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A friend of mine has a ministry where she sends out daily verses called “Think on This Thing”, and she sends a separate devotional from Streams in the Desert, the classic books filled with practical, biblical truth. If any Hope Blog readers would like to receive these daily in your email, you can send me your email address by posting a comment. Your emails will not be made public. I’ll send the email addresses to my friend, and she will add you to the list. Each morning I appreciate the verse to ponder and the devotional to put my thoughts on truth from God’s Word.
Here is a sample of the devotional from a couple of days ago.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phil. 4:4)
It is a good thing to “rejoice in the Lord.” Perhaps you have tried it but seemed to fail at first. Don’t give it a second thought, and forge ahead. Even when you cannot feel any joy, there is no spring in your step, nor any comfort or encouragement in your life, continue to rejoice and “consider it pure joy” (James 1:2). “Whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), regard it as joy, delight in it, and God will reward your faith. Do you believe that your heavenly Father will let you carry the banner of His victory and joy to the very front of the battle, only to calmly withdraw to see you captured or beaten back by the enemy? NEVER! His Holy Spirit will sustain you in your bold advance and fill your heart with gladness and praise. You will find that your heart is exhilarated and refreshed by the fullness within.
Lord, teach me to rejoice in You – to “be joyful always” (1 Thess. 5:16).
The weakest saint may Satan rout,
Who meets him with a praiseful shout.
Be filled with the Spirit… Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
In these verses, the apostle Paul urges us to use singing as inspiration in our spiritual life. He warns his readers to seek motivation not through the body but through the spirit, not by stimulating the flesh but by exalting the soul.
Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings.
Let us sing even when we do not feel like it, for in this way we give wings to heavy feet and turn weariness into strength.
–John Henry Jowett
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and signing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
O Paul, what a wonderful example you are to us! You gloried in the fact that you “bear on [your] body the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). You bore the marks from nearly being stoned to death, from three times being “beaten with rods” (2 Cor. 11:25), from receiving 195 lashes from the Jews, and from being bloodily beaten in the Philippian jail. Surely the grace that enabled you to sing praises while enduring such suffering is sufficient for us.
Oh, let us rejoice in the Lord, evermore, When darts of the Tempter are flying, For Satan still dreads, as he oft did before, Our singing much more than our crying.
The eternal truth of God’s Word struck me again in reading this passage. It was true when the Psalmist wrote this, and it’s true today. I want to share the whole passage for those of us dealing with anger and who tend to “fret” about those who seem to harm others with impunity in this life. This is a passage that gives clear instructions NOT to “fret” over the seeming success of their schemes, but to trust and wait on God.
A Psalm of David.
1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
12 The wicked plots against the just,
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword
And have bent their bow,
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay those who are of upright conduct.
15 Their sword shall enter their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.
16 A little that a righteous man has
Is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
But the LORD upholds the righteous.
18 The LORD knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the LORD,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.
21 The wicked borrows and does not repay,
But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth,
But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lends;
And his descendants are blessed.
27 Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell forevermore.
28 For the LORD loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
And dwell in it forever.
30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
And his tongue talks of justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall slide.
32 The wicked watches the righteous,
And seeks to slay him.
33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
Nor condemn him when he is judged.
34 Wait on the LORD,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
35 I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.
36 Yet he passed away,[a] and behold, he was no more;
Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.
37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
For the future of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
The future of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the LORD shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.
- Psalm 37:36 Following Masoretic Text, Septuagint, and Targum; Syriac and Vulgate read I passed by.
Today on Crosstalk my guest will be my dear friend in the Lord, Sherry Goodwin. She will be telling the amazing true story of a young girl named Mary Jones. What this Welsh girl did because of her love for the Scriptures ended up impacting a world for the Lord. This is a Crosstalk that is highly recommended for children as well as adults. We will be offering a little book entitled, Mary Jones and Her Bible. This is a perfect gift for children because the Bible is our perfect gift from the Lord. Today Bibles often collect dust in Christian homes. I hope the story of little Mary Jones will inspire us to love God’s Word more than we do. The program airs at 2pm Central Time. You can listen to the show live at our website or listen to the podcast later.
A reader read my post below about the issues within conservative churches (Slice Archive Update) and asked what I meant by my references to dead orthodoxy, dead textualism and so forth. I think that the reader thought I had been sipping emergent Kool-Aid. I want to assure them and everyone else that nothing could be further from the truth. I am posting my response comment to the reader to clarify my concerns.
“For most of my childhood I attended conservative churches that had the right biblical doctrine, hymns and Gospel songs, Sunday school, and so forth but the churches we were in were not spiritually healthy. Two were actually in the process of dying. They had the form of godliness but the members were grossly complacent, largely prayerless and there was no power in the lives I witnessed. These are churches that would never have an Elvis impersonator or other foolishness. They would inveigh against such things. They were dedicated to doing things right. But there was a lukewarmness and a coldness. “Lifeless textualism” is a term used by A.W. Tozer to describe those in his denomination, the Christian Missionary Alliance, who would never compromise on the infallibility of Scripture, but for whom the Scriptures never seemed to penetrate into the reality of their lives. Pastor Noblit referred to these passionless Christians in his sermon when he was here. These are people who will go to the guillotine over whether the Bible is inspired and infallible but yet the Scriptures have no place in their everyday lives other than a cursory devotional reading. Often the fruit of these churches is found behind the scenes, in fractured relationships, in deeply troubled families, in gossip and conflict. These are churches where there is often a lack of love and concern for others. Please read Revelation chapter 2, verses 1-7. Scripture very clearly describes such churches. They may even have a discernment ministry to warn others. Christ is speaking here. Verse 2 reads,
“I know thy works, and thy labor and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars; And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake has laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
These are the dead textualists. They have the Word. They have their doctrinal ducks in a row, they are really good at discernment, but they are lifeless because they have lost their first love. We must have the Scriptures and hold them high, but we must also have life through daily fellowship with the author of the Scriptures. Life is in the Vine. It is not optional. Additionally, such churches actually serve to scatter the sheep of Christ’s flock who are desperate to find life somewhere. Young believers can be seduced into believing that the emerging church down the street is more “real”, has more passion and more interest in others than the orthodox church they just left. This is the danger.
I hope that answers any questions that I raised. Without the Holy Spirit’s enlightening power, the Word is a dead letter to us. How we need the Holy Spirit of God to fill us and empower us. Without Him, our lamps will soon flicker and go out.”
More Americans know the ingredients of McDonald’s Big Macs than they do the Ten Commandments. This would explain why American morals are going down and weight is going up. This news story was hardly a shock, particularly when American evangelicals are often about as clueless as the rest of the public when it comes to the Law of God. I hosted a program yesterday with Steve Renkema of Reformation Heritage Books. As we spoke of the great love the Puritans had for God and the seriousness with which they took study of God’s Word and discipleship of their own families, it once again reminded me of just how far away our nation and our churches have gotten from what really matters.
A theologically conservative church this last Sunday sponsored a book fair in support of its Christian school. Available for purchase were giant posters of the Beatles, and kiddie rock stars like Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers. For sale were books that promote occult spiritual themes and utter worldiness. Nowhere were books about missionaries, Bible story books, or biographies of great Christians. Instead, church kids were served up Babylon in book form, and nobody objected. The wordliness in the church isn’t even recognized any more. Anyone who objects is accused of legalism. We’re under grace so pass the worldly icons in poster form where teen idol girls strut their stuff under the sun, in violation of everything Scripture has to say about godly womanhood. Pass the books that celebrate the dark arts and where the God of the Bible never makes an appearance. Then these same churches wonder why they’re dying! God will not share his Temple with idols. If we as Christians can remember the condiments on a hamburger over the contents of God’s commands, it’s a pretty good indication that our priorities are in bad shape. It is only through the knowledge of God’s Word that we are prevented from sinning.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.