answered prayer.

You see, this prayer life is based upon absolute knowledge. It is not based upon emotion nor feelings nor the theories of men, but upon the Living Word of God, this Word that “Liveth and Abideth.”

When you know in your heart that you are what He says you are, then you act it in the face of all, confessing what He has done in you, confessing what He has made you. This glorifies Him and His Work.

To deny what we are, to tell what Satan is doing in our bodies and minds, is denying what we are in Christ.

When Jesus said, “All things are possible to him that believeth,” He meant that all things are possible to the Believer. All that Believer needs to do is to get to know what he is in Christ, then rise up and take his place.

What Masters He has made us to be! How invincible we are! Can’t you see what it would mean for one in the face of all this to be talking about his weakness, his lack, making his confession of his inability.

“Of His fulness have we all received,” and it is grace and the ability of God for us to enjoy to the very limit all that we are in Him.

This page Copyright © 2000 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/.

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The Power and Sufficiency of God’s Word


GOAL: The objective of this study is to examine the Scripture and chart out the truth revealed about the benefits or promises of God’s Word and what our responsibilities are in order to realize those promises. In this exercise the student should see the value of simply observing the text and interpreting the passage based on those observations. The ultimate goal is for each student to comprehend the power and sufficiency of God’s Word, so that they leave the discussion like newborn babes who have a passion and desire for the pure life giving milk of God’s Word. Pray much before, during and after the study, for our battle is not against flesh and blood but is spiritual and the enemy of our souls hates the Word of God.

This study could be easily tailored for a Sunday School class or small group session by handing out a chart like the one below (without the columns filled in of course!). Another handout could be the Scriptures you would like to discuss, which has the advantage of saving time (if time is at a premium) and assures that everyone is reading the same translation. Alternatively the students could observe the passages in their own Bible, which is always a good practice. The Scriptures used to fill out this chart are from the NAS translation, because it is one of the most literal (BIBLE VERSIONS How Literal is your translation?)

If you have access to an overhead projector, prepare a copy of the chart to fill in as the class observes each verse. Alternatively you could fill out the chart on a white board if available.

You probably have some favorite verses that are not included in this brief survey and you are encouraged to add or substitute as you desire. It would be best to select verses that are not controversial and in which it is easy to observe Man’s responsibility and God’s promise or benefit.

Note that the explanatory comments in parentheses are to be used by the leader as deemed appropriate to guide and amplify the discussion. It is a good practice to briefly establish the context of the individual verses to ensure accurate Interpretation of the passages.

Copy and paste the handout chart below noting that the columns for “Our Responsibility” and “Our Reward” are to be filled in on an overhead transparency or a white board as your class offers their observations on each verse. You might want to substitute other Scriptures that speak of the sufficiency of the Word of God for all life and godliness and the rewards thereof (e.g., Psalm 19:7891011 “in keeping them there is great reward”). You will probably need to delete some of the Scriptures if your discussion time is limited. In a test run with a group of Indonesian Christian students, going through this chart interactively took about 90 minutes, but even then the last 4-5 verses had to be discussed hurriedly! Obviously the length of time depends on how long you spend explaining the background context and whether you illustrate or explain some of the Scriptures with ancillary material in the Leader’s Guide.

Read the Bible as if God were speaking to you. He is!

Give it a try! Read each Scripture and simply observe what your responsibility is in order for the benefit or promise of God to be realized or “activated”. Keep it simple. It will still be profound and convicting because it is God’s pure word. Let the Scriptures speak for themselves and guard against subjective comments such as “I feel this verse means… “, etc. Direct the participants back to pure observation… what does the text say. It is only when we allow God’s Spirit to speak directly to us through the Word that we are able to determine what He meant when He inspired the human authors to write the passage. At strategic points during the discussion you will have opportunity to insert application type questions or comments, some of which are suggested in the Leader’s Guide.

This study would be excellent “warm up” prior to another Bible study because it emphasizes the power and sufficiency of God’s Word and it also makes the point that any Bible study that is going to have significant life transforming impact “stay very close” to the pure milk of God’s Word. Bible studies that drift away from “thus saith the LORD” may “feel good” but only God’s Word discerns the thoughts and intentions of our heart. Only God’s Word provides everything the believer needs for true, fulfilling and abundant life.

Related ResourceGod’s Word is a Word of...(see Scriptural descriptions)

My Favorite Illustration of the Power of the Word of God – Spurgeon who experienced the power of God’s Word, went on to become one of the greatest preachers of God’s Word. The following Spurgeon anecdote beautifully illustrates the supernatural power of God’s Word…

The renowned preacher C H Spurgeon once tested an auditorium in which he was to speak that evening. Stepping into the pulpit, he loudly proclaimed,

Behold the lamb of God
Who takes away the sin of the world.

(Jn 1:29)

Satisfied with the acoustics, he left and went his way. Unknown to him, there were two men working in the rafters of that large auditorium, neither one a Christian. One of the men was pricked in his conscience by the verse Spurgeon quoted and became a believer later that day! Such is the penetrating power of God’s eternal word! Little wonder that Paul is so insistent on the persistent “preaching of the Word” (2Ti 4:2note)

I love Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s words on the Word and his prayer each time he opened the Word…

How are we to handle this sword of “It is written” (referring to Mt 4:4)? First, with deepest reverence. Let every word that God has spoken be Law and Gospel to you. Never trifle with it; never try to evade its force or to change its meaning. God speaks to you in this book as much as if again He came to the top of Sinai and lifted up His voice in thunder. I like to open the Bible and to pray,

Lord God, let the words leap out of the page into my soul, Thyself making them vivid, quick, powerful, and fresh to my heart.

Our Lord Himself felt the power of the word. It was not so much the devil who felt the power of “It is written” as Christ Himself. “No,” saith He, “I will not command stones to be made bread; I trust in God Who can without bread sustain Me. I will not cast Myself down from the temple; I will not tempt the Lord My God. I will not worship Satan, for God alone is God.” The manhood of Christ felt an awe of the Word of God, and so it became a power to Him. To trifle with Scripture is to deprive yourself of its aid. Reverence it, I beseech you, and look up to God with devout gratitude for having given it to you. (From his sermon – Infallibility—Where to Find It and How to Use It)

What is the Bible?

“THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers.

Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.

Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy.

It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s character.

Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed.

Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end.

It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.

Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully.

It is given you in life and will be opened in the judgment and will be remembered forever.

It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.”

— Anonymous (found on the flyleaf of an old Bible)

Melvin Worthington gives us a wonderful lesson entitled “The Wonderful Word” based on 2 Timothy 3:14151617

Introduction:

The Bible is an amazing book, a living book. It provides information which can be found in no other book.

1. The Nature of the Bible (2Ti 3:16 {note}Ps. 119:12345ff1Pe 1:2021 {note}). The attributes which make the Bible a unique book include its author, authority, accuracy, adequacy, appeal, and agenda.

2. The Need for the Bible (1Pe 1:232425-notes 1Pe1:232425Jas 1:18noteJohn 5:24). The Bible addresses all the needs of the human being. It is essential for life, likeness, liberty, light, and labor.

3. The Nourishment from the Bible (see 1Pe 2:2note). The Bible reveals and regulates the development God planned, the diet God provided, the disposition God prescribed, and the diadem God promised.

4. The Neglect of the Bible (1Cor 3:12). Neglect of the Bible leads to dullness, drifting, disobedience, despising, denouncing, and departing from the Lord.

Conclusion:

Christians need to peruse, ponder, and pray over the Scriptures. This takes time, thought, toil, and tenacity. We need to pray—Father help me hear, heed, hold, honor, and herald the Word of God.

LEADER’S GUIDE

THE LIVING AND ACTIVE WORD OF GOD
Provides Everything Necessary for Life & Godliness

Heb 4:12noteHeb 4:13note2Pe 1:3note

SCRIPTURE OUR
RESPONSIBILITY
GOD’S PROMISE
and/or BENEFIT
2Ti 3:16,17
Click note(Context= Paul’s last words charging Timothy to Guard the Treasure of God’s Word & Entrust it to faithful men who can teach others)Adequacy

Believe It

(Do you believe that all Scripture has been inspired or breathed by God – from Genesis to Revelation?)

(Do you believe that all Scripture is truly profitable for your life? Even the Old Testament?)

All Scripture is profitable for:

Teaching (show us what’s right)

Reproof (shows us what’s wrong)

Correction (shows us how to get right

Training in Righteousness (shows and leads us to live right = according to God’s standard, not men’s standard of what’s right)

Adequateequipped for every good work

1 Peter 2:1,2
Click note1note 2(Context = 1Pe1:232425 Peter readers have been “born again” by the “living and abiding word”)Spiritual
Growth
Putting aside all…

Malice

Guile

Hypocrisy

Envy

Slander

Approach the Word like a...

newborn baby

Long for (desire, delight) pure milk of God’s Word (a command not a suggestion)

(No desire? Are you a “newborn baby”? Are you born again? Have you “put aside”? Perhaps you need to confess your sin to God and repent) and believer upon the Lord Jesus Christ Romans 10:9,10

Growth in salvation
(Not grow to be smarter sinners but to be more like the Savior)
Psalm 1:1-3
Click notes 1:11:21:3Real “happiness” andProsperity
Do not…

Walk in counsel of wicked

Stand in path of sinners

Sit in the seat of scoffers

Delight in the Word

(When something delights us, we become preoccupied with it and we tend to protect and guard it)

Meditate in the Word day and night

(Meditation is to our inner person what digestion is to our body – “chewing the cud”. Make the Word a part of your life and you grow)

Blessed (fully satisfied independent of circumstances)Is like a tree planted by water

Yields fruit in season

Its leaf does not whither

All he does prospers

(Prosper = expresses idea of a successful venture, as contrasted with failure and the source of such success is God)

Psalm
119:9, 10, 11
Dealing with Sin
Treasure (memorize) the WordKeep (heed, obey) the Word

Pray the Word (do not let me wander)

Keeps our way pureEquips us so that less likely to sin against God
Joshua 1:8

Moses has died
Lord instructs JoshuaLeadership

Spiritual Warfare

Meditate on the Word day and nightDo not let it depart from your mouth

(it should be a constant component of your conversation – not necessarily quoting Bible verses but speaking according to the principles of the Word)

Be careful to do (obey) it

Way prosperousSuccess
Ezra 7:910
Click note Ezra 7:10
Leadership
Set your heart to study the Word
Practice the Word
Teach the Word
Good hand of God upon him
Jeremiah 15:16

Feeling downcast

Find the Word
(Do you seek it?)

“Eat” the Word
(Do you just nibble at it?
Is the word just “snack” food?)

Digest, Assimilate and make the Word part of your very being.

Joy
Delight in one’s heart
Matthew 4:4

Temptation

Eat the Word
(Implied)

Unless the Word becomes a vital part of our inner being, we can’t receive nourishment and grow in the spiritual life.

Live
(Real Spiritual Life)
Job 23:1011,12
See notes Job 23:101112
Trials(Context = Job 1 = blameless, upright, fearing God, turning away from evil” Loss of children and wealth. Responds with worship)
Hold fast to His path, keep His way

Don’t turn; depart from His command

Treasure His words more than food!

Come forth from trials
As “pure gold”

SUPPLEMENTAL
NOTES

To Be Used As Needed by Leader to Amplify the Discussion
(See also Quotations related to Word of God)

2 Timothy 3:16-17
(For more detailed exposition click here)

What is man’s responsibility?

To believe that all (every word) of Scripture from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 is inspired or breathed by God and to order our steps accordingly.

Reproof –

“Men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts them.”

In 2 Timothy 3:17 (note), “adequate” describes the man or woman of God who is able to meet all the demands of the work God has prepared for them beforehand in Christ Jesus that they should walk in them (see Ephesians 2:10note). They are full ready, qualified, fully ready, perfectly fit. The following story illustrates what it means to be “adequateequipped“:

The disease often plagues armies, explorers, and crusaders, since these men’s diets normally consisted of biscuits and salted meat that could easily be stored and kept unspoiled on a ship. A Scottish naval surgeon named James Lind discovered Vitamin C after a four year sea voyage which was lead by Admiral George Anson. During the voyage more than a thousand sailors lost their lives to scurvy, after which Lind began investigating the disease and came to the realization that the disease was most common among people who’s diet had been extremely limited. To test his hypothesis (that the disease was caused by a limited diet), he decided to treat sickened sailors with different foods during a ten-week sea voyage. He found that a diet with citrus fruit provided the most dramatic cure for the disease. Lind published his findings as Treatise on the Scurvy in 1753, and as a result, in 1795 daily doses of lime juice were prescribed to all the sailors in the British navy and Scurvy quickly vanished. However, the British were the only people who accepted the idea that Scurvy was the result of a dietary deficiency, and Great Britain was the only place where there was a decline in the cases of Scurvy. In America, during the Civil war, many men on both sides of the war died from this disease due to the lack of a source of Vitamin C in their diet. THEY WERE NOT ADEQUATELY EQUIPPED

Thanks for the Bible
Thanks for Thy Word, O blessèd Redeemer!
Open our eyes its beauty to see;
Grant us Thy grace to study it wisely,
Close every heart to all but Thee.

Refrain

Thanks for the Bible, off’ring so freely
Pardon and peace to all who believe;
Help us, O Lord, its counsel to follow,
Meekly by faith its truth receive.

Thanks for Thy Word of precept and promise,
Lamp to our feet and light to our way,
Points us afar where pleasures immortal
Bloom in Thine own bright realm of day.

Refrain

Blessed are they who keep its commandments,
They shall abide for ever with Thee;
Close by the clear and beautiful river,
Sharing the fruits of life’s fair tree.
— Fanny Crosby

1 Peter 2:1-2
(See notes 1Pe2:12:2)

 

Psalm 1:1-3
(See Commentary)

For this psalm “charted out” click here

Blessed You will take careful note that there is an obvious concentration of this Hebrew word blessed (‘esher) in Psalms. Click and ponder the uses of “blessed” noting associations and asking God to search your heart. Blessed is a state of prosperity or happiness when superior bestows favor (i.e., God for Christians). The Hebrew is translated in the LXX in this verse (and often in other OT uses) with the Greek word makarios which means fully satisfied independent of one’s circumstances (which therefore has to be a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit). One can be “makarios” – blessed – and in miserable circumstances. “Blessed are you,” Jesus said, “when they insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (see Mt 5:11noteMt 5:12note). So “blessed are you” does not mean untroubled are you” or “healthy are you” or “admired are you” or “prosperous are you.” It means “between you and God all is well.” You are deeply secure, profoundly content, happy in God – even if you are weeping over the pain of a struck body, a perplexed mind, or a heartbreaking relationship. Strengthened by His Spirit you can still in all things give thanks and rejoice always.

You will note that nowhere does Scripture tell us that God blesses programs or promotions. But it does teach that He blesses individuals. He blessed Abraham so he might be a blessing to others. And He blesses us so we might bless others.

Delight (2656) (see also notes on Psalm 1:2) Hebrew chephets = basic meaning = feel great favor towards something. The root idea is to incline toward something. In chephets, the object of one’s delight solicits favor by its own intrinsic qualities (E.g., “O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” Ps 119:97). The subject is easily attracted to it because it is desirable.

What you delight in is what will direct your life, so be careful what you enjoy.

The Bible: The more you read it, the more you love it; the more you love it, the more you read it.

Spurgeon in his Treasury of David writes…

1. Blessed. See how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, as did the famous Sermon of our Lord on the Mount! The word translated blessed is plural, and it is a controverted matter whether it is an adjective or a substantive. Hence we may learn the multiplicity of the blessings which will rest on those whom God has justified, and the perfection and greatness of the blessedness they will enjoy. We might read it, “Oh, the blessednesses!” and we may well regard it (as Ainsworth does) as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man’s felicity. May the like benediction rest on us!

Here the gracious man is described both negatively (verse 1) and positively (verse 2). He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions.

Note next, he standeth not in the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood-washed sinnerquickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd with the multitude who do evil.

Again it is said, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. He finds no rest in the atheist’s scoffings. Let others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God; this man has learnt better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too much sense of God’s presence to endure to hear His name blasphemed. The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it will soon be empty, and destruction will swallow up the man who sits therein. Mark the gradation in the first verse:

He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor standeth in the way of sinners,

Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

When people are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God—the evil is rather practical than habitual—but after that they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who willfully violate God’s commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by others as Masters in Belial . But the blessed man, the man to whom all the blessings of God belong, can hold no communion with such characters as these. He keeps himself pure from these lepers; he puts away evil things from him as garments spotted by the flesh; he comes out from among the wicked, and goes outside the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace to be thus separate from sinners.

2. And now mark his positive character. His delight is the the law of the Lord. He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he muses (click) upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book. The law of the Lord is the daily bread of the true believer. And yet, in David’s day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses! But, alas, what ill-treatment is given to this angel from heaven! We are not all Berean searchers of the Scriptures. How few among us can lay claim to the benediction of the text! Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask you—Is your delight in the law of God? Do you study God’s Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand—your best companion and hourly guide? If not, this blessing does not belong to you.

3. And he shall be like a tree planted. Not a wild tree, but one planted, chosen, considered as property, cultivated and secured from the last terrible uprooting (see Matthew 15:13).

By the rivers of water. Even if one river should fail, he has another. The rivers of pardon and the rivers of grace, the rivers of the promise and the rivers of communion with Christ, are never-failing sources of supply.

That bringeth forth his fruit in his season. Not unseasonable graces, like untimely figs, which are never full-flavored. But the man who delights in God’s Word, being taught by it, brings forth patience in the time of suffering, faith in the day of trial, and holy joy in the hour of prosperity. Fruitfulness is an essential quality of a gracious man, and that fruitfulness should be seasonable.

His leaf also shall not wither. His faintest word will be everlasting; his little deeds of love will be remembered. Not only will his fruit be preserved, but his leaf also. He will neither lose his beauty nor his fruitfulness, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Blessed is the man who has such a promise as this. But we must not always estimate the fulfillment of a promise by our own eye-sight. How often, my brethren, if we judge by feeble sense, may we come to the mournful conclusion of Jacob, “All these things are against me!” For though we know our interest in the promise, yet are we so tried and troubled that sight sees the very reverse of what that promise foretells. But to the eye of faith this word is sure, and by it we perceive that our works are prospered, even when everything seems to go against us. It is not outward prosperity which the Christian most desires and values; it is soul prosperity which he longs for. We often, like Jehoshaphat, make ships go to Tarshish for gold, but they are broken at Ezion-geber; but even here there is a true prospering, for it is often for the soul’s health that we should be poor, bereaved, and persecutedOur worst things are often our best things. As there is a curse wrapped up in the wicked man’s mercies, so there is a blessing concealed in the righteous man’s crosses, losses, and sorrows. The trials of the saint are a divine husbandry, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit.

Meditation is to the soul (real “soul food”) what digestion is to the body. It means assimilating the Word of God.

Warren Wiersbe comments that…

A tree has roots. The most important part of your life is your “root system.” Don’t be like the ungodly, who are like chaff (Ps 1:4). Chaff doesn’t have roots. It is blown away by every wind that comes along. Your root system is important because it determines your nourishment. It also determines your stability and your strength when the storm comes and the wind starts to blow.

People can’t see your root system, but God can. Praying and meditating on the Word of God will cause your roots to go down deep into His love.

God delights in blessing His children. But we must prepare ourselves for His blessings by first appropriating the resources He has given us. Delight in the Word of God and feed on it. But do more than occasionally read the Word; meditate on it constantly. Make it your source of spiritual nourishment, and God will bless you with strength and stability.

Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.

First, we must be separated from the world (Ps 1:1note). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in Ps 1:1. He is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees. We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world; we love the world, become confirmed to it and end up condemned with it. Lot is an example of someone who became worldly. He looked toward Sodom, pitched his tent toward Sodom, lived there, lost everything and ended in sin.

Second, we must be saturated with the Word (Ps 1:2note). Whatever delights us directs us. We saturate ourselves with the Word by meditating on it. Meditation is to the spirit what digestion is to the body. When we meditate on the Word, we allow the Spirit of God within us to “digest” the Word of God for us. So not only do we delight in the Word, it becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for us.

Enjoy the blessings God has for you and allow Him to make you a blessing to others. (A third condition, being situated by the waters, is the topic of our next devotional.)

God desires to bless us, but we must meet His conditions for receiving blessings. By staying separate from the world and keeping saturated in the Word, (“This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27) we may expect God’s blessings. Resolve to meditate on the Word of God and obey it. He will make you a blessing to others.

Like a tree“: A tree is a blessing. It holds soil, provides shade and produces fruit. The godly are like trees, with root systems that go deep into the spiritual resources of God’s grace (Ps 1:3note). But sadly, many professing Christians are not like trees but are like artificial plants or cut flowers with no roots. They may be beautiful for a while, but soon they die. (Ed note: Cf Jesus’ words that “those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” Luke 8:13,1415; Paul’s warning about those who “profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.” Titus 1:16 (note), Jesus’ stern warning “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.” see Mt 7:21noteMt 7:22noteMt 7:23note)

A tree needs light, water and roots to live. We all have resources upon which we draw life. The question we need to ask ourselves is, Where are our roots? The person God can bless is planted by the rivers of water. We must be careful not to be like Christians who are dry and withered and depend upon their own resources. They are like tumbleweeds, blown about by any wind of doctrine.

To have the blessings of Ps 1:3, we need to meet the conditions of Ps 1:12. That is, we must first be separated from the world and saturated with the Word to be situated by the waters. God desires to bless us, but we need to meet certain conditions to receive His blessings. We bear fruit only when we have roots, and we must draw upon spiritual resources to bring forth fruit in due season. To bear the fruit of the Spirit, we must allow the Spirit to work in us and through us.

In contrast to the believer, the ungodly are not like trees but are like chaff. They have no roots, produce no fruit and are blown about. The ungodly reject the Word of God and will perish without hope (Ps 1:6). As Christians we must not reject the ungodly but try to reach them. God blesses us so that we might be a blessing to others. His Spirit helps us bear fruit that can help win the lost.

Are you like a tree or like chaff?

We need God’s resources to bear fruit. But where we place our roots is paramount. Only as we grow them deeply into the spiritual resources of God’s grace (Ed note: His Word, cf “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32) will we produce fruit. Make the Bible your spiritual resource. Delight in it and feed your soul with its truth. God can use you to help win the lost. (Wiersbe, W: Prayer Praise and Promises: A Daily Walk Through the Psalms) (Bolding added)

Psalm 119:9-11

How in the world a person keep clean in this unholy world? The psalmist answers that it is “By taking heed according to God’s word” a truth which doesn’t apply only to young men but to every man, woman and child. The world is spiritually “dirty” and the pollution will not get better but worse so as we walk around in this world we need to make sure we walk in the Word of God by daily reading and hiding the Word (in our heart – our “command center” so to speak) so that we can be heeding the word.

G. Campbell Morgan noted that this verse…

It tells us about the best book--‘Thy Word’–in the best place–‘my heart’–for the best purpose–‘that I might not sin’ against God.

When was the last time you memorized a passage of Scripture? God’s Word has a cleansing effect. You must (no excuses please) get into the Word so that it can get into you and can then become effective in your life, as the Spirit uses it to renew our minds and transform our thinking so that we are enabled more and more to discern the will of God at every turn of the road of our life. The Word obeyed is the best preventative for the “dirt” of this world which is passing away as are it’s lusts.

What does it mean to “treasure” something? (Click definition of the Hebrew word)

I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture… No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified. (Charles Swindoll)

I am convinced that one of the greatest things we can do is to memorize Scripture. (Billy Graham)

One of the most important Christian disciplines is Scripture memory. If I had it my way, every student would know 500 verses word perfect with the references before leaving Dallas (Dallas Theological Seminary) (Howard Hendricks)

God’s Word more clearly unveils God’s will for your life than any other modality and as Alexander Maclaren puts it…

When God’s will is deeply planted within, it will work quickening change on the heavy dough of our sluggish natures. It is when we bring the springs of our actions — namely, our motives, which are our true selves — into touch with His uttered will, that our deeds become conformed to it. Look after the motives, and the deeds will look after themselves. ‘I have hid Thy word within my heart.’ (Click to read Maclaren’s entire message)

Warren Wiersbe notes that…

You must also rejoice in God’s Word, delight in it and meditate on it. Meditation is to your inner person what digestion is to your body. When you truly delight in the Word, you will have a desire to meditate on it and make it a part of your life. In Psalm 119, the writer connects “delight” and “meditation” (Psalm 119:15,1623,24474877,78) Cultivate an appetite for the Word of God. (Wiersbe, W: With the Word: Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Handbook. Nelson or Logos)

A powerful illustration of someone “treasuring” the Word of God:

The first requirement for keeping that TREASURE is to recognize that it is a TREASURE. A beautiful and touching story is told of a young French girl who had been born blind. After she learned to read by touch, a friend gave her a Braille copy of Mark’s gospel. She read it so much that her fingers became calloused and insensitive. In an effort to regain her feeling, she cut the skin from the ends of her fingers. Tragically, however, her callouses were replaced by permanent and even more insensitive scars. She sobbingly gave the book a goodbye kiss, saying,

“FAREWELL, FAREWELL, SWEET WORD OF MY HEAVENLY FATHER.”

In doing so, she discovered that her lips were even more sensitive than her fingers had been, and she spent the rest of her life reading her great treasure with her lips. Would that every Christian had such an appetite for the Word of God!

The Preacher’s Commentary addressing the question “How can a young man cleanse his way?” writes…

The question is classic because it is the great issue of the Bible. How can a sinner stand in the presence of a holy God? The cleansing of our way implies that we have fallen. How can we be washed and restored? The reference to youth reminds us of the Book of Proverbs (see Proverbs 1:4,81015, etc.). The answer to the question is as follows: “By taking heed according to Your word.” This taking heed includes two things. First, the Word of God cleanses us as it separates us from this world and all of its uncleanness. Thus Jesus tells His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). But, second, the Word of God also cleanses us as it directs us in the paths of righteousness. It not only separates us from the world; it also separates us to God. The Word works to bring us into the will of God.

Next, the psalmist confesses: “With my whole heart I have sought You” (v10; see v2). Because of his singleness of purpose, his “whole heart,” he can then continue, “Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments.” God not only reveals His will to us; He keeps us in that will. We must note again that the psalmist is not a legalist. He has no illusions that He can do God’s will in his own strength. He is entirely dependent upon the God who calls him to keep him. This divine keeping is a matter of the heart. Thus he continues in verse 11, “Your word I have hidden [‘laid up’] in my heart, / That I might not sin against You.” As the Word is memorized and internalized, it be comes directive for our lives. No wonder Jesus tells us that if we “abide” (“continue, remain”) in His Word, then we are His disciples (John 8:31). His Word will determine our walk.

As a new Christian I was encouraged to memorize Scripture. Introduced to the Topical Memory System of the Navigators, I amassed several score of verses on salvation, prayer, the Christian life, etc. Often during my high school lunch hour I would slip away to a quiet place for review. This investment was for a lifetime. Again and again in preaching and counseling, these verses have come back to me. How grateful I am that as a young believer I was introduced to hiding God’s Word in my heart. (Briscoe, D. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Thomas Nelson or Logos)

C H Spurgeon (Treasury of David) comments…

How will he become and remain practically holy? He is but a young man, full of hot passions, and poor in knowledge and experience; how will he get right, and keep right? Never was there a more important question for any man; alas, his way is already unclean by actual sin which he has already committed, and he himself has within his nature a tendency towards that which defiles.

Here, then, is the difficulty, first of beginning aright, next of being always able to know and choose the right, and of continuing in the fight till perfection is ultimately reached.

Let him not think that he knows the road to easy victory, nor dream that he can keep himself by his own wisdom; he will do well to follow the psalmist, and become an earnest inquirer asking how he may cleanse his way.

Let him become a practical disciple of the holy God, who alone can teach him how to overcome the world, (2 Peter 1:4{note}1John 5:4,5Gal 6:14) the flesh, and the devil, that trinity of defilers by whom many a hopeful life has been spoiled. He is young and unaccustomed to the road; let him not be ashamed often to inquire his way of him who is so ready and so able to instruct him in it.

Our way is a subject which concerns us deeply, but it is not to be answered by unaided reason, nor, when answered, can the directions be carried out by unsupported human power. By taking heed thereto according to thy word. Young man, the Bible must be your chart, and you must exercise great watchfulness that your way may be according to its directions. You must take heed to your daily life as well as study your Bible, and you must study your Bible that you may take heed to your daily life. To obey the Lord and walk uprightly will need all our heart and soul and mind.

Yet the word is absolutely necessary, for otherwise care will darken into morbid anxiety, and conscientiousness may become superstition. It is not enough to desire to be right; for ignorance may make us think that we are doing God service when we are provoking him, and the fact of our ignorance will not reverse the character of our action, however much it may mitigate its criminality.

Let each person, young or old, who desires to be holy have a holy watchfulness in his heart, and keep the Holy Bible before his open eye. There he will find every turn of the road marked down, every slough and miry place pointed out, with the way to go through unsoiled; and there, too, he will find light for his darkness, comfort for his weariness, and company for his loneliness, so that by its help he will reach the benediction of the first verse of the psalm, which suggested the psalmist’s inquiry, and awakened his desires.

Note how the first section of eight verses has for its first verse, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way,” and the second section runs parallel to it, with the question, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” The blessedness which is set before us in a conditional promise should be practically sought for in the way appointed. The Lord says, “For this will I be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.” (See also Spurgeon’s comments on Verse 10 and Verse 11)

John Calvin comments that…

Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? In this place he repeats, in different words, the same truth which he formerly advanced, That, however much men may pique themselves upon their own works, there is nothing pure in their life until they have made a complete surrender of themselves to the word of the Lord. The more effectually to excite them to this, he produces, in an especial manner, the example of children or youths. In mentioning these, he by no means gives an unbridled license to those who have arrived at mature years, or who are aged, as if they were competent to regulate their own life, and as if their own prudence served as a law to them; but because youth puts men where two ways meet, and renders it imperative for them to select the course of life which they mean to follow, he declares that, when a person sets about the regulation of his life, no advice will prove of any advantage, unless he adopts the law of God as his rule and guide. In this way the prophet stimulates men to an early and seasonable regulation of their manners, and not to delay doing so any longer, agreeably to the words of Solomon, “Remember thy Creator in thy youth, ere the days of trouble come, and the years which shall be grief unto thee,” Ecclesiastes 12:1. They who defer from time to time become hardened in their vicious practices, and arrive at mature years, when it is too late to attempt a reformation. There is another reason, arising from the fact, of the carnal propensities being very powerful in youth, requiring a double restraint; and the more they are inclined to excess, the greater is the necessity for curbing their licentiousness. The prophet, therefore, not without reason, exhorts them particularly to attend to the observance of the law.

With my whole heart. Conscious of the integrity of his heart, the prophet still implores the help of God, that he might not stumble by reason of his infirmity. He makes no boast of self-preparation, as if he had spontaneously begun to inquire after God, but in praising the grace which he had experienced, he at the same time aspires after steadfastness to persevere in walking in his ways.

William Cowper comments on Ps 119:11:

There is great difference between Christians and worldlings. The worldling hath his treasures in jewels without him; the Christian hath them within. Neither indeed is there any receptacle wherein to receive and keep the word of consolation but the heart only. If thou have it in thy mouth only, it shall be taken from thee; if thou have it in thy book only, Thou shalt miss it when thou hast most to do with it; but if thou lay it up in thy heart, as Mary did the words of the angel, no enemy shall ever be able to take it from thee, and thou shalt find it’s comfortable treasure in time of thy need. Among many excellent virtues of the word of God, this is one: that if we keep it in our heart, it keeps us from sin, which is against God and against ourselves. We may mark it by experience, that the word is first stolen either out of the mind of man, and the remembrance of it is away; or at least out of the affection of man; so that the reverence of it is gone, before a man can be drawn to the committing of a sin. So long as Eve kept by faith the word of the Lord, she resisted Satan; but from the time she doubted of that, which God made most certain by his word, at once she was snared. —

Joshua 1:8
(See commentary)

Establish the context from the preceding passages:

Josh 1:1 Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying,

2 “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.

3 “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.

4 “From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun, will be your territory.

5 “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.

6 “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

7 “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, 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.

9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Observe: Who is speaking to Joshua? Why? When? What has transpired? What is Jehovah’s command? What is the land like into which Joshua is to lead the people? What is Joshua’s mindset to be (note what is repeated three times!). If you have time you can do a simple observation with the class asking these type of questions.

God Himself is addressing Joshua because Israel’s leader Moses has died and the mantle of leadership is being passed to this new leader. Joshua is to lead Israel into the “promised land” filled with adversaries and pagan idolatry. Temptation and Warfare will occur. So what does God tell Joshua he must do? Does He tell him to make sure the soldiers have their weapons and are in good shape? No. God tells Joshua to make sure that the “Sword of the Word of God” is to be his focus and will provide all that he needs in order to assure success.

“Book of the law”:

A reference to Scripture, specifically Genesis through Deuteronomy (Pentateuch from penta = five), written by Moses. Deuteronomy 31 talks about Moses’ completing the book and of his committing it to the care of the priests:

“Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, “Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you.” (Deuteronomy 31:25-26)

but it wasn’t enough that the priests carried it around and protected it. No, Joshua had to take the time to read it every single day, to make it a part of his inner person by meditating on it. (My Precious Bible)

Shall not depart from your mouth

Joshua literally fulfilled Jehovah’s instructions to not let the Word depart from his mouth. With one half of Israel before Mount Gerizim and the other half before Mount Ebal Joshua…

afterward… read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them. (Joshua 8:34-35)

Joshua remained faithful to this critical instruction even unto his dying day. Knowing that he would soon fall asleep (die) he instructs the people of Israel…

“Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, in order that you may not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.” (Joshua 23:6-8)

The last mention of the phrase the “book of the law” is in Joshua 24 just before Joshua dies:

26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.

27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, lest you deny your God.”

28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance.

29 And it came about after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being one hundred and ten years old.

shall not depart from your mouth” means that this book of the law it should be the constant topic of your conversation. Why? “Because you shall meditate on it day and night.” Now whatever you’re thinking about all day and thinking about all night will show up in your conversation. So he’s saying you ought to be dominated by the Word of God. It is the dominant thing in your life. Meditatively it becomes the dominating thing in your life conversationally. Then it’s into action that he speaks so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. You meditate on it, you talk about it and pretty soon you begin to live it out. Then you will make your way prosperous, then you will have success. But you need to do according to all that is written in it. There are many Christians who can’t do according to all that is written in it because they don’t understand it. And that’s why it’s incumbent upon us to study the Scripture so that we can understand it so that we can do it so that we can be blessed and prosperous and have good success.

But you shall meditate on it day and night

It’s one thing to say to a leader, “Be strong and courageous.” It’s quite something else to enable him or her to do it. Joshua’s strength and courage will come from meditating on the word of God, from believing the promises in it, from living in obedience to its precepts. Moses gave this same counsel to the entire nation back in Dt 11 almost word-for-word. But now God is applying it specifically to Joshua.

God feeds the birds, but He doesn’t throw the food into their nests. In a similar way, the Bible is like a table, laden with nourishing food we need every day: promises, instruction, wisdom, comfort, and encouragement. Like any good host, God invites us to “Come and get it!” But we often fail to do this. We depend on everything but Him and wonder why our faith is feeble. But if like our feathered friends we’ll come and feast daily, expectantly, and actively, our divine Host will provide for all our needs. Depend on it!

In regard to this “book of the law” A W Tozer said…

“Read it much, read it often, brood over it, think over it, meditate over it—meditate on the Word of God day and night. When you are awake at night, think of a helpful verse. When you get up in the morning, no matter how you feel, think of a verse and make the Word of God the important element in your day. The Holy Ghost wrote the Word, and if you make much of the Word, He will make much of you. It is through the Word that He reveals Himself. Between those covers is a living Book. God wrote it and it is still vital and effective and alive. God is in this Book, the Holy Ghost is in this Book, and if you want to find Him, go into this Book.”

For more in depth discussion click Primer On Biblical Meditation or also here.

So that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it” Knowledge of God’s law is not enough; one must also “be careful to do” what it commands. Thus the law of God is to control all thought and action. “Everything written in it” must be observed, because obedience to certain parts only is no obedience at all. When you study the Bible “hit or miss,” you MISS more than you HIT.

For then you will make your way prosperous” generally expresses the idea of a successful venture, as contrasted with failure. The source of such success is God: “… as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper” (2Chr 26:5). The root means to accomplish satisfactorily what is intended. In our lives as Christians, success and prosperity are not to be measured by the physical, material standards of the world. The issue for us is spiritual blessing; spiritual prosperity. We can choose to set out on our own to become materially successful. In the words of our text, that would be turning to the right hand or to the left. But the reality is that we can achieve the goal and live to regret it. There are some famous words by George MacDonald, the Scottish novelist and Christian apologist: “In whatever a man does without God, he must fail miserably or succeed more miserably.” It is possible to know physical and material success and yet be an absolute failure spiritually. Meditating on the Scriptures will help us evaluate our motives in decision-making with regard to success and prosperity. We will learn to ask ourselves the right questions out of the word of God.

Am I totally committed to the will of God in this action, this choice, this endeavor? Am I relying completely on the Spirit of God to empower me, or am I trusting my own resources? Am I serving the glory of God ultimately? If I can answer those questions with a yes, then my ministry, my activity, my relationships will be successful in God’s eyes, no matter what people think and no matter what the physical, material outcome is.

This passage is calling us to think “Biblically”, reading and soaking in and reflecting on the word of God, so that we live “Biblically” in all we say and do.

And then you will have success” The Hebrew word means to be prudent and so to act with insight, which can mean “be successful” by metonymy. The Septuagint (LXX) translates it with Greek word “sunesis” (click) meaning understanding, the idea being able to put together the pieces and make sense out of a set of facts presented to one’s mind. It’s the idea of putting “2” and “2” together so to speak ~ the ability to assess any situation and decide what practical course of action is necessary. And in the context of this verse this “ability” is integrally related to the constant intake & assimilation of the pure milk of God’s Word. The result? Success in the way that God defines “success”.

Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission (Overseas Missionary Fellowship) made a similar statement

“God’s work done in God’s way will not lack God’s supply.”

Not only are God’s presence and power essential for success in His work, but we must also work according to God’s revealed will. It is easy to fall into the trap of substituting human wisdom and understanding for obedience to God’s Word.

Ezra 7:9-10
(see Commentary)

For – Don’t miss this conjunction which introduces an explanation. The natural question is “What does it explain?” which necessitates observing the previous passages where we see that “the good hand of the LORD was upon him”. Why? Because to put it bluntly, Ezra was a “man of the book”, a man like Apollos who was mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18:24). This is a great model for any preacher who desires to be used mightily by the Lord because he has the Lord’s hand upon him.

God’s sovereign hand of blessing was on Ezra (Ezra 7:69288:182231) because he was so completely immersed in His Word (7:10).

“Had set his heart” (not his head but his heart!) More literally ”Set his heart firmly” which gives the idea that Ezra was inwardly determined. His determination was directed toward: studying, obeying, and teaching God’s Law to others—an inviolable order for a successful ministry! You cannot teach with power until you yourself have practiced what you studied. His heart was prepared by confession of sin (cp notes 1 Peter 2:12:22:3) It is impossible to study the Scriptures profitably with an impure mind.

Ezra “set his heart” to study God’s Word. The phrase “set his heart” conveys the idea of being firmly committed to a particular course of action with unwavering steadfastness. The verb signifies being “established, prepared, fixed” in a determined pursuit. For example the same root is used to portray God’s intentional acts when He established the heavens (Pr 3:198:27). Thus the expression carries the idea of a determined purpose and unwavering resolution to act in a prescribed way to bring something to pass.

His mind “was zeroed in on the primary intention of studying God’s Word.”

Heart” refers not to his intellect per se only for in Hebrew “heart” speaks of that which rules one’s very being –the seat of affections, emotions, desires. The “heart,” in which Ezra purposed to study the Scriptures connotes “the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature”

The Hebrew word for “heart” represents the center or middle of something, often referring to the physical heart, the blood-pumping organ which supplies life for the entire body. However, of the approximately 850 times it occurs in the Old Testament, its most common meaning is spiritual, signifying a person’s inner or immaterial being—his or her mind, emotions, and will. Thus the heart denotes the intellect, by which one thinks, analyzes, compares, and understands a matter (1Kings 3:122Kings 5:262Chr 9:23Pr 11:1216:23); the emotions, or the deepest innermost feelings of a person (Pr 17:2225:20); and the volition, the seat of the will where choices are made (Nu 16:28Judges 9:32Chr 12:14). When Ezra set “his heart” to study the Word he poured the whole spectrum of his inner life into doing so. In other words, the study of Scripture absolutely consumed his life.

John Bunyan, seventeenth-century English preacher and author, was also consumed with the study of God’s Word. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who read Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress every year, once remarked, “He had studied our Authorized Version … till his whole being was saturated with Scripture; and through his writings … he … [makes] us feel and say ‘Why, this man is living Bible! Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.’ ”

Study (darash 1875 KJV = “seek”) Hebrew verb carries meanings of seeking with care, inquiring, pursuing, searching, which gives a good picture of how Ezra approached the law of the LORD. The Septuagint (LXX) uses “zeteo” (see Matthew 6:33note) which conveys the idea of attempting to learn something by careful investigation or searching (cf Proverbs 2:12345).

For example this word was used when Moses “searched carefully” to find out what happened to the sin offering (Lev 10:16) or when David “inquired” to find out who Bathsheba was (2Sa 11:3). Ezra studied the Word by carefully searching it, investigating its truths, probing its parts, surveying its whole, striving to understand its meaning, being concerned to grasp its message, leaving no stone unturned. He was not content to skim the surface and gain a superficial knowledge of the text.

Martin Luther said,

When I was young, I read the Bible over and over and over again, and was so perfectly acquainted with it, that I could, in an instant, have pointed to any verse that might have been mentioned.

He also wrote, “For a number of years I have now annually read through the Bible twice. If the Bible were a large, mighty tree and all its words were little branches, I have tapped at all the branches, eager to know what was there and what it had to offer.”

Martin Luther is reported to have said concerning his own study of the Scriptures:

“I study my Bible as I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest might fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf. I shake the Bible as a whole, like shaking the whole tree. Then I shake every limb—study book after book. Then I shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters when they do not break the sense. Then I shake every twig, or a careful study of the paragraphs and sentences and words and their meanings.”

John Piper writes,

At the heart of every pastor’s work is bookwork. Call it reading, meditation, reflection, cogitation, study, exegesis, or whatever you will—a large and central part of our work is to wrestle God’s meaning from a book, and then to proclaim it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Practice it… A good leader is one who… Knows the way, Goes the way, and Shows the way. Knowing without doing is arrogance not obedience. The Hebrew word for “practice” carries the idea of expending energy in the pursuit of something.

A good pattern for ministry — learn it, live it, and let it out

Ezra mastered the Word, and the Word mastered him. His careful study led to a holy life. His personal integrity became the platform from which he carried out his public teaching ministry. What he learned in the Scriptures, he lived. Thus after he studied the Word and before he preached it, he was careful to obey it.

Ezra obeyed the Word with the same “heart” devotion with which he studied it. A class of scribes arose in Jesus’ day who sought to follow the Law, but not from the heart. With full heads but empty hearts, these scribes attempted to teach the Word, which prompted Jesus to say,

This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me” (Mt 15:8).

Ezra, however, was a scribe who wholeheartedly kept the Word, not with mere external ritual or empty routine, but with a deep internal desire.

Moody said,

God did not give us the Scriptures to increase our knowledge but to change our lives

Tozer wrote

Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action.

Thomas Adams wrote that

True obedience has no lead at its heels.

Teach conveys the idea of training as well as educating. Biblical teaching seeks to guide people to follow the will of God, not by offering mere human opinions or suggestions but by bringing “the authoritative declaration of the Word of God.”

Stott suggests, it is

to open the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and His people obey Him.

Many preachers bear more resemblance to entertainers than expositors, stand-up comics rather than knee-shaking servants. God-fearing, Scripture-reverencing men remain the need of the hour in pulpits today.

John Knox, the great Scottish Reformer said

I have never once feared the devil, but I tremble every time I enter the pulpit.

Where are such men who, like Knox, tremble when they open the Word of God?

Statues and ordinances” The scribes in the early years at the time of Ezra and before were so devoted to not putting an error in the Scriptures that they would copy the Scriptures with such fastidiousness it’s just beyond belief. Some scribes, you’ll find this hard to believe, would write one letter, take a bath, change their clothes, get a new pen, write another letter, take a bath, change their clothes, get a pen, write another letter. They didn’t get a lot done but what they got done was correct. There was this tremendous fastidiousness to this completion of the inerrant text and its preservation.

This comprehensive threefold designation—the Law of the Lord, statutes, and ordinances—indicates that he studied all facets of God’s Word. Tradition says he was the founder of the Great Synagogue where the Old Testament canon was first recognized

Every person is important to God and God’s work; but, as Dr. Lee Roberson has often said,

Everything rises and falls with leadership.

McConville has written

The model teacher in Ezra is a doer. And the doer can be no mere demonstrator. He must be what he would have his disciples be.

Every preacher should follow Ezra’s example and be committed to the study of the Scriptures in a way that is consuming, careful, and comprehensive. Pastors must guard against the seemingly endless, mounting pressures placed on them to sacrifice their study of the Word on the altar of their growing list of “priorities.”

The day the preacher stops studying God’s Word, whether he realizes it or not, is the day he begins losing spiritual passion and vitality in his preaching.

A shrinking study time may result in shrinking power in the pulpit.

Billy Graham was asked,

If you had to live your life over again, what would you do differently?

He answered

“One of my great regrets is that I have not studied enough, I wish I had studied more and preached less. People have pressured me into speaking to groups when I should have been studying and preparing. Donald Grey Barnhouse said that if he knew the Lord was coming in three years, he would spend two of them studying and one preaching.”

The church needs more men like John Wesley, the powerful eighteenth-century preacher who cried out,

O give me that Book! At any price, give me the book of God.

Jeremiah 15:16
(See commentary)

Whenever Jeremiah began to relish God’s Word, it had become his delight and a joy to his soul in contrast to the majority of people who despised it in Jeremiah 8:9

“”The wise men are put to shame, They are dismayed and caught; Behold, they have rejected (despised, spurned, disdained, scorned, loathed) the word of the LORD, and what kind of wisdom do they have?”

J Vernon McGee writes that Jeremiah…

He found his consolation in it. He ate it and he digested it and it became a part of him. Oh, how we need to get into the Word of God today. We don’t need just a little surface learning of a few rules, or just a little guideline of a few steps to take. We need to digest it so that it becomes part of our being. It will bring joy and rejoicing to the heart just as it did for Jeremiah. Only the Word of God can do this.

I received a letter from a man who heard our broadcast when I was in Galatians. He heard one word: Father. That arrested his attention. May I say to you that God is still using His Word today. Oh, how important the Word of God is!

Jeremiah is in real difficulty. Remember that his hometown rejected him and got rid of him. His own family rejected him. His life is actually in danger. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

Warren Wiersbe notes that Jeremiah…

The prophet experienced the loneliness of leadership and the anguish of ministry, but God encouraged him as he fed on the Word. God may not take away the pain in your heart, but He can balance it with His joy. (Wiersbe, W: With the Word: Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Handbook. Nelson)

Not hungry for God’s Word? Then make the words of the godly hymn writer Isaac Watts your prayer…

Then let me love my Bible more
And take a fresh delight
By day to read these wonders o’er
And meditate by night.

Matthew 4:4

The parallel passage in Luke 4:1-3 gives the context for the Matthew 4 passage…

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days; and when they had ended, He became hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Man shall not live on bread alone

“Most of us are familiar with the Pony Express and its oft-romanticized contribution to the history of the Old West. But for all its glamour, the Pony Express was a business enterprise-and was run like one. To ferry mail across the open expanse of the western territories, the express route ran 1,900 miles from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. The trip was made in about 10 days, using 40 men who each raced about 50 miles, riding a total of 500 fine horses in the process. To conserve weight, riders wore light clothing, rode on extremely small saddles, and carried no weapons. Their mail pouches were also compact and lightweight. Letters cost $5 per ounce for postage. Yet for all these efficiencies in terms of weight, one thing was not sacrificed: every rider carried a full-size Bible, presented to him when he joined the Pony Express. By contrast, how often are we found without the Word of God at our side, in our day of comfort and convenience?”

Every word…

To get a properly balanced diet, we must feed on the whole Bible. Certain chapters and verses in the Bible are like pie and cake to our souls, and the temptation is to read them often and to try to live by them alone, neglecting the rest of the Scripture. Jesus said, “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”. Every Christian should read and ponder & meditate IN (Ps 1:2) the Bible, chapter after chapter, book after book, until finished and then go back and start over again. Only in this way can we get the benefit of “every word” that God has spoken. Let us not skip the “dry” chapters for in them will be found many of the brightest gems of spiritual truths. Let us read the OT as much as the NT for it is the foundation upon which the NT is built. Is there not a tendency in most sound, conservative, Bible believing churches to emphasize the NT sometimes to the virtual exclusion of the OT. This will lead to spiritual “tunnel vision” and the sheep will not be fully nourished as God intended them to be on a complete healthy diet that partakes of both Old and New Testaments.

Are you starving yourself spiritually? Do even know what the symptoms of such a malady would look like? Then you need to read the following devotional from Our Daily Bread (bolding added):

Many of us live in countries where food is abundant and people are well-fed. That’s why we may not be familiar with the symptoms of starvation. At the outset, victims have an insatiable craving for nourishment. As time passes, however, the body weakens, the mind is dulled, and the desire for something to eat wanes. In fact, starving people actually reach a point when they don’t even want food that is placed before them. Spiritual starvation follows much the same course. If we have been feeding daily on God’s Word, it’s natural to feel “hungry” when we skip our quiet time. But if we continue to neglect it, we may lose all desire to study the Scriptures. In fact, we may be starving ourselves. How much time do you spend reading the Bible and meditating on its truths? Do you miss the Word when you neglect it? Thomas Guthrie wrote, “If you find yourself loving any pleasure better than your prayers, any book better than the Bible, any persons better than Christ, or any indulgence better than the hope of heaven–take alarm.” If you’ve lost your taste for the “bread of life,” confess your negligence and ask God to revive your appetite for His Word. Avoid spiritual starvation! –R W De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea.
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O Living Word. –Lathbury

A well-read Bible is a sign of a well-fed soul.

Job 23:10-12
(see commentary)

Hidden” (Hebrew tsaphan 6845) means to hide or to keep secret and is used of concealing something of great value, e.g., baby Moses (Ex 2:2), the Israelite spies (by Rahab in Joshua 2:4). Figuratively as in Psalm 119:11 and here by Job tsaphan refers of keeping something hidden in a person’s heart.

My “amplified” paraphrase of the Septuagint (LXX) based additional insight on the Greek words is…

Neither (double negative in the Greek “ou” = absolute negation & “me” relative no ~ so Job is saying in essence “absolutely no way”) do I neglect, overlook or transgress from His precepts, but I have hidden (Active voice = personal choice to do this… sounds like he has memorized God’s Word!) His uttered or spoken words in my bosom, because the bosom is the place of honor and close fellowship.

I have not departed from the command of His lips” This the very thing that Joshua was instructed not to do Joshua 1:8, although at the moment Job declared this fact, he was far from experiencing success and making his way prosperous (at least from mankind’s perspective) as promised to those who do not let the word depart from their lips. Clearly as we read his story, Job is a man who is suffering more than any of us will ever understand, and yet in the face of such affliction has affirms that he ”shall come forth as gold”. How did he know he would come forth as gold, a question which emphasizes the importance of examining the context to accurately answer this question. Job instead of being like “gold” was more like a man whose soul cleaved to the dust. And yet as Job 23:12 states, he knew God’s Word and even more importantly he had experienced intimacy with God through His Word. He trusted His Father’s refining hand. How else could he have said “”He knows the way I take. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” and not have been a hypocrite?

A New Testament way of saying one has not departed from the command is to abide in the Word (“Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;” John 8:31), to let the Word of Christ richly dwell within (“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” see Colossians 3:16note)

It is interesting and surprising that the NRSV & RSV don’t have the last phrase “more than my necessary food” (I have not researched why this is… it is simply an observation)… RSV reads “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured in my bosom the words of his mouth. ” KJV, NKJV, NIV, ASV, TLB all have this phrase… could be a difference in the original Hebrew manuscript?

Job was not perfect but He had a perfect God Who was behind the scenes keeping His hand on the “thermostat” of affliction and suffering so that his choice servant would be refined rather than burned. Some people go into the furnace of affliction, and it burns them, whereas others go in, and the experience purifies them. What makes the difference? Their attitude toward the Word of God, the God of the Word and His will for their life. If we are continually, daily taking in the “bread” every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God and humbling ourselves in submission to His will which is good and acceptable and perfect, the furnace experience, painful as it may be at the moment, will refine us and make us better. (see 1Pe 1:6note1Pe 1:7note) But if we resist God’s will and fail to feed on His truth, the furnace experience will only burn us and make us bitter (See Ruth 1:20 note) for a time when Naomi had her focus more on her problems — which in fairness were many & were severe — than on her Deliverer).

Lord, Be Thy Word My Rule

In it may I rejoice;
Thy glory be my aim;
Thy holy will my choice.
Thy promises my hope;
Thy providence my guard;
Thine arm my strong support;
Thyself my great Reward.
–C. Wordsworth

Would you cook a meal for yourself even if you didn’t feel like cooking? You probably would reasoning something like this — “Yes, food is necessary, and I know I need to eat or I will become anemic, weak and tired.” How do we answer the same question when it comes to spiritual food, the Living Word of God? Did you skip your time in His Word today or maybe even all week long? If your answer is, “Yes, I was too tired, too busy, too down, etc, etc… to study God’s Word,” then consider Job, remembering the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews to fellow Hebrews who in the face of their great conflict of suffering exhorted …

“we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (see notes Hebrews 6:1112)

James adding that…

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)

You may be saying “Well, at least I read Our Daily Bread (one of the best devotionals available in my opinion) every morning before I go to work.” If so you might be intrigued by the caveat written by Our Daily Bread’s founder Dr. M R DeHaan…

“Hold everything! Wait a minute! Have you read the Scripture for today? It’s only eight short verses, and it will take you only 45 seconds. No, don’t lay this booklet down and mumble to me, “I’m in a hurry and you’re delaying me.” I see you’re eating breakfast this morning even though you’re late. You take time to feed your body, but you were going to starve your soul. Take 45 seconds and read Psalm 119:3334353637383940. If you don’t read the rest of this devotional, that’s okay–as long as you read the Bible. These articles in Our Daily Bread are not designed to be a substitute for the Bible; they are meant to stimulate your desire to read more of the Bible. If reading this booklet has caused you to neglect the Word of God, please throw this booklet in the wastebasket!” Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Jesus taught, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). Yes, you may have had a rough day yesterday and you’re way behind. But why should you be surprised that it was such a bad day if you started it without God’s Word? Don’t make the same mistake today. Take time to read.” (DeHaan, M. R. — founder of the ministry) (Bolding added) (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

DO YOU TREMBLE
AT GOD’S WORD?

Isa 66:1,2 Thus says the LORD “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things. Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look. To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

Spurgeon comments: God will dwell with those that tremble at His word. Now the man that is in a right state for God to dwell in, trembles at God’s word because he believes it to be all true.

If thou doubt God’s word, between God and thee there is a disagreement, a rupture, a quarrel; and God never will dwell in thy soul.

The trembler believes it to be all true, and therefore he trembles.

As he reads the law, he says, “Thy holy law condemns me.” He trembles at the threatenings of that law, for he feels he deserves them to be fulfilled on him. And when the gospel comes, and he receives it and rejoices in it he trembles at it, — trembles at the love that looked upon him from all eternity, — trembles that he should have nailed the Savior to the cross, — trembles lest, after all, he should not be washed in the precious blood, and he trembles after he is washed, lest he should not walk as blood-washed spirits should.

These things are so high and sublime, that he trembles beneath the burden of the glory that he should receive.

He trembles at the promise. “O Lord,” saith he, “let that sweet promise be mine,” and he trembles lest he should miss it, — trembles at a precept lest he should misunderstand it, or not carry it out in a proper spirit. He is not like some, who say of certain precepts, “These are non-essential.” “No,” says the man of God, “I tremble at what you call a non-essential precept.”

If there be an ordinance, ordained of God in scripture, and others slight it and say it is trivial, the man of God, says, “No, to me it is not trivial or unimportant. Anything that is in the word of God and has the stamp of his approval, I tremble at.”

Some one once said to an old Puritan, “Some have made such rents in their conscience, that you might make a little nick in yours. There is no reason why you should be so precise;” but the other replied, “I serve a precise God.”

The God of Israel is a jealous God, and His people know it. Moses was not permitted to enter Canaan, for such a sin that you can hardly tell what it was, — it seemed such a little one; yet was he shut out from the land of promise for it; for God is more particular with those that are near to Him than with others.

He is jealous with those that are at Court; and He that leans his head on His bosom must expect the great Savior to be stricter with him than with any of those that are without.

Oh, beloved, we must tremble at God’s word.

We know we shall enter heaven if we are believers in Jesus, but we tremble lest by any means we should mar our evidence of being inheritors of that goodly land.

We know the love of God will never cast us away; we know the eternal love will never reject those it has chosen; but we tremble lest we should abuse that grace.

The more gracious the doctrines we hear and believe, the more we tremble, lest we should sin against such a gracious God. We go through the world trembling and rejoicing.

Now, if that is our condition, God saith He will dwell with us. Oh, there are some of you dear hearts here that could not lay hold on this text anywhere, except on this particular point. You can say, “Oh, sir, I do tremble under God’s word. How often under a sermon you make me quiver from head to foot; and, when I am reading the Bible alone, I am melted into tears with it.”

Dear brother, I am glad of that, I am glad of that; for a holy trembling is a sign of life. If you can quiver before the eternal majesty of God’s voice, you are not altogether like the stocks and stones, — not altogether dead in trespasses and sins. See then (for I will say no more upon it) what a blessed thing it is to be of this character, that God will dwell with us. (Read Spurgeon’s full message on this passage – Living Temples for the Living God)

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If you would find God, He dwelleth on every hilltop and in every valley; God is everywhere in creation; but if you want a special display of Him, if you would know what is the secret place of the tabernacle of the Most High, the inner chamber of divinity, you must go where you find the church of true believers, for it is here he makes His continual residence known—in the hearts of the humble and contrite, who tremble at His word. Every church is to our Lord a more sublime thing than a constellation in the heavens; as He is precious to His saints, so are they precious to Him. (Daily Help)

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To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.” Stoop if you would climb to heaven. Do we not say of Jesus, “He descended that He might ascend?” So must you. You must grow downwards, that you may grow upwards; for the sweetest fellowship with heaven is to be had by humble souls, and by them alone. God will deny no blessing to a thoroughly humbled spirit. Humility makes us ready to be blessed by the God of all grace, and fits us to deal efficiently with our fellow-men. Whether it be prayer or praise, whether it be work or suffering, the genuine salt of humility cannot be used in excess. (Daily Help)

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Many despise warning, and perish. Happy is he who trembles at the word of the Lord. Josiah did so, and he was spared the sight of the evil which the Lord determined to send upon Judah because of her great sins. Have you this tenderness? Do you practice this self-humiliation? Then you also shall be spared in the evil day. God sets a mark upon the men that sigh and cry because of the sin of the times. The destroying angel is commanded to keep his sword in its sheath till the elect of God are sheltered: these are best known by their godly fear, and their trembling at the Word of the Lord. (Faith’s Checkbook)

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2 Kings 22:11 (Josiah was a “trembler”) And it came about when the king heard the words of the book of the law, that he tore his clothes.

He was of a tender spirit, and trembled at the word of the Lord, when he saw the evils sin had brought upon the nation. (Spurgeon – The Interpreter)

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1 John 2:14 … I have written to you, young men because you are strong and the word of God abides (present tense = continually) in you and you have overcome the evil one

The Word in the Heart

“The Word of God abideth in you.” I labour under the opinion that there never was a time in which the people of God had greater need to understand this passage than now. We have entered upon that part of the pilgrim path which is described by Bunyan as the Enchanted Ground: the Church and the world appear to be alike bewitched with folly. Half the people of God hardly know their head from their heels at this time. They are gaping after wonders, running after a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, and waiting for yet more astounding inventions. Everything seems to be in a whirligig; a tornado has set in, and the storm is everywhere. Christians used to believe in Christ as their Leader, and the Bible as their rule; but some of them are pleased with lords and rules such as He never knew! Believe me, there will soon come new Messiahs. Men are already pretending to work miracles, we shall soon have false Christs; and “Lo! here,” and “Lo! there,” will be heard on all sides. Anchors are up, winds are out, and the whole fleet is getting into confusion. Men in whose sanity and stability I once believed, are being carried away with one fancy or another, and I am driven to cry, “What next? and what next?” We are only at the beginning of an era of mingled unbelief and fanaticism. Now we shall know who are God’s elect and who are not; for there are spirits abroad at this hour that would, if it were possible, deceive even the very elect; and those who are not deceived are, nevertheless, sorely put to it. Here is the patience of the saints; let him look to himself who is not rooted and grounded in Christ, for the hurricane is coming. The signs of the times indicate a carnival of delusions; men have ceased to be guided by the Word, and claim to be themselves prophets. Now we shall see what we shall see. Blessed is the sheep that knows his Shepherd, and will not listen to the voice of strangers. But here is the way to be kept steadfast—”The Word of God abideth in you.”

“The Word of God”—that is to say, we are to believe in the doctrines of God’s Word, and these will make us strong. What vigour they infuse! Get the Word well into you, and you will overcome the wicked one. When the devil tempted Luther, the Reformer’s grand grip of justification by faith made him readily victorious. Keep you a fast hold of the doctrines of grace, and Satan will soon give over attacking you, for they are like plate-armour, through which no dart can ever force its way.

The promises of God’s Word, too, what power they give! To get a hold of a “shall” and “will” in the time of trouble is a heavenly safeguard. “My God will hear me.” “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.” These are Divine holdfasts. Oh, how strong a man is for overcoming the wicked one when he has such a promise to hand! Do not trust yourself out of a morning in the street till you have laid a promise under your tongue. I see people put respirators on in foggy weather; they do not make them look very lovely, but I daresay they are useful. I recommend the best respirator for the pestilential atmosphere of this present evil world when I bid you fit a promise to your lips. Did not the Lord rout the tempter in the wilderness with that promise, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God shall man live”? Get the promises of God to lodge within you, and you will be strong.

Then mind the precepts, for a precept is often a sharp weapon against Satan. Remember how the Lord Jesus Christ struck Satan a killing blow by quoting a precept—”It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” If the precept had not been handy, wherewith would the adversary have been rebuked? Nor is a threatening at all a weak weapon. The most terrible threatenings of God’s Word against sin are the best helps for Christians when they are tempted to sin:—How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? How should I escape if I turned away from Him who speaketh from heaven? Tell Satan the threatenings, and make him tremble. Every word of God is life to holiness and death to sin. Use the Word as your sword and shield: there is none like it.

Now notice that John not only mentions “the Word of God,” but the Word of God “in you.” The inspired Word must be received into a willing mind. How? The Book which lies there is to be pleaded here, in the inmost heart, by the work of the Holy Ghost upon the mind. All of this letter has to be translated into spirit and life. “The Word of God abideth in you”—that is, first to know it,—next to remember it and treasure it up in your heart. Following upon this, we must understand it, and learn the analogy of faith by comparing spiritual things with spiritual till we have learned the system of Divine truth, and are able to set it forth and plead for it. It is, next, to have the Word in your affections, to love it so that it is as honey or the droppings of the honeycomb to you. When this is the case, you must and shall overcome the wicked one. A man instructed in the Scriptures is like an armed knight, who when he goes among the throng inflicts many a wound, but suffers none, for he is locked up in steel.

Yes, but that is not all; it is not the Word of God in you alone, it is “the Word of God abideth in you.” It is always there, it cannot be removed from you. If a man gets the Bible right into him, he is all right then, because he is full, and there is no room for evil. When you have filled a measure full of wheat, you have effectually shut the chaff out. Men go after novel and false doctrines because they do not really know the truth; for if the truth had gotten into them and filled them, they would not have room for these day-dreams. A man who truly knows the doctrines of grace is never removed from them: I have heard our opponents rave at what they call obstinacy. Once get the truth really into you, it will enter into the texture of your being, and nothing will get it out of you. It will also be your strength, by setting you watching against every evil thing. You will be on your guard if the Word abide in you, for it is written, “When thou goest it will keep thee.” The Word of God will be to you a bulwark and a high tower (Ed: cp Pr 30:5618:10Ps 20:1), a castle of defence against the foe. Oh, see to it that the Word of God is in you, in your very soul, permeating your thoughts, and so operating upon your outward life, that all may know you to be a true Bible-Christian, for they perceive it in your words and deeds.

Courtesy of preceptaustin.org at https://www.preceptaustin.org/the_power_of_gods_word#Bible%20-%20The%20Word%20of%20God

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How Do We Respond to Tribulation?

The Greek word for “tribulation” in the New Testament is thlipsis which means to press, squeeze, compress, and crush. It is to be pressed into a narrow place. It was used to describe the squeezing of olives in a press to extract oil and the squeezing of grapes to produce juice. It conveys the idea of being forcefully squeezed under intense pressure or crushed beneath a heavy weight. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia adds that: “Thlipsis derives from roots that graphically portray that in which a person is first limited, then walled in and gradually squeezed until something must give.”[i]

When you squeeze something, what is on the inside comes out. What is coming out of our hearts when they are squeezed and placed under crushing pressure? When mental distresses, difficult outward circumstances and troublesome afflictions press into our hearts with an enormous weight and burden, what happens? Do these intense pressures crush the life of God from our hearts? What flows from our hearts when the temptations of life powerfully squeeze us from the inside and the outside? How do our hearts respond?

The Lesson of Joseph

Thlipsis is the word to describe what Joseph went through before He was made governor in Egypt. This gives a vivid mind picture and also shows us what was in the heart of Joseph. What crushing pressure he faced mentally and physically, yet his heart remained steadfast to God and he never caved in to thlipsis.

Joseph’s own brothers hated him and when the opportunity arose, they thrust him into an empty pit. After this they sold him into slavery to a passing caravan. Joseph was bought and taken out of his homeland into Egypt. Imagine how this must have felt! The burden and sadness that must have pressed into his heart! His own flesh and blood despised him so much that they plotted his death. Only Reuben saved him from being murdered by his brothers. When he was cast down by his own family into this abandoned pit in the wilderness without food or water, he had no idea if he would get out. What crushing weight must have squeezed his heart!

His brother Rueben recalled the anguishing pleas of Joseph from the dungeon in Genesis 42:21: “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear …” Joseph soul was in anguish over the cruel actions of his brothers and he desperately pled with them to let him go, but they were silent. Joseph greatly loved his brethren and their betrayal of him was an overwhelming discouragement to his heart. How would our hearts handle this situation? How would hearts respond to this type of pressure?

The mutiny of his brothers was bad enough, but his life took another shocking turn. Suddenly he was sold as a slave to a traveling band of Ishmaelites. He no longer was a free man. In an instant he became a slave, a piece of property to be bought and sold. Joseph would be taken as a slave for a mere twenty pieces of silver into a foreign country away from everything familiar to him. His life would never be the same. He wandered if he would ever see his father again or his brothers whom he still loved.

Can you imagine the enormous weight of these life-changing circumstances? The mental pressure and trauma of slavery were added to the crushing pressure of betrayal by his brothers. How do you think his heart felt?

Are you beginning to get a mind picture of this word thlipsis? How would our hearts react to this thlipsis? Would we become offended in our God? Would we accuse God of unfaithfulness? Would we blame God in bitterness and frustration because of our overwhelming predicament? Would we lose faith and confidence in our God? Would our hearts wither under the scorching heart of betrayal and indifference?

On the surface, it looked like God had forsaken Joseph during this calamity, but nothing could be further from the truth. God was with Joseph every step of the way during this intense thlipsis period of his life. God blessed Joseph with his new master Potiphar and he found grace in his sight and was made overseer of all his possessions. Potiphar was a very powerful man in Egypt, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of his guard.

But he had an unfaithful wife who lustfully desired Joseph. She relentlessly pursued Joseph to have sex with her, but Joseph refused to sin against his God and dishonor his master. Potiphar’s wife was furious when she was rebuffed so she grabbed his garment and falsely accused him of attempted rape. She claimed he was mocking his master with such a detestable act.

Suddenly Joseph lost all favor with Potiphar and was thrust into a dungeon reserved for enemies of the state, those who were a threat to the kingdom of Egypt. Thlipsis had returned to the heart of Joseph with a vengeance as he felt the intense crushing pressure of being jailed in a dungeon over false accusations and losing his trusted position in Potiphar’s household. He was completely innocent, but no one would listen. Would he be freed from the dark captivity of this dungeon or see the light of day again?

Have you ever been falsely accused? Have you ever been thrown into prison when you are innocent and without any fault? How would your heart respond to this squeezing and what would come out?

Joseph remained in this dungeon for at least two years and despite this daily thlipsis, Joseph never lost his faith in God. How rooted his heart must have been in God and His faithfulness to deliver! God was with Joseph and showed him mercy, giving him favor with the keeper of the prison. Joseph was in charge of all the prisoners because God made him prosper. Joseph had the joy of the Lord overflowing from his heart even in the midst of all his trouble. Thlipsis never stole his joy. Joseph even asked the chief butler and chief baker why they were so sad. Joseph was not miserable in prison as the presence of God was a living reality in his heart.

After interpreting both the baker and butler’s dreams, Joseph asked the chief butler to remember him and tell Pharaoh he did nothing wrong to merit prison. However, thlipsis returned as Joseph was forgotten by Pharaoh’s butler, and he never brought up Joseph’s injustice to the Pharaoh for two years. Each day Joseph waited, but nothing happened. Joseph felt the crushing pressure of being forsaken again, yet he did not uproot his heart from God.

Imagine the thlipsis that Joseph endured! He was stolen from his homeland, subject to the cruelty of his own flesh and blood. He was cast into a political dungeon as an innocent man, and forgotten by a friend who failed to take any action to get him out of prison.

Although the exact amount of time this thlipsis lasted is not known, I believe it was in the neighborhood of 10-13 years! Could our hearts remain faithful God and rooted in His promises during 13 years of extreme thlipsis? Would we be crushed into the ground by this relentless pressure?

Throughout this long period of intense pressure, Joseph never wavered in His love for God. He did not complain to God or become overwhelmed by his circumstances. Joseph never allowed a root of bitterness to grow in his heart because of the injustice, unfairness and cruelty that he faced in life. Joseph did not become offended against God because everything seemed to be working against him. He did not believe he was forgotten, forsaken or abandoned by God. He did not allow thlipsis to destroy his heart for God. His faith in God was never shaken.

God honored Joseph’s steadfastness. He blessed, protected, and prospered Him for his heart was fiercely loyal to God. God was alive to Joseph in his daily living. Acts 7:9,10 declares that “God was with him (Joseph) and delivered him out of all his afflictions (thlipsis).” God gave Joseph grace even in the midst of thlipsis’s most trying circumstances.

No matter how crushing the pressure, or how hard we are being squeezed, or how heavy the burden, God can deliver us from every thlipsis. Joshua 10:14 boldly declares that no idol can rescue us from thlipsis. Only God’s power and strength can be victorious over any thlipsis that grips the heart. The Parable of the Sower and the Seed makes it clear that how we respond to thlipsis is determined by the deepness of our root in God’s Word.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation (thlipsis). But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, ESV)

The world specializes in thlipsis. As long as we live in this world, our heart will have to deal with thlipsis. Our heart will be tested with thlipsis to determine the genuineness of our faith and the deepness of our root system in Christ. Will our heart withstand the test of thlipsis and stand strong on the Word or when the blistering heart of the sun comes, wilt away?

Jesus Christ: Our Example in Times of Thlipsis

Thlipsis is nothing to Jesus Christ. He endured the worst thlipsis ever known to mankind in the ordeal of the crucifixion. His sweat was like great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in intense prayer to his Heavenly Father. The weight of our sin became a deep and crushing weight to his soul. He was about to go through forty hours of beatings, mocking, torture, physical disfigurement, and unbearable pain. He would not even resemble a human being, but a bloody pulp of flesh. He endured this brutal physical punishment to pay the price for our sin and crush the power of the kingdom of darkness, ushering us as citizens into his kingdom.

Thlipsis never turned the heart of Jesus Christ from his Heavenly Father. He accomplished salvation and eternal life for all those who will come to Him because he did not allow thlipsis to squeeze the life of God out of his heart. He did not permit thlipsis to offend him. He did not allow his heart to melt under the sweltering heat of thlipsis as he became the captain of our salvation and accomplished the greatest triumph the heaven and earth has ever seen.

Only in Jesus Christ can we be victorious over thlipsis. Only in Jesus Christ will our root system flourish. Only in Jesus Christ can we endure and overcome the blistering heat of the kosmos, the entire system that the Devil has set up as the Prince of the Power of the Air.

We do not belong to this world. We are citizens of another kingdom. The world hates Jesus Christ, who as the light of the world, exposed its love and worship of evil. The world hates the Word of God, which exposes the error of its ways and the lies it so adores. The world will pursue with intense hatred all those rooted in Christ, relentlessly pressuring them to denounce Christ and reject His Word. The spirit of the world is fierce and it will come at us with persistent pressure to squeeze our hearts into its mold. The spirit of the world is out to destroy our growth in Christ and eradicate the living Word from our hearts. We must withstand its thlipsis if we want our hearts to shine forth with the beauty of Christ.

Can your heart stand the pressure of being labeled a bigot, a fool, an idiot, a religious nut, a deceiver, a fanatic and an extremist? Can you stand the heat of standing against this world system that defies the living God and become a spiritual rebel against all the forces of darkness that embrace every level of our culture. Only in Jesus Christ can we withstand this pressure and emerge triumphant over every burden and weight thrown at our heart.

Thlipsis and the Birth of the Extraordinary

God always births something extraordinary in the heart when we come through a season of thlipsis still firmly rooted in Christ and the Word of God.

Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish (thlipsis) because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. (John 16:21, NASB)

God uses the word “thlipsis” to describe the anguish the female body endures in labor. There is intense pain as she tries to squeeze and push the baby from her body, but nothing compares to the joy of giving birth to a new child. The woman is pregnant with something extraordinary and amazing with a wonderful, beautiful baby forming in her womb. But she has to go through a period of thlipsis before the child is born into the world.

Likewise our heart is pregnant with the extraordinary plans, purposes and works of God Almighty, but it is only when we come through the labor pains of thlipsis that the heart gives birth to something extraordinary. So many Christians never give birth to the extraordinary, because in the time of thlipsis, they get scorched. How tragic that we never give birth to God’s amazing plans and purposes for our life because under the crushing pressure of thlipsis we have a miscarriage. We fail to give birth to God’s breathtaking fruit because our root system is shallow in God and cannot endure the labor pains of childbirth.

Look what was birthed out of the heart of Joseph when he passed the thlipsis test. Joseph became ruler over all of Egypt and second in command only to Pharaoh. What an extraordinary thing God birthed in the heart of Joseph to go from a slave, condemned in prison, to a ruler of a mighty kingdom.

Jesus Christ endured the intense thlipsis of the crucifixion and bearing the sin of the human race, but now he is seated at the right hand of God having obtained eternal redemption for all those who believe. He obliterated the power of Satan’s kingdom, conquered sin and death, and will establish forever his kingdom as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

David remained faithful to God during the relentless thlipsis caused by King Saul who used the might of his kingdom to try to assassinate God’s chosen king. God birthed an extraordinary calling and work in the heart of David as he became the greatest king in the history of Israel and a man after God’s own heart.

The Apostle Paul was deeply rooted in Christ and the Word of God and endured great thlipsis during his journeys to spread the gospel. He suffered beatings, stoning, false accusations, imprisonment, shipwreck, hunger, weariness, riots and persecution. He proved himself a minister of God through thlipsis and became one of the most influential Christians who has ever lived. He penned, through the inspiration of God, a great part of the New Testament and established the gospel in many parts of the world. His ministry turned the world upside down, and he shook the gates of hell with the truth of the gospel. God birthed such an extraordinary thing in the heart of Paul as he turned people from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.

We must never allow thlipsis to cause a miscarriage of God’s extraordinary plans and purposes for us by allowing its crushing pressure to scorch the seed of the Word of God from our hearts.

[i] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume Four: Q-Z, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman Publishing Company, 1988), 913.

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The Amazing Truth of Jesus Christ as The Second Adam

Jesus Christ is called the Second Adam in Scripture which is a phenomenal truth that embodies everything from his triumph victory over  the devil’s kingdom to his finished work of redemption with his death and resurrection. To understand this truth more, let’s begin in the book of Genesis with the curse of the serpent (figure of speech hypocatastasis for the devil) which is brought to triumphant culmination in Jesus Christ.

Genesis 3:14 (KJV):

And the LORD God said unto the serpent,

Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed

above all cattle, and above every beast

(chayyah-living thing) of the field; upon

thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou

eat all the days of your life.

God reserved the harshest judgment and strongest curse for His archenemy, the devil, as revealed in verses 14 and 15. It was a proclamation of the death penalty; it was an announcement of his ultimate destruction, and it was a message that his future was doomed. Just when it appeared Satan had achieved a great victory, God boldly confronted him with a firm declaration of his annihilation. There was no discussion, no debate, and no question as sentence was at once pronounced. Satan did not get off the hook, but was cursed above every living thing upon the earth. The curse of God fell upon this evil fallen angel and will abide all the days of his existence until his final destruction, as described in the Book of Revelation.  Although Satan gained the authority and power over the world from Adam, every action in his evil kingdom has the curse of God hanging over it. His power is not unlimited; his kingdom will not abide forever, and there is a time limit to his exercise of authority over the earth.

The first part of his curse is that “upon thy belly thou shalt go.”  Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states this is a figure of speech referring to the devil and “implies utmost humiliation.” He elaborates:

This figure means infinitely more than the

literal belly of flesh and blood just as the words

“heel” and “head” do in verse 15. It paints for

the eyes of our mind the picture of Satan’s ultimate

humilation; for prostration was ever the most

eloquent sign of subjection. When it says “our

belly shall cleaveth unto the ground” (Psalm 44:25),

it denotes such a prolonged prostration and such a

depth of submission as could never be conveyed or

expressed in literal words.

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon on the The Serpent’s Sentence, says:

Note THE REMARKABLE PROSTRATION

which fell upon the serpent-”upon your belly

shall you go.” So does the serpent move and so

does evil labor to make progress. Satan moves

always as a fallen one-not with the dignity of

holiness, but groveling low. God has put upon

his every movement the indication that he is

no longer great and wise…The greatest potentate

of evil is doomed to cringe and crawl…All the

objects of the power of evil are groveling.

There is no dignity in Satan’s kingdom. There is no uprightness in Satan’s schemes. He sneaks, grovels, cringes, and crawls, but suffers humiliation on a daily basis. He has to masquerade as an angel of light; he has to deceive, and he has to counterfeit the things of God, for he cannot stand in truth. Even though he is full of pride and arrogance, he must prostrate and be subject to the power of the Word of God. His authority and strength must bow to and coil back from the living Word of God and those who believe it. He cannot extinguish or snuff out the light of God. He cannot conquer those who trust God and believe His Word. Any victory of Satan is short lived when seen in the light of his daily failures and humiliation in his fight against God Almighty. But nothing compares to his ultimate humiliation and destruction right before the eyes of the entire world.  Ezekiel and Isaiah prophesied of this final devastating humiliation of the curse in Genesis 3:14, “upon they belly thou shalt go”:

Ezekiel 28:17-19 (English Standard Version):

Your heart was proud because of your

beauty; you corrupted your wisdom

for the sake of your splendor. I cast you

to the ground. I exposed you before kings,

to feast their eyes on you.

By the multitude of your iniquities, in the

unrighteousness of your trade you profaned

your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from

your midst; it consumed you, and I turned

you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all

who saw you.

All who know you among the peoples are

appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful

end and shall be no more forever.

Isaiah 14:15-20 (Christian Holman Standard):

But you will be brought down to Sheol

into the deepest regions of the Pit.

Those who see you will stare at you; they

will look closely at you; “Is this the man

who caused the earth to tremble, who shook

kingdoms, who turned the world into a wilderness, who

trampled its cities and would not release the

prisoners to return home?”

All of the kings of the nations lie in splendor,

each in his own tomb.

But you are thrown out without a grave, like

a worthless branch, covered by those slain

with the sword and dumped into a rocky pit

like a trampled corpse.

You will not join them in burial, because you

destroyed your land and slaughtered your own

people. The offspring of evil doers will never be

remembered.

The god of this world, the devil, who ruined Adam and Eve in the garden, who  contaminated God’s creation with sin, who turned the world into a wasteland of evil and trampled its cities, who made people prisoners in the bondage of his snare, who uses and destroys his followers, and who spreads fear throughout every age, will one day become like a worthless branch and a trampled corpse, as he is destroyed and reduced to ashes. This is the future of the serpent. He will enchant no more, fascinate no more, deceive no more, destroy no more, and oppose the goodness of God no more. This is the ultimate humiliation awaiting the great enemy of God and His people. This is the future of evil.

The second part of the God’s curse on the devil is: “dust shalt thou eat all the days of your life.” E.W. Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states:

“Dust shalt thou eat”. This is not true to the letter,

or to fact but it is all the more true to truth. It

tells of constant continuous disappointment,

failure and  mortification: as when deceitful ways

are spoken feeding on deceitful food, which is

“sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth shall be

filled with gravel” (Prov. 20:17). This does not

mean literal “gravel” but something far more

disagreeable. It means disappointment so great

that it would gladly be exchanged for the literal

gravel.

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon on The Serpent’s Sentence, says:

THE PERPETUAL DEGRADATION put upon

the serpent- “And dust shalt thou eat all the days

of your life.” Satan is now to live a defeated life,

for such is the force of expression. It signifies that

they are utterly defeated. So Satan, all his life,

exists as a conquered and chained enemy-his power

is broken and he knows it. He is defeated as to the

whole of his great scheme and he is to be defeated

in the details of it all the days of his life…Forever,

dust shall be the serpent’s meat, for what he gains

always disappoints him. He thought he had obtained

great advantage when he won the woman to –

disobedience-but he made a rod for his own back

since her Seed has become his Eternal Antagonist…

If Satan ever knows pleasure at all, it is of the foulest

and most unsatisfactory kind-dust is his meat. There

is nothing satisfying in the pleasures of rebellion. He

remains a disappointed, restless being. His whole cause,

for which he has labored these thousands of years with

horrible perseverance-his whole cause, I say-will

dissolve into dust and will be blown away as smoke!…

Everything that sin can bring you is just so much dust…

This is the misery of that great spirit who is called the

Prince of Darkness, that he must eat dust all his days.

Satan and his kingdom suffer bitter disappointment, frustration, and disillusionment on a daily basis. There is no joy or contentment in Satan’s kingdom. At every turn, at every corner, and at every path, the devil is constantly frustrated by God and His goodness. Evil always brings disappointment, as only the goodness of God can truly satisfy the heart and soul of a person. The best the devil has to offer is dust in your mouth, dust in your purposes, dust in your accomplishments, and dust in your life without God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is constantly disturbed and aggravated because he cannot usurp God’s throne, cannot defeat God, cannot outsmart God, cannot overcome God, cannot overpower God, and cannot get away from the curse of God that permeates everything he does. The Evil One has a cloud of defeat and doom that hangs over all of his schemes and deceptions.

The next verse contains the greatest promise of the goodness of God in the Bible. When it seemed that all was lost and the devil had succeeded in ruining Adam and Eve, God promised a coming Savior, who will redeem mankind from the penalty of sin and  ultimately crush the devil into oblivion. This was a promise of hope, goodness, and salvation, as God would not leave the world helpless, but would give them His only begotten Son. What a God of love and goodness to promise this to His children who had just committed high treason against Him. God threw the glorious light of His Word right back at the serpent, as the coming redeemer would not only restore everything Adam and Eve lost in the garden, but utterly destroy the devil and all his works. This was the final death blow of the curse of God on the devil that was boldly pronounced in the garden. God heralded forth this good promise so every fallen angel, including the devil himself, would hear about His magnificent goodness and shudder about their ultimate defeat.

Genesis 3:15 (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible):

And enmity shall I put between thee and the woman, and

between thy seed and her seed,- He shall crush thy head,

but thou shall crush his heel.

This is a declaration of war! This verse sets forth the fulcrum point of all history and defines the ceaseless battle that has raged since Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden. This verse is the central theme of all scriptures, as the red thread of the coming Redeemer is interwoven into every book of the Old Testament. Its message is even written in the heavens, as each night the stars proclaim the sufferings and glorious triumph of Christ.

Who is the seed of the woman? In conception the seed comes from the male, but God’s Word clearly refers to the woman’s seed here. Seed implies birth, and this verse indicates a virgin birth of a man who would crush the arch-enemy of God. This man is the Savior, the Redeemer, the Liberator, the Messiah, the Second Adam, and the Conqueror over sin and death. This man is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Adam as a fallen man could not conquer death or sin, but was a slave to them. Adam or Eve could not of their own power crush and destroy the devil. Adam and Eve could not redeem themselves and pay the penalty of sin that hangs over the human race. They were in desperate need of the seed of the woman, the Redeemer, to free them from the curse of their disobedience. There was great hope in this promise of goodness.

God proclaims that the destiny of this seed of the women is to destroy the devil and all his works. God promises the destiny of the serpent is utter destruction at the hands of this man. The Second Adam will “crush the head of the serpent.” The word “crush” in the Hebrew means: to break or smite in pieces and to greatly injure or wound. E. W.

Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states:

When it is said (v.15), “He shall crush thy head,”

it means something more than a skull of bone, and

brain and hair. It means all Satan’s plans and plots,

policy and purposes, will one day be finally crushed

and ended, never more to mar or to hinder the

purposes of God.

Charles Spurgeon continues in his sermon on The Serpent’s Sentence:

We now observe his FINAL DOOM…Here is the

end of the great conflict. Satan who heads the

powers of evil in the world, is to fight it out with

all his cunning and strength… but in the end the

Seed of the woman is to bruise his head…Hallelujah,

Hallelujah, He has cast the Prince of Darkness from

his high places…What can he do with a  broken

head? This bruise upon the head  of the Evil One is

a mortal stroke. If  he had been bruised upon the tail

or upon the neck he might have survived. But the

Lord shall utterly slay the kingdom of evil and crush

its power.

In this great battle, the serpent will inflict some temporary damage as he will “crush the heel” of the seed of the woman. E.W. Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, explains:

It cannot mean his literal heel of flesh and blood,

but suffering, more temporary in nature…The

bruising of Christ’s heel is the most eloquent and

impressive way of foretelling the most solemn

events; and to point out that the effort made by

Satan to evade his doom, then threatened, would

become the very means of insuring its

accomplishment; for it was through the death of

Christ that he who had the power of death would

be destroyed; and all Satan’s power and policy

brought to an end, and all his works destroyed…

What  literal words could portray these literal

facts so wonderfully as these expressive figures

of speech.

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon The Serpent’s Sentence, expounds on this truth:

We see in the text THE LIMITED ACHIEVEMENT

of the old serpent. What will be accomplished by all

his schemes? “You shall bruise his heel.” That is

all…That bruised heel is painful enough…He was

betrayed, bound, accused, buffeted, scourged, spit

upon. He was nailed to the Cross. He hung there

in thirst and fever and darkness and desertion.

They pierced His hands and feet…Satan by death

death bruised the heel of the woman’s seed…but

when our Lord thought of the Resurrection, the

salvation of His chosen and the conquest of the

world, it seemed to him to be a light thing-”He

endured the Cross, despising the shame.”…Make

the best of it Satan, it does not come to much. All

that you are at your greatest is but a heel-nibbler

and nothing more.

This is the essence of the battle of good and evil throughout all history. The seed of the woman represents all of God’s goodness, and the serpent and his seed represent everything that is evil. The most intense war the world has ever known is about to begin. It is more fierce, more violent, more brutal, more ferocious, and more severe than all of the wars of human history combined. At the very root of this warfare is deep-seated enmity between good and evil, between God and His people and the serpent and his people, and between the Word of God and the word of Satan. This is a spiritual battle, an invisible war for the heart and soul of all peoples on Earth.

God states that there will be great enmity between the serpent and the second Adam, Christ. The word “enmity” in the Hebrew means: hatred and hostility with a desire to injure. There is no truce in this battle. There is no peace agreement. As long as Satan’s kingdom operates upon the earth, it will be opposed vigorously by Christ. Jesus Christ is the absolute pinnacle of God’s goodness, and he represents everything that is good in the heart and purposes of God.  Christ represents God’s goodness, mercy, grace, love, righteousness, justice, holiness, faithfulness, truth, life, and peace. Satan has great hostility to the goodness of God  and everything that Christ represents, as he tries to suppress the knowledge and understanding of God’s goodness in the hearts and minds of people. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about how good God is and the great salvation and deliverance available through Jesus Christ. He fervently desires to injure, hurt, destroy, harm, wound, impair, mar, impede, obstruct, hinder, frustrate, and discourage God’s people, God’s Word and  God’s purposes. He does everything he can to turn people away from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan has  raging hostility toward the second Adam, for he knows that his head will be crushed by him. This is a fatal blow from which there is no recovery. Once a serpent’s head is crushed, he cannot inject his poison into the world anymore or operate his schemes and deceptions on all mankind. The devil knew that there was a genealogical Christ line that would pass through Eve, as the seed of the woman would  have to be born. Later, the Word of God was more specific that this Christ line would pass through

Abraham and King David. The entire Old Testament is a record of the fierce attempts of the devil to wipe out the Christ line, and prevent Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, from ever being born. It is a record of God’s magnificent works and actions that repeatedly delivered the Christ line from extinction. Sometimes the survival of the Christ line rested on the faith of one individual like Noah, Joseph, Abraham, and Esther. Read the Old Testament with this truth in mind, and the Word of God will come alive in new and wonderful ways.

There is not enough space in this book to go into detail of the countless schemes and plots of the devil to destroy this Christ line, and God’s miraculous protection of it. The salvation and redemption of the human race depended on the preservation of the Christ line.  The devil started with the murder of Abel and was absolutely relentless to try to destroy the Seed of the woman who would utterly crush and defeat him. He was not going to go out without a vicious and violent battle where he marshaled all his evil forces to bring about the destruction of the Christ line. The devil even tried to genetically corrupt the entire human race with nephilim, or giants of wickedness, (see Genesis 6) so that the Christ line could never come. This was a serious all out attack on the human race to prevent the coming of the Redeemer.  The devil also tried floods, famines, warfare, idolatry, politics, religion, people, philosophies, and countless schemes throughout the Old Testament to destroy the true knowledge of God, and obliterate the genealogical line from which Christ would be born. But Satan was foiled again and again. He even tried to devour the infant Jesus through Herod’s decree of death, but God was always one step ahead of the devil in the preservation of His promise of the Seed of the woman.

The book of Romans sets forth the importance of this one man, the second Adam, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race for all who believe.

Romans 5:15,17,18 (Amplified Bible):

But God’s free gift is not all to be compared

to the trespass [His grace is out of all

proportion to the fall of man]. For if many

died through one man’s falling away (his

lapse, his offense), much more profusely

did God’s grace and the free gift that comes

through the undeserved favor of the one

Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to

and for the benefit of many.

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse,

offense) death reigned through that one,

much more surely will those who receive

God’s overflowing grace (unmerited favor)

and the free gift of righteousness [putting

them into right standing with Himself] reign

as kings in life through the one Man Jesus

Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One.)

Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s

false step and falling away led] to condemnation

for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness

leads to acquittal and right standing with God

and life for all men.

God revealed His ultimate plan of grace with the Seed of the woman, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who by His death and resurrection made available the free gift of righteousness leading to acquittal from the penalty of sin and right standing again with God.  The court of God legally pronounces the declaration of acquittal when a man or woman confesses Jesus Christ as their Lord and believes God raised Jesus from the dead. Sin and death reign in this world because of Adam’s one act of disobedience, but now through the obedience of one man, Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice, we can reign as kings in this life and the one to come.

Ray Pritchard in his Commentary on Romans explains:

Death reigned. That’s our heritage from Adam.

Death reigns on the earth because of Adam’s

sin…Ah, but that’s only part of the story. There

is a way out. There is a way to reverse what

Adam did…It comes, Paul says to those who

receive God’s abundant provision of grace and

the gift of righteousness…But notice the result

of receiving the gift of righteousness. Those

who receive this free gift now reign in life.

On one hand, death reigns; on the other hand,

those who know Jesus Christ as Savior reign

as kings right now, in this life and in the life

to come. We live in dying world, but in this

realm of death, we may through Jesus Christ

reign as kings. And in the life to come, we

shall reign forever, rising from the dead,

clothed with immortality. Only God could

take a slave and transform him into a king.

But that is what God has done through Jesus

Christ. So what Jesus did is far greater than

what Adam did. Greater in its nature. Greater

in its power. Greater in its effect.

The goodness of God has its ultimate triumph in the Lord Jesus Christ. Evil has its sentence of doom and ultimate destruction in the Lord Jesus Christ. What Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary is so magnificent, so awesome and so astounding, that it permanently crippled Satan’s kingdom and one day will obliterate every remnant of it from off the face of the earth. The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important event in all of human history, because he broke the curse of sin and death that hangs over the world like a dark cloud. He regained everything that Adam and Eve had lost on that tragic day in the Garden of Eden and so much more. He paid the price for the complete redemption and salvation of the soul of every person who comes to Him. Through Jesus Christ, righteousness is restored to a person so that they can stand in the presence of God without any sense of fear, shortcoming, guilt, or unworthiness. The ability to have deep fellowship and communion with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has been recovered and given as a gift to all those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

The Court of God has wiped our slate clean; we are as white as snow, as our redeemer has paid the ransom and penalty for our sin.  We no longer have to live in bondage to sin, fear, worry, sickness, disease, poverty, misery, hatred, selfishness, and ignorance, for we reign as kings in life through the Lord Jesus Christ. We can walk in great power, wreaking havoc in Satan’s kingdom on the earth as we touch people with the great healing love and wholeness available in Jesus Christ.  You are a super-conqueror; you are a new creation; you are a glorious son or daughter of God with all the dignity that comes with God’s calling through Jesus Christ.

Colossians further elaborates on this head crushing of the serpent by the Seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:14,15 (Message):

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life,

you were incapable of responding to God. God

brought you alive-right along with Christ! Think

of it! All sins forgive, the slate wiped clean, that

old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s

cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants of the

universe of their sham authority at the Cross and

marched them naked through the streets.

Verse 15 (Phillips):

And having drawn the sting of all powers ranged

against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty

and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act.

Lightfoot:

Taking on him our human nature, he stripped off

and cast aside all the powers of evil which clung

to it like a poisonous garment. As a mighty conqueror

he displayed these his fallen enemies to an astonished

world, leading them in triumph on his cross.

Weymouth:

And the hostile princes and rulers He shook off from

Himself, and boldly displayed them as His conquests,

when by the cross he triumphed over them.

Moffatt Translation:

When he cut away the angelic Rulers and Powers

from us, exposing them to all the world and triumphing

over them in the cross.

At Calvary, Jesus Christ stripped and disarmed the power and authority of the devil’s kingdom for every born again believer. No devil spirit in the devil’s kingdom, no matter what its rank, can defeat you when you stand in the strength of the Lord’s redemptive work for you at the cross. The picture Paul is painting is of a triumphant general who has routed the enemy and leads the captive foes and spoils of his victory behind his chariot in a grand public procession through the city.

In the Roman world, this was the highest honor that could be bestowed upon a victorious Roman general. It was called “the triumph.” There must have been at least 5,000 enemy soldiers killed, and there must have been a gain of Roman territory in the conquest. It was an awesome display of the power, strength, and might of the Roman Empire. It was a spectacle that few would forget its images, as the triumph declared to the world that the enemy had been overwhelmed and crushed, now to be publicly humiliated through the streets of the city.

How much greater is the triumph of Christ as the captain of our salvation?  What a triumph on the cross! What a victory against the forces of darkness! What a crushing blow to Satan’s kingdom! What a public display of victory to all those who have eyes to see and ears to hear! You become identified and in vital union with this triumph on the cross and all its far-reaching glorious effects when you become a new creation in Christ at the new birth. You are marching right beside Jesus Christ in this magnificent victory march with every wretched captive in chains under your feet. With great freedom, the power of the old sin nature has been stripped off and crippled, and the power of Christ in you flows and energizes every cell of your human body. You are a super conqueror who always triumphs in Christ. Jesus Christ cut away Satan’s firm grip on us and smashed the kingdom of darkness’s authority, control, and rule over our lives. No longer must we be a slave to sin or the bondage of this world. Jesus Christ victoriously led captivity captive for every Christian, according to the book of Ephesians, as he crushed and defeated every form of mental, physical, or spiritual bondage. What a triumph on the cross! What a victory in Christ!

He rescued us from the power of darkness and gave us full legal rights as a son or daughter of God. The word “power” in Colossians means: the exercised power to do something; liberty of action to do as one pleases; the delegated authority and power to act, and the right to exercise power. The devil and his kingdom no longer have the liberty or power to do what they please in your life when you stand upon the triumph of the cross. The devil  no longer has the right to act freely with authority and power over you. We have been set free. He must flee when we stand against him. God has given us the full armor of God to stand firm against the onslaughts of the Evil One.

Hebrew 2:14,15 (Wuest):

Therefore since the children share in common

with one another blood and flesh, He himself

also partook with them in the same, in order

that through the aforementioned death He might

render inoperative the one having the dominion

of death, that is the devil, and effect the release

of those, as many as who by reason of fear of

death through the entire course of their lives

were held in bondage.

Verse 14(b)(Moffatt):

So that by dying he might crush him who

wields the power of death (that is to say, the devil)

English Standard Version:

That through death he might destroy the one who

has the power of death, that is the devil.

Since the fall of Adam in the garden, the devil has wielded the power of death. Part of his dominion over the human race was in the form of death. Death has been an incredible weapon of destruction for Satan on the human race. Death is an enemy to every human being on the earth, and with its companion sin, the devil has held the human race in his firm grasp. The human race needed a Savior to be released from the bondage of sin and death. God in His goodness sent the Seed of the woman, His only begotten Son, to destroy death and its ruler, the devil.

The words “render inoperative” in verse 14 in the Greek mean: to render powerless; to make the force or power of something ineffective, crushing its power, and to nullify or void. It denotes a nonphysical destruction by a superior force coming in to replace the force previously in effect. The word “dominion” in the Greek means: strength, might, force, manifested power, and power in the sense of dominion. This brutal and horrible dominion of death, utilized so effectively by the devil, was broken at Calvary. The strength and might of death that the devil has used relentlessly as a weapon in every age of history was declared null and void. The major kingpin of his dominion and authority over the earth has been trampled under the feet of the Lord Jesus. God also promises in I Corinthians 15, and in the book of Revelation, that there is a day coming when this last enemy, death, will be completely destroyed off the face of the earth, and its sorrow, bondage, and destruction will be no more. There will absolutely be no death in the new heavens and earth promised in Revelation 21 and I Peter 3. This was all made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who crushed the serpent’s head.

I Timothy 1:10 (Amplified):

It is that purpose and grace which He has

now made known and has fully disclosed

and made real to us through the appearing

of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who annulled

death and made it of no effect and brought

life and immortality (immunity from eternal

death) to light through the Gospel.

New Living Translation:

And now he has made all of this plain to us

by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior.

He broke the power of death and illuminated

the way to life and immortality through the

Good News.

The born again believer who has put his faith in Christ as his Savior cannot be defeated by spiritual or physical death.  We have been reconciled to God in the new birth and made alive spiritually in Christ. We have been given the sure promise of everlasting life and spiritual death has been obliterated by Jesus Christ. Even if we die physically,the Lord has promised that at the Rapture, he will raise us from the dead and give us a new glorious immortal body that is not subject to the jaws of death. The devil’s main tool in the battle between good and evil, the power of death, has been absolutely mortally wounded and crushed at the cross.

This dominion of death is completely inoperable, ineffective, and powerless against the Christian believer.  We have been completely set free from the bondage of death. This does not mean that if the Lord tarries, that a Christian believer will not die, but that a Christian believer cannot be held captive or conquered by death. Physical death cannot hold your body in the grave, for there is a day coming when the Lord of glory is coming back; he will break the power of the grave and raise the physical body as incorruptible. Then we will be forever with the Lord throughout all eternity. Death will never again raise its ugly head, as it is forever destroyed at the end of the great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20. In the new heavens and earth of Revelation 21, there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain. All of these things are gone forever. What a gospel! How good is the truth about the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ! Death, the hated enemy, the feared enemy, the loathsome enemy, the painful enemy, the sorrowful enemy, and the wicked enemy has been broken and defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ. He swallowed up death in victory.

Romans 5:21 (Phillips):

The whole outlook changes-sin use to be the

master of men and in the end handed them

over to death: now grace is the ruling factor,

with righteousness as its purpose and

at its end the bringing of men to the eternal

life of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Corinthians 15:20-28; 51-57 (Message):

But the truth is Christ has been raised up,

the first in a long legacy of those who are

going to leave the cemeteries.

There is a nice symmetry to this: Death

initially came by a man, and resurrection

from death came by a man.

Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes

alive in Christ.

But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first,

then those with him at his Coming, the grand

consummation when, after crushing the

opposition, he hands over his kingdom to

God the Father.

He won’t let up until the last enemy is down-

and the very last enemy is death.

As the psalmist said “He laid them low,

one and all; he walked all over them.”

When Scripture says that “he walked all

over them,” its obvious that he couldn’t at

the same time be walked on.

When everything and everyone is finally

under God’s rule, the Son will step down,

taking his place with everyone else, showing

that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive-

a perfect ending.

But let me tell you something wonderful…

On signal from that trumpet from heaven,

the dead will be up and out of the graves,

beyond the reach of death, never to die again.

At that same moment and in the same way,

we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme

of things, this has to happen: everything perishable

take off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable,

this mortal replaced by the immortal.

Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by

triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh Death?

Oh Death, whose afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code

guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power.

But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three-

Sin, guilt, death are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus

Christ. Thank God!

Death is the personal enemy of every human upon the face of the earth, and there is no deliverance from the power and strength of the grave without the Lord Jesus Christ. Death cannot be conquered by science; death cannot be overcome by a political decree; death cannot be eradicated by a vaccine, and death cannot be defeated by any earthly power. There will never be a fountain of youth or some magical spell or potion to obtain eternal life. Death is the cruelest, most vicious, most sorrowful, most brutal, and most lethal curse on the human race. This curse of death pulsates through every cell of the human body like a corrupt virus, as no one can escape its power through their own strength, philosophy, or wisdom. Death does not bring you into some higher state of consciousness or being, but throws you into the decay and corruption of the grave. It is a life destroyer, happiness destroyer, family destroyer, society destroyer, and it has ripped the human heart to shreds with fear, sorrow, and pain since Adam’s high treason and the entrance of sin into the world. Death does not allow you to float around as a ghost and have free movement while you haunt or help people. Death does not bring you into a reincarnated new life form. This is a most certain truth-death does not bring life in any way, shape, or form. Without the Savior Jesus Christ, death is the end of all humanity.

Death cannot produce, generate, or refine life. Death is the end of life.

Do you see why death is such a curse and lethal enemy according to Scripture? Once you understand the brutal and permanent nature of death, you can really appreciate the total victory that Jesus Christ accomplished with his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ is the master over death and the conqueror of the grave. Immortality only comes with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Death was not the only work of the devil that Jesus Christ destroyed. The purpose of the Son of God as the Seed of the Woman, and the second Adam was to crush the works, policies, purposes, schemes, plots, and designs of the devil.

I John 3:8 (b) (New King James):

For this purpose was the Son of God manifested,

that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Amplified:

The reason the Son of God was made manifest

(visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and

dissolve) the works the devil has done.

Phillips:

Now the Son of God came to earth with the express

purpose of undoing the devil’s work.

Wuest:

For this purpose there was manifested the Son of

God, in order that He might bring to naught the

works of the devil.

This is why the devil has such hatred and hostility toward Jesus for he came for the express purpose of destroying, undoing, dissolving, and bringing to naught the works of the devil. God sent His Son to a dying world for the glorious mission of obliterating the curse of sin, death, and bondage that corrupted the human race in the Garden of Eden.  He was sent to restore God’s magnificent purpose and destiny for men, women, and children. God wanted to bring children into His family again who would be fully righteous, justified, sanctified, and redeemed and have complete, vital, and intimate communion and fellowship with Him. God wanted mankind to once again enjoy all the full blessings of the goodness of God.  Jesus Christ was the ambassador of the goodness of God and paid the price for whomever wills to come and enjoy all the benefits of His goodness.

The word “destroy” is the Greek word luo, which means: to loose something tied or bound, to break up that which is compacted together, to dissolve, to sever, to break in pieces, to set free, to melt and to demolish. The word means “a destruction by undoing or dissolving that which forms the bond of cohesion.” Jesus Christ came to loosen people from the works of the devil and set them free. We all had a bond of cohesion to Satan’s kingdom through sin and death, but Jesus Christ dissolved the bond, and we broke free.  The word luo is used in the gospels when John the Baptist said that he was not worthy to unloose (luo) the thong or strap of Jesus’ sandals. This gives a great mind picture of Jesus unloosening the works of the devil in people’s lives, like un-strapping a sandal, so that the works can be thrown off of the body, heart, and soul of a person and one can enjoy true freedom.

The Greek word luo is used again in Acts 27:41 when the ship taking the Apostle Paul to Rome was “broken (luo) on the violence of the waves.” This was a huge boat with enough room for 276 people, yet the fierce strength of the waves shattered the hinder part of the boat into pieces. Many of the soldiers were saved by grabbing onto a broken piece of the ship and floating to shore. This should paint a vivid picture for you. Jesus Christ shattered the devil’s works into a million pieces by the awesome power of God. Like a ship helplessly run into the ground and continuously beat with the relentless pounding of the waves, Jesus Christ continually pounded the schemes, deceptions, and purposes of the devil with the great force of the Word of God. He was relentless in his destruction of the devil’s works, as the boat of Satan’s kingdom could not escape the light and truth of His purpose upon the earth. Jesus Christ shook and shattered the devil’s kingdom into broken pieces.

The Greek word luo is also used in II Peter 3:10,12 when the present heaven, earth and elements melt (luo) with fervent heat and dissolve (luo) by fire at the time of the last judgments described in the Book of Revelation. What a mind picture!  For something to melt, you have to apply intense heat to it. It requires energy to melt anything. When increasing temperature is applied to an element and it melts, the energy being applied to it is greater than the energy holding it together. The heat overcomes the internal forces of attraction within the solid to transform it into a liquid. Thus it begins to change form and melt.

Jesus Christ put intense heat on the purposes, works, and schemes of the devil and melted and dissolved them. Jesus Christ operated spiritual power, and when this spiritual energy of God was applied to the works of the devil, it was greater than any force holding his works together. The power of God disintegrates any plot, scheme, or purpose of Satan and no matter how attractively it is held together by evil, it cannot overcome the energy and dynamic power that rest in God.  Jesus Christ put the intense heat of the truth of the Word of God right upon the kingdom of darkness, and it shined as a brilliant light, exposing the wicked works of the Evil One. This white hot heat of God’s Word melted the hardened and callous hearts of many and melted the devil’s evil foothold of bondage that robs people of joy, peace, love, and wholeness.

Interestingly, this same Greek word, luo, is also used in John 10:35, when it declares, “the scripture cannot be broken (luo).” The devil can never break, dissolve, melt, or demolish the Word of God. I Peter 1:23 says that “the word of God lives and abides forever.” The Word of God is life. The Word of God is good, pure, powerful, and faithful. It cannot be dissolved away into nothing. No matter how much heat or pressure the devil applies to the Word, it does not melt under the burning heat. Satan does not have enough energy or power to break the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the living Word. The devil does not have enough energy or power to break or shatter the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God is so powerful and so energetic that it dissolves and melts every evil work of Satan. Jesus Christ believed, obeyed, trusted, spoke, lived, studied, and knew the Word of God intimately and deeply. Jesus Christ’s main weapon in the destruction of the devil’s works is the Word of God. The Word was his sword of the Spirit. The devil cannot overcome the “It is written” mentality that Jesus Christ demonstrated during his temptations in the wilderness and throughout his ministry. Jesus Christ’s confrontation with the seed of the serpent was clearly defined in their first head to head battle in the wilderness, as Jesus Christ used the Word of God to back the devil down and defeat his temptations.

One of the devil’s main tools in his battle with the Seed of the woman is ignorance. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about the great truths of the Bible. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about the goodness and wonderful character of God. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about the devil’s wicked kingdom on earth and his exercise of authority as the god of this age. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about the great victory of redemption, wholeness, healing, peace, and everlasting life available in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The devil loves to counterfeit the truth and goodness of God. The devil loves to deceive, to camouflage, to mislead, to masquerade, to impersonate, to lie, and to distract people away from the truth of God’s Word and the goodness of God. The devil counterfeits God’s Word with false religion, creeds, and philosophies to divert a person’s attention away from a true knowledge of God. He masquerades evil as good and good as evil. He paints a picture of the true God as a cruel, vicious, uncaring, and evil God, responsible for all the calamity of the world. He makes people turn their back on God in disgust.  He makes God seem distant, heartless, cold, and indifferent. He makes people think the devil is an illusion of religious thought, a fictitious bogeyman, a myth for religious control,  and simply non-existent.

Jesus Christ declared in the Gospel of John that “there is no truth in him (devil)” and he is “the father of lies.”  Jesus Christ calls him “a murderer” and “a thief,” as all his works are set up to steal, kill, and destroy a person from receiving the life and goodness of God and the truth of His mighty Word. Jesus Christ exposed the snare of the devil and made known all his wicked works. Jesus Christ also made known God and His goodness in such a dynamic way, opening the eyes of those who had ears to hear and eyes to see. Jesus Christ came so that all His followers could know the truth of the Word of God and that this truth would set them free.

Acts 10:38 (English Standard Version):

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth

with the Holy Spirit and power. He went

about doing good and healing all that

were oppressed of the devil, for God

was with him.

Every action, every word and every work of Jesus Christ upon the earth was good. Jesus Christ destroyed, broke, melted, and unloosed the works of the devil by the goodness of God. Jesus Christ loved, had compassion, touched, healed, and enlightened; he taught, understood, cared, and reached out like no human being ever had on the face of the earth. Jesus Christ’s character, his habitual action, his personality, and manner of life was to do good. He was the Christ, the Anointed One, who lived, moved, and acted in all the authority and power of the Spirit of God. He made God’s goodness known by his words and actions. He revealed the truth of God’s goodness, grace, mercy, and love to a degree that had not been known since the Garden of Eden. He also shined a spotlight on the devil and his kingdom, exposing its methods, operation, and existence, which had never been previously known in the history of the world. God was with Jesus Christ every step of the way as he showed the people just how good God was, is, and always will be.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus did good by healing all those who were oppressed of the devil. The word “oppressed” in the Greek means: to exercise harsh control over someone, to exploit, to exercise control or power over someone, to be overpowered, to oppress harshly, to tyrannize, and to dominate someone.  The word “heal” in the Greek means “to cure, to make whole, to cause to live and to revive or recover from illness. It refers to both physical and spiritual healing. Jesus Christ melted and destroyed the works of the devil by healing, reviving, and making whole all those who had been dominated, overpowered, oppressed harshly, and exploited by the devil. This was all part of his crushing of the head of the serpent. Jesus Christ is the great healer and restorer.  No matter how harshly a person is oppressed by the devil, no matter how much a person is tyrannized by the devil, and no matter how much a person is dominated by the devil, none of the devil’s works can overpower the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ brought the goodness of God into manifestation by healing all those oppressed by the devil.

The goodness of God heals, restores, revitalizes, recovers, makes whole, cures, sets free, delivers, and revives. Jesus Christ did the ultimate act of goodness by giving his life for you and me on the cross. When Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross, he was doing good. When Jesus Christ was being savagely beaten, whipped, and crushed, he was doing good, because he was bruised for our iniquities, wounded for our transgressions, and by his stripes we were healed.  In our redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, lies the ultimate deliverance and healing from every single oppression, exploitation, domination, depression, tyranny, and work of the devil.

The fatal wound to the head of the serpent was delivered at Calvary and the empty tomb. The death sentence to both the devil and all his works was shouted out to the human race with three words at Calvary and three words at the empty tomb. Jesus Christ cried out, “It is finished” at Calvary, and the angel proclaimed, “He is risen” at the empty tomb.  What a Savior who brought us back to the goodness of God!

Luke 4:18  (Weymouth):

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because

He has anointed me to proclaim Good News

to the poor; He sent me to announce release

to the prisoners of war and recovery of sight

to the blind; to send away free those whose

tyranny has crushed.

We no longer have to be prisoners of war in the spiritual battle that rages with the devil. Jesus Christ opened the prison door of every tyranny of mind, body, heart, and soul and set us free. He crushed every tyrannical work of the devil that had previously broke our heart and spirit. He delivers all those who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity.

The main goal of all of the devil’s works is to separate and keep us from the heart of God. The devil set up many roadblocks and obstructions, beginning with sin and its consequences, that corrupted people’s relationship with God. Jesus Christ unloosed all the obstructions and cleared the pathway to the heart of God. He melted the devil’s work of separation and deception, and widely opened the door of access to our loving Father. Jesus Christ made it available that we might know Him and have full communion and intimacy with Him to such a degree that it overwhelms the heart. The human race feels restless, empty, unfulfilled, useless, valueless, and incomplete without a deep, vibrant, and living relationship with their Creator God Almighty. To know his love, to know his goodness, to know his justice, to know his righteousness, to know his mercy, to know his truth, and to know his faithfulness is the ultimate rush and thrill in life. How exciting to have God as your closest friend, your trusted advisor, your loving parent, and your strong protector. The devil does everything in his power to prevent this. He steals, kills and  destroys to keep people from getting to know God on an intimate basis and understand the greatness of his good character. He spiritually blinds people to the heart of God and goodness of God.

John 1:17,18 (Amplified):

For while the Law was given through Moses,

grace (unearned, undeserved  favor and

spiritual blessing) and truth came through

Jesus Christ.

No man has ever seen God at any time,

the only unique Son, or the  only begotten

of God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate

presence  of] the Father, He has declared

Him [He has revealed Him and brought

Him out where He can been seen; He has

interpreted Him and He has made Him

known].

The word “declared” in the Greek means:  to make known, to unfold, to lead the way, and to make known by expounding.” Jesus Christ unfolded the heart of God to mankind that had never been known before in all of history. He revealed and made known the heart of God as a Father and showed the world His goodness in a way that had not been previously known. Jesus Christ led the way to knowing the God of all goodness, all light, all love, all truth, and all grace in such a deep and wonderful way that his words astonished all of Israel and eventually all of the world. Jesus Christ brought the truth about God’s goodness and His character to a sick, dying, and lost world. He opened the eyes spiritually of all those who believe to the true heart of God as good. He exposed the devil and his kingdom as the true origin of evil and all its consequences in the world.

How exciting is the adventure of life with God when you really know Him and His character? How thrilling and awesome is living when you begin to understand the depth of His goodness? Jesus Christ made it available that we might be alive to God, in God and for God. Jesus Christ made it available that we can live our lives in a vibrant, living union with God on the most intimate level that you can ever imagine. We, as a Christian church, must wake up to our calling to know His character, His goodness, and  His Word, and to reach out to the world with the great message of His goodness and love. His goodness is unfathomable; it is endless; it is eternal, and it is indestructible. Jesus Christ melted the path to this heart of God.

There is no place on Earth like being in the heart of God.  It is in the heart of God that you will find your freedom, your purpose, your healing, your deliverance, and your destiny. God wants to wrap His arms around you and hold you tightly in His bosom. He wants you to have a freedom encounter in His presence, where all the cares, burdens, pressures, and hassles of this life will melt away from your heart, as fear is replaced with faith, sadness with joy, depression with hope, and weakness with strength. The works of the devil in any shape, in any form, and in any manner cannot hold you any longer in their grip. The more you know and understand the heart of God and His goodness, the stronger and more joyful you will become. There is rest, peace, and true freedom when you live in the heart of God. The heart of God is always good. Evil cannot dwell or exist in the heart of God. The heart of God is love. God’s goodness and love are intertwined and forever bound together as indestructible partners. Every action, every word, and every work from the heart of God is good and rooted in His love. Jesus Christ made known as no other that the heart of God is goodness and love always without exception. No one had seen God or known God in the depth and to the degree that Jesus Christ unfolded Him to the human race

In the great victory of the Seed of the woman, once last truth that we must deal with is the new creation. The word “seed” implies that there will be progeny, children, a newly birthed people out of the finished work of Jesus Christ. What absolutely crushed the devil’s purposes and schemes for the human race and completely blindsided him was the new creation that a man or woman becomes in Christ. This truth is an enormous aspect of the goodness Jesus Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection.

II Corinthians 5:17 (NIV):

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is

a new creation; the old is gone; the new

has come.

What a breathtaking truth that in Christ we are a new creation; we have a new divine nature; we are new people created in the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are His seed. The word “creation” in the Greek means: to bring something into existence that has not existed before; the act of founding, establishing, and building through creation, and refers to God’s creative action. The word “new” in the Greek means: that which is new in kind or quality, and is something unprecedented, novel, uncommon, and unheard of.  It relates to something not previously present. This word “new” does not mean that something is simply renovated, but something that it is entirely new in species and character.

By the divine act and will of God, He founded, established, and built a new spiritual nature in all born again believers. This new creation is of perfect quality and character, because it originates from the creative heart of God. It is absolutely unprecedented in the nature of a person because it is a divine seed planted by God. We become partakers of the divine nature, and in Christ we have a dynamically powerful new spiritual nature. This is a spiritual birth and the seed of God within us is permanent, incorruptible, and indestructible. Once you are born of your earthly parents, you are always their child because you have their seed within you. The same holds true for the spiritual new birth in Christ, as this incorruptible seed of God is created within you, and  you forever become God’s new spiritual son or daughter of God.

Bullinger, in his article “A New Creation” expounds on this new creation:

What is it to create? Not to change, not to

renovate, not to reform, not to improve,

not the old nature adorned and beautified,

not the flesh with its corruptions and lust

trimmed and trained; but it is the new and

Divine nature imparted, with all its spiritual

blessings and holy privileges. It is not the

old Adam made clean or religious, clothed

and adorned. No! It is something altogether

NEW. Therefore in Christ Jesus, I am a partaker

of the Divine nature; I am a partaker of His

Resurrection-life, according to the Father’s

promise…A new Divine nature is not a mere

influence, is not a mere passing religious

feeling induced by ravishing music or pathetic

story, but a real existence in living union with

a crucified, risen, exalted, glorified, coming

Lord. What a glorious union!

E.W. Kenyon, in The Bible in the Light of our Redemption, further elaborates on this new creation:

Down through the ages of human history, every step,

every dealing of God with man has been toward one

goal-a New Creation, a spiritual creation of man that

would free man completely from spiritual death and

satanic dominion…What a floodtide of human suffering

and misery has the reign of Satan brought to the human

heart…All human suffering is the result of Satan’s

lordship over humanity. Human suffering may be

caused by the cruelty and selfishness of others, by

our own sins, by sickness, by circumstance, but it may

all be traced to the reign of Satan. Therefore, man’s

difficulty centers in the need for a new Lord. Satan

is a hard taskmaster…The Lordship of Christ means

a New Nature, a New Family, a New Father. Christ

died and rose again that He might meet the need of

man for a new Lord…What a message of joy, what

glad tidings we have to bring to an unsaved world,

the message of this new Lord for man…By a man’s

calling unto this new Lord, the power and authority

of Satan will be broken over his life…Just as every

spiritual want of man centered in the lordship of

Satan over his life, every spiritual blessing centers

in the personal Lordship of Christ over a man’s

life. The man who has taken Jesus as Lord is blessed

with every spiritual blessing…The Lordship of Christ

means freedom from the reign of sin…Christ has

undone the works of Satan in the human heart. This

means that sin has absolutely lost its power over the

New Creation. . .

The sin nature has no power, no authority, and no mastery over the New Creation. Every spiritual blessing we have in Christ is wrapped up and inherent in this New Creation. No work of the devil can defeat or diminish or conquer this New Creation.

Satan had been the master of the human race from the Fall to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, but in the resurrected and ascended Christ, a new day dawned for the world. The power of the great enemy, the crafty serpent, and deceitful slanderer has been permanently broken, crushed, and defeated in our wonderful Lord Jesus. We are a new people, a called out mighty seed, a glorious new creation clothed in righteousness, and holiness. We have a new Lord, who has ushered us into a new age of spiritual, mental, and physical freedom and the crushing of every yoke of bondage that has held us in its grasp. We have a new destiny, as sin and death are no longer our emperors and rulers to whom we must bow and serve.

David Needham, in Birthright, Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?,  states:

I hope it will be clear that the answer to the problem

of sin and the despair of meaninglessness is found in

discovering the vast scope of the miracle God performed

when he saved you-a miracle that actually changed you…

By physical conception my parents gave me “flesh” birth.

It involved much more than me “getting something.” I

became a real, full-fledged, “flesh” personSimilarly

by the new birth, I became a brand-new kind of person

The divine activity re-makes a man. He is born all over

again by the very Spirit of God…Perhaps this “new

personhood” idea seems far away from the daily activity

of your life. That still doesn’t change the basic fact. If

you have received the Savior, you simply are not the same

person you were before. When you were “in the flesh

(Romans 8:9), life and meaning for you had to be found

right there-and there alone. Your brain, your emotions,

your senses, your creativity, your glands, your world

environment, your relationships-this was life. It could be

found nowhere else. But if you have been born again,

this is not so anymore, whether you know it or not.

You may weigh the same, look the same, feel the same

but you are not the same…God has not only justified

you and reconciled you, he has also birthed you…children

of God….Could this really be? “Children,” not by adoption,

but by birth. Yes, emphatically it is true…Even after it

was known the Savior had risen, seven weeks passed

before anyone grasped the pivotal importance of his death

and resurrection. Finally on the Day of Pentecost, the fire

fell; the Spirit came. From deep within “rivers of living

water” flowed…The risen Christ was dispensing LIFE.

By the new birth, realized in its fullness on the Day of

Pentecost, life was theirs as they never experienced it…

Life was now “resurrection life” The persons they use to

be, persons who only knew life in the flesh, had been

crucified with Christ. They were “risen with Christ,

“alive to God,” as they had never been alive…What does

all this mean? It means that by the new birth, you and I

are now participants in the ultimate new age of God’s

eternal purposes. We are living within the fulfillment of

the prophets’ aching dreams and God’s promised miracle.

We are now actually, the internally transformed citizens

in God’s kingdom of righteousness-where Jesus reigns,

within the kingdom of our hearts…Christ… is now

reproducing himself progressively in the lives of the

saints. .Now the last Adam [Christ]…is reproducing

his very life-his image-in us!…The image concept is

now more glorious than Adam, even in his innocence.

This is the new age. The consummation of all the ages

has begun. We are now by birth, by the Spirit, “the

children of God,” pulsating with the risen life of Jesus.

Some day, perhaps soon, it will reach its apex when

at last our “physical …bodies” will be transformed

into “spiritual bodies”-at the “redemption of our

bodies.”…The new aeon [age] which has dawned

with Christ, brings a new creation, the creation of

a new man…the union with Christ which brings

justification also brings new life…The believer

enters not just into a private relationship with Jesus,

but a new humanity in which he becomes a new

kind of man…Jesus Christ is no less than the

inaugurator of a new humanity. New age, new

humanity, new creation. We are both corporately

and individually-part of something which is the

capstone of everything God has or ever will do.

We are the blessed progeny, the new humanity, the new species, the seed of Christ, and children of the living God. We have the gift of holy spirit born within and the resurrection life of Jesus Christ pulsating and energizing every ounce of our being. We are infused with spiritual power from on high and the very divine nature of God. This is what the human heart has been craving for since the fall of Adam: a new creation, authored by God Almighty, that fundamentally changes who we are, and who we will be in the future. We have passed from death unto life, from sin unto righteousness, from condemnation to justification, from separation to reconciliation, and from enemies to beloved children.

The first Adam’s disobedience produced a race of mortal people destined to die and to be ravaged by sin and its consequences. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, through his obedience, death, and resurrection is producing a race of people who will live forever and be victorious over the terrible twins of sin and death and all their consequences. The first Adam produced a race of people born dead in sin and enslaved to the rule of Satan as the god of this world. The Last Adam made it available to all those who believe to be born again to life and to break the power of the devil’s kingdom in their lives. The last Adam is in the process of producing an everlasting race of perfect people who will one day live and reign with him forever upon a perfect earth. As sure as the sun rises every morning, the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, is coming back to establish his kingdom upon the earth. Nothing can stop it.

God’s original plan was to have many sons and daughters living in Paradise forever. The first Adam was supposed to be the father of such a perfect race, but he failed and sentenced the human race to sin and death when he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. God’s dream, God’s intense desire, God’s ultimate plan after the Fall was to restore His original purpose of having birthed children live with Him forever on a perfect, beautiful, and amazing earth. The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ as being the agent, the mediator, the Savior, and the sacrifice that would bring about this restoration. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, had to face the fierce enemies of sin, death, and the devil and he overwhelmingly conquered them all. He became the Head and Firstborn of all the redeemed born again believers whom he can rightfully call his brothers and sisters. He is not ashamed to do so, because he knows that they are birthed new creations in Him and sons and daughters of His heavenly Father.

We are new creations in Christ, because he set the pattern of who we become when we are born again in both resurrection life and a new glorious body at the Rapture, along with the power and ability to do his works and to walk like him in thought, deed, heart, and action. We have the mind of Christ, the heart of Christ, the ability of Christ, and the power of Christ born within us at the new birth. We can now touch and reach out to the world with the goodness of God. Our good works are rooted and grounded in Christ, and our new birth transformation. We can deeply affect the lives of so many people, because Jesus Christ lives through us. The goodness of God, the love of God, the mercies of God, the compassion of God, the tenderness of God, and the forgiveness of God are energized in us through Jesus Christ, so that we can go into all the world and preach the good news to every person.

Do you see where the battle lines are now drawn? Do you now understand in more detail this battle of good and evil? Can you begin to see now that God is not the originator or source of all the evils in this world? Can you see the goodness of God in providing for this wonderful new creation in Christ and not leaving the human race without hope?

The Devil’s hatred for God still rages and burns white hot, and his goal is to prevent as many people as he can from becoming new creations in Christ and having the guarantee of everlasting life. He wants them to remain under the penalty of sin and death without a Redeemer, Savior, or Liberator. He wants the human race to worship him and all his false idols, and die in sin without ever coming to Christ. He does not want people to know the God of goodness or His amazing Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Last Adam. This battle for the heart and soul of every human on Earth explodes in intensity in every town, city, country, and continent. The devil does not want anyone to be touched by the goodness of the wonderful heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. He wants to turn people’s hearts and minds away from the goodness of God and the heart of God.  Don’t let him do it. Don’t let evil triumph. Christians, we are on the front lines of this battle of good and evil. We must love like Jesus loved; we must touch the hearts of people like Jesus did; we must stand on the authority and power of the Word of God like Jesus did; we must have compassion like Jesus did; we must walk in spiritual power like Jesus did and in him continue to melt and destroy the works of the devil in our communities.

God needs you. God is relying on you. Take his message of goodness to the world. Show people just how good God really is and how much He cares for them. Testify to the greatness of His character, His majesty, and His love. Isn’t it about time as Christians that we put aside our petty bickering, our back stabbing, our judging, our selfishness, our hard hearts, our theological debates, and our hatred and reach out to others with the love of Christ? You can do it. You are a new creation in Christ. You are not the same person you were before Christ. Grow in Him. Grow in His goodness and love. Grow in your intimate union and fellowship with Him. Become rooted and grounded in His love and let Jesus dwell in every nook and cranny of your heart.  We would absolutely revolutionize our communities and the world if we let Jesus live through us and reach out to people with his amazing love.  The time is short; the day is at hand, and his coming is approaching closer each day. Make your heavenly Father and  your Lord Jesus proud, as you stand up and fight the good fight of faith, proclaiming His goodness to a lost and desperate world.

 

                            

 

 

 

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The Real Easter Message

Nearly 2 billion people in the world still haven’t heard the name of Jesus even once. Most of these still live in Asia, and they are still dying without hope by the tens of thousands every day. Jesus said to take the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the world, and He has equipped His Church with everything we need to obey His commands. Another generation has passed, and where are we? It grieves me to write this, but even on the home front, the Church seems to have lost, instead of gained, ground.

Today our churches permit people to mix and match their belief systems any way they please, as long as they don’t impose their beliefs on anyone else. Having abandoned the Holy Scriptures as our standard for faith and practice, we find ourselves defenseless against the world, the flesh and the devil. The divorce rate among couples in the Church today is no better than that of the secular world. I wonder how we compare in other areas, like consumer debt, personal morality, alcohol and drug abuse, depression and suicide. Not only are Christians increasingly indistinguishable from the world in the way they live, but if you ask them, most would probably say they prefer it that way. They would rather blend into the crowd than to stand up against an increasingly hostile world.

Everywhere Christians are in retreat-and-seek-cover mode against the onslaughts of cults, nationalist movements, modern science and postmodern cynics. What is the way out of the foxhole we have dug ourselves into? It is to repent, to return to Jesus, to surrender to Him and start living as He commands us to.

Somewhere along our journey from a dead religion of laws and guilt, we modern Christians have misplaced the other side of grace. It was undoubtedly left beside the road with the best of motives. I’m sure that most of those who abandoned reality sincerely wanted to display the immeasurable love of God to a lost and needy world.

But we have failed to reveal the wonderful grace of Jesus we sing about with obedience in our everyday lives. Instead, we have produced an “old dishwater” kind of religion—that insipid, lukewarm faith that Jesus said He would spew out of His mouth! All those uncomfortable scripture verses about taking up the cross—discipline, sacrifice and suffering—somehow, they just seem to get in the way of our modern-day “convenience store” Christianity.

We’ve been taught to serve up a watered-down gospel for so long that the real Gospel has become an embarrassment. However, half a truth is no truth at all. Obedience must always be a vital part of our response to His love and grace. Faith without works is dead. It is time for us to find our balance again—to restore authentic Christianity before it’s too late. Distorted, perverted gospels always self-destruct. The disciplines of spiritual reality are “lost arts” to most modern Christians. But they have been tried, tested and proven by millions before you. They are your only way out of the fantasy and illusion of so much that seeks to counterfeit Christianity today. May I challenge you to come along and begin a journey on the road to reality? Won’t you venture out with us and journey into the heart of Jesus?

A Deadly Dichotomy

The stones of the church parking lot crunched beneath my feet in the freezing December air. It was my first Christmas in America—and I was as excited and bewildered as any two-year-old child at the wonder of it all. I had never seen a Christmas like this before! In many parts of my native India, December 25 passes without fanfare. For my people, it is just another day of bondage to sin, suffering and death—the life without Christ. You see, for untold millions in Asia, there is no Christmas. As far as they are concerned, Christ still has not come. His name, His peace and His redemption through Calvary are not yet known or understood. Asia has yet to hear the Good News of Christmas—that Christ came into the world to seek and to save lost sinners.

On the way to church that night, it seemed to me as if the whole nation were Christian. Streets, stores and malls were decorated brightly. Thousands of tired-looking people were filling their cars with bags and boxes of gifts, food and wine for the holidays. Nearly every home had colored lights, decorated trees and even life-size manger scenes telling the Christmas story.

“How these people must love Christ!” I thought. “What a wonder to live in a country that is saturated with Christians, churches and the Gospel!” Inside the church, I touched the beautifully padded pews in awe and walked carefully on the rich carpeting. Even the altar was decorated in red bows for the candlelight carols we had come to hear. A huge tree stood on one side with a large American flag on the other. The symbolism of a Christian nation celebrating the birth of the Savior was new and exciting to me.

In the front of the church was an orchestra backed by a hundred voice choir standing in the pyramid shape of “a living Christmas tree.” At first, I thought it was a tree. But then I realized it was colorfully robed men and women forming the tree. One man told me that the steel scaffolding for the display had cost the church more than $25,000. I couldn’t imagine that much money—at that time it could have built four or five village churches in Nepal or India. I looked down at the lavish program in my hands and wondered to myself how much it had cost to be printed.

Back in India, I had been involved in printing tracts for our Gospel teams, and I recalled that five cents’ worth of tracts would give the Gospel to 100 people. “But these people love the Lord,” I rebuked myself. “I mustn’t judge.” But still, the thought wouldn’t go away. If this printed program cost only 50 cents to produce, that would have been the equivalent of 1,000 tracts. (And I suspected it cost more than 50 cents!) I thought of the national missionaries I knew of in Nepal and Myanmar working without enough Gospel tracts among millions of lost Hindus and Buddhists. The rest of that first Christmas was still awesome and exciting to me, but the thought of those unprinted tracts haunted me. Why did these people who already had everything still need to buy more? Why did they send so many Christmas cards to people they hardly knew?

Why did they eat and drink so much that they often got sick? And how, I wondered, could all this be done to celebrate and proclaim the coming of the Savior? If even the very name of the Savior is still unknown to millions of lost souls, I reasoned, isn’t this self-indulgence a strange way to herald the coming of the Lord Jesus? Wouldn’t it be more fitting to proclaim the Good News of His coming to those who’ve not heard rather than to those who’ve already heard thousands of times?

Enormous Self-Deception

Since that Christmas I have traveled millions of miles, speaking to Christians. I have counseled privately with hundreds of them about their beliefs and lifestyles. What I have found has to be one of the most tragic ironies of all time: A tiny group of believers who have the Gospel keep mumbling it over and over to themselves. Meanwhile, millions who have never heard it once fall into the flames of eternal hell without ever hearing the salvation story.

Most Christians are living out that Christmas irony every day in one way or another. As individuals, their lifestyles often amount to an enormous self-deception. Who we claim to be is disconnected from what we know, and what we know is even more removed from what we do. It is so unreal. It is a mysterious but deadly spiritual dichotomy. A dichotomy is a whole divided into two parts. And we as modern Christians are living dangerously in this double contradiction of our beliefs. To choose deliberately to live in a world of unreality such as this is a disease or sickness.

Many nights, after preaching my heart out, I returned to my hotel room bitterly discouraged, asking myself how this paradox can even exist. It has to be one of the great mysteries of all time. For instance, as I was writing this book, another great missionary conference was being held where thousands were gathered from all parts of the country. Most were raised lovingly in Christian homes where the Word of God was honored. They gathered to consider the claims of Jesus Christ on their lives. Some of the greatest Christian orators of our time addressed them. Some of the finest musicians in the world played and sang to them. Beautiful films and videos portrayed the needs of a lost and dying world in vivid graphic detail. Hundreds of Christian organizations spent tens of thousands of dollars to present the desperate needs of a world without Christ. Mission leaders flew in from every continent to plead the cause of the lost. In addition, the participants themselves spent huge sums of money to come and be challenged, educated and informed.

What will the results of this enormous investment be? Thousands stood at the invitation and offered themselves for missionary service. But if this conference is like past ones, the statistical chances of even a handful of them going to the hidden peoples is almost nil. Fewer than one percent of those who respond to the altar call will ever obey the Great Commission of Christ and go to the foreign mission field. Of those who do go, many will not return for a second term of service. The percentage that will actually go to the hidden peoples of Asia, where almost 90 percent of the world’s unreached people are dying without Christ, is so small that it doesn’t show statistically!

As another example, a few years back I was privileged to speak to the youth group of one of the great evangelical churches of our day. It was a model of ministry that would be the dream come true of any pastor. These young people were exposed to the most balanced youth ministry possible. They had a full-time youth director, Bible studies many nights of the week, monthly socials, weekly fellowships, a gym and sports teams, camps, conferences, concerts, a big library, full-time counseling staff—everything! I looked forward to presenting to them the burden of Christ’s heart for the lost world. When I addressed 350 of these healthy, well-fed, bright-eyed young people with the message of New Testament Christianity, the results were incredible. With tears in my eyes, I told them of the lost and needy millions still without Christ. Many appeared deeply moved. But when I asked for a show of hands of those willing to give their lives to Christ’s service, not one was able to say, “Yes, Lord!”

Since When Is Obedience Optional?

Not one was willing to break out of that velvet cage of comfort and convenience to begin a radical lifestyle lived from an inner reality that affects the world. Since when has obedience to Christ and His Gospel become optional to Christianity? What kind of church, culture or ethnic group can produce a faith where obedience to God has become dispensable? This is the question I ask myself over and over. These examples are not unusual—just the extremes. I address thousands of people weekly. Even in the best meetings, it is rare that more than one or two percent of the listeners will pledge to support national missionaries, let alone volunteer for service on the mission field. This amazes me constantly because most believers could contribute $1 a day—almost without sacrifice. Yet that small offering can mean the difference between spiritual life or death for some tribe or village in Asia. This should ring alarm bells in our minds and hearts. Something is wrong when Christians don’t respond to what is so dear to the heart of Jesus.

What’s really wrong? How can we diagnose the causes or come to grips with this deadly problem in our Christian lives? I think it is best described as the dichotomy of the modern Christian. First, we modern Christians have divorced what we do from who we are. We have lost touch with our spiritual being or self-identity in Christ. Seldom does our spirit-man lead and dominate. We are content to act out a religion of externals, a lifestyle disconnected from the life born of the Holy Spirit in our human spirits.

Today, millions of people claim to be “born again.” By this, they mean that they have walked the aisle to be saved from hell; find peace and joy; escape from guilt; please family and friends; find wealth, health and happiness; and get that preacher off their backs!

But a religion measured in such superficial, external terms bears no resemblance to the faith of Scripture. For them, Jesus is “cool,” and being a Christian is a respectable, acceptable and normal choice. What’s more, it’s free, instant, a convenience-store item. All that is necessary is to pray a 30-word prayer, sign a little card or put your hand on the television screen—and you’re in! This modern Christianity is weak on the Gospels. You rarely hear an evangelist preach from Matthew, Mark or Luke. To do so would mean that the ego demands of Christ on His followers would have to become a central concern.

Thus, the false religion of popular Christianity does not ask us to internalize the passion and mind of Christ, to surrender our egos, lay aside our flesh, take up the cross and begin a lifestyle marked by submission to the will of the Father as He did. We are also seldom asked to internalize the commands of Christ— to begin a lifestyle of sacrifice, service and suffering for the sake of our Lord. We are not asked to love as He loved, walk where He walked, interact with the kind of sinful people He did and live the life of self- sacrificing service that was His trademark.

But what about that vast network of Christian activities that so often preoccupies our hearts, hands and minds? Don’t our frenzied lives prove our piety? I cannot look at them without asking the critical question: From where does this current wave of activism spring? Will it pass through the fires of judgment? Is it the work of our own hands and egos, or does it spring from the heart of Jesus? If your Christian service were to end today, would it make any difference in eternity? Second, we modern Christians are divorced from what we know.

Until you travel to some of the poorest nations in Asia, you cannot appreciate the religious information glut we have. Christians here are blessed with thousands of Christian books and DVDs, 24-hour Christian radio and television, conferences and seminars, and all the Christian resources of the Internet. Someone has said that there are more than 1,000 commentaries on the book of Acts in the English language—but not 100 Christians living with the power of New Testament Christianity. All too often, it seems, we’re willing to be students of Christianity rather than disciples of Christ. The fact is that most of us are substituting learning and information for practical obedience.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of Christian missions. The focus has shifted to learning about the hidden and unreached peoples rather than going to them. Probably no culture has been better able to fulfill that frightening prophecy in 2 Timothy 3:1–8. We are a people “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” We are indeed “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Never in history has there been a society with so much information about God, but so little real knowledge of the Holy One.

Whatever the reason for this lack of spiritual reality, it cannot be a lack of teaching resources. We have shamefully hoarded Christian knowledge, preventing the rest of the world from finding out the truth—while not taking advantage of the knowledge it possesses.

Why Are We Still Spiritual Babies?

The question that faces us is this: How can a Christian culture that knows so much truth fail to perform? Why do we have all this Bible study? Our Sunday school and Christian education programs? Our Holy Land tours and Christian sea cruises? Our camps, retreats, seminars, conferences, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and broadcasting? Why do we now even have Christian theme parks, family theaters and coffee houses? Isn’t the reason to be like Christ? Isn’t that what we say?

Then why are we still spiritual babies? Kindergarten Christians? Why is there so little power and holiness in our lives? Why aren’t we manifesting Christ to our friends, neighbors, classmates and peers? Why aren’t we incarnating Him to those across town in our own inner cities—and to the lost billions still in darkness around the world?

Not What We Do,  but Who We Are

Certain truths have become evident. One of the most devastating is the fact that the concept of missions has been so cheapened that many Christians now equate it with fund-raising. It has been reduced to just another appeal for money, similar to the annual budget campaign or the building fund drive. If and when missions is reduced to a dollars-and-cents decision—merely another option for our giving—we prove that we have lost sight of the Savior. The test of our true affection is not how much we give, but how we live. Missions is not something we do, but something we are. There is a principle at work here: Self-centered Christians cannot and will not respond to Christ because they are not submitted to Him as their Head. Dichotomized Christians have reproduced their schizophrenic personal lives in the corporate life of the body. Disobedient Christians produce disobedient churches!

Christ’s Unchanging Mandate

Jesus has made clear the mission mandate for each one of us who claims to follow Him. He said that He lived to do the will of His Father; the fields of lost souls were white unto harvest; and He was sending us into those fields just as the Father had sent Him (John 4:34–38). That means “missions” is simply an extension of His life, working through your life, to reach this generation with the love of God for a lost humanity. God is not asking us to give money to missions, but to make missions the central passion of our lives! The Church, as the corporate expression of the Body of Christ, exists only to fulfill His will. And what is His will? He is “. . . not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Christ meant His Church to be primarily a missionary organization—or better yet, a missionary organism. The Body of Christ, His Church, is the living presence of a God whose heart is pounding with a passion for lost and dying souls. We must therefore be fellowshipping and worshiping with one thing in mind: reaching lost men and women wherever they are. We are to be a people willing to exchange anything and everything we have for the pearl of great price—the kingdom of God. Jesus was always pressing on to preach the Gospel in the next village. His heart’s cry and prayer was for the dead and dying, for the lost, sick and undone. And the heart of every true disciple who follows in the steps of Jesus will be the same. We must be willing, as He was, to let everything go for the sake of lost souls—to give our lives to recapture just one lost inch of territory from darkness and hell.

How can a church that does not reflect this spirit really be the bride of Christ? What explanation or rationalization can we offer to explain the condition of Christianity today? The Bible offers us little help. It doesn’t give much space to descriptions of a church that appears to be nothing less than a headless corpse. How else can we describe a church body that appears to have fallen so far away from the commands of its mind—the Lord Jesus? Let me elaborate:

Feed-Me-First Fixation

We have a feed-me-first fixation. Christianity today is stuck in a rut of self-development. It is a me-and-mine style religion that survives on an endless diet of books, video teachings, conferences and seminars. This fat-head faith has produced a generation of Christians who know all the answers but won’t cross the street to help a neighbor in spiritual distress. This demonic reasoning goes, “Me first—after all, I can’t help others until I help myself!” We’re content to sit in our comfortable pews week after week sucking on our spiritual baby bottles—as long as the religious entertainment offered doesn’t interfere with lunch or the ball game.

That this style of religion has no effect whatsoever on our Monday morning lifestyle doesn’t matter. It wasn’t meant to make a difference at work, school or play in the first place. Our newest churches, with their air-conditioned atriums and gymnasiums, are being designed with the best ambiance money can buy. The designers don’t want us to feel too much different there from the way we do at the mall or health club.

Our churches are patterning their architecture, evangelism and programs after the world rather than the dictates of Christ through the Holy Spirit. For far too long, we’ve grabbed the latest fad in the world and baptized it into the church by adding a cute phrase or two. So “Jazzercise” became “Praisercise,” and computer dating services became Christian singles’ clubs. Rock ’n’ roll emerged as “Christian rock music,” and the heavy metal sound was reborn as something called “Christian shock-rock.” The list goes on and on. There are hundreds of examples. A look at our church activity calendars reveals not a body of givers, but a society of receivers. Even our prayer meetings are little more than “bless-me” clubs. Could it be that we have let our churches become elaborate social programs with the name of God tacked on as an afterthought?

Was Karl Marx right in this case? Isn’t this kind of religion really a narcotic—“the opiate of the people”? This is “convenience store” Christianity. The pastor’s main job is to find ways to sugarcoat the Gospel message, making sure that he preaches a gospel that offends no one and runs a church that meets every imaginable mental and physical need. It is a religion that loves to quote “charity begins at home” when the subject of missions comes up. It reminds us that Jerusalem must get in line to be fed first, but never gets around to quoting the part of the verse about “Judea and Samaria” and especially the “uttermost parts of the earth.”

What does the Lord Jesus think of our religious merry-go-round? The question that must be asked of every Christian activity we support is simply this: Will this event create any impact on a lost and dying world? If the answer is no, then we must reconsider sponsoring it. We must ask if this is something from our agenda or His.

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). We have switched to a retreat and survival mode. Actually confronting the takeover of our school systems and institutions by decades of secular humanism is too much of a strain for our kind of religion. That would require going out and witnessing to the publicans and sinners of our day. So we are running into temporary survival shelters such as Christian schools, religious radio and television broadcasts, Christian concerts and myriad other escapisms.

The controlling force behind this massive retreat from the post-Christian, secularized culture is fear rather than holiness. It is laziness rather than righteousness. And it is born from a lack of love rather than a genuine desire for separation. Could it be that these “good things” are really enemies of the best? “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

What Really Is Going On?

We have established a social caste system in our churches and institutions. I thought only Hinduism had a system of social discrimination, but experience proves that religion by itself almost always divides rather than unites people. There are those who congregate in churches for all kinds of reasons other than the biblical one! Many churches will sell out and move their property if a neighborhood starts to change racially or economically. No cost is too great to preserve the class distinctions that created the church in the first place. We will pay any price to maintain a church without people who are different from us in any way.

Could it be that at the root of most of our denominations and local church splits is not a pious struggle for truth—but an invisible system of discrimination against others based on age, race, education and economic background? And what a tragedy we see on the mission field when some of these same denominations try to export their schisms and divisive teachings to the churches of the Third World. Let’s face it. We like to be with our own kind. A church that asks us to love and reach out to the unlovely or to those different from us is unthinkable—yet it was the core of Christ’s evangelistic lifestyle.

We need to repent of the loveless, intolerant, self-centered Christianity that has become one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the Church today. Some modern church growth teachers are now openly applying marketing techniques to further divide and create churches based on demographics rather than spiritual birth. This used to be done by tiny committees of racial bigots who met secretly. Today it is being taught as church growth in some of our seminaries! “But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors” (James 2:9).

We are fascinated by having the best and the biggest. Social scientists say that the last sign of life in any movement comes when it starts to build monument-style buildings. Why do we insist on building the largest and most impressive structures in our city when people on the other side of town are hungry, jobless and worshiping in storefronts? Why do we construct extravagant, inefficient buildings at all? What motivates us to try to be the biggest and the best? Who taught us that “bigger is better” and “nothing is too good for the house of the Lord”? Did God tell us this, or have we learned it from the world?

We need to start asking ourselves hard questions. How can we be making monthly church mortgage payments of $50,000 and still say we don’t have enough in the budget for missions? Can we square this extravagance with the commands of our Lord who said, “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another?” (John 5:44). We are taken up with bumper-sticker theology. Any kind of spiritual thought that goes beyond “how to have a happy family” seems to be incomprehensible to modern Christians. The only kind of Christianity we want is a pragmatic kind that shows us how to have a positive mental attitude, get ahead with our career plans, win friends and influence people.

What’s happened is that we’ve made over our theology and preaching agenda into an image of ourselves. When I first began to preach about the necessity for a transformed and obedient life, someone would always come up to me and say, “Let’s be careful here not to put people on guilt trips and teach legalism.” Such people want the Gospel and the Bible to stop with the phrase, “Christians aren’t perfect; they’re just forgiven.” That’s the end of their theology. That’s all that fits on their bumper sticker!

Well, that’s not the Gospel—and I’m not teaching perfectionism either. But we have to question a Christianity that has so distorted the doctrine of grace that a simple call to obedience is mistaken for legalism. Challenging people to live the normal Christian life rather than accommodate themselves to sin is not a guilt trip or manipulation. These phrases are frequently used today as a smoke-screen defense by self-serving believers who don’t want their fantasy-land religion upset by the truth. This narrow view of salvation has impoverished our faith more than we realize.

Whatever happened to the teachings of Jesus on eternal judgment in hell? Why don’t we warn people about the terrible punishment that awaits them if they don’t turn back to God now? It’s astonishing that so-called Bible-believing Christians have, in effect, taken a pair of scissors and snipped out vast sections of the Scriptures.

Jesus lived daily with an awareness of the awful consequences of rejecting the grace of God—but why isn’t His Body connected today to the passion of a Savior who died to save men and women from eternal flames? How can we be casual about the lost world when God considered it so important that His only solution was Calvary?

“This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6–7).

We have spoiled our children and youth. Why is it that the young people of our churches are given fun and games rather than the challenge of the Great Commission? The preteen and teenage years are so critical. This is when most young people choose their careers and mates—probably the two biggest decisions that determine the course of any believer’s life. Anyone who has ever worked with adolescents will tell you that this is probably the highest point in our lives for energy and idealism. Teens want to test out the ethics and morality of their church and parents to see if it really works.

But what are we giving them instead? The standard answer is to hire a youth director to plan parties and trips based around the premise: “You can be a Christian and have fun too!” How many millions of our youth have been ruined by the introduction of this worldly Christianity just at the moment in life when they most need to see reality?

What would happen if instead we treated our youth with total seriousness, exposing them to mission field learning experiences? Opportunities to love and sacrifice for others? To serve on the front lines of the Gospel? Will parents back this kind of program? If not, why not? How long can we go on ducking this question? We have ruled out the supernatural and opted for self-sufficient, computerized Christianity. Technology is the modern-day magic of our culture. It gives its users an incredible but false sense of power and control. To many today, knowledge and information have become equal to doing.

This is why the Church has become the world’s greatest collector of knowledge and expertise. And this is also why we’re so dependent today on consultants. How many pastors spend far more time meeting with church-growth consultants, fund-raisers and salesmen than they do seeking the face of God for His will, plans and solutions? We are becoming more and more dependent on horizontal, rationalistic, here-and-now solutions to our problems. We’ve become terrific consumers of products, seminars, shortcuts—anything, it seems, that does not require us to wait on the Lord for vertical solutions to our dilemmas.

Stand outside a typical church next weekend and watch the congregation leave the worship service. Why do so many look as if they’ve just left the local movie theater, laughing and casual? Why are others sad and troubled with unsolved personal problems? Why are some so obviously bound by addictions and sin? Are these the faces of people who have had a face-to-face encounter with the Living God? Where is the reverence and awe we would expect from a people who have just witnessed the miraculous? What is really going on in our churches today?

The haunting question that must be asked about the status of Christianity is this: Why do a people who have so much have so little? With all this knowledge and skill, why is there no great move of God in our churches today? When are we going to look ourselves in the mirror and say, “OK, I know enough now. I’ve trained enough. I’ve consulted enough. What am I going to do about my knowledge of God and His ways? When is my life going to demonstrate His compassion to the needy world around me?”

We are following false shepherds. The Church today is being ravaged by deceived men who spread half-gospels and lead millions of people astray with false teachings. I don’t want to take time and space here to list examples of these religious con-artists, and there would be very little profit in doing so anyway. It’s sufficient to say that they’re everywhere, and many of them sound doctrinally correct.

But we should be asking some even more relevant questions, not resting until we get the answers in our spirits: Why do we let these people into our homes via radio, television and the Internet? Why do we go to their seminars, conferences and churches? Why do we buy their books and DVDs? Why do we give millions of dollars to keep their man-centered ministries going? Few Christians can say they haven’t been taken in by these wolves at one time or another. What is it, then, that is making us so vulnerable to their seductive doctrines?

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, . . . beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; . . . These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest: to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever (2 Peter 2:1, 14, 17).

Hyper-activism and Dead Works

We have fallen victim to hyper-activism and dead works. Modern churches are among the most frenzied organizations in the world. In almost any average-sized community, the calendar is so full that you can keep going almost day and night on a year-round basis. The unwary believer is challenged constantly to join this merry-go-round of religious activities and fellowship. Because yielding the time and money we control to Christ is such an important test of stewardship, many a sincere but naïve Christian falls into this trap of carnal activism.

For many, workaholism is as addictive as alcohol or smoking. Such victims of religious “busyness” are little different from cultists on the treadmill of earning their salvation by penance, selling books or doing good works. Their bookshelves are full of Christian books and videos. They’re always off to another meeting or seminar. Christian broadcasts and CDs play in their cars. They’re the kind of people who are present every time the church door opens. But in the wake of these busy Christians are often broken homes, relationships and churches. Family, friends and co-workers shake their heads and instinctively pull back. Jesus predicted that the branch connected to the vine would produce much spiritual fruit. But too often our frantic lives are barren.

Where in our oh, so busy, busy lives of Christian service is Christ Himself? Where is the fruit that would authenticate our works? Are we merely acting out the motions of the Christian life, or is the Spirit of God being released in our religious activities? To answer this question and so many others, we need to cross a bridge. Too few modern Christians even know it exists—but there is no other way for the world-weary believer to go. It means giving up our fairy-tale notions about Christ and Christianity. It means stepping away from the comfortable Christianity—the one we have conformed to our culture. But for the man and woman God uses, there can be no other direction.

How Long Will We Be Duped?

By now I’m sure you’re already asking yourself the most critical of all questions: Is there any hope for a people who have fallen so far away from authentic Christian living? Recently a dear friend and fellow minister in New York City went through an experience that has to be every parent’s worst nightmare. And I need to tell this story at this point because I think it parallels vividly what I’ve been trying to say about Christians and Christian culture today. This true story gives me hope and confidence in the measureless grace of God.

For the sake of those involved, I’ll call their daughter Mary. Although Mary appeared to be a model child in her early years, she and the whole family obviously had many unresolved spiritual and mental problems. Mary grew up in the church, surrounded with every physical and spiritual advantage a child could have. I had stayed in their home on several occasions—yet nothing prepared me for the shock of what this beautiful girl became in her rebellious teenage years. As a high school sophomore, she began having behavior problems at church and school. Frustrated family and friends couldn’t get through to her. Numerous attempts at counseling only made the problems worse. Mary refused to listen to even the most loving advice. It seemed that if something was against the rules, Mary had to do it—the more outrageous, the better! Eventually, no one could control her. She began disappearing for days on end to act out a prodigal life of drug abuse and illicit sex, which led to suicide attempts. Her father and other friends from church often walked the streets of Times Square looking for her among the thousands of teenage runaways who were attracted there from all over the nation.

After many attempts to stop her, one discouraged friend after another quit trying to get through. Thus began two years of life in and out of jails, institutions and hospitals. Mary’s life was still on a fast track to destruction when the Lord finally reached her in a rescue mission. Thank God, her story has a happy ending. She turned back to Christ and today is living for the Lord.

But I tell this story of Mary the prodigal because it could easily be the story of the Christian church today. We also are prodigal. As congregations—and as individuals—we’re out of touch with reality. Like Mary, we’re not listening, not submitting to our spiritual head. What’s more, we’re in such total rebellion against Christ that we’re hardly aware anything is wrong! In our story, Mary finally came to that point where she realized she had to return to God or end up dead in some back alley. But although Christianity today is desperately sick, still we refuse to admit our need for crisis intervention. We’re so busy with our own plans, agendas, activities and pleasures that we’ve lost sight of the one and only purpose for which Christ redeemed us.

The world is dictating its standards to us, and believers have been taken captive by the powers of darkness. We are living in a generation that is no more the Body of Christ exercising authority over the powers of this world. Instead, the world is dictating its sordid standards to us. We are not manifesting the life and power of Christ. Instead, we’re living in captivity and bondage. We are not storming the gates of hell. Instead, we’re falling over one another in retreat—looking for foxholes, hiding from the Enemy. Why is the army of God in retreat before the world, the flesh and the devil? Will we ever again be able to display the glorious love of the living Christ? Will this dark and dying world ever see Jesus in us again?

My answer is yes—a thousand times, yes! There is a way out of this mess. We don’t have to remain living in powerless, insipid hypocrisy. God has ordained for us to demonstrate Christ to a lost and dying world. He wills for us to have victory. He wants us to recover our lost authority and live again as He did. Authentic Christianity is not reserved only for missionary heroes and super-saints. It is not something that happens only on faraway foreign fields or in the pages of the Bible. It must and will blossom forth right on the street where you live, at your work, in your school. It is for every believer, whatever your calling or circumstances. Jesus wants to extend Himself into your world. However, for this miracle of abundant life to happen, you must make daily choices. God will never force you to walk the road to spiritual reality. It is a journey you must decide to begin personally.

Spiritual reality begins when, like Moses at the burning bush, we come face-to-face with the Living God. Up until that moment, Moses had tried in his own power to deliver Israel without success. His self-appointed rescue attempts floundered, but then for the first time, he saw the invisible Creator on the mount of God. What a transformation came to this disgraced prince. Moses was empowered from on high. From then on, he counted it a privilege to forsake the splendor of Egypt and suffer with the people of God.

Could it be that many of us have not yet turned aside at the burning bush to gaze at the real Jesus? We must begin our spiritual journey there—not with the plastic substitutes so often offered on the airwaves today. How long will we go on being duped by the phony “christs” that are circulated by the purveyors of television’s pop religion? The secret of the abundant life is Christ and Christ alone. We must see the real Jesus. We must have a correct vision of who He is and, therefore, who we are to incarnate and serve during our time on earth. Only then will we begin to rediscover the authority, glory and power of His majesty. He is head of the Church and our Lord. We were made for Him and His pleasure. This is not the same God we are being taught to manipulate and order about by the superstars of today’s religion. The true Jesus rules— and that means He rules us. The true Jesus reigns—and that means He reigns over us. We must learn that our proper place is at the feet of the Lord Jesus. Only then will we find the key to unlock His plans and purposes in our individual lives. What awe, reverence and worship the very names of our Lord should evoke in the spirit of every true believer.

As we have a fuller realization of our true place in creation, the wonder of Christ dwelling in us becomes the beginning of understanding. Yet this awareness remains a secret to so many in our age, because our real worship has shifted from the King of the universe. We adore our own abilities, bodies, minds and talents rather than the God who gave them to us.

Contrary to the popular thinking of Christianity today, the Lord did not reach down and save us from sin and death so that we might be merely happy, healthy and wealthy. Those who teach this have invented another gospel and portray a false christ—the god of this age rather than the God of the Bible. A gospel without the cross is no Gospel at all.

God’s purpose for man, from the moment He created us, has never changed. We have always been destined for the throne—created to rule with the One who created all things for Himself. First, we are to be the Body—the hands and feet of Jesus in this present world. “And he is the head of the body, the church,” says Colossians 1:18. All who believe and have been baptized into Christ are the Church. Now we know that our head, Jesus Christ, is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. But the Bible says His body is somewhere else. His body is us. We are left here on earth to carry out His desires and will. The purpose of the body is to fulfill the commands, desires and wishes of the head. We are attached to the head so that we might manifest the mind of Christ and do His will on earth.

God has so ordered the world that right now we are His primary agents of redemption to lost humanity. Our hands are His hands; our feet are His feet; our tongues are His tongue. This means that the basic way God expresses His limitless love today is through the Church. Lost men and women in this dark and dying world will not be found unless we search for them. In 1 John 4:17 we read, “As he is, so are we in this world.” I love the way Moffatt translates this in his classic version of the English New Testament. It reads, “. . . since in this world we are living as He is.”

This makes it abundantly clear that a believer’s life ought to so represent Christ that the world can once again see Jesus. We follow Him in a way that others can taste again the presence of Jesus walking and living among them. The only way that Christ is presently incarnated to a lost world is through us—we are carrying on and extending His presence, His Word and His works to a new generation. When Jesus walked the shores of Galilee, He revealed the image of the Father to lost and sinful men. This glorious ministry is now ours as we reveal the mind of Christ to the lost around us.

Second, we are ambassadors of Christ in the courts of a rebellious world. As Jesus prepared to leave this world and return to His Father, He called the disciples together. “All authority is given to Me in heaven and in earth,” He declared. “Now go in My name—as the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” Later, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul described us as “Christ’s ambassadors.”

An ambassador is a person who represents his country in an alien land. He is given authority by his government to represent the best interests of his nation. He can make and break contracts for his government and handle all kinds of affairs, both civil and military. Ambassadors exercise enormous power and influence, particularly when they represent a powerful kingdom.

The Bible tells us that we are no more citizens of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. We have been translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We belong to our sovereign King, and His name is Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords. As ambassadors sent to this world from another kingdom, how then are we to live and represent our King? Under a real monarchy, you do not debate the wishes of the king. You simply obey without discussion or question.

The Lord Jesus left us with a clear picture of His desires for our generation. We know from Scripture exactly what He wants us to be doing. We even know what kind of behavior He wants the world to see in us, because He taught us His lifestyle both by word and example.

Third, He wants us to operate in His authority and power. Christ wants us to move in the same mysterious authority and power that surrounded His earthly ministry. In Matthew 7:29 we read, “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” He confounded the best academics and theologians of His day—as well as kings and rulers of all sorts. From the beginning of the Church, we see this same quality reproduced among the apostles.

In Acts 4, Peter and John are dragged before the Sanhedrin—the most powerful religious court in Israel. They are questioned about where they received authority and power to heal a cripple. In verse 10, Peter, in the power of the Holy Spirit, boldly replies, “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.” This was an eloquent answer, and it stunned the lawyers and priests. In verse 13 we read, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

Now we get the full picture. These highly educated, suave, sophisticated leaders recognized that something unusual was happening. Something out of this world was going on! They weren’t used to having a bunch of blue-collar “rednecks” answer like that. By this they knew that these less-educated fishermen had been with Jesus. The same energy that blazed out at them from the Galilean they had killed was alive again in these disciples. Those who did not want such light and life were very threatened.

So we see that through Christ we are potentially restored to live as God originally intended man to live in the Garden of Eden. God gave man authority in Genesis chapter one—and now we are expected to live and serve Him in that power. Does this “job description” make you feel a little uncomfortable? It did me, too, when I compared the lives we lead today with the life of a normal Christian as described in the New Testament. How is it possible to live as His body, be His ambassador and operate in His power and authority? Isn’t God making impossible demands on His fallen creation? Of course not! God would not ask us to have this kind of authority and power-filled life without also making a provision for us to live such a supernatural existence.

The key scripture that explains the secret of this divine indwelling is Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” God does not commit His authority at random to anyone. This verse is basic to understanding the process of incarnating Christ to our generation.

Christ’s life is mine by faith. It is called by many names, but this exchanged life is the only acceptable New Testament norm. Anything less is a sick substitute for reality. I have been crucified—it is no longer I who live. Our ego is dead. Our will is submitted and surrendered. We cannot let circumstances, family, friends, the government, the media, religious leaders or Satan himself lead us to anything less than reality.

But something is still very wrong. Why are so few living out the “not I, but Christ” lifestyle that Paul describes in Galatians 2:20? Although God eagerly desires to manifest Himself within us, I believe it is because so few of us have learned to let the cross do its deadly work in our flesh on a daily basis. We haven’t yet come to a full understanding of the cross. We must return to Calvary.

The glory and presence of Christ will return to our lives and churches only when we have rediscovered the cross of Christ. The cross has two operations. First, on it Christ paid the penalty for our sins and thus bought our eternal salvation. But it doesn’t stop there. The second work of the cross provides for our ongoing sanctification—the daily, continuous crucifixion of our flesh.

This great doctrine is not very popular lately because it requires a voluntary acceptance of death to ego or self. Someone has put it this way, “If self is on the throne, then Christ is on the cross. If Christ is on the throne, then self is on the cross.” This is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:10 that we are “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” Accepting death to my ego is the only way to manifest the life of Christ. Putting my “self” to death is the only way to exchange my life for His.

I believe that this is the real meaning of Galatians 2:20 when Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ.” So here is the spiritual law of the flesh: The measure to which I will manifest the life of Christ is the same measure to which I am willing to put my “self” to death.

When Jesus walked on earth, God was showing us not only what He was like but also what He wanted man to be like. Jesus had authority and power because He constantly submitted Himself to the will of the Father in every matter. Christ pleased the Father and reflected the Father perfectly because He perfectly put to death His flesh. And we repeat this cycle as we submit to our head, the Lord Jesus. This is the life that is connected to Jesus, the head, on a decision by-decision basis. It is the submitted, dead-to-self life that the Lord can animate and use for His glory. It is the only kind of life He will empower and use.

If we’re rightly connected to the head in this way, it would be hard to imagine making any decision without first submitting it to Christ for His approval. What would that do to the way we spend our time? What does Christ say about the television shows and the movies we view, the music we listen to, or the catalogs and magazines we read? What about our activities—church, clubs, leisure time, friendships, hobbies, prayer, service, sports and study? What about our relationships with boyfriends, girlfriends, mentors and role models? Whom do we idolize and pattern our lives after? What about our purchases, both the large and small ones? Is our shopping basket under His control? Does He direct the checks we write? What about the “big buys”—our car, home and insurance? What about our intake of food and drink? Is Christ or our appetites in control? And of course, there are those major decisions in life—full-time missionary service, career and job plans, education and the choice of a mate.

For the Christian, none of these things is any longer a personal decision. It is not what others say, what self says or what circumstances dictate. The only valid question is always, What does Christ say to me about this decision? But most of us find ourselves making even the big decisions without prayer and waiting for guidance from the Holy Spirit. Obviously, the gap between this kind of biblical Christianity and the shallow spirituality of our day is a significant one. How different is this kind of self-sacrificing faith from the pleasure-seeking, self-serving, wimpy religion so often preached and practiced in our churches!

The Bible contains unchanging laws. Therefore, we cannot cast out, bind with spiritual words, deny or command away that which the Bible declares needs to be crucified—our flesh. There is no shortcut to the victorious life. God is not going to put your flesh to death for you. He did His part on Calvary. Now we are told in Romans 8 to “mortify the deeds of the body.” We must choose to experience the reality of Galatians 2:20.

Some people believe they need to wait on God to deliver them, to come and crucify their flesh. They have a false notion that they have to remain neutral and let God do some kind of “sanctification work” on their flesh. Nothing could be further from the truth. His work was completed on the cross 2,000 years ago. Now we have to act on the freedom He has earned for us. We are called upon to put the flesh to death on a moment-by-moment basis—by faith—in the same way receive salvation in the first place. It is all of grace by faith. The only human action required is the submission of your will to His.

Unless we as humans are tied into and connected to Christ our head, we are nothing and have no purpose. Even the greatest geniuses of art and science are only a marred, shallow reflection of the God who created our universe in the first place. Jesus died that we might be plugged into Him, as the branches are part of the vine.

The Bible tells us that all the works of the flesh will be burned up. How hard it is to accept this. We still want to do the work of the Lord in our own power and strength—be it with our education, talent or wealth. But in the eyes of God, it is still just educated flesh, talented flesh or rich flesh—all to be burned up in judgment and rejected by Him. We must come to that place of absolute understanding that as human beings there is nothing in us—not our looks, background, education, riches, talents or anything else you can add—that will enable us to live the kind of life God wants us to live in our generation.

You see, following Christ means making a 180-degree turnaround. It is an exchange. My life for His life. There is no longer any parallel existence of both together. It is no longer what I want. It is not my will, my way, my plans, my wishes—but only what He wants. The question is always, What does my Master say? What does He want? Then all that I have is His. My hands, legs, heart, eyes, ears, finances, family, dreams and visions—everything belongs to Christ. He is able to live, breathe, walk, touch, weep, look and hear through the earthen vessel of my body.

This is the true message of Easter!

Excerpt from The Road to Reality: Coming Home to Jesus from an Unreal World by K.P. Yohannan

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