Monthly Archives: November 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks for all who follow and read the blog! A big thanks to the ones who support this blog so that it can be ad free. I’m so very thankful to the Lord for the gift of his word and the Holy Spirit!

This is what I attempt to do every time I open the Scriptures: Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. – 2 Timothy 2:7

Blessings, my friends. Grace and peace to you from the Lord Jesus Christ! He is worthy of much thanksgiving! Peace!

Motives Matter

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Matthew 6 just simply destroys us! A dangerous truth is unearthed and uncovered. And it needs to be. Left unexposed it will kill us. The mask needs to come off. The lying needs to cease. Honesty about what is hidden inside of us is necessary. Our edited version is not the best product. We are not for sale.

Should we be practicing righteousness? Sure. But to be noticed by others? Absolutely not. Motive matters.

But it’s not that simple. Why? Because a battle rages within us and we have an enemy who likes to make suggestions for motives. They appeal to our fleshly desires. They are often very simple things. We usually do not get caught up in the difficult matters. Satan would have you know for certain how you have messed up. The more simple the act, the more guilt and pain accompany it.

Take for example the temptations of Jesus. Bread, jumping off a building, and bowing down to worship. If the bread had been sitting on a platter in the desert and Satan had said nothing, then no harm in eating it. The conditions to get the bread matter. It is just bread. And Jesus is hungry. That’s a very simple temptation.

If Jesus would have slipped off the roof of the temple or had been pushed that’s different. Throwing yourself off is not trusting God but testing God.

Psalm 2 says the nations are the Messiah’s. But the path for that inheritance is not simple and quick. Jesus knows that. But the enemy would have him avoid the pain and suffering. Indeed, that’s very tempting.

I merely point these out for their simplicity in nature. We will lie about the smallest of things. And if we will lie about the least then we will most certainly lie about the greater things.

It’s easy for our outward appearance to be much different than our inward self. That’s why Isaiah points out that our mouth can sing praises to God while our hearts are far from worship of God.

Should you give to the poor? Yes. Does the world need to know about your generosity? No. Why do they need to know? Oh, I know…if they discover someone in need they will know who to contact? Is that a good thing? Yes, in a way but not exactly. Maybe you didn’t intent to be honored but that’s what happened. Yet, when you were honored, it tasted really good. Then you not only allow others to make known that you are available to help, you now promote yourself. But….I helped more people. You have your reward.

The enemy will suggest the simple and easy. It will sound sooooo right…but only in part. And when you do it, he will either patiently wad you in deeper or he will drown you in guilt and shame. The very thing he suggested, he will now say you shouldn’t have done.

But he would have you think there is no way out. If you go public with it, you will be ___________…you fill in the blank. I’m certain that you could spill much ink on what the immediate consequences might be or even will be. Just make sure you know there are eternal consequences that outweigh the immediate shame.

The way out is repentance. Repentance will involve confession to God and to those you have harmed. Confession doesn’t include excuses. It is humble and honest. It’s the place where the inward self goes public. In relation to God, He already knows but expects you to say specifically what it is. And He most certainly forgives without question. People, however, are often far different. We become afraid even though we should be far more fearful of God. It’s just really hard for us…but know it is very possible by the aid of the Holy Spirit and the truth to get it right.

I should have said this early in the post but it comes to mind now. I can recall numerous times that while on the way to do a particular thing, the enemy suggested/tempted me with a wrong motive. I had not thought of it beforehand. But now it’s in my mind. What will I do with it?

Honestly, I don’t always respond the same way. Sometimes I am able to put that temptation to death and proceed with the right action. Other times I decide the risk is too high for me. I don’t always get it right. Indeed, the difficulty of navigating those decisions takes maturity. The process of maturing will involve many failures.

This reminds me of this: (Heb. 5:14) But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Immaturity leads to danger. Motive matters. Discernment comes with knowing the truth. I used to listen to a lot of different voices (inside and out) until I could say to them, no. God’s word says so and so about that. That’s not true. I know what will happen if I do that. So, no.

Well, these are some thoughts of a struggler who, by God’s grace, has made progress. And I had not thought about those dark days early on in my walk with Jesus until today. I had not remembered from where I had come. But thanks be to God, I am what I am by the grace of God. I’m not who I once was. I’m not who I want to be. But by His grace I am what I am. Press on, dear brothers and sisters. Don’t give in or give up. I see Jesus just over the horizon. He is worth the wait.

Two Wandering Sheep but One Good Shepherd

Image result for The good shepherd

My sermon manuscript from Sunday, November 22, 2020 at Union Hill Baptist Church. The outline numbers changed when I copied and pasted it into this publisher. Sorry about that. They aren’t changed easily.

  1. Introduction
    1. All of us get on the wrong path, sometimes. The context of this story is proving to us again that the resurrection of Christ is real. We have days when we doubt. We begin to live for ourselves and not for Jesus and others. I think that some believe in the resurrection in a way that makes them prone to suspicion.
      1. For example, if you would say something like the historical facts don’t matter because I believe this in my heart.
      2. I don’t know about you, but my heart can be very fickle at times. I’d prefer something more sure than my heart.
    2. I mean, someone coming back to life after three days is hard to believe. We feel like we must believe in this truth by faith without any reasonable proof.
    3. Yet, history is full of facts that we believe without having seen it for ourselves. Was George Washington the first president of the United States? Well, yeah. Were you there? No. But all the various documented facts we have makes it reasonable to believe the validity of that truth claim.
    4. Have you considered the amount of eyewitness evidence we have that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a reasonable truth claim?
      1. This story we are looking at today is proof.
      2. The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are witnesses.
      3. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15 that over 500 people saw the risen Lord Jesus.
      4. While that is enough for a reasonable faith in the resurrection, have you considered the book of Acts? These men do not risk and lay down their lives for a dead Jesus. If Jesus had not been alive, they would have gone back to fishing.
    5. The resurrection matters everyday of our lives. It frees you to live for Jesus now with certain hope of eternal life with Christ someday! Life is but a vapor. Let’s not waste it.
  2. Main Point
    1. The Risen Lord Jesus pursues two wandering disciples so that they might believe!
  3. Outline
    1. Lost Hope (13-24)
    2. Jesus, the Good Shepherd (25-26)
      1. Though I will not elaborate on this, I do hope you see this: We presume Jesus would give up on us and that he is repulsed by our wandering wicked heart but Jesus surprises us and moves towards us.
    3. A Seven Mile Bible Conference (27-30)
    4. Hope Restored (31-35)
    5. Conclusion/Assignment
  4. Exposition
    1. The Setting
      1. It’s Sunday. The Passover week has just ended. Jesus died on Friday. A Holy Sabbath followed. No one did anything on the Sabbath in Jerusalem. That’s why the women mentioned in this text, waited until Sunday to anoint Jesus’s dead body. And that’s why these two traveling to Emmaus have delayed going home until now.
      2. So who are these two travelers? It says in v. 13 “two of them.” I think Luke intends for us to understand them to be disciples of Jesus but they are not part of the Eleven.
        1. Back in verse 9 it says, (Lk. 24:9)  9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
        2. As you walk through the Gospel Story, we notice a growing number of followers building in the company.
        3. These two travelers are of “all the rest.”
        4. And I think it is significant and encouraging that Jesus appears to these who are not of the Eleven! Though one is named, they are really unknown and that’s encouraging.
    2. Now, let’s explore this first point: Lost Hope
      1. The title of the sermon is “Two Wandering Sheep but One Good Shepherd.” I see that most clearly in their actions of leaving Jerusalem on the third day since the crucifixion and from their own statement in verse 21—”But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” The evidence of their actions and their statement clearly say that they do not believe in the resurrection.
      1. They have lost hope. I suppose many have thought, if they had just been there to see the ministry and death of Jesus then they would have believed. But the Gospels tell the story that everyone abandoned Jesus.
      1. Peter and his friends go fishing. And these two disciples head home.
      1. What hope do any of us have? Seriously?
      1. While these two disciples walk home to Emmaus, the most hopeful thing happens.
      1. The Good Shepherd finds his sheep. Listen to these glorious words!
        1. (Lk. 24:15) 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
        1. Jesus comes to them! That fills my heart with an abundance of hope! And it’s supposed to. It will tune your heart to sing his praise (as we will sing at the end).
        1. Have you lost hope? Jesus the Good Shepherd comes to you.
          1. We should see this story as what really happens to us when we wander off.
          1. I hope to explain in brief how Jesus does this before we end.
    1. These two disciples are discouraged and sadness is written on their faces. This is the mood of this text.
      1. Jesus questions them but they do not recognize him. And it must be noted that “their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” Do you hear the passive of this statement? We must understand that God kept them from seeing Jesus for good reason.
      1. Jesus is seen at various places in the Gospels of drawing out what the disciples needed. I recall the man whose son had an unclean spirit. The disciples had attempted to cast out the spirit but were unable to do it. Jesus comes along and this man tells him what was going on and the man says…if you can…to which Jesus replies with a question…if I can? The man says, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
      1. Jesus questions these saddened, wandering disciples to help them, not harm them.
      1. Listen to how they respond: (Lk. 24:19-20) And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
        1. Do you recall Jesus telling his disciples verbatim what these two say?
        1. Back in Luke 9:22 Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
        1. In other words, everything has happened exactly like Jesus said it would so far but they do not believe the last part…on the third day be raised.
        1. Without the resurrection, none of the rest matters.
        1. Notice what else they say: Luke 24:21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.
          1. You would think that they would have at least waited around all day on Sunday and headed home on Monday.
          1. But isn’t this just like us? We are so prone to giving up too quickly. Our patience is thin!
      1. And if having not waited through the third day was not enough, there was more evidence that should have giving them pause.
        1. (Lk. 24:22-24) 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,  23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.  24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
        1. This last part is hilarious to us who are reading this story. We know some things they don’t. When they say…him they did not see…we should laugh out loud. He’s standing right in front of them and they don’t see him either!!!
        1. They didn’t wait through the third day. Women from their group found the tomb empty. Angels tell the ladies that Jesus is alive. But they are headed home!
        1. Do you suppose any of us would have acted differently?
        1. Do you laugh at Thomas when he demands to put his finger in nail scarred hands and pierced side?
        1. They were not push overs. Being gullible is not a firm foundation to stand on.
      1. Brothers and sisters, make certain that your faith is built on the Rock and not sand. Because when the winds of doubt and despair blow, you need to know that your faith is secure.
        1. We are all prone to wander…to leave the God we love. May we help each other walk faithfully to the end together, knowing the Good Shepherd will love us to the end and he will finish what he began in us.
  5. I think it is very clear these two disciples were in danger of unbelief. The evidence against them…indeed all of the disciples…makes that certain. But that’s not the end of the story. Two wandering sheep BUT One Good Shepherd remains…praise God!
    1. He asked questions…he listened…now it’s time to respond…indeed call them to repent and believe!
      1. (Lk. 24:25-26) 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
      1. Jesus admonishes these two disciples. He loves them and his love compels him to speak rather forthright.
        1. I can remember while in seminary experiencing this for the first time in my life. I had brothers who genuinely loved me and therefore corrected me.
        1. I grew more in those days than I ever had before. Hearing the truth in love is powerful to change us. Maybe that’s why it seems the church isn’t growing spiritually.
          1. You either have someone being a jerk and laying down the law or someone avoiding a necessary conversation.
      1. Jesus is perfect. He never sinned. His response to these two wandering disciples was perfect. It’s what they needed most because their most desperate need is trusting in Jesus.
        1. They suspect their greatest need is liberation from Rome but their greatest enemy is not Rome but their own sin. That’s what Christ came to do—to pay the penalty for our sin.
        1. Sin leads to death. That’s why Christ had to suffer. No death; no salvation.
        1. Jesus wasn’t coming to rule by might though he could have. But if he did there would be no one to shepherd because no one is righteous. No not one.
        1. He speaks truth to them. O foolish ones, and slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken.
        1. He calls them out and teaches them the truth.
      1. I think it’s appropriate to ask—are you being foolish and slow to believe all that prophets have spoken?
        1. How do we diagnose that? What are the symptoms?
          1. Giving up? Impatience? Not listening to reasonable facts? Not giving oneself to the reading and study of all the Scriptures? Prayerlessness (though we cannot discern this from the text, it usually will accompany the others)?
          1. At some point in our lives, that describes us.
          1. Brothers and sisters, we have hope because Christ is a good Shepherd who continually rescues his sheep.
  6. I’ve often wondered what all Jesus shared with them on the 7 mile walk. I’m glad it’s not written here because I think we need to go dig for it ourselves.
    1. You can take sure confidence in the OT Scriptures because Jesus affirms them clearly here. He appeals to them. He teaches them.
    1. (Lk. 24:27)  27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
      1. Let’s take a brief journey through the OT. You should think of the OT as promises made and the NT as promises fulfilled.
      1. God promises that a child would come to crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15).
      1. God calls Abram out of Ur and promises to make him the father of many nations (Abraham) THROUGH his seed (Gen. 12:2-3).
      1. God promises that this child who will be a son of Abraham will be a King from the line of Judah (Gen. 49:8-12; Numbers 24:15-19).
      1. God promises that this one will be a prophet from among his people (Dt. 18:15-18).
      1. As well as a King (Psalm 72).
      1. Job asked for a mediator (Job 33:23-28).
      1. This King is also understood to be the Messiah or Christ—the anointed One to which God will exalt and strengthen (1 Sam 2:1-10).
      1. Not only will this Promised One come from the tribe of Judah, he will be a Son of David who will have the Kingdom and throne forever (2 Sam 7; 1 Chron 17).
        1. And more details about this Davidic King are given in Psalm 132.
      1. He will be rejected (Psalm 118).
      1. Betrayed (Psalms 69, 109).
      1. Die and be raised (Psalms 22, 110).
      1. He will be the LORD’s Anointed and Ruler of the world (Psalms 2, 110).
      1. He will be a triumphant King (Psalms 68, 72).
      1. He will be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14)
      1. His birthplace will be in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
      1. John the Baptist, this Elijah like figure will be his forerunner (Isa. 40:3-5; Mal. 3:1).
      1. He will come riding on a donkey as the crowd shouts Hosanna (Zech. 9:9-10; Ps 118:25-26).
      1. He will be betrayed by one of his disciples (Ps 69:25).
      1. His side will be pierced (Zech 12:10).
      1. He will be the suffering servant who dies for the sins of wicked people (Isa 53).
      1. This messiah will return a second time but he will be riding a warhorse this time (Dan 7:13).
      1. He will rule the city of David as King of kings with no more war (Isa 2:3-4).
    1. This is only a partial list. The Gospel of Matthew is filled with these things. He will often say: (Matt. 1:21-23) 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
      1. Just go look for every time he uses “fulfilled.”
  7. Hope lost. The Good Shepherd. The Seven Mile Bible Conference. And now hope restored.
    1. Many of the appearances of the risen Lord Jesus are centered around a meal. Though he has been with them, they have not yet recognized him. However, Jesus is recognized in the breaking of bread.
    1. God is not into knowing what he looks like. You shouldn’t be concerned with knowing what Jesus looked like. He doesn’t want you to carry around a photo of him in your wallet or purse—or hang his picture on the fridge.
    1. He wants you to know him by all the ways the Bible describes him. Do you know Jesus well enough to have recognized him? His own people did not recognize him.
      1. Do you remember at the end of John when the risen Lord Jesus comes walking along the beach, starts a charcoal fire, calls out to his disciples who are fishing but have caught nothing and he says let down your net on the right side? When they caught an enormous amount of fish, John said…it is the Lord and Peter jumps out of the boat and swam to shore.
    1. After he admonishes them and teaches them all that the scriptures had to say about him, then he opened their eyes!
    1. But before they even recognized him, God’s word was already at work on them.
      1. (Lk. 24:32)  32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
      1. Brothers and sisters, while you might want Jesus to come to you in bodily form—and he will someday—you can sit down with him and know him in the Word—indeed he is the Word. And he has given us the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of Christ.
    1. Is hope restored? Their actions reveal it is–(Lk. 24:33-35) 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,  34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”  35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
  8. Conclusion
    1. We are prone to wander.
    1. But Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
    1. We need to believe and Jesus sees to that personally.
    1. We need to know all that the Scriptures say concerning Jesus. They are readily available to us.
    1. Our actions usually reveal our hearts. Evaluate the evidence in your life to see if you are in the faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ.
  9. Assignment
    1. Make a point this week to see Jesus in God’s Word. And it’s not just for you. Share these things with others!
    1. Believe that Jesus Christ is risen!
    2. Live differently in light of it.

Fears Not Wasted!

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was *afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. – Matthew 2:22

The word used for fear is the same word we get our use of phobia. It literally means—terrified. When Joseph becomes terrified, God then warns him in a dream which led him to Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophet said that he (Jesus) would be called a Nazarene.

I was struck by the use of fear in the life of Joseph. God often directs our path with them. They are part of the weaving of the tapestry of our lives that gives way to a beautiful ending!

Don’t begrudge your fears. Ask…wait…hope that the Lord will use them for good!

I am a disciple whom Jesus loves

I have two different things to point out in this post. One is to encourage you by helping (if need be) to see why the Apostle John referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loves.” And second, how the understanding that I have was made more clear through the community of believers.

As we were working through our Sunday School lesson from the Gospel Project this week, we read John’s identifying label “the disciple whom Jesus loves.”

Why do you think he said this about himself? I suppose if you are like me and others you thought that John was not very humble and a bit arrogant to say or suggest such a thing. Or maybe you have just simply passed over it not knowing what to do with it. I’m sure there are more options but if we were honest we all probably didn’t really like what he said too much.

Yet, I think John was displaying bold faith. As we worked through the lesson I made the statement, “That’s some bold faith” to which someone responded something like this, “Yeah…I find it easy to say that I love Jesus but knowing who I am, I struggle to say that Jesus loves me.”

While I saw John’s bold faith, I did not see the underlying problem in my/our heart. The community of believers is a gift and necessary to walk together following Jesus. We all help each other see better than we would or could otherwise. We need each other.

The problem for many of us is that we have a hidden notion and suspicion that Jesus is repulsed by our struggles and failures. We think that Jesus is thinking, “Here we go AGAIN” when in fact he doesn’t move away from us but towards us.

We need bold faith like John. We too should say, as I did in the title, I am a disciple whom Jesus loves. It’s not a license to do what you want but a rescue for our doubting hearts when we fail.

Of course I was writing this to followers of Jesus. But if you are not a follower of Jesus then this is not true of you but it can be right now.

9 …if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:9-13

And strangely, I’m sure, you should know that Jesus loves you! From enemy to friend, he loves those who repent and believe in him. So, will you receive this amazing gift offered to you? He will forgive your every sin and he will count you righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ. Will you have him as your all sufficient Savior?

If you do, here’s a new song for you to sing:

An Observation from Rev. 14

Consider this connection…

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the *mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” – Genesis 22:13-14


Then I looked, and behold, on *Mount Zion STOOD the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. – Revelation 14:1

YES! And the Lamb is standing!

Why’s that significant?!?!

Sometimes You Don’t Know Where You’ve Been

A prayer henceforth…

You have brought me to the valley of humiliation. I lost my reason there. I was beastly. My heart was unfeeling. I lived instinctively. I didn’t think. I didn’t have answers. I didn’t know I needed. When you are a beast of the field you just exist. The things you need are just there; not needed. Just because an animal’s stomach hurts with hunger doesn’t mean the animal knows they are needy. It will either hunt for food or die. When the feast is over there is no thanksgiving but only thoughts of where to sleep and hide for the night. The damp dew didn’t bother me but thoughts of it now make me shiver.

But suddenly, my reason returned. The feelings are coming back. My heart is softening. I’m thinking again…reading again…seeing again…hoping again…believing again. I see my need even though the specific things leading to the valley are unclear. They must involve self-dependence and acts of unconfessed sin. Somehow it became about me and my problems. This subtle lie from Eden is still laying us low though we think we are on an upward trend. We are eating grass on all fours and we don’t even know it. King Theoden comes to mind as an example of Nebby and myself. I’ve often wondered how no one seemed to notice the change. I suppose while we are in the valley of humiliation that we appear alive and that’s enough. Or maybe many of us are in the same valley. It’s possible that we give a reasonable answer, unknown by us, in the midst of having no reason. This hides our current state until the valley has had its full effect on us.

I come forth today…maybe yesterday or the day before…who knows? praising the Almighty. One cannot write about this valley of humiliation unless he has climbed the mountain of reflection. How that happened is beyond his understanding. He’s just there. May there be continuous praise to King Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep well and how to get them into the fold and to keep them.

Thinking By Writing

It might sound strange to some but if I’m struggling to understand a passage it helps me to think through it and sometimes figure it out by writing.

While in seminary, if I were struggling with a paper I would talk through the confusion with my fellow students who worked in the physical plant with me. I would often answer my own question(s) while I was explaining my paper.

I have a similar problem this morning. I see a possible connection in Psalm 119 but I can’t grasp it. It’s right there before me. I see the words indicating there’s truth right here if you will think and trust the Lord for understanding!!! I promise you, as I write this blog post I do not see it. I may not see it today. Writing this may not unearth the treasure. But let’s see. I think seeing the process is worth it.

So, Psalm 119:4 says, “You have ordained Your precepts, That we should keep them diligently.” The word diligently is the same word used in Deuteronomy 6:5 as “might”, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” I’ve already written about that connection but let it suffice to say that we follow and love the Lord by knowing and obeying His word gladly.

This morning I was digging around in 119:8 and discovered some of the same words being used. The verse says, “I shall keep Your statutes; Do not forsake me utterly!” The two words that connect are “keep” and “utterly.” Utterly is not easily connected in the English but it is the same word as might and diligently.

In verse 8, the writer seems to make a promise to keep God’s statutes but he doesn’t say diligently. The previous verse describes the learning process. In other words, he’s learning and growing. He knows and loves the Lord but also knows he’s still lacking.

The words “keep” and “forsake” are in opposition to one another. Is the thought that if he doesn’t keep God’s statutes that he will be forsaken? Can YHWH accept imperfection? Does He grade on a curve? Is it enough that he tries to do what is right? Maybe he can keep some of it and trust God for the rest. Do you think that is sufficient?

Maybe we should also consider Psalm 22. There the psalmist cries out in verse 1, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.” Yet, by the end of that Psalm, deliverance had come.

Jesus pled the words of Psalm 22:1 from the cross when the Father abandoned him THOUGH HE HAD KEPT GOD’S STATUTES DILIGENTLY…PERFECTLY! Let’s keep this in mind as we work through this.

I also cross referenced the Hebrew word for “might, diligently, and utterly” with the Greek word used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT) and I found that word in Matthew 27:54 where it says, “Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very *frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!””

We could conclude that Jesus was forsaken utterly (thusly in Mark 15) even without this reference but it is a bonus to see it here.

So, let’s circle back around to Psalm 119:8. I think I can conclude that the psalmist is incapable of keeping God’s word with all his might. That means God must forsake him mightily or utterly. However, since Jesus kept the law perfectly and fulfilled all that was promised yet was utterly forsaken that means something amazing is available!

Indeed, we understand that we who are unrighteous and fall short of God’s glory can be forgiven and counted righteous by faith in Jesus! You and I have the same problem the psalmist had. But our hope is in the One who met all of God’s demands and drank down the cup of wrath that we deserve. The Righteous died for the unrighteous so that he could bring many sons to glory.

So, let’s hear the psalmist say this again: “Do not forsake me utterly.” God says, trust in My Son who was forsaken utterly for you and I will not forsake you utterly. Is Jesus enough?

Hallelujah…hallelujah…hallelujah! All I have is Christ!!!

A Developing Observation

…and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. – Revelation 11:8

Let’s just think about the Sodom part of this verse. As I was wrestling with what this meant, I needed to remember the story of Sodom. I recall Abraham’s pleas but no righteous were found. Fire and brimstone come crashing on that city and justice rained down.

So, if I am to think of this when I read Rev 11:8 how am I to understand it? If it is symbolically the place where the Lord was crucified then is it right to think of it in a reversal?

So, instead of raining judgment on the wicked city, judgment lands on the only righteous One. I think that’s how we are to understand the two witnesses who are killed in the wicked city instead of the unrighteous.

But, just as Christ was raised and brought up to heaven so too the witnesses. THEN a taste of the judgment to come for some and leaving the rest in terror and they gave glory to the God of Heaven.

Imagine, the day Christ was crucified. The city was filled with nothing but unrighteous people like Sodom but the judgment fell on the only One who was righteous in order that he might save the unrighteous! Amazing!

Battling to Pray

My response and quotes from “Enjoying Your Prayer Life” by Michael Reeves:

I’ve heard this story of Martin Luther’s prayer life and when I’ve heard it, it has crushed me in the past because that’s not me.

Here’s the “story”

Apparently he was asked one evening what he’d be doing the next day and he replied, “Work, work from early till late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Perhaps a quote from Luther that reveals a man like us who struggled as we do:

He wrote this to his friend Philipp Melanchon, “You extol me so much…Your high opinion of me shames and tortures me, since—unfortunately—I sit here like a fool and hardened in leisure, pray little, do not sigh for the church of God…In short I should be ardent in spirit, but I am ardent in flesh, in lust, laziness, leisure, and sleepiness…Already eight days have passed in which I have written nothing, in I have not prayed or studied; this is partly because of temptations of the flesh, partly because I am tortured by other burdens.”

Be careful not to tell the story of your life only on the good days but also the hard days. The edited version doesn’t help your fellow brothers and sisters persevere!