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Thank God for the Preacher!
When was the last time you thanked God for your preacher? If you have a preacher that loves Jesus, that walks with God, that boldly stands up before men and proclaims the unflinching, unbending truth of God’s word, thank God for it! In a world full of yellow-belly “preachers”, we ought to thank God that we have a preacher who cares enough about us to “tell us like it is!”
David knew all about the care behind the bold preacher who pointed out his sin. David had committed sin, and was out of fellowship with God. 2 Samuel 11 gives us that account. But the account where Nathan the prophet comes to David, and boldly declares, “Thus saith the LORD God” didn’t do so because he hated David. In today’s society, Nathan would’ve been considered a hate-monger. How dare he call out David’s sin! Even in “fundamental” churches, the preacher must stick to generalities, otherwise he’s considered a legalist or a mean preacher! Nathan pointedly told David, “Thou art the man.” This wasn’t a high-five. This wasn’t a pat on the back. This was a bold declaration that David had committed a great evil and had sinned against God.
David wrote in the psalm, “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness.” If our preacher is telling us that our lives aren’t in line with Scripture, its not because he is being mean, it’s because he cares about our relationship with God. The God we serve is holy, and He demands holiness from us. David continued, “...let him reprove me,” or, let him expose my sin to my own eyes. David said, ...it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.” Reproving doesn’t break our heads, but it does break our hearts. It should.
18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; And saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
Our preacher knows this. His desire is that the Lord would be near us. God cannot draw near to the proud, hard-hearted person. But He does draw near to the broken-hearted.
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
David continued, “For yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.” Calamity means a state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss. Just because your preacher smiles on Sunday does not mean his heart isn’t broken under some great trial that he cannot share with you. Preachers carry not only your burdens, but their own. Their burdens are heavier than we think. They are under constant attack of Satan. If Satan can cause them grief and deter them from proclaiming the word of God, he has won a great victory. They are also under great attack from their own shortcomings. Every time a family leaves a church because they were offended by the truth, the pastor ALWAYS takes it personally. Our preachers need our prayers. They need to know that we are grateful for their stand on God’s Word, and for caring enough about us to tell us the truth.
Our attitude to our preacher is indicative of our attitude to God. If we are criticizing our preacher and if we are taking him for granted, that reveals that we are doing the same to our God. We are forgetting what the Bible says about a Bible-believing, Bible-preacher preacher. They are God’s gifts to the church.
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Thank God for the preacher who told me of Jesus
For I’d be a beggar, if not for His grace
Lord help me show others Your love and Your mercy
Help me be a witness to others I pray
Do you remember the preacher who told you about Jesus? Do you remember the preacher who told you of His grace? Do you remember the preacher that came and prayed with you when you were going through some great trial? Do you remember the preacher who baptized your children after they got saved? Or do you remember your preacher’s slight shortcomings or where he didn’t shake your hand on Sunday? Come on. Grow up. Stop your belly-aching. A church member that complains about their preacher has forgotten just how good God is. He gave you a preacher. He gave you someone to care and watch for your soul. He put someone over you in spiritual matters that will stand before God and answer for you. Think about that next time you have roast preacher for Sunday lunch.
God's Praise and Our Part
God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility has been the age old debate for centuries. It’s really not all that difficult to understand, once you realize you’re not as smart as you think you are. God is Sovereign. Its really simple. That means He’s the boss. That means no one can resist God and win the day. Man is also a free moral being. That means that God isn’t going to force man to do His will. God has His part, I have my part.
His part, which is a great truth, is to will my salvation.
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
My part is to respond, and it is my choice.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
If anyone goes to hell, it is because they choice to reject God’s plan.
I really like what A.W. Tozer said in regards to God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility. He used the illustration of a ship going from New York to Liverpool. He said that a ship left the harbor of New York and headed for Liverpool. The Captain set the course, and the destination was going to occur no matter the will of the passengers. However, the passengers had a choice regarding what they did on the ship. They could roam around and do whatever they willed. They could go to the dining room and eat. They could go listen to the musicians. They could go mingle with other passengers. They could choose to do whatever they want within the confines of the ship. They could not change the fact that they were going to Liverpool, but they had a measure of freedom. He made the point when he said that God also has set the course. No man can change that course God has set no matter how hard they try. We enter God’s ship the moment we are born, and the destination is death. We cannot stop that no matter how hard we try. We are free to choose what we do with our life while we are here, but we cannot stop the fact that we are going to die someday. We also cannot change the fact that God will judge us. He gives us the choice in this life to turn to Jesus Christ for salvation, or to reject Jesus Christ and face judgment.
We also have a choice as believers. God is not going to force us to be joyful. But He is willing to, “fill you with all joy and peace.” He’s not going to make us be joyful and full of peace. I can try to put it on. I can try to make myself joyful. I can’t make that last. I can’t fabricate Heaven’s joy. I can imitate it, and convince myself I have joy, but the moment I’m squeezed in the vice of life, joy doesn’t come out. Something else does. Frustration. Webster defines that word as to break or interrupt, hence, to defeat; to disappoint. I was happy before my circumstances squeezed me. That’s the limitations of human joy.
But there is another joy. This is the joy that God fills us with. Its the joy that caused Paul and Silas to sing praises while they were in chains in a dungeon. Its the joy that caused Peter and John to rejoice after they had been beaten by the Sanhedrin for preaching in the name of Jesus. Its the joy that John Wycliffe experienced as he sang hymns when the Catholic church burned him at the stake for translating the Bible into English. Its a joy that cannot be mustered up, but must be poured in. God wants to pour that into us, but we can’t have our hands over the cup. We must lift our cups up unto Him.
Our responsibility is “believing.” The text says, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” This isn’t a one time action. “in believing” is a concentrated effort on our part to dispel our doubts. When our circumstances shake us, and we find ourselves joyless, we should recognize immediately that we are walking by sight and not by faith. We must quickly get back to the source of faith-building, and that is the Word of God.
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
God wants us abounding in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. He wants us walking in His power, and to be filled with His joy and peace. That word peace is important as well. Peace is that which fills the heart with contentment for any circumstance God allows us to be in. It is a gentle consignment to accept God’s will for our lives. The lack of peace indicates we are upset because our will isn’t being done. That’s our problem. God is Sovereign, and He withholds peace for the purpose of showing us that we are not walking in His will. His will is for us to walk by faith. His will for us is to yield to the Holy Ghost.
If we find ourselves lacking in these areas, we have a throne of Grace we have access to for restoration. Let’s go there today. Let’s admit we are in need of His joy and peace. That’s our responsibility. To believe that God WANTS to fill us with joy and peace, and to believe Him for it. I’m reminded of what John Van Gelderen said, “I am weak, and will always be weak this side of heaven. He is strong and will always be strong. The key to the Christian life isn’t me becoming stronger, but recognizing that I am weak and depending on His strength.”
God, I am weak. I thought I could run along and have joy and peace, until the test came. I recognize that I was not trusting You for all my joy and all my peace. I repent and believe joy comes from Your giving hand. Fill my life with Your joy and Your peace, that my praise might bring You honor and glory. Amen.
God Inhabits Praise
The fact that The Incomprehensible inhabits praise places an imperative upon offering praise. The problem in our generation today is that we are like the Samaritan woman whom Christ charges with ignorance, “Ye worship ye know not what...” (See John 4:22-24) Modern Praise invites the presence of _____ and waves their hands in the air, back and forth, hearts filled with warm and fuzzies...
I can imagine that the Holy One is sitting on His throne listening intently for His invitation to enter their praises, but since they never mention Him by name, He never joins in.
Daniel records the outflow of a people who truly know their God, “...but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” The God of Heaven and Earth is Holy. What does that even mean? He is altogether of another substance than any other creature, for He isn’t the creature but the Creator. He is pure, altogether pure. He is good, altogether good. He is lovely, altogether lovely. He is righteous, altogether righteous. He is immutable, altogether immutable.
The god of modern worship has changed and now accepts sinners on their terms. So whatever is joining in with modern worship, whatever presence is entering the praises, ISN’T GOD. But the God of the Bible has declared, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (See Hebrews 13:8) “You’re being awful judgmental.” Sorry, not sorry. When a modern praise song can be sung without even mentioning the name of Jesus or referencing the blood of Jesus, or even acknowledging a Holy God...phooey. Away with such nonsense!
10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: For thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
Do you know the name of God?
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Do you trust in the name of God? They shall be strong and do exploits. That word exploit means a heroic act; a deed of renown; a great or noble achievement. They that know their God will boldly stand for righteousness and for the God of the Bible.
When I first met God in Salvation, I got let’s say, a 4 oz cup. I know His name. I’ve met His acquaintance. But the more I get to know the God of the Bible, the bigger my cup gets. The bigger my cup gets, the more of God that I can contain.
Perhaps that word contain is a bit much. The Bible says that God, “inhabitest the praises,” not that He is contained in praises. Even “the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee!” (See 2 Chronicles 6:18) But it means that He fills them up. He is manifested to the fullest extent that He is allowed. Whatever my capacity to be filled with God is, He will fill it. The more I know God, the more I trust God, the more I obey God, the more of God I get.
I’ve heard preachers say, “You get all of God that you’re gonna get when you get saved, but its a matter of God getting more of you.” That’s fine. We can say that. I’m trying to say the same thing. I want a bigger cup. I want God to fill my life and to fill my praise and in order for that to happen, I’m going to have to have my spiritual cup expanded.
My heart should be singing, "More about Jesus would I know, more of grace to others show, more of His saving fullness see, more of His love who died for me!" It's not just that I want to know more about Jesus, but I want to know Jesus more!
“They that know their God...” If I had two friends, Joe and Fred, and Joe I’ve known and been very close to for 10 years, and Fred I met 2 months ago, and Joe and Fred asked me to loan them $500 dollars. I KNOW JOE will pay it back, but I don’t know Fred well enough to give him that much money. The better I know God the more I will trust Him with. “They that know their God”
The better I know God, the better I want my praise to be, and the better my praise will become. I don’t want to praise, “In my father’s house, there’s a big, big yard, where we can play football,” rather, I want to praise
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore;
Bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore.
I want God to fill me to the full. The more I trust Him with, by humble obedience, the more He will be able to fill me. The better I know His name, the better I will be able to trust Him, and praise Him. The more I praise Him in an acceptable way, the more He will inhabit my praise. The more He inhabits my praise, the greater effect He will have on my life and on those around me.
May God fill our praise today.
When There Is No Song
Judah had been taken captive. Psalm 137 is a bitter Psalm written by a bitter Jew. They were captives far from home. They were far from the banks of the Jordan river, and were sitting down on the banks of the Tigris or the Euphrates when this was written. They were “weeping over joys departed.” Their harps were hung upon the weeping willows, and they had no intention of taking them down to sing a happy song (See Psalm 137:1-2). They asked,
4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song In a strange land?
Bitterness does that. It steals joy and robs us of praise. Did this Jew not have any songs? Sure, he had plenty. He could have sung Psalm 23, remembering his Shepherd, or Psalm 1, reminding himself to meditate day and night upon God and His promises. But that bitterness wouldn’t allow his heart to focus on God. Bitterness only cares about seeing the other person hurt just as bad as you do. He concluded his Psalm by saying, “Happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou has served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” (See Psalm 137:8-9).
He forgot that he was in Babylon because of the sins of Judah, perhaps even his own sins. Babylon would’ve never invaded Judah successfully if Judah had stayed faithful to God. Captivity in Babylon was the result of Judah’s failure and symbolic of the Prodigal Son of Luke 15, out in the far country away from the Father’s house. They were the ones to leave the Father. They were the ones who brought this upon themselves.
They had the opportunity to sing the praises of Jehovah to their heathen captives. They had an opportunity to glorify God, but instead, bitterness required revenge.
Is there any bitterness towards others or towards our circumstances that causes us to nurse our wounds? As the old saying goes, “Hurt people, hurt people.”
To answer the question the psalmist raised in Psalm 137:4, “How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land?” We must deal with whatever is causing us bitterness, stealing our joy, robbing our praise, and keeping us from ministering to the heathen around us. The psalmist thought that he had to be in Jerusalem to praise God. He had to be in perfect circumstances to praise God. His joy was directly rooted to his expectations and not to God’s sovereignty. Paul and Silas were beaten and put in stocks and imprisoned, but that didn’t stop their song. Its a matter of the heart.
How many Christians were on the right track: faithful to church, faithful to the Bible, and faithful to serve God before bitterness derailed them? If you invite them to church, the typical response will be, they hurt me. If we obeyed our Savior’s command through the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, bitterness wouldn’t be allowed to remain in our hearts.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
We would cry out to God to help us to be humble and tender toward others, even those who cause us hurt. We would accept at His hand that although our circumstances are not what we had hoped for, He has something better in mind. Bitterness just blinds us from that.
What this Jew didn’t see, is that God was dealing with Judah’s idolatry. They went to Babylon as idolaters, but came out without one idol. Some of the greatest books of the Bible came out of that 70 year period, Daniel being one of them, which prophesied of the very day their promised Messiah would enter the gates of Jerusalem to be presented as their King, and of His return to put down evil once and for all.
God can bring good out of our evils. He can turn our bitterness into joy, if we’ll only let Him.
17 Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: But thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: For thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.
The Perspective of Praise
They say that perception is reality. That’s just stupid. Reality is reality no matter how I perceive it because it is objective. But how I perceive reality will determine how I make decisions, which will effect reality. Reality is defined as actual being or existence of any thing; truth; fact; in distinction from mere appearance. Perception is how I understand it to be.
Our perception of reality can be wrong. Some Christians look at the world around them with rose-colored glasses. They don’t see what is going on around them because it affects their perception of what they want reality to be. So, like the ostrich, they stick their head in the sand until the problems go away.
Like the Robert Browning Poem,
THE year 's at the spring, And day 's at the morn; Morning 's at seven; The hill-side 's dew-pearl'd; The lark 's on the wing; The snail 's on the thorn; God 's in His heaven— All's right with the world!
That statement isn’t 100% accurate by the way. God is in His Heaven alright. No doubt about that. He’s high and lifted up on His throne, but not all is right with the world. He knows.
Problems don’t just go away!
Others, well, all they see is their problems.
And God is not an ostrich either! We need to stop acting like He is!
Paul is saying that we need to have the proper perspective. We have a God who cares. We have a God who is able. We have a God who knows.
7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
God sees our affliction. He hears our cries. He knows our sorrows. But He sees what we don’t.
The story is told about a mother who had severely disfigured arms. Her teenage daughter was embarrassed by them. When they were at the mall, the mother was paying for her daughter’s merchandise and when she reached forth her hand, the clerk at the counter gasped. The daughter was so embarrassed by the ordeal that she told her mother about it in the car. The mother, obviously hurt by the attitude of her daughter, chose not to react. Once she cooled down, she went to her daughters room and sat on the corner of her bed. She said, “You don’t know this, but when you were a baby, our house caught on fire. I could’ve ran out the front door with no harm, but I couldn’t imagine living my life without you. So I went to your room where you were sleeping and it was engulfed in flames. I ran into the room through the flames and grabbed you out of your crib and ran back through the flames out the front door with my arms on fire. Although the pain was beyond excruciating, all I could do was rejoice that my daughter wasn’t burned at all.” The daughter began weeping. She never looked at her mother the same.
Her perspective changed.
How do we change our perspective?
We focus on what is true. Where do we find truth? In Jesus. In Scripture. We focus on what is honest. What is honesty? It is what is right. We focus on what is just. What is just? God’s dealings with us. We focus on what is pure. What is pure? God’s holy character. We focus on what is lovely. What is more lovely than a mother saving her child? A God sending His Son to die in our place and redeem us. What is a good report? (Definitely not CNN) The news of what God is doing in the lives of those who trust in Him. We focus on virtue. What is virtue? Moral goodness. We focus on praise. What is praise?
Praise is focusing on the fact that although my problems are beyond me, they are not beyond God. He is far above them all. Not in distance, but in power.
What is Paul trying to get us to do? To get our minds off the problems and onto the God who is able.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
The Audacity of Praise
Audacity, boldness; brashness; the nerve; the gall; the effrontery...these are words we could use to describe the approaching leper towards Christ. His wounds oozing with repugnance, ashes on his head, mantle rent, his top lip covered as he cries, “Unclean! Unclean!” Can you picture the crowds around him? They part almost as if Moses had held up the rod of God in hand in front of the Red Sea. They stare, some with curiosity, some with disgusted glares. He doesn’t care. He has heard the glad word that the Lord was there.
He had been to religion already. The only thing the priest could do for him was pronounce him unclean. That meant separation from all that he held dear. He couldn’t worship now, at least, not with others. He couldn’t see his family. He would have to leave the city and remain in an unclean place, with other vile lepers. Every day would only be a day closer to his death, when perhaps then he would find peace and relief. Then that news...
The Savior was there. In the city. Amidst the very people that had cast him out, but He was there. Audacity. He stands to his feet, even though he is in pain and begins his fast-paced walk toward city. Scowls abound, but inside he smiles. He doesn’t care! The Lord is there!
This leper understood one thing about God, one thing we would do well to understand...God is omnipotent. The leper had the audacity because he had already been stripped of every ounce of human strength, every iota of human reason, every minutia of human dignity. What was shame? What was pride? One step, two, just a few more, and falling at the feet of the Lord, boldly claims, “If thou wilt...”
He didn’t say “If thou canst,” but “If thou wilt...”
We claim to believe God is almighty, but had we the heart of the Leper, well, we might actually believe it in our heart. We carry with us Adam’s baggage of pride, self-will, anger, worry, lust, fear, doubt, and blindness. We don’t see ourselves as this leper, unclean by these very things. We don’t see the Lord as this leper either. Not only did he believe in God’s omnipotence, but he believed in God’s goodness.
“...thou canst make me clean...” Ah, there it is. Clean? Why do we need to be cleansed? We’re not so bad. Worry, that’s no big deal. Lust, every body does it. Anger, I just get mad, that’s the way I am. Doubt, come on...what’s the problem? If we had the heart of worship as this leper did, we would want cleansed. We would see ourselves dirty, defiled, desperate.
With Jesus, we have to come clean before He makes us clean. We have to, as that leper, throw off the pride of the world, not caring about their ridicule, and approach Jesus with audacity. We must audaciously believe that God is able, and not only able, but willing...
3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
What do you need to believe Jesus for? What have you been holding back from Him in doubt, worry, and fear? What has pride been holding onto that Jesus needs to touch? With audacity, approach Jesus now, and worship, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Jesus is willing. He will reach forth His nail-pierced hand and say, “I will.”
Jesus didn't mind touching the leper. He didn't mind "getting His hands dirty." To Jesus, ALL OF US are dirty before He cleanses us. He came to reach the dirty, defiled, and desperate. He came to cleanse the inner man of its depraved state. Depravity in its simplest definition means corruption. We are inherently corrupt. We are tainted. We cannot worship aright, nor enter heaven. We must be "born again," or "be born from above." Jesus must touch us in our very cores. Too many people focus on the externals of religion, but miss the internal. They worship horizontally and not vertically. Whether your church wears suits and ties or wears sandals and flip-flops..."Ye must be born again!" I can condemn the Hawaiian shirt-wearing worshipers just as they can condemn me, but unless Jesus touches my heart, their hearts...I, they will remain in the unclean, depraved state.
I must audaciously ask Jesus to save me. I must audaciously believe He can and will. And when He does, I must audaciously follow Him wherever He leads me. This is worship. Believing He can, knowing He will.
No matter how sinful you are, or the extent of your sin, Jesus is willing, and able...to cleanse you. Don’t mind the hypocrites. They’ll have their day, just like you. So you might as well come clean so He can make you clean.
The Return of Awe to Our Praise
What is awe? As a noun, it is fear mingled with admiration or reverence; fear; dread inspired by something great, or terrific. As a verb, it means to strike with fear and reverence; to influence by fear, terror or respect.
When was the last time you were struck with the fear and reverence of God? When was the last time you were influenced by His fear, terror or respect? Worshipers of this modern era lack that awe, that heart that is stricken with fear by drawing near to the presence of God. God has been robbed of His majesty in the hearts and minds of men in this present age. Regardless of man’s failure to honor God and rob Him in their minds, God still possesses all of these:
David declares, “Thine, O LORD...” God is the Possessor of what follows, “the greatness...the power...the glory...the victory...the majesty…”
The...singularly, not as possessing some, but all.
Importance. Preeminence. First. God holds first place in all of His universe. The heavens bow down to Him, the earth will bow down to Him. Do we recognize God’s sovereign right to be first in our lives? Our worship is nil if we do not recognize God’s first claim on our lives.
23 I have sworn by myself, The word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall swear.
The world may rebel and declare their independence from God, but He is first, and will always be first.
Might. Strength. Dominion. Authority. God’s very name is Omnipotent.
6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
All power belongs unto God.
11 God hath spoken once; Twice have I heard this; That power belongeth unto God.
God alone possesses the power to kill or the power to make alive.
39 See now that I, even I, am he, And there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: Neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
Beauty. Splendor. Radiance. Fame. The Lord alone is beautiful. Any beauty that we see with our eyes is just an infinitesimal fragment of the beauty of the pureness and holiness of the Lord. His splendor is so great and His radiance so bright, that no man can approach His presence in manifestation.
16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
Conquest. Triumph. Subjugation. God will eradicate all enemy faction. He is a God of war. He is not some sissy God that America has made Him out to be. He will subdue rebels by either His cross or His sword.
3 The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Royalty. Dignity. Sovereignty. God alone is Sovereign in His Universe.
15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
He is exalted as head above all. Because of this, we have our rightful place, to worship at His footstool, with a renewed sense of awe. We should be struck with terror, realizing that our access to this Majestic God is bought and paid for the blood of His very Son. His commands should pierce through our wills and bring us into subjection. His beauty should cause us to fall on our faces, because we are dust before Him. This world’s allure should disgust us as we swear allegiance to this King of kings. Satan’s sway over this world should arouse us to spiritual arms before the commission of our very King to go and rescue the perishing. His glory should fill our mouths with praise...
Does Your Praise Need a Resurrection?
How’s your praise? How’s your joy? How’s your hope? How’s your encouragement? Are you lacking in these areas? Are you discouraged, defeated, battered and bitter? Are you struggling in your walk with God? Are you questioning your trials and temptations? Is the enemy whispering to your soul, “There is no hope.” That is a dangerous, slippery slope, a destructive path that leads to all sorts of evil.
12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
That is a place for the dead. If you are dead in your trespasses and sins (See Eph 2:1-2) then we urge you, “Look and live, my brother live! Look to Jesus now and live!”
22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: For I am God, and there is none else.
If you are saved and have been given new life in Christ, and have found yourself in this place of despondency, Christ has a word for you. You need a resurrection of praise!
For various reasons, we can find ourselves in a place of despondency. Noah Webster defines despondency for us as “A sinking or dejection of spirits at the loss of hope; loss of courage at the failure of hope, or in deep affliction, or at the prospect of insurmountable difficulties.” A child of God should not be despondent, but it does happen to even the best of us.
Luke 24 gives us the aftermath on the lives of the disciples after their Hope had been nailed to a cruel rugged tree and laid in a tomb. To them, their Hope was dead. These men who had left all to follow Jesus were now heading back home, disillusioned and defeated, their Hope dashed to pieces. In Luke 24:13-34, we’re given a wonderful glimpse at the heart of Jesus as He comes along to two of His disciples who were wallowing in the pit of Despond.
13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
These men were discouraged, shaken to the core with despair, and not knowing what to do next. But this next verse speaks to us the heart of the Savior toward those who are in the state of despondency,
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.”
The Savior drew near to them. They didn’t know Him at first. The Bible says,
16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
Its no wonder they didn’t know Him. Their Hope was dead. That’s the problem with despondency. it hides our eyes from seeing Jesus. Jesus didn’t suffer and die to leave us hopeless, but to give us a Hope that even death cannot defeat! But they couldn’t see that! And often, we cannot see it either! So Jesus has to come near, and probe our souls.
17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
The disciples answered Him by telling Him about how their Hope had been crucified, and how that it had been just three days since it happened. They explained how certain women of their company had reported that the tomb where their Hope was laid was empty, and that Hope was risen.
To get to the bottom of our problems, Jesus will ask, Why are you sad? What is holding you down? What is depressing you? He doesn’t send them to the quack and prescribe them anti-depressants, He doesn’t coddle them in their unbelief, but instead, points them to the promises.
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
After that, the men invited Jesus (Still not knowing it was their Hope, alive and well) to dinner. He complied, and as He broke bread with them, the Bible says, “Their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight” (See Luke 24:31) These men, once wearied with life and wearied with their journey, sprang to action. They had seen the Lord! They ran to tell the others. As they were telling the others, Jesus appeared in their midst.
36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
That’s just our problem today. We need Jesus in our midst. What were the disciples doing before Jesus appeared? Wallowing in their despondency. If we’re going to have a resurrection of praise, we need Jesus in our midst. We meed a fresh vision of Jesus to revive us again! Jesus knew that and (after spending time demonstrating to them that He wasn’t a ghost! Luke 24:37-43) pointed them once again to the Promises:
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Jesus then did three things to resurrect their praise.
First, He opened their understanding of the Scriptures.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
We are in desperate need of that. That requires an open Bible by the way. If our Bibles our closed, so will our understanding be closed. We cannot know God after our own intellect, but must have Him revealed to our spirits.
Second, He commissions them to preach.
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
Third, He promises them resurrection power.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
Jesus leaves for the right hand of the Father. The disciples return with great joy and where do you find them? In the temple, praising and blessing God.
Do you want to know how to tell if a Christian is despondent? His face will tell you. His words will tell you. But so will his church attendance. If you are missing church frequently, if you are missing Sunday evenings, and Wednesday night prayer meetings, chances are high...you need a resurrection of praise. You need a fresh vision of Jesus. Let Jesus draw near again.