Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Week Eighteen - Expect


“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
 Jeremiah 29:11

Strong’s defines expect as hope or a thing longed for.  It has the idea of something that is waited patiently for or anticipated and looked for.

Matthew Henry says, “His thoughts are all working towards the expected end, which he will give in due time.  Let them have patience till the fruit is ripe, and then they shall have it.  When things are at the worst they will begin to mend; and he will give them to see the glorious perfection of their deliverance.”

I take great comfort in the promise of this verse.  I also joy in the fact that God’s thoughts toward me are so very different from the thoughts I have toward myself.  I am self-condemning.  I think thoughts of defeat and inadequacy, but not my Lord!  He thinks good of me.  I might have only one redeeming quality, but God capitalizes on that.

Jeremiah Burroughs wrote, “…how graciously God deals with us!  If there is but one good word among a great many ill, what an interpretation God makes!  So should we do, if there is only one good interpretation that we can make of a thing we should rather make use of the good one than the bad…retain good thoughts of God, take heed of judging God to be a hard master, make good interpretations of his ways, and that is a special means to help you to contentment in all one’s course.”

Not only does God think good of us, He has our personal fulfilment in mind as he promises to give us what we have patiently waited for: an expected end, an ending of peace with the knowledge that we have had a full life and the assurance of an eternity with Him as our salvation is completed.

What about you?  Can you believe and live within this promise?  Can you accept that God thinks good of you?  Can you find thankfulness and rejoicing in this fact?  He expects you to!


“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.”  Hebrews 10:12, 13

This is the very same definition and idea.  Christ paid the penalty of our sin upon the cross.  The job is eternally complete.  And he is now sitting at the right hand of God waiting patiently until his expectation is completed, that being, the submission of his enemies.  And he will not be disappointed.

Matthew Henry expounds, “One would think such a person as Christ could have no enemies except in hell; but it is certain that he has enemies on earth.  Let not Christians then wonder that they have enemies.  But Christ’s enemies shall be made his footstool; this he is expecting.  When his enemies shall be subdued, their enemies shall be subdued also.”

Revelation 13:10 and 14:12 both explain that the end of the enemy is connected with the patience of the saints.  We have only to wait.  We can expect that Christ’s enemy and ours will be defeated. God’s Word has promised so throughout history.  Our expectations will be met by an Almighty and Just God.

Did you notice that the verse shows Christ in a relaxed position?  Sitting.  He has confidence in His Father to believe that after He had done his part by dying on the cross, the Father would keep his part and make an end of sin.  No more struggling to hold his position, he rests in the Father’s promise.

What about you?  Do you believe the promise of the end times?  Do you believe that Christ’s sacrifice was ample and that with that you too can trust to see an end of sin?  Does this promise help you to relax by faith?  Or do you think you need to continue the battle yourself?


“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”  Romans 8:19

The fall of man was a sad day for everyone involved.  Adam and Eve had curses placed upon them that we have endured now for generations.  The beauty of the earth was marred with weeds and thorns.  And even the creatures were cursed to be beasts of burden, food and clothing for man. Verse 22 says, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together…”  Man’s sin corrupted all God had created.  It was no longer good.

Yes, this nineteenth verse tells us that the creature has an expectation.  He is waiting for the revelation or manifestation of the sons of God.  Remember the story of the wheat and the tares?  The wheat was sown, and then the enemy came at night sowing tares in with the wheat.  The instruction of the husbandman was to allow both of them to grow and when the time of reaping came, then they would separate the two.

When this time comes the Lord reveals His children.  He will then create a new heaven and a new earth.  The former beauty will be restored and the curses will be lifted.  The lion and the lamb will be at peace.  The child will be free to play without danger.  This is the expectation of the creature.  This is his hope and what he patiently anticipates.

What can that mean for you?  Yes, as His children, we are waiting for the restoration of creation.  However, it might also affect your attitude toward God’s creation.  Not simply mankind, but also the vegetation and animal life.  They, too, are suffering due to our sinfulness.

What part are you playing, if any, in caring for your world?  Man was placed here to “tend the garden.”  Are you tending or destroying?  Do you see creation as from the hand of God?  Or, better yet, do you see God in creation?


“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”  Philippians 1:20

This is the expectation of the true Christian – for one’s life to magnify Christ by whatever means possible.  It is a principle by which we live.  Doing all things as unto Christ.  Knowing that it is only from Him we will receive any reward.  Knowing that our lives are hid with Christ in God, that we are not our own, we have been bought with a price.

The Lord still expects us to be consecrated, wholly set apart for Him.  This has been the expectation of many over the centuries and it has been expressed in many in books and song, but never so clearly as Frances Havergal when she wrote Kept for the Master's Use and also penned this song, 

“Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee. 
Take my moments and my days; Let them flow in ceaseless praise. 
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love. 
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee. 
Take my voice, and let me sing, always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee. 
Take my silver and my gold. Not a mite would I withhold. 
Take my intellect and use every power as Thou shalt choose. 
Take my will and make it Thine:  It shall be no longer mine. 
Take my heart; it is Thine own, It shall be Thy royal throne. 
Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure-store. 
Take myself, and I will be ever only, all for Thee.”

What about you?  Do you hold yourself to this high of an expectation?  Or are you ashamed?  Are you bold about your Christian living so that Christ can be seen?  Or do you hide your faith?


“And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.”  Acts 3:5

We are in the story of the lame man who is daily laid at the gate of the temple called Beautiful.  Peter and John are going into the temple and the man asks them for alms.  Peter looks straight at the man and tells him to look up into his eyes.  The lame man’s expectation is raised.  He is anticipating something from Peter and John so he does as they command.

I would imagine his heart sank when Peter then said, “Silver and gold have I none.”  But the rest of Peter’s words had to be more than the man had anticipated.  “….rise up and walk.”  I love the description in verse 8.  The man went walking, and leaping, and praising God into the temple!

We, too, need to come to God with hearts fixed and expectations raised.  As we read His Word, and hear the Spirit call, we must look straight at our Saviour with eager expectation of blessing and help.  We will receive more than we anticipate if we will take heed to what we are commanded.

William Carey was quoted as saying, “Expect Great Things from God.”  What about you?  Do you expect God to answer your prayers?  Do you expect him to meet your needs?  Do you expect anything more? He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than you can think or ask!  Why not raise your expectations!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Week Seventeen - Enriched


“That in everything ye are enriched by him; in all utterance, and in all knowledge…”  I Cor 1:5

Spiritually enriched.  We need not be spiritual paupers, lean, weak and sickly. Descriptive words like strength, growing, abounding, confidence and victory all are associated with God’s enrichment of our lives. He fills us with His Spirit and works on our behalf to enrichment us.  God intends that we flourish.
For our part, it is a matter of choice.  We must choose to feed on the Word.  It yields strength.  We must choose to grow in Christ by obedience to the Word.  This yields the fruit of the Spirit and greater spiritual understanding bringing abundance and confidence.  We must choose to live in Christ and to suffer with Christ.  This yields victory and promise.  Choosing to place Christ above self, above all, to a place of pre-eminence places us in a position to receive all that we need and make us truly rich and enriched by Him in everything.
Spiritual enrichment - security, strength, abundance, freedom and assured victory - is greater than any earthly riches.  This enrichment is based upon our activity in our relationship with Christ and God. It does not come to fullness without effort.  Psalm One describes the beauty and depth of the tree planted by the river.  Drawing from its source enriches the tree.  Drawing from our source, Christ, also enriches us.
“Lord, let us seek Your face alone and be enriched by Your presence in our lives.  Let us learn the deep, deep love of Christ that gives life meaning and true spiritual wealth.”

How spiritually rich are you?  What would make you enriched?  Are you drawing from the Source? What holds you back?


“That in everything ye are enriched by him; in all utterance, and in all knowledge…”  I Cor 1:5

This word “utterance” means to preach or to tell.  It is the giving of the Word.  If we look at Ephesians 3:8 Paul says, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…”

Matthew Henry explains, “There is a mighty treasury of mercy, grace, and love, laid up in Christ Jesus, and that both for Jews and Gentiles.  And they are unsearchable riches, which we cannot find the bottom of.  It was the apostle’s business and employment to preach these unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles….And it is an unspeakable favour to the Gentile world that to them the unsearchable riches of Christ are preached.  Though many remain poor, and are not enriched with these riches, yet if we are not enriched with them, it is our own fault.”

I put to you that all of us who have found salvation in Jesus Christ and have become as ambassadors have the obligation and privilege of sharing the unsearchable richness of our faith with those around us.  But it begs the question, “Do we know the richness of our Saviour and our faith?”

Even as I consider such things I feel too small to paint an adequate verbal picture of the riches in Christ.   I am reminded of Ephesians 3:18  “…may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Even the Psalmist wrote, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”  These unsearchable riches are given for us to proclaim abroad.  How deep the Father’s love for us!  How vast beyond all measure, and yet we are to be uttering it to others.  In this we are rich beyond compare!

Are you uttering?  Are you telling others of His greatness and enriching their lives by the message of the Gospel?


 “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out!”  
Romans 11:33 

Enriched by him.  Enrichment is not a product we produce alone.  We are enriched because of Christ and what He has done making us spiritually and morally rich.  Let’s look at some other Scriptures that can give us a better definition.
Romans 2:4 warns man not to despise the riches of “his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering”.  There is a wealth to be found in understanding and recognizing God immense patience with us.  The goodness of God is to lead us to repentance.  When we see how long God has waited for us to come to understand his love, we see the richness and depth of His love.
Romans 9:23 says, “…that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy…”  As recipients, vessels, of His mercy we are honoured.  And unto us he wants to show the riches of his glory. Ephesians 3:16 holds the same phrase, “the riches of his glory”.  This is the showing of grace toward believers, but it is more. 

We are so small that we seem to only be able to measure wealth by what it can bring to our own personal lives.  What about looking at wealth as a deep beauty in someone else - even if it isn’t measured out to us?  God’s glory is there.  It is there even if we have not received it.  It is there and full of wealth though we only see the surface.  The observance of God’s grace in the lives of others affords us spiritual blessings and intangible riches.  We are encouraged to believe His promises, to tell of His mercy in the lives of others, and to learn by experience His great grace and mercy.
Goodness, forbearance, longsuffering, mercy and then, knowledge and wisdom.  Romans 11:33  “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out!”
What a mighty God we serve.  His wisdom so surpasses anything we can try to conjure up.  We are but ants.  And yet, He wants to pour His riches into us.  Are you ready?  Will you stretch your faith and mind to grasp more truth?  Do you praise him enough for his mercy toward your soul? And, for what you see Him doing in the lives of others?


“Being enriched in every thing….” II Cor 9:11

“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man…” 
Ephesians 3:16

We return to the “riches of his glory”.  This time let’s look at what His riches afford us.  Ephesians 3:16 tells us that we will receive strength and might in our inner man.
When I was in High School I remember watching the rich kids.  They seemed to have a confidence and sometimes an inner strength.  They didn’t seem to doubt themselves like I did.  They were confident in their appearance and in their tone of voice.  I know now that this might have just been a cover-up. Yet if I look at the way they carried themselves and apply that to this verse, I can see that as a wealthy Child of God, I, too, should walk with confidence and inner strength.  I should not be doubtful about my position in Christ.  My countenance should reveal my Saviour’s glory to those around me.  They should see Christ in me by the way I live my life and conduct myself.
Does this richness of life come by my decision alone?  Can I “turn over a new leaf” and begin to live as the rich child that I am? The answer is “no”. I am not to be a pretender. This strength of character comes as a gift granted to me by Him and is produced by the working of His Spirit within my life as I come to understand, accept and walk in the truth of my position in Christ.  It is a part of the process of sanctification – a spiritual work in my life that brings me to more Christ-likeness. 
The truth is - I have a Wealthy Benefactor who is always working on my behalf to increase my strength and inner man.  Now there is true wealth; to always have a resource.  To always be assured of the presence of an Almighty Helper.  That makes me independently, or rather, dependently wealthy!

What about your walk?  Do you carry yourself like a Child of the King?


“Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.”  II Cor 9:11

In II Corinthians 9 Paul is addressing the issue of giving with the Corinthians.  He has just written the words we usually hear – “God loveth a cheerful giver”.  Most teaching on giving stops there, but the teaching about giving goes further than just the initial act of giving because we are instructed to do so. There is a blessing attached.

II Corinthians 9:8 promises that God will see to our every need as we give.  Then comes a quote from Psalm 112:9 that the good man will “disperse abroad”.  This means he has spread his wealth around; he has not forgotten to give to the poor. He is no hoarder and he does not squander his wealth solely upon himself.
II Corinthians 9:10 speaks of one that “ministereth seed to the sower”.  Who is that?  That is none else but God Himself.  He is the one that gives seed to the sower.  He is the source of a man’s wealth.  Paul is teaching that God provides food for us and multiplies our crops in the field not only to sustain us, but so that we might also sustain others.
And then he comes to verse 11.  God enriches us in everything so that we might be bountiful.  So let’s define bountiful or bountifulness.  Vine says, “It is the quality of generosity showing liberality; the moral quality of honesty expressing singleness of purpose or motivation.”  Strong says, “A healthy singleness – to be generous and liberal in giving.”
Hum?  Generosity is to be a part of our spiritual walk and character.  God is generous toward us so that we will be generous toward others.  And then comes the fruit – our liberal, generous giving brings the receivers to thank God.  It brings Him glory. 

Amazing.  I get to be a tool in His hand through giving.  So whom can I give to today?  Where can I be bountiful and generous?  Where can I be used of God to enrich others with the riches wherein He has enriched me?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Week Sixteen - Diligent


“See a man diligent in his business?  He shall stand before kings…”  Proverbs 22:29

Diligence is a word with many sides.  It has to do with work, but more, it is an attitude and action toward work.  It means to hasten to do a thing, to exert yourself, to endeavour with zeal.  It also indicates action with careful attention, imagination, earnestness and accuracy.
In Zechariah 6:15 it is connected with a promise of God.  “…And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.”  So, if we will diligently obey God, exerting ourselves with zeal and attention to His commands, we will see Him working in our midst.
This promise is never truer than in the diligence with which we are to do our business in this life.  What is your business?  Are you a skilled worker, a banker, a shop worker, a housekeeper, a wife, a husband, parent, servant of God?  We have many types of business in which we are employed in this life.  There are no menial tasks in God’s economy.  We are to do all of our business as unto the Lord with fervour and diligence.
Diligence is not to be equated with the mentality of slave labour or bondage.  It is just the opposite.  It is goal oriented and will always hold reward.  The promise in Zechariah is of assurance of God’s presence.  The promise in Proverbs 22 is of advancement.  To receive these promises and more that come from diligent endeavour, we must heed the words of Solomon again. “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.  For riches are not for ever…”
What do you have?  Health, education, a house, a family, a church home, a Bible, a job, a car, a pet?  All are gifts from God.  Are you taking good care of them?  Are you being a good steward of what God has given you?  Are you being diligent?


He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”  Proverbs 10:4

I used to try to encourage my family that if we would all just work together for thirty minutes we could accomplish a task.  It might be something as simple as a general clean up round the house.  I would be met with moans and groans.  It was like trying to drive turtles!

Of course it would take longer than thirty minutes to complete and simply because they wasted so much time complaining and trying to get out of work that they made the task much harder.  They seemed to never learn the joy and richness of the task, only the annoyance at being asked.  They were left poorer.

There is a wonderful secret to be learned in finding the richness afforded those who understand that a task diligently accomplished brings joy and satisfaction.

This principle applies in so many areas of life.  In our marriage, diligence pays great dividends.  In our jobs, diligence is paramount to success.  In our finances, diligence is necessary to keep our heads above water and to prepare for retirement. In child-rearing, diligence is demanded to produce a maturing adult who can go out and care for themselves in society.  In our Christian walk diligence means that we are faithful to our Bible reading, prayer time, church attendance and service to the Lord while always looking to “keep ourselves in the love of God”.

Diligence in all of these areas will make us truly rich.  These riches may not be tangible, but the real riches never are.  You can never put a price on joy and satisfaction and they can never be won without diligence.

What areas of your life need more attention?  Do you understand the richness of a job well done?  Do you see the unnecessary hazards brought by slothfulness?


“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute…The slothful man roasted not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.”  Proverbs 12:24 & 27

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”  Proverbs 13:4

The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.”  Proverbs 21:5

In every one of these verses the word “diligent” means industrious, or like a tool for harvest.  Look at the qualities.  The diligent will be leader.  They consider their takings precious.  They are full and satisfied.  Their goals only produce more.

Being industrious reminds me of my grandparents.  They knew how to farm and how to make money really stretch.  I remember my grandmother frequently telling me, “It’s not how much money you make, but it is how you manage your money.”  Those are wise words. 

They had survived the great Depression and WWII.  They had retired and continued to be frugal and yet generous.  They knew the value of the things they possessed and used their possessions to create more wealth so they could give to their children and to the needy that they met.  They were a great example to me.  Their example also helped me see the other side of the coin.

On the other hand, I saw people who seemed to always be down, because they didn’t take care of their finances.  I saw people who would squander all they had on a moment’s pleasure and I saw them then wanting more because they had nothing left.  I also saw people looking for get-rich-quick schemes and trying to draw me into their web.  There was no joy or satisfaction in their lives and rarely did they have anything to share with others.

The Proverbs of the diligent and the sluggards was played out before me.  And, no doubt, you have observed them played out before you.  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have the fruits of diligence than the fruits of sloth.

How are your management skills?  Are you a good steward?


“Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.  For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?”  Proverbs 27:23

This diligence is about knowing that your affairs are in order.  The writer refers to flocks and herds because these were the economy of the day.  A farmer with livestock knows that the animals must be cared for daily.  They need feed and water.  They need to be protected from wild beasts and disease. 

Today we might think that farming is for the simple minded, but we are deceiving ourselves. There is a great amount of knowledge and work demanded to be a successful farmer.  The farmer knows that a severe storm or a blighted crop can destroy all he has worked for.  He knows that riches are not forever!  So he is diligent to make sure that he has prepared for all known contingencies and then leaves the rest with God.

Life is uncertain.  We can lose our job.  We can miss out on a promotion.  We can get a cut in pay.  Our retirement fund can disappear.  Age will move us down the pay scale. Illness can make us housebound.  Any number of things can change our circumstances. Wise financial planning is taught throughout the Bible and God calls upon us to make good use of the riches he has given us.  He knows that these things are temporal, but He expects us to be good stewards and then leave the rest with Him.

I am not promoting a life of fear, but a life of diligent consideration.  Do you have a will prepared?  Do you have life and health insurance?  Do you have some savings?  Are you looking diligently to the state of your life? 


“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  Proverbs 4:23

To guard, keep in custody or imprison.  That is the picture painted by the Proverb.  We are to guard our heart to the point that it is cut off from worldly outside influences.

When I think of the Scriptures that describe our hearts I can see why this picture is painted.  The heart is desperately wicked, it is deceitful, the heart is the source of evil thoughts, it is troubled, it is blind, and it probably should be in prison!  It needs a strong hand!  I know my heart does!

When I think that out of my heart come the words that I say and the thoughts that I think, I am ashamed.  Though these words never cross my lips and these thoughts are never heard or recorded, I know they are there.  I know my heart rages sometimes and can be extremely playful with wicked imaginations - if I allow.

That is the key – if I allow.  My heart was cleansed at Calvary.  I do not have to allow it’s sinful tendencies to rule my life any more.  It has been conquered and by my choices I bring it now into obedience to Christ. 

I must diligently consider how I feed my heart and how I protect my heart. If I allow it to feed on anger or resentment, it will react.  If I expose it to pornography or gossip, it will react.  There is an admonition in Jeremiah 10:2  that says, “…learn not the way of the heathen.”  As God’s children we are to be diligently focusing our hearts on learning more of Him – not learning more of the way of the world.

Conversely, if I feed my heart on God’s Word, forgiveness, compassion and love, it will react accordingly.  If I protect it from evil and keep the good and pleasant before my eyes, my heart will respond. I am a product of what goes into my heart through the windows of my eyes and mind.  That’s what the Proverbs means when it refers to the issues of life.

So….what is issuing from your heart today?  Is your heart protected or exposed? What is your heart feeding upon?  What is your heart learning? Are you diligently tending it or allowing it free reign?