The Christian Lifestyle: Joy and Peace and No Anxiety

This amazing section of Scripture sets forth the choice of Christian believer when faced with challenges, difficult circumstances and daily living. Do we have joy or anxiety? Do we have peace or worry? Do we have confidence or fear?

As we study these important truths, think where Paul wrote this epistle. He was in prison in Rome. Not the best of circumstances, but it brings home the truth that no matter where you are or how big a problem looks in front of you, you can practice these truths as our habitual lifestyle. Joy and peace are never dependent on our circumstances. Paul could have been angry, fearful, depressed, or despondent because in prison.

Philippians 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

We may decoupage this verse and hang on our wall, but do we live it?

Rejoice-repeated joy. God says it twice for emphasis and then adds the word always. Our lives should radiate joy from the morning’s first light to when we fall into sleep at night.

I Thessalonians 5:16: Rejoice always.

Rejoice (chairo) is present imperative calling for a lifestyle of joy that emanates from an active choice of our will regardless of whether confronted with joyful or adverse circumstances and/or people.

Repeated joy: Joy is inner gladness, delight, exultation, and rejoicing that is grounded in a close relationship with God. Joy is much deeper than happiness, as joy is a spiritual quality of exuberant gladness that leads one to praise, sing, shout, and leap in great delight. Joy is not affected or changed by outside circumstances. Joy rests upon a firm knowledge of the truth concerning our salvation and all we have been made in Christ, including our future hope of everlasting life with our Lord. Joy is always linked to the grace of God and in the Greek actually comes from the same root as the word “grace” Joy rejoices in the magnificent grace of God and displays an inner awareness that by the grace of God we are who we are. Joy is a manifestation of living in the presence of God and  gives us great strength to do what He has called us to do. Joy is a deep overwhelming jubilation that arises from our unwavering trust and love for God. Joy celebrates everything that God has done for us and everything he promises to do for us in the future. Joy is a true inner celebration and delight in the goodness of God.

Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life;  in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

To rejoice in Him is to exult in Him, not as a dim abstraction, but as a living Person—so near and so loving, so generous and so powerful, that we ever turn to Him in admiring grateful homage, coveting His presence as its sunshine, and reveling in fellowship with Him. 

Psalm 4:7: You have put more joy in my heart…

Psalm 63:7: In the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy

Is it rash to say, in fine, that the churches of Christ are strangers by far too much to this repeated charge of the apostle—that the current ideas of Christ are too historic in their character, and want the freshness of a personal reality—that He is thought of more as a being in remoteness and glory, far above and beyond the stars, than as a personal and sympathizing Saviour—that salvation is regarded more as a process a man thankfully submits to, than a continuous and happy union with Jesus— and that therefore, though Christians may run and are not weary, and may walk and are not faint, they seldom mount up with wings as eagles, and then, if they do, is not their flight brief and exhaustive?

Joy is always centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ, there is no joy.

Luke 2:10,11: And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

Jesus Christ is the Father’s plan for great joy. He is great joy, great light, great calm, the great King, the great voice, the great commandment, the great gain and the great, the Son of the highest.

John 16;22-24:  So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Our joy is to be full like Jesus’s joy.

Hebrews 12:2: Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Paul: 2 Corinthians 7:4: In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy

Jesus was full of joy even as he hung on the cross in extreme agony. Joy sees the bigger picture. Joy sees the future as bright as the promises of God.

Joy is such a vitally important factor in believers’ spiritual stability. It is important to understand that this is not “joy” as the world defines joy, envisioning it as an emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. This secular definition hardly describes Christian joy which is not a feeling, but it is the deep-down confidence that God is in control of everything for the believer’s good and His own glory, and thus all is well no matter the circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                          If believers are to represent heaven to earth, then joy should be one of our trademarks, for in Christ’s presence is fullness of joy. We obtain (and maintain) this joy by rejoicing in the right object. We rejoice not in our situation but in our Savior, not in circumstances, but in Christ.

It does not say just rejoice. It says to rejoice in the Lord. We live in the sphere of the Lord. This enables us to rejoice repeatedly,

Rejoice in the Lord; don’t rejoice in the world; don’t rejoice in our circumstances; don’t’ rejoice in our political affiliation, don’t rejoice in our worldly accomplishments, don’t rejoice in our education. The Lord is the immutable (unchanging), inexhaustible source of joy, and it is only by maintaining close union with Him that a Christian will be able to experience this supernatural joy.

Rejoice in the sphere of the Lord.  It’s only joy in Him that remains. If you get your joy any other place, something can take it away.

Joy in him is full, and it is complete.

The joy of the Lord is a thermostat, not a thermometer. A thermometer registers conditions; a thermostat controls them. Happiness is related to the thermometer. If your hap is good, you’re happy; if your hap is bad, you’re unhappy. And, your condition of happiness goes up and down with your circumstances (like a thermometer). But, joy remains constant, because Jesus is constant (He is our “Thermostat” that never changes – Heb 13:8).

You know what most of us need to learn to do? Practice the presence of God—I mean, to understand that He is always there (Heb 13:5-6) and, in no matter what circumstance we find ourselves, not to become a thermometer, but to set the thermostat. 

 Habakkuk 3:17-18: Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:”—that is, it’s a time of economic depression and deprivation—”yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” And friend, if you don’t have any joy, it’s because Jesus is not real to you. I don’t care how sick you may be; I don’t care what agony there may be. There is Jesus, and He is always there. You can set the thermostat.

Joy is not an accident of temperament or an unpredictable providence; joy is a matter of choice.

“The Lord is the only sure, reliable, unwavering, unchanging source of joy. Spiritual stability is directly related to how a person thinks about God. No one has stated that truth more clearly than A. W. Tozer. In his classic book on the attributes of God, The Knowledge of the Holy, Tozer wrote” What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God. Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.”

Impossible situation in Philippi-Would you rejoice? Acts 16:19-32

In Prison-rejoicing and singing.

Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS-No exceptions. Always-at all times. Ephesians 5:20-Give thanks always.

Philippians 4:5: Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;

Amplified: Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is a coming soon]

Lightfoot: Let your gentle and forbearing spirit be recognized by all men. The judgment is drawing near.

Wuest: Let your sweet reasonableness, your forbearance, your being satisfied with less than your due, become known to all men. The Lord is near [in that His coming may occur at any moment]. 

Reasonableness-Gentle (Forbearing)  (epieikes) stands for the spirit or attitude that does not seek to retaliate. It denotes one’s willingness to give and take instead of always standing rigidly on one’s rights to the end they become moral wrongs. This is the person who is yielding his rights and is therefore gentle, kind, courteous, tolerant or as one has described it exhibits a “sweet reasonableness” or an ability to extend to others the kindly consideration one would wish to receive themselves. The forbearing person is not spineless but selfless. Reasonable not rigid.

It also describes what is proper or fair, or what is kind and reasonable, especially in the form of considerateness and as opposed to the harshness of law. It is opposed to that rigor which never bends nor deviates. It is slow to take offence, it is swift to forgive it.

Epieikes defines the individual who knows when it is actually wrong to apply the strict letter of the law, knows how to forgive when justice would otherwise give then the right to condemn, knows how to make allowances, knows when not to stand upon his or her rights, knows how to temper justice with mercy and remembers that there are more important things in world than rules and regulations. 

Be known  (ginosko) speaks of knowledge that goes beyond the merely factual. Paul is saying that others are to realize our yieldedness “experientially.” We are to be sure that they realize by seeing us in action that we are a people who do not cling to our rights as do non-Christians. The aorist imperative is a command calling for this to be done now and to be done effectively so that others come to know by their experience (by their interactions with you!). The NET Bible conveys this sense rendering it “Let everyone see your gentleness”

Kenneth Wuest comments that “The word known refers to knowledge gained by experience. The exhortation is therefore, “Do not keep this sweet reasonableness in your heart. Let it find expression in your conduct. Thus others will experience its blessings also.”

The Lord is near-James 5:8,9: You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 

Thayer defines eggus as “near,” adding that it speaks of “things imminent and soon to come to pass.”

We live every moment like his coming is imminent.

Philippians 3:20: But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 

Luke 12:35: “Stay dressed for action[f] and keep your lamps burning,  40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

I Thessalonians 1:10: And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Living with anticipation of Christ’s return allows us to live with joy and gentleness, forgiveness and patience

Philippians 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 

Wuest: Stop perpetually worrying about even one thing, but in everything by prayer whose essence is that of worship and devotion and by supplication which is a cry for your personal needs, with thanksgiving let your requests for the things asked for be made known in the presence of God.

Passion: Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, 

The Greek places nothing at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis. The verb be anxious is present imperative which is a command, not just an exhortation and not something optional that would be nice to do if we decide to do it. The present tense in fact calls for this to be the habitual practice in the life of believers. The negative preceding the command means they are to stop doing something, implying they are already worrying! Paul says in essence

“Stop worrying and do not under any circumstances worry about anything.”

Matthew 6:24ff

Be anxious (merimnao from merimna = anxious care from meris = part, in turn from the verb merizo = to distract, to divide, to draw different directions – which is exactly what anxiety does to most of us!) expresses a strong feeling for something or someone, often to the point of being burdened. Although this can be a “positive” concern, in most of the NT uses it refers to an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune, and so it means to be worried about, to be anxious about, to be apprehensive (viewing the future with anxiety or alarm), to be unduly concerned, to be burdened with anxious care or cumbered with many cares and in simple terms to worry.

2 Samuel 7:10 “I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed (Hebrew = ragaz = be agitated, quiver, quake, perturbed; Lxx = merimnao) again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly.

Worry has a fascinating etymology which can be traced back to the Old High German “wurgen” which means “to strangle” which is what worry does to our joy! Webster adds that in “dialect British” worry means to “choke” or to “strangle”. The first definition of “worry” in Webster is “to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat”, and then “to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort” and “to afflict with mental distress or agitation = make anxious”. (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield, Mass)

Merimnao in the present context means to have an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune and is characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency and emphasizes a fear of frustration, failure or disappointment.

The idea inherent in merimnao is of an individual attempting to carry the burden of the future by themselves and expressing an unreasonable anxiety (especially) about things over which one has no control.

Vine writes that “merimnao denotes to have a distracting care. This is to be absent entirely from the believer. Anxiety harasses the soul; it enfeebles, irritates, ruffles the temper, is a sign of mistrust and of failing obedience, and distracts the mind from communion with God.

I Peter 5:6-8: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The word “casting” in the Amplified Version means: to throw, hurl or cast with a sudden motion; to throw something suddenly and completely on something else. It is not a timid casting of our cares upon Him or an apologetic casting in the sense of “could you please take a care or two from me God, if you have time?” It is an abrupt and swift hurling, like you were throwing a fastball or hurling a hot potato out of your hands. God does not want us to mess around with a half-hearted effort in this casting. You are not to hang on to one single anxious care, but forcefully throw every one of them upon Him. Throw all not just some of our anxieties on God. God commands us not to carry one anxiety on our shoulders. This takes humility. Want to not get devoured by the enemy because we are not wallowing in worry or anxiety.

Guzik has an interesting insight stating that “Undue care is an intrusion into God’s arena. It makes us the father of the household instead of being a child.”

From the spiritual point of view, worry is wrong thinking and wrong feeling about circumstances, people, and things. Worry is the greatest thief of joy. It is not enough for us, however, to tell ourselves to “quit worrying” because that will never capture the thief. Worry is an “inside job,” and it takes more than good intentions to get the victory. The antidote to worry is the secure mind: “And the peace of God… shall keep [garrison, guard like a soldier] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). When you have the secure mind, the peace of God guards you (Phil. 4:7) and the God of peace guides you (Phil. 4:9). With that kind of protection—why worry?

Worry is excessive concern over the affairs of life. The key obviously is the word “excessive.” Worry happens when you are so concerned about the problems of life that you can think of nothing else. It is an all-consuming feeling of uncertainty and fear. And it is a sin. Worry is a sin for two reasons: First, because it displaces God in your life. When you commit the sin of worry, you are living as though God did not exist. And you are living as though you alone can solve your problems. Second, because it distracts you from the things that really matter in life. As long as you are worrying, you can’t do anything else. You are strangled by worry.

Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all others thoughts are drained. – Arthur Somers Roche

2 cares choke the word out of you

Matthew 13:22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Luke 8:14: And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Jesus divided these anxious cares and worries into two categories in the parable of the sower and the seed. The first category is the anxious cares of this age (Matthew13:22), which are worries about the current state of affairs in the world. Today it would be all the negatives we hear on the nightly news about the violent and horrible events of this age. Threats of terrorism, violent wars, disease outbreaks, environmental disasters, food shortages, and political corruption are just a few of the worries and cares of this age. The second category is the anxious cares of this life (Luke 8:14), which are daily worries and cares that come up in our personal lives. These are cares about our finances, jobs, relationships, food, clothing, health, and all problems that may arise from our day to day living. Jesus Christ clearly taught that these anxious worries choke the Word of God out of your mind and heart so you do not bear any fruit for God in your life. You cannot think, meditate, and grow in the word of God when these anxious cares and worries are dominating your thoughts for they crowd out the Word of God in your mind. The word “choke” in this parable means: to so press, throng and crowd to the point that it suffocates completely the life out of something. Worry always suffocates the growth of the Word of God in your life. This is why Jesus Christ spent so much time teaching His disciples that they cannot let worry and anxiety dominate their thoughts, if they expect to love and serve God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. We are to cast and throw every care upon our loving and mighty God, whether it is a care of this age or a care of our life.

Ray Stedman

I think there is nothing more prevalent in the age in which we live than the increasing problem of tension. It isn’t for nothing that the ulcer has become the badge of modern life. Worry is a powerful force to disintegrate the human personality, leaving us frustrated, puzzled, baffled, bewildered by life. Sometimes you hear the expression: “sick with worry”, and anyone who has experienced it knows it is no empty expression. You can be literally sick with worry. Paul’s answer to this is a blunt, “Have no anxiety about anything.” These are not just Paul’s words. This reflects the position of scripture from Genesis through Revelation. The entire Word of God is a constant exhortation to believers to stop worrying. It is everywhere forbidden to those who believe in Jesus Christ, and I think one of the most serious areas of unbelief is our failure as Christians to face the problem of worry as sin. Because that is what it is. Worry is not just something everyone does and therefore it must be all right. It is definitely labeled a sin in the scriptures, and the exhortation is everywhere: stop it! Have no anxiety about anything.

In everything by prayer and supplication- Everything (whatever the matter) (pas) means everything without exception! Not just those “crisis” prayers. No time, no subject, no place is off limits for prayer. In everything; in each emergency, little or great, as it arises, pray; cultivate the habit of referring all things, great or small, to God in prayer.

Barclay comments:

It has been beautifully put: “There is nothing too great for God’s power; and nothing too small for his fatherly care.”

No care but all prayer.
No anxiety but much joyful communion with God.

Spurgeon goes on to exhort us…

Carry your desires to the Lord of your life, the guardian of your soul. Go to Him with two portions of prayer and one of fragrant praise. Do not pray doubtfully but thankfully. Consider that you have your petitions, and, therefore, thank God for His grace.

Henrietta Mears – Yes, the way to be anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything. The prayer of faith must be a prayer of thanksgiving because faith knows how much it owes to God. Put your prayers into God’s hands and go off and leave them there. Do not worry about them.

Supplication  (deesis from deomai = to want, to beg, to pray) refers to making known of one’s specific needs, even conveying a sense of an urgent request to meet that need.

Deesis is used in the NT for prayer for particular benefits and gives prominence to one’s personal needs. Deesis emphasizes the fact that the suppliant is in need of the thing ask for

Dwight Pentecost adds that…

Supplication concerns a specific request for special needs. Paul is saying that to be relieved of worry we ought to move in our praying from the general to the specific. How often we pray, “God, bless me today. Bless my loved ones”; and that is as specific as we ever get. The antidote to worry is to recognize a specific need, realize that it is God’s responsibility, and charge God with the responsibility. That is how worry can be relieved. This will work for every area of a believer’s life — not just his spiritual life, but his business life, his financial responsibilities, his home, his children, everything. Put yourself in a place of dependence upon God, and expect Him to do what He has promised. Then be specific about what is worrying you, and expect Him to do something about that very thing. (Pentecost, J. D. The Joy of Living: A study of Philippians. Kregel Publications)

When Franklin Graham, the oldest son of Billy and Ruth Graham, was living a wild and dangerous life, Ruth found herself torn apart by worry. One night while she was abroad, she suddenly awoke in the middle of the night worrying about Franklin. A current of worry surged through her like an electric shock. She lay in bed and tried to pray, but she suffered from galloping anxiety, one fear piling upon another. She looked at the clock and it was around three o’clock. She was exhausted, yet she knew she would be unable to go back to sleep. Suddenly the Lord seemed to say to her, “Quit studying the problems and start studying the promises.” She turned on the light, got out her Bible, and the first verses that came to her were these, Philippians 4:6-7. As she read those words, she suddenly realized that the missing ingredient in her prayers had been thanksgiving. “…in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

She put down her Bible and spent time worshipping God for who and what he is. She later wrote, “I began to thank God for giving me this one I loved so dearly in the first place. I even thanked him for the difficult spots which had taught me so much. And you know what happened? It was as if someone turned on the light in my mind and heart, and the little fears and worries that had been nibbling away in the darkness like mice and cockroaches hurriedly scuttled for cover. That was when I learned that worship and worry cannot live in the same heart. They are mutually exclusive.”

Requests  (aitema from aiteo = ask for with urgency to the point of demanding, even as demanding one’s share) are petitions that in general are from one who is in a lesser position than the one to whom the petition is made. Vincent says that aitema refer to the specific details of supplication.

What has been requested or demanded

Be made known is a command (imperative) in the present tense (continually do this, make it the habit of your life). In other words keep praying and don’t lose heart. Jesus gave a similar exhortation to His disciples “telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” Luke 18:1-6

Paul is saying, in effect, that prayer is a conversation with, a plea directed to, a request made of, information given to God Who can hear, know, understand, care about and respond to the concerns that otherwise would sink you in despair.

To God (in the presence of God) (immediately before God) is the preposition pros which as noted above conveys the idea of motion toward or of being immediately before another. Pros depicts us as “face to face” with God!

This picture reminds one of King Hezekiah who upon receiving a potentially anxiety producing letter from the Assyrians (in which Israel’s destruction was predicted)

“took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD

Focus on God not the anxieties. .WORRY FORCES US TO FOCUS ON THE WRONG THINGS

Did you know that there’s no higher expression of faith than thanksgiving, and worry is the highest expression of unbelief? Now, you think about it: Thanksgiving is the highest expression of faith; worry is perhaps the greatest expression of unbelief. 

Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   

NLT: If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Peace, shalom, means: wholeness, completeness and soundness; it’s a harmony and unity of heart and soul because of a restored relationship with God, our Father; it is an inward and outward tranquility, a quiet assurance and a complete well-being where nothing is lacking or broken. Peace is the symphony and harmony of life, in which you enjoy all that is good because of your right relationship with God. It’s the freedom from being disturbed, agitated, stressed and troubled. It is the absence of discord, strife, and anxiety. It is to be at ease and calmly unaffected by circumstance. Peace is the highest measure of contentment, joyfulness, happiness, and satisfaction in life. There is absolute security, safety, and victory at the center of peace. It is the absence of inward conflict, condemnation, and torment, but rather a state of rest, calmness, and quiet confidence.

         True peace is oneness and complete unity with Yahweh-Shalom, where there is a wonderful mutual sharing of the enjoyment of that bond and relationship. Yahweh-Shalom is the origin and source of all peace and we have and enjoy peace because of our relationship and oneness with Him. His peace is our peace. His wholeness is our wholeness. His soundness is our soundness. His completeness is our completeness. No man or woman can ever have peace without a vibrant, living fellowship and right relationship with Yahweh-Shalom. You can’t buy peace, you can’t medicate peace, and you cannot manufacture peace. You cannot produce peace from some mental gymnastic exercise or self-help book or seminar. It is impossible to have peace apart from Yahweh-Shalom. There is and never will be true peace for the unbeliever.

Isaiah 57:19-21 (New Living Translation):

I will comfort those that mourn bringing words

of praise to their lips. May they have abundant

peace, both near and far, says the Lord, who

heals them.

But those who still reject me are like the

restless sea, which is never still but continually

churns up mud and dirt.

There is no peace for the wicked, says my God.

Isaiah 59:8 (NIV):

The way of peace they do not know; there is

no justice in their paths. They have turned them                       

into crooked roads; no one who walks in them

will know peace.

Surpasses  (huperecho from hupér = above, over + écho = have) means literally to hold above and in context means to transcend the reach of man’s ability to comprehend. This word speaks of that which is superior to or of surpassing and exceptional value.

Huperecho is in the present tense which signifies that this peace is continually a peace that baffles men’s futile attempts to explain it or rationalize it. Why? Because it is supernatural peace. God’s peace continually stands out and is superior and more excelling than the world’s peace or any so called peace we might be able to well up because of ”positive thinking” etc. It is beyond our ability to produce it by our own intellect.

Comprehension  (nous) describes the God given faculty of perceiving and understanding and is the channel through which truth reaches the heart.

This peace doesn’t just surpass the understanding of the worldly man but surpasses all understanding. Even the godly man can’t comprehend this peace. Paul is promising something that is not humanly explicable — that a man surrounded by care and anxiety and harassment and concern can still live with the tranquility of God in his soul! Who can understand this great promise!

William Barclay says surpasses all human comprehension “means that the peace of God is so precious that the human mind, with all its skill and all its knowledge, can never produce it. It can never be of our contriving; it is only of God’s giving. The way to peace is in prayer to entrust ourselves and all whom we hold dear to the loving hands of God.”

Shall guard The picture of phroureo is to protect by a a Roman guard or soldier holding his weapon on guard duty, either to prevent hostile invasion or to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from flight (ponder this last aspect in the context of the effect that “anxiety” often has on one’s psyche – don’t you sometimes feel like you just want to take flight or run away?) The armed guard is walking back and forth in front of an open gate so that no one can enter.

We need never worry or be anxious about any circumstance or problem we face, for we have a Heavenly Father to whom we can take every need and difficulty to in prayer.  In the Greek, the word “worry” describes the state of the mind of being pulled apart and divided by anxious cares and worries. It is characterized by an extreme uneasiness of the mind and a brooding fear about something, and emphasizes a fear of misfortune, failure, disappointment, and disaster. Worry denotes a lack of focus and trust in God and an endless running of the mind in all directions. God says instead of worrying or being anxious, bring the problem to Him in earnest and thankful prayer. We should worry about nothing and pray about everything. That is the lifestyle of the believer.

The word “prayer” in the Greek means: a prayer to God of worship, adoration, and devotion remembering His character, His attributes, His names, His goodness, and who He is. It is a prayer where our heart is focused on His greatness and majesty. It is a prayer where our heart remembers all the great qualities of the goodness of God and overflows with thankfulness. It is from this heart of love that we make specific detailed requests for our personal needs and the needs of others. Then God promises that His awesome, wonderful peace will mount and keep constant guard over our hearts and minds as we rest in our union in Christ Jesus. No fear, no worry, and no anxiety can penetrate and disturb our heart or mind, for the peace of God is guarding our heart. 

The word “guard” in the Greek was a military term for the guarding of a city by a military garrison that kept constant watch to protect and secure the city from the hostile invasion of any enemy. This peace of God protects and guards our heart like a military garrison, keeping it calm, tranquil, and without agitation from any outside influence. When we love God with all our heart, seek Him in prayer in all of life’s situations, and walk in our sonship rights and privileges in Christ Jesus, the peace of God will overflow in our heart and act as a strong barrier against every fiery dart of the wicked one. The peace of God is the impenetrable barrier, the unbreakable wall, and the protective watchtower against every device of the devil designed to distract and divide our mind from serving the one true God.  The peace of God enables us to live above the fear and anxiety of the world and enjoy our reconciliation with our Heavenly Father, even when the terror of this age rages around us.

Shortly before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples

John 14:27 (Amplified): Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful (Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled)”

We have the peace of Jesus Christ. We never need to be fearful, intimidated or unsettled.

The result of believing prayer is that the peace of God will stand like a sentinel on guard upon our hearts. The way to peace is in prayer to entrust ourselves and all whom we hold dear to the loving hands of God.

Isaiah 26:3: You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Colossians 3:15: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 

Romans 5:1:2: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. 

The Christian believer’s life should be marked with the qualities of joy and peace. Joy and Peace fruit of spirit, supernatural inside characteristics of the believer. Worry and anxiety have no place in a believer’s life. They are the fruit of unbelief. Each day we have a choice. Joy or anxiety? Peace or worry. Faith or fear. God commands us to live free of worry and anxiety and have great joy and peace in Him.

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5 Ways to Revolutionize our Relationship with Each Other in the Body of Christ: A Study of 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

It could be said we live in the retaliation generation. Social media is used to play a game of “gotcha” as everyone tries to outdo another with clever posts aimed at degrading anyone who disagrees with our self-proclaimed truth. We must spout off our unique perspective on every issue of life and never let the opportunity slip by where we can cut another human being down to size. Although this is the way of the culture that surrounds us, these destructive actions have crept into the church and caused strife and division to arise in the Body of Christ. We try to define our worth by labels such as conservative, liberal, republican, or democrat, instead of Christ. We look to worldly things to save us and make us feel better, and God is given a backseat to our passions and motives.

I Thessalonians 5:14,15 shines as a bright light in this dark culture by giving the Christian believer five essential commands of sanctified living. These five commands fly in the face of the ways of this world, but are vital to the Christian being the salt of the earth and the light of this world. When we obey these five commands, people will see Christ in our words and actions. These commands concern our outward relationship to other believers in the Body of Christ and even to unbelieving people in the world.

 I Thessalonians 5:13,14 (REV):

Now we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the    undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always diligently pursue what is good for one another and for all people.

 The Apostle Paul prefaces these five commands by using two important words “now” and “urge.” The time for the Christian believer to obey these commands is now, not tomorrow, or when we feel like it, but now! It cannot wait. The word “urge” intensifies the importance of doing these commands immediately with no delay. It is a call to action and in the sense of desperately implore or earnestly beg, conveying an intense desire and a deep sense of responsibility. This same word is translated “beseech” in Romans 12:1 and “implore” in Ephesians 4:1 calling attention to the immense importance of these actions for the Christian believer.

The first command is to “admonish the undisciplined.” The Greek word for “admonish” means to so lay it on the mind of a person that it affects their will and emotions. It is to alert someone of the serious consequences of their actions and to give instruction about an improper course of conduct. The Greek word for “undisciplined” means one who is out of step and going his own way. It describes someone who is out of order and thus disorderly, lazy and idle. It was used of a soldier who broke rank or an army that advances in disarray and describes irresponsible behavior.

Christians are supposed to be disciples or “disciplined ones” of Christ. We cannot be lazy or idle in our Christian lifestyle. We must exercise discipline physically, mentally and spiritually. We should be disciplined in the fundamentals of Christianity of reading and studying the word, praying, giving, witnessing, walking in the spirit and fellowshipping with God and our fellow believers. Discipline is a critical component in our walk with God as we are surrounded by a very undisciplined and unruly culture. We cannot admonish the undisciplined if we ourselves are lazy when it comes to living the Christian life. It takes discipline and determination to master these fundamentals.

We must guard our hearts against the sin of idleness and disorder. Thomas Brooks in his 1665 classic “The Privy Key of Heaven” states:

Take heed of an idle and slothful spirit. An idle life and a holy heart are far asunder. By doing nothing  men learn to do evil things…Idleness is a breeding  sin and the devil’s anvil on which he frames very many sins…O shake off the sloth! The sluggish Christian will be sleeping, or idling, or trifling, when he should be in his closet-a-praying…There   is nothing that gives the devil so much advantage against us as idleness.[1]

When we are undisciplined as a Christian believer, we step out of God’s way unto our own path, and it breeds discord and disruption. Paul admonishes the Christian believer that they must run the race of life that God has set before us with everything we have. We must bring our body and emotions under control and exercise self-control daily as we pursue the prize of our high calling in Christ (I Corinthians 9:24-27).                                          

The second command in I Thessalonians 5:14 is to “comfort the discouraged.” The Greek word for “comfort” means to come along side of someone and speak kindly so as to comfort in disappointment, loss, sadness or trouble. It is a compassionate and tender uplifting of a burdened soul, It is to encourage so as to stimulate to action. The Greek word for “discouraged” means cast down in spirit or disheartened and timid.

Everyone has times in life where they are crushed in spirit by circumstances and overwhelmed with discouragement. Even the Apostle Paul,  “despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). This is why there is such a tremendous need in the Church for encouragers and comforters that compassionately lift up the burdened soul. But the culture of this age has infiltrated the church and instead of encouragement we often spew out accusations, and wag our heads with condemnation. Our words tear down instead of edify; we blame, criticize and divide the body of believers by our toxic actions. We have allowed offense to blind our eyes to the beauty of Christ in each believer in the Body of Christ. God is the ultimate encourage and comforter, and we are to imitate our Heavenly Father and behave in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ.  

God’s command is crystal clear: come alongside your Christian brother and sister and comfort them in times of trouble. We should beacons of kindness and tender compassion to one another and never let the atmosphere of this world harden our hearts. We need each other in the Body of Christ for our spiritual growth and the effective witness of the gospel.

The third command in I Thessalonians 5:14 is to “help the weak.”  The Greek word for “help” means to hold fast to, to cleave to, to hold firmly and support. It is to hold tightly and tenaciously. It expresses a strong sense of attachment that demonstrates loyalty, devotion and love.  In other verses it describes holding fast to the faithful Word (Titus 1:9) and our full devotion to serving God rather than worldly riches (Matthew 6:24). This word is more than dropping off some can goods at a food pantry. This is not just a stray prayer or a momentary kind thought. It is a deep relational word that expresses a relentless commitment where we are heart to heart and face to face with another person. It is a knitting together of our hearts that we so care for another that we help them through their time of weakness.

It reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan when a certain man was stripped and beat by robbers and left for half dead on the side of the road. The two religious leaders did not want to help, and walked on the other side of the road. It was the cultural outcast Samaritan who binds up his wounds, and cares for him with great compassion. He sacrifices his time, reputation and money to make this man strong again.

This is what it means to love with sacrificial, unconditional agapao love. Jesus was our example of this love where he was moved with compassion towards those who were harassed and helpless (Matthew 9:36). This kind of love is awakens in our heart a sense of value of the person loved. Our agapao love compels us to help one another.  

The Greek word for “weak” means without strength and describes both physical and spiritual weakness. It is to be limited in capacity to do or be something. In Scripture it is used of those that are sick or have a physical infirmity (Matthew 25:43, Acts 4:9. Acts 5:15). In the spiritual arena it is used of weak in faith (trust) (Romans 14:1), weak conscience (I Corinthians 8:7), and weak in the flesh (Matthew 26:41).

As Christians we are not exempt from weakness. We all experience bouts of weakness both physically and spiritually. How are we to respond to weakness in the Body of Christ? Do we condemn and judge others that are weak? Do we give them a good lashing on social media? Do we turn our back on their weakness and associate ourselves with more “spiritually together” people? Absolutely not. We are to tenaciously hold firm to each other and devote ourselves in love to one another. Hiebert in his commentary on I & 2 Thessalonians beautifully states the responsibility of the Christian believer: “Let the strong put their arms around the weak and hold them up. They need to be assured that they are not forgotten or despised because of their helplessness.”[2]

When is the last time you put your arms around a weak brother and sister and held them up in love? How long has it been since we committed ourselves to help each other grow stronger in Christ? When is the last time we touched the physically weak with compassion? Can you remember when you held tightly to those weak in the faith encouraging them instead of condemning them? Or are we just too busy with our daily lives that we forget to love each other? We can become so self-focused that we neglect to help each other when weakness arises in the Body of Christ.

The Word of God in Romans 15:1 admonishes us that “we who are strong in the faith have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of others and not to please ourselves.” Romans 14:7a says “none of us lives for himself.” Can you imagine living a life not for ourselves? Can you envision what a revolutionary impact this would have on the church and the world if we loved God and each other in a greater degree than we love ourselves? We have allowed the “me generation” thinking of selfishness to creep into Christianity where we honor our goals and priorities more than we honor each other. We resent more than we love; we envy more than we serve; we hoard more then what we give. We hold tightly to our pride and ambition rather than each other. In the midst of all these cultural trends of division, arrogance and hatred, God commands us to help the weak.

The fourth command in I Thessalonians 5:14 is to “Be patient with everyone.” The Greek word for “patience” means to exercise self-restraint in the face of provocation of others without retaliation. It is a patient endurance of people even to the point of bearing insult or injury without bitterness or complaint. It is the quality of holding off on getting angry when you find another person’s conduct towards you difficult, bothersome, or exasperating.

There is very little patience in the world today and far too often in the Body of Christ. Our generation specializes in fuming anger, lashing out against all those who disagree with us. We become entrenched in unforgiveness wanting to inflict revenge on all those who dare challenge us. These actions harden our hearts to our brothers and sisters in Christ and bring to a screeching halt our spiritual growth and the opportunity to help others. God has never given up on you, why do you want to give up on each other? We have allowed our hearts to be confirmed to this world as we often speak more insults, than blessings, manifest more hatred than love, and show more indifference than genuine caring. We have lost patience with one another.

The Bible is clear that it is impossible to love one another without patience. It is the first quality of love listed in I Corinthians 13:4. Patience is also a fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22,23 and is produced in our lives as we walk by the spirit. Patience tag teams with the other fruit of the spirit, temperance or self-control, as we must exercise patience endurance of our fellow believers if we are ever to truly walk in love. When it comes to people, we must always be on guard against anger, resentment and bitterness establishing a root in our hearts. As Christians we are not perfect and fall short in our habits and manner of life. Our trust in God often is lacking and we have let fears and anxiety grip our lives. All of us have broken fellowship with God and allowed sin to push us around. But this does not give us the right to be offended with each other and refuse to forgive. This does not give us an open door to retaliate.

God is amazingly patient towards us daily. In fact, without patience God would have given up on us a long time ago.

Exodus 34:6 (REV):  Yahweh passed by before him and proclaimed, “Yahweh! Yahweh, a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in covenant faithfulness and truth.”

Nehemiah 9:17b (REV): But you are a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in covenant faithfulness, and did not forsake them.

The Hebrew phrase “slow to anger” literally means “long of nose” or “long breathing” and paints a picture of God taking in a long breath through the nose letting His anger pass. This is God’s deep breath of patience. God is so patient with us! His patience is always intertwined with His compassion, grace, mercy, faithfulness and truth. It is a fundamental characteristic of His love. The patience of God is a wonderful trait of His character that is foundational to the gift of our salvation and the riches of our glorious inheritance in Christ.

Jesus Christ exercised perfect patience while upon the earth and is a flawless example of patience with people. Many times he endured the ignorance, wrong thinking and pride of his inner circle of disciples without exploding in anger or lashing out with insults. He was patient with the throngs of people who crowded to hear him speak or to experience his healing touch. He was even patient with the religious establishment who attacked him and tried to discredit him. He knew what God had called him to do and patience flowed out of his character even as he was obedient to the suffering, torture and death of the cross. Finally he is extremely patient with us as our resurrected Lord (I Timothy 1:16,17).   

The Apostle Paul is also a tremendous example of supernatural patience with people as he fulfilled his ministry and calling from God. Scripture declares in 2 Corinthians 6:6 that Paul demonstrated himself to be a servant of God by much perseverance, living in the sphere of patience. The Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to closely follow his patience (2 Timothy 2:3:10). Read 1 and 2 Corinthians and see Paul’s great patience with the believers of Corinth who were divisive and jealous, walking in many patterns of sin and ignorance. In Galatia, Philippi, Antioch, Jerusalem and many other cities in the Book of Acts, we see Paul’s loving patience with people. In I Thessalonians 2, among his brothers and sisters in Christ, the Apostle Paul was like a nursing mother tenderly caring for her own children and treated them as a father treats his own children (I Thessalonians 2:7,11). He shared the depth of his soul-his thoughts, feelings and emotions, with the believers because they were beloved to him (I Thessalonians 2:8). This is the heart of patience towards each other in the Body of Christ.

We are to imitate our Heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus Christ and our brother Paul and be patient with each other. Like we put on our clothes every day, God exhorts us to clothe ourselves with patience, seasoned with compassion, kindness, humility and meekness.(Colossians 3:12). With patience we bear with one another in love and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:2;Colossians 3:13). The word “bear with” in the Greek means “to put up with, to tolerate, to endure and to forbear.”

Christianity is not lived in isolation. We are part of the Body of Christ made up of our brothers in sisters from many backgrounds, races and cultures. Believers are people and will often disappoint, irritate. exasperate, frustrate and exhaust us. We are all human and striving to grow more like Christ. Do we become upset, angry and throw up our hands in disgust at each other? No we exercise patience towards every believer in the body of Christ, holding back our emotions, not hurling accusations, but walking in great love and forgiveness. We are not just to occasionally like each other, but we are to love each other like a nursing mother loves her child. We cannot do this in our own strength. The flesh can never produce this type of patience. As we walk by the spirit and are energized by the power of God, this fruit of patience is cultivated in our lives. The world has very little if any patience. It is becoming less tolerant and patient every day. Imagine the revolutionary impact to the Christian church if we were patient with each other instead of trying to bite and devour each other. It would revolutionize the outreach of the gospel and strengthen our unity as the Body of Christ.

The fifth command is in I Thessalonians 5:15 is to “see that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always diligently pursue what is good for one another and for all people.

The Greek word for “see” means to take heed, to beware, be on guard, and to make sure. Hiebert says that this command “implies that watchfulness is necessary to keep the prohibited practice from creeping in. The plural imperative “make sure” is clearly addressed to the church as a whole, not just the leaders. All have a standing duty to see to it that this undesirable practice does not gain entrance. The temptation to retaliate generally comes on the personal level, hence each member must see to it that he on his part does not give in to it.”[3] 

Each Christian believer must be on guard that retaliation and revenge against each other does not creep into our thinking and actions. Retaliation is a dominant characteristic of this age, and we are considered weak unless we forcefully retaliate to every insult or breach of our beliefs. But God commands us that no one in the Body of Christ should retaliate against another believer. It is a forerunner of division and strife and a destroyer of unity in the church of God. 

The Greek word for “repay” means to give back or render what is due. It is in the aorist tense and indicates we must constantly be on guard that there is not one single instance of anyone paying back “wrong for wrong”[4]. The word “evil” in this context means that which is injurious or harmful caused by evil intent. This can be physical or emotional harm that causes pain, sorrow, distress and calamity. 

It is not our business to repay. We don’t give people a bit of their own medicine. God clearly tells us “Vengeance is mine. I will repay” Romans 12:9; Hebrews 10:30. Romans 12:17,19 commands us in no uncertain terms. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil” and “do not avenge yourselves.” There are no exceptions. I Peter 3:9a says “Do not repay evil for evil, or insult for insult, but on the contrary, give a blessing, for to this you were called…” God called us to bless and edify each other, not insult each other.  

God does not value who gets the last zinger in. We should never act with an intent to injure or harm our fellow Christian believer. Accusation, disdain, and finger-pointing flow out of the sin nature like a mighty river. We cannot allow these powerful emotions to rattle our soul and take root in our hearts. The world loves a good insult, but we guard against this dangerous desire to retaliate. We cannot give into this temptation to repay evil for evil and insult for insult or we become a catalyst for division in the Body of Christ.

Life is not always fair, and we cannot get into the habit of becoming offended and lashing out in anger every time we feel we have been wronged. People can talk about you behind their back, falsely accuse you, unfairly treat you, ignore you, and refuse to listen to you. What is our response? “To diligently pursue what is good for another and all people.” The Greek word for “diligently pursue” means to press hard after, pursuing with earnestness in order to obtain. At all times and occasions, we are to diligently pursue good for one another and all people. “Good” means what is useful and beneficial to others. Galatians 6:10 says that at “every opportunity we should do good to all, but especially to those who are of the household of faith.” We make a special effort to diligently pursue what is useful and beneficial to our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. It must become a priority in our lives. We must become less “me” focused and look rather on how we can be a blessing to others. We must think how we can do what is honorable for each other (Romans 12:10,17).

It begins with the words we speak that should edify and encourage, not tear down and insult. We were created in Christ Jesus to manifest goodness, love and affection to one other. Evil intentions and actions have no place in our relationships. We cannot be ignorant of Satan’s devices by walking in unforgiveness and harboring resentment towards each other. We must replace these emotions with a tender heart full of compassion, love and kindness. It takes humility to diligently pursue what is good for others.

The REV commentary on Galatians 5:13 shares these words of wisdom:

The Body of Christ would be much better off both individually and collectively if Christians would obey God’s command to give other Christians special love and blessings…Sometimes we just don’t take the time to find out how to specifically help other Christians in our day-to-day dealings. But that goes against the teaching of Christ. His new commandment was that we are to love fellow Christians with an elevated and special love, just as he loved us (John 13:34). To do that will take our time and energy, but it is clearly what Christ commanded. There are many verses with specific commands about being focused on our fellow believers and how we can help and bless them rather than being focused on ourselves and our wants, needs, and concerns.[5]

These five commands in I Thessalonians 5:14, 15 are in the present imperative in the Greek which calls for a long term commitment to continually and habitually make these actions our lifestyle. They are not suggestions, but commands. Can you imagine how each one of these commands would revolutionize our Christian fellowships? We would become of one heart and soul with each other and begin to reflect the mighty church in the Book of Acts. The impact would be mind-boggling around the world and the witness of the gospel to all peoples would be exhilarating. 

Endnotes:

[1] The Privy Key of Heaven (A Discourse of Closet Prayer) (London 1655, republished Kessinger Publishing, LLC 2009)

2 D. Edmond Hielbert, I & 2 Thessalonians, (BHM Publishing 1996) pg. 253.

3  Hielbert,  pg. 254.

4  Hielbert,  pg. 254.

5 Revised English Version, Commentary on Galatians 5:13  (Spirit and Truth International 2013)


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It’s Time To Demolish the Strongholds of the Enemy in our Thought Life

One of the greatest sections of Scripture concerning this great war for the thought life of the Christian is in 2 Corinthians:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (10:3–5, KJV)

We all have strongholds in our thinking that must be demolished. We cannot destroy them by the weapons and strategies of the flesh. No psychological counseling, self-help book, or life class can completely annihilate these strongholds without Christ. It is like shooting a BB gun at a Navy battleship. The weapons of the flesh lack the spiritual power to blow these strongholds out of our minds and hearts. These fortresses can only be obliterated by spiritual weapons rooted in Jesus Christ. Only God’s mighty weapons have any chance of tearing down every brick of the strongholds that captivate our hearts.

The Greek word translated “stronghold” means fortress, castle, or prison. It was used in Greek literature to describe a strong military installation and a fortified place. This is the only time this Greek word is found in the New Testament, but the word is found thirty-two times in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. These usages shed some additional light on its meaning.

The first use of this word in the Bible concerns the prison that Joseph was cast into.

Joseph’s boss took him and put him in prison, the place where the men who did wrong against the king were put in chains. So there he was in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him kindness. He gave him favor in the eyes of the man who watched over the prison. (Genesis 39:20–21, NLV)

Remember me when it is well with you, and show me kindness. Say a good word about me to Pharaoh. Get me out of this prison. For I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews. And here also I have done nothing for which they should put me in prison. (Genesis 40:14–15, NLV)

Joseph was an amazing man of faith whose heart was a wonderful example of trust in God even in life’s most difficult circumstances. He was taken away captive from his homeland and unjustly thrust into prison, and his great heart cry has become the cry of every child of God: “Get me out of this prison! Deliver me from this dungeon! Take me away from this stronghold!”

We were all stolen from the Garden of Eden, our true homeland, when Adam and Even sinned. We were thrust into the dungeon of our sin nature, and our hearts became captive to the power and weight of sin.

Joseph was not delivered from the dungeon by his own strength, power, or ability. He was only set free and given a place in authority next to the king because God was with him, and the mercy and favor of God rested upon him.

God sets the pattern in this first use of the word stronghold in the Bible. The only way to be delivered from the dungeons that hold us in captivity is through the mighty power of God. Only God can answer the cry “Free me from this prison and tear down this stronghold!” Only God is strong enough to demolish every stronghold.

What are these strongholds? How are they built? How do they capture our hearts?

A stronghold is an entrenched or fortified way of thinking that has become so engrained into the mind that it produces habits of character and ways of life. These strong fortresses have been built by the brick and mortar of our thoughts. Brick by brick we construct these fortresses by our thinking.

In the Old Testament, the word stronghold was used to describe the fortifications of a city when its builders formed a formidable wall around it for protection. It was constructed to resist all attacks, allowing it to be more easily defended.

In Bible times, a stronghold around a city consisted of stone walls that were often fifteen feet thick and twenty-five feet high. It was extremely difficult for an army to successfully defeat an enemy protected by such a stronghold.

A stronghold represents a place in our minds and hearts where the Enemy has become entrenched and where we have become in bondage to Satan. It becomes a secured sanctuary where the Devil can exercise influence and authority over our lives. It is where the Devil can run his covert operations and wreak havoc in our hearts. It is his military base, where he launches his fiery darts into our hearts in an attempt to steal, kill, and destroy the knowledge of God and the image of Christ from producing fruit in our lives. A stronghold is a point of operation where Satan can keep a person captivated, incapacitated, and under control. It is an emotional, mental, or experiential mind-set that thrusts the heart into bondage and keeps it from growing spiritually in the Lord. It is a mental fortress of wrong thinking.

One of the Hebrew words for “sin” means to slowly twist a fence around a person. Strongholds are like fortresses with huge barbed-wire fences around them, built by the power of sin, with a sign hanging at its entrance that says, “Keep out! This is the property of Satan. No trespassing allowed. This is the realm of darkness, and no light is allowed here. God is not wanted here!”

These strongholds feed off of sin, and the fences grow higher, thicker, and more twisted the more sin dominates our thinking. The heart was never designed to have these barbed wires like fences keep us in mental and spiritual prisons. God wants the heart free from every fortress of bondage.

Strongholds are designed by Satan to enslave us. Their purpose is to keep the life and glory of God from being manifested in our hearts and setting us free to love Him. Strongholds rearrange the boundaries that God has set for our hearts and fence us in, so we live, breathe, and move in captivity. Strongholds are the tool of the Devil to hinder the purposes of God in our lives and destroy our God-given calling. Strongholds are one of the great enemies of the heart. The strategy of the Devil for every man, woman, and child on earth is to build these wicked strongholds in the heart. He marshals all the spiritual forces of his entire kingdom to this end, as each stronghold is cleverly designed to turn the heart away from God.

A stronghold is always rooted in a faulty thinking pattern based on lies and deception that exalts itself above the knowledge of God contained in His Word. Deception is the glue that holds every stronghold together. Every stronghold cleaves to a lie that our thinking patterns have been twisted to believe.

Beth Moore, in Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, says:

Basically, a stronghold is any argument or pretension that “sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” A stronghold is anything that exalts itself in our minds, “pretending” to be bigger and more powerful than God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered. Whether the stronghold is an addiction, unforgiveness toward a person who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it is something that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that abundant life is strangled—our callings remain largely unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective. Needless to say, these are the enemy’s precise goals … Based on my understanding of Scripture, anything that steals, kills or destroys the abundant, fruitful life of a believer can be considered a stronghold of the enemy. [i]

Strongholds can literally rewire our brains if we continue to reinforce toxic and ungodly thoughts. A stronghold can actually be visually viewed in images of the brain. It looks like a huge tree with branches that have spread its root system into the physical structure of the brain. A stronghold is woven into our genetic makeup and even restructures our cells to create emotions that are harmful to our spiritual well-being. These strongholds will imprison us and hold us hostage until they are torn down.

God designed the brain so that we can demolish strongholds and effectively rewire the brain. He also designed the brain so that we have every opportunity to eradicate these toxic thoughts before they become strongholds. If we take control of our thought life, become aware of what we are thinking, and take vigilant watch over our thoughts, these strongholds will wither and fade away. Otherwise, the stronghold can spread its roots deep into the physical brain and become strongly embedded in the heart.

A stronghold can be any area of sin that has risen to dominate our thinking to the point it becomes entrenched in our way of life. What are some of the strongholds that Satan loves to build as fortresses in our hearts?

Fear is a huge stronghold and is the foundation of many other strongholds.

Unbelief is a common stronghold. Every stronghold has at its core a disbelief in the promises and faithfulness of God. Rejecting the truth of Scripture allows false reasoning and erroneous logic to control the thinking process.

Unforgiveness is another colossal stronghold, and many other strongholds grow out of an unwillingness to forgive. If left untreated, unforgiveness becomes a spiritual cancer, poisoning the heart with its root of bitterness. Satan takes immediate advantage of any unforgiveness in our lives and uses it to build powerfully effective strongholds that can crush our heart.

Pride, guilt, lust, greed, depression, covetousness, and addictions are some of the other strongholds that can torment our minds and destroy our hearts. A stronghold is tangible evidence of the pursuit of the unholy in our thought life.

Do these strongholds only afflict the unbeliever who has not accepted Christ? Are they only the problem of the unbelieving world and not the concern of the Christian? Absolutely not! Strongholds and dungeons of captivity are running rampant in the minds of Christians and greatly hindering our walk with God and our Christian growth.

Beth Tirabassi, in Sacred Obsession: What You Chase After You Become, expounds on this enormous problem:

You cannot imagine how many people I meet who say they know God but are broken and confused, hiding their true selves, addicted to a substance, involved in emotional affairs, extremely overweight and battling with food every day, defiantly bitter about something, angry and easily able to wound with their words, abused, trapped, and desperate, obsessed with the illicit, habitual liars, too self-centered to love those who need them, and consumed with chasing after the unholy. They believed the lie that the sacred is not enough. Instead of being obsessed with the sacred … instead of loving God and others with intimacy and intention, instead of being free to dance on the inside or outside, instead of being able to laugh with pure joy and lift their hands with extreme freedom, instead of caring for the needs of others with selfless abandon, instead of being aware of God’s presence, when His blanket of comfort or power comes over them … they are numb … I don’t totally understand the dynamics of every addiction, but I do intimately understand the relentless pursuit which gets a hold of you—almost to the point of complete destruction. And I am guessing that you understand addictive compulsive obsessions too. You’ve felt their impact on someone you love. And you know if you don’t do whatever it takes to get the addiction out of your life; it will consume everything you love. Everything you are.[ii]

In 2 Corinthians 10:4 God commands that these fortresses must be pulled down and eradicated from our hearts. The Greek word for “pulling down” is kathairesis, which means to take down, to destroy, and to bring to extinction.

The first usage of this word in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is enlightening as to the deeper meaning of this word.

You must not worship the gods of these nations or serve them in any way or imitate their evil practices. Instead, you must utterly destroy (kathareisis) them and smash their sacred pillars. You must serve only the Lord your God. (Exodus 23:24-25, NLT)

The root of every stronghold is idolatry—the worship and service of rival gods that have established a fortified dwelling place in our hearts.

We cannot serve the Lord our God if these dungeons of idolatry are dominating our hearts. These strongholds are like tumors that have fastened to our hearts and attempt to utterly consume it. When you are diagnosed with a tumor, you go to the doctor to get it surgically removed so it will be eliminated from your body. Likewise, God does not want one fortified stronghold to remain in our thinking or our hearts.

Do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:27, NIV)

Leave no such room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. (AMP)

In the Greek, this is a present imperative and could literally be translated “Stop giving the devil a foothold in your heart and life!”

The Greek word for “foothold” means territory and a defined area like a district, town or dwelling place. We cannot give the enemy an inch of territory in our thoughts. We cannot give him a dwelling place in our minds. If we give him a foothold, the Devil will aggressively take territory and build fortresses. If we give him a deed of land in our minds, he will stake out more boundaries to control as much real estate as he can. He is a spiritual squatter who attempts to gain legal title to property by a hostile, continuous possession, to the exclusion of its true owner. The owner, through neglect, has failed to protect the land against the actions of its adverse possessor who has treated the land as his own for a significant period of time. Eventually he is recognized by the law as its new owner.

The Devil has no legal right, by the authority of the finished work of Jesus Christ, to occupy one blade of grass in the real estate of our minds. Don’t give him any land on which to build a fortress. Don’t let him establish a military base. Don’t allow him to become the owner of one square inch of your thinking through neglect or inattention.

The Lesson of Jericho

There is a beautiful illustration of this truth in the book of Joshua. When Joshua was about to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land, he faced thirty-one hostile nations that were not about to surrender their territories to the people of God. These hostile empires were thirty-one strongholds, most having heavily fortified cities, and were described as giants in the land of Canaan (Numbers 11:31-33). The Devil placed these nations right in the heart of the Promised Land. If Israel was to inherit the land God had promised them, they would have to defeat these nations and tear down their strongholds.

God told Joshua that not one nation, stronghold, or person could stand against him. Joshua was to courageously advance into enemy territory and conquer every stronghold in the name of God Almighty. God encouraged Joshua to not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God was with Him. God was going to show in spectacular fashion in the presence of His people that no stronghold can stand against His mighty power.

The first kingdom-city that stood in the way of Joshua and all of Israel was Jericho a formidable, heavily fortified city. This stronghold had to be demolished, but human logic and reason would label this task as impossible. Jericho was one of the greatest cities of its day, and was surrounded by a great embankment with a stone retaining wall twelve to fifteen feet high. On top of the retaining wall was a mud-brick wall six feet thick and six to eight feet high. At the crest of the embankment was another mud-brick wall that was forty-six feet above the ground level outside the retaining wall. If you were standing in front of this city, the walls would be close to seven stories high.

This stronghold’s massive fortifications dared any soul, army, or nation to attack it. Joshua could have easily thought, “Are you kidding me? This is impossible! This stronghold is impregnable!” But is anything too hard for God? What people say is impossible, God says is possible with Him! (Luke 18:37).

On the eve of this battle, God Almighty sent Joshua a heavenly visitor to put things in spiritual perspective and to confirm that this stronghold was going to be demolished by God. The Lord of Hosts would fight on the frontlines of battle as a great warrior to tear down every fortress that stood in the way of God’s people entering into the Promised Land.

When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13–15, NIV)

God sent the commander of His army, the captain of the Lord’s mighty host, to show Joshua that this battle to tear down the stronghold of Jericho was God’s battle. These walls would only come down through the mighty weapons of God Almighty.

God does not engage in battle to lose. He is always victorious and He never fails on the battlefield, no matter how formidable the enemy. Our God is a warrior against every evil stronghold and He always brings overwhelming victory to His children who trust and obey Him and absolute defeat to all those who oppose Him.

God’s plan to demolish this stronghold did not include battering rams, or a massive frontal attack of troops, or some otherworldly tactic of war. His weapons made it one of the most unconventional battles in the history of the world. Only God could get the glory and praise for this type of battle plan. Only He could win this war.

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day. While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priest shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction. (Joshua 3:5; 4:23–24; 5:8–10; 6:2–7, 18a, ESV)

It was by faith that the walls of Jericho collapsed, for the people had obeyed God’s command to encircle them for seven days. (Hebrews 11:30, PHILLIPS)

The Battle of Jericho: 8 Keys to Demolish Strongholds

In the battle of Jericho God sets forth the pattern of how we should approach the tearing down of every stronghold in our minds and hearts.

Come out of the Wilderness

First, if we want God to deal with our strongholds, we must come out of the wilderness of sin and the world. We cannot have wilderness thinking and lifestyles and expect our strongholds to come tumbling down. Actually, the opposite happens. The strongholds built by sin strengthen their fortifications in our hearts as long as we play with the golden calf in the wilderness. We wander about in spiritual blindness and stumble in the darkness, not knowing where we are going, as long as our hearts treasure the wilderness more than they treasure God. We must follow Jesus and let Him lead us out of the wilderness and into the promised land of a new life in Him.

We must never turn our gaze back to longing for the wilderness. We must fix our eyes on our Lord. We should seek His face, hunger for His presence, passionately pursue Him as our first love, and walk out of a past dead in trespasses and sins into the transforming power of our awesome God.

Consecrate Yourselves

The second thing we must do to tear down any stronghold is to consecrate ourselves. The Hebrew word translated “consecrate” is qadash, which means to be set apart, sanctified, holy and pure, and is used to describe what is set aside for God’s purposes. Qadash is to be completely dedicated to God for His glorification. It is a holy separation, where we pursue the sacred and consecrate all to Him. Our actions, words, and thoughts become instruments for His glory. Everything in our lives is set-aside for Him.

We must not conform to the world’s way of thinking or mold our lives after the fleeting mind-set of this age. We must boldly come out from among the world in our thought life, and separate our thinking from the evil spiritual atmosphere that has been orchestrated by the Prince of the Power of the Air in every area of society.

Becky Tirabassi says in Sacred Obsession:

We have allowed culture to consume us and make us like it. The average Western Christian is much more like his culture than his God … We have become incredibly ineffective as children of the King—no longer considered by ourselves or others as a holy, set–apart people of the living, loving God.[iii]

Do not allow the culture to consume your thought life and make it a wasted opportunity for the King of Glory. Our thinking must live under the banner of holy separation from the evil of this world. When we consecrate our thoughts to Him, God can tear down the strongholds caused by destructive thinking. The presence of God should penetrate our thoughts like beautiful rays of sunshine breaking forth in celebration of a new day. We must renew our minds by bringing our thinking to a new quality that is branded by God as pure, selfless, and compassionate.

What label would characterize your thinking? Would it be the brand of Christ or the brand of the flesh? Would it characterize the beauty of God or the ugliness of sin? It is time we examine our thought life to see what label it carries. Our earnest desire and driving passion should be that God is glorified by our thinking. We should be passionate to consecrate our thought life to the glory of God, for no stronghold can withstand the power of a consecrated thought life dedicated to the honor, praise, and majesty of our God.

Our Spiritual Circumcision in Christ

Thirdly, for God to tear down the strongholds in our minds, we must boldly stand in our spiritual circumcision in Christ under the new covenant, allowing God to circumcise the old ways of the flesh from our hearts. In that circumcision, the flesh will be pulled away from its grip on the heart and the power of sin broken in Christ and rendered inoperative. We do not need to have a slave’s habitual obedience to the flesh anymore. This circumcision is the enablement to break free from all sin, and to live in the freedom of our new life in Christ.

At the foundation of every stronghold is the carnal thinking of our flesh, fed by our sin nature. We can claim the benefits of the new covenant, which freed us from the power of sin controlling our lives and its relentless building of strongholds in our hearts. We can now walk by the Spirit of God and allow its holy work within us of burning the chaff, tearing down strongholds, and purifying our hearts.

Communion: The Power in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ

Fourthly, for the stronghold to be demolished, we need to know and believe the amazing power in the body and blood of Jesus Christ memorialized in the communion ceremony. Just like the Israelites who observed Passover before the walls of Jericho came crashing down, we can walk in the magnificent power of our redemption, accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The power of Satan to maintain strongholds in our hearts was permanently broken, crushed, and defeated at the cross, and His authority to rule our lives was overthrown and destroyed by our Lord Jesus.

Every captivity that has held the heart a prisoner in its strongholds has been blown to smithereens by Jesus Christ. No stronghold can stand against the blood of Jesus Christ. No stronghold can stand against the body of Jesus Christ. Our salvation is so complete that it can tear down the walls of any physical, mental, or spiritual stronghold, no matter how long it has been rooted and engrained in our hearts. When He cried out on the cross, “It is finished,” He was declaring the death sentence for every stronghold that has ever held us captive and oppressed our hearts. When the angel declared, “He is risen!” it was a heavenly declaration of a new age for all those who choose to believe.

Salvation is now available through Jesus Christ. In this salvation there is no room for the old strongholds to continue to plague and control our lives. Praise God there is a new freedom in Christ from every stronghold. The power of the Holy Spirit can reduce these fortresses to ashes in the unquenchable fire of God’s holy presence.

We must elevate our thinking to our heavenly position in Christ. Our thoughts must be filled with the truth of our redemption in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus if these strongholds are to come tumbling down.

The Battle is Not Yours but God’s

The fifth truth illustrated in the battle of Jericho is to realize that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s. Joshua saw the commander of the host of heaven’s armies, and he had no doubt that the mighty God of Israel was going to fight for His people and bear His mighty arm against Jericho.

Only by the powerful weapons He has given us, like prayer and the sword of the Spirit, can we engage in this battle. Trust God to bring these strongholds to nothing. Believe God is our warrior and cry out in victory, “If God be for me, if God be on my side, what stronghold can stand against me?” Even if the wall is seven stories high and seems impossible to overcome, our God created the heavens and earth and can demolish any stronghold.

No stronghold can stand against the Almighty God! He will simply breathe on any stronghold and its walls will crumble. Believe in your awesome God. Trust in your Almighty God with unwavering devotion. Know that He is faithful to demolish every stronghold.

We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with us and in us, and we have nothing to fear. Never let unbelief in God and His Word raise its ugly head and take root in your heart. Unbelief is the fuel of every stronghold. It is the great enemy that will try to overtake your thinking patterns.

The altar of unbelief is established in the heart through our thought life. We cannot succumb to thoughts that God does not care, that He doesn’t deliver, and that He is not trustworthy. Unbelief doubts the character of our God and allows the Devil to build strongholds of unbelief in our hearts.

Unbelief doubts the integrity and accuracy of the God-breathed Word of God.

When unbelief toward God and His Word is demolished in our thinking, the miraculous God can rise up and do His mighty work of destroying these fortresses so they no longer control our lives. We must lay every single battle to demolish these strongholds at the feet of our God and let Him arise in our hearts and take out these bastions of the Enemy.

The Ark of the Covenant: The Power of God’s Word and Presence

The sixth truth is, just as the Ark of the Covenant was marched around the walls of Jericho for seven days, we can take the Word of God and march it around every stronghold, confessing its truth and claiming its power. The Word of God is the mighty weapon in our thinking that will tear down the bricks of unbelief, fear, and doubt that have built their strongholds in our minds. We must know the Word, meditate on the Word, confess the Word, and believe the Word if these strongholds are ever to come down.

God declares in Jeremiah 23:29 (HCSB): “Is not My word like fire … and like a hammer that pulverizes rock?” The holy fire of God’s Word will melt any stronghold. The mighty power of God’s Word will pulverize the walls of any mental fortress. The hammer of God’s Word is the great weapon to demolish all these strongholds. This is why the Word of God must live and abide in our thought life.

The great philosophies and religions of the world are like a plastic toy hammer against these strongholds. They are powerless to bring the walls down. Only God’s holy Word, which He has magnified above all His name (Psalm 138:2), can crush these fortresses that have established residency in our hearts.

The ark also represented the presence of God, where God lived and met His people. When God is present, strongholds dissolve and crumble. No stronghold can remain in the light of His presence. We must hunger after God’s presence to be a living reality in our hearts. We must practice the presence of God in our thought life if these strongholds are to dissolve. God is calling us to carry His presence into battle and let our hearts be a living ark that radiates the glory of God Almighty.

Do you hunger after God’s presence like a newborn bird craves food from its mother? Do you pant for God’s presence like a thirsty deer pants for water? Do you know that God is with you and in you every moment of the day? It is time we set the glory of God’s presence before the walls of every stronghold that captivates our minds and holds us in bondage.

Tell the stronghold that you want to introduce it to the Almighty God whose power and majesty is beyond measure. These dungeons of bondage melt when they touch the glory of our God. God cries out to us like He did in Isaiah 45:2, “I will go before you and level the mountains. Bronze doors I will shatter, and iron bars I will snap!” Our mighty God will level every fortress and shatter every stronghold that stands in defiance of His truth if we only let Him. Let the weapon of God’s holy presence be carried into battle for the destruction of these strongholds and stand still and see the salvation of our Lord. When God is vitally present in our thinking, then the victory is assured over every stronghold that has ever tormented our lives and held sway over our hearts. The trumpets of God must once again sound in our hearts announcing to the world that the presence of God has arrived and the judgment of destruction on every stronghold has been pronounced from the throne of God.

Have Unshakeable Faith in God and His Word

The seventh truth is to have faith in God and His Word. Only by the exercise of faith can God move into action and accomplish the impossible. Our faith rests on the truth that with God all things are possible and nothing is too hard for Him. Strongholds are so prevalent in the hearts of Christians because there is a vast shortage of believers who have childlike faith that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. We have more faith in the power of the enemy to defeat us than in the power of God to deliver us. Faith is an unwavering trust and confidence in our God that he will never fail us. It is to be fully persuaded that what God has promised, He is able to perform. No stronghold is demolished without faith. Strongholds arise when there is unbelief dominant in our thinking.

Faith always begins at the thought level. The strongholds of Satan will sift our hearts like wheat if we don’t have strong faith and confidence in our God. Take the shield of faith into battle against these strongholds to quench all the fiery javelins of the wicked one.

Faith not only tears down strongholds in our hearts, but also prevents new strongholds from finding a dwelling place in our minds. Faith comes by hearing the mighty promises of the Word of God and believing what God has spoken. God does not lie. His promises are always true. His promises cannot fail. As Jesus proclaimed again and again: “O ye of little faith! Why do you doubt?”

Our entire culture is designed to build fear and unbelief in the promises of God and God’s true character. We have made God too small; our vision is too mundane and we do not understand the greatness of our God. Strongholds abound as our faith is miniscule and shipwrecked on the island of doubt, worry, and fear. Truth faith has absolute confidence that God is able and willing to bring about the miraculous and the extraordinary in our lives. True faith has absolute confidence no matter how high the walls, that it can demolish any stronghold that grips our thinking with fear. True faith not only moves mountains, but it smashes strongholds into pieces. Faith is the key ingredient to keep our hearts healthy and free from these fortresses of bondage.

Wait on the Lord

The last truth in the Battle of Jericho is that we must wait on the Lord. God did not move to demolish the walls of Jericho until the seventh day. The Israelites were commanded to wait patiently for their God and not even utter a word until God’s appointed time. They were not to analyze God’s battle plans or have discussion groups about the best way for God to handle the situation. They were not to hand God an agenda and a timetable to try to get His approval. They were to be still in their thoughts, hearts and mouths and see the mighty salvation of the Lord.

God does not need an advisor. God does not need a counselor. God does not need a time scheduler. God needs people who will simply trust, obey, and wait for Him to act. Isaiah 64:4 boldly promises that God acts on behalf of those who trust in Him.

One of the most beautiful acts of faith in our Lord is to wait on Him for we know He is never late. God’s timing is always perfect. Many strongholds fail to crumble because we get inpatient with God as our flesh takes over and we take matters in our own hands. We attempt to tear down the stronghold in our own strength and worldly wisdom. It never works. It is like trying to destroy a military installation with a bb gun. It is a recipe for failure and never effective in demolishing strongholds in our hearts. Strongholds can never come down until we learn to wait upon the Lord and move when He moves and act when He acts, and faithfully follow His triumphant battle plan.

It is absolutely essential if strongholds are to be demolished and our heart set free, that we cultivate thinking patterns of waiting on the Lord. We cannot let anxiety and fear control our thinking where we develop an “I want it now” mindset and fail to wait on our God. We have become such an inpatient generation and we hate to wait on anything. But as in any battle, any movement of troops made in haste against the commands of its general, leads to disaster and often a crushing defeat. The soldier must trust the general’s heart and His commands and not allow his thinking to commit rebellion against his commander-in-chief.

The nature of our flesh does not want to wait on anyone. The flesh is incredibly impatient, demanding, and arrogant as to its ways. The flesh never understands the great truth of God’s faithfulness. The flesh deceives us into thinking we do not have to wait upon the Lord. Don’t make this disastrous decision to the health of your heart by following the flesh’s advice.

Waiting on the Lord is to trust in His faithfulness. Waiting on the Lord is to trust in His promises. Waiting on the Lord is to place our hope only in Him. God will absolutely never fail to perform what He has promised. He cannot lie. He did not stutter when He promised to demolish every stronghold if we trust Him and do what He has told us to do.

We should be like David who cried out in the Psalms 62:5: “My soul only waits on God for my expectation is from Him.” and in Psalm 25:5: “Lead me in thy truth and teach me for you are the God of my salvation and on you I wait all the day long.” David was a man after God’s own heart because his soul waited on the Lord day and night and his hope rested in the Lord.

David set forth the keys on waiting on the Lord in Psalm 37 which is to first trust in the Lord, then delight in the Lord, then commit our way to the Lord and then rest in the Lord. The actions of trusting, delighting, committing and resting, prepares our heart to wait patiently for the Lord. No matter how long it may take, we wait on the Lord for He will bring deliverance and salvation from every stronghold that captivates our hearts. He is our expectation. He is our hope. He is our confidence. Never get discouraged. Never lose heart. Never give up.

The Hebrew word for “wait” is qavah and it means to wait with breathless anticipation and to earnestly look towards something with great expectation. Qavah also means to be gathered together in unity. It comes from the root meaning to twist and bind together like a rope, which becomes strong as many strands are intertwined together. When we wait on God our heart becomes knit together in strength with God and like a mighty rope our heart becomes intertwined with the very heart of God and everything He is. We become one in purpose and in action. We are bound together in a loving union of trust and confidence. We wait in eager expectation for we are excited to stand still and see how the magnificent God of wonders will act. There is no “maybe” or “perhaps” in waiting for the Lord for we have absolute confidence in God. When we wait upon the Lord a wonderful transformation of our heart takes place where the shackles of doubt are replaced with an unwavering confidence in God.

As Christians we have had too many walls of Jericho in our hearts for far too long. Fortresses stand in the way of the glory of God being manifested in our hearts. We have betrayed our hearts by allowing these strongholds to remain deeply rooted, distorting the image of Christ. As Saul lost his kingdom because he failed to eliminate the Amalekites, we have lost the true king from reigning on the throne of our hearts because we have failed to tear down the fortresses of our flesh. God is crying out to us daily: “Remove these strongholds from my dwelling place!” They have no right to be there. They must be demolished if God is to rule in our hearts.

[i] Beth Moore, Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds (Nashville: B& H Publishing Group, 2009), 3, 14, 15.

[ii] Beth Tirabassi, Sacred Obsession: What You Chase After You Become, (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006), 6, 7, 11.

[iii] Ibid., 123.

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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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