WHY WORSHIP?

I will always sing about the LORD’s love; I will tell of his loyalty from now on. PSALM 89:1

During our summer vacation I took … advantage of the occasion to solicit a sailing lesson. Ever puzzled by the difference in leeward, starboard, and stern, I asked the crew a few questions. After a while the captain offered, “Would you like to sail us home?” … He assured me I would have no trouble. “Target that cliff,” he instructed. “Set your eyes and the boat on it.”

I found the instruction hard to follow. Other sights invited my attention: the rich mahogany of the deck, rich foam cresting on the waves. I wanted to look at it all. But look too long and risk losing the course. The boat stayed on target as long as I set my eyes beyond the vessel.

Worship helps us do this in life. It lifts our eyes off the boat with its toys and passengers and sets them on “what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).

from CURE FOR THE COMMON LIFE

Taking Root

Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up. —Matthew 13:5

A small area of my yard just couldn’t seem to get going. The grass always seemed sparse in that spot, no matter how well I watered it.

So one day I stuck a shovel into this troublesome real estate and discovered the problem: Just below the surface was a layer of stones about three inches deep. This led me to replace the stones with rich topsoil in which new seeds could take root.

Jesus talked about seed and soils. In a parable in Matthew 13 about what happens when the seed of the gospel is sown on various kinds of ground, He said that seeds that land on stones and “not much earth” grow quickly but then die in the sun (vv.5-6). He was speaking of one who has heard and received the gospel, but in whose life the message doesn’t take root. When trouble comes, this person—who is not a genuine believer—falls away.

How grateful we can be for Jesus’ words that conclude this parable: “He who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the Word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit” (v.23). What a reminder of both the privilege and the responsibility that accompanies our salvation.

Praise God for the seed of the gospel and the soil of spiritual growth. by Dave Branon

Lord, I would be soil in which You can plant
Your Word with its promise of fruit;
I want to be open to You every day,
So what You have planted takes root. —Hess

A heart open to God is soil in which the seed of His Word can flourish.

Too Hard for God?

“Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:14)

This rhetorical question posed to Abraham by the Lord was in response to Sarah’s doubts concerning His promise that they would have a son. It would, indeed, require a biological miracle, for both were much too old for this to happen otherwise. With God, however, all things are possible, and He can, and will, fulfill every promise, even if a miracle is required.

This same rhetorical question was asked of the prophet Jeremiah. “Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:26-27). The One who created all flesh, who raises up kings and puts them down, could surely fulfill His promise to restore Israel to its homeland when the set time was come.

But Jeremiah had already confessed his faith in God’s omnipotence. “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17). The God who called the mighty universe into being would not fail to keep His promise and fulfill His will.

Actually, the word translated “hard” in these verses is more commonly rendered “wonderful,” or “marvelous,” or an equivalent adjective, referring usually to something miraculous that could only be accomplished by God. For example, “marvelous things did he . . . in the land of Egypt” (Psalm 78:12). “For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone” (Psalm 86:10).

The first occurrence of the word (Hebrew pala), however, is in our text for today. There is nothing—no thing—too hard for the Lord, and we should never doubt His word! HMM

For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness

“For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness.” (Gal. 5:5, R. V.)

THERE are times when things look very dark to me—so dark that I have to wait even for hope. It is bad enough to wait in hope. A long-deferred fulfillment carries its own pain, but to wait for hope, to see no glimmer of a prospect and yet refuse to despair; to have nothing but night before the casement and yet to keep the casement open for possible stars; to have a vacant place in my heart and yet to allow that place to be filled by no inferior presence—that is the grandest patience in the universe. It is Job in the tempest; it is Abraham on the road to Moriah; it is Moses in the desert of Midian; it is the Son of man in the Garden of Gethsemane.

There is no patience so hard as that which endures, “as seeing him who is invisible”; it is the waiting for hope.

Thou hast made waiting beautiful; Thou has made patience divine. Thou hast taught us that the Father’s will may be received just because it is His will. Thou hast revealed to us that a soul may see nothing but sorrow in the cup and yet may refuse to let it go, convinced that the eye of the Father sees further than its own.

Give me this Divine power of Thine, the power of Gethsemane. Give me the power to wait for hope itself, to look out from the casement where there are no stars. Give me the power, when the very joy that was set before me is gone, to stand unconquered amid the night, and say, “To the eye of my Father it is perhaps shining still.” I shall reach the climax of strength when I have learned to wait for hope. George Matheson.

Strive to be one of those—so few—who walk the earth with ever-present consciousness—all mornings, middays, star-times—that the unknown which men call Heaven is “close behind the visible scene of things.”

That He may set him with princes

“That He may set him with princes.” Psalm 113:8

Our spiritual privileges are of the highest order. “Among princes” is the place of select society. “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Speak of select society, there is none like this! “We are a chosen generation, a peculiar people, a royal priesthood.” “We are come unto the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven.” The saints have courtly audience: princes have admittance to royalty when common people must stand afar off. The child of God has free access to the inner courts of heaven. “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” “Let us come boldly,” says the apostle, “to the throne of the heavenly grace.”

Among princes there is abundant wealth, but what is the abundance of princes compared with the riches of believers? for “all things are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Princes have peculiar power. A prince of heaven’s empire has great influence: he wields a sceptre in his own domain; he sits upon Jesus’ throne, for “He hath made us kings and priests unto God, and we shall reign for ever and ever.” We reign over the united kingdom of time and eternity.

Princes, again, have special honour. We may look down upon all earth-born dignity from the eminence upon which grace has placed us. For what is human grandeur to this, “He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”? We share the honour of Christ, and compared with this, earthly splendours are not worth a thought. Communion with Jesus is a richer gem than ever glittered in imperial diadem. Union with the Lord is a coronet of beauty outshining all the blaze of imperial pomp.

Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge, etc.” 2 Peter 1:5,6

If thou wouldest enjoy the eminent grace of the full assurance of faith, under the blessed Spirit’s influence, and assistance, do what the Scripture tells thee, “Give diligence.” Take care that thy faith is of the right kind—that it is not a mere belief of doctrine, but a simple faith, depending on Christ, and on Christ alone. Give diligent heed to thy courage. Plead with God that He would give thee the face of a lion, that thou mayest, with a consciousness of right, go on boldly. Study well the Scriptures, and get knowledge; for a knowledge of doctrine will tend very much to confirm faith. Try to understand God’s Word; let it dwell in thy heart richly.

When thou hast done this, “Add to thy knowledge temperance.” Take heed to thy body: be temperate without. Take heed to thy soul: be temperate within. Get temperance of lip, life, heart, and thought. Add to this, by God’s Holy Spirit, patience; ask Him to give thee that patience which endureth affliction, which, when it is tried, shall come forth as gold. Array yourself with patience, that you may not murmur nor be depressed in your afflictions. When that grace is won look to godliness.

Godliness is something more than religion. Make God’s glory your object in life; live in His sight; dwell close to Him; seek for fellowship with Him; and thou hast “godliness”; and to that add brotherly love. Have a love to all the saints: and add to that a charity, which openeth its arms to all men, and loves their souls. When you are adorned with these jewels, and just in proportion as you practice these heavenly virtues, will you come to know by clearest evidence “your calling and election.” “Give diligence,” if you would get assurance, for lukewarmness and doubting very naturally go hand in hand.