VIDEO Spiritual Sight

Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. Psalm 119:18

Modern English dictionaries draw a general distinction between seeing and perceiving. Seeing is more the physical act of noting, detecting, or laying eyes on. But perceiving has more to do with understanding, discerning, or comprehending. Everyone with physical sight can see, but it takes more than physical sight to comprehend what is seen—to apply it for good.

The same can be true when reading God’s Word. If physical sight is all that is needed to profit from God’s Word, the psalmist would not have prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” It takes a humble, worshipful, willing heart to discern the wondrous truths God has given in His written revelation. Indeed, because of sin, God closed the spiritual eyes of the nation of Israel so they could not see and apply His truth (Isaiah 6:9-10). And their spiritual eyes were still closed in Jesus’ day, causing Him to speak in parables that only the humble could understand (Matthew 13:10-15).

God has wondrous things to show us from His Word. But we must yield our heart to Him in order to truly see them and let them change our life.

Faith is…the sight of the inward eye. Alexander MacLaren


An Exposition of Psalm 119, Part One

God’s Love Is Stronger

Love is as strong as death. Song of Songs 8:6

In 2020, Alyssa Mendoza received a surprising email from her father in the middle of the night. The message had instructions about what to do for her mother on her parents’ twenty-fifth anniversary. Why was this shocking? Alyssa’s father had passed away ten months earlier. She discovered that he’d written and scheduled the email while he was sick, knowing he might not be there. He’d also arranged and paid for flowers to be sent to his wife for upcoming years on her birthday, future anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day.

This story could stand as an example of the kind of love that’s described in detail in Song of Songs. “Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave” (8:6). Comparing graves and death to love seems odd, but they’re strong because they don’t give up their captives. However, neither will true love give up the loved one. The book reaches its peak in verses 6–7, describing marital love as one so strong that “many waters cannot quench [it]” (v. 7).

Throughout the Bible, the love of a husband and wife is compared to God’s love (Isaiah 54:5; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 21:2). Jesus is the groom and the church is His bride. God showed His love for us by sending Christ to face death so we wouldn’t have to die for our sins (John 3:16). Whether we’re married or single, we can remember that God’s love is stronger than anything we could imagine.

By:  Julie Schwab

Reflect & Pray

How do you feel knowing how much God loves you? What reminds you of His love for you?

Dear Jesus, thank You for loving me so much! Remind me of Your love each day and give me glimpses of it.

Don’t Fall for Satan’s Lies

Genesis 3:1-7

We’ve all occasionally fallen for a lie, whether it was something as trivial as false advertising or as serious as a scam that emptied a bank account. Whatever the trickery was, it can be traced back to the Father of Lies—Satan (John 8:44). And his most devastating deceptions are those that lead us into sin. This is why it’s vital to understand the devil’s pattern of deceit, which goes all the way back to the garden of Eden.

Satan’s first move was to entice Eve to doubt God’s Word, and his strategy was to ask, by means of the snake, “Has God really said … ?” (Gen. 3:1). People have been falling for this deception ever since. When they hear one of God’s clear commands, they rationalize that it’s not really what He meant or it doesn’t apply in their case.

Next, the devil directly contradicted God’s Word and impugned His character by denying that Eve would suffer any consequences for sin. Instead, the enemy promised her some amazing benefits if she’d eat the fruit. And this, too, is how he operates today.

When temptation comes, don’t believe Satan’s lies. Sin always has repercussions. Therefore, ask yourself if the temporary gratification of a wrong choice is worth suffering the consequences that are sure to follow.

Stunted Growth in Carnal Christians

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2)

The apostle Paul here makes a clear distinction between “spiritual” Christians, controlled and led by the Holy Spirit, and “carnal” Christians, still controlled by the desires of the flesh. A carnal Christian is a baby Christian. Baby Christians are a cause of great rejoicing when they are newborn believers, just like baby people. But if they remain babies indefinitely, they become an annoyance to hear and a tragedy to behold.

Each born-again believer needs urgently to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). That spiritual growth comes only through study of the Word, accompanied by belief and obedience. First there must be “the sincere [or ‘logical’] milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2), but that is good only for the first stages of growth. “For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14). Scripture encourages us to grow to maturity and then to continue growing.

Carnal Christians are not necessarily pseudo-Christians, although they should examine themselves to determine whether their profession of faith in Christ is genuine (2 Corinthians 13:5), but they should not be content to remain spiritual babes. Every Christian should be able to say with the prophet Jeremiah: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). HMM

No Joy Allowed

Luke 19:29-44

THE triumphant entry of our Lord into Jerusalem (Luke 19:29-44) and the subsequent cleansing of the temple abound in lessons for the individual heart and for the church. Christ must first enter the heart as King through acceptance by faith. As many as receive Him receive power to become the sons of God, even those who believe on His name. And this coming of Jesus into the heart means joy. We read that when He entered Jerusalem, the disciples began to “rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.” Of course the Pharisees objected and asked the Lord to rebuke His disciples, but He answered, “I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

The church today suffers with a joyless experience. Christ is not joyfully acclaimed as King. A noiseless religion is the order of the day: no shouting, no amens, no hallelujahs. If some brother does occasionally grow happy, there is a wail from the Pharisees. But our Lord approved it and still does. When He enters a heart to reign, if ever there was something to rejoice about, certainly that ought to set the joybells ringing!

We still have the same types and classes that existed in our Lord’s day. We call them by different names, but the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the common people, the lame and sick, the disciples, are with us. You will observe that our Lord dealt with them in different ways.

After entering Jerusalem as King, He next cleansed the temple. When He enters the heart, He next cleanses it. He is priest as well as king. The church needs a mighty cleansing, for it has become a den of thieves today. So do our bodies, the temples of the Holy Spirit.

Then we read that the blind and lame came to Him, and He healed them. To those who would desecrate God’s house He brought a rod of anger; but to the needy, He was love and tenderness. Once again there was joy, for we read that the little children were crying “Hosanna to the son of David!” and the Pharisees were sore displeased. They asked Him, “Hearest thou what these say?” It was too much emotionalism, too sensational for the temple! But our Lord replied, “Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise?” (Matt. 21:16).

It has ever been thus. God’s secrets have been kept from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes. It is the childlike who enter the kingdom (Matt. 18:3). And when these simple-hearted believers begin to rejoice, the Pharisees always grumble. The note of joy has gone from our churches. It had been so long since there had been rejoicing in the old temple that the Pharisees were horrified. If somebody would grow happy today in some of these molded and musty churches, it would startle some of the old bench-warmers out of their wits. There couldn’t be less rejoicing in many of our churches today if No Joy Allowed were on the door as you enter.

His entrance and cleansing still bring joy. When Philip preached in Samaria, there was an exciting time with demons coming out and souls being saved. I read, “There was great joy in that city.” It has always been so, and we shall never see sinners converted until the lost joy of salvation is restored.

The Word That Irritates

[If] My people … humble themselves … and turn from their evil ways, then I will … forgive their sin, and heal their land.—2 Chronicles 7:14

Most Christians never allow themselves to come too close to the deep thirst for God that exists at the core of their being, for if they did, they would be compelled to get in touch with their basic helplessness.

Why would we want to deny this? Because to recognize our helplessness puts us in a position where we have to repent of it—and that is something our fallen human nature pulls back from doing. Believe me, the one word that grates and irritates our carnal nature is the word “repent.” It is much easier to be given advice like: “Read more of the Bible every day,” “Add extra minutes to your prayer time,” or “Seize more opportunities to share your faith,” than to be told to repent. All these things I have just mentioned may be excellent in themselves, but more is required if we are to get in touch with our deep thirst for God.

We must repent!

But repent of what? Our stubborn commitment to independence, as well as the awful desire and practice of choosing to dig our own wells.

A passionate pursuit of God demands this. Believe me, no matter what we say with our lips, we will never begin to pant after God until we repent of the self-sufficiency that has made its home deep within our hearts. This, in my opinion, is the biggest single step we can take in our pursuit of God and the experience of having feet like “hinds’ feet.”

Prayer

Gracious and loving heavenly Father, help me to repent deeply. May I know at this moment a turning from self-dependence to God-dependence. I give You my willingness—now give me Your power. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 34:1-18; Jl 2:12; Lk 13:1-3

What was the central message of Jesus?

How does the psalmist express it?

The God Who Hides Himself

Isaiah 45:15

Elizabeth Browning, with a poet’s insight, said that every common bush was afire with God, but that the fact was unnoticed by the people who sat by it and just picked blackberries. In his poem The Kingdom of God, Francis Thompson says to the folk who think of God as dwelling “above the bright blue sky,” that this world is so full of spiritual truth and heavenly beings that if we turned over a stone or looked behind a tree we might start an angel flying.

God never openly advertises Himself in His works. An attitude of reverence and effort of mind are necessary if we are to become aware of God in the things He has made. Unlike ourselves, who wait for applause when we have done something well, God does not bow about upon the stage where His works are shown, waiting for us to praise Him. He paints the wayside flower and lights the evening star and leaves them to be His silent witnesses. He places His song in the throats of singing birds, in the sound of waterfalls and streams, and in the crash of heavy seas against cliffs and hides behind them all.

If only He would do something dramatic and make us all see Him! When Jesus Christ was here in human form He said “No” to the temptation to win the people to His side by casting Himself down from the top of the temple, to be rescued by a company of angels, or by making stones into bread or by defying the strength of the spikes that fastened Him to His cross on Calvary and coming down from it. He does not work that way.

Men have always wanted a spectacular revelation of God. Even the prophet Isaiah seemed troubled about the apparent unwillingness of God to reveal Himself. “Truly you are a God who hides Himself,” (Isaiah 45:15) he said. In that expression, he brought out one of the deep mysteries of the Christian faith—a God who hides Himself.

Then came Jesus Christ, quietly, not in a great demonstration of power or majesty. Those with spiritual insight saw His glory. But a few years later He went away and was seen no more in physical form. Why does He conceal Himself? Because the Christian life is essentially one of faith, with lessons of trust to be learned which could not be gained in any other way.

When it is necessary God, standing within the shadows, will reveal His presence. Though unseen, all through life’s journey He is near us.

James Morgan, Nature Speaks