VIDEO Angelic Mysteries – Let All Praise the Name of the Lord

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts! Psalm 148:1-2

We regularly learn about the discovery of an entirely new species of plant or animal found somewhere on the planet—often in the depths of the ocean or the heart of a jungle. When that happens, it reminds us of the mysteries of God’s creation over which we have been made stewards.

As well as mysteries on earth, there are mysteries in the heavens. Not complete mysteries, for we have been given glimpses in Scripture of what lies beyond our sight. Angels fall into the category of “known” but not “well known.” Angels exist for sure—they are mentioned nearly three hundred times in the Bible. But they are invisible to us (Jacob saw angels in a dream, but not while awake—Genesis 28:12), yet apparently all around us (Psalm 103:20; Hebrews 1:14). All appear to have been originally loyal to God, but some rebelled and fell from His presence (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9). They are invisible to us but innumerable before God (Revelation 5:11).

Someday all mysteries will be revealed. Until then, glory today in the wondrous works of God—including His angels.

Humility is the ornament of angels, and pride the deformity of devils.  William Jenkyn

Psalm 148: Let All Praise the Name of the Lord

Without Faith

Faith in active opposition to common sense is mistaken enthusiasm and narrow-mindedness, and common sense in opposition to faith demonstrates a mistaken reliance on reason as the basis for truth. The life of faith brings the two of these into the proper relationship. Common sense and faith are as different from each other as the natural life is from the spiritual, and as impulsiveness is from inspiration. Nothing that Jesus Christ ever said is common sense, but is revelation sense, and is complete, whereas common sense falls short. Yet faith must be tested and tried before it becomes real in your life. “We know that all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28) so that no matter what happens, the transforming power of God’s providence transforms perfect faith into reality. Faith always works in a personal way, because the purpose of God is to see that perfect faith is made real in His children.

For every detail of common sense in life, there is a truth God has revealed by which we can prove in our practical experience what we believe God to be. Faith is a tremendously active principle that always puts Jesus Christ first. The life of faith says, “Lord, You have said it, it appears to be irrational, but I’m going to step out boldly, trusting in Your Word” (for example, see Matthew 6:33). Turning intellectual faith into our personal possession is always a fight, not just sometimes. God brings us into particular circumstances to educate our faith, because the nature of faith is to make the object of our faith very real to us. Until we know Jesus, God is merely a concept, and we can’t have faith in Him. But once we hear Jesus say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) we immediately have something that is real, and our faith is limitless. Faith is the entire person in the right relationship with God through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.


Awe is the condition of a man’s spirit realizing Who God is and what He has done for him personally. Our Lord emphasizes the attitude of a child; no attitude can express such solemn awe and familiarity as that of a child.  Not Knowing Whither, 882 L

Transformed Into Jesus’ Image

Ephesians 5:1-21

As Christians, we are called to a high moral standard, yet we may feel as if we’re failing more than succeeding. Perhaps our language isn’t as pure as we know it should be, or we haven’t overcome some of our bad habits. It’s easy to become discouraged if we don’t understand what is hindering our progress.

Transformation begins in the mind, because the way we reason affects how we act. We can’t expect to progress in holiness if we’re undiscerning about what to allow into our thoughts. Paul admonishes us not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by renewing the mind (Rom. 12:2). We must make an intentional effort to fill our mind with the truths of God’s Word to ensure that we are counteracting the world’s messages.

The influence of others is another avenue by which we can be helped or hindered in our pursuit of holiness. If we associate with people who don’t share our standards, we could be tempted to compromise. Mature believers, on the other hand, can detect obstacles hindering our growth and point out adjustments we need to make. I was greatly impacted by the biographies of godly men like Oswald Chambers, Charles Spurgeon, and Dwight L. Moody. As I read, I would see qualities in their lives that I wanted in my own. These traits formed the basis for many of my prayers.

What kinds of thoughts fill your mind? Are you being influenced by friends, television, or social media more than you are by the Word of God? As the Holy Spirit helps you replace wrong thoughts with godly ones, your behavior will also be transformed.

Man’s Grief with God’s Compassion

“For the LORD will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:31-33) 

The five chapters of the unique book of Lamentations, written by Jeremiah in his grief over the destruction of Jerusalem, are all written as acrostics, with each verse of each chapter beginning with successive letters of the 22-letter Hebrew alphabet. That is, verse 1 of each chapter begins with the letter aleph, verse 2 with beth, etc. (like A, B, etc. in English). The middle chapter is written in acrostic triplets (the first three verses beginning with aleph, and so on). Thus, chapter 3 contains 66 verses instead of 22.

The three verses of our text are right at the midpoint of this middle chapter, comprising the final triplet of the first half of the book, and thus uniquely constituting its central theme. As such, it could well also be the heart cry of every saint in any age experiencing God’s chastening hand.

Although Jeremiah himself had not sinned, his nation had grievously sinned, and thus all Israel had finally come under the rod. Nevertheless, the prophet could assure his people that God still loved them and would renew His compassion even in the midst of their grief. God does not willingly send affliction, for He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

When we suffer, or our nation suffers (as it surely will if it continues its present rebellion against God), it is well to remember His promise. “He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever” (Psalm 103:9). It is true that “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). HMM

Put on the whole armour of God

Ephesians 6:11-24

We are about to read a peculiarly beautiful passage, in which the apostle represents the believer as a soldier, and urges hint to prepare for the battle by taking to himself all defensive and offensive arms.

Ephesians 6:11

Satan will assail every part of us, and therefore we need to be protected from head to foot, like the knights of old.

Ephesians 6:12, 13

If we fought with men we might be less guarded; wrestling as we do with subtle and spiritual adversaries, whose weapons are as mysterious as they are deadly, it becomes us to be doubly watchful lest in some unguarded point we receive wounds which will bleed for years.

Ephesians 6:14

A girdle of sincerity keeps the whole man in marching order, and braces him up to meet the father of lies. An insincere man is a loose man, and a loose man is a lost man,

Ephesians 6:14

This will guard the heart. The righteousness of God, imputed and imparted, will protect the heart, and blunt the edge of Satan’s temptations which he aims at the soul. Take notice that a breastplate is provided, but no backplate: we must never think of going back, we are bound to face the enemy, no provision is made for a retreat.

Ephesians 6:15

With a happy, calm, confidence, because the gospel has given us perfect peace, we shall march over the rough places of the way without becoming discontented or depressed. No pilgrim is so well booted and buskined as he who is at peace with God, his fellowmen, and his own conscience.

Ephesians 6:16

Faith, like a shield, covers all and is therefore important above all. Look well to your confidence in God, for if this fails all fails.

Ephesians 6:17, 18

He who is truly saved and knows it will wear a “helm of health.” The seat of thought and decision will be safe

Ephesians 6:17, 18

The Bible is a bright, keen, pointed, well-tempered weapon, for offence and defence, it cuts a way for us through all foes, slays sin, and chases away even Satan himself. “It is written” is the terror of hell.

Ephesians 6:17, 18

This weapon of all-prayer will often serve our turn when all others are out of our reach. So long as we can pray we shall not be overcome.

Ephesians 6:19-24

He winds up with good wishes and prayers. A Christian should be known even by his letters; when other men use empty compliments, he should abound in earnest prayers and holy wishes. Let us take note of this next time the pen is in our hand.


Soldiers of Christ, arise,

And put your armour on,

Strong in the strength which God supplies

Through His eternal Son:


Stand, then, in His great might,

With all His strength endued;

But take, to arm you for the fight,

The panoply of God.


From strength to strength go on,

Wrestle, and fight, and pray,

Tread all the powers of darkness down,

And win the well-fought day.


The Day of the Lord Is Near

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them. (Revelation 17:14)

The human race has always been quick to blame the world’s disasters, floods, famines, plagues on natural causes. But in the end of the age, when the final judgments of God begin to fall, how long will it be until people confess that there is another real, though invisible, force in operation?

Truly the wrath of God will leave no hiding place for sinning, alienated men and women!

John, in the Revelation, speaks of the mighty trumpets that will sound and the woes that will descend upon the earth. In my own view, I link these events to the dramatic period throughout the earth when the antichrist has prevailed by deception and force.

When God is finally ready to refine and restore the earth, everyone in heaven and on earth and in hell will know that no human laboratory could compound the fire that will be poured out on the earth. God has promised that He will not hide His wrath forever. He is prepared to speak in supernatural manifestations in that coming Day of The Lord!


Thorough Cleansing

“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” Ezek. 36:25

What an exceeding joy is this! He who has purified us with the blood of Jesus will also cleanse us by the water of the Holy Spirit. God hath said it, and so it must be, “Ye shall be clean.” Lord, we feel and mourn our uncleanness, and it is cheering to be assured by thine own mouth that we shall be clean. Oh that thou wouldst make a speedy work of it!

He will deliver us from our worst sins. The uprisings of unbelief, and the deceitful lusts which war against the soul, the vile thoughts of pride, and the suggestions of Satan to blaspheme the sacred name — all these shall be so purged away as never to return.

He will also cleanse us from all our idols, whether of gold or of clay: our impure loves, and our excessive love of that which in itself is pure. That which we have idolized shall either be broken from us, or we shall be broken off from it.

It is God who speaks of what He Himself will do. Therefore is this word established and sure, and we may boldly look for that which it guarantees to us. Cleansing is a covenant blessing, and the covenant is ordered in all things and sure.


VIDEO The Divine Commandment of Life – Be Perfect, Just As Your Father In Heaven Is Perfect

The Divine Commandment of Life

Our Lord’s exhortation to us in Matthew 5:38-48 is to be generous in our behavior toward everyone. Beware of living according to your natural affections in your spiritual life. Everyone has natural affections— some people we like and others we don’t like. Yet we must never let those likes and dislikes rule our Christian life. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7), even those toward whom we have no affection.

The example our Lord gave us here is not that of a good person, or even of a good Christian, but of God Himself. “…be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” In other words, simply show to the other person what God has shown to you. And God will give you plenty of real life opportunities to prove whether or not you are “perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Being a disciple means deliberately identifying yourself with God’s interests in other people. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

The true expression of Christian character is not in good-doing, but in God-likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit divine characteristics in your life, not just good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian’s life is that the supernatural becomes natural in him as a result of the grace of God, and the experience of this becomes evident in the practical, everyday details of life, not in times of intimate fellowship with God. And when we come in contact with things that create confusion and a flurry of activity, we find to our own amazement that we have the power to stay wonderfully poised even in the center of it all.


Jesus Christ is always unyielding to my claim to my right to myself. The one essential element in all our Lord’s teaching about discipleship is abandon, no calculation, no trace of self-interest. Disciples Indeed, 395 L

Be Perfect, Just As Your Father In Heaven Is Perfect


I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

What can we do without Christ? Nothing. What can we accomplish when we abide in Him? One man said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). What, then, does it mean to abide in Christ?

  • “A” stands for absolute surrender. We have to come to Him just as we are, confessing our sin and saying, “You are the potter and I am the clay.”
  • “B” stands for believe. We have to trust Him completely to do with us, for us, and around us what is very best while we stand on His promises.
  • “I” stands for insight. We have to pour ourselves into His Word each day, learning His ways and gaining His insights for living.
  • “D” stands for dedication. We have to persevere over time, separating ourselves from sinful habits and from people or places that may hinder our purity.
  • “E” stands for enthusiasm. We go about His work in the power and energy He provides.

Nothing takes the place of abiding in Christ, for everything depends on Him.

Let the Word create around you, create within you a holy atmosphere, a holy heavenly light, in which  your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life. Andrew Murray, author of Abide in Christ

The Gift of Disillusionment

Why being disappointed by your church may actually be a good thing.

The other day, one of my pastoral students came to me after class. “A few of us have been talking, and we have a question for you. Are you trying to discourage us?” It is not the first time I’ve heard this question. Discouragement is not my intention. I am aiming for disillusionment. I want to shatter my students’ romanticized notion of church life and replace it with one that is more realistic.

In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer warns of the damage caused by unrealistic expectations of life in the church. “Certainly, serious Christians who are put in a community for the first time will often bring with them a very definite image of what Christian communal life should be, and they will be anxious to realize it,” Bonhoeffer explains. “But God’s grace quickly frustrates all such dreams. A great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and if we are fortunate, with ourselves is bound to overwhelm us, as surely as God desires to lead us to an understanding of Christian community.”

Instead of an ideal community, what we get is the church as it really is.

This gift of disillusionment is not an easy one to accept. We tend to be idealists when it comes to the church. We would rather hold on to our dreams. But instead of an ideal community, what we get is the church as it really is. Not our delicate airbrushed fantasy of those who always act in love and speak kindly to one another, but a loutish, clumsy-tongued, rabble with dirty feet. God allows this, not to make us cynical, but for our own good. Disillusionment with the church and even with ourselves is a gift. Bonhoeffer cautions, “Only that community which enters into the experience of this great disillusionment with all its unpleasant and evil appearances begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it.”

The Art of Missing the Point

We are not the first to have trouble accepting this gift. According to John 13:12, at the Last Supper after Jesus had finished washing the disciples’ feet and put on his clothes, he returned to his place and asked, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” There is really only one honest answer to this question: We don’t. Not really. Oh, we get the point generally. How could we not, when Jesus answers his own question? The lesson is that Jesus sets the example. He washed the disciples’ feet, so we should wash one another’s feet. The servant is no greater than the master. It’s obvious when put that way, and it’s hard not to feel a little impatient with Peter. How could he be so dull? Who doesn’t get the point?

Yet every time I read the Gospel account of this event, I can’t help feeling like a dull student who watches as the teacher solves a complex math problem on the board, blinking in confusion but trying to look aware. It’s so obvious when the teacher does it. Simple. Elegant. Beautiful even. When the teacher is done, I say to myself: “That was so obvious!” Even I could have done that. I should have done that. But somehow, when I when I try to follow the steps by myself, something seems to break down.

What seemed so obvious in the awkward silence of the Upper Room is no longer so clear to me in the noisy tumult of regular life. It completely slips my mind as I stand on the train platform, ready to elbow the woman standing next to me so that I will win the commuters’ lottery and be the one who is standing directly in front of the train car door when it slides open.

A Misplaced Center of Gravity

“Do you understand what I have done for you?” Jesus asks. It turns out he knew the answer before he asked the question. Jesus warned Peter in advance that he would not understand what was about to take place. To our ears, Peter’s refusal to allow Jesus to wash his feet sounds like an improvement in the conversation. It seems admirable. Humble even. Only moments ago the disciples had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. But there is an edge to Jesus’ reply. Why does he rebuke Peter instead of praising him? You would think that he would have been happy to see that Peter recognized that there was someone at the table who was greater than them all. Peter was not putting on airs. He was entirely sincere. But he was also arrogant. The arrogant are always sincere. It is this sincerity which makes it so easy to be arrogant. We are convinced—unshakably convinced. And yet we are wrong.

Peter’s problem is not that he can’t see Jesus clearly. His problem is that he can’t see himself. He is too humble to let himself be washed, but too proud to do the washing. He hasn’t washed his own feet. He won’t wash the other disciples’ feet. And despite his conviction that Jesus is greater, he doesn’t even offer to wash Jesus’ feet. Peter’s objection looks like humility. It sounds like devotion. But it is really just narcissism and pride attempting to disguise itself in the rags of false humility. It may be pride in a different form, but it is still pride and just as deadly.

Pride is willing to keep company with any of the Christian virtues, if it can persuade us that we are the cause of those virtues.
“The devilish strategy of pride,” Dorothy Sayers writes, “is that it attacks us not on our weak points, but on our strong. It is preeminently the sin of the noble mind.” That is the way of pride. Pride is just as willing to encourage self-depreciation as it is self-congratulation. Pride will occupy a small space just as happily as a large one. In fact, pride is more than pleased to see us content ourselves with a small space, just so long as it can convince us that we are the center of that space. Pride is willing to keep company with any of the Christian virtues, if it can persuade us that we are the cause of those virtues. “Pride,” Sayers explains, “places man instead of God at the center of gravity.”

Living with Divine Disequilibrium

Disturbing the center of gravity is exactly what Jesus has in mind. Both for Peter and for us. He is creating disequilibrium. Putting everyone off balance. He has been doing it throughout the Last Supper and he’s not finished yet: “‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus answered, ‘A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you’” (John 13:9-10).

Peter tries so hard to say the right thing, yet somehow he keeps getting it wrong. It is hard not to feel sorry for him. Maybe that’s because we identify so easily with Peter’s experience. How many times have we rushed in, firmly convinced that we knew what Jesus was doing, only to come away mystified when we discovered that we had missed the point? We think we know what God is up to and try to help him along. Yet somewhere along the way the wheels come off our little plan. But not God’s plan. God is still acting. But from our point of view, he’s behaving strangely. Like Peter, we just can’t figure out what he’s up to.

The things God does and the things he allows to take place in the church seem wrong. God seems to answer wrong prayers all the time. Or else he seems to answer our prayers in the wrong way (Ps. 10:1; 44:24; 73:3). How many times have we found ourselves as astonished as Peter and saying along with him: “Lord, what are you thinking?” The truth is, when it comes to figuring out what God is doing in our lives, we are almost always wrong. We are wrong at least when it comes to the fine details of God’s plan. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” Jesus asks. No, Jesus. We confess that we don’t. Not really. We are just going to have to trust you and wait to see what you’re up to.

A Fellowship of the Unwashed

Still, why doesn’t Peter get the point? It is easy for us to see what Jesus is doing in his case, so what’s Peter’s problem? This is often the way: When it comes to someone else’s life or lesson, I know exactly what God is doing. I can tell them in a minute. It’s my life I’m confused about, not theirs. Peter misses the point because Jesus has layered in multiple levels of interpretation into his metaphor. Jesus had two ideas embedded in this particular lesson. The first was about being washed. The second was about washing. Those who want to have a part in Jesus must first be washed clean by Jesus. But those who have been washed are also called to wash one another.

By forcing us to live in real, messy community, God graciously frustrates our attempt to build elegant ministry structures which need neither his grace nor his power.

This is not an appeal to guilt, it is a statement of permission. It is a kind of liberation. Minutes earlier these disciples had been dreaming of glory. Reclining with unwashed feet and waiting to be served by someone else, they argued with one another about which of them was the greatest. By his actions, Jesus pointed them to a different path. Not to the high road of recognition, where each of us feels we must elbow the other out of the way if we are to make our mark, but to the low road of ordinary service. Few acts were more common in Jesus’ day than to wash the dust from someone’s sandaled foot. If Jesus can stoop, we too can stoop. By serving in such an ordinary manner, Jesus elevates every common act of service.

But if we follow the metaphor, we will find that Jesus is talking about more than the bare fact that we must serve one another. Jesus’ example calls us to a particular kind of service. It is a call to bear with one another. In so doing, Jesus reveals an important fact about life in the community of believers this side of heaven. Jesus reminds us that we who are the washed are also the unwashed. We are a community that has been cleansed by Christ’s word, but we are also a fellowship with dirty feet, and he invites us to be patient with one another’s failures and put up with each other’s shortcomings. In short, Jesus is calling us to forgive.

The Church as It Really Is

Jesus’ command to wash each other’s dirty feet shatters our idealized expectation of the church. Ours is not an inspired vision of the church as it might be. It is a fantasy of the church as it never was. This notion of the church that is free of mess, stain, and sin is as unrealistic as any airbrushed image of a supermodel. It is a view which confuses sanctification with perfectionism. Sanctification is the long process by which the Holy Spirit uses our real circumstances and the collateral damage caused by living in a sin-shattered world to shape us into the image of Christ. Perfection is sanctification’s ultimate goal, but it is one which will only be fully achieved in eternity.

Perfectionism is the opposite. The perfectionist’s version of the Christian life is an unrealistic expectation which hopes to avoid the fits and starts that come with the sanctification process. Perfectionism is an attempt to escape the long obedience of sanctification and smooth out the rough edges of our Christian experience. Perfectionism minimizes the damage that sin has wreaked upon us. The result is a Disneyfied vision of church life which has more in common with the Magic Kingdom than it does with the kingdom of God.

Reality is not a curse. When it is applied under the gracious hand of God, it is a remedy. Doing community in the real church helps cure us of our idealized notions of church, of our self-righteousness, and our judgmentalism. This is a judgmentalism that we often exercise not only toward the community at large but against ourselves. By forcing us to live in real, messy community, God graciously frustrates our attempt to build elegant ministry structures which need neither his grace nor his power. This fellowship among those with unwashed feet is a constant reminder that we are not a people who live by our wits, much less by our accomplishments. We are a people who live by grace and by promise. We are the church.

by John Koessler who serves on the faculty of Moody Bible Institute. His latest book is The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap (IVP).

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