Thanksgiving 365 days a year

source Trinity Broadcasting Network – photo via bakinnbitsbarbara.blogspot.com

Bible verses teaching us how to come with thanksgiving in the presence of God, our Father!

Giving thanks to God
1. And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will … Lev 2:29.
2. Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name … 2 Sam 22:50.
3. Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! … 1 Chron 16:8.
4. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever …1 Chron 16:34.
5. … stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at evening … 1 Chron 23:30.
6. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. “Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name ..” … 1 Chron 29:12-13.
7. … indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying:“For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,” that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud … 2 Chron 5:13.
8. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid … Ezra 3:11.
9. Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name … Psalm 18:49.
10. That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works … Psalm 26:7.
11. Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name … Psalm 30:4.
12. To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever … Psalm 30:12.
13. I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people … Psalm 35:18.
14. Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High … Psalm 50:14.
15. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving … Psalm 69:30.
16. We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks! For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near … Psalm 75:1.
17. So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations … Psalm 79:13.
18. It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High … Psalm 92:1.
19. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms … Psalm 95:2.
20. Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name … Psalm 97:12.
21. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name … Psalm 100:4.
22. Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! … Psalm 105:1.
23. Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever … Psalm 106:1.
24. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever …Psalm 107:1.
25. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! … Psalm 107:8.
26. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD … Psalm 116:17.
27. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever …Psalm 118:1.
28. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever …Psalm 118:29.
29. At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, because of Your righteous judgments … Psalm 119:62.
30. Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; The upright shall dwell in Your presence … Psalm 140:13.
31. Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God …Psalm 147:7.
32. „I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king’s demand.” … Dan 2:23.
33. … he [Daniel] knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days … Dan 6:10.
34. But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD … Jonah 2:9.
35. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan … Luke 17:15-16.
36. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ … 1 Cor 15:57.
37. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! … 2 Cor 9:15.
38. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God … Phil 4:6.
39. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful … Col 3:15.
40. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him … Col 3:17.
41. Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving … Col 4:2.
42. … in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you … 1 Thess 5:18.
43. Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men … 1 Tim 2:1.
44. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name … Heb 13:15.
45. … saying: “ Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” … Rev 7:12.
46. … saying: “ We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned … Rev 11:17.

photo via http://24.media.tumblr.com

and lastly PSALM 100 in its entirety:

Psalm 100.

1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
     Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
     It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
     We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
     And into His courts with praise.
     Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
     His mercy is everlasting,
     And His truth endures to all generations.
Reclame

Psalm 8 & Creation Calls by Brian Doerksen (exceptional video)

Photo credit www.damascuschristianschool.org

Psalm 8

For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Photo credit www.popscreen.com

Creation Calls

by Brian Doerksen
I have felt the wind blow,
Whispering your name
I have seen your tears fall,
When I watch the rain.
(Refrain)
How could I say there is no God?
When all around creation calls!!
A singing bird, a mighty tree,
The vast expanse of open sea
(Musical interlude)
Gazing at a bird in flight,
Soaring through the air.
Lying down beneath the stars,
I feel your presence there.
I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thundering breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
With endless bloom horizons fray.
Listening to a river run,
Watering the Earth.
Fragrance of a rose in bloom,
A newborns cry at birth.
(Refrain)
I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thundering breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
With endless bloom horizons fray
I believe
I believe
I believe
(Interlude)
I believe
I believe
I believe just like a child
(Choir I believe..)
I believe

2nd song, lyrics from Wikipedia:

Baba Yetu lyrics

VIDEO by Arendientje  : This [high quality HD 1080p] music video is meant to take a look at the wonder and majesty of God’s creation and to glorify Him. Music nature documentary of God’s beautiful Creation, with Psalm 8 and two gospel and worship songs. Praise the Lord!!! Amen! Lyrics by http://www.lyricsmode.com/

and here’s the original video-  Uploaded on Feb 11, 2008 Music by Brian Doerksen http://www.briandoerksen.com. You can buy the „Planet Earth” series DVD collection here – amazon.com/Planet-Earth-Co… The BranchChurch: Utilizing footage from the BBC Planet Earth Series, we take a look at the wonder and majesty of God’s creation. Set to the song, „Creation Calls” by Brian Doerksen, this stunning glimpse of God’s masterpiece is meant to glorify Him and draw the mind to new places of intimacy with Him. VIDEO by The Branch

Spurgeon – Secret Sins

spurgeon-preachingIn this sermon, Spurgeon strives to show the folly of secret sins; secondly, the misery of secret sins; thirdly, the guilt of secret sins; fourthly, the danger of secret sins; and then he says, „I shall try to apply some words by way of remedy, that we may all of us be enabled to avoid secret sins.”

Here is a glimpse into what Spurgeon thought about secret sins:

Now, I hold that secret sin, if anything, is the worst of sin; because secret sin implies that the man who commits it has Atheism in his heart. You will ask how that can be. I reply, he may be a professing Christian, but I shall tell him to his face that he is a practical Atheist, if he labours to keep up a respectable profession before man, and then secretly transgresses. Why, is he not an Atheist, who will say there is a God, yet at the same time thinks more of man than he does of God? Is it not the very essence of Atheism—is it not a denial of the divinity of the Most High when men lightly esteem him and think more of the eye of a creature than of the observation of their Creator?

Photo credit fishforpeople.tumblr.com

February 8, 1857  Sermon #116 from http://www.spurgeon.org

„Cleanse thou me from secret faults.—Psalm 19:12.

SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS arises partly from pride but mainly from ignorance of God’s law. It is because men know little or nothing concerning the terrible character of the divine law, that they foolishly imagine themselves to be righteous. They are not aware of the deep spirituality, and the stern severity of the law, or they would have other and wiser notions. Once let them know how strictly the law deals with the thoughts, how it brings itself to bear upon every emotion of the inner man, and there is not one creature beneath God’s heaven who would dare to think himself righteous in God’s sight in virtue of his own deeds and thoughts. Only let the law be revealed to a man; let him know how strict the law is, and how infinitely just, and his self-righteousness will shrivel into nothing—it will become a filthy rag in his sight, whereas before he thought it to be a goodly garment.
Now, David, having seen God’s law, and having praised it in this Psalm, which I have read in your hearing, he is brought, by reflecting on its excellency, to utter this thought, „Who can understand his errors?” and then to offer this prayer, „Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

In the Lateran Council of the Church of Rome, a decree was passed that every true believer must confess his sins, all of them, once a year to the priest, and they affixed to it this declaration, that there is no hope of pardon but in complying with that decree. What can equal the absurdity of such a decree as that? Do they suppose that they can tell their sins as easily as they can count their fingers? Why, if we could receive pardon for all our sins by telling every sin we have committed in one hour, there is not one of us who would be able to enter heaven, since, besides the sins that are known to us and that we may be able to confess, there are a vast mass of sins, which are as truly sins as those which we do observe, but which are secret, and come not beneath our eye. Oh! if we had eyes like those of God, we should think very differently of ourselves. The sins that we see and confess are but like the farmer’s small samples which he brings to market, when he has left his granary full at home. We have but a very few sins which we can observe and detect, compared with those which are hidden to ourselves and unseen by our fellow creatures. I doubt not it is true of all of us who are here, that in every hour of our existence in which we are active, we commit tens of thousands of unholinesses for which conscience has never reproved us, because we have never seen them to be wrong, seeing we have not studied God’s laws as we ought to have done. Now, be it known to us all that sin is sin, whether we see it or not—that a sin secret to us is a sin as truly as if we knew it to be a sin, though not so great a sin in the sight of God as if it had been committed presumptuously, seeing that it lacks the aggravation of willfulness. Let all of us who know our sins, offer this prayer after all our confessions: „Lord, I have confessed as many as I know, but I must add an etcetera after them, and say, ‘Cleanse thou me from secret faults.'”

That, however, will not be the pith of my sermon this morning. I am going after a certain class of men who have sins not unknown to themselves, but secret to their fellow creatures. Every now and then we turn up a fair stone which lies upon the green sward of the professing church, surrounded with the verdure of apparent goodness, and to our astonishment we find beneath it all kinds of filthy insects and loathsome reptiles, and in our disgust as such hypocrisy, we are driven to exclaim, „All men are liars; there are none in whom we can put any trust at all.” It is not fair to say so of all; but really, the discoveries which are made of the insincerity of our fellow-creatures are enough to make us despise our kind, because they can go so far in appearances, and yet have so little soundness of heart. To you, sirs, who sin secretly, and yet make a profession; you break God’s covenants in the dark and wear a mask of goodness in the light—to you, sirs, who shut the doors and commit wickedness in secret—to you I shall speak this morning. O may God also be pleased to speak to you, and make you pray this prayer: „Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

I shall endeavour to urge upon all pretenders present to give up, to renounce, to detest, to hate, to abhor all their secret sins. And, first, I shall endeavour to show the folly of secret sins; secondly, the misery of secret sins; thirdly, the guilt of secret sins; fourthly, the danger of secret sins; and then I shall try to apply some words by way of remedy, that we may all of us be enabled to avoid secret sins.

I. First, then, THE FOLLY OF SECRET SINS.

Pretender, thou art fair to look upon; thy conduct outwardly upright, amiable, liberal, generous and Christian; but thou dost indulge in some sin which the eye of man has not yet detected. Perhaps it is private drunkenness. Thou dost revile the drunkard when he staggers through the street; but thou canst thyself indulge in the same habit in private. It may be some other lust or vice; it is not for me just now to mention what it is. But, pretender, we say unto thee, thou art a fool to think of harbouring a secret sin; and thou art a fool for this one reason, that thy sin is not a secret sin; it is known, and shall one day be revealed; perhaps very soon. Thy sin is not a secret; the eye of God hath seen it; thou hast sinned before his face. Thou hast shut-to the door, and drawn the curtains, and kept out the eye of the sun, but God’s eye pierceth through the darkness; the brick walls which surrounded thee were as transparent as glass to the eye of the Almighty; the darkness which did gird thee was as bright as the summer’s noon to the eye of him who beholdeth all things. Knowest thou not, O man, that „all things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do?” As the priest ran his knife into the entrails of his victim, discovered the heart and liver, and what else did lie within, so art thou, O man, seen by God, cut open by the Almighty; thou hast no secret chamber where thou canst hide thyself; thou hast no dark cellar where thou canst conceal thy soul. Dig deep, ay, deep as hell, but thou canst not find earth enough upon the globe to cover thy sin; if thou shouldst heap the mountains on its grave, those mountains would tell the tale of what was buried in their bowels. If thou couldst cast thy sin into the sea, a thousand babbling waves would tell the secret out. There is no hiding it from God. Thy sin is photographed in high heaven; the deed when it was done was photographed upon the sky, and there it shall remain, and thou shalt see thyself one day revealed to the gazing eyes of all men, a hypocrite, a pretender, who didst sin in fancied secret, observed in all thine acts by the all-seeing Jehovah. O what fools men are, to think they can do anything in secret. This world is like the glass hives wherein bees sometimes work: we look down upon them, and we see all the operations of the little creatures. So God looketh down and seeth all. Our eyes are weak; we cannot look through the darkness; but his eye, like an orb of fire, penetrateth the blackness; and readeth the thoughts of man, and seeth his acts when he thinks himself most concealed. Oh; it were a thought enough to curb us from all sin, if it were truly applied to us—”Thou, God, seest me!” Stop thief! Drop thou that which thou hast taken to thyself. God seeth thee! No eye of detection on earth hath discovered thee, but God’s eyes are now looking through the clouds upon thee. Swearer! scarce any for whom thou carest heard thy oath; but God heard it; it entered into the ears of the Lord God of Sabbaoth. Ah! thou who leadest a filthy life, and yet art a respectable merchant bearing among men a fair and goodly character; thy vices are all known; written in God’s book. He keepeth a diary of all thine acts; and what wilt thou think on that day when a crowd shall be assembled, compared with which this immense multitude is but a drop of a bucket, and God shall read out the story of thy secret life, and men and angels shall hear it. Certain I am there are none of us who would like to have all our secrets read, especially our secret thoughts. If I should select out of this congregation the most holy man, should bring him forward and say, „Now, sir, I know all your thoughts, and am about to tell them,” I am sure he would offer me the largest bribe that he could gather if I would be pleased to conceal at least some of them. „Tell,” He would say, „of my acts; of them I am not ashamed; but do not tell my thoughts and imaginations—of them I must ever stand ashamed before God.” What, then, sinner, will be thy shame when thy privy lusts, thy closet transgressions, thy secret crimes shall be gazetted from God’s throne, published by his own mouth, and with a voice louder than a thousand thunders preached in the ears of an assembled world? What will be thy terror and confusion then, when all the deeds thou hast done shall be published in the face of the sun, in the ears of all mankind. O renounce the foolish hope of secresy, for thy sin is this day recorded, and shall one day be advertised upon the walls of heaven. Photo credit below revivenations.org

II. In the next place, let us notice THE MISERY OF SECRET SINS.

Of all sinners the man who makes a profession of religion, and yet lives in iniquity, is the most miserable. A downright wicked man, who takes a glass in his hand, and says, „I am a drunkard, I am not ashamed of it,” he shall be unutterably miserable in worlds to come, but brief though it be, he has his hour of pleasure. A man who curses and swears, and says, „That is my habit, I am a profane man,” and makes a profession of it, he has, at least, some peace in his soul; but the man who walks with God’s minister, who is united with God’s Church, who comes out before God’s people, and unites with them, and then lives in sin, what a miserable existence he must have of it! Why, he has a worse existence than the mouse that is in the parlour, running out now and then to pick up the crumbs, and then back again to his hole. Such men must run out now and then to sin; and oh! how fearful they are to be discovered! One day, perhaps, their character turns up; with wonderful cunning they manage to conceal and gloss it over; but the next day something else comes, and they live in constant fear, telling lie after lie, to make the last lie appear truthful, adding deception to deception, in order that they may not be discovered.

„Oh! ‘tis a tangled web we weave,
When once we venture to deceive.”

If I must be a wicked man, give me the life of a roystering sinner, who sins before the face of day; but, if I must sin, let me not act as a hypocrite and a coward; let me not profess to be God’s, and spend my life for the devil. That way of cheating the devil is a thing which every honest sinner will be ashamed of. He will say, „Now, if I do serve my master I will serve him out and out, I will have no sham about it; if I make a profession, I will carry it out; but if I do not, if I live in sin, I am not going to gloss it over by cant and hypocrisy.” One thing which has hamstringed the church, and cut her very sinews in twain, has been this most damnable hypocrisy. Oh! in how many places have we men whom you might praise to the very skies, if you could believe their words, but whom you might cast into the nethermost pit if you could see their secret actions. God forgive any of you who are so acting! I had almost said, I can scarce forgive you. I can forgive the man who riots openly, and makes no profession of being better, but the man who fawns, and cants, and pretends, and prays, and then lives in sin, that man I hate, I cannot bear him, I abhor him from my very soul. If he will turn from his ways, I will love him, but in his hypocrisy he is to me the most loathsome of all creatures. ‘Tis said the toad doth wear a jewel in her head, but this man hath none, but beareth filthiness about him, while he pretends to be in love with righteousness. A mere profession, my hearers, is but painted pageantry to go to hell in; it is like the plumes upon the hearse and the trappings upon the black horses which drag men to their graves, the funeral array of dead souls. Take heed above everything of a waxen profession that will not stand the sun; take care of a life that needs to have two faces to carry it out; be one thing, or else the other. If you make up your mind to serve Satan, do not pretend to serve God; and if you serve God, serve him with all your heart. „No man can serve two masters;” do not try it, do not endeavour to do it, for no life will be more miserable than that. Above all, beware of committing acts which it will be necessary to conceal. There is a singular poem by Hood, called „The Dream of Eugene Aram”—a most remarkable piece it is indeed, illustrating the point on which I am now dwelling. Aram has murdered a man and cast his body into the river—”a sluggish water, black as ink, the depth was so extreme.” The next morning he visited the scene of his guilt:

„And sought the black accursed pool,
With a wild misgiving eye;
And he saw the dead in the river bed,
For the faithless stream was dry.”

Next he covered the corpse with heaps of leaves, but a mighty wind swept through the wood and left the secret bare before the sun:

„Then down I cast me on my face,
And first began to weep,
For I knew my secret then was one
The earth refused to keep;
On land or sea though it should be
Ten thousand fathoms deep.”

In plaintive notes he prophesies his own discovery. He buried his victim in a cave, and trod him down with stones, but when years had run their weary round the foul deed was discovered and the murderer put to death.

Guilt is a „grim chamberlain,” even when his fingers are not bloody red. Secret sins bring fevered eyes and sleepless nights, until men burn out their consciences, and become in very deed ripe for the pit. Hypocrisy is a hard game to play at, for it is one deceiver against many observers; and for certain it is a miserable trade, which will earn at last, as its certain climax, a tremendous bankruptcy. Ah! ye who have sinned without discovery, „Be sure your sin will find you out;” and bethink you, it may find you out ere long. Sin, like murder, will come out; men will even tell tales about themselves in their dreams. God has sometimes made men so pricked in their consciences that they have been obliged to stand forth and confess the story. Secret sinner! If thou wantest the foretaste of damnation upon earth, continue in thy secret sins; for no man is more miserable than he who sinneth secretly, and yet trieth to preserve a character. Yon stag, followed by the hungry hounds, with open mouths, is far more happy than the man who is followed by his sins. Yon bird, taken in the fowler’s net, and labouring to escape, is far more happy than he who hath weaved around himself a web of deception, and labours to escape from it day by day by making the toils more thick and the web more strong. Oh! the misery of secret sins! Truly, one may pray, „Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (Photo credit below hannapot.wordpress.com)

III. But now, next, the guilt THE SOLEMN GUILT OF SECRET SIN.

Now, John, you do not think there is any evil in a thing unless somebody sees it, do you? You feel that it is a very great sin if your master finds you out in robbing the till—but there is no sin if he should not discover it—none at all. And you, sir, you fancy it to be very great sin to play a trick in trade, in case you should be discovered and brought before the court; but to play a trick and never be discovered, that is all fair—do not say a word about it Mr. Spurgeon, it is all business; you must not touch business; tricks that are not discovered, of course you are not to find fault with them. The common measure of sin is the notoriety of it. But I do not believe in that. A sin is a sin, whether done in private or before the wide world. It is singular how men will measure guilt. A railway servant puts up a wrong signal, there is an accident; the man is tried, and severely reprimanded. The day before he put up the wrong signal, but there was no accident, and therefore no one accused him for his neglect. But it was just the same, accident or no accident, the accident did not make the guilt, it was the deed which made the guilt, not the notoriety nor yet the consequence of it. It was his business to have taken care; and he was as guilty the first time as he was the second, for he negligently exposed the lives of men. Do not measure sin by what other people say of it; but measure sin by what God says of it, and what your own conscience says of it.

Now, I hold that secret sin, if anything, is the worst of sin; because secret sin implies that the man who commits it has Atheism in his heart. You will ask how that can be. I reply, he may be a professing Christian, but I shall tell him to his face that he is a practical Atheist, if he labours to keep up a respectable profession before man, and then secretly transgresses. Why, is he not an Atheist, who will say there is a God, yet at the same time thinks more of man than he does of God? Is it not the very essence of Atheism—is it not a denial of the divinity of the Most High when men lightly esteem him and think more of the eye of a creature than of the observation of their Creator? There are some who would not for the life of them say a wicked word in the presence of their minister, but they can do it, knowing God is looking at them. They are Atheists. There are some who would not trick in trade for all the world if they thought they would be discovered, but they can do it while God is with them; that is, they think more of the eye of man than of the eye of God; and they think it worse to be condemned by man than to be condemned by God. Call it by what name you will, the proper name of that is practical Atheism. It is dishonoring God; it is dethroning him; putting him down below his own creatures; and what is that, but to take away his divinity? Brethren, do not, I beseech you, incur the fearful guilt of secret sins. No man can sin a little in secret, it will certainly engender more sin; no man can be a hypocrite and yet be moderate in guilt; he will go from bad to worse, and still proceed, until when his guilt shall be published, he shall be found to be the very worst and most hardened of men. Take heed of the guilt of secret sin. AH, now if could I preach as Rowland Hill did, I would make some people look to themselves at home, and tremble too! It is said that when he preached, there was not a man in the window, or standing in the crowd, or perched up anywhere, but said, „There, he is preaching at me; he is telling me about my secret sins.” And when he proclaimed God’s omniscience, it is said men would almost think they saw God bodily present in the midst of them looking at them. And when he had done his sermon, they would hear a voice in their ears, „Can any hide himself in secret places that I cannot see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” I would I could do that; that I could make every man look to himself, and find out his secret sin. Come my hearer, what is it? Bring it forth to the daylight; perhaps it will die in the light of the sun. These things love not to be discovered. Tell thine own conscience, now, what it is. Look it in the face; confess it before God, and may he give thee grace to remove that sin and every other, and turn to him with full purpose of heart! But this know—that thy guilt is guilt discovered or undiscovered, and that if there be any difference it is worse, because it has been secret. God save us from the guilt of secret sin! „Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” Photo credit http://www.shimmerzineff.webs.com

IV. And note, next, THE DANGER OF SECRET SIN.

One danger is, that a man cannot commit a little sin in secret, without being by-and-by betrayed into a public sin. You cannot, sir, though you may think you can preserve a moderation in sin. If you commit one sin, it is like the melting of the lower glacier upon the Alps; the others must follow in time. As certainly as you heap one stone upon the cairn to-day, the next day you will cast another, until the heap, reared stone by stone, shall become a very pyramid. See the coral insect at work, you cannot decree where it shall stay its work. It will not build its rock just as high as you please, it will not stay until it shall be covered with weeds, until the weeds shall decay; and there shall be soil upon it, and an island shall be created by tiny creatures. Sin cannot be held in with bit and bridle. „But I am going to have a little drink now and then, I am only going to be intoxicated once a week or so. Nobody will see it; I shall be in bed directly.” You will be drunk in the streets soon. „I am only just going to read one lascivious book; I will put it under the sofa-cover when any one comes in.” You will keep it in your library yet, sir. „I am only going into that company now and then.” You will go there every day, such is the bewitching character of it; you cannot help it. You may as well ask the lion to let you put your head into his mouth. You cannot regulate his jaws: neither can you regulate sin. Once go into it, you cannot tell when you will be destroyed. You may be such a fortunate individual, that like Van Amburgh you may put your head in and out a great many times; reset assured that one of these days it will be a costly venture. Again, you may labour to conceal your vicious habit, but it will come out, you cannot help it. You keep your little pet sin at home; but mark this, when the door is ajar the dog will be out in the street. Wrap him up in your bosom, put over him fold after fold of hypocrisy to keep him secret, the wretch will be singing some day when you are in company; you cannot keep the evil bird still. Your sin will gad abroad; and what is more, you will not mind it some of these days. A man who indulges in sin privately, by degrees gets his forehead as hard as brass. The first time he sinned, the drops of sweat stood on his brow at the recollection of what he had done; the second time, no hot sweat on his brow, only an agitation of the muscle; the third time there was the sly, sneaky look, but no agitation; the next time, he sinned a little further; and by degrees he became the bold blasphemer of his God, who exclaimed, „Who am I that I should fear Jehovah, and who is he that I should serve him?” Men go from bad to worse. Launch your boat in the current—it must go where the current takes it. Put yourself in the whirlwind—you are but a straw in the wind: you must go which way the wind carries you—you cannot control yourself. The balloon can mount, but it cannot direct its course; it must go whichever way the wind blows. If you once mount into sin there is no stopping. Take heed if you would not become the worst of characters, take heed of the little sins, they, mounting one upon another, may at last heave you from the summit and destroy your soul for ever. There is a great danger in secret sins.

But I have here some true Christians who indulge in secret sins. They say it is but a little one, and therefore do they spare it. Dear brethren, I speak to you, and I speak to myself, when I say this—let us destroy all our little secret sins. They are called little and if they be, let us remember that it is the foxes, even the little foxes, that spoil our vines; for our vines have tender shoots. Let us take heed of our little sins. A little sin, like a little pebble in the shoe, will make a traveller to heaven walk very wearily. Little sins, like little thieves, may open the door to greater ones outside. Christians, recollect that little sins will spoil your communion with Christ. Little sins, like little stains in silk, may damage the fine texture of fellowship; little sins, like little irregularities in the machinery, may spoil the whole fabric of your religion. The one dead fly spoileth the whole pot of ointment. That one thistle may seed a continent with noxious weeds. Let us, brethren, kill our sins as often as we can find them. One said—”The heart is full of unclean birds; it is a cage of them.” „Ah, but,” said another divine, „you must not make that an apology, for a Christian’s business is to wring their necks.” And so it is; if there be evil things, it is our business to kill them. Christians must not tolerate secret sins. We must not harbour traitors; it is high treason against the King of Heaven. Let us drag them out to light, and offer them upon the altar, giving up the dearest of our secret sins at the will and bidding of God. There is a great danger in a little secret sin; therefore avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it and shun it; and God give thee grace to overcome it!

V. And now I come, in finishing up, to plead with all my might with some of you

whom God has pricked in your consciences. I have come to intreat you, if it be possible, even to tears, that you will give up your secret sins. I have one here for whom I bless God; I love him, though I know him not. He is almost persuaded to be a Christian; he halteth between two opinions; he intendeth to serve God, he striveth to give up sin, but he findeth it a hard struggle, and as yet he knoweth not what shall become of him. I speak to him with all love: my friend, will you have your sin and go to hell, or leave your sin and go to heaven? This is the solemn alternative: to all awakened sinners I put it; may God choose for you, otherwise I tremble as to which you may choose. The pleasures of this life are so intoxicating, the joys of it so ensnaring, that did I not believe that God worketh in us to will and to do, I should despair of you. But I have confidence that God will decide the matter. Let me lay the alternative before you:—on the one hand there is a hour’s merriment, a short life of bliss, and that a poor, poor bliss; on the other hand, there is everlasting life and eternal glory. On the one hand, there is a transient happiness, and afterwards overwhelming woe; in this case there is a solid peace and everlasting joy, and after it overflowing bliss. I shall not fear to be called an Arminian, when I say, as Elijah did, „Choose you this day whom you will serve. If God be God, serve him; if Baal be God serve him.” But, now, make your choice deliberately; and may God help you to do it! Do not say you will take up with religion, without first counting the cost of it; remember, there is your lust to be given up, your pleasure to be renounced; can you do it for Christ’s sake? Can you? I know you cannot, unless God’s grace shall assist you in making such a choice. But can you say, „Yes, by the help of God, earth’s gaudy toys, its pomps, pageantries, gewgaws, all these I renounce?—

„These can never satisfy,
Give me Christ or else I die.”

Sinner, thou wilt never regret that choice, if God help thee to make it; thou wilt find thyself a happy man here, and thrice happy throughout eternity.

„But,” says one, „Sir, I intend to be religious, but I do not hold with your strictness.” I do not ask you to do so; I hope, however, you will hold withGod’s strictness, and God’s strictness is ten thousand times greater than mine. You may say that I am puritanical in my preaching; God will be puritanical in judging in that great day. I may appear severe, but I can never be so severe as God will be. I may draw the harrow with sharp teeth across your conscience, but God shall drag harrows of eternal fire across you one day. I may speak thundering things! God will not speak them, but hurl them from his hands. Remember, men may laugh at hell, and say there is none; but they must reject their Bibles before they can believe the lie. Men’s consciences tell them that

„There is a dreadful hell,
And everlasting pains;
Where sinners must with devils dwell,
In darkness, fire and chains.”

Sirs, will ye keep your secret sins, and have eternal fire for them? Remember it is of no use, they must all be given up, or else you cannot be God’s child. You cannot by any means have both; it cannot be God and the world, it cannot be Christ and the devil; it must be one or the other. Oh! that God would give you grace to resign all; for what are they worth? They are your deceivers now, and will be your tormentors for ever. Oh! that your eyes were open to see the rottenness, the emptiness and trickery of iniquity. Oh! that God would turn you to himself. Oh! may God give you grace to cross the Rubicon of repentance at this very hour; to say, „Henceforth it is war to the knife with my sins; not one of them will I willingly keep, but down with them, down with them; Canaanite, Hittite, Jebusite, they shall all be driven out.”

„The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee.”

„But oh! sir, I cannot do it; it would be like pulling my eyes out.” Ay, but hear what Christ says: „It were better for thee to enter into life with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.” „But it would be like cutting my arms off.” Ay, and it would be better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, than to be cast into hell fire for ever. Oh! when the sinner comes before God at last, do you think he will speak as he does now? God will reveal his secret sins: the sinner will not then say, „Lord, I thought my secret sins so sweet, I could not give them up.” I think I see how changed it will be then. „Sir” you say now, „you are too strict;” will you say that when the eyes of the Almighty are glowering on you? You say now, „Sir, you are too precise;” will you say that to God Almighty’s face? „Sir, I mean to keep such-and-such a sin.” Can you say it at God’s bar at last? You will not dare to do it then. Ah! when Christ comes a second time, there will be a marvellous change in the way men talk. Methinks I see him; there he sits upon his throne. Now, Caiaphas, come and condemn him now! Judas! comes and kiss him now! What do you stick at, man? Are you afraid of him? Now, Barrabbas! go; see whether they will prefer you to Christ now. Swearer, now is your time; you have been a bold man; curse him to his face now. Now drunkard; stagger up to him now. Now infidel; tell him there is no Christ now—now that the world is lit with lightning and the earth is shaken with thunder till the solid pillars thereof do bow themselves—tell God there is no God now; now laugh at the Bible; now scoff at the minister. Why men, what is the matter with you? Why, can’t you do it? Ah! there you are; you have fled to the hills and to the rocks—”Rocks hide us! mountains fall on us; hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne.” Ah! where are now your boasts, your vauntings, and your glories? Alas! alas! for you, in that dread day of wonders.

Secret sinner, what will then become of thee? Go out of this place unmasked; go out to examine thyself, go out to bend thy knee, go out to weep, go out to pray. God give thee grace to believe! And oh, how sweet and pleasant the thought, that this day sinners have fled to Christ, and men have been born again to Jesus! Brethren, ere I finish, I repeat the words at which so many have cavilled—it is now, or never, it is turn or burn. Solemnly in God’s sight I say it; if it be not God’s truth I must answer for it in the great day of account. Your consciences tell you it is true. Take it home, and mock me if you will; this morning I am clear of your blood: if any seek not God, but live in sin, I shall be clear of your blood in that day when the watchman shall have your souls demanded of him; oh, may God grant that you may be cleared in a blessed manner! When I went down those pulpit stairs a Sabbath or two ago, a friend said to me words which have been in my mind ever since—”Sir, there are nine thousand people this day without excuse in the day of judgment.” It is true of you this morning. If you are damned, it will be not for want of preaching to you, and it shall not be for want of praying for you. God knoweth that if my heart could break of itself, it would, for your souls, for God is my witness, how earnestly I long for you in the bowels of Christ Jesus. Oh, that he might touch your hearts and bring you to him! For death is a solemn thing, damnation is a horrible thing, to be out of Christ is a dreadful thing, to be dead in sin is a terrific thing. May God lead you to view these things as they are, and save you, for his mercy’s sake! „He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved.”

„Lord, search my soul, try every thought;
Though my own heart accuse me not
Of walking in a false disguise,
I beg the trial of thine eyes.Doth secret mischief lurk within?
Do I indulge some unknown sin?
O turn my feet whene’er I stray,
And lead me in thy perfect way.”

Short Biography of C.H. Spurgeon:

spurgeonCharles Haddon (C.H.) Spurgeon (June 19, 1834 January 31, 1892) was a British Reformed Baptist preacher who remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is still known as the “Prince of Preachers.” In his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to around 10,000,000 people, often up to 10 times a week at different places. His sermons have been translated into many languages. Spurgeon was the pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London for 38 years. In 1857, he started a charity organization called Spurgeon’s which now works globally. He also founded Spurgeon’s College, which was named after him after his death.

Spurgeon was a prolific author of many types of works including sermons, an autobiography, a commentary, books on prayer, a devotional, a magazine, and more. Many sermons were transcribed as he spoke and were translated into many languages during his lifetime. Arguably, no other author, Christian or otherwise, has more material in print than C.H. Spurgeon.

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Psalm 19 – The Glory of God and Scripture

photo via sfw.so

THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE SKIES AND SCRIPTURE Psalm 19
Dr. George O. Wood

Psalm 19 is many people’s favorite psalm. ―The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer‖ (Psalm 19:1-14, NIV).

There’s a tremendous cadence and glory to that psalm. C. S. Lewis said, ―I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.‖ The psalm is quoted in the New Testament; it becomes a reference by Paul to show that the Word has gone out to all of Israel so that there is none to say they have an excuse for not knowing God’s Word, and the psalm also serves as an underpinning for Romans 1:18–3:20 where Paul argues than man not knowing anything about God except what is in nature may know sufficiently about God as to be persuaded of His existence. Photo via hiraeth.squarespace.com

The psalm, if you look at it carefully, you realize that the psalm divides into two parts and they’re very discernable. Probably more discernable in an outline than almost any of the other psalms. The first six verses of Psalm 19 specifically relate to the glory of God in nature. The last verses, 7–14, relate to the glory of God in His law. Or in the Torah, the Old Testament word being for the law of God, which we call now the first five books of the Bible. An Israel rabbi would be talking about this psalm as a celebration of the Torah.

I’ve called this psalm ―The Glory of God in the Skies and in the Scriptures.‖ Verses 1–6 speak of the glory of God in the skies. Either at nighttime when seeing the heavens and the stars or in the daytime seeing the sun go forth on its run through the sky in the day until it sets in its tent in the evening. Beautiful lyrical language. The glory of God in the skies and the glory of God in the Scriptures. We, from a new perspective, can look at Psalm 19 and say not only as David but we can say all of God’s written Word—which we have which David did not have—is contained within the descriptions that David is giving in the law of God.

It is David’s conviction that the law of the Lord or the Scripture is no less a marvel of divine creation than the majestic order of the heavenly bodies. If we look at the heavens themselves we stand in amazement at their greatness. We ought also to look at the written Word and have the same amazement toward it as we have toward the skies, the heavens, the sun.

Spurgeon said of this psalm as it divides into two categories, ―He is wisest who reads the world book and the word book as two volumes of the same work and feels concerning them, My Father wrote them.

Let’s break the psalm down in manageable parts verse by verse. (Photo via rainingtruthsmallrain.wordpress.com)

I. First the glory of God in the skies, verses 1–6.

This subdivides into two additional parts. One, the heavens declare God’s handiwork. And that would be verses 1–3 and two-thirds of verse 4. Then the second subdivision would be the witness of the sun to the glory of God, the last phrase in verse 4 and then all of verses 5–6. The heavens are telling the glory of God. That is the heavens proclaiming His handiwork.

The word ―declaring‖ means narrating the glory of God. The heavens are telling a story about God. A master is known by his work. If we would go to the Sistine Chapel in Rome and see the work of Michelangelo we’d stand in awe. An artist is known by his work. And God, the artist of the heavens, the creator of the heavens is known by His work. Therefore they are telling about Him. In fact His handiwork is shouting about Him.

A.As the psalm opens the hymn of God in creation has already begun

eons ago at the time of creation. The first notes of the hymn were sounded as Job puts it in 38:7, ―While the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.‖ Never since creation has the celestial host ceased from singing of our God’s handiwork.

The preaching of the heavens has three wonderful aspects. It is without intermission. ―Day after day they pour forth speech‖ (Psalm 19:2, NIV). It is in every kind of language. ―There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard‖ (verse 3, NIV). And it is in every part of the world. ―Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world‖ (verse 4, NIV). Therefore an endless witness, a witness in every language and culture, and a witness in every part of the world. Each day this psalm is saying that nature itself cannot wait to tell the next day the story of creation. Photo below from http://douggilmer.wordpress.com via backcountrychaplain.com

Here the poet by divine inspiration is giving a human quality to inanimate things. It’s almost picturing the fact that when the next day is arising it is passing the baton on to the next day, reminding that new day to take up the song that has been sung by the day before you.

One has said, ―Each day has a life of its own…each day is handing a trumpet to its successor to blow the same triumphant note while as evening falls and stars come out each night does likewise.‖

Despite their endless speech, however, both day and night are wrapped in silence. Here is where the unusual things are going on in the poem. The heavens are declaring the glory of the Lord and yet when you listen and try to hear any songs in the heavens, it’s a silent witness they are baring. One has said of this silent witness, if you think of the whole heavens and the earth as a great machine which God has made, you know that a machine isn’t worth much when it begins to make noise. When your car begins to clunk you know things are beginning to go wrong with it. But the good machines are ones that make no sound. No deterioration, no mechanical imperfection. There’s the silent witness that goes on declaring Him. It is the mighty machine. The heavens are telling the glory of the Lord.

B. Moving past the heavens which include all the daytime sky and the nighttime sky—especially in the first 4 verses David is speaking of the nighttime sky—he comes to the part where he sees the sun as that most magnificent creation, for man. This is a God-centered poem but with a man- related orientation.

The most glorious thing for man is the contemplation of the sun. David sees the sun as a special object of God’s creation, which in the heavens God has pitched a tent for that it may have a dwelling place in the evening. His attitude, if you don’t get anything out of Psalm 19 except the personification of the sun’s attitude toward a new day as applied to your own day, take the two metaphors that are used of the sun to describe an attitude for the day. It’s like a marathon runner or champion rejoicing to face his course (verse 5). That is, the well-trained runner is waking up and it is the day of the race. As the sun comes out, not thinking, ―This is the day someone else is going to beat me in the race.‖ But, ―This is the day I’ve trained for. This is the day I’m going to win.‖

If that metaphor isn’t pleasing enough then the sun is compared to that of a bridegroom on his wedding day who comes out of his pavilion and that day is going to bring the opportunity for the marriage (verse 5). I perform a lot of marriages—I can’t think of any reluctant marriages I’ve performed. People are eager.

What a great attitude to awaken every day with. That’s what the psalmist is saying about the sun. The sun is declaring the glory of God and it can’t wait to begin its course across the horizon until it will find its tent pitched by God in the evening. Our scientific world has rendered us unable to appreciate poetry. We know that the sun doesn’t go live in a tent in the evening so we destroy the metaphor for the sake of scientific accuracy. Therefore it destroys some of the tremendous vitality that can be brought to us in life if we think of things in terms of pictures. David is doing that for us.

So get up in the day and go forth as a well-trained athlete to face the challenge of the day or as a bridegroom eager for the marriage. Such is the radiant and festive mood of each day’s journey in life as David sees it.
That’s the first six verses, declaring God’s glory in the heavens. To the glory of God in the skies. II. Then with verse 7 we switch themes to the law of God.

We need to develop a bridge between the two sections of the psalm. In the Hebrew language there are two different names for God that are employed in the psalm. The first part of the psalm the word ―God occurs once in Hebrew, that’s in verse 2. God is referred to by the name El which is the common Hebrew name for God. In verses 7–14 God’s name occurs seven times but this time not as the word El but as the word Yahweh or as we say in the English Jehovah, which is His covenant name which He revealed to Moses when He declared, ―I am who I am.

It’s the special name for God that marks His relationship with the children of Israel—God in covenant, God in redemption, God in personal relationship. Not just the God who created the heavens and the earth but the God who redeems and cares and knows us individually. So the second part of the psalm celebrates a more personal link with God. He’s not only the God of creation but the God of covenant and redemption. The sun’s light may give off heat but the Torah—the law, the Scripture—illumines the eyes.

A. What is the glory of God in the law? In verses 7–10 we see the first subdivision of this part of the glory of God in the law or in the Scriptures. There is a praise given to the law or the Scripture or to the Torah, verses 7–10. Notice different synonyms are given for the law of the Lord. It is called the law of the Lord, the statues of the Lord, the precepts of the Lord, the commands of the Lord, the fear of the Lord, the ordinances of the Lord. Six terms in all. Synonyms. The law in six different ways in the Old Testament. Law of the Lord is the comprehensive term for God’s revealed will. It’s meant to produce in us fear, which is reverence for Him.

photo via bibledude.net

1. This law is ―perfect‖ (Psalm 19:7). The Scriptures are perfect. Meaning they’re without flaw. The Scriptures, God’s written Word, are entirely sufficient. Especially when we understand them as being summed up in Jesus Christ. Entirely sufficient, nothing lacking. They’re perfect in the sense of being many sided. That is, the Scriptures cover completely all the aspects of life that need to be dealt with. Every human problem that we need answers for, every eternal truth that we need to get a hold of, everything that touches salvation and growth, all the critical questions that a mortal faces in life, the law of the Lord is perfect as it addresses. It’s without a flaw.

Because it addresses all of these it revives the soul. Life can make you lose faith. Hardship, persecution, difficulty can knock the stuff out of you in life. But when we get to the Scriptures suddenly we get the energy to go again. I don’t know how anyone can last without the Scripture. I have to have a mega vitamin dose of the Scripture daily. But that’s not nearly as powerful for me as taking it a word, a sentence at a time. So I try to do extensive Scripture and intensive Scripture. I found that the law of the Lord does revive the soul. The Scriptures are full of vigor and vitality and provide us with an enduring food that we need. The law is perfect, reviving the soul.

2. God’s statutes are ―trustworthy‖ (verse 7). That’s the second category. They’re sure. They’re dependable. You can build a foundation on which you can unhesitantly build. The Scriptures are not variable things to be changed according to the circumstances. Therefore because they are dependable and because they lay a great foundation in life they make wise the simple. That is the young and the inexperienced finds wise guidance in life. It is the Scriptures, which provide the reverence for God which is necessary lest we not live life as we ought.

3. The Scriptures are ―right‖ (verse 8). The precepts are right. The Scripture sets down our moral duty. That duty lies straight ahead as a person directing an individual by using a map to guide out a straight course for us to follow. Because the precepts of the Lord are right and they call white, white and black, black and make a delineation between what is wrong and what is righteous, because the precepts are right they produce a joy in our heart. We look at the Scripture and as our life is being conformed to the Scripture we respond and there is an inner release. Psychologically and spiritually this is so sound because when duty lies before us and we do it brings a rejoicing in the heart.

4. The law of the Lord is ―radiant,‖ or shining (verse 8). Pure. The Scripture sheds light on the pathway of life. In its radiant pure quality there is no unwholesome elements in it. It is enlightening to the eyes. It reveals dimensions of truth and reality in our experience.

Some people, every once in a while, you’ll find a pornographer that makes claim that pornography is in the Bible. Stories of incest and rape and murder and mayhem of all kinds. Therefore if you take these books out of the school library you should take the Bible out of the library too because it’s an awful book. If the Scripture gives stories like this, how can it give light to the eyes? A response is, whenever Scripture contains a story that has a profound element to it of sadness and human sin, it never glorifies the sin. It always elevates the truth and the story is there to show us where a person went wrong that we don’t repeat it ourselves. So what David is saying—and he knows this because he gave us some of the terrible stories of Scripture in his own life—the law of the Lord, the Scripture is shining. It sheds light on our path.

5. It is ―pure‖ and clean and therefore it endures forever (verse 9).

6. And it’s true and altogether right. Scripture will never betray those who trust in them. They are entirely ―righteous‖ showing that their origin is in God (verse 9).
So what does the law do for us, what do the Scriptures do for us? They restore our soul. They give us light. They give us joy. They have purifying power and they are enduring and absolutely perfect. David adds to these tremendous descriptions of the law by saying that the law is worth so much, it’s worth more than gold, much pure gold. You have to have a moral appreciation, a spiritual appreciation for who God is to say this. If you ask the average person, ―Do you want a thousand pounds of gold or do you want this book here?

You can have your pick. You can’t have both and you can’t come back later and get the other. It’s one or the other. Which do you want? David says if you put it like that, take the Word any day. It’s more valuable that gold. And it’s like honey. Honey wouldn’t be my favorite metaphor for the Bible because honey is sticky. I like it, but I like it in little bits. So honey from the honeycomb really doesn’t grab. If you talk about a chocolate Hershey bar, a chocolate shake…We can put our own metaphor to that. Whatever we have an appetite for, the Bible, David is saying, the Bible we would want better. I’d use a different metaphor than honey from the honeycomb.

But the law is desirable. These are the things which we are to have an appetite for. God’s Word. So he celebrates the glory of the Torah, verses 7–10.

B. Then in verses 11–14 David prays for a blameless life.

In light of the fact that God has given us this pure, enduring, eternal Word, how are we to live? ―By them is your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward‖ (verse 11, NIV). The law, the Scriptures operate one mind as a warning. They therefore give us at times a green light, a red light, or a yellow light. There are times we play around too many times with the yellow light. Photo below via fishforpeople.tumblr.com

Like a conscience, the Scripture approves, condemns, or counsels watchfulness. David prays that he lets the law be celebrated in his life and it will be so effective it will save him from two kinds of sins, verses 12–13. That it will save him from ―hidden faults. Or secret faults or sins. Then the contrast that the Scripture will keep him from presumptuous sin or ―willful sins. Secret sins. Here are three categories of secret sins.

1. Those who are known to ourselves but are not known to others. Is there anything you know about yourself that nobody else knows? It is a secret fault. Probably most of us could identify in our life something that is between us and God that is a fault, a flaw, in simple disposition or attitude or action. David is crying, ―God save me even from these.‖ Why do we have these secret things? Because there’s a certain privacy left us that God may test us as to how far we are good because the world looks at us and how far we want to be good because He looks at us. When they’re known only to me then I can choose to work on them or not and nobody else is worried about it. It’s just me and God. God is saying to me, ―How serious are you about your relationship with Me that you’re willing to work on your secret faults?‖ There are secret faults that we ourselves alone know. And God knows, of course.

2. Then as a second category of secret faults that we might pray to be delivered from, that is those secret faults about us that are known to others but not to us. Think about that. It’s hardest for me to see myself as I truly am. People who live with me see me better. What is not to me a secret fault is a glaring and obvious failure. Maybe one of the things David is reaching for is ―God not only save me about the things about myself that only I and you know. But help me to be aware of those things in my life that other people know that I am really blind to. Everybody I know closely, I see things that are wrong in them that I wish they could see themselves. I suspect if that’s true of me in regard to other people, then it’s got to be true of other people as they look at me.‖ Save me, O Lord, from secret faults.

3. Then it’s possible there’s a third category of secret faults. Where there are those faults about us that are not known to ourselves and not known to others but God alone knows. Maybe God is concerned about some things in us that we haven’t even yet begun to see. In some areas of our life the grass has not been cut and the weeds have grown. God knows things about us that we do not know nor do others know. Save me, O Lord, from secret faults. David will be content with nothing less than a relationship with God, which presses through to have everything that is unlike Him ultimately rooted out of the personality. That’s a great way of looking at relationship with God. ―Ultimately when You’re done with me, hammer me so well and smelt me in your furnace to so refine that everything unlike You will be melted out or beaten out, whichever way you choose. But bring it out, O Lord.‖ It’s always more pleasant and less hurtful when God vacuum cleans it out of us rather than beating it out of us. We’ll take it anyway He wants to get it out. Save me from secret faults.

Then a wild switch. All the way from secret faults to presumptuous sins. Those are the things we stumble into. We know they’re wrong when we enter them and we go ahead and do it anyway. Keep Your servant also from these sins, O Lord. The psalmist David moves from macrocosm to microcosm. Macro being the universe. Micro being the Bible—we can hold it. Who can hold the universe? From the universe and its glory to the individual and its humility before God. But the climax lies in the microcosm. Not in the heavenly roar of praise. The heavens declare the glory of God but the law declares the will of God for mankind, the creature. Though the vast firmaments so high above us declares God’s praise, it is the Torah, the law of God, the Scriptures alone that reveal to us that we have a place in the universal scheme of things. It is not a place that gives ground for human boasting or declaration of human might over the cosmos.

When the psalmist prays for God’s revelation in the Torah he issues immediately a prayer for forgiveness and acceptance. When he’s done looking at the macrocosm, the skies, he has no idea of God’s will for his life. He has no idea of redemption. He has no idea of his own personal sin. All he knows is here’s something out there that’s put all this in place. But when he’s done looking at the microcosm—the Law—he knows who God is, what God’s will is for his life, how to be joyful and how to bring to God that perplexing matter in our life that has separated us from Him, our sin. He rests in a quiet knowledge and assurance of God, which is what the Scriptures always do. Scriptures bring us in a personal and living relationship with Jesus Christ. God has two witnesses. His witness in the heavens. And His witness in the Bible. Psalm 19 eloquently puts that forth for us.

Alistair Begg: My times are in Your hands (1) Biola University

Biola Chapel from April 22, 2013 – „One of the distinguishing marks of a Christian, of a Christian worldview is to be found in the way in which  he or she views the passing of time and the ordering of the events of life.”

Psalm 31: A Psalm of Complaint and of Praise.

In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness deliver me.
Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly;
Be to me a rock of strength,
A stronghold to save me.
For You are my rock and my fortress;
For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.
You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.

I hate those who regard vain idols,
But I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,
And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a large place.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow
And my years with sighing;
My strength has failed because of my iniquity,
And my body has wasted away.
11 Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach,
Especially to my neighbors,
And an object of dread to my acquaintances;
Those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.
13 For I have heard the slander of many,
Terror is on every side;
While they took counsel together against me,
They schemed to take away my life.

14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord,
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.

Alistair Begg:

Gauguin, the post impressionist painter, painted large and very graphic pictures, particularly of women from the islands. He led a dissolute life, although brought up as a Roman Catholic and catechized, and he was not known for writing on his paintings, apart from signing them. But, on one of his most famous paintings, depicting the journey of man form birth to the grave, he wrote on the top corner, he wrote 3 questions: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Unfortunately, he had no answers for those questions. He died in his fifties, as a result, really, of a life that was lived in excess, without finding answers to those questions.

In contrast, the catechism, the Heidelberg (corrupted a little), asks the question: What is our only hope in life and death? And it provides an answer: That we are not our own, but belong, body and soul, both in life and death to God and to our Savior, Jesus Christ. You see, one of the distinguishing marks of a Christian, of a Christian worldview is to be found in the way in which  he or she views the passing of time and the ordering of the events of life. To think Christianly is to have a radical shift in the way in which we view all of these issues and to be able to affirm, „My times, o God is in your hands,” is a Christian thing to do. And so, I want to say just 3 things on the strength of that this morning:

 

Photo – I will live to enjoy the light

A key passageway to lower and central Appalachia, the natural junction was a site well-known to Native Americans throughout the centuries. Upon physician and explorer Dr. Thomas Walker’s praise, the pass was expanded by a team of loggers led by none other than Daniel Boone. Photo – all-that-is-interesting.com
sand-cave-cumberland-gap

Psalm 43:3
Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.

Psalm 36:9
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Job 33:28
He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.

2 Samuel 22:29 
You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light.

Psalm 97:11 
11 Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.

Doug Wilson – How to pray and beseech God

September 9, 2012 Text: Psalm 70 Doug Wilson (the first 5 minutes of 45 min message):

There are two and only two fundamental approaches to God in the world. There are two and only two conceptions of God in the world:

  1. One is: God is God and we are not. God is the center of all things.
  2. And the other is: God on the side, God somewhere on the side to help me if I need help. But, I am fundamentally god. I am the fundamental center of all things and He comes around to help or not, at different times. I am the center of the solar system and everything revolves around me

So there are 2 fundamental conceptions of God. One sees the Lord God almighty high and lifted up. The other might be called the domestic animal approach to God, where the ostensible worshipper keeps ‘a god’ on hand the way you might keep a cow for the milk. God is worked, god is the cosmic vending machine in the sky. God is there in order to help you out, that’s his job. He is god in heaven, god on tap.

Now, I am speaking in an obviously disrespectful way- domestic animal approach to keeping god, keeping god for the milk, a vending machine god, god on tap. That’s all disrespectful. That’s disrespectful in how it’s phrased. But, there are people who refuses to phrase it that way who still function that way.

We know from the Bible that God is God altogether. God is God through and through. It’s not a little bit of God here and a little bit of God there. All of God is everywhere, all of God is all of God. That which is true of God is true of all of Him. Now, we know, as christians who want to pursue God centered worship, we know that’s a good phrase. God centered worship is better than man centered worship. But, there’s a way of formulating God centered worship which is at the heart (down in secret places) still man centered worship.

So we know that we want to worship God high and lifted up, but, we don’t know what to do. Once we’ve got that fixed in our minds, we don’t know what to do when the Lord high and lifted up tells us to tell Him to do things; when God, the ultimate God tells us to approach Him and give Him no rest until He answers our prayer. When that God tells us to ask for something, we don’t quite know what to do. We act like Ahaz, and in the name of a high view of God refuse to obey Him.

The prophet Isaiah says, „Ask whatever sign you want,” and he says, „I’m not gonna do that… not me, I don’t wanna be disrespectful.”  Look, the almighty God has just sent a prophet to tell you what to do and you’re saying: No, because I’ve got a too high view of God. That’s the Ahaz approach. Ahaz’s approach is an approach that pretends to a high view of God, but it really isn’t. What we are doing is we’re taking refuge in certain piety, certain expressions, certain confessional expressions and our christian life is not vibrant and alive. We don’t have an ongoing functional relationship with God that’s in accordance with how God describes it, how God invites us to approach Him.

In this psalm, Psalm 70, this psalm is basically a section of Psalm 40. This psalm is a shorter version or a portion of Psalm 40.. with some changes (Yahweh for Elohim, for example). The psalmist is in trouble, as he frequently is and he cries out to God in his trouble. Some of us might think, „I think David is doing this on purpose. I think David, maybe needs to get into an anger management class or a relationship class.” David doesn’t need to do anything other than pursue God, pursue God and then, lo and behold, what happens is opposition. If someone is sold out to God in this world he will have adversaries, he will have trouble. He will have this sort of trouble.

So, the psalmist is in trouble, he frequently is in trouble, he beseeches God to get a move on. Verse 1: Hurry up God. Now, not only does he want God to come quickly. He knows what he wants God to do when God arrives. He wants God to show up and shame and confound the adversaries of his soul. (first 5 minutes of message)

On Telling God to Hurry Up

Sermon: On Telling God to Hurry Up from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Psalm 69 – Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson’s sermon from Psalm 69 – among other points, it includes an analysis of why Judas betrayed Jesus and commentary on Jesus as ‘hell fire preacher’. Read more of my notes from Doug Wilson’s sermon below this video (international readers you can use google translater widget at the top right of the page). However, the best way is to watch the video for the entire message. Here’s a brief  excerpt from Wilson’s conclusion:

External religion – Sinners like to put on a show for God

External religion- how you set up the chairs, how you preach, how you do the liturgy, the music, all the things that we do out here, all those things are things that we can do better or worse. We can do them and we can feel that we have some sort of control in them. And, if we’re in better control of those things than that church down the road- if our doctrine is sounder, if our liturgy (our scripture reading) is more beautiful, if our music is more stupendous, we can feel like we’ve got something with handles that we can take pride in. And a certain kind of heart, an unconverted heart, a carnal heart latches on to those externals. Which is why the Bible tells us over and over and over again that God looks on the heart.

Now Jesus, when He talked about the pharisees who washed the outside of the cup- Jesus said, ‘Wash the inside of the cup’. If you wash the inside of a cup in such a way, the outside’s gonna get clean.

So why does God say, ‘I prefer this more than that?’ Because sinners would much rather have that than this. Sinners like to divide it and sinners like to pick the external. Sinners like to put on a show for God. We like to pretend that the doctrine of omniscience is not true. We like to pretend that God sees our outsides- God sees us singing, God sees us going through an open hymnal, God sees us with an open Bible, and, it makes us uncomfortable to know that God sees us with an open heart.

So, why? Because there is a natural predisposition on the part of sinful man to be religious.

Sermon: What Makes the Humble Glad | Psalm 69 (Douglas Wilson) from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Some (of my) notes from sermon:

  • The wisdom of God found in Scripture is not just offensive to the carnal heart here and there, it is offensive to the carnal heart across the board and we’re gonna see a number of instances of this truth, this reality in this Psalm (Psalm 69)
  1. The first section of the Psalm is verses 1-4 and the psalmist is laying out his complaint for the Lord. He’s in trouble, he’s telling the Lord he’s in trouble, he’s telling the Lord he is sunk down in the mire; he needs deliverance. His enemies are numerous; this is a particular kind of affliction. We live in a fallen world, this applies to all sorts of affliction. But, this particular affliction the psalmist is going through is brought about by enemies, by adversaries, brought about by those who despise him.
  2. Verses 5-12: The thing that got him into trouble in the first place was the zeal that he had for the house of God. All of it is for God’s sake. We see in verse 5 that he is a sinner, in v. 5, we know he is not perfect. But the reason for the pushback is his righteousness, not his sinfulness.
  3. In the third section the psalmist is pleading for help, in verses 13-21 he is beseeching God for help. Reproach is what has broken his heart, it is the people coming after him and some of the people coming after him knew better, (they) understood that what they were saying was false.
  4. In the next section he calls for justice to be meted out against his adversaries, verses 22-28 he’s calling out for justice. The wrath of God is real in both testaments (vv. 24-25).
  5. In the last section in the psalm, he returns to his petitions and he anticipates, by faith, a positive response (v. 33). The Lord prefers true heart thanksgiving to external rituals.

This psalm has a number of anchor points. We need to pay close attention as to how the New Testament quotes the Old Testament.  What was Jesus’s favorite book? You could argue that Jesus’s favorite book was Deuteronomy. Why isn’t it our favorite book? We should let Jesus and the apostles point us to what we should be learning from and resorting to. The favorite books of the New Testament writers and Jesus were

  • Genesis
  • Isaiah
  • Psalms
  • Deuteronomy

This Psalm (69) has at least 4 quotations in the New Testament- and we learn quite a bit about this Psalm from the NT.

  1. We learn this Psalm is Messianic. It is about the Messiah. I would like to argue on another level that all the Psalms are about the Messiah, but some, explicitly so. At the same time, David’s life is a type. David’s life is a lived out prophecy and Jesus is the son of David. The difference between them is Jesus is sinless and His father David is not. So David is a type of the antitype who is Jesus, but you have to factor out certain things. One of the things you have to factor out is the sin. So, David is a fallen sinner. David stumbles, Jesus never does. At the same time there are a number of things that are true of both the type and the antitype. So, not every detail in the psalm is fulfilled in the life of the Messiah, but, much of it is. Jesus quotes verse 4 ‘They that hate Me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head‘. He expressly applies this psalm to Himself in John 15:25The same phrase is found in Psalm 35:19 If God knows the number of hairs on your head, and the enemies are the same as the hairs on your head, then God knows the number of your enemies.
  2. The first part of verse 9 is quoted as something that the disciples recalled after Jesus cleansed the temple. In the Gospel of John 2:17 the disciples remembered after Jesus cleansed the temple, „Zeal for your house is consuming”. The reason Jesus cleansed the temple is because Psalm 69 gave this pattern: Zeal for God’s house consumed Christ and so he cleansed the temple.
  3. The second half of verse 9 is quoted by Paul in Romans 15:3 and he applies it in another way to Christ. It says, ‘For even Christ pleased not Himself, but, as it is written- the reproaches of them that reproach thee fell on me’. That is referring to Jesus. What happened to David in a type, happened to Jesus in total fulfillment.
  4. The last 2 quotations – one is where David starts cursing his enemies. But, he is not cursing in his own authority. The difference between an autonomous, sinful curing is when you set your self up in your own name, to curse other people. You don’t have the authority to do that. When you relegate it, turn it over to God and ask God to do this, you’re inviting God’s judgement and it entails you in the judgement as well. If you’re asking God to do this unjustly, then God is not going to fulfill that curse and He’s going to chastise you instead. So, when Paul says in Galatians, „‘f we, or another angel from heaven preaches another Gospel, let him be accursed’, he’s committing it to God. This is a christian way of cursing. So, Paul, in Romans is talking about Israel having been closed off in unbelief. And he applies vv 22-23 to the judicial blindness and unbelief that had afflicted the Jewish nation at that time. And since that time, as Paul teaches, also in Romans 11, which affliction, which judicial blindness will one day be removed. But, in romans 11:9-10 we see that this judicial blindness is visited upon the Jews. We should note: The illusion in vinegar given as a drink, in verse 21, and we find in verse 25 cited in Acts 1:20, when Peter was explaining the fate of Judas. This would seem to entail Judas in the same kind of judicial blindness that had overtaken the jewish nation as a whole. So, in the earlier verses, the whole jewish nation was blinded as to the identity of the Messiah, or how the messiah was going to work.

Judicial blindness and Judas

And, it appears that Judas was caught up in that same kind of problem. Judas was not the universal sneak. He was not a character that was contextless. He was not a man without a nation. He was not a man without a background. He was not a man without political opinions. He was not a man without agendas. He wasn’t just a villain dropped into a story so that we might have someone to betray Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus for a reason. Now, we don’t have this laid out explicitly, so we shouldn’t call it anything more than educated speculation. But, Judas realized these things we know from the Bible. Judas had seen the power of Jesus. He, Judas himself had cast out demons. When Jesus sends the disciples out, they all do what Jesus had commissioned them to do. Judas himself has cast out demons and it’s interesting that later Satan himself enters Judas. Judas had healed the sick himself. He saw Jesus walk on water, he saw Jesus feed the multitudes, he saw Lazarus come out of the grave. Judas knew Jesus was powerful. Judas knew that Jesus was blessed by God, the spirit of God was on Him. Jesus did remarkable things and Judas had front row seats. Combine all this with the fact that Judas knew Jesus was not going to fight the Romans, He was going to go to the cross. As soon as Judas sees that Jesus was condemned, he returns the money; he throws the money down and goes and hangs himself.

Now, why hang yourself if Judas’s intent was to betray Jesus and ‘let’s see Him get what’s coming to Him?’ If that was his (Judas’s) motive, why hang himself when the plot succeeded? Something else is going on. What was his motivation? I believe the only narrative that makes sense with the background of Psalm 69 is that Judas was trying to force Jesus’s hand. He was trying to make Jesus exercise His power in a particular way that would expel the Romans. He was trying to force Him, paint Him into a corner so that Jesus would have to do what He inexplicably wasn’t doing. Jesus has all this power. The Romans, the tyrants are here. We’re under this judgment. This evil pagans are here and Jesus can raise the dead, Jesus can walk on water for crying out loud, why isn’t He doing something about the Romans. Anybody, with any kind of sense would see that you have to do something about the Romans.

Now, part of the reason Judas was judicially blinded is not just the reason that he shared the assumptions that the jews of his era had about the Messiah. This was a common cultural assumption: When the Messiah comes He will expel the Romans. Jesus is clearly the Messiah, Judas knew and so He needs to expel the Romans, that’s what He has to do. And He’s not doing it, so let’s give Him a little encouragement, let’s put Him into a corner where He will surely reveal His power, He will surely rise up. But then, the Messiah is like a sheep that goes silently to the slaughter and Judas doesn’t get it. It’s inexplicable.

Personal motives- This is not just external cultural blindness that the whole jewish nation had. We also learn in John 12:6 that Judas was covetous- which also links to- if Jesus expels the Romans and we have a new Israel, I’m probably going to get a choice cabinet spot, I’m probably gonna be the secretary of the treasury and it’s not gonna be this little purse I’m carrying around with this itinerary preacher, but I’m gonna be in an important place , then I can really take advantage of that. John 12 tells us that Judas used to help himself to the money that was in the account of the disciples, Jesus and His band. So, we have personal motives for thinking the way he did.

Jesus as hell fire preacher 

There’s a glib assumption among many christians on this- yet, the curses of the OT are not eradicated with the NT. They are not erased by the Gospel, they are fulfilled in the arrival of the Gospel. Away with the notion that the OT God had problems and somewhere between Maleachi and Matthew He’s not angry anymore. No, these implications are fulfilled in the NT. Not only so, but, they are fulfilled in terrible ways. Damnation is a horrible reality and the hell fire damnation preacher of the entire Bible is the Lord Jesus. If you go from beginning to end (of the Bible) the hell fire preacher is the Lord Jesus. People like to think that Jesus was the original flower child preaching a simple message of love and peace and then He ran afoul of the authorities, because that’s what preaching peace and love will get you. And then, the apostle Paul comes along with his message of condemnation and all his severities and he somehow wrecks the pristine christianity. The problem with that is the apostle Paul never mentions hell once by name, in all of his letters. Jesus talks about it regularly. Jesus is the ‘hell fire, damnation’ preacher. People like to pretend that the God off the Old Testament was basically a God of wrath and the God of the New Testament is a God of love.

Where do we get this idea that flies in the face of the data? We get this idea because it’s flattering to us. We don’t like the idea of a final judgment, we don’t like the idea of God coming down and looking at our lives and being the kind of God who knows the hairs on our head and as it says in Psalms: If God were to mark iniquities, who could stand? So, if God is going to hold us in judgment  and is going to be severe, we NEED a SAVIOR! Well, mysteriously, wonderfully, there is a Savior presented, but we can’t avail ourselves of that Savior until we know the problem. We’re not gonna take the medication until we know that we’re sick and we’re not able to apply the solution until we understand the problem.

David resolves to give thanks to God with a Psalm

He calls down curses from God, he asks God to judge and then he gives thanks to God with a song (v 30). He then makes a comparison which lies at the heart of all evangelical religion. This is something the Bible does over and over and over again and does it for a reason. „I desire mercy and not sacrifices”, it says in Hosea. „To obey is better than sacrifice”, Samuel tells Saul. „Sacrifices and burnt offerings You do no require, but a humble and contrite heart”, we learn elsewhere in the Psalms. We have the same comparison here. David sets a thankful heart over against the external ritual ‘conformity’ to the sacrificial laws of God (v. 31). In v. 30- „I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad.”

What makes humble hearts glad

This reality makes humble hearts glad. What makes humble hearts glad? To see heart religion preferred over externals. The sacrifices he’s talking about were  required by God. But God gives us the whole book (Bible), He gives us the whole world view and he expects us to respond to Him in faith and when our hearts are humble, we see that God prefers  heart religion to external religion.

Why is this contrast set up at all? Why does the Bible do this repeatedly? The reason is that there’s a kind of person out there who latches on o the external requirements that God gives us and he manipulates those externals in a way that is conducive to their pride. When something comes along that topples that pride, that is what makes humility rejoice.

External religion – Sinners like to put on a show for God

External religion- how you set up the chairs, how you preach, how you do the liturgy, the music, all the things that we do out here, all those things are things that we can do better or worse. We can do them and we can feel that we have some sort of control in them. And, if we’re in better control of those things than that church down the road- if our doctrine is sounder, if our liturgy (our scripture reading) is more beautiful, if our music is more stupendous, we can feel like we’ve got something with handles that we can take pride in. And a certain kind of heart, an unconverted heart, a carnal heart latches on to those externals. Which is why the Bible tells us over and over and over again that God looks on the heart.

Now Jesus, when He talked about the pharisees who washed the outside of the cup- Jesus said, ‘Wash the inside of the cup’. If you wash the inside of a cup in such a way, the outside’s gonna get clean.

So why does God say, ‘I prefer this more than that?’ Because sinners would much rather have that than this. Sinners like to divide it and sinners like to pick the external. Sinners like to put on a show for God. We like to pretend that the doctrine of omniscience is not true. We like to pretend that God sees our outsides- God sees us singing, God sees us going through an open hymnal, God sees us with an open Bible, and, it makes us uncomfortable to know that God sees us with an open heart.

So, why? Because there is a natural predisposition on the part of sinful man to be religious. Unconverted men love religion. You do not have a system where you’ve got christians over here and a bunch of atheists out there. Atheism is not usually the way men go. Men are religious. There’s true religion and false religion. And, even atheism veers into externals. They try to have some sort of ethical system. They try to have religiosity of some sort, even with an overt denial of God. But, most men don’t do that, they’re just very, very religious.

External religion is a sin. And when God works among men and when he establishes His true religion, our temptation is to go out to the pagans, get their attitude towards externals and import it to the church. We must have an external embodiment. We’re external, not just bodies and souls. We come here to a place and we sing and we hear, and we do things. We have to have an external manifestation of our faith. But, we must be constantly reminded that God prefers this to that, because untended we prefer that to this.

But, we can’t do it unless God provides something, unless God’s at work. And, this is why we must remember: Christ is not powerful to save you if you repent or if you do something. Christ is powerful to give you repentance. Christ is the one who does it. God gives repentance, God gives faith. When God moves… you see the beauty of the Christian faith. You see the beauty of the one true religion: God saves sinners. Which is very, very different than sinners preparing themselves to be saved. When the initiative lies with us: God will do this if you prepare your heart, or if you go through these motions. The sentence begins: …but God intervenes… but God sent His Son… but God gave repentance… If God gives Jesus to die on the cross, to be buried and come back from the dead so that you can be put right and He’s the one that put you right, using that means, that’s good news. But God, is good news. But I, is bad news. But I, is false Gospel.

Unbelief Thinks God Can Be Gamed

You think you can come to church on the outside, and sing the hymn on the outside, and listen to the sermon on the outside, and have your heart far from Him. The Scripture talks about this problem- with their lips they approach Him, but, their hearts are far from Him.  THAT IS WHAT UNBELIEF DOES.

Unbelief submits to God externally; there is an unbelief that rebels against Him, defies Him. But, through various circumstances that unbelief is brought to church, that unbelief is somehow baptized, that unbelief is somehow brought into the domain of the church and is under the discipline of Christ. That form of unbelief lies to Christ, pretends to submit to Him, but is lying to Him. This unbelief feels that God can be worked, God can be gamed.

As Spurgeon said, „If you are listening to the devil don’t expect God to listen to you”. If you are listening to the devil, even if it’s the devils whispering, don’t expect God to listen to you, even if you’re shouting.If you’re loudly proclaiming to God that you love Him and serve Him, you praise Him, but you’re listening to the devil whispering and you’ve got a secret channel communication set up, don’t expect God to hear you.

The psalmist says it very plainly, „If I regard iniquity in my heart, if I’ve got a privileged place in my heart for iniquity, then don’t expect God to hear your prayer.”

Now, you may say, all of us stumble in many ways, you talked about us all having dross that has to be removed, none of us has arrived, we’re not at the day of the resurrection yet. Don’t we all have iniquity in our heart? The answer is yes, that’s true. We all  have remaining sinfulness in our hearts, but notice the psalmist doesn’t say , „I have iniquity in my heart, he’s assuming that we do.” He says here, „If I regard iniquity in my heart”, not „if I have sinned”. He’s saying, „If I regard sin, if I’m renting out a ‘room to sin’ in my heart, I would say- you could have this part of my heart, you can have this part of my life, of my soul, of my emotional piece”, you’re in effect saying to God, „You cannot have this piece”.  That’s what it means to regard iniquity in your heart.

If God were to mark iniquities as it says in another psalm- Who could stand? I am not talking here about absolute perfection. I am talking about silver ore that is willing to get in the furnace. If the whole thing is surrender to God in principle, the silver ore has dross in it. You don’t have to be perfect to begin the process. Of course we are imperfect, of course we sin, of course we have iniquities and things we struggle with. There’s a reason why at the beginning of our service we get on our knees and confess our sins. But, YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO COME HERE (church) REGARDING INIQUITY IN YOUR HEART.

That iniquity in your heart must not be a treasured possession. It must not be the sort of thing (about which) you say, „God, anything but this. I’ll do anything you want. I’ll go here, I’ll go there, I’ll sing this, I’ll say that, but you can’t have this lust. You can’t have this bitterness. You can’t take away this pettiness. You can’t take away this form of self centeredness”. That’s regarding iniquity in your heart.

Unbelief Thinks God Can Be Gamed from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

The God Who Helps by D.A. Carson

Watch also –

If you live long enough, you’re gonna get kicked in the teeth. If you live long enough, you will be bereaved. If you live long enough you will face major disappointment, you may lose a job. You may lose a friend, you may lose a marriage, you may find yourself impoverished or you may find yourself so enslaved by vicious sins that you loathe yourself. You are so addicted to the porn on the internet and you don’t know what to do. Or you have nurtured bitterness for members of your family and you don’t know how to escape. You know it’s not right, it is poisoning you and you don’t have a clue what to do about it.

Psalm 40

‘God is our helper’. Sometimes we tend to think of the songs as 150 individual pearls on a string. But many of the psalms are grouped together in important ways. Psalm 37 underscores the importance of waiting on God. Psalms 38 and 39 give us the application of waiting on God, worked out in painful self examination. And now in Psalm 40, at least initially, gloom is lifted. There is a triumphant outcome. David has waited on the Lord and the Lord has helped him.

That brings us to the two major divisions of the Psalms. In verses 1-10, the Psalm is full of joy, praise to the God who helps. This can usefully be broken down into 4 stanzas, four parts:

1. Personal testimony verses 1-3

I waited on the Lord – Verse 1 bursts with delight: ‘I waited patiently for the Lord, who turned to me and heard my cry’.  This is a purposefully resolved waiting. Now what was it that David was saved from? Verse 2 describes it metaphorically: ‘He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on the rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Some miry bog; the image suggests both disgust and floundering helplessness. But what was it? Sickness, en-chaining sin, discouragement, peril from enemies? We don’t have a clue and this is one of those verses that is a blessing that we don’t have a clue. For if we knew exactly what it was, we would be inclined to make appropriate application only if we were exactly in the same peril. But, by preserving the metaphor and not identifying it precisely, God has given us a kind of generic insightWe can fall into very many different kind of bogs and God is our only rescuer.

One is reminded of Paul’s thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12: There was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan… to teach him humility. What the thorn in the flesh was? Well, there have been scores of answers. In my mind, I can probably narrow them down to a probable 3 or 4. Beyond that point I can’t quite be certain and once again, the metaphorical ambiguity is a great help. God knows ‘you’ intimately and He knows what kinds of bogs you are either in or have come through, or will fall into if you live long enough. And here this psalm provides David’s testimony, precisely to that kind of experience.

‘New song’ language in the Scriptures always marks some new blessing from God

David, extending the metaphor, has been rescued from this slimy pit, from this miry bog. Not mere escape like Jeremiah in Jeremiah 38, but now with a new place on which to stand. Even so, quite remarkably, David does not focus extensively on his release, as if he were the center of the universe. Rather, his words flow out to God and out to others (v 3). ‘New song’ language in the Scriptures always marks some new blessing from God and evokes a new song. It’s as if all the songs that we’ve sung are inadequate to praise God for the new blessings that we receive.

The most remarkable ‘new song’ of Revelation 4 & 5

The most remarkable ‘new song’ passage in all of Holy Scripture is the one found in the great apocalyptic vision in Revelation 4 and 5. In Revelation 4, God is presented in colorful metaphors, spectacular apocalyptic language- as the sovereign God, the transcendent God, a Creator God. Before Him, the highest orders of angelic beings bow before Him and cast their thrones before Him. They acknowledge their utter dependance upon Him and they come together and sing, „You are worthy because you have created all things, and by Your will they were created. And once this setting is established, God transcendent, God powerful, God the Creatorm then drama unfolds. Revelaton 4 is to Revelation 5 what a setting is to a drama. Once God’s great transcendent glory is established in chapter 4, the drama unfolds in chapter 5.

In the right hand of Him who sits on the throne, we are told, is a scroll, sealed with seven seals. That scroll has all of God’s purposes for redemption and judgement. That’s what the scroll contains- all of God’s purposes for the entire universe for judgment and redemption, and is sealed with 7 seals. In the symbolism of the day, whatever is in that scroll can be enacted only if you slit the seal. And so, in the drama, this scroll with all of God’s purposes is sealed with 7 seals and now a mighty angel challenges the entire universe: Who is worthy to approach this God and take the scroll from His right hand?  and slit the seals, and thus bring about all of God’s purposes- redemption and judgement. And no one is found who is worthy. Not the cherubim and seraphim, not the elders, no one on the earth, no one under the earth in the abodes of the dead, no angel. And John weeps, not because he is nosy and his curiosity is stifled. But, because in the symbolism of the vision, this means that God’s purposes for judgement, justice and blessing will not be brought to pass. And as he’s weeping, an interpreting elder taps him on the shoulder and says, „John, stop your weeping. Look, the lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed to open the scroll”. „So, I looked”, John says, „and I saw a Lamb”. We’re not to think of 2 animals, parked side by side- a lion and a lamb. The lion is the lamb. He’s the lion of the tribe of Judah, but He’s also the Lamb of God who is slaughtered. Yet, a Lamb with 7 horns. In the symbolism of the day that means a slaughtered sacrificial lamb, that nevertheless had the perfection of all kingly power that the horn symbolizes. In consequence of this, because He comes from the throne itself and takes the scroll out of the hand of Him who sits on the throne, He prevails to bring about all of God’s purposes for judgement and blessing. And they ‘sing a new song’!

And what is this song? It’s no longer the song praising God for Creation, as great as that song is, as legitimate and perennial as it is. It is a song addressed to Christ, „You are worthy to open the scroll”. For He shed his blood to rescue men and women drawn from every tongue and tribe and people and nation. They shall reign in the new heaven and the new earth. Here is a new song, brought about by the new event it redempted in the ministry of the Lion-Lamb, bringing about all of God’s purposes.

Now this vision here in Psalm 40 is not quite so – Salvation, historically transcendent and yet, in our experience, is there not time when we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. We do know that God is faithfulWe have known of God’s provision in the past. And then we go through some new, agonizing thing. God pours out His grace upon us in spectacular ways and we sing a new song! Sometimes it’s after bereavement. Sometimes, in the life of the church it’s after decades of really difficult, challenging situation and then suddenly there is massive movement.

D A Carson’s father’s experience in ‘liberal’ Canada

In the province of Quebec, where I grew up, my father was one of the first pastors back in French Canada after liberalism had decimated the relatively few churches in a population of about 6 1/2 million french speakers. He started in the late 30’s when another man from Switzerland, William F. (?) and gradually dozens of pastors from the United States and from english Canada returned, started planting churches… There was a lot of persecution. Baptist ministers alone spent 8 years in jail between 1950 and 1952. We kids were regularly beaten up because we were ‘damned protestants’. As recently as 1972, there were only 35 or 36 evangelical churches of any description, most with not more than 40 people in all of this population of 6 1/2 million. And then in 8 years we grew from 35 churches to 500, and God put a new song in our mouths, even praise to our God.

Here’s personal testimony (David in Psalm 40, verses 1-3). One of the wonderful things is that David immediately turns that to public principle.

 

2. Public principle (v. 4-5) 

Instead of talking in the first person, he now talks about the third person. He connects the 2 sessions by a little hook word. Have you noticed- verse 3: ‘many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord’. And now he talks generically in verse 4: Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, oh Lord, my God are the wonders You have done. The things You plan for us, no one can recount to you.

This is wonderful. There is reflection now in David and all of the good things that God has done. Come through one of these wretched experiences, come out of the other side of a miry bog and it gives time for you to take a deep breath and think about all God’s plans for you. And you look back and think again and marvel at all of God’s goodness. There is a marvelous parallel passage  to this in Psalm 139, sometimes I think, slightly misunderstood. Psalm 139:13: For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My  frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. Do you see? This is not simply a passage that is marveling at God’s omniscience. How can you ever begin to grasp the innumerable thoughts of God?

In the flow od the sequence, it is very personal. God has created us in the womb and His sovereignty is so sweeping . Even before we are born our days are ordained for us. God knows the terrible things we will be going through, the bogs in this broken world that we will ourselves fall into. He knows them all. Hid sovereignty is extended even unto all these details He thinks about and He knows about them all. All of His thoughts concerning us are innumerable and still He can be trusted as the sovereign, good God that comes to rescue His people.

3. Personal self dedication (v 6-8)

What is the only proper response for such deliverance? Slaughter a lamb? Perhaps. Bring a bull? Well, maybe you’re poor, so 2 turtle doves will do instead. Is that an adequate response to this sort of God? Ultimately we must bring our entire being to God, our heart and will. We read, „Sacrifice and offering You did not desire”,  (now the next line is extremely difficult, I’ll come back to it), burnt offerings You did not require. Then I said, „Here I am, I have come. It is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, o my God. Your law is within my heart”. Now, the general thought in these 3 verses is clear: Mere formal offering of sacrifice is not adequate response to a God who saves us from all of these miry bogs, whose sovereignty extends to every dimension of our life, we trust HIm to help us with every kind of situation. The only adequate response is to say, „Here I am, I have come to do your will. It’s the only ultimate response that is even the beginnings of being adequate.

The ear piercing = an open ear to hear the Lord

And before we press farther we need to think about the second line in verse 6. It is difficult to understand. Many English versions have ‘sacrifice and offerings you did not desire but, my ears you have pierced. And the Hebrew verb can be understood that way. And then, people wonder if this is a reflection of something that takes place in the Book of Exodus, chapter 21. In the ancient world, sometimes people fell into slavery because of raiding parties or military activity. But, sometime they fell into slavery because there was no chapter 11 and chapter 13 laws, no bankruptcy laws. So, you borrowed some money, then your business went belly up and the only way out was to sell yourself and perhaps your family into slavery. But, perhaps you fell into the hands of a really good master who provided you with food and shelter for you and your family, at a time when the unemployment rate is a nays 20-25%. Under Jewish law, when the Israelites were actually observing it, after a set number of years, then you were supposed to be released. In other words, slavery in Israel was not supposed to be open ended, it was a form of indentured service rather than being open ended. Supposing, someone came to the end of this 7 years of indentured service  and looked around and saw that the economy wasn’t very good and his master was really good, maybe he should just stay on a slave. It might be just a bit better. Then he went on with an ear piercing ceremony. It was a way of saying- henceforth, this man will belong to this household.

So perhaps that is what it’s saying- that from now on, David will belong to the house of God. Now the problem with that interpretation is- everything we know about this ear piercing ceremony describes only one ear being pierced. But here, the text says: My ears you have pierced. Now, there’s another way of understanding that verb in Hebrew and literally, it means ‘my ears you have dug out’. Now, what does that mean? It is merely saying: Listen up, what’s blocking your ears? Pay attention! In other words, what is required here is not merely offering of sacrifice, but an open ear before the Lord so that we hear what He says and listen to Him.

There is a wonderful passage in one of the servant songs of Isaiah, in Isaiah chap. 50, with exactly the same thought, not the same verb, but the same thought. Isaiah 50:54 where the suffering servant of Yahweh says, „The sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning. Wakens my ears to listen, like one being taught. The sovereign Lord has opened my ears and I have not been rebellious. I have not drawn back. I offer my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pull at my beard.” Do you see? This is an anticipation of the suffering servant’s suffering. An anticipation of Jesus crying in Ghetsemane, „Not My will, but Yours be done”, because His heavenly Father gave Him an open ear. He listened to the voice of His heavenly Father and was perfectly obedient. If David was obedient, how much more so David’s greater Son?

‘You are God, You are sovereign. Dig out my ears so that I may listen. Let me be Yours in thought and word and deed, my whole body serving you.’ Isn’t that same thought found in the apostle Paul- ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind‘. And before that, ‘I beseech you brothers by the mercies of God to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship‘. There is Paul, saying something very similar to David. But, the ultimate one who hears God’s word in this way is Christ Himself, and it takes Him to the cross. That is what is required of us, by way of response, to the fact that God takes us out of miry bogs.

4. Public proclamation (v 9-10)

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. 10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. That is ‘I don’t hide it in my heart as if it’s entirely private, I announce it! I speak of your faithfulness and salvation’

I know full well that there are different styles of display of thanksgiving that are in part culture driven. This is true even in greetings. This sort of thing comes out in how we give thanks to God. David is realistic. I think some of us from more reserved traditions are afraid to let it hang out. Less people will look down on us. But David is not in that group. Listen to what David says, this is the word of God: „I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly, I do not seal my lips, as you know, o Lord. I do not hide your righteousness! I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your truth and love from the great assembly. „

Brothers and sisters in Christ, those of us who have been in those deep waters owe it to the entire assembly to speak of God’s goodness and mercy in the public arena so that others, a new generation coming along behind and those who have not had many miry bogs yet learn how to give thanks to God. It’s not just that you show the way of how to go through the bog, you also show the way of how to give thanks afterwards. And, as Christians give thanks to God almighty for all of the blessings they’ve received, not in the least in the hardest times. They teach a whole new generation to trust the living God.

Brothers and sisters, when you come out of your miry bog don’t slink into an endless pity party. Give thanks to God in the assembly and teach a new generation the goodness of God.

Now the second division of the psalm (Psalm 40) I can cover in 3 or 4 minutes, but it is important to note how it works. Here is verses 11-17 there is renewed anticipation of the God who helps. Verse 11 can be understood either as a petition or as a statement. What strikes you about this , granted, he’s just come through a miry bog, why is David going on to talk about ongoing protection? Because, of course, just because you have lost a child does not necessarily mean that you can escape cancer. Just because you’ve been through a really difficult ecclesiastical situation does not necessarily mean that you won’t face bereavement. This is still a damned world. There are wonderful things here, signs of God’s grace in so many ways, but this is still a death dealing world and David is astute enough to understand that just because God has taken him out of one miry bog, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be any more miry bogs down the road.

And so, David reminds himself that God must still be his helper. He runs through six domains, he still needs help. He will always need help.:

  1. God helps in the arena of personal sin (v. 12)
  2. God helps in the arena of bitter enemies (v. 13-15)
  3. God helps all who seek him, that is, all who seek God’s glory (v.16)
  4. God helps even me (v.17)

God is not our helper like some kind of a genie who comes along and gives some assistance, the help He gives is always within the framework where God is God. And we respond by saying, ” Thy will be done, may the Lord be exalted!”  Religion demands we do certain things to get help from God. Ancient paganism was like that. But supposing you’re dealing with a God to whom you really can give nothing, who already owns it all, a God with whom you cannot possibly barter. Then what does religion look like? That’s why religion of the Bible is no standard of religion at all. It is a disclosure of a living God of grace who comes along to help us. And we, his creatures, first of all acknowledge our creatureliness, then our guilt and bow before and accept His sovereignty and forgiveness. There is no other proper relationship with this living God. Finally, we bow before Him on bended knee in contrition and brokenness because we know that we don’t have something to trade with Him.
Nothing in my hands I bring,
only to Thy cross I cling,
naked come to thee for dress,
hopeless look to thee for rest.
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
wash me Savior or I die.
And so we come to the cross and to the Father who sent His son and we find Him always a help in time of need.

The Bible’s Emergency Numbers (Keep this list handy)

Emergency Telephone Numbers 
These are more effective than 911
 
When –
 
You are sad, phone 
John 14 
You have sinned, phone 
Psalm 51 
You are facing danger, phone 
Psalm 91 
People have failed you, phone 
Psalm 27
It feels as though God is far from you, phone Psalm 139 
Your faith needs stimulation, phone 
Hebrews 11 
You are alone and scared, phone 
Psalm 23 
You are worried, phone 
Matthew 8:19-34 
You are hurt and critical, phone 
1 Corinthians 13 
You wonder about Christianity, phone 
2 Corinthians 5:15-18 
You feel like an outcast, phone 
Romans 8:9-39 
You are seeking peace, phone 
Matthew 11:25-30 
It feels as if the world is b igger than God, phone 
Psalm 90 
You need Christ like insurance, phone 
Romans 8:1-30 
You are leaving home for a trip , phone 
Psalm 121 
You are praying for yourself, phone 
Psalm 87 
You require courage for a task, phone 
Joshua 1 
Inflation’s and investments are hogging your thoughts, phone 
Mark 10:17-9 
You are depressive, phone 
Psalm 27 
Your bank account is empty, phone 
Psalm 37 
You lose faith in mankind, phone 
1 Corinthians 13 
It looks like people are unfriendly, phone 
John 15 
You are losing hope, phone 
Psalm 126 
You feel the world is small comp ared to you, phone 
Psalm 19 
You want to carry fruit, phone 
John 15 
Paul’s secret for happiness, phone Colossians 3:12-17 
With big opportunity/ discovery, phone 
Isaiah 55 
To get along with other people, phone 
Romans 12 
ALTERNATE NUMBERS
 
For dealing with fear, call 
Psalm 47 
For security, call 
Psalm 121:3 
For assurance, call 
Mark 8:35 
For reassurance, call 
Psalm 145:18 
ALL THESE NUMBERS MAY BE PHONED DIRECTLY.
 
NO OPERATOR ASSISTANCE IS NECESSARY.
 
ALL LINES TO HEAVEN ARE AVAILABLE 24 HOURS A DAY.
 
FEED YOUR FAITH, AND DOUBT WILL STARVE TO DEATH

The Anatomy of Backsliding

by John Piper. Read post at www.desiringGod.org

PSALMS 119:176

I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
seek thy servant,
for I do not forget thy commandments.

Introduction

The truth about our experience is that we fail to live at the level of holiness that we know is fitting for a follower of Christ. We need to see how this same reality of imperfection turns up in the saints of Scripture and how they handled it.

The Structure of Psalm 119

Psalm 119 is the most sustained act of praise and commitment to the Word of God in all the Bible.

It is composed of 22 stanzas of 8 verses each. Each of the 22 stanzas is built on a different Hebrew letter, of which there are 22 in the Hebrew alphabet. In each of the stanzas, each of the eight verses begins with the letter of that stanza.

Why This Structure?

It is the sort of thing you do when you „delight in the law of the Lord” (PSALM 1:2) and when you believe (with PSALM 19:7–10) that:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.

It is a way of passing the time of night or day rolling the Word over in your mind, seeing how many different angles you can see.

It is a reveling in the riches of the Word. Like when we wanted to honor Elsie, we took the letters of her name and thought up words to describe her.

The Background for the Shocking Last Verse

That is the background for the last verse of the psalm, a verse that comes as a shock, because there is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the psalm—a confession that, in spite of all that has gone before, he has now backslidden and gone astray. Verse 176:

I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
seek thy servant,
for I do not forget thy commandments.

Three Parts to the Anatomy of Backsliding

1. „I have gone astray like a lost sheep . . .

The saints sometimes go astray.

  • He was a saint:
    • his love for the law—v. 97
    • his life of prayer—vv. 145, 147 (whole psalm!)
    • his persistent praise of the Word—v. 164
    • his track record of obedience—vv. 22, 100f., 110, 121
  • He went astray:
    • he admits it openly in this verse—v. 176
    • it is not the first time—v. 67
    • the battle will not be over to the end of life; perhaps this is why he puts it last: after all his success the battle for holiness goes on!
  • Like a lost sheep:
    • „lost” in Hebrew also means perishing
    • sheep will die if not found

2. ” . . . seek your servant . . . ”

True saints cry out to be found when straying.

  • He is not content to stray.
  • He admits his need of help: „Seek me!”
  • How does he anticipate God’s intervention?
    • be gracious—v. 58
    • revive me—v. 25
    • open my eyes—v. 18 (cf. 129!)
    • incline my heart—vv. 36f., 112 (cf. 165!)
    • teach me—vv. 12, 26f., 29, etc.
    • strengthen me—vv. 28, 133
    • afflict me—vv. 67, 71

Note: though he gives God the tribute of having power to rescue him, he does not fault God for his straying. God is not guilty that I am prone to wander. He is not bound to rescue me in any time but his own, if at all.

What is the saint’s assurance of God’s willingness to seek him?

3. ” . . . for I do not forget your commandments.”

True saints cannot erase the law that has been written on their heart by the Spirit of God. They remain there beckoning and enticing.

  • The spiritual taste for God cannot be wholly obliterated in the heart of the saints.
  • Saints not only call on God to seek them, they seek God through his Word. „Not forgetting” is a litotes for „really remember and call to mind.”
  • Connection to Communion:
    • ISAIAH 53:6—”All we like sheep . . . „
    • JOHN 10:11—”I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
© Desiring God

Get Wisdom (4) Life Is Not Trivial

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

by John Piper. You can read the original post here at www.desiringGod.org

Isn’t it the extremely high and the extremely low occasions of life that trigger in us a hunger that life not be so trivial most of the time? Every human being now and then feels a longing that life not dribble away like a leaky faucet. You’ve all tasted the desire that day-to-day life be more than a series of trifles. It can happen when you are reading a poem, when you are kneeling in your closet, when you are standing at the lakeside at sunset. It very often happens at birth and death.

When my mother died in December, 1974, I had to go home and help tend my dad’s injury. I didn’t know what, besides grief, I might feel. But one thing that happened was this: I wrote to Dr. Glenn, chairman of my department at Bethel College and said: „I know you want me to teach an overload in the spring but unless my job depends on it I’d rather not.” The reason I gave was: „When I stand beside my mother’s coffin and then look at my wife and son, the $1,000 extra which I would make teaching the overload simply loses all its attraction because it would rob me of some of the quality time with my family.” In other words, the crisis time of my mother’s death awakened in me a longing that my family life not be trivial.

Why does this happen? I think it’s because at these moments of intense emotion we see life for what it really is. The non-essentials get stripped off and life essential shines for what it really is—and it is not trivial. We see things in the light of eternity, we see the way God sees, and triviality has no place in God’s life.

The world is hungry for people for whom nothing is trivial, people who ooze with life because in everything they see a reflection of eternity—even in a fish and a blade of grass.

Last Thursday Noël and I got away to a lake for the day. Before we went Karsten picked out and read for us Psalm 104 at breakfast. This was a great preparation for a day out of doors. It is a nature psalm and says, for example, „O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom thou hast made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures. Yonder is the sea great and wide, which teems with things innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathans which thou didst form to sport in it.”

Well, one of the things I did at this small lake was put bread balls on a little gold hook and pull up a dozen or so fish that were swimming under the dock. They all looked about the same—ordinary little panfish with yellow bellies. Then I pulled up one that really took me by surprise and awakened me. I held it there in my hand after I took the hook out and just looked at it. It had olive-green stripes wiggling backwards from head to tail. Then sprinkled all over were light blue luminous spots. On the back of the gill there was a black protrusion about the size of a fingernail, and right on the tip of this was a deep red dot. I held it there in the sun and turned it back and forth and said: „You know what, little fishy? God thought you up. He thought up the olive stripes and blue dots and the deep red spot on black.” How manifold are his works, in wisdom he has made them all. By the grace of God that little fish that day was not trivial, because Psalm 104 had opened my eyes to see the way God sees.

Another example of seeing reflections of eternity in something commonplace happened to me a few years ago. A student of mine asked me one day with a gleam in her eye, „Have you seen the grass growing up through the new asphalt walkway?” My answer was a sort of yes and no. Yes, I had seen it but, no, it hadn’t struck me as noteworthy. But it had struck her and as we talked I came to feel that it should have struck me. Is it not astonishing that a soft blade of grass can push straight up through solid asphalt? What an amazing thing. When you see things with the eyes of God nothing is trivial.

If that is true of a little fish and blade of grass, how much more true must it be of Jesus and his Word and the worship of his name! Doesn’t it make your heart ache when suddenly you wake up and realize that for some time past you have been going through the motions of devotion and worship as if it were all a very trivial affair? I have an emerging vision for Bethlehem Baptist Church—which I will be sharing along the way, but I can say now that an essential of that vision is that we become a church of people who see with the eyes of God and who see nothing as trivial, especially the Word and worship of God.

Moses said to Israel in DEUTERONOMY 32:46FF.: „Lay to heart all the words which I enjoin upon you this day, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no trifle for you but it is your life.” It is no trifle for you, it is your life! O that we might be such a people that when strangers come they will say, „The Word of God and worship is certainly no trifle to that group.” For it is not a trivial thing to hear God speak, it is not trivial to pray to our creator. It is not trivial to sing his praises. My prayer is that God will awaken us ever anew to see life the way he sees it. To see in every little fish and blade of grass and every human face a reflection of eternity. And above all to see in God the source and sum and satisfaction of all our longings, so that we say with the psalmist: Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart may fail. But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Amen.

© Desiring God

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