THE THORNS OF SIN

Evil people’s lives are like paths covered with thorns and traps. PROVERBS 22:5

The fruit of sin is thorns—spiny, prickly, cutting thorns. I emphasize the “point” of the thorns to suggest a point you may have never considered: If the fruit of sin is thorns, isn’t the thorny crown on Christ’s brow a picture of the fruit of our sin that pierced his heart?

What is the fruit of sin? Step into the briar patch of humanity and feel a few thistles. Shame. Fear. Disgrace. Discouragement. Anxiety. Haven’t our hearts been caught in these brambles?

The heart of Jesus, however, had not. He had never been cut by the thorns of sin. What you and I face daily, he never knew. Anxiety? He never worried! Guilt? He was never guilty! Fear? He never left the presence of God! Jesus never knew the fruits of sin … until he became sin for us.

from HE CHOSE THE NAILS

Rightly Divide the Word

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

This command is for us to “give diligence” (Greek spoudazo) for God’s approval by “rightly dividing” the word of truth. That which is to be rightly divided is not in doubt: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). The end goal is to “display yourself” as one who is, therefore, approved by God.

The key is to “rightly divide” the Scriptures. The Greek word orthotomeo, only used this one time, has several shades of meaning: to cut straight, to cut straight ways; to proceed on straight paths, hold a straight course; to make straight and smooth; to handle aright; to teach the truth directly and correctly.

Two passages emphasize the way to “divide” the Scriptures. When Isaiah asked rhetorical questions about how to learn and understand biblical knowledge, the answer was “precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9-10). Thus:

Find the major pieces first.
Find the supporting elements next.
Find the pieces throughout the text.

Solomon, as the “wise preacher,” noted that one who would teach the people knowledge must have given “good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs” (Ecclesiastes 12:9).

Pay attention to the words (meanings, context).
Penetrate (research) the teaching (text first, then books).
Organize the information for teaching purposes.

This kind of study preparation requires a “workman”—one who is willing to give the “diligence” necessary to produce the powerful sayings built on the “word of truth.” If properly prepared, the workman will never be “ashamed.” HMM III

He guided them by the skillfulness of His hands

“He guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.” (Psa. 78:72.)

WHEN you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one…. Meanwhile keep on as you are, and consider the absence of indication to be the indication of God’s will that you are on His track…. As you go down the long corridor, you will find that He has preceded you, and locked many doors which you would fain have entered; but be sure that beyond these there is one which He has left unlocked. Open it and enter, and you will find yourself face to face with a bend of the river of opportunity, broader and deeper than anything you had dared to imagine in your sunniest dreams. Launch forth upon it; it conducts to the open sea.

God guides us, often by circumstances. At one moment the way may seem utterly blocked; and then shortly afterward some trivial incident occurs, which might not seem much to others, but which to the keen eye of faith speaks volumes. Sometimes these things are repeated in various ways, in answer to prayer. They are not haphazard results of chance, but the opening up of circumstances in the direction in which we would walk. And they begin to multiply as we advance toward our goal, just as the lights do as we near a populous town, when darting through the land by night express.—F. B. Meyer.

If you go to Him to be guided, He will guide you; but He will not comfort your distrust or halftrust of Him by showing you the chart of all His purposes concerning you. He will show you only into a way where, if you go cheerfully and trustfully forward, He will show you on still farther.— Horace Bushnell.

As moves my fragile bark across the storm-swept sea,
Great waves beat o’er her side, as north wind blows;
Deep in the darkness hid lie threat’ning rocks and shoals;
But all of these, and more, my Pilot knows.

Sometimes when dark the night, and every light gone out,
I wonder to what port my frail ship goes;
Still though the night be long, and restless all my hours,
My distant goal, I’m sure, my Pilot knows.

—Thomas Curtis Clark.

It so ordered in the temple that the sacred chant never ceased

“And these are the singers … they were employed in that work day and night.” 1 Chronicles 9:33

Well was it so ordered in the temple that the sacred chant never ceased: for evermore did the singers praise the Lord, whose mercy endureth for ever. As mercy did not cease to rule either by day or by night, so neither did music hush its holy ministry. My heart, there is a lesson sweetly taught to thee in the ceaseless song of Zion’s temple, thou too art a constant debtor, and see thou to it that thy gratitude, like charity, never faileth.

God’s praise is constant in heaven, which is to be thy final dwelling-place, learn thou to practice the eternal hallelujah. Around the earth as the sun scatters his light, his beams awaken grateful believers to tune their morning hymn, so that by the priesthood of the saints perpetual praise is kept up at all hours, they swathe our globe in a mantle of thanksgiving, and girdle it with a golden belt of song.

The Lord always deserves to be praised for what He is in Himself, for His works of creation and providence, for His goodness towards His creatures, and especially for the transcendent act of redemption, and all the marvellous blessing flowing therefrom. It is always beneficial to praise the Lord; it cheers the day and brightens the night; it lightens toil and softens sorrow; and over earthly gladness it sheds a sanctifying radiance which makes it less liable to blind us with its glare.

Have we not something to sing about at this moment? Can we not weave a song out of our present joys, or our past deliverances, or our future hopes? Earth yields her summer fruits: the hay is housed, the golden grain invites the sickle, and the sun tarrying long to shine upon a fruitful earth, shortens the interval of shade that we may lengthen the hours of devout worship. By the love of Jesus, let us be stirred up to close the day with a psalm of sanctified gladness.

I in them

“I in them.” John 17:23

If such be the union which subsists between our souls and the person of our Lord, how deep and broad is the channel of our communion! This is no narrow pipe through which a thread-like stream may wind its way, it is a channel of amazing depth and breadth, along whose glorious length a ponderous volume of living water may roll its floods. Behold He hath set before us an open door, let us not be slow to enter. This city of communion hath many pearly gates, every several gate is of one pearl, and each gate is thrown open to the uttermost that we may enter, assured of welcome.

If there were but one small loophole through which to talk with Jesus, it would be a high privilege to thrust a word of fellowship through the narrow door; how much we are blessed in having so large an entrance! Had the Lord Jesus been far away from us, with many a stormy sea between, we should have longed to send a messenger to Him to carry Him our loves, and bring us tidings from His Father’s house; but see His kindness, He has built His house next door to ours, nay, more, He takes lodging with us, and tabernacles in poor humble hearts, that so He may have perpetual intercourse with us. O how foolish must we be, if we do not live in habitual communion with Him. When the road is long, and dangerous, and difficult, we need not wonder that friends seldom meet each other, but when they live together, shall Jonathan forget his David?

A wife may when her husband is upon a journey, abide many days without holding converse with him, but she could never endure to be separated from him if she knew him to be in one of the chambers of her own house. Why, believer, dost not thou sit at His banquet of wine? Seek thy Lord, for He is near; embrace Him, for He is thy Brother. Hold Him fast, for He is thine Husband; and press Him to thine heart, for He is of thine own flesh.