Archive for August, 2013

Our Fortress

In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.  Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me.  Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.  Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.

Psalm 71:1-4

In many places in the Bible, the Christian life is spoken of in terms of warfare.  We are at war with the devil, with the world’s system, and (most of the time) with ourselves.  In this Psalm, David is war both literally and figuratively.  He is afraid of unrighteous and cruel man and needs deliverance.  In these verses, he shows us how to get that deliverance.

He refers to the Lord as “my strong habitation,” ” my rock,” and “my fortress.”  God is all of those thing to us too.

He is our strong habitation and our fortress.  The enemy is not going to be able to reach us as long as we are close to Him.  We can hide and rest in Him.  He will comfort us and protect us from whatever foe may be approaching us.  When an enemy attacks, the safest place to be is in the fortress.

We need to continually run to the fortress; to our strong habitation.  When we wander away from the Lord, we are susceptible to an enemy attack.  The further from Him we wander, the more likely are to be attacked and destroyed.  The closer we stay to Him, the more safe and secure we will be.

Are we hiding in the fortress today or are we wandering around the wilderness, a prime target for the devil?

The Holy Spirit

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.  Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

John 16:7-11

When Jesus was talking to the disciples, they were understandably distressed at the fact that He was leaving them.  But, to comfort and reassure them, He told them that He would send the Comforter to be with them always.  This of course refers to the Holy Spirit.  He then went on to say that the Holy Spirit would help reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.

Those things are the “job” of the Holy Spirit.  Showing us sin, righteousness and judgment.  Those three things are really all we need.

He shows us our sin.  He shows us where we have failed and where we have gone astray.  He shows us where we are wrong.

He shows us righteousness.  He not only shows us where we are wrong, He shows us how to be right.  He gives us help in living a righteous life as a child of God.  He helps us to understand the Bible, which give us our instructions for living.

He shows us judgment.  He shows us how to discern the sin from the righteousness.  He not only shows us where we are wrong and how to be right, but He shows us how to make wise decisions about anything and everything that we encounter.

The Holy Spirit does all of those things for us.  He shows us where we are wrong, how to be right, and how to stay right.  What a wonderful God we serve and what a wonderful Comforter we have in us!

No Excuses

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.  He that hateth me hateth my Father also.  If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

John 15:22-24

As I read through the Bible, especially the four gospel records, I always find myself wondering how the people could have heard Jesus preach and teach and still reject Him.  I always wonder how the people could have seen all of the miracles He performed – healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the blind to see and the deaf to hear – and still reject Him.  What would cause these people (some of whom had to have been at least friends and family of some of those that He healed) to even go so far as to hate Him?  I think we can find an answer to that in these verses.

“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.”  Jesus came and showed them just how sinful they were.  Their sins were no longer hidden.  After seeing and hearing Jesus, they had no excuses.

It is the same today.  People hate Jesus and they hate the Bible because it shows them their sin.  Any person who really reads and studies the Word of God will see the sin in their life.  Any time we hold up the perfect example of our Saviour, we see all of the areas in which we fall short.  There are many things sitting around in the dark.  But as long as there is no light, we can’t see them.  Jesus is the Light of the world.  He illuminates the condition and sinfulness of man’s heart.

People hated Him then and people hate Him now simply because He takes away their excuses for sin.  Are we still trying to hide our sin from Him?

The World vs God

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord.  If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.  But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

John 15:18-21

This passage shows us the nature of the struggle between the Lord and the world.  God and the world are against each other.  In fact, the world hates the Lord.  The world persecuted the Lord.  The world crucified the Lord.  He tells us these things to comfort us when the world doesn’t like us.  When the world hates us and persecutes us, we can take comfort in the fact that we are not the first.  It hated Him first and persecuted Him first.

The world loves the world.  It does not love the Christian.  It doesn’t even like the Christian.  In fact, it hates the Christian because it hates Christ Himself.

Sometimes we can feel like we don’t belong.  Sometimes we can feel uncomfortable and out of place in the world.  That’s ok.  In fact, that is a good indication that we are doing something right as a Christian.

It is our duty to show the people in the world the love of Jesus Christ.  But we have to remember that Jesus Himself was hated of the world and even crucified.  He is our Lord and we are His servants.  We should not expect the world that hated Him to roll out the red carpet for us.

Let us follow Him, all the time, no matter what.

Friends of God

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

John 15:12-15

Imagine being called “the friend of God.”  Imagine Jesus Christ Himself saying that you are His friend.  Just being called a miserable sinner saved by grace would be wonderful enough, but to be called His friend is something different.  Like the woman who called herself a dog who wanted to eat the scraps from the Master’s table, we would be fine being called a “dog” if it meant being His dog.  But to be called the friend of Jesus would be incredible.

But here it happened.  “Ye are my friends” and “I have called you friends.”  Jesus told the disciples that they were His friends.  He tells us the same thing.  How to we get to this exalted position of being the “friend of Jesus?”  We do what He told us to do in verse 14, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

We would all say that we want to be the friends of Jesus.  But do we do the things that He commands us to do?  Do we obey Him?  Do we read His Word and follow the things we find therein?  Imagine being called the friend of God and how wonderful that would feel.  We don’t have to imagine it.  We can do it.  We just need to obey Him.  How are we doing?

Love One Another

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:10-13

It seems that just about every other chapter in the book of John deals in some way with Christian love.  In this passage, Jesus gives us this, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

“…love one another, as I have loved you.”  That is given to us as a commandment.  That is a difficult commandment to live out.  Just a command to love one another is a tough challenge.  There are some people who are simply not easy to love.  There are some people who are not kind to us.  Just loving one another is going to be hard.  But then He adds this to it: “…as I have loved you.” That takes this thing to a whole different level.

Jesus loved us enough to go to the cross and die for us.  He loved us when we hated Him.  He loved us even though we sinned against Him over and over again.  He gave up everything for us.  That is the love that we are supposed to show to one another.

I doubt if any of us measures up to that standard of love for each other.  We all have work to do in this area.  How much do we really love one another?

Come Ye Sinners (Hymn)

Come Ye Sinners
Joseph Hart (1759)

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Saviour,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.


Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.


View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?


Lo, th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.


Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.


I came across this hymn in a book I was reading a couple of years ago, and it has since become one of my favorites.  Joseph Hart was the son of a preacher, but became, in his own words, “a monstrous sinner.”  But he eventually came to the Lord, became a preacher himself, and penned the beautiful words to this hymn.  “Come, ye sinners, poor and needy… I will arise and go to Jesus.”  That is the essence of salvation and it is the essence of our lives as Christians.

Full of Joy

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

John 15:9-11

Jesus was speaking here to the disciples about loving Him, loving each other, and bearing fruit in their Christian lives.  He then tells them in verse 11 that “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”  He was (as always) our perfect example of joy.  And He wanted the disciples to continue to have and enjoy His joy.  He wanted their joy to be “full.”

All of us want to have joy in our lives.  We all want our joy to be full.  That is what Jesus wants for us too.  But how do we assure ourselves that His joy will remain in us and that our joy will be full?  Very easy – we simply need to do what He told us to do.

We need to, in the words of verse 9, “continue ye in my love.”  We need to continue in His love.  What did/does He love?  He loves the Father and He loves people.  Do we love the Lord God like we ought?  Do we love other people like we ought?  Doing those things will help our joy to be full.

We also need to, according to verse 10, “keep my commandments.”  Simply being obedient will help our joy to be full.  God does not want us living miserable lives.  He wants our lives full of joy.  That is the reason He told us to do certain things.  We might not understand all of them, but if we will obey, we will experience His joy in our lives.

How full is our joy today?  If it is not full, do we need to have more love in our hearts or do we need to be more obedient?

A Daily Prayer

God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.

Psalm 67:1

The Psalms are unlike any other book in the Bible.  Instead of narrative (Genesis, Acts, etc.), a biography (Ruth, Job, Jonah, etc.), a letter (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, etc.), a prophecy (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Revelation, etc.), or a collection of wise sayings (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, etc.), the Psalms in a collection of poems and songs.  Even those who are not Christians are familiar with the Psalms, especially the “famous” ones like Psalm 23, 37 and 119.  The Psalms are famous, familiar, and popular for a reason.  They are very uplifting, encouraging and helpful.

This verse gives us a great prayer for each day.  “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us.”  Those are the things that we need and want every single day.  We want (and need) God to be merciful unto us.  We want (and need) God to bless us.  We want (and need) God’s face to shine on us every day.  The Psalmist here gives us a very concise, yet also very deep and profound prayer.

Some people like to have plaques of verses or pictures with verses on them around their homes.  I think that is a good and Scriptural practice.  This would be a perfect verse for one of those plaques or pictures.  Maybe we can remember this Psalm from day to day and use it daily.  This is a prayer that we could definitely pray every day.  The verse ends with “Selah.”  Stop and think about that.  When we do pray this verse, let us stop and consider all that it means.

“God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause his face to shine upon us.”  Amen to that.


The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.

Proverbs 21:12

This is a good verse for us to consider from time to time.  It is easy to look around at the wicked people in the world and see their “success.”  Movie stars, music stars, and athletes often fall into the category of “wicked.”  We see them living lives of wickedness, and it is easy, even for a Christian, to start to get a little jealous.  We can see their money, and their parties, and their fame.  Seeing those things might cause us to want them for ourselves.

But then we remember this verse (and others like it).  “God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.”  We are then able to look at the end of their wickedness.  We often see the fame side of celebrities lives, but we forget to look at their suicides, drug problems, and completely broken lives.  If we have lived long enough, we have seen God overthrow the wicked.  We have seen people go down the road to wickedness and pay dearly for it.  We have seen God’s judgment on the lives of the wicked.

That is the reason the Bible tells us to consider the house of the wicked.  We need to think about these things from time to time.  We need to think about which direction we are going.  We need to think about the destinations that our directions are taking us.

The next time we find ourselves envious of the wicked man, we should remember this verse.  The wise man is always thinking and considering things.  This is one important thing to consider.