You Are Never Alone

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

There are many Baptist congregations today in Myanmar that trace their lineage to the work of missionary Adoniram Judson. He translated the Bible and created a dictionary to establish literacy. But in spite of his kingdom work, Adoniram Judson died alone, at sea, in 1850. Accompanied by one friend, Judson was sailing in search of medical help for himself. Dying before reaching the help he needed, Judson was buried at sea.

Did Adoniram Judson really die alone? He could have been the only person on the ship and still he would not have been alone. He would have echoed the words of David who passed by himself through his own “valley of the shadow of death”: “You are with me.” We will inevitably find ourselves alone at some point in life. But a Christian can be alone without being lonely. Feelings of loneliness should not deceive us into thinking no one is with us. The presence of God, based on the promises in His Word, means we are never truly alone.

If you are by yourself—or feel like you are—reach out to the One who has promised never to leave you or forsake you.

The problem with being an atheist is you have no one to talk to when you’re alone. Unknown

It Is Good To Be Afflicted

Psalm 119:71-76

The psalmist rejoiced in affliction because trials added to his knowledge of God. Lessons in the Lord’s constancy, grace, and provision were more valuable to him than a sack full of gold and silver. Hardship also enriched his heart and spirit.

Affliction acts as spiritual fertilizer on a believer’s faith. Consider how David’s radical pursuit of the Lord developed while he was running from a murderous king. The years between his victory over Goliath and his ascension to the throne were physically demanding and emotionally draining. Yet the challenges that David faced molded him into a wise leader, a cunning warrior, and a humble servant of the Lord.

Psalms 4 and 13 reveal that David’s struggles taught him dependence on God, perseverance, and many other valuable spiritual traits. The Lord also provided comfort even as He stretched the warrior-poet’s faith (Ps. 86:17). As God intended, David’s words continue to offer solace to others who must walk through trials and misery.

By means of affliction, God molds His children into comfort carriers. (See 2 Cor. 1:4.) The message we share with others is the one we learned in our own trials: God is enough. He’s sufficient to meet our needs when the pit is deep, the obstacle high, and the suffering prolonged. Moreover, our own lives prove that no matter the circumstance, God is faithful.

Those whom God leads to triumph over affliction become the fragrance of His care to a hurting world (2 Cor. 2:14). We carry cheer to the discouraged, relief to the hurting, and the message of Christ’s love to all.

The Whole Heart

“I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.” (Psalm 138:1)

When we sing or testify of our praise to God, it should not be perfunctory or repetitive rote praise. It should be sincere, wholehearted, personal praise. We should especially praise Him for revealing to us eternal truth, as written in His inspired Word. Further, we should not hesitate to praise our true God, even amidst all the false “gods” of this world. As verse 2 says, He has magnified His Word above all His name! The Holy Scriptures are our greatest physical possession of all the things in this world, for they alone will “not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). His Word is “for ever . . . settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

This phrase, “the whole heart,” occurs a number of times in the Bible, especially in the psalm of the Word, Psalm 119. Note the testimony of the psalmist in this great psalm.

1.“Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (v. 2).
2.“With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments” (v. 10).
3.“Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (v. 34).
4.“I entreated thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word” (v. 58).
5.“The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart” (v. 69).
6.“I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes” (v. 145).

Thus, we should “keep his testimonies” (v. 2), “keep thy law” (v. 34), “keep thy precepts” (v. 69), and “keep thy statutes” (v. 145) with our whole heart, for the good and sufficient reason that He is our Lord and has given us His eternal Word, magnified above all His name. HMM

God’s Wisdom or Yours

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. —Isaiah 53:6

The crux of your life lies right there. It doesn’t matter whether you know this little wisp of systematic theology or not; that isn’t the point. The point is that it’s either got to be God’s wisdom or yours. It’s either God’s way or yours. All that you and I have lived for, hoped for and dreamed over in our heart of hearts—life, safety, happiness, heaven, immortality, the presence of God—hinges on whether you’re going to accept the ultimate wisdom of the Triune God, as revealed in the Scriptures and in His providential working in mankind. Or are you going to go your own way?

The most perfect definition of sin that I know of is given by Isaiah in 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” Turning to our own way is the essence of sin. I turn to my way because I think it is wiser than God’s way….

This is the crux of our life. This is the difference between revival and a dead church. This is the difference between a Spirit-filled life and a self-filled life. Who’s running it? Who’s the boss? Whose wisdom is prevailing—the wisdom of God or the wisdom of man?

Lord, how foolish I am when I trust in my own limited knowledge instead of Your infinite wisdom. Take over and be the Boss today. Amen.

Are You Without Feeling?

Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19)

I do know something of the emotional life that goes along with conversion to Jesus Christ. I came into the kingdom of God with joy, knowing that I had been forgiven.

I have had people tell me very dogmatically that they will never allow “feeling” to have any part in their spiritual life and experience.

“Too bad for you!” is my reply.

I say that because I have voiced a very real definition of what I believe true worship to be: “Worship is to feel in the heart!”

In the Christian faith, we should be able to use the word “feel” boldly and without apology. What worse thing could be said of us as the Christian church if it can be said of us that we are a feelingless people?

I think we must agree that those of us who have been blest within our own beings would not join in any crusade to “follow your feelings.” But if there is no feeling at all in our hearts, then we are dead!

Many can bring the Scriptures to the mind, but…

Many can bring the Scriptures to the mind, but the Lord alone can prepare the mind to receive the Scriptures. Our Lord Jesus differs from all other teachers; they reach the ear, but he instructs the heart; they deal with the outward letter, but he imparts an inward taste for the truth, by which we perceive its savor and spirit. The most unlearned of men become ripe scholars in the school of grace when the Lord Jesus by his Holy Spirit unfolds the mysteries of the kingdom to them, and grants the divine anointing by which they are enabled to behold the invisible. Happy are we if we have had our understandings cleared and strengthened by the Master!