Nothing the World Offers Compares to Biblical Peace

Webster defines PEACE as a “state (not an attitude but a condition of one’s heart) of stillness and serenity, of freedom from disquieting, agitating, anxious thoughts and a condition of harmony in relationships.” The Greek word for PEACE is EIRENE from the verb EIRO which means to join or bind together that which has been broken, divided or separated! Eirene is the root of our English word “serene” (free of storms or disturbance, marked by utter calm). EIRENE literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which has been separated, the result being that the separated parts are set at one again. Our common English expression “having it all together” speaks of everything in place and as it ought to be, a good description of BIBLICAL PEACE. When things (or people) are disjointed, there is lack of harmony and absence of an inner sense of well-being. When things (or people) are joined together, there is a sense of harmony, well-being and freedom from inner turmoil. PEACE can also describe cessation of war – “war” describes the state of all mankind in Adam (Ro 5:12note) because before salvation we were enemies of God (Ro 5:10-note) and our peace with Him was broken. When we believed in Jesus by grace thru faith we were transferred from our old position in Adam to our new, eternal position of peace with God in Christ (1Cor 15:22-sermon). As Paul explained “having been justified by faith, we have PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro 5:1note)

Matthew Henry once asked “What peace can they have who are not at peace with God?” answering that “Peace is such a precious jewel, that I would give anything for it but truth.” Amen!

ONE HEART!

One of the best illustrations of BIBLICAL PEACE I have ever encountered is from missionary Jim Walton who was translating the New Testament for the Muinane people of La Sabana in the jungles of Colombia. However, Jim was having trouble translating the word PEACE. About this same time (don’t you love the PROVIDENCE of God!), Fernando, the village chief, was promised a 20-minute plane ride to a location that would have taken him 3 days to travel by walking. The plane was delayed in arriving at La Sabana, so Fernando departed on foot. When the plane finally came, a runner took off to bring Fernando back. But by the time he had returned, the plane had left. Fernando was furious (loss of peace) because of the mix-up. He went to Jim and launched into an angry tirade. Fortunately, Walton taped the chief’s diatribe and later when he translated it, he discovered that the chief kept repeating the phrase, “I don’t have ONE HEART.” Jim asked other villagers what having “ONE HEART” meant, and he found that it was like saying, “There is nothing between you and the other person.” Walton realized that God had just given him the picture he needed to translate the word PEACE into their language! To have peace with God means that there is nothing–no sin, no guilt, no condemnation–that separates us from God, PEACE possible only through Christ, Paul writing “having been justified (declared eternally in right standing before God) by faith, we have PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ro 5:1note).

Do you have “ONE HEART” with God today?

Outside of Christ there is no peace.

Only those in Christ know peace!

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India wrote, “Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace…If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you know what His will is.”

Indeed as Thomas Watson said “The seeming PEACE a sinner has is not from the knowledge of his happiness but the ignorance of his danger.” D L Moody adds that “A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it.”

BIBLICAL PEACE describes that state of inner repose and quietness, even (especially) in adverse circumstances, which indicates that this peace is not natural but must be a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, a truth that Paul affirms writing that “the fruit of the Spirit is…PEACE” (Gal 5:22-note) It follows that we can possess “ONE HEART” because God is able to give us His peace even when our lives seem to be “falling to pieces.” Have you experienced His supernatural peace that surpasses all human understanding (Php 4:7note)? How can we experience this glorious peace? We experience this peace by learning to surrender to the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

As Kenneth Wuest explains this blessed “state of untroubled, undisturbed tranquility and well being is produced in the heart of the yielded saint by the Holy Spirit. We have this peace to the extent that we are yielded to the Spirit and are intelligently conscious of and dependent upon His ministry for us.” (Wuest, K. S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)

Alexander Maclaren adds that this “PEACE comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of” Christ.

Jesus promised His fearful little flock

PEACE I leave with you. MY PEACE (“the imperturbable, inviolable peace of Jesus imparted to us in every detail of our lives”-Oswald Chambers) I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Note that Jesus is saying that His peace is the “divine balm” for a troubled and fearful heart!) (John 14:27)

Comment: See 3 Spurgeon sermons on this passage – Spiritual PeaceThe Best of MastersThe Cause and Effect of Heart Trouble

As Amy Carmichael (who lived in the midst of troubling circumstances as a woman missionary in India) testified, “The PEACE of Jesus stood every sort of test, every strain, and it never broke. It is this, His very own PEACE, which He says ‘I give.’” And so we see that the peace that Jesus gives is not a guarantee of the absence of trouble, but instead is the promise that He is there with us in and thru the storm (Cf “The waves were breaking over the boat…and HE HIMSELF was in the stern”-Mk 4:37-38-sermon). While sometimes Jesus chooses to calm the storm as when He declared “PEACE, BE STILL” (Mk 4:39KJV), at other times He lets the storm rage and calms His child by giving His peace that transcends human understanding. Regardless, as Oswald Chambers says “No matter how complicated the circumstances may be, one moment of contact with Jesus and the fuss is gone, the panic is gone, all the shallow emptiness is gone, and His PEACE is put in, absolute tranquility, because of what He says—“All power is given unto Me.”

Jesus again repeated the truth about His peace to His fearful disciples declaring “These things (John 13-16) I have spoken to you, that IN ME you may have PEACE. In the world you have tribulation (affliction, trouble), but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33-Spurgeon sermon) Observe the phrase “IN ME” which signifies that Jesus’ peace is not just His PROMISE (which it is) but even better, PEACE is the PERSON of Christ Himself! (cf Eph 2:14-noteMicah 5:5-note)

Now may the LORD OF PEACE HIMSELF continually grant you PEACE in EVERY (Greek means “all” w/o exception!) circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” (2Th 3:16Spurgeon sermon). Indeed “Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace.” Pause and meditate a few moments on God’s perfect peace in Christ as you sing this great hymn to Him…

Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.
Francis Havergal

When we keep our MIND fixed (stayed) on the LORD OF PEACE, He gives us His PEACE OF MIND for as a man or woman thinks in their heart so they are (Pr 23:7a).

Great GOD OF PEACE by Your Spirit cause our hearts to BE STILL, and grant us Your grace to understand BIBLICAL PEACE so that we might know the blessedness of this peace by personal possession and practice, in the Name of Christ Jesus our Peace, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6sermon) and the God of Peace Who will soon crush Satan under His feet. (Ro 16:20note) Amen

Dearly beloved, is your SOUL troubled (lacking His peace)? After you have meditated on the truth about God’s Peace, take a moment to sing prayerfully to your SOUL (cf similar exhortation in Ps 42:5-note) the beautiful Selah hymn medley

Be Still” and “What a Friend we Have in Jesus

BE STILL, MY SOUL: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
BE STILL, MY SOUL: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
BE STILL MY SOUL the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below
Oh what PEACE we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
BE STILL MY SOUL.

BIBLICAL PEACE
Part 2

PEACE (eirene from eiro = to join together) is not just the absence of hostility and strife (which it is!) but also describes the situation where two are brought together and there is no long anything between them to cause friction or create a barrier. As missionary Jim Walton discovered, BIBLICAL PEACE was beautifully described by the natives as a person who possessed “ONE HEART” (see above). When things (people, God and man) are “disjointed,” there is lack of harmony (a DIVIDED HEART) and a loss of a sense of well-being, but when they are joined together, there is ONE HEART that can supernaturally sing

“IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!”

PEACE WITH GOD should be distinguished from PEACE OF GOD. The former is forever, equates with justification and is the position (standing, possession) of every believer, while the latter is associated with sanctification (daily growth in Christlikeness), is experiential and manifest by inward tranquility (freedom from agitation, disturbance, turmoil) of one’s soul but sadly an experience that can be “stolen” from our heart, especially by the “thieves” named fear, anxiety and worry.

I Will Be Still and Know You Are God
Don Moen

Hide me now, under Your wings,
Cover me, within Your mighty hand.
When oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will soar with You above the storm.
Father, You are King over the flood,
And I will be still and know
You are God.

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone.
Know His pow’r
In quietness and trust.

PEACE WITH GOD: Paul writes that “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1Cor 15:22-Spurgeon sermon) And so when we were in Adam “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1-note, cf Ro 5:12-note) we were not at PEACE WITH GOD for we were “alienated and hostile in mind (“hostile toward God” Ro 8:7-note), engaged in evil deeds” (Col 1:21-note). BUT JESUS “made PEACE (WITH GOD) thru the blood of the Cross” (Col 1:20-note), so that now “having been justified (declared legally in right standing before God) by faith, we (forever) have PEACE WITH (“face to face” before) GOD thru our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ro 5:1-note). Indeed, even while “We were enemies, we were RECONCILED (taken from a state of enmity to a state of peace which restored our relationship) to God thru the death of His Son” (Ro 5:10-note) Who thereby made us God’s “children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Ro 8:17-note), yea, even eternal heirs of the precious prize of PEACE WITH GOD.

As Spurgeon explains that “There is no quarrel now between God and those who are in Christ Jesus. PEACE is made between them. The middle wall that stood between them is taken away (for “now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ, for He Himself is our peace, Who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.” Eph 2:13-14-note). Christ, by His “one sacrifice for sins for all time,” (Heb 10:12), has made peace for all His people, and has effectually established a union (oneness in Christ) that will never be broken.” Amen! Hallelujah!

PEACE OF GOD: As noted this “genre” of divine peace can rise and fall proportionate to disturbances from fear, anxiety or worry. Little wonder that these thieves can steal our peace, for ANXIOUS is derived from the Latin angere meaning to strangle while WORRY is related to German wurgen which also means to strangle! Is this not what anxiety and worry do to disturb the PEACE OF GOD in our heart and mind? But God has not left us without “the way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13-note) when we encounter these “peace breakers.” Under the inspiration of the Spirit, Paul writes

BE ANXIOUS (command – present imperative with negative = stop doing this or don’t begin!) for NOTHING(Paul’s circumstances? An “anxiety producing” prison cell!), but in EVERYTHING (not just the “big things” – nothing too small to bring to God) by PRAYER (includes the ideas of adoration and worship of God) and SUPPLICATION (sincere, earnest sharing of our needs and problems) with THANKSGIVING (A Spirit enabled God aligned attitude of gratitude. cf 1 Thessalonians 5:18note) let your requests BE MADE KNOWN to God (Of course He knows them, but this is an act of humbling ourselves before Him, knowing He is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6-note). And the PEACE OF GOD, which SURPASSES ALL COMPREHENSION (Why? In short, it is supernatural in nature and origin, a gift of grace from the God of peace and a gift that “keeps on giving” in spite of adverse circumstances or people, which is simply incomprehensible to non-believers and even mysterious to believers who are surprised at the presence of peace and lack of anxiety even though they are in trials or tribulations!), shall GUARD (God’s “supernatural soldier” standing on guard duty over) your HEARTS and your MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS (Don’t miss this last phrase –in Christ Jesus– we are safe in Him Who is Peace Personified) (See study of phrases in Christ and in Christ Jesus).” (Php 4:6notePhil 4:7note)

So what is the divine “antidote” for peace stealers? It is a command to stop worrying and start praying with thankful hearts. “Careful for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything!” (Moody) Warren Wiersbe helps us understand this command noting that “It is not enough for us to tell ourselves to “quit worrying” because that will never capture the thief (worry the greatest thief). Worry is an “inside job,” and it takes more than good intentions to get the victory.” The only way to obey this command is by jettisoning self reliance and self effort and casing ourselves wholly on the Spirit of Christ to give us the desire and the power (see Php 2:13note)

Spurgeon adds we must supplement

No care with all prayer….Carry our desires to the Lord of our life, the guardian of our 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.

Remember that the Greek word for PEACE is eirene which describes the joining together of that which has been separated while ANXIETY is the polar opposite the Greek word describing a mind which is pulled apart or drawn in different directions! As Wiersbe says

Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears pull us the opposite direction; and we are pulled apart!

The ANTIDOTE for this “ANTITHESIS” is grateful prayer leading to God’s PEACE which counters all ANXIETY!Indeed, care (anxiety) and prayer are as mutually opposed as fire and water so by turning our CARES into PRAYERS we throw them upon Him Who gives us in return His peace, the PEACE OF GOD that GUARDS us like a soldier over the two areas that create anxiety, our heart (wrong feelings) and our mind (wrong thinking) while the GOD OF PEACE GUIDES us step by step (Php 4:9note)!

Spurgeon adds that the PEACE OF GOD is

God’s Own peace. You shall not be able to understand the peace which you shall enjoy. It will enfold you in its infinite embrace. Heart and mind through Christ Jesus shall be steeped in a sea of rest. Come life or death, poverty, pain, slander, you shall dwell in Jesus above every ruffling wind or darkening cloud. Will you not obey this dear command? Yes, Lord, I do believe thee; BUT, I beseech thee, HELP MINE UNBELIEF.

John MacArthur adds that “The real challenge of the Christian life is not to eliminate EVERY unpleasant circumstance; it is to TRUST in the good purpose of our infinite, holy, sovereign, powerful God in EVERY difficulty. Those who honor Him by trusting Him will experience the blessings of His perfect peace. (MacArthur, J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press)

When circumstances arise that try to pull our hearts away from God and His SURPASSING PEACE, the psalmist offers us a great prayer

Teach me Your way O LORD and I will walk in Your truth. GIVE ME AN UNDIVIDED HEART, (Give me “ONE HEART” ~ PEACE) that I may fear Your Name.” (Ps 86:11NIV-note) Amen.

Spurgeon agrees noting that “Our minds are apt to be DIVIDED between a variety of objects, like trickling streamlets which waste their force in a hundred runnels; our great desire should be to have all our life floods poured into one channel and to have that channel directed towards the Lord alone. A man of DIVIDED heart is weak, the man of one object is the man. God Who created the bands of our nature can draw them together, tighten, strengthen, and fasten them, and so braced and inwardly knit by His uniting grace, we shall be powerful for good, but not otherwise. To fear God is both the beginning, the growth, and the maturity of wisdom, therefore should we be UNDIVIDEDLY given up to it, heart, and soul.”

Now the GOD OF PEACE, (cf Ro 15:33Ro 16:201Co 14:332Co 13:11Php 4:91Th 5:23) Who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, EQUIP you (Greek = mend what is broken, restoring to former useful condition, making us whole and what we ought to be) in every good thing TO DO His will (our responsibility), (enabled supernaturally by His Spirit Who is continually) working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, thru Jesus Christ, to Whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21-note)

The PEACE OF GOD comes when the Spirit of Christ controls our internal being whatever our external circumstances. The worst ocean storm never goes more than fifty feet deep. Gales rip across the Atlantic and cause waves a hundred feet high, but far below the water is calm as a pond on a sunny day in June. In the same way the PEACE OF GOD which surpasses all understanding keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus in the midst of all storms and perils.

Horatio Spafford understood this metaphor, for his only son died of scarlet fever in 1870, his investment in real estate in 1871 burned to the ground that same year in the great Chicago fire, and then in 1873 he was devastated by the news that all 4 of his daughters had died in a shipwreck in the Atlantic. Later, as he was in route to Europe to meet his wife who had survived, he was shown the spot in the mid-Atlantic where his daughters had perished, and was suddenly overwhelmed by an inrush of SUPERNATURAL PEACE (the PEACE OF GOD). With tears streaming down his face, Spafford picked up a pen to record his feelings and from his heart filled with the  Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18noteGalatians 5:22noteIsaiah 28:3) and His gracious gift of a deep inner peace peace of God prompting the timeless words “It is well with my soul”.

Play and pray this great Hillsong hymn medley

When PEACE like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say,
‘IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL’

Courtesy of https://www.preceptaustin.org/biblical_peace#Peace

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New Insights into the Birth of Jesus

An old and familiar part of the Christmas story goes like this: Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem shortly before the birth of Jesus. [1] The night they arrived in Bethlehem there were no rooms available in the local inns, and so Joseph and Mary had to make a place for themselves in a local stable, where Mary gave birth to Jesus and then laid him in a manger, a feeding trough for the animals.

The picture painted by the above part of the Christmas story is not a pretty one. It paints a cold and selfish picture of the people of Bethlehem. Most people of every age and culture go out of their way to help women in need, but somehow the people of Bethlehem closed their doors to this young woman about to give birth. Is that really the picture of the birth of Christ that the Word of God paints for us? We will see that there is a joyful picture of giving in the Christmas story that has been hidden from the eyes of many Christians, but which shows the true heart of Christmas: giving to others from a joyful heart.

The modern Christian understanding of the birth of Jesus comes largely from extra-biblical works and traditions imported into the Gospels, rather than the biblical record itself. Much misinformation came from a document that was widely circulated in the early centuries of the Christian era. It is referred to by scholars as the Protevangelium of James, and was likely written in the third century A.D. [2] The Protevangelium is the first document scholars are aware of that refers to Jesus being born close to Mary’s arrival in Bethlehem, though it says Jesus was born in a cave before Joseph and Mary even reached Bethlehem. Sadly, in ancient times as well as today, people seem to pay more attention to what people say about the Bible than what the Bible itself says.

We do not know how large a part the Protevangelium played in developing the tradition that Mary gave birth to Jesus the night she and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem. However, we do know that the traditional belief became easier to sustain as the center of Christian culture moved to Europe, where day-to-day life was quite different from life in Palestine.

Arrival in Bethlehem

When we read the Bible carefully, even in most English versions, we see that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem for an unspecified number of days before Mary gave birth.

Luke 2:6 (KJV)
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

It is clear from Luke 2:6 that Joseph and Mary did not arrive in Bethlehem the night she gave birth, but days earlier. Mary gave birth “while they [she and Joseph] were there [in Bethlehem],” and the verse specifically says “days.” When the word “days” is used in the plural in the New Testament, it always refers to “days” literally or a period of time. Had Joseph and Mary arrived the day Mary gave birth, the text would have used “day” or “hours,” not the plural “days.” New Testament scholars know this. For example, R. C. H. Lenski writes: “This [the day Jesus was born] was not the day of Joseph’s and Mary’s arrival….” [3] Nevertheless, as usual, scholarship does not often have the power to overturn tradition, with its well-entrenched stories, songs, and paintings.

If Joseph and Mary had been staying in Bethlehem before Jesus was born, how is it that they had not found adequate lodging? Why give birth in a stable and lay Jesus in a manger? Oops, the Bible never says the birth was in a stable—that is tradition. If for some reason Bethlehem was so totally filled with guests and visitors that no one would open their homes to Joseph and Mary, their relatives Zechariah and Elizabeth lived only a short distance away, in the hill country of Judah (Luke 1:39 – NASB) [4], and Joseph and Mary could have gone there with only a little effort. In fact, Mary had visited Elizabeth early in her pregnancy (Luke 1:40). So Joseph and Mary could have found adequate housing and care if they needed it.

Getting the Story Straight

The story of the night of Christ’s birth needs to be retaught and relearned in Christian circles, not only because truth matters and what actually happened is important, but because it shows the love and sacrifice that people make to help each other, and the true joy of giving so that others may be blessed. That is a much more redemptive rendition of the Christmas story than townspeople closing their hearts and shutting their doors to a pregnant woman in need.

In order to see what really happened around the season of the birth of Christ we will need to glean facts from both the Greek text and the culture of the ancient Near East (which, by the way, existed in many parts there until quite recently). Too often the Greek text alone has been used to try to reveal biblical truth. The Greek text alone is not enough to rebuild the truth of the biblical events for a very simple reason: when something in a culture is usual, well known, normal, or “standard operating procedure,” it is not written about in detail. For example, if I write a letter to a friend about my months of being with my son as he recovered from being wounded in battle, I might say, “I drove to the hospital every day.” I would never write: “I went to the hospital in my car, which is a large metal and plastic mobility device on wheels, with a gasoline engine that starts when an ignition key is turned, and I made it move by pedals on the floor, (etc).” It would be ridiculous to write that. Why? Because everyone in today’s culture knows exactly what I mean when I say, “I drove to the hospital.” Perhaps 2000 years from now, if culture has changed so much that only a few historians know what a car is, they might wish we described our driving in more detail, but that is not necessary today. In the same way, things that were part of the everyday culture of the Bible times were not described in detail in their writings. We have to learn about the ordinary things of ancient life by piecing together details from many texts and writings, by using archaeology to study the material a culture left to us, and by studying any cultures that still live the same way.

What we will see as we examine the biblical record from both the Greek text and the culture of the times is that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem some time before she gave birth and were taken into the home of a local resident, likely a relative who was also of the family of David, in whose home Mary gave birth. Although most English versions have the phrase, “there was no room for them in the inn,” we will see that phrase has been both mistranslated and misinterpreted.

Welcomed into a Private Home

Before we look at the mistranslations of “room” and “inn,” however, let us look at some reasons Joseph and Mary could have found a place to stay. [5] First, Joseph was returning to his town of origin. Historical memories are long in the Middle East, and family support is very strong. For example, Paul knew he was a descendant of Benjamin (Phil. 3:5), even though Benjamin lived more than 1500 years earlier than he did. Given the long family memories in Hebrew culture, once Joseph told people that both he and Mary were descendants of families from Bethlehem, many homes would be open to them. In fact, it is likely that Joseph and Mary already knew of relatives in Bethlehem and may well have gone to those homes first to find lodging. As we see the true story of Christ’s birth develop, that seems like a very strong possibility.

Second, not just one, but both Joseph and Mary were “royals,” because they were both from the royal line of David. David is so famous in Bethlehem that it is called, “the city of David” (Luke 2:4 – KJV). Being from that famous family would have meant that most homes would open their doors to them if only for that fact alone. Being able to host a couple that was direct descendants of David would have been an honor and privilege.

Third, in every culture women about to give birth are given special help, and the village of Bethlehem would be no different. The New Testament scholar Kenneth Bailey, who has spent his life living in the East and teaching in Universities in Egypt and Lebanon, properly understands the heart of village life in Palestine and points out that Joseph and Mary would never have been turned away in their hour of need. He says:

“Was there no sense of honor in Bethlehem? Surely the community would have sensed its responsibility to help Joseph find adequate shelter for Mary and provide the care she needed. To turn away a descendent of David in the city of David would be an unspeakable shame to the entire village.” [6]

Fourth, and very importantly, the shepherds who came to see Jesus shortly after his birth knew that he was the promised Messiah and their Savior. The angel had made that very clear to them. When they found Joseph, Mary, and their Savior, and if they in any way felt that he was not being treated well, they would have been scandalized and outraged, and immediately taken them home to their own houses. The fact that they did no such thing, but left the new family where they were and went to tell the good news to the whole area, indicates they felt Joseph, Mary, and the baby were being well cared for.

It is important that we properly understand the record of the birth of Christ. The night that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem they were not rejected by a local hotel that had its “No Vacancy” sign turned on. Instead, they were taken into the private home of a caring family, who let them stay in the family living quarters. This type of giving and joy of service demonstrates the true meaning of Christmas.

There was No Space in the Guestroom

Let’s read, properly translate, and correctly understand what happened when Jesus was born.

Luke 2:7
and she [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The phrase “no room in the inn” is a mistranslation that continues to support the misunderstanding about the birth of Christ. Two words we must understand to properly interpret the biblical account are topos, which most versions translate as “room,” and kataluma, which most versions translate as “inn.” The word topos occurs more than ninety times in the New Testament. It does not refer to “a room,” like we think of a hotel room, or a bedroom, but simply to a place, or a space in a given area. The text is not saying there was no “room” for Joseph and Mary as in the sense of a hotel room, but rather that there was no “space” for them. Space where? Not in the “inn,” but in the kataluma. What is a kataluma? In the Gospel record it is a “lodging place” or “guest room,” not a commercial lodge, or inn. There was no space for Joseph and Mary in the guest room because it was already full. It is noteworthy that even Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon notes that if Luke 2:7 had meant to say “inn” in the sense of a hotel, there is a better Greek word that is used elsewhere in Luke. [7]

The normal Greek word for “inn” is pandocheion, and it refers to a public house for the reception of strangers (caravansarykhan, inn; we would say hotel or motel). The word pandocheion was used not only by the Greeks, but also as a loan-word for “inn” or a commercial lodging place in Hebrew, Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, and Turkish. Luke uses the word pandocheion in the parable of the Good Samaritan when the Samaritan took the man who was mugged to a public inn (Luke 10:34).

In contrast to the public inn (pandocheion), both Mark and Luke use kataluma in their Gospels as a “guest room” in someone’s house (Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11). When finding a place to eat the Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus tells them to say to the owner of the house, “…The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room [kataluma], where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” (Luke 22:11). So in both Mark and Luke, the kataluma is a guest room in a house, not an inn or hotel.

The gospel of Luke also uses the verb form of kataluma, which is kataluo, “to find rest or lodging.” When Zacchaeus the tax collector brings Jesus home for a meal, the Bible says that Jesus goes “to be the guest” [kataluo] at Zacchaeus’ house (Luke 19:7). So Luke uses both the noun kataluma and the verb kataluo to refer to a room in someone’s house. [8] The fact that pandocheion is a better word for “inn” than kataluma, along with the fact that Luke used pandocheionfor an “inn” and kataluma for a guest room, is very solid evidence that Luke is telling us the family who took in Joseph and Mary had “no space” in their “guest room.” Thus the Bible should not be translated to say there was no room for them in the inn, but rather there was “no space for them in the guest room.” It is noteworthy that Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, done by Robert Young, the same man who produced Young’s Concordance to the Bible, translates Luke 2:7 as follows: “…there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.”

One thing that is left out of the biblical record is why the guest room was full. Although we will never know for sure, there are a couple of possibilities. First, if Jesus was born when we of Spirit & Truth Fellowship think he was, the first day of Tishri, it is possible that Jerusalem and the surrounding region was already experiencing a large influx of people for the season of the year, because it had the largest number of sacred days and feasts. The month of Tishri (usually around our September) had the Feast of Trumpets (Tishri 1), the Day of Atonement (Tishri 10), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Tishri 15-22), and anyone who was traveling a very long distance to be at Jerusalem for any of them might have wanted to be there for the entire festival season. Also, Luke tells us the reason that Joseph traveled to Bethlehem was due to the Caesar’s tax registration (Luke 2:1-4), and it is possible that other family members besides Joseph had decided to travel to Bethlehem at that time, when they could both register for the tax and be part of the celebrations in Jerusalem. [9]

Common Features of an Eastern Life

There are a few things about ordinary houses and ordinary life in first century Palestine that we must know in order to understand the birth of Jesus. One is that it was quite common for houses in the Middle East to have a guest room where guests, and even strangers, could stay. Showing hospitality to strangers has always been a huge part of Eastern life, and is written about in the Bible and in many books on the customs of the Bible. Several biblical records show strangers being given hospitality, including the record of Lot (Gen. 19:1-4), the man in Gibeah (Judg. 19:19-21), and the Shunamite woman, who showed hospitality to Elisha by building a guest room just for him (2 Kings 4:10). Giving hospitality is a command for Christian leaders as well (1 Tim. 3:2).

Even poor people could have a guest room because it did not have to be furnished or have an adjoining bathroom and shower. People did not generally sleep on beds, but traveled with their own blankets that they slept on at night, so sleeping arrangements were no problem. Tables and chairs were not used in the common homes of first century Palestinians, and the bathroom was a pot, or a place outside. So the average guest room was simply a small, empty room, offering shelter and a place of safety. The guest room provided privacy for the guests as well as the family, because one-room homes were common. Our modern houses with many rooms were simply not the norm in a village of the first century. Quite often a family lived in a one-room house, in which all family activities occurred. They pulled their bedrolls out at night and slept on the floor, and simply rolled them up again in the morning. Of course, the Bible does not specify that Joseph and Mary were taken into a one-room house, but even if it were a larger, two-room house Jesus would still have been born in the family room of the house. Single room dwellings were so common, however, that when Jesus taught that a lighted oil lamp (sometimes mistranslated as “candle”) was lit and put on a stand, it would give light “to everyone in the house” (Matt. 5:15).

Another thing we must understand about houses in the East is that it was common for people to bring their animals, such as the family donkey, a couple of milk goats, or a cow or two, into the home at night. Such animals were very valuable, and the people brought them in at night to keep them from being stolen and to protect them from harm. Also, the animals added heat to the house, which would be very welcome on chilly nights. The woman in Endor who King Saul visited at night had her calf in the house with her: “And the woman had a fat calf in the house” (1 Sam. 28:24, KJV). [10] Of course, if the family were shepherds or herdsmen, they would not bring the whole flock or herd into the house, but would have a family member or hired guard watch them in the field, just as the shepherds were in the field on the night Jesus was born.

It was a common practice to raise the floor of the part of the house where the family lived, and keep the animals in an area that was a little lower. [11] Knowing this helps us understand Luke 2:6 and also where that idea that Jesus was born in a stable came from. Jesus was laid in a manger, which is an open trough, box, or bin, where the animal food was placed so the animals could feed easily. In Western society, mangers are in barns or stables, so if Jesus was laid in a manger it made sense he was born in a stable. However, in Eastern society, where the animals grazed outside during the day and were brought into the house at night, the manger was in the house. Having the manger in the house kept the animals calm and contented in the tighter quarters of the house, just as many modern farm animals have a feeding trough in their stall stay calm and content.

Everyone knew the manger was in the house, so when the Bible says that Jesus was laid in a manger “because” there was no space in the guest room, any Easterner would understand perfectly that the guest room was full so Jesus was born in the main part of the house where the family and animals stayed. Sometime after his birth he was safely placed in the manger, which would have been filled with clean hay or straw and would have been the perfect size for him. This was not to demean him in any way, but to care for him. The protective walls of the manger kept him safely guarded and away from busy feet and a bustling household, as well as warm and protected from any drafts or cold air in the home.

Another thing that helps us understand the Christmas story is understanding Eastern hospitality. In the East, guests were given special treatment of all kinds, including behavior that seems very extreme to us. For example, in the record of Lot and the two strangers, Lot would have handed over his own daughters to the mob before surrendering his guests (Gen. 19:8). Similarly, the people with whom Joseph and Mary stayed would never displace their guests from the guest room, but instead would inconvenience themselves, graciously bringing the couple into their living space.

Another thing we need to know is that Mary and Joseph would not have been alone when Jesus was born. Actually, Joseph would not have been there at all, while the women of the household, along with the women of the family staying in the guest room, most likely the village midwife, and perhaps even wise and experienced women from the neighborhood, would have been present. They would have shooed Joseph and the rest of the men out of the house some time during Mary’s labor (actually, the men would have graciously left on their own, which was also standard procedure in that culture). This is all completely normal for birth in a village in Israel.

Someone with a modern Western mindset may say, “Well, the Bible does not say those women were there.” Of course not. We remind the reader that if something was normal for the culture, it was written about only rarely, if ever. The details of a woman giving birth are never given in the Bible. Is someone going to insist that none of the women in the Bible who are mentioned giving birth (and there are dozens of them) had other women to help them just because those helpers are not specifically mentioned? That would be absurd. No details of the birth would be given in the Bible because births were a “normal” part of life, and no first-century reader in Palestine would expect anything different than what usually happens with a village birth. In fact, if the women of the household had not been there to help, that would have been so unusual (and seemingly coldhearted) that it would probably be written about in the Bible.

While Mary was in labor and giving birth in the house, the man who owned the house, along with his sons and Joseph, would have been outside or perhaps in the home of a neighbor, giving Mary the privacy she needed during the birth of Jesus. [12] Once Jesus was born, a woman would announce that a baby boy had been born, and there would be shouting, music, and joyful partying. Of course the men would be allowed back in the house after there had been adequate time after the birth to get things back in proper order and make sure Jesus and Mary were comfortable. Thus baby Jesus would have been born in normal circumstances, with Mary being helped and cared for by the women around her while the men waited outside to hear the news of the birth.

The Christmas Story

So we see that the way the birth of Jesus actually happened is considerably different than what is commonly taught. It is not that Bethlehem was full of cold-hearted townspeople who would not take special care of a young woman about to have her first child.

Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem at least a few days before Mary gave birth, and were taken in by one of the local homes, most likely that of a relative. The host family already had guests in the kataluma, the guest room, so there was no space (topos) for them there. Therefore, the homeowners graciously made room for Joseph and Mary in their own living quarters, treating them like family. When Mary went into labor, the men left their own home to give her privacy, and the women of the household, likely along with the village midwife, came to Mary’s side for help and support. When Mary gave birth to our Lord and Savior late in the evening (after sunset) or at night, Joseph and the men would have been told the news, and there would have been much jubilation and revelry, which was always a traditional part of the birth of a baby boy, particularly if it was a first child. [13] Sometime later the men would have been called back into the house to see the new baby boy.

Not too long after Jesus was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes, dedicated to God, and placed in a perfect spot, the manger in the family home, which would have been cleaned and made up with fresh hay or straw. No doubt the news soon spread around the village that a baby boy had been born (the music and shouting would have helped that happen), and that both the mother and baby were doing well, but this kind of news was common in village life. However, soon there was news that was anything but common. Shepherds showed up from a nearby field to see the newborn child, and after seeing him, went out and told the village that a great light had shined around them, that they had seen an army of angels on the hillsides, and that an angel had told them that this baby was no ordinary baby, but the Messiah, the Savior. Their report caused great wonder all over the region, and resulted in glory and praise to God.

The story of the birth of Christ reveals what we today consider to be the true spirit of Christmas. Not people closing their hearts and homes to a couple in need, but rather people opening both their hearts and their homes, and joyfully giving to others in need and helping where they can. It is wonderful that the Christ, who gave so much to so many, was born in circumstances in which people were so giving to him.

Endnotes

[1] I use “Christmas story” in this article because of its familiarly in our culture, but it is important to know that Jesus was born in the Fall of the year, likely September, and not in December
[2] Wilhelm Schneemelcher, editor, New Testament Apocrypha (The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1963), “The Protevangelium of James,” pp. 370-388. It is possible, but not likely, that it dates as early as 150 A.D.
[3] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, (Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, MN, 1946), p. 126.
[4] Some versions, such as the NASB say Judah, while some say “Judea.” The correct translation is Judah, and it refers to the ancient tribal area of Judah, not the Roman province of Judea. The Greek is iouda, which Luke uses for Judah, usually the name of a man and here the tribal area named after the man, Judah, the son of Jacob. If Luke had meant Roman Judea, he would have used ioudaia as he did 10 places in Luke and 12 in Acts. Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
[5] These reasons are given in Kenneth Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, (IVP Academic, Downers Grove, IL, 2008), pp. 25-37, and credit must go to him for enlightening me to the basic truth in this article and for making many of the points I have covered; that Jesus was born in the home of a loving family in Bethlehem, who opened their home to Joseph and Mary.
[6] Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, p. 26.
[7] Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon says of kataluma: “lodging place. The sense inn is possible in Lk 2:7, but in 10:34 Luke uses pandocheion, the more specific term for innKataluma is therefore best understood here as lodging or guest-room.”
[8] In the New Testament, the only other use of the verb kataluo is also in Luke, and occurs in Luke 9:12 in the record of the feeding of the 5,000. The disciples wanted Jesus to send away the multitude so they could “find lodging” and get something to eat. Although the disciples spoke in a general sense, in the culture of the East, where showing hospitality was an important part of family life, they would have had in mind that these 5000 would find lodging with other people, and not that they would find local hotels to stay in. Public inns have been around a long time, and much could be written about them. In the first place, there were not many of them. Certainly not enough for 5000 men and their families to stay. Beyond that, however, both those inns that were modeled after the inns of the Greco-Roman culture and those with roots in the Eastern culture were not wonderful places to stay, like the hotels we have today. They were loud and dirty places, and often filled with riff-raff and ruffians. They were centers of prostitution and drunken parties (often the inn provided food for sale and prostitutes for rent), and the rooms were not rented privately, as in our modern hotels. Instead, guests rented a space on the floor to sleep (there were no beds), and it was anyone’s guess who might be in the room with you, renting the space on the floor next to you (and anyone’s guess if they would actually sleep or stay up all night engaged in activities with friends or prostitutes). In contrast to staying in a public inn, taking in travelers for the night was a long established biblical custom, going back to Genesis (cp. Gen. 19:1-3), and that is what the disciples would have thought about when they knew Jesus’ audience needed to find a place to stay.
[9] Caesar wanted everyone to be registered for taxation, so some versions read “enrolled,” some “registered,” some “taxed,” some refer to a “census,” etc. It was a registration, or enrollment, for taxation.
[10] The translation “in the house” is correct, and is used in the more literal translations such as the KJV, ESV, NASB, etc.
[11] Fred Wight, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands (Moody Press, Chicago, 1953), p. 34; Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, pp. 28-33. The New Testament scholar John Nolland also mentions the area for animals being somewhat lower than where the people ate and slept: “…it is best to think of an overcrowded Palestinian peasant home: a single-roomed home with an animal stall under the same roof (frequently to be distinguished from the family living quarters by the raised platform floor of the latter). John Nolland, Word Biblical Commentary (Nelson Reference and Electronic, Colombia, 1989), p. 105.
[12] We know Jesus’ birth was late in the evening, after sunset, or at night, because the shepherds were in the fields at night when the angel appeared to them (Luke 2:8 – KJV), and told them the Christ was born “this day.” Since “this day” started at sunset, as all Jewish days do, then the Messiah was born after sunset.
[13] We Westerners are used to thinking of Mary’s birth night as being silent and peaceful (note the song, “Silent Night”), but the birth of a boy is always the time for a party in village life.

Courtesy of https://www.truthortradition.com/articles/retelling-the-christmas-story

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Christ the Breaker

There is an intriguing verse about Christ in the Book of Micah and it sets forth a wonderful name for our Lord. He is called the Breaker.

Micah 2:13: “The breaker [the Messiah, who opens the way] shall go up before them [liberating them].They will break out, pass through the gate and go out; So their King goes on before them, The Lord at their head.”

The word “breaker” in the Hebrew is a strong word meaning “to break down and destroy.” The word describes when King Jehoash broke down the wall of Jerusalem for 400 cubits (600 feet or 200 yards- 2 football fields). That is an enormous breaking in physical terms and Christ as the Breaker is a thousand times more powerful. Jesus Christ was sent by His Heavenly Father to be the ultimate breaker of sin, death, the devil, and the consequences of sin. He crushed each one on the cross and in his resurrection. Their power was paralyzed and will ultimately be destroyed forever.

Jesus Christ is the Breaker who goes before us and opens the way. He is the Rock that cannot be broken. As the Breaker, he is the liberator, the savior and the deliverer. Nothing can stand against him. Nothing can overcome him. No obstacle will block his progression. No other person can claim this title of “The Breaker.”

2 Peter 3:18: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

As believers we need to grow in both the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Scripture names have important significance in understanding the purpose of a person and the impact or his or her life. Names are not given haphazardly and some of the names given to Jesus are enlightening as they illustrate the wonderful ministry and purpose of the Son of God. Proverbs 18:10: The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. When we begin to understand the knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Breaker, it will be a strong tower in our lives and gives us safety and peace in the instability of our times. In this season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, his life, ministry and finished work will take on an even deeper and richer meaning when our eyes are enlightened to the importance of name of Christ as the Breaker

Jesus Christ has a name above every name and one day all will bow a knee to his glorious name.

Philippians 2:9-11:Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The scriptures declare unequivocally that there is one and only one intermediary between God and man, Christ Jesus. Only the mediator could be the Breaker.

1 TIMOTHY 2:3-5: In the sight of God our saviour this is undoubtedly the right thing to pray for; for his purpose is that all men should be saved and come to realise the truth. And that is, that there is only one God, and only one intermediary (mediator) between God and men, Jesus Christ the man. He gave himself as a ransom for us all—an act of redemption which happened once, but which stands for all times as a witness to what he is.

He and He alone is “the man”. He and He alone is “the Breaker”.
No one else is capable of filling His shoes.

Ephesians 1:17-22: That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Christ is far above all rule, authority, power and dominion and above every name, every philosophy, every political theory, and every way of life. All things are under his feet. His power is limitless; His strength immeasurable; His authority is unbreakable. He is the Rock and He is God Almighty’s Breaker.

Christ broke the power of sin

Romans 3:9,23: What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

We are all under the power of sin since our birth. No one can escape as sin resides in the blood. Leviticus 17:11

God sent His Son to a dying world for the glorious mission of obliterating the curse of sin, death, and bondage that corrupted the human race in the Garden of Eden. Not a son or daughter of Adam’s race has escaped the chains of sin and death, for sin entered the world and spread death to all, because all sinned We were all born in chains and in slavery. Sin held us fast in bondage as children of a fallen race.

Romans 5:12 (Amplified);

Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all men, [no one being able to stop it or to escape its power] because all men sinned.

Adam introduced sin into God’s creation, and it corrupted all forms of life. The curse of sin and death passed on to all of Adam’s progeny. No human could stop the infiltration of the sin nature or escape its power. Death, which had not existed in any form before, became the strong ally of sin, as every human born on this earth was subject to death. This was not only physical death, but spiritual death also.

E.W. Kenyon, in The Bible in Light of our Redemption, writes:

Sin has ruled as king in the realm of spiritual

death, where man lives under the cruel Emperor,

Satan. Every effort of man has to failed to eradicate

the power of sin. Education has failed. History

confesses that every single rise in civilization has

been accompanied by a decline in morals. War

has dominated in every period of the life of every

nation, destroying the youth and strength of humanity.

It has brought untold suffering to man. Its cruelty is

but a manifestation of Satanic Dominion at work in

its destruction of man. Man has been unable to strike

at the root  and the cause of sin, sickness and death.

The law of disease has fastened itself upon the

human body, blighting and scourging humanity.

Death is the supreme problem that all men at all

periods have faced. It casts its shadow on upon

every happiness born in the sense of man. Man,

lying in the embrace of Satan, cries in agony against

this vain struggle which only ends in a hopeless

death and doom…He is born to die…Spiritual death,

the nature of Satan, is the soil out of which has

grown sin, sickness, physical death and every sorrow

that has darkened the life of God’s man.

Sin and spiritual death brought enormous consequences upon the human race. Every type of suffering, pain, misery, sickness, affliction, torment, and anguish began to grow and flourish upon the earth because of sin and spiritual death. A great separation and barrier now existed between God and men, women, and children.  The human race’s relationship with God was thrown into chaos and confusion. It was like a thick, iron door was shut on a person’s access, communion, and fellowship with God.  Adam and Eve had become alienated from the life and presence of God, and their understanding became darkened. They were like blindfolded people wandering aimless in a fog of darkness. The light and spiritual life within them was extinguished, and it left a great void of hunger and need for their loving Creator. Adam had sealed the fate of the human race, and now the great cry was for a Redeemer, a Savior, and a Liberator. No matter how smart, how talented, how strong, how powerful, or how rich a person may be, no one could free themselves from the bondage of their birth nature of sin and their condition of spiritual death. We are born dead in trespasses and sin and need deliverance. Who will break the power of sin? All the people of the earth need the Breaker.

Romans 5:12 declares that this sin nature, this deadly virus, this defective gene that directs a person’s life away from what is pleasing to God, entered into the world through  Adam’s  disobedience to God. The word “entered” in the Greek literally means: to come into and contains the force of distribution, meaning it made its way to each individual member of the human race.” The word is in the indicative mood, the mood of certainty, which states that the action is factual and certainly occurred.   The word “world” is kosmos in the Greek which in this verse means: the harmonious arrangement and order of God’s creation. It was the creation in perfect order and harmony before the entrance of sin. The word “spread” in the Greek means: to go or pass through; to send out in all directions like a highly contagious virus disseminating and spreading completely through an entire population.” Sin and death certainly spread to every member of the human race and ruined God’s original perfect order and harmony of His creation. No one had a pass; no one was exempt; no one was immune; we all inherent this sin nature from Adam.

God had a magnificent plan to deal with sin and crush its power. He sent his only begotten Son to pay the penalty for our sins and redeem us from sin’s power.

Matthew 1:21: She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

“Saved” means to be delivered and preserved from the penalty of sin and the power of sin.

Hebrews 9:24-28: For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Ephesians 1:7-10: It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth. For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfilment in him.

The power of sin was broken at Calvary. He redeemed us with His blood. He paid the price and we no longer need to be enslaved in sin.

Romans 6:6,7,11: We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free[ from sin. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Christ broke the power of death

Revelation 1:17,18: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Hebrews 2:14,15: Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Since the fall of Adam in the garden, the devil has wielded the power of death. Part of his dominion over the human race was in the form of death. Death has been an incredible weapon of destruction for Satan on the human race. Death is an enemy to every human being on the earth, and with its companion sin, the devil has held the human race in his firm grasp. The human race needed a Savior to be released from the bondage of sin and death.

This brutal and horrible dominion of death, utilized so effectively by the devil, was broken at Calvary. The strength and might of death that the devil has used relentlessly as a weapon in every age of history was declared null and void. The major kingpin of his dominion and authority over the earth has been trampled under the feet of the Lord Jesus. God also promises in I Corinthians 15, and in the book of Revelation, that there is a day coming when this last enemy, death, will be completely destroyed off the face of the earth, and its sorrow, bondage, and destruction will be no more. There will absolutely be no death in the new heavens and earth promised in Revelation 21 and I Peter 3. This was all made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who crushed the serpent’s head.

I Timothy 1:10 (Amplified):

It is that purpose and grace which He has

now made known and has fully disclosed

and made real to us through the appearing

of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who annulled

death and made it of no effect and brought

life and immortality (immunity from eternal

death) to light through the Gospel.

New Living Translation:

And now he has made all of this plain to us

by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior.

He broke the power of death and illuminated

the way to life and immortality through the

Good News.

The born again believer who has put his faith in Christ as his Savior cannot be defeated by spiritual or physical death.  We have been reconciled to God in the new birth and made alive spiritually in Christ. We have been given the sure promise of everlasting life and spiritual death has been obliterated by Jesus Christ. Even if we die physically, the Lord has promised that at the Rapture, he will raise us from the dead and give us a new glorious immortal body that is not subject to the jaws of death. We cannot be held captive or conquered by death. The devil’s main tool in the battle between good and evil, the power of death, has been absolutely mortally wounded and crushed at the cross. We no longer need to fear death and be in bondage to this fear. The wages of sin is death and someone had to pay the price for us so death does not crush our existence. Christ the Breaker breaks the power of death for all those who believe on him and promises eternal life.

There is a time coming in the future that Death will never again raise its ugly head, as it is forever destroyed at the end of the great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20. In the new heavens and earth of Revelation 21, there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain. All of these things are gone forever. What a gospel! How good is the truth about the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ! Death, the hated enemy, the feared enemy, the loathsome enemy, the painful enemy, the sorrowful enemy, and the wicked enemy has been broken and defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ. He swallowed up death in victory.

Romans 5:21 (Phillips):

The whole outlook changes-sin use to be the

master of men and in the end handed them

over to death: now grace is the ruling factor,

with righteousness as its purpose and

at its end the bringing of men to the eternal

life of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Corinthians 15:20-28; 51-57 (Message):

But the truth is Christ has been raised up,

the first in a long legacy of those who are

going to leave the cemeteries.

There is a nice symmetry to this: Death

initially came by a man, and resurrection

from death came by a man.

Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes

alive in Christ.

But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first,

then those with him at his Coming, the grand

consummation when, after crushing the

opposition, he hands over his kingdom to

God the Father.

He won’t let up until the last enemy is down-

and the very last enemy is death.

But let me tell you something wonderful…

On signal from that trumpet from heaven,

the dead will be up and out of the graves,

beyond the reach of death, never to die again.

At that same moment and in the same way,

we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme

of things, this has to happen: everything perishable

take off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable,

this mortal replaced by the immortal.

Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by

triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh Death?

Oh Death, whose afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code

guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power.

But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three-

Sin, guilt, death are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus

Christ. Thank God!

Death is the personal enemy of every human upon the face of the earth, and there is no deliverance from the power and strength of the grave without the Lord Jesus Christ. Death cannot be conquered by science; death cannot be overcome by a political decree; death cannot be eradicated by a vaccine, and death cannot be defeated by any earthly power. There will never be a fountain of youth or some magical spell or potion to obtain eternal life. Death does not bring you into some higher state of consciousness or being, but throws you into the decay and corruption of the grave. It is a life destroyer, happiness destroyer, family destroyer, society destroyer, and it has ripped the human heart to shreds with fear, sorrow, and pain since Adam’s high treason and the entrance of sin into the world. Death does not allow you to float around as a ghost and have free movement while you haunt or help people. Death does not bring you into a reincarnated new life form. This is a most certain truth-death does not bring life in any way, shape, or form. Without the Savior Jesus Christ, death is the end of all humanity. Death cannot produce, generate, or refine life. Death is the end of life.

Do you see why death is such a curse and lethal enemy according to Scripture? Once you understand the brutal and permanent nature of death, you can really appreciate the total victory that Jesus Christ accomplished with his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ is the master over death and the conqueror of the grave. Immortality only comes with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Christ broke the power of the devil

Genesis 3:15 (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible):

And enmity shall I put between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,-He shall crush thy head, but thou shall crush his heel.

This is the first promise of Christ in the Bible and says that Christ shall crush the head of the serpent (devil). When it is said (v.15), “He shall crush thy head,” it means something more than a skull of bone, and brain and hair. It means all Satan’s plans and plots, policy and purposes, will one day be finally crushed and ended, never more to mar or to hinder the purposes of God. This is a fatal blow from which there is no recovery.

Christ broke the power of the oppressor (Psalm 72:4). He is the Second Adam that through his death and resurrection restored everything that Adam lost in the fall. He broke and paralyzed the power of the god of this age. His doom is forecast. His time is limited. One day he will be reduced to nothing and come to a dreadful end and can never exercise power and control over anything forever (Ezekiel 28:18,19) Christ the breaker crushed His power and control over us.

Colossians 1:13: God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of his Son, whom he loves.

He rescued us from the power of darkness and gave us full legal rights as a son or daughter of God. The word “power” in Colossians means the exercised power to do something; liberty of action to do as one pleases; the delegated authority and power to act, and the right to exercise power. The devil and his kingdom no longer have the liberty or power to do what they please in your life when you stand upon the triumph of the cross. The devil  no longer has the right to act freely with authority and power over you. We have been set free. In the new birth you are now citizens in His kingdom.

Acts 26:18: to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

The Breaker turns us from the power of Satan to God and from darkness to light.

Colossians 2:14,15 (Phillips): You, who were spiritually dead because of your sins and your uncircumcision (i.e. the fact that you were outside the Law), God has now made to share in the very life of Christ! He has forgiven you all your sins: Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross. And then having drawn the sting of all the powers ranged against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act!:

Lightfoot:

Taking on him our human nature, he stripped off and cast side all the powers of evil which clung to it like a poisonous garment. As a mighty conqueror he displayed these his fallen enemies to an astonished world, leading them in triumph on his cross.

At Calvary, Jesus Christ stripped and disarmed the power and authority of the devil’s kingdom for every born again believer. No devil spirit in the devil’s kingdom, no matter what its rank, can defeat you when you stand in the strength of the Lord’s redemptive work for you at the cross. The picture Paul is painting is of a triumphant general who has routed the enemy and leads the captive foes and spoils of his victory behind his chariot in a grand public procession through the city.

In the Roman world, this was the highest honor that could be bestowed upon a victorious Roman general. It was called “the triumph.” There must have been at least 5,000 enemy soldiers killed, and there must have been a gain of Roman territory in the conquest. It was an awesome display of the power, strength, and might of the Roman Empire. It was a spectacle that few would forget its images, as the triumph declared to the world that the enemy had been overwhelmed and crushed, now to be publicly humiliated through the streets of the city.

How much greater is the triumph of Christ as the captain of our salvation?  What a triumph on the cross! What a victory against the forces of darkness! What a crushing blow to Satan’s kingdom! What a public display of victory to all those who have eyes to see and ears to hear! You become identified and in vital union with this triumph on the cross and all its far-reaching glorious effects when you become a new creation in Christ at the new birth. You are marching right beside Jesus Christ in this magnificent victory march with every wretched captive in chains under your feet. With great freedom, the power of the old sin nature has been stripped off and crippled, and the power of Christ in you flows and energizes every cell of your human body. You are a super conqueror who always triumphs in Christ. Jesus Christ cut away Satan’s firm grip on us and smashed the kingdom of darkness’s authority, control, and rule over our lives. No longer must we be a slave to sin or the bondage of this world. Jesus Christ victoriously led captivity captive for every Christian, according to the book of Ephesians, as he crushed and defeated every form of mental, physical, or spiritual bondage. What a triumph on the cross! What a victory in Christ!

I John 3:8b: The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

I John 3:8b (Voice): That is why the Son of God came into our world: to destroy the plague of destruction inflicted on the world by the diabolical one.

The word “destroy” is the Greek word luo, which means: to loose something tied or bound, to break up that which is compacted together, to dissolve, to sever, to break in pieces, to set free, to melt and to demolish. The word means “a destruction by undoing or dissolving that which forms the bond of cohesion.” Jesus Christ came to loosen people from the works of the devil and set them free. We all had a bond of cohesion to Satan’s kingdom through sin and death, but Jesus Christ dissolved the bond, and we broke free.  The word luo is used in the gospels when John the Baptist said that he was not worthy to unloose (luo) the thong or strap of Jesus’ sandals. This gives a great mind picture of Jesus unloosening the works of the devil in people’s lives, like un-strapping a sandal, so that the works can be thrown off of the body, heart, and soul of a person and one can enjoy true freedom.

The Greek word luo is used again in Acts 27:41 when the ship taking the Apostle Paul to Rome was “broken (luo) on the violence of the waves.” This was a huge boat with enough room for 276 people, yet the fierce strength of the waves shattered the hinder part of the boat into pieces. Many of the soldiers were saved by grabbing onto a broken piece of the ship and floating to shore. This should paint a vivid picture for you. Jesus Christ shattered the devil’s works into a million pieces by the awesome power of God. Like a ship helplessly run into the ground and continuously beat with the relentless pounding of the waves, Jesus Christ continually pounded the schemes, deceptions, and purposes of the devil with the great force of the Word of God. He was relentless in his destruction of the devil’s works, as the boat of Satan’s kingdom could not escape the light and truth of His purpose upon the earth. Jesus Christ shook and shattered the devil’s kingdom into broken pieces.

The Greek word luo is also used in II Peter 3:10,12 when the present heaven, earth and elements melt (luo) with fervent heat and dissolve (luo) by fire at the time of the last judgments described in the Book of Revelation. What a mind picture!  For something to melt, you have to apply intense heat to it. It requires energy to melt anything. When increasing temperature is applied to an element and it melts, the energy being applied to it is greater than the energy holding it together. The heat overcomes the internal forces of attraction within the solid to transform it into a liquid. Thus it begins to change form and melt.

Jesus Christ put intense heat on the purposes, works, and schemes of the devil and melted and dissolved them. Jesus Christ operated spiritual power, and when this spiritual energy of God was applied to the works of the devil, it was greater than any force holding his works together. The power of God disintegrates any plot, scheme, or purpose of Satan and no matter how attractively it is held together by evil, it cannot overcome the energy and dynamic power that rest in God.  Jesus Christ put the intense heat of the truth of the Word of God right upon the kingdom of darkness, and it shined as a brilliant light, exposing the wicked works of the Evil One. This white hot heat of God’s Word melted the hardened and callous hearts of many and melted the devil’s evil foothold of bondage that robs people of joy, peace, love, and wholeness.

Interestingly, this same Greek word, luo, is also used in John 10:35, when it

declares, “the scripture cannot be broken (luo).” The devil can never break, dissolve, melt, or demolish the Word of God. I Peter 1:23 says that “the word of God lives and abides forever.” The Word of God is life. The Word of God is good, pure, powerful, and faithful. It cannot be dissolved away into nothing. No matter how much heat or pressure the devil applies to the Word, it does not melt under the burning heat. Satan does not have enough energy or power to break the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the living Word. The devil does not have enough energy or power to break or shatter the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only one who is the Breaker of the arch enemy of God.

We can live daily in the benefit and power of this enormous blessing that we no longer need to be under the oppression and bondage of the Devil and his kingdom.

Ephesians 2:6: “And He raised us up with Him, and He made us to sit with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” We were crucified with Him, died with Him, were buried with Him, suffered with Him, were justified with Him, were made alive with Him, conquered Satan with Him, and were raised together with Him. That resurrection of Jesus is proof of our victory over the adversary. It is a proof that cannot be denied. Every person who takes Christ as Savior, in the mind of God, is a victor over the adversary. So few of the Father’s children have seen this mighty truth; that our victory was in the victory of Christ. When Jesus broke the bars of death, having conquered death, Satan, and sin, it was our victory. Greater is He who now resides in you than all the powers of the enemy exercised in this world.

Christ broke the bondage of the consequences of sin

When “saved” is used in regard to God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, the meaning is deliverance and preservation from all the consequences of sin.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law and we have redemption in his blood (Galatians 3:13 and Ephesians 1:7). We no longer need to be oppressed under the curse of sin. In Deuteronomy 28 the consequences of the curse of sin are set forth. We never have to be in bondage or enslaved to any of these curses of the law. Christ broke the power of physical, mental and spiritual oppression at the cross. He bore every pain, he bore every sickness, he bore every suppression, he bore every depression, he bore every sorrow, he bore all sin and its consequences at Calvary and with his resurrection crushed them into the ground.

Isaiah 53:5,6: Surely he hath borne our griefs (Hebrew choliy-sickness)

and carried our sorrows (Hebrew-makob-pains: both physical and mental): yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised (Hebrew-shalowm-crushed, broken, shattered) for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

We no longer need to be in bondage to anything or anyone. He has set us free.  

Hebrews 9:11-12: “But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.”

As the High Priest, He took His own blood and carried it up to the Heavenly Holy of Holies and there presented it to God. It was accepted, and that red seal is upon the document of our Redemption. The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is the eternal witness of His finished work for us, of our legal right to Eternal Life, and sonship with all its privileges. On the basis of that blood, we are more than conquerors. Satan has no dominion over us. His dominion is utterly broken. The tokens of that victory are continually before the Father.

Hebrews 7:22, “By so much also hath Jesus become the surety of a better covenant.” If you are in grave danger, or Satan is pressing hard upon you, you call the Father’s attention to your rights that are guaranteed on the ground of that blood. Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony.”

Christ breaks our chains and opens up the iron door so we can live seated in the heavenlies, redeemed, purchased, precious and His sons and daughters by the new birth.

Acts 12:4ff: Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.

”Men and women! Some of you are the slaves of your own lusts. Some of you are the slaves of the world’s maxims. Some of you are held in bondage by some habit that you abominate, but cannot get away from. Here is freedom for you. The dark walls of the prison are round us all. ‘The Scripture hath shut up all in sin, that He might have mercy upon all.’ Blessed be His name! As the angel came to the sleeping Apostle, and to his light touch the iron gates swung obedient on their hinges, and Roman soldiers who ought to have watched their prey were lulled to sleep, and fetters that held the limbs dropped as if melted; so, silently, in His meek and merciful strength, the Christ comes to us all, and the iron gate which leadeth out into freedom opens of its own accord at His touch, and the fetters fall from our limbs, and we go forth free men. ‘The Breaker is gone up before us.

When He had paid this penalty for our sin on the cross, He arose from the dead. He conquered Satan. He broke his dominion and took away his authority and power. Then, with the trophies of His triumph, He ascended to the right band of the Majesty on High and laid the tokens of His victory at the feet of His Great Father. On the ground of this victory, the sinner has a legal right to accept Jesus Christ as a personal Savior. He has a legal right to Eternal Life. He has a legal right to Victory over sin and Satan. He has a legal right to a home in Heaven. He has a legal right to use the Name of Jesus in prayer. He has a legal right to his Father’s protection and care. He has a legal right to a son’s place in the Family of God. He has a legal right to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, to the care and protection of the Spirit, and to the intercession and teaching of the Spirit. He has a legal right to be translated at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. He has a legal right to immortality for the body. He has a legal right to an inheritance in the New Heavens and New Earth. He has a legal right to live with his Father throughout Eternity.

What a glorious gospel that Christ broke the power of all sin and its consequences and set us free from its curse forever.

Christ shall break all the kingdoms, philosophies, political systems and religions of this world and set up his kingdom of which there will be no end

The Bible is clear of this glorious truth-Jesus Christ is coming back for us and to establish his kingdom upon the earth. He shall break into pieces all earthly kingdoms and systems that oppose him. This kingdom will have no end. It will be perfect in every aspect and filled with righteousness, justice and peace.

Psalm 2:1-3,7-9: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

No political system, no earthly ruler can stand against or conquer Christ’s kingdom. The Breaker will shatter all opposition that is set up by the Devil and his kingdom that has ruled on this earth since Adam will come to an end. Luke 4:5,6: And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.

As Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he prophesied of Christ’s future kingdom:

Daniel 2:34,35,44,45-As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

Christ is the stone made of no human hand who breaks the power and influence of all past kingdoms of this earth. His kingdom shall never be destroyed and stand forever. This is as certain as the sun rising every morning. It is God’s plan and purpose in the future.

Luke 1:30-33:  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

We celebrate in this season the birth of the Son of the Most High, Jesus, whose future kingdom is coming and there will be no end to his magnificent kingdom.

Revelation 18:11-16: Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule[c] them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

The Breaker is the Living Word of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will bring to an end the rule of evil on this earth. In his kingdom there will be no bribery, no deception, no murders, no injustice, no hunger, no poverty, no wars, no death, no pollution, and no evil.

Revelation 21:1ff: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

What a Savior. What a King! What a Deliverer! What a Liberator! He is the Breaker and no earthly or spiritual power can stand against him. He alone is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He can shatter any obstacle, break any barrier, and push through any wall. This is why we celebrate his birth for the second Adam has broken the power of sin, death, the devil and the consequences that flow from sin and reconciled us to God, redeeming us from the curse that Adam brought upon the human race. He can obliterate every addition, quench every thirst, overcome every circumstance and conquer ever challenge. Jesus Christ has broken every barrier and obstacle that stood in our way from being restored to our Heavenly Father. We are seated in the heavenlies in Him and nothing needs to enslave us anymore. Every bondage, every depression, every addiction and every oppression has been broken in Christ.  How wonderful are the words of the angels from on high when they announced the birth of the Breaker, the only begotten Son of God.

Luke 2:8-11: And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 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.

Christ the Breaker brings immeasurable joy as our Lord. We celebrate not only His birth, but what He has done for us because He loved us. The words of the wonderful hymn “O Holy Night” ring true for us over 2000 years later.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

 Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

 

 

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The Value of Every Moment: Count Your Days to Live Wisely

By Peter Wade

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). So I did! I did what the Bible says, people, as I’m a Bible teacher. The word “number” is also translated “count” in the KJV. On my 80th birthday the count was — get ready for this — 29,220 days! Yes, 29,220 days I have been on this planet Earth.

At around 3,000 days, I gave my heard to the Lord Jesus Christ in a Salvation Army citadel in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford, Essex, England. I don’t know the exact date. So for some 26,000 plus days, I have belonged to the family of God. On day 8,878, I was married to my first wife. Her name is Vivien. She’s still my wife! On day 9,237, we graduated from college as ministers of the gospel. On day 9,452, I became a father for the first time, and so I could go on.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Why is that? Mortality is something that happens to us all. What is this verse saying? Remember your mortality. It says in earlier in the Psalm that our days are just like the grass in the field that grows up in the morning, it is cut, put in the oven, and then it’s all over. And the older you get, the quicker the days go by. When you’re young, you think you have got all the time in the world. As you start getting through middle age and then into that wonderful category of being a senior citizen, the years just seem to fly.

So Lord, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. “Teach us to live wisely and well!” (MSG). And so I ask you, what are you going to do with today? Have you thought about it? What are you going to get out of today? What are your desires and plans and programs for today? What do you want God to do for you today? Or more importantly, what are you going to do for God today? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Get your day sponsored by God

I’m going to give you four things that I think we ought to do about our day. First of all, get your day sponsored by God. This is most important. Get your day sponsored by God. I’ve often sang a chorus based on Psalm 118:24, “This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made. We will rejoice, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Who made today? God made the day. This is God’s day. Take God as your sponsor for today. We all know what sponsorship means. God is your sponsor for today.

Let’s go to another verse, Psalm 84:10, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” A day in your courts, that is, in the presence of God, is better than a thousand days anywhere else. “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Or as it might better be translated, “I would rather choose to sit at the threshold of the house of my God.” I’d rather just sit on the doorstep than to dwell in the midst of all the luxury of the tent of wickedness.

Take God as your sponsor for today. When you think about it, this is the only time God has given you anyway. He has not given you tomorrow. He hasn’t even given you this afternoon. He’s given you this moment. So, make this moment count for God. Have God as your sponsor for the day.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). God’s compassions, His mercies, do not fail and there is a new supply of them every morning. When you woke up this morning, God had your supply ready with your name on it. He is a compassionate God. Your sponsor looks after you. He’s not just there to make money. He looks after you. His compassions fail not.

He has provided you with everything you will ever need for every situation you will ever run across and He’s hidden it in the inner man. You’ve got it. This is why I’m so careful about the songs that we sing, because I only want to sing songs that talk about what the Word teaches. I don’t want man’s theology. I can’t stand the songs that some people sing, when they’re singing about what they want God to do for them. Usually they are singing about something God has already done for them and they haven’t recognized it yet. And you can sing or pray until you’re blue in the face to ask God to do something for you, but if He’s already done it, He can’t do anything else. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

If you haven’t got it, you don’t need it. As Garrison Keillor says about the little general story in Lake Wobegon, Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery — if he doesn’t have what you want, then you don’t need it. God’s mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Have God as a sponsor for your day. And not forgetting Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

So number one, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”Take God as the sponsor for your day. Say, “This is the Lord’s day. This isn’t my day. I’m not going to waste this day. I’m going to fulfill this day according to the guidance that God has given to me and I’m going to express the Jesus Christ that is in me, and so express the compassion of God to everybody I meet.”

Speak to your day, talk to it

In Job chapter 7 verse 6 we read how some people describe their day. “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and come to their end without hope” (Job 7:6). “So you want to know how my day is? I’ll tell you. My wife threw a saucepan at me this morning. My boss is mad at me. I missed the bus. There’s nothing worse than watching the sight of the back of the bus just going down the street. If I haven’t stopped for one second to kick the dog as I went out the front door, I might have made it. My days are without hope. I’m not living; I’m just existing. You call this life? This is a backside of the world. I don’t know why I’m even living here.”

Have you met people like that? How can we fly like eagles when we have to work with turkeys everyday? Psalm 45 tells us the way I believe would be better for you to talk about your day. Psalm 45 verse 1, “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; … my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.” It’s just bubbling up from within me. I’m just so excited about day 29,220 that it’s bubbling up inside of me.

Have a good theme for your day. I love that first phrase, “My heart overflows with a goodly theme.” Speak to your day. Talk to your day; affirm what you want out of this day. Affirm that this is the Lord’s Day. Affirm that God’s goodness is going to flow not only through you but to you. You’re going to be a magnet for good during this day. God’s money is going to flow towards you. I love the word “affluence” because it comes from the word “to flow.” Affluent people are people through whose hands many things should be flowing, helping the world to be a better place.

Speak to your day, have a goodly theme for your day. Billy Graham’s wife had a sign up over her kitchen sink that said, “Divine service will be held here three times a day.” Have a theme for your day, take God into the everyday aspects of your life. I read some of the incidents in the Bible. I think of the man in Acts chapter 3, the man who laid at the gate of the temple, and Peter and John, which happen to be my first two names, thanks to godly parents.

Peter and John were walking as they were accustomed to do to the temple. They’d walk that path many, many times. It was just an ordinary everyday occurrence. And there was a beggar sitting at the side. It could well have been on previous days, they had tossed the beggar a coin because it was part of their custom, unlike today when we just look away and say, “Go, get yourself a job,” or something. In those days, it was considered a spiritual experience to share with the poor.

On this particular day they were just walking along and the beggar asked them for money. Peter suddenly got an inspiration from God during an ordinary everyday occurrence and said, “I have no silver and gold” (verse 6). Well, I’ve been there and done that. I know what that’s like. It’s not a sin to be poor, it’s just mighty inconvenient at times.

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.” You see, he was in tune with God on that day, at the start of the day. He had got himself ready to be used as God’s servant wherever God wanted him. And God wanted to use him just as he was walking up to the gate of the temple. He haven’t even got into church, haven’t even sat in the pew or sung the first song. He was just walking up the path and God said, “This is a moment I want you to do something today.”

Speak to your day, have a godly theme for your day. This is the only time you’ve got, folks, you better make use of it. “What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?” (Psalm 34:12). The New International Version paraphrases it, this man “desires to see many good days.” We all like good days, don’t we? Monday is not a good day in a lot of people’s minds. Monday is the pits. You’ve got to work, “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go.” Wednesday is the “hump” day, when you pass the middle of the week. And TGFF, thank God for Friday!

Desire a good day, and why not? Even if you are or are not going to work, why can’t it be a good day? This could be the very day that your boss says you’re going to get a rise. This could be a very day when you solve the problem that you left sitting on your desk last Friday night. This could be a good day, and it will be a good day if you make it a good day. It won’t be a good day if you just expect it to happen. This is a good day. This is the day the Lord has made, so let us speak to our days.

Watch what you say about your day. That’s what I’m saying there. So, get your day sponsored by God and speak to your day.

Accomplish something today

“Don’t be silly, this is my vacation.” I’m just going to veg out. We all know how to veg out. You don’t have to take a college course, Veg Out 101; it just comes naturally, but we are believers. We have a loving father. He wants us to make something of today. We need to accomplish something today.

No doubt you’ve read the story of the man born blind in John chapter 9. “1As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? 3Jesus answered, It was not that this man sinned, or his parents…” There should be a full stop right there in our English translations (CSB) and a comma at the end of the verse. “… but that the works of God might be displayed in him, 4we must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” The Message Bible paraphrases it as “Jesus said, ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.”

Accomplish something today, amplify your possibilities, get busy with God’s business while it is daylight. God has given you this day. Make something of it, accomplish something today. And what is His business? His business, it says in the church epistles, is to “edify one another” (Romans 14:19, I Thessalonians 5:11). What does edify mean? Build up. Help build up one another. We all need encouragement. I need encouragement today. I’ve been around here for 29,220 days and counting! I need encouragement to see the next 365 days or to head for the next milestone of 32,872 days.

Accomplish something today. We must work while it is light. God has given us the light, God has given us tremendous freedom. We thought that we had the free flow of the gospel. We have television and radio. Now God has given us the internet and a worldwide audience. What great opportunities we have to accomplish something today. What God wants you to do, nobody else can do. He’s got you where you are so that you can do what He wants you alone to do. No one else can do it for you. There are no substitutes. If you don’t do it folks, it doesn’t get done. But you can do it because He’s given you the power within to do it. He never asked you to do anything that you can’t do. Accomplish something today.

No, I do not mean to be a workaholic. God never made us to be workaholics. God made us to accomplish things. There is a difference. “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2b). Our God is a God of the now. And now is the day of wholeness. The word “salvation” means wholeness of body and soul and spirit. Today is a day of wholeness, so accomplish something today, whether something for yourself or for somebody else.

Sometimes we don’t get the balance right. My wife has to constantly remind me, “Get off the computer, Peter. Go for a walk,” because we forget that one thing that we have to accomplish is rest. Even God only works six days a week and on the seventh he rested. And just because it’s a day of rest doesn’t mean to say you are not accomplishing something, because you are; you’re recharging your batteries.

I remember when I was starting my ministry, a believer made the statement to me that the time you spend to sharpen your axe is never time wasted. That’s an accomplishment, to learn how to rest. Accomplish something today. And if it’s going to be rest, if that’s what you need to accomplish, don’t be ashamed of it, accomplish it! I no longer have any shame that I have to lie down in the afternoon some days. That’s fine, and I have a wife that understands and stays quiet. Two amens to that!

Put His life into your days

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). Two things there: He is your life and He is the length of your days. We have no control over the amount but we do have control over the quality.

I do not know how many more days God will give me. My father was the longest living Wade, at least that’s what he always told us. He died at the age of 88, when he wasn’t expected to live beyond his teenage years. So, he set me quite an example to follow.

God says He is our life and He is the length of our days. I cannot control the length but I can control expressing His life today, and that’s all I can control. I can’t control tomorrow. I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I know who holds the future. Yet I do know He’s given me today.

He is your life. So, put God’s life into your day. We don’t choose how our face looks, but we can control our expression. We can’t control lots of things that go on around us but we can control how we react to those things within us. I am not a victim of the world I see. I am responsible for what happens to me. I don’t control the circumstances, but I do control myself and I do allow a life of Christ to flow out through me. So put His life into your day.

So, there are some wonderful principles about day 29,220 in the life of Peter Wade. I was born in the city of Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, 29,220 days ago, born to English parents. I didn’t choose my relatives. Thank God I can choose my friends.

Three steps in Bible study

“Now, what does this got to do with Bible study? What have I done with Psalm 90:12, “so teach us to number our days?” The first thing I did, I observed what is written. That’s the first step. So, I got my electronic brain, my calculator, and I sat down and tapped out the figures. I counted up on my hand how many leap years there have been. So I have observed what was written, but God didn’t intend me to sit down with a calculator. So I had to take another step, and that was to interpret what was written. What does it mean? I had to interpret what it actually meant to the people that it was written to.

The Psalmist prayed for God to “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). We have observed what is written. Now let’s interpret what it means. It means that I have to be careful, as I have only a set number of days in my account. I must be wise how to use those days. I must remember my mortality.

God has me on this earth for only a very minor little period of time. I’ve already spent far too many of them, and there’s far too many things I would have like to accomplish. Usually, the interpretation is a principle. The application will vary in each one of our lives, but the principle, the interpretation will remain constant, even in different cultures.

It is obviously not a question of counting our days but making our days count. We not only observe what is written and interpret what it means, but we then must apply it to our lives. We make it personal, we apply it to our own life, to the situations we run across.

There are cultural differences in the Bible too, and the way the people lived in Bible days are not the same way that we live in western society today, and you must understand that there are cultural things there, even in the church epistles, that I don’t have to obey. Another example might be when Jesus said we should wash each other’s feet. Don’t try it on me! It’s a cultural thing. Observe what is written, then interpret it, what did it mean to the people to whom it was written?

Thirdly, apply it to your own life. And people, the Bible never works until you apply it. It doesn’t work when you’re sitting in a room, working all those books. All you are getting is head knowledge, but you’re getting head knowledge for a good reason: you want to learn how better to apply it in your life. So, knowing the Bible is one thing, applying it is something else.

In this teaching, I’m trying to help you enjoy your Bible again. The Bible is not enjoyed, E.W. Bullinger said, because it is not understood. So, in order to understand your Bible, observe, interpret, and apply.

This article is Copyright © 2013 Peter Wade and appears on the site: https://peterwade.com/

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The Enormous Spiritual Power of a Thankful Heart

GIVE THANKS – IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS FOR THIS IS GOD’S WILL FOR YOU IN CHRIST JESUS – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

IN EVERYTHING – The Greek word for “everything” is “pas” which means no exceptions. There is a silver lining to every cloud. God is with us whatever befalls us (Heb 13:5). It is God’s will that we find joy in prayer in Christ Jesus in every condition of life.

As Ruth Bell Graham well said “We can’t always give thanks FOR everything, but we can always give thanks IN everything.”

Job is a prime OT illustration of the supernatural response of thanksgiving even in the face of overwhelming troubles (If you are experiencing trials and afflictions [and most of us are!] read Job 1:13-20). IN the midst of his manifold afflictions, Job declared, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) And in the end “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees Thee… And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning,” (Job 42:512) “Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (James 5:11)

Gratitude is always a God-honoring attitude.

For all the heartaches and the tears,

For gloomy days and fruitless years

I do give thanks, for now I know

These were the things that helped me grow!

—Crandlemire

Ephesians 5:20 says “ALWAYS (all times) giving thanks for ALL THINGS in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” How is this possible? Certainly it is not possible in my NATURAL inclination! But it is possible by God’s SUPERNATURAL provision. In other words, what is IM-possible, is HIM-possible! Paul had just commanded us to continually “BE FILLED with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18). What “fills you” will “control you” and in this case He enables us to accomplish supernaturally what we cannot accomplish naturally.

As John Piper asks “How can we not be thankful when we owe everything to God?”

Indeed, he who thanks God for His mercies shall never want a mercy for which to thank, for “Every stream should lead us to the fountain.” (M. Henry)

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

— J Oatman

Ray Pritchard writes that “The foundation of gratitude is the expectation of nothing. If one expects nothing then anything is bonus. If one expects more than he receives, then he is disappoint. We are so prone to complain because roses have thorns than to give thanks because thorns have roses! “In everything give thanks.” How do we do this in a practical sense? First, thank him for your blessings. Second, thank him for how he has helped you in your trials. Third, thank him for his presence every day. Fourth, thank him for his promises for the future. As a Christian, our whole life is to be one great, “Thank you, Lord.” This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us.””

We should be ready to give the Lord thanks

For blessing as well as for test;

Hearts that are thankful is all that He asks;

Let’s trust Him to give what is best.

—Bierema

If you pause to THINK, you’ll have cause to THANK. God’s GIVING deserves our THANKSGIVING.

Paul exhorts us “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS (present tense = continually, as our habitual practice) through Him (Christ Jesus) to God the Father.” (Col 3:17) How is it possible to live a life of continual thanksgiving? As Jerry Bridges says we must “first renounce all confidence in our own power and then rely entirely on the power of the Holy Spirit. We must be ENABLED, not merely HELPED. What’s the difference? The word HELP implies we have some ability but not enough; we need someone else to supplement our partially adequate ability. By contrast, ENABLEMENT implies that we have no ability whatsoever. We’re entirely powerless. We can do nothing (cp Jn 15:5). But when by faith we renounce self-sufficiency and embrace reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit, we receive divine empowerment, enablement, and strength for personal transformation and ministry.” In short, the Holy Spirit enables us to continually manifest an attitude of gratitude.

Andrew Murray – A joyful, thankful life is what God has destined for us, is what He will work in us — what He desires, that He certainly does in those who do not withstand Him, but receive and suffer His will to work in them.

Notice that in 1Thes 5:16 (Rejoice always) and 1Thes 5:18 we see the combination of joy and giving thanks which Paul also links in Colossians 1:11-12 in the phrase “Joyously giving thanks to the Father.” Paul’s association of thanksgiving (eucharisteo) and joy (chara) is not surprising as both words are related to the the same Greek root (charis) which is our word “grace.” Indeed grace is the foundation for saints enabled by the Spirit to “joyously give thanks” when the circumstances are not very joy filled! And remember the lost world is watching. Will I respond naturally or supernaturally. The former draws attention to me, but the latter brings glory to the Father (Mt 5:16)! The secret to abounding joy is a Spirit wrought, grace based gratitude attitude. Remember, when you can’t change the wind, allow the Spirit to enable you to adjust your sails!

Thanksgiving is the vibration of the soul’s heart-strings under the soft touch of God’s benevolence.

F F Bruce – Ingratitude is one of the features of pagan depravity in Ro 1:21 (For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or GIVE THANKS; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.); the children of God are expected (and enabled by the Spirit) to “abound in thanksgiving” (Col 2:7Col 3:15174:2Eph 5:4,20)

J. C. Ryle – Thankfulness is a flower which will never bloom well excepting upon a root of deep humility.

Warren Wiersbe – An attitude of gratitude is a wonderful weapon against unbelief, disobedience, a hard heart, and a bitter spirit. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, let’s be thankful for what we do have, because God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him… We can’t control the circumstances of life, but we can control how we respond to them. That’s what faith is all about, daring to believe that God is working everything for our good even when we don’t feel like it or see it happening. “In everything give thanks” isn’t always easy to obey, but obeying this command is the best antidote against a bitter and critical spirit. The Scottish preacher George H. Morrison said, “Nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness, and is an insult cast in the face of God.”

Hiebert – When we realize that God works all things out for good to those who love Him and are yielded to His will (Ro 8:28Ge 50:20), thanksgiving under all circumstances becomes a glorious possibility “He who can say `AMEN’ to the will of God in his heart will be able to say ‘HALLELUJAH’ also.”‘

Consider what the Lord has done

For you and those you love;

Then give Him thanks with hearts of praise

For blessings from above.

–Sper

We don’t need more to be thankful for, we need to be more thankful.

God grant us the Spirit wrought grace to emulate Matthew Henry’s high standard who wrote in his diary the day he was mugged “Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.” Beloved, one of the best marks of spiritual maturity is the ability to give thanks when it is difficult!

G. K. Chesterton was once asked what was the greatest lesson he had ever learned to which he replied “The greatest lesson I have learned is to take things with GRATITUDE and not take them for GRANTED.” Chesterton added that “You say grace before meals. All right But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, walking, playing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” Thanksgiving is faith in action.

Thanksgiving to God comes (super) naturally when we count our blessings. We would much less apt to protest the command to give thanks in EVERYTHING if it were our habit to give thanks in ANYTHING. Empowered by the Spirit, we need to focus on our “haves,” not our “have-nots.” As the psalmist says “Bless (praise) the LORD, O my soul, and FORGET NONE of His benefits; ” (Psalm 103:2). Indeed, praise to God comes naturally when we count our blessings.

M B Babcock encourages us “Be on the lookout for mercies. The more we look for them, the more of them we will see. Blessings brighten when we count them. Out of the determination of the heart, the eyes see. If you want to be gloomy, there’s gloom enough to keep you glum; if you want to be happy, there’s gleam enough to keep you glad. Better to lose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings by counting your troubles.”

David Cooper writes that “Thanksgiving delivers us from a victim mentality and gives us a victor’s mentality. I once read that nothing can help the person with the wrong mental attitude, and nothing can stop a person with the right mental attitude. And the right mental attitude to overcome our obstacles and win our battles is thanksgiving.”

Missionary Benjamin Weir was held hostage in Lebanon and imprisoned under miserable conditions for 16 months. In his first interview after his release, he was asked how he spent his time and how he dealt with boredom and despair. His answer stunned the reporters. He simply said, “Counting my blessings.” “Blessings?” they responded. “Yes,” he explained. “Some days I got to take a shower. Sometimes there were some vegetables in my food. And I could always be thankful for the love of my family.”

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,

And you will be singing as the days go by.

—Oatman

ILLUSTRATION – Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today. A ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois was part of a life-saving squad. In 1860, when a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan. Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process and his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.

ILLUSTRATION – As Pastor H A Ironside was about to begin his meal in a restaurant, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited in to sit and as was his custom, he bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, “Do you have a headache?” Ironside replied, “No, I don’t.” The other man asked, “Well, is there something wrong with your food?” Ironside replied, “No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat.” The man said, “Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!” Ironside said, “Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does too!”

ILLUSTRATION – A woman had a parrot who always complained about everything. It was Thanksgiving Eve, and she was preparing the Thanksgiving meal. The parrot complained about everything as she worked. Finally, she had heard enough. She took him out of his cage and opened the refrigerator to put him in to punish him, “You’ll stay in the refrigerator until you cool off and get control on your tongue,” she said as she put him and closed the door. The parrot was stunned. Shivering, he caught a glimpse of the Thanksgiving turkey, skinned, legs pointing upward from the pan. The parrot said to the turkey, “Good heavens, man! What did you say?”

“In Everything Give Thanks!”

Mid sunshine, cloud or stormy days,

When hope abounds or care dismays,

When trials press and toils increase

Let not thy faith in God decrease—

‘In every thing give thanks.’

“All things we know shall work for good,

Nor would we change them if we could;

‘Tis well if only He command;

His promises will ever stand—

‘In every thing give thanks.’

“He satisfies the longing heart,

He thwarts the tempter’s cruel dart,

With goodness fills the hungry soul,

And helps us sing when billows roll.

‘In every thing give thanks.'”

–Author Unknown

As David a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22) said “I will GIVE THANKS to the LORD according to His righteousness, And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High… I will GIVE THANKS to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Thy wonders… Therefore I will GIVE THANKS to Thee among the nations, O LORD, And I will sing praises to Thy name… The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall THANK Him… Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And GIVE THANKS to His holy name… I will GIVE THANKS to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Thy name forever… With my mouth I will GIVE THANKS abundantly to the LORD; And in the midst of many I will praise Him… I will GIVE THANKS to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.” (Ps 7:179:118:4928:730:486:12109:30139:14)

Father grant by Your Spirit through Christ Jesus that we might be enabled to be “imitators of those (like David who continually gave thanks to You and) who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Heb 6:12) Amen

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES ON

GIVING THANKS

David steadfastly affirmed…

I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)

Spurgeon commentsI will bless the Lord at all times. He is resolved and fixed, I will (Ed: God won’t force us to choose thankfulness. It comes down to a choice, but even that choice is motivated by His indwelling Spirit as in Php 2:13note); he is personally and for himself determined, let others so as they may; he is intelligent in head and inflamed in heart — he knows to Whom the praise is due, and what is due, and for what and when.

To Jehovah, and not to second causes our gratitude is to be rendered. The Lord hath by right a monopoly in His creatures praise. Even when a mercy may remind us of our sin with regard to it, as in this case David’s deliverance from the Philistine monarch was sure to do, we are not to rob God of His meed (a fitting return or recompense) of honour because our conscience justly awards a censure to our share in the transaction. Though the hook was rusty, yet God sent the fish, and we thank Him for it.

At all timesin every situation, under every circumstance, before, in and after trials, in bright days of glee, and dark nights of fear.

He would never have done praising, because never satisfied that he had done enough; always feeling that he fell short of the Lord’s deservings.

Happy is he whose fingers
are wedded to his harp.

He who praises God for mercies
shall never want a mercy for which to praise.

To bless the Lord is never unseasonable. His praise shall continually be in my mouth, not in my heart merely, but in my mouth too.

Our thankfulness is not to be a dumb thing; it should be one of the daughters of music. Our tongue is our glory, and it ought to reveal the glory of God.

What a blessed mouthful is God’s praise! How sweet, how purifying, how perfuming! If men’s mouths were always thus filled, there would be no repining against God, or slander of neighbours.

If we continually rolled this dainty morsel under our tongue, the bitterness of daily affliction would be swallowed up in joy.

God deserves blessing with the heart, and extolling with the mouth —

good thoughts in the closet
and
good words in the world.

So how does one emulate and exercise this Davidic attitude of gratitude?…

Through Him (through Christ, our Great High Priest – see study of through Him = through Christ) then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips (What does this imply? As physical fruit is borne by abiding, so spiritual fruit is borne by us abiding in Christ and His Spirit in us – Gal 5:22noteGal 5:23noteJn 15:5) that give thanks to His Name. (Hebrews 13:15note)

Chrysostom – gave a practical illustration of this heroic temper by repeating (this attitude of gratitude), as he died in the extreme hardships of an enforced and painful exile. (Quoted by James Moffatt in 1Thessalonians 5 Commentary)

See Related Resources on a thankful spirit… :

Exposition of Ephesians 5:20 (Eph 5:20)

Exposition of Philippians 4:6 (Php 4:6)

A great many Christians although familiar with this command, have looked on it as a sort of counsel of perfection which is out of reach of most of us mere mortals. We offer our own practical paraphrase of Paul’s command saying something like “in most things give thanks” or “in some things give thanks” or “give thanks when you feel like it”! Let’s be honest, there are times when the thought of giving thanks is the farthest thought from our mind. We would rather grumble and/or complain. And often we have a “legitimate” (in the world’s way of looking at things) reason to gripe. And so we arrive at a “spiritual stalemate” because we really don’t want to do what Paul is commanding. It is at times like this what we need to remember the basic spiritual “law” that God never asks us to do something that He doesn’t enable us to accomplish. Thanksgiving is often an act of sheer faith. Our intellect says “get upset and complain.” But the Spirit says, “give thanks in all things and at all times.” If we respond to the Spirit in faith (God allowed it and He will cause it to work out for good) and genuinely give thanks (not legalistically but enabled by amazing grace), we are blessed. We will cease fretting and a beautiful joy and confidence in God sets in. Admittedly this describes the ideal response, and yet one that is within the reach of every believer because we all possess the Spirit and access to just the necessary amount of grace.

The opposite of giving thanks in all things is grumbling or murmuring, an attitude and response Paul addressed in his letter to the Philippians…

Do all things (how many? Just try to accomplish this naturally!) without grumbling or disputing; 15(Paul explains why this response is so important) that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. (See notesPhilippians 2:141516)

Comment: Notice that “non-grumbling” is not optional and is not just a suggestion. Paul is commanding “non-grumbling” to be the believer’s continual response [present imperative]! Remember that when you murmur about your circumstances, in the final analysis, you are murmuring against the One Who has designed every circumstance of your life. So when the urge to murmur comes over you [the old flesh will always urge you in that direction – see Gal 5:17note], remember that you need to view the adverse circumstances with eyes of faith and an eternal perspective [cf 2Cor 4:161718], asking the question “Is God still on the throne?” Then make the volitional choice to “Give thanks in everything!”

Thanksgiving is also an excellent antidote for anxiety or worry as we deduce from Paul’s famous command in Philippians…

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (see note Philippians 4:6)

Robert Morgan illustrates this spiritual dynamic…

When her children were rebelling against the Lord, Ruth Bell Graham found herself occasionally torn apart by worry. One night while abroad, she awoke suddenly in the middle of the night worrying about her son. 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.” (In Everything Give Thanks)

James Moffatt wrote the following regarding 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – To comment adequately on these diamond drops would be an outline a history of the Christian experience in its higher levels.

To the natural man who lives for this present world Paul gives a startling injunction. As usual though Paul does not command them to do something he did not model for them as testified by numerous passages…

Ro 1:8 (note) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.

1Cor 1:4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,

Ep 1:16 (note) do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;

Php 1:3 (note) I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

Col 1:3 (note) We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

Philemon 1:4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers

In everything (3956) (pas) (first in the Greek for emphasis!) means no exceptions! Every situation. All times. Every circumstance. Good. Bad. Happy. Sad. This all inclusive emphatic adverbial phrase lifts this admonition above the level of natural practice or possibility. The previous two commands are continuous as to time (always) and this one is universal in scope.

Really Paul, this is not humanly possible! To which Paul would probably reply “You’re right. It’s not. It’s only superhumanly possible!” Okay I see it now –

It’s impossible!

But it is…

Him-possible!

And so we’re not surprised to see the attitude of gratitude associated with a Spirit filled (controlled, enabled) saint for in the context of Eph 5:18note, Paul lists one of the “indicators” of Spirit filling writing that he or she is…

always (Same word as in 1Th 5:18 = pas = everything, no exceptions) giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (Eph 5:20note)

As alluded to at the beginning of this note, Paul said give thanks in everything not for everything. Paul is not calling us to be thankful for the rebellious kids, or for the terminal illness, etc. The preposition is in all things. In the midst of all things, we can give thanks because God’s indwelling Spirit will enable us to do so. Doing so is an expression of our trust in His Sovereignty and Faithfulness, that He will never test us beyond what we are able to endure! (1Cor 10:13note).

God is sovereign and is over all adversity and all prosperity. The upshot is that everything that is allowed into our lives either from His hand directly or is filtered through His hands of perfect love and infinite wisdom. And so we can give thanks in everything because He is still on the throne and is in control. He El Elyon: Most High God, Sovereign Over All.

William Law wrote in 1729 in his famous book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life wrote that…

If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness and all perfection, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it to a blessing. Could you, therefore, work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit, for it heals with a word speaking, and turns all that it touches into happiness

Richison makes a distinction that…

There is a difference in giving thanks “for” everything and “in” everything. If we gave thanks “for” everything that would mean that we give thanks for the Devil and his plan for the world!

Neither do we give thanks necessarily “after” everything. It does not require much faith to trace the hand of God with the benefit of hindsight. However, it takes faith to accept one’s lot with gratitude in the midst of circumstances… we need to have the attitude of Samuel in 1Samuel 3:18,

Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, ‘It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.

Whatever comes in our lives comes in by the will of God, otherwise, He would prevent it. God mixes with His divine compound the bitter and the sweet, the good and the bad, in appropriate proportions so that they work together for good. God knows just the right amount of sunshine and rain. He measures out these things with great precision… (1 Thessalonians 5:18 )

God designs all circumstances for the benefit of the believer. God thinks about your limitations. He knows the proper proportions of adversity that are right for you. We should not concern ourselves with the portion given to someone else. God works in each person’s life differently.

He custom designs the structure of their circumstances by divine design. God knows the straw that will break the camel’s back. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but He wants a tested product. Engineers of today’s automobiles test drive prototypes so that they know what these cars can tolerate. God wants to bring out the best in us…

God’s providential plan for our lives includes all contingencies. God foresees every circumstance that comes into our lives. Not only does He foresee everything that happens to us, but He providentially plans or allows each situation that comes into our lives.

There is no substitute for understanding the will of God for our suffering. Nothing can come into our lives unless the Lord allows it. God must put His initials on everything that comes into our state of affairs. We may give thanks through tears.

Our obligation is to believe God’s Word about these matters. The Bible teaches God’s providential care of His creatures throughout the Scriptures. (1 Thessalonians 5:18b)

Montgomery writes that Paul commands a “duty not dependent on gratifying times or circumstances. They must practice thanksgiving in every circumstance.” (And remember is we are filled with the Spirit “duty” is not a drudgery but a delight!)

There is a silver lining to every cloud. God is with us whatever befalls us, as was so beautifully recorded by William Cowper (John Piper’s description of his life or Audio version) in his hymn…

God Moves in a Mysterious Way (play)

God Moves in A Mysterious Way with Lyrics

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs, and works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread,
Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.

As John Piper asks “How can we not be thankful when we owe everything to God?” (A Godward Life)

Give thanks (2168)(eucharisteo [word study] from eucháristos = thankful, grateful, well-pleasing – Indicates the obligation of being thankful to someone for a favor done <> in turn from  = well + charizomai = to grant, give.; English – Eucharist – root of these words is charis = grace) means to show that one is under obligation by being thankful. To show oneself as grateful (most often to God in the NT).

Moulton and Milligan note that eucharisteo originally meant “do a good turn to” or “oblige,” and in late Greek passed readily into the meaning “be grateful,” “give thanks”. Giving thanks is the quality of being grateful, with the implication of also having appropriate (Spirit filled) attitude.

This meaning is common in diplomatic documents in which the recipient of a favor reciprocates with assurance of goodwill. It is also used o express appreciation for benefits or blessings. Giving thanks was an important component of Greco-Roman reciprocity as demonstrated by a copy of a letter written by the Emperor Claudius to a Gymnastic Club expressing his gratification at games performed in his honour. The word eucharista was also common on ancient inscriptions.

Thanksgiving expresses what ought never to be absent from any of our devotions. We should always be ready to express our grateful acknowledgement of past mercies as distinguished form the earnest seeking of future mercies.

TDNT writes that “We first find eucharistos in the senses “pleasant” and “graceful.” Eucharisteo means “to show a favor,” but this imposes a duty of gratitude and the meaning “to be thankful” or “to give thanks” develops. We also find the sense “to pray.” The Greek world held thanksgiving in high esteem. With the ordinary use we find a public use (gratitude to rulers) and a religious use (thanksgiving to the gods for blessings). Thanks are also a constituent part of letters.” (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)

Don’t miss the fact that give thanks is in the present imperative which calls for this to be our habitual attitude and action! The active voice means that his is a personal choice (enabled by grace and the Spirit) we each must make continually.

Spurgeon admits that “I have not always found it easy to practice this duty; this I confess to my shame. When suffering extreme pain some time ago, a brother in Christ said to me, “Have you thanked God for this?” I replied that I desired to be patient, and would be thankful to recover. “But,” said he, “in everything give thanks, not after it is over, but while you are still in it, and perhaps when you are enabled to give thanks for the severe pain, it will cease.” I believe that there was much force in that good advice. (Ed note: I agree but would add that even if the pain doesn’t cease, one’s heart assumes a proper perspective to pain).

Paul writes to the saints at Colossae – “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks (present tense) through Him (Christ Jesus) to God the Father. (see note Colossians 3:17)

The access we have is provided is through Him “by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh (He 10:20note).

F F Bruce comments that “Ingratitude is one of the features of pagan depravity in Ro 1:21 (For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.); the children of God are expected to “abound in thanksgiving” (Col 2:7note; cf. Col 3:15174:2-see notes Col 3:15174:2Eph 5:4,20-see notes Ep 5:420). (Bruce, F F: 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated. 1982 )

Hiebert – The Christian should meet adverse circumstances of life not with a spirit of stoic resignation but with a spirit of unfailing gratitude. Paul and Silas had exemplified this spirit when imprisoned at Philippi (Acts 16:25). Such an attitude is made possible only by the grace of God. It can become a vital reality only when the truth of Ro 8:28note is experienced. When we realize that God works all things out for good to those who love Him and are yielded to His will, thanksgiving under all circumstances becomes a glorious possibility “He who can say `Amen’ to the will of God in his heart will be able to say ‘Hallelujah’ also.”‘ It is typical of a life of unbelief that it lacks thanksgiving (Ro 1:21note), but a life united with God in Christ Jesus is characterized by a spirit of thanksgiving (Hiebert, D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians: BMH Book. 1996)

Barnes notes that believers…

can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning. Chrysostom, once the archbishop of Constantinople, and then driven into exile, persecuted, and despised, died far away from all the splendours of the capital, and all the comforts and honours which he had enjoyed, uttering his favourite motto — glory to God for all things. Bibliotheca Sacra, i. 700. So we may praise God for everything that happens to us under his government. A man owes a debt of obligation to him for anything which will recall him from his wanderings, and which will prepare him for heaven. Are there any dealings of God towards men which do not contemplate such an end? Is a man ever made to drink the cup of affliction when no drop of mercy is intermingled? Is he ever visited with calamity which does not in some way contemplate his own temporal or eternal good? Could we see all, we should see that we are never placed in circumstances in which there is not much for which we should thank God. And when, in his dealings, a cloud seems to cover his face, let us remember the good things without number which we have received, and especially remember that we are in the world of redeeming love, and we shall find enough for which to be thankful.

For this is the will of God. That is, that you should be grateful. This is what God is pleased to require you to perform in the name of the Lord Jesus. In the gift of that Saviour he has laid the foundation for that claim, and he requires that you should not be unmindful of the obligation. (cf note Hebrews 13:15). (Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament)

J Vernon McGee writes that give thanks in everything means…

in all circumstances, not just once a year, but all the time. This “is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” If you come to me and ask what is the will of God for you, I can tell you three specific things that are the will of God for you: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything. That is the will of God for you. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson )

Gary Delashmutt writes that…

The New Testament teaches that gratitude is related to spiritual health in two different ways. We’ll use a medical model to explore this …

(1) Gratitude is a “thermometer” that indicates the state of your spiritual health. A thermometer is a tool that tells you whether you have one of the symptoms of physical illness (fever). It is not a medicine. You don’t put the thermometer in the freezer and then stick it into your mouth to break your fever. You put it in your mouth and it tells you if you have a fever. In the same way, the presence or absence of gratitude in your dealings with God is one of the most reliable indicators of your spiritual health. This is because it (along with serving love) is the normal and natural result of personally understanding and receiving God’s grace. Grace means charity—a gift to the undeserving.

(2) Gratitude is a “medicine” that promotes your spiritual health. Gratitude is not a feeling that dictates your choices; it is a choice that affects your feelings. This is what Paul is emphasizing in this passage. Most of the New Testament passages on gratitude are imperatives, addressed to our volition rather than to our emotions. He is not prescribing for us how we must feel; he is calling on us to choose to rejoice and thank God on the basis of what is true–regardless of how happy or thankful we may feel.

This is a key insight into biblical spirituality. It involves our feelings and experiences, but it is not rooted in them, because they are fallen and broken and unreliable. It is rooted in God’s truth and our choice to express faith in the truth, often in spite of what we feel. This is why the notion that it is unspiritual to thank God unless you feel grateful is false. Choosing by faith to thank God in spite of intense feelings of depression, disappointment, anxiety, etc. is deeply spiritual. This is why if you wait until you feel grateful to thank God, you will feel less and less grateful. But if you choose to thank God regardless of how you feel, you will feel more grateful more often. It is in this sense that gratitude is a key step of faith (along with serving love) that unleashes God’s blessing into your experience. (“Grateful servants are happy people.”).

Wiersbe wrote…

An attitude of gratitude is a wonderful weapon against unbelief, disobedience, a hard heart, and a bitter spirit. “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1Thes 5:16-18). Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, let’s be thankful for what we do have, because God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. (Bible Exposition Commentary Old Testament)

We can’t control the circumstances of life, but we can control how we respond to them. That’s what faith is all about, daring to believe that God is working everything for our good even when we don’t feel like it or see it happening. “In everything give thanks” (1Thes. 5:18) isn’t always easy to obey, but obeying this command is the best antidote against a bitter and critical spirit. The Scottish preacher George H. Morrison said, “Nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness, and is an insult cast in the face of God.” (Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament)

(Commenting on Psalm 146:12 Wiersbe writes) God gives us life and breath (Acts 17:25), so it is only right that we use that life and breath to praise Him (Ps 150:6). To receive the gifts and ignore the Giver is the essence of idolatry. The writer promised God he would praise Him all of his life, and certainly this is wise preparation for praising Him for eternity (Ps 104:33). To live a life of praise is to overcome criticism and complaining, to stop competing against others and comparing ourselves with them. It means to be grateful in and for everything (1Th. 5:18Eph. 5:20) and really believe that God is working all things together for our good (Ro 8:28). A life of praise is free from constant anxiety and discouragement as we focus on the Lord, who is mentioned eleven times in this psalm. (Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament)

Steven Cole highlights the importance of our willingness to submit to God and to trust God if we are to truly give thanks in everything – David writes (Ps 86:12), “I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart.” Similarly, right after telling us to pray without ceasing, Paul says (1Th. 5:18), “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We cannot give thanks to God from the heart unless we are submissive to His sovereign hand in our circumstances and we believe that He is working even our trials together for our ultimate good.

BBC wrote that even the “Pagans who recognized that Fate or some god was sovereign over everything acknowledged that one should accept whatever comes or even give thanks for it. For Paul, those who trust God’s sovereignty and love can give thanks in every situation. (Bible Background Commentary)

Disciple’s Study Bible – God’s will is that we gratefully acknowledge His hand in all circumstances, not for all circumstances. Circumstances change; God does not. The Christian has an obligation to remain aware of God’s goodness regardless of appearances. Continuous prayer involves an attitude of openness to God in all situations and a practice of talking to God about all situations.

Merrill Unger wrote that thanksgiving is “A duty of which gratitude is the grace. This obligation of godliness is acknowledged by the universal sentiment of mankind; but as a Christian grace it has some blessed peculiarities. It is gratitude for all the benefits of divine Providence, especially for the general and personal gifts of redemption. The very term most in use shows this; it is charis, which is the grace of God in Christ, operating in the soul of the believer as a principle and going back to Him in gratitude: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2Cor. 9:15). The ethical gratitude of Christianity connects every good gift and every perfect gift with the gift of Christ. Moreover, it is a thanksgiving that in the Christian economy, and in it alone, redounds to God for all things: in everything give thanks. This characteristic flows from the former. The rejoicing that we have in the Lord, and the everlasting consolation we possess in Him, makes every possible variety of divine dispensation a token for good. The Christian privilege is to find reason for gratitude in all things: “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians. 5:18). (Unger, M. F., Harrison, R. K., Vos, H. F., Barber, C. J., & Unger, M. F. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Chicago: Moody Press)

James Smith – 1Chr 16:7, R.V. Prayer Study No. 8.

This Psalm is a compilation from three others. 1Chr 16:8-22 consists of first 15 verses of Psalm 105:23-33, quotations from Psalm 116:34-36 from Psalm 106.

David drew attention—

1. To Works of God (1Chr 16:8, etc.).

2. To Majesty of God (1Chr 16:23, etc.).

3. To Mercy of God (1Chr 16:34).

This latter is sweetest note of all. The chief work not to pray, but to praise. In everything give thanks. When He took the cup He gave thanks.

“In Everything Give Thanks!”

“‘Mid sunshine, cloud or stormy days,
When hope abounds or care dismays,
When trials press and toils increase
Let not thy faith in God decrease—
‘In every thing give thanks.’

“All things we know shall work for good,
Nor would we change them if we could;
‘Tis well if only He command;
His promises will ever stand—
‘In every thing give thanks.’

“He satisfies the longing heart,
He thwarts the tempter’s cruel dart,
With goodness fills the hungry soul,
And helps us sing when billows roll.
‘In every thing give thanks.'”
—Selected

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A Lost Art (Our Daily Bread) – Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today. Warren Wiersbe illustrated this problem in his commentary on Colossians. He told about a ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad. In 1860, a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.

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In his book FOLK PSALMS OF FAITH, Ray Stedman tells of an experience H. A. Ironside had in a crowded restaurant. Just as Ironside was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited his to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, “Do you have a headache?” Ironside replied, “No, I don’t.” The other man asked, “Well, is there something wrong with your food?” Ironside replied, “No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat.”

The man said, “Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!”

Ironside said, “Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does too!” (Ray Stedman, Folk Psalms of Faith)

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In a sermon at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, Gary Wilburn said: “In 1636, amid the darkness of the Thirty Years’ War, a German pastor, Martin Rinkart, is said to have buried five thousand of his parishioners in one year, and average of fifteen a day. His parish was ravaged by war, death, and economic disaster. In the heart of that darkness, with the cries of fear outside his window, he sat down and wrote this table grace for his children:

‘Now thank we all our God

With heart and hands and voices

Who wondrous things had done

In whom His world rejoices.

Who, from our mother’s arms,
Hath led us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today

Here was a man who knew thanksgiving comes from love of God, not from outward circumstances. (Don Maddox)

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Scottish minister Alexander Whyte was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was so gloomy that one church member thought to himself…

Certainly the preacher won’t think of anything for which to thank the Lord on a wretched day like this.

Much to his surprise, however, Pastor Whyte began by praying…

We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this.

That’s the habitual attitude of gratitude Paul is calling for in all of God’s children, beloved. Gratitude is an attitude that like all spiritual disciplines, needs to be consciously developed and deliberately cultivated in the dependence on the Holy Spirit and the grace in which we stand. There are some practical steps that can cultivate the gracious attribute of gratitude. For example, you can make thanksgiving a priority in your prayer life (Col 4:2note) rather than focusing only on petitions and requests. There may even be blessed times when your prayer time consists of nothing but gratefulness to the Almighty. You can always thank Him for the various wonderful aspects of your salvation (adoption & sovereign care, forgiveness, inheritance, the gift of His Spirit, freedom from sin’s power and Satan’s authority, etc) Have you had any prayer times like that recently? And you can thank Him for the “smaller” blessings of life, those things we all to often take for granted. You can ask Him to make you very sensitive to grumbling and mumbling complaints which are the polar opposite of a thankful spirit. You can utilize spiritual songs (Ep 5:20note) to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness, allowing the words of a wonderful hymn to lift your eyes and heart in a way that nothing else can. Thank people who bless you in even the smallest ways. It will complete your enjoyment of the blessing, and it will increase your capacity to thank God. Reflect on and serve those less fortunate than you. This will remind you of how gracious God has been to you, how far He has brought you, and how much He has blessed you—which will in turn motivate you to be grateful to God.

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Give Thanks! (READ: Leviticus 23:15-22) – At harvest time it’s natural to thank God for the bounty of His blessings. The Feast of Weeks in ancient Israel, established in Leviticus 23, was a week of joyous celebration and feasting in gratitude for the harvest (Dt. 16:9101112). Even today as farmers gather their crops, many give thanks to the Lord for the abundance of their harvest.

But what if untimely and persistent rain keeps the farmer from getting his machines into the fields and harvesting the ripe grain? What if a sudden hailstorm flattens the corn? Or a summer drought dries up the fields?

The apostle Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks” (1Th 5:18). That may sound unrealistic. But think about it. The Jews were instructed to celebrate the Feast of Weeks whether the crops came in or not. Likewise, we are to give thanks to the Lord “in everything.” After all, our praise is to God, not to a barn full of hay or a crib full of corn.

Yes, we can give thanks. We can do so whether the day goes smoothly or we meet aggravating problems. We can be grateful if we’re rich or poor, when we’re feeling well or if our health fails. In every circumstance, we can affirm God’s goodness and discover reasons to give thanks to Him. After all, our gratitude is to Him and for Him. — David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Consider what the Lord has done
For you and those you love;
Then give Him thanks with hearts of praise
For blessings from above. –Sper

We don’t need more to be thankful for,
we need to be more thankful.

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A Flat Thanks – The day before Christmas became a thanksgiving day for my family. The station wagon was packed with kids and travel stuff for the 400-mile trip to Grandma’s. As is our custom, before leaving we asked God to protect us on the road. He did, but in an unusual way.

As we were cruising down I-75 in Ohio, we ran over some debris in the road. It made a lot of noise, but did no damage—or so we thought. With every passing mile we figured that the crisis had passed. When we pulled off the expressway for gas a few miles later, though, we were in for a deflating surprise. I felt a sickening, sloppy feeling in the front of the car. Both front tires had gone flat.

We weren’t happy with having to replace the tires, but we were thankful for God’s care. Thankful that we didn’t have an accident. Thankful that the tires stayed inflated until we got off the expressway. Thankful for the tow truck sitting at the gas station. Thankful that a repair shop was open. We were thankful for God’s answer to our prayer.

Our trials were nothing compared with what the apostle Paul endured. Yet he gave thanks to God, and he said we should be thankful “in everything.” Any day can be thanksgiving day, even when things go wrong.— Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

We should be ready to give the Lord thanks
For blessing as well as for test;
Hearts that are thankful is all that He asks;
Let’s trust Him to give what is best. —Bierema

If you pause to think,
you’ll have cause to thank.

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Everyday Blessings – Missionary Benjamin Weir was held hostage in Lebanon and imprisoned under miserable conditions for 16 months. In his first interview after his release, he was asked how he spent his time and how he dealt with boredom and despair. His answer stunned the reporters. He simply said, “Counting my blessings.”

“Blessings?” they responded.

“Yes,” he explained. “Some days I got to take a shower. Sometimes there were some vegetables in my food. And I could always be thankful for the love of my family.”

We can understand why the reporters were astonished. It’s hard for most of us to be consistently thankful for the commonplace blessings that make life pleasant and comfortable–the unfailing supply of our daily needs, the provision of food and shelter, the companionship of friends and families. There are times when we may even forget the wonderful mercies of God’s redeeming grace.

Paul and Silas, though they were beaten, thrown into prison, and placed in stocks, were still “singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25). May we learn from them, and from Benjamin Weir, to count our blessings no matter what our circumstances. We have many reasons to rejoice. — Vernon C. Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. –Oatman

Praise to God comes naturally
when you count your blessings.

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Thanks For Fleas – Corrie ten Boom was an inspiration and challenge to thousands of people after World War II. Hearts were stirred and lives changed as she told with moving simplicity about God’s sufficiency to meet her needs, even as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.

Not only was the camp filthy, but there were fleas everywhere. Corrie’s sister Betsie, who was imprisoned with her, insisted that 1 Thessalonians 5:18 was God’s will for them: “In everything give thanks.” But giving thanks in a flea-infested place seemed unrealistic to Corrie—until she realized why the guards didn’t come into their barracks to make them stop praying and singing hymns. They wanted to avoid the fleas! So, the prisoners were free to worship and study the Bible. The fleas, yes, even the fleas were agents of grace, and something to be thankful for.

What are some of the “fleas” in our lives? They aren’t the big difficulties, but the petty annoyances. They are the little trials from which we can’t escape. Is it possible that they are one of the ways the Lord teaches us spiritual lessons and helps us to increase our endurance?

When we are tempted to grumble, let’s remember the fleas and give thanks. —Vernon C. Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

For all the heartaches and the tears,
For gloomy days and fruitless years
I do give thanks, for now I know
These were the things that helped me grow! —Crandlemire

If you pause to think,
you’ll find cause to thank.

FOR THIS IS GOD’S WILL IN CHRIST JESUS: touto gar thelema theou en Christo Iesou eis humas:

For (gar) is a term of explanation which should always prompt a pause to ponder.

Take a moment and do a survey of some Scriptural passages related to God’s will (interrogate with the 5W’S & H [for many of the passages it will be important to check the context] and write down your observations/applications in your devotional notebook) – Mt 6:10noteMt 7:21noteMt 12:5026:42Mark 3:35Jn 4:346:407:17Acts 13:2221:1422:14Ro 12:2noteEph 5:17noteEp 6:6noteCol 1:9noteCol 4:12note1Th 4:3note1Th 5:18noteHeb 10:7noteHe 10:36noteHe 13:21note1Pe 2:15note1Pe 4:2note1Jn 2:17notePs 40:8notePs 143:10note

For (gar) introduces an explanation, in this case Paul explains why all saints should be motivated to continually be grateful. According to Hiebert the preposition for (gar) “introduces the fact that this triplet of commands is justified because of God’s will for the readers.”

Hiebert goes on to comment on this (touto) that “There is some uncertainty as to the intended scope of “this” (touto). Is it to be restricted to thanksgiving alone, or does it include all three injunctions?… The context favors this inclusive reference. Rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving form a trio that are closely related and must not be separated in practice. If the dove of Christian joy is continually to mount upward, it must fly on the wings of prayer and thanksgiving.” (Hiebert, D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians: BMH Book. 1996)

Guzik comments that “After each one of these exhortations – rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks – we are told to do them because it is the will of God. The thought isn’t “this is God’s will, so you must do it.” The thought is rather “this is God’s will, so you can do it.” It isn’t easy to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, but we can do it because it is God’s will. (Ref)

This is God’s will – Paul was not teaching that we should thank God for everything that happens to us, but ineverything. Even in evil circumstances, we can still be thankful for God’s presence and for the good that He will accomplish through the distress.

Will (2307)(thelema from thelo = to will with the “-ma” suffix indicating the result of the will = “a thing willed”) generally speaks of the result of what one has decided. One sees this root word in the feminine name “Thelma.” In its most basic form, thelema refers to a wish, a strong desire, and the willing of some event. (Note: See also the discussion of the preceding word boule for comments relating to thelema).

Zodhiates says that thelema is the “Will, not to be conceived as a demand, but as an expression or inclination of pleasure towards that which is liked, that which pleases and creates joy. When it denotes God’s will, it signifies His gracious disposition toward something. Used to designate what God Himself does of His own good pleasure. (Zodhiates, S. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG )

Thelema – 62x in 58v – Mt 6:107:2112:5018:1421:3126:42Mark 3:35Luke 12:4722:4223:25Jn 1:134:345:306:3839407:179:31Acts 13:2221:1422:14Ro 1:10noteRo 2:18noteRo 12:2noteRo 15:32note1Cor 1:17:3716:122Cor 1:18:5Gal 1:4Ep 1:1noteEp 1:5noteEp 1:9noteEp 1:11noteEp 2:3noteEp 5:17noteEp 6:6noteCol 1:1noteCol 1:9noteCol 4:12note1Th 4:3note1Th 5:18note2Ti 1:1note2Ti 2:26noteHe 10:7noteHe 10:9noteHe 10:10noteHe 10:36noteHe 13:21note1Pe 2:15note1Pe 3:17note1Pe 4:2note1Pe 4:19note2Pe 1:21note1Jn 2:175:14Rev 4:11noteNAS = desire(1), desires(1), will(57).

Thelema has both an objective meaning (“what one wishes to happen”) and a subjective connotation (“the act of willing or desiring”). The word conveys the idea of desire, even a heart’s desire, for the word primarily expresses emotion instead of volition. Thus God’s will is not so much God’s intention, as it is His heart’s desire. It is God’s gracious disposition.

Don’t complain about thorns among the roses!

Be grateful for roses among the thorns! (Jas 1:2notePhil 4:6note)

All the way my savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who thro’ life has been my guide?
heav’nly peace divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for ev’ry trial,
Feeds me with the living bread;
Tho’ my weary steps may falter,
and my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see;

All the way, my Savior leads me;
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above:
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song thro’ endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song thro’ endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;

Do not meet adverse circumstances of life with a spirit of stoic resignation but with a spirit of unfailing gratitude. (Heb 12:567891011 see notes He 12:567891011 to help understand this powerful truth of God’s discipline & its ultimate purpose… then with that perspective you can offer thanks in everything, even though you may feel or be experiencing sorrow. It is “Him-possible”)

In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are in prison in Philippi and Luke records that “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25) Such an attitude is possible only by the grace of God and the empowering Spirit of God. As someone has said ”He who can say ‘Amen’ to the will of God in his heart will be able to say ‘Hallelujah’ also.”

Ray Stedman writes that “Twice in this letter we have had this phrase, “This is the will of God.” We had it first in 1Thessalonians 4:3, where Paul says, “This is the will of God for you, that you know how to preserve your own body in moral purity.” That is the will of God for your body! But here is the will of God for your spirit, your inner life — that you “give thanks in all circumstances.” If you want to do the will of God there are the two areas in which his will is clearly set out for you:

Moral purity for your body;
Continual thanksgiving for your spirit.

In Christ Jesus – Christ Jesus Himself is the pattern and source of a life of habitual gratitude. Gratitude to God found its supreme manifestation in Christ’s earthly life, and it is only in union with Him (see In Christand also in Christ Jesus) that such a life is possible for the believer. This life is the product of the new life received from Him and is made operative in believers by the indwelling Holy Spirit. In his description of Spirit filled or controlled believers Paul wrote that they are “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (Eph 5:20 note)

Comment: MacArthur commenting on Ephesians 5:20 writes that “To be thankful always is to recognize God’s control of our lives in every detail as He seeks to conform us to the image of His Son. Nothing must grieve the Holy Spirit so much as the believer who does not give thanks. In King Lear (I.ii.283, 312) Shakespeare wrote, “Ingratitude, thou marble–hearted fiend! … How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!” When God brings trials and difficulties into our lives and we complain and grumble, we question His wisdom and love as well as His sovereignty… The only person who can genuinely give thanks for all things is the humble person, the person who knows he deserves nothing and who therefore gives thanks even for the smallest things. Lack of thankfulness comes from pride, from the conviction that we deserve something better than we have. [MacArthur: Ephesians]

James Denney comments that…

The third of the standing orders of the Church is, from one point of view, a combination of the first and second; for thanksgiving is a kind of joyful prayer. As a duty, it is recognised by everyone within limits; the difficulty of it is only seen when it is claimed, as here, without limits: In everything give thanks. That this is no accidental extravagance is shown by its recurrence in other places. To mention only one: in Php 4:6 (note) the Apostle writes “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Is it really possible to do this thing?

There are times, we all know, at which thanksgiving is natural and easy. When our life has taken the course which we ourselves had purposed, and the result seems to justify our foresight; when those whom we love are prosperous and happy; when we have escaped a great danger, or recovered from a severe illness, we feel, or say we feel, so thankful. Even in such circumstances we are possibly not so thankful as we ought to be. Perhaps, if we were, our lives would be a great deal happier. But at all events we frankly admit that we have cause for thanksgiving; God has been good to us, even in our own estimate of goodness; and we ought to cherish and express our grateful love toward Him. Let us not forget to do so. It has been said that an unblessed sorrow is the saddest thing in life; but perhaps as sad a thing is an unblessed joy. And every joy is unblessed for which we do not give God thanks. “Unhallowed pleasures” is a strong expression, which seems proper only to describe gross wickedness; yet it is the very name which describes any pleasure in our life of which we do not recognise God as the Giver, and for which we do not offer Him our humble and hearty thanks.

We would not be so apt to protest against the idea of giving thanks in everything if it had ever been our habit to give thanks in anything.

Think of what you call, with thorough conviction, your blessings and your mercies, — your bodily health, your soundness of mind, your calling in this world, the faith which you repose in others and which others repose in you; think of the love of your husband or wife. Think of all those sweet and tender ties that bind our lives into one; think of the success with which you have wrought out your own purposes, and laboured at your own ideal; and with all this multitude of mercies before your face, ask whether even for these you have given God thanks. Have they been hallowed and made means of grace to you by your grateful acknowledgment that He is the Giver of them. all? If not, it is plain that you have lost much joy, and have to begin the duty of thanksgiving in the easiest and lowest place.

But the Apostle rises high above this when he says, In everything give thanks. He knew, as I have remarked already, that the Thessalonians had been visited by suffering and death: is there a place for thanksgiving there? Yes, he says; for the Christian does not look on sorrow with the eyes of another man. When sickness comes to him or to his home; when there is loss to be borne, or disappointment, or bereavement; when his plans are frustrated, his hopes deferred, and the whole conduct of his life simply taken out of his hands, he is still called to give thanks to God. For he knows that God is love. He knows that God has a purpose of His own in his life, — a purpose which at the moment he may not discern, but which he is bound to believe wiser and larger than any he could purpose for himself. Everyone who has eyes to see must have seen, in the lives of Christian men and women, fruits of sorrow and of suffering which were conspicuously their best possessions, the things for which the whole Church was under obligation to give thanks to God on their behalf.

It is not easy at the moment to see what underlies sorrow; it is not possible to grasp by anticipation the beautiful fruits which it yields in the long run to those who accept it without murmuring: but every Christian knows that all things work together for good to them that love God (see note Romans 8:28); and in the strength of that knowledge he is able to keep a thankful heart, however mysterious and trying the providence of God may be.

That sorrow, even the deepest and most hopeless, has been blessed, no one can deny. It has taught many a deeper thoughtfulness, a truer estimate of the world and its interests, a more simple trust in God. It has opened the eyes of many to the sufferings of others, and changed boisterous rudeness into tender and delicate sympathy. It has given many weak ones the opportunity of demonstrating the nearness and the strength of Christ, as out of weakness they have been made strong. Often the sufferer in a home is the most thankful member of it. Often the bedside is the surmiest spot in the house, though the bedridden one knows that he or she will never be free again. It is not impossible for a Christian in everything to give thanks.

But it is only a Christian who can do it, as the last words of the Apostle intimate: “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.” These words may refer to all that has preceded: “Rejoice alway; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks”; or they may refer to the last clause only. Whichever be the case, the Apostle tells us that the ideal in question has only been revealed in Christ, and hence is only within reach of those who know Christ. Till Christ came, no man ever dreamt of rejoicing alway, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in everything. There were noble ideals in the world, high, severe, and pure; but nothing so lofty, buoyant, and exhilarating as this. Men did not know God well enough to know what His will for them was; they thought He demanded integrity, probably, and beyond that, silent and passive submission at the most; no one had conceived that God’s will for man was that his life should be made up of joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. But he who has seen Jesus Christ, and has discovered the meaning of His life, knows that this is the true ideal. For Jesus came into our world, and lived among us, that we might know God; He manifested the name of God that we might put our trust in it; and that name is Love; it is Father. If we know the Father, it is possible for us, in the spirit of children, to aim at this lofty Christian ideal; if we do not, it will seem to us utterly unreal. The will of God in Christ Jesus means the will of the Father; it is only for children that His will exists. Do not put aside the apostolic exhortation as paradox or extravagance; to Christian hearts, to the children of God, he speaks words of truth and soberness when he says, Rejoice alway; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks. Has not Christ Jesus given us peace with God, and made us friends instead of enemies? Is not that a fountain of joy too deep for sorrow to touch? Has He not assured us that He is with us all the days, even to the end of the world? Is not that a ground upon which we can look up in prayer all the day long? Has He not told us that all things work together for good to them that love God? Of course we cannot trace His operation always; but when we remember the seal with which Christ sealed that great truth; when we remember that in order to fulfil the purpose of God in each of us He laid down His life on our behalf, can we hesitate to trust His word? And if we do not hesitate, but welcome it gladly as our hope in the darkest hour, shall we not try even in everything to give thanks?

Matthew Henry – If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in every thing. As we must in every thing make our requests known to God by supplications, so we must not omit thanksgiving, Philippians 4:6. We should be thankful in every condition, even in adversity as well as prosperity. It is never so bad with us but it might be worse. If we have ever so much occasion to make our humble complaints to God, we never can have any reason to complain of God, and have always much reason to praise and give thanks: the apostle says, This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us, that we give thanks, seeing God is reconciled to us in Christ Jesus; in him, through him, and for his sake, he allows us to rejoice evermore, and appoints us in every thing to give thanks. It is pleasing to God.

Andrew Murray – A joyful, thankful life is what God has destined for us, is what He will work in us: what He desires, that He certainly does in those who do not withstand Him, but receive and suffer His will to work in them. (The New Life)

William Barclay – There is always something for which to give thanks; even on the darkest day there are blessings to count. We must remember that if we face the sun the shadows will fall behind us but if we turn our backs on the sun all the shadows will be in front.

A French proverb says “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.”

Although he was not a Christian as far as I can discern, Cicero has some sage advice remarking that “A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.”

Chrysostom’s example of “Praise For All Things”…

Three hundred years after Paul lived John Chrysostom, a good and brave man who preached very plainly against iniquity of all kinds. The empress was not a good woman, so she schemed to have him falsely accused and banished. He died an exile from his home.

Thirty years later, his body was bought back to Constantinople for burial in the imperial tomb. Chrysostom’s motto was inscribed on the tomb: “Praise God for everything!”

As his friends testified, “When he was driven from home, when he was a stranger in the strange land, his letters would often end with that doxology, ‘Praise God for all things!’ “

Where did Chrysostom get his motto? From Paul—”In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians. 5:18). (Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations)

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In Everything Give Thanks = Taking [a] “servant” attitude of thankfulness in all of life’s circumstances will help you react as old Matthew Henry did when he was mugged. He wrote in his diary, “Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.” I wonder if I could be that thankful. Could you (or I)? One of the greatest marks of spiritual maturity is the ability to give thanks when it’s tough.

G. K. Chesterton, when asked what was the greatest lesson he had ever learned in life, said, “The greatest lesson I have learned is to take things with gratitude and not take them for granted.” He also wrote, “You say grace before meals. All right But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, walking, playing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” Throughout the Scripture, we hear the call to give thanks. Thanksgiving is faith in action

A woman had a parrot who always complained about everything. It was Thanksgiving Eve, and she was preparing the Thanksgiving meal. The parrot complained about everything as she worked. Finally, she had heard enough. She took him out of his cage and opened the refrigerator to put him in to punish him, “You’ll stay in the refrigerator until you cool off and get control on your tongue,” she said as she put him and closed the door. The parrot was stunned. Shivering, he caught a glimpse of the Thanksgiving turkey, skinned, legs pointing upward from the pan. The parrot said to the turkey, “Good heavens, man! What did you say?”

Focus on your “haves,” not your “have-nots.” The hymn says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” As the psalmist said, “Forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

Observe that in 1Thes 5:16 and 1Thes 5:18 we have rejoicing coupled with thanksgiving. This same combination appears in Colossians 1:11-12 “Joyously giving thanks to the Father.” Paul’s association of thanksgiving (eucharisteo) and joy (chara) is not surprising for they both derive from the the same Greek root (charis) which is our word “grace.” And so grace is the foundation for fallen men and women to be enabled by the Spirit to keep on rejoicing and keep on giving thanks when the circumstances are not very joy filled! And remember the lost world is watching. Will I respond naturally or supernaturally. The first draws attention to me, but the latter points toward the Father (Mt 5:16)!

Thanksgiving is eucharisteo, and joy is chara. If you don’t give thanks, what will you give? Anger, resentment, doubt, complaint? The secret to abounding joy is the gratitude attitude. “When you can’t change the wind, adjust your sails.”

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Be Filled With Thankfulness – Throughout history, many cultures have set aside a time for expressing their thankfulness. In the US, Thanksgiving Day originated with the pilgrims. In the midst of extreme hardship, loss of loved ones, and meager supplies, they still believed they were blessed. They chose to celebrate God’s blessings by sharing a meal with Native Americans who had helped them survive.

We know we’ve lost the spirit of that original celebration when we catch ourselves complaining that our Thanksgiving Day has been “spoiled” by bad weather, disappointing food, or a bad cold. It’s we who are spoiled—spoiled by the very blessings that should make every day a day of thanksgiving, whatever our circumstances.

Billy Graham wrote, “Ingratitude is a sin, just as surely as is lying or stealing or immorality or any other sin condemned by the Bible.” He then quoted Romans 1:21, one of the Bible’s indictments against rebellious humanity. Then Dr. Graham added, “Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.”

Which condition describes you?—Joanie Yoder

A grumbling mood of discontent
Gives way to thankfulness
When we consider all God’s gifts
And all that we possess. —Sper

Gratitude is a God-honoring attitude

Courtesy of https://www.preceptaustin.org/give_thanks#Thankfulness

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Why Should We Trust in God?

Trust is defined as the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something. Trust is to have confidence in someone or something that they will not harm you. All of us regardless of age, background, or location in life trust in something or someone. What do you trust in every morning when you get up? What do you trust in throughout the day? What do you trust in when you go to bed at night? Whose strength do you rely on? Who or what is truth in your life? All of us trust in things or people that we build our lives on? Sit down a minute, be honest and reflect what you put your confidence in day in and day out. What or who has the priority of trust in your heart? Trust is the bricks that we build our life on. Many trust their own abilities. Many trust their bank accounts and stock portfolios, many trust their relationships with people, many trust their intelligence and ability to discern, many trust a political idea or a secular philosophy, and many trust their religion. What or who do you trust?

Many of us have trust issues. We have been burned in the past in a relationship and are fearful to put our trust in anything. The world around builds mistrust. We are led to believe no one really cares about me. We fear to trust. We are afraid to get burned again. We are tired of trusting in the liars and the deceivers who we have believed the lie or the mirage and have been greatly disappointed. Things will always let you down, people will so often hurt you and fade away when you need them. Our trust issues lead to disillusionment and hopeless in life. Our trust issues build fear and worry in our lives.

You become what you trust in. Psalm 115:8: Those who make them (idols) become like them; so do all who trust in them. We reflect like a mirror the object of our trust.

We were created in the image of God and are wired to trust in Him. He does not lie. He is faithful to His Word. He is able. He is truth. He is 100% reliable all the time. He will never let you down. It is impossible for God to lie and it is impossible for him to be unfaithful to His Word.

Romans 10:11: For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].

Whoever means whoever. Anyone of any race, any location, any age, any gender and any occupation that trusts in God will never be disappointed in his or her expectations. No one else can make that promise.

Psalm 22:4: To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

“Put to shame” in the Hebrew means “to be disappointed, to be ashamed to the point you are pale and blush, to fail in hope and expectation, to be confounded, be troubled and disturbed, and to be confused.”

We will never be disappointed if we build our life on our trust in God and are not swayed by the rumblings of the world. We will never be embarrassed by our trust in God. We will never be ashamed when we trust in God. We will never be troubled or disturbed to trust in God for He will not fail us. Only when we trust in God does rescue and deliverance come. Only He can bring us to safety and is a rock and refuge in this troubled and uncertain world.

God wants us to put Him first in our lives. He wants us to put our confidence and trust in Him, all the time, in everything. God wants us to let go and let God and to trust Him without reservation. This is not something that is done overnight. It takes time to build trust. We need to build our trust in God one day at a time.

Psalm 31:15: My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.

We must trust God and put our times, passions, desires, goals, and dreams in His hands.

Psalm 9:10: And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

The key is to know His name. Know who He is and what He promises. He promises He will never forsake you, ever. He will never desert you, never. Do you believe it? He promises that He will provide for you. Always. Do you believe it?

Proverbs 3:5,6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

We cannot trust half-heartedly. We must be all in. We trust Him with all our heart and we have to not lean and rely on our abilities and our own understanding. It is a child-like confidence in our Heavenly Father. We learn to acknowledge Him every day in everything and He promises He will direct our lives. He will guide us to where we need to be to fulfill His plans for our lives. It all begins with trust.

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.”  Psalm 31:14  NASB

In Hebrew, aḥ (trust) expresses that sense of well-being and security which results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence. It is to be secure and fear nothing.

In general, the Old Testament contrasts the validity of that sense of confidence which comes from reliance upon God with the folly of any other kind of security. It is made plain that all such trust will end in disgrace and shame, whereas those whose hope is in God alone will be delivered from their enemies (Ps 22:4).

Notice how David expresses the sense of security and confidence. “You are my God.”  There is a lot packed into this declaration. First, it declares the YHVH is David’s only God.  In a polytheistic world, this declaration matters.  David is restricting any help from the divine to this God, and this God alone.  David is no Laban, keeping a few household gods on the side in case one or the other failed to perform.  If YHVH doesn’t come through, David is SOL.

Second, David asserts that he totally relies on YHVH.  His well-being and security, top priority issues in this poem, are going to be resolved only by YHVH’s hand.  He is placing no confidence in any other solution.  This is not a matter of believing some creed or dogma.  This is hope, David’s only hope.  While trusting in men may be expected to fail, with God everything is at stake.

Trust in God is more than a motto on the back of a coin.  In fact, we might wonder if biblical “trust” can even be understood apart from Hebrew thought.  The word here is batah.  It seems to have no cognates in other ancient languages.  That makes it uniquely Hebrew.  The fundamental meaning of the verb is to rely upon, to place confidence in, to experience well-being and security.

There are several Hebrew words that are translated “trust” in the Old Testament. One in particular, “batach”, stands out in terms of what it looks like to trust in God when viewed in its pictographic form.

Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon defines “trust” as; “to set one’s hope and confidence upon”, “to be secure fearing nothing”

Let’s next take a look at the pictograph of each letter that forms this word “trust” (batach) and see how it can help us to wrap not only our thinking but our actions around the valuable revelation of this Hebrew word.

The Hebrew letters in “betach” are “bet”, “tet”, and, a “chet”.

Bet: Inside

“Bet” is the first letter of the Hebrew word “betach” and it is a picture of a tent, home or family. It speaks of being on the inside, abiding, and rest.

There is no security or trust outside of Him. In Him, there is nothing to fear. We are safe and protected inside God’s tent and can enjoy the warmth of His presence.

Tet: Wrapped

The second letter of the Hebrew word for trust “betach” is a “tet” and it is a picture of something wrapped.

The concept of wrapping can be related to how a baby loves to be swaddled and wound tightly in a blanket. It seems to be soothing to babies to be bundled in this way. We are securely wrapped in the blanket of God’s love and protection when we trust in Him.

Chet: Fence

“Chet” is depicted with a fence or a wall and is attached to the concepts of surrounding and protecting. This pictograph differs in thought from “bet”, in that, it speaks more of boundaries. Our part of trusting God as it concerns this letter is for us to stay within the boundaries of God’s purposed and determined ways. God has placed a divine fence around us that protects us against our enemies. God is not obligated to protect us when we step outside of those fences He has built for our protection.

Trust in God is living without concerns.  It is the sense of confidence that comes from God’s total reliability.  It is participating in the community that depends on God’s past history. To believe is to remember. Faith is the feeling I have when I experience the reality of God’s care.  It does not exist independently of my experience.  It is not something out there, waiting for me to affirm.  It is the present-moment reliability of God’s hand in my life. My faith is the confident expectation that God is God, that what He does is good and that He cares for me. Trust is the continued expectation of deliverance.

Without trust, no relationship can last.  It really doesn’t matter if you have legally binding documents, a contract, a negotiated peace treaty or death-bed promises.  Without trust, it’s just so much air. We cannot have a relationship with God unless we trust Him.

So, what does it mean to trust?  If we look at the uses of batah, we find that it often describes false security.  The Bible tells us that men trust in riches, property, weapons (military strength), places and other people.  All of these are misplaced.  None will last.  Most importantly, the Bible condemns trust in myself.  Men who look to themselves for security are not only foolish, they are sinful.  When this use of the word batah was translated into Greek, the translation was pepoithenai (to put confidence in), but when the word batah was translated into Greek when it expressed trust in God, then the Greek word was elpizein (to hope in).  That distinction helps us understand the true nature of trust.  It is not principally about the context of my ordinary life security.  It is about the final outcome of my confidence.

God is completely different then anything else we trust in.  He is utterly reliable, completely faithful and totally trustworthy.  He is my only real hope.  God is Who He says He is.  That is my hope.  That is why I put all my confidence in Him. Without trusting in God our hopes and dreams eventually will vanish into thin air. Proverbs 10:28 says the expectation of the wicked will come to nothing and perish.

The hope in God is not a wish fulfillment, but a confident expectation.  God’s chief characteristic is His faithfulness and trustworthiness  These characteristics show themselves most clearly to a believer who recognizes that he is utterly without personal resources.  The believer must trust completely on a gracious and dependable God.  Putting one’s confidence in anything but the sovereign God is complete foolishness.  In the Bible, there is a long list of false grounds for security.  In particular, the Bible heaps scorn upon those who live in complacency, never having evaluated the flimsy basis for such complacency (Isa. 32:9-11, Ezk. 30:9, Amos 6:1).

Trust is a very serious word for a Christian.  We often say that we trust God, but our actions deny these claims.  Recovery begins when we honestly examine our lives and commit ourselves to do something about what we find.  A fearless inventory of our behavior usually reveals that we are still trying to take care of things by ourselves.  We really don’t think God is reliable in every area of life.  That is not trust.  Trust says, “God, you are able.  I put all my eggs in your basket.  I’ll do whatever you want me to do, but unless you come through for me, I’m finished”.   Start today.  Pick the one thing that you have tried over and over to fix in your life but nothing happens.  Decide to trust.

Do your actions show that you trust God, or is “trust” just another word in your religious vocabulary?

2 Kings 18:5,6: He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses.

To trust in the Lord is to hold fast to Him in all circumstances, to cling to Him always and to not depart from following Him. He is at the forefront. He is the one who leads. He is the one who directs. We know his unfathomable love for us and that He will never let us down. He will never lead us astray. To trust God is to keep His Word.

Psalm 27 is a beautiful illustration of trust in the Lord.

Psalm 27:1ff The Lord is my light and my salvation—
Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—
Whom shall I dread? Though an army encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, Even in this I am confident.

One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, To gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the Lord And to meditate in His temple.
 
For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.

And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
In His tent I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy; will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; Be gracious and compassionate to me and answer me.

When You said, “Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],” my heart said to You,“ Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word].”

Although my father and my mother have abandoned me, Yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. 

Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

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

God will always act when we trust in Him. God never sleeps. God is a mover, He will constantly act on our behalf when we trust in Him. We need to commit our way to Him always and not waver.

Psalm 62:8: Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Who do you pour out your heart to? Have you ever tried to pour it out before the Lord? He hears. He understands. He knows. He cares. You can trust Him at all times and in all circumstances. He will not fail you.

Psalm 118:5ff: Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.

What do you take refuge in when times get hard? Where do you run to for refuge? Who do you call on to set you free? Who is your helper? God is the only refuge that can set you free and deliver you from every burden and sustain you through every difficulty. No politician or philosophy can make that promise.

Psalm 56:3,11: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?

We will never be afraid when we trust in God. Fear loses its hold on us when trust in God grows in our lives. Fear and worry is a manifestation of our lack of trust in God.

Psalm 112:7,8a: He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,

Trust in God is a firm foundation in the uncertainty of our times. We can be fixed, steady, stable and solid no matter what happens around us. Our confidence is in God, not the daily news.

Psalm 32:8: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

God promises His instruction and counsel if we only trust in Him. He will guide us every moment of the day if we trust Him.

Jeremiah sets forth a wonderful promise to those who trust in the Lord.

Jeremiah 17:7,8: Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes,  for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Four Practical steps in learning to trust God.

 1) You have to make a decision to not worry or fear and make an intentional decision to trust God. Trust and worry or fear are mutually exclusive. You cannot trust God if you are full of worry and fear. The only way to truly trust God is that you have to decide to trust God. And you can’t trust God if you’re worrying about the things you’re trusting Him with. Once you make this decision, you’ll soon find yourself having to practice it regularly. The devil will begin to hit you with situations and stressors that cause you to worry and be anxious and you’re going to have to remind yourself of the decision you’ve made. Philippians 4:6,7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Pray is a key in trusting God. We are not be anxious, fearful or full of worry about anything. We give it to God and He will give us peace.

Matthew 6:25ff: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.                                                                       

Anxiety and trust cannot coexist together. God will take care of every need in our lives if we will only trust Him. Anxiety and worry never benefits us in anyway. They are traits of those who do not trust God.

2) Constantly monitor your thoughts and feelings.

The battlefield of life is in our mind. Our minds and thoughts are constantly speaking to us. We are also constantly bombarded by talking heads that are trying to influence us with words. We must refuse negative thought patterns and refuse to allow our minds to sink into thoughts of anxiety, worry, unworthiness and hopelessness. You control your thoughts and we can change the way we think. We must be the guardians of what we think. Proverbs 23:7: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. We must train our thoughts and minds to trust God and reject the noise of the world that builds mistrust in our Heavenly Father. God will help us to be aware of thoughts and begin to think right. Trusting God begins with our thoughts. Romans 12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Our transformation begins by not conforming our thinking to the world, but renewing our minds to trust Him and His Word.

3) Saturate your mind and heart with the Word of the God

In order to take those worrisome thoughts captive, you need something to replace it with. Reading the Word of God is such an important part of our learning to trust God. Matthew 4:4: But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Just as you need physical food to survive physically, you need spiritual food to live spiritually. We must feed on His Word daily, reading it, thinking about it, digesting it, meditating on it and memorizing it. The Bible is the Word of Life. It gives light, it gives wisdom. It reveals to us the heart of God.  Psalm 119:9,10,11,42 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.10 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 not sin against you. then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word.

2 Timothy 3:16,17: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of Godb] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

We are feeding our minds daily. They are constantly being bombarded with the images and words of this world. We must saturate our minds with the Word daily. It starts with a simple reading of Scripture every day and builds from there. It starts with spending time with God and being still in His presence. These are the building blocks of trust that will transform your life.

4) Replace the negative thoughts and feelings with the promises of God

The Bible contains thousands of promises concerning life, relationships and the circumstances we face daily. How many do we know? We need to build the promises of God in our thought life. Each promise is built upon the faithfulness and steadfast love of God. God is 100% reliable on His promises. It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18, Titus 1:2).

Numbers 23:19: God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? God’s name is Yahweh in the Bible and means the God who acts. God wants to fulfill His promises in your life but you must have faith in those promises. You must trust God that He is faithful to bring them to pass. Instead of dwelling on the negative or being filled with anxiety and worry, let the promises of God flood your mind and fill your heart.

God never changes His mind on His promises. His promises are God speaking into our lives.

2 Peter 1:3-4: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Romans 4:19-21: He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness[b] of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

Abraham is considered the father of those whose believe because he never wavered on the promises of God. He was fully convinced that God was able and willing to do whatever He promised. He trusted God would bring it to pass His promises even in the most dire circumstances. God is always faithful to what He promised when we trust in Him and believe His Word.

Pray the promises of God. Claim the promises of God over your life. Our faith and trust in God is the key to God’s promises becoming fulfilled in our lives. The world is filled with lies many of which are very deceitful and alluring. But these lies will let us down when we need them the most. These lies cannot bring us peace. These lies cannot deliver us. These lies disappoint and can give us hope. These lies are built on sinking sand. The Bible says our spiritual enemy the devil is the father of lies (John 8:44). He bombards us with these lies daily (You don’t need God; you are unworthy, you are worthless, you are not good enough; God hates you; God doesn’t care for you; you will never amount to anything; you cannot make it; no one loves you; God doesn’t hear you; you are a failure). We have to decide daily whose words are we going to believe. The father of lies or our Heavenly Father? The more we learn to trust in God, the more we trust His Word. His promises are true and cannot fail when we believe them without wavering. Our trust in God will blossom as we stand on His promises and have confident expectation that He will deliver on His promises in our lives.

Isaiah 41:13: For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

What a wonderful promise from God. It is His invitation of trust is to take Him by the right hand and let Him help you and lead you. What comfort to know we can go thru life holding God’s hand.

Deuteronomy 7:9: Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.

Yahweh is the faithful God, the God who keeps His promises, who is full of mercy and love and keeps His word to a thousand generations.

Lamentations 3:21-26: But this I call to mind,  and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Great is God’s faithfulness! It never ceases. God’s Word to you is to prove Him. Take Him at His Word. See if He is not faithful to His mighty promises. What do you have to lose?

 

 

 

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Give Me An Undivided Heart

Psalm 86:11: Lord, give us undivided hearts.

Integrity is derived from “integer” (a whole number as opposed to a fraction) and speaks of the quality of being undivided. O, to be men and women of integrity, lights shining in the midst of the darkness in such a way that the world might see our undivided hearts and this would bring glory to our Father Who is in heaven. (Mt 5:16note, cf Php 2:15note).

A great prayer to pray (daily) would be David’s words…

“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth.
UNITE MY HEART to fear Your Name.”

(Ps 86:11note)

The NIV has “Give me an UNDIVIDED HEART.” Pastor Ray Pritchard paraphrases Ps 86:11b “Put me together, Lord, because right now my life is scattered in a thousand directions!” (from The Undivided Heart)

An UNDIVIDED HEART, O Lord,
Is what we need each day,
For we are prone to compromise
And wander from Your way.
-D De Haan

The men of the tribe of Zebulon “helped David with an UNDIVIDED HEART” (literally “without a double heart” = undivided loyalty) (1Chr 12:33note) They were “all in,” of one heart, all the time, nothing held back.

Spurgeon commenting on Ps 86:11note said “Having taught me ONE WAY, give me ONE HEART to walk therein, for too often I feel ‘a heart and a heart’ (In Ps 12:2note “double heart” in Hebrew literally = “a heart and a heart”), two natures contending, two principles struggling for sovereignty (Gal 5:17note). Our minds are apt to be divided between a variety of objects, like trickling streamlets which waste their force in a hundred rivulets. Our great desire should be to have all our life floods poured into one channel and to have that channel directed towards the Lord Alone. A man of DIVIDED HEART is weak (cf Jas 1:6-8note), the man of one object is the man. God Who created the bands of our nature can draw them together, tighten, strengthen, and fasten them, and so braced and inwardly knit by His uniting grace, we shall be powerful for good, but not otherwise. To fear God is both the beginning, the growth, and the maturity of wisdom (Pr 9:10noteJob 28:28note), therefore should we be undividedly given up to it, heart, and soul (cf Mk 12:29-31Spurgeon’s sermon).”

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
(Play Fernando Ortega’s great vocal)

May we all be motivated and enabled by the Spirit (Php 2:13NLTnote) to imitate men like Paul (1Cor 11:1noteHeb 6:11-12note) who said “this ONE THING I DO. forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:13-14note)

And remember that “the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2Chr 16:9Spurgeon’s sermon)

Lord, by Your amazing grace and enabled by the power of Your Spirit, give us undivided hearts to fear Your Name, in the Name of Jesus, the Name above all names (Php 2:9-11note). Amen

Listen to Rich Mullins‘ great song “MY ONE THING” that speaks of an UNDIVIDED HEART.

JESUS’ DESCRIPTION OF
AN UNDIVIDED HEART

Jesus describes an undivided heart in the Sermon on the Mount

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. ” (Matthew 5:8note)

In Mt 5:8note the Greek word for pure is katharos which describes a heart that is pure in motive and which exhibits single mindednessundivided devotion and spiritual integrity. The idea is “This one thing I do” (as Paul said in Php 3:13 [note]). So although, “pure in heart” includes the ideas of moral purity or freedom from sensuality, that is not the primary idea in the word katharosPure (katharos) has to do with attitudes, integrity, and singleness of heart as opposed to duplicity and double mindedness (cf Jas 4:8note). Thus, one might paraphrase Jesus’ words in this beatitude as…”I desire a heart that is unmixed in its devotion and motivation.”

SPIRITUAL
“TUNNEL VISION”

The word undivided means not divided, separated, or broken into parts, not mixed with other feelings or intentions. The idea in Matthew 5:8note is that it is a heart that is concentrated on or devoted completely to one object, specifically the true and living eternal God not the idols of this fallen, temporal world. To use an medical term from my days in medical school, it is a heart with “tunnel vision” which is literally a defect of one’s vision, but which has a spiritual application. Wikipedia writes that tunnel vision “is the loss of peripheral vision with retention of central vision, resulting in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision.” Look at this depiction of literal tunnel vision which helps understand that while physical “tunnel vision” is a bad thing, spiritual “tunnel vision” is a good thing because it describes a heart fully fixed on the object of its devotion, specifically on God Himself!

See also the description of “Vertical Vision” which is the type of vision associated with an undivided heart.

Another description for an undivided heart is a single-minded heart, one having but one aim, a heart that is dedicated to God, a heart having one driving purpose which is to live pleasing to God, a heart whose attention is fixed on God alone and does not allow itself to be distracted or influenced by the passing pleasures of sin.

MacArthur adds (commenting on Mt 5:8 “pure in heart”) explains that in secular Greek usage katharos “was often used of metals that had been refined until all impurities were removed, leaving only the pure metal. In that sense, purity means unmixed, unalloyed, unadulterated. Applied to the heart, the idea is that of pure motive-of single-mindedness, undivided devotion, spiritual integrity, and true righteousness. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press)

SPIRITUAL
“DOUBLE-VISION”

In a similar sense Jesus said that “double vision” will radically impact your inner spiritual man, especially your heart (cf Mt 6:21) teaching that…

The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You (ABSOLUTELY) cannot serve God and mammon. (Mt 6:22-23noteMt 6:24note)

The phrase “if your eye is clear” is translated variously as – “if therefore thine eye is single” (KJV), ” If then your eye is healthy” (NET, ESV), ” If your eye is good” (CSB), ” if, therefore, thine eye may be perfect” (Young’s Literal). The key word Jesus used is the adjective “clear” (NAS) which is the Greek word haplous which strictly speaking means single (as rendered in the KJV) or without folds which came to mean simple, sincere, innocent, healthy, clear (“clear vision” – cp spiritual vision discussed above) and finally conveying the sense of generous.

BDAG says haplous “pertains to being motivated by singleness of purpose so as to be open and aboveboard, single, without guile, sincere, straightforward i.e. without a hidden agenda.” Marvin Vincent a respected Greek scholar says “The picture underlying this adjective (haplous) is that of a piece of cloth or other material, neatly folded once, and without a variety of complicated folds. Hence the idea of simplicity or singleness (compare simplicity from the Latin simplex; semel, once; plicare, to fold). So, in a moral sense, artless, plain, pure. Here sound, as opposed to evil or diseased. Possibly with reference to the double-mindedness and indecision condemned in Mt 6:24note.”

Wiersbe suggests that we “Compare Abraham and Lot in Ge 13:5-18 for an illustration of the “single eye.” The eye here speaks of the outlook of the heart. A single eye means one that is fixed on the spiritual (Ed: cp an “undivided heart”). It is the opposite of the double-minded person in James 1:8noteJas 4:4noteJas 4:8note. (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament)

Zodhiates adds that “Haploús stands in contrast to diploús (double or many). Even though we have two eyes, they are designed to pick up a single object, preferably the Lord Himself, as David counseled. Jesus connected the purity of the body with the holy character of an eye that does not vacillate between treasures on earth and treasures in heaven. Similarly, in James 1:8note we read that the “double minded [dipsuchos] man is unstable [akatastatos from a = without, not; and kathistemi = to settle] in all his ways” (cf. James 4:8note). A circularity of “unsettling” effects exists between the soul and the physical eye. Just as double-minded (“two-souled”) persons can direct their physical eyes between good and bad objects, so physical eyes can transmit good and bad signals into the soul (Ed: And I would add into our heart). If we think about the blurred and conflicting (double vision) messages our brains attempt to process when we merely cross our eyes, we can understand how our physical eyes can destabilize our souls (Ed: hearts) when they receive and transmit conflicting data. The “eyes of [our] understanding” (Eph. 1:18note)-our spiritual eyes-work in conjunction with our physical eyes to our good or to our detriment. (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew)

William MacDonald  applies the truth about haplous – “The good eye belongs to the person whose motives are pure, who has a single desire for God’s interests, and who is willing to accept Christ’s teachings literally. His whole life is flooded with light. He believes Jesus’ words, he forsakes earthly riches, he lays up treasures in heaven, and he knows that this is the only true security. On the other hand, the bad eye belongs to the person who is trying to live for two worlds. He doesn’t want to let go of his earthly treasures, yet he wants treasures in heaven too. The teachings of Jesus seem impractical and impossible to him. He lacks clear guidance since he is full of darkness.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary-excellent).

It follows that a single eye is necessary for an undivided heart. Do you need to schedule an appointment with the “Divine Optometrist” for a checkup of you spiritual eyesight. Perhaps you’ve been having “double vision” and are in need of a new “prescription” from the Spirit of Jesus Christ! He and He Alone can give you the desire and the power (Php 2:13NLTnote) to obey Paul’s command to “Set your mind (your heart) (present imperative = command to make this your daily delight!) on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2note) Truth be told we all still have fallen flesh and therefore daily wrestle with “spiritual diplopia” and thus are continually in need of casting off our natural tendency to rely on self (e.g, in a vain attempt to obey Paul’s command in Col 3:2note) and instead to wholly lean on Jesus’ blood and righteousness, trusting wholly in His Holy Spirit to correct our daily “diplopia!” Are you arising each morning firmly convinced that YOU by yourself cannot continually set your mind on the things above throughout the day? If you think for a second you can succeed, you are already deceived and will soon be defeated! If you think you are immune to “spiritual diplopia” then here is a little test – take a look at this picture – how many watches do you see? If you see more than one watch than you are afflicted with spiritual diplopia and must daily depend on the Great Physician to enable you to see with single vision (Mt 6:22-23)! Brethren the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick (Jer 17:9) and the same can be said of our spiritual vision! So it follows, dear fellow follower of Jesus, if we desire an undivided heart, we need to resolve to arise each morning with the words of David’s prayer on our lips “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth. UNITE MY HEART to fear Your Name.” (Ps 86:11note)

SINGLE HEART
PURE HEART
Two songs for your heart

Take a moment to listen to this song, one of my favorites from Craig Smith, entitled Single Heart...

He had only one aim
In placing us here
This is His domain
And His message is clear.

Single heart, Single mind.
My eyes forward all the time.
Single heart, purified.
Undivided, unified.
Single heart, Single mind.

May You find in us,
Solitary trust
May you find a single heart!

Here is another song Pure Heart — take a moment to ponder your life in light the words sung by Craig Smith and make it your prayer to the Father today:

Over and over I hear it again
That the Father desires pure heart
Not to seek earthly treasure or the favor of man
But to be found with pureness of heart

Chorus
Pure heart is what the Father desires
Holy heart purified by God’s holy fire
Broken heart, proven to be faithful and true
Fashion in me a heart that’s thirsting for You

Search ever chamber, expose them to me
Create motives of honor and simplicity
May you find faithfulness, integrity
A heart which is worthy for Your eyes to see
Chorus

My only ambition is to stand before You
And find I was pleasing in Your sight
An obedient child of God, faithful and true
Found with pureness of heart
Chorus

THE NEW COVENANT AND
AN UNDIVIDED HEART

In Ezekiel 11:19note in a prophetic promise to Israel which speaks of the New Covenant

“And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

The NIV translates it

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

This description of one heart, an undivided heart, is the miracle that occurs at conversion when a spiritual and moral transformation takes place which enables God’s people to follow Him wholeheartedly. So an undivided heart is describes as it were our “position” but may not always describe our “practice.” That is where we must learn to relinquish all vestiges of self-reliance (“I will grit my teeth and follow God with an undivided heart.“) and instead learn daily (and even moment by moment) to rely wholly on the Holy Spirit Ezekiel describes in Ezekiel 36:26-27note

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

This is clearly a promise of the New Covenant and in that covenant we do well to carefully note “the spiritual cooperation” between God and man. So in Ezekiel 36:27 first God’s Spirit will cause those in the New Covenant to walk in His statues The New Testament parallel is described by Paul who teaches that the Spirit is in us continually giving us the desire and the power to be pleasing to our Father (to walk with an undivided heart) (Php 2:13NLTnote). The second part of Ezekiel 36:27 describes our responsibility to act on the provided “desire and power.” While we are 100% dependent on God’s Spirit, we are (somewhat enigmatically or mysteriously) 100% responsible to be careful to observe God’s ordinances. As we learn to walk by the Spirit’s enabling power, we will not carry out the desire of the flesh (a manifestation of a divided heart!) (See Galatians 5:16note).

In summary to manifest an undivided heart toward God and His law is our divinely given potential, and yet we must daily work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Php 2:12note), learning to depend on the Spirit Who will enable us to walk with an undivided heart. And this is a process of progressive sanctification that will continue all the days of our life on earth. And realizing our continual need for supernatural power and grace, we cry out to our Father as did David…

Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth; Unite my heart to fear Thy name. I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Thy name forever. (Psalm 86:1112)

Have you prayed this way beloved? It would be good for us to daily humble ourselves at the Throne of God beseeching Him to have mercy on us in the time of need and bestowing upon us by His enabling Spirit an undivided heart, a whole heart that gives thanks to Him and seeks to glorify His Name forever. Amen


“BAD FAITH”

Wikipedia has an interesting article on “bad faith” that essentially describes the opposite of an undivided heart:

Bad faith (Latinmala fides) is double mindedness or double heartedness in duplicityfraud, or deception.It may involve intentional deceit of others, or self-deception. The expression “bad faith” is associated with “double heartedness”, which is also translated as “double mindedness”. A bad faith belief may be formed through self-deception, being double minded, or “of two minds”, which is associated with faith, belief, attitude, and loyalty. In the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary, bad faith was equated with being double hearted, “of two hearts”, or “a sustained form of deception which consists in entertaining or pretending to entertain one set of feelings, and acting as if influenced by another” The concept is similar to perfidy, or being “without faith”, in which deception is achieved when one side in a conflict promises to act in good faith (e.g. by raising a flag of surrender) with the intention of breaking that promise once the enemy has exposed himself. (See full article)


AN UNDIVIDED HEART “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8note)

The apostle Paul said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead …” (Philippians 3:13). Now there is a person who had an undivided heart. Many of us today could say, “These eight things I do …” or “These four things I do …” instead of saying, “This one thing I do. …” It’s the problem of a divided heart.
The word, “pure,” in Matthew 5:8 means “undivided.” In other words, blessed, or happy, is the person who has an undivided heart. Happy is the man or woman with a pure heart. Happy is the person who knows where he or she is going in life, who has priorities and lives by them. Happy is the person who isn’t trying to live in two worlds. We live in such a wicked time in which we are exposed to so many things that could be spiritually harmful. It seems that we are lacking purity today. But according to Romans 16:19, we as believers are “to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” Another translation reads, “I would have you well versed and wise as to what is good and innocent and guileless as to what is evil” (AMPLIFIED). God is offering you true happiness, which is not contingent on how much you have, but who you know. If you don’t get your life properly aligned with God, you will always be chasing an elusive dream. But if you get your life aligned with God and start seeking Him, you will find purpose in life. You will find the happiness you are seeking. (Greg Laurie – For Every Season: Daily Devotions)


In Deut 18:13 God says “You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.” The NAS marginal note reads “Lit complete, perfect; or having integrity.” Wiersbe explains that “It speaks of integrity and an undivided heart, what David meant when he wrote, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart” (Ps. 101:2NKJV). The Jewish “Shema” declared, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5NIV).”

Blameless (without defect or blemish, perfect, integrity) (08549)(tamim) from the verb tamam = to be complete, entire or whole (literal sense in Lev 3:9Ezek 15:5), refers to a action which is completed) has both physical (without defect) and spiritual (blameless, devout, upright) significance. Tamim has the fundamental idea of completeness or wholeness. In Deut 18:13 tamim is translated in the Septuagint with  teleios means complete, mature, fully developed, full grown, brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, in good working order. In the Septuagint (Lxx) teleios is used several times to describe a heart that is wholly devoted (Heb = shalem). This begs the question beloved “Is my heart teleios? Would God describe me as wholly devoted to Him? Or have become like Solomon, who began “wholly devoted” but ended his race not “wholly devoted?” David had a whole heart but Solomon a divided heart! And as a result God divided the 12 tribes into 10 northern and 2 southern! There are serious consequences for not seeking to maintain an undivided heart!


The antithesis of an undivided heart is a “Divided Heart” – Herbert Vander Lugt has a devotional on THE DIVIDED HEART – Hosea describes this heart

Ephraim mixes himself with the nations; Ephraim has become a cake not turned. 9  Strangers devour his strength, Yet he does not know it; Gray hairs also are sprinkled on him, Yet he does not know it. 10  Though the pride of Israel testifies against him, Yet they have neither returned to the LORD their God, Nor have they sought Him, for all this. 11  So Ephraim has become like a silly dove, without sense; They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. 12  When they go, I will spread My net over them; I will bring them down like the birds of the sky. I will chastise them in accordance with the proclamation to their assembly. (Hosea 7:8-12)

The Israelites of Hosea’s day were trying to worship both pagan idols and the one true and living God. So the prophet Hosea used three colorful figures of speech to describe their divided hearts. First, they were like a half-baked cake—palatable neither to God nor the pagans (7:8). Second, they were like a proud man who can’t see the signs of his aging—they were unaware of their spiritual decline (Hosea 7:9-10). Third, they were like a senseless dove—flying from one pagan nation to another in a vain quest for help (Hosea 7:11). Today, we as Christians are often afflicted with the same divided-heart syndrome. We believe on Jesus but are reluctant to commit every area of our lives to Him. We go to church but don’t want to live out our faith each day if it deprives us of worldly success or pleasure. A divided heart, though, results in some serious consequences. First, we don’t please God or attract nonbelievers to Christ. Second, it may take a crisis to show us our true spiritual decline. And third, we live unfulfilled lives, even though we flit from one worldly pleasure to another. Let’s pray each day, “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11). —Herbert Vander Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

An undivided heart, O Lord,
Is what we need each day,
For we are prone to compromise
And wander from Your way. 

—D. De Haan

A divided heart multiplies our problems.

Beloved, yes, we need an undivided heart each day, but the only way possible to humanly maintain an undivided heart is by continually relying on the superhuman power of the indwelling Spirit. When we wander (which we will) we need to quickly confess and repent, and even those actions are enabled by the Spirit, Who gives us the desire and the power to walk in a manner pleasing to our Father (Php 2:13NLT).


UNDIVIDED –  Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. ( Ps 86:11)

IN WORD – A divided heart. It’s a Christian’s greatest enemy, and it should be our greatest fear. It wreaks havoc on our contentment and undermines our devotion. It corrupts our worship because one side of our heart competes with the other. The competition causes us to tell God we want to love and honor Him, while simultaneously telling ourselves we can pursue our own agenda at will. A divided heart has multiple loves, and multiple loves are always weak. That’s what Jesus said too. He told His disciples they couldn’t serve two masters because they would end up loving one and hating the other (Matthew 6:24). That’s what divided hearts do; they are eventually compelled to choose one of their loves over the other. They have too many choices to start with, so they compromise. David prays in this psalm that God might give him an undivided heart so that he might fear God’s name. He knows that when a person tolerates other loves, it’s because that person has grown casual with God. An undivided heart solves the problem; single-mindedness toward God makes a person free to serve and love Him with everything at his or her disposal. It reintroduces respect and awe. It puts things in the proper perspective.

IN DEED – Pursue an undivided heart. Ask God for it. A divided heart will ruin your spiritual life, introducing apathy, removing godly fear, and tempting you with other loves. Worship cannot exist under such conditions. A divided love is hardly love at all. David’s remedy isn’t within himself. He knows that his heart is God’s domain, and only God can change it. He resolves to praise God with all his heart and glorify God’s name forever (Ps 86:12), but pure resolve isn’t the answer. So David asked God for His resources, His strength, and His work within him. We can too. We can trust Him with the greatest enemy to our worship and ask Him to give us a single, focused love. (The One Year Worship the King Devotional: 365 Daily Bible Readings to Inspire Praise – Chris Tiegreen)

Blessed are the single-hearted; for they shall enjoy much peace.
—THOMAS À KEMPIS


Blessed in Believing –  “She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!”(Luke 1:45) In the kingdom of God, believing is a prerequisite to receiving. God spoke to Mary and gave the assurances He always gives when He assigns the impossible to His people. Everything was in place for God to act. Everything waited on Mary to believe Him. Once she believed, it was done! It takes an undivided heart to believe under such circumstances and a pure heart to see God (Matt. 5:8Heb. 12:14). This has always been God’s way with His people. Mary could not see all that had been arranged and assembled in the courts of heaven. She could not see the legions of angels prepared to protect her and her baby. She was unaware of the future and all that she and her child would face. All she knew was that God had spoken to her, and that was enough. So she responded: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). When God speaks about His plans, He does so with everything already in place to fulfill His word. God never speaks hypothetically. He knows exactly what will come to pass. He simply asks you to believe Him. You will experience great blessing when you place your absolute trust in Him. Mary could not have dreamed all that would result from her faithful obedience. Likewise, you cannot possibly imagine all that God has in store for you when you trust Him. He knows exactly what He will do to bring salvation to someone you have prayed for or to heal your friend or to provide for your needs. God has everything in place. Will you believe Him? (Henry Blackaby – Experiencing God Day by Day)


AN UNDIVIDED HEART (Lutheran devotional published in 1799) – THE heart should not be divided. I say to the hypocrite, God has given you two eyes, that you may look both above and beneath you; that you may contemplate both heaven and hell. He has given you two ears, that you may hearken both to the accuser and the accused, when you have to judge between them; two hands, that you may raise one upwards to God, and receive, and stretch forth the other towards your neighbour, and give; two feet, that you may serve yourself and your master; but you have only one head, and one heart. God approves not of those who are double-minded, or double-tongued; from whose lips comes forth at the same time that which is cold and hot; and who speak not the same when they sit as when they stand; who divide their heart between Him and the devil. A double-hearted man is a monster, which God will not accept as an offering. God demands an undivided heart. Such, also, is the demand of Satan; for though he may not immediately persuade you that you should give him your heart, and seems to be satisfied with a part of it, yet he aims at the whole. He knows full well that God will not receive a divided heart, and that therefore the whole shall yet be his own, being rejected of God. The heart is but of small capacity; but if it were greater, it would be your duty to make it the undivided dwelling-place of Him from whom you have received it, and who alone can make it better. Who has given you authority to dispose of that which was not yours, but God’s? To Him the whole belongs, and not merely a portion. How is it possible that you can unite God and Satan within you? How can they both take a part of one heart? Satan tempts to that which is evil; God moves you to that which is good. God destroys the work of Satan; Satan, on the other hand, would throw down the work of God. Where God dwells is heaven, where Satan dwells is hell. How can your heart, at the same time, be in heaven and in hell? Where God dwells, he is served and obeyed; where Satan dwells, he also is obeyed. Can you serve two masters so opposite in every respect? God has given me my whole heart, not to use it at its uncontrolled possessor, but as a steward, answerable to Him. I will, by his grace, not abuse my trust; but restore him his own. My heart is His, not mine! (Henry Muller – Hours of Spiritual Refreshment)


Horatius Bonar writes that “God’s desire that we should be clean. He desireth truth in the inward parts. He is faithful to us, and he wishes us to be faithful to him. God is not indifferent to our unfaithfulness, as if it mattered not to him. Nor does he treat it as a mere affront, or only as a sin, with which he is angry and which he condemns and will avenge. He wants our heart, our whole undivided heart; he wants it all for himself; he wants to fill it. He is a jealous God. Moreover he pities us because of the misery which our unfaithfulness brings on us. He sees us gaining nothing, but losing everything by it; and he pities us; he yearns over us; for our own sakes he desires to see us faithful to himself. Such is the God with whom we have to do. He is one who takes a deep and loving interest in our welfare, and who pities us even when he judges us. (Light and Truth)

Ruth 1:14note  “And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung ( dabaq) to her.”  Bonar comments on Ruth and her cleaving. “Orpah kissed, but Ruth clave. Orpah kissed that she might not cleave. Ruth cleaves silently, and without show or demonstration. She lingers not nor halts. Moab is behind her, Israel is before her, Naomi is at her side. Her choice is made. She falters not either in heart or in step. Yonder are Judah’s hills; behind them lies Bethlehem; she presses forward. Jehovah must be her God, and Jehovah’s land her heritage. Nothing shall come between. She forgets her kindred and her father’s house. What are Moab’s hills, or cities, or temples, or gods? Jehovah, God of Israel, is now her God for ever. Here is cleaving; here is decision; here are faith and love; here is the undivided heart.


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THE UNDIVIDED HEART
Psalm 86:11

“Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).

Sermon by Ray Pritchard – visit his site – often uses wonderful stories to illustrate Biblical principles

The translators are divided on how to translate this phrase. For instance, the NASB says, “Unite my heart to fear your name.” The CEB gives a more general sense, “Make my heart focused only on honoring your name.” Then we have this paraphrase from the ERV, “Help me make worshiping your name the most important thing in my life.” Eugene Peterson (MSG) gives us this colorful rendering:

“Put me together, one heart and mind;
then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear.”

I like that because it sounds like the way I often pray: “Put me together, Lord, because right now my life is scattered in a thousand directions.” Most days my heart doesn’t seem “undivided,” and it certainly feels like it needs some kind of “uniting.”So I like this phrase both ways:

“Unite my heart to fear your name.”
“Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

The first speaks of my need.
The second speaks of my desire.

Because my heart is so often divided, I need the Lord to unite it somehow so that I might worship him with nothing held back. That is the situation many of us face right now. Our hearts are fragmented because we are pulled in so many directions at once.

Sometimes we treat trinkets as if they were treasure.

The world around us is no help. Last Sunday our pastor preached on “Trash, Trinkets and Treasures,” in which he commented that sometimes we are enticed by things that turn out to be trash, and sometimes we are distracted by things that are not bad in themselves, but when pursued as the goal of life end up being trinkets, little gaudy baubles that amount to nothing much when you look at them closely.

How hard it is to focus on the treasures of life!
How easy to mistake the trinkets for treasures!

In order to get some practical help in this area, let’s start with a very basic question. What are the marks of a divided heart?

1. Perpetual Ambivalence

It has been said that a narcissist is a person who is unable to commit to anything outside of himself. He flits from one relationship to another, from one job to another, from one friendship to another, from one church to another, from one promise to another, never staying in one place long enough to make anything stick. He’s here today and gone tomorrow. He promises and then makes excuses. He says, “I’ll call you tomorrow,” and then forgets and apologizes later. Or maybe he never remembers at all. He dates one girl after another, never able to pop the question because he’s so easily distracted and because he deeply fears making a commitment that will require him to stay married for the rest of his life.

He’s here today and gone tomorrow.

As I pondered this situation, a verse came to mind from 1 Chronicles 12, which lists the soldiers who came to David’s aid when he was in Ziklag and later in Hebron. These soldiers from various tribes in Israel realized that even though David was not king over Israel yet, God’s hand was upon him and he was bound to replace Saul sooner or later.

So you have the list of men from Benjamin, Gad, Manasseh, and so on. Perhaps the most famous are the men of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32) who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” Many fine sermons have been preached in praise of these men from one of the lesser-known tribes. Then in the very next verse we find this note about the warriors from the tribe of Zebulon. They are described as

Experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon, to help David with undivided loyalty-50,000 (v. 33).

Here you have a great host of trained soldiers who came to David ready to fight. They showed up in full battle gear, shield and spears and bows, ready to go to battle at a moment’s notice. But that is not their finest quality. There is something even better to be said about them. They were men of “undivided loyalty.” The original Hebrew text emphasizes this in an unusual way when it uses the word for “not” and the word “heart” repeated twice.

Not heart and heart.
Not “double-hearted.”

Not partly for Saul and partly for David.
But having made their choice, it was one heart all the time, nothing held back.

Are you “double-hearted”?

These men said, “David, we are all in. Where you lead, we will follow. Say the word and we will go into battle. We serve at your command-and only at your command.”

Three thousand years after the men of Zebulon came to David, we remember them not for their military prowess (which must have been great) but for their hearts.

They were not “heart and heart.”
They were not “double-hearted.”
They were in all the way.

People with a divided heart can’t talk that way.
They are in and out at the same time.

There is a second characteristic of a divided heart . . .

2. Divided Priorities

In Matthew 13 Jesus told a parable about a man who went out to sow seed. Some fell on the path, some on the stony ground, some among the thorns, and some on the good ground. When Jesus explained the parable, he said that the four soils represented four responses to the message of the kingdom. Let’s focus on the seed sown among the thorns. Here is that part of the parable:

“Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants” (Matthew 13:7).

And this is the explanation:

“The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22)

If you have ever planted a garden, you understand what Jesus is saying.No matter how good the soil may appear from above, weeds lurk just below the surface. If you do not pull them up, they will choke out the seed you have planted.

Weeds lurk just below the surface.

Jesus said that some people are like that. They are fence-straddlers. They say “Yes but . . .” when they hear the Word. Maybe they mean business, but they never pull the weeds out of their life. In this parable Jesus mentions two particular kinds of weeds. First, the worries of this life. This refers to any consuming concern in your life that catches all your attention. It could be something that in itself is not bad–such as a genuine concern for your job or your health or your personal financial situation. It could be a relationship that takes up all your waking moments. It could be a family issue that keeps you tossing and turning at night.

Second, there is the deceitfulness of wealth. Again, we all understand this. Money is addictive. The more you have, the more you want. You’ve probably heard the story of the rich man who when asked when he would stop working so hard, replied, “When I have enough money.” How much is enough? “Just one more dollar.” That is the deceitfulness of riches. And it’s not just a temptation to the rich man. The love of money comes to all of us, seduces us, whispers to us over and over again: “If only you had a little bit more , you would be happy.”

Money is addictive.

It’s important to remember that Jesus is not describing “unusual” or “strange” temptations. We all have things that worry us. Several months ago I happened to see the Wednesday night prayer list that our church publishes. It was printed on a legal-size piece of paper. The list of the sick took up one side of the sheet, printed in extremely small type, so small I could hardly read it. So many names, so many needs.

We all face sickness, family crisis, medical issues, financial troubles, marital problems, struggles with our children, disappointments, setbacks, career issues, and periods of doubt and anger and spiritual struggle.

We live in a very fallen world.

No one is exempt from the troubles of life.

No one is exempt from the troubles of life.
We get sick, our loved ones get sick.
Financial pressures weigh on all of us.
Death knocks on our door sooner or later.

How quickly the “thorns of life” arise to divide our heart and divert our attention. These problems, trials and difficulties can choke out God’s work and leave us spiritually anemic.

There is a third sign of a divided heart . . .

3. Unclear Identity

This follows logically.
When the heart is divided, you won’t know who you really are.

When the heart is divided, you won’t know who you really are.

You can’t decide what team you’re on.

You don’t know what uniform to put on.
You act single even though you are married.
You have two sets of friends that you keep separate.
You have two vocabularies depending on where you are.
You know how to fit in wherever you happen to be.
You are like the proverbial chameleon, changing your colors so you will always blend in.

Living with a divided heart messes up the mind eventually. When you join the devil’s team, you won’t feel comfortable going back to the Lord’s locker room at halftime. The strange, sad case of the Apostle Peter provides a prime example. On the night before the crucifixion, when Jesus met with his chosen men in the Upper Room, Peter took a look around and wasn’t very impressed with what he saw:

“Lord, I don’t know about these other guys. They look a little weak to me. I wouldn’t count on them if I were you. But don’t worry. You’ve got me. I’m your man. No matter what the rest of them do, I will never betray you. You have my word on it. I’ll never let you down.”

Or more simply put,

“Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you”(Matthew 26:33 NLT).

I’m sure Peter meant it. If you had asked him, I’m sure he would have said, “I know I’m a little rough around the edges, and sometimes I put my foot in my mouth. It’s true I’m a fisherman and not some Torah scholar, but I know my own heart, and I will never desert you, Lord.”

When you join the devil’s team, you won’t feel comfortable going back to the Lord’s locker room at halftime.

But that’s the problem. Peter didn’t know his own heart.
Less than five hours after proclaiming his loyalty, the bold apostle turned to butter.
All it took was a servant girl to bring him down.

When the sordid triple betrayal was over, Peter wept bitterly and went away to be by himself, awash in shame and regret.

Then came Easter morning when the women went to the tomb, little knowing that Jesus had risen from the dead. When they arrived at the tomb early on Sunday morning, an angel announced the good news and instructed them to “go, tell his disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:7). What does that mean-“his disciples and Peter?” Peter’s denial has separated him from the other disciples. No doubt he wondered to himself many times, “What am I now? Am I a traitor or am I a disciple?”

How quickly he fell.
No wonder he is confused.
His divided heart has tripped him up.

That happens when we decide to play for Jesus’ team and for the Devil’s team at the same time.

At some point you’ve got to make up your mind.
Choose a team and stick with it!
Follow Jesus-or don’t!

But stop messing around with most basic commitments of life.

When You Know Who You Are . . .

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of teaching the book of Daniel to 120 eager students at Word of Life Bible Institute in Hudson, Florida. Whenever I teach Daniel, I start out in the first session talking a lot about Daniel’s decision not to defile himself with the king’s food.

But I don’t start with Daniel.
I start with a quote from Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard:

“And now with God’s help, I will become myself.”

That leads to a question that is hard to answer:
“Do you know who you are?”
Until you do, you’ll never really know where you fit in.
Once you know who you are, you can fit in anywhere.

Do you know who you are?

That was the secret to Daniel’s greatness. He knew who he was, even in Babylon, hundreds of miles from Jerusalem, ripped away from his homeland, forcibly marched across the desert to the pagan city of Babylon.

There he was enrolled in a school he did not choose.
Leaning a language that was not his own,
Absorbing a culture both foreign and utterly pagan,
Being trained to serve in the Babylonian court.

Then he was given a pagan name. The name Daniel means “God is my judge,” which tells us that he was raised in a godly home. The Babylonians called him Belteshazzar, which means something like “Bel, protect his life.” It was a prayer to a pagan deity.

To all of these changes he either gave his assent or at least he did not actively protest. In the case of the deportation to Babylon, he had no choice. He and his friends were captured and taken by the Babylonians against their will. When they arrived in Babylon, he and his friends were put in a three-year, all-expenses-paid training program. Without doubt, it was a great honor to be chosen to serve the Babylonian king.

The King always eats well.

Part of that training involved eating at the king’s table. It would like eating at Buckingham Palace. The king always eats well. They give him the best of the best. So to eat at the king’s table meant the best food, expertly prepared, served with the best wines.

It meant eating well every day.
It was the best the world had to offer.

And Daniel said no.

“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8).

The King James version says he “purposed in his heart.”
You can only “purpose in your heart” when you have an undivided heart.

Daniel purposed in his heart.

You know the rest of the story. Daniel and friends ate water and cereal for ten days. They ended up looking healthier and stronger than those who ate at the king’s table. As a result, they were recognized and rewarded by the king himself (Daniel 1:17-21).

Good story. Happy ending.

One question hangs in the air. Where did Daniel find the strength to say no to the food from the king’s table? My answer is simple. Daniel knew who he was so he knew where to draw the line.

Daniel never forgot who he was and he never forgot where he came from. It was as if he was saying, “I may look Babylonian on the outside, but I’m 100% Jewish on the inside.”

Daniel never forgot who he was.

This teaches us that you can’t corrupt a man from the outside. You can change a culture but not a character. You can change his name but not his nature. Daniel may have looked like a pagan, but on the inside he was a servant of the living God. Even the mighty Nebuchadnezzar could do nothing about that.

We live in a world where biblical values are constantly under attack. We won’t change the world’s way of thinking any time soon.

But will the world change our way of thinking?
That’s the question that hangs in the balance.

When I taught all this to the students, I told them it finally comes down to one great principle:

When you know who you are, you can serve Christ anywhere.

And the reverse is also true: When you are unclear about who you really are, you will struggle to serve Christ anywhere.

A man with a divided heart cannot grasp his true identity.
He will be pulled this way and that.
Under pressure he almost certainly will cave in.

But the man with an undivided heart knows who he is.
Because he knows who he is, he doesn’t have to constantly make decisions.
Once you make up your mind, life becomes simpler (though not always easier).

Years ago I used to watch a preacher on TV who had one signature line that he repeated over and over again:

If you’re going to be a Christian, be one!

That strikes me as excellent advice.
It starts by having an undivided heart.

If you’re going to be a Christian, be one!

And that brings us back to the beginning, back to Psalm 86:11, “Unite my heart to fear your name” and “Put me together, Lord.” As Spurgeon contemplated this verse, he offered this succinct summary:

A man of divided heart is weak, the man of one object is theman.

The italics are in the original. Sometimes in our conversation, we will say of so-and-so, “He is the man.” We mean he is a man of one purpose, the man we admire and want to follow.

Such a man is the man.

After I shared some of these thoughts at our Men’s Bible study, the Lord seemed to grant us a kind of holy introspection. One man later told his wife, “I’ve got some business to do with the Lord.” Another man said, “I think we all have a divided heart.”

That’s why David prayed this prayer.
He looked within and saw his heart pulled in a hundred directions.

So he prayed, “Unite my heart, O Lord.”

We marinate in hate.

There is no prayer more appropriate and more needed in our day. Every honest man or woman must at times say, “My life is far from what I want it to be.”

We run low on love.
We find ourselves distracted, worried and easily confused.
We fall prey to little temptations that lead to bigger ones.
We marinate in hate.
We dawdle in our duties.
We make excuses for every failure.
We find ourselves both disagreeing and disagreeable.
We love the world more than we love God.
We live in unbelief instead of walking in faith.
We refuse to submit because our pride is at stake.

And so it goes, this struggle of the soul to find rest and peace.
No wonder we are frustrated.

When the heart is not united, nothing works right. Without God, we will be fragmented and torn and pulled and distracted.

A Prayer for a United Heart

We must do as David did. We must pray, “O Lord, take the scattered fragments of my heart and unite them so that I may praise you.” Only God can do this, but God can do it if we will come to him in humility and sincerity.

The hardest part is coming. Until you admit you need God’s help, you will be stuck exactly where you are.

We must do as David did.

So here is a prayer that may help us all:

Lord Jesus,

I need to hear these ancient words once again:

Unite my heart to fear your name.

I am so scattered, Lord.

Pulled in so many directions.

So easily distracted.

How quickly I forget who you are.

How quickly I forget your goodness to me.

Unite my heart, Lord.

Put it back together again.

Refocus my thoughts.

Clarify my purpose.

Grant that I should want you more than anything else.

Thank you for your many gifts, freely given.

Forgive me for loving your gifts more than I love you.

In confessing this I ask for forgiveness in Jesus’ name.

Here is my heart, Lord.

Come in and rearrange things.

Make me new from the inside out.

Thank you for loving me even when I seem to lose my way.

I love you, Lord. Do your work in me.

Unite my heart to fear your name.

Amen.

You might want to say that prayer aloud. Perhaps you should print it and post it somewhere so you can use it again when you need it.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.

These lines from Come, Thou Fount speak to our deepest need:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

If the first two lines describe our need, then the last two lines describe our prayer. May God take our scattered hearts and unite them, seal them by his grace, that we might serve him with joy on earth as one day we will serve him in heaven.

Do it, Lord. Unite our hearts to fear your name. Amen.

Courtesy of Precept Austin https://www.preceptaustin.org/give_me_an_undivided_heart#Integrity

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