Built for God’s Purpose 

Today’s verse and devotional thoughts come from “The Gospel Daily“. 

 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Scientists can tell us about the intricacy of the make-up of the human body. With every system designed for an exact function, all designed to work together in perfect harmony. Each of us is unique, designed by God for a specific purpose. Only a loving Creator could do that. We should praise God because we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Each one of us designed just right, for a specific purpose, a specific role, in His plan. – Commentary by Mary Frances Morden

Today’s Prayer:

Creator, God, we praise You for creating us in Your image. We praise You for trusting us to do Your work and to follow the path You have designed for each one of us. Amen.

He will carry the lambs in His arms!

– Arthur Pink 

“He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart.He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.” Isaiah 40:11 

Our Lord has . . .

  many weak children in His family,

  many dull pupils in His school,

  many fearful soldiers in His army,

  many lame sheep in His flock. 

Yet He bears with them all, and casts none away.

By Christ’s gracious aid, the believer is preserved from being totally submerged by his doubts and fears. 

By His renewing operations, the spark of faith is maintained, despite all the fierce winds of Satan which assail. 

By His mighty enabling, the sorely harassed and groaning Christian is kept from sinking in abject despair. 

By His quickening power, hope is still kept alive, and the voice of prayer is still faintly heard.

There is no danger of the individual saint being overlooked amidst the multitude of supplicants who daily and hourly present their various petitions–for an infinite Mind is as capable of paying the same attention to millions, as if only one individual were seeking its attention!

  

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are . . . Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

   

On That Tree

I’ve been writing a little more the last week or so in different forms: getting back to journaling mostly but also some haikus. Today I’d like to share a tanka with you (which is similar to haiku but has a meter of 5-7-5-7-7) that I wrote this morning.

Humble yourself for
Mercy and grace given free
Rejoice and receive
Salvation today poor soul
Your debt was paid on that tree

The Distant Lights of a Great City

“A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Mat 5:14).

Stand with me for a moment on this precipice as we look across a vast valley to a distant City on a Hill. It’s twilight time, and the lights of the City fill the evening sky. What we do not know from here is that we are not looking at one City, but actually Five. The combined glow of their united lights look as though it is one great city in the distance.

The five magnificent municipalities we see filling the distant sky with their inviting lights are the City of Love, of Mercy, of Goodness, of Favor and the City of Grace. Each is distinct from the other, yet all have open commerce between them. The inhabitants in this happy Metropolis come and go without restriction – and the lives they live are legendary.

Let me give you what the tourism brochure says about each of the Five Cities:

The City of the Love of God is immeasurable – none can determine it length, its breadth, its height, or its width. The Love of God is “greater far than pen or tongue could ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell.” The residents live secure and productive lives. The glow of this City calls out to all around the world: Come as you are! God loves YOU – even if you do not love Him in return. His Love never fails.

The City of the Mercy of God is breathtakingly beautiful. God’s tender mercies are over all His works – given freely to all; especially to those who ask for it. But even to those who do not ask, God’s Mercy is shown in great supply. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed. He makes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust; He gives rain to the wicked, and to the righteous. His compassions fail not; they are new every morning.

The City of the Goodness of God extends it resplendent influence throughout all the earth, bringing untold blessings to every fallen child of Adam. “Why do good things happen to bad people?” we ask. Because God is good all the time; and all the time, God is good. It is the Goodness of God that brings us to repentance. No man or woman will have a claim that he or she may lay against God on the Day of Judgement – for He has been forever good to each one of us throughout the days of our sojourn in this world.

The City of the Favor of God is a place of unique blessings, which ebb and flow like the tide; there are seasons of great advance in which one may seem invincible on their God-appointed mission. And then there are setbacks and downturns, in which it would seem that even God Himself has turned His back. Yet, while His Favor may seem diminished – His Love and Mercy are always present. And even when things seem to be tuned upside down, God is nevertheless working all things together for our good. Even in the stillness He is yet favoring us with blessings.

The City of the Grace of God is the Crown Jewel of all God’s greatness. It holds within itself the full supply of everything we need to excel and triumph in all things. We are journeying to this place called Grace. Yes, it is true that we see and experience Love, Mercy, Goodness, and Favor all together within the incomprehensible gift of Grace – but, we must no longer view these as being Grace. Grace is something much, much more than this.

And Grace stands alone.

And this is the purpose of our journey; to arrive at a Place called Grace, where we will stand amazed in the Presence of Jesus – thanking Him for His “unspeakable gift!”

From the daily devotional “Rylisms”.

Psalm 23

IMG_0630Down through the last couple of weeks the 23rd Psalm has loomed large in my mind. For many years this psalm was one that I didn’t want to think of or hear very often. Despite it being one of the most well known and loved texts of the Bible, for me it was an unwelcome reminder of tragedy and loss: this was the Scripture preached at my dad’s funeral. Being only nine years old, and him a mere 29, when he died, and associating Psalm 23 with his death, these six verses brought little comfort to me, unlike they do and have for countless others.

Not long ago I read the account of how so old hymns came to be, their stories behind the lyrics. Many of them surprised me, touched me, and made me think more deeply about the words, knowing their inspiration. One such old song is “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and I would like to share a bit about its origin with you as we get ready to delve into our discussion today.

Thomas Andrew Dorsey was a black jazz musician from Atlanta. In the twenties he gained a certain amount of notoriety as the composer of jazz tunes with suggestive lyrics, but he gave all that up in 1926 to concentrate exclusively on spiritual music. “Peace in the Valley” is one of his best known songs, but there is a story behind his most famous song that deserves to be told.

In 1932 the times were hard for Dorsey. Just trying to survive the depression years as a working musician meant tough going. On top of that, his music was not accepted by many people. Some said it was much too worldly-the devil’s music, they called it. Many years later Dorsey could laugh about it. He said, “I got kicked out of some of the best churches in the land.” But the real kick in the teeth came one night in St. Louis when he received a telegram informing him that his pregnant wife had died suddenly.

Dorsey was so filled with grief that his faith was shaken to the roots, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, he turned to the discipline he knew best-music. In the midst of agony he wrote the following lyrics:
Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand.
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light;
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.

As we begin to read this psalm I think it’s clear that David was a man of some age, experience, and wisdom by the time he, under inspiration, penned it. I imagine that he was reflecting on his youth and of the many times in his life that God had protected him, provided for him, and pondering the good things that layer yet ahead for him in his life.

Psalms 23:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

For David, and the culture in general during biblical times, the shepherd was a very familiar figure; David had been a shepherd himself in his earlier life. The Lord is referred to as our Shepherd throughout Scripture, Old and New Testament, among other places:
Gen 48:15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,
Psa 80:1 To the chief Musician upon Shoshannimeduth, A Psalm of Asaph. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.
Isa 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Joh 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
Heb 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
1Pe 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
1Pe 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Think about this: the all-knowing, all powerful, always present Creator of everything that was, is, or will be willingly takes on this lowly role for you and me; pretty humbling, isn’t it?

Being provided for by this Shepherd, how could His flock, us, ever be in want? He who is their Shepherd has all power in heaven and earth; therefore he can protect them. The silver and gold are his, and the cattle on a thousand hills; and therefore he can sustain them. He has all that they need, and his heart is full of love to mankind; and therefore he will withhold from them no manner of thing that is good.
Psa 34:9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
Psa 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Rom 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Psalms 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Places of tender, young growth grass. The idea and imagery being a place of tender softness, perfectly suited to cool, sooth, feed, and rest the flock. These waters are of stillness, which invite one to rest and relaxation, in contrast to churning streams of turmoil and stagnant ponds of offense. This is a place where the flock are fully satisfied, in peaceful rest, and provided for by the Shepherd.
Isa 49:9-10 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. (10) They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

Psalms 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Literally, “He causes my life to return.” Or, “He quickens me,” or causes me to live. The word soul” here means life, or spirit, and not the soul in the strict sense in which the term is now used. It refers to the spirit when exhausted, weary, or sad; and the meaning is, that God quickens or vivifies the spirit when thus exhausted. The reference is not to the soul as wandering or backsliding from God, but to the life or spirit as exhausted, wearied, troubled, anxious, worn down with care and toil. the heart, thus exhausted, He re-animates. He brings back its vigor. He encourages it; excites it to new effort; fills it with new joy. He leads me along the straight and narrow road, the path this good in God’s eyes, in the ways that are pleasing to Him. And He does this for His glory, so that His name may be honored.
Jer 14:7 O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.

The feeling expressed in this verse is that of confidence in God; an assurance that he would always lead his people in the path in which they should go. This he will always do if people will follow the directions of His word, the teachings of His Spirit, and the guidance of His providence.

Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

The idea here is to show that no matter how dark, dreary or gloomy the path may seem, God is still there, too. He is guiding and protecting us during the lowest of the low times, the times when we feel most exposed and alone; the Shepard never leaves His flock. The true believer has nothing to fear in the gloomiest scenes of life; he has nothing to fear in the valley of death; he has nothing to fear in the grave; he has nothing to fear in the world beyond.
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The shepherd used his staff, likely the hook-ended stick we are so familiar with today, and his rod, a walking staff-type of tool, to guide and protect the flock. With the rod he could fend off predators, spread open brushy pathways, and prod the ground for hidden pits, snares, and the like. The crook was used for similar tasks but also to grasp the leg of a sheep that might be nearing the jagged edge of the cliff, or to free the animal that had become ensnared in some briar patch. These instruments of protection and guidance are a comfort to us, to know that they are there, as our Shepard cares for and guides us.

Psalms 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

This verse refers back to, or reinforces, verse one “I shall not want”; the word “table” is equal with the term “feast”, meaning “prepares a feast for me”. As the psalmist has laid out, God is our Shepard and cares for us, His flock, making provision for our every need. David, in his lifetime, had many accounts recorded in the Bible that could have been the “idea” that spawned this thought, and I’m sure there are many more that occurred that aren’t documented in God’s Word. He probably had many references in his life that could have felt as if God had literally laid out a banquet for him, while his enemies watched him feast and were powerless to interrupt David’s meal. The oil represents prosperity and rejoicing, coupled with cup that is running over, shows the abundance of good that David felt in his life and, rightly, attributed to being provided by God. We, too, today can and should have this abundance bubbling over in our hearts, our cup, as members of the same flock and with the same unchanging Shepard as our guide and provider.
Mal 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Psalms 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Though he knew that at some point his life on earth would end, David expresses confidence that as long as he resided on this side of eternity God would continue to provide for and protect him. This is the language of a heart overflowing with joy and gratitude in the recollection of the past, and full of glad anticipation, resulting from his experience of the past, in regard to the future. David wanted to fulfil the remainder of his days serving and honoring The Lord, dwelling in His presence the rest of his natural life; this expresses the desire of a true child of God. Members of the flock today should and can be just as certain as David was of all this and more; David didn’t have the full revelation of Scripture or the Gospel that we have today. By faith, David knew in his heart this was all true for him both here and in the next life and the children of God today should be just as confident and seek just as diligently as David did to serve, honor and praise our Shepard; those assured promises are ours, too.
2Co 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Php 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

If you live long enough, you will experience heartache, disappointment, and sheer helplessness. The Lord is our most precious resource in those hours of trauma.
Psa 9:9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble

Tom Dorsey understood that, as did David. His song was originally written as a way of coping with his personal pain, but even today it continues to bless thousands of others when they pass through times of hardship. David’s song was written in a similar fashion, looking back upon events of his life. But David’s song not only comforts us but lifts us up knowing those promises the Shepherd made to him are still valid for us today.

The question at the end of the thought here is a simple one, but the most profound one you or anyone will ever answer: Can you truly say “The Lord is my shepherd”? If not, none of these promises, protections, assurances, none of any of this applies to you/them; these belong only to the flock, not the world. But if you are outside this flock you can be taken into the fold by the Shepherd, you need only come with believing faith and ask Him.

Originally posted and taught on 11/8/14.

John 14:16

THE INDWELLING SPIRIT

“I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.” — Joh 14:16.

THE GIFT of the Holy Spirit was due to the intercession of our Lord, and St. Peter refers to it when he says: “Having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Act 2:33). In 1Jn 2:1 (R.V.) marg. the word Comforter is translated Advocate—”One who makes us strong by His presence, as Helper, Guide, and Instructor.” Think what this means, to have always beside us, not a vague influence, but a Divine Person, who waits to be our strength in weakness, our peace in trouble, our wisdom in perplexity, our conqueror in temptations, our consoler in sorrow. The Lord meant that the Holy Spirit should be to us all that He Himself had been. This is the meaning of Another. There are two Advocates, or two Paracletes. When the One ascended to the glory, the Other descended into the hearts of His disciples. “He abideth with you, and shall be in you.”

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Christ had been speaking of sending Another; now He says, I am coming Myself, so that we learn that He is so indissoluble One with the Holy Spirit, Whom He sends, that the coming of the Spirit is His own coming. Do not look for the Spirit apart from Jesus. As the sun comes in the light, so does Jesus come in the Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit, we shall not think of Him, but of Jesus to whom He bears witness, and when our hearts are taken up with the Lord, we may know that we have received Him, who is the Gift of gifts.

Open your whole nature to the entrance of the Holy Spirit. Unlock every door, uncurtain every window, that entering He may fill you with the glorious indwelling of the Father and the Son. “I will prepare a “mansion,” Jesus said; and, “We will make the holy soul Our Mansion.”

“‘He shall teach you all things.” His lesson-book is the life and words of our blessed Lord. We may think that we are fully informed of all that He has said, but as we study the Bible, the Holy Spirit brings us back to them again and again, always revealing new light, and undreamt of depths. Never let a day pass without reading some of the words of Jesus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

PRAYER

Thou hast not left us comfortless, O God. May life be renewed in its springs, by the gracious operation of Thy Holy Spirit dwelling within us, and leading us from grace to grace. AMEN.

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From Our Daily Walkdevotional.

Psalm 23

I’d planned a discussion yesterday in Sunday school about Psalm 23 but “things” aren’t working as planned. Therefore I thought I’d take the opportunity to make that discussion into a short blog post today instead.

The 23rd Psalm is probably the most well know, recognized, and loved of the Psalms. Penned under inspiration by David, we have little more knowledge of than that of it; we can only speculate on the time, events, etcetera, that were going on in his life at that time. I suspect that it was written in his later years, when he had more life-experience and at a time of sweet reflection of the protection and guidance God had provided in his lifetime.

The first verse of the psalm (the only one I’ll touch on here) sets the mood or tone, if you will, of the entire text – at least in my humble opinion. Having been a shepherd, David evokes this imagery as he speaks of God Himself, and a Scripture portrays Him. The New Testament and Old refer many times to our Lord as our Shepard as well. Can you imagine, think for a moment – the God of all power and glory, Creator of all things, Savior of the world willingly humbles Himself to be our Shepherd .

How can we, as children of God, really ever “want” for anything? His Word promises us that He will provide our every need. I know, we often get “want” and “need” confused- but God never does. Most of us have much more than we really need, physically speaking. And we all have exactly and everything we need spiritually if we are walking close to our Shepherd.

It is so good to be numbered among His flock.

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