Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Week Sixteen - Filled


“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”  Philippians 1:11

I once read a little line that really struck me.  It said, “Life is a cup to be filled, not drained.”  As I pondered on this little line, I began to see that we make the choices about what we will add to our lives. We can choose to fill our cups with bitterness, envy, strife, jealousy and other fruits of unrighteousness.  Or, we can choose to fill our cups with love, joy, peace, patience, thankfulness and other fruits of righteousness. 

As I thought more, I began to realize that choosing to fill our cups with unrighteousness leaves the cup drained of all joy and satisfaction.  It only creates more unhappiness. However, choosing to fill our cups with righteousness creates more happiness and does not drain the cup, but rather, increases or fills it with even more joys creating glory and praise to God.

That is not to say that our cup will never experience a measure of unrighteousness or be void of trials.  However, how we handle these trials results in adding to our lives, or, taking away from our lives.  It is all a matter of perspective.  I don’t know about you, but I want my cup filled with all the Lord has for me.  I do not want my cup drained by my poor choices or bad attitude.
What would you say is filling your life?  What is draining it?  What choices are you making that are adding true happiness and joy and what choices are bringing misery and strife?  The choice is yours.



“The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways…”   Proverbs 14:14

Something was brought to my attention the other day.  Luke 9:59 & 61 both have the little phrase “…me first…” Jesus has asked two men to follow him, but their replies indicated that their own agenda was more important than the invitation of the Lord.

When you compare this with the proverb found here in chapter fourteen, you can see that having to have our own way, or preferring our own agenda take precedence over the Lord’s direction, is an indicator of our heart attitude.  To be filled, in this verse, means to be satisfied, to have enough, to have the fill of appetites and desires, or, to be satiated (soaked through).

 The backslider is completely satisfied that his way is the right way.  He is happy to indulge his desires without restraint.  He is so “full of himself” that he is soaked through with his own ways and ideas.  His “me first” attitude is the predominant factor in his life.

There is another way to look at this proverb.  The backslider will reap all that he has sown.  He will be “filled” with his own ways to his ruin.  His “me first” attitude makes him unfit for the kingdom of God.

This is the attitude of the backslider.  Sadly, it is also the attitude of today.  “Me first” is no longer just the cry of little children, but special interest groups, lobbyists, and those seeking to impress their agenda upon society.  They are all screaming out to have their voice. Threats and temper tantrums from unruly adults are forcing society to give in and let them have their way, even to their ruin.

No wonder, since this is already the warning written in the book of Timothy.  “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, etc…” (II Timothy 3:2)

Do you throw temper tantrums to get your own way?  Is your attitude one of “me first”?  Are you so bound up in your own ways that the Way of God is put on the back burner?  Do you allow the principles of God to “slide away” and submit to the voice of the world even when you know it is not godly?



“And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” 
Proverbs 24:4

Visiting the Treasure Houses of Britain affords you a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy.  Their homes are lavishly decorated and filled with all sorts of furnishings. From the sublime to the curious, these folks have used their homes to store up treasures that exhibit their wealth and interests.

One of my favorite places is the library room in Blenheim Palace.  It is a beautiful soft blue and yellow with the one side lined with over 10,000 books and the other side with beautiful large windows looking out over water terraces and the gardens and parkland designed by Capability Brown.  At one end there is a life size sculpture of Queen Anne and at the other an 1891 Willis pipe organ that covers the entire wall from floor to ceiling.  The center of the room offers seating and tables along with graceful lamps and ornaments.  It is tasteful, rich, but not overdone.

Our Scripture describes chambers that are filled with riches as well.  “Filled” here means to fill up, to satisfy, and to draw with full strength.  The meaning of “riches” is actually wealth and possessions. Knowledge, the “know how” of life, barring natural disaster, will create wealth and accumulation.  We have only to look around us and see all the “stuff” we have accumulated in life.  It might not be things that would adorn a palace, but they are treasures to us and exhibit our interests.

Now, lest we think the Christian life is about accumulation of things, let us also look at this from a more symbolic viewpoint.  The chambers can be seen as our lives.  Knowledge will fill our lives with treasure both precious and pleasant.

Ironside describes it like this:  “Storing the mind and heart with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, is like building a mansion on a solid foundation, and beautifying and enriching it with costly treasures that gratify the beholder, and add to the enjoyment of the occupants.  He can never be poor who has the wisdom that cometh down from above.”

How’s your castle looking?  Filled with pleasantness and precious things?  Crumbling at the foundations?  Godly knowledge and application of wisdom creates true wealth.



"All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled."  Ecclestiastes 6:7 

Isn’t this a funny little proverb?  Survival is man’s core motivation.  Food is a vital part, and yet, man is never satisfied or filled.

The Bible warns about gluttony in Proverbs 23:21 saying, “…the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty….” And again in verse 2, “…put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.”  Self-control is the teaching.  Man needs food to survive, but too much food is hazardous.

One thing to note is that the word “appetite” is not referring to the salivation of the tongue.  It is speaking of the seat of emotion and desire, the desire of self.  When we look at it this way we can see that our taste buds are not the main cause of our over eating.  It is much deeper.

Some people crave the comfort food brings.  Some just love exploring the taste sensations of the different textures and flavors of food.  Some use food to lift them up, while others use food to mask their unhappiness.  In every instance food is a revealer of the heart and the desires of self.

When eating takes prominence in our lives it simply cannot satisfy.  It will always be tempting us to try to find just that one more morsel, that one more flavor, or that one more heightening of the sensation.

Is this the main focus of your life?  Do you spend all day just thinking about and planning what you will eat?  Is it really satisfying, or, leaving you empty and looking for more?  Is there a heart issue you need to address?



“But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.”    Acts 13:45

Paul and Barnabas had gathered a following.  This Sabbath day nearly the whole city had come out to hear the word of God.  The Jewish leaders were truly upset.  They were filled with envy.  They were completely overtaken with zeal and concern about the situation.  But theirs was not a righteous zeal and concern, it was an envious zeal, a zeal that felt threatened and brought them to action.

We read that they began by contradicting Paul’s teaching.  They argued with him over the Scriptures.  They did not want to admit that Jesus was the Messiah, nor that they were guilty of denying him.  They did not want to believe that man could be justified without the Law of Moses. (Verse 39) This teaching threatened to destroy their religion and reduce their influence over the people. 

When they could not win the argument by contradiction, they turned to blasphemy.  This means that they began to use language against Christ and his gospel, effectively denying the gospel truths.  But as we read on in the story, we see they were not yet satisfied.  They moved on to stirring up the city elders and trying to raise a persecution against Paul and Barnabas to have them kicked out of the area. (Verse 50)  They would not be satisfied until their goal was accomplished.

Paul and Barnabas, however, simply shook the dust off their feet and went to another city.  Verse 52 records they were “filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.”

Two types of filling; one with envy and one with joy.

Being filled with envy creates jealousy and bitterness.  It starts when we are but a child.  We see our sibling get a larger piece of cake, or a new toy, and we are envious and jealous.  We might even strike out and take the cake or break the toy.  As we grow older we learn that this is not a good response, so we settle for stabbing our opponent with our tongues, giving them the silent treatment, or breaking a friendship.  Allowing envy to fill our lives will never produce happiness.

Alternately, allowing joy to fill our lives, even in the face of persecution or envious people, is the way of Christ.  Joy holds no place for retribution or vengeance.  It is not combative and contradictive.  It rests in Christ and knows the fellowship of His Spirit.

What fills your life?  Are you envious of others?  Does it eat away at you to see their success?  Or, can you joy with them in Christ?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Week Fifteen - Fear


 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:  I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”   Isaiah 41:10, 13  

In the Garden, Adam and Eve had no fear.  No fear of the animals, no fear of the weather, no fear about where the next meal would come from, and no fear in walking and talking with their Creator.  But once sin entered, fear was one of their first responses.  Hence, they hid.  God knows that fear is now a part of our makeup.

We fear the future and the past, responsibility and accountability, the unknown and the known, giving love and receiving love, crowds and loneliness, etc.  These fears are the things that keep us stewing and fretting.  They keep us awake at night and make us grumpy in the day.

This verse in Isaiah is not the first or only time the Lord God instructs his people to not fear.  There are 365 verses in God’s Word telling us not to fear.  The wonderful thing is that His instruction is not empty; it is backed up by His power and His ability to be our courage.  He will strengthen us.  He will help us.  He will uphold us.  All of our fears are simply fears.  The only power they have is what we give them.  When we step out from our hiding place and truly believe that God has everything in control, fear has to flee.

Are you plagued by fear?  Do you tremble at the thought of another day?  Do you live with that fearful dread that something will go wrong?  Why not just place those fears before the Lord?  Come out of your hiding place and let Him be your courage.



“As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.”  Mark 5:36

Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, has just had the terrible news that his daughter is dead.  He had stepped out on a limb to ask Jesus to come and heal his daughter, but time was up.  Hope was gone.  He was even told to just not trouble Jesus any further.  But the Lord of Life had a different response.  “Be not afraid, only believe.”

Tiegreen makes this observation, “There are at least two things Jesus would have us learn from this verse:  (1) Negative reports are not the final analysis of a horrible situation; and (2) fear is at war against our faith.  When all hell breaks loose against us – and it quite literally does, sometimes – Jesus would have us ignore its ultimate weapon.  Do NOT believe its reports.  The enemy – and the death he wields against us - will devastate us if we let them.  But we have a choice.  We can fear, or we can believe.  We can’t do both.  We have to pick one.”

Jesus went straight on to the house, and though the people laughed at him, he knew the power he wielded – the power of life.  He took Jairus and his wife into the room and showed that power as he called the girl back to life.

Jairus chose to believe and he saw the miracle.  That is not to say that choosing to believe will bring about a miracle every time.  But it does say that believing is the better choice.  Believing shows that we trust the Lord.  Fear reveals the opposite.

The enemy loves to bring bad news.  He loves to try to shake our foundations.  However, foundations that are deeply rooted in the love of Christ and believe in His Word will not yield long to fear.  The wind may blow and the rain may come crashing in, but the calmness of our Saviour will steady our hearts to face any storm.

Remember:  “…we have a choice.  We can fear, or we can believe.  We can’t do both.  We have to pick one.”  I choose to believe.  How about you?



“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment.  He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”  I John 4:18 

Here the use of the word fear is more than just being afraid, it is terror. Try reading it like this:  There is no terror in love; but real love chases terror away because terror is tormenting or punishing.  He that is fearful or alarmed will struggle with love.

Or: We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; perfect love eliminates all dread of what might be done unto us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what someone might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced of his or her love.

Movies have been made about women, and men, who live lives in fear of what their spouse or partner will do to them.  Though told they are loved, this love is expressed in harshness and keeps them in terror.  Sadly, these movies are often based on real stories.

A life of fear is a life of bondage.  Hebrews 2:15 confirms this:  “And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”  This is exactly why Christ came – to deliver us from fear and bondage and destroy the devil.

There is a better way of life.  There is a way out of fear.  It is that perfect love mentioned in I John.  God is love and we can love Him because He first loved us. 

If you are living a life of bondage and fear or in a relationship that is characterized by fear, bring it to Christ and ask for deliverance.  If you are using fear or terror to keep someone in bondage, know that there is a better way.  Real love doesn’t have to be forced.  God’s perfect love for you can meet your need and teach you how to love without threatening and torment.



“And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and they dry land.” Jonah 1:9

 What a contradiction!  Here is Jonah, caught out by the casting of lots, and all fingers are pointing to him as being the source of the problem.  These poor mariners already know that he is running from the presence of the Lord, and yet Jonah has the audacity to tell them that he fears the Lord.

From reading the story it would seem the mariners were more fearful of the Lord than Jonah.  Jonah seems to think he can outsmart God or outrun him.  The mariners have no such thoughts.  They know the hand of God is upon their lives and this prophet’s actions are placing them in danger.  They also respect the fact that Jonah is a man of God, and as such, they are not ready to cast him into the sea.  But, after trying again to bring the boat to land, they cast themselves upon the mercy of God and chuck Jonah overboard.

Then the sea ceases from her raging and the men “feared the Lord exceedingly”.  But Jonah? No.  He takes three more days in the belly of the whale before he is ready to admit defeat and yield.

We are quick to condemn Jonah and it is easy for us to see the foolishness of his actions, but we are not quick to condemn ourselves when we make empty boasts of our spirituality.  Nor is it easy for us to see the foolish consequences of our actions as we try to make life work without a submissive and healthy fear of the Lord.

There are few things as distasteful as a carnal and hypocritical Christian, especially one who isn’t afraid to boast of their disobedience.  Are you in that boat?



“…let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”  Hebrews 12:28

I like this phrase, “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”.  I am rather old school in so many ways.  I still believe that people should be respectful in the house of God, modestly attired and self-controlled and show respect to the man of God.  I believe we should lay aside our own agenda’s and conform to God’s Word instead of trying to see just how closely we can live with the world and still feel like Christians.  I believe many times what we know to be acceptable in the sight of God is a far cry from what we are allowing in our lives.  I believe God’s standard is higher and we are failing.

Throughout the Bible we read that people showed reverence to God and to the things that represented His person and presence.  Here in Hebrews the term “godly fear” means submissive reverence.  It is a reverence that yields to a higher power. God expects our reverence and submission, and he deserves it.  He is God.

However, we live in an age that strives to make everyone equal, including God.  Showing reverence, and especially submissive reverence, is seen as silly and unnecessary.  That is because humanism pervades even our attitudes toward worship and obedience.  We so often fail to hold God with high enough esteem and our lives prove it.  We are not afraid with a godly fear.  We are rebellious and self-willed.  We do not want to submit.  We want to have our way.

Yet, if we are to serve him acceptably, there must be reverence (an awe filled respect) and godly fear (submissive reverence). There is no room for our own agenda and rebellious attitude.  If we read verse 29 of Hebrews 12 we can see why – “For our God is a consuming fire.”  He is not to be trifled with, He is to be respected and reverenced.

What about you?  Do you still believe God is worthy of your reverence and respect?  Do you live what you believe?  Or, do you find yourself allowing things in your life that you know would not be pleasing to the Lord?  Are you living a life you consider acceptable to God?  Would God and His Word agree with you?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Week Fourteen - Fashion


“He fashioneth their hearts alike…”  Psalm 33:15

When God created Adam he created one heart.  From generation to generation right to this moment every heart is then made the same.  Skin colors might differ and facial features might have varieties, but healthy hearts are all still in the form in which they were created with only one alteration – they are now sinful. 

However, God did more than simply create our hearts.  They were fashioned by Him.  He gives them identity by forming the spirit of man within him.  This spirit, then, gives us our personality.  As God, he can look into our hearts and see our purposes and thoughts. 

It reminds me of the verse in Hebrews 4:12b & 13, “…a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”  Because He fashioned our hearts, he knows what is in them.  We, however, spend our lifetime trying to come to grips with the things that are in our hearts.  Just about the time we think we have a grasp on our inner battle, a new minion appears.  That confirms the fact that our hearts are desperately wicked.

How wonderful, then, that God can create a new heart within us. (Psalm 51:10)  And someday, our old hearts will be totally changed and fashioned like unto His glorious body. (Philippians 3:21)

Next time your heart starts spewing out its ugliness, remind it that it is God’s creation, fashioned by His hand, redeemed by His sacrifice and bound for an eternal upgrade.



“And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.”  Mark 2:12

“Well, I never!” was something the old timers used to say.  It was an expression of amazement.  This must have been one of those amazing moments.  Here was this crippled man who had been hoisted down by his friends after breaking through the roof in order to get him to Jesus.  Jesus’ words to the man were direct and few.  “Arise, and take up thy bed, and go…”  So he did.

The onlookers were amazed and in the Greek said, “Well, I never!”  It literally means they had never seen anything like this before.

I’ve had those moments, too.  God has moved right into my life and done some amazing things.  He has paid bills, given me cars, answered prayers I had long forgotten, and given me the desires of my heart.  He has saved souls, created opportunity for witness, brought testimonies of His greatness before me, and provided in miraculous ways for the ministry.

He isn’t limited.  He has no ceiling.  He is ever able to astound.  I think He likes to amaze and surprise.  When we are stopped in our tracks, and realize that God has just shown Himself, the result brings praise to His name and we will have to say, “Well, I never!”

Has God ever entered your life and amazed you?  Did you take time to give Him praise?  Why not take time to enjoy that moment again…and praise Him again?




“…for the fashion of this world passeth away.”  I Corinthians 7:31

 “For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”  James 1:11

One has only to look at the magazine rack to see that fashion changes.  From one decade to another, fashion is an indicator.  Sadly, so many build their lives around fashion, and it isn’t limited to clothing. What they eat, what they say, where they go, and the music they listen to is all determined by what the world dictates.

Scripture is telling us here that the fashion of this world, the form or outward appearance, will fade away.  What is pleasing to the eye today will be not desirable tomorrow.  What is getting all of the attention today, will be forgotten in the future.  The rich man is used as an example.  He might be big and brash today, but he will fade away.

This truth needs to be taught to our children.  Allowing them to follow the fashion of the world is giving them a false sense of their place in this world.  If we are to raise Christian leaders, they must be able to discern between the fashion of the world and the image of Christ.

I am not promoting backwardness, but balance.  Teaching our children to value things eternal and real is more important than knowing all of the current pop culture.  Teaching them to value themselves as a child of God and to be striving to develop all God has placed within them is more important than conforming to the mold of the world.

My son used to wear a T-shirt that read, “Individualists of the world unite!”  It always made me laugh.  But being an individualist is something we all need to learn.  We are eternal and there are eternal consequences to the choices we make.  We need not allow the fashion of this world to dictate.  God’s Word is our guide.

How about you?  Are you overly concerned about “fitting in” with this world?  Are you afraid to cast off the world’s norm and be who God made you to be?  Are you an individualist – following God’s form, or a dedicated follower of this world’s fashion?



“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance…”  I Peter 1:14

There ought to be a difference in our lives after we come to Christ.  We should break out of the old mold or pattern and leave our rebellion behind.  Stubbornness, anger, vengeance, lust, envy, and, as the Bible say, the suchlike, should all be put away.  Our new life in Christ is designed differently. Obedience is the key to the Christian life and it requires a change.

Hanging onto the things of the old life will hinder our growth in Christ.  They will become chains about our necks.  Galatians 5:1 warns us, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Becoming entangled by the fashion of the old life puts us back into bondage.  That is not the purpose of Christ and the cross. He came to give us life and to give it more abundantly, to give us liberty, and free us from the things in our old life that kept us enslaved.  Trying to retain our old fashion, our old way of life, after we have come to Christ is to wander around in dirty clothing. 

Following the fashion of Christ brings us to his example: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  (Philippians 2:8)  His example is humility, obedience and a purity of life.

Sometimes we hear that old man calling us back to the old ways, back to the fashion of this world.  He tries to tell us that the way of Christ is too simple, or too hard, or out of touch, and truly all three are correct.  The way of Christ is simplicity, it is the narrow and rugged way, and it is not of the fashion of this world.  Praise His Name, because the fashion of this world leads to destruction.  Do not be deceived.  Change your wardrobe!



 “the fashion of his countenance…”  Luke 9:29

I’m going to take this verse greatly out on context.  It is talking about prayer making a change in the way we look.  I want to apply it this way – our private life is revealed by our outward appearance.  We can see this by examining two portions of Scripture. 

In Isaiah 3:16-26 we have a description of the daughters of Zion and in Psalm 45 we have a description of the daughter of the King.  Immediately we can see that God is comparing His daughter, with the daughters of the world.  Let’s make just a few comparisons from these verses based upon the fashion of these daughters.

The daughters of Zion walked about flamboyantly. This was revealed by their attire.  Verses 18-23 read: “…tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets , and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels,  The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails…”  These girls were dressed to kill!

The King’s daughter was also well attired. Verse 13 and 14 say, “…her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework…”  However, her fashion was well appointed, appropriate and measured.

The daughters of Zion made a spectacle by flauntingly parading themselves.  Verse 16 reads, “walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet…”  They wanted all eyes on them. 

The daughter of the King, however, was received with gladness and rejoicing according to verse 15.  Her testimony went before her.  No need for bells and whistles.

The attitude of the daughters of Zion is called haughty in verse 16, while the inward attitude of the daughter of the King is given this description – all glorious within.  

The end result is that the daughters of Zion are punished. (vs 17, 24-26, while the daughter of the King is held in great esteem by the king and has a name that is remembered and cherished among the people.

The Bible says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  I would say that this look into Isaiah 3 and Psalm 45 reveal that by the demonstration of fashion, we reveal our true hearts. Our devotional life, our spiritual tastes, our personal care and our attitude can be read by our appearance and countenance.

If our countenance is to be changed, it must come from within.  The Bible is full of examples of people who changed when they came into contact with Christ – the Maniac of Gedera, Moses, Hannah, etc.  Honouring God, yielding to His Word, becoming more devoted to Him, all of these will draw us to a change of fashion and a change of countenance because we cannot be touched by God on the inside without it making a difference on the outside.

Is God making a change in your life?  Are you yielding, compliant and glorious within, or are you remaining stubbornly rebellious and haughty?  Are your choices in fashion a true reflection of your heart?  Maybe you need to have a good look in the mirror?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Week Thirteen - Dwell


“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”  Psalm 4:8

“Now I lay me down to sleep…” is a child’s prayer based on this Scripture.  When I think about heading off to sleep I know that I have to be settled and situated before I can drift off peacefully.  Any lumps or drafts will keep me shifting until everything is in the right place.  That is not only true for the physical side of preparing to sleep, but also for the mental side.  I have to get my mind to shut off and settled down to the business of resting and allowing sleep to come.

That usually comes in the form of a prayer asking the Lord to care for my mind and to give me a good night’s sleep.  I know that only when I am resting in Him will my body and mind relax.  Being settled and situated with the Lord means I can find the peace and comfort necessary.  Only He can give me the assurance that everything is okay and I am safe to lay back and rest in that promise.

This is a great blessing, and one that we often take for granted.  Not everyone in the world can simply lie down and rest in the knowledge that God has everything in control.  Not everyone has the privilege of a safe home and a warm, comfy bed.  Not everyone has peace of heart and peace of mind.

However, as a child of God, there is rarely any reason for us not to enjoy the pleasure of rest in the Lord and the knowledge of safety under His protection.  We ought to be thankful.  And, we ought to be praying for those who are sleeping rough, in the midst of warzones, or living under threat.  When we consider these poor folks, what do we have to fuss and stew about?


“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”  Colossians 3:16

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…”  Ephesians 3:17

To live in, reside or settle is the meaning of dwell.  Christ’s Word and Christ Himself living in, residing with and settled in our hearts and lives is exactly what these verses are saying.

I like the way Matthew Henry puts it.  “The word of Christ must dwell in us, or keep house, not as a servant but as a master.  It must dwell in us; that is, be always ready and at hand to us in everything.  It must dwell in us richly; not only keep house in our hearts, but keep a good house…The soul prospers when the word of God dwells in it richly….to make us good Christians.”

God’s Word will accomplish things in our lives.  If it is the guider of our house, it will be active in cleaning, sorting, decorating, and managing.  It will leave evidence of its effect.  The more we allow it to be the guide, the more beautiful and abundant our house will become.

In order for Christ and His Word to dwell in us we must be in Him and in His Word.  Salvation is initially necessary and the reading and memorizing of God’s Word must follow that.  There is no substitute for knowing God’s Word by heart.  The Word that is known and real to you will have an affect on you.  It will come to you and be an encourager and admonisher.  It will guide you in decisions and help you avoid temptation.  It becomes a tool as well as a master. 

We are admonished to be skillful in the Word, to hide it in our hearts, to divide it rightly and to measure our lives by its rule.  The richness comes in seeing the true worth of the Word and by treasuring its depth and beauty.

Do you know this depth and beauty?  Is Christ’s Word alive in your heart and life?  What riches do you have through the Word?  Does His Word adorn and direct your home?


“…If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.  Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”  I John 4:12 &13

Here, in both instances, the word means to stay, abide, or remain, with the idea of a state that begins and continues.  This is definitely a spiritual union.  The God of love abides in His children.  He has given them His Spirit, the spirit of love, so they can exhibit this love to others and thereby show that they are His. 
But the thing that fascinates me is the idea of this state that begins and continues.  Our beginning with God was at salvation when he gave us of his Spirit, and our continuance is to be this outpouring of love to others that we have experienced that shows His permanent residence in our lives. I am to love others.  However, it is not my love, but His.  Somehow, my obedience in loving others fulfills His love.  Like centrifugal force, the God of love began showing love and His love continues through us.  How amazing.

It also tells me that the love that brought me to salvation will continue in my life.  He took up residence with me, and I took up residence with Him.  Let no man put asunder – and no man can.  He dwells with me – He stays, abides and remains.  And I?


“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.”  Proverbs 8:12

What a funny little proverb!  Initially it makes me cringe because there ought to be some punctuation corrected.  I, wisdom, dwell with prudence…but that is not how it is drafted in the KJV.  I will have to over look that and move on to the real meaning behind the considered word, dwell.  It means to live among, make a home or settle in.

Wisdom is living with prudence.  Wisdom is skill.  Prudence is cunning, or, a quickness of apprehension, the penetrating consideration that precedes action. Wisdom and prudence work together to discover schemes that are eschew or deceptive. Skill and cunning make quite a pair.

Skill without cunning is like being able to push all the necessary buttons to get through a computer game, but never being able to anticipate when the baddie will jump out and take your life.  On the other hand, cunning without skill is like the player who sees all the dangers on the peripheral, but doesn’t understand the tactics of the game.

We need both skill and cunning, not only to succeed at computer games, but also to succeed in life.  It takes skill to navigate our path.  We need to have a good grasp on the basics of life and an understanding about the value of life.  We also need to have our senses honed into right and wrong, good and bad, profitable and unprofitable if we are to be successful.  We need the ability of cunning – the ability to foresee danger and to think before we act.

These two qualities should be in our lives.  They are God-given skills and ones that are sharpened by His Word and His Spirit.  Without them we will not see the dangers on our path or the consequences of our decisions in time to avoid hurts.

How about you? Are you living skillfully and cunningly?  Wisely and Prudently?


“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge…” 
I Peter 3:7

All sorts of jokes are told about men understanding women.  I will spare you these.  The definition of dwell here is simply, to live with; not simply put up with. 

I want my husband to live with me.  And, I want to live with him.  We are mutually responsible to make life happy and fulfilling for each other.  We will both have good days and bad days, times of success and times of failure, times when our hopes are met and times when our hopes are disappointed.  To live with someone means going through these experiences together. 

I want my husband to be there for me, and I want to be there for him.  I need his support and comfort just as he needs mine.  I need to know that he will care for me, and he needs to know that I will care for his needs as well.  Living with someone means that you will strive not only to meet their needs, but to anticipate them as well.

I want my husband to empower me to succeed, and I want to empower him to succeed.  I need him to help me grow and mature and he needs me to do the same for him.  I need him to point out my weaknesses and show me how to gain strength.  He needs the same from me.  Living with someone does not mean “putting up with them”, it means being a real part in their lives and lovingly helping them to succeed and grow.

Marriage could be described as a traffic way. A one way street – all taking and no giving. A single carriage way – both going in opposite directions and just passing in the night. Or, a dual carriage way – travelling alongside each other in the same direction.  It isn’t a race, you know.  It is a journey; a journey made with another person.  How we dwell together makes a difference.

Are you living with or putting up with your spouse?  Are you in competition with them?  Are you bumping bumpers as you travel along?  Why not make some real adjustments to your perceptions and ask the Lord to set you on the right road?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Week Twelve - Discouraged


 “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.”  Isaiah 42:4

He – God – will not be discouraged.  The definition does not mean down hearted or feeling sad, as we would define discouraged. It means He will not be broken, dashed in pieces, crushed or oppressed.  God has a plan, and he will not fail.  His plan will be completed.  Nothing is going to sidetrack Him.  He has considered and prepared for every contingency.

Bible history reveals bleak times.  Lucifer led a coup and was cast from Heaven, Adam and Eve chose to disobey, Israel was fickle and wandering, the Messiah was crucified, but God is not surprised, oppressed or crushed by the actions of man, He is prepared and thorough in His planning.  Because He is sovereign and all-knowing He has the ability to see how things we would consider bleak can be turned for His glory and His use.  God, we can say, it determined!

We, on the other hand, can be broken, dashed in pieces, crushed and oppressed when our plans fail.  And therein lays the heart of the matter – our plans.  We set ourselves on paths that God has not designed and then wonder why things don’t work out.  When our plans fail we sometimes blame God and forget that He is the one ultimately in control.  We do not want to yield.

How much better for us to place our trust and our plans into the hands of a God who will not fail nor be discouraged?  He knows our days and our end.  He fills them with His love and attention.  He has a specific plan for our lives and he waters every moment to set us onto that path.  He will not fail us, and he will not be discouraged with us though we often fail him.

Can you see how set God is on working in your life?  Can you see that he is determined to complete his plan for your life?  Do you know Philippians 1:6?  “He that began a good work in you WILL perform it…”  He has a vested interest in you and cares too much to leave you to your own devices.  Just as He took time to plan the ages, He has taken time to plan for you.



“…and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.”  Numbers 21:4 

Dragging yourself, your family and all your belongings across a desert can’t be very encouraging.  Facing marauders, being taken prisoner and seeing those around you dying makes for a sad state of affairs.  The children of Israel are in these forty years of wandering and it has been taking its toll.  But that is exactly the point.  This was not supposed to be a picnic; it was punishment for disbelief and disobedience.

God had been clear about this.  They were to wander in the wilderness for forty years until their “carcases be wasted in the wilderness”. (Numbers 14:39)  When they heard this judgment pronounced the Bible says they mourned greatly.  They did not repent; they mourned – they were sad about the judgment, but not repenting of the sin. And such was their character throughout the wandering.

When the Bible says that they were discouraged because of the way, it does not mean they were cast down and sad.  It means that they were impatient, angry, troubled and vexed. Their attitude remained one of defiance and self-will.  They did not humble themselves before God, but stiffly set their faces and carried an attitude of resentment toward their plight.  Sadly, they seem to have passed that on to the next generation, for we read of the same attitude over and over through the books of Joshua and Judges.

The way of life can get hard.  However, our attitude toward it determines greatly the outcome.  If we live impatient, angry, troubled and vexed because of the path, we will never truly see beauty of life.  If we mourn at our situation instead of repenting, we are bound for a life under the chastening hand of God.

Proverbs 13:15 says, “…the way of the transgressor is hard.”  I think we would all agree.  However, we do not have to live the life of a transgressor.  We can repent and make the changes necessary to move us into the love of God and into His blessing.  The choice is ours.

Is life hard?  Have you taken time to look at your attitude?  Are you mourning instead of repenting?  Are you vexed with God?  If you are his child, he will correct you.  Better to yield than to live discouraged and angry.




“And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land…”  Numbers 32:7

“For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the Lord had given them.”  Numbers 32:9

Let’s look at another way the children of Israel were discouraged.  They have come through the years in the wilderness and are ready to go forward into the Promised Land. Now the story is about the children of Gad and Rueben wanting to possess land on the east side of the Jordan.  They have put their petition to Moses.  He uses the word “discourage” twice in his reply. 

First, he says that their request will discourage the heart of the others.  He means that it will break their hearts to see these two units stay behind. 

Then, in verse nine he is referring to the initial event that caused them to wind up in the wilderness. The definition of discouraged now means, to thwart, forbid, or to hinder. The report of the spies was the thing that caused the children to fear and the thing that hindered them from going forward by faith. 

Sounds to me like these people were living on emotion instead of faith.  II Thessalonians 2:2 admonishes us, “…be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter…”  If we react to every ill wind or discouraging word, we will never go forward.  We will be continually in the wilderness hindered and thwarted.  There are always those who enjoy focusing on the negative.  They should not be our guides. Instead of taking negative reports to heart, we are best to hold them up to the light of His Word, take any warning or caution, and then make a positive choice to continue following the Lord by faith. 

Are you living your life by negative emotion?  Do you fall at every hurdle?  Do you live hindered and thwarted? Better to live by faith than emotion.



“Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 1:21

Finally, a definition we would expect.  God is telling the children of Israel to go forward, do not face the future terrified.  Do not let the prospect of possessing the land discourage you.  This is the same word used as “dismayed” in Joshua 1:9.  It means to be shattered, terrified or broken down.  God had a plan for them.  It might have seemed a large task, but, as we read in Joshua 1:9, God was going to go with them.

It can be challenging to face life changes.  The fear of the unknown can grip the heart and weaken the resolve.  The hardness and frustration faced in making such changes can break us down and shatter our dreams.  God knows this.  He also knows how facing hardship has a place in our lives. 

Henry Blackaby wrote: “He (God) will take whatever time is necessary to grow your character to match His assignment for you…small character will fail in a large responsibility every time.”  Then he wrote, “King Saul was made king without ever enduring hardships, but he never developed the character or maturity to handle God’s assignment.  David spent years in suffering and heartache.  When he finally ascended the throne, he was a man after God’s own heart.”

If we allow discouragement to thwart God’s working in our lives, we will never see the Promised Land. If we see hardships as negative, we will become discouraged, terrified and broken down in the process of sanctification and preparation for service.  The only way to avoid discouragement is to keep our eyes firmly fixed and our hearts set toward on our Saviour, who is right there with us in the midst of whatever challenge we are facing.

Are you hearing the Lord asking you to go up and possess something?  Is he moving you into greater responsibility or greater challenges?  You can be sure that He is with you.  He will never leave your side.  Look for His moving and then follow with your head held high and your eyes firmly fixed on the leader!  Leave discouragement behind.



“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”  Colossians 3:21

To me, this is such a sad verse. To think of a parent who would knowingly push their child to anger and discourage them in their lives is disheartening.  This definition of discouraged holds for us yet another meaning: to lose heart.  But not simply that, it is with the “state of intense displeasure based in a real or perceived wrong.”  Did you get that?  The child loses heart based on either something done to them, or something they have understood incorrectly.

A child loses heart when they start to believe they cannot please their parents.  A child loses heart when there are no clear boundaries of right and wrong.  A child loses heart when they experience unreasonable or abusive punishment – physically, mentally, or verbally. A child loses heart when no one takes time to help them understand life.  The list could go on, but it shows that discouragement is initially a by-product of an outside action.

The action is: being provoked to anger.  So, we best define these two words before we draw a final conclusion.  To provoke is to exasperate, vex, cause to fret or harass.  The word “anger”, according to Perkins, “… signifies not just “be angry”, but to be provoked to such a degree that an angry response ensues. The emphasis is as much on the sinful provocation as it is on the actual anger...” (Perkins)  So, we can see that the response of the child is based in the behavior of the parent whose treatment would be considered vexing the child until they strike back in anger outwardly, or, seethe with anger inwardly. 

Barnes describes it like this: “Lest, by your continually finding fault with them, they should lose all courage, and despair of ever pleasing you…He who always finds fault with a child; who is never satisfied with what he does; who scolds and frets and complains, let him do as he will, breaks his spirit, and soon destroys in the delicate texture of his soul all desire of doing well. The child in despair soon gives over every effort to please. He becomes sullen, morose, stupid, and indifferent to all the motives that can be presented to him, and becomes to a great extent indifferent as to what he does - since all that he does meets with the same reception from the parent.” 

So the emphasis is on the parent.  Do you encourage or discourage your child?  Do they have a sense that you are pleased with them?  Are you just and measured in your discipline?  Are you beating them down by your words and responses or lifting them up? God will hold you accountable.