You…put my tears into your bottle; are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8
In the ancient world, certain bottles were called “tear catchers.” They were made from brown glass and were used in Ancient Persia during funerals to collect the tears of mourners. In Rome, mourners filled small bottles with tears and placed them in the tombs as symbols of respect for the deceased.
Perhaps David had something like that in mind in Psalm 56. According to the heading of the Psalm, he was running from King Saul and had ventured into Philistine territory where he’d been captured. We know he wrote Psalm 56 as an emotional plea to God for help, saying, in effect, “Lord, you see my every tear as though it were filling a bottle in your all-loving heart.”
Some who are reading these words are filled with grief over a loss or a difficult matter. The tears are flowing. We all know what that’s like. But so does the Lord, for Jesus Himself wept. No tear is ever unnoticed by Him who will one day wipe them from our eyes. He is engaged with your burdens.
As the blood of His saints and their deaths are precious in the sight on the Lord, so are their tears—not one of them shall fall to the ground. Matthew Henry
Psalm 56 • When people trample on your life
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
During her ministry to men incarcerated in South Africa’s most violent prison, Joanna Flanders-Thomas witnessed the power of Christ to transform hearts. In Vanishing Grace, Philip Yancey describes her experience: “Joanna started visiting prisoners daily, bringing them a simple gospel message of forgiveness and reconciliation. She earned their trust, got them to talk about their abusive childhoods, and showed them a better way of resolving conflicts. The year before her visits began, the prison recorded 279 acts of violence against inmates and guards; the next year there were two.”
The apostle Paul wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). While we may not always see that newness expressed as dramatically as Flanders-Thomas did, the gospel’s power to transform is the greatest hope-providing force in the universe. New creations. What an amazing thought! The death of Jesus launches us on a journey of becoming like Him—a journey that will culminate when we see Him face-to-face (see 1 John 3:1–3).
As believers in Jesus we celebrate our life as new creations. Yet we must never lose sight of what that cost Christ. His death brings us life. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Reflect & Pray
How has Jesus’ transforming work been evidenced in your life? What areas of your life are still in need of that “new creation” impact?
Loving Father, thank You that, because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, I am a new creation. Forgive me for the times I return to the old things that need to pass away.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Upon completing our education, most of us are relieved not to have any more tests. However, our testing days are not quite over, because God has a final examination of sorts for believers. And just as we needed to study to demonstrate scholastic progress, we should also be preparing for the day when the Lord assesses our life.
Although believers won’t be judged for their sins since Jesus bore them on the cross, we are nevertheless accountable to God for how we have lived since salvation. We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to have our works evaluated for the purpose of rewards. Some of the deeds that we thought were good will be found worthless by the Judge who knows our motives, whereas others will be rewarded.
There are many factors by which the Lord evaluates our lives, and His knowledge of every detail is absolute. We will have no excuses for wrong motives or wasted time and opportunities. Therefore, we should live in light of eternity every day of our life, seeking to please the Lord with our thoughts, motives, words, and deeds
“And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.” (Isaiah 22:22-23)
This prophecy was originally applied to Eliakim, the keeper of the treasuries in the reign of King Hezekiah. The wearing of the key to the treasuries on his shoulder was symbolic of authority. Isaiah, in fact, had used this same symbol in his great prophecy of the coming Messiah, saying that “unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6).
Eliakim thus became a type of Christ in his capacity to open and shut doors with his special key. The Lord Jesus quoted from this passage in His promise to the church at Philadelphia: “These things saith…he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Revelation 3:7-8). This strong assurance has been a great bulwark to many who were trying to maintain a true witness during times of opposition and suffering.
But Eliakim was also called “a nail in a sure place,” and in this also he becomes a wonderful type of Christ. Eliakim was trustworthy in his office, and so is Christ. The nail in a sure place speaks of stability in time of trouble, as Ezra later said: “Now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God…to give us a nail in his holy place” (Ezra 9:8). Eventually, of course, Eliakim’s nail had to be removed (Isaiah 22:25), but never that of Christ, for He is “an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:19) who will never fail. HMM
And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
Although the human mind stubbornly resists and resents the suggestion that it is a sick, fallen planet upon which we ride, everything within our consciousness, our innermost spirit, confirms that the voice of God is sounding in this world—the voice of God calling, seeking, beckoning to lost men and women!…
Sacred revelation declares plainly that the inhabitants of the earth are lost. They are lost by a mighty calamitous visitation of woe which came upon them somewhere in that distant past and is still upon them.
But it also reveals a glorious fact—that this lost race has not been given up!
There is a divine voice that continues to call. It is the voice of the Creator, God, and it is entreating them. Just as the shepherd went everywhere searching for his sheep, just as the woman in the parable went everywhere searching for her coin, so there is a divine search with many variations of the voice that entreats us, calling us back. EFE003, 008
Thank You, Father, for Your grace that continues to call so patiently. Lord, You’re calling some today with whom I could have the privilege of sharing the gospel. Give me a sensitivity today to opportunities where I might be Your human voice. Amen.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
—1 Corinthians 13:13
While the all-important distinction between the human and the spiritual love of Jesus is one that must be discerned, and one which can scarcely be explained, we yet venture to point out some marks which may distinguish the two.
Reverence, for one thing, will always be present in the heart of the one who loves Christ in the Spirit. The Spirit gives a holy solemnity to every thought of Jesus, so that it is psychologically impossible to think of the true Christ with humor or levity. Neither can there be any unbecoming familiarity. The Person of Christ precludes all such.
Then, self-abasement is always found in the heart that loves Jesus with true spiritual love. When Paul saw Jesus, he fell on his face. John fell down as dead, and every soul that ever saw and felt the terror and wonder of His glorious Presence, has known some such experience of self-abasement.
It is most important that we know whether our relation to Jesus is divine or human. It will pay us to find out now. NCA032-033
Love is the loveliest thing in this world and the thing that speaks most for God in your life. Everybody can understand it. WL007
The writer of Ecclesiastes gives us one of the sublime statements of the Bible about God’s creative handiwork: “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecc. 3:11).
It is mind-boggling to contemplate the beauty and majesty of God’s creation. Our world is one of extravagant beauty and marvelous design. We live under star-strewn skies, are greeted each day with the grand spectacle of a sunrise, walk among the exquisite beauty of flowers and songs of birds and know the restless tides of oceans and the towering grandeur of mountains. These and countless wonders all about us render us fabulously wealthy with the endowments of our Creator.
The text also brings us one of the unexpected summits of this book: “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
All around us God has put intimations of our immortality. He has planted within us an unrelenting intuition to see beyond temporal horizons and press beyond the limits of the finite. A sense of destiny haunts us. Eternal forces ripple in our blood. Immortal cadences echo in our ears. Sublime visions flash upon the screen of our imagination. Eternity beckons as deep calls unto the depths God has put in our souls.
With Francis Thompson, from his haunting “The Hound of Heaven,” we hear the sound of a distant trumpet: “Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds/From the hid battlements of Eternity.”
Augustine summarized this longing and homesickness of the soul: “O God, You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.”
“Eternity is at our hearts,” wrote Thomas Kelly, “pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life.”
May we yield to this Light within who brings radiance and joy and fullfillment.
Henry Gariepy, Wisdom to Live By