He Reaches Down.

Photo by: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Balou46

I’ve been reading a book of sermons by Horatius Bonar. He was born in 1808 and died in 1889. He was a minister in the Church of Scotland but later joined the Free Church after the “Disruption of 1843.” Along with sermons, he wrote hymns and poems.

I came across a Bible verse that moved me so much and a sermon he wrote about that verse. Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew e out of deep waters.”  Psalm 18:16

“He is the God of all grace; no, God is love; in him there is help, and with him is plenteous redemption. He it is that redeems (us) out of all (our) troubles. It is he who is above; it is he who sends from above; it is he who reaches down; it is he who rescues us out of many waters.

This is the God with whom we have to do! He is infinite in power and grace. To know him is life eternal; to rest upon his love and power is the true strength and solace of the soul! The knowledge of ourselves troubles us and casts us down; the knowledge of this God relieves us and lifts us up.

The great use of knowing ourselves is, not that we may be qualified for receiving and being received by him, but that we may become more and more dissatisfied with ourselves and more and more drawn to him who is altogether unlike us. That we may become more and more emptied of everything. That we may be in a state for containing him and his fullness.

For it is our emptiness that attracts and makes us suitable for his fullness and it is in knowing self that we are emptied of self. We decrease, he increases.”

Vision of A Well.

Vista del interior de un pozo árabe, junto al Castillo de la Aldehuela, Torredelcampo, provincia de Jaén, España.

Photo by: Veinticuatro de Jahén

One of my sisters was praying about her sins. She said she asks God to forgive her sins every day. She was talking with God about sins and how we sometimes commit the same sins over and over.

Suddenly, she saw a well. As she looked down the well, the Lord spoke to her, “You can see through the first inches of water in a well when the sun shines on it. Below those inches is total blackness. Sins are like that. They are underneath the surface, and the Holy Spirit keeps them down and covered. But they can break through sometimes. On earth, you will always have this blackness deep inside you. In heaven, it will be gone.”

Years ago, every time I sinned I felt so guilty and evil that I couldn’t face God in prayer for days. I was ashamed I was capable of sinning after I gave my life to him. But I have learned we do sin after asking him into our hearts and minds. The Bible teaches that, but I had been raised in a church where sin was considered so horrible no real Christian would ever sin.

Actually, God uses our sins to humble us, to keep us from becoming proud. I think we would be insufferable if we were perfect. God did say to be perfect, but it means to reach completion. It is a walk, a life-long journey. I think we all need to learn we are extremely sinful people. Without God, we would do horrible, awful things. We would keep them a secret, if possible, but we really are capable of doing the worst.

Thank God for his forgiving grace and enormous love. Thank God he loves us just as we are and will hold us back from many sins. Thank God he will forgive us seventy times seven in one day if needed. And thank God he is everlastingly patient.

Faith to Forgive.

Sycamore Tree in Israel.

One of my problems in reading the Bible is that I take many things Jesus said as being literal. The disciples had this problem too. When Jesus said to sell your cloak and buy a sword, it sounded like advice to have a sword in case people persecuted you. But this flies in the face of the other things Jesus said about turning the cheek and loving your enemies.

Most commentators of the Bible say Jesus was not being literal. And I believe they are right since when Peter cut off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus, Jesus healed the man and told Peter not to use the sword.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

 “At the time the apostles understood Christ to mean real weapons, but he spoke only of the weapons of the spiritual warfare. The sword of the Spirit is the sword with which the disciples of Christ must furnish themselves.” 

Whenever I would read what Jesus said about moving a mountain into the sea if we had enough faith, I would wonder what he really meant. Then I read someone say the mountain represented difficulties in our lives. They said in the Old Testament, mountains represented difficulties,and that made sense.

Today, I was reading Luke 17 and Jesus spoke about the Sycamore or Mulberry tree. He said, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea and it would obey you.’”

He said this in answer to his disciples who had asked him, “Increase our faith.” And they asked him to do this after he had spoken about forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness they thought impossible for them.

“Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins against you, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn to you, you shall forgive him.”

So, uprooting a sycamore tree is impossible for anyone to do; therefore, if you think it is impossible for you to forgive over and over, you are wrong. Faith in God will make it possible for you.

This is what I read in some commentaries this morning:

Pulpit Commentary

“The Lord signifies that a very slight real faith, which he compares to the mustard seed, that smallest of grains, would be of power sufficient to accomplish what seemed to them impossible. In other words, he says, “If you have any real faith at all, you will be able to win the victory over yourselves necessary for a perpetual loving judgement of others.”

Barne’s Notes on the Bible

“This sycamore is a remarkable tree. It not only bears several crops of figs during the year but these figs grow on short stems along the trunk and large branches, and not at the end of twigs, as in other fruit-bearing trees. The figs are small and of a greenish-yellow color.

It is easily propagated, merely by planting a stout branch in the ground and watering it until it has struck its roots into the soil. This it does with great rapidity and to a vast depth. It was with reference to this latter fact that our Lord selected it to illustrate the power of faith.”

Thinking of all this reminds me of the fires of hell preachers talk about. I believe the fire is symbolic of something else.What would be the point of God burning people who are lost? Punishment? Punishment is supposed to be restorative. Actual, physical burning? I don’t think so. Being burned is very painful, and I think when the wicked realize they are lost,it is like a burning in their soul. A terrible pain in their heart at seeing what they have given up because they loved darkness rather than light.

Jesus’ Feelings in the Psalms.

psalm 1

Psalm 1, The Sankt Florian Psalter.

Many scholars say Psalm 40 is a Messianic Psalm, which is prophetic words about Jesus. In Hebrews 10, Paul attributes the Psalm to Christ. What I find interesting about these kind of Psalms is that they not only tell of Jesus’ coming suffering; they tell of Jesus’ feelings.

So, here are some commentaries on Psalm 40.

Verses 6-8

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible.

“Lo, I come,” – It is difficult to see how this could be applied to David; it is easy to see how it could be applied to the Messiah. When all bloody offerings under the law – all the sacrifices which men could make – did not avail to put away sin, it was true of the Messiah that he came into the world to perform a higher work that would meet the case – a lofty work of obedience, extending even unto death, Philippians 2:8. This is precisely the use which the apostle makes of the passage in Hebrews 10:7,  passage in Hebrews 10:7, and this is clearly the most obvious meaning. It is in no sense applicable to David; it is fully applicable to the Messiah.

In the volume of the book – literally, “in the roll of the book.” See the notes at Luke 4:17. The phrase would most naturally denote the “scroll of the law;” but it might include any volume or roll where a record or prophecy was made. In a large sense it would embrace all that had been written at the command of God at the time when this was supposed to be spoken. That is, as spoken by the Messiah, it would include all the books of the Old Testament. See the notes at Hebrews 10:7.

Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.

“For innumerable evils have compassed me about – Have surrounded me, or have beset me on every side.” The evils here referred to, understood as being those which came upon the Messiah, were sorrows that came upon him in consequence of his undertaking to do what could not be done by sacrifices and offerings; that is, his undertaking to save men by his own “obedience unto death.” The time referred to here, I apprehend, is that when the full effects of his having assumed the sins of the world to make expiation for them came upon him; when he was about to endure the agonies of Gethsemane and Calvary. 

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

“So that I am not able to look up.” – This is not the exact idea of the Hebrew word. That is simply, I am not able to see; and it refers to the dimness or failure of sight caused by distress, weakness, or old age. The idea here is, not that he was unable to look up, but that the calamities which came upon him were so heavy and severe as to make his sight dim, or to deprive him of vision. Either by weeping, or by the mere pressure of suffering, he was so affected as almost to be deprived of the power of seeing.

“…are more than the hairs of mine head,” – That is, the sorrows that come upon me in connection with sin. The idea is that they were innumerable – the hairs of the head, or the sands on the seashore; being employed in the Scriptures to denote what cannot be numbered.

“Therefore my heart faileth me,” – as in Hebrew: “forsaketh.” The idea is that he sank under these sufferings; he could not sustain them.

When I read the whole Psalm, I get a glimpse of what Jesus went through for us. A list of Messianic Psalms can be found:  http://www.simplybible.com/f01p-psalms-about-christ.htm

God Lifted Me Up.

 

nature moss hills bog
A Bog: Photo by Jaymantri on Pexels.com

I was re-reading Psalm 40 and was moved to gratefulness again.

Psalm 40:

I waited patiently for the Lord;

he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand.

 He put a new song in my mouth,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear the Lord

and put their trust in him.

I do feel God has lifted me out of a miry bog, or quicksand. I was sinking because of the memories of my father sexually abusing me. I was sinking in shame, mental illness and depression. But through the years he lifted me up out of that.

It didn’t happen quickly. It takes time for the mind to heal. Am I completely well body and soul? No. But I am now standing on the rock, Jesus. My feet are no longer slipping and sliding. I understand how to run to him, to pour out my heart to him and to let him give me peace. Perfect peace? Yes and no.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Isaiah 26:3

I used to think that when we had perfect peace it would never go away. But I was wrong. Our peace is disrupted when life brings obstacles or tragedy. Satan messes with our peace when he whispers negative thoughts to us.

So, we have to go back again to God and tell him how we feel and ask for his peace. We need to go again and again through the day and quote uplifting Bible verses praising God. Satan cannot stay where God is being praised and trusted. This is what I think Paul meant when he wrote, “Fight the good fight of faith.”

I learned most of this through Joyce Meyer. I watch her TV show every day. She focuses on how to live the Christian life. She was raped by her father for most of her childhood. She understands.

I still have a mental illness. I still hear my little girl inside say things. But I don’t mind too much. I try my best to stay away from things that trigger me. I can honestly say I am mostly happy and at peace. It is a wonderful feeling. He lifted me up out of the slimy pit, out of the mire and mud.

Psalm 40 is a Messianic psalm. Commentators have said the feelings expressed in this psalm are what Jesus felt. I’m going to write about that next time.

 

 

 

 

Great Podcasts. (IMO)

fall

Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/people/23155134@N06

I have been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. I also joined Instagram because the posts are short and easy to read on my tablet. I thought I would share the titles of some podcasts I enjoy.  They are all Christian sites.

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs

Creekside Church

Bridgetown Audio Podcast

Jesus Calling Podcast

Go and Tell Gals

Out of the Ordinary

Coffee with Andi

Exploring My Strange Bible

Because I am basically a quiet person with a bad memory, and a seemingly blank mind, I looked for a prayer podcast. I wanted someone to pray along with since I don’t leave my house much. I did find one I really liked. This woman knows how to pray:

The Prayer Podcast

God bless you all, and Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans!

800px-Beverley_Guildhall_Courtroom

Courtroom in Beverly, Yorkshire, England.

The disciple, John, said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.”

But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”  Luke 9:49,50

In a sermon, W. Clarkson says, “We are in danger of counting among our opponents those whom we should reckon as allies. It did not seem to be a service of a any particular account that a man should use the name of Jesus to exorcise demons, even though he may have had a measure of success in his attempts. But Christ said he was not to be forbidden as an outsider, but rather hailed as a friend and as an ally. What then, would he not say now of those who go so far towards the fullest declaration of his truth as many thousands do, but who remain outside the particular church with which we may be connected? Would he have us blame and brand these because they “follow not with us?”

The spirit of persecution is cruel, foolish, and emphatically unchristian. Rather, let us rejoice that there are found so many who, while not feeling it right to connect themselves with our organization, are yet loving the same Lord and serving the same cause. These are not our enemies; they are our allies.”

I like what Clarkson said. I know of how some people look down on Christians of other denominations. Not only sneer at them and their beliefs, but say they are not saved. I remember hearing in my church how “we have the truth,” and visiting a different denomination where a woman told me, “we have the truth.”

I think that is spiritual pride, and a kind of putting God in a box where he is only with the people in that box. Someone once told my husband he was not a Christian before he was baptized into my church. No, he was a Christian for a year and a half before he was baptized.

Human beings, all of us and I definitely include myself, judge other human beings constantly. That can be good or evil. We must use our judgement in deciding who to marry, who to be close friends with and who to do business with. God doesn’t want us to be blind to the faults of others. But when we judge whether someone is saved by grace or not, we move into God’s territory. Only he knows the heart of each person, and each person is on a path only God knows. He is patient. We are not. He is all loving. We are not. He is God. We are not.