Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Resting On The Promises

One of my all-time favourite hymns is:

Standing On The Promises
(Hymn by R. Kelso Carter)

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Chorus:
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

But there is something even better than standing on the promises...

2 Chronicles 32:6-8 And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

Reading 2 Chronicles last week, my attention was arrested by this passage above, and I was pondering its meaning. The word rested here means: to prop (literally or figuratively); reflexively, to lean upon or take hold of. King Hezekiah, a sold-out servant of the Lord, exhorted his people not to fear their enemies, not to fear the invading armies, but to trust in the Lord to deliver them. He comforted them by his faith in the Lord his God. And because of his trust and assurance in God to deliver them, the people rested on Hezekiah's words - they leaned upon and took hold of what he said, and it brought them comfort. Their minds were filled with peace, not fear, dread or alarm.

Hezekiah was just a servant of the Lord, delivering to his people what the Lord would have him say. Do we lean upon the Word of the Lord? When we are going through trials, do we lean upon God's Word, and take rest in the fact that He is sovereignly in control, that He is watching over us, that He has a plan He is working out, and that He is hearkening to our prayers? When I read the reaction of the people to Hezekiah's words, I think of a little child, alarmed by some sudden fright, until the parent says, "Hush, child. Everything is alright." Then the child relaxes, and peacefully drifts back to sleep. Do you rest on God's Word, on God's promises, in the trials of life?

Isaiah 30:15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

Quietness means to repose. Webster's 1828 Dictionary gives these definitions of repose: To lay at rest; To lay; to rest, as the mind, in confidence or trust; as, to repose trust or confidence in a person's veracity; To lie at rest; to sleep; To rest in confidence. Webster's also gives this definition of quietness: A state of rest; stillness; Calm; tranquility; Freedom from agitation or emotion; calmness; coolness; as the quietness of the mind.

I like what Family Bible Notes has to say in regards to this verse: "They who, in times of trouble and danger, honor God with the full confidence of their souls, shall receive from him inward peace and comfort, and also outward deliverance, so far as their highest welfare requires it."

The sad thing is in this passage, the people would not listen to Isaiah's exhortation, and missed out on the quietness and confidence they could have had if they just rested in the Lord and in His Word. They wouldn't return (ie. repent), but rebelled against his preaching - but we can return to and cling to the Lord, we can rest in Him, and then we will have the spiritual strength we need to face our day by day battles.

So many speak about standing on the promises - which speaks of a steadfast, unmovable spirit, that won't move in the face of adversity or affliction - but I want the assurance and the peace that comes from resting on those promises!

Isaiah 32:17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

Here we see the same word for quietness, but there is also another word here that adds to the picture. Assurance: properly, a place of refuge; abstract, safety, both the fact (security) and the feeling (trust); often (adverb with or without preposition) safely. Trusting in the righteousness which only the Lord Jesus Christ can give us - and not our own - and doing righteousness (ie. living right, according to the Word of God) brings quietness and assurance. There is a hedge of protection placed around the child of God who is in the center of God's will, doing God's will - and that believer has a place of refuge to flee to, a security, a safe place to dwell.

Psalm 32:7 says Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Selah means pause and think of that. The next time you are surrounded by troubles and trials, stop and think about your Heavenly Father being your hiding place, about Him compassing (surrounding) you about. Then confidently sing a new song to Him and praise Him for His deliverance.

Romans 4:20-21 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

About 4000 years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Abraham (in one of His pre-incarnate appearances) and promised him that his child of promise would come within a year of that time. After years of waiting, Abraham is told the fulfillment of this promise would be very soon. Abraham believed God and trusted in His promise to him. Abraham trusted in the Lord God to give him a child when he was 100 years old, and the Bible says he did not stagger, he did not hesitate or falter in his belief - he was strong in his faith, trusting in God's promise, and gave glory to God for what He was about to do. Fully persuaded means: to carry out fully (in evidence), i.e. completely assure (or convince), entirely accomplish. He was fully convinced, completely assured that the Lord would carry out His promise, would fulfill His Word to Abraham. (See Hebrews 11:6) His faith in the promise made him strong, strengthened him even more.

Based on this passage, I am sure we could say that Abraham rested in the Word of the Lord. How about you? Are you resting in and on the promises that you find in God's Word? Every promise always has two parts: our part and God's part. If we do our part of the promises, God is ALWAYS faithful to keep His! Just like the Lord Jesus Christ kept His promise to Abraham all those years ago, we can have the assurance today He will do the same. (See Hebrews 13:8)

1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Now that we know we can rest on His promises, rely on the Lord Jesus Christ to keep His Word, here is an interesting passage about claiming the promises through prayer. Yes, we are exhorted to rest on the promises that we already know have been given to us - but here is an encouragement to search out more and confidently claim them by faith!

Resting on the promises is not passive, but active. We need to search out Bible promises and principles (like hidden treasures), find out which ones fit the situations we find ourselves in, and then boldly come to the throne of grace and claim them. After we have claimed those promises, we can rest upon them - being fully persuaded that the Lord will keep His Word to us!

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Better yet:

Resting, resting,
Resting on the promises of God my Savior;
Resting, resting,
I’m resting on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of God...
...Then resting there...


May 30th/06
Jerry Bouey

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hidden Treasures From Proverbs 2

My best friend since I got saved is a man named James Strong. I met him about two or three years after I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ. He really helped me find verses in the Bible - to find those passages where I could just remember some of the words but not the references, gave me oodles and oodles of verses to look up on any subject I could think of. Then later, he even taught me how to find the definitions for each word in my King James Bible. That was such a help! In fact, to this day, he has been my most consulted Bible resource - not the man himself, but a book he put together: Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. Not only can you use it to look up any word in the Bible, find out EVERY place that word is used, but you can also find the basic definitions for every word in the underlying Hebrew and Greek text and the range of meaning when translated into English. To this day, I can honestly say his concordance (whether in book format or as part of a Bible program) has been THE most helpful resource I have ever come across for studying God's Word.

Just me, my Bible, and my Strong's - a friendship that has lasted for years and promises to endure for as long as I am sojourning down here. Here are some neat word studies from Proverbs chapter 2.

Proverbs 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

The word hide here is Strong's #6845, which means: to hide (by covering over); by implication, to hoard or reserve; figuratively to deny; specifically (favorably) to protect, (unfavorably) to lurk.

Solomon's advice to all believers is to hide God's Word in our hearts - to hoard it and protect it. God's Word is a valuable treasure!

2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Incline means: to prick up the ears, i.e. hearken. Are you paying attention when you hear or read God's Word? Are your ears pricked up, ready to glean the wisdom God has for you? It is not enough to know knowledge and information; wisdom is the right use of knowledge. Basically, it would be knowing how a particular truth or Biblical principle applies to a specific situation. When the Lord gives you understanding of His Word, do you heed it, do you apply it to your life?

3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

Criest has the idea of accosting a person met; to call out to. When you pass someone in the street and you recognize them, you turn to call out after them and seek to get their attention, lifting up your voice so you could be heard over the crowd. Voice means: to call aloud. You don't keep silent - you call out until they hear you. Is that your attitude towards knowledge and understanding from God's Word? Do you call out to the Lord until He answers you by giving you the understanding of what you are reading?

4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Seekest: to search out (by any method, specifically in worship or prayer); by implication, to strive after. Do you prayerfully read the Word of God, worshipping the Author as you hear Him speak to you? Do you strive after His Word and value it as you would silver? Hid treasures: a secret storehouse; hence, a secreted valuable (buried). Did you get that? Hidden treasures! The Bible is chock full of hidden treasures waiting to be found, precious stones waiting to be mined out and stored in your heart. (Hm, that reminds me of Matthew 13:52 and my comments on it last week: Gleanings From God's Word.) Do you "search the Scriptures" for this hidden treasure?

5-6 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

If you value the Word of God and search it diligently to learn what the Lord would teach you through His Spirit, THEN you will understand the fear of the Lord (reverence and awe toward Him), THEN you will find the knowledge of God, THEN the Word of God will open up to you and His wisdom and knowledge will be yours to glean and apply.

7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

Layeth up - Strong's #6845 again. The Lord has stored up sound wisdom for you in His Word, waiting for you to seek and search for it. This wisdom is for the righteous - those who are saved, who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Also notice how the word layeth is in the present tense ("eth" ending); that means that He continually lays up sound wisdom for you! It is ALWAYS there for the taking (all you need to do is ask! See James 1:5). God is a buckler - a shield - to them that walk uprightly. Not only do you need to be saved, but you need to be walking according to His Word and in right fellowship with Him in order to glean this wisdom and have the Lord Himself as your shield.

8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.

Keepeth: Strong's #5341, to guard, in a good sense (to protect, maintain, obey, etc.). Paths: Strong's #734, a well-trodden road (literally or figuratively). Preserveth: Strong's #8104, properly, to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard; generally, to protect, attend to, etc. Way: a road (as trodden); figuratively, a course of life or mode of action. When you walk in the fear of the Lord (see 1:7), He continually guards your paths, He continually protects you as you travel the well-trodden road He has called you on. The Lord continually has His hedge of protection around the child of God (saint) that is seeking the Word of God and doing the will of God. Let's stay on His paths! (See Isaiah 35:8)

9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.

Path: #4570, a track (literally or figuratively). When you walk in the light of God's Word and in the fear of the Lord, you will find out the good paths He would have you take. (See also Romans 12:1-2, that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.)

10-11 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

When wisdom abides in your heart, and knowledge is pleasant (acceptable and sweet) to your soul, not only will God Himself keep and preserve you (verse 8), but His Word hidden in your heart will also preserve (#8104) and keep (#5341) you.

What will God's Word keep you from? There are two things specifically mentioned in this chapter - notice how each of the following sections begin the same way:

12-15 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths (#734) of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths (#4570):

Deliver: to snatch away. God and His Word will snatch you away from the way (#1870) of the evil man. This is the same word as used in verse 8. God will keep the way of His saints - those whose course of life or mode of action is to do righteousness, and protect you from the way of evil men - those whose course of life or mode of action is perverseness and wickedness. When you are determined to stay on God's paths, He will keep you from the path of the wicked, who walk in darkness.

Darkness: the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively, misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness. Proverbs 4:18-19 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. What a contrast!

16-19 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths (#4570) unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths (#734) of life.

The Lord will also deliver (same word) you from the strange woman - this means an adulteress, the woman who forsakes her God and the husband of her youth. Those who follow her go down to death - the fear of the Lord and God's Word will snatch you away from that destructive path and instead lead you to paths of life!

And lastly, what will walking in the fear of the Lord and in the wisdom of God lead you to?

20-22 That thou mayest walk in the way (#1870) of good men, and keep (#8104) the paths (#734) of the righteous. For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.

Walking in wickedness and rebelling against God's Word will lead to death, being cut off from the earth and rooted out of it. BUT being perfect (spiritually mature) and walking in the wisdom from the Word of the Lord will lead to the way of good men (the course of life or mode of action that godly brethren have walked before us - like the apostle Paul exhorting believers to follow him as he followed Christ, so too are we to follow the example of other godly believers, to walk in their steps). This course of conduct will lead to life, to dwelling long in the land, to having God's blessings and leading day by day. Definitely some hidden treasure worth crying out for!

Receive my words...
Hide my commandments...
Incline thine ear...
Apply thine heart...
Cry after knowledge...
Lift up thy voice for understanding...

Seek... Search... Understand... Find!

Treasure indeed!

Footsteps Of Faith

Order my footsteps in Your Word -
Teach me where You'd have me to go.
Make me willing to walk in Your ways -
Lead me onward in this path below.

Enlarge my footsteps, let not my feet slip -
Help me to walk in Your ways with care.
Guide me through the straits of this world -
"Let me not falter", is my earnest prayer.

Number my footsteps, and count them all -
Show me the path my spirit has trod.
Open my eyes and cleanse my heart -
Lead me onward in the ways of God.

Direct me in my Saviour's footsteps -
Teach me with patience to run this race.
Let me learn from the example of Jesus -
Let me follow in the footsteps of faith.

Poem written May 16th/03
Devotional written May 27th/06
Jerry Bouey

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mustard Seeds And Mountains

Matthew 17:19-21 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

As a younger believer I remember reading passages like the one above and thinking that if I only believed strong enough, I could move mountains. I did not have a clue that the Lord here wasn't referring to literal mountains - and I do remember praying once or twice for some small mountains to just move a little bit... Nothing happened. Then in studying out the Bible and church history, I realized no one in the history of the world ever moved a literal mountain by faith - so what exactly did that verse mean?

In the context of prayer and moving mountains, the mountains are the difficulties in each believer's life, those vast towering rocks that loom above us, dismaying us, hindering us. Jesus said that even if we had the smallest amount of faith (that means claiming some Bible promise or principle from His Word - Romans 10:17) about something, we can pray about it in confidence, and if it is the Lord's will that mountain will be moved.

Verse 21 is removed in some modern versions - which is not surprising, considering that Jesus here gives fasting (with prayer) as one of the ways to defeat Satan in our lives. The Devil certainly does not want you resisting him and praying for the mountains that he put in your life to be moved out of the way!

Luke 17:5-6 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

Here the disciples are asking for more faith - and Jesus tells them they just need a little bit, as much as a mustard seed - which is the smallest among seeds. It is not the amount of faith that moves the mountains hindering us, but the source of the faith (the Word of God) and the object of the faith (The Trinity: God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit).

Mark 11:22-24 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Matthew 21:21-22 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

What makes this tiny bit of faith so effective? Because it is a faith that relies on the Lord, that trusts in His Word, and that seeks to do the will of God. If God wants that mountain out of my way, then I will pray that He moves it, and have the assurance that He is moving it in His time and in His way - but faith claims His promises and expects Him to act upon then when I do my part. My part here is to believe that He will do what He said He would!

Charles Spurgeon said, "Prayer moves the arm that moves the world."

Zechariah 4:6-7 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.

After the Babylonian captivity, some of the leaders of Israel sought to rebuild the temple - yet were hindered by many difficulties, the greatest of which was some of the surrounding nations who sought to hinder their construction of it. But it was the Lord's will that His temple be rebuilt, so He gave the exhortation which we read in Zechariah. Basically God said to this leader of His people: "It doesn't matter how much strength or power you have, I will move this mountain by My Holy Spirit - nothing and no one will be able to stop Me from doing so! Just keep trusting Me, and this mountain that is hindering you will be removed!"

Likewise, when I pray in faith, the Holy Spirit will work to remove the mountains that I could not remove on my own. It doesn't matter how much strength or power I have, what matters is the object of my faith. Is there a promise in the Bible I can stand on? Have I done my part of the promise? Then I can pray in complete faith, and look forward to God's Spirit moving that mountain into the sea! Not because I deserve it, but solely because of His grace.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

A bit of a hard hitting passage! In the context of spiritual gifts and abilities that God gave to His church, He tells us that charity (ie. love toward both God and man) is a more excellent way. If I had all faith - if I had all assurance from the Word of God - that it was God's will to remove all the mountains in my life and in the lives of others, and I prayed for Him to do so, but I did not have love, then I am nothing! What good is it if all my problems were removed but I left my First Love? Am I seeking to remove mountains because of my own selfishness, my own self-seeking, because my flesh desires to have it easy for a while? Then it is for the wrong reasons!

If I am asking the Lord to remove the mountains in my life because I love Him and want to be able to serve Him more, because I want to be used by Him in a greater capacity and that to do so I would need that particular mountain removed - if I truly believed that it was according to His will and that is what I am seeking more than all else, then I am praying in love. If I am pleading with the Lord to open the hearts and understanding of the lost and petitioning Him to remove those mountains hindering them from believing and receiving Gospel of Christ, then I am praying in love.

Isaiah 40:3-5 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Luke 3:4-6 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Isaiah 41:14-16 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.

Am I praying for those mountains to be removed solely for myself - because I want to impress others or want the glory for myself, or because I want to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in all I do? Because I want to be able to do more for His glory? Because I want more souls saved for His name's sake? Because I love Him and desire solely to be closer to Him and do His will?

Then those mountains will become molehills - or to use Scriptural language, those mountains will be moved into the sea, completely out of the way. How's your faith?

One final thought:

Sometimes the Lord is best glorified in our lives by the mountains (the trials, the difficulties) He has placed in our way. Why is that so? Because often it is the mountains that cause us to draw closer to Him, to cling to Him, to let Him have His way in our heart.

Song of Solomon 2:17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

Bether means "division." The believer's prayer here is not for the mountains to be removed, but for the Lord Jesus Christ to come leaping over the difficulties that divide us from Him; crying out in heartfelt prayer for Him to draw near. Which is better? No mountains - or the Saviour's presence between us and the mountains? I know which I would rather choose! With the Saviour's presence, working in me and through me, I have all the grace and strength I need to face the mountains, whether they are ever moved for me or not.

A Silent Prayer

When I lose sight of the goal,
and take my eyes off of the prize,
When all I can see are the mountains
that rise before my eyes,
When all I can feel are the waves
that come breaking over my soul,
Precious Jesus, I need Your touch,
to heal me and make me whole.

I've fought the good fight, at times it seemed rough,
I've kept the faith, even when it was tough,
I wish I could finish my course with ease,
but sometimes I waver in times like these.
My heart is weighed down and burdened with care,
Lord, I lift up to You this silent prayer.

Don't let me falter - let me be steadfast,
Give me a hope that will be sure to last -
A confident expectation that all will work out for good
Even when it seems there's no way that it possibly could.

When my own strength begins to fail,
Anchor my faith within the veil,
Where Jesus is.

Poem October 17th, 2001

The Answers Why

I asked the Lord one day why there were so many mountains in my life,
So much grief and heartache, so much trouble and strife?
I read His Word very carefully, looking for the answers why,
And deep within my soul, I heard His Spirit reply.

I am working all things out for your good;
Removing the debris that shouldn't be there.
There is so much damage that sin has done,
There is so much I need to repair.
There are works that I am doing - if you could only understand -
I am fulfilling all My promises according to My Plan.

The mountains are for reminding you of My goodness and My love,
The weakness is to cause you to lean upon My arms above.
Rest upon My provision, and trust that I will guide you along Life's way,
And rejoice in My grace and mercy that will lead you safely Home one day.

There's a work I am doing inside your very heart,
So one day up in glory, My likeness to you I will impart;
So don't fret about the things that you don't understand,
Just trust my eternal wisdom, and know it's all according to My Plan.

Poem December 20th, 2002
Devotion May 24th/06
Jerry Bouey

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Shadows Flee Away

Some of my favourite Scriptures. In times of darkness and gloom in our lives, Jesus is still the Light that shines bright! Several of these verses refer to our Heavenly Father, rather than Jesus Christ, but I wanted to include them too.

Numbers 24:17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

2 Samuel 22:29 For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.

2 Samuel 23:4 And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.

Psalms 18:28 For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalms 36:9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

Psalms 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

Song of Solomon 2:17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

Song of Solomon 4:6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

Isaiah 2:5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Isaiah 60:19-20 The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.

Micah 7:8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.

Malachi 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

Matthew 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

Luke 1:78-79 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

John 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1:9 That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

Acts 13:47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

2 Corinthians 4:4, 6 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them... For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Revelations 2:28 And I will give him the morning star.

Revelations 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

Revelations 22:16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

The Shadows Flee Away

I am waiting, hoping, praying, for the coming of that day
When the Lord shall come from Heaven, and the shadows flee away.

There is darkness looming around me, and the fears and doubts dismay
But the Morning Star lights up the gloom, and the shadows flee away.

When I feel I cannot go on, and my prayers fade away,
The Lord lifts me from my despair, and the shadows flee away.

Walking through the fire and the flood, the Lord holds the night at bay
My hope is renewed, my Saviour comes, and the shadows flee away.

God's promises light up my heart, and I find strength for this day,
Comfort comes from my Beloved, and the shadows flee away.

Even when I am faithless, and I don't have the courage to pray,
Jesus comes, like I knew He would, and my shadows flee away.

Poem December 30th/03
May 22nd/06
Jerry Bouey

For a list of studies that use the Song of Solomon as the springboard:

Song Of Solomon

Friday, May 19, 2006

Jesus - The Sinner's Surety

Tonight I had an opportunity to preach on a passage of Scripture that has, for years, been a blessing to me.

As many of us are familiar with the events of Joseph's life and the situation with his brethren, I will just recap it here, but would encourage you to reread it to refresh your minds. Jacob married two sisters, and between them and their concubines had a total of twelve sons. He had two sons by his favourite wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. In Genesis chapter 37, we learn that Joseph has become the favoured son of Jacob, because of being the elder of the two sons by his favourite wife - especially considering that his wife was no longer living. There certainly was a special place in his heart for those two sons - out of all twelve of his male children. Jacob sends Joseph out to check on the ten older brothers. Because of their jealousy toward him, they plot to kill him when they see him coming, but, as it turns out, instead decide to sell him into slavery to Egypt.

So seventeen year old Joseph is separated from his family by his cruel brothers, and eventually spends the next thirteen years both in slavery and partly in prison as the events of his life unfolded. When he was thirty, Pharaoh had a dream which only Joseph (through wisdom given by God) could interpret. God used Joseph to save the nation of Egypt from the seven year famine that was to come by storing up grain during the seven years of plenty. Two years into the seven years of famine, Joseph sees his brethren again for the first time in twenty-two years. Joseph is now thirty-nine years old. He wonders have they changed, or are they still as evil and selfish as they were all those years before? He devises a test to determine whether his brethren have changed at all - without revealing himself or his true intentions to them. This test and the events surrounding the famine are recorded for us in Genesis chapters 41-44.

He accuses them of being spies, sent out to spy out the land of Egypt. Of course they protest this accusation. He throws them into prison and overhears them (without their knowledge, as they think he could not speak their language) discuss their regrets of selling their brother years before and how they now felt it was God's payback for their evil deed (see 42:21-23). He agrees to hold Simeon in prison and let the other nine brothers go on the condition that they prove their testimony about their family by bringing back their youngest brother, Benjamin. They go back to the land of Canaan, where Jacob refuses to let Benjamin go - believing now that he had also lost Simeon, and was in danger of losing his youngest son by Rachel also, as he had lost Joseph years before.

But the famine progresses and eventually Jacob and his family are in dire need of more food. His son, Judah, pleads with him to let Benjamin go with them, as that is the only way that the governor of Egypt (Joseph, who had still not revealed himself) had agreed to sell them any more food.

Genesis 43:8-9 And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones. I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:

Here Judah gives his word to be surety for Benjamin, and Jacob finally agrees to his request.

Barnes, in his commentary, defines "surety" as "a bondsman; one who pledges his name, property, or influence, that a certain thing shall be done. When a contract is made, a debt contracted, or a note given, a friend often becomes the security in the case, and is himself responsible if the terms of the contract are not complied with."

Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines this word as "In law, one that is bound with and for another; one who enters into a bond or recognizance to answer for another's appearance in court, or for his payment of a debt or for the performance of some act, and who, in case of the principal debtor's failure, is compellable to pay the debt or damages; a bondsman; a bail."

Webster's also defines bondsman as "A surety; one who is bound, or who gives security, for another."

We are familiar with the idea of a security deposit. This is money taken as a pledge or security, money that guarantees payment if anything bad happens to the property being pledged for. For example, hotel and apartment managers will often take money for security in case the renter defaults on their rent or damages the room - this money is used instead to cover the expenses of the damaged room or to pay what the renter refused or neglected to pay so that the manager is not left footing the bill.

In a similar way, Judah pledged himself to be the surety, the security, the bondsman - the person who will bear the responsibility and cost - if Benjamin did not come home safely. He gave his word, stating that he would bear full responsibility if anything happened to Benjamin along the way.

1. Judah became the surety for his brother Benjamin - giving his word to bring him safely home again to his father.

As the story progresses, the ten brothers make their way back to Egypt and seem to be well-received by the governor. Joseph is overwhelmed to see his younger brother again. Benjamin was very probably only a few years younger than Joseph himself**, and their relationship was no doubt very close - as these two brothers were from the same mother; they not only shared the same family ties but the same grief, as Rachel their mother died giving birth to Benjamin. But this relationship was torn apart violently when Joseph was sold into slavery.

Joseph was not finished with his test yet though. He knew their consciences were awakened by the events of their last visit - he knew they regretted selling him into slavery and felt that God was punishing them through what had happened to them - but he wanted to see if they had changed. Were they still selfish and bitter, filled with envy and hatred, or had they learned to love one another? His plan unfolds.

Joseph gets his steward to hide a silver cup within Benjamin's sack, and lets the brothers leave. Then he follows after the men, and accuses one of their party of stealing the governor's cup. In their distress, the brothers make a rash statement which the steward modifies:

Genesis 44:8-10 Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks' mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord's house silver or gold? With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen. And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.

The governor doesn't want to kill anyone, but he demands that only the thief become his slave instead. The rest of the brothers can go free. Then the silver cup is found in Benjamin's sack, and the brothers are distraught. The steward leads them back to Joseph. Once there, Judah pleads with the governor, explains their situation, the grief this loss (of Benjamin) will cause to their father - proving that now this family was willing to stand up for and consider one another. Here is part of Judah's impassioned pleas to Joseph:

Genesis 44:31-33 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave. For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.

Here we see three more things Judah, as Benjamin's surety, promised to do in addition to bringing his brother safely home to his father, he also pledged to:

2. Take his place.

3. Bear his due punishment (in this case, imprisonment or slavery).

4. Endure the separation from his father, instead of his brother being separated. Judah pleaded with the governor to let him stay as a slave instead of Benjamin, so that Benjamin would not have to be separated from his father. Judah would take his place, face his punishment, bear the separation for him instead - so that Benjamin could return safely home to his father. As his brother's surety, he gave his word to do these things and bear the cost in his place.

After this test, when Joseph sees that the hearts of his brothers have truly changed and that they were repentant of their past treatment toward him, he reveals himself to them. Then makes arrangements to bring his whole family safely to Egypt, where they will be plentifully provided for during the rest of the years of famine.

What impressed me most about the story of Judah and Benjamin was how Judah's pledge of surety for his brother actually pictures Jesus Christ's pledge of surety to all believers:

Hebrews 7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

It interesting to note that Jesus, the Son of God and the Messiah, descended from the line of Judah. Just as Judah was the surety for his brother, even so Jesus is the Surety for His spiritual brethren. When a sinner repents of their sins and turns to the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, trusting in His shed blood and finished work upon the cross of Calvary, they are adopted into the family of God - becoming a child of the Heavenly Father AND one of Christ's brethren.

As the believer's Surety, Jesus promises to:

Take his place and bear his due punishment.
In fact, that is what He has already done for us when He died upon the cross for our sins. He already took the punishment that we deserved for our sins. His physical resurrection after three literal days and nights in the grave was proof positive that the complete penalty had been paid and was satisfactory to God the Father.

"Judah was willing to take Benjamin's place and separate himself from his father, but Jesus actually took our place and died for us on the cross, crying, 'My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?' (Matt. 27:46). He is our Surety and He cannot fail." (Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary - Pentateuch. Editor's Note: Scripture reference changed to the KJV.) Jesus Christ not only bore the due punishment for our sins when He died on the cross in our place, He also bore the separation from God the Father that our sins deserved - so that all those who place their faith in Him would never have to endure that separation eternally or even temporarily. He has promised never to leave us, nor forsake us. (See Matthew 28:20 and Hebrews 13:5)

Just as Benjamin's surety (Judah) pledged to bring him home safely again - despite whatever trials and tests may befall him on the way - even so, Jesus Christ, our great Surety, pledges to bring each of His brethren home safely to their Heavenly Father. What a wonderful confirmation of the doctrine of eternal security! Jesus won't fail this promise - His reputation is at stake! He has already taken full responsibility for all those that personally place their faith in Him, and He will not fail to keep His word to us! He saves to the uttermost - to the furthest extent, including bringing us safely home to Heaven, to dwell in His presence in the Father's house.

Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for being the sinner's Surety!

**(For consideration on Benjamin's age when separated from Joseph, see Genesis 45:12-14 and 46:21: Joseph was seventeen when sold into slavery, and Benjamin still remembered his brother; though separated for 22 years, Benjamin had already fathered ten sons by this point in time. If he was just a toddler when this separation occurred then he would not have been able to remember his brother after all those years, nor would he have been old enough to have had ten sons by one wife at this point in time. A careful study of the number of Jacob's family that went with him to dwell in the land of Egypt shows that each son of Jacob only had one wife, not multiple wives. Without getting too technical here, there were nine of his sons' wives that accompanied Jacob and his children into Egypt. Judah's wife had already died, and he did not marry Tamar, nor did she go with them into Egypt. Joseph married in Egypt, so that leaves nine of the other ten brothers with living wives by the time they moved to Egypt. See Genesis 46:26 and Acts 7:14 - 66 descendants of Jacob going into Egypt, plus the nine wives equals 75 altogether. Exodus 1:5 does not contradict these other passages, but gives a little more information: the number in Genesis - 66 from his loins - plus Jacob himself, Joseph and his two children - who were already in Egypt - equals 70.)

May 19th/06
Jerry Bouey

For more studies in Genesis (with Genesis as the springboard):

Genesis

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Children Of Your Father

One phrase that has intrigued me is found in the following passage:

Matthew 5:43-45 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

How does our loving of our enemies make us children of our Father in Heaven? In what sense does it do that?

I think a parallel passage opens up the meaning here:

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Manifest means to make apparent, make evident, make clear. Our love or lack thereof makes it evident whom we are children of - whether of God or of the devil.

The world cannot see God, but they can see the love of God through His children that are living in love:

1 John 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

God's love is perfected (ie. completed) in the believer that is loving one another.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

We prove to the world that we are Christ's disciples by our love for the brethren, BUT WE PROVE WE ARE CHILDREN OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER BY OUR LOVE FOR THE LOST!

Notice again what it says in Matthew five:

Matthew 5:44-47 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

It is not surprising when we can love those who love us in return; it is not surprising that a Christian could love another Christian brother or sister who reciprocates that love - but it is commendable and Godlike to do good towards and love those who hate us, to pray for those who despitefully use and persecute us. The world will not do this - they are just out for number one, considering only themselves, turning away in hatred from those who hate them in return. But the child of God is to be different, he is to be Christlike and godly (like God Himself), by loving the unlovable. If we stop to think about that, we would realize that is exactly what the Lord has done towards us! He loved (and still loves) us when we were unlovable.

Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

When we were at our worst, Christ loved us!! If we have then received that love by receiving that Saviour, should we not then reciprocate and be an example of that love to others - even to our enemies? Of course - that is what proves we are the children of God to the lost world. One of the testimonies that our church is most grateful for is the fact that in our community there are those that will say, "There is something different about that church. They are real - not hypocritical like so many of these other churches. They really care about others." This was spoken by a lost man who years before had no regard whatsoever for God or the things of God, or for His people. But he has noticed the difference in our church - and now that certain circumstances in his life are humbling him, he is now turning to those same Christians who loved him when he was at his worst (railing against them, being angry and hateful toward them, etc.). We are praying for his salvation, and do believe that given enough time, he will respond to the Gospel of Christ BECAUSE THE CHILDREN OF GOD AROUND HIM LOVE HIM LIKE GOD HIMSELF DOES!

Notice how that passage in Matthew five ends:

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Many people explain away this passage because they have let the religious world define one word in it - the word "perfect." They say no one's perfect and therefore explain this verse away - yet the word does not mean "sinless" in Scripture. When referring to a person, it means "mature, of full age, complete." We show our maturity in Christ, we show our growth in our walks with the Lord, when we are most like God our Heavenly Father. In this context here, we are mature when we are loving the lost and showing mercy to them the way God Himself does. (P.S. God never asks of His children what He will not or cannot equip them to do! We need to quit making excuses, and just choose to trust and obey God's Word!)

How about you? Does the lost world know you are a child of your Heavenly Father? If not, then it is time to grow up spiritually and be more like Him - it is time for me to grow up and be more like Him. Lost souls, like that neighbour living next door to our church building, need to see the evidence that God is real by our love toward Him. Perhaps then they will realize that our salvation is real, and would desire to have that same love, joy, peace... But they need to see the evidence first!

In this the children of God are manifest...

May 17th/06
Jerry Bouey

Gleanings From God's Word

One of my main goals for this blog is for it to be an exhortation to me to get in the habit of daily (or at least regularly) working on developing and writing out studies or devotionals, in a context that is not as formal - which will also give me the opportunity to comment on some passages or issues I have been studying or that have been pointed out to me. With that purpose in mind, here are two passages that I have been discussing and thinking about lately:

1) Matthew 13:52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

This is one of my favourite verses that I apply to preaching and teaching the Word of God. God says an householder is to bring forth things both new and old. I don't have a lot of sympathy for dry preaching, about the same old things - without any new insights into those passages. I cannot identify with someone who preaches the exact same message year in and year out. (I just heard about some youth conference in the States where the preacher preached the same message he did the year before!) Of course, if it was an evangelist preaching a series of messages as he travelled around to various churches, I would expect some repetition of messages (but not within each particular church though!), as he presents the series the Lord has given him - BUT except for some old evangelists I have read about, most evangelists that I am familiar with will present a new series every year. I am all for periodically going through the fundamentals of the faith in a series of messages, like a Bible conference, but I am referring to overall preaching style. If a preacher always rehashes the same old material they are not like the householder that Jesus was speaking of here.

Even when reemphasizing the "old" truths, there are always new ways to present it. I love preaching on the story of the Prodigal Son, for example, but I never preach it the same way twice to the same audience. When I have covered it again, I have tackled it from different angles. Those listening may reject the message from God's Word, but I don't want it to be because I am a lifeless preacher or because I present the same old thing they've heard countless times before. There is so much to choose from within God's Word - it doesn't need to be boring!

On that note, when is our Bible reading boring or lifeless to us? When we are not getting anything new out of it - whether new insights, new understanding, new principles learned to be applied, or even fresh reminders of old truths, newly impacted upon our own hearts. (Of course, sometimes we don't get anything out of the Word of God because our hearts are not right before the Lord and there is sin in our lives - but I am referring to when we come to the Bible without any known sin on our conscience, but we approach it carelessly or listlessly read it.) I try to make it a habit to not just read a well-known passage and come away with what I already knew about it before (ie. just skimming the surface), but to dig in, to look for what the Holy Spirit would teach me today from that passage of Scripture.

I am certainly not advocating new doctrine or sensationalistic preaching (ie. preaching to gain an audience, for itching ears, or to entertain) - but our study of the Word of God should always be fresh - we should always be teachable, studying and meditating on the Word of God (not just speed-reading our set number of chapters for the day), always gleaning new things to pass on to others, EVEN WHEN reinforcing the foundational truths. That is something I try to do when I teach and preach. I can emphasize the main truths of a passage and still bring out something new for consideration, something that the Holy Spirit pointed out to me when I was studying it out, presenting it in a manner that catches the listener's attention.

Perhaps I have not explained this in the best way, but hopefully you will understand what I am trying to say. Is your study and teaching/preaching of the Word of God static, dry, lifeless - or is there life to it? Do those listening to you catch your excitement and enthusiasm for God's Word, or do they "dwell in 'the land of nod' when they are in church" (phrase courtesy of J. Vernon McGee)?

Now back to Matthew 13:52. The definition of the word "treasure" as used in this verse means "the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up." I believe when we study the Bible, meditate on it, and memorize it, then we are storing up these precious promises and principles in our hearts.

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

What is in your heart? Good treasure from the Word of God? Are you storing those precious treasures in your heart and mind? Do you share those spiritual riches with others?

2) Matthew 10:24-25 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

In email discussion with a friend of mine in Australia, Pastor Buddy Smith, he pointed out the following insight on the above passage:

"Being under the Lord's authority is in verse 24, and likeness to Christ is in verse 25. In fact, the word for "enough" is the same word as "content" in Phil. 4:11, and "sufficient" in II Cor. 12:9. Ah, to be a disciple who is contented with my Master's sanctifying work as He makes me more like Him. That is enough for me!"

Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Is it enough for you to be conformed to the image of Christ, to be made like Him? Are you content with being like Jesus Christ in this darkened world?

Song of Solomon 2:1-2 I (Jesus) am the Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the Valleys. As the Lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.

1 John 3:1-3 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

1 John 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

May 17th/06
Jerry Bouey

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

So Amazed

I have to say, I really love the Word of God and how the Lord speaks to His children through it. It is a refreshing river always available for cleansing therein, a diamond mine that keeps on revealing precious stones, a tree of life whose leaves (pages) contain medicine for the healing of my heart, a balm of Gilead to soothe my wearied soul.

I love it when some precious truth that has impacted you in the past is reinforced anew when you come to the passage a year (or two or three) later. The promise, principle, proclamation, precept, profound truth is there waiting to be seen again, and waiting to be applied afresh to your heart and mind by the Spirit of God. I love that.

What am I getting excited about? Just another of my favourite passages (actually two with the same idea in it), about God's grace in our lives. The first one comes right after king David expressed his desire to build the Lord a house (Temple) - though that was not God's will for king David but for his son, Solomon, who would reign after him; yet king David is promised by the Lord that his kingdom would be established forever, and that God would bless his house.

1 Chronicles 17:16 And David the king came and sat before the LORD, and said, Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?

God chose king David's house and blessed David because of who God was. He was merciful and gracious and had a plan for David - and that plan amazed him - just as God's wonderful, abundant plan for our lives should amaze us! "Who am I?" No one - but thank You, Heavenly Father, for saving me and using me for Your glory and to further Your kingdom, to reach lost souls for Your glory!

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

The second passage occurs a little later in king David's life, when he is gathering material for the Temple that his son would build. God not only provided all the materials needed for its service, but also the willing hearts to prepare the implements.

1 Chronicles 29:9-13 Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.

1 Chronicles 29:14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.

1 Chronicles 29:15-17 For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own. I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.

I didn't want you to miss that verse above, so I separated it from the rest. Go back and read it again. Here we see king David amazed at the Lord's grace towards him. God was willing to use him to gather materials for the Temple - and in another passage we see that the Lord even gave him the building plans for the layout of the Temple - and his soul was amazed. He was so overwhelmed that praise flooded his soul and flowed forth. "Who am I?" No one - but I am so thankful that you saved me! So amazed!

Amazed... Amazing... That God would save a wretch like me, that He would have a plan for my life that is more fulfilling and blessed than I could ever imagine, and that there is still the glory of Heaven to look forward to. That's amazing!

So Amazed

Basking in Your presence at the start of the day,
I meditate in wonder and begin to pray.
“So amazed,” is all my raptured soul can say.
Who am I, Lord, that You would love me this way?

Once burdened by sins that my mind couldn’t erase,
Now, forgiven – in Your sight there’s not even a trace.
So amazed and awed by Your amazing grace.
Who am I, Lord, that You would die in my place?

At the mountaintop, at last, I rest from my climb,
Rejoicing in the soothing peace that I find.
So amazed, in Christ I have victory this time.
By staying focused on Him, steadfast in mind.

So amazed, Lord, by Your amazing grace,
So amazed, Jesus, that You died in my place,
So amazed by all the wondrous things that You do,
So amazed, my God, I’m so amazed in You!

Poem April 5th/02
Devotion May 16th/06
Jerry Bouey

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Prodigal's Return (Song)

I can't write music - but sometimes I just get a melody in my heart, and words flow to that tune. I woke up this afternoon with part of this song going through my mind - most of the time that happens, whatever song was there is lost as soon as the brain cells awaken fully. This time the first verse wouldn't leave me, so I kept hammering at it until I was satisfied. I hope it is a blessing to you. I love the story of the Prodigal Son.

The Prodigal’s Return

The Far Country could never satisfy,
Oh what a foolish soul I have been.
I’ve come to myself, and I wonder now,
Will my Heavenly Father take me in?

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned –
I have wandered astray for many days;
Now broken inside, I’m coming home again –
I’m so tired of my wayward ways.

My thoughts run faster than my feet can go –
What kind of reception awaits me there?
No, I won’t falter, I have to know,
“Will He receive me?” my only prayer.

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
No more wandering about in a daze –
Cleanse my heart, make me whole again,
Restore the joys of yesterdays.

What is that on the horizon?
Is that my Father waiting there?
A thousand thoughts hedge my ways…

But with arms opened wide,
He receives me to Himself;
My heart’s so filled with love and praise.

Like the Prodigal, I’ve come home again,
So tired of my wayward ways –
Now a peace within and a song of joy;
My heart’s so filled with endless praise.

My heart’s so filled with endless praise…

May 12th/06
Jerry Bouey

Luke 15:17-20 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

Reins - What's Driving You?

Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines "reins" as: "In Scripture, the inward parts; the heart, or seat of the affections and passions." Basically, it is what drives us. Like a horse can be controlled and directed by his reins, so our reins is what controls or directs us. What's driving you?

Here are some passages that use this term:

Psalms 7:9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.

Psalms 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.

Psalms 16:7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

Jeremiah 11:20 But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.

Jeremiah 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Jeremiah 20:12 But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.

Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Truly the Lord knows our hearts, He knows what drives us, what compels us, what makes us tick! He knows whether it is sin or righteousness that drives us, whether it is a desire to please Him or please ourselves that is our main motivation.

This is an Old Testament passage regarding the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice what guides Him:

Isaiah 11:5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

What is driving us? Is it thoughts of the Lord that possess us, thoughts of His Word that drive us, is it a desire to be close to our Heavenly Father? Or is it a desire to be rebellious, to go our own way, to put on a show with no real desire or heart for God behind it? What's driving you?

Psalms 139:13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

Proverbs 23:16 Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.

Jeremiah 12:2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.

Now, I am going to go somewhere else in these thoughts that seem unrelated, but in actual fact is quite related.

Do I serve the Lord out of duty or out of love? What's my motivation? What's driving me? How about you? What's driving you? (My thoughts here build a bit upon my blog from several days ago: Love - The Motivating Factor; and Love Versus Duty.)

Analysing this in my own life has been a real eye-opener. There are many times I have simply obeyed and served the Lord out of duty. I always wondered why so often I was like a leaky tire. You know the type - you get pumped up by some preaching, get all excited about doing something for the Lord (especially when you know it is incorporating or strengthening something in your life that should be there), start out good, and then eventually all the air is gone out and soon you are back to your old self. This momentary zeal never seems to last for long. I have learned that serving out of duty doesn't last!

This statement was posted in the thread where I was discussing this issue, in the context of the bondservant:

"I liken all of this to the slave who is set free and then decides that he loves his master and of his own free will decides to submit himself and become a slave again. He THEN is bound by duty that he FREELY chose because of LOVE. He loved, then he CHOSE, then he was DUTY-BOUND, all the while still loving his master."

Deuteronomy 15:12-17 And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day. And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee; Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise.

This passage (and the parallel one, Exodus 21:2-6) has intrigued me since I really learned what it meant and and what it pictured several years ago: Being set free, but choosing to remain as a willing bond servant to your master - even so, it pictures the believer being set free from sin and condemnation, and choosing to remain a willing bondservant to his Heavenly Master.

What is pictured in these passages is the bondservant - a servant/slave that is set free, and who willingly gives himself in loving service back to his master. In the New Testament, every time you read the word "servant," this is what is in view - the bondservant. And this is what the following verse is referring to - in light of all the Lord has done to save us and give us the victory in Christ, it is only reasonable to give ourselves back to our Heavenly Master in loving service to Him.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

In light of these discussions, and my prior thoughts/conclusions on this issue, I realize that I missed the boat before in some ways. It was duty that guided my reins, that drove me - and that left me lacking. Now I see that if it is love that guides my reins, I will fulfill all the obligations of duty, but the motivation will be completely different - my ability to please my Heavenly Father will be different. (See Luke 17:10) And from what I am learning and experiencing in my own life, true love for the Lord Jesus Christ doesn't run out like a leaky tire - it keeps going strong. It is what is driving me now, it is what is constraining and compelling me in my service for the Lord:

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

I am sure I have so far still to go, but I am learning.

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Previously, I wasn't sure how to tie all these passages that have leaped out at me lately (remember me stating that when God gets your attention in some area, you see that truth everywhere in Scripture?), but they all fit right here:

Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Galatians 5:13-14 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Hm, I just found this verse while I was copying the others that have impressed me lately:

1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

A breastplate guards our heart - the believer's heart is to be guarded by faith (trust and reliance upon God's Word) and love.

1 John 4:17-19 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.

I can honestly say there has been some major differences in my life when my motivation has been love - when these were the reins that guided and directed me, rather than simply duty. What's driving you?

May 12th/06
Jerry Bouey

For more studies on this theme:

Love - The Motivating Factor
Love Versus Duty

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Song Of The Altar

2 Chronicles 29:27-28 And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel. And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

Notice that it was when the burnt offering began that the song began also!

The burnt offering primarily pictures two things:

1) Jesus Christ's complete dedication and devotion to His Heavenly Father. He completely fulfilled the Law and was the perfect (unblemished, without spot), sinless sacrifice needed to die for our sins. (See John 10:17; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 10:10)

2) The Christian's complete dedication (or submission) of himself (or herself) upon the altar of service to the Lord.

This second usage is what Paul refers to in Romans 12:1-2:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Now, back to our passage from 2 Chronicles:

When the burnt offering was offered on the altar, the song began. I believe the picture here is that as long as we give ourselves fully to the Lord, there should be a song to the Lord - until the offering is consumed.

Ephesians 5:18-19 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Leviticus 1:9 But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.

Is your all on the altar? Is there a song in your heart to the Lord? Is your life a sweet savour unto the Lord?

Is Your All On The Altar?
(Lyrics by Elisha A. Hoffman)

You have longed for sweet peace,
And for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest,
Or be perfectly blest,
Until all on the altar is laid.

Chorus:
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
And have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.

Would you walk with the Lord,
In the light of His Word,
And have peace and contentment alway?
You must do His sweet will,
To be free from all ill,
On the altar your all you must lay.

O we never can know
What the Lord will bestow
Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul
He doth fully control,
And our all on the altar is laid.

Who can tell all the love
He will send from above,
And how happy our hearts will be made,
Of the fellowship sweet
We shall share at His feet,
When our all on the altar is laid.

Devotional written July 26th/04
Jerry Bouey

Kings And Chronicles

One thing I love to do when reading the Bible is compare parallel passages - seeing how they differ, noticing how they are the same, and discovering how they supplement one another.

For example, reading a good harmony of the Gospels gives a well rounded picture of the life of Christ, seeing how each passage (event, parable, sermon, miracle, etc.) fits into the overall account of Jesus' life. It is also interesting to see how they differ. Each Gospel presents Christ from a different perspective (with some overlap): Matthew presents Jesus as King of Kings; Mark as the Servant; Luke as the Perfect Man; and John as the Son of God. Each Gospel writer included material that reinforces the special emphasis the Holy Spirit wanted in their Gospel - and what is omitted also adds to the development of this picture. Every reading through of these books - whether reading them side by side or separately - always opens up the life of Christ a little more to our view.

The same thing can be said with reading the books of Samuel/Kings and Chronicles. For about half of the time I have been reading through the Bible, I have read these books side by side to see how all the kings and their reigns fit together, see how each event and person adds to the overall view, supplements it. But the last few times through these books, I have also thought to look for contrasts, noticing that Samuel/Kings focusses more on the kingdoms and families of the kings than does Chronicles - it seems to be more from a political or earthly view; whereas the books of Chronicles are focussing more on the spiritual aspects of each king's reign, especially in regards to the Temple and their walks with the Lord (or lack thereof!).

Just recently I was trying to figure out some differences, such as why Kings contains the repentance of Ahab and Chronicles contains the repentance of Manasseh - and why they were not both found in the same book. What I came up with (and feel free to disagree) is that Kings covers Ahab's repentance because that is the reason the Lord withheld His judgment on the Northern Kingdom until the next generation - He had mercy on Ahab and this resulted in his kingdom being spared temporarily. On the other hand, Manasseh's repentance AND salvation is clearly shown in Chronicles, and the book goes on to relate his spiritual condition and the spiritual changes he sought to make in the realm as a result of his true repentance. I'm sure there is more to glean from both those accounts, but this is just some of what I noticed this time through.

Tonight I noticed two things about king David's reign:

1) 2 Samuel 11 and 12 covers the account of David's adultery with Bathsheba, and then the consequences of David's sin.

2 Samuel 11:1-4 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.

The rest of 2 Samuel shows the outcome of this sin in the lives of David's children - Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar, Absalom takes his revenge and flees, later comes back and tries to take over the kindgom, resulting in his death, then his brother Adonijah later tries to usurp the kingdom as well. The problems in king David's family because of his sin and compromise, and the political manouvering of his children.

But when we come to Chronicles, all we see is this statement:

1 Chronicles 20:1 And it came to pass, that after the year was expired, at the time that kings go out to battle, Joab led forth the power of the army, and wasted the country of the children of Ammon, and came and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried at Jerusalem. And Joab smote Rabbah, and destroyed it.

The sin of David's adultery is not mentioned - it is forgiven and wiped away. (Remember Chronicles is dealing with the kings' reigns from God's perspective - looking at their reigns spiritually. David's sin in numbering the people IS mentioned, but that account was essential in laying the background for the Temple being situated where it was - on the site of the threshing floor of Ornan.)

2) The second difference I noticed this time through was in the accounts regarding God's covenant with David and his kingdom.

2 Samuel 7:11b-16 Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.

In the passage quoted above, God refers to David's immediate seed, his son Solomon - and the fact that God would chastise him for his iniquity, but that his kingdom would remain.

Notice the contrast in Chronicles:

1 Chronicles 17:11-14 And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.

Here reference is made to David's greater Seed, the Lord Jesus Christ. No mention of sin, because Jesus would never sin. His throne would be established forever. Reminds me of Isaiah 9:6-7 - "of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end."

I noticed a few months back that it was Chronicles that told of the reasons why God struck down Uzza, referring back to the book of Leviticus.

It is Chronicles that tells us the organization of the temple worship.

Chronicles that tells us specifically that it was Satan that enticed king David to number the people contrary to God's way of doing it (ie. counting the nation's military might, rather than spiritual might by taking the redemption money required for each male numbered).

Chronicles that mentions that the Temple was built on Mount Moriah (where Abraham offered Isaac as a type of Christ).

Chronicles that tells of the victory of Jehoshaphat in the Valley of Blessing (Berachah), when he sent his singers out before the army, and the Lord won the battle for them that day when they sang and praised Him.

Chronicles that tells of Hezekiah's cleansing and rededication of the Temple, the rebuilding of the altar, the song in his heart while the fire consumed the burnt offering on the altar - so many spiritual lessons in this one chapter alone! (See my next Blog entry for my devotional, The Song Of The Altar.)

I look forward to learning more this time through - back to Chronicles...

May 11th/06
Jerry Bouey

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Love Versus Duty

The following is from Terry McGovern in response to some of my questions and statements from my thread on Love Contrasted With Duty (I hope he will not mind me posting it here):

I would like to give an illustration as to love versus duty. I think you have already come to some good conclusion as I have read through these posts, but I hope this helps.

Before I give the illustration let me make a few points. First we know from scripture those who say they "love" God yet do not obey him, are deceiving themselves. Love shows itself by action, and it is a motivation. I Corinthians 13 is one of my favorite chapters. This chapter stresses the importance of love being the motivation. Many can be "serving" God, yet, if love is not the motivation, it is for nothing.

I believe love does produce feelings and it is almost impossible to separate love from feeling. I do not believe love is a feeling, but that it involves our feelings. Sometimes love make me sad, sometime love makes me joyful, sometimes love constrains me. For instance if my children disobey me, it makes me sad, because of the love I have for them.

When it comes to our service for the Lord, motivation is VERY important. My service for God needs to be because I love Him.

I have been talking too much, let give my illustration.

Let’s say it is my wedding anniversary and I take my wife out to eat. I then buy her some flowers and a new dress. She then says to me, "Thank you, you really should not have done all this." I then say, "No problem, it was my duty, because it is our anniversary."

My wife would be devastated. She does not want me to do things for her because it is my "duty", but because I take pleasure in pleasing her.

Yet many times in our service for God, Christians serve him only out of a sense of duty. The Lord does not want this any more than my wife does.

God does not want me to serve because it is my "duty", but because I love him and take joy in him. Christians today fail to have their joy in God. Your joy cannot be in God, if love is not the motivation for the service.