Archive for May, 2010

Full or Hungry?

The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

Proverbs 27:7

This was the text of a sermon the other day at church, and the truth of it is a good that I had not really ever taken the time to meditate on before.  Personally, I like food.  I probably like it a little too much.  If it were up to me, I would eat candy bars, cookies, brownies and cake (actually, let’s dispense with the formalities and I’ll just eat the frosting) all day long.  And then I would eat pizza and cheeseburgers at night.  With a little (or a lot) of ice cream before bed.  There have been too many times when I have eaten so much that I was nearly sick.  As you can see from the aforementioned list of food, I have a bit of a sweet tooth.  Or, more accurately, I have an entire mouth full of “sweet teeth”.  It is a rare thing indeed for me to refuse dessert.  And that is the picture the Bible paints for us in this verse: when you are full, even something sweet is loathsome, or disgusting. 

I have been on the “full” end of things too many times in my life.  However, I have also been on the hungry end of things: when you have a real hunger, just about anything is going to sound good.  When you are truly hungry, you aren’t going to get too picky.  When I would tell my grandma that I was hungry and “couldn’t find anything to eat” while looking into a packed refrigerator or cabinet, she would usually reply “you must not be too hungry”.  When we are hungry, even things we might not normally eat sound appealing.

In a spiritual sense, if we are “full” and have as much of the Lord and as much of His Word as we want, even something tasty and sweet isn’t going to appeal to us.  How often have we not been moved at the thought of even the “sweetest” passages?  Verses that tell of God’s love for us and of Jesus’ sacrifice for us?  Verses that tell of the longsuffering mercy and grace of God?  Songs and hymns that speak of His love and His forgiveness and His salvation?  How often have we turned down these sweet morsels because our souls are as full of God as we want them to be and we just don’t want any more?

On the other hand, how hungry are we for Him and His Word?  There are some things in the Bible that may seem “bitter”.  There are verses and passages that speak of sin and judgment.  There are passages that speak of damnation and punishment.  There are verses that show us just how vile we are on the inside.  There are verses and passages that expose our sins as evil.  Sometimes these passages are “hard to swallow”.  But if we are truly hungering to know Him more, even these seemingly bitter passages will be sweet to our souls, as they will bring us closer to Him.

Are our souls “full” of God and not wanting any more, or are they hungry for Him and His Word?

Making Dad Glad

My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.

Proverbs 27:11

I have been reading the Proverbs for quite a while now and, by reading one Proverb a day (there are 31 chapters in the “book of wisdom and usually 31 days in the month- coinicidence?) I have read through the entire book quite a few times.  Until recently, however, I always automatically applied this verse to my human father.  I know that doing right is going to make my dad happy.  I know that when I do right, it will give him an answer to those that would seek to reproach him.  There have been many times in my life that I have not been wise and that I did not make my dad’s heart glad.  I am saddened by the times in my life that I did not honor my father by doing right.  But my view of this verse was expanded the other day to a realm that I had not considered before.

I’m sure that we could use this verse to make an application to our Heavenly Father as well as our earthly fathers.  When we are wise and do right, we make our Heavenly Father glad.  And, for better or for worse, God and Christianity are often judged by people based on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of His children.  That is the thing that I have been thinking about lately.  Is my life a reproach the Lord?  Has the way that I have lived my life helped the cause of Christ or hurt the cause of Christ?  Unfortunately, I would have to say that I have often failed and that far too many times my life has been more of a hindrance than a help.  I sincerely hope that I am moving in a different direction now.  I hope and pray that I will live wisely and make my Father’s heart glad.  I hope and pray that I will help His cause and point others to Him.  My desire is that others will see Him in me.

A Big Heart

And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

I Kings 4:29

I don’t know if this verse is where the phrase “big hearted” comes from, but it does carry that connotation.  The first part of the verse is great and something that we could all be praying for and working toward: “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much…”  It should be our desire to have “exceeding much” wisdom and understanding.  That is where studying and meditating on the Bible comes in to play.  The Bible and the Holy Spirit can give us the wisdom and understanding that we need to deal with any situation that may come into our lives. 

But it is the second part of the verse that I have been thinking about this morning.  “And largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore”.  To be totally honest with you, I am not sure exactly what is meant by this phrase as it is applies to Solomon in the context of the verse.  I looked up a few commentators and they didn’t seem to have a satisfactory answer either.  Some said it may have had something to do with Solomon’s ability to teach and apply his wisdom, which may be true.  But whatever the exact meaning, we do know that it was the Lord who gave Solomon his “largeness of heart”. 

When I think of largeness of heart, I think of someone having a “big heart”.  When you think about people who could be described as having “big hearts”, you invariably think of someone who is generous and kind and puts others before themselves.Generosity, kindness and selflessness are all qualities that we should be striving to possess.  And it is God who can give us those qualities. 

When I think of “small hearted”, I always think of the Grinch.  I love listening to the classic Grinch around Christmas, and I always think of the Grinch’s small heart and how it “grew” at the end of the story.  So many Christians are living their lives like spiritual Grinches, they are not generous or kind and they are very self-centered.  That is not the way it should be.

Casting Our Burdens On Him

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall  never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

Sometimes in life we come to a point at which we just can’t go on.  We get burdened down with things and the weight becomes too much of a load for us to bear.  We come to the end of ourselves.  And when we come to the end of ourselves, we find Jesus there waiting for us to just trust in Him.  He stands there waiting for us to give Him our problems and our burdens. 

He is more than able to carry any burden that we may have.  He is ready and willing to take our burdens and help us and, as this Psalm says, “sustain us”.  But how often do we foolishly try to hang onto our burdens?  How often do we try to struggle through life in our own strength, all the while being crushed under a burden that we can not possibly hope to carry?  The Bible says in Matthew, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…”   I Peter 5:7 tells us that we are to be “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

We don’t have to go through life struggling under a load of sin or trouble.  We don’t have to go through life trying to carry our own problems and trials.  There is an answer, and it is a simple answer: give your problems and burdens to Him.  Don’t just give them to Him; cast them on Him.  Be rid of them.  He has offered to help us if we will only accept His offer.  Give Him your burdens and then rest in Him.

She Spake of Him

 And there was one Anna, a prophetess… And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked  for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36a, 38

Anna, like Simeon, was waiting for the Christ to come.  And when she saw Him- Jesus Christ in the flesh, she did two things that all of us who have seen Him should do and be doing.

1. She “gave thanks likewise unto the Lord”.
– When she saw the baby Jesus, the Saviour of the world, she immediately gave thanks to the Lord.  That should be our attitude when we meet the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.  We should be thankful.  Not everything in life is going to go our way.  We are going to have problems and trials and difficulties.  But whatever we may face, we should remain in a spirit of thanksgiving because we know Him.  If we have nothing else in the world to be thankful for, the simple thought that we know Him should be enough to fill our hearts with thanks.

2. She “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption…”
– After she met Jesus, she immediately began to speak to others about Him.  Again, this should be our goal and our attitude.  There are many people in the world who are looking for something.  They are searching for the truth and they don’t know where to find it.  We know where to find it!  “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” Jesus said.  Sometimes people don’t even know exactly what they are looking for, but we know.  We should be speaking of Him to all who will listen. 

When we meet Jesus and if we know Jesus, we should be always thanking Him and speaking of Him to others, just as the prophetess Anna did two thousand years ago.

Mine Eyes Have Seen Thy Salvation

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Luke 2: 25-32

Luke chapter two is traditionally regarded as a “Christmas chapter”.  I love Christmas, and as Christians, we should be celebrating Christmas all year long.  How can we not read the words of Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” without rejoicing?  Luke chapter two may be a Christmas themed chapter, but is also a “my Saviour” chapter.

Simeon was a man who was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen “the Lord’s Christ”.  In verse 28, he sees and holds in his hands the baby Jesus, the Saviour of the world.  Think of the wonderful privilege that must have been.  Think of an old man who has waited his entire life to see Jesus.  Think of this old man now holding the very Son of God in his arms.  His entire life had culminated in this personal meeting with the Lord’s Christ, after which he said the words that I would like to meditate on today:

“For mine eyes have seen thy salvation”. (Luke 2:30)

Can we rejoice with Simeon and say that our eyes have seen His salvation?  We have not literally handled Jesus as he did, but He should be just as real to us today as He was to Simeon two thousand years ago.  Our joy and rejoicing should be every bit as real as his was if we truly have seen His salvation. What a great thought on which to meditate- our eyes have seen His salvation!


A Song of Deliverance

And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul

II Samuel 22:1

The Bible speaks much of singing praises and song to the Lord.  In fact, as Christians, we should always have a song in our hearts.  In this chapter, David is praising the Lord for His goodness to him and for all of His protection and deliverance throughout his life.  There are a couple of things in this verse that I think should characterize our praise to the Lord.

1. Our thanksgiving and praise to the Lord should be immediate.
-“David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that Lord had delivered him…”.  As soon as the Lord delivered David, he stopped to praise and thank Him.  How often does the Lord bless us or answer our prayers and, while we enjoy the blessing, we don’t immediately stop to thank Him and praise Him?  Our praise should be instantaneous.

2. Our thanksgiving and praise to the Lord should be specific.
-“David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul”.  David didn’t just offer a general praise.  He, of course, did offer several general psalms of thanksgiving and praise.  And we should offer continuously psalms of thanksgiving and praise.  But we should also be specific in our thanksgiving and praise.

3. Our thanksgiving and praise should take place.
-The specifics of David’s song of thanksgiving and praise are nice to think about and would be good to apply to our lives.  But the fact is that David thanked the Lord and praised Him for His deliverance.  We have to start somewhere.  If we aren’t praising the Lord enough (are any of us really praising Him enough?), then it is time to start!  Thank Him and praise Him for all that He has done for you!

At The Cross

At The Cross
Elisha Hoffman (1878)

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

What an amazing thought “was it for crimes that I had done He groaned upon the tree?  Amazing pity!  Grace unknown!  And love beyond degree!”  It truly is an amazing love that brought Jesus Christ to Earth to bleed and die for our sins!  What a great grace, pity and love to meditate on!

Calling, Delivering, Glorifying

And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

Psalm 50:15

Sometimes we get the idea that we shouldn’t call on the Lord when we are in trouble.  It is true that many people call on the Lord only when they are in trouble.  We know that we can and should call on the Lord at all times.  We shouldn’t wait until we are in trouble to call on Him.  The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing”.  We should always be in a spirit of prayer.

But the time of trouble is one time that we should definitely be calling on the Lord.  This verse tells us that if we call on His name in our day of trouble, He will deliver us.  It is wonderful to serve a merciful God who hears and answers prayers!  Call on Him and He will answer.

The last part of the verse is something that we sometimes leave out.  “…and that shalt glorify me”.  When we call on Him and He delivers us from out of our troubles, we need to thank Him and glorify Him.  Sometimes when the Lord shows us kindness and delivers us from our trouble, we are quick to forget His goodness.  Let us always be thankful for all that He has done for us!

Too Heavy for Me

For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

Psalm 38:4

David is speaking here about his sin.  He starts the verse by saying that his iniquities have gone over his head.  Sometimes when we look at ourselves, all we can see is all of the vile, rotten sin that lives within us.  Sometimes when we think about all of our failures and shortcomings, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed.  We are not alone.  David, who is described as a “man after God’s own heart”, felt the same way. 

In the second part of the verse, he says that they are “an heavy burden” and that they are “too heavy for me”.  That is the way any sin is in our lives.  It is a heavy burden that is far too heavy for us to bear.  There is no way that we can carry our own load of sin.  Just as Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress had a tremendous burden, so we also carry a burden of sin that threatens to weigh us down.  It is truly a “heavy burden and too heavy for us”.

But it is not too heavy of a burden for Jesus.  He bore our sins on the Cross.  He knows that they are too heavy for us to carry, so He carried them for us.  He carried them straight to the Cross.  What a great image that we get from the Psalmist- our sins constitute a burden that is impossible for us to carry.  They are too heavy for us.  But they are not too heavy for Him.  Will we today “cast all our care upon Him”?