1 The words of the Preacher,[a] the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity[b] of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? 4 A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens[c] to the place where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. 7 All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. 8 All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. 9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things,[d] nor will there be any remembrance of later things[e] yet to be among those who come after.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen
When God is Excluded All of Our Things Are Vanity
From start to finish, the book of Ecclesiastes declares the utter futility and complete meaninglessness of life without God.
Whether it is referring to work or pleasure, or wisdom or wealth, power or prestige, entertainment or virility, life or death, ALL is considered futile and worthless whenever God is excluded from the equation.
It is Solomon who is credited with the authorship of Ecclesiastes.
He was chosen by God to succeed his father, King David as Israel’s anointed king, and when faced with the great responsibility of leading the nation, he humbly confessed that he was unable to do so without help from the Lord.
Despite his humble confession to God and his magnificent prayer at the dedication of the Temple, Solomon set out to discover the meaning of life using his own reasoning power and without the leading, guidance, direction of God.
The conclusion he was forced to reach was: “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”
At the end of his life, Solomon discovered his long search for fulfilment through his many accomplishments, was nothing more than just chasing after the wind.
Despite his great wisdom, power, fame, and fortune, his search for the meaning in life proved completely, ultimately profitless – because he had chosen to set out to explore the meaning of life, its significance, in his own human strength.
The entire book of Ecclesiastes amounts to Solomon’s discovery that when God is excluded from one’s existence, the benefits of wisdom and learning are futile.
Small achievements, great achievements, vast possessions, no possessions skillful work, also linguistic expertise, and various accomplishments prove to be ultimately profitless and quite futile when that is ALL that life has to offer.
Solomon recognized that death is the ultimate equalizer of both the king in his palace and the beggar at his gate.
He realized that competition between one person and another is profitless and life is very transitory, like the grass of the field which is here today but come a single moment of next tomorrow is almost immediately cast into the bonfires.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”
In Romans, Paul reminds us that the whole of the creation was made subject to vanity because of sin and its consequences.
The whole premise of the Preacher of Ecclesiastes is true – for there is truly NOTHING that can be pursued or gained on earth that can provide everlasting fulfilment for a man’s soul.
The Preacher in Ecclesiastes states his conclusion that “all is vanity,” at the very beginning of his dialogue and again at the end.
Were it not for a little verse tucked away in the middle of Ecclesiastes, his whole treaties could become very depressing for anyone who reads it, because without God, literally everything is vain and futile for this is the condition of every man.
Yet, there is one last verse that identifies well the meaning and purpose of life:
“When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter under consideration is: fear God and keep His commands, for this is the whole duty of all mankind.” (12:13-14)
A Legitimate Dose of Reality Regarding Change
Twenty years ago when I was visiting an ancient abbey on the Isle of Iona in Scotland, I wandered upon an ancient graveyard with many Celtic Crosses.
As I walked among the tombstones, I observed a variety of ages chiseled into their surfaces.
As near as I could tell with many stones barely or nearly unreadable, some of the people appeared to had lived to be quite old, while others not live past 30.
Yet when all these ages were taken together, it seemed that the average life span was around 65-70—just as the Bible says:
“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty” (Psalm 90:10).
And more time than that had gone by since most of these people had passed.
This sobering reminder of life’s brevity returned me to a question that all of us ask at one point or another: Is this pursuit of all things in life all there is?
The book of Ecclesiastes addresses this deep question by giving us a solid dose of legitimate reality.
Truthfully, most of us don’t do well with reality; we prefer fantasy, mirage, and distraction.
Yet the author of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, begins his discourse by encouraging us to carefully, thoughtfully and completely reflect upon the absolutely mindless, utter meaninglessness of life, stating bluntly, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”
Solomon seeks to prove his thesis by showing us life is marked by drudgery:
“What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever” (Ecclesiastes 1:3-4).
Life, in other words, is just a perpetual series of clocking in and clocking out until we die.
No matter who you are—whether you are an executive, a schoolteacher, or a stay-at-home mom—life “under the sun” contains much toil, and then it ends.
Does this leave you thoroughly depressed?
It should—if you rule out the existence of God.
When God is taken out of the equation, life truly has no meaning.
There is a reason why some people desire to escape reality through a drug-induced stupor or through mindless indulgence in pleasure and entertainment.
What may seem like strange behavior to us may actually be the best considered response of the one who has gotten a heavy, albeit incomplete, dose of reality.
Studying the book of Ecclesiastes forces us to try and consider the deep, deeper, deepest implications, meanings of life without God, in view of inevitable death.
But such an image is seldom if ever given even the most minimal measure or degree of consideration because nowadays too many Christians discount God.
Not just discount God but openly state in a pulpit that “God is 100% nothing!”
Not just declare from a church pulpit on a regular Sunday morning worship service that “God is 100% nothing!” but God never existed or is “100% dead.”
But read the rest of the Bible and you will discover that you may receive eternal life by trusting in Him, Him being Jesus, who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Only through God, the Father, God the Son, our Savior Jesus and the Holy Spirit will we 100% discover life’s true meaning, find the reason why all is not vanity.
Only if you remember the undeniable reality of Christ’s Resurrection, there absolutely is life beyond the grave, will we be able to live with joy, meet with all the ups and downs of life with a healthy perspective, on this side of the grave.
Life Changing Dose of Legitimate Reality: Everything Absolutely Revolves Around Father God, Son, Spirit.
Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 New American Standard Bible
The Futility of All Endeavors
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 “Futility of futilities,” says the Preacher, “Futility of futilities! All is futility.”
3 What advantage does a person have in all his work Which he does under the sun?
And thus begins one of the more depressing books in all of the Bible, but I would submit depressing in a good way, and here’s the reason I would say that.
When we come to Ecclesiastes, we read in these words, in these dispassionate chapters, a picture of life lived apart and separate from belief God.
Of life apart, of life separate from the reality of who God is, and all that’s in His character, of His love, His forgiveness, His justice, His mercy, His power, of His incomparable presence and indomitable and unsearchable wisdom.
Apart from the wisdom, power, love, justice, mercy of God, indeed, all is vain.
Ecclesiastes 1:2–3 Teaches Us Our Life is Vain Apart from God
The author of Ecclesiastes says this five times in one verse.
“Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.”
The point is clear, that all is in vain, everything lacks meaning apart from the reality of who God is.
The world revolves around God.
You take away the center around which the world revolves, and everything falls apart and so as you read through Ecclesiastes, as we likewise pray study and we pray through these different verses in Ecclesiastes, let’s all be reminded of the God-centeredness of the universe, and the need in each of our lives for God to be at the center of it all, knowing everything is meaningless apart from him.
The complete absence of God in our life is the Ultimate expression of Vanity!
Ecclesiastes 1:2–3 Reminds Us God is Our Rest
And so let’s pray based on Ecclesiastes 1:2–3.
Oh God, you are our everything, and we fix our eyes, our minds, our hearts on you today and we say that apart from you, everything is vain. You are our life, you are the author of our life, you are the Creator of our lives, you’re the sustainer of our lives, you’re the only one who can satisfy our lives. God, you are everything to us, oh God. You are our Creator, our Savior, our One and Only true King, our Ruler, our Lord.
You are literally everything and we are as nothing without you. And we pray that you would help us to live today with our intemperate minds and sin laden hearts and tiny attention span and fickle affections centered around you, as we do for you, oh God to infuse meaning and purpose into everything we do. And fulfillment in our hearts. Our hearts, as Saint Augustine said years ago, are restless until they find their rest in you.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Our Heavenly Father, thank You for this honest assessment and exploration of living life in this fallen world, without our ever living Savior Jesus Christ. I pray this day to please keep me from chasing after any of the inevitably vain things this world offers, knowing that there is nothing on earth that has lasting value except to know You. May I place You in the center of my life, knowing that the whole duty and delight of man is to worship and praise You for Your goodness, grace to all men. In Jesus’ name.
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
During a small group Bible Study one night a friend once told me he set his alarm for 6:33 a.m. for a stretch of time during his teenage and young adult years.
He would wake up, put his feet on the floor, see his alarm, and immediately be reminded of Matthew 6:33 and his absolute need to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
To me, it was a pointed example, in one way, of Matthew 6:33 in action.
The question to me then was what impact would it have on someone, anyone who did not know the meaning of “the kingdom of God” (at the time – me) and “His righteousness” and did not know how to “seek” them?
The myriad of ideas floating around about the Kingdom of God is evidence that the devil has successfullydeceived millions of people about the true meaning of the Kingdom of God—the center of Jesus’ message.
Even to this day, Satan actively obscures the heart and core of Jesus’ teaching, leading many sincere Christians to confidently say the Kingdom of God is the warm, fuzzy feeling people experience when they “invite Jesus” into their lives.
Yet God’s Word testifies that Jesus preached “the gospel of the kingdom of God”—not just a message about Himself, but the good news of a literal, world-ruling government to be set up on this earth (Mark 1:14).
So, just what is the Kingdom of God, and how does one go about seeking it?
What exactly is “His righteousness”?
What “things” will be added to us if we prioritize seeking the Kingdom and His righteousness?
What does Matthew 6:33 say that believers should do?
Matthew 6:33 is a foundational scripture that directs our focus and attention to what God considers to be the most important goal a person can have.
In order to weave this critical verse into our own lives, we need to have a biblical understanding of its core concepts.
“But Seek First the Kingdom of God”
The New Testament has much to say about the Kingdom of God, but one of the most memorable visions of God’s government replacing human governments can be found in the Old Testament book of God’s Prophet Daniel.
In Daniel chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar, the ancient king of the Babylonian Empire, dreamed about a great image or statue—presumably of a man—with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay.
But as the dream went on, the image was eventually shattered by a cataclysmic stone (Daniel 2:31-34).
Unsure of the dream’s meaning, Nebuchadnezzar turned to the prophet Daniel for its interpretation.
Under God’s inspiration, Daniel explained, “You [Nebuchadnezzar] are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron . . . and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others”(Daniel 2:38-40).
According to Daniel’s interpretation, the statue represented the rise and fall of four great, successive empires.
These empires, or kingdoms, have been identified in history as the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, Greco-Macedonian Empire and the Roman Empire.
With this understanding in mind, notice what Daniel said about the symbolism of the stone that came and broke the image:
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44, emphasis added throughout).
This kingdom that “stands forever” is the Kingdom of God, a literal kingdom with territory, subjects, laws and rulers just like the other great empires.
The Kingdom of God will be:
Set up here on earth (territory).
Ruling over and serving human beings (subjects) during Christ’s millennial reign.
Governed through God’s commandments and statutes (laws).
Ruled by Christ and the saints (rulers).
The Kingdom of God is not figurative nor is it another way of saying going toheaven, as many passionately argue.
It is the very real government of God to be established here on earth at Christ’s return.
Those who will inherit God’s Kingdom are called the “saints of the Most High,” they will “possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18).
To “seek” that Kingdom is to have a strong desire to enter it—a willingness to go to any length to do so.
Matthew 6:33 tells us that this must be the main priority of a Christian’s life.
“And His Righteousness”
After instructing His followers to prioritize the Kingdom of God, Rabbi Jesus added that they also need to prioritize not just any kind of righteousness, but “His righteousness” – His righteousness meaning God’s righteousness.
What is the biblical definition of God’s righteousness?
Psalm 119:172 says, “AllYour commandments are righteousness.”
Take careful notice that the verse does not say “a few” “some” or “half” or “two thirds” “three quarters” “nine out of 10” (excluding the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy), but rather it says “all” of God’s commandments.
Understanding the biblical definition of righteousness, this verse could read: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and obey all His commandments.”
Unfortunately, obedience is a very unpopular message in a society where people are obsessed with the idea of freedom to do whateverthey please, no matter how much harm that kind of liberty may pose to themselves or others.
The result is people who lack self-esteem, self-respect and lack any respect for any authority figure and contemptibly refuse to yield one inch to that authority.
Many of the laws of the land—let alone God’s laws—have become more of a suggestion than anything mandatory.
They’re viewed as something that is optional for those who “feel” like obeying.
People nowadays bristle at the idea of someone else telling them what to do.
Yet the Bible is repletewith scriptures that prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, obedience to God’s law is absolutelynecessary to be a true Christian.
Here is one of the plainest of those scriptures: “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
For those who follow the clear teachings of Scripture and value obedience, there is a special blessing in place.
Take extra careful notice of Revelation 22:14: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”
The blessing is entry into the Kingdom of God.
That is the reward for those who seek God’s righteousness.
Righteousness and the Kingdom of God are inextricably linked together!
“And All These Things Shall Be Added Unto You”
To know what this part of the verse refers to, we have to examine the context.
Matthew 6:25-32 New King James Version
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one [a]cubit to his [b] stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not [c]arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
In verses 25-32 Jesus instructs His disciples not to fret or be anxious about the physical necessities of life.
Food, water and clothing and shelter will always be the very basic must-haves for our very good health and happiness as long as we are living human beings.
But prioritizing any single one of these things or all of them over a disciplined life of prayer, study, obedience and a close relationship with God would be a potentially dangerous misallocation of our focus and attention upon our God.
In reassuring fashion, Jesus reminded His disciples,
“Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
“Father” is a fitting description of our loving God!
God could have designated Himself using any number of titles, but Father communicates His authority, strength and, most of all, His tender love.
The Sermon on the Mount can, in some ways, be seen as an explanation of why God is called our Heavenly Father.
Again and again throughout Matthew 5-7, we vividly see God’s function as our ultimate provider.
Recognizing God’s commitment to protect and look out for His children is what this part of Matthew 6:33 is all about.
Again, please take careful notice of Matthew 7:9-11:
“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
The point is, God always knows.
God always sees.
God is not blind to our needs or desires.
God promises to provide for the physical necessities of this life if we prioritize His Kingdom and His righteousness.
Please look to these life transformative scriptures and claim God’s promises if you have been seeking God with your whole being but find you are struggling to make ends meet and are overwhelmed with life’s demands.
What Does Matthew 6:33 Really Mean?
In a nutshell, Matthew 6:33 serves as every Christian’s marching orders.
Our ability to seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness can be hampered if we become entangled with the cares of this life.
Nonetheless, diligently, prudently, regularly practicing spiritual disciplines like fellowship, and prayer, Bible study, meditation and the occasional fast can help refocus our minds, support the notion of reprioritizing on what matters most.
As much or as little we strive do our part to make our relationship with God our highest priority, God will surely do His part to provide for our every need, which is something we can count on.
This means always putting Him first in our lives, even the first few moments of our day.
He is the One who graciously woke us up, gave us the breath in our lungs, and provided us the opportunity to live another day.
He deserves our fullest possible measure of devotion the moment our eyes pop open, even if it is a mere “thank you, God” before our feet even hit the floor.
Intersecting Faith and Life and Matthew 6:33
As we strive to figure out life in the great information age, we are bombarded with an infinite measure of opportunities to fill our time and our minds with many things that can so easily replace our time of fellowship with the Lord.
The information available to us, literally at our fingertips, at all times, is a wonderful gift, but that mobile device we carry around in our purses and pockets can also be a mobile distraction that follows us everywhere we go.
Although our cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. are not evil, I do believe we need to be extra cautious as to how much time we devote to them.
We need to be more aware of where we are directing our focus.
We need to be attentive to what is “moving in” and capturing our attention.
Perhaps you may not have an issue with technology distracting you from the Lord- that’s great!
Stay strong and become an accountability partner for those around you who have easily pulled away from the things of God because of the ever-increasing information age.
But if you are like me (a stay-at-home/work-from-home, caregiving retired person,) you are finding yourself with limited time to spend with Jesus in prayer and the Word, I challenge you to prioritize seeking out the Lord if there is some way you can arrange in your schedule to allow better time management.
Also, ask Him if perhaps He would like for you to prioritize a fast (technology, that is) something which could be causing a division between you and Him.
Prioritize devoting specific time every day to spend some quiet time in quiet fellowship with God and reading your Bible, without your cellphone or iPad within reach- to “turn them off” during that time and perhaps put a timer on the most-used apps that you access throughout your day.
Be thankful for the benefits of the tools and global connections that technology brings us, but also do not allow this technology to rob you of your connection to Jesus – un-connect technology for a while, refocus, reconnect with the Lord!
Always keep the Kingdom of God and His righteousness at the forefront of life.
“But Put God First” — That is the life-changing meaning of Matthew 6:33.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Sovereign Majesty, God and Ruler over all creation, since the beginning of time you have been our Provider, our Refuge, our Shelter, Defender, Protector and Redeemer. Your covenant with the human race, is from everlasting to everlasting and all that we possess and will ever possess, comes from you. Father, we have sinned greatly against you, but being a God of Righteousness, you have exhibited and manifested your steadfastness and faithfulness which prevails forever, through which we are saved, when we turn all of us over to you with fervent hearts and complete trust.
Your unshakable promises reflects your perfect attributes, for whatever we do in our arrogant and sinful nature makes your incomprehensible compassion more evident, proving you will never abandon us, will rescue all who are lost. Jesus has revealed to us the honor and glory of his Father, and we have the assurance that you will never leave us orphans, but have, through your plan of Redemption and Eternal Salvation, obediently fulfilled by Jesus your only Son, made us citizens, co-heirs of heaven.
By our deep faith, our belief, our resolve to focus on you and to obediently follow your Divine Providence for us, knowing that you have provided and taken care of all our needs, we concentrate on studying the right path to heaven, and promote your kingdom in the world, to bring hearts into subjection to your Will. We seek only your Holy Grace and hope to bring others to the obedience of faith, for we need not worry about the things of this world, since you have bestowed upon us all that we need and our only hope is in beholding your beatific face and be added to the ranks of the elite of your kingdom, in blessed, in highest possible exaltation of Jesus’ Name. Amen
19 The Lord said to Moses, 2 Say to the whole community of the Israelites: You must be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy. 3 Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must keep my sabbaths; I am the Lord your God. 4 Do not turn to idols or make gods of cast metal for yourselves; I am the Lord your God.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
Though it is often ridiculed by those that have not read it, or misunderstood by those who do not have spiritual discernment, the fourth book of the Torah, Leviticus, is a book that directly concentrates its readers upon holiness – the 100% ultimate holiness of God and the need for the nation of Israel to be holy.
“You shall be holy,” God informed His chosen nation through Moses.
“You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” Leviticus 19:2
From start to finish, Leviticus is a book that points the faithful to Christ.
He is pictured in the perfect Law of Moses in many ways, and by careful reading and studying its words, He can be identified in the various sacrificial offerings.
The person and work of Christ can also be seen in the holy articles of the Tabernacle, the function of the priesthood, and the feasts of the Lord.
The book of Leviticus points to Christ in many ways – for His “One and Done” atoning sacrifice of his own blood alone forever takes away the sin of the world.
Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, Who was fully and finally, ultimately revealed to the world through the birth, life, death, and Resurrection, Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is undeniably the eternal Son of God, Who did tabernacle among us, for a time and a season while He walked and talked and who had taught, healed and ministered unto the ancient people of the early first century Israel.
He is the perfect Word of God made flesh, through Whom the world was made and in Whom is life eternal, through which darkness and death have no power.
He is the eternal Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.
And He is the sinless Son of Man, Who was sent by His Father to live among us, to set the example of life, set aside His heavenly glory to become like one of us.
Jesus is the Second Person of the immortal, invisible, almighty, HOLY God.
He is the only Member of the Holy Trinity Who was clothed in human flesh, so sinful men and women might be saved by grace – through faith in His sacrificial work at Calvary.
Throughout the Hebrew [Old] Testament, God gradually revealed His character, His attributes, His name, His miraculous redemptive plan for mankind, through the writings of specifically anointed holy men of God, many prophetic voices.
But in these last days, God has spoken to us in His Son, Whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through Whom also He made the world.
However, hidden deep within the pages of the Hebrew [Old] Testament, are many concealed references to Christ Jesus.
For those with eyes to see and a teachable spirit, we discover many ‘types’ and pictures of His person, His mission, His atoning work, and His supernatural life.
Numerous prophecies give details of His coming to earth as a newborn babe in a manger in Bethlehem, His ministry on earth, His sacrificial death, His glorious Resurrection, His ultimate victory over sin, over death and ultimately, Satan.
And Scripture records His coming millennial rule as King of kings and Lord of lords, for He is God’s appointed Messiah of Israel, He is the Savior of the world.
Moses was one such prophetic voice in Scripture, and he was inspired by God to write the book of Leviticus.
He was the man that God chose to become the first great leader of His people.
He was God’s anointed mouthpiece unto Pharaoh and the one who finally led millions of God’s redeemed people out of Egypt, on that first Passover night.
It was Moses through whom the Law was first written down and given to God’s chosen nation, and it was Moses who led, guided, directed, and instructed His people how to live as God’s own people, if they were to receive God’s blessings.
It was Moses who warned them what would happen if they disobeyed the Lord’s command and Moses was instructed by God to
“Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.'”
Israel was to be set apart from the gentile nations.
They were to be a separated nation, a covenanted people, an atypical race that was holy to the Lord.
They were to be God’s unique nation and a people for His own possession.
They were chosen out of all the people groups who live on the face of the earth, to have a holy relationship with the one and only, holy God.
Israel was to be a holy people unto the Lord their God.
They were to be sanctified unto the Lord – a peculiar people unto Himself.
They were to be an example of a nation that was consecrated to God.
Israel was to be God’s earthly light to the pagan nations and an example of a holy community, who honored the Lord.
They had seen God move before them as pillars of fire and smoke and they had witnessed the mighty miracles that decimated their proud Egyptian overlords.
They had made a covenant with the Lord and had promised to do all that the Lord had commanded – which is why God said to Moses,
“speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.'”
The call to holiness still stands for Christians in this epoch of the grace of God.
Like Israel, we are also instructed to be obedient children who are to be holy unto the Lord.
Like them, we are not to be conformed to the lusts of the flesh and pride of life.
Like Israel we are also instructed to be holy ourselves also in all of our behaviors – because as it was covenanted and written then and is still covenanted, written for us today, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
As God’s “Holy” People in the World Today?
Proverbs 27:17-19 Common English Bible
17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens a friend. 18 Those who tend a fig tree will eat its fruit, and those who look after their master will be honored. 19 As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects one person to another.
When God created us, He created us in His image.
Because we are, we should reflect every aspect of who He is because His image in stamped and engraved in us.
In Leviticus 19:2 God instructs Moses to tell the Children of Israel to be holy because God is holy.
That applies to us today as well.
Our words should be holy.
Our actions should be holy.
Our thoughts should be holy.
The way we live should be holy.
Other characteristics of God includes: merciful, forgiving, grace, truthful, keeps his promises, righteous, just, faithful, and unconditional and unfailing love.
As beings created in our Creator’s image, we should reflect these attributes in our everyday lives.
Colossians 3:10 says, “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
And in Ephesians 4:24, Paul wrote, “And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
In Proverbs 27:19, Solomon wrote, “As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person.”
Whatever is living in and within our hearts is what is reflected in our lives.
Is our heart reflecting the holiness of God and His attributes/characteristics?
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
God, my Heavenly Father, thank You for the uncountable, invaluable lessons that Your Church can learn through the history of Israel and for the many types and pictures of Jesus that are hidden within the sacred pages of Scripture. Thank You that like Israel, I have also been called to be holy, because You are holy. It is humbling to realize that as part of Christ’s Body, we have also been chosen, in Him, to be kings and priests unto God – to be a chosen people, who tell the world that Jesus died for their sin and rose again, so that by faith in Him we may be holy, as He is holy. Thank You that by faith in Christ, I have been called to be Your very own, and to proclaim the wonderful deeds of Him Who called me out of darkness into His marvelous light. May I live and work from this day forward, to be more like Jesus, and to live a holy life that is separated from this fallen world system. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! Amen.
What’s least important?
What’s most important?
What has no priority whatsoever?
We usually consider whatever is the most urgent to be the most important.
When we need to use the bathroom, for example, that particular need becomes both urgent and important, something that must for the moment take priority over everything else lest we risk great personal, perhaps public embarrassment.
For a Diabetic individual, monitoring their blood sugar levels throughout the day on a regular basis is quite important as is meal planning and Insulin shots.
Many things take a top priority spot in our lives.
Many things take a low priority spot in our lives.
Higher priority items might sometimes be a classic movie or television show we watched in our youths and now we’ve been waiting to see the reruns streamed.
It might be planning, a “bucket list” trip we want to take, or a special event we want to arrange – a wedding anniversary or attend – your child’s violin recital.
Sometimes it might be something we want to buy, maybe some new music, a pair of jeans, a computer, or have been saving a long time for: a car or a house.
The priority might be education, a relationship, a job, a job promotion, a fun long term project.
It might be recovery, rest and rehabilitation from an illness, an accident, a crime, tragedy or a difficult ordeal – a parent or spouse or child passed away.
Making Time, Taking Time, Giving Time Away
In the streaming series The Chosen, one episode depicts Jesus returning to a camp where he and his disciples are staying for the night.
It is late, and Jesus has spent the day healing crowds of people.
He stumbles into camp, exhausted from the day’s ministry.
The disciples can only watch him, surprised at how tired he is.
His teaching and healing work must have been exhausting.
Though he was fully God, Jesus was also fully human, so he still got tired and still needed his sleep to recover from the days busyness. (Mark 4:38; John 4:6).
A Lesson About Assessing Reassessing Our Priorities
Mark 1:35-39 New Living Translation
Jesus Preaches in Galilee
35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.
Prayer is a Priority
Prayer is the kind of priority that lies at the root of all the others — at the root of life itself.
It’s a lot like eating; if we rarely eat, our physical health will suffer.
We’ll be weak and sick.
It will affect our ability to carry on the activities of life.
In a similar way, if we rarely pray, our spiritual life will lack vitality.
We will approach the challenges and successes of life on our own, as though we are not totally dependent on God even for life itself.
Without prayer, we prioritize pride, begin to take credit for the good things in our lives, chalking them all up to our skill, knowledge, wisdom and hard work.
We begin to forget that all our skill, knowledge, wisdom and hard work are gifts of God—God alone gave us the mind, body and circumstances of life which have enabled us to have and develop those attributes.
On the other hand, without the discipline of prayer, we fall into fear, anxious worry and even despair at the failures, frustrations and bad events in our lives.
We become unsure of God’s love for us, unsure that God stands with us, God is always accessible and always available, always receptive in each our problems.
The length and breadth of God’s Word reminds us we will definitely feel alone and afraid, doubtful about our ability to cope with what life is heaping onto us.
The disciplined practice of Prayer is the grease, we might say, which keeps the gears and wheels of life well and sufficiently lubricated, in good working order.
Without prayer, we see ourselves as alone against the world, left to fend off the storms of life on our own wits and brawn.
It is in the course of bending our souls in prayer we learn to see the true state of things — that we are all creatures within God’s creation, creatures dependent on our Maker, on all of the other parts of the creation, and as such, never alone.
Hard to Find Time
It’s a crowded, hectic world for most people.
Opportunities for time alone, much less for prayer, are more and more limited.
Life already has its cascade of immediate demands, its already duly scheduled priorities lined up to overwhelm us and keep us forever playing catch-up—jobs, classes, homework, housework, yard work, kids, church, health problems, car repairs, home repairs, accidents, ants, traffic, crowds, lines, appointments and, oh yes, hopefully prayerfully enough time to experience that good quality sleep.
Of course, there might well also be a considerable amount of time that we could devote to prayer that we use on other things — things that don’t really have the kind or measure of priority that the discipline of prayer should should receive.
For example, most of us have our favorite television show, and that’s fine.
But how often do we find ourselves sitting in front of the television — watching shows we do not really care about, just “lazy television” — just because nobody had the proper measure of motivation to get up and turn the infernal thing off?
We make priorities out of things we care about.
It isn’t that we don’t care about the discipline of regular prayer, it’s just that it often seems like it just becomes one more chore on top of all the other chores we have to get done around the house, and since God does not cry or whine when God does not get his dinner or send collection agents out to repossess the washing machine, we’ll automatically put prayer farther down the priority list.
It might be helpful to see the discipline of prayer in a different light from that of one more chore to get done before supper (or after) turn off the light at night.
Time with God is different from all other time.
It defuses the stress, refreshes and rejuvenates the heart, spirit and the soul.
It relaxes the mind and body to release unto God our worries, our anger, fear and anxieties.
It’s a better antidote to frustration than nibbling on donuts or chocolate bars.
It sufficiently fills our need for intimacy better than affairs or pornography.
It’s a far more productive way to handle anger than exploding at our spouses and children. It lasts; those alternatives don’t.
Therapy, Not a Duty
It’s easy to view prayer as a duty, an obligation.
When we do that, prayer becomes hard, something to put off, a burden and pressure all by itself.
What a tragedy.
We would hardly consider talking to our best friends a duty.
We talk to them because we like them.
It’s a spiritual lift to talk to them.
It helps us feel better, reminds us we are actually not alone in this world, gives us strength to carry on.
It’s harder with God.
And God does verbally not say much.
Sometimes we wonder if God’s even there at all.
We have the Bible, but a book is not the actually same as an oral conversation.
Talking to God takes place, you could say, in our heads, by faith, not by sight, taste or touch or sound.
We cannot look God in the eye, smell him, shake his hand or pat his back.
Instead, we “sense” his presence in some spiritual, unseen way.
We have faith.
The Holy Spirit, also invisible, tasteless and odorless, communicates God’s reality to us on a level other than our five physical senses.
We do not understand it; we can only experience it.
Spending this quality time with God is great therapy.
Therapy is necessary remedial treatment of a bodily disorder, whether physical, emotional or psychological.
When we think of prayer as much needed therapy, rather than as “our Christian duty,” it puts prayer into a clearer perspective, I personally believe.
When we go through our daily, weekly, monthly routines without consciously acknowledging God as the root and core of our lives (which he is), our attitudes, emotions, psyche, even the bones in our bodies (Psalm 6:2, Psalms 31:10, 32:3, Psalm 42:10, Psalm 102:3) suffer the ill effects of trying to live as though we are self-existent — not dependent on God and his creation for our life and being.
To hand over our concerns to God, whether for ourselves or for others, reminds us that our present lives and the remaining future of our life are in God’s hands.
Even our past, with all its baggage of sin, selfishness and ignorance, is in God’s redemptive hands.
The act of acknowledging God as the loving, wise and powerful Being that he is is remedial treatment for fear, worry and frustration.
It’s like an expert massage, removing tension and stress from our muscles, only better.
Who would not appreciate a great massage from God’s own hands every day?
Prayer is the perfect therapy for our tense, knotted and stressed spirits, and the best thing about it … it’s absolutely free!
We can take a moment for a quick spiritual “rubdown” in the form of silent prayer just about any time we want during the day.
And we can set aside time for a good, long session at times that work with our schedules.
Think about it: if we had an unlimited valued gift certificate for a free full-body massage every day, we would likely find a way to work it into our schedules as regularly as possible — even if we had to get up set our alarms before everybody else and hightail it down to the gym or the spa before it opened up at 5:30 a.m.
We would do that because we know what good therapy it is and how good it makes us feel.
Not a Substitute For Action
There is another thing we can learn and appreciate from Jesus’ early morning hike to a solitary place for prayer.
When it’s time for action, it’s time for action.
When your child or your spouse needs your attention, it is not the time to go off and play a round of golf, but is an absolute time for us to stop, drop and to pray.
And the again, when you need to repair a faucet, or make a call, or to prepare a meal, it’s not the time make excuses and to disappear for an hour in a closet.
We can and should be able to pray any time, any place, while we go about our business – but we absolutely need to attend to the business of caring for home.
The time to go to a solitary place for extended prayer is a time when we don’t have other more pressing priorities, duties, responsibilities and obligations.
How did Jesus do it?
In the instance cited in this passage, he got up early, before the regular day’s activities began.
You might find that other times work better for you.
The point is, see prayer as a priority that will make all your other priorities more manageable and less stressful.
Let your prayer time be a time to relax, to let God’s love bathe and salve your frayed nerves, your taut emotions, your exhausted and frightened heart.
Let prayer time be your time to rest in God, to let him renew your strength, brighten your hope, sharpen your faith.
Has prayer slipped to the bottom of your “to do” list? Why not set aside some time today for an overdue therapy session with the Master Therapist?
Does prayer seem like a chore to you? Why or why not?
Do you have trouble thinking of things to pray about? Have you thought of sitting quietly with God as a valuable part of your prayer time?
What are some of the ways prayer has helped you?
How would you describe “answered prayer”?
What is your favorite place for prayer?
Take Time for the Holy One
Mark 1:35-37 New International Version
Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
Our reading for today explains that after a long day of teaching and healing, Jesus rose early in the morning to pray. Jesus needed time to connect with his Father in prayer, resting in his Father’s presence and focusing on his purpose.
He had come to do much more than heal people in Capernaum, even though that was clearly important while he was there.
When the disciples went out and found him, he said, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
Jesus deliberately, intentionally, purposely moved off quietly, spent time alone in prayer with his Father in Heaven, and he remained focused upon his purpose.
If this was important to Jesus, it is certainly important for his followers too.
There is perhaps no better gage of a man’s spiritual maturity than his secret devotion to God in prayer.
You show me someone that is lax in private prayer, I will show you someone that is a spiritual infant.
I don’t care how long they have known Christ, if they have no secret devotion to God; they remain in a stage of immaturity.
Our public prayers will tend to be ritualistic; they will tend to be mechanical, often repetitious, and sometimes ostentatious.
We will have no appetite for the Word; we will have no burden for the lost.
We will be infatuated with the pleasures of this world.
People without a private prayer life will lack power in ministry.
The theme of Christ will seldom be prominent in their conversations because it’s not dominant in their heart.
In fact I have never met a person with a robust private prayer life who struggles with debilitating depression, addictions, or some life-dominating sin.
I have never heard a spouse complain about a husband or wife who is faithful in private prayer.
I’ve never heard a child weep because they have a father or mother that prays too much.
I would ask everyone, do they only prayer before meals or do they ever pray before dawn?
Most if they are honest, would say their prayer life is limited to before meals.
Or when some great crisis comes into their lives.
But frankly, most people are unfamiliar with the mercy seat.
They are strangers to the throne of grace.
Communing with the Savior of their souls is just not as high priority as it should be because it is not the first and foremost desire of their hearts.
And why is this?
Well partly because we are a very undisciplined people, but primarily also it’s because we prioritize love of other things more than we love the Lord our God.
I have learned that prayer is the drill that bores deep into the caverns of living water.
I have learned that prayer is what calls upon the Spirit to give fresh life to the spiritually dead and dissolve hardened hearts.
As a Lay Pastor, I have learned that it is prayer that ignites a preacher with holy zeal and transforms his clumsy long winded rhetoric into tongues of holy fire.
I have learned, beloved, that it is the personal exercise of prayer, disciplined, fervent, private, persistent prayer that transforms weak, shallow, cowardly Christians, and their “skin and bones” Christianity into mighty warriors of the Cross and that is what Christ wants, I want for you, that is what I want for me.
Dear Christian, secret prayer was our Savior’s habit, the question is, is it ours?
If not, why not?
If the Son of God who had no sin had such an indescribably intense desire to labor in private prayer, how much more should we being so prone to our sin?
Frankly most Christians are mere “spiritual loiterers”, they are not laborers in prayer, and yet this is not the example of the Lord.
As we look at verse 35, again, where we read, “In the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”
I believe there are 4 great lessons emerging from this text which I pray each of us will take some quality and quantity of time to focus carefully upon:
Prayer reveals an intense longing to commune with God
Prayer should be the first priority to prepare our day.
Solitude is the Sanctuary of prayer.
Prayer is as important in times of blessing as it is in times of distress.
So first, Prayer reveals an intense longing to commune with God.
Let’s look at this more closely.
Now any of us who have ever spent time teaching know it is an exhausting task especially when you are interacting with people as the Lord had done that day.
Then if we have ever experienced intense, powerful healing encounters, and certainly I have never experienced it like Jesus, we cannot appreciate tiredness.
My friends that is utterly exhausting.
Yet, we see here,
He doesn’t give up, He doesn’t stay in bed and sleep.
Instead, we see the incarnate Christ who was without sin, therefore without any need for confession, He had no pleading, no need for forgiveness of sin, and no need for restoration, instead He longs to be with His Father and the Holy Spirit.
Remember, Jesus knew that His source of strength (certainly the place where He would go to supplicate for all that the Father had given Him) was His Father.
But we see in this text from Mark’s narrative that His intense longing for intimate communion was motivated primarily by His perfect love and His intimate enjoyment of “taking time away” his sweet fellowship with Him.
Again, does this describe you?
Hopefully you’ve experienced this at some human level.
Just think of your husband or you wife, those of you that are married.
I know that the times that I have that I can spend with my dear wife is done not out of duty, but out of intense love and intense desire.
It’s motivated by my love for her and her love for me, which results in the true oneness of fellowship and the joy that flows from that.
How much more the soul satisfying perfections of the triune Godhead.
Now think about it very long and very deeply and very intently and purposely,
no man—save the God-man Jesus—has ever known the soul satisfying joy of perfect fellowship and communion with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
While every saint enjoys some level of faith, joy and fellowship, because of the varying places we are with respect to our walk with Christ, we still, even though our fellowship is imperfect, we still enjoy spending time with the Lord.
How much more so the Lord Jesus?
I think about the imperfect fellowship that we have right now.
Our communion is hampered because of remaining sin, because of our unredeemed bodies that await their final glorification.
That is why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:9:
“we (only) know in part…but when the perfect comes (eternal state), the partial will be done away…For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; (can you imagine what that will be like), now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
But folks even now in our state of unredeemed humanness, chronic sin, that sweetness, that ineffable joy of communing with the lover of our souls is the single greatest experience that we have available to us this side of heaven.
If that does not ring true of you, then you know nothing of a secret devotion to God in prayer.
All who have truly tasted of the Lord, who have experienced the inexpressible joy of being in His presence, have experienced His power, want more and more.
We are never satisfied – that is why David declared in Psalm 34:8.“O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”
Be sure to spend personal time with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each day.
Joyful Rest in a Frantic World
Psalm 4:6-8 English Standard Version
6 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” 7 You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
The great majority of humans are forever striving after the four winds.
We chase all sorts of things to satisfy our souls but keep ending up empty-handed.
We wonder, “Who will show us some good?”
Put differently, as Mark’s gospel narrative intimates; “Where can I find joy, meaning, and hope in the frenetic pace and frustrating pursuits of this life?”
Thankfully, the psalmist does not leave us to wonder about what we need most:
“Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD.”
The great need of David’s day—and our day, thousands of years later—is to embrace and be embraced by the living God.
So David points out just how the greatest pleasures pale in comparison to finding the one true, living God.
Abounding in life’s good gifts, be they grain or wine or anything else, is certainly no bad thing.
But knowing God through the discipline of prayer is infinitely, gloriously better.
How many people today live in the hope that the experience of tomorrow will bring the joy they seem to lack today?
“Just a little more money; then I can be happy. Just a little more of this or that, and then I will be satisfied.”
But it’s not the promise of a nicer car, a bigger house, a perfect spouse, or a better job that truly gives us lasting peace and rest.
There is only one way to be able to lie down and sleep in peace, content and secure.
What makes such rest possible?
“You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Only when we find all we need in studying scripture, knowing the Lord and know He is smiling at us will we be able to lie down without anxiety or regret.
As we lie down on our bed at night (as Jesus did) and reflect on the day (as Jesus did), or as all of tomorrow’s to-dos race through your mind (as Jesus did), how will we possibly hold it together (again as Jesus did) that very next morning?
What will give you the stability and security that every human being in the world longs for?
In the end, it won’t be the money in your account.
It won’t be the home-security system.
It won’t be enjoying admiration from your community.
It is the example of the disciplined practice of prayer set before us by the Lord Jesus alone, who leads all His beloved children to true peace, rest, and security.
In the arms of the Good Shepherd, you can dwell in safety and rest in peace.
Be sure, when you lie down tonight (as Jesus did) or when worries rear their heads today, to remember our Savior prays for you and is looking after you.
Jesus had a regular, disciplined time to be alone with his Father each day.
His quiet time with his Father was intentional; it was a priority he himself built into his day, and it required his fullest effort — effort to wake up early before everyone else, and effort to go out away from everyone else so he could talk with the Father by himself.
How intentional and how disciplined is your daily prayer time with the Father?
That is where our rest and peace are truly and faithfully, eternally to be found.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
O loving and tender Father, God Almighty who has the power to save, forgive me for those periods in my life when I have let my time with you suffer. I now confess that I let other things and the hectic pace of my life steal away my time with you. It is my prayer that you Empower, inspire, my resolve to fully and faithfully and finally place you first in my whole heart and hard set in my daily schedule. In Jesus’ name, I pray.
2 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure [a] hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, and [b]may the Lord give you understanding in all things.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
Pondering Upon the Deeper Matters of Our Faith
It is not unusual—in fact, it’s quite common—through the eyes of unbelievers and believers for the Christian faith to be regarded as a kind of illogical, unusual belief in improbable and even impossible events.
For some, faith in God is seen as a crutch to prop up less rational people as they navigate through the more weighty morals, great diversity of life’s challenges.
Such critics may be surprised to learn that in reality, pondering our Christianity calls its followers not to neglect their minds but to critically, deeply, engage them.
When we read the Word of God, we discover that it never invites us simply to feel things; it never attempts merely to “sweep us up” in an emotional surge.
God never once asks for or endorses the total disengagement of our thinking processes.
Instead, God’s Word repeatedly reveals that our Christianity, our faith in God is actually a call to think rightly and deeply about God, His world, our place in it.
When the apostle Paul addressed the Ephesian followers, we read that he was “reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus,” which was very likely an early school building which could be rented for debating philosophy or rhetoric (Acts 19:9).
In this place, Paul was not just singing songs or attempting to stir up some emotional experience.
No, by renting the hall from its owner he essentially said, “Citizens of Ephesus, I want you to spend some significant time thinking and also reasoning with me today. Not just today alone, but to come back frequently more curious than the day before.”
In Thessalonica, too, Acts tells us Paul “reasoned” with the people, “explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead” (17:2-3).
The book of God’s Prophet Isaiah begins with a similar call to think earnestly: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18).
This exhortation from Isaiah to think and reason deeply over our lives isn’t just for proclaiming the gospel but for repentance, growth in Christian maturity too.
Desiring people to know God more, writing to the followers in Corinth, Apostle Paul said, “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking” (1 Corinthians 14:20).
He wanted the young church their to think intently and intensely about both the current, longer term issues they were all facing in this emerging Christian faith.
Paul was even more direct when writing to the young Pastor Timothy: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” (2 v. 7)
Whatever time we are living and ministering in, we do need God’s Holy Spirit to be at work in order to think rightly (Luke 24:45; 1 Corinthians 12:3), for our own intellects are as affected by sin as every other part of ourselves (Ephesians 4:17).
But it is as we expend significant mental energy to consider the deeper wisdom, truths of the Scriptures that God will give us greater and greater understanding.
To follow Christ, then, is not to take a step of blind faith into the darkness but to have your eyes opened, our souls better informed to the light of rigorous truth.
It will take a lifetime—and more!—to unearth the deeper and deepest riches of the truth we encounter in God’s Word about Jesus, but one thing is sure: today, as every day, God wants you, me to love Him and honor Him with all your mind.
My Own Faith and Pondering Upon God’s Deeper Call
Proverbs 3:5-12 The Message
5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.
“And when I think that God, His Son not sparing Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing He bled and died to take away my sin”
How is God calling me to think deeply?
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God calling me to think critically?
How is God calling me to think Scripturally?
How is God calling me into a deeper contemplation of God?
How is God calling me into a deeper contemplation of my faith in God?
How is God calling me into a deeper expression of faith?
How is God calling me into a deeper expression of my faith in God?
How is God calling me into a deeper understanding of God?
How is God calling me into a deeper understanding of my faith in God?
How is God calling me into a deeper appreciation of God?
How is God calling me into a deeper appreciation of my faith in God?
How is God reordering, reshaping, my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
“My God! How Great IS our God?”
2 Timothy 2:7 The Message
Doing Your Best for God
2 1-7 So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.
“It is the diligent farmer who gets the produce …”
“Think it over.”
“God will make it plain …”
“Plainer than the nose on your face!”
When we finally “do see” the diligent farmer who gets the produce …
Wiping all of the sweat off of their noses with the sleeves of their shirts …
“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee How great Thou art, how great Thou art Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee How great Thou art, how great Thou art How great Thou art, how great Thou art”
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Heavenly Father, thank You for the Word of God and the truths that it contains within its sacred pages. Help me to read, mark, learn, and act upon all the things that Christ has done for me so that I may live my life in a manner that pleases You and honors and glorifies Your holy name. I pray I may endure life’s hardships like a good soldier of Christ and run, with patience, and faith, the race of life that is set before me. Keep me pressing on to the goal of my calling and equip me with knowledge and understanding of all that Christ has done for me. This I ask in Jesus’ name, AMEN.
90 Lord, You have been our dwelling place [our refuge, our sanctuary, our stability] in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born Or before You had given birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are [the eternal] God.
3 You turn man back to dust, And say, “Return [to the earth], O children of [mortal] men!” 4 For a [a]thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, Or as a watch in the night. 5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep [forgotten as soon as they are gone]; In the morning they are like grass which grows anew— 6 In the morning it flourishes and springs up; In the evening it wilts and withers away.
7 For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been terrified. 8 You have placed our wickedness before you, Our secret sins [which we tried to conceal, You have placed] in the [revealing] light of Your presence. 9 For all our days pass away in Your wrath; We have finished our years like a whispered sigh. 10 The days of our life are [b]seventy years— Or even, if because of strength, eighty years; Yet their pride [in additional years] is only labor and sorrow, For it is soon gone and we fly away. 11 Who understands the power of Your anger? [Who connects this brevity of life among us with Your judgment of sin?] And Your wrath, [who connects it] with the [reverent] fear that is due You? 12 So teach us to number our days, That we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom.
13 Turn, O Lord [from Your fierce anger]; how long will it be? Be compassionate toward Your servants—revoke Your sentence. 14 O satisfy us with Your lovingkindness in the morning [now, before we grow older], That we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad in proportion to the days You have afflicted us, And the years we have suffered evil. 16 Let Your work [the signs of Your power] be revealed to Your servants And Your [glorious] majesty to their children. 17 And let the [gracious] favor of the Lord our God be on us; Confirm for us the work of our hands— Yes, confirm the work of our hands.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
“So, Lord God, Teach Us to Number Our Days,”
Often in life we think we are heading in the general direction of our goal, our life is moving steadily along on cruise control, we finally get to that somewhere , we look around and survey the landscape of all the success, but we still end up lost.
Though we might start out well, we might achieve what we feel is the best, but we can quickly realize that the best was not in fact, the best, then lose interest in seriously considering everything but exactly the next actions we must take.
A sudden barrage of questions arise within – are we living up to our potential?
Are we being “all we can be?”
Are we being “all we can be” for those who need us to be their “all we can be?”
Living unto, into our full potential, Living up and into to a set of standards?
Have you ever felt like you are not living up to your God potential?
Ever felt like you ought to be closer to God than you are?
Or that you ought to know God better than you do?
We all get to a point in life when we have seen so much of life, where we have experienced so much of life, or where we have sinned against God and how we believe God wants us to live.
We succeed and then we fail.
We glorify God when we succeed and when we think we have done too many wrong things, have failed one too many times for God to continue to bless us.
We conclude we have sinned too much.
We have been too disobedient and we have wandered too far.
We have grown too old and too set in our ways, too inflexible in our thoughts.
Therefore God is done with us – change and transformation are not possible.
God won’t use me anymore.
God can’t use me anymore.
God will not use me anymore
God is through with me, God is certainly going to be washing His hands of me.
God is no longer available to me because I am no longer usable, available to God.
God is always available – ever vigilant, no slumber nor sleep, eyes always open!
God is always accessible!
The Kingdom of God is always going to be available.
The Kingdom of God is always going to be there.
The Kingdom of God is always going to be accessible.
The Question: will we ourselves always be available and accessible to God as God and the Kingdom of God is always and forever available, accessible to us?
Is our Prayer anything close to sounding like… (Psalm 90:12)
12 So teach us to number our days, That we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom?
In order not to lose track of where we are going and why we are going there, the psalmist encourages us to “ask God to teach us to number our days.”
The writer is not talking about any exercise of basic, simple nor complex math—that being our counting the number of days that we might potentially live.
No one knows “the number of our days” but God himself.
Rather, the psalmist wants us to realize that nothing in this life except living for God should be our ultimate goal, or the ultimate treasure we have in mind.
Money, fame, possessions—none of that will last.
As a popular sayings go,
“When you die, you can’t take it with you.”
“Ain’t never seen any U-Haul trailers hauled behind no Hearses.”
“That We May Cultivate and Bring to You a Heart of Wisdom.”
God is not done with you.
One more time – God is not done with you.
God is not done with me.
God is not done with any of us.
God has not quit on you.
God has not quit on me.
God has not given up on any of us.
God is still available to you.
God is still available to me.
God is still at work.
God still speaks and God still wants to be known.
Four key insights into God’s availability from Moses’s encounter with God.
Key 1 – Avoid being so consumed with life that you miss what God is doing.
Let’s turn to the Scripture and pick up with Moses, who is still far from God.
One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” Exodus 3:1-3
Moses wasn’t so consumed with his job that he didn’t notice the burning bush.
Now many of us might wonder what Moses has to be consumed with.
He was herding sheep, which is exhausting, mainly because they would have had some Rams in it.
Female sheep are called Ewes.
Male sheep are called Rams.
According to most farmers, the Rams are evil.
While ewes (the female sheep) are generally docile, non-aggressive animals, this is not usually the case with rams (the male sheep), especially during the breeding season.
Rams can be very aggressive and have been known to cause serious injuries, even the death of people.
Therefore, a ram should never be trusted, even if it is friendly or was raised as a pet.
It is essential always to know where the ram is and to never turn your back on him.
Moses sees this burning bush.
Common sense would tell a sheepherder to move the sheep away from the fire.
But Moses didn’t let the business of watching sheep keep him from noticing the God thing.
He did not turn away from the God thing.
Instead, he turned toward it, which leads to the following key.
Key 2 – Allow curiosity to lead you toward God – even when uncomfortable.
Our most significant victories and achievements rarely happen when we are comfortable.
Instead, they occur when we are willing to step outside our comfort zone.
They happen when we take what little faith we may have and trust God.
Moses noticed something was up.
He saw something out of place and unusual, a bush that wasn’t being consumed by the fire.
So he chose to move closer and find out what was going on.
The Scripture continues:
When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. The Lord responded, “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:4-7,10
Moses had to be freaking out that God was speaking to Him.
But he is also leaning in.
So it seems to me that there are a set of God things happening around us today.
A spiritual awakening of sorts is happening on some college campuses, in micro-church and church planting movements.
Don’t run away.
Lean in. Check it out.
Key 3 – After you begin to investigate what God is doing, expect God to speak.
There is so much in this passage.
Let’s reread a piece of it.
So, we can take a closer look.
When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. The Lord responded, “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Exodus 3:4-5
God did not speak to Moses until after Moses began to investigate.
Did you catch that?
God didn’t speak until AFTER Moses took a tangible step toward God.
God often waits for us to move closer to Him before He reveals more of Himself to us.
Here is the challenge.
We can get lost in our routine.
One of my favorite sayings goes like this:
“The problem with life is that it is so daily.”
Life in the wilderness as a shepherd would have been way routine.
First, take care of the sheep.
Next, find grass for the sheep.
Then, find water for the sheep.
A bush on fire would have been unusual.
But what made it way unusual?
What made it unique?
The bush is not being consumed – it is burning but not burning up.
There is a divine presence in the bush – it is holy ground.
God speaks from the bush.
Moses could have run away fast and furious.
But he chose to move in instead.
He chose to move toward God.
What’s the result of his moving closer to the things of God?
That leads to the fourth and final key.
Key 4 – Assume that continually moving closer to God will help you and me discover God more fully.
Moses discovers his purpose for the next phase of his life.
Moses gets the next step of his life laid out because of this connection with God.
“Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10
God being near to us isn’t just an old testament concept.
We see it all throughout the New Testament as well.
As Paul was reasoning with a crowd of atheists and people of other religions, he explained that God put people in specific times and places during history.
Check out Paul’s words:
“His purpose is for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him — though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:27
James – the leader of the early church – said it this way:
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8
Here is what it means to me:
God is as available to you and me as you and I are to Him.
Take advantage of that.
God is available to you as you are to Him.
Check out the promise in the Old Testament that is repeated often:
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
Don’t miss this:
We serve a God who wants to be found.
We serve a God who wants to be known.
We serve a God who wants to be discovered.
If you and I are far from God, it is because you and I have chosen to be far from God.
If you and I are not as close to God as you and I wish, that is all on you and me.
When we discipline ourselves to number each day with God as our main focus and guide and guardian, we gain deep wisdom for this life and the life to come.
Draw close to God, and God will draw near to you and close to me.
Take a step toward God, and God steps toward you.
Of course, I can’t and wont promise that if you and I do this, all our problems, hurts, and pains will be solved.
But I can promise you that if you move toward God, God will move toward you.
God will be with you and me as we journey through the ups and downs of life.
God is available.
God is accessible.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Almighty God, you are the source of all life. We know each day of our lives is a gift from your hand. Help us live each day in the light of your Word. Heavenly Father, thank You for each day of life and for the opportunities You have given me to live a life unto You. May each day of my life, from this day forward, be exercised in a way pleasing to You so that in all I say and do You may be glorified. In Jesus’ name I pray,
2 I said to myself, “I should have fun—I should enjoy everything as much as I can.” But I learned that this is also useless. 2 It is foolish to laugh all the time. Having fun does not do any good.
3 So I decided to fill my body with wine while I filled my mind with wisdom. I tried this foolishness because I wanted to find a way to be happy. I wanted to see what was good for people to do during their few days of life.
Does Hard Work Bring Happiness?
4 Then I began doing great things. I built houses, and I planted vineyards for myself. 5 I planted gardens, and I made parks. I planted all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made pools of water for myself, and I used them to water my growing trees. 7 I bought men and women slaves, and there were slaves born in my house. I owned many great things. I had herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. I owned more things than any other person in Jerusalem did.
8 I also gathered silver and gold for myself. I took treasures from kings and their nations. I had men and women singing for me. I had everything any man could want.
9 I became very rich and famous. I was greater than anyone who lived in Jerusalem before me. My wisdom was always there to help me. 10 Anything my eyes saw and wanted, I got for myself. My mind was pleased with everything I did. And this happiness was the reward for all my hard work.
11 But then I looked at everything I had done and the wealth I had gained. I decided it was all a waste of time! It was like trying to catch the wind.[a] There is nothing to gain from anything we do in this life.[b]
24-25 There is no one who has tried to enjoy life more than I have. And this is what I learned: The best thing people can do is eat, drink, and enjoy the work they must do. I also saw that this comes from God.[a]26 If people do good and please God, he will give them wisdom, knowledge, and joy. But those who sin will get only the work of gathering and carrying things. God takes from the bad person and gives to the good person. But all this work is useless. It is like trying to catch the wind.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
Chasing the Winds, Searching for the Winds
People always seem to be chasing after and searching for the “best” good life.
But what is the “best” good life anyway?
For some, it is an education – graduating from high school, or from college, it’s a successful career.
For others, it’s getting married and having a family, it is raising their children in such a way as it brings glory to God, the Father, God the Son, Holy Spirit.
For still others, it’s having a million dollars in the bank–or all of the above!
Whatever a person’s idea of the “best” good life is, it usually means having or doing something more, significantly more than what they have or can do now.
The writer of Ecclesiastes had an insatiable appetite for the good life.
We will read through the opening chapters and verses of Ecclesiastes, and we’ll see that he tried knowledge and education, pleasure and entertainment, wealth and kingly gifts, tons and tons of precious metals and gems and possessions, he traveled wide, partied, plotted, and perused everything the world has to offer.
He acquired much and achieved much.
But, in the end, what was ultimately achieved?
But in the end he was left empty inside.
Unholy Discontentment – chasing after winds he could never hope to catch.
Reaching for the Sun and searching for literally everything under the sun – in search for satisfaction, in search of the greatest measure of happiness possible.
But in the end of it all, the winds always elude him, satisfaction always eludes him, happiness always eludes him – forever tempting him to keep going forth in the full scale and joyful and highly satisfactory, joyful pursuit of all futility.
Human nature hasn’t changed much in their wholly satisfactory, joyful, joy-filled, reckless and feckless pursuit of maximum futility these past 3,000 years.
Many people still search for the good life in all the wrong places.
A staff member of a large, growing church recently told me of hearing many faith stories from new believers who “had it all” but were still empty inside.
I don’t know if there is a greater or more subtler foe of the gospel-oriented life than unholy discontentment – unholy pursuit of winds we can still not catch.
I throw in that “unholy” qualifier because there are times when God stirs up discontentment in our hearts – reaches into our hearts and captures futility, separates out the futility which has governed our lives and parades it before us.
So we can see for ourselves what governed and ruined the life of the Teacher – in a “human form” we can identify with and looking upon it – abhor its ugly.
To stop our pursuits of “everything meaningless under the sun – step in front of us, look directly and decisively look deep into our eyes – challenging, daring us to take one more step forward beyond what God has already determined to be well and good and the “best” “most joyful, satisfactory” pursuit of happiness.
I myself find myself spiritually tired of the pursuit of such winds that do not bring glory and honor unto God, the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I know people like to think, believe God is a “gentleman” who won’t interfere with our personal decision-making, but the max truth is that sometimes he graciously pesters us about a specific issue until we will respond in obedience.
He may want us to pursue a different vocation, a different ministry or mission solely for the sake of the Kingdom, pull back from a toxic relationship that is hindering our growth and usefulness, or leave the comfort of our first world culture and go walk and live, move amongst an “unreachable” people group.
There are times when the Holy Spirit creates restlessness in our souls, gently (but persistently) nudging us to hop aboard the greater will-of-God train.
I have experienced this kind of holy discontentment on a few occasions in my journey with Jesus – such was the original impetus for my writing devotions.
However, nowadays, what I experience more often is a fleshly, distracting, anger provoking, ministry, mission-abating kind of unholy discontentment.
You know, the kind of discontentment that entails me moping around and obsessing about all the things or experiences I don’t have but so desperately desire – desire solely for the purpose of bringing glory and honor unto God.
It seems like every four to six months or so, I begin to feel like my life is lacking and I need to pray over, to implement some circumstantial change or newness into it in order to be fulfilled – feel like I am doing something more for my God.
Switching vocations, more education, moving to a different city, making more money, getting a new gadget, going to a different church, making new friends, or pursuing a new ministry relationship status are just a few of the things I tend to entertain-I entertain them but struggle mightily to bring into Godly fruition.
None of these things are inherently unholy or bad, but when my compulsive pondering and praying on them (and sometimes impulsive pursuit of them) is driven purely by fleshly restlessness—well, that’s obviously, distressingly bad.
I become so obsessed with only thinking about the changes I could make or the things I could get, Jesus and his Kingdom almost completely fall off my radar.
This unholy discontentment wages more vicious war on my resolve to live a gospel-oriented life than any other sin struggle I experience.
And maybe I am being presumptuous, but I have a difficult time believing I am the only Christian who struggles mightily with this most discontenting mess.
I think it’s a spiritual virus we’re all constantly battling.
Some of us may try to satisfy our discontentment by shifting around our life circumstances (like me).
Some of us may try to numb it by turning to food or alcohol or or “nap times.”
Some of us may do all of the above or may do so significantly much more!
We all experience this inner-thirst of discontentment and try to satisfy it with all the wrong things in all the wrong places and at all of the wrong moments.
We sip from the all too many cups this world offers, only to be repeatedly reminded that they don’t contain the satisfying substance we really desire.
We indulge, manipulate our circumstances, and buy new things we do not need nor justify, yet we continue to find ourselves dissatisfied, fidgety, also, bored.
Single Mindedly Pursuing Satisfaction in God May Look Substantially Different Than What We Think.
So what are we to do?
What are we to “single mindedly” pursue?
Who are we to “single mindedly” pursue?
I think most Christians believe, understand that discontentment is birthed and nurtured in a heart that isn’t satisfied in God – “why doesn’t God move faster?”
So, obviously, the best way to go about fighting such unholy discontentment is to seek to be less satisfied in God, – reduce, diminish, minimize pursuing God !
Quite obviously facetious.
But why are so few of us so successful or such failures in that fight?
I know there are a lot of completely valid answers to both those questions, but I think a huge reason is many of us don’t know what “seeking to be less or more satisfied in our single minded pursuit of God” looks like, feels like or tastes like.
Contemporary Christian culture is jam-packed with fantastic sounding ideas, but the problem is most of us don’t know how to pull those magnificent ideas down from the clouds and single mindedly apply them unto our everyday lives.
We hear that we should find our deepest joy in God, and we respond to that with a thousand “amens!”—and then quickly realize we have no idea how to do that.
So, what does it actually look like to single mindedly seek satisfaction in God?
Some might say we should open our Bibles and seek to see the all-satisfying God it reveals.
And they’re 100% right; we should.
Head and Heart Knowledge of God – absolutely matters!
Head and Heart Knowledge of Jesus Christ – absolutely matters!
Head and Heart Knowledge of the Holy Spirit – absolutely matters!
The Holy Spirit cultivates fresh joy in our hearts as we shift our eyes away from the world and gaze upon God in his written word.
Positioning ourselves under the Holy Spirit’s power in prayerful Bible-reading and study brightens our vision, expands our vision of Christ and ushers us into the single minded pursuit of a God honoring, eternity-oriented state of mind.
But is this all a single minded pursuit of complete satisfaction in God entails?
Some may object, saying, “I already do that, though. I read the Bible constantly. I pray every day. And I still find myself mightily struggling to be content in Christ!”
I hear you—because this is also my personal spiritual experience.
Everyday, every morning I stay inside the Scriptures and prioritize prayer.
I don’t do these things perfectly by any means, but they are a part of my daily pursuit of a spiritually God glorifying, God honoring, God praising life.
And I praise God for giving me grace to seek him via these glorious means because doing so is such a huge part of my cultivating contentment in God!
However, reading and praying isn’t everything.
If it were, would I continue to find myself wrestling so regularly and intensely with discontentment?
Something the Lord began to teach me a few years ago when I started writing these devotions—and evidently something I have been slow to learn—is that there is too a deep well of spiritual satisfaction found in livingin the will of God.
A private pursuit of him or “quiet time” is part of his will for our lives, sure.
But it’s not the whole sum.
We weren’t spiritually resurrected just so we could sit in our bedrooms, take up much needed space at our dining room tables and read and study our Bibles.
We were cleansed of our sins at Calvary and endowed with the Holy Spirit that we might give the single minded totality of our lives over unto God’s purposes!
I find it to be no coincidence that the seasons I am most discontent are also the seasons I am just barely participating in the ministry of my church, loving my siblings in Christ poorly, not grabbing hold of the plentiful opportunities God is continually giving me to engage unbelievers with the grace, truth of the gospel.
And on the flipside, the seasons I am most content in God are the seasons I am most fully single mindedly pursuing, giving myself over to His will for my life!
I’ve found nothing more effective in shutting down the unholy discontentment than giving my time and energy to my wife, the ministry of the local church, my spiritual siblings, and those who have yet to enter into the deep joy of salvation.
If Christ’s single minded pursuit of “food” was to single mindedly do the will of His Father God, accomplish his work on earth (John 4:34), would not we do well also to single mindedly pursue such “God Food,” to feast upon the same things?
If discontentment is plaguing your heart today, I challenge you—as I also now challenge myself—to put your hands to the plow of God’s purposes for your life.
Find ways to single mindedly pursuit through study and fellowship the deeper knowledge, deeper truths of God, the Father and God the Son and Holy Spirit.
Devote yourselves to the single minded pursuit of prayer, talking with our God.
Devote yourselves to the single minded pursuit of connecting your whole family to God, the Father and God the Son and Holy Spirit thru your daily devotions.
Find ways to connect with and participate in the ministry’s of your church.
Find ways to love on your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Find ways to engage the lost with the gospel.
I guarantee you that if you will discipline yourselves to single mindedly toss idleness aside and submerge yourself in the ministry and mission of the gospel, a God-centered, Jesus centered, Holy Spirit centered, and Scripturally centered satisfaction will invade your soul, mercilessly crush unholy discontentment.
The good news is we now know Jesus is resurrected, alive and fully within us.
In our attempts to reach out in Jesus’ name, let’s not be intimidated by what people’s single minded pursuit of the sun and winds have acquired, achieved.
Nothing satisfies like God!
Nothing satisfies like Jesus!
Nothing satisfies like the Holy Spirit.
The greatest discovery is to learn that single mindedly losing yourself in Jesus our Savior and in his purpose for life is the only way to have true, lasting joy.
Steps to Single Mindedly Pursuing God
1. Carve out time to seek God:
God leaves us with instructions to start each day by teaching us to “seek Him first, then all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
I’m not saying it has to be the first thing you do when you wake up.
“Seek first” is an indication of priorities.
But I like the idea of filling my cup up with God’s spirit before I fill it up with what the world has to offer.
Decide on the best time that works for you and work to discipline yourself to make it a regularly scheduled part of your daily “I’ll God all the glory” routine.
2. Empty out your cup:
Before you can fill up your cup, you must first empty it out.
You cannot fill something up that is fully or partially full of other things.
Pour out your hurts, concerns, worries, agenda, unforgiveness, sin, and requests as God says to “cast all your burdens on Him” (1 Peter 5:7).
Once you empty yourself out,
it leaves room for you to then fill yourself back up with Him.
3. Fill up with God’s word and strive to memorize Scripture:
Receive the word of God like an athlete might receive an energy bar.
Scripture is food and nourishment for your spirit.
It is crucial to fill your cup up with the “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) words of Scripture, because they consist of all the essential truths for our pursuing God.
Dissatisfaction and Discontentment of the World
Dissatisfaction and discontentment will always be present if we are single mindedly pursuing and filling our cups with things or people of this world.
Jesus teaches the Samaritan women at the well a valuable lesson.
This woman tried to find her satisfaction in other people.
She went from husband to new husband searching for satisfaction.
Jesus taught her, that“whoever drinks of this water [the water the world offers] will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst”(John 4:13-14).
Worldly Satisfaction Does Not Go with You or Me to Eternity
Here me when I say this –
there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the joyful things of this world.
God wants for us to enjoy the gifts He gives us (Matthew 7:11), inasmuch as they direct us to glorify, honor and praise Him for all the good things He has made.
But if you are searching for fulfillment and satisfaction from the things of the world, that is where you will always be left searching, never fully satisfied, as material things are only temporary, and only going to end up rusting away.
We live in a world chocked full of the single minded pursuit of fantastic lies, but thankfully, we have the truth of our Savior Jesus to fill us up at our fingertips.
The God that makes us whole and fulfills us makes us alive forever.
The same God we have maximum access to while we are here on this earth through our Savior Jesus Christ and the ministry and works of the Holy Spirit.
And it’s through the Holy Spirit that we find the only true maximum allowable satisfaction, not discontenting things of the world that won’t join us in eternity.
All Glory, Honor and Praise be unto God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is 100% now, forever shall be, worlds without end!
In the name of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
God of truth, sometimes I not sure if I’m actually hearing your voice, or if it’s just my own sinful thoughts or even another spirit. Sharpen my spiritual hearing, Lord, so I can recognize your words when you are speaking to me. Help me know it’s really you, with no doubt or second-guessing. When I’m asking for your guidance in life’s important decisions, give me your peace that surpasses understanding with your answer. Help me remember that your words to me will never go against your written word in the Bible. Give me a clear mind and push out all my confusion. Lord, may we discover anew that the “best” good life is found only in relationship with you. Fill us with yourself. May our spiritual hunger draw us and others to your side. In Jesus,
3 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your[a] life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
In the miracle of conversion, a number of things happen.
Our sins are forgiven, we are adopted into God’s family, and we are given the status of sons and daughters.
Not only that, but we are also given a new location with Christ in the heavenly places.
There is for the Christian a radical change in our spiritual environment as a result of our union with the risen Christ—and it is our place in Christ that securely establishes our priorities.
It is because we have been “raised with Christ” that we are to “seek the things that are above.”
This reality was important for the new followers of the Colossian church to try to grasp.
As Paul was writing to them, they were being influenced by deceptive doctrine.
False teachers were imposing man-made rules upon them, saying, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (Colossians 2:21).
Yet these external rules, which were intended to improve their moral behavior, ironically were “of no value in stopping the indulgences of the flesh” (v 23).
The same remains true for us: even when we attempt to remove ourselves from sin, we will not ever be able to completely stop our own propensity towards that which is truly impure, unholy, and untrue.
This form of external religion was a bad virus that was threatening to embed itself within the Colossian church, combining doctrinal confusion with moral carelessness. (The two go hand in hand.)
So Paul addressed the issue by reminding his Colossian readers that the way to get to begin getting a grip with our behavior is by beginning to understand who and whose we are—what our lives have become through the Lord Jesus Christ.
As Christians, our lives are wrapped up in Jesus. We are in Him, and He is in us.
We have been raised to live outward with Christ, our lives are hidden in Him.
This fact alone is the only sure basis of our security—our confidence in the face of our own propensity to do wrong things.
Are are we trying to live the Christian life alone, the “shy Christian” the “best intentions Christian” by your own efforts and fight our sin in our own strength?
Are we seeking to be a better Christian and wondering why it is proving elusive—or, worse, are we beginning to wonder whether we are a Christian at all or whether it is worth the effort to share our Savior with another human being?
God’s Heart Does Not, Must Not, Ever Stop With Us
One of the greatest privileges as a child of God is that with our Savior Jesus Christ living in and within us, we all have the heart of our heavenly Father.
We do not have to wonder how God feels about us.
We do not have to wonder if God will guide us.
We do not have to question whether God loves us or God cares for, about, us.
Through the Holy Spirit we have continual, free access to the heart of God.
By sharing God, and caring for our neighbors our relationship with God will grow deeper, become freer as we learn how to have God’s heart in this life.
1 John 4:7-10 Easy-to-Read Version
Love Comes From God
7 Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child. And so everyone who loves knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his only Son into the world to give us life through him. 10 True love is God’s love for us, not our love for God. He sent his Son as the way to take away our sins.
As wonderful and life-giving as it is to access the heart of God for ourselves, having God’s heart beating within, is not, was not ever meant to stop with us.
His heart is meant to fill us, empower us, and transform us, pour forth from us unto our neighbors, to surely live in such a way we are “light in the darkness”.
Matthew 5:14-16 Easy-to-Read Version
14 “You are the light that shines for the world to see. You are like a city built on a hill that cannot be hidden. 15 People don’t hide a lamp under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand. Then the light shines for everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.
As a believer you and I can reveal the heart of God to others.
We’ve been given access to a deep, revelatory knowledge of God’s love that you might shine the light of God’s goodness to a world that only knows darkness.
You and I can reveal the heart of God through the very way you and I honor yours and mine neighbors rather than speaking ill intent of our neighbors.
You and I can represent the humility of Jesus by serving our neighbor rather than being self-seeking.
Lifting the basket off of ourselves, we can reveal the light of God’s grace in our lives by offering compassion when others treat you or your neighbor poorly.
And you can display the courage that comes from a true understanding of God’s unconditional love by living authentically rather than building up a false image.
You and I were made to share God’s heart.
You and I were made to reveal God’s heart.
You and I were made to co-labor with God, our Savior Jesus and the Holy Spirit in seeing the truth of the gospel proclaimed and bear fruit in the lives of others.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
God has critically important work prepared for you and me today.
Look for opportunities to share what God, through Christ is doing in our life.
Look continuously, constantly for ways we can be that more genuine reflection of the aspects of God’s heart He is revealing to you and me every single day.
Do not let the love of God be hidden with us, contained within us like a super top classified “eyes only” secret, but “blow all whistled,” unveil it, share it freely, knowing His love never runs out, is what every human heart, is searching for.
Make a Friend, Be a Friend, Bring a Friend to Christ
Have you ever had the joy of sharing Christ with someone and actually seeing that person sit beside you and come to know the Lord as their personal Savior?
There is nothing quite the same in this world like it!
We know that resurrected Jesus said, “ye shall be witnesses unto me” (Acts 1:8).
How do we do what Jesus said?
Colossians 3:1-4 The Message
He Is Your Life
3 1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
He is so much a complete part of my life, I need to constantly “pray it forward.”
I need to be constantly aware of that the basket over my life needs to be lifted.
I need to be living a life which is more “God forward” than it is “me behind.”
to just go ahead and unleash this thought and this prayer from within me …
Psalm 19:11-14 The Message
11-14 There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool? Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin. These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.
Getting to the Point of Asking: “Excuse Me, How is it With Your Soul?”
This is the sort of “self talk” which constantly runs through any too shy spirit:
“Everywhere I go people say to me, it is the old familiar story –
“I really want to bring someone to Christ, but I just don’t know where to start.”
I know it is true because I can confess my own guilty thoughts in this manner.
Please, Let me give you a few ideas that you may try to put into practice today…
Create a soul winning prayer list. Write down the names of those that you know need Christ and commit to pray for them every day. Ask the Lord to use you to personally reach them. Remember, we cannot pray if we are not willing to obey.
Commit gospel Scriptures to memory. We are to be ready always to give an explanation of the gospel (Ephesians 6:15; 1 Peter 3:15). The greatest thing you can give to others is God’s Word. Begin with John 3:16 and great salvation verses out of Romans. Memorize them. Meditate on them. Minister them to others.
Share your story. If you are a believer you have a story to tell! It is the story of how you came to know Christ and what He means to you. Next to the Scriptures it is the most powerful resource you have. Practice giving it to someone and prepare to give it to as many people as possible. Those who will never listen to a sermon will listen to your story.
Demonstrate the love of Christ. The gospel message begins with “For God so loved the world that He gave…” His love breaks down barriers and removes prejudices. Ask the Lord to help you show kindness to others. A little kindness may open a big door for the gospel.
Give gospel literature to others wherever you go. So many people I have met through the years were brought to Christ when reading a gospel tract. Never underestimate the power of the printed Word. As available, carry literature with you in a back pack. Accompany it with a personal word. God can use simple tools to accomplish His work.
Bring someone with you to a church service specifically to hear the gospel. Communicate to your pastor that you are prayerfully bringing someone with you who needs the Lord. Pray God will open their heart as they hear the truth.
Have a Bible study in your home or on the job. Starting, Inviting, Hosting an informal Bible study will give opportunities to get acquainted, discuss spiritual truths with neighbors and co-workers. Many people who would not “feel right” going to a church service or prayer meeting would come to a friend’s home.
Ask people to read the Gospel of John and to tell you what they think. I have had the greatest joy of seeing people come to faith in Christ through simply reading the Scriptures. At the very least, it opens the conversation about who Christ is. The Word of God for the Children of God is living, active, dynamic, powerful!
Pray daily, together as much as possible for divine appointments. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you both someone to talk to. That is a powerful prayer He will answer in His time! When answered, then the both of you live expectantly, looking everywhere for people that you can share the good news with.
Actually Begin. (Acts 2:37-47, Acts 3:1-10)No one becomes an effective witness by only reading about it. It is time to get off the pews, our couches, and get in the game! We all get nervous, but as we obey the Lord He has promised to help us.
Ask the Lord to prepare your heart and the the heart of some soul and give you a divine appointment today!
Some will respond positively.
Some will respond politely.
Some will respond politically.
Some will respond correctly.
Still more will respond out and out with vast amounts of negativity.
As we live, love and move and have our being in this world, don’t dwell upon your failures or look to your own performance as the basis of your security.
Be encouraged, keep trying as the Apostles did through out the Book of Acts.
Perhaps a study of the Book of Acts is the encouragement needed right now.
You have been raised with Christ.
He alone is your hope.
Make His glory, and not your own goodness, the focus of your days and you will find our behavior will certainly bear testimony to His life-transforming power.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit for as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be – risen lives, risen souls, worlds without end.
In the name of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
1. Meditate on the importance of sharing God’s heart with the world. Allow Scripture to fill you with a desire to be a reflection of God’s heart.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
2. What aspect of God’s heart can you share with someone today? What part of God’s character can you reflect to the world around you?
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to put a person or group of people on your heart that he wants you to love well today. Ask him how he wants to use you to reveal the heart of God.
An important aspect of sharing God’s heart is trusting in faith, remembering that God will surely, certainly use your heart beat to inspire other heart beats.
When you choose to live a life co-laboring with your heavenly Father you get to experience the supernatural.
It’s miraculous when people choose to accept Jesus.
It’s astounding when our service, compassion, and love tears down walls around people’s hearts that they might be more open to God.
Don’t just live a normal life today.
Live a “I Am risen in Christ life today.”
Allow God to use you by sharing his heart.
May your day be filled with an abundance of miracles, signs and wonder and a ceaseless unrelenting awe at your heavenly Father who will unhesitatingly use you, me, us, in mighty and powerful ways – to build up His Kingdom on Earth.
7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.[a]10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
Community Is Our Doing Difficult Things Together
When Jesus sent out his disciples, he had very specific thoughts in mind.
He sent them out together to do difficult things.
He sent them out together.
He gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff.
He charged them to take no bread, no bag, no money in their belts.
He charged them to wear only one tunic at a time and wear only sandals.
He charged them to knock on doors they did not know and ask for hospitality.
He sent them out into the villages ahead of them to preach and to heal.
He charged them to give their testimony wherever they went and stayed.
That meant each of the six pairs of Apostles went to six different villages.
To proclaim a message of repentance and of the coming of God’s Kingdom.
Even though it was incredibly unlikely they had a very clear grasp of exactly what they were being commanded to preach and give their testimony about.
And it is highly doubtful that any one of the twelve Apostles had spent any amount of time or expended any measure of effort towards believing they had the ability, could exercise any authority or power over any unclean spirits.
I’m sure they were apprehensive at first.
I am not so sure they seriously believed they could actually accomplish the task before them, to act directly, decisively in the astounding measure of confidence they were told, nay commanded by Jesus, to display before all of those people.
One does not get the very clear idea that any one of those twelve believed that much in themselves, believed that they had that even minimal value to others.
But, one thing is abundantly clear about this whole scene and that is Jesus said nothing to them about of any rescinding his direct command of their mission.
He commanded them to “Go!”
Told them how and when to “Go!”
And such was his command of the moment and his authority over the twelve:
So, in obedience, Go they did out into those random villages ahead of them.
What were they told to expect of their efforts – nothing specific.
What did Jesus hope and pray they learned from whatever levels of success or failure each of them would report back to him with?
Again, we note there were no specific expectations of success or failure.
No standards of measure for either success or failure are given to anyone.
No graphs or charts, no percentages, no lectures from any in management.
“Go! and do as I have commanded exactly as I have commanded you!”
“Learn your unspecified lessons from your efforts and report back to me.”
Unspecified Lessons being perhaps:
“Learning of God.”
“Trusting in God”
“Testifying and Witnessing of and to God”
“Your immeasurable inestimable undeniable VALUE to the Kingdom of God”
But when they came back, with no specific expectations having been placed upon them they each had amazing stories to tell of God’s power displayed in their world and perhaps hidden even from their own perception – Value to God!
They returned to Jesus with a new found confidence.
They returned to Jesus with a new found sense of self esteem, value to others.
They learned to believe in themselves.
They learned to believe in themselves and to value themselves.
They learned to have confidence in God.
They learn to trust and believe in God.
They learn to highly value God in the undeniable role God plays in their lives.
They learned to have confidence, to trust in, place high, higher, highest value on the words and the plans and the intentions and the works of their Rabbi.
God, together with us in faith Community brings all of that ‘wonder’ together.
How many of those villagers lives were touched and transformed, now found themselves with a renewed, fresh and refreshed and refreshing belief in God?
How many of those villagers found themselves and their curiosity peaked to start wondering about and following this Itinerant master Rabbi named Jesus?
It goes and does difficult things together—all the time witnessing the amazing work of God in the world around us, all the time assigning inestimable value to each, every one of us, what we have to bring “just as we are” unto His Kingdom.
Are We Recognizing Our Value to God’s Kingdom?
John 15:12-17 English Standard Version
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
When we think of these original apostles, we perhaps think of holy men of God.
And though they were gifted and dedicated, they also were all rather ordinary.
Jesus did not call these men because they were great; their greatness was the result of the call upon their lives through Jesus being obedient to His Father.
A great writer can take an ordinary unvalued piece of paper, and with the addition of his or her words, and God it suddenly becomes extremely valuable.
It wasn’t the blank piece of paper that was valuable; it was what the inspired thoughts which the writer, for whatever reason, just put down on that paper.
History has repeatedly taught us that a great artist can take a canvas and paint, and suddenly it becomes $$$$ costly work of art because of what the artist did.
It wasn’t the canvas that was valuable; it is what the inspired artist painted on the canvas.
As believers, we recognize in ourselves that we are sinners separated from God.
But let’s also recognize that when Christ came into our lives, He gave us value.
He put His treasure in earthen vessels, or in jars of clay, which are our lives.
As 2 Corinthians 4:7 tells us, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”
As Ephesians 2:8-10 Amplified so eloquently reminds each and every one of us;
8 For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; 9 not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. 10 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].
With a new confidence and boldness, we have something to offer.
It is not self-confidence; it is God-confidence.
It is not self-esteem; it’s God-esteem.
God graciously forgave us and took us into His kingdom, and now He has made us someone of inestimable value to the work which God began at the beginning.
In the same way,
the original twelve apostles, called by their Master Rabbi Jesus were valuable because of what Jesus did in their lives, by summoning and sending them too.
Valued of Mankind versus Valued of God
“Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee, though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see, only thou art holy; there is none beside thee, perfect in power, in love and purity.”
Sinful man who goes to indescribable, unnecessary lengths to devalue itself in the eyes of self and of each other, devalue others through indescribable means,
Indescribably, stereotypically “crucify,” unimaginably devalue and degrade, disenchant, disenfranchise, dehumanize and to fully and utterly humiliate,
Sinful man whose eyes no longer are focused upon the inestimable value of life which God has assigned to each, every single cell of one of His own creations,
From the very beginning of all created things, and through the very end of all created things, God has always had one very specific, undervalued message;
God’s never changing message to everyone is exactly and exactingly this:
Genesis 1:26-27 Authorized (King James) Version
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
“I, and I alone assign all the value you will ever need or require in your life!”
God wrote His name on your heart when you gave your life to Jesus Christ.
He has given you incomparable value, valuable gifts and invaluable abilities.
He has fully, utterly and completely invested everything of Himself in you.
That is where your absolute value to God and His Kingdom comes from.
And that’s why you can make an absolutely miraculous, wondrous difference.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Psalm 139:1-18 Complete Jewish Bible
139 (0) For the leader. A psalm of David:
(1) Adonai, you have probed me, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I stand up, you discern my inclinations from afar, 3 you scrutinize my daily activities. You are so familiar with all my ways 4 that before I speak even a word, Adonai, you know all about it already. 5 You have hemmed me in both behind and in front and laid your hand on me. 6 Such wonderful knowledge is beyond me, far too high for me to reach.
7 Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I climb up to heaven, you are there; if I lie down in Sh’ol, you are there. 9 If I fly away with the wings of the dawn and land beyond the sea, 10 even there your hand would lead me, your right hand would hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Let darkness surround me, let the light around me be night,” 12 even darkness like this is not too dark for you; rather, night is as clear as day, darkness and light are the same.
13 For you fashioned my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I thank you because I am awesomely made, wonderfully; your works are wonders — I know this very well. 15 My bones were not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes could see me as an embryo, but in your book all my days were already written; my days had been shaped before any of them existed. 17 God, how I prize your thoughts! How many of them there are! 18 If I count them, there are more than grains of sand; if I finish the count, I am still with you.
Psalm 139:23-24 Complete Jewish Bible
23 Examine me, God, and know my heart; test me, and know my thoughts. 24 See if there is in me any hurtful way, and lead me along the eternal way.
Invaluable Father, Invaluable Son, Invaluable Holy Spirit, send us into the world together, in your inestimable name, to immeasurably love and value all thy children and to ceaselessly witness to your power at work through changing lives. Let us each bring to you only ceaseless, incalculable, indescribable, immeasurable, inestimable, invaluable, unrelenting glory unto your name and into your name alone. Amen.
12 We tell everyone that Christ was raised from death. So why do some of you say that people will not be raised from death? 13 If no one will ever be raised from death, then Christ has never been raised. 14 And if Christ has never been raised, then the message we tell is worth nothing. And your faith is worth nothing. 15 And we will also be guilty of lying about God, because we have told people about him, saying that he raised Christ from death. And if no one is raised from death, then God never raised Christ from death. 16 If those who have died are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised from death, then your faith is for nothing; you are still guilty of your sins.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
Doubters Going to Doubt, Haters – Hate
We are at the closing words of Paul’s First Letter to the followers at Corinth.
Despite the Corinthian Christians being saved by grace through faith in Christ, Paul had some severe concerns about their ungodly conduct, their spiritual immaturity, their argumentative behavior, and their abuse of spiritual gifts.
When any church fellowship allows carnality to enter its gates and permits the philosophy of the world to infiltrate its ranks, it is not the least surprising that doubts, false doctrines begin to proliferate and false teachers enter the flock of God – knowingly, unknowingly muddying the crystal-clear message from God.
Sadly, this is what happened at the Church at Corinth to such a great extent… that the central, foundational facts of their faith in Christ’s death, burial, and Resurrection became so distorted the saints had started to deny the likelihood of Christ’s actual resurrection and of their very own resurrection from the dead.
Although they did acknowledge that there was some form of life after death … they had started to suggest that there would be no bodily resurrection from the grave – they didn’t believe in the physical resurrection of the body through God.
These early 1st Century Christians, with their limited understanding, bought into the mistaken belief that there is no physical resurrection from the dead.
Though some may have yet believed in some type of spiritual afterlife – Paul found it necessary to cover this complex, growing misunderstanding, in great detail in 1st Corinthians 15 – which is often called the Resurrection Chapter.
In this closing part of his letter, step by step, Paul was guiding these confused Christians through the gospel message of grace – that Christ died for our sins according to the Words of available Scripture, and that he was buried, and was raised from the dead, according to the Scripture.
He made the substantial effort to remind them that following his death, Jesus appeared to James and the other apostles and that He ate and drank with them.
He further reminded them through the availability of many yet living witnesses who saw Him with their own eyes and touched Him with their very own hands.
These early believers in Corinth needed be bottle and spoon fed “spiritual milk” before given their forks “stab, dig into,” with gusto, to feast and feed on, fully ingest the “best spiritual meat and potatoes” of the most fulfilling, nourishing central tenets of their faith to understand that Christ was their very pattern –
and that all who believe on His name must follow in His footsteps… for He is the firstborn from the dead – the first of many who will be raised into life immortal.
To mature in their faith, know their old sin nature was put to death with Christ on the Cross, and they received a new nature, a new life being the life of Christ.
And just as they are identified with their new life, this new life hidden in Christ, with Christ’s resurrection, so they are identified with His bodily Resurrection.
Why We Can Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Easy-to-Read Version
The Good News About Jesus Christ
15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want you to remember the Good News I told you. You received that Good News message, and you continue to base your life on it. 2 That Good News, the message you heard from me, is God’s way to save you. But you must continue believing it. If you don’t, you believed for nothing.
3 I gave you the message that I received. I told you the most important truths: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say; 4 that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day, as the Scriptures say; 5 and that he appeared to Peter and then to the twelve apostles. 6 After that Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James and later to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he appeared to me. I was different, like a baby born before the normal time.
With these words, Apostle Paul pointed out believing on Christ’s Resurrection is foundational to the Corinthian follower’s faith – because He lives, we will also live, in newness of life – in newness of the abundant life only available in Christ.
Translating This Into Our 21st Century Context
Scripture teaches that we will one day receive a body like unto His glorious body… uncorrupted by sin – an immortal body of flesh and bone that will never die – for His life-blood was shed at Calvary so that we might receive His resurrected life in an incorruptible body, through the power of the Spirit.
Like Jesus, we are to be raised spirit, soul, and BODY.
If Christ had not been raised from the dead, then everything about the glorious gospel of grace, and our faith in the Lord Jesus would be false and worthless!!
“If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is worthless,” Paul wrote, “and you are still in your sins!”1 Corinthians 15:17
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the emptiness of the Tomb, the immovable stone rolled away are the exact cornerstone of our Christian faith.
If Christ did not rise from the dead, your faith is in vain. But you can be assured that the good news is true. Jesus Christ “was buried [and] he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4).
Throughout the ages, countless skeptics have tried to disprove the Resurrection experience, but after two thousand some odd years, it stands to the test of time.
Scriptural Proofs of the Resurrection
2 Timothy 3:14-17 Easy-to-Read Version
14 But you should continue following the teaching you learned. You know it is true, because you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have known the Holy Scriptures[a] since you were a child. These Scriptures are able to make you wise. And that wisdom leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching and for showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live. 17 Using the Scriptures, those who serve God will be prepared and will have everything they need to do every good work.
Here are at least six proofs that reveal Savior Jesus actually rose from the dead:
First Proof— The Resurrection was foretold by Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. —Matthew 16:21
Second Proof— The Resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for His empty tomb.
Joseph brought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. —Mark 15:46
Third Proof— The Resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the appearance of Jesus Christ to his disciples.
He was buried…raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and…appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to…me also, as to one abnormally born. —1 Corinthians 15:4-8
Fourth Proof— The Resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the beginning of the Christian Church.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a noise came from heaven. It sounded like a strong wind blowing. This noise filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw something that looked like flames of fire. The flames were separated and stood over each person there. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages. The Holy Spirit was giving them the power to do this.– Acts 2:1-4
This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. —Acts 2:23-24
Fifth Proof— The Resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the transformation of the disciples.
The disciples went into hiding in an upper room “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19).
After seeing and talking with Jesus for approximately six weeks, they went out to “turn the world upside down” (see Acts 17:6), and fearlessly proclaiming Jesus Christ (also see Acts 3:12-26; 4:1-33; 8:4; 17:6).
Sixth Proof— The Damascus Road Experience: The witness of the apostle Paul and the transformation of his life, can be reasonably explained only because of the resurrection of Christ. Acts 9:1-22
“Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 9:22).
There are undoubtedly more “proofs” other far more educated people can bring to the forefront of a public debate, discussion on this critically important topic.
I am a laity person – I have no seminary nor any theological school background.
It is my prayerful intent and hope that by anyone reading this devotional, that a whole host of significant discussions will be forthcoming and undertaken in all manner of places and times amongst Christians everywhere this writing is read.
Quality time and effort is expended in diligent study of the Word of God for His Children, not just study but significant times spent fellowshipping and prayer.
There is a great many “1st Century Corinthian followers” among us even today.
There are many on the streets who will not hesitate to “in your face” directly confront our faith and our knowledge of the central tenets of the resurrection.
It absolutely matters to the Kingdom of God that we can make our sure defense.
Someone’s eternal soul hangs by the very barest and least visible of threads.
How prepared are any one us reading this devotional to walk up to any stranger
Ask the single most important question anyone, every one needs to hear:
IS IT WELL WITH YOUR SOUL TODAY?
Let us pray that soon and very soon we can all come together to console each other, to reconcile ourselves with God, study the truth of God’s Word and read and plumb the deepest depths of this amazing 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians, and let us discover and let us extract and let us each share the truest wonders of the bodily resurrection that is now ours in Christ.
All who have been saved by grace through faith in Him, have been promised their earthly, perishable body will be raised a heavenly, imperishable body.. and our mortal flesh will be changed into immortality in the twinkling of an eye.
How wonderful would it be for the Kingdom of God to know we can sing with all the saints: “Where exactly O death is your victory and Where O grave is your sting?”
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Heavenly Father, thank You for the amazing 15th chapter of Corinthians which goes into such specific detail about Christ’s victory over sin and death – on our account. I praise and thank You that because of His great sacrifice on the Cross and glorious, bodily Resurrection, we too are raised into newness of life in Christ – not only in this world but also into the eternal ages to come, where we will be clothed in our eternal, resurrected bodies – for when we see Him as He is we shall be like Him, for which I cannot, will not cease to praise Your holy name. Thank You, in Jesus’ name, AMEN.