St Patrick – The Apostle of Ireland, powerfully portrayed by Patrick Bergen!
St Patrick – The Apostle of Ireland, powerfully portrayed by Patrick Bergen!
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
Most Protestant Christians are familiar with what is referred to as the Common Doxology which begins, “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow: praise Him, all creatures here below.” It was composed in 1674 as the final verse of two hymns used in morning and evening worship at England’s Winchester College. There is a world of theology and counsel bound up in the phrase, “from whom all blessings flow.”
And there is a world of danger in forgetting that God is the source of all we have: victory, strength, blessing, success—it all comes from Him. The danger is that we might accumulate credit unto ourselves for our victories and success instead of giving credit and glory to Him. That is, we put ourselves in the place of God as the source of all that is good. Everything can be traced back to God. Yes, we may use our intelligence and skill in daily life—but where does intelligence and skill come from? As the Doxology says, we “praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Some blessings come directly and some indirectly. But He is the source of them all.
Make sure to give credit, glory, and thanks to God for what He enables you to accomplish in life.
Give unlimited credit to our God. Robert Murray M’Cheyne
The disciples gathered around a table to celebrate Passover with Jesus. If one of them had been more thoughtful of the others—or possessed a spirit of servanthood—he would have done the very thing Christ did: take water and a cloth, kneel before the 12 other men, one at a time, and wash their feet. Jesus came into this world as a servant (Matt. 20:28). He was willing to do whatever was necessary to move men and women’s hearts and bring them to a saving knowledge of God.
A bondslave was the lowest of household servants, and he had the distasteful job of washing the feet of anyone who entered the home. This is the very task Christ voluntarily performed that evening, right before His trial and sufferings would begin. His act was a foreshadowing of the service He was about to render on behalf of the whole world—by dying on the cross for humanity’s sin.
We who believe in Jesus Christ do not call Him “slave”; we identify Him as our Master. So when He says that a servant is not greater than His master, He is speaking of our relationship with Him (John 13:16). Believers bend their knees to God’s most humble servant, His Son. How are you serving the almighty Lord?
Christians are God’s workmanship, created for the purpose of good works (Eph. 2:10). In other words, we were saved to serve. Therefore, there is no valid excuse for refusal. When you surrender to the Lord, you step onto the pathway of Jesus Christ, which is the best possible way to live.
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” (Genesis 7:11)
Our text describes the primary physical causes for the Flood of Noah’s day, as well as the primary sources for the vast waters which covered the earth. The first source is very interesting from a geological point of view, and to grasp some semblance of its meaning is necessary if we would understand the Flood.
As the “deep” in Scripture usually refers to the ocean (i.e., Genesis 1:2), so the “great deep” that was “broken up” evidently speaks of great subterranean reservoirs or chambers deep inside the earth, all of which spewed forth their contents at the same time. This breakup continued all over the earth for 150 days (see Genesis 7:11; 7:24; 8:2).
The reference to “broken up” merits attention, for it implies a wrenching of the earth’s crust, a great tectonic event. The same word is used in Numbers 16:30-33 to describe the supernatural opening up of a great pit into which the rebellious Korah and his followers and their families fell, thereby squelching their mutiny against Moses’ leadership.
Any such breaching of the earth’s crust results in earthquakes, and if occurring under water results in devastating tsunamis (sometimes called tidal waves) traveling through the water at speeds approaching the speed of sound. Continued pulsation of these fountains all over the earth for 150 days would totally restructure the surface of the earth, demonstrating God’s hatred for the sin of the antediluvian world. Coupled with the other factors involved in the Flood, it is no wonder that “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Peter 3:6). JDM
1 Samuel 9:2
It would have been better had he been godly as well:
1 Samuel 9:3
A quaint writer says, “Saul’s obedience was a fit entrance upon his sovereignty. The service was homely for the son of a great nan; yet, he refuseth not to go with his fathers servant, upon so mean a search. The disobedient and scornful are good for nothing; they are neither fit to be subjects nor governors. Kish was a great man in his country, yet he disdained not to send his son Saul upon a thrifty errand; neither does Saul plead that it would disgrace him. Pride and wantonness have marred our times. Great parents count it a dishonour to employ their sons in honest labour, and their pampered children think it a shame to do anything, and so behave themselves as if they counted it a glory to be idle or wicked.”
1 Samuel 9:6
They came to the man of God about asses, and learned something concerning a kingdom, and so many go to hear preachers out of idle curiosity, but God leads them into the kingdom of his dear Son.
1 Samuel 9:19
That he did, and very much more. God’s ministers are enabled by his Spirit to lay bare men’s hearts, and then they tell them of the kingdom of heaven.
1 Samuel 9:20
Who cares for asses when a kingdom is in view? Who will regard earthly joys when heaven is to be had? How foolish are those who spend all their thoughts upon this world’s straying asses, and lose the unfading crown.
1 Samuel 9:27
This day let each of us endeavour to have a little season for thought and prayer; carrying this text in our hearts, “Stand thou still awhile, that I may shew thee the word of God.”
Quit ye like men, be strong,
Fear not the foeman’s frown;
Nor suffer Satan’s deadliest blows
To beat your courage down.
The battle soon will yield,
If ye your parts fulfil:
For strong as is the hostile shield,
Your sword is stronger still.
Arise, ye saints arise!
The Lord your leader is;
The foe before his banner flies,
The victory is his.
O Sacred Spirit still
Abide with all thy saints,
If thou depart the glory’s gone,
And every warrior faints.
Vain is the outward ark,
Vain are the means of grace,
The sun is gone, the church is dark,
If thou dost hide thy face.
Depart not, gracious Lord,
Though we have griev’d thee sore
Still all thy sacred help afford,
Nor let us grieve thee more.
These idols tread beneath thy feet,
And to thyself the conquest get;
Let sin no more oppose my Lord,
Slain by thy Spirit’s two-edged sword.
Compel my soul thy sway to own;
Self-will, self-righteousness dethrone:
Let Dagon fall before thy face,
Destroyed by thine all conquering grace.
Holy and reverend is the name
Of our eternal King;
Thrice holy Lord! the angels cry;
Thrice holy! let us sing.
The deepest reverence of the mind,
Pay, O my soul! to God;
Lift, with thy hands, a holy heart,
To his sublime abode.
With sacred awe pronounce his name,
Whom words nor thoughts can reach;
A broken heart will please him more
Than noblest forms of speech.
Yes, I will bless thee, O my God!
Through all my earthly days;
And to eternity prolong
Thy vast, thy boundless praise.
Nor shall my tongue alone proclaim
The honours of my God:
My life with all its active powers,
Shall spread thy praise abroad.
Soon shall my lips in endless praise,
Their grateful tribute pay;
The theme demands an angel’s tongue,
And an eternal day.
Thy name, almighty Lord,
Shall sound through distant lands;
Great is thy grace, and sure thy word;
Thy truth for ever stands,
Far be thine honour spread,
And long thy praise endure,
Till morning light and evening shade
Shall be exchanged no more.
Have you ever been confronted with a situation where you felt you needed a word from the Lord, but you didn’t know which word you needed? Did you run to your Bible and start flipping through the pages, searching for that perfect word you needed—but it seemed like you just couldn’t quite find the right word to fit your situation?
Well, today I want to talk to you about the sword of the Spirit. You will find that when the Holy Spirit drops a word into your heart for your exact situation, that rhema word will have incredible power to drive back the enemy from his attack!
Let me begin by telling you a little bit about how Roman soldiers went to sword practice, because it will help you understand the difference between a rhema, or a quickened, specific word from the Spirit, and the logos, which is the written Word of God.
Because the Roman army was so committed to warfare, its soldiers practiced the arts of warfare continually. One of the primary exercises was daily sword practice. The soldiers exercised themselves in this skill morning and afternoon. The ancients gave their recruits bucklers that were woven with willow branches and were two times heavier than the ones used in actual battle.
In addition to these heavy bucklers, the swords that Roman soldiers used in practice were made of heavy wood and were twice the weight of the real swords used in battle. Every soldier practiced combat with a wooden post about six feet high, which was firmly fixed in the ground. This six-foot post became his “enemy” during practice. Just as with a real enemy, he would advance upon his target, strike hard with his sword, and then retreat.
The soldier’s job in practice was to learn how to take advantage of his enemy; how to hit him at his weakest point; and how to strike him so he could not respond. The aim of the man wielding the sword was nearly always pointed toward the head or face, toward the thighs or legs, or occasionally toward the sides of the target.
Flavius Vegetius Renatus, who lived around 380 AD and who documented the affairs of the Roman military, wrote: “They [the military recruits] were likewise taught not to cut, but to thrust their swords. For the Romans not only made jest of those who fought with the edge of that weapon, but always found them an easy conquest. A stroke with the edges, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are defended by both the bones and armor. On the contrary, a stab, although it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal.”
It was from this background that Paul said, “And take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Notice particularly that Paul says, “… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The word translated “word” is not the Greek word logos, which would refer to the written Word. Instead, Paul employs the use of the Greek word rhema. This is so powerful—and I want to tell you why!
Had Paul used the word logos in this verse, he would have implied a “sweeping stroke” against the enemy, and this would never do. You see, the logos—although broad, heavy, wonderful, and full of general direction for our lives—is not sufficient to deal the enemy a fatal blow. We need to stab the enemy! This will require a rhema—a specific, quickened word from the Scriptures, placed into our hearts and hands by the Holy Spirit. With a rhema from God placed in our hearts and hands, we have real sword power to use against the enemy!
A genuine rhema doesn’t have to be six pages long to be effective against the work of the devil. As Vegetius recorded in his history of the Roman army, all that was needed to kill an enemy was a mere two-inch penetration. Likewise, one very small rhema from the Lord has the power to do the adversary in!
The best example of this sword power of the Spirit is found in Luke 4:3-13. In this passage, Satan is the aggressor who is found attacking Jesus on repeated occasions. But Jesus doesn’t simply say, “Satan, get out of here.” Instead, Jesus stabs the devil repeatedly with direct blows! Jesus had a specific, quickened rhema from the Holy Spirit!
After the devil tempted Jesus with food, Jesus drew the sword that the Holy Spirit put in His hand (a rhema) and said, “… It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (v. 4). To this stabbing sword of the Spirit, the enemy had no response.
After offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship, Satan was wounded deeply by one rhema from the Master’s mouth. Jesus told him, “… It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (v. 8). To this sword of the Spirit, Satan had no answer.
Then Satan tried to tempt Jesus to prove His deity. But Jesus answered His adversary with a sword, saying, “… It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (v. 12). With one final stab, Jesus penetrated Satan’s armor and delivered an almost fatal wound—and at that point, Satan fled from the scene!
Like the Lord Jesus, you are equipped with all the armor of God, and this includes the sword of the Spirit. As long as you have this spiritual equipment, no battle is a real threat to you! Today if you will open your heart and listen, the Holy Spirit will place in your heart and hands the exact rhema you need to put the devil on the run!
Lord, thank You for giving me the sword of the Spirit as part of my spiritual weaponry. When the devil attempts to attack me, please help me be sensitive to hear the exact rhema that the Holy Spirit desires to drop into my heart with which I can then deal the enemy a fatal blow. Starting right now, I open my heart and soul to listen so I can hear any scripture or word the Holy Spirit wishes to give me to use against the works of the devil in my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I have the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and that this spiritual weapon is working in my life! I have the exact word I need for every situation—a specific, quickened word from the Scriptures, placed in my heart by the Holy Spirit. Because this rhema from God is in my heart, I have real sword power to use against the enemy!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him,” Psalm 37:17 tells us.
It sounds good in theory, but I have deadlines to meet! And work stacked up at the office! And interminable family and financial pressures! And an unpredictable business climate that could turn sour without warning! And daily association with unprincipled people who are ready to scalp me if I stumble or miss a cue!
So, how do I “rest in the Lord” ?
Perhaps this story will prove helpful: Herod, that egomaniacal Roman political puppet who oversaw Israel, executes James, the brother of John. (Mark 6:16-29)
Learning that his murderous act gained the approval of Jewish leaders, he throws Peter into jail, for “trial” — and certain execution. The night before his trial, we find Peter chained between two guards, asleep. Asleep! Or perhaps more descriptively, “Resting in the Lord.” (Acts 12:1-11)
Now if I were in Peter’s place, I would be lying awake pondering some fairly weighty questions:
Has the executioner had previous experience at his job, or am I his first try at it?
How is his eye-hand coordination?
What is going to happen to my family?
But not Peter! He’s asleep! “Resting in the Lord“!
My guess is that Peter, after innumerable false starts and failures, had learned a few lessons along the way about entrusting his life into the hands of his Sovereign God.
QUESTIONS: What circumstances are you facing today that call upon you to “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him“? (Psalm 37:7) Could they be any more extreme than Peter’s?
And when you get right down to it, isn’t “resting in the Lord” fundamentally a decision of the will to trust Him with our circumstances?… With our life? And isn’t our refusal to “rest in the Lord” an indication of our stubborn determination not to acknowledge Him as the Sovereign King of kings and the Lord of lords? (Revelation 19:16)
Are you, in your heart of hearts electing to believe God sovereignly has your situation well in hand? If so, then you, like Peter are experiencing evidence of that rest by an inner peace, the absence of anxiety, and a certain calm anticipation of the future.