Sept 29, 2008 by Selah

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

Open-Book Test

“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:8

Have you ever taken an “open-book” test? At first blush they seem like a piece of cake. You can actually have the book open during the test! No late-night cramming. No last-minute frenzy to memorize facts and figures. Count me in!

But astute students quickly learn that open-book tests are not always as simple as one might think. An open-book test has a much higher standard of accountability. If you have the answers right there in front of you, then there’s no excuse for a wrong answer—it was right there in your open book!

As I look through Scripture, I’m struck by the fact that the tests God brings into our lives are always “open-book.” We don’t need to cram or study for them, we simply need to open God’s Book and apply it to each situation. The prophet Micah says it plainly: “He has showed you, O man, what is good” (Micah 6:8). God’s instructions for our lives are clearly and lovingly outlined in His Word, and each test is an opportunity to put our faith and allegiance into action.

When we consider our allegiance to the Lord, let me suggest a few questions that might appear on His open-book exam for our lives:

1. Would you still love and serve God, even if He hadn’t made promises to bless and reward you? In other words, is your love and loyalty to Him based on what He does for you, or is it based on your love for Him whether He ever does anything for you or not? If you open the Book, you’ll see that Job passed the test because he knew that his God was worthy of his worship regardless. As he so boldly announced, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). Reading about the absolute worthiness of our God in the open Book will help you pass the test.

2. If God required your prized possessions, would you place them on the altar for Him? Think about it. What’s more important to you, the gifts that God has given you, or the Giver of the gifts? I can’t consider this question without my mind racing to the “open-book” picture of Abraham on top of a mountain with his son, Isaac, ready to offer up what was most precious to him—his son—a gut-wrenching demonstration of God’s absolute supremacy in his life (Hebrews 11:17-19).

3. If He required what brings you pleasure, would you give it up for Him? I’m not speaking here of illicit pleasures that are outside the boundaries of God’s righteous rules. I mean legitimate pleasures like peace, affluence, and significant friendships. Can you open the Book and say with Paul that you count the best things in your life as rubbish compared to the joy of Jesus in your life?

The apostle Paul seemed to have a good handle on this. For him, walking with Jesus wasn’t about scoring points toward receiving heavenly promises. Life was not about the accumulation of possessions or the pursuit of pleasure. It was about Jesus, and Him alone. Writing to the Philippians, he gave an open-book assessment of his life—a long list of worldly accolades and successes followed by the right answer: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

Now it’s our turn. Regardless of the test you face, open the Book and let Jesus help you ace it!


-What has motivated your obedience to Jesus? Has it been the character of Christ and gratitude for His grace, or has it been a desire to receive the blessings He has promised?
-Have any possessions (whether you own them or simply long for them) begun to hinder your pursuit of Jesus as your first priority? How can you put those possessions in their rightful place?
-How much of your life is spent in pursuing pleasure? What would it look like if you truly considered “everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus”?

A Child’s First Image of God

Ephesians 5:1-2

A child’s first image of God is his earthly father. We Christians spend a lot of time discussing ways to protect or improve our witness. We need to live our faith in front of coworkers and friends, but in the privacy of our home, we want our family to see Jesus in us, as well. If we show forgiveness, patience, and acceptance, then our children will expect to find those traits in the Lord.

Similarly, negative behaviors—like consistent harshness, busyness, or emotional neglect—also shape a child’s view of God. I remember a young man who came to me worried about his salvation. He had received Christ as his personal Savior but wasn’t convinced that he was truly forgiven. When I opened the Scriptures to share some assurances with him, he responded, “I believe them, but I’m just not sure God’s promises apply to me.” He seemed surprised when I then asked about his relationship with his father. During our conversation, it came out that his dad had often made promises he failed to keep. Now, years later, the son lacked certainty that God would keep His word.

Being a reflection of the Lord requires no special skills; the only training guide we need is the Bible. By approaching fatherhood as an area of service and ministry, all men are able to be successful dads. As with any service rendered for God, the Holy Spirit offers fathers the wisdom and guidance they need for raising their children.

Be sure that you are attentive to the words of the heavenly Father. Then your children will rise up and call you blessed.

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” (1 John 3:1)

The Christian church has a rich heritage in its hymns. Over the years, dear saints of God have framed great Christian doctrines in music, easy to remember and a joy to sing. The unfathomable love of Christ for us is laid out clearly in the first verse of one such hymn, “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.”

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

Our text reminds us that the love of Christ is a different kind of love than that which we can express or even comprehend. We can only ask, “What manner of love is this?” We know it as grace, unmerited favor, a sweet blessing given to us we do not deserve.

This love surrounds us, buoying us up and sweeping us along in its current. We have the privilege of returning that love: “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Such love led Him to Calvary and us to eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

This love will lead us on to glory, where we will spend eternity with the Author of love. Here He continues forever extending His love gifts to us. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). His love for us is so deep. JDM

Download the sheet music for this hymn at the link below

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.—Ephesians 3:17. Christ in you, the hope of glory.—Colossians 1:27.

ENTER my opening heart,
Fill it with love and peace and light from Heaven,
Give me Thyself—for all in Thee is given,
Come—never to depart.

WHEREVER thou goest, whatever thou dost at home, or abroad, in the field, or at church, do all in a desire of union with Christ, in imitation of His tempers and inclinations, and look upon all as nothing, but that which exercises, and increases the spirit and life of Christ in thy soul. From morning to night keep Jesus in thy heart, long for nothing, desire nothing, hope for nothing but to have all that is within thee changed into the spirit and temper of the holy Jesus. This new birth in Christ, thus firmly believed and continually desired, will do everything that thou wantest to have done in thee, it will dry up all the springs of vice, stop all the workings of evil in thy nature, it will bring all that is good into thee, it will open all the gospel within thee, and thou wilt know what it is to be taught of God. WILLIAM LAW.

We, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness

We, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. 1 Peter 2:24

Put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts: and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and … put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. — As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our LORD. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Ephesians 4:22-24. Colossians 3:3. Romans 6:4,6,7,11-13.

Everything that may abide

Everything that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shalI be clean. Numbers 31:23

The LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul. — He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. — Every man’s work shall be
made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin. — I will melt them. and try them.

Thou, O God, hast proved us; thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. We went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Deuteronomy 13:3. Malachi 3:3. 1 Corinthians 3:13. Isaiah 1:25. Jeremiah 9:7. Psalm 66:10,12. Isaiah 43:2.