“What A Beautiful Name” from our new album ‘let there be light” recorded live at Hillsong Conference in Sydney
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9
The Dutch Master painter Rembrandt van Rijn completed one of his most famous works shortly before he died in 1669. His painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son, is based on Jesus’ parable about the wastrel son who squandered his inheritance but was forgiven and welcomed home in spite of his rebellion (Luke 15:11-32).
The parable of the Prodigal Son has many applications. It was about God’s passion for seeking and saving the lost (Luke 19:10). It was about the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders as portrayed by the prodigal’s older brother (Luke 15:25-30). It was about God’s desire for lost Israel to return to Him (Luke 15:31). But most of all it was about the love of God—the welcoming and unconditional love of God—as portrayed by the prodigal’s father. In this story, the prodigal son did everything wrong and nothing right. Yet his father heaped forgiveness and love upon the son when he returned home after coming to his senses. That is the true love of God.
Never doubt God’s welcoming and unconditional love for you. If you will return to Him, He will be faithful to forgive you and cleanse you and embrace you.
The way to cover our sin is to uncover it by confession. Richard Sibbes
In Jesus’ day, three Greek words were used to express “love”—eros (physical intimacy), philia (friendship), and agape (fruit produced by the Holy Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23). Our heavenly Father cares for us with agape love, and to bring us into a right relationship with Him, He sacrificed His Son (1 John 4:10).
The parable of the prodigal son gives us a good example of this type of love. Agape is evident in our life when we:
Respond calmly to difficulties. To the son’s untimely demand for his share of the inheritance, the father didn’t reply with angry words about ungrateful children. Though the prodigal’s attitude must have caused pain, the man held his tongue and did not retaliate. In calmness, he could think more clearly and chose to love (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
Sacrifice without complaint. Though he knew his son was committed to a ruinous course, the father quietly fulfilled the request. In doing so, he chose the way of love, directing his efforts towards preserving their relationship.
Wait patiently. Out of deep affection, the father let his son leave and stay away. What heartache the man must have felt! Yet he remained hopeful and waited for the young man to recognize that sin cannot deliver what it has promised. This patient response is possible only through the power of agape love (1 Corinthians 13:4).
The Holy Spirit’s work in our life empowers us to show selfless and sacrificial devotion to the development of another person. In that way, we become people who respond calmly, patiently, and without complaint. Which kind of emotion do you offer to others—human or divine?
“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9)
There are “gods many, and lords many” (1 Corinthians 8:5) in today’s world, just as there were in the ancient pagan world. In fact, the worship of many of these ancient deities is being revived in various dark corners of the so-called “New Age” movement today. Idol worship can also involve adulation of men and women—such as music idols, professional athletes, and movie idols, not to mention the humanistic worship of such political/religious leaders as Lenin, Mao, Hitler, Khomeini, and an increasing assortment of gurus and false prophets.
There is, however, only one true God, the God who created all things. “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (v. 6). The one thing all these false gods and false religions have in common is the denial of the true God and omnipotent Creator.
For such idolatry there is no legitimate excuse. “We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one” (v. 4). A dead idol obviously can be of no use. The infallible test as to just who this “true” God may be is that His identity is confirmed as the only living God; therefore, He is the only true God. He died for our sins, yes, but now He lives forever as King of all His creation. We, like the Thessalonians, should turn from all our idols “to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). HMM
Esau vowed to kill Jacob, and therefore Rebekah was obliged to send her favourite son away. This she little expected when she travelled a crooked way to earn him promotion.
Alone, without a servant to attend him, or a beast to carry him, with only his staff to lean upon, the heir of the promises set out upon his long journey of about five hundred miles.
He had a hard bed and a cold bolster, but he had a sweet sleep, and a sweeter dream. Often when the head lies hardest the heart is lightest. Our times of great trial are times of heavenly visitation.
Note the many “beholds” in the passage. They call for our special attention. The patriarch dreamed of Jesus—sweetest of all dreams. He saw how heaven and earth are joined by the Messiah, and how free is the intercourse between God and man by the way of the Mediator.
Having seen the Messiah as the ladder, he beheld the glory of Jehovah the covenant God, and received the covenant blessing. Every syllable must have sounded as sweetest music in his ears. Note that choice word, “I will not leave thee.” Whom God loves he never leaves. “Till I have done that which I have spoken to thee of;”—saying and doing are two very different things with men, but not with God.
He was full of awe, even to trembling. He felt as if he had slept in the temple of Jehovah, and therefore as a sinner he was moved with fear. He had not been afraid of wild beasts or heathen men, but now though filled with holy confidence he is equally filled with sacred awe.
We must honour God with our substance. Some set up a stone of remembrance, but they pour no oil on the top of it, for they offer nothing unto the Lord.
Beth-el the house of God
Here was a little of the bargaining spirit in covenanting for bread to eat and raiment to put on, but still there was genuine faith. He renounces all other trusts, casts himself upon the divine care, and dedicates a tithe unto the Lord. God has dealt so well with each of us, that we ought never to stint his cause. Can we not do something even now to honour the Lord with our substance and with the firstfruits of our increase?
Jesus that ladder is
Th’ incarnate Deity,
Partaker of celestial bliss
And human misery;
Lo! up and down the scale
The angels move! with love!
And God, the Great Invisible,
Himself appears above.
2 Corinthians 4:7
When I was a small boy, the guys in our neighborhood loved to play like they were pirates. My friends and I would draw detailed maps with palm trees, waterfalls, lagoons, and, of course, buried treasure! The location of the buried treasure was always specified with a huge “X.” As we acted out our game and pretended to look for hidden treasure, we’d remind each other that “X” marked the spot of the buried treasure.
Treasure hunters are always scouring the earth to look for treasures and relics left by previous civilizations and generations. But the greatest treasure in the whole universe is right inside you! I’m talking about a cache of wealth so immense that its reserves can never be completely dug out, explored, discovered, or discerned. These are spiritual assets beyond your wildest imagination!
The apostle Paul wrote about this astonishing treasure in Second Corinthians 4:7, where he said, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” The first thing Paul does in this verse is tell us where this treasure is buried.
Notice that Paul says, “But we have….” The words “we have” in Greek is echomen, which is taken from the Greek word echo. The word echo means to have, to hold, to possess, or to keep. It is the picture of someone who “has” something in his possession because it belongs to him. It is rightfully his, and he has the right to keep it.
But when Paul uses this word in this verse, he speaks in the plural, including himself and all believers. His words could be translated, “We hold and possess as our very own….” He is describing something that is already in the hands of all believers—something that legally belongs to them and that they have a right to claim! The word “treasure” is the Greek word thesauros, a word that describes a treasure, a treasury, a treasure chamber, or a place of safekeeping where riches and fortunes are kept. It presents the idea of a specially built room designed to be the repository for massive riches and wealth. By using this word, Paul declares that we as believers are the possessors of riches beyond belief. Moreover, we are the chambers, repositories, or treasuries where God has placed this fortune. Because the word echomen (“we have”) precedes the word thesauros, this phrase could be translated, “We already have and hold this wealth in our possession.” Therefore, it is not something we are trying to obtain; it is something we already possess.
However, Paul says that this treasure is contained in “earthen vessels”—a phrase he uses to refer to our human bodies. The phrase “earthen vessels” comes from the Greek word ostrakinos, a word used to describe small, cheap, and easily broken pottery made of inferior materials. This kind of pottery was weak, fragile, and valueless— so cheaply made that it would never have been seen in wealthier homes. These “bargain-basement” dishes were primarily used in the lower-class neighborhoods, purchased by people who couldn’t afford to acquire better merchandise. Because the dishes were made of imperfect materials, they usually had defects.
As time passed, it is interesting that this word ostrakinos came to represent anything inferior, low-grade, mediocre, shoddy, second-rate, or substandard. Furthermore, it is where we get the phrase “to ostracize.”
When people “ostracize” a person, it means they regard him as substandard— too unfit to be a part of their group. They speak derogatorily of him, poke fun at him, and belittle him in front of others. The person being “ostracized” most likely feels as though he has been cut out of the group—shunned, ignored, and treated like something that is shoddy and deficient.
Shoddy, deficient, substandard pottery is exactly the kind of “earthen vessels” Paul had in mind when he wrote Second Corinthians 4:7. He used the illustration of these cheaply made dishes to announce the location of the secret chamber where God placed His greatest treasure on planet earth!
By connecting the Greek words echomen, thesauros, and ostrakinos, Paul says that we are the location of this divine treasure! If “X” marks the spot, then the “X” is marked on us! As amazing as this is to consider, it is true that God has placed His greatest gift on earth on the inside of us!
This means that Second Corinthians 4:7 communicates this idea:
“We possess treasure within ourselves! And not only do we possess treasure, but our easily broken, inferior, temporary bodies are themselves the treasure chambers where this astonishing cache is kept….”
Paul uses these Greek words, almost in amazement, to joyfully announce that the human body is the residence of the Holy Spirit—God’s powerful gift to every believer. Even though our human bodies are fragile and eventually die, it pleased God to deposit this gift inside us. Think about how incredible this is! The human body is so fragile that:
Get ahold of this picture in your heart: You are a treasure hunter’s greatest dream. You have the treasure map. “X” marks the spot for the hidden treasure, but this time you don’t have to go searching for the hidden treasure because the “X” is written on you! You are the hiding place for God’s greatest treasure—the third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit!
So meditate on this truth today: You are valuable and precious in God’s sight. Even though in the natural you may seem weak, fragile, and valueless, God has chosen your human body as the place to hide His greatest treasure. Now you can say, “When God looks at me, ‘X’ really does mark the spot!”
Lord, how can I ever say thank You enough for putting Your Spirit inside me! It is so amazing to think that You would want to live inside someone like me. Yet this was Your choice, and for this I am eternally grateful. Help me live a life that is worthy of Your Presence inside me. Forgive me for times when I’ve treated You wrongly by defiling my mind or my body with things that are not worthy of You. Help me stay constantly aware that I am a carrier of the greatest gift the world has ever known.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I joyfully declare that I carry the Presence of God in my life. I am the temple of the Holy Spirit—a treasury where God has placed His power, His gifts, His grace, His fruit, and His character. Resident within me is enough power and answers to change both my environment and the environment of anyone to whom God uses me to speak the words of life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Or do you have it under control with:
E. M. Bounds cautions us that “TO BE LITTLE WITH GOD IS TO BE LITTLE FOR GOD.”
Keep in mind: Satan’s strategy is to dull your spiritual hunger by playing upon your inclination towards:
“Take care… lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12, 13).
Let’s be honest enough to admit that basically we do exactly what we want to do, finding time for:
And let’s be reminded that a casual approach to knowing God simply won’t cut it:
“You shall seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:1)
Passion and pursuit are the criteria for knowing God. Are you man or woman enough to rise to and sustain the challenge?