The Rewards at the Bema of Christ: The Motivation to Live Life with the Intensity of an Athlete

Do you remember when you were a child, how wonderful and proud you felt when your parents gave you a reward for something you had done?  Do you remember how you cherished the moment of a reward that was well-deserved and well-earned? Often you would work tirelessly just to receive a reward of money, ice-cream, or some other delightful thing . What about our Heavenly Father? Can you imagine how awesome the future rewards must be that He has promised for his children who love and serve Him? How awe-inspiring these rewards must be! How perfect they must be! How wonderful they must be! How good they must be! They must be beyond anything our human heart can imagine. These heavenly rewards will last forever for all for God’s people to see.  God’s rewards will not fade, diminish or run out.

How good is God to recognize our labor for Him by giving us rewards in such a measure that they must be a thousand times greater than any sacrifice we have made for Him. God does not forget what we have done for Him. God does not have a memory lapse when it comes to the blood, sweat, and tears we have poured into our service for the gospel. God remembers every good work. God remembers every act of love and kindness. God remembers every gentle and encouraging word spoken. God simply does not forget. Long after the good work may have faded in our memory, God has stored such acts of goodness in His heart and will abundantly reward us at the appropriate time.  

I Corinthians 3:5,6,8,10-15 (NIV):

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is

Paul? Only servants, through whom you

came to believe-as the Lord has assigned

to each his task.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but

God made it grow.

The man who plants and the man who

waters have one purpose, and each will be

rewarded according to his own labor.

By the grace God has given me, I lay a

foundation as an expert builder, and

someone else is building on it. But each

one should be careful how he builds.

For no one can lay any foundation other

than the one already laid, which is Jesus


If any man builds on this foundation

using gold, silver, costly stones, wood,

hay or straw,

His work will be shown for what it is,

because the Day will bring it to light.

It will be revealed by fire, and the fire

will test the quality of each man’s work.

If what he has built survives, he will

receive his reward.

If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he

himself will be saved, but only as one

escaping through the flames.

II Corinthians 5:10 (Amplified):

For we must all appear and be revealed

as we are before the judgment seat (bema)

of Christ, so that each one may receive his

pay according to what he has done in the

the body, whether good or evil [considering

what his purpose and motive have been,

and what he has achieved, been busy with,

and given himself and his attention to


Revised English Bible:

For we must all have our lives laid open

before the tribunal of Christ…


For we have all to appear without disguise

before the tribunal of Christ…

Romans 14:12 (NASB):

So then each one of us will give an account

of himself to God. 

I Corinthians 4:5 (NIV):

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed

time, wait till the Lord comes. He will bring

to light what is hidden in darkness and will

expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that

each will receive his praise from God.

The glorious rewards for Christian service and good works will be given at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Every born again son or daughter of God will give an account of their character, their conduct, their words, their actions and their motives of heart, in the service of Christ. Our lives will be openly revealed and made completely visible as to full and true reality of our character. Jesus Christ will uncover the motives and passions of our heart, as he will not simply look at what we did, but will examine the motivations of our heart as to why we did it.

The Judgment Seat of Christ should not be confused with the Great White Throne Judgment of the Book of Revelation, as they are two different judgments. No one before the Judgment Seat of Christ will be cast into the Lake of Fire and receive the sentence of the second death mentioned in Revelation 20. The Judgment Seat of Christ has nothing to do with obtaining salvation, as we are saved by grace because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and not by works. Jesus Christ paid the price for our salvation, and we have eternal life as a gift of God’s grace. The Christian believers will already be in heaven with their glorious new bodies after the Rapture when they stand before Christ’s Judgment Seat. This judgment is to determine our eternal rewards and our position of responsibility in His kingdom. God will examine the fruitfulness of our lives and the total pattern of our conduct while Christians upon the earth. God will bring to the light the plans, purposes, and motives of our heart  and give amazing rewards for those works of goodness that pass His test.

The Judgment Seat of Christ will issue forth the final verdict as to our eternal rewards and destiny in His kingdom. Will we be decorated with rewards and victor crowns and given great responsibility before God and His Son Jesus Christ in the future kingdom, or will we barely get into the door and that only by the grace of God? What will be our destiny before the Judgment Seat of Christ? Our lives are the testing ground for eternity, as each day we are either making or marring a destiny, winning or losing a reward, and securing or losing a crown.  Will our motives, our heart, our plans, our purposes, and our works withstand the test of fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ? We need to set our heart on eternity as Christians and adjust our motives and heart accordingly. It is never too late to begin to accumulate and earn future rewards in the service of our Lord. God has equipped us with everything we need to walk in obedience to His Word and serve Him. God is ready to help us in anyway He can to secure these wonderful future rewards. God earnestly desires us to be abundantly awarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ and has given us the power, strength, courage, and love to accomplish His plans for our lives. God’s purpose and plan for our lives will not only result in a bumper crop of spiritual fruit, but also a  decorated awards ceremony for our faithfulness to Him.

The words “judgment seat” are the translation of the Greek word bema,which means “a raised place or platform reached by steps.” It literally means the step forward made by a foot. In ancient Greek culture, it referred to both a seat of judgment and a platform where athletes were awarded for their performance in the games. It was also used of a platform where the Roman magistrate or Emperor would address a public assembly, conduct official business, make speeches to the people, and administer justice.  A judge or jury would also pronounce their verdict from the bema, or raised platform, in both Greek and Roman culture. The city of Corinth had a bema on its main street, where the authorities rewarded citizens and rendered justice.

When the bema was used as a platform to give rewards for athletes in the various Greek games, the judges would observe and evaluate the actions of the athletes in the contests. If any athlete broke a rule, one or more judges would point to him and cry out “disqualified!” This contestant would miss the prize regardless of how he placed in the competition. The victor’s wreath would be lost because he was disqualified for not following the rules of the games. Also, once the particular event in the game was completed,  the athletes stood before the bema to hear the judges’ announcement of the results and to receive any prize they won because of their performance in the games. This was an awesome awards ceremony from the bema,giving great honor and recognition to those contestants who distinguished themselves in the competition. 

The Judgment Seat of Christ will be an awards ceremony that will take your breath away. Nothing on Earth can ever match it. I remember watching in awe many Olympic games and the amazing opening and closing ceremonies, along with the emotion of the medal ceremonies. Although these events are truly awe-inspiring, nothing will compare to the magnificent honor and privilege of receiving eternal rewards at the bema, personally given to us by Jesus Christ himself. Do you think a life of Christian service, a life of trusting and loving God with your whole heart and walking in obedience is worth the sacrifice and commitment?  How about when Jesus Christ smiles at you, hugs you, and announces from the bema the wonderful everlasting rewards you earned because of your commitment to Christ. I can’t express in words just how tremendous, glorious, and awesome this event will be for the faithful in Christ Jesus.

According to I Corinthians 3, every born-again Christian believer is an expert builder, which from the Greek means “architect, skilled craftsman, and master worker.” By our works, we are constructing a building on the foundation of Jesus Christ. This building is the sum total of the quality and character of our deeds, words, and actions throughout our Christian life. We can build good works on this foundation by using the good materials of gold, silver, and precious stones, or we can build selfish works using materials of wood, hay, and straw. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, the quality of our workmanship will be tested and we will be rewarded according to how the building passes the inspection. A wise master builder does not throw together the building haphazardly, but contemplates every detail, and works tirelessly to bring about the best, quality product.

God is our co-worker, our fellow-laborer, and our building partner, and He will help us build a beautiful structure of good works that is unmatched in quality if we only let Him. God has magnificent architectural plans and drawings for your beautiful house and is so excited to help you build it. God has all the right contacts, knows all the right people, and knows all the proper building techniques to construct the best home that perfectly suits your life. Whose architectural blueprints are we going to follow? God’s or the world’s? Our new creation in Christ’s plans or our sin nature’s plans? Isn’t God the best suited to help us build a quality Christian life that glorifies Him in word and action? God is the ultimate wise master builder, and without His help our building will not pass the inspection.

Every Christians building will go through a complete and thorough testing process at the bema. The word “test”  in I Corinthians 3 in the Greek means “ to put to the test for the purpose of approving.” It is a critical examination of something to determine its genuineness. The word was used in secular Greek literature to describe the action of the examining board putting its stamp of approval on those individuals who passed the examination for the degree of Doctor of Medicine. It was also used of a candidate who passed the test as fit for public office. This Greek word describes a process of approval, not condemnation or punishment. You either passed or failed, as the testing was not done to determine how much good or evil was in the product or person being tested.  The testing was done to determine whether the thing tested passed the examination according to specifications.  It was also used in classic Greek to describe the testing of precious metals, usually by fire, to determine if they were truly authentic and measured up to their stated worth. The word also implies that the testing was done with the expectation and hope that the person or thing being tested would pass the test with flying colors.

God fervently desires that our building will pass the inspection at the bema and we receive abundant rewards. God has given us the gift of holy spirit, the revelation of His written Word, and a restored relationship with Him. He fully expects us to utilize these tools to construct our house of life. He will guide us, counsel us, comfort us, and strengthen us in this journey of building a quality, good, holy life for the service of our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  The whole quality of our life and character will be tested at the Judgment Seat of Christ to see if God puts His stamp of approval on it and finds it worthy of a reward, or rejects it as unfit for any type of recompense.

Both I and II Corinthians state that if our works pass the test, we will be recompensed, or receive a reward. The word “reward” in the Greek means “wages or pay.” It is pay that is due for labor or service performed. This will not be minimum wage or a paltry pay for our labor. Who will even be able to measure the greatness of this reward that will be mingled with praise and love? Who can value the depth and vastness of these wages? By the grace and love of our wonderful God, these rewards will be a million times greater than the work that was performed, and they will last forever. These magnificent rewards will reflect the essence of God’s goodness. When we make His goodness our lifestyle and practice good day after day, God will reward us at the bema with good rewards that for eternity will radiate the brilliance of His goodness.

The first usage of this word “reward” in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is in Genesis 15:1, when God is referred to as Abram’s (soon to be Abraham) exceeding great reward. Isn’t it amazing that God Almighty calls Himself “the exceeding great reward?”  Abraham, the father of all of us who believe, understood that above all else that life had to offer, God was his great reward. That should be our mindset as Christians-God is our reward. For many, money, fame, material possessions, and  praise are the rewards that they seek after. Some people’s reward is in their looks, their clothes, their car, their image, and their job. These rewards are temporal and will ultimately disappoint and discourage. It is like cleaving to and embracing a fleeting shadow and a journey of nothingness. But how can anything compare to God as our reward? Isn’t it time that we seek, pursue, and follow after God and the abundant rewards He promises? Isn’t God the reward that we should seek with all our heart and soul? Not only will God reward us in this life with peace, joy, goodness, and strength, but He will eternally reward us at the bema for our quality of service for Him.

C.H. Spurgeon in his sermon titled “Abraham’s Great Reward,”  proclaims:

I do not think the human mind can ever grasp

the fullness of meaning of these four words.

“I am your reward.” God Himself the reward

of His faithful people! This I feel sure of-that

although I can enjoy the sweetness of this text

for myself, my feeble lips can never tell even

the hundredth part of the precious meaning of

it…. Have you, dear Friend made any sacrifices

for Christ? Have you lately been called to

imperil your own interests by pursuing a right

course? Have you been steadfast even though

you lost friendships? Have you been so firm

in your adherence to principal that you have

been judged to be obstinate? Well, if so, you

shall be no loser through your faithfulness! As

certainly as God is in Heaven, you shall prove…

that in keeping His commandments there is      

great reward…Is not this an “exceeding great

reward”-to know God, to love Him and to be

loved by Him? What more can we desire than

this? Yet we have even more than this, for

loving God we come to realize that we have

possession of Him, so that we can say, “This    

God is our God forever and ever.” We say of

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, “My Beloved

is mine, and I am His.”…Just think, for a minute,

dear Friends, what the possession of God means.

God is yours in everything that He is. His

Omnipotence is pledged to strengthen you. His

Omniscience is engaged to direct you. All His

attributes are employed on your behalf. He is

everywhere present and, therefore, He will show

Himself everywhere strong for your defense! He

is Immutable so He changes not in His love to

you.He is Eternal so His mercy endures forever…

When we have God as our possession, we have

an “exceeding great reward!”you should also

rejoice that…when He shall appear, in whom

your life is hid, you shall be like He is, for you

shall see Him like He is. Oh, it is worthwhile to

have lived, is it not, when this is to be the end

of it all?

If we hold on to God as our exceeding great reward in this life, we will receive exceeding great rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. God does not want us to receive a small or partial reward at the bema, but He wants us to receive a full reward.

Ruth 2:12 (English Standard Version):

The Lord repay you for what you have done,

and a full reward be given you by the Lord,

the God of Israel, under whose wings you

have come to take refuge.

II John 8 (NIV):

Watch out that you do not lose what you have

worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 

What can we do as Christians to assure a full reward at the bema? Jim Cymbala, in You Were Made for More, sets forth some wisdom in this regard:

I love the fact that no matter how ungodly the

world becomes, some people still maintain their

devotion to God and one another. No matter

how much betrayal and debauchery we see on

every side, some people still believe duty, love

and honor…What the world calls great is often

an abomination to God. And what the world laughs

at-devotion, consecration, faith-is what God calls

great. Greatness should not be measured by

whether you get your name in The New York Times.

What heaven is registering has little to do with what

happens in the stock market, on the Broadway stage,

or at the next Olympic Games. Heaven is more

interested in those who live for God every single

day, doing the right thing in ordinary circumstances.

Those who show gentleness, kindness, and trust…

The everyday decisions of life-how we act on the

job, how we pay our bills on time, how we give to

God’s work, how we treat our children, how we care

care for our relatives, how we respond to adversity-

these are the God is watching. The longer we walk

with God, the more we realize that greatness lies in

the small aspects of life. It is perfectly all right for

us to be ordinary and unacclaimed in the world.

God knows what is truly going on, and he values

the common person of integrity…Ordinary people

can make an extraordinary mark when they yield

themselves to the purposes of God. They don’t need

to try to pump themselves up. They simply live and

serve with honor and diligence, letting God

accomplish what he called them to be, whether

small or great…God’s plans for his people are not to                                        

be compared with the passing rewards of this world.

What he has in mind for those who love him

wholeheartedly is more than you will ever dream.

We will receive a full reward when we have a heart that is devoted to pleasing the Lord in everything we do. Our aim, our purpose, and our passion is to please God. As the Apostle Paul exhorted the believers in the Book of Colossians:

Colossians 3:23,24 (Revised English Bible):

Whatever you are doing, put your whole heart

into it, as if you were doing it for the Lord and

not for men.

Knowing that there is a master who will give

you an inheritance as a reward for your service.

Christ is the master you must serve.

I Thessalonians 4:1 (New Living Translation):

Finally, dear brother and sisters, we urge you

in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way

that pleases God, as we have taught you. You

live this already, and we encourage you to do

so even more.                                                 

The Bible gives us some glimpse into the magnificent nature of these rewards by setting forth five crowns that are the ultimate and highest awards for Christian service. The Greek word for “crown” is stephanos,  and Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament explains the meaning of this word:

It was the crown given to the victor in the Greek

athletic games, the runner who first crossed the

goal, the athlete who hurled the discus farthest,

the wrestler who pinned the opponent to the mat.

It was given to the servant of the State whose

work deserved to be honored. It was worn at

marriage feasts. A stephanos was therefore a

symbol of victory, of deserved honor, and of

festive gladness. The crown was woven of oak

leaves, of ivy, of parsley, of myrtle, of olive, of

violets, of roses.

Although the Bible does not tell us the exact nature of these crowns, these rewards must be simply breathtaking in their beauty and represent an eternal symbol of victory, deserved honor, and overflowing gladness. It will be a more magnificent crown than any victor’s wreath that ever graced the head of a Greek athlete. It will be more splendid then a thousand gold medals at the Olympic Games. It will be more superb than all the Nobel Peace Prizes ever given in the history of the world. Imagine what a privilege it would be to be handed a glorious crown by the Lord Jesus Christ! What an inspiring moment that would be! What an awesome recognition for a job well done. How remarkable would it be to wear a crown throughout all eternity that sends forth the brilliant message of our love and commitment to Him? Nothing can match the exceeding greatness and honor of these five crowns.

The first crown is the incorruptible or imperishable crown (I Corinthians 9:25)  that is given to the Christian who has given his all in winning the spiritual race that God has marked out for each believer. It is given to the Christian who exercised self-control in everything and with great discipline gave all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength to do their best for the Lord. It is given to the Christian who excelled in their walk with God, keeping their body, mind and heart under control, directing it to the service of God and the good works He has planned for us to accomplish. 

The second crown is the crown of rejoicing (I Thessalonians 2:19) that is given to those who have diligently won others to Christ. The crown represents every single person whom they have led to the Lord Jesus Christ and ministered the saving grace of His Word.  It is given to those Christians who with great joy witnessed about the Lord Jesus Christ and the good news of salvation, righteousness, justification, and all the  wonderful things Jesus Christ accomplished through his death and resurrection. It is given to those who stand against all the hindrance and obstructions of Satan and still hold forth the Word of Life and its wonderful message of deliverance. This crown is the glory of soul-winners.

The third crown is the crown of righteousness (II Timothy 4:8)thatis given to those who long for Christ’s return and love His appearing as the exalted head of the Body of Christ and King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  It is given to those Christians who have fought the good fight of faith with their eyes riveted to the hope of Christ’s coming as the anchor of their soul. It is given to those Christians who have a deep yearning to see the Lord they love face to face and rejoice in his glorious presence. 

The fourth crown is the crown of life (James 1:12) that is given to those Christians who endured and persevered through trials and temptations, remaining faithful to the Lord. The Christian who receives this crown has stood faithfully in their love and obedience to God, despite attempts by the devil to storm the depths of their heart and cause agitation, fear, and unbelief. The crown of life is given to those who are steadfast in their stand for the truth, regardless of the afflictions, pressures, pleasures, persecutions, and troubles that are thrown against them.

The fifth crown is the crown of glory that is given to leaders in the church who willing and eagerly shepherd God’s people, as these leaders shine forth as great examples of heart, service, lifestyle, and conduct for the Lord. It is given to those who follow the heart and example of the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, as they lovingly serve and take care of God’s precious children. The motive of these spiritual leaders is not money, fame, or pride, but love and passion to do God’s will as they carry forth their responsibilities in the ministry of the gospel.

Surely these five magnificent crowns should provide us great motivation for a lifetime of Christian service. Nothing could compare in this life to the thrill and honor of receiving the ultimate reward of a crown or crowns at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Perfect justice will be decreed from the bema, as each Christian believer will be  compensated and rewarded for their works, words, and actions they accomplished for the Lord. The final verdict as to rewards will be absolutely perfect, fair, and good. Not one Christian will be cheated, overlooked, ripped off, or passed by when it comes to the proclamation of their eternal rewards.

The Bible describes a range of emotions that will be present at the Judgment Seat of Christ, as we stand face to face with Jesus Christ to give an account of our Christian lives. There will be confidence for some because of their devotion and faithfulness to the Lord. There will be shame for some, as the quality of their building and works did not measure up to the test. There will be cheerful courage and assurance for some, because of their intimate closeness and fellowship with the Lord as they carried out His work. There will be disappointment for some, who know in their hearts they failed to live up to the great purposes and plans of God for their lives. There will be unspeakable joy for some, whose heart will thrill at seeing their loving Lord face to face. There will be fear for some, because they dedicated their words and deeds to the service of their selfish sin nature and turned their backs on serving the Lord. There will be loss and sorrow for some, as they received little or no rewards because their works did not reflect God’s goodness, love, and grace.  There will be guilt for some, as their eyes are opened to see that their character really missed the mark of quality God expects for His children. There will be humility and praise, as every knee shall bow to Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord to the glory of God our Father. There will be amazement and awe at the magnificent nature of this event as we stand in our new bodies in the presence of Jesus Christ. There will be love for the Lord and extreme gratitude for his sacrifice for each one of us.

What a day that will be, and we can make the decision now to live our lives in such a way that we stand at the bema before the Lord in confidence, courage, love, and joy.How we live from this day forward will determine to a great extent what emotions we will have before the Judgment Seat of Christ. In that day, we will see that it was worth the sacrifice and it was worth the effort to give our all to labor for the Lord doing His good work upon the earth.

But after the final verdict for rewards is given at the bema, I Corinthians 4:5 declares that every single Christian will receive praise from God.  The word “praise” in the Greek means “praise upon, applause, commendation, and worthy of praise.” Detzler, in New Testament Words in Today’s Language, says, “the basic meaning of this word is ‘applause’. It speaks of expressed approval or public recognition.” God will stand and with great love in His heart give us applause as we enter into His kingdom. Even if the only thing we ever did with our life was to get saved, God will still give us applause and praise at the bema for that one great decision to come to the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. That wonderful moment gave us everlasting life and the finished, glorious work of Jesus Christ is so big, so enormous, and so complete for us that it merits the applause of God. We are the praise of the glory of His grace, according to Ephesians, and

He has bestowed upon us the greatest gift to be called and accepted as His beloved. One person who was lost and now is found by the Great Shepherd causes waves of joy to  flood the depths of heaven, for this was God’s great purpose for the ages. God will give you recognition at the bema for simply making that momentous decision of accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. But don’t we want more? Don’t we want an even greater level of praise andapplause because we faithfully loved God with all our heart and soul in the midst of the darkness of this world? Don’t we want the honor and recognition from our Lord for boldly standing for the truth of the gospel, regardless of the opposition from the kingdom of darkness? As a mighty warrior and superior spiritual athlete, don’t we want the thrill of eternal victory to burst forth from our heart? This makes life a mighty adventure with our Lord, as we give everything we are to bring His goodness into the hearts of men, women, and children. No sacrifice is too great and no work is too hard when it comes to serving the Lord.

Paul used the imagery of an athlete when describing the intensity of commitment and devotion of heart that a Christian should have in doing God’s work.

II Timothy 4:7 (NIV):

I have fought the good fight, I  have finished

the race, I have kept the faith.


The desperate, straining, agonizing contest

marked by its beauty of technique, I like a

wrestler have fought to the finish, and at

present am resting in victory. My race, I like

a runner have finished, and at present am

resting at the goal. The Faith committed to

my care, I like a soldier have kept safely

through eternal vigilance, and have

delivered it again to my Captain.

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (Message):

You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the

athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run

to win.

All good athletes train hard. They do it for a

gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re

after one that’s gold eternally.

I don’t know about you but I’m running hard

to the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve

got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert

and in top condition.

I’m not going to get caught napping, telling

everyone else all about it and then missing out


New Living Translation:

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs,

but only one person gets the prize? So run to


All athletes are disciplined in their training.

They do it to win a prize that will fade away,

but we do it for an eternal prize.

So I run with purpose in every step, I am not

just shadowboxing.

I discipline my body like an athlete, training

it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that

after preaching to others I myself might be


Philippians 3:13,14 (New Living Translation):

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not

achieved it, but I focus on this one thing:

Forgetting the past and looking forward to

what lies ahead,

I press on to reach the end of the race and

receive the heavenly prize for which God,

through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Ephesians 6:12 (The Message):

This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll

walk away from and forget about in a couple

of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight                                                

to the finish against the devil and his angels.

As Christians, we are in an intense battle with our spiritual enemy, the devil and his kingdom, and God wants us to fight the good fight with the discipline, intensity, and effort of an athlete. The word “fight” in the Greek means: to contend in the Greek games for a prize with great physical exertion and intensity in an enormous struggle against an adversary; to labor fervently with persistent effort and to exert oneself as an athlete with every ounce of discipline, conviction, strength, and ability in a strenuous conflict; and to contend with adversaries with strenuous zeal. It means an all out push for victory with every ounce of physical and mental strength striving for the honor and reward of triumph. Nothing is left on the sidelines. The root of this word comes into English as the word “agony.” These Greek athletes were engaged in the intense competition of the games even to the point of physical agony. To understand some of the intensity and motivation of the Greek games, we need to know that the Greek boxer wore fur-lined gloves covered with cowhide that had lead and iron sewed into it, and the loser of a Greek wrestling match had his eyes gouged out. Do you see the intense motivation and physical struggle of these athletes to the point of agony in these games? Everything was on the line, and it demanded their full and complete effort.

Should we have any less intensity, motivation, discipline, and passion to do the good works of God than the Greek athlete had to win a prize? Should we labor any less fervently for Christ than the Greek athlete labored in the games? We should make it our aim as Christians to fight the good fight and finish the race God has called us to run with everything we have. No half-hearted, weak effort is acceptable. Fight the good fight! This is not a fight against our jobs, our spouses, our families, or opposing political views, but this is a fight for good and against evil. This is a fight for Christ and against Satan. This is a fight to stand up for God and proclaim His goodness with every ounce of our being. It is the biggest spiritual Super Bowl on the face of the planet, and it is the forces of good against the forces of evil. We are at war! This is your destiny, and God has given us everything we need to fight the good fight. God is our team captain, and He urges us to get in the spiritual arena and compete and fight for His will and purposes. We should accept nothing less than an all effort in this fight.

For too long Christianity has been too weak, too entangled, too preoccupied, too half-hearted, and too soft to fight for the truth of the gospel with an intensity of an athlete. Are we willing to lay everything we have on the line for the Lord Jesus Christ? Or is our Christianity a convenient Sunday show for an hour that does little to wake up the world to Christ or transform us into His likeness? You are in a fight, the ultimate contest, the supreme event, and you can either get into the ring and fight or stay on the sidelines of life, never adventuring to take the hand of God as your team captain and give it every fiber of your being to finish the race. It takes courage, it takes fortitude, it takes energy, it takes conviction, it takes passion, it takes commitment, and it takes tenacity to stand for Christ in this world. Are we willing to make the sacrifice to do the good works that God has prepared for us to walk in as Christians? Are you prepared to make the sacrifice to accomplish His glorious purpose for your life upon this earth? Are you prepared to push yourself to the point of physical and mental exhaustion for the cause of Christ?

When you really shed all the layers and the subterfuge, what else is there in life worth living for? Beauty fades; power corrupts; fame diminishes; money destroys; ego hardens; and people disappoint. Evil always fascinates and lures. but it will ultimately crush, steal, and destroy everything about you and leads only to misery. Don’t sell out to serve evil, because it only leads to destruction of character, destruction of life, and destruction of heart.

Romans 12:21 (Phillips):

Don’t allow yourself to be overpowered with

evil. Take the offensive-overcome evil by good.

New Living Translation:

Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer

evil by doing good.


Do not be overcome of evil, but overcome evil

with good.

We need to take the offensive and overcome evil with the goodness of God in our words and actions. We no longer need to let evil get the best of us, because we have God’s goodness to combat evil. We need to sell out to God and proclaim the goodness of God from every mountaintop and every valley. Give your life to do good, not evil. Give your life to love, not hate. Give your life to serve. Let people see our good Savior in your words and actions. The character of our lives should inspire people to want to love the Lord with their whole heart. We desperately need to excel in all the good works He has called us to do.

God’s goodness will transform your heart, your character, and your works. We need Christians to wake up to the goodness of God. Now is the time for Christians to wake up and heed God’s call to get into the spiritual arena and fight. Run to win! Train hard! Live with gusto for God! Do good! Discipline your mind and thoughts to track with your Heavenly Master, Teacher, and Guide. Refuse to be a mediocre Christian anymore. Refuse to sit on the sidelines anymore. Refuse to accept anything less than God’s ordained purpose and calling for your life.

Jesus Christ endured extreme physical agony on the cross for you and me. Our names were engraved in the stripes on his back. Our names were engraved in the whelps on his head and face. Our names were engraved in the nail holes in his hands and feet. He suffered more than any human has ever suffered for you and me. We were worth the sacrifice. We were worth the pain. We were worth the suffering. Don’t we want to have the same intensity of commitment to him? Don’t we want to do something worthy and noble for our Lord because he paid such a high price for our salvation? Don’t we want to give our heart to him all of our days? We need to shine with the brilliance of Christ in us and reach out and help someone with the mighty message of His love and goodness. Each day should have the intensity of commitment for our Lord of the two minute drill in football; the final winning shot in basketball; the bases loaded hit to win the World Series; the final sprint of the thoroughbred horse to triumph in the Kentucky Derby; the intense push of the swimmer to win the gold in world record time; and the winning goal in overtime to win in hockey. All athletes are willing to make the sacrifice to win the prize.           

The Tour de France is a grueling bicycle race for twenty three days covering over 2200 miles. It is arguably the most physiologically demanding of any athletic event. There are 21 stages and only two days of rest allowed for the event. Often the countryside is rugged, and mountainous with the climbs compared to climbing three Mount Everests. One of the participants said that he rode his bicycle for 22,000 miles a year to train, riding 5 to 7 hours a day with only one day of rest a week. Some ride even more, averaging 500 to 700 miles a week. Some of the riding is very intense with sprints and hill climbing, leading to extreme pressure on the demands of the human body.  Diet is strictly watched, and it takes an all out commitment to strict training to even have a chance to compete. The intensity of their commitment to this event is amazing. Yet, as great as this sporting event is, it is still done for a temporal prize.

Do we have the same intensity of these athletes to do the work of the Lord for an eternal reward? Do we approach training and discipline with the same commitment as these athletes? Are we absolutely dedicated and devoted to grow in the Lord and do what God tells us to do? Or do we have the commitment and intensity of the arm chair quarterback who sits in a chair, drinks a beer, and watches a game that he will never participate in?  Don’t you want to get in the game?

How is our spiritual health for the Lord? Are we toned spiritually and robust in thoughts, mind, and heart for the service of the Lord, or are we spiritually flabby and lazy, not wanting to go to the trouble of standing up and doing something for Christ? It is time for Christians to get in shape spiritually for the great vision and purpose God has for each one of us for our generation.

Acts 13:22,36 (NIV):

After removing Saul, he made David their

king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have

found David son of Jesse a man after my

own heart; he will do everything I want him

to do.’

For when David had served God’s purpose

for his generation, he fell asleep; he was

buried with his fathers and his body decayed.

David was a man after God’s own heart and accomplished the purpose God had given him for his generation. David had a heart to do everything God wanted him to do. Where is our heart concerning the good works that God has called us to accomplish for our generation? Will we follow God’s heart with the intensity of an athlete and the heart of a warrior? God has called us for a purpose, a reason to do something great for him in this generation. Do we dare follow Him above all else with a do or die commitment of soul? Are we committed to the goodness of God and to tell the world about His wonderful love, goodness, and character? Are we committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ above everything else in life? Or has it been a decision in life that has not carried much significance in our daily living?  Are we just going through the motions, or is passion for

God directing and motivating our lives?

Matthew West, in his wonderful song “The Motions,” describes his heart that he does not want to go through life asking, “What if I had given everything instead of going through the motions?” Let these words of this song speak to your heart, as “just okay” is not enough; we should want to go all the way for the Lord.           

This might hurt, it’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care if I break,
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?”

No regrets, not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

‘Cause I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?”

Take me all the way (take me all the way),
Take me all the way (’cause I don’t wanna go through the motions)
Take me all the way (I know I’m finally feeling something real)
Take me all the way

What if we really gave everything? How would our lives be transformed? How would our hearts be healed? How would Satan’s kingdom shudder? How we would impact our families, our neighborhoods, our cities, our country, and the world if we sold out to Christ? God does not want a flash of emotion or commitment that fizzles out. God does not want a sudden burst of concern or love that fades away.  God wants our hearts.

God wants our devotion. We have to realize we are headed for eternity and must live for Him like there is no tomorrow.  We need to start pushing back at Satan’s kingdom with the goodness and power of God. The devil wants to take the fight out of you. The devil wants to take the passion out of you. The devil wants to brand your heart with apathy for the things of God. Don’t let him do it. Fight back and resist with a heart of a warrior for God.  God has a great need for hearts that are on fire for Him. God needs us to accomplish His great good work upon the earth. Our work is never in vain for the Lord. Our labor is never forgotten by God. Our work is never worthless for Christ, because there are eternal rewards for our faithfulness to Him.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV):

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let

nothing move you. Always give yourselves

fully to the work of the Lord, because you

know your labor in the Lord is not in vain.


Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm

(steadfast), immovable, always abounding in

the work of the Lord [always being superior,

excelling, doing more than enough in the

service of the Lord], knowing and being

continually aware that your labor in the Lord

is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose]

The word “vain” in the Greek means: empty, hollow, fruitless and without effect or reward.  Nothing is more tragic than an empty, wasted life. No feeling is worse than emptiness and hollowness. No condition of the heart is more devastating than an overwhelming sense of worthlessness. Everyone wants their life to mean something.  No one wants to have lived in vain. No one wants to live a meaningless existence. Jesus Christ is the answer to the empty life. Our labor for the Lord will never turn out to be empty, worthless, futile, hollow, or without return. Each good work accomplished for the Lord will yield a return a thousand times greater than our heart can even imagine.

Isn’t it worth dedicating our lives to something that is not empty or hollow, but has eternal implications? We will never be wasting one day, one hour, or one minute when our words and deeds are done in the service of our Lord. Each good work will be remembered and treasured throughout all eternity. What a joy to know that our life is not empty, hollow, or worthless but has enormous value to God and the Lord Jesus Christ.                                            

I love the website, as it contains some amazing, soul-stirring sermons that convict your heart to do more for Christ. I have shared below parts of a sermon from K. P. Yohannan that inspired me to push myself as an athlete to live for Christ.  Some of the sermons on this website may not be popular with some Christians, but the truth of these words should resound into the depth of our souls.         

The reason why we in America with all the teaching,

all the music, all the stuff going on; our lives are

shallow – still struggling with sin, and struggle in our

private thought life, with things you know that are not

pleasing God. And a lack of victory in your life, a lack

of authority of God in your life, seeking to please men

rather than God. Ever so busy we can’t be quiet – in

the car, in the shower, in the room, everywhere we go,

we  have to be kept busy because we are a restless people.

Why is it? Why is it? It is simply because we do not want

to accept the cross of Christ into our lives. The cross

means self-denial, giving up our own wishes and dreams

for the sake of the cross. For the sake of  Calvary. And

that is what we are missing here. That  is the reason with

all the stuff, we miss so much of reality. When will we

learn – what does it take for us to learn – the call of Christ

for us is as the Father has sent Me, so send I you. You are

my hands, you are my legs, you are my eyes, you are my

ears, you are my tears, you are Mine! Go into the world

and touch the poor, the needy, the lepers, the dying and

the hurting and the ones going to hell and grab them and

rescue them. That is the call of Christ! The call of Christ

is to die not to live. You must by the grace of God make

a decision – that Lord I want approval from You and no

one else. So much of Christian work originates in the

flesh and carnality. “Lord I only want your approval.” I

know those are strong words – unless you are sensitive to

the Lord, you can easily misunderstand. We have a

problem in America, in our church – we misunderstand

obedience for legalism and bondage. I’m telling you,

I’m telling you – the day is soon coming you will regret

and repent – too late will it be over the debased life we

spent for ourselves here. The world out there that do not

know Jesus and our priority number one, number one

must be – “Lord I love you and out of that I give all to

touch the lost world.”

In the book, The Bravehearted Gospel, Eric Ludy, states:

In the early days of the first century A.D., 12 men

picked up this gauntlet when thousands of others

shook their heads and walked away. They followed

their Master fully. They loved the lost with His

passion, they spoke the truth with His thunder, and

though often persecuted and oppressed, their lives

sparkled with His light. Almost everyone of them

within a few decades, had followed Jesus to their

deaths at the hands of a world that still loved

darkness rather than light. But their sacrifice was

not in vain, and by the time the last apostle had

breathed his final breath, it was commonly said,

“These were the men who turned the world upside

down.” (Acts 17:6). Twelve against the world.

Twelve who chose the gritty bravehearted path.

Twelve was enough. May it be so today…..

illuminating a path trod by the greatest men and

women in history-the path of the Bravehearted

Gospel. To many, at first glance, this path seems

too hard, too straight, or too narrow. But I encourage

you to press on, for the testimony of those who have

walked this sacred corridor before us is that its fruit

is sweet, its air clean, its company is unequaled, and

its destination is unmatched-and all with the smile of

God warm upon the soul. So press on to the mark!

Lay hold of the prize! The King has called. Who will

answer? The race has been set. Who will run? The

bravehearted path is the path of our Master; it is a

way of thorns and it is a road of glory, and those who

run it must run it with all their might.

Are you ready to do what God has called you to do? Are you ready to turn the world upside down with the goodness of God? God’s goodness is radical; God’s goodness is life-changing; God’s goodness is revolutionary; God’s goodness is transforming. God wants to reproduce His good character, His good words, His good works, and His good nature within you and me. Are you ready to be transformed? Are you ready to fight the good fight? Are you ready to run the good race?  Are you ready to excel in good works for your loving Master?

We are the voice, the touch, the light, and the representation of God’s goodness to the world. Are you ready to deliver the message of His goodness that will revolutionizethe hearts of men and women? God is waiting for daring men and women who want to stand up for His goodness and show the world His awesome characteristics and heart.  God needs us to throw back evil and stand up for the good. God needs to us to reject evil and cleave to His goodness with all our might. Once you have tasted of the goodness of God, nothing else can ever take its place. We must be the patriots of His goodness to the world. Our times cry out for the goodness of God to touch our generation. Our times need the good works of Christ to shine as light in the darkness. Our times need an unwavering trust and faith in our good God and His message of deliverance. Will we answer the call? A lost world is desperately awaiting the tender touch of the goodness of God. 

            My heartfelt prayer for you is contained in two wonderful sections of Scripture in Thessalonians and Hebrews.

II Thessalonians 2:16,17 (English Standard Version):

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself,                   

and God our Father, who loved us and

gave us eternal comfort and good hope

through grace,     

Comfort your hearts and establish them in

every good work and word.

Hebrews 13:20,21 (English Standard Version):

Now may the God of peace, who brought again

from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd

of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,

Equip you with everything good that you may do

his will, working in us, that which is pleasing in

his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory

forever and forever. Amen.

            I am so thankful that our God is good. My fervent desire is that your heart has been forever touched and transformed by the goodness of God.  

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When Your Prayers Have No More Words

Have you ever come to the point when your prayers have no more words? I certainly have been there. You feel as if all that is left inside of you is a whisper coming from the dust. Although you have an inner groaning for something that only God can give, you are so tired that you cannot even make any more appeals to God over it.

In the book of First Samuel, we see that Hannah found herself in such a state. “Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard” (1 Samuel 1:13). It was a wordless prayer! She longed for a child, but the Lord had closed her womb. Every year, Hannah went to the temple of God during what was supposed to be a time of thanksgiving, yet she felt utterly empty inside. To make matters worse, “Her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:6). This is a type of you and me going to prayer and the enemy saying, “Is God really faithful to you? Look how empty you are. Look how little life you have produced. You are not doing anything that is giving glory to His name. Your whole purpose on the earth is not going to be fulfilled!”

Hannah’s adversary was provoking her, in a sense, to believe that perhaps God had found some secret displeasure with her that caused Him to close His hands of generosity over her life. The Scripture says that she wept and did not eat.

Her husband, Elkanah, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1:8). But Hannah had come to a place where she was not pacified with such comforts. It is like when you have an inner desire for something God has promised you or destined your life to be, but people all around are urging you, “Just cheer up.” Nevertheless, an inner sorrow remains because you know in your heart that your life is not amounting to the fullness it was intended to be. Hannah knew the life that was supposed to come through her had not been conceived, and she could not be comforted.

The passage continues, “Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1:9—10). Interestingly, Hannah’s day was somewhat similar to ours. The nation of Israel at that time was on the very edge of defeat; in fact, just a short season later, the Ark of the Covenant would be captured by the Philistines. In the natural, everything looked hopeless. A backslidden priest was leading the nation, deaf and dull to the moment in which they were living. His two sons were greedy and immoral. The only thing left to do at this moment is what Hannah did–she prayed as much as she could.

You see, this has always been God’s remedy for critical times throughout history. He looks for that person–the one who, in the natural, would appear to be the least usable in the Kingdom of God. In a moment such as this, Hannah was just a barren woman full of disappointment and bitter in soul. She was in such anguish that there were no more words to her prayer.


However, there came a turning point for Hannah that changed everything and allowed God to do something that only He could do. “Then she made a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head’” (1:11). This was the moment when barrenness gave way to conception!

The scriptures tell us that afterward, Hannah “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked for him from the Lord’” (1:18—20). Hannah literally put it all into the hands of God and said, “Lord, if You will do something supernatural and give life to me, here is the promise I make to You: I will not use it for myself, but I will bring it back to You for Your glory.” And by the end of her prayer, she walked away and was no longer sad!

You see, this is the moment that changes everything. It is when you and I say, “God, if You will do something in my life, I will bring it back to You for Your glory. I will not be silent about it. It will be a testimony of Your mercy and grace all the days of my life!”

I believe that is the moment God is often waiting for. I am sure there were a lot of prayers offered up in the temple when Hannah was there. Prayers of “give me this” and “I want that.” The Scripture does say that God is good and that He delights in giving us good things. But, as it says in the book of James, there are prayers that are prayed so that we can “consume it upon ourselves” (see James 4:3). We ask, but sometimes God says “no” to those prayers until we finally get to the point where we have no more words left. All that remains is a groan that says, “God, if You will, then I will.”


I remember the day I prayed such a prayer. I had so many issues and struggles in my life when I first came to Christ. I had a horribly bad temper; I was extremely selfish; and I was hurting everybody around me. I finally got so fed up that one day I went into my kitchen and prayed, “God, if You will touch my life and set me free, I will live for You all of my days.”

Suddenly, I had an encounter with God right there in the kitchen that I will never forget for as long as I live. The presence of God literally came into that room. Pastor Teresa was there and witnessed it. The Lord touched me in a way that I still cannot fully explain. He miraculously released me from these issues of character that had held me for almost my entire life up until that point. Sure, I could have gone to counselors for the rest of my life, but I probably would still not be free. I could have tried to encourage myself with all the words that people could offer me or whatever my own heart could muster, but I would most likely still be the same man today that I was then.

But you see, the Word of God came, and I believed Jesus when He said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). I allowed the Word of God to touch my heart, and as the Spirit of God came, the darkness in my life had to give way to the light of God. The prison doors were commanded to open; the blindness in my eyes was washed away by His presence. Suddenly, I began to see a future. And just like Hannah, I walked out of that kitchen no longer sad but instead filled with hope. I was confident that the God who had touched my life in such a powerful way was now going to lead me into something that would give Him glory. Since that time, I have been practically all over the world. I cannot count all the people who have heard the testimony of what God has done for me!

And so here is my message to you today: God is no respecter of persons. What He did for me, He will do for you if you will simply yield to Him. Let His Word touch you in your barren place–anywhere you do not have any hope of bearing life or ever going forward.

Simply pray a prayer of surrender, saying, “Lord, if You will touch me, I will bring the freedom, the blessing, the life that You birth through my life all back to You for Your glory!”

Of course, it must be a genuine prayer. Hannah did exactly what she had promised the Lord she would do. When God granted her a son, Samuel, she brought him back to the temple after she had weaned him. Consider how costly that must have been to her. This son was the desire of her heart, and she was bringing him to Eli, a backslidden priest–into a temple that looked like it was going to fall apart, as a season of captivity was encroaching upon the nation. Yet Hannah still chose to bring the most precious thing in her life and give it to God for His glory.

The rest, of course, is history. Samuel was probably the greatest judge ever raised up in Israel, and he remained a righteous man all the days of his life. He turned the nation back from the brink of judgment to the service and worship of the one true God. Isn’t it amazing that all of this came about from a prayer that had no words?

I encourage you today to take heart! If you have a prayer that no longer has any words to it, you are actually in a good place. You are positioned for God to do a miracle. You are in a place where you finally understand that it has to be all God and none of you. All the Lord is asking of you is, “Bring it back to Me.” And as you genuinely yield the answer to Him, you will be astounded at what He will do in and through you to bring glory to His name!

Carter Conlan

Times Square Church

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I Talk Back to the Devil

By A.W. Tozer

The devil makes it his business to keep Christians in bondage, bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in their own grave clothes!”

Why doesn’t the old devil, Satan, give up and bow out of the picture when a person becomes a believing Christian? Although he is a dark and sinister foe dedicated to the damnation of humans, I think he knows that it is no use trying to damn a forgiven and justified child of God who is in the Lord’s hands.

So, it becomes the devils business to keep the Christian’s spirit imprisoned. He knows that the believing and justified Christian has been raised up out of the grave of his sins and trespasses. From that point on, Satan works that much harder to keep us bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in our own grave clothes.

He knows that if we continue in this kind of bondage, we will never be able to claim our rightful spiritual heritage. He knows also that while we continue bound in this kind of enslavement we are not much better off than when we were spiritually dead. This is one reason why the Christians in today’s churches are behaving like a flock of frightened sheep – so intimidated by the devil that we cant even say “Amen”!

I admit that occasionally you find a few who are just childishly happy about everything, but that is not what I mean. Often these are just like children playing in the market places, having never been seriously engaged in the conflict on the spiritual battlefield. Show me an individual or a congregation committed to spiritual progress with the Lord, interested in what the Bible teaches about spiritual perfection and victory, and I will show you where there is strong and immediate defiance by the devil!

Satan loves to intimidate

Satan has been in this business of intimidating and silencing and oppressing the people of God for a long, long time. The armies of Israel experienced this kind of fright in the valley of Elah when Goliath and the Philistines were camped on the opposite mountain. King Saul was leading Israel, but he was sour, fearful, intimidated because of Goliath, that giant of a man who daily shouted his taunts, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel!” (1 Samuel 17:10). So the army cowered in fear.

But a little fellow by the name of David came along, and he was in right fellowship with the Lord. We are told that the spirit of the Lord came upon David, who said to the Israelites, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight with him!” (1 Samuel 17:32). This was the first word of encouragement to come to these ranks of soldiers who had been able only to gaze in fascinated fear at that great giant who taunted them daily. David was confident and serene because he knew and trusted the Source of all strength. The recorded result was one of the great, miraculous “turn-arounds” of history, David and his sling disposing of Goliath in a way that brought glory to the God of Israel as well as victory to the armies of Israel.

I am sure that it is not glorifying to our God that Christian’s should be so intimidated and silenced in our day. It was Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, who took our human body for Himself. He was a man, born of a woman, a man wearing our own nature. He went to the cross and they sacrificed Him there. The Father, God Almighty, accepted His sacrifice as the one, last, final fulfillment and consummation of all the sacrifices ever made on Jewish altars. After He had been dead three days, He came forth – raised from the dead and out of the grave. After a few days He ascended as Victor over all the forces of death and hell and sat down amid the acclamations of the heavenly hosts!

There He sits at God’s right hand – a living man, our representative and advocate and great, high priest. Believing this, we ought to be the most fearless, the most relaxed, the happiest and most God-assured people in the whole world! But Satan is an old dragon who defies us to this hour. He is saying to Christians, “I defy you – what can you do about it?”

We must get free!

I think we had better get free! We must face up to the issues and attitudes and doubts which constitute our fears, that keep us from being happy and victorious Christians with the true liberty of the children of God. We seem to quake about many things. In the first place, are you still afraid of your past sins? God knows that sin is a terrible thing?and the devil knows it, too. So he follows us around and as long as we will permit it, he will taunt us about our past sins.

As for myself, I have learned to talk back to him on this score. I say, “Yes, Devil, sin is terrible-but I remind you that I got it from you! And I remind you, Devil, that everything good -forgiveness and cleansing and blessing ?everything that is good I have freely received from Jesus Christ!” Everything that is bad and that is against me I got from the devil -so why should he have the effrontery and the brass to argue with me about it? Yet he will do it because he is the devil, and he is committed to keeping God’s children shut up in a little cage, their wings clipped so that they can never fly!

In our churches we often sing, “Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears.” But nothing happens and we keep our fears. Why do we claim on one hand that our sins are gone and on the other act just as though they are not gone? Brethren, we have been declared “Not Guilty!” by the highest court in all the universe. Still there are honest Christians, earnestly seeking the face of God, who cannot seem to break loose and find real freedom. The grave clothes trip them up every time they try to move on a little faster. Satan uses their past sins to terrify them.

Now, on the basis of grace as taught in the Word of God, when God forgives a man, He trusts him as though he had never sinned. God did not have mental reservations about any of us when we became His children by faith. When God forgives a man, He doesn’t think, I will have to watch this fellow because he has a bad record ” No, He starts with him again as though he had just been created and as if there had been no past at all! That is the basis of our Christian assurance-and God wants us to be happy in it.

Satan magnifies memories

Next, are you allowing Satan to magnify the memories of your spiritual failures? He will always keep them before you unless you take your stand and move up in faith. The devil will whisper, “You didn’t get – very far along toward the deeper life, did you?”

He will say, “You made a big ‘to-do’ about wanting to be filled with the Spirit and you really flopped, didn’t you?” He will taunt you with the fact that you may have stumbled in the faith – and perhaps more than once! The devil wants you to live in a state of discouraged chagrin and remorse. Remember, the Bible does not teach that if a man falls down, he can never rise again. The fact that he falls is not the most important thing-but rather that he is forgiven and allows God to lift him up!

Perhaps you have read of the saintly Fletcher, whose holy life became so recognized that he was called “the seraphic Fletcher.” His testimony reveals that he stumbled and miserably failed God seven times. But after the seventh failure he went to a room and did not come out until he was able to rest his case completely in the strength of God’s hands, He came out of the room saying, “Dear Lord, I believe that I am delivered from the bondage of my sin. If you will keep me and help me I win never cease telling the world what you can do for a man!” For the rest of his life Fletcher exhibited to the world God’s power to bless and to keep His transformed children on earth.

If our failures are going to hinder us forever, we might just as well never have taken the first step. But God knew all about us and He still loved us and desired His eternal best for us.

God knows humans

The Bible tells us often that God knows humans better than they know themselves – He doesn’t have to wait for the information to come from the accuser, the devil. God has said,

Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth. For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. (Isaiah 48:8b-11a)

God does have a stake in each of us -and it is for His own sake that He will lift us up. He is not going to bless us for our own sake ?He is going to bless us for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of His own name! If you think that there is anyone in the world so good that God could do something for that person’s sake, you don’t know sin; and if you think there is anything that God will not do for you for His sake and for His name, you don’t know God!

If you have failed, remember that you are not responsible to men in this regard. You stand responsible before your heavenly Father and Jesus Christ at the right hand of God. Let us be encouraged by this good news! In the third place, some are fearful that they will lose their reputation as sober and conservative and traditional Christians. In other words, they have never been willing to be a fool for Jesus’ sake!

It is amazing that genuine Christians are not willing to stand up wherever they are and give a good word for the Lord. There are great political ideologies sweeping the world now whose members will make double-eyed, long-eared donkeys of themselves for the sake of the party and the cause. There are religious sects whose witnesses are willing to go to jail, to be pushed around, to be lampooned for the sake of a miserable, twisted doctrine! But in our Christian ranks, we prefer to be respectable and smooth, and we have a reputation for being very solemn Christian believers.

I can only conclude from my experience that many solemn, professing Christians will never make any spiritual progress and will never really be happy in the Lord until God finds some way to shake them out of their deadly respectability! Charles G. Finney, the great American evangelist, knew this experience of becoming God’s man and God’s mouthpiece in such a way and with such unusual blessing and results that many just stood as critics and tried to frown him down.

Have to lose reputations

So it has been with all of God’s saints who have pleased Him and praised Him through the centuries. At some time in their witness and expression of the living Christ they have had to lose their reputations among those who have been traditionally pious and somber, dogmatic and cautious. This is still happening in our day, and with glorious results.

A young man who is director of one of our American Bible conferences has given me his testimony of great and radical things which the Lord has done for him in recent months.

I realize now that in my service for God I was one of the most self-assured, conceited and horrid young fellows you could ever meet” he told me frankly. “I could raise money, I could put on a great program, and I figured I was a great success in the Lord’s work. But recently on a trip to Wales, I had the opportunity of talking to some older folks who remembered Evan Roberts and the great Welsh revival. They told me about the true working Of the Holy Spirit in Christian renewal and revival – and I didn’t really know what they were talking about. Somehow, and they did not realize it, it was just as though they were burying me under a great load of crushing bricks, and God spoke to me about my own great spiritual lack.

He told me that he made his way to the little cottage where he was staying and got down on his knees and began to sweat it out before God. Do you know what this was? It was the act of dying! It was the end of self. That man died to reputation, ability, presumption, success, conceit, personality – all of that stuff!

He said to me, “Mr. Tozer, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and my whole life has been transformed. Now I only want this cheated and betrayed generation to see the glory of God once more!” I said to him then, “Brother, do you realize that if you carry through with this message and this blessing that you will lose some of your best fundamentalist friends? You will be described as having gone off your rocker.”

“I am not worried any more about my reputation” he replied. “I am perfectly willing because I am going to let the Lord have His way in the whole operation.” The interesting thing is that he hasn’t had to switch or change his doctrines around at all-he just found out that he needed the fire of God on his doctrine, and he got it!

Fear of fanaticism

Also related to reputation is the fear of many Christians that they will be considered fanatical or extreme for their Christian faith. I think it is ironic that the devil gives the world all of its extremists in every realm -entertainment, politics, society, education, anarchy, intrigue-you name it! Yet it is the same devil that frightens believers about the great danger of becoming “extreme”

I passed an auditorium recently where one of the young crowd of singing stars was appearing. Police were having great trouble with the crowds and in the erotic fury of that concert, girls began to tear off their clothes; many were weeping and screaming. Those who had fainted were being carried out. It is the same devil, but he uses different tactics in dealing with Christians. Should a Christian get blessed and say, ‘Amen,” the devil quickly intervenes and whispers, “Don’t be a fanatic-you ought to stay quiet and stable in the faith!”

Oh, what a devil the devil is! He frightens us first and then sells us a bill of goods about caution, caution, caution in the church. Some Christians also are greatly awed by the fear of ostracism. The devil says to them, “Be careful about religion – you will be lonely. You will have to go it alone!”

I have heard one of our preachers tell about the experience he had years ago in coming to a decision concerning the claims of Christ on his life. It was at the close of a service, and he was standing with the rest of the congregation while an invitation was being given to come forward in submission to the will of God. There was a struggle going on in his own soul, and he knew that the Spirit of God was pressing him to make the decision to sell out completely and to become a real Christian in commitment to the Lord.

But the devil knows how to join in these arguments, and he whispered, “Charlie, you must be careful at this point. You know how easy it would be to break up your marriage and break up your home. You know how staid and strait-laced and conservative your wife is about religion. Don’t do anything that would break up your home, Charlie!”

But the Spirit of God persisted, and Charlie found himself answering the call. He went forward and knelt at the altar for heart-searching and prayer. Suddenly he thought he heard someone weeping at his side. Then he was sure that it sounded like his wife. Turning, he found that it was his wife, for she had been just a few feet behind him when he made his way to the altar. Together they made their commitment to Christ and to His service.

For a long time, you see, Satan had been telling Charlie that his wife would never be willing to yield to joyful Christian dedication. But the devil is a liar and the father of lies! He never tells the truth unless he can use it to whip you and embarrass you ? unless he can use it in his attempts to ruin you and you!

Fear of holy enthusiasm

There also seems to be a chilling fear of holy enthusiasm among the people of God. We try to happy we are-but we remain so well-controlled that there are very few waves of glory experienced in our midst.

Some of you go to the ball game and you come whispering because you are hoarse from ting and cheering. But no one in our day ever home from church with a voice hoarse from shouts brought about by a manifestation of the glory of God among us. Actually our apathy about praise in worship is like an inward chill in our beings. We are under a shadow and we are still wearing the grave clothes. You can sense this in much of our singing in the contemporary church. Perhaps you will agree that in most cases it is a kind of plodding along, without the inward life of blessing and victory and resurrection joy and overcoming in Jesus’ name.

Why is this? It is largely because we are looking at what we are, rather than responding to who Jesus Christ is! We have often failed and have not been overcomers because our trying and striving have been in our own strength. That leaves us very little to sing about!

Dr. A.B. Simpson wrote:

Fainting soldier of the Lord, Hear His sweet, inspiring word;

I have conquered all thy foes, I have suffered all thy woes.

Struggling soldier, trust in Me, I have Overcome for thee!”

This has to be the secret of our praise and enthusiasm-Jesus Christ is our Overcomer! In our own strength we cannot overcome anyone or anything.

Fear not though thy foes be strong, Fear not though the strife be long;

Trust thy glorious Captain’s power, Watch with Him one little hour.

Hear Him calling,  “Follow Me, I have overcome for thee!

Brethren, human activity and human sweat and tears work not the victory of Christ! It took the sweat and tears and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. It took the painful dying and the victorious resurrection and ascension to bring us the victory!     

We must trust

It is for us to trust, to trust wholly in the Lord Jesus. This is the only way in which we can conquer fear and live in blessed victory.

I have had times in my life and ministry when the burdens and the pressures seemed to be too much. Sometimes physical weariness adds to our problems and our temptation to give in to discouragement and doubt. At these times it seems that even in prayer it is impossible to rise above the load. More than once, by faith that seemed to have been imparted directly from heaven, the Word has enabled me to claim all that I needed for body, soul and spirit. On my knees I have been given freedom and strength to pray, “Now, Lord, I have had enough of this – I refuse to take any more of this heaviness and oppression! This does not come from God?this comes from my enemy, the devil! Lord, in Jesus’ name, I will not take it any longer – through Jesus Christ I am victor!” At these times, great burdens have just melted and rolled away all at once!

Brethren, God never meant for us to be kicked around like a football. He wants us to be humble and let Him do the chastening when necessary. But when the devil starts tampering with you, dare to resist him! I stand for believing in God and defying the devil – and our God loves that kind of courage among His people.

If you are still wrapped in grave clothes and great fears lie upon you, it is time for you to dare to rise and in sweet faith in the risen Jesus Christ declare: “I will not take this any longer. I am a child of God ?why should I go mourning all the day?”

Will God answer?

“All right, My child He will answer as the burden rolls away, “I have waited long to hear you say that. Jesus is Victor and in Him you overcome!”

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What Fashion Statement Are You Making?

Scripture is clear that there is another voice, that is not the voice of God, that desperately seeks to dominate and control the human heart. There is another aspect of this truth revealed in Ephesians that we must look at to fully understand the devil’s influence over the ear of mankind. Paul calls Satan “the prince of the power of the air,” and indeed the devil has shown himself to be the great broadcaster to the world in the media age:

And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins, in which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of the world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. (Ephesians 2:1–2, AMP)

The New English Bible calls the devil in this verse “the commander of the spiritual powers of the air,” while the Concordat Literal New Testament calls him “chief of the jurisdiction of the air.” Jurisdiction is a legal term that defines the limits or territory where authority may be exercised. The devil exercises his authority and power in the air as well as upon the earth. As a ruler, commander, and chief of this world, he moves with extreme influence and power in the atmosphere.

Air is the common name for the atmospheric gases that surround the earth and are vital to the sustaining of human life. Oxygen enters the blood through the air we breathe and is carried to every part of the body. Without air it is impossible to have physical life.

Air is also the realm through which most communication travels, as air makes both audible and electronic communication possible. Sound is possible because of the vibration that travels through the air as a sound wave. Radio electromagnetic waves are broadcast through the air and received by your radio. Satellites relay television and radio signals around the world, and these communications travel via the air. Cellular phones and wireless networks also send their signals through the air, allowing us to communicate through computers, the Internet, and countless applications of our mobile phones.

We have seen through Emoto’s work that spoken words are vibrations that travel through the air and have the ability to bring life or destroy as evidenced by their effect on crystal formation in water. We have just touched the surface in understanding this type of communication, but we know that the devil utilizes words to his advantage.

The Rebellious Broadcaster Who Never Goes Off the Air

As Prince of the Power of the Air, the devil broadcasts his rebellious attitudes to the world, and air is the medium of his corrupting communication. The devil rules the airwaves, and he compels the human heart to tune into his wavelength. His ungodly words and pictures can now be communicated instantly through the air, and the devil is always broadcasting. Within seconds, the Prince of the Power of the Air can bombard the human heart with his twisted, evil thoughts, ways, and purposes.

Satan’s programming never takes a break. His broadcast has no commercials (or rather, most commercials encourage sinful thoughts and are an important part of the devil’s program schedule). It is uninterrupted broadcasting of rebellion and chaos against God and his truth twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The devil’s agenda is brilliantly wicked and subtly adapts its messages to appeal to the hearts of every man, woman, and child. These messages may subtly or grossly promote rebellion, distrust, indifference, and disgust against God and the truth of His Word, while drowning hearts in lust, jealously, anger, pride, envy, greed, selfishness, ingratitude, disobedience, and impurity.

Just as everywhere you go in this world, there is air that we breathe in, so the influence of the Prince of the Power of the Air is felt in every city, nation, and continent. Paul says that before we were Christians, we walked according to the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:1–2, NKJV). The Greek word translated “walked” means “to order your behavior or conduct your life.” It can be illustrated as a sphere in which a person regulates, conducts, and lives his or her life. The Greek words translated “according to” are indicative of domination and control.

It’s incredible to think that most people live their entire lives regulating their behavior according to and in the sphere set up by the Prince of the Power of the Air. He dominates and controls the unrepentant heart, shaping it to his wicked blueprint by controlling the sphere in which it lives, breathes, and functions.

The Course of This World

In this same passage from Ephesians, Paul also says that the unrepentant walk according to “the course of this world.” Have you ever seen an oval racecourse? Once the race begins, the cars all follow the same course, around and around the racetrack. The course does not take them anywhere, but the drivers just go around in circles as fast as they can in an attempt to win the race. Likewise, the devil has set up a course where people lost in sin wander aimlessly in circles, trapped, moving in a hopeless journey in one direction.

“Course” in this passage is translated from the Greek word aion, which gives us the English word “eon.” But this word is not simply a span or period of time. Rather, aion emphasizes the characteristics, culture, and heartbeat of an age. It refers to the signs, the energy, the essence of the times. “Atmosphere” is a great word to describe it. It’s an entire living, breathing atmosphere that is absorbed into the heart through the eyes, ears, and thoughts. It can overwhelm you, mesmerize you, hypnotize you, and draw you in like a magnet. It can become the essence of your hopes, your dreams, and your aspirations. But in fact the course of this world is a black hole, a swirling abyss that can suck you into its vortex of ungodly ideas, opinions, and fashions.

The course of this world can so easily become a person’s god. It can seize the throne of a heart with great subtlety, but also with great fanfare. Its iron tentacles wrap around the heart and squeeze the very life out of every fiber of a person’s being. It is as big and pervasive as the atmosphere, which surrounds us and is present every place upon the earth. I have seen many Christians swept away by this mighty surging river of the course of the world, destroying their witness for Christ and their God-given calling.

Do not be fooled. This is extremely powerful and influential and must be resisted by the Spirit of God and His Word in our hearts. We must guard against the “course of this world” by remaining vigilant and alert as to what our eyes are beholding, what our ears are hearing, and what our minds are thinking. Whose wavelength are we tuned into? Whose broadcast are we watching and listening to? On which course are we running the race of life?

John Ritenbaugh, in his Forerunner commentary “Communication and Leaving Babylon,” writes that this is what Germans termed zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.[i] The Apostle Paul’s usage of the word “course” comprises the whole mass of elements that encompass the conduct and attitudes of the times, the aion, the zeitgeist. Of course, the zeitgeist would not be the same all over the world, because its expression among different peoples would differ depending upon many factors. However, according to Paul, its elements will invariably be carnal and evil because the spiritual source, Satan, is himself evil.

The Prince of the Power of the Air sets up an atmosphere in every age and culture where people breathe it in and it becomes their life, the essence of their conduct and manner of thinking and speaking. The aion is molded after Satan’s twisted heart and is a reflection of his intense hatred for the things of God. The aionis built on deception and fascination and has a powerful, magnetic influence designed to draw in and capture us. We absorb the Prince of the Power of the Air’s influence through the communication of the beliefs, values, and practices of the culture we are born into. Many of these characteristics and values are instilled within us, meeting little or no resistance because is a course that is burned deep into the culture.

The World System of Evil

The Greek word translated “world” is kosmos and in this verse means “the satanic system of world order with its seductive system of values, priorities, and beliefs that excludes and actively opposes God.” This world system is set up to draw one’s affections away from the one true God and His goodness. It’s interesting that the word kosmos can also refer to an ornament, decoration, or dress.

At its root is a word meaning “to polish, cut, or carve into a perfect arrangement.” The devil’s world system of evil is highly ornate and looks so pleasing to the human eye. This is part of the subtle attraction that deceives people and pulls them into its snare. But if you peel away the layers, this system is dark, empty, and totally devoid of God.

Marvin Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament says kosmos is “the sum-total of human life in the ordered world, considered apart from, alienated from, and hostile to God, and of earthly things which seduce from God.[ii]” Kenneth Wuest, in his Word Studies of the Greek New Testament, defines it as follows:

The word kosmosis used to refer to the world system, wicked and alienated from God, yet cultured, educated, powerful, outwardly moral at times, the system of which Satan is the head, the fallen angels and the demons are his servants, and all mankind other than the saved, are his subjects. This includes those people, pursuits, pleasures, purposes, and places where God is not wanted.[iii]

In fact, the world system that frames the spirit of the age can appear cultured, sophisticated, and civilized at one end of the spectrum, while at the same time being lustful, animalistic, and lawless on the other end. But it is driven by one central aim, which is to continually squeeze the heart into its unholy mold of godlessness and selfishness so that people will live and act accordingly.

This world system has infiltrated and dominated the hearts of the great majority of all peoples upon the earth. Unfortunately, this holds true for many Christians. Because God’s people do not put up much of a fight, this kosmos molds the moral character and attitude of the nations and extends its sway into all segments of society, including politics, education, religion, entertainment, and the economy.

Yet not one iota of this world system dwelled in the heart of Jesus Christ. In John 14:30, He called the devil “the prince of this world,” for Jesus knew beyond any shadow of doubt that the devil was the ruler of this kosmos and that God had no part in it. Jesus clearly taught that He is not of the world, that His kingdom is not of the world, and that the fallen world hates Him and everything He stands for (John 15:18). The world always stands in direct opposition to Christ and has relentless hostility for the one God ordained as its Savior and Redeemer. The world absolutely detests the Word of God and its message of truth and sets itself up in opposition to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

This world system has never known God in any intimate manner, and it is committed to driving hearts away from knowing and experiencing Him. This world system is His sworn enemy, and Christ is considered a forbidden outlaw whose presence is not wanted.

Jesus had absolutely nothing to do with this world system of evil. He did not conform to it. He did not declare a peace treaty with it. He did not soften His teaching so the world would like Him more. He stood against the kosmos in word, action, and character and refused to be contaminated by its pollution. Jesus Christ lived among us as the exact opposite of everything the world worships and adores. The intense bitterness and enmity of Lucifer, the fallen archangel, fuels this world system and its objective to oppose Christ at every level of its operation.

William McDonald in Believer’s Bible Commentary says:

The [kosmos] is the system which man has built up for himself in an effort to satisfy the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. In this system there is no room for God or His Son. It may be the world of art, culture, education, science, or even religion. But it is a sphere in which the name of Christ is unwelcome or even forbidden, except, of course, as an empty formality. It is, in short, the world of mankind outside the sphere of the true church. To be a friend of this system is to be an enemy of God. It was this world that crucified the Lord of life and glory … How unthinkable it is that believers should ever want to walk arm in arm with the world that murdered their Savior! [iv]

We dishonor the Lord when we allow our hearts to become so receptive and open to the communication and atmosphere of the world that they begin to reflect an image of the world. We must make sure our hearts are centered in the sphere of Christ and not the sphere of the world if we are to be spiritually vibrant and of value to the advancement of His kingdom. Oswald Chambers said “Satan’s great aim is to deflect us from the center. He will allow us to be devoted to the death to any cause, any enterprise, to anything but the Lord Jesus.”

In Love Not the World, Watchman Nee writes:

There is a spiritual force behind this world scene which, by means of “the things in the world,” is seeking to enmesh men in its system. It is not merely against sin therefore that the saints of God need to be on their guard, but against the ruler of this world … When we are faced with alternatives and a choice of ways confronts us, the question is not: Is this good or evil? Is this helpful or hurtful? No, the question we must ask ourselves is: Is it of this world or of God? For since there is only this one conflict in the universe, then whenever two conflicting courses lie open to us, the choice at issue is never a lesser one than: God … or Satan?[v]

Do Not Be Fashioned to the Image of the World

As Christians, we must never allow our hearts to become fashioned in the image of this world. God commands us in Romans 12:2 to resist the mold of the kosmos:

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs]. (AMP)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world. (NLT)

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. (MSG)

The Greek word rendered in most translations as “conformed” means “to form according to a pattern or mold, to fashion alike, to outwardly conform to something that is not a true representation of what is on the inside, to strike or imitate a pose and an inward assimilation of a mode of conduct.” It means to mold one’s behavior in accordance with a particular pattern or set of standards. The pattern or set of standards referred to here is the one set up by the Prince of the Power of the Air.

Have you ever poured something into a mold, like Jell-O or clay or the “plastigoop” used to make those Creepy Crawlers toys popular in the 1960s and ’70s? Once it’s poured into the mold, the liquid substance adapts exactly to the shape of the mold, solidifies, and emerges as an exact replica of the mold. It carries the design, details, and shape of the mold. We can never allow our hearts to be poured into the mold of this age, where it will set and harden.

The heart ultimately has two alternatives as to the image it will reflect and the mold it will represent. A heart can reflect the image of the world, or it can reflect the image of Christ. Those who are born again have the awesome beauty of Christ inside us, and we must let His splendor shine from our hearts to the world. But if we are not careful to protect and guard our hearts, the beauty of Christ can be veiled and our hearts corrupted and conformed to the image of the world. As the seventeenth-century English clergyman William Gurnall said, “It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons.”

The world exerts tremendous pressure, usually through an appealing façade, to just give in and go along with it. But we must be nonconformist when it comes to the world and its way of thinking, for the world has no respect, awe, or adoration of God. Our heart is to be unspotted by the things of this world. For as we drift toward the ways of the world, our love for God begins to wax cold. Our affection for God begins to wane, and the flame of the Holy Spirit in our heart flickers dangerously low to the point of being extinguished. If we love the world, we cannot love God:

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (1 John 2:15-17, NLT)

The heart was designed to love God above all else, and even after the Fall, this blueprint of love is a fundamental characteristic of the heart. The heart yearns to love. But through the influence of sin and the spirit of the age, this desire becomes skewed and directed toward another. Yet we must never give away our hearts to the world. The world must never become more precious to us than God. The world wants our love; the world demands our love; the world wants to be our exclusive lover.

The Greek word translated as “love” in 1 John 2:15 is agapao and means a love that is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize and treasure it. This love springs from an appreciation of the value and worth of an object, its preciousness. It is to love with wonder and admiration, to cherish with reverence. It is a love that compels one to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of the one being loved. Are the things of this world so precious to you that you would sacrifice your relationship with God? Do you wonder and admire all the world’s trappings while forgetting the magnificent splendor of our Lord?

Yes, the devil has designed the kosmoswith a great enticement to fall in love with it. It seems so harmless at first as we allow the world to draw our admiring gaze and tickle our ears with sweet nothings. But this infatuation will begin to grow and consume our hearts. The transference of our affections from God to this world may be slow and subtle, but it is a methodical, spreading disease that eventually deadens and hardens the heart. It’s a basic truth that what the heart chases after, what the heart loves, the heart becomes. The warning that echoes down every generation from the heart of God is to not fall into this treacherous trap. We must fight daily to protect ourselves from the molding influence of the world.

A Heart in the Hands of the World

You must never give to the world the agapao love that should only be reserved for God first and foremost. Your heart is either cherishing God or cherishing the world. Which is more precious to you? Where does the treasure of your heart lie? You cannot straddle the fence between God and the world for long. There is no neutral zone in the war for your heart. You cannot pursue the world, lending it your eyes and ears, and remain loyal to God. James 4:4 (PHILLIPS) declares this truth in no uncertain terms:

You are like unfaithful wives, flirting with the glamour of this world, and never realizing that to be the world’s lover means becoming the enemy of God!

Do not give yourself to another like an unfaithful lover. You were created to love and to serve only one master. It is impossible to love the world and love God at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. There is no way to have the best of both worlds. The master of your heart is either God Almighty or this world system orchestrated and manipulated by the Prince of the Power of the Air. Ultimately, you will love one and hate the other. You will choose to serve one and turn your back on the other.

Make no mistake: The world wants you. It wants your attention, your time, your money, and your affection. In return the world promises you satisfaction, fulfillment, riches, and control. But it is all lies. The truth is that world is dying. The world’s days are numbered, and its days of glitter are quickly coming to end. The glory of the world will soon turn to dust.

Nothing in this world lasts for long. Everything is changing, decaying. Indeed, it is an act of spiritual suicide to place your heart in the hands of the world. You must never forget that once you peel all the layers away, the world hates Christ and His devoted followers with an intensity that grows relentlessly with every moment. This hatred is the driving force of the spirit of the age. In his Forerunner commentary “The Christian Fight,”John Ritenbaugh writes:

The spiritual reality is that, as we might say today, “The world stands ready to eat us alive.” It chews Christians up and spits them out. If permitted, it can trash spiritual realities that may once have been cherished hopes and dreams.[vi]

Sometimes the world’s enmity for Christ and His followers is bold, direct, and even violent, as evidenced by the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Far East. Most times, however, the world’s approach is much more subtle. Ritenbaugh says:

Satan’s pitch to mankind is aimed directly at exciting human nature’s self-indulgent cravings. Due to this satanic effort, even though we are converted, we are apt to become misinformed, lackadaisical, disinterested, and discouraged. We must be aware of it and absolutely resist it. … “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NKJV). Friendship with the world corrupts.[vii]

We cannot become lazy or indifferent when it comes to our affections. We must be spiritually aware at all times, for the heart is bombarded with Satan’s pitch and propaganda the moment we turn on a radio or television, log on to the Internet, or walk out the front door. We must become keenly aware of his messages—and resist them—if we are to keep them from taking root. We must always strive, as Scripture says, to keep our hearts from “being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). The world is toxic—a true environmental hazard—and its polluting contaminants can cause the glory and beauty of God to fade from our hearts.

You might find it enlightening to grab a notebook pad and write down just what you spend your day listening to and watching. Note how much time you spend on each activity. Compare this time with how much time you are spending with God each day, praying, reading and meditating on His Word, listening to spiritual songs that glorify God, reading Christian books, listening to godly sermons and teaching, and participating in worship activities with your church. Who is winning the war of time with your heart?

If your daily diet consists of cable television, secular radio, fashion or sports magazines, worldly movies and novels, and self-help books expounding the spirit of the age, your heart is getting “punked” by the world. The noise of this world is shaping your heart to reflect its own image, attitudes, and beliefs. The heart is an image bearer and will always reflect what it is seeing and hearing. We cannot allow our hearts to be consumed by the culture of this age instead of being consumed with God.

In his book Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers, John Eldredge provides some sound advice when it comes to the allure of this world:

We are at war, and the bloody battle is over our hearts. I am astounded how few Christians see this, how little they protect their hearts. We act as if we live in a sleepy little town during peacetime. We don’t. We live in the spiritual equivalent of Bosnia or Beirut. Act like it. Watch over your heart. Don’t let just anything in, don’t let it go just anywhere. “What is this going to do to my heart?” is a question I ask in every situation.[viii]

We must ask this question concerning everything our ears hear and our eyes see. What is this going to do to my heart? As Christians, our hearts are to be living proof that God is far more precious than anything the world has to offer. We must magnify God above the trinkets of the world.

Never Fear: Our God is Greater

The evil of this world is but a grain of dust compared to the power and might of our awesome God. God is infinitely greater in authority, power, influence, and grandeur. Always remember that He is the Creator of the universe and is so magnificent that even the heavens cannot contain Him. God is unlimited and unmatched in His greatness and majesty. The world looks like a cheap toy in His glorious presence. God is a trillion times more powerful and glorious than the entire world system that the devil has set up in the kosmos and the aion of these present times.

God is love (1 John 4:8) and everything He does is motivated by love. The kosmos is evil, and everything this world system does is motivated by evil. God so loved us that He sent His Son into the midst of the kosmos to offer redemption, deliverance, and eternal life to all the peoples of the earth (1 John 4:10). God has given us an overwhelming, crushing victory in Jesus Christ over the devil and all the influence, power, and destruction of this world.

Never fear the world for the limitless, almighty God lives within us and He is our Rock, our Protector, our Refuge, our Warrior, our all in all (1 John 4:16–18). All the anxiety, fears, worries, oppression, and darkness of the world melt in His presence. We must never forget just how awesome our God is. Nothing in the heavens or the earth compares in greatness to Him. Therefore we must rise up with the heart of a lion and the courage of a thousand armies and brilliantly display the beauty and splendor of a son or daughter of God in the midst of this crooked and twisted world:

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4, NKJV)

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] (John 16:33, AMP)

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4–5, NIV)

And the secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come. (Colossians 1:27, PHILLIPS)

No matter how powerful, influential and dominating this kosmosseems, as born-again sons and daughters of God the power and glory of Christ that rests in us is infinitely greater in strength and ability. We have been filled with all the fullness of God. What a power source! What an incredible amount of authority and ability! Do you realize how much power is living within you as a Christian? This is not the power to destroy, hate, condemn, judge, or ridicule. This is the power to live like Jesus did upon the earth, the power to touch and change the hearts of people with the love and compassion of God.

Jesus Christ overcame this world system of evil by His victory on the cross, permanently crushing the power of the enemy, that crafty serpent and deceitful slanderer. Our Lord has set us free indeed (John 8:36), obliterating every yoke of bondage that held us in its grasp (Galatians 5:1). We have been given a new destiny. Sin, death, and the Prince of the Power of the Air no longer have any hold over us, any claim on us, but we must claim this victory in Christ by faith in His finished work and the promises of His Word.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the kingdom of Satan and all the spiritual forces of evil. We must put on the whole armor of God if we are to effectively stand against the powers of this dark world and walk in the sphere of Christ’s magnificent work on the cross (Ephesians 6:11–12). We must never give ground to one ounce of fear when it comes to this kosmos,yet we must be wise as to its enormous influence in our culture and its ability to capture and turn the human heart. We must remember who we are in Christ and, having no fear, do battle against the Goliaths of this world. We breathe in the transforming presence of God, confident of His protection and power, knowing we are more than conquerors through Christ in any circumstance of life (Romans 8:37).

The allure of the kosmos pales in comparison to what pleasures of Jesus Christ. The gaudy winds of the Prince of the Power of the Air are deflated by Jesus Christ, who exposes Satan’s schemes of the kosmos and aion. He has dismantled the devil’s power to hold the heart in bondage for all those who would believe on His name. Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, shaming them publicly by his victory over them on the cross (Colossians 2:15). There is no excuse for allowing the world to mold our hearts into its image any longer. The choice is quite clear.

God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness, and now we must rise above the world and let our lives shine with the glory of God. What will it matter in the end if we gain the whole kosmos and lose our heart and soul? All the wealth, all the glory, all the fame in the kosmos are not worth a fraction of the value of your heart. Is it worth sacrificing your heart to enjoy the pleasures of the kosmos for a season? Is anything worth giving your heart away to the Great Pretender and letting your eyes and ears serve him?

The World Never Satisfies Like God Satisfies

The world will never love you like God loves you. He will never leave or forsake you, and He will always lead you in the path of true righteousness. Isn’t He worthy of owning ALL your heart and not just part of it? Why give away even the smallest part of your heart to the world? The world will never satisfy like God satisfies. It will only betray you in the long run like an unfaithful lover and lead you down a path of destruction.

Has your hearing become so dull, our eyes so blind, that you are giving leftovers of your heart to God? Francis Chan, in Crazy Love, says:

God wants our best, deserves our best, and demands our best … [Yet] God gets a scrap or two only because we feel guilty for giving Him nothing. A mumbled three-minute prayer at the end of the day, when we are already half asleep. Two crumbled-up dollar bills thrown as an afterthought into the church’s fund for the poor … We say to the Creator of all this magnitude and majesty, “Well, I’m not sure You are worth it. You see, I really like my car or my little sin habit or my money, and I am really not sure I want to give them up.” … How can we think for even a second that anything on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all?[ix]

This is the great deception of the kosmos, that God is not worthy of our best love, our first love, our greatest love. We give God only leftover scraps from the table of our hearts and forget His majesty and grandeur and how much how much our hearts need Him. Jesus declares to the church at Ephesus, “I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4). Everything about the spirit and heartbeat of this age, this kosmos, is designed to deceive us into forsaking our first love. We are told daily that God is not necessary, that He is distant (if He exists at all), and that He does not love us or care about us. The devil wants to divert our attentions, to make us think there are better things to love and treasure.

So many in the church have been tricked into believing this great lie! The beautiful and mighty purpose that God has ordained for our lives turns to dust and is blown away by the breath of the kosmos. The magnificent works and glorious blessings that God had destined for us before the world began have been carelessly tossed aside and fade into the night as we wallow in the garbage of the kosmos.

I am not advocating that we run for the hills and isolate ourselves in some remote cave far removed from civilization. God wants us to shine our light in the world with all the magnificent glory of the Christ. He has commissioned us to reach out to the lost, to break the power of Satan and the kosmos in people’s lives by the mighty demonstration of the love of God. Jesus prayed on the night before His crucifixion:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:15–18, NIV)

Jesus has sent us into the world with His words of truth to deliver the message of the gospel to every corner of the earth. But we can never be effective ambassadors of Christ if we allow ourselves to be in love with the world.

[i] John Ritenbaugh, Forerunner: “Communication and Leaving Babylon,” December 2005.

[ii] Marvin Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament, Volume II (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1900), 45.

[iii] Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Volume 1, Ephesians and Colossians (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1961), 61.

[iv] William McDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc., 1980), Kindle Edition, 79432.

[v] Watchman Nee, Love Not the World, A Prophetic Call to Holy Living (Fort Washington: CLC Publications 1968), 19.

[vi] John Ritenbaugh: Forerunner: “The Christian Fight” May 2007.

[vii] John Ritenbaugh: Forerunner: “The Christian Fight” May 2007.

[viii] John Eldredge, Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000), 209, 210.

[ix] Francis Chan, Crazy Love, Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008), 90, 91, 96, 97.

Chapter 7: The Ears: Music’s Enormous Impact on the Heart

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Are the Thoughts of God Foolish to You?

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Did you know that God is thinking thoughts about you that you have not yet thought about yourself? He has a future and a hope for you that He already won for you 2,000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross for your sins. And when He rose from the dead, the scripture says He took your captivity captive and gave gifts to you—things that only He can do. That means He begins to operate through your life and make you into much more than you could ever hope to be in yourself.

The verse goes on to say, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12–13). What an incredible promise! God will listen to us, and we will find Him. We will know what He is speaking to us and how He is leading our life.

However, in order to get to this place, we must stop thinking our own thoughts and begin to agree with the thoughts of God. We must get beyond the battle of the mind. That is really where victory or defeat in the Christian life is found. If we never become people of faith, then we will live far beneath what God has for us. We must have a new mind—a new way of thinking.

The apostle Paul made a distinction between spiritual people and natural people. Natural people live within the parameters of their old thinking and therefore remain in a realm far beneath their inheritance in Christ Jesus. Paul told the Corinthian church, “As it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9–10).

Natural people cannot know the things God has prepared for them. But when you came to Christ, God sent His Holy Spirit into your life to lead you into all truth. He gave you the power to live in the promises of God, and your life became everything that God has been thinking about you. Paul warned, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

So here is my question to you: Do the thoughts of God sound foolish to you? Do you push away the things that God is thinking—those whispers that come into your heart every once in a while? Perhaps during your Bible reading one day, He spoke to you about something He has for your life that is far beyond your ideas about yourself. Do these thoughts of God sound like foolishness to you?


The apostle Paul once told the Corinthian Christians, “For a great and effective door has opened to me” (1 Corinthians 16:9). Now when we think of a great door, we think of a doorway to a palace, perhaps, or a doorway to power. But Paul did not see it that way. Paul was given eyes of the Spirit, because in the natural, it was a prison door that God was leading him to. Think about this for a moment. In the natural, Paul was going to be taken captive, put on a ship, transported to Rome and other places, and eventually he would spend much of the remainder of his life in prison.

A lot of people lose their vision because of their circumstances. But picture the apostle Paul—led into a prison, chained between guards, with only a pen and paper in his hand. However, he somehow knew in his heart that a great and effectual door had been opened to him. Later, he was able to write to the people that he left behind in his journey, “I believe that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (see Romans 8:28). He was able to write to the Roman church, “I believe that no mountain, no valley, no opposition, no power, no principality—nothing out there—can separate me from the love of God” (see Romans 8:38–39). He believed that the victory was his, that he had been led into this place.

In the natural, Paul was a man who had been beaten and shipwrecked, stoned and taken captive. However, as a spiritual man, he was not living in those places. He was living in a place where he was walking in the thoughts that God was thinking about him. In the realm of the Spirit, he was not just visiting one church in Corinth. In fact, he has been visiting every church for 2,000 years! He is even here today because we are reading his words. He is visiting you today in your living room, your situation, your marriage, your family, your life!

You see, it was as if the apostle Paul saw you in the future. You are what was inside this great and effective door that God was opening to him. He understood that God’s thoughts about him were so much bigger than what the people around him thought or even what he thought about himself. That is why Paul could write to the Corinthians, “To the natural man, the thoughts of God are foolishness. But to the spiritual man, they are life and power for the journey. They are vision to understand something far beyond the natural confines of our lives” (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).


Perhaps you are now wondering, “Well, how does this apply to me? I am not the apostle Paul.”

Let me tell you a story. Several years ago, a lady told Pastor Teresa and me how she started to pray, “God, You must have a door for me. You must have something that You want to do in my life that I have not considered yet.” As she prayed, suddenly a strong impression came into her heart: “Go to Starbucks, order a coffee, sit down at a table, and just start reading your Bible.” Those were the thoughts God was thinking about her! Isn’t that amazing?

And so she obeyed God and went to Starbucks. She ordered a coffee, sat down at a table, opened her Bible and began to read. After a little while, a lady who was also there having coffee came over to her table and asked, “What is it that you are reading?” She answered, “I am reading the Bible. It is the Word of God.” The other lady asked, “Would you mind if I joined you?” She sat down, and the lady who had heard from God realized that her new friend was not a believer. She was able to share Christ with her. Finally, the lady asked her, “Do you think we can meet back here again next week?”

The next week the new lady came back accompanied by about six friends. They were all sitting around the table! Eventually, this Christian lady had a discipleship group of brand-new believers in Christ, and every week everybody was bringing somebody else. By the time we talked to her, she was leading a group of between forty to sixty women in a study of the Scriptures! This was just somebody who began to seek God and ask, “What thoughts do You have for me?”

We always want to go from zero to a million people in a conference somewhere and we forget that almost everything we do for God starts with a small beginning. As it says in Zechariah, “Don’t despise the day of small things” (see Zechariah 4:10). I believe God is reminding you today that what He has called you to do will be done. So when He speaks to you, do not think that His thoughts toward you are foolish, even if it seems that way in the natural.

After all, who would have thought this kind of evangelism could happen at Starbucks? Remember, it was not just sixty women finding Christ as their Savior. I am sure that each of those women went on to have an effect on their world. Many of them probably will lead their husbands to Christ. Many of their families will become Christian families. Many of their kids will begin to go to church. A number of them will go on to become great evangelists in the Kingdom of God, winning thousands to Christ. And finally, when this lady who went to Starbucks appears at the throne of heaven one day, there will be a hundred thousand people saying, “Thank you for what you did in Starbucks that day! Thank you for opening your Bible. Thank you for obeying God. Thank you for letting the thoughts of God govern your life. Because of you, we are here!”

Remember, “a great and effective door” may look small in the natural. Imagine the people in Corinth who did not have a spiritual mindset, shaking their heads and saying, “Well, whatever happened to the great door that God was going to open for Paul?” He ended up chained between soldiers, and all he had was a piece of paper and some ink. All he could do was write some letters to some of his friends.

Yes, God’s ways are foolish to those who live in the natural! But I believe it is much better to be counted a fool to the world and live for God. Remember, His thoughts toward you are of peace and not of evil, to give you a hope and a future. And if you are willing to embrace His thoughts rather than counting them foolish, you will see that He is indeed able to do exceedingly abundantly above all you can even ask or think!

Carter Conlan

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Acts: God’s Blueprint for the Church

The Book of Acts is the heart of God for the church. It is a pattern of how the church should be. It is the grand witness of the Body of Christ moving out and in the power of the gift of holy spirit turning the world upside down. It should more appropriately be named not the Acts of the Apostles, but the Acts of the Holy Spirit. God wanted a record of how the gospel should be carried to the world by the Body of Believers. We see hearts aflame for God with a burning desire to carry the message of Jesus Christ to the world. The world was shaken by this group of disciples who were seemly insignificant in the world’s eyes as the history of the world was forever changed by these committed souls. For God’s church to do God’s will it must follow the example of the Book of Acts.

The book of Acts is the action book of the New Testament, and it constitutes therefore one of the most exciting books of the Bible. It is a record of power of God exercised in the midst of persecution; an account of life and health pouring from a living Christ into a sick society through the channel of obscure men and women, very much like you and me. We could never understand the New Testament if we did not have the book of Acts, for it fills the gap that would exist between the Gospels and the book of Romans, which follows.

The book of Acts shows an amazing revolution in society and the hearts of men and women. Before there can be a revolution in society for goodness and deliverance, there must first be a revolution in the church. There must be radical change within the Body of Christ today before we can bring radical change to the world. Are we willing to be a revolutionary for Jesus Christ, completely devoted to Him 100 percent no matter what the cost? The book of Acts shows us men and women that were true revolutionaries for Jesus Christ that even laid down their lives for the furtherance of the gospel. Are we there yet? How strong is our devotion to Jesus Christ? Does our allegiance have a limit or a price where we can be bought or enticed away from our Lord? The Book of Acts is the illustration of the confession of every Christian: Jesus is Lord.

The Church in the book of Acts was not a big building or a denomination. The word “church” in the Greek is ekklesia and means “called out for a specific purpose.” The church is the called out ones for Jesus Christ and are sent to proclaim the good news of His finished work in his death and resurrection; the revolutionary message that sets people free and rescues them from the kingdom of darkness.

The first 11 verses are the foundation for the book of Acts. These verses contain some amazing truths for the Christian and for the church.

Acts 1:1: In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 

The gospels did not end the teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts is a continuation of Jesus Christ in the world. Acts is not the acts of Christians, but the continuing acts of Jesus. It is an account of what Jesus continues to do and to teach. In the Gospels He did it in His physical body of flesh. In the book of Acts He is doing it through the bodies of men and women who are indwelt by His life,  men and women, possessed by Jesus Christ, owned by Him and thus manifesting His life That is the secret of authentic Christianity. Anytime you find a Christianity that is not doing that, it is false Christianity. No matter how much it may adapt the garb and language of Christianity, if it is not the activity human beings possessed and indwelt by the life of Jesus Christ it is not authentic Christianity! That is the true power of the Church, as we shall see in this book. The book of Acts therefore is an unfinished book. It has never been ended, but is still being written. The book abruptly closes with an account of Paul in the city of Rome, living in his own hired house. It just ends there as though you might turn over the next page and begin the next adventure. Is God’s Spirit writing the next chapter of the book of Acts in and through my life?

 Jesus is still active and alive on Planet Earth today, and He still has a body. In the Gospels, it was His material, physical body. In the Book of Acts, it is His new body, which is the church. We need to stop doing things for Jesus. We need to start letting Him do something through us. You see, there is only one Person who has ever lived the Christian life. What’s His name? Jesus. No one else has ever lived the Christian life, only Jesus. And if the Christian life is lived where you hang your hat, where you go to work, where you go to school, it will not be you living it; it will be Jesus living it in you.”

Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

God wants to write a twenty-ninth chapter of the Book of Acts, and He wants to write it through” YOU!…Living the Christian life is a miracle. Our life is to be a supernatural life. Now, I want you to remember this: that the Christian life is not your responsibility. It is your response to His ability. Major Ian Thomas said about this, “I can’t—He never said I could; He can—He always said He would.” And so, that’s the first thing we need to do. We need to recognize His presence in us and let His life become our life. He is our life! (Colossians 3:4)

Ian Thomas in The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me:

The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you -your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything – then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it! … True Godliness leaves the world convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only explanation for you, is Jesus Christ.

The Apostles memorialized their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ with a Covenant of Salt

Acts 1:2-4: Until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 

Staying with them: verb root means salt: “While partaking together of salt”

Salt covenant is one of the oldest covenants in the Bible. There was a salt covenant with meals in the Bible in which a person would bind himself to another in utmost loyalty and truthfulness as salt was a symbol of enduring friendship, honesty, and close alliance. It is still common today for people from the Eastern culture to say, “There is salt between us.” An agreement that involves salt symbolizes one that is meant to be perpetual, incorruptible and indissoluble. An agreement that is to endure regardless of circumstances. It is a symbol of an unbreakable alliance and friendship that is to be preserved. It is a bond of commitment where our words cement the relationship.                  

Revelation 3:20: Jesus wants to bind His heart together with yours heart in the closest intimacy of a friend, brother, companion, and provider. He pledges to enter a covenant of utmost loyalty with your heart where there will be an enduring bond of affection, honesty, and unbroken alliance. He wants your heart to be forever knit and linked with His, united and moving forward as one.                                                                                                    

Another great truth is that the birth of the holy spirit within us as God’s gift is the foundation of everything in the Book of Acts. We cannot move as a church, as a body with God in action in us.

Acts 1:5-11: For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Baptized: the main meaning of baptizo  is to be totally identified with something, in this case, the Holy Spirit. The passive voice “be baptized with” indicates that God did the baptizing and that the disciples were to be merely the recipients. This makes sense for the Spirit is God’s gift and our part is simply to receive the gift by grace through faith in Christ. It is a gift and is the source of the power and the witness of the gospel.

I Corinthians 12:13: For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Acts 2:38,39: And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

The gift of holy spirit is one of the greatest gifts that God has ever given, and we will show from Scripture that each and every Christian has this precious gift sealed within himself. We will also show that because of the indwelling of holy spirit, each and every Christian can manifest the power of God. 

God, by way of the Lord Jesus, gave the gift of holy spirit to equip and enable each Christian to bless the Body of Christ and mankind in general. This gift gives each Christian real spiritual power that he can use day by day. As Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit [holy spirit] comes on you…” (Acts 1:8a). The power that each Christian has is very real, and very helpful. Scripture declares that the power of holy spirit is “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7b). It is good for the individual, good for the Body of Christ, and even good for all mankind, because all those in your world are blessed when you walk in God’s power.

God’s Word states a person is filled with holy spirit at the moment he is born again. It is empowering for each Christian to know he can manifest the power of the spirit, and the experience of walking daily with the Lord in one’s own calling makes life meaningful and exciting.

I Corinthians 2:12: Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 

Romans 8:15-17: For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Ephesians 1;13,14: In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

2 Corinthians 1:21, 22  And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

The spirit of God is sealed within us at the time of the new birth. It cannot leak out; it cannot disappear; it cannot fade away. We are born of God’s spirit from above and the spirit of God becomes an essential part of our being and identity as a Christian. It is the guarantee, the divine deposit, the pledge of our salvation and our future inheritance in His kingdom.

Most Christians have allowed the spirit of God to be dormant in their life; there hearing is dull; their heart is hardened and the power of God has fizzled out in unbelief. It is imperative as Christians that we learn to walk by the spirit and not the lusts of the flesh. Acts is a record of believers that the spirit of God was alive, it taught them; it enlightened them; it inspired them to action and it empowered their words, conduct and life.

Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The book of Acts is the power of the Holy Spirit in action. It is the only way to be Christ’s witnesses. You receive spiritual power in such a degree that it is mind-boggling when you are born again. You are filled with all the fullness of God and the exceeding greatness of this power explodes into our lives and the world when we believe. Receive is the Greek word “lambano” and means to “receive into manifestation.” Power is the Greek word “dunamis” and means “inherent power; power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature; to be able; inherent ability, not physical ability, but power to accomplish a task.” In Acts 1:8, dunamis is associated with the coming of the gift of holy spirit in a person, giving that person the supernatural power capable of accomplishing the task Jesus assigns. So clearly, in the context of the book of Acts, “Divine dunamis” is the power which is necessary for disciples to be witnesses of the Good News. There can be no witness without the power, the dunamis of the gift of holy spirit living within. Today in the church there are countless attempts to witness with no demonstration of the power received at the new birth.

I Corinthians 2:4,5 (ESV): And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (dunamis), 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power (dunamis) of God.

Thessalonians 1:5 for our Gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power (dunamis) and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

Now what kind of power? The gift of holy spirit is the power. This is a most wonderful thing! It is resurrection power. It is the power of a risen Lord, resurrection power, a different kind of power. This power is irresistible. There is no way to oppose it, no way to overthrow it, no way to stop it. Every obstacle thrown in its path is but turned into an opportunity to advance. It is a glorious kind of power. It does not need any props, does not require outside help, and does not borrow anything from the world. It does not even need a cup of coffee to get started in the morning! And it works best in a cemetery. It operates most visibly where everything is dull and lifeless, and nothing is happening. Anyone who is operating on holy spirit resurrection power can come in and change the whole scene. Resurrection power changes lives from within and not from without. It does not start on the outside, with the environment, or the circumstances, or the external situation; it starts within, and works out, to change the environment ultimately. And it does not separate or divide; it harmonizes, it heals, it draws together and breaks down “middle walls of partition”(Ephesians 2:14 KJV) that have been standing sometimes for centuries. It batters them down and brings people together, in harmony. It is a totally different kind of power. That is what you receive when you receive the gift of holy spirit.

Major Ian Thomas in The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me states:

God so engineered you and me that His presence is indispensable to our humanity, teaching our minds, controlling our emotions, directing our wills, and governing our behavior. Your new birth put God into action in you…What kind of Christian do you want to be? To choose to be a carnal Christian is spiritual oblivion. But if you decide genuinely that Christ be everything and have everything in your life…then He is ready to lead you into discoveries that can completely revolutionize your whole humanity for time and eternity…Consent, therefore, to die to all that you are which does not derive from all that Christ is and thank Him for His willingness to make it real…The resurrected Christ now lives, to continue His Life in you…You must die to your own natural ability to deal with the flesh, for you cannot crucify yourself. That is God’s business…You realize that it was never God’s purpose to improve the flesh, to educate it or tame it, let alone Christianize it. It has always been God’s purpose that the flesh-condemned, sentenced, an crucified with Jesus Christ-might be left buried in the tomb and replaced by the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The risen Christ must exercise control in your mind, in your emotions and in your will, expressing Himself through your personality.  

The first 11 verses of the Book of Acts ends with the promise of Christ’s return. This hope is a critical component of the gospel and a vital part of each Christian’s life.

Acts 1:9-11: And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

This same Jesus will come again and no earthly decree, no political game, no religious philosophy can stop it from occurring. This was the anchor of their soul and the motivation to work heartily for the Lord and not for people.

I Corinthians 15:57, 58: But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

2 Corinthians 4:17,18: For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The Book of Acts sets forth right after about 3000 souls were added to the church, what the Body of Christ needs to do for the Lord to add to the church daily

Acts 2:42-47: And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Devoted themselves: Continually devoted themselves to four specific things or course of conduct (Apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers): The imperfect tense here means this was ongoing, occurring over and over, again and again. Devoted means to be earnest towards, to persevere. It describes a steadfast single-minded fidelity to a certain course of action. It means to persist obstinately in a task, to keep on with devotion, to continue to do something with intense effort, to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing, to continue all the time in a place, to persevere and not to faint, to be constantly diligent, to attend assiduously all the exercises, to adhere closely to, to attend continually! What a picture of the early church! What would happen to the church in America if the genuine believers “were continually devoting themselves” to the teaching of the Word of Truth? This was the foundation element of devotion is to the teaching of truth revealed in the Bible.

Doing God’s work God’s way requires an unwavering commitment to the primacy of biblical preaching and teaching….The early church experienced spiritual vitality, not because of gimmicky techniques, but because it focused on the priority of biblical teaching. Along….The Holy Spirit worked powerfully in this first church by leading the apostles to be prolific in their teaching ministry. Sound doctrine enriched every aspect of this church’s life. Everything flowed from the pure fountain of biblical truth….The apostles’ ministry of preaching and teaching is mentioned more often than any other activity in which they were engaged (Acts 2:423:11–264:1–28–1219–2031335:20–2129–32426:2471113–147:1–53). So overwhelming is this evidence that it can be argued that Acts is primarily a record of apostolic preaching and teaching….No matter where they were, these apostles were preaching. Whether in Solomon’s Portico (Acts 3:11–265:2042), in public gatherings (Acts 4:233), before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:8–125:28–32), or from house to house (Acts 5:42), they boldly taught in the name of Christ. Even in the face of life-threatening dangers, the apostles refused to be silenced, declaring, “We cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). When the demands of ministry grew complex, they would not be diverted from their central task of teaching. They said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God” (Acts 6:2). Most notably, when the successful expansion of their ministry was described, it was measured in terms of the spreading of “the word of God” (Acts 6:7). Similarly, when those under their teaching—men such as Stephen and Philip—were thrust into ministry, they in turn taught the “word” with extraordinary effectiveness (Acts 7:2–508:5253540). In fact the first disciples filled all Jerusalem with their teaching (Acts 5:28). Unmistakably the apostles’ teaching was most important in the early church…..Biblical preaching must always occupy the leading place of influence in the life of the church. At the core of any healthy congregation is a vibrant exposition of God’s Word. 

I Timothy 2:3,4: This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

Fellowship koinonia from koinos = that which is in common, belonging to several) describes the experience of having something in common and/or of sharing things in common with others. It describes a close association involving mutual interests and sharing or to have communion (“intimate fellowship”) It denotes the active, joint participation, cooperation and/or sharing in a common interest or activity. A relation between individuals which involves a common interest and a mutual, active participation in that interest and in each other.

Tertullian recounts that when the Roman government became suspicious of the early church, they sent spies into their services. The spies came back and said that the Christians were a peculiar type of folk – they did not have idols, instead they worshiped One by the name of Jesus, who was absent. Then they added, “How those Christians love each other; how they have fellowship (koinonia) one with the other.” That should be the mark of the Christian through all ages.

Acts 4:32a: Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul,

Is this a description of the Body of Christ, the church today? Do our hundreds of denominations bear this out? Division, controversy, disagreement and discontent seem to be the norm. Love has waxed cold among Christians. When you do not devote yourself to the Word of God, you become spiritually anemic and like dominos the other three corners of devotion begin to fail. How important is fellowship with each other today or is it more important to live a separate lives? Is fellowship just an hour on Sunday? Or is it deeper than that? This should be our goal as a church is to become of one heart and one soul.

Breaking of Bread: Communion and fellowship of eating together.

They were continually devoting themselves…to prayer – The Greek word here always refers to prayers to God. What has happened to the old fashioned “prayer meetings?” I think they have gone out of fashion!

Persevering prayer is still the charge to a church rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, (Romans 12:12); Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;(Col. 4:2+) As Phillips phrases it the infant church “was a company marked by the throne. The name of Jesus opened up prayer opportunities never before known, for now we have instant access to the throne of grace (Heb 4:16+). Every aspect of individual life and corporate life can now be related to the throne and to that great High Priest who sits at God’s right hand.”

Prayer (proseuche from pros = toward or immediately before + euchomai = to pray or vow) is the more general word for prayer. The prefix pros would convey the sense of being immediately before God and hence the ideas of adoration, devotion, and worship. The basic idea is to bring something, and in prayer this pertains to bringing up prayer requests.

Verse 47 is a summary and the first great statement: They were praising God and have grace with one another. That is how the Lord grew the church. He is responsible to add to the church not us.

The structure of the Book of Acts is in 8 great sections with each section ending in a great summary and concluding statement. In the original Bible there were no chapters, and even though the book of Acts has 28 chapters, God has divided the book into eight sections with each section emphasized by a concluding, summary verse. Each one of these concluding summaries builds upon each other and is a statement of the spiritual condition of the church at that time in the book of Acts. Each summary statement is an example of the figure of speech, symperasma, which is a conclusion by means of a brief summary, and is the Holy Spirit’s God breathed emphatic conclusion at the end of each section. These are building blocks for the church to measure its current growth and rise and expansion with the Book of Acts. The eight sections in the book of Acts are Acts 1:1:-2:47; Acts 2:1-6:7; Acts 6:8- 9:31; Acts 9:32-11:5; Acts 11:6-12:24; Acts 12:25-16:5; Acts 16:6-19:20 and Acts 19:21-28:31.

We do not have time to delve into detail on each of these great summary statements but let’s look at the conclusion of the 7th section which tells us the peak of the influence of the church in the world.

Acts 19:8-20: And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all[d] of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.  Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

The 7th great summary statement is Acts 19:20 (KJV): So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Grew: means to cause to grow or cause to become greater in extent, size, state, or quality.  We see the Word of God in two other great statements Acts 6:7 (the word of God continued to increase); 12:24 ( But the word of God increased and multiplied)  We see the progression until the Word prevailed.. Preach the Word in season and out (2 Ti 4:2) if you want to see your congregation grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). There are no shortcuts. God offers us no “Plan B!”

Mightily– power exerted with an impact. It means strength or might, especially manifested power, exerting itself until it prevails or secures submission (gains mastery, dominates).The Word of God was growing with might! With power! The power of God was being energized through the Word of the living God and it was having a crushing impact on sin, Satan and the world. Power was being exerted with the impact of the captives being set free, the chains of bondage being broken, the oppression of the enemy being lifted and the domain of the kingdom of darkness being obliterated. When the Church reflects the culture, watch out! The methods, practices and principles of the Church are to be devoted to God’s instruction and direction. But too often what seems to work so well in the world is simply adopted by the Church in the name of the Kingdom, and no one dares raise an objection. After all, it’s so successful! The church here was breaking the power of witchcraft that had held people in bondage.

Prevail: is embodied strength that “gets into the fray” (action), i.e. strength that engages the resistance. 

The Word of the Lord was proving itself superior, gaining mastery as Paul and his disciples proclaimed it throughout Asia.  The imperfect tense describes this as it’s effect again and again. Such is the power of the Word of God! Don’t ever underestimate the power of the Word. Someone may pretend that the Word you spoke to them had no effect (e.g., if they reject the Gospel), but rest assured, it did effect them one way or another (same sun that softens the wax, hardens the clay) 

It’s a blessed time in a soul, it’s a blessed time in a family, it’s a blessed time in a congregation, it’s a blessed time in a country when the word of God grows mightily and prevails . “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?” What have I to do with black arts, or dealing with a lie? Those who first trusted in Christ were willing to forsake all and follow him. The grace of the gospel produces a new taste — it alters everything about us — our friends, our pursuits, our books, etc. — Richard Cecil

Eric Ludy-When the gospel it truly received it costs you everything, your life, your old ways, your old mannerisms, your old self. This is a cost that comes in knowing God and the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot hold on to a scrap of the old you. The problem is us. We have a born disposition that is in rebellion against the most High God. I want my life on my terms. I want the benefit of Jesus Christ and have Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father on my terms. I want a little of the peace, a little of the joy, a little of the power and of course then get out of hell free card. But that is about all I want now because I want to be a Christian on MY terms. You can have all that Jesus Christ is but there is a little caveat: He gets all that you are. Oh the glow, the soul satisfaction, the radiance that comes from giving our all, our entire lives, EVERYTHING to Him. Few want to live Christianity like this. Can you look God square in face and say you made me, you fashioned me for a purpose and a destiny, you gave your Son to set me free, and I now give you my life and will do what you require me to do. I don’t want my way. I want your way.

I Samuel 17:28: 48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Hastened: To move with liquid ferocity like a lion toward its prey. He sprints into the jaws of danger for He knows His God does the impossible.

We take no junk from the enemy. We don’t listen to his voice mocking us. He is defeated. He is powerless to stop us. We need to get the spiritual growl for glory; the heavenly audacity; the firebrand in our soul; and a volcanic eruption in my heart for the living God. We must rise up and be a man; rise up and be a woman! We need to develop that fight, that vigor, that holy zeal in our soul. Grit your teeth and tell the Devil “Not on my watch!” O God make this man; make this woman live like that man, David. God honors the patriot. God honors the good soldier and warrior. Do you understand the nuclear power created in you at the new birth? Do you know what resides in you when the Bible says “It is Christ in You the Hope of Glory?” We are to make war against darkness. We are to break down every stronghold in our life; we demolish them for the glory of God. We subjugate every thought that enters human mind to the obedience of Christ. Are you ready and built for battle with our enemy or are you the great pushover? The Church of Jesus Christ is to bring violence against the kingdom of darkness. Grit your teeth and believe the word of God and don’t back down. If God promised, He will come thru. We do not let go of our God. We are not the cowards of this generation anymore. Let hell tremble because the church is being awakened. We follow in the train of the conqueror. Know your position church of Jesus Christ! This is not playacting! This is life! We do not back down; we don’t quit walking. We continually say in confidence-“Watch what my God will do!” My God wins.

We are princes and princesses representing a kingdom. We walk in this world as citizens of another realm demonstrating in this realm the behavior of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ. We are not of this world and we do not behave like it! This is what it means to be holy. We must have a practical holiness in our lives. God commands us in I Peter to be holy as God is holy. Maybe this is not our favorite verse to decoupage and hang above our sink, but it is a command of the Lord. Everyone should see Jesus in us. God is shaping us into a greater picture of Himself. How exciting is this! That our life becomes a representation of God’s glory.

Never forget we live in hostile territory. We are an enemy of the state when we sided with Jesus Christ. We cannot pander the world for approval and pander God for approval at the same time. No One can serve two masters! You have to choose your side! Is it God or the world? It is our belly or God? We have to choose which way we are going to live and whose approval we are going to seek. Are we a servant of Jesus Christ or a servant of this world? You can’t have it both ways. There is nothing more detestable to any kingdom than someone who attempts to serve both sides. Who are you going to be? A servant of God or a servant of the enemy? Do we look at the pantry of God for our appetite or is our belly raiding every other pantry of the flesh. Is it all about satisfying our needs, our wants, our appetites and our pleasures? If so, this is not how Christianity is supposed to operate.

Ravenhill: God’s goal is not to raise a generation of sandbox Christians. It’s fine for children to play and putter around in the sand, but grown-ups who insist upon remaining at that level of maturity will never enjoy the satisfaction of being used of God. Their lives will be wasted on foolish, fruitless pleasures rather than fulfilling God’s purpose in their generation.

Let God began Acts 29 with you!

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The Heart: Put God Where He Belongs!

Sadly for so many Christians, God occupies very little of their hearts. And if He is found there, it is only as a visitor given temporary lodgings until something or someone more important comes along. This is why the hearts of so many of us are spiritually anemic, lacking in the vibrancy and life of God Almighty. We have failed to consistently experience God living in our hearts and have never known Him beyond mere acquaintance. God is more like a distant relative we see a few times a year, someone to whom we offer a guest room or an inflatable mattress on the living room floor, but there’s no intimate, cherished, close relationship with One deeply residing within the heart.

Worse, God has been tossed from the throne of these hearts and something else has been exalted as king. Such a heart of rebellion is weak in faith, trust, and strength, because the Lord does not dwell there.

A. W. Tozer, in his classic book The Pursuit of God, writes,

In the deep heart of the man (Adam) was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. … Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and “things” were allowed to enter. Within the human heart “things” have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne. … That place is His by every right in earth or heaven. While we take to ourselves the place that is His, the whole course of our life is out of joint. Nothing will or can restore order till our hearts make the great decision: God shall be exalted above … The whole course of life is upset by failure to put God where He belongs.[i]

God has every right to sit on the throne of your heart, but you must decide to put Him there. The great battle in life is not only to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength but also to keep Him on the throne of your heart, no matter what the world throws at you.

God is searching the hearts of men and women; He is looking for the heart devoted to Him above all else the world has to offer. He found such a man in David, whom God called “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). As Christians, we need to be relentless in our pursuit of God’s heart and unite our hearts with His in a bond that no power in hell can break.

God is not concerned with what kind of car you drive, how much money you earn, or how many academic degrees you have. He is instead concerned with the much more important questions “Where is your heart?” and “Does your heart belong to Me or to someone or something else?” In 1 Samuel 16:7, we learn that “the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

In this passage, the Hebrew word translated as “look” means to intently consider, observe, and give attention to. God gives the utmost attention to the condition of our hearts, hoping to find that rare gem of a heart that, like David’s, is in sync and in tune with His own. How touching is it that Scripture says God “found” David (Acts 13:22)? David lived, moved, and breathed in the will of God, determined to do whatever the Lord wanted him to do. How God’s heart must have thrilled when He found a human heart wholly devoted to Him!

God wants us, as Christians, to be committed to Him above all else. We should cry out Solomon’s passionate declaration “I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go” (Song of Solomon 3:4). Our hearts should cleave unto God, hold Him tightly, never let go, and never allow anything else to take His place all the days of our lives.

The eyes of the Lord still range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chronicles 16:9). Where will He find your heart? What condition is your heart currently in? Will you allow God to mend, heal, and transform you, to give you a mighty heart like David’s?

God wants you to fully experience Him. He yearns for you to know Him. He wants to be your loving Father, your unfailing strength, your abounding joy, your fathomless love, and your limitless peace. He wants the deepest companionship and the most fulfilling fellowship with you in the innermost part of your heart. God wants you to know that when He sits on the throne of your heart, you have everything. You need nothing more.

Living in the Heart of God

A. W. Tozer has said, “Because God made man in His image and redeemed him by the blood of the Lamb, the heart of God Himselfis the true environment for the Christian.”[ii] The heart of God Himself is the true environment for every Christian. We should not only be diligently after God’s own heart, but it should be where we live and conduct our lives. God wants our heart to become His and His heart to become ours.

The heart of God is the sphere of our new life in Christ. A sphere is an atmosphere or element where all the necessary conditions of life exist for development and growth. Every plant and animal exists in a sphere of life with conditions necessary for its subsistence and development. The air is the element of the bird, while water is the element of the fish. The bird has a breathing apparatus designed for the air, and the fish has a breathing apparatus designed for life underwater. Both are wonderfully and uniquely made to live and flourish in their sphere of life. Likewise, God has wonderfully created and uniquely made you and me to live and flourish in the heart of God. Not only can we live life to a far greater quality and degree within this sphere, but it’s the only place where we can fulfill our true destiny as the children of God. Only there will our old passions, habits, bondages, and ways of life be displaced and fade away. In this new sphere we have the capacity and freedom to live fully and unabashedly for God. We should be like King Hezekiah, who cried out, “God, please, I beg you: Remember how I’ve lived my life. I’ve lived faithfully in your presence, lived out of a heart that was totally yours” (Isaiah 38:3, MSG).

This is where God wants you to live your life, for this what you were created for. This is the place where you can glorify Him. Everything about you was made for Him, and as a new Christian you were born again to live in His heart, by His heart, and for His heart. As Augustine so poetically wrote to God in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” The hearts of every man and women on the earth will find no rest, no fulfillment, and no homecoming until they find their way home to Him.

“For I know the plansI have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:11–14, NIV)

The loving and magnificent God of the universe has a purpose and a destiny for you. You are part of a plan that will rock Satan’s kingdom to the core and shake up the world for Jesus Christ. No one else has been given your unique mission as it has been ordained by God Almighty. Yet if you are ever to accomplish God’s purpose and destiny for your life, you must set your heart upon seeking Him and giving yourself to Him without reservation, hindrance, or obstruction. If you will live and move and breathe in God as your ultimate reality, your heart will become a sacred place where you rest in Him, enjoying His companionship and intimacy. And in this transformation chamber He will form your heart to be like His, where you cry His tears, feel His compassion, move in His love, and delight in His joy. Your heart will become absorbed in God’s heart, and you will hear His heartbeat and deeply experience His fathomless love and grace.

Living in the heart of God is the most exhilarating and adventurous place to live in the cosmos. For it’s there that you will you get to know the Creator of all things more intimately every day.

Friend, do you know, do you understand that God wants to be loved by you? God wants to be cherished. He wants to be wanted from the depth of your heart. John Eldredge, in his book Wild at Heart, beautifully shares this astounding truth:

I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt of this: God wants to be loved. He wants to be a priority to someone. How could we have missed this? From cover to cover, from beginning to end, the cry of God’s heart is, “Why won’t you choose Me?” It is amazing to me how humble, how vulnerable God is on this point … He didn’t have to make us, but he wanted us. Though he knows the name of every star and his kingdom spans galaxies, God delights in being part of our lives … His heart is for relationship.[iii]

John Bevere, in Drawing Near: A Life of Intimacy with God, says, “There is a call—no, a cry—coming from the heart of God and with each passing day its intensity increases: ‘Why are you satisfied without My presence; why do you remain distant when you could have intimacy with Me?’”[iv]

Oh, how we have let so many other things take possession of the prize of our hearts! So often we devote our attention to something other than God, which throws the heart into captivity and chaos. Fear, greed, lust, pride, bitterness, and many other foolish things stand as blockades against God ascending to the throne of our hearts. We are masters at erecting barriers against God, posting “Keep Out” signs all around us even as our hearts are drowning in a sea of strife and confusion. All the while, God is patiently waiting, watching and hoping that you will tear down the barriers and allow Him to rescue you.

Do You Hear Him Calling?

God is “passionate about His relationship with you” (Exodus 34:14, NLT). God yearns for you. He desires you. Your heart is the most treasured possession in all the earth to God. He longs to write the true story of your heart in His heavenly language and by His heavenly touch:

God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. (Psalm 18:24, MSG)

Acts 3:15 calls Jesus Christ “the author of life.” Have you opened the book of your heart to Him? Are you willing to let Him write the text of your life with breathtaking words and soul-stirring inspiration? Are you willing to let Him be the director, the producer, and the star of the story of your heart? Or is your heart distant from Him, wallowing in a sea of uncertainty and unbelief, earnestly waiting for a rescuer, a deliverer, and a restorer? Can’t you hear Him passionately calling, “Bring your heart to me and I will restore it, repair it, and rebuild it to be my home where my presence is alive”? No matter where your heart has wandered, no matter the depths to which you may have fallen, He can still rewrite the book of your heart into a beautiful history that glories God.

God is speaking to your heart right now. Do you hear Him? Are you listening? Is your heart like David, a man after God’s own heart, who listened and heard the call of God to his heart (Psalm 27:8)? Is your heart like the young Samuel who said to God “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9)? Is your heart like Elijah who heard the still, soft whisper of God to his heart (1 Kings 19:12)?

God’s heart is always crying out “Come,” and He passionately desires that you respond, “Lord, I am coming!” God pursues your heart because it has enormous value to Him—it is worth more than all the riches in the world! All God ever wanted was your heart. He wants intimacy with you, to have the deepest level of communion with you. He wants nothing to be held back. God wants a relationship with you in which everything is shared and all barriers are broken down so that you can fully experience Him.

Within every heart is a deep yearning for God and all that He is. Humankind’s great search is to be reunited with our Creator, the only One worthy of our praise. Without God, our hearts remain forever empty, wandering aimlessly, as we search for something to satisfy our hunger. Meanwhile, Jesus Christ is at the door of our hearts and cries out, “Here am I! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

The Salt Covenant of the Heart

The sharing of a meal in Bible times indicated a strong bond of affection and companionship. There was a salt covenant with meals in the Bible in which a person would bind himself to another in utmost loyalty and truthfulness as salt was a symbol of enduring friendship, honesty, and close alliance. It is still common today for people from the Eastern culture to say, “There is salt between us.”

Jesus Christ wants to make a salt covenant with your heart, too. He wants to bind His heart together with yours heart in the closest intimacy of a friend, brother, companion, and provider. He pledges to enter a covenant of utmost loyalty with your heart where there will be an enduring bond of affection, honesty, and unbroken alliance. He wants your heart to be forever knit and linked with His, united and moving forward as one.

Jesus’ promise to come in and eat with those who will open the door to Him is given in the context of His warning against having a lukewarm heart for the Lord. This is the heart that recklessly and arrogantly proclaims it does not need a thing, even as it wallows in its own misery, selfishness, and spiritual blindness. Has your heart been lukewarm, indifferent to His presence and unresponsive to His voice?Is your heart so clogged with other things that Jesus has been crowded out of the picture? Has your heart succumbed to pride and selfishness? If so, Jesus is standing at the door of your heart right now with a firm but loving request: He wants the great treasure of your heart. He doesn’t want a token of it, a good portion of it, or even most of it. He wants all of it. Jesus Christ is longing for all of you. Do you hear him knocking? Do you hear Him gently calling your name?

Revelation 3:20 is a call of intimacy, friendship, and loyalty to our hearts and an invitation to enter into an unbreakable covenant of love. With such a wonderful promise of loyalty and intimacy, why do so many of us let our hearts be captivated by other things that only lead us astray? We chase the illusion. We blindly follow the lure of fascination in the world. At the first hint of success, we become puffed up with pride and begin pushing our own agendas. We let jealously, bitterness, envy and strife consume us. We get burdened down with trivial matters, and all the while Jesus stands just outside the door, offering intimacy, loyalty, and devotion with Almighty God. We should run to Him with all our might, for it is only in Him that we find the true meaning and purpose of life.

What Is the Heart?

You must understand this foundational, biblical truth: Your heart belongs to God. Your heart was formed and fashioned by God to be wholly devoted to Him and to be vibrantly alive with His presence. As Tozer has said, “God gave you a harp and placed it in your own heart. … and He meant that harp to be tuned to Himself.”[v] The human heart is His, and only His, and it was never meant to give devotion or allegiance to anyone else. We must first understand this timeless truth before our spiritual eyes can be truly enlightened to the other great truths in God’s Word concerning the heart.

So what exactly is “the heart” that God pursues relentlessly and the devil tries to capture and keep in bondage? What does the word “heart” mean in Scripture? The heart is not the physical organ that pumps blood to the body, but rather, it’s the innermost part of a person’s being—the seat and center of a human life. Your heart is the essence of who you are. It is the control center for your will, emotions, intellect, desires, understanding, reasoning, reflection, and judgment. How you develop and grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is determined by the condition and makeup of your heart.

E. W. Bullinger, in A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, defines the heart as “the seat and center of man’s physical life in which the distinctive character of the human manifests itself.”[vi] The heart is the center of everything that is manifested and comes forth in your life. One of the great principles of the heart is that whatever is in your heart is going to show up in your life, forming your character, your personality, your attitudes, your actions, and your words. The heart is the blueprint of what people see manifested in your life.

The New Bible Dictionary says the heart is “essentially the whole man, with all his attributes, physical, intellectual and psychological … and the heart was conceived of as the governing center for all of these. It is the heart which makes the man … what he is, and governs all his actions.”[vii] It is amazing to think that every word, every thought, every motive, every action comes from this place called the heart. Indeed, your heart is the source of everything you will ever do while you live upon the earth.

Emotions, feelings, and passions represent some of the deep inner movements of the heart that flow out into our lives and demonstrate the quality and composition of our hearts. Does love or strife flow out of your heart? Anger or forgiveness? Tenderness or bitterness? Humility or pride? Every moment you draw breath upon the earth, something is flowing out of your heart. What is coming out of your heart when you are with your family, at your job, with your friends, at your church, or when the sudden challenges of life are thrust upon you?

What flows out of our heart determines the quality of our life and character. It determines the manner and attitude with which you handle life’s major obstacles. It determines the richness of your relationships and the depths of your love. What flows out of the heart even determines the direction and course of your life.

Simply put, the heart is who you are and the essence of your being. As Oswald Chambers put it, “The use of the Bible term ‘heart’ is best understood by simply saying ‘me.’ It is the central citadel of a man’s personality.”[viii] This is why the heart is the key to your mental, social, and spiritual life, just as the physical heart is the key to your physical life. The heart is at the center of it all. And that is why the heart is at the center of all spiritual warfare, for it is the territory that both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan desire.

John Eldredge writes in Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive:

This is the lastthing the Enemy wants you to know. His plan from the beginning was to assault the heart … Make them so busy, they ignore the heart. Wound them so deeply, they don’t want a heart. Twist their theology, so they despise the heart. Take away their courage. Destroy their creativity. Make intimacy with God impossible for them. Of course your heart would be the object of a great and fierce battle. It is your most precious possession.[ix]

Without your heart, you cannot have love. Without your heart, you cannot have faith. Without your heart, you cannot find the work you were meant to do. In other words, without your heart you cannot have life.

As Christians, we have neglected the importance of maintaining the heart with tireless vigilance. The heart is under assault daily, and we can never be too busy to tend to its care. We must be ever on guard, for the heart can turn or harden quickly, moving us off the path God has set for our lives.

The Wellspring of Your Life

When your heart is properly cared for under the gentle guidance of God, it should be a reflection of the glory of God. Your heart is meant to be full of His light, shattering the darkness of this world and brilliantly displaying the image of the Creator. Your heart was made by God to bear the image of His magnificence and characteristics such as love, mercy, goodness, tenderness, justice, strength, compassion, and peace.

The heart of every Christian is meant to be vibrantly alive as God’s life is poured into the words, motives, and actions of those who have passionately guarded their hearts for God. We must fight for every inch of our hearts against the relentless attack of the devil and his deceptive schemes and plans. We must not let him pollute our hearts with his contaminated words, thoughts, images, and purposes. The treasure of your heart is too valuable to be surrendered to the enemy.

Proverbs 4:23 (NEB) reads, “Guard your heart more than any treasure, for it is the source of life. The New International Version says it like this: “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The heart is the wellspring, or fountain, of life. It’s the central reservoir from which all of a person’s words, actions, and motives flow. Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon titled “The Great Reservoir,” said:

You have seen the great reservoirs provided by our water companies, in which the water which is to supply hundreds of streets and thousands of houses is kept. Now, the heart is just the reservoir of man, and our life is allowed to flow in its proper season. That life may flow through different pipes—the mouth, the hand, the eye, but still all the issues of hand, of eye, of lip, derive their source from the great fountain and central reservoir, the heart; and hence there is no difficulty in showing the great necessity that exists for keeping this reservoir, the heart, in a proper state and condition, since otherwise that which flows through the pipe must be touted and corrupt … Mere moralists often forget the heart. … It is as if, when the reservoir was filled with poisonous or polluted fluid, some sage counselor should propose that all the piping had better be taken up, and fresh pipes laid down, so that water may be run through fresh channels; but who does not perceive that it would be all in vain, if the fountain-head were polluted, however good the channels. So in vain the rules by which men hope to fashion their lives; in vain the regimen by which we seek to constrain ourselves to the semblance of goodness. Unless the heart be right, the very best scheme of life shall fall to the ground, and fail to effect its design.[x]

The heart is the mighty reservoir that pumps its contents into our words, our thoughts, our motives, our emotions, our passions and our deeds. If Jesus Christ came and tested the quality of the water in the reservoir of your heart, what would He find? Is your reservoir polluted with the thoughts, ideas, and characteristics of this world? Or is it pure, lovely, and holy, reflecting the glory and heart of its Creator? Is your heart an environmental hazard that is contaminating your Christian walk and witness for Christ and polluting the quality of your intimacy with your heavenly Father? If your heart is polluted, then your life is going to be polluted.

What goes into determining the contents of the reservoir of your heart? Everything you think about, look at, read, listen to, been taught about, and have experienced. Ron Luce, in Guard Your Heart,explains it this way:

[The heart] is a sponge that soaks up every experience, every thought, and everything we have ever been taught. It absorbs everything and then, as we are squeezed, what comes out of that sponge directs our life. Think of all the experiences you have had—good ones, exciting ones, and bad ones that have hurt you. Think of all the things you have seen, read in textbooks, and learned from the school of life. Think of every emotion you have ever had and every dream you have ever dreamed. All of those things have been absorbed into your inner being just as a sponge would soak up water.[xi]

The contents of a contaminated heart can literally poison your words, emotions, attitude, and character, and destroy your life. You cannot sidestep and ignore the condition of your heart and think it won’t have any effect on your life.

The Hebrew word translated “wellspring” in Proverbs 4:23 means “outgoing, to go forth, a starting point, a source, and an end point.” In Old Testament days, this word was used to refer to the borders of a territory or the boundaries of a city. The heart determines the borders of your words and actions and the direction the territory of your life will extend. Out of the heart flows a map that illustrates every detail of the geography, frontiers and outer edges of your emotions, passions, behaviors, attitudes and desires that shapes your daily life. Like a surveyor that stakes out a territory, the heart determines the boundaries of your mental and emotional life and the sphere where you function and conduct your daily activities. These boundaries can be healthy or unhealthy, based on the condition of your heart.

Guarding the Promised Land

The first usage of this word “wellspring” in Scripture is found in the book of Numbers, in which God reveals to Moses the borders of the Promised Land that Israel is to go and possess: “This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side” (Numbers 34:12).

God has set the boundaries of a Promised Land for your life where you can accomplish your God-given destiny and purpose that God has lovingly designed for you. This Promised Land is a place where you can enjoy the blessings of God, the peace of God, the deliverance of God, the protection of God, and the presence of God. The Promised Land is where God is enjoyed, praised, and glorified for His matchless love, grace, and mercy. The Promised Land is the true territory of your heart where you can joyfully display God’s excellence and goodness in all the areas of your life. But your heart can only remain in God’s ordained Promised Land if you diligently guard its borders from infiltration by the enemy.

For the children of Israel, the Promised Land was also a place of warfare where all the enemies of God were to be driven out, where God’s chosen people were to experience great victory from the Lord. There were thirty-one hostile enemy nations in the land Israel was about to enter, and God commanded that all of these enemies of God’s people were to be thrust out of this holy land. Most of Israel’s problems in their history (especially idolatry and turning away from the Lord) stem from their original failure to force these ungodly nations and their false gods out of the Promised Land.

Ours is a battle to keep the heart aligned with God’s heart, an ongoing struggle to remain within the boundaries of the Promised Land of God’s will. Ours is a battle to keep our hearts from becoming conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2). Ours is a battle to keep the relentless forces of fear, worry, anxiety, disobedience, bitterness, unforgiveness, and hatred from possessing any territory within our hearts.

We must be aware that the enemy is always prowling near the borders of our hearts, subtly trying to gain entrance so he can establish a stronghold in the heart and exercise his control and influence. We must be the constant border patrol of our hearts, watching all the boundaries of our lives so that the enemy does not become an illegal resident of our hearts. We cannot passively allow him to hang out and set up his tent anywhere in this, for he is a master at turning the heart away from God.

In order to enter the Promised Land and keep its borders secure, we must guard our hearts with all diligence, protecting it from the schemes and strategies of Satan, devoting it instead wholeheartedly and passionately to God and His Word. Under the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can set boundaries that will reflect His love, grace, mercy, compassion, and peace, and in this land we will fulfill God’s calling for our lives.

But the devil has also staked out a territory for your life, and it is called the wilderness. The devil wants to control the contents of your heart, for then he can set the borders of your life within the wilderness where evil, fear, ungodliness, impurity, hatred, and selfishness abound. It’s interesting that one of the Hebrew words for “evil” means to break up all that is good, to destroy or injure by scattering and breaking into pieces, and to destroy, circumvent, and hinder the good purpose or design God has intended for someone or something. Evil is the active opposition of God’s good purpose or design for a person with the intent of destroying, limiting, and hindering it in any way possible.

The devil is called “the evil one” (Matthew 5:37), and if we are careless with our hearts, he will re-position the borders of life so that the destiny God has for you is shattered and broken into pieces. He wants to conform the map of your life to the pattern of this world. In this wilderness, God will be pushed out and obstructed from your heart. Many Christians, though they are born again, live their entire lives in the wilderness where they do little, if anything, to advance God’s kingdom because they have given little thought or care to the condition of their hearts. The heart is the absolute key to our spiritual lives and the key to our success in standing against the attack of our spiritual enemy.

The Exodus of the Heart

The Greek word for “wellspring” in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, means “exodus, departure, or a journey, road, or way out.” An exodus is a departure from one geographical location to another. The most magnificent example in human history is, of course, the exodus of Israel out of the slavery and bondage of Egypt. This event marked the birth of Israel as a nation, as God’s chosen people were called out of captivity to serve Him and live under a covenant relationship with God in which He would vigorously provide, protect, and fight for His children. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children departed Egypt on their journey to a new land.

What a picture this gives us of the workings of the heart. There is an exodus of actions, emotions, passions, motives, words, and thoughts that are constantly coming out of your heart. Where is this exodus leading you? Is the exodus from your heart taking you to a land of promise or a land of bondage? Is your life headed toward the territory and land that God has staked out for your life or to a territory the devil has staked out in the wilderness? Every journey you have ever embarked upon in your life has come out of the heart, and the condition of your heart will determine which path you decide to follow. The path you choose will ultimately define and frame your character, personality, behavior, and witness for the Lord.

Jesus taught a valuable lesson to His disciples about the importance of the exodus from the heart:

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, in vain they do worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a person … Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth, passes into the stomach and is expelled. But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. (Matthew 15:8–11; 17–20, ESV, emphasis mine)

Religious leaders in the time of Jesus cared little about the condition of their hearts, and as a result, their hearts became hardened and corrupt, putting stakes down thousands of miles from the heart of God. These leaders were more concerned with the outward appearance of religious ceremony and ritual than they were about devoting their hearts to God. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament says, “They are regular in their formsof worship. They are strict in their ceremonial observances, and keep the law outwardly; but God requires the heart, and that they have not rendered.”

Isn’t it amazing how religion so often misses the importance of the heart? We have our grand cathedrals, our pompous ceremonies, our rituals, and our strict traditions of faith, but our worship is in vain because it proceeds from a heart in which God has no place. The pious works of the Pharisees and scribes came from hearts that had been corrupted and poisoned with selfishness and pride. Their outward honoring of God was a pretense, a dead and lifeless ceremony because of the defiled condition of their hearts. The Greek word translated “vain,” in describing the Pharisees’ acts of worship, means empty, worthless, invalid, without purpose, devoid of force, futile, and of no lasting value.

True praise and worship of God come from a heart that is radically in love with God and passionately committed to do all things for His glory. Worship from the heart is vital for the Christian life. As A.W. Tozer so eloquently said, “Worship is man’s full reason for existence. Worship is why we are born and why we are born again.”[xii] True worship is internal first and foremost, not external. True worship is a wonderful communion, an intimate interaction and close fellowship of our hearts with the heart of God. If we don’t take care of the condition of our hearts, then this worship that was meant to be beautiful and holy becomes despoiled and a mere shadow of its glorious purpose.

Although the Pharisees and scribes put on quite a show, their hearts betrayed them. Their hearts exposed them as hypocrites who were merely playing the part of God’s servants, but the exodus from their hearts showed them to be frauds and actors going through the motions of rites of no importance to God and worthless for the advancement of His kingdom. The Pharisees and the scribes had not given God full and complete access to their hearts.

In The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, Kenneth Wuest translates part of Matthew 15:8 as, “Their heart holds back at a great distance from me.”[xiii] These religious leaders had made a deliberate decision to hold their hearts back at a great distance from God. They didn’t want God anywhere near their hearts. They instead were concerned with man-made religious decrees and arrogant demonstrations of their self-righteousness. Jesus clearly pointed out that God is not concerned with religious creeds or rules but what is flowing from the heart. The condition of our hearts is of supreme importance to God. Worship and praise to God mean nothing unless He has captured our hearts.

Clean Hearts or Whitewashed Tombs?

The Greek word translated as “defile” in Matthew 15:20 means to make unclean, impure, to desecrate, and to render unhallowed. Jesus Christ was teaching his disciples that what really desecrates a life, making it unclean and impure, is the wretched condition of a heart. It is an absolute principle in life that what is in your heart will pour out like a great exodus into your life, actions, and behaviors. When the heart is impure, your actions, words, thoughts, motives, and deeds will be impure. The desecration of the heart corrupts a person’s entire life.

Look at the exodus from the hearts of the Pharisees and scribes. It’s not a pretty picture. Evil thoughts, murder, adultery, theft, sexual immorality, strife, envy, jealously, hatred, slander, false witness, bitterness, and pride were gushing from their hearts and destroying their character, their witness, their service, and their relationship with God. Outwardly, they looked so devout and sacred, but inside their hearts were dead to God. Jesus exposed them as whitewashed tombs:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs which appear on the outside beautiful, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. In the same way, you appear to be people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27–28, NIV)

At the time, many families would have a tomb, or sepulcher, cut out of rock or made from a cave, and generations of their family would be buried in it. Barnes’ Notes on The New Testament tells us:

The sepulchers of the Jews were commonly caves, beyond the walls of the cities in which they dwelt; or excavations made in the side of hills, or sometimes in solid rocks. … These tombs were annually whitewashed, to prevent the people from accidentally coming in contact with them as they went up to Jerusalem. The law considered those persons unclean who had touched anything that belonged to the dead (Numbers 19:16). Sepulchers were therefore often whitewashed, that they could be distinctly seen. Thus “whited,” they appeared beautiful; but within they contained the bones and corrupting bodies of the dead.[xiv]

The Jews would cover the outside of the tomb with a powdered lime dust or plaster that made it appear beautiful on the outside, but actually was a warning of the corruption found on the inside. Jesus said these whitewashed tombs “appear on the outside beautiful.” The Greek word translated “appear” means to bring forth into the light, to shine, and to be bright. The Greek word for “beautiful” is horaios, which means to be produced or ripened in the fit season; it means seasonable, as used of ripe fruits because they are most beautiful when they’re ripe. Trench’s Synonyms of the New Testament elaborates on the meaning of this word:

All which is in the world lives submitted to the laws of growth and decay, has its hour … the period, that is, that it makes fairest show of whatever of grace or beauty it may own. This hour, being thus the turning point of its existence, the time when it is at its loveliest and best, yields horaios with the sense first of timely … and then of beautiful.[xv]

The amazing but sad truth is that on the outside there was a beauty to the outward ceremony and religious garb that made it appear the Pharisees and scribes were bringing forth the light of God and shining for His glory, but it was all a mirage. They made it look as though they had reached the pinnacle in their service for God and their lives were full of ripe, godly fruit in its perfect season. But Jesus revealed their true hearts, which He compared to a tomb full of death and rotting decay. Regardless of their beautiful rituals and spiritual-sounding words, their hearts were full of the deepest forms of corruption. Yet these were the men who represented God and the sacred text of His Word to God’s chosen people. These men were supposed to be the teachers and reflections of God’s heart.

What a pompous, fraudulent mess religion so often is! Through the ages, it has placed a greater value on the outward appearance of ceremony and traditions rather than on the condition of the human heart. Religion can never completely mask the true motives and contents of the heart. Religion cannot stop the exodus of the heart, because the contents of the heart will eventually pour out into our deeds and lives. The heart will always betray and expose the hypocrisy of religion with its man-made rules and regulations that have been set above the purposes and will of God. The heart will expose the spiritual condition of those who are infected with selfishness, pride, and all types of evil. Religion and rules never bring life but ultimately only death and destruction, as these push the heart away from God.

Jesus Christ so vividly illustrated that we can never let our hearts fall into this condition if we want to love and serve God and accomplish His destiny for our lives. If we ever want to reach the pinnacle of the beauty and majesty of the call of God on the church, then first and foremost we must take address the condition of our hearts. If we continue to be careless with our hearts, then it doesn’t matter how big the church, how great the choir, and how impressive the service—we will be nothing more than whitewashed tombs.

To the angel of the church in Sardis write: “These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (Revelation 3:1, NIV)

The Lord was not fooled by the church at Sardis. He knew, with absolute clarity, the condition of their hearts. This looked like a fabulous and glorious church on the outside, and it had an outstanding reputation of being alive for God. But there was only one huge problem: The church was full of people who were dead in their hearts. The members of this church had failed to be watchful and alert over their hearts, and this allowed the enemy to deaden them to the very God they outwardly worshipped. The hearts were so lifeless that as God examined the works coming from their hearts, He could find not one single deed that glorified Him. He found only dead hearts full of a polluted religion that would not allow Him to complete His magnificent calling for their lives.

Unfortunately, this has become the tragedy of modern-day Christianity. Ours is a religion of outward show and ceremony. George Eldon Ladd, in A Commentary on the Revelation of John, defines today’s church as “a picture of nominal Christianity, outwardly prosperous, busy with the externals of religious activity, but devoid of spiritual life and power.”[xvi] We have become a church of the living dead, peopled with hearts in a sick, weak, and diseased condition. We are void of the power, life, and love of the gospel.

Jim Cymbala, in The Church God Blesses, writes:

Although physical heart problems claim many victims each year across our country, there are heart problems of another kind that I want us to consider. The heart is also of critical importance in a spiritual sense. The church, and especially the pulpit that God blesses, has to have a unique kind of heart. I believe the heart factor is the most overlooked aspect of all our searching for keys to living successfully for Jesus Christ.[xvii]

The contemporary church seems to have totally abandoned teaching the importance of the heart in Christian living, judging from the testimony of the hearts of many Christians. It’s a sad commentary on the church, but who so often judges the ways of the world and yet is the most selfish, prideful, bitter, malicious, greedy, vengeful, lustful, hurtful, and unloving? Isn’t it many times the Christian, whose heart condition is little better than a sewer, spewing forth the raw filth of the world? No wonder the witness of Christianity has become so weakened in recent years. People have been deeply hurt, lives have been destroyed, and churches ripped apart because we have allowed our hearts to fall into such a contaminated condition, pouring out their foul contents into the lives of all those around us.

Christianity needs an awakening to the truth that the condition of the heart is vital to the effectiveness of the gospel. The heart of a Christian is to be the citadel of Jesus Christ and reflect the heart of God in every word, deed, and action. The heart should be a pure representation of all the goodness of God and a lighthouse that radiates to the world all the love and character of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Out of the Storehouse of the Heart

The heart is storehouse that brings into one’s life whatever has been stored in the heart. So many of us have stored up in our hearts the traits, characteristics, and images of the world rather than the words and image of the glorious Christ. The inside of the believer’s heart must deeply and purely reflect Christ, or Christianity’s witness to the world crumbles and our lives betray the gospel. Without hearts that are utterly devoted to Him in all purity and faith, the gospel becomes dead in our Christian walk and growth.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Truly, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21), and when your heart is in a healthy spiritual condition, the kingdom comes bursting forth from you to advance under the mighty hand of God:

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. (Luke 6:43–45, NIV)

The Greek word translated here as “stored up” is thesaurus, sometimes rendered as “treasure” in other versions of Scripture, which means “the place in which things are collected and laid up, a storage room, a chamber or chest in which treasure is kept, to gather and layup, to amass or reserve in a storehouse, that which is stored up and saved by human beings as being especially precious.” This Greek word gives us our English word “thesaurus,” which is a treasury or storage place of words.

Your heart is a treasure chest, a storehouse, a place where things are accumulated and stored up. You are constantly storing up thoughts, words, images, ideas, experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions in the treasure chest of your heart. As you begin to amass these things in your heart, your life begins to take on a distinctive flavor based upon what we are storing within. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). The condition of your heart is determined by the treasure that has been stored in it. From this storehouse of the heart comes all the words, works, attitudes, beliefs and emotions that define your character and frame your life.

How do you react in the midst of difficult circumstances? What comes pouring out of your heart when you are faced with a dilemma? What is your response to temptation when it comes calling? What do you do in word and deed when suddenly confronted with a problem in your marriage, work, church, family, or social life? It all depends upon the treasure you have stored in your heart. The fruit manifested in your life is in direct relationship to what has been stored in your heart. With the exception of random thoughts and instinctive reactions, everything you think about and everything you do is an issue of the heart.

Are you beginning to see how important the condition of your heart is to your Christian walk? The keeping of the heart is the great work of the Christian and the very center of your duty towards God. All the responsibilities of the Christian faith mean very little if you do not take care of the heart. So what are you storing in your heart? What is the treasure you are keeping there? Are you guarding and protecting your heart so that your storehouse remains pure, good, and uncontaminated with the evil junk that thrives in the world?

John Flavel, in Keeping the Heart, writes that the keeping of the heart is “the most important business of a Christian’s life”:

Most certainly, the man who is careless of the frame of his heart, is but a hypocrite in his profession, however eminent he may be in the externals of religion. … And what can be the reason that the discourses and duties of many Christians are become so frothy and unprofitable, their communion both with God and one another becomes as a dry stalk, but this: their hearts are neglected? … Time was, when Christians conducted in such a manner that the world stood gazing at them. Their life and language were of a different strain from those of others. [xviii]

The Christian heart is meant to have such a godly beauty and purity to it that it amazes all those who behold it. Our hearts were meant to shine for the Lord and to be a glorious representation of Him in everything we say and do. Gazing at the Christian heart, one should see the reflection of God.

We must take back our hearts from the clutches of Satan and allow God to heal, restore, and reign from the throne in our hearts. We must be ever so careful to guard every thought, image, perception and word that we allow therein. There is a battle raging in the church, and its intensity and ferocity are increasing by the day. This battle is happening in every home, church, city, country and continent where the name of Jesus Christ is known. The devil has thrown all the muscle and might of his dominion into this all-out war. This battle determines whether we have life or death, salvation or hopelessness, freedom or bondage, Christ or the world, healing or sickness, deliverance or oppression, peace or anxiety, joy or depression. This battle determines daily the effective spread of the gospel around the world and the quality of Christianity’s witness on earth.

We must not let our heart become casualties on the battlefield. God has given us the battle plans and the manual for victory, and this is the Bible, the Spirit-breathed Word of God. This infallible manual instructs us how to take care of our hearts and assures us our hearts can become storehouses of God’s glory. Without this constant reference to this instruction manual, we stand no chance of success or victory in this mighty battle for our hearts.

The human heart must once again become a stronghold for Christ upon the earth. We must once again become warriors for our God and our hearts fortresses of the gospel, undaunted by the relentless attacks of the enemy. Only then will we stand victorious on the battlefield of life, resting upon the shoulders of our commander, Jesus Christ.

You must begin this journey of the heart by spending some quiet time with God and letting Him do a thorough examination of your heart. Only He can show you the true condition of your heart. Let Him show you where the true treasure of your heart lies, and then follow His treatment plan to restore your heart, to make it vibrant, alive, and one with His.

The Spirit of God in Your Heart

There is one last vital ingredient we must discuss before moving on, for without it, true transformation of the heart is impossible. This is the mighty component the heart needs to be made anew and surge with the power and love of God pumping through every part of it. This is the missing link, the master key to unlock the potential of the human heart. We see it in the biblical lives of Peter, Paul, Samson, David, Saul, Moses, and Elisha, just to name just a few. What can have such an effect on the heart? Only the Spirit of the living God:

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. (Ezekiel 36:26–27, NLT)

Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. (1 Samuel 10:6, ESV)

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever—The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you constantly and will be in you. (John 14:16-17, AMP)

The Spirit of God is the true guide, helper, encourager, purifier, and discerner of the heart. Without the Spirit of God, the heart will remain enslaved to the impulses and cravings of the flesh. The Spirit of God moving within the heart brings new life, new understanding, and a new relationship with the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The Spirit of God enables Christians to follow God’s decrees, and it is always exerting its influence on the heart to obey God at all times.

As Christians, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at the time of the new birth, along with a new divine nature, and we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. This does not mean that we instantaneously have perfect hearts that flawlessly reflect the image and pattern of Christ. We must henceforth walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, and allow the Spirit to teach us and lead us. We must make the Spirit of God the gatekeeper of our hearts, to help us turn away (and turn away from) anything that would sully the heart. The Spirit of God imparts wisdom, knowledge and discernment to us so we do not fall into the traps of our spiritual enemy.

The Holy Spirit is a blazing light to the heart that dispels darkness and sheds light on the heart’s true spiritual condition. The Spirit of God reveals pockets of idolatry, disobedience, and impurity in our hearts, and He instructs and leads us to repentance and cleansing from the hand of God. The Spirit of God is the fire in our heart that ignites our passion for God and burns up the wicked chaff of unbelief that hinders our faith and trust in Him. The Spirit of God emblazons, with the finger of God, a living love letter from our Lord on our hearts.

You are the living letter of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, nurtured by us and inscribed, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God—a letter too passionate to be chiseled onto stone tablets, but emblazoned upon the human heart. … By “the Lord” what I mean is the Spirit, and in any heart where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is liberty. Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it. (2 Corinthians 3:3, 17–18, VOICE)

The Spirit of God is the great liberator of the heart. He brings deliverance from every form of spiritual disease and bondage. He clears the way for the heart to reflect the glory of the Lord.

What an amazing thought that our hearts can reflect the glory of the Lord and become a mirror-image of Christ! Only the Spirit of God can cause this type of spiritual transformation and heavenly radiance. Each day as we walk by the Spirit, our hearts will become more and more radiant with His glory, more and more reflective of the image of Christ. However, this mighty work of the Spirit cannot be accomplished if we neglect and fail to keep our hearts in alignment with the heart of our faithful Lord. We must live, breathe, and move in the Spirit of God.

The Heart Is Not Beyond Redemption

We must understand one more important truth concerning the heart, as there has been much confusion about this truth that has caused many Christians to believe that the transformation of the heart is impossible. This often stems from the reading of Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV), which reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” We read this and think the heart must be a lost cause. Not so! Let me explain.

As Christians, we also have a sin nature inherited from Adam, which the Bible calls “the flesh,” “the old man,” “the natural man” and “the carnal mind,” depending on the translation and chapter and verse. This sin nature exerts tremendous influence on the heart to walk in the ways of the flesh, but this sin nature is not the same thing as the heart. These are distinctly separate things.

As Christians, we have two natures, but the heart is neither. Under the control and influence of the sin nature, the heart can be very deceitful, wicked, and corrupt, but this does not mean the heart is the same thing as our sin nature or that the heart cannot change. A. W. Pink explains this important point in Practical Christianity:

People say, “I was born with an evil heart, and I cannot help it.” It would be more correct to say, “I was born with an evil nature, which I am responsible to subdue.” The Christian needs clearly to recognize that in addition to his two “natures”—the flesh and the spirit—he has a heart which God requires him to “keep.” I cannot change or better my “nature,” but I may and must my “heart.” It is the devil who seeks to persuade people that they are not responsible for the state of their hearts, and may no more change them than they can the stars in their courses. … The duty of keeping the heart with the utmost diligence is binding all the Christian at all times; there is no period or condition of life in which he may be excused from this work.[xix]

If the heart is truly a lost cause, hopelessly wicked, why would God instruct us to set our hearts upon Him (2 Chronicles 20:33); to set our hearts to seek the Lord (2 Chronicles 11:16); to guard the heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23); to purify our hearts (James 4:8); to love the Lord with all our heart (Matthew 22:37); to not harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:8); to gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12); to let the peace of God rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15); to strengthen our hearts so that we will be blameless before God (1 Thessalonians 3:13); to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15); to believe in our hearts (Romans 10:10); to have noble and good hearts (Luke 8:15); and to walk with perfect hearts (Psalm 101:2)? Why would God bother to search our hearts if it were a futile mission?

You see, we have confused the heart with the sin nature, but this is not what Scripture teaches. The heart can change. The heart can be transformed. And we are ultimately responsible for the condition of our hearts.

There is a war going on within us as our two natures are in constant conflict and struggle against each other to dominate our hearts. Our sin nature and our new nature in Christ wage a battle for our hearts, and this is the inward conflict and challenge we face every day: What nature will have the greatest influence over our hearts? The apostle Paul offers this advice:

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:16–17, NIV)

The Greek word translated “contrary” here means to lie opposite to, to be lined up against, and to be adverse to. The Greek word is used here in the present tense, which indicates a continual conflict or war between our new divine nature in Christ and our old sin nature, with no truce in sight.

In Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament,he writes:

The word “contrary” speaks of a permanent attitude of opposition toward each other on the part of both the flesh and the Spirit. The picture in the Greek word is that of two opposing armies, each digging a system of trenches for the purpose of holding the land they have and conducting a trench warfare. They have dug themselves in for a long drawn-out contest. This contest is going on all the time in the heart of every child of God.[xx]

Do you remember the old war movies when armed forces tried to hold their positions in a trench while waging war against an enemy in the trench across an open battlefield? This is the kind of combat the heart faces daily. The flesh and the spirit are at odds and enmity and have been at war since the beginning. The stakes are high in this spiritual conflict, as this fierce warfare is for the control and supremacy of the human heart. This is a battle for the quality and character of the Christian, and whether his or her life will be transformed into the beauty and likeness of Christ, or be conformed to the evil and wickedness of their sin nature and the ungodly schemes of this world. This is a battle for what works and fruit will adorn the Christian’s life and define his witness and testimony for Jesus Christ. This mother of all battles rages every moment we draw breath upon the earth.

If the condition of our heart is to be bursting forth with the life and love of Christ, we must live, breath, walk, and stand firmly by the Spirit of God and mortify the desires, lusts, and the influence of the flesh. We must open the door of our hearts in every way to Christ and close the door to the deceitful enticements of sin and the flesh. We are the guardians of our hearts, and we decide whether our heart is conformed to the world or to Christ.

Do people see Jesus when they see your heart? Or is your heart just as wicked, angry, and bitter as the world around you? Are you a light to the world or lost in the darkness of this world? Does your heart clearly stand apart from all the chaos and deceit we see in the world? Open your spiritual eyes and look at your heart in the mirror of God’s Word. What do you see there? Is it a blessing or disturbing? Is your heart healthy or sick? What do people see when they look at your life? Does it lead them to the heart of God or drive them away from Him? Are the commanding forces of the Spirit or the flesh winning the battle for your heart?

It is time for us, the church, to stir from our spiritual stupor and begin at once to act concerning the condition of our hearts. Time is of the essence. We cannot wait! We must press into action and gain the victory and then guard this prized possession for the Lord with vigilance and unshakable determination.

[i] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (New York: Start Publishing LLC, 2012, originally published in 1948), 22, Kindle.

[ii] A.W. Tozer, Tozer Speaks: 128 Compelling and Authoritative Teachings of A.W. Tozer, Volume 1, compiled by Gerald B. Smith (Camp Hill: Wingspread Publishers, 2010).

[iii] John Eldridge, Wild at Heart: Discovering a Secret of a Man’s Soul, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2001), 36.

[iv] John Bevere, Drawing Near: A Life of Intimacy with God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2004), 1.

[v] A. W. Tozer The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship (Ada: Bethany House Publishers 2009), 27.

[vi] E.W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975) 362.

[vii] J.D. Douglas, New Bible Dictionary (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 1982).

[viii] Oswald Chambers, The Moral Foundation of Life: A Series of Talks on the Ethical Principles of the Christian Life (Oswald Chambers: 1962).

[ix] John Eldredge, Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 51, 52.

[x] Charles Spurgeon, The Great Reservoir, Sermon 179, delivered on February 21, 1858, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Garden.

[xi] Ron Luce, Guarding Your Heart (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 28, 29.

[xii] A.W. Tozer, The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship (Ada: Bethany House Publishers 2009), 29.

[xiii] Kenneth Wuest, The New Testament: An Expanded Translation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company 1961).

[xiv] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications 1962), 110, 111.

[xv] Richard Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1953), 388, 389.

[xvi] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), 611, Kindle.

[xvii] Jim Cymbala, The Church God Blesses (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 108.

[xviii] John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, 9, Kindle.

[xix] A.W. Pink, Practical Christianity, 2435, 2436 Kindle.

[xx] Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1961),19, 20.

Chapter 2: Guarding the Heart: The Christian’s Sacred Duty

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Blessed are the Peacemakers: How are we Peacemakers in a Troubled World?

Peace is word that is often on lips of so many in our world. It is on the lips of politicians, college professors, and social justice protestors. It is at the center of nation’s treaties, manifestos and rhetoric. It is at the heart of many religions, philosophies and value systems.

So this begs the question what is peace? Is it just the absence of war? Is it to tolerate everyone and to try to co-exist in harmony? Does it mean to have no animosity, conflict or strife? Does it mean to simply not disagree and only discuss what we agree on? Does it mean to not ruffle any feathers, but to water down the truth so it is more palatable to all? Is it to get everyone together and get rid of what divides us? Is it just to be easy-going and not to make any issues? No these actions are not Biblical peace. We cannot be peacemakers, if we shrink back in fear and are afraid to speak the truth because it may offend someone.

If we want to me a peacemaker, we first need to know what Jesus meant when he used the word peace and also what is the source of peace. Where do we go for this definition of peace? College books? The news media? Our favorite national icon? Church traditions? Cultural imperatives? As Christians we must go to the only source of the truth, the God-breathed Word of God, to get the true definition and meaning of peace.

The first thing we must realize is that Jesus Christ clearly taught that there are two types of peace:

John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 

There is true peace that only comes through Jesus Christ and a counterfeit peace offered by the world. The church cannot be deceived into embracing the peace of this world as a substitute for the true peace of God that is always centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot be a peacemaker molded in the world’s image or blindly follow the world’s weak attempt at peace.

We will see from Scripture that God put a high priority on peace and peacemakers. It is vastly different than what the world embraces. God did not give the job of peacemaking to politicians, or ambassadors, or lawyers, or diplomats, or presidents or judges or kings or Nobel Peace Prize winners or the United Nations or the World Council of Churches. He gave it as a duty and responsibility of each Christian believer. The world’s peacemakers fail miserably in their attempt to make peace. In fact, the Bible reveals that in the future a world leader will proclaim himself as the great peacemaker and for a short time he will seem to be successful, but his rule ends in the worse conflict the world has ever experienced. He is known as the antichrist. So do not be fooled at the world’s superficial attempts at peace, but are a counterfeit peace that always ends in chaos.

Peace is an important attribute of God and an essential part of His character. He is called Yahweh Shalom, the Lord of peace. He is called the God of peace (2 Corinthians 13:11, Hebrews 13:20; Philippians 4:9; Romans 15:33) and Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Ephesians 2:14 declares that Jesus Christ is our peace. God is the origin of peace, not human-made decrees. God is the source of peace, and God is the author of peace. It comes from nowhere else. Peace belongs to God and cannot be reproduced, manufactured or duplicated by any organization or government.

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

The entire Bible is about the journey of peace. It begins with peace in the Garden and ends with peace in the new heavens and earth for all eternity. Peace for Adam and Eve was totally disrupted due to their disobedience to God and the entry of sin into the human race. Men and women became separated and at an enmity with the God of peace. In essence they were at war with God and this war produces no peace. The world that is built by the human race is a world without peace; a world of trouble, chaos, wickedness, shattered hope and brokenness. The human race is in desperate need of peace and peacemakers as there is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 57:21). They cannot know the way of peace because they are under the penalty of sin (Romans 3:9,17).

The God of peace so loved the world that He gave His only Son as the ultimate sacrifice on the cross to make true peace available once again to all those who believe. Peace was made by the blood of the cross which opened the door for the sinner to be reconciled to God (Colossians 1:20,22). Peace can never be made at any other place than the cross.

Romans 4:25,5:1,11:

Who (Jesus Christ) was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have  peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Romans 5:1 (Amplified):

Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

True peace comes with justification through the blood of the cross. Justification is a legal term that means to be freed from the penalty of sin. There is no peace without justification. If sin is pushed aside, ignored and not dealt with, there will never be peace. Sin is the enemy of peace, and it must be crushed, cleansed, and atoned for or peace is an illusion. There is also no peace without reconciliation. Reconciliation means to bring back together that which has been separated. We are brought from a relationship of hostility and enmity to a relationship of peace through the finished work of Jesus Christ. We now have true peace which is a complete unity with our awesome God where we can enjoy Him and have an intimate relationship of love and peace. The broken relationship has been repaired and peace has flowed like a river into our hearts. No person can ever have the peace of God without a vibrant, living relationship with God through what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. There is no other way to peace as all other roads to peace lead to complete disappointment and failure. We cannot buy peace, we cannot medicate peace, and we cannot manufacture peace. It is only through the Lord Jesus Christ that we can experience the peace of God daily because we have been justified by faith and reconciled back to God. What rejoicing this should bring to our hearts that through God’s immeasurable gift of grace, we have now have magnificent peace that binds us to our Heavenly Father.

Ephesians 2:13:17:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off  have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 

15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 

16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 

17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Jesus killed on the cross every hostility and broke down every wall to peace. By his blood we were reconciled to God in one new body through the cross. He abolished the distinctions of Jew or Gentile, black and white, male or female or any other racial prejudice for we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). He and He alone is our peace. He is the true peacemaker. He restored the peace that Adam and Eve lost in the garden and one day He will establish His kingdom of peace that will have no end. He is the critical component, the necessary key, and the only way to peace once again reigning in the hearts of men and women. No other religion, no other human philosophy, no other political mandate,  and no other mental gymnastic exercise can ever bring peace to this world.

There also is no peace without righteousness. Jesus Christ became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). This perfect righteousness that is wrapped in grace that leads to eternal life is only through the Lord Jesus Christ. Righteousness is a critical component of God’s salvation where righteousness and peace kiss and become interwoven together in an unbreakable bond (Psalm 85:9,10). Righteousness is to be legally brought into a right relationship and standing with God restoring fellowship, companionship and intimacy. Righteousness is the God-given ability to stand in the presence of God without any sense of guilt, condemnation, shame, or unworthiness and to stand in the presence of Satan without any sense of inferiority, weakness, fear, or cowardice. Righteousness stands firmly on the finished work of Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. The important Biblical truth is that righteousness must come first before there is peace. The effect of this heavenly righteousness is peace.

So now we begin to see what is God’s definition of a peacemaker in this troubled world? A peacemaker brings the peace of God into a restless and lost world. A peacemaker is justified, reconciled, and declared righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ and restored to a relationship of peace with Almighty God. A peacemaker has been fully redeemed from the power and penalty of sin, and now has a wholeness and completeness that replaces the torment and condemnation of sin. We have been birthed as sons and daughters of God in the family of God and are citizens in His kingdom of peace. We have been given authority with the ministry and word of reconciliation to proclaim that the restoration of peace is available to all through our Lord Jesus Christ. There can be no peacemaking in the world without justification, righteousness and reconciliation at the foot of the cross. This is the foundation of all peacemaking. This the true gospel of peace. Jesus Christ is the way to peace and this is the essential message of the true peacemaker. God has called us to be His spiritual peace corps and offer a peace to the human race that is far beyond anything they could ever imagine. We have been sent by God to open people’s eyes to this magnificent gospel of peace, to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to the power of God, to obliterate the penalty of their sins at the cross and to bring them to a relationship of peace with their Creator.

A peacemaker will encounter resistance, persecution and conflict from the darkness of this world as they proclaim this message of true peace. The devil marshals his kingdom to blind people from seeing and experiencing the gospel of peace. He produces a counterfeit peace that has no justification, no reconciliation and no righteousness. This false peace is built upon the lie that unity of peace can only be accomplished by compromising the truth of the gospel, ignoring the problem of sin and watering down our message so it does not offend anyone. The peace of God is offensive to the systems of this world. Jesus Christ is referred to as the Rock of offense and the gospel of peace will offend, insult and upset many people around the world. This does not change the mission of the peacemaker. The Devil hates this true message of the peace of God because it spells his ultimate destruction. So it is not surprising that the gospel of peace stirs up the legions of hell, and they oppose its truth at every opportunity. So the church cannot be deceived into thinking that peace can be produced by the world’s institutions or by the world’s collaborative efforts without the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ. They will never accomplish true peace on any level.  

As the Body of Christ, we must shine as the lights of this world when it comes to the peace of God. Not only should there be this external witness of the gospel of peace that we proclaim to all humanity, but there should be an internal witness of peace in the church itself. We must also be peacemakers in the Body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:3 declares: Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The Greek word for “endeavoring” means an intense effort and determination. It is to be conscientious, zealous and earnest in discharging an obligation It is an all-out diligent effort to do one’s best with unrelenting energy and conviction. It carries with it an element of haste and urgency. The Greek word for “keep” means to preserve, guard and watch over with careful attention. Both words “endeavoring and “keep” are in the present tense meaning it should be our continual habit and way of life to make an intense effort as Christians to guard the unity of the Spirit. Notice it is the unity of the Spirit, not the unity of a denomination, or a church federation or the unity of a political party or the unity of a human philosophy. It is the spiritual unity of the Body of Christ forged at the cross. We do not make the unity or join the unity as God has already accomplished that, we just guard the unity that binds us in an intimate union with peace. The peace of God is the foundational thread of the unity of the Spirit for without the peace of God there is no unity.

Peacemakers are guardians of the unity of the Spirit and this cannot be done if they are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (verse 14), but a peacemaker must speak the truth in love (verse 15). A peacemaker in the Body of Christ does not abandon truth, and they do not abandon doctrine. True peace is always a child of the truth. A peacemaker manifests the love of God in words, in actions, in kindness, in humility, in gentleness and in confidence, but never compromises truth in doing so. A peacemaker reflects the character and heart of Christ and helps to bind together that which has been broke or divided through love, kindness and forgiveness. This promotes growth and unity in the Body of Christ and allows the church to shine as light in the darkness of this world. A peacemaker walks by the spirit and produces the fruit of peace. A peacemaker lives according to the wisdom from above and sows peace in both the world and the church and reaps a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18)

God has called each Christian believer to be a peacemaker both to the world and in the church. What an awesome privilege to carry the message of the gospel of peace to the world and to pursue peace in the Body of Christ. The peace of God is revolutionary, it is transformative and as peacemakers, we are the true ambassadors of His peace.

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John 13: An Amazing Example of Love, Humility and Betrayal

As we draw closer to Resurrection Sunday, I want to look at an amazing record in Scripture of the last week of Jesus Christ’s life before his death. John 13 sets forth the heart of our Savior as he approaches the immense suffering and death of the crucifixion. It sets forth a tremendous example of how we should approach life even in the darkest circumstances.

John 13:1: Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Amplified: He loved them to the last and to the highest degree.

End-telos: Not just the end of his life, but for all eternity. Figuratively he love them to the uttermost.

Agapao is the Greek word for “love” in this passage. It means a love that is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize and treasure it. This love springs from an appreciation of the value and worth of an object, its preciousness. It is to love with wonder and admiration, to cherish with reverence. It is a love that compels one to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of the one being loved.

What an amazing love Jesus had for his disciples. He prized and treasured their worth. They were precious to him. He knew they had tremendous value even though their actions did not always reflect it.

F.B. Meyer: These last words have been thought to refer to the end of life, but it surely were superfluous to tell us that the strong waters of death could not quench the love of the Son of Man. When once He loves, He loves always. It is needless to tell us that the Divine heart which has enshrined a soul will not forsake it; that the name of the beloved is never erased from the palms of the hands; that the covenant is not forgotten though eternity elapse.. We do not need to be assured that the Immortal Lover, who has once taken us into union with Himself, can never loose his hold. Therefore it is better to adopt the alternative suggested by the margin of the Revised Version, “He loved them to the uttermost.” There was nothing to be desired. Nothing was needed to fill out the ideal of perfect love. Not a stitch was required for the needle-work of wrought gold; not a touch demanded for the perfectly achieved picture; not a throb added to the strong pulse of affection with which He regarded his own.

It is very wonderful that He should have loved such men like this. As we pass them under review at this time of their life, they seem a collection of nobodies. But they were his own, there was a special relationship between Him and them. They had belonged to the Father, and He had given them to the Son as his special perquisite and belonging. “Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me.”

Remember for a moment the actions of these men. They bickered over who would be the greatest; they so often had so little faith; they had limited spiritual vision; they were petty; they lacked understanding; one would betray him, one would disown him, one would deny him but He still loved them. Remember the song “Jesus loves me, this I know!” Do you know it? Do you believe it?

John 13:2-5: During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 

The Greek word for “put” is ballo in Greek. The devil threw or cast into the heart of Judas the plan to betray Jesus. It was in his heart which is the deep personal and emotional seat of who he was. It took some time for the slanderer to get Judas to the point of betrayal. Judas had already met with the chief priests and temple commanders on how he could deliver Jesus to them. They promised him money and he began to look for an opportunity to deliver Jesus to them in the absence of a crowd. It is interesting to note that “ballo” is part of the word that makes up the word devil in the Greek (diabalos-one who throws or casts slander and accusations). The slander and accuser cast his lies into the heart of Judas where they took root. The Bible talks about the “fiery darts of the wicked one” in reference to the whole armor of God. Ephesians 6:16. Judas’s shield of faith was down and the fiery darts of the wicked one took direct aim at his heart.

There is more in the background of this passage than even John tells us. If we turn to Luke’s account of the last meal together, we find the tragic sentence: “A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as greatest” (Luke 22:24). Even within sight of the Cross, the disciples were still selfishly arguing about matters of precedence and prestige. Pride was consuming them, and Jesus Christ addressed it by example later in this record.

The roads of Palestine were unsurfaced and uncleaned. In dry weather they were inches deep in dust and in wet they were liquid mud. The shoes ordinary people wore were sandals, which were simply soles held on to the foot by a few straps. They gave little protection against the dust or the mud of the roads.

Washing someone’s feet was considered an important part of hospitality and was usually done by a person’s slave or servant. It was considered the lowest of jobs to wash the feet. The feet would be dirty and tired. It would never be dreamed of that a Rabbi would do this. Jesus went against all cultural norms to show the ultimate example of humility.

Barclay: Jesus knew all things had been given into his hands. He knew that his hour of humiliation was near, but he knew that his hour of glory was also near. Such a consciousness might well have filled him with pride; and yet, with the knowledge of the power and the glory that were his, he washed his disciples’ feet. At that moment when he might have had supreme pride, he had supreme humility. Love is always like that. When, for example, someone falls ill, the person who loves him will perform the most menial services and delight to do them, because love is like that. Sometimes men feel that they are too distinguished to do the humble things, too important to do some menial task. Jesus was not so. He knew that he was Lord of all, and yet he washed his disciples’ feet.

Philippians 2:7a: But [Jesus] emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,

“Empty” means to means to completely eliminate elements of high status or rank by eliminating all privileges or prerogatives associated with such status or rank. This was the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet he emptied himself and took the form of a servant.

We are supposed to exhibit this same type of humility: Philippians 2:5: Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. HAVE HABITUALLY AS YOUR LIFESTYLE THIS ATTITUDE IN YOURSELVES WHICH WAS ALSO IN CHRIST JESUS.

It is said the branch most full of fruit bends the lowest. We are to empty ourselves of pride, entitlement, self-gratification, self-exaltation, self-importance and become a servant to Jesus and one another.

In the court of the Temple there were two objects that arrested the eye of the entering worshipper–the brazen altar, and the laver. The latter was kept always full of pure, fresh water, for the constant washings enjoined by the Levitical code. Before the priests were consecrated for their holy work, and attired in the robes of the sacred office, they washed there (Ex. 29:4). Could this passage also show that Jesus was consecrating his disciples for the holy work of the gospel after his death and resurrection?

Did you know that Judas was present here and Jesus washed his feet? Look at the immense love of Jesus, perhaps giving Judas a chance to repent. I believe he was giving Judas one last chance to turn away from his wicked plans and come back to Jesus. This is the heart of a true King. Once Satan enters the heart, it blinds you to the love of Christ.

Barclay: Jesus knew this also. He was well aware that he was about to be betrayed. Such knowledge might so easily have turned him to bitterness and hatred; but it made his heart run out in greater love than ever. The astounding thing was that the more men hurt him, the more Jesus loved them. It is so easy and so natural to resent wrong and to grow bitter under insult and injury; but Jesus met the greatest injury and the supreme disloyalty, with the greatest humility and the supreme love.

John 13:6-11: He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Up until the life of Jesus, rulers and leads and powerful people did not think of themselves as genuinely serving the people under them. Humility was considered a weakness, not a strength. Washing his disciples feet was so against common custom that the disciples could not even mentally grasp what he was doing, but afterwards they would fully understand and experience what it meant to be a leader was being a servant to others. Christ changed humility from being a weakness to a virtue.

John 13:12-20: When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

“You also ought to wash one another’s feet.” It is deeper than just this physical act but is the ultimate example of humility, love and service. It shows a marvelous love, a marvelous deed and a marvelous obligation. If our Lord and Master can be this humble and serve like this, we need to follow his example.

The Greek word for “servant” is doulos that is translated slave. It has a bad connotation in our culture, but in the Eastern culture illustrates the total commitment to service. Other verses in the New Testament expound upon a lifetime of service to others.

I Corinthians 10:24: Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

Romans 15;2,3a: Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself…

Mark 9:35: And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Galatians 5:13: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 

The world is upside down. The world teaches us to please ourselves first, to look out for number one (ourselves), to seek our own good first and use our flesh to feed our appetites. It is a culture of selfishness. However the Bible teaches that the true meaning of life and the essence of Christianity is service born out of love rather than self-exaltation.

John 13:21-30: After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

In the East, the dipping of the morsel of bread was given to the most honored guest at the table. Jesus gave it to Judas. In an Eastern custom that is still in practice, a “sop” is offered to the most honored guest. The sop is the tastiest morsel of food tucked into a bit of bread, or a piece of bread dipped in the most delicious pool of lamb juices in the communal bowl. It was token of intimacy. Token of a special friendship. Mark of honor. It was Jesus’s last appeal to Judas. It was meant to touch his heart. But this incredible act of love and tenderness did not move Judas.

Psalm 41:9: Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

Within hours Judas would lead a mob to have Jesus arrested.

Judas was a close friend of Jesus,  a part of his inner circle of disciples; he saw countless miracles, he heard life-changing teachings by Jesus; he cast out demons and healed the sick in the power of Jesus’s name; he traveled with Jesus and saw the Heavenly Father at work in Jesus, yet Satan still influenced him to betray him. It is a sobering reminder of the frailty of the human heart and how soon it can turn on Jesus.

Judas left the presence of Jesus and it was night. It is always night without the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the dark night of the soul.

John 13:31-35: 31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Judas wanted Jesus to be crowned the King to establish his rule now. He wanted to force Jesus’s hand and cause him to defy Rome and set up his kingdom. He did not want to wait. Judas also was deceived by money and loved it more than he loved Jesus.

In the midst of all this turmoil and hours before he would be seized to be crucified, Jesus gave a farewell commandment of love. To be a disciple of Jesus we must be marked by his love. The Greek word for “new” means new in quality. This was a new quality of love, a special love and this commandment of love was directed toward his disciples, his followers. The new mark, the insignia, the brand of a Christian, a disciple of Jesus was this new quality of love which was first directed to each other, to love one another (those who had committed to follow Jesus). Christ was introducing a new, more elevated, more intense, more selfless love than what was clear in the Law. He said, “Just as I have loved you, you are to love one another.” It is very essential for Christian unity and our personal wholeness that we love our fellow Christians. This important commandment is repeated 13 times in the New Testament.

Other verses in the New Testament expound upon the importance of loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I John 2:10,11:  Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

If we do not walk in love with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we walk in darkness, we stumble and grope around aimlessly without true direction or purpose.

I John 4:20,21: If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

We cannot love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and hate our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our testimony and witness for Christ becomes a fabrication if we do not walk in love.

Love is to be the organizing principle that guides everything we do. All genuine love starts in God and follows His ways. God is love and His purposes and will are wrapped in love. We are to be imitators of Him and if do not walk in love, we are not acting as God would act.

Why don’t we love one another? Why don’t we act in love? Why has the history of Christianity been such a poor witness of love?

We often are selfish, we often feed the wrong appetites. Many do not know the Bible and do not know how God would act, or don’t have courage to act in a truly loving manner. There is both kind love and tough love. But today in Christianity around the globe the love of so many has waxed cold. Love has been replaced by envy, distrust, division, jealously and hatred. We dishonor Jesus when we act in such a manner in the Body of Christ.

Christianity is to be the ultimate example of love, humility, and service yet it has been replaced by denominations, factions, divisions, and hatred. Christians are to have a special love for each other, a special bond and affection. My how we have fallen short of Jesus’s Commandment to love one another.

John 13:36-38:  Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter did not disown Jesus once or twice, but three times!

Look at the drama and the intensity of this moment after the third denial.

Luke 22:60: Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

All of Peter’s promises vanished in the pressure of the moment. Now it is so easy to get down on Peter. “Oh that Peter, what a shallow fellow he is, oh how he failed Jesus!” But what would you do if you were in his shoes?

The Greek word for “deny’ means “reject, disown, and to desert his cause.”

How will you react when the pressure is on? What would we do in a life or death decision? Do we really mean He is Lord of our lives or will we disown him when the pressure turns white hot?

Would you stand for Jesus or disown him? Would you water Jesus down to make him less controversial. Would you desert his cause when confronted about Jesus? Would you lose everything for him? Would you lose your life for his sake? Or would you disown him? Jesus is ok in the privacy of my home, but I do not want to make waves in the world because I publicly follow Jesus. Jesus is called the Rock of Offense in Scripture for a reason. You either love him or are offended in Him. The world hates Jesus. The world despises everything that he stands for. The world wants to wipe out Jesus from the face of humanity. Will you stand for Jesus despite this intense opposition form the world? Is our love for him superficial? Does our love for Jesus wax and wane with the circumstances of life? How deep is our love for Jesus? How rooted are you in Him. How precious is Jesus to you? Are your possessions, relationships, reputation more important than Jesus? He died for you. He suffered immensely for you. He gave his life for you. What are you going to do in response?

Would you lose your home, or lose your job, be thrown in jail, cancelled, or ostracized if you stand with Jesus or when push comes to shove would you deny him? What would you do? Think about these things and we won’t be so quick to condemn Peter.

John 13 is a remarkable record of love, humility, service and sacrifice as well as a sad record of the human heart when it comes to Jesus. Will we betray him, deny him or desert his cause? Or will we follow his example and be marked by his love? How easy this record shows us that we can turn from Jesus when we are pressured or persecuted.

This is the season of Lent, a time of reflection, a time to ponder our love and commitment to Jesus. Think about how much he loved you. Think about what he did for you. Ask yourself if Christ so loved me that he died for me, isn’t he worthy to give your life in service to him?

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The Timeless Truths of Psalms 1:1-3: Sit, Walk, Stand or Delight

Psalm 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wickednor stand in the path of sinnersnor sit in the seat of scoffers! (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Greek (Septuagint): Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in the seat of evil men.

Amplified: BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. (Amplified Bible – Lockman)

KJV: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

NET: How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! (NET Bible)

NJB: How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked and does not take a stand in the path that sinners tread, nor a seat in company with cynics, (NJB)

Young’s Literal: O the happiness of that one, who Hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked. And in the way of sinners hath not stood, And in the seat of scorners hath not sat;


Blessing (bless, blessed) is a common theme in the Psalms (108 times in 98 verses – with approximately 47 referring to blessing the LORD and about 57 God blessing men, with the remainder difficult to classify – as an aside this makes for an interesting study, especially to see who it is that God blesses and how this blessing is manifested. See all uses in “Wisdom” Literature – Job, Psalms, Proverbs)…

Donne – How abundantly is that word Blessed multiplied in the Book of Psalms! The book seems to be made out of that word, and the foundation raised upon that Word, for it is the first word of the book. But in all the book there is not one Woe.

Play this beautiful song…then, enabled by the Holy Spirit, put the blessed truth of Psalm 1 into practice…you will never regret it beloved!

  • Planted By the Waters

    Note: In this song the words “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD…” are from the parallel passage in Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” (HALLELUJAH!)

Let us take a moment to scan over some of the uses of bless, blessed and blessing in the Psalms as we prepare to study key to the blessed life in Christ…

Ps 2:12 Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge (put their trust) in Him!

Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in him? Our faith may be slender as a spider’s thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles: — “Lord, increase our faith.” (Spurgeon)

Psalm 5:12 For it is Thou who dost bless the righteous man, O LORD, Thou dost surround him with favor as with a shield.

This is a promise of infinite length, of unbounded breadth, and of unutterable preciousness. (Spurgeon)

Psalm 24:5 (Context for who “he” is) He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. So that the saints need salvation; they receive righteousness, and the blessing is a boon from God their Saviour. They do not ascend the hill of the Lord as givers but as receivers, and they do not wear their own merits, but a righteousness which they have received. Holy living ensures a blessing as its reward from the thrice Holy God, but it is itself a blessing of the New Covenant and a delightful fruit of the Spirit. God first gives us good works, and then rewards us for them. Grace is not obscured by God’s demand for holiness, but is highly exalted as we see it decking the saint with jewels, and clothing him in fair white linen; all this sumptuous array being a free gift of mercy. (Spurgeon)

Ps 32:1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!

Blessed. Like the Sermon on the Mount (see notes Matthew 5:1ff), this Psalm begins with beatitudes. This is the second Psalm of benediction. The first Psalm (see notes Psalm 1) describes the result of holy blessedness, the thirty-second details the cause of it. The first pictures the tree in full growth, this depicts it in its first planting and watering. He who in the first Psalm is a reader of God’s book, is here a suppliant at God’s throne accepted and heard.

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. He is now blessed and ever shall be. Be he ever so poor, or sick, or sorrowful, he is blessed in very deed. Pardoning mercy is of all things in the world most to be prized, for it is the only and sure way to happiness. To hear from God’s own Spirit the words, “absolvo te” is joy unspeakable. Blessedness is not in this case ascribed to the man who has been a diligent law keeper, for then it would never come to us, but rather to a lawbreaker, who by grace most rich and free has been forgiven. Self righteous Pharisees have no portion in this blessedness. Over the returning prodigal, the word of welcome is here pronounced, and the music and dancing begin.

A full, instantaneous, irreversible pardon of transgression turns the poor sinner’s hell into heaven, and makes the heir of wrath a partaker in blessing. The word rendered forgiven is in the original taken off or taken away, as a burden is lifted or a barrier removed. What a lift is here! It cost our Saviour a sweat of blood to bear our load, yea, it cost Him His life to bear it quite away. Samson carried the gates of Gaza, but what was that to the weight which Jesus bore on our behalf?

Whose sin is covered. Covered by God, as the ark was covered by the mercyseat, as Noah was covered from the flood, as the Egyptians were covered by the depths of the sea. What a cover must that be which hides away forever from the sight of the all seeing God all the filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit! He who has once seen sin in its horrible deformity, will appreciate the happiness of seeing it no more for ever. Christ’s atonement is the propitiation, the covering, the making an end of sin; where this is seen and trusted in, the soul knows itself to be now accepted in the Beloved, and therefore enjoys a conscious blessedness which is the antepast (a foretaste) of heaven. It is clear from the text that a man may know that he is pardoned: where would be the blessedness of an unknown forgiveness? Clearly it is a matter of knowledge, for it is the ground of comfort.

Verse 2. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. The word blessed is in the plural, oh, the blessednesses! the double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight! Note the three words so often used to denote our disobedience: transgression, sin, and iniquity, are the three headed dog at the gates of hell, but our glorious Lord has silenced his barkings for ever against his own believing ones. The trinity of sin is overcome by the Trinity of heaven. Non imputation is of the very essence of pardon: the believer sins, but his sin is not reckoned, not accounted to him. Certain divines froth at the mouth with rage against imputed righteousness, be it ours to see our sin not imputed, and to us may there be as Paul words it, “Righteousness imputed without works.” He is blessed indeed who has a substitute to stand for him to whose account all his debts may be set down. And in whose spirit there is no guile. He who is pardoned, has in every case been taught to deal honestly with himself, his sin, and his God. Forgiveness is no sham, and the peace which it brings is not caused by playing tricks with conscience. Self deception and hypocrisy bring no blessedness, they may drug the soul into hell with pleasant dreams, but into the heaven of true peace they cannot conduct their victim. Free from guilt, free from guile. Those who are justified from fault are sanctified from falsehood. A liar is not a forgiven soul. Treachery, double dealing, chicanery, dissimulation, are lineaments of the devil’s children, but he who is washed from sin is truthful, honest, simple, and childlike. There can be no blessedness to tricksters with their plans, and tricks, and shuffling, and pretending: they are too much afraid of discovery to be at ease; their house is built on the volcano’s brink, and eternal destruction must be their portion. Observe the three words to describe sin, and the three words to represent pardon, weigh them well, and note their meaning. (Spurgeon)

Ps 34:8 O taste (imperative = not a suggestion but a command) and see (another imperative) that the LORD is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge (places his trust) in Him!

O taste and see. Make a trial, an inward, experimental trial of the goodness of God. You cannot see except by tasting for yourself; but if you taste you shall see, for this, like Jonathan’s honey, enlightens the eyes. That the Lord is good. You can only know this really and personally by experience. There is the banquet with its oxen and fatlings; its fat things full of marrow, and wine on the lees well refined; but their sweetness will be all unknown to you except you make the blessings of grace your own, by a living, inward, vital participation in them.

Blessed is the man that trusts in Him. Faith is the soul’s taste; they who test the Lord by their confidence always find Him good, and they become themselves blessed. The second clause of the verse, is the argument in support of the exhortation contained in the first sentence. (Spurgeon)

Ps 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

Blessed. This is an exclamation similar to that of the first Psalm, “Oh, the happiness of the man.” God’s blessings are emphatic, “I wot ( know) that he whom Thou blesses is blessed,” indeed and in very truth. Is that man that maketh the Lord his trust. Faith obtains promises. A simple single eyed confidence in God is the sure mark of blessedness. A man may be as poor as Lazarus, as hated as Mordecai, as sick as Hezekiah, as lonely as Elijah, but while his hand of faith can keep its hold on God, none of his outward afflictions can prevent his being numbered among the blessed; but the wealthiest and most prosperous man who has no faith is accursed, be he who he may. (Spurgeon)

Ps 84:12 O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in Thee!

Here is the key of the Psalm. The worship is that of faith, and the blessedness is peculiar to believers. No formal worshipper can enter into this secret. A man must know the Lord by the life of real faith, or he can have no true rejoicing in the Lord’s worship, his house, his Son, or his ways. Dear reader, how fares it with thy soul? (Spurgeon)

What is the blessing associated with or “effected” by in this Psalm? Trust (cp Jer 17:78). Faith. Believing (see word study on verb pisteuo). For example, do you really believe God has granted you “everything (how much? Greek word pas = all without exception!) necessary for life (zoe = not just breathing, but life abundant which is Jesus’ desire for us, Jn 10:10) and godliness through (preposition “dia” = the conduit through which “life and godliness” flow, so to speak) the true knowledge of Him (thus the vital importance of daily “eating” His pure, unadulterated Word of Truth and Life – 1Pe 2:2noteMt 4:4Dt 8:2316Php 2:16note) who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2Pe 1:3note)? Remember that trusting is not a passive mindset, but a reflects an active, volitional, submissive change in our thinking, which results in a change in our doing. If you truly believe, you will behave according to how, what and Who you believe. A disconnect in this dynamic is the essence of Pharisaical hypocrisy. Do not be deceived, beloved brethren (Jas 1:22noteJas 1:25note; see related discussion re the NT phrase the obedience of faith)

Ps 94:12 Blessed is the man (Hebrew = geber = Hebrew root commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of the successful warrior; relates to the male at the height of his powers) whom You chasten, O LORD, and whom You teach out of Your law;

Blessed is the man whom Thou chastens, O LORD. The psalmist’s mind is growing quiet. He no longer complains to God or argues with men, but tunes his harp to softer melodies, for his faith perceives that with the most afflicted believer all is well. Though he may not feel blessed while smarting under the rod of chastisement, yet blessed he is; he is precious in God’s sight, or the Lord would not take the trouble to correct him, and right happy will the results of his correction be (see notes Hebrews 12:567891011). The psalmist calls the chastened one a “man” in the best sense, using the Hebrew word which implies strength. He is a man, indeed, who is under the teaching and training of the Lord. (Spurgeon)

Ps 106:3 How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!

Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. Multiplied are the blessings which must descend upon the whole company of the keepers of the way of justice, and especially upon that one rare man who at all times follows that which is right. Holiness is happinessThe way of right is the way of peace. Yet men leave this road, and prefer the paths of the destroyer. Hence the story which follows is in sad contrast with the happiness here depicted, because the way of Israel was not that of judgment and righteousness, but that of folly and iniquity. The Psalmist, while contemplating the perfections of God, was impressed with the feeling that the servants of such a being must be happy, and when he looked around and saw how the tribes of old prospered when they obeyed, and suffered when they sinned, he was still more fully assured of the truth of his conclusion. O could we but be free of sin we should be rid of sorrow! We would not only be just, but “keep judgment”; we would not be content with occasionally acting rightly, but would “do justice at all times.” (Spurgeon)

Ps 112:1 Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments.

Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord. According to the last verse of Psalm 111, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; this man, therefore, has begun to be wise, and wisdom has brought him present happiness, and secured him eternal felicity. Jehovah is so great that He is to be feared and had in reverence of all them that are round about Him, and He is at the same time so infinitely good that the fear is sweetened into filial love, and becomes a delightful emotion, by no means engendering bondage. There is a slavish fear which is accursed; but that godly fear which leads to delight in the service of God is infinitely blessed. Jehovah is to be praised both for inspiring men with godly fear and for the blessedness which they enjoy in consequence thereof. We ought to bless God for blessing any man, and especially for setting the seal of his approbation upon the godly. His favour towards the God fearing displays His character and encourages gracious feelings in others, therefore let Him be praised.

That delighteth greatly in His commandments. The man not only studies the divine precepts and endeavours to observe them, but rejoices to do so:

Holiness is his happiness,
Devotion is his delight,
Truth is his treasure

He rejoices in the precepts of godliness, yea, and delights greatly in them. We have known hypocrites rejoice in the doctrines, but never in the commandments. Ungodly men may in some measure obey the commandments out of fear, but only a gracious man will observe them with delight.

Cheerful obedience
is the only acceptable obedience

He who obeys reluctantly is disobedient at heart, but he who takes pleasure in the command is truly loyal. If through divine grace we find ourselves described in these two sentences, let us give all the praise to God, for He hath wrought all our works in us, and the dispositions out of which they spring. Let self righteous men praise themselves, but he who has been made righteous by grace renders all the praise to the Lord.

Ps 119:1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.

Blessed. The psalmist is so enraptured with the Word of God that he regards it as the highest ideal of blessedness to be conformed to it. He has gazed on the beauties of the perfect law, and, as if this verse were the sum and outcome of all his emotions, he exclaims,

Blessed is the man whose life is the practical transcript of the will of God.

True religion is not cold and dry; it has its exclamations and raptures. We not only judge the keeping of God’s law to be a wise and proper thing, but we are warmly enamored of its holiness, and cry out in adoring wonder, “Blessed are the undefiled!”—meaning thereby that we eagerly desire to become such ourselves, and wish for no greater happiness than to be perfectly holy.

This first verse is not only a preface to the whole psalm, but it may also be regarded as the text upon which the rest is a discourse. It is similar to the benediction of Psalm 1, which is set in the forefront of the entire book: there is a likeness between this Psalm 119 and the Psalter, and this is one point of it, that it begins with a benediction. In this, too, we see some foreshadowings of the Son of David, who began His great sermon as David (Ed: the author of Ps 119 is not stated but could be David. Some think Ezra the Scribe) began His great psalm. When we cannot bestow blessings, we can show the way of obtaining them, and even if we do not yet possess them ourselves, it may be profitable to contemplate them, that our desires may be excited, and our souls moved to seek after them.

As David thus begins his psalm, so should young men begin their lives, so should new converts commence their life of faith, so should all Christians begin every day. Holiness is happiness, and it is our wisdom first to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Mankind began with being blessed in innocence, and if our fallen race is ever to be blessed again, it must find it where it lost it at the beginning, in conformity to the command of the Lord.

Ps 119:2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies. What! A second blessing? Yes, they are doubly blessed whose outward life is supported by an inward zeal for God’s glory. In the first verse we had an undefiled way, and it was taken for granted that the purity in the way was not mere surface work, but was attended by the inward truth and life which comes of divine grace. Here that which was implied is expressed.

Blessedness is ascribed to those who treasure up the testimonies of the Lord: in which is implied that they search the Scriptures, that they come to an understanding of them, that they love them, and then that they continue in the practice of them.

We must first get a thing before we can keep it. In order to keep it well we must get a firm grip of it: we cannot keep in the heart that which we have not heartily embraced by the affections.

God’s word is His witness or testimony to grand and important truths which concern Himself and our relation to Him: this we should desire to know; knowing it, we should believe it; believing it, we should love it; and loving it, we should hold it fast against all comers.

There is a doctrinal keeping of the word when we are ready to die for its defence, and a practical keeping of it when we actually live under its power.

Revealed truth is precious as diamonds, and should be kept or treasured up in the memory and in the heart as jewels in a casket, or as the law was kept in the ark; this however is not enough, for it is meant for practical use, and therefore it must be kept or followed, as men keep to a path, or to a line of business.

If we keep God’s testimonies
They will keep us

They will keep us right in opinion, comfortable in spirit, holy in conversation, and hopeful in expectation. If they were ever worth having, and no thoughtful person will question that, then they are worth keeping; their designed effect does not come through a temporary seizure of them, but by a persevering keeping of them: “in keeping of them there is great reward.”

We are bound to keep with all care the word of God, because it is his testimonies. He gave them to us, but they are still his own. We are to keep them as a watchman guards his master’s house, as a steward husbands his lord’s goods, as a shepherd keeps his employer’s flock. We shall have to give an account, for we are put in trust with the gospel, and woe to us if we be found unfaithful. We cannot fight a good fight, nor finish our course, unless we keep the faith. To this end the Lord must keep us: only those who are kept by the power of God unto salvation will ever be able to keep his testimonies. What a blessedness is therefore evidenced and testified by a careful belief in God’s word, and a continual obedience thereunto. God has blessed them, is blessing them, and will bless them for ever. That blessedness which David saw in others he realized for himself, for in Psalms 119:168 he says, “I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies,” and in Ps 119:54-56 he traces his joyful songs and happy memories to this same keeping of the law, and he confesses, “This I had because I kept thy precepts.” Doctrines which we teach to others we should experience for ourselves.

And that seek him with the whole heart. Those who keep the Lord’s testimonies are sure to seek after Himself. If His word is precious we may be sure that He Himself is still more so. Personal dealing with a personal God is the longing of all those who have allowed the word of the Lord to have its full effect upon them. If we once really know the power of the gospel we must seek the God of the gospel.

“O that I knew where I might find HIM,”
will be our wholehearted cry.

See the growth which these sentences indicate: first, in the way, then walking in it, then finding and keeping the treasure of truth, and to crown all, seeking after the Lord of the way Himself. Note also that the further a soul advances in grace the more spiritual and divine are its longings: an outward walk does not content the gracious soul, nor even the treasured testimonies; it reaches out in due time after God Himself, and when it in a measure finds Him, still yearns for more of Him, and seeks Him still.

Seeking after God signifies a desire to commune with Him more closely, to follow Him more fully, to enter into more perfect union with His mind and will, to promote His glory, and to realize completely all that He is to holy hearts. The blessed man has God already, and for this reason he seeks him. This may seem a contradiction: it is only a paradox.

God is not truly sought by the cold researches of the brain:
We must seek him with the heart

Love reveals itself to love: God manifests His heart to the heart of His people. It is in vain that we endeavour to comprehend Him by reason; we must apprehend Him by affection. But the heart must not be divided with many objects if the Lord is to be sought by us (see Matthew 6:24note; cp one thing I do – see Philippians 3:13note). God is one, and we shall not know Him till our heart is one. A broken heart need not be distressed at this, for no heart is so whole in its seeking after God as a heart which is broken, whereof every fragment sighs and cries after the great Father’s face. It is the divided heart which the doctrine of the text censures, and strange to say, in scriptural phraseology,

a heart may be divided and not brokenand it may be broken but not dividedand yet again it may be broken and be whole, and it never can be whole until it is broken.

When our whole heart seeks the holy God in Christ Jesus it has come to Him of Whom it is written, “as many as touched Him were made perfectly whole.”

That which the Psalmist admires in this verse he claims in the tenth, where he says, “With my whole heart have I sought thee.” It is well when admiration of a virtue leads to the attainment of it. Those who do not believe in the blessedness of seeking the Lord will not be likely to arouse their hearts to the pursuit, but he who calls another blessed because of the grace which he sees in him is on the way to gaining the same grace for himself.

If those who seek the Lord are blessed, what shall be said of those who actually dwell with Him and know that He is theirs?

“To those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus — what it is,
None but His loved ones know.”

Ps 146:5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help. Heaped up is his happiness. He has happiness indeed: the true and the real delight is with him. The God of Jacob is the God of the covenant, the God of wrestling prayer, the God of the tried believer; he is the only living and true God. The God of Jacob is Jehovah, who appeared unto Moses, and led the tribes of Jacob out of Egypt, and through the wilderness. Those are happy who trust him, for they shall never be ashamed or confounded. The Lord never dies, neither do his thoughts perish: his purpose of mercy, like himself, endures throughout all generations. Hallelujah!

Whose hope is in the LORD his God. He is happy in help for the present and in hope for the future, who has placed all his confidence in Jehovah, who is his God by a covenant of salt (See Trumbull’s Covenant of Salt). Happy is he when others are despairing! Happiest shall he be in that very hour when others are discovering the depths of agony. We have here a statement which we have personally tried and proved: resting in the Lord, we know a happiness which is beyond description, beyond comparison, beyond conception. O how blessed a thing it is to know that God is our present help, and our eternal hope. Full assurance is more than heaven in the bud, the flower has begun to open. We would not exchange with Caesar; his sceptre is a bauble, but our bliss is true treasure.

In each of the two titles here given, namely, “the God of Jacob”, and “Jehovah his God”, there is a peculiar sweetness. Either one of them has a fountain of joy in it; but the first will not cheer us without the second. Unless Jehovah be his God no man can find confidence in the fact that he was Jacob’s God. But when by faith we know the Lord to be ours, then we are “rich to all the intents of bliss.”


How blessed – This phrase appears 23x in 22v in the Psalms – This makes an interesting devotional or Sunday School study – What does God say about “how blessed”? – see Ps 1:12:1232:1234:840:441:165:484:451289:15106:3112:1119:12127:5128:1137:89144:15146:5. (And for “extra credit see the remainder of the 31v that use the phrase “how blessed” 2Ki 10:82Chr 9:7Pr 3:1320:728:14Isa 30:1832:2056:2Da 12:12)


Lk 11:28 (Jesus said) Blessed (makarios) are those who hear the word of God, and observe it.

Jn 13:17 (Jesus said) If you know these things, you are blessed (makarios) if you do them.

James 1:22 (note) Prove (present imperative = as your lifestyle or regular practice) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers (akroates – like those who audit a course for non-credit!) who delude (paralogizomai = literally to reason alongside; present tense = continually in a state of spiritual delusion) themselves

1 Samuel 15:22 (Samuel to disobedient King Saul from whom the “blessing” would be removed) Has the LORD as much delight (same Hebrew word chephets as in Psalm 1:2) in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

At the outset note that the promise of blessing in Psalm 1 is not for the one who simply reads these beautiful words but who hides and heeds the words in his or her heart. As Jesus’ Words emphasize in Luke 11:28 obedience is the key to blessing in both the Old and New Testament. God desires to bless His children because they are as it were, His trophies of redemption, His re-creations in Christ, and as such He desires the lost world to see His glory through believing, obedient children. So as you read and meditate on this great psalm, ask God to open your heart to receive the Word implanted which is able to save your soul, not just the first time but every day as His Spirit takes the Word and sets us progressively more and more apart from the world and unto God. As we read and ponder these precious words let us have tender, even trembling hearts, that we might begin to experience, not just life, which all believers have in Christ, but even abundant life in Christ, the life which is blessed, blessed.

Observe in Psalm 1 we encounter two men, two ways and two destinies. This contrast is especially dramatic when one observes words penned at the beginning (blessed) and the end (perish)! Take your choice!

In verse 1 we observe the practice of the godly man, in verse 2 the passion and in verse 3 his “permanence”. This beatitude psalm describes the “be attitude” man, the one who is spiritually satisfied regardless of the circumstances!

You may have read in Spurgeon’s comments above on the blessed state in Psalm 32:1-2 (Spurgeon on v1Verse 2) where he notes that there is an association with the blessednesses in Psalm 1. And indeed there is for Psalm 32 speaks of blessings which are a result of God’s forgiveness of sins. It is on such a firm foundation of God’s imputation (reckoning, placing on one’s account) of confessing sinners as forgiven sinners (who are saints!), that makes possible the accomplishment the obedience and practical righteousness called for in Psalm 1, especially Psalm 1:1. Forgiven people are blessed people and are in the position (in Christ) to experience even greater blessednesses from our gracious, giving Lord! Amazing grace indeed that not only does He save us but that His desire is then to even blessed us over and above the blessing of salvation!

Psalm 1 contrasts the two life styles set out in the wisdom literature and reminds the readers of the choices of life or death, of blessing or curse (cf. Deut 30:11-20).

Steele (1674) speaks of the value of the different components of the OT wisdom literature noting that…

He that would be wise, let him read the Proverbs
He that would be holy, let him read the Psalms.

Spurgeon offer this overview of Psalm 1…

This Psalm may be regarded as the preface psalm, having in it a notification of the contents of the entire Book. It is the psalmists’ desire to teach us the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction of sinners. This, then, is the matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in some respects, as the text upon which the whole of the Psalms make up a divine sermon. This Psalm consists of two parts: in the first (Psalms 1:1-3) David (Ed: the author is actually not stated) sets out wherein the felicity and blessedness of a godly man consist, what his exercises are, and what blessings he shall receive from the Lord. In the second part (Psalms 1:4-6) he contrasts the state and character of the ungodly, reveals the future, and describes, in telling language, his ultimate doom.

Warren Wiersbe rightly states that…

Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.


Blessed (0835) (‘esher/’eser related to the verb ‘ashar = to go or be straight, to go on, to advance, to be right) and always refers to people but never to God. Vine writes that “Basically, this word connotes the state of “prosperity” or “happiness” that comes when a superior bestows his favor (blessing) on one. In most passages, the one bestowing favor is God Himself = Dt. 33:29. The state that the blessed one enjoys does not always appear to be “happy” = (Job 5:17-18). Eliphaz was not describing Job’s condition as a happy one; it was “blessed,” however, inasmuch as God was concerned about him. Because it was a blessed state and the outcome would be good, Job was expected to laugh at his adversity (Job 5:22). God is not always the one who makes one “blessed.” = 1Ki 10:8.”

Esher speaks of the inner contentment in the life of the man or woman who is right or “straight” with God. The man who practices righteousness will be a blessed man. ‘Esher describes “a person’s state of bliss (Ed: Webster = complete happiness. yjr highest degree of happiness; especially heavenly joys)” (Baker)

In Psalm 1:1, the Hebrew literally reads “blessed, blessed”, the Hebraic way of indicating superfluity, a truth that we might attempt to translate as “blessednesses”. The word blessed (‘esher) conveys a deep sense of well-being.

‘Esher – 42 OT uses (See notes above for more exposition of some of the Psalms that use ‘esher) – Deut. 33:291 Ki. 10:82 Chr. 9:7Job 5:17Ps. 1:12:1232:1f33:1234:840:441:165:484:4f1289:1594:12106:3112:1119:1f127:5128:1f137:8f144:15146:5Pr. 3:138:323414:2116:2020:728:1429:18Eccl. 10:17Isa. 30:1832:2056:2Dan. 12:12NAS Usage: blessed(41), happy(4).

One person has written “The word happy is a good rendition of blessed (‘esher), provided one keeps in mind that the condition of “bliss” is not merely a feeling. Even when the righteous do not feel happy, they are still considered “blessed” from God’s perspective. He bestows this gift on them. Neither negative feelings nor adverse conditions can take his blessing away.”

A number of the translations render ‘esher with the English word “happy“, but I prefer the word blessed. In modern use happy speaks more of a feeling. And in general feelings depend on our circumstances or on what happens! I’m happy if what happens is good. I’m not happy if what happens is bad. However that is not the promise of Psalm 1, which speaks more of one’s state or condition rather than one’s feeling. To be sure, the blessed person can certainly feel happy. The distinction is that when the blessed person of Psalm 1 encounters adverse circumstances, he or she still experiences a state or condition of blessedness. In other words, as the Psalmist promises, the blessed man of Psalm 1 will be like a tree firmly planted, sturdy, and steady and not like a tumble weed tossed about by every wind of circumstance. It is as if the blessed person has an inner strength, a supernatural source of strength, a state of blessedness regardless of the circumstances that one encounters.

As Spurgeon so eloquently expresses blessed in the plural “Oh, the blessednesses! The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight!”

John Piper adds that the Hebrew word ‘esher “means happy in the rich, full sense of happiness rooted in moral and mental and physical well being.”

The other Hebrew word for bless is the verb barak which is the verb used of man blessing God and of God blessing man. In contrast, the verb ‘ashar used only of God blessing man. Thus it is fitting that in Psalm 1:1, the noun chosen is ‘esher, speaking of the blessing from the Most High God to mankind.

In the Septuagint (Lxx), the Greek word for blessed is makarios (see word study) and can be summed up as describing the man who is fully satisfied (especially in the spiritual sense), independent of or regardless of circumstances. And so even though the winds and waves of affliction, testing and trial come against the “blessed man” (or “blessed woman”), fortified by the grace from Jehovah, he remains strongstedfast and satisfied in the Lord. The blessed man knows that he is safe in “the Ark” of Jehovah, the One Who declares I Am… I Am anything and everything you will ever need (not want but need! cp Php 4:19Ps 23:1Ps 84:11Mt 6:33Lk 12:303132Ro 8:322Co 9:8He 13:56 2Sa 22:7 Da 3:286:22 Ps116:4– ; Ps 120:1)

Adam Clarke – The word ashrey, which we translate blessed, is properly in the plural form, blessednesses; or may be considered as an exclamation produced by contemplating the state of the man who has taken God for his portion; O the blessedness of the man! And the word haish, is emphatic: THAT man; that one among a thousand who lives for the accomplishment of the end for which God created him. 1. God made man for happiness. 2. Every man feels a desire to be happy. 3. All human beings abhor misery. 4. Happiness is the grand object of pursuit among all men. 5. But so perverted is the human heart, that it seeks happiness where it cannot be found; and in things which are naturally and morally unfit to communicate it. 6. The true way of obtaining it is here laid down.

In context, the psalmist expands the meaning of blessed in Psalm 1, explaining in picture language that the blessed man is like a tree by water, a striking image in an arid land where water is sparse and greatly valued. And thus planted by the precious water (and not a stagnant pool but a stream of flowing water!). And too the blessing is pictured as like a tree that is fruitful in season with an unwithering leaf. And such a one prospers in all he does. He is blessed indeed! And finally the psalmist goes on to explain the greatest blessing of all, the blessing of being known by Jehovah and the privilege of standing in the assembly of the righteous of all the ages. The blessed man is stabilized in the storms by these truths regarding his present and his future.

Martin Luther comments that “”blessed” is a plural noun, ashrey (blessednesses), that is, all blessednesses are the portion of that man who has not gone away, etc.; as though it were said, “All things are well with that man who,” etc. Why do you hold any dispute? Why draw vain conclusions? If a man has found that pearl of great price, to love the law of God and to be separate from the ungodly, all blessednesses belong to that man; but, if he does not find this jewel, he will seek for all blessednesses but will never find one!”



Those that trust in Him are blessed; and I would observe, first, that they are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing; it is a real blessedness which belongs to those who trust in God: a blessedness that will stand the test of consideration, the test of life, and the trial of death; a blessedness into which we cannot plunge too deeply, for none of it is a dream, but all a reality. Again, those that trust in Him have not only a real blessedness, but they oftentimes have a conscious blessedness. They know what it is to be blest in their troubles, for they are in their trials comforted, and they are blest in their joys, for their joys are sanctified. They are blest and they know it, they sing about it and they rejoice in it. It is their joy to know that God’s blessing is come to them not in word only but in very deed. They are blessed men and blessed women.

“They would not change their blest estate
For all the world calls good and great.”

Then, further, they are not only really blessed, and consciously blessed, but they are increasingly blessed. Their blessedness grows. They do not go downhill, as the wicked do, from bright hope to black despair. They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly light streams on their eyeballs; they are blessed when their eyes are opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ; they are blessed the more their experience widens, and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in the hour of death, and, best of all, their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness,—the perfection of the saints at the right hand of God. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”

John Trapp – The psalmist saith more to the point about true happiness in this short Psalm than any one of the philosophers, or all of them put together; they did but beat the bush, God hath here put the bird into our hand.

Richard Baker – Where the word blessed is hung out as a sign, we may be sure that we shall find a godly man within.

Ray Pritchard – In biblical terms to be blessed means to be rightly related to God so that your life is fulfilled and you experience deep personal satisfaction. It’s important to know that this sort of happiness is not related to our circumstances. And it doesn’t come simply by seeking for it. You find happiness not by seeking it but by doing certain things (and not doing other things). The blessing comes as a side benefit of the choices we make. A wise man said that happiness is like a cat. Seek it and it will run from you. But go about your business steadily day by day and soon it comes and curls up at your feet. How true. The most miserable people on New Year’s Eve are those who seek happiness by hopping from one party to another and from one bar to another. True happiness and lasting contentment simply cannot be found that way. (Psalm 1: Trees Planted by the Water)


God delights to bless His children, but we must be “blessable.” We must have discernment (discerning good and evil) which works itself out in avoiding the steps that lead to sin — considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch your first step if you want to be blessed!

Spurgeon calls us to observe “how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, even as did the famous Sermon of our Lord upon the Mount! (see notes beginning with Matthew 5:3) The word translated blessed is a very expressive one. The original word is plural, and it is a controverted matter whether it is an adjective or a substantive. Hence we may learn the multiplicity of the blessings which shall rest upon the man whom God hath justified, and the perfection and greatness of the blessedness he shall enjoy. We might read it, “Oh, the blessednesses!” and we may well regard it (as Ainsworth does) as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man’s felicity. May the like benediction rest on us!

And so this “Beatitude Psalm” opens with a blessing for the reader who heeds the truths therein, but closes with a “curse” (perish) for those who fail to heed these truths. Please do not misunderstand. All men in both the Old and New Testaments are saved by grace through faith in the Messiah, so the psalmist is not teaching salvation by works. But he is teaching blessing by obedience. In other words to hear and not to heed is to deceive one’s self and to miss God’s blessing. James warned his readers “prove (present imperative) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers who delude (see paralogizomai) themselves. (James 1:22note)

The Greek word for hearers in James 1:22 is akroates which was used to describe one who sat passively and listened to a singer or speaker. This is a description applicable to one who audits a college course, but not for credit, with the result that little effort (usually) is expended on the course material. Such hearers or auditors of college courses are not held accountable for what they hear, which is where the analogy breaks down, for all who read Psalm 1 will be held accountable for the profound, eternal truths it lays out in straightforward fashion.

John MacArthur – Tragically, most churches have many “auditors,” members who willingly expose themselves to the teaching and preaching of the Word but have no desire for that knowledge to alter their day-by-day lives. They take advantage of the privilege of hearing God’s Word but have no desire for obeying it. When followed consistently, that attitude gives evidence that they are not Christians at all, but only pretenders. Such people, who are merely hearers and not also doers, think they belong to God, when, in reality, they do not. Proclaiming and interpreting God’s Word are never ends in themselves but are means to an end, namely, the genuine acceptance of divine truth for what it is and the faithful application of it.

Alexander Maclaren – Its theme, the blessedness of keeping the law, is enforced by the juxtaposition of two sharply contrasted pictures, one in bright light, another in deep shadow, and each heightening the other. Ebal and Gerizim face one another.

Wiersbe emphasizes that “First, we must be separated from the world (Ps 1:1). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He (Ed: Describes Peter – and note what resulted = denial of Jesus – Lk 22:56-58. Sin is valuing anything as more glorious than Jesus!) is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees (Ed: Illustration = frog in the kettle, slowly increasing the cooking temperature!). We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world (contrast James 1:27); we love the world (1Jn 2:15-17James 4:4), become conformed to it (Ro 12:2) and end up condemned with it. Lot is an example of someone who became worldly. He looked toward Sodom, pitched his tent toward Sodom, lived there, lost everything and ended in sin (Ed: But he was a believer so he was not condemned (Ro 8:1) but he surely did suffer loss of reward (1Cor 3:10-15). When we seek earthly rewards, we often forfeit heavenly, eternal rewards! Mt 6:19-21 Be careful how you walk! Eph 5:15, cp 2Peter 2:6-9).

Lot was righteous and thus saved but he missed the blessing of Psalm 1 because he failed to be separated and instead “assimilated” with the world! Dear believer, could it be that we are missing the blessing of Psalm 1 because we are not willing to separate from the world and/or the passing pleasures of sin?


A. The Successful believer is separated in his walk of life.

1. He doesn’t Believe like the wicked – (Ill. He doesn’t listen to their counsel and invitations to evil) His hearing is turned a little higher!

2. He doesn’t Behave like the wicked – 2 Cor. 5:17 – (Ill. The old man has been put forever away!)

3. He doesn’t Belong with the wicked – 2 Cor. 6:17 0 (Ill. He feels out of place when surrounded by the devil’s crowd.

B. Ill. The downward progress – Walk, Stand, Sit. (Ill. This is the path Lot took – Gen. 19. It eventually led to his total downfall!)

C. The successful believer realizes that there is a vast difference between himself and the world he was saved out of, and he lives accordingly! (Sermons and Outlines)


Does not walk (01980)(halak) is a common OT verb (1340 verses) which literally denotes physical locomotion meaning to go (426x), going (30x), goes (22x), walk (142x), act (5x), came (13x), come (82x), depart(14x), departed (55x), went (309x), flow(6x), led (14x), march (4)x, travel (3x). The basic idea of halak is that of movement of something – flowing of a river = Ge. 2:14, descending flood = Ge 8:3, crawling beasts = Lev 11:27, slithering snake = Lev 11:42, blowing wind = Eccl 1:6, tossing sea = Jonah 1:13.

Halak is often used (as in Psalm 1:1) as a metaphor to picture one’s behavior or conduct. How one walks (eg, walking in sins 2Ki 13:11, follow the example – 2Chr 17:3) is how one lives his or her life (1Sa 8:3Dt 28:9).

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. (give me an undivided heart is the idea, cp Mt 6:24James 1:6-7) (Ps 86:11)

The first use of halak is actually to describe the motion of a river (Ge 2:14), but the second use describes God walking in the Garden after Sin came into the world (Ge 3:8). The third use describes the curse to the Serpent (Satan) = “on your belly you will go (halak) and dust you will eat all the days of your life.” (Ge 3:14). In the next use (Ge 5:22) we see halak with its metaphorical meaning (as it is used here in Psalm 1), where is speaks of one’s conduct. For example, the phrase walking with or before God speaks of a close relationship to God (e.g., this positive use describes such men as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, David, all of whom were pleasing to God and all of whom experienced the blessednesses of Jehovah. Cp Ge 5:22246:917:124:4048:15, Ps, 26:3, 56:13, 116:9 )

Vine – God is said to “walk” or “go in three senses. First, there are certain cases where He assumed some kind of physical form. For example, Adam and Eve heard the sound of God “walking” to and fro in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). He “walks” on the clouds (Ps. 104:3) or in the heavens (Job 22:14); these are probably anthropomorphisms (God is spoken of as if He had bodily parts). Even more often God is said to accompany His people (Ex. 33:14), to go to redeem (deliver) them from Egypt (2Sa 7:23), and to come to save them (Ps. 80:2). The idea of God’s “going” (“walking”) before His people in the pillars of fire and cloud (Ex. 13:21) leads to the idea that His people must “walk” behind Him (Dt. 13:5). Quite often the people are said to have “walked” or to be warned against “walking behind” foreign gods (Dt. 4:3). Thus, the rather concrete idea of following God through the wilderness moves to “walking behind” Him spiritually. Some scholars suggest that “walking behind” pagan gods (or even the true God) arose from the pagan worship where the god was carried before the people as they entered the sanctuary. Men may also “walk…after the imagination of their evil heart,” or act stubbornly (Jer. 3:17). The pious followed or practiced God’s commands; they “walked” in righteousness (Isa. 33:15), in humility (Mic. 6:8), and in integrity (Ps. 15:2). They also “walk with God” (Ge 5:22), and they live in His presence, and “walk before” Him (Gen. 17:1), in the sense of living responsibly before Him. (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words)

In Hebrew the verb walk is in qal perfect where perfect depicts one’s walk or conduct as a whole, without necessarily any reflection on the duration of that conduct. The perfect can also speak of behavior that was started in the past and has continued into the present or which is started in the present and continues into the future. The point is “Don’t take the first step into the seductive cesspool of the world’s wisdom”! James paints a striking contrast between the world’s counsel (wisdom) and godly counsel (wisdom)…

This wisdom (worldly) is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:15-18)

To be a blessed person means that on one hand we do not do something and the other hand we do something. And so these wise words teach us how little by little we can step out of the place of blessedness and into the place of misery and cursing with devastating consequences. This first step begins when we begin to listen to and agree with the worldview of the wicked. Are believers at risk? Indeed, they are at great risk of taking this first misstep.

Solomon in the so called wisdom literature repeatedly warns against wrong associations…

Pr 1:15 My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path,

Pr 4:14-15 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it. Turn away from it and pass on. (Read that verse again – count the admonitions! Those of us who are older know full well why such repeated warnings are necessary!)

Pr 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Dwight Edwards gives the following suggestions to help us chose our traveling companions in our life journey…

Is this person’s goal in life holiness or just happiness? Are they living for the things that will count for eternity, or for the decaying delicacies of this fading world? How serious is this person’s commitment to the cause of Christ? Many believers give mental assent to the goal of Christ-likeness, but relatively few pursue it with a burning passion. The purpose of true fellowship is to “stimulate (lit. “create a fever for”) one another to love and good works” (see Hebrews 10:24noteHeb 10:24note); not to huddle around worldly topics with other believers, under the guise of “Christian fellowship.” One of the most moving illustrations of godly companionship is found in the relationship cultivated between David and Jonathan. Perhaps the best summation of their relationship is found in 1Samuel 23:16, “So Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods, and strengthened his hand in God.” Who do we have to help us “strengthen our hand in God”? To whom do we do the same? (2 Timothy Call to Completion)


First note God’s assessment of Lot in 2 Peter…

He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds) (See notes 2 Peter 2:72:8)

What’s the “key word” in these passages? Clearly it is the word righteous. Peter is emphasizing that Lot was an authentic believer, one who genuinely believed in the Messiah (as much as was revealed of His Person and work at the time). Had Peter not recorded this truth we would have all seriously questioned his salvation (and thus the repetition of the description righteous). As an aside one of the best OT passages (one used by Paul also in Romans 4:3,9) that explains how Lot was saved is the description of Uncle Abraham’s salvation, Moses recording that…

Then (see when or what “then” refers to by reading the preceding context –Genesis 15:12345) he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it (imputed it – placed it on his “spiritual” bank account) to him as righteousness. (Ge 15:6)

With this background read Moses’ description of Lot in Genesis 13, keeping in mind the conditions of Psalm 1:1 which are to be fulfilled in order to experience blessing from the LORD…

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere — this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah — like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled (Hebrew = yashab = to sit, a word that emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. Lot had settled down in Sodom) in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. (Ge 13:10-12)

Ge 13:10 – Lot Looks

Ge 13:11 – Lot Chooses

Ge 13:12 – Lot Sits

Lot looked toward Sodom, then choose to go to Sodom, and finally settled in Sodom. Notice the parallel with Psalm 1:1 where the blessed man is careful about where he walksstands, or sits. Needless to say Lot was the example to be avoided, the epitome of the righteous man who fails to enjoy the blessing of the Lord. In fact far from being blessed, Lot ended greatly vexed (2Pe 2:7note) and tormented (see 2 Peter 2:8note). Look out! Yes, as Jesus said “Remember Lot’s wife” (Lu 17:32 – her disobedience was a reflection of her unbelief), but also remember Lot’s choice! Lot choose to enter Sodom, and eventually enough of Sodom entered him that he even found it difficult to depart from the wicked…sinners…scoffers so that the angels had to physically extract him from Sodom! Lot though a genuine believer (righteous) was hardly a blessed man! Sadly there is a lot of Lot in a lot of believers today for they like Lot are choosing to walk in the counsel of the wicked (Sodom) when they could be basking in blessing upon blessing from Jehovah, the great I Am (I Am whatever you need, not whatever you want).

Does not walk – Does not go along with.

Pr 1:10 “If sinners entice you, do not give in to them.”

Ps 119:115 Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God.

Counsel of the wicked – (Ps 64:2Ge 49:62Ch 22:3Job 10:321:16Lk 23:51)

Counsel (06098) (esah) means counsel (52x), advice (11x), viewpoint or way of thinking, as when one thinks about a course of action (often including consultation with an advisor). It is a state of mind that affects the decisions that we make. Esah speaks of God’s counsel (the best but not always followed) in Ps 73:24106:13107:11119:24Pr 1:25308:14

Counsel is advice; opinion, or instruction, given upon request or otherwise, for directing the judgment or conduct of another; opinion given upon deliberation or consultation. It is the act of telling someone what they should do based on a plan or scheme (2Sa 15:34)

Advice is an opinion recommended, or offered, as worthy to be followed.

Psalm 1:1 instructs us to not listen to their advice especially in the moral/ethical realm, telling you how you should conduct your life. The first way to avoid evil is to refuse to be influenced by the ungodly.

WHO influences you? Are you letting the world’s way of thinking influence you?

NAS Usage: advice(11), consultation(2), counsel (52), counselor*(1), counselors*(1), counsels(1), designs(1), plan(8), plans(2), purpose(6), scheme(1), schemes(1), strategy(1).

Esah – 85v –

Dt 32:28Jdg 20:72Sa 15:313416:202317:714231Kgs 1:1212:813f2Kgs 18:201Chr 12:192Chr 10:813f22:525:16Ezra 4:510:38Neh 4:15Job 5:1310:312:1318:721:1622:1829:2138:242:3Ps 1:113:214:620:433:10f73:24106:1343107:11119:24Pr 1:25308:1412:1519:20f20:51821:3027:9Isa 5:198:1011:214:2616:319:3111725:128:2929:1530:136:540:1344:2646:10f47:13Jer 18:182319:732:1949:7203050:45Ezek 7:2611:2Hos 10:6Mic 4:12Zech 6:13

Wicked (07563)(rasha’) is an adjective meaning unrighteous, unjust, an evil person, wrong wicked, guilty (legally not innocent of a violation of the law – Ex 23:1Ps 109:7), in the wrong, criminal, transgressor. Rasha‘ often describes unbelievers, who hate God and are habitually hostile toward Him. The wicked/ungodly conduct their lives as if God does not exist and with no regard for Him. Rasha‘ describes someone as evil with a focus on their being guilty or in the wrong (2Sa 4:11). Rasha‘ is the opposite of righteous (06662).

Rasha‘ is found 249 times translated evil(1), evil man(1), evil men(1), guilty(3), man(1), offender(1), ungodly(1), wicked(228), wicked man(21), wicked men(2), wicked one(1), wicked ones(3).

The majority of the uses of Rasha‘ occur in the Psalms (4x in Psalm 1) and Proverbs (see below), which would make an interesting study, which would give you a “descriptive” definition of one who is wicked or what characterizes their behavior (this would help us avoid such people!)

Vine writes that “Rasha‘ generally connotes a turbulence and restlessness (cf. Isa. 57:21) or something disjointed or ill-regulated. Thus Robert B. Girdlestone suggests that it refers to the tossing and confusion in which the wicked live, and to the perpetual agitation they came to others.”

The Greek translates rasha‘ in Psalm 1:1 with asebes which means ungodly (765) (asebes from a = w/o + sébomai = worship, venerate) and describes one who expresses a lack of interest in the things of God and a behavior and lifestyle consistent with such an irreverent attitude. Click in depth study of the related word ungodliness (asebeia). Ungodly pertains to violating norms for a proper relation to deity, and in short means irreverent (lacking proper respect of God) or impious.

Rasha’ – 249v –

Ge 18:2325Ex 2:139:2723:17Nu 16:2635:31Dt 25:1f1Sa 2:924:132Sa 4:111Kgs 8:322Chr 6:2319:2Job 3:178:229:222410:311:2015:2016:1118:520:52921:716f2822:1824:627:71334:182636:61738:131540:12Psalm 1:14563:77:99:516f10:2ff131511:25f12:817:91326:528:331:1732:1034:2136:11137:10121416f20f283234f384039:150:1655:358:31068:271:473:31275:481082:2491:892:794:31397:10101:8104:35106:18109:26f112:10119:536195110119155129:4139:19140:48141:10145:20146:9147:6Pr 2:223:25334:14195:229:710:36f11162024f27f303211:57f10f18233112:5ff1012212613:59172514:11193215:68f28f16:417:152318:3519:2820:2621:47101218272924:15f19f2425:52628:1412152829:27121627Eccl 3:177:158:1013f9:2Isa 3:115:2311:413:1114:526:1048:2253:955:757:20fJer 5:2612:123:1925:3130:23Ezek 3:18f7:2113:2218:20f23f2721:3f252933:8f11f14f19Dan 12:10Mic 6:10Hab 1:4133:13Zeph 1:3Mal 3:184:3

Guzik – The righteous man knows where to find completely godly counsel: Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors. (Psalm 119:24) (See Spurgeon’s note) God’s Word is always the best counselor, and godly counselors will always bring the truth of God’s Word to help someone who wants counseling.

William Heslop – “Walketh, standeth, sitteth,” reveals a growth in evil just as “ungodly, sinners, and scornful,” shows a fearful downward trend.

From thinking like the world we begin to act like the world.

The righteous (by grace through faith as was Abraham in Genesis 15:6) are to be in the world but not of the world. This subtle but critical distinction can be illustrated by considering a submarine which functions in the water but not of the water. If it is on the ground (out of the water) it is of no purpose and it is unable to fulfill its purpose. But when it is in the water it must be insulated (not isolated) from the water. If the water gets into the submarine then there is cause for alarm and emergency. The godly man who seeks God’s blessing must first be sure that his life choices are such that while not isolated from the world, he remains insulated from its seductive, destructive, evil influences, beginning with its evil counsel or advice.

Gill – “not to walk” herein is not to hearken to their counsel, to give into it, agree with it, pursue it, and act according to it; and happy is the man, who, though he may fall in the way of it, and may have bad counsel given him by ungodly men, yet does not consent to it, take it, and act upon it.

Pastor Steven Cole offers five guidelines for discerning the counsel of the wicked versus the wisdom of God…

(1) The counsel of the wicked denies the sufficiency of Scripture for dealing with the problems of the soul. The Bible claims to be adequate to equip the believer for every good work (see 2Ti 3:16note2Ti 3:17note) and to produce in us true happiness by dealing with the problems of the soul (Psalm 1). It provides answers for problems of guilt, anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, and relational conflicts. “Christian” psychology brings the world’s wisdom to bear on these problems, thus implying that the Bible is not sufficient and often stating “solutions” opposed to what the Bible prescribes.

(2) The counsel of the wicked exalts the pride of man and takes away from the glory of God. The Bible humbles the pride of man and exalts the glory of God (Isaiah 42:81Cor 1:31). The world’s wisdom builds the self and minimizes the need for absolute trust in God, whether for salvation or for daily living.

(3) The counsel of the wicked denies or minimizes the need for the cross of Christ by asserting either the basic goodness of man or by downplaying the extent and impact of the fall. The Bible teaches that we are all utterly wicked and self-seeking. None of us could or would seek God if left to ourselves (see notes Romans 3:10-18). The cross humbles human pride and wisdom and exalts Christ alone (1Cor 1:18192021222324252627282930312:12345).

(4) The counsel of the wicked denies God’s moral absolutes and substitutes relative human “goodness.” God is absolutely righteous and His standards of holiness as revealed in His Word are absolute (see 1Peter 1:16note). Worldly wisdom rationalizes away God’s absolutes as being too “idealistic” or “harsh” and substitutes some human standard, such as “love.” In other words, human wisdom makes a god in its own likeness, rather than submitting to the true God.

(5) The counsel of the wicked focuses on pleasing self rather than on pleasing God and others. The world’s wisdom does not promote self-denial and love for God and others as of first importance (Mark 8:3412:293031). Often the world’s wisdom provides “help” for a person (relief from the symptoms of his problem) without leading him to confess sin, depend on God, and live in obedience to God. The world’s wisdom counsels you to live first of all for yourself. In “Christian” form, it tells you that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love God and others. (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )

From Grace Gems

BEWARE OF THE COMPANY OF THE UNGODLY. Of course, I would not dissuade you from necessary dealings with the ungodly, nor from helping them, and certainly not from endeavoring to draw them to God when you have opportunity. It is the unnecessary fellowship with the ungodly from which I would dissuade you. Chiefly to be avoided are the profane, the swearer, the drunkard, and the enemies of godliness. But they are not the only ones who will prove harmful companions to us. Too frequent fellowship with people whose conversation is empty, will also divert our thoughts from heaven. We need all the help we can get in living the heavenly life on earth.

A stone is as fit to rise and fly in the air, as our hearts are by nature to move towards heaven. You need not hinder the rocks from flying up to the sky. It is sufficient that you do not help them. Just as surely, if our spirits have not great assistance, they may easily be kept from soaring upwards even without great hindrances.

Consider this in the choice of your company. What help will it be to your spiritual life to hear about the weather or the latest news? This is the conversation of earthlings. How will it help to raise your heart to God, to hear about an excellent book, or an able minister, or of some petty controversy? This is mainly the best conversation you are likely to hear from the formal, dead-hearted church member. Can you have your hearts in heaven while among your roaring companions in a bar, or when you work with those whose common language is profanity, filthiness, foolishness, and dirty jokes? No, the plain fact is, fellowship will be a part of our happiness in heaven; and it is now either a help or hindrance in living a heavenly life on earth. (Grace Gems)


Paul gives believers a similar warning in the NT…

Do not be deceived (present imperative + negative = command to stop being led astray): “Bad company corrupts (Note that use of the Present tense = continually! The verb phtheiro means to cause good morals to “decay,” to “waste away”) good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33)

Comment: Stop believing their falsehoods such as “you only go around once, grab all the gusto you can get!!!” – lies such as this will lead to rottenness in one’s life.

Stand (05975in the path (01870)- This means to avoid being in the places where sinners congregate to do their thing. If you are serious about keeping yourself morally/ethically pure and holy, don’t put yourself in a path that will surely bring temptation.

Sinners (02400) (chatta’/hatta’) is an archery term which meant “to fall short, miss the mark.” (cp Judges 20:16note).The mark is the will and plan of God as revealed in Scripture. Sin is the transgression of His will as He has revealed it. Sin is whatever misses the will of God for man doctrinally or morally. We are all sinners. We all miss the mark, and none of us are perfect nor will we ever be perfect in this life. This is why Christ had to die for our sin so we might have His righteousness.

David Guzik – Sinners have a path where they stand, and the righteous man knows he does not belong on that pathPath speaks of a way, a road, a direction, and the righteous man is not traveling in the same direction as sinners. The righteous man is not afraid to take a less-traveled road, because he knows it leads to blessing, happiness, and eternal life. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” (see Matthew 7:13note) The righteous can have the confidence of Psalm 16:11: You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (See Spurgeon’s note). God has a path, and it is a good road to take.

Steven Cole – The path of sinners refers to their way of life or behavior. To stand in the path of sinners means involvement with sinners in their sinful behavior. The word “sinners” comes from a Hebrew word meaning to miss the mark. It refers to deviating from the standard of God as revealed in His Word… If we run with worldly people in their godless way of life, we will be wrongly influenced by them. That is why a new Christian needs to cut off close relationships with many former friends: They will draw you back into the old way of life. You may not think so, but, “Do not be deceived”! On the other hand, we are not supposed to cut ourselves off completely from sinners (unless they make claim of being Christians). Otherwise, you would have to go out of the world (1Cor. 5:91011). Rather, your objective changes. Whereas before you associated with sinners as one of them to join in their evil deeds, now you associate with them as a sinner saved by grace to seek to bring them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. (Psalm 1- How To Live Happily Ever After)

Observe the progression in which patterns are forming and becoming entrenched. In other words we begin the downgrade by listening to the world’s wisdom especially in the moral/ethical sphere (“It’s okay to sleep together if you are engaged and soon to be married.” = “counsel of the wicked”!). And from listening to their counsel we begin to think like the world and soon we act like the world, because what a man believes will always determine how he behaves. Sin’s natural direction spiritually speaking is a sequential, seductive, downward drag. Words like regression, deterioration, degeneration, destruction come to mind. The writer of Hebrews warned that we should…

encourage (present imperative = command to make this your habit – Why? we are in continual need for we are bombarded by discouraging circumstances and news of this fallen world) one another (which implies [1] we need each other and [2] we need to be in contact, i.e., fellowship daily! No “lone ranger” Christians if you want to stay encouraged and be an encourager!) day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness (see study of apate) of sin. (see note Hebrews 3:13) (Sin is deceitful [Latin = decipio = to take aside, to ensnare] – cunning, stealthy, misleading, untruthful, beguiling, cheating, counterfeit, deceptive, dishonest, disingenuous, ensnaring, trickish, duplicitous, illusory, deliberately causing one to believe something that is not true, deliberately misrepresentative) See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin

So the effect of sin is to bring about a gradual “build up of plaque” (using a medical analogy) producing spiritual “arteriosclerosis” or hardening of one’s heart and this can happen to believers, especially to those believers who think “That could never happen to me!” (“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed [present imperative = command for continual vigilance against pride for we are continually vulnerable to its subtle nature] lest he fall.” 1Cor 10:12) As an aside, an instructive “warning” study are several of the Biblical examples of overconfidence – Haman in Esther 3-5, Sennacherib and the angel of the Lord in Isaiah 37:363738; Peter in Luke 22:3334545556575859606162, the churches at Sardis, Laodicea — Revelation 3:13:23:33:17 see notes Revelation 3:13:23:33:17.


Sit (03427) (yashab) has sense of to sit, dwell, remain, abide and emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. One has settled down and is comfortable and content with the world with its patterns. In the present context this verb pictures the idea of becoming comfortable with sin and of progression from casual influence of ungodly people to collusion with them in their scorn.

In Numbers we see an instructive use of yashab, Moses recording the tragic story of Israel…

While Israel remained (yashab) at Shittim (the last stop before Israel crossed the Jordan) the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel. (Numbers 25:1-3)

Comment: Sit (Yashab) here in Numbers 25 is not the same word as ‘camp‘ which is what they should have been doing! See Nu 35:19 where camped (chanah) means to pitch a tent, which is quiet a different action than from abiding or tarrying in the seat of scoffers (Idol worshipers in this case) and they forfeited the blessednesses of Jehovah! (Read the full story in Numbers 25)

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote over 1000 years later…

Now these things (referring to Numbers 25) happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved…11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Seat (04186) (moshab from yashab = to sit, remain, dwell) means a seat (1Sa 20:1825), assembly, dwelling place, dwelling (a settlement, a place to live – Ge 10:30), dwellers, a site, a session; an abode (the place or the time). The idea is not only ‘seat’ or ‘place of sitting down’ but also ‘session’ or ‘assembly.’” Zion is called the dwelling place of Yahweh (Ps 132:13). houses are sometimes called dwellings (Lev 25:29Exo 12:20) and the people in them were called inhabitants, or dwellers (2Sa 9:12). In sum, moshab means a place where a thing (in this case a person) is settled or established.

NAS Usage – Usage: dwelling(3), dwelling place(1), dwelling places(5), dwellings(9), habitation(1), habitations(2), inhabited(3), inhabited places(1), lived(1), seat(8), seating(2), settlement(1), settlements(3), situation(1), time(1), where they lived(1), where you are to live(1).

Moshab – 43v – Ge 10:3027:3936:43Ex 10:2312:204035:3Lev 3:177:2613:4623:31417213125:29Nu 15:224:2131:1035:291Sa 20:18252Sa 9:121Kgs 10:52Kgs 2:191Chr 4:336:547:282Chr 9:4Job 29:7Ps 1:1107:473236132:13Ezek 6:6148:328:234:1337:2348:15

Scoffers (03887) (lis/luwts) means to mock, to deride, to speak in a scornfully derisive or to boast so as to express utter contempt. The activity of the scornful is condemned as an abomination to people. The scoffer is one who shows contempt by mocking, sneering, or scorning. This verb frequently means to deride or boast in such a way as to express contempt (Pr. 9:7813:120:1). “By extension the word is used to signify ambassadors (2Chr 32:31);, interpreters (Ge 42:23); and spokesmen (Isa 43:27).” (Baker) “To talk big, i.e., speak words which show no respect for the object, and make fun of the object, with a possible focus of speaking in the situation with confidence and authority.” (Swanson)

Walter Kaiser – Fools scorn and mock at sin (Pr 14:9) and judgment (Pr 19:28). The scorner (Qal participial form) himself may be described as proud and haughty (Pr 21:24), incorrigible (Pr 9:7), resistant to all reproof (Pr 9:815:12), and hating any rebuke (Pr 13:1). Wisdom and knowledge easily elude him (Pr 14:6). So despicable is the scorner that he may be labelled as odious to all men (Pr 24:9). Therefore he must be avoided (Ps 1:1) by all who would live godly lives. Further, he should be punished by hitting so that the easily pursuaded naive fool may benefit from the lesson (Pr 19:2521:11). One good way to remove contention from a group is to eject the scorner, and then “strife and reproach will cease” (Pr 22:10). A prepared judgment awaits all such scorners (Pr 19:29), for their trademark of life has been “to delight” in their scorning (Pr 1:22). They shall be brought to nothing and consumed (Isa 29:20). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)

Scoff = To treat with insolent ridicule, mockery or contumelious language; to manifest contempt by derision; with at. To scoff at religion and sacred things is evidence of extreme weakness and folly, as well as of wickedness. To show contempt by derisive acts or language; stresses insolence, disrespect, or incredulity as motivating the derision

Scorn = open dislike and disrespect or derision often mixed with indignation; reject or dismiss as contemptible or unworthy; show disdain or derision; to regard as unworthy of one’s notice or consideration & implies a ready or indignant contempt.

Lis/luwts– 26 v – Usage: carry on as scoffers(1), deride(1), envoys(1), interpreter(1), makes a mockery(1), mediator(1), mock(1), mocker(1), scoff(1), scoffer(10), scoffers(5), scoffs at the scoffers(1), scorner(1), spokesmen(1). Below are some representative uses…

Ge 42:232Chr 32:31Job 16:2033:23 (lis/luwts = intercessor, mediator, i.e., one who helps parties to come to an agreement); Ps 1:1Ps 119:51Pr 1:223:34Pr 9:7,81213:114:6915:1219:2528f20:121:112422:1024:9Isa 28:2229:2043:27

Ge 42:23 They did not know, however, that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between them.

2Chr 32:31 And even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

Comment: envoy, spokesman, go-between, i.e., a person who relates messages between parties, including language interpreting or a focus on the message’s content (see also Isa 43:27)

Pr 1:22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love simplicity? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge?

Pr 3:34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.

Comment: Lxx translates scoffer with antitasso (in present tense = their habitual attitude/action) which means to resist, to oppose, to be hostile toward. Antitasso was a military term found in the papyri meaning “to range in battle against” and pictured an army arrayed against the enemy forces. It means to oppose someone, involving a psychological attitude and also corresponding behavior. It means to “to be an enemy of” or “to resist with assembled forces.”

Ps 119:51 The arrogant (Lxx = huperephanos) utterly deride me, Yet I do not turn aside from Thy law.

Comment: Note the implication – the arrogant have no desire for God’s Law, His Word of Truth.

Isa 29:20 For the ruthless (Lxx = anomos = lawless, behaving contrary to the law) will come to an end, and the scorner (Lxx = huperephanos) will be finished (Lxx = exolothreuo = utterly destroyed, completely cut off from God’s presence – cf 2Th 1:6-9) Indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off. (More literally in Hebrew this last phrase is “and all the watchers of wrong will be cut off.” )

Unlike the good man, who walks the path of wisdom, the scoffer is a wicked man who follows the path of folly, refusing to listen to the wisdom of others.

Whenever possible, avoid associating yourself with those who are antagonistic to God and His teachings.

Solomon records of God that

Surely he scoffs at the scoffer: but he gives grace to the lowly” (Pr 3:34).

God is opposed to the scornful, and He will scorn them. That’s a frightful picture.

Guzik writes that…

The scornful love to sit and criticize the people of God and the things of God. The righteous man will not sit in that seat! When others are putting down Christians, it is easy to sit with them and criticize them. It is easy because there are many things to criticize among Christians. But it is wrong, because we are then sitting in the seat of the scornful. Instead, we should be proud to follow Jesus Christ.

“Be out-and-out for Him; unfurl your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the followers of Christ, pour them out upon me… but know this – ye shall hear it whether you like it or not, – “I love Christ.”’” (Spurgeon)

Walk…stand…sit pictures a process of spiritual “retrogression” which is the ever present danger if we are not growing in grace by taking in God’s Word. The point is that believers never stand still in their Christian walk and the psalmist portrays the potential spiritual declension by three degrees of degeneration, describing our habit or conduct (walk, stand, sit) and three degrees of evil influence (counsel of the wicked, path of sinners, seat of scoffers). In short, the psalmist warns us how we are prone to wander as the hymn writer says, turning aside little by little, even imperceptibly becoming increasingly entangled in the web of sin. We need to remember that the writer Hebrews warns of the deadliness of sin…

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (see note Hebrews 3:13) (See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin)

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be;
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

He is easily influenced by the way of the world in its attitudes and actions, for actions follow attitudes.

Scott Grant – In Psalm 1, the blessing first of all is on the one who does not engage in certain activities. A progression is in view from two levels. First, three types of offenders are mentioned, with each group being more severe than the previous. Second, the words used to convey association with the offenders convey the potential for increasing involvement with them. The wicked are those who would be guilty in a court of law, even for one offense. The word sinners implies a repetition of evil deeds. Scoffers not only engage in illicit activities but also ridicule those who don’t. (Delighting in the Word)

Paul gives an apt description of scoffers in Romans that…

although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice (as their lifestyle) such things are worthy of death, they not only do (habitual practice) the same, but also give (continually) hearty approval to those who practice (continually) them. (see note Romans 1:32)

Piper – So, instead of finding his pleasures in the words or the ways or the fellowship of the wicked, the one who is truly happy finds pleasure in meditating on the Word and the ways of God.

The description of the godly begins with the negative which prepares his heart for the positive teaching in verse 2. As Wiersbe so aptly puts it, the “blessee” must first be separated and then saturated. He must be separated from the world (the root idea of holy) and saturated with the Word. The more we delight in the Word, the less we will desire the world.

Solomon gives us good advice for avoiding the 3 step declension in Psalm 1:1 exhorting us to…

Watch (An imperative – it is imperative that we continually guard our heart from “intruders”) over your heart with all diligence, (why?) for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23) (NLT conveys the point “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.”)

O child of God, guard well your eyes
From anything that stains the heart;
Forsake those things that soil the mind–
Your Father wants you set apart. –Fasick

John Flavel very wisely observed that,

The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God.

Pritchard calls us to…

Consider the progression involved: Walk … Stand … Sit. First, the man is walking down the road. Then he stops to hang out with the sinners. Eventually they prove to be such good company that he sits down and has intimate fellowship with them. What started as casual contact in the end becomes a declaration of personal allegiance.

The “counsel of the wicked” means the advice of the morally unstable. It’s a general term that describes the worldview of those who do not know the Lord. The “way of sinners” involves a series of lifestyle choices. The “seat of mockers” means to have close, intimate, long-term fellowship with those who openly reject the Lord. The progression goes like this:

Thinking … Behaving … Belonging.

Worldly wisdom leads to
Worldly action, which results in
Worldly fellowship.

Let us be clear on this point. Blessings come not only from what we do, but also from what we don’t do. Blessed people avoid certain things. And they avoid certain people and certain situations. They don’t hang out just anywhere and they don’t quickly buy into every line of thinking. And they are very careful not to join themselves to the company of those who do not love the Lord…

Sin never stands still. It always moves to control us. What starts as casual contact leads on to increasing closeness and permanence of association. Eventually, there is increasing boldness of evil accompanied by a lowering of our own inhibitions. We laugh at jokes that once would have seemed crude to us. We compromise our values in ways we never would have thought possible. We consent to things that would have greatly troubled us in the past. (Ibid)

Adam Clarke sees Psalm 1:1 as a picture of the seen in this a progression of sin commenting that…

The great lesson to be learned from the whole is, sin is progressive; one evil propensity or act leads to another. He who acts by bad counsel may soon do evil deeds; and he who abandons himself to evil doings may end his life in total apostasy from God.

Steven Cole comments…

Scoffers have rejected God and His Word. They now seek to justify themselves by openly deriding that which they’ve rejected. Scoffers think they know more than God. They’re too smart to believe in the Bible. Many scoffers come from church backgrounds, but they’ve cast it off as too “repressive.” Although they almost always hide under an intellectual smoke screen, invariably scoffers have cast off the Bible because they want to be their own god so that they can follow their own lusts. They don’t want God interfering in their sinful lifestyles.

The seat of scoffers refers to the assembly or place where such men gather to reinforce their godless philosophy. Birds of a feather flock together. Those who scoff at God love to get together to reinforce their prejudices. To sit in their seat means to belong to such a crowd. Take note: How truly happy is the person who does not sit in the seat of scoffers!

Before we leave verse 1, please note the downward progression in the life of sin. Satan doesn’t cause a person to fall away and spurn the faith all at once.

There are degrees of departure from God, as implied in three sets of three words:

(1) Walk > Stand > Sit. First, you walk–you’re still moving, but now in the wrong direction. Then, you stand–you’re lingering in sin. Finally, you sit–you’re at ease in the company of scoffers.

(2) Wicked > Sinners > Scoffers. First, you’re with the wicked–those who hang loose about God. Then you’re with sinners–those who openly violate God’s commands by missing the mark. Then you’re with scoffers–those who openly reject the truth.

(3) Counsel > Path > Seat. First, you listen to counsel–you begin thinking wrong thoughts. Then, you stand in the path–you engage in wrong behavior. Finally, you sit in the seat–you belong to the wrong crowd and have adopted the fatal attitude of the scoffer. And Satan’s got you!

Two lessons:

(1) Guard your mind! Satan begins there, as he did with Eve (“Has God said …?”). Wrong thoughts lead to wrong behavior which leads to rejection of God and His truth. Guarding your mind doesn’t mean that you become a non-thinker. It means that you critique everything by the unchanging standard of God’s Word of truth.

(2) Guard your friends! Those whom you choose as close friends should be committed to the things of God. “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2Co 6:14). Bad company will corrupt good morals. In my fourth year at Dallas Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “The two factors which will most influence where you will be ten years from now are the books you read and the friends you make.” Guard your mind! Guard your friends! (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )

Thomas Brooks has an interesting Biblical analysis of wicked men

Always look upon wicked men, under those names and notions which the Scripture describes them, such as: lions for their fierceness, bears for their cruelty, dragons for their hideousness, dogs for their filthiness, wolves for their subtleness, scorpions, vipers, thorns, briars, thistles,

brambles, stubble, dirt, chaff, dust, dross, smoke, scum.

You may know well enough what is within them,
by the apt names which the Holy Spirit has given them.

By looking upon them under those names and notions that the Scripture sets them out by, may preserve the soul from frequenting their company and delighting in their society. Such monsters are wicked men–which should render their company to all who have tasted of the sweetness of divine love, a burden and not a delight.

Wiersbe writes…

Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.

First, we must be separated from the world (v. 1). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees. We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world; we love the world, become confirmed to it and end up condemned with it…

Second, we must be saturated with the Word (v. 2). Whatever delights us directs us. We saturate ourselves with the Word by meditating on it. Meditation is to the spirit what digestion is to the body. When we meditate on the Word, we allow the Spirit of God within us to “digest” the Word of God for us. So not only do we delight in the Word, it becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for us.

Enjoy the blessings God has for you and allow Him to make you a blessing to others. (A third condition, being situated by the waters, is the topic of our next devotional.)

God desires to bless us, but we must meet His conditions for receiving blessings. By staying separate from the world and keeping saturated in the Word, we may expect God’s blessings. Resolve to meditate on the Word of God and obey it. He will make you a blessing to others. (see Matthew 5:3notet)

Alexander Maclaren explains the order of negative preceding positive…

It is usually taken as an exclamation, but may equally well be a simple affirmation, and declares a universal truth even more strongly, if so regarded. The characteristics which thus bring blessedness are first described negatively, and that order is significant. As long as there is so much evil in the world, and society is what it is, godliness must be largely negative, and its possessors “a people whose laws are different from all people that be on earth.” Live fish swim against the stream; dead ones go with it.

The tender graces of the devout soul will not flourish unless there be a wall of close-knit and unparticipating opposition round them, to keep off nipping blasts. The negative clauses present a climax, notwithstanding the unquestionable correctness of one of the grounds on which that has been denied — namely, the practical equivalence of “wicked” and “sinner.”

Increasing closeness and permanence of association are obvious in the progress from walking to standing and from standing to sitting.

Increasing boldness in evil is marked by the progress from counsel to way, or course of life, and thence to scoffing. Evil purposes come out in deeds, and deeds are formularised at last in bitter speech. Some men scoff because they have already sinned. The tongue is blackened and made sore by poison in the system. Therefore goodness will avoid the smallest conformity with evil, as knowing that if the hem of the dress or the tips of the hair be caught in the cruel wheels, the whole body will be drawn in. But these negative characteristics are valuable mainly for their efficacy in contributing to the positive, as the wall round a young plantation is there for the sake of what grows behind it.

Maclaren goes on to make a very important point, lest the reader think that holiness is manifest first and foremost by what one avoids or from that which one abstains. He writes that…

these positive characteristics (in verse 2), and eminently that chief one of a higher love, are the only basis for useful abstinence. Mere conventional, negative virtue is of little power or worth unless it flow from a strong set of the soul in another direction. (Amen. And I would add lest it become legalism which is powerless against the powerful pull of the world, the flesh and the devil.)

Spurgeon writes that…

He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions. Note next, he standeth not in the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood washed sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd with the multitude that do evil. Again it is said, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. He finds no rest in the atheist’s scoffings. Let others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God; this man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too much sense of God’s presence to endure to hear His name blasphemed. The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits therein. Mark the gradation in the first verse:

He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor standeth in the way of sinners,


When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God — the evil is rather practical than habitual — but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God’s commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by others as Masters in Belial. But the blessed man, the man to whom all the blessings of God belong, can hold no communion with such characters as these. He keeps himself pure from these lepers; he puts away evil things from him as garments spotted by the flesh; he comes out from among the wicked, and goes without the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace to be thus separate from sinners.

Adam Clarke writes…

Mark certain circumstances of their differing characters and conduct.

  1. The ungodly man has his counsel.
  2. The sinner has his way; and
  3. The scorner has his seat.

The ungodly man is unconcerned about religion; he is neither zealous for his own salvation nor for that of others; and he counsels and advises those with whom he converses to adopt his plan, and not trouble themselves about praying, reading, repentance, etc., etc.; “there is no need for such things; live an honest life, make no fuss about religion, and you will fare well enough at last.” Now “blessed is the man who walks not in this man’s counsel,” who does not come into his measures, nor act according to his plan.

The sinner has his particular way of transgressing; one is a drunkard, another dishonest, another unclean. Few are given to every species of vice. There are many covetous men who abhor drunkenness, many drunkards who abhor covetousness; and so of others. Each has his easily besetting sin; therefore, says the prophet, “Let the wicked forsake HIS WAY.” (Isaiah 55:7) Now, blessed is he who stands not is such a man’s WAY.

The scorner has brought, in reference to himself, all religion and moral feeling to an end. He has sat down — is utterly confirmed in impiety, and makes a mock at sin. His conscience is seared, and he is a believer in all unbelief. Now, blessed is the man who sits not down in his SEAT.

Thomas Adams wrote of the scoffers that…

when a wicked man comes to the depth and worst of sin, he despiseth. Then the Hebrew will despise Moses (Exodus 2:14), “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?” Then Ahab will quarrel with Micaiah (1Kings 22:18), because he doth not prophecy good unto him. Every child in Bethel will mock Elisha (2Kings 2:23), and be bold to call him “bald pate.” Here is an original drop of venom swollen to a main ocean of poison: as one drop of some serpents’ poison, lighting on the hand, gets into the veins, and so spreads itself over all the body till it hath stifled the vital spirits. God shall “laugh you to scorn,” (Psalms 2:4), for laughing Him to scorn; and at last despise you that have despised him in us. That which a man spits against heaven, shall fall back on his own face. Your indignities done to your spiritual physicians shall sleep in the dust with your ashes, but stand up against your souls in judgment.


Warren Wiersbe sums up Psalm 1:1 noting that…

God enjoys blessing your life, but you must be “blessable.” That means having discernment (v. 1), avoiding the steps that lead to sin: considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), being comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch that first step! (Wiersbe, W: With the Word: Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Handbook. Nelson)

The happy man (Lachlan MacKenzie, “The Happy Man”)

The happy man was born in the city of Regeneration in the parish of Repentance unto Life. He has a large estate in the county of Christian Contentment.

He was educated at the School of Obedience —and often does jobs of Self-denial.

He wears the garment of Humility, and has another suit to put on when he goes to Court, called the Robe of Christ’s Righteousness.

He is necessitated to travel through the world on his way to heaven—but he walks through it as fast as he can. All his business along the way—is to make himself and others happy. He often walks in the valley of Self-Abasement, and sometimes climbs the mountains of Heavenly-mindedness.

He breakfasts every morning on Spiritual Prayer, and sups every evening on the same. He has food to eat, which the world knows nothing of—and his drink is the sincere milk of the Word of God.

Thus happy he lives—and happy he dies.

Happy is he who has . . .

Gospel submission in his will,

the love of God in his affections,

true peace in his conscience,

sincere Divinity in his breast,

the Redeemer’s yoke on his neck,

the vain world under his feet, and

a crown of glory over his head!

Happy is the life of that man who . . .

believes firmly,

prays fervently,

walks patiently,

labors abundantly,

lives holily,

dies daily,

watches his heart,

guards his senses,

redeems his time,

loves Christ, and

longs for glory!

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Greek (Septuagint): But his pleasure is in the law of the Lord; and in his law will he meditate day and night.

Amplified: But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. (Amplified Bible – Lockman)

KJV: But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

NET: Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night. (NET Bible)

NJB: but who delights in the law of Yahweh and murmurs his law day and night. (NJB)

Young’s Literal: But–in the law of Jehovah is his delight, And in His law he doth meditate by day and by night:


A W Pink summarizes Psalm 1:1-3 with three words that speak of the godly man or woman’s…

  1. Separation (Ps 1:1)
  2. Occupation (Ps 1:2)
  3. Fertilization (Ps 1:3)

Ray Pritchard notes that “Now we come to the positive side of the ledger. Having refused to walk in the way of evildoers, we instead focus on knowing God’s Word. We do this because the true way to float rubbish out is to pour water in. You can’t get rid of the garbage in your life simply by mental effort. You must replace the negative with something positive. (Ed: Compare “the washing of water with the word” Ep 5:26note, cp Php 4:8notePhp 4:9note = think upon truth & then obey truth! = God of peace will be with you. Compare also “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” — ) (Trees Planted by the Water)

Play this beautiful song…then, enabled by the Holy Spirit, put the blessed truth of Psalm 1 into practice…you will never regret it beloved!

  • Planted By the Waters

    Note: In this song the words “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD…” are from the parallel passage in Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” (HALLELUJAH!)

But – Whenever you encounter this term of contrastpause and ponder the text, asking questions like what is being contrasted, etc, which will usually force you to re-read the preceding passages (context = “king” in accurate interpretation), which is always a good “exercise.” Think of “BUT” as a hinge on a door, that opens into another room different from the attached room. Here the psalmist “changes direction” from the broad way leading to destruction (Mt 7:13note), to the narrow way that leads to eternal life (Mt 7:14note, cp the highway of holiness, Isa 35:8, the ancient paths Jer 6:1618:15!). Now he presents the marked contrast that accrues to those who choose to avoid the ways of the wicked, sinners and scoffers. As we have made a conscious, volitional, choice to (Spirit enabled – Php 2:13note, see Php 2:12note) “flee” from the evil, now we are by the same means called to “pursue” the good. This spiritual dynamic is similar to Paul’s charge to young Timothy regarding being a vessel of honor (cp “tree firmly planted...”)…

if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor (cp “like a tree planted… “), sanctified (set apart), useful to the Master, prepared for every good work (cp “bear fruit in season… “). Now flee (present imperative = command to make it your habit to do so – flee the 3 “P’s” = pleasure, power, possessions) from youthful lusts, and (note that true Biblical separation is balanced – if not we become “isolated” not “separated”) pursue (present imperative = command to make it your habit to do so) righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2Ti 2:2122-see notes 2Ti 2:2122) (cp a similar injunction to all followers of Christ in 1Ti 6:11, cp the same spiritual dynamic = avoid then discipline yourself in 1Ti 4:7 – note; the “reward” in 1Ti 4:8note)

CommentWhy must we as believers continually flee? Because our fallen flesh is intractably wicked and evil [[ = our fallen flesh nature {Jas 1:14note} inherited from Adam {Ro 5:12noteRo 5:1415noteRo 5:1617noteRo 5:1819note} although made ineffective in believers by the Cross {Ro 6:6note “done away with”} still inhabits our mortal bodies, ever crouching at the door of our heart {cp Pr 4:23note} ready to spring into action {cp Ge 4:567} if by the enabling power of the Spirit {Ro 8:13noteGal 5:16noteGal 5:1718noteGal 5:25note} we do not mortify it’s strong desires {Col 3:5KJV – note}]], the devil (diabolos) is a continually roaming and roaring lion (1Pe 5:8note1Pet 5:9note), and the world system (1Jn 2:15note1Jn 2:16note1Jn 2:17noteJas 4:4note, contrast Gal 6:14) cries out to satisfy your desire (witness the Nike commercial “Just Do It!”) with the passing pleasures of sin (Heb 11:25note). Compare 1Pe 2:11note.


What is it? What does delight look like? How does one obtain “delight” or begin to delight? How is delight maintained, nursed and nourished?

Delight (02656) (hepes/chepes/chephets) is a masculine noun which means to take pleasure or find enjoyment in something. To feel great favor towards something. To experience emotional delight (referring either to men as here in Ps 1:2 or to God – 1Sa 15:22Ps 16:3Isa 44:2846:1048:1453:10)

See also Delight Yourself in the Lord

Hepes/chepes/chephets pictures that which is bent toward and thus is a beautiful figure of the godly man or woman who is ever leaning toward the law of Jehovah, not referring to the the “ten commandments” but to the law as representative of God’s Word. And given that God’s word is His “love letter” to fallen, rebellious mankind, the blessed man seeks this letter as a young man or woman would devour a love letter from they one they are courting or being courted by. Sentence by sentence. Phrase by phrase. Word by word. Reading through the letter without interruption, even unaware of surrounding distractions. Reading and re-reading. Such a picture is one of sheer delight of the beloved at having received a love letter from God Who is the essence of love. And so the blessed man or woman inclines toward the word.

Delight – a high degree of gratification or satisfaction of mind; extreme satisfaction; something that gives great pleasure. Webster’s 1828 says in English “delight is a more permanent pleasure than joy, and not dependent on sudden excitement.”

Delightful – Highly pleasing. Affording great pleasure and satisfaction.

The Septuagint (Lxx) translates hepes/chepes/chephets in Ps 1:2 with with the noun thelema which is “generally, as the result of what one has decided will; (1) objectively will, design, purpose, what is willed.” (Friberg) Thelema is what one wishes to happen or the act of desiring.

Hapes/chapes – 38 verses – Usage: care(1), delight(8), delightful(2), delights(1), desirable things(1), desire(10), desired(2), event(1), good pleasure(3), matter(1), pleased(1), pleasure(3), precious(1), sight(1), undesirable*(2), what you desire(1).

1Sa 15:2218:252Sa 23:51Kgs 5:8ff9:1110:132Chr 9:12Job 21:2122:331:16Ps 1:216:3107:30Pr 3:158:1131:13Eccl 3:1175:488:6Eccl 12:110Isa 44:2846:1048:14Isa 53:1054:1258:31362:4Jer 22:2848:38Hos 8:8Mal 1:103:12

1Sam 15:22 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight (Lxx = theletos = wished for, desired, also used in Mal 3:2) in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Ps 16:3note As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight. (Lxx = thelema)

Spurgeon – The true aristocracy are believers in Jesus. They are the only Right Honorables. Stars and garters are poor distinctions compared with the graces of the Spirit. He who knows them best says of them, “in whom is all my delight.” They are his Hephzibah and his land Beulah, and before all worlds His delights were with these chosen sons of men. Their own opinion of themselves is far other than their Beloved’s opinion of them; they count themselves to be less than nothing, yet He makes much of them, and sets his heart towards them. What wonders the eyes of Divine Love can see where the Hands of Infinite Power have been graciously at work. It was this quick sighted affection which led Jesus to see in us a recompense for all His agony, and sustained Him under all His sufferings by the joy of redeeming us from going down into the pit.

Pr 3:15 She (wisdom) is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire (Lxx = timios = “absolutely no precious thing”) compares with her.

Pr 8:11 “For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things (Lxx = timios = “absolutely no precious thing is of equal worth”) can not compare with her.

Eccl 12:1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”;

Eccl 12:10 The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.

Isa 53:10 But the LORD was pleased (chaphets – desired, delighted! Lxx = boulomai) To crush (Lxx = katharizo = purify, purge) Him (Messiah), putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure (Lxx = boulomai = of one desiring something – wish, desire) of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

This soul delight is beautifully captured in one of the first vocals by Fernando Ortega in a Maranatha song entitled “Blessed”…

I will delight in the law of the LORD
I will meditate day and night

But what if His Word is not your delight (remembering that delight in His Word is another way of saying “delight in the LORD” because His Word is about Him)? You can always pray knowing that our Father’s will is for His children to delight in His Name and His character. You can know He will answer according to His good, and acceptable and perfect will (cp 1John 5:14,15). Another resource you might consider to stimulate you to discipline yourself for godliness is to download the Pdf of Dr John Piper’s book When I Don’t Desire God – How to Fight for Joy.

Thomas Watson in his Excellent Article on Meditation writes that…

Grace breeds delight in God, and delight breeds meditationMeditation is a duty wherein consists the essentials of religion, and which nourishes the very life-blood of it. That the Psalmist may show how much the godly man is habituated to this blessed work of meditation, he subjoins, “In his law does he meditate day and night;” not but that there may be sometimes intermission: God allows time for our calling, he grants some relaxation; but when it is said, the godly man meditates day and night, the meaning is, frequently—he is much conversant in the duty.

It is a command of God to pray without ceasing, 1Th 5:17 (note). The meaning is—not that we should be always praying—but that we should every day set some time apart for prayer. We read in the Old law it was called the continual sacrifice, Nu 28:24, not that the people of Israel did nothing else but sacrifice—but because they had their stated hours, every morning and evening they offered, therefore it was called the continual sacrifice. Thus the godly man is said to meditate day and night, that is, he is often at this work, he is no stranger to meditation.

Doctrine. The proposition that results out of the text is this—that a godly Christian is a meditating Christian, Ps 119:15note. “I will meditate in your precepts.” 1Ti 4:15, “Meditate upon these things.” Meditation is the chewing upon the truths we have heard. The beasts in the old law which did not chew the cud, were unclean; the professor who does not by meditation chew the cud, is to be accounted unclean. Meditation is like the watering of the seed, it makes the fruits of grace to flourish.

Delight is an attitude that leads to an action (meditate). Delight is a good attitude and James says that every good thing and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights in Whom there is no variation or shifting of shadow (James 1:17note). Before we were saved by grace through faith, we were hostile toward God and His Word. Clearly, salvation is necessary for one to delight and ultimately that delight is planted in our heart by the Father of lights. But this good gift like all gifts can be squandered and abused to the point that it begins to fade into only a dim memory of times when we truly delighted in the Word like a newborn babe (see 1Pe 2:1note1Peter 2:2note). Time and the effects of sin have a way of slowly eroding one’s delight if we are not vigilant to watch over our heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). If you find yourself in the “slough of despond” as Bunyan puts it, what are you to do that you might once again delight in His Word and in Him? Although it may sound simple and/or trite, I think the answer, as it is to all “sloughs”, is prayer. Pray to your heavenly Father, pleading for the restoration of the good gift of delight, so that delight replaces a sense of drudgery or duty. God promises to hear and answer prayer in accord with His will and His will is that we be in His Word and His Word in us, renewing our mind and transforming us into the image of His Son. Perhaps you need to confess and repent of some secret (not to God) sin that has been nipping away at and eroding your sense of delight. Ask God to search your heart and see if there is any hurtful way in you, and if He reveals it, then ask Him to lead you in the everlasting way (Ps 139:23,24).

As the apostle John said God’s “commandments are not burdensome.” (1John 5:3) and David adds “Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned (and) in keeping them there is great reward.” (Ps 19:11)

Once you have this good gift of delight and are acting upon it, seeking God in His Word, how do you maintain this attitude? I think Jeremiah gives us a clue as to the dynamic that begins to occur when we delight and devour divine truth. In the midst of a difficult time (which also speaks to where all saints should go when they feel overwhelmed) the “weeping prophet” Jeremiah wrote…

Thy words were found and I ate them (figuratively speaking), and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart for I have been called by Thy name, O LORD God (Elohim) of hosts (cp Jehovah Sabaoth). (Jeremiah 15:16) (cp Job 23:12-note)

A W Pink asks: What is meant by “ate them“? Appropriation, assimilation. Meditation stands to reading—as digestion does to eating. It is as God’s Word is pondered by the mind, turned over and over in the thoughts, and mixed with faith—that we assimilate it. That which most occupies the mind and most constantly engages our thoughts—is what we most “delight” in.

When we are truly eating God’s Word we find it stimulates even greater delight for His Word. Jesus gives a parallel thought in Matthew 5 in His Sermon on the Mount…

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (see note Matthew 5:6)

Taking in the Word not only satisfies but stimulates a delight and desire for more of the pure milk of God’s Word of Truth and Life. There is one additional condition that needs to be fulfilled in order for these principles to be “energized” for Jesus also said…

Blessed are those who hear the word of God, and observe (present tense = as your habitual practice, your lifestyle) it. (Luke 11:28)

If you know these things, you are blessed if you do (present tense = as your habitual practice, your lifestyle) them. (John 13:17 )


Clearly delighting and devouring must be followed up with doing. Obedience does not save us but it is the key to the blessed life. If you are not experiencing the good hand of the Lord upon you (see Ezra 7:910) as described in Psalm 1:3, perhaps you have deluded yourself that by simply reading God’s Word (eg, reading through the Bible in a year) you are growing in grace and Christlikeness. Wrong! You must apply the Word in order to experience blessing…

But prove (present imperative = commands habitual practice or lifestyle) yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (see note James 1:22)

Comment: Don’t misinterpret James’ charge to be a “doer” as if he is commanding legalistic obedience (“Obey or else!”). The truth is that without God’s indwelling, enabling Spirit, we cannot truly obey (at least in a God pleasing way — see Php 2:13NLTnote for “how” believers now are given the supernatural desire and power to obey God’s Word.)

It is not enough to read the Bible as a duty–we must come to it with delight. If you are having trouble with delight (and have separated from the world as instructed in Psalm 1:1), I would suggest requesting the Lord to give you such an appetite.

F B Meyer – It is not enough to read the Bible as a duty – we must come to it with delight. This is possible if you eschew light and foolish literature which cloys the appetite. Read the Book in happy fellowship with its Author; meditate until it is assimilated.

Ray Pritchard – Now we come to the positive side of the ledger. Having refused to walk in the way of evildoers, we instead focus on knowing God’s Word. We do this because the true way to float rubbish out is to pour water in. You can’t get rid of the garbage in your life simply by mental effort. You must replace the negative with something positive. The psalmist tells us that the godly person “delights” in the law of the Lord. That means he loves the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. The word “delight” means to take great pleasure in. It has the idea of a consuming passion that controls your life. Everyone “delights” in something. Some people delight in food. Others delight in a job or a hobby or a career. Some delight in a particular friendship. Many people delight in money or the things money can buy. And many delight in evil pleasures and wrong desires. Mark this well. Your “delight” determines your direction. What do you delight in? What gets your motor running? What gets you excited in the morning and keeps you awake at night? What do you daydream about? Tell me the answers to those questions and I’ll tell you something crucial about who you are. To delight is to be so excited about something that you just can’t wait. Watch a young couple in love and you’ll know what “delight” means. Or take a young man who has fallen in love for the first time. Ask his friends and they’ll say, “He’s not the same guy he used to be.” They mean he has radically changed. He doesn’t want to hang around with them anymore. All he does is talk about “that girl.” Just look at him. He’s got this goofy grin on his face. He’s in love. Now apply that principle to the Word of God. We are to delight in God’s Word as a lover delights in a letter from his beloved. (Ibid) (Comment: And we are to delight in God Himself in the same way! Ps 37:4 – See “Delight Yourself in the Lord)


Law of the Lord – This phrase describes God’s entire word, not just the “10 Commandments” or the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). The righteous man delights in (not just “on” but “in” picturing a more intimate involvement with) the word of God!

In the great Psalm 119 (virtually every verse of which deals with some aspect of God’s Word) the psalmist gives us a beautiful picture of what it means to delight writing…

Psalm 119:131 I opened (LXX = anoigo – see Rev 3:20note) my mouth wide and panted, (Why did he “pant”?) for I longed for Thy commandments.

The English rendering of the Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation is…

Psalm 119:131 I opened my mouth, and drew breath: for I earnestly longed (see study of epipotheo; the verb tense is imperfect = pictures the psalmist over and over longing) after Thy commandments.

Beloved, does this describe your Christian walk? If not perhaps you might dare to pray this prayer to God, asking Him to give you a desire that pants for and cannot live without His Word of truth and life. When we pray boldly in God’s will, we can be assured that He hears us and that He will give us the requests that are in accord with His good and acceptable and perfect will – see 1Jn 5:14,15.

Matthew Henry comments on Ps 119:131

When he was under a forced absence from God’s ordinances he longed to be restored to them again; when he enjoyed ordinances he greedily sucked in the word of God, as new-born babes desire the milk. When Christ is formed in the soul there are gracious longings, unaccountable to one that is a stranger to the work.

The degree of that desire appearing in the expressions of it: I opened my mouth and panted, as one overcome with hear, or almost stifled, pants for a mouthful of fresh air. Thus strong, thus earnest, should our desires be towards God and the remembrance of his name, Ps. 42:12Lk. 12:50.

C H Spurgeon comments on Ps 119:131

So animated was his desire that he looked into the animal world to find a picture of it. He was filled with an intense longing, and was not ashamed to describe it by a most expressive, natural, and yet singular symbol. Like a stag that has been hunted in the chase, and is hard pressed, and therefore pants for breath, so did the Psalmist pant for the entrance of God’s word into his soul. Nothing else could content him. All that the world could yield him left him still panting with open mouth.

For I longed for thy commandments. Longed to know them, longed to obey them, longed to be conformed to their spirit, longed to teach them to others (cp Ezra 7:10note). He was a servant of God, and his industrious mind longed to receive orders; he was a learner in the school of grace, and his eager spirit longed to be taught of the Lord.

Panting for holiness. A rare hunger; the evidence of much grace, and the pledge of glory.

Puritan Thomas Manton writes on Ps 119:131

I opened my mouth, and panted. A metaphor taken from men scorched and sweltered with heat, or from those that have run themselves out of breath in following the thing which they would overtake. The former metaphor expressed the vehemency of his love; the other the earnestness of his pursuit: he was like a man gasping for breath, and sucking in the cool air.

I longed for thy commandments. This is a desire which God will satisfy. “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it”: Ps 81:10.

William Cowper comments on Psalm 119:131

I opened my mouth, and panted. By this manner of speech, David expresses, as Basil thinks, animi propensionem, that the inclination of his soul was after God’s word. For, this opened mouth, Ambrose thinks, is os interioris hominis, the mouth of the inward man, which in effect is his heart; and the, speech notes vehementem animi intensionem, a vehement intension of his spirit, saith Euthymius. Yet shall it not be amiss to consider here how the mind of the godly earnestly affected moves the body also. The speech may be drawn from travellers, who being very desirous to attain to their proposed ends, enforce their strength thereunto; and finding a weakness in their body to answer their will, they pant and open their mouth, seeking refreshment from the air to renew their strength: or as Vatablus thinks, from men exceeding hungry and thirsty, who open their mouth as if they would draw in the whole air, and then pant and sigh within themselves when they find no full refreshment by it. So he expresses it: “My heart burns with so ardent a longing for thy commandments, that I am forced ever and anon to gasp by reason of my painful breathing.”

However it be, it lets us see how the hearing, reading, or meditating of God’s word wakened in David (Ed note: Some think Psalm 119 was written by the scribe Ezra) a most earnest affection to have the light, joy, grace, and comfort thereof communicated to his own heart. For in the godly, knowledge of good increases desires; and it cannot be expressed how vehemently their souls long to feel that power and comfort which they know is in the word; and how sore they are grieved and troubled when they find it not.

And happy were we, if we could meet the Lord with this like affection; that when he opens his mouth, we could also open our heart to hear, as David here doth… For it is His promise to us all — “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (see Ps 81:10 – Spurgeon’s note) Let us turn it into a prayer, that the Lord, who opened the heart of Lydia (see Acts 16:14note), would open our heart to receive grace when He offers by His word to give it.

Henry Melvill writes on Ps 119:131

There are two ways in which these words may be understood. They may be considered as expressing the very earnest longing of the Psalmist for greater acquaintance with God in spiritual things; and then in saying, “I opened my mouth, and panted,” he merely asserts the vehemence of his desire.

Or you may separate the clauses: you may regard the first as the utterance of a man utterly dissatisfied with the earth and earthly things, and the second as the expression of a consciousness that God, and God only, could meet the longings of his soul. “I opened my mouth, and panted.” Out of breath, with chasing shadows, and hunting after baubles, I sit down exhausted, as far off as ever from the happiness which has been earnestly but fruitlessly sought. Whither, then, shall I turn? Thy commandments, O Lord, and these alone, can satisfy the desires of an immortal being like myself; and on these, therefore, henceforward shall my longings be turned. (Amen)

His delight – Not his obligation. Not his job. Not his duty. (Although there is some truth in each of these descriptions). Not his drudgery. But his delight! His great pleasure. His emotional delight.

Delight reflects one’s attitude, an attitude that precedes an action (meditates day and night).

Men understand the emotion of delight for the Bible uses it to describe Shechem’s “delight” in Jacob’s daughter Dinah (Ge 34:19), a delight that indeed led to an action but not a God honoring action as in Psalm 1:2! We see a similar picture of delight in the Persian court of King Ahasuerus where young ladies from his harem would be paraded before the king…

She would not again go in to the king unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name. (Esther 2:12b)

You can mark it down – Whatever delights your heart will end up directing your heart. If you delight in the Word, you will eat it (memorize) and chew it (meditate).

Note also that delight in the Word of God leads to eating of it and eating leads to increasing delight in the Word, and so the circle continues.

Adam Clarke – his will, desire, affection, every motive in his heart, and every moving principle in his soul, are on the side of God and his truth. He takes up the law of the Lord as the rule of his life; he brings all his actions and affections to this holy standard.

F B Meyer – It is not enough to read the Bible as a duty – we must come to it with delight. This is possible if you eschew light and foolish literature which cloys the appetite. Read the Book in happy fellowship with its Author; meditate until it is assimilated (Jas 1:25note) Better one verse digested than a whole chapter bolted.

Jeremiah in the context of a difficult time of ministry to rebellious Judah said…

Thou Who knowest, O LORD, Remember me, take notice of me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Thy patience, take me away. Know that for Thy sake I endure reproach. Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I have been called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:15,16note)

Note Jeremiah’s ministry mindset which called for a (the) cure. Specifically note that the effect of eating (cp meditating or “chewing the cud”, digesting, assimilating) the Word was an to enhance his sense of “taste”. God’s Words actually stimulated delight, delight being the psalmist’s “starting point” in Psalm 1.

And so as we choose to separate from the profane and seek to delight in God (something He places in our heart for no man seeks after God on his own) and savor (meditate) His Word, His Spirit transforms our hearts (according to Jeremiah 15:16), stimulating even greater delight, so that the cycle begins anew with ever deepening intimacy and fellowship with the infinite, holy God. It is easy to see how such a man or woman who is being progressively transformed by the Word and the Spirit (see John 6:63), begins to grow into an oak of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified (Isa 61:3Ps 1:3)

Oh, how the body of Christ needs to delight to get into the Word of God today that thereby the Word gets into us. We don’t need just a little surface learning of a few rules (not “on” the Word but “in” the Word!), or just a little guideline with a few steps to take to make us “feel better”. We need to delight and digest God’s living and abiding Word (Heb 4:12note1Pe 1:23note) , so that it becomes part of our being and gives life to our soul (cp John 6:63Dt 32:4647).

Steven Cole asks…

What does it mean to delight in God’s Word. The word is used in the Old Testament (Ge 34:19Esther 2:14) of a man delighting in a woman. Ah! That tells us something! Have you noticed that when a young man delights in a woman, he rearranges his priorities so that suddenly he has plenty of time to spend with her? And he doesn’t do it because he has to; he wants to! Nothing interferes with his time with the object of his delight!

Now let me ask: Do you delight in God’s Word in that sense? Do you make time to spend in the Word because you delight in it? Or has it become a duty? It’s easy to fall into the duty mentality toward the Word: “A chapter a day keeps the devil away!” Besides, it alleviates your guilt to read it. So you grind through a chapter and check it off on your list, but you didn’t commune with the living God or apply His Word to where you need to change.

The Bible is God’s love letter to you. You’re reading the counsel of a loving, all-wise Heavenly Father as to how you should live. His commandments are for your blessing and good. It should be no more of a duty to spend time in God’s Word than it is for a young man to spend time with an attractive woman. The way to true happiness is to delight in God’s Word. (Ibid)

Do you delight in God’s Word? If not, beseech Him to “whet your appetite” with the hors d’oeuvre or appetizer (food or drink usually served before a meal to stimulate appetite) of delight, which will stimulate intake of the pure milk of His Word and in turn will stimulate even greater delight. As an aside, what of value do we really have to say to anyone (edifying, equipping, encouraging, etc) unless we first eat God’s Holy Word and He speaks through us (unction) as vessels of honor, sanctified, useful to the Master for every good work?!

William Heslop writes that…

He is blessed because his delight is in the law of the Lord.

– He not only reads the Bible, he delights in it.

– He not only studies the holy word, he enjoys it.

– He not only reviews truth, he relishes and revels in it.

Richard De Haan gives us an illustration of how delight can be dulled and end up as drudgery…

The first morning I heard the mockingbird practicing his bagful of imitations outside my window, I was thrilled by the beauty of his songs. Gradually, however, I began to take this early morning songster for granted. One day as I awoke, it dawned on me that I no longer appreciated my regular visitor. It wasn’t the mockingbird’s fault. He was still there. His beautiful song hadn’t changed, but I was no longer listening for it.

As believers in Christ, we may have a similar experience hearing God speak to us in His Word. When we are first saved, the Scriptures, with their soul-stirring instruction and vital spiritual food, are deeply satisfying. As time goes on, however, we routinely read those same portions over and over in a manner that no longer speaks to us. Our spiritual senses grow dull and lethargic, and God’s exhilarating Word becomes commonplace to us. But then, what joy we feel when a passage reveals an exciting truth, and once again we “hear” the Lord!

Are you reading the Scriptures out of a tired sense of duty? Or do you still possess the delight and fresh expectancy you had when you first believed? Today, when you read God’s Word, listen closely for His voice. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Then let me love my Bible more
And take a fresh delight
By day to read these wonders o’er
And meditate by night.
— Isaac Watts

John Piper writes that…

The deepest mark of this happy person in Psalm 1 is that he delights in the Word of God. Bible reading and Bible memory (see Memorizing God’s Word) and meditation (see Primer of Biblical Meditation) are not a burden to him, but a pleasure. This is what we want. What a sadness when Bible reading is just a drudgery. Something is wrong.

What shall we do?… We struggle with Bible reading and memory and meditation because we don’t find pleasure in it. We have other things we want to get to more. TV or breakfast or work or newspaper or computer. Our hearts incline to other things and do not incline to the Word. And so it is not a delight.

Did the psalmists ever struggle with this? Yes they did. Take heart. We all do. How shall this be changed? This is Prayer Week, and so the answer we will stress is that it is changed through prayer. This is what I will focus on next week. We must pray for God’s enabling to help us delight in his Word. (Meditate on the Word of the Lord Day and Night)

I scanned the Scriptures thoughtlessly–
My haste had closed my ear;
Then prayerfully I read once more–
This time my heart could hear.



As we continually meditate on God’s Holy Word (you are meditating aren’t you and not simply passively reading the text?) and by the Spirit obey what He illuminates, we continually are transformed from glory to glory by the same Spirit, growing in grace and Christ-like holiness, even as a tree grows and thrives and flourishes in a well fertilized and well watered soil.

How do you know whether you delight in God’s Word? From the context the Psalmist would say you demonstrate your delight by meditating on it day and night! Using this as your benchmark, would you say you “delight” in His Word?


As Thomas a Kempis quaintly put it

I have no rest, but in a nook, with the Book.

Talk with the Word and the God of the Word and they will speak to you…

Proverbs 6:20 (Commentary) My son, observe the commandment of your father, And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; 21 Bind them continually on your heart. Tie them around your neck. (sounds like meditation!) 22 When you walk about, they will guide you. When you sleep, they will watch over you. And when you awake, they will talk to you. 23 For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life.

In His law – By the use of the preposition “in” one gets the picture of not just a “surface scanning” but immersing one’s self in the pure milk of His Word (1Pet 2:2note). Get “in” His Law, so that His Law can get “in” you and carry out it’s transforming work. When you truly delight in the Word, you will have a desire to spend time in it and to meditate on it.

His Law (08451) – John Piper describes law or Torah as “”instruction: God’s Words about God’s ways.”

Someone has written “The Bible is bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions.”

God feeds the birds, but He doesn’t throw the food into their nests.

The Bible is like a table, laden with nourishing food we need every day: promises, instruction, wisdom, comfort, and encouragement. Like any good host, God tells us, “Come and get it!” But we often fail to do this. We depend on everything but Him and wonder why our faith is feeble. But if like our feathered friends (God feeds the sparrows) we’ll come and feast daily, expectantly, and actively, our divine Host will provide for all our needs. Depend on it!

See related resources on Biblical Meditation

Meditates (01897) (hagah – see word study) strictly speaking means to utter a sound and hence it is employed of inward utterance, of the words a man speaks to himself; and also of giving open and loud expression to the thoughts. And so in Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures is to quietly repeat them in a soft, droning sound, while utterly abandoning outside distractions.

Meditation has the idea of digesting something thoroughly, of ruminating (going over in the mind repeatedly, slowly) on it, of chewing the cud (of God’s Word of Truth), of considering a verse by pondering it from various angles.

The Septuagint (Lxx) frequently translates hagah with the verb meletao (Ps 1:22:135:28, 38:12, 63:6, 71:24, 77:12, 143:5, Pr 8:715:2824:2Isa 16:7Isa 59:3Isa 59:13)

As stated, the original Hebrew idea is to mumble under one’s breath. I get the picture of one “brooding” over God’s Word, almost like a mother hen sitting on her eggs until they hatch! Have you ever been to the “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem and seen the men facing the wall rocking back and forth muttering or chanting. That’s a picture of meditating, but only a partial picture because without the Holy Spirit our Teacher, such mumbling becomes a rote, mechanical exercise.

Hagah – 24 verses – Usage: declare(1), devise(2), devising(1), growls(1), make a sound(1), meditate(5), meditates(1), moan(3), moan sadly(1), mutter(2), mutters(1), ponders(1), utter(2), uttering(1), utters(1).

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

Job 27:4 My lips certainly will not speak unjustly, Nor will my tongue mutter deceit.

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 2:1 Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?

Psalm 35:28 And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness And Your praise all day long.

Psalm 37:30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speaks justice.

Psalm 38:12 Those who seek my life lay snares for me; And those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction, And they devise treachery all day long.

Psalm 63:6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,

Psalm 71:24 My tongue also will utter Your righteousness all day long; For they are ashamed, for they are humiliated who seek my hurt.

Psalm 77:12 I will meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds.

Psalm 115:7 They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat.

Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.

Proverbs 8:7 “For my mouth will utter truth; And wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

Proverbs 24:2 For their minds devise violence, And their lips talk of trouble.

Isaiah 8:19 When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Isaiah 16:7 Therefore Moab will wail; everyone of Moab will wail. You will moan for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth As those who are utterly stricken.

Isaiah 31:4 For thus says the LORD to me, “As the lion or the young lion growls over his prey, Against which a band of shepherds is called out, And he will not be terrified at their voice nor disturbed at their noise, So will the LORD of hosts come down to wage war on Mount Zion and on its hill.”

Isaiah 33:18 Your heart will meditate on terror: “Where is he who counts? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?”

Isaiah 38:14 “Like a swallow, like a crane, so I twitter; I moan like a dove; My eyes look wistfully to the heights; O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security.

Isaiah 59:3 For your hands are defiled with blood And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness.

11 All of us growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves; We hope for justice, but there is none, For salvation, but it is far from us.

Isaiah 59:13 Transgressing and denying the LORD, And turning away from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words.

Jeremiah 48:31 “Therefore I will wail for Moab, Even for all Moab will I cry out; I will moan for the men of Kir-heres.

While James does not use the word meditate, the idea is certainly alluded to in his description of the blessed man…

But one who looks intently (parakupto) = stoop down amd look into in order to see something exactly ) at the perfect law, the law of liberty (eleutheria – Freedom in Christ is not the right to do as one pleases but the Spirit enabled power to please God by doing what is right!), and abides (tarries, remains) by it, not having become a forgetful hearer (James 1:23-24note) but an effectual doer (speaks of obeying the Word – not legalistically but controlled and empowered by the Spirit), this man shall be blessed in what he does (Notice the promise is “conditioned” on looking intently and obeying unhesitatingly!). (James 1:25note)

Comment: Notice that this passage begins with “but” which is a term of contrast. which signifies a “change of direction” and always begs the question “What is the author contrasting?, Why?, Who is involved?, etc” As you query the text with the 5W/H’S., you will find yourself re-reading the passage as well as the preceding passages. In effect you are “meditating” on James 1:25. You are “looking intently” at the Word. Notice the other benefits – You are forced to slow down. You are establishing the context (which is always key to accurate interpretation). You are re-reading the passage and you are much more likely to retain the truth in this passage then if you were “speed reading” in order to make sure you get through your daily Bible reading so that you don’t fall behind on your “through the Bible in a year” reading program! You may go through the assigned chapters for the day, but the real question is how much of the truth of those passages “went through” your heart and mind and soul and spirit. It is better to chew one verse well, then to read through one chapter and not even recall what you read by the end of the day! As F B Meyer said “Read the Book in happy fellowship with its Author; meditate until it is assimilated… Better one verse digested than a whole chapter bolted (“swallowed” hastily without chewing!).”

Matthew Henry – To meditate in God’s word is to discourse concerning the great things contained in it, with a close application of mind, a fixedness of thought, till we be suitably affected with those things and experience the savour and power of them in our hearts.

J. Vernon McGee writes that…

Meditate is a very figurative word. It pictures a cow chewing her cud. I’m told that the cow has several compartments in her tummy. She can go out in the morning, graze on the grass when the dew is on it in the cool of the day. Then when it gets hot in the middle of the day, she lies down under a tree and begins to chew the cud. She moves the grass she had in the morning back up and now she masticates it, she goes over it again. That is what we do when we meditate. We go over what we have read. Way back in 1688 Bartholomew Ashwood said, “Meditation chews the cud.” My, how that is needed today in the lives of believers. Remember that James spoke of the man who beholds his natural face in a mirror, then “… immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” (Jas 1:24note).

We are to meditate on the Word of God (which is God’s mirror that shows us what we really are). We are to allow the Word to shape our lives. My friend, God has no plan or program by which you are to grow and develop as a believer apart from His Word. You can become as busy as a termite in your church (and possibly with the same effect as a termite), but you won’t grow by means of activity. You will grow by meditating upon the Word of God—that is, by going over it again and again in your thinking until it becomes a part of your life. This is the practice of the happy (blessed) man. (Ps 1:12). (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

Martin Luther said that…

Prayer, meditation, and temptation make a minister.

Meditation is to our inner person what digestion is to our body and thus if you make the Word a part of your life (hearing and heeding it) you will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (see 2Pe 3:18note)

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
–Author Unknown

Wiersbe – We saturate ourselves with the Word by meditating on it… When we meditate on the Word, we allow the Spirit of God within us to “digest” the Word of God for us. So not only do we delight in the Word, it becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for us.

Ray Pritchard – If we are serious about this, we will find the time to meditate. And we will have some sort of regular reading program. Perhaps we’ll read through the Bible in a year. Or perhaps we’ll use one of the many Bible study guides that are available. And certainly we will try to memorize Scripture. This has become something of a lost art today. In an earlier generation, it was commonplace for Christians to emphasize Scripture memory. Today we have more or less relegated that practice to the Awana program. That’s a pity because when we hide the Word of God in our hearts, we are protected from sin and given strength to obey God. I know that many people, men especially, like to say, “I just can’t memorize. I’m too busy. My brain’s too fried. I can barely remember my phone number.” Women seem to do better at this, but we men have a thousand excuses. The truth is, we lack motivation. Suppose that Bill Gates came into the sanctuary with a 50-gallon drum filled with crisp, clean $100 bills. And suppose he offered $100 for each verse anyone memorized by next Sunday. That would change things, wouldn’t it? I’m sure we’ve got men who would figure out a way to memorize 100 verses by next Sunday because they need the money. But God’s Word is more precious than gold or silver. If we delight in the Word, we will find a way to read it, to meditate on it, and even to memorize it.

In the following verses from Psalm 119, observe the association between delight and meditation.

15 I will meditate on Thy precepts, and regard Thy ways. (note)

16 I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word. (note)

23 Even though princes sit and talk against me, Thy servant meditates on Thy statutes. (note)

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors. (note)

47 And I shall delight in Thy commandments, Which I love. (note)

48 And I shall lift up my hands to Thy commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Thy statutes. (note)

77 May Thy compassion come to me that I may live, For Thy law is my delight. (note)

78 May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie; but I shall meditate on Thy precepts. (note)

If God’s Word is not the delight and desire of your heart, beseech Him without ceasing to cultivate in your soul an appetite for the pure milk of His Word. If you pray this with clean hands and a pure heart, you can be assured God will answer it affirmatively for it is in accordance with His good and perfect will. Will you take the challenge to pray this prayer?

A. T. Pierson says that…

Meditation is simply thought prolonged and directed to a single object. Your mystic chambers where thoughts abide are the secret workshop of an unseen Sculptor chiseling living forms for a deathless future. Personality and influence are modeled here. Hence, the biblical injunction: ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life’

J. I. Packer says that meditation is the practice of turning each truth we learn about God into matter for reflection before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.

Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God… It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. (Packer, J I: Knowing God)

Saturation with the Scriptures is the…
Secret to Satisfaction in your Soul

Muse (used twice in OT Ps 39:3143:5, once in NT in KJV of Lk 3:15) describes giving deep thought, close attention or contemplation which abstracts the mind from passing scenes. Muse was the name given to ancient Greek deities (nine goddesses who presided over the arts and sciences) who spent much time in solitude and thinking. The statue of “The Thinker” is the artistic concept of deep concentration and absorption. Add an “a” to the beginning of “muse” and you have: “amuse” — sports, games, television and a score of other tools used by the enemy to keep God’s men from concentrating on man’s God.

Beware of getting alone with your own thoughts. Get alone with God’s thoughts. There is danger in rummaging through waste and barren desert-thoughts that can be labeled — daydreaming or worse. Don’t meditate upon yourself but dwell upon Him — seek God in your inner thought life. There is always danger in meditating upon problems. Develop the habit of reflection upon the Word of God and therein find the answers to your problems.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: When I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches” (Psalm 63:5-6). (See Spurgeon’s notes verse 5verse 6)

Ro 12:2note)

The crown fruit of meditation is the changed life. Without the transformed life, meditation is useless. This was the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees of His day. They knew the facts and were experts in doctrine. They were conscientious, sincere and dedicated men. But the Lord called them sons of Satan — “Ye are of your father the devil.” Why this stinging indictment? All their study of the Old Testament didn’t change their lives. There was no heart application. They still oppressed the poor, defrauded the widows and pursued doubtful business practices.

Beware of meditation that ends in just pious words (cf Jas 1:22note). True meditation ends in moral action. A changed attitude toward God and fellow man is the result. A changed work habit. A changed relationship to your family. In short — a changed life! Anything less is not enough.

O how I love Thy law: it is my meditation all the day (Ps 119:97note)

Regarding the phrase it is my meditation all the day Spurgeon wrote that…

This was both the effect of his love and the cause of it. He meditated in God’s word because he loved it, and then loved it the more because he meditated in it. He could not have enough of it, so ardently did he love it: all the day was not too long for his converse with it. His main prayer, his noonday thought, his evensong were all out of Holy Writ; yea, in his worldly business he still kept his mind saturated with the law of the Lord. It is said of some men that the more you know them the less you admire them; but the reverse is true of God’s word. Familiarity with the word of God breeds affection, and affection seeks yet greater familiarity. When “thy law,” and “my meditation” are together all the day, the day grows holy, devout, and happy, and the heart lives with God.

Bring the fruit of your meditation and offer it to the Lord for His blessing. Ask the Holy Spirit to apply the Word to your heart and enable you to live today in conformity to it.

Let the words of my mouth,
And the meditation of my heart,
Be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord,
My strength, and my Redeemer
Psalm 19:14note

Spurgeon commenting on Psalm 19:14 said that this verse is “A sweet prayer, and so spiritual that it is almost as commonly used in Christian worship as the apostolic benediction. Words of the mouth are mockery if the heart does not meditate; the shell is nothing without the kernel; but both together are useless unless accepted; and even if accepted by man, it is all vanity if not acceptable in the sight of God. We must in prayer view Jehovah as our strength enabling, and our Redeemer saving, or we shall not pray aright, and it is well to feel our personal interest so as to use the word my, or our prayers will be hindered. Our near Kinsman’s name, our Goel or Redeemer, makes a blessed ending to the Psalm; it began with the heavens, but it ends with him whose glory fills heaven and earth. Blessed Kinsman, give us now to meditate acceptably upon thy most sweet love and tenderness.

Hampton Keathley, III in his excellent summary writes that…

Meditation means “the act of focusing one’s thoughts: to ponder, think on, muse.” Meditation consists of reflective thinking or contemplation, usually on a specific subject to discern its meaning or significance or a plan of action. ” (click for entire article BIBLICAL MEDITATION – highly recommended)

Warren Wiersbe rightly said that…

Meditation is to your inner person what digestion is to your body: you make the Word a part of your life and you grow.

Ongoing Meditation – Meditation on God’s Word doesn’t have to end when your devotional time is over. You can continue the blessing by taking Scripture with you throughout the day.

Some people memorize a passage or write it on a card so they can have it available to read when they get a few moments. An engineer uses his coffee breaks to continue his reflection on God’s Word. Homemakers attach verses to the refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Truckers put portions of the Bible on their dashboard.

Leslie B. Flynn tells of a brilliant college student who volunteered to work at a church camp and ended up as the designated potato peeler. A friend who admired her intelligence said, “It’s too bad you had to end up peeling potatoes.” She replied, “I don’t have to think about potatoes while I’m peeling them. So I think about my Bible verse for the day.”

The psalmist indicated that he didn’t read God’s Word and then forget it. He meditated on it all day (Ps 119:97). Likewise, the “blessed man” of Psalm 1 reflected on God’s Word “day and night” (Ps 1:2). And when the Word of God is in our minds from morning to night, we’ll be more likely to obey it and far less likely to violate it. That’s the value of ongoing meditation.— by David C. Egner

We must read Scripture every day
And meditate on what God said
To fight temptation from the world
And live a life that’s Spirit led.

Reading the Bible without meditating on it
is like eating without chewing.

Think About It – According to one little boy, “Thinking is when your mouth stays shut and your head keeps talking to itself.”

The way our head talks to itself tells a lot about how we are doing morally and spiritually. To guard our mind and to keep out the influences that will hinder our walk with God is to use our mind in the way He desires.

The Bible gives us clear guidelines—spelling out the kinds of things we should think about. For example, Psalm 1:2 and Psalm 119:97 tell us to meditate on God’s Word day and night. That should be our first priority in the thinking department.

But we have a life to live, and we can’t spend all of our waking moments meditating on Scripture. Yet even when we are thinking about the mundane aspects of life, we need guidance. Paul told us that we should think about things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). In our daily activities, those words should govern what is on our mind.

When our head “talks to itself,” it needs to say, “Keep the impure and ungodly thoughts out of here!” When we’re thinking that way, we’ll know what to do, how to behave, where to go, and what to say.— by Dave Branon

Let us think about what’s good—
What’s right and pure and true;
May God’s Word control our thoughts
In everything we do.

Right thinking leads to right living.

Day and night – Our continual practice. Not our occasional or spasmodic practice! Anytime (every time!) is a good time to meditate on God’s Word! If one takes the text literally, it might suggest a good practice would be to begin and end each day by meditating on the Word of God, for a good beginning and ending to each day! Such a practice might take some Spirit enabled discipline but Oh the benefits thereof! Paul calls on Timothy and all believers to…

Discipline (Gumnazo [Eng = Gym, gymnastics!] in the present imperative calls for this to be our lifestyle and would include the discipline of meditation) yourself for the purpose of godliness for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1Ti 4:78note)


In Paul’s last letter before he died, while not using the word meditate, he did command Timothy to…

Consider (Think about, carefully consider continually – present imperative) what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2Ti 2:7note)

One of the best ways to “think over” the Biblical passage is to interrogate with the 5W/H using questions. As John Piper commented Paul gives Timothy (and saints of all ages) “a command and a promise. Paul commanded, “Think over what I say.” And then he promised, “God will give you understanding in everything.” Some people see tension between cogitation and illumination. Not Paul. He commands cogitation. And he promises illumination. How do the command and promise fit together? The little connecting word for gives the answer. “Think … because God will reward you with understanding.” We must form the habit of being systematically disturbed by things that at first glance don’t make sense. Or to put it a different way, we must relentlessly query the text. One of the greatest honors I received while teaching Biblical studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, was when the teaching assistants in the Bible department gave me a T-shirt which had the initials of Jonathan Edwards on the front and on the back the words: “Asking questions is the key to understanding.” (From “Brothers We Are Not Professionals”)

I think Piper is spot on, for one of the crying needs for the SAINTS is to SLOW down and SAVOR the SPLENDOR of the SAVIOUR, the Living Word. As Piper says in another place…

You can learn more from a book if you stop and ask it questions than if you just read it passively. That includes the Bible too. One of the great problems in Bible reading is that we move our eyes over the words and come to the end of a column and don’t know what we’ve read; we don’t feel our minds or spirits expanded because we saw nothing fresh. It was purely mechanical. There was no discovery, no life, no breakthroughs to new insight.

One of the best ways to change that is to
train yourself to ask questions of the text.

(Ed: Amen! Hallelujah!) Often the posing of the question itself will already carry its answer with it and will open your mind to new things. This fairly prosaic, historical text in Luke 3:21–38 gives me an opportunity to show you what I mean. I’ll simply take you with me through this text, pointing out the questions I asked and the answers I came up with. My guess is that as you follow me, questions of your own will arise. Good questions usually beget other questions, and that’s how insight grows and grows. (From his sermon intro – The Baptism and the Genealogy of Jesus)

Wesley describes “night and day” as…

Not seldom and slightly, but diligently, and constantly.

Steven Cole explains the value of meditation in the context of Psalm 1 noting that…

As we saw in verse 1, the mind is the first bastion we must defend. Whatever shapes your thinking will shape your life. The only way for a person to reject the counsel of the ungodly which bombards him from every side is to be continually meditating on, thinking about, chewing on in his mind, the Word of God and how it applies to life.

That’s our responsibility: to delight in and meditate on the Word of God. Do you do it? Matthew Henry wisely comments,

“We may judge of our spiritual state by asking, “What is the law of God to us? What account do we make of it? What place has it in us?” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary [Revell], 3:23 9).

To the extent that you build your life on God and His Word, you will have true happiness. (Ibid)

A W Tozer had this to say about the value of meditating on God’s Word…

Read it much, read it often, brood over it, think over it, meditate over it—meditate on the Word of God day and night. When you are awake at night, think of a helpful verse. When you get up in the morning, no matter how you feel, think of a verse and make the Word of God the important element in your day. The Holy Ghost wrote the Word, and if you make much of the Word, He will make much of you. It is through the Word that He reveals Himself. Between those covers is a living Book. God wrote it and it is still vital and effective and alive. God is in this Book…and if you want to find Him, go into this Book.


(Tozer) Let the old saints be our example. They came to the Word of God and meditated. They laid the Bible on the old-fashioned, handmade chair, got down on the old, scrubbed, board floor and meditated on the Word. As they waited, faith mounted. The Spirit and faith illuminated. They had only a Bible with fine print, narrow margins and poor paper, but they knew their Bible better than some of us do with all of our helps.

Let’s practice the art of Bible meditation… Let us open our Bibles, spread them out on a chair and meditate on the Word of God. It will open itself to us, and the Spirit of God will come and brood over it.

I do challenge you to meditate, quietly, reverently, prayerfully, for a month. Put away questions and answers and the filling in of the blank lines in the portions you haven’t been able to understand. Put all of the cheap trash away and take the Bible, get on your knees, and in faith, say, “Father, here I am. Begin to teach me!” (from The Counselor)

John Piper writes that…

meditation in Hebrew means basically to speak or to mutter. When this is done in the heart it is called musing or meditation. Here is where I plead with you to get involved in the Fighter Verse memory program or some other pattern of Bible memorization. Unless you memorize Scripture you will not meditate on it day and night. But O the benefits and delights of knowing communion with God hour by hour in his Word. If you have ever wondered, What is hour-by-hour walking in fellowship with the living God? the answer is: it is his speaking to you by his Word through your memory and meditation and illumination and application and your speaking to him words of thanks and praise and admiration and desire and seeking for help and guidance and understanding. The Word is the basis for your hearing him and for his hearing you. The depth and solidity and certainty of your walk with God and your communion with God will rise and fall with whether God’s own written Word is the warp and woof of the fabric of your fellowship… So I urge you to memorize Scripture, and meditate on it day and night. It will change your life in many good ways. (Meditate on the Word of the Lord Day and Night)

In A Godward Life (Book 2) John Piper emphasizes the important relation between the Word and our faith or trust in God (in His Word, in His promises, etc.)…

Faith feeds on the Word of God. Without a steady diet it gets weaker and weaker. If you are dissatisfied with your Christian courage and joy and purity of heart, check the way you are feeding your faith.

Compare the way you eat. Suppose that you start the day with a glass of orange juice. It’s good, and good for you. It takes you maybe five minutes to drink it if you read the newspaper at the same time. Then you go off to work or school. You don’t eat anything else until the next morning. And you have another glass of juice. And so you go on drinking one glass of juice a day until you drop.

That’s the way a lot of Christians try to survive as believers. They feed their faith with five minutes of food in the morning, or evening, and then don’t eat again until twenty-four hours later. Some even skip one or two mornings and don’t give their faith anything to eat for days.

Now the effect of starving your faith is that faith starves. Not hard to understand. And when faith is starving, it is getting weaker and not able to do much. It has a hard time trusting God and worshiping and rejoicing and resisting sin. It gasps and stumbles.

Henry Blackaby gives a somewhat more “mystical” definition of meditation writing that…

Meditation means “to think deeply and continuously about something.” For a Christian, this means remaining in the presence of God and pondering each truth He reveals about Himself until it becomes real and personal in your life. This takes time. (Experiencing God Day by Day)

The Man Is Ever Blessed
By: Isaac Watts
The man is ever blessed
Who shuns the sinners’ ways,
Among their counsels never stands,
Nor takes the scorners’ place.

But makes the Law of God
His study and delight
Amid the labors of the day
And watches of the night.

He like a tree shall thrive,
With waters near the root;
Fresh as the leaf his name shall live,
His works are heavenly fruit.

Not so the wicked race,
They no such blessings find;
Their hopes shall flee like empty chaff
Before the driving wind.

How will they bear to stand
Before the judgment seat
Where all the saints at Christ’s right hand
In full assembly meet?

He knows and he approves
The way the righteous go;
But sinners and their works shall meet
A dreadful overthrow.

Wiersbe reminds us that “God desires to bless us, but we must meet His conditions for receiving blessings. By staying separate from the world and keeping saturated in the Word, we may expect God’s blessings. Resolve to meditate on the Word of God and obey it. He will make you a blessing to others. (see Matthew 5:3note)

C H Spurgeon in his inimitable pithy style pictures meditation this way…

Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord; not crawl ever its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models , and, what is better still, your spirit is flavored with the words of the LORD.

I would quote John Bunyan as an instance of what I mean. Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like reading the Bible itself. He had studied… [the Bible] till his very soul was saturated with Scripture; and, though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress – that sweetest of all prose poems – without continually making us feel and say,

“Why, this man is a living Bible! Prick him anywhere; his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.”

I commend his example to you, beloved, and, still more, the example of our Lord Jesus. If the Spirit of God be in you, He will make you love the Word of God; and, if any of you imagine that the Spirit of God will lead you to dispense with the Bible, you are under the influence of another spirit which is not the Spirit of God at all. I trust that the Holy Spirit will endear to you every page of this Divine Record, so that you will feed upon it yourselves, and afterwards speak it out to others. So the Jews began less and less to be like Ezra 7:10 (see note) and to delight less and less in the pure milk of the law of the LORD, so they grew less familiar with Who God really is and what He really requires of men. (Ed: And fewer and fewer experienced the blessing of the good hand of the LORD upon them.)

by Isaac Watts
(play hymn)

O how I love Thy holy law!
’Tis daily my delight;
And thence my meditations draw
Divine advice by night.

My waking eyes prevent the day
To meditate Thy Word;
My soul with longing melts away
To hear Thy Gospel, Lord.

How doth Thy Word my heart engage!
How well employ my tongue!
And in my tiresome pilgrimage,
Yields me a heav’nly song.

Am I a stranger or at home,
’Tis my perpetual feast;
Not honey dropping from the comb
So much allures the taste.

No treasures so enrich the mind;
Nor shall Thy Word be sold
For loads of silver well refined,
Nor heaps of choicest gold.

When nature sinks, and spirits droop,
Thy promises of grace
Are pillars to support my hope,
And there I write Thy praise.


Ill. The successful believer is genuinely and completely in love with the Word of God.)

A. The Word Has Captured His Full Affection – Delight = Pleasure! The Word of God isn’t a Book of fables, myths and legends. To the child of God it is the very Word of Truth. it is God-breathed and infallible, inerrant and absolutely perfect. He loves it and he lives it, finding in its pages all he needs to grow and prosper for Jesus.

Ill. The value of the Word:

1. It is Food – Job 23:12Matt. 4:4

a. Milk for the baby – 1 Pet. 2:2 (Ill. It gives the baby Christian everything he needs to grow up strong and healthy!) (Ill. It needs to be prepared and served right however!)

b. Meat for the growing – Heb. 5:12-14 (Ill. It provides all we need to make us strong in the Lord!)

c. Bread for everyone – John 6:51 (Ill. Bread is the staple food of the world! No matter where you go, people need the Bread of life!)

d. Honey for those in need – Psa. 19:10 (Ill. nothing has the power to encourage as does a Word from God!)

2. It is Light – Ps. 119:105

3. It is Truth – John 17:17

4. It is a Mirror – James 1:23-25

5. It is Water – Eph. 5:25-27

a. It Cleanses – Eph. 5:26

b. It Quenches – John 4:13-14

c. It Refreshes – Ps. 119:150

6. It is a Seed – 1 Pet. 1:23

7. It is a Sword – Heb. 4:12Eph. 6:17

8. It is a Hammer – Jer. 23:29

a. It can Build Up – Pro. 16:24

b. It can Tear Down – Rev. 2:1619:1521

9. It is a Fire – Jer. 20:9Luke 24:32

Ill. The successful believer is in love with the Bible. He knows that in its pages, he can find all that his soul requires. It embodies the complete revelation of God to men. It meets the need of the Christian life.

Do you love it as you should?

B. It Has Captured His Full Attention – Not only does the successful believer love the Book, but he lives out the Book daily. The Bible is internalized and it becomes the singular standard for faith and practice. Every thought, every move, every decision is made against the backdrop of God’s Word, and what it has to say about an issue. However, before life can ever be lived in this fashion, the Bible must be consumed and made a vital part of who you are – 2 Tim. 2:15. (Ill. The Psalmist declares that the successful believer spends his days and his nights in the pursuit of the Book. Does the Bible fill your thoughts? Do you find yourself consumed with its content and mesmerized in the meditation of it? The Bible is never better than when it is read and then lived out!) (Sermons and Outlines)

Psalm 1:3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of waterWhich yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever * he does, he prospers. (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Greek (Septuagint): And he shall be as a tree planted by the brooks of waters, which shall yield its fruit in its season, and its leaf shall not fall off; and whatsoever he shall do shall be prospered.

Amplified: And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]. (Amplified Bible – Lockman)

KJV: And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

NET: He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time, and its leaves never fall off. He succeeds in everything he attempts. (NET Bible)

NJB: Such a one is like a tree planted near streams; it bears fruit in season and its leaves never wither, and every project succeeds. (NJB)

Young’s Literal: And he hath been as a tree, Planted by rivulets of water, That giveth its fruit in its season, And its leaf doth not wither, And all that he doth he causeth to prosper.



He will be – As Joseph Alexander observes “the present and the future insensibly run into each other, so as to to suggest the idea of continuous or permanent condition.” (Psalm 1 Commentary) In other words, blessed not only in this life but the life to come! Is this not a desire of your heart dear child of the Living God? Indeed, it is the blessed man or woman who gives irrefutable testimony to the invisible God, their supernatural lives virtually “shouting” that there is a God in heaven Who desires to save, but Who in His justice will be forced to judge all who fail to receive the free gift of eternal life through faith in His Son, Christ Jesus.

Play this beautiful song…then, enabled by the Holy Spirit, put the blessed truth of Psalm 1 into practice…you will never regret it beloved!

  • Planted By the Waters

    Note: In this song the words “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD…” are from the parallel passage in Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” (HALLELUJAH!)

F B Meyer – The rewards of the blessed man – He shall be under Divine culture, planted (Ps 92:13); within reach of perennial supplies, planted by rivers (John 7:3738,39); prepared against any demand or emergency – fruit in season; unfading beauty and freshness, a spiritual evergreen; and prosperity even in this world, because his life is ordered by discretion and obedience to Divine principles. Joseph realized this picture (Ge 39:34)

Like a tree – “A lively emblem of vitality and fruitfulness.” (J. Alexander) The psalmist introduces a simile, a term of comparison, which functions much like a window which God’s Spirit opens in order to give us added insight into the meaning of a particular passage of Scripture. Remember that these “windows” are not to be abused by a fanciful, even “sanctified” imagination, but must always be interpreted in light of the context. The danger of figures of speech is for us to “run wild” with speculative interpretations, forgetting that all figures of speech are meant to convey literal truth.

A W Pink – This figure is found in numerous passages, for there are many resemblances between a tree and a saint. He is not a “reed” moved about by every wind which blows, nor a creeper, trailing along the ground. A tree is upright, and grows heavenward. This tree is “planted”—many are not—but grow wild. A “planted” tree is under the care and cultivation of its owner. Thus, this metaphor assures us that those who delight in God’s Law are owned by God, cared for and pruned by Him! (The Blessed Man)

Guy King – A tree must have water, and it is fascinating to see how some kinds – the alder, for instance – If planted away from it, will instinctively push out their roots in the direction of the water, however far off, seeming, with their tendrils, to be feeling for it, till they find it. (TO MY SON An Expositional Study of II Timothy by Guy King)

David Caldwell expounds on “The tree similitude”…A beautiful illustration of the perpetual verdure and fruitfulness of the piety deriving its origin and sustenance from the Word of God. It is compared to a tree whose roots are refreshed by never-failing streams of living water, and whose every part is instinct with the life flowing from its roots. It is the same with the piety nourished by the Word of God. As the sap of the tree imparts life not only to its roots, and trunk, and larger branches, but also to the remotest twig and leaf, and to the very down upon the leaf, so the truly godly man’s piety pervades his whole life, imparting its spirit and character and beauty to everything he does he is not a religious man in one or two departments of life, but he is a religious man everywhere. His religion is a mental habit–a habit of thought, of feeling, of purpose, of action, of which he never for a moment divests himself. He aims that not so much as a leaf on his tree of righteous living shall show signs of decay. The same spirit that actuates him in the largest, actuates him also in the least transaction of his life. His religion is not a thing that is put on (cp James 1:27note),–it is the man himself–the man in the man. Consequently the storm that bows mock trees of righteousness to the earth, leaves him still standing; the drought that dries up their streams of life, leaves his life still full, fresh, and flowing. Vigor, verdure, and fruitfulness are his evermore. His source of strength can never fail. It is the river of life flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, reaching his soul through the law of the LORD, wherein is his delight and unceasing meditation. (Biblical Illustrator – – scroll down page)

Frank S. Rowland – A tree sermon to children

Six characteristics of trees.

1. Contentment. I never heard of a tree complaining. They are perfectly contented with their lot. Did you ever hear of a maple wishing it were an oak? They have not so much to make them contented as we have. The Christ-Spirit in us will make us happy and contented.

2. Health. How many of you have seen an unhealthy tree? The perfect boy or girl is the one who, like the tree, is healthy. We should attend to these bodies of ours. We should be careful to eat and drink those things which will give us sound bodies. We need to keep our minds, bodies, and souls healthy.

3. Roots. A great part of a tree is underground. Two reasons for this–to hold the tree in its place, and to nourish the tree. A perfect man, a perfect woman, boy, or girl is one who is well-rooted. Among the roots which hold us stable and keep us from falling are–

(1) Good habits formed early in life;

(2) good companions;

(3) good books.

4. Importance. Trees are used in building, furniture, ships, and as medicine. Their fruit is important. The perfect man is important to society, to home, to national life. What should we do without the ideal man and woman?

5. Symmetry. The word means “perfectly balanced in all its parts.” Some trees have perfect proportions. There are men who have only attended to physical development; others only to intellectual development. The symmetrical man is one who has attended to the development of the mind, body, and spirit.

6. Trial. A mighty oak is perfect, because it has been tried. Tempests have swept over it, but still it stands. The perfect man, woman, boy, or girl is the one who, when tempted and tried, comes off the victor. Tried, weighed, and not found wanting, Tried and found to be sound. (Biblical Illustrator – scroll down page)

All God’s children should…

be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, (Why?) that He may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3).

Of Time And Trees -People who don’t want to wait 4 decades for a globe Norway maple to grow in their front yard can buy a 30-foot specimen from a New York nursery for $42,000. A 50-foot European beech is a “bargain” for only $20,000. In spite of the prices, the country’s leading nurseries report soaring sales of mature trees.

As one customer put it: “I can’t wait for a banana to ripen. I only buy them bright yellow. There’s no patience for watching a tree grow.”

We humans are always in a hurry, looking for shortcuts to skirt the process and grasp the product. And sometimes we expect instant maturity in our Christian walk and growth in faith. What a contrast to the enormous leisure of God in His dealings with us!

The psalmist affirmed God’s promise that the person who delights in His Word will “be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season” (Ps. 1:2-3). A growing Christian, whether a new believer or a seasoned saint, is like a healthy tree—planted, nourished, and fruitful.

If our roots are in God’s Word and our hearts are drawing sustenance from Him, we will flourish. And growth toward maturity brings joy to the God of patience.

Our fruitfulness and growth in Christ
Won’t happen instantly,
But meditating on God’s Word
Will bring maturity.

It takes a moment to be saved.
It takes a lifetime to grow in godliness.

Spiritual Trees – Godly men and women are compared in Scripture to sturdy, healthy trees, planted by the rivers of water, laden with fruit, and full of leaves (Ps. 1:3104:16). In order for us to be fruitful trees, we must:

1. Stand straight for God. Lives that reveal Christlike character are lovely to behold, for they are not gnarled by sin or rotted by hypocrisy.

2. Be strong. Those who are well-rooted in God’s Word will be unmovable in times of trial and temptation.

3. Keep growing. As healthy trees add a new ring of growth each year, we too should constantly grow in grace (2 Pet. 3:18).

4. Bring blessing to others. Some trees provide food, others give shade, and others are made into lumber. So too, Christians should provide spiritual food and comfort to their neighbors, as well as use their time and talents to build people up in the Lord.

5. Be ready to be transplanted when God so wills. Christians are not here to stay; they are waiting to be transplanted in the garden of heaven where their fruit will never wither and their leaf will never fade.

How good a tree are you? Is there any fruit, any beauty, any growth worth talking about? Or are you wilted and unproductive? Get growing! —Henry G. Bosch (ODB Editor 1956-1981)

The just are nourished like a tree
Set by the riverside;
Their leaf is green, their fruit is sure,
And thus their works abide.

When growth stops, decay begins.

Planted (08362) (shathal/satal) is a verb which means to plant or to transplant. The idea is to plant and cultivate a seed or seedling in the ground so it may grow. Almost all the uses are figurative, speaking of the godly man or of Israel

The Septuagint (Lxx) uses phuteuo which means literally to plant (Mt 21:33) or figuratively to introduce the Gospel others (1Cor 3:6).

The picture in Psalm 1 is of the godly man being transplanted, which is a fitting image of the New Testament truth of the born-again person. We were dead in our trespasses and sins in IN ADAM and when we were born again by the sanctifying work of the Spirit we were transferred from (“transplanted” if you will from) the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light and placed IN CHRIST, rooted and grounded in Him.

Shathal – 11v – Ps 1:3Ps 92:13Jer 17:8Ezek 17:810222319:1013Hos 9:13 Usage: plant(2), planted(8).

Psalms 92:13 Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God.

Joni Eareckson Tada – The branches of growing trees not only reach higher, but their roots grow deeper. It’s impossible for a strong tree to have high branches without having deep roots. It would become top-heavy and topple over in the wind… The same is true with Christians. It’s impossible for us to grow in the Lord without entwining our roots around His Word and deepening our life in His commands.” (Diamonds in the Dust)

Joseph Alexander – He is not, however, like a tree growing wild, but like a tree planted, in the most favorable situation, on or over, i.e., overhanging, streams of water. The original words properly denote canals or channels, as customary means of artificial irrigation. hence the single tree is said to overhang more than one, because surrounded by them. The image presented is that of a highly cultivated spot, and implies security and care, such as could not be enjoyed in the most luxuriant wilderness or forest. (Psalm 1 Commentary)

Planted speaks of stability in the storms of life. Ray Pritchard elaborates on this picture asking…

How do you know when a tree has good roots? Answer: When the storms come. All the trees look pretty much alike when the sun is shining or a gentle rain is falling, but let a mighty storm with fierce rain and howling winds pass through. Then the true difference is apparent. The trees with few roots are blown over, but the trees with deep roots are still standing when the storm has passed. So it is for the child of God. You won’t know how good your root system is until the storms of life crash against you. Only then will you discover the strength of your spiritual foundation. The only way to be ready for the storm is to spend time now delighting in God’s Word day by day, meditating on its truth, and building a foundation deep and strong for whatever may come your way.

Parallel Isaiah 61:3b and note how or by whom he is planted and why?

So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

The older I get the more I like God’s picture of believers as “trees” Psalm 92 testifying that…

PSALM 92:12-14
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Planted in the house of the LORD,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green.

Streams of water – The Septuagint translates the phrase by streams of water with the Greek phrase “para tas diexodous ton hudaton“.

The Greek lexicon BDAG explains that the specific phrase tas diexodous ton hudaton means…

the point where a stream of water flowing underground suddenly breaks through and flows out freely, a spring

The point is that this is not a stagnant pool but a flowing stream, making the image even more vivid in a land where flowing spring fed streams were sparse. How blessed is this man!

Adam Clarke

By the rivers of water – פלגי מים palgey mayim, the streams or divisions of the waters. Alluding to the custom of irrigation in the eastern countries, where streams are conducted from a canal or river to different parts of the ground, and turned off or on at pleasure; the person having no more to do than by his foot to turn a sod from the side of one stream, to cause it to share its waters with the other parts to which he wishes to direct his course.

Albert Barnes agrees, adding that streams …

does not here quite express the sense of the original. The Hebrew word פלג peleg, from פלג pâlag, to cleave, to split, to divide), properly means divisions; and then, channels, canals, trenches, branching-cuts, brooks. The allusion is to the Oriental method of irrigating their lands by making artificial rivulets to convey the water from a larger stream, or from a lake. In this way, the water was distributed in all directions. The whole land of Egypt was anciently sluiced (channeled) in this manner, and it was in this way that its extraordinary fertility was secured. An illustration of the passage may be derived from the account by Maundrell of the method of watering the gardens and orchards in the vicinity of Damascus. “The gardens are thick set with fruit trees of all kinds, kept fresh and verdant by the waters of the Barady … This river, as soon as it issues out of the cleft of the mountain before mentioned, into the plain, is immediately divided into three streams, of which the middlemost and largest runs directly to Damascus, and is distributed to all the cisterns and fountains of the city. The other two, which I take to be the work of art, are drawn round, the one to the right, and the other to the left, on the borders of the gardens, into which they are let out, as they pass, by little rivulets, and so dispersed over all the vast wood, insomuch that there is not a garden but has a fine, quick stream running through it.” Trav., p. 122… The image is that of a tree abundantly watered, and that was flourishing.

Steven Cole explains that…

The psalmist describes the person who delights in God’s Word as a tree planted by streams of water. This is a tree that has been deliberately cultivated, surrounded by these canals or streams so that its roots have a continual supply of water. It is solid and able to withstand drought or storms. It is fruitful and has continual evidence of life and vitality–its leaves do not wither. He sums it up by applying it: “In whatever he does, he prospers.” There’s a truly happy person: the person God blesses with His prosperity, no matter what circumstances of life he finds himself in.

God is not promising financial prosperity here, but rather, soul-prosperity. The so-called “health and wealth” teaching being promoted by some TV preachers, which claims that God promises financial prosperity, is false. God’s servants may be poor in this world’s goods and afflicted by many trials. But they are rich toward God (Luke 12:21), which is true prosperity. (Ibid)

Wiersbe writes…

A tree is a blessing. It holds soil, provides shade and produces fruit. The godly are like trees, with root systems that go deep into the spiritual resources of God’s grace (v. 3). But sadly, many professing Christians are not like trees but are like artificial plants or cut flowers with no roots. They may be beautiful for a while, but soon they die.

A tree needs light, water and roots to live. We all have resources upon which we draw life. The question we need to ask ourselves is, Where are our roots? The person God can bless is planted by the rivers of water. We must be careful not to be like Christians who are dry and withered and depend upon their own resources. They are like tumbleweeds, blown about by any wind of doctrine.

To have the blessings of verse 3, we need to meet the conditions of verses 1 and 2. That is, we must first be separated from the world and saturated with the Word to be situated by the waters.

God desires to bless us, but we need to meet certain conditions to receive His blessings. We bear fruit only when we have roots, and we must draw upon spiritual resources to bring forth fruit in due season. To bear the fruit of the Spirit, we must allow the Spirit to work in us and through us.

In contrast to the believer, the ungodly are not like trees but are like chaff. They have no roots, produce no fruit and are blown about. The ungodly reject the Word of God and will perish without hope Ps 1:6). As Christians we must not reject the ungodly but try to reach them. God blesses us so that we might be a blessing to others. His Spirit helps us bear fruit that can help win the lost.

Are you like a tree or like chaff?

We need God’s resources to bear fruit. But where we place our roots is paramount. Only as we grow them deeply into the spiritual resources of God’s grace will we produce fruit. Make the Bible your spiritual resource. Delight in it and feed your soul with its truth. God can use you to help win the lost.

In Jeremiah 17 we have a passage that closely parallels Psalm 1…

5 Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD.

6 “For (term of explanation = should always beg at least one question “What is being explained?”) he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust (or hope) is the LORD.

8 “For (term of explanation = should always beg at least one question “What is being explained?”) he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.

Wiersbe – The most important thing about a tree is the root system. If the roots do not go down deep, the tree will not grow in a healthy manner. If we are rooted in the things of the Lord, then our words will be the fruit of our fellowship with Him. We will be like that “blessed man” in Psalm 1 and produce fruit in due season. One reason our Lord was able to say the right words at the right times was because He communed with His Father and heard from heaven each day. Listen to His testimony (Mark 1:35). (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament. Victor)

Deep Roots

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season. —Psalm 1:3

Today’s Scripture:Psalm 1:1-6

In my orchard are two pear trees. Last summer was extremely dry, yet one of the trees was unaffected and remained green and yielded luscious pears. The other tree did not do so well. Its leaves turned yellow, the fruit shriveled, and the leaves and the fruit both dropped to the ground. The tree seemed to be dead.

Then came the rains, and the ground was soaked with moisture. The tree that seemed to be dead sprang to life again. Soon it was covered with leaves, and (believe it or not) in the latter part of August it burst into full bloom. Little pears came into view, but then came the frost and no fruit matured.

One tree thrived and produced delicious fruit in season. What made the difference? Its roots had grown deep, where they found plenty of water. The other had shallow roots and depended on the uncertain rains. The one was like the tree David described, “planted by the rivers of water” (Ps. 1:3). The other, with belated bloom, bore no fruit.

Which kind of a tree are you? Do your roots go deep into the underground streams of the Word of God, or is your devotional life shallow and only occasional? Dig deep, friend, deep into the Book, and your life will produce abundant spiritual fruit. By M.R. DeHaan

The just are nourished like a tree
Set by the riverside;
Their leaf is green, their fruit is sure,
And thus their works abide.

Deep Roots

Read: Psalm 1:1-6

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. —Psalm 1:3

Some friends of mine planted two trees of the same kind and age. The first was set in level ground in the middle of the yard, where its roots went deep into the ground to soak up water. The second was planted at the bottom of a steep bank. When it rained, the water rushed past it to the street.

Both trees appeared to thrive. Then a strong windstorm came. The tree in the middle of the lawn stood firm, while the other one toppled over. Why? The root systems were different. The tree in the lawn had deep roots, while the other one had shallow roots. At the base of the bank, the water always passed swiftly over the top of the soil, so those roots stayed shallow. That tree, therefore, could not withstand the force of the wind.

We need to let our roots grow deep, anchoring us firmly in the Word of God. We must not settle for the rushing surface waters of emotion and experience. They have their place in the Christian life, but we need to take the time to learn the deeper, strengthening truths of the Bible and the deeper realities of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9-13). Then, when the pressures of life increase or the strong winds of temptation blow, we won’t be toppled. Our deep roots will enable us to withstand adversity. By David C. Egner 

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

When you’re rooted in truth, you can withstand the winds of trial.

Bearing Good Fruit

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season. Psalm 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 1:1–3

The view from my airplane window was striking: a narrow ribbon of ripening wheat fields and orchards wending between two barren mountains. Running through the valley was a river—life-giving water, without which there would be no fruit.

Just as a bountiful harvest depends on a source of clean water, the quality of the “fruit” in my life—my words, actions, and attitude—depends on my spiritual nourishment. The psalmist describes this in Psalm 1: The person “whose delight is in the law of the Lord . . . is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season” (vv. 1–3). And Paul writes in Galatians 5 that those who walk in step with the Spirit are marked by “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (vv. 22–23).

Sometimes my perspective on my circumstances turns sour, or my actions and words become persistently unkind. There is no good fruit, and I realize I haven’t spent time being quiet before the words of my God. But when the rhythm of my days is rooted in reliance on Him, I bear good fruit. Patience and gentleness characterize my interactions with others; it’s easier to choose gratitude over complaint.

The God who has revealed Himself to us is our source of strength, wisdom, joy, understanding, and peace (Ps. 119:2898111144165). As we steep our souls in the words that point us to Him, the work of God’s Spirit will be evident in our lives. By Peter Chin

Like A Tree

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. —Psalm 1:3

Today’s Scripture: Ephesians 4:11-16

In the quietness of my final years I plan to watch a tree grow—a birch tree I planted as a tiny sapling over 30 years ago. It stands now in mature splendor, just outside our picture window—beautiful in every season of the year.

So it is with our spiritual endeavors: We may have planted, watered, and fussed over our “saplings” (those we’ve mentored) for a time, but only God can make a “tree.”

Occasionally I hear from those I ministered to years ago, and discover to my delight that they have grown to maturity and have been greatly used of God—with no help from me. It’s a gentle reminder that I plant and water for a while, and help others “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Eph. 4:15). But only God “gives the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).

German theologian Helmut Thielicke writes, “The man who doesn’t know how to let go, who is a stranger to quiet, confident joy in Him who carries out His purposes without us (or also through us or in spite of us), in Him who makes the trees grow . . . that man will become nothing but a miserable creature in his old age.”

So, at my age, I may yet tend a sapling or two, but mostly I will let go and watch them grow. By David H. Roper

A Prayer: Lord, I want to be used by You in others’ lives. Teach me from Your Word so that I can help others follow You. And enable me to let go and trust You to work in them. Amen.


Since I am in the “autumn” of my life, the words of Psalm 92 regarding fruitfulness are a continual source of motivation and encouragement to me as they should be to all God’s “aging” saints…

The righteous man (or woman) will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age. They shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the LORD is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (Psalm 92:12-15note)

Spurgeon has a wonderful exposition on this psalm writing: The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, whose growth may not be so rapid, but whose endurance for centuries is in fine contrast with the transitory verdure of the meadow. When we see a noble palm standing erect, sending all its strength upward in one bold column, and growing amid the dearth and drought of the desert, we have a fine picture of the godly man (Ed: and woman), who in his (her) uprightness aims alone at the glory of God; and, independent of outward circumstances, is made by divine grace to live and thrive where all things else perish. The text tells us not only what the righteous is, but what he shall be; come what may, the good man (woman) shall flourish, and flourish after the noblest manner. He (she) shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. This is another noble and long lived tree. “As the days of a tree are the days of my people”, saith the Lord. On the summit of the mountain, unsheltered from the blast, the cedar waves its mighty branches in perpetual verdure, and so the truly godly man (woman) under all adversities retains the joy of his (her) soul, and continues to make progress in the divine life. Grass (see Ps 92:7note), which makes hay for oxen, is a good enough emblem of the unregenerate; but cedars, which build the temple of the Lord, are none too excellent to set forth the heirs of heaven.

Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. In the courtyards of Oriental houses trees were planted, and being thoroughly screened, they would be likely to bring forth their fruit to perfection in trying seasons; even so, those who by grace are brought into communion with the Lord, shall be likened to trees planted in the Lord’s house, and shall find it good to their souls. No heart has so much joy as that which abides in the Lord Jesus.

Fellowship with the Stem
begets fertility in the branches

If a man (woman) abide in Christ He brings forth much fruit. Those professors who are rooted to the world do not flourish; those who send forth their roots into the marshes of frivolous pleasure cannot be in a vigorous condition; but those who dwell in habitual fellowship with God shall become men (women) of full growth, rich in grace, happy in experience, mighty in influence, honored and honorable. Much depends upon the soil in which a tree is planted; everything, in our case, depends upon our abiding in the Lord Jesus (Jn 8:3132Jn 15:71Jn 2:142Jn 1:1,2), and deriving all our supplies from Him (Jn 15:5). If we ever really grow in the courts of the Lord’s house we must be planted there, for no tree grows in God’s garden self sown; once planted of the Lord, we shall never be rooted up, but in His courts we shall take root downward, and bring forth fruit upward to His glory for ever.

They shall still bring forth fruit in old age. Nature decays but grace thrives (cp 2Cor 4:16note). Fruit, as far as nature is concerned, belongs to days of vigor; but in the garden of grace, when plants are weak in themselves, they become strong in the Lord, and abound in fruit acceptable with God. Happy they who can sing this Sabbath Psalm (Ps 92:1), enjoying the rest which breathes through every verse of it; no fear as to the future can distress them, for their evil days, when the strong man fails, are the subject of a gracious promise, and therefore they await them with quiet expectancy. Aged believers possess a ripe experience, and by their mellow tempers and sweet testimonies they feed many. Even if bedridden, they bear the fruit of patience; if poor and obscure, their lowly and contented spirit becomes the admiration of those who know how to appreciate modest worth. Grace does not leave the saint when the keepers of the house do tremble; the promise is still sure though the eyes can no longer read it; the bread of heaven is fed upon when the grinders (teeth) fail; and the voice of the Spirit in the soul is still melodious (Eph 5:19note) when the daughters of music are brought low. Blessed be the Lord for this! Because even to hoar (to those whose hair is gray, white with age) hairs He is the I AM, who made His people, He therefore bears and carries them (cp Ps 68:19note).

They shall be fat and flourishing. They do not drag out a wretched, starveling (lean) existence, but are like trees full of sap, which bear luxuriant foliage. God does not pinch His poor servants, and diminish their consolations when their infirmities grow upon them; rather does He see to it that they shall renew their strength (Isa 40:31note), for their mouths shall be satisfied with His own good things. Such an one as Paul the aged would not ask our pity, but invite our sympathetic gratitude; however feeble his outward man may be, his inner man is so renewed day by day that we may well envy his perennial peace. (cp 2Cor 4:16note)

This mercy to the aged proves the faithfulness of their God, and leads them to show that the Lord is upright, by their cheerful testimony to His ceaseless goodness. We do not serve a Master Who will run back from His promise. Whoever else may defraud us, He never will. Every aged Christian is a letter of commendation to the immutable fidelity of Jehovah.

He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. Here is the psalmist’s own seal and sign manual; still was he building upon his God, and still was the Lord a firm foundation for his trust. For shelter, for defense, for indwelling, for foundation, God is our Rock; hitherto He has been to us all that He said He would be, and we may be doubly sure that He will abide the same even unto the end. He has tried us, but He has never allowed us to be tempted above what we are able to bear: He has delayed our reward, but He has never been unrighteous to forget our work of faith and labour of love (1Th 1:3note). He is a Friend without fault, a Helper without fail (Heb 13:5-6note). Whatever He may do with us, He is always in the right; His dispensations have no flaw in them, no, not the most minute. He is true and righteous altogether, and so we weave the end of the psalm with its beginning, and make a coronet (crown) of it, for the head of our Beloved.

It is a good thing to sing praises unto the Lord, for “He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

Yields its fruit in season – The blessed man who abides in the Word (cp John 15:5 with John 1:1Col 3:16note cp Jn 8:3132), the “Seed” (Mt 13:23Lk 8:15, cp 1Pe 1:23note), can expect to bear fruit. The more we converse with the word of God the better prepared we are for every good work (2Ti 3:1617note). Note the recurring biblical principle: First the root, then fruit. First hearing and doing of the Word (James 1:22noteJames 1:25note) and then the bearing of fruit. The sad truth is that many Christians are more concerned about the “leaves” and neglect the root, the most important part! Unless we spend time daily in the Word, intentionally setting aside time to allow the Spirit to feed us (1Cor 2:10-161Jn 2:2027), we will wither spiritually and bear little if any fruit. We may have spiritual life, but we will not experience it abundantly (Jn 10:10b, cp Mk 4:8202Pe 1:8note2Pe 1:1011note). Note that the promise is not just for “reading” the Word, but for meditating on the Word, taking time to “chew before you swallow” so to speak, so that you might digest the spiritual truth that you have read. While I applaud “through the Bible in a year” reading programs, the danger, if you will, is that one can become so focused on keeping up with the reading schedule that they do not take the time to meditate on what they are reading. One verse meditated upon is far better than one chapter hastily read.

THOUGHT: If you are reading too fast, one of best ways to slow down and facilitate meditation on the Scripture is to read the Bible inductively taking time to carefully observe the text, establishing the context, taking time to note the terms of contrastterms of conclusionterms of explanationexpressions of timeterms of comparison such as similes and metaphors, and interrogating each of these “finds” with the 5W/H’S. The discipline of reading inductively takes an some time to learn, but the benefits of your investment will be last forever and ever!

Season (eth) is the appointed time, the proper time, the right time and is translated in the Lxx with kairos which describes a specific period of time that lasts for a season. In other words, kairos refers to a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for or a strategic point in time — the “opportune time.” Kairos is occasionally translated opportunity in the NAS. (See related word eukaira translated “good opportunity” in Mt 26:16Lk 22:6) The English word opportunity has a fascinating origin. Hundreds of years ago when living by the sea was critically important to everyday business and industry, the word opportunity was first coined. Time-tables for everything from commerce to transportation depended on the rise and fall of tides. The specific time when the water was deep enough to sail out to sea was known as ob portu, the time when time and tide converged. As believers, our lives are filled with God given opportunities, those moments for example when an urgent need converges with your ability to help meet that need. If you have the eyes to recognize that opportunity (eg, you have been “marinating” your mind with God’s Word and you spiritual senses are on “high alert”), you can seize the moment and redeem the time, the opportunity, (Eph 5:16note) for the glory of God, joining Him where He is at work. As we learn to recognize and choose to join God when He presents us with an ob portu moment, we begin to enter into the fullness of the blessed, blessed (“blessed” in Ps 1:1 is plural!) life the psalmist is describing!

See Related Study – Redeem the Time

Shakespeare alluded to the idea of ob portu when he wrote the classic lines…

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
(Julius Caesar, 4.3.217)

Pritchard – To speak of “fruit in its season” means that the tree produces fruit that expresses its true inner character. How do you spot an orange tree? By the oranges it produces. And how do you spot an apple tree? Look for the apples. Whatever is on the inside must eventually be seen on the outside. Applied to the spiritual life, this means that when our roots are deep in the Word, we will be given whatever we need, whenever we need it. If we need love, from the Word of God will come the strength to produce the fruit of love. If we need a forgiving spirit, from the Word of God will come the strength to forgive. If we need courage, we will produce the fruit of courage. If we need patience and perseverance, the Word of God will produce it in us. This sort of supernatural life is available to every believer, but it will only be fully realized over time as we continue to walk with the Lord and to delight in his Word. (see also study of the fruit of the Spirit – see notes Galatians 5:1617181920212223242526 — see notes Galatians 5:1617181920212223242526)

David Dickson (1834) – The man that makes the word of God his delight, shall be made fruitful in every good work, as opportunity is offered to him

A W Pink writes that the psalmist’s description of a fruitful Christian…

is an essential character of a gracious man, for there are no fruitless branches in the true Vine (Jn 15:5). “In season,” for all fruits do not appear in the same month, neither are all the graces of the Spirit produced simultaneously.

  • Times of trial—call for faith.
  • Times of suffering—call for patience.
  • Times of disappointment—call for meekness.
  • Times of danger—call for courage.
  • Times of blessings—call for thanksgiving.
  • Times of prosperity—call for joy.

John Piper explains that if you separate from sin and saturate your mind with Scripture …

You will be a fruitful person. O for more fruitful people! You know them. They are refreshing and nourishing to be around. You go away from them fed. You go away strengthened. You go away with your taste for spiritual things awakened. Their mouth is a fountain of life. Their words are healing and convicting and encouraging and deepening and enlightening. Being around them is like a meal. This is the effect of delighting in the Word of God and meditating on it day and night. You will yield fruit in season. (Psalm 1 Meditate on the Word of the Lord Day and Night)


Leaf does not whither – The life of a Scripture saturated follower of Christ is a vibrant, living testimony, for his good (God) works give clear evidence of the reality of the profession of his lips. As MacDonald says the meditating man’s “spiritual life is not subject to cyclical changes but is characterized by continuous inner renewal.”

Jesus commanded all of us as His disciples as lights of the world, not to hide our light under a basket but to be fruit bearers who are like a city set on a hill…

Let your light shine (aorist imperative = Do this now even with a sense of urgency) before men (Not under a basket) in such a way that they may see your good works (being careful not to draw attention to yourself), and glorify (doxazo = give a proper opinion of) your Father Who is in heaven (In short our invisible Spirit enabled, supernatural works give clear, irrefutable testimony of the invisible God we worship and serve! For the power to do good works see Acts 1:8note). (Mt 5:16note)

Paul issues a parallel charge to Christ’s “light bearers” commanding us to…

Do (present imperative = Make this the habit of your life all the days of your life) all (Greek = no exceptions!) things without grumbling (goggusmos) or disputing (dialogismos) (Be careful! This is not possible naturally but only supernaturally! In other words, although it is “impossible“, it is “Him-possible”! Study and “surrender” to Phil 2:13NLTnote and then obey the command in Phil 2:12bnote!); that (expresses purpose of obeying the preceding command) 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, (Phil 2:1415note)

Pink comments “Where there is no fruit to God’s glory—our profession is a mockery.”

Regarding the phrase one whose leaf does not whither John Piper says…

The point here is that the hot winds are blowing and the rain is not falling and all the other trees that are not planted by streams are withering and dying, but in spite of all the heat and drought, your leaf remains green, because delighting in the Word of God and meditating on it day and night is like being planted by a stream. The happiness of this person is durable. It is deep. It does not depend on which way the wind is blowing or whether the rain is falling. It gets its life from an absolutely changeless source: God in his Word.

David Dickson (1834) on “his leaf also shall not wither”…

This man shall be enabled to bear out a holy profession of his faith in, and obedience to God, in adversity, as well as in prosperity

Pritchard – The phrase pictures a leafy tree that seems like an evergreen because its leaves are in season all year round. People like this are constantly refreshed by the Word of God, constantly renewed, constantly drawing on new strength for new situations. They are never boring, never dull, never living off yesterday’s blessings, but living each day in the strength of the Lord whose mercies are new every morning.

Habakkuk describes such a person…

Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18see commentary)

F B Meyer

…his leaf also shall not wither –

“If a man abide not in Me,” said our Lord, “he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered.”

The same thought is here. Thrust down your rootlets to the oozy river bed, and there is no doubt about your continuing earnest, patient, God-filled. The sun of temptation may strike you with sword-like beams, but you will have a source of supply which they cannot exhaust. The secret of an unwithering beauty is in the Word of God, delighted in and meditated upon day and night. And what is the Word of God, but the life of God. translated into human speech?

Wean yourself from all beside, and learn to feed on God. Withdraw your rootlets from men and things, and let them travel to the river of God, which is full of water. Close other doors, and open those that. lead out on to the terrace, whence you may behold the far-spread landscape of what He is, and says, and is willing to be to us all.

Note that word meditate (Meditate). The root must lie in contact with the stream, and the soul must steep itself in the Word of God. We must give the truth time to enter and pervade our souls. We must have retreats, shut away from the rush of life, up and down the glades of which we may tread. These retreats are oftener found within the soul than without. Just as in the temple of old, there was Solomon’s porch, where Jesus walked, so in the temple within there are closes and cloisters, where we may commune with our heart, and be still.

Prospers (06743)(tsalach/salah – see word study) means to accomplish satisfactorily what is intended = generally expresses idea of a successful venture, as contrasted with failure. The source of true success is God’s Spirit Who enables supernatural spiritual prosperity. Don’t twist this promise to apply only to material prosperity, for that is far less valuable than spiritual prosperity. God may choose to prosper us materially, but not at the expense of our spiritual prosperity!

The Septuagint translates tsalach with the verb kateuodoo which means to “have free course or passage, prosper.” (BDAG)

William MacDonald astutely (and I think accurately) observes that…

This kind of man shall prosper in everything he undertakes. The reason, of course, is that he is living in fellowship with the Lord, and all his service is therefore guided by the Holy Spirit. The only way to be efficient and successful in the Christian life is to be led by the Spirit of God. Self-directed activity is an enormous waste of time, money, and effort! (EdNote striking contrast – Spirit led versus Self directed – Beloved, which describes your works/ministry?)

Piper says the phrase “he prospers” describes “a life whose “labor is not in vain” (1Corinthians 15:58note), but succeeds in God’s good purposes into eternity.”

Pink adds that…

This (prosperity) necessarily follows, though it is not always apparent to the eye of sense. Not even a cup of water given in the name of Christ, shall fail to receive its reward—if not here, certainly in the hereafter (Mt 10:42Mark 9:41).

David Dickson (1834) – Whatsoever duty or service to God this man goes about, shall not want the assistance of God, nor success, nor acceptance at His hands – whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Albert Barnes – This (“all he does he prospers”) is a literal statement of what had just been put in a figurative or poetic form (“be like a tree… “). It contains a general truth, or contains an affirmation as to the natural and proper effect of religion (Ed: relationship with God through faith in Christ), or of a life of piety, and is similar to that which occurs in 1Ti 4:8note — “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”


Pritchard adds that…

They prosper in the sense that no matter what happens, they find strength for the day and hope in the midst of the hardest difficulties. They bring forth godly fruit in good times and bad times. Why? Because they are planted deep in the good soil and their roots reach out to the water of the Word of God. Finding constant nourishment therein, they can face whatever life throws at them.

The thought here is similar to Romans 8:37 (note) where in the midst of struggles, sorrow, persecution, famine, distress, nakedness and the sword, those who know Jesus are “more than conquerors” through His divine power. And that triumphant deliverance comes to us in large part through the Word of God.

In this world we may face disappointment, sorrow, rejection, failure, sickness, abandonment, and discouragement. We may hear things about our children we prayed to God never to hear, our dearest friends may desert us, our spouse may leave us, and we may face an unremitting series of earthly tragedies. Illness, physical weakness, and death itself may visit our door time and again.

Even then, we prosper, we thrive, we survive, we are not destroyed. Sometimes when I ask friends going through hard times how they are doing, the answer comes back, “I’m surviving.” Years ago I foolishly thought that was a wimpy response. Now I see that it is a powerful statement of faith. Sometimes surviving is the same as thriving. Some days to survive is to prosper. That, too, is a kind of prosperity for the people of God. (Psalm 1: Trees Planted by the Water) (Bolding added)


Ill. The promises of this verse are conditional. When we live separated lives and feed our souls on God’s Word, then we can expect these things to happen for us.)

A. His Position – By the River! Always close to the life giving resources. (Ill. This was meaningful to Israel with her mostly arid conditions.) The tree planted by the river is never dry and wilted, but is green, lush and lovely. (Ill. The believer who lives close to God will never be dry and wilted either. He will be vibrant, lively and productive.) (Ill. Many never know the joy of drawing off Christ daily! As a result, they are spiritually wilted and dead looking.) The droughts of life and the dry seasons never seem to affect the believer who is planted near the river. He is connected to an unfailing source of life and strength.

B. His Prominence – Ill. A tree. The life of the successful believerstands heads above all those around him. It is easily seen when a man draws from the Lord. (Ill. Men will know when you have been with Jesus – Acts. 4:13)

C. His Permanence – Planted – Unlike some plants, which live for a season and die out, this tree, has sunk its root deep and has a hidden source of life. (Ill. The value of private prayer and Bible Study.) (Ill. Planted – literally “transplanted.” A tree cannot transplant itself, neither can a man transplant himself into the Kingdom of God. It is wholly a work of God’s grace. And, He always plants us in good soil, near the water supply. However, after we are planted, it is our responsibility to draw from the resources, which God has provided.)

D. His Productivity – “Brings forth fruit” – The successful believer is a blessing to all those around him, because his fruit is plentiful. (Ill. John 7:38) (Ill. Old apple tree in the cow pasture. Man, cows, birds and insects all benefited from the fruit off this old tree.) (Ill. You may never know just who is feeding off your life!)

E. His Predictability – “In his season” This tree isn’t a freak. Just as there are seasons of fruit bearing, so there are times of rest and growth. As believers, we aren’t to worry over the fruit. That is the Father’s business! When everything else is as it should be, then the fruit will come in its season – John 15:1-5.

F. His Perpetuity – “leaf shall not fade” – The successful believer is like an evergreen. He is always surrounded by the green of life. (Ill. The trees in the wintertime. The hardwoods and leafy trees are look dead, but the evergreens stand out as islands of life in a sea of deadness. They are unaffected by winter or weather, but they are always the same.) (Ill. our lives should be lives of consistency! We are called on to be a stable, faithful and dependable people – 1 Cor. 15:58) The successful believer is consistent. The curve balls of life are unable to knock him off course. (Ill. Thank the Lord for consistent people!) (Ill. Life lived by this river in unchanging.)

G. His Prosperity – “Whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper” – In other words, God will bless the successful believer. His personal life, his family life, his business life, his church life, his spiritual life will all be blessed of the Lord. That isn’t to say that there won’t be stormy seas, but the successful believer will be able to sail them with Jesus until they are calm once again!

Conclusion: Do you possess the characteristics of the successful believer? If so, the Bible, in verse 1, says you are “Blessed.” This means “Oh how very, very happy.” I hope you have seen yourself among the happy ones and are encouraged about you walk with Jesus tonight. You see it is possible to be successful for Christ and know it with out being self-righteous!

However, if you saw yourself lacking in some of these areas, then Jesus stands ready, willing and able to make those things right once again. Let’s take whatever steps are necessary to make our lives be the successes they can and should be. (Sermons and Outlines)

Slow Down And Live

His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. —

Psalm 1:2

Many of our New Year’s resolutions may actually accelerate our pace of life instead of helping us to slow down. In a quest for greater productivity and efficiency, we overschedule our days, then rush through meals, drive impatiently, and wonder why the joy of living eludes us.

Carol Odell, who writes a business advice column, says that slowing down can positively affect our lives at work and at home. She believes that rushing can cloud our judgment and cause us to overlook important things and valuable people. Carol encourages everyone to slow down, and even suggests the radical idea of welcoming red traffic lights and using the waiting time to meditate.

In Psalm 1, there is no hint of a frenzied pace. It describes a person who enjoys the blessing of God. Instead of thinking and acting like those who rarely consider spiritual matters, “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (v.2). The result is a fruitful life and a well-nourished soul (v.3).

Isaiah wrote, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3). Just for today, try thinking about that verse whenever you have to wait. Isn’t it time for all of us to slow down and live? By David C. McCasland

If you’re working hard to make a living,
Never taking time to smell the roses,
Now’s the time to heed the Bible’s wisdom:
Find true joy before your life’s day closes.

What Is Reality?

His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. —Psalm 1:2

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 1:1-6

The cartoon depicted a frustrated father changing a flat tire in the rain. His two children were peering out the car window. In response to their complaining, he said, “Don’t you understand? This is life. This is what’s happening. We can’t switch to another channel!”

Television and reality—does the former distort the latter? After 10 years of research, media analyst Kenneth Curtis measured TV’s impact on society. He concluded that the omnipresent, flickering screen constantly tries to tell us what behavior and attitudes are desirable. He described the effect of TV as a subtle process that has become a significant force in defining reality.

If this is true, we had better be careful about what we watch. The networks are not committed to portraying Christian values. Many things that are presented as acceptable are in fact dangerous. Furthermore, watching TV makes us passive observers rather than active participants in solving life’s problems. The violence, sex, and materialism on TV can make us insensitive to our calling as Christians to be salt and light in a sinful world.

Only as we meditate on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2) can we have the right perspective. To avoid a distorted view of life, we must allow God’s truth to define reality. By Mart DeHaan

Our thoughts are shaped by what we see, 
And thoughts affect our soul;
So if we’d profit from TV,
We must be in control.

Who Is Most Important?

His delight is in the law of the Lord . . . . He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. —Psalm 1:2-3

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 1:1-6

During an operation, an experienced surgeon asked a young intern, “Who is the most important person in this operating room?”

The intern searched for an appropriate answer. He didn’t believe that his mentor was asking for personal compliments, so trying to sound gracious he replied, “I suppose that it would be these nurses who assist you in such an efficient manner.”

The surgeon shook his head and said, “No, the most important individual in this room is the patient.”

It’s possible to overlook the obvious in studying the Bible too. It’s easy to forget how important you are in the process. Whether or not you find profit depends on your attitude.

What is the right attitude to bring to Bible study? First, approach the Bible with a sense of your own need, not simply to teach it to someone else. Second, approach the Bible with humility. Don’t try to make the Bible say what you would like it to say, but study to discover what God has said.

German theologian Johann Bengel (1687-1752) said, “Be like a maker of a well who brings no water to his source but allows the water he finds there to flow freely without stoppage, diversion, or defilement.” Those who do that will grow like trees “planted by the rivers” (Psalm 1:3).  By Haddon W. Robinson

Afraid to see what’s in God’s Book?
It’s meant for you, don’t fail to look.
The words and thoughts contained therein
Will bring God’s peace and cleanse from sin. 

Fiber Man

Read: Psalm 1

In His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. —Psalm 1:2-3

Dr. Denis Burkitt achieved fame for discovering the cause and cure of a disease named after him— Burkitt’s lymphoma. He also received widespread acclaim for demonstrating the benefits of a fiber-rich diet, which earned him the amusing nickname “Fiber Man.”

What many people don’t know, however, is that Dr. Burkitt was not merely a great medical pioneer; he was a dedicated servant of God who daily spent much time in prayer and meditation on God’s Word. He observed, “I am convinced that a downgrading in priority of . . . prayer and biblical meditation is a major cause of weakness in many Christian communities. . . . Bible study demands pondering deeply on a short passage, like a cow chewing her cud. It is better to read a little and ponder a lot than to read a lot and ponder a little.”

Dr. Burkitt didn’t leave just a great legacy of healing; he left an example of personal holiness and closeness with the Lord. The secret was his lifelong habit of setting aside a specific time for prayer and reflection on God’s Word.

Few of us will ever enjoy accomplishments like his, but by following the prescription of Psalm 1 we can attain the same spiritual health that he did.

In the stillness of the morning,
Before a busy day of care,
How sweet to be alone with God
Through His holy Word and prayer! —Anderson

God speaks to those who take the time to listen.

By Haddon W. Robinson

Application Questions

  • Have you discovered the secret of blessed? Do you really desire to be blessed? Do you understand that although blessed is a supernatural condition, you as a believer still have a responsibility — there are certain negative behaviors that will impede the flow of God’s blessing (Ps 1:11Pe 2:1).
  • Who are you getting your primary counsel from? If you are not delighting in the God’s Word, is it because you are “stuck” in verse 1?
  • How is your spiritual state? One way to judge your spiritual state by asking… What is the Word of God to me? What place has does the Word have in my life?’
  • A W Pink asks “How far, dear reader, do you and I resemble this “blessed man”? Let us again press the order of these three verses. Just so far as we fall into the sins of verse 1—will our delight in God’s Law be dulled. And just so far as we are not in subjection to His will—shall we be fruitless. But a complete separation from the world, and wholehearted occupation with the Lord—will issue in fruit to His praise!” And all God’s children cry “Amen! Let it be so Lord!”
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