S.W.I.M. with Humility

January 6, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Quotes | 2 Comments
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Some of us are lured by pride into believing that we are “deep” thinkers. We ponder the mysteries of God. We believe we have “figured out” some of the inner workings and mysteries of His providence and sovereignty. We are quick to pontificate, but reluctant to utter the dreaded inquiry-stifling words: “I don’t know.

Certainly we want to immerse ourselves as deeply into Biblical doctrine as God would have us to go, but we must be careful not to dive down into sinful frustration, nor to burst up in a splash of hubris, claiming that we are masters of the deep, smugly certain and unteachable.

A god who could be completely fathomed would not be a real God at all. He would be encompassed and susceptible to explanation by the finite minds of creatures. The true God reminds us of our inferiority and our place of abject humility before His majesty.

Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?

Job 38:16

Some things in nature must remain a mystery to the most intelligent and enterprising investigators. Human knowledge has bounds beyond which it cannot pass. Universal knowledge is for God alone. If this be so in the things which are seen and temporal, I may rest assured that it is even more so in matters spiritual and eternal. Why, then, have I been torturing my brain with speculations as to destiny and will, fixed fate, and human responsibility? These deep and dark truths I am no more able to comprehend than to find out the depth which coucheth beneath, from which old ocean draws her watery stores. Why am I so curious to know the reason of my Lord’s providences, the motive of his actions, the design of his visitations? Shall I ever be able to clasp the sun in my fist, and hold the universe in my palm? yet these are as a drop of a bucket compared with the Lord my God. Let me not strive to understand the infinite, but spend my strength in love. What I cannot gain by intellect I can possess by affection, and let that suffice me. I cannot penetrate the heart of the sea, but I can enjoy the healthful breezes which sweep over its bosom, and I can sail over its blue waves with propitious winds. If I could enter the springs of the sea, the feat would serve no useful purpose either to myself or to others, it would not save the sinking bark, or give back the drowned mariner to his weeping wife and children; neither would my solving deep mysteries avail me a single whit, for the least love to God, and the simplest act of obedience to him, are better than the profoundest knowledge. My Lord, I leave the infinite to thee, and pray thee to put far from me such a love for the tree of knowledge as might keep me from the tree of life.

Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening
“Evening Devotion for September 5”

Esther: A Panorama of Humanity

August 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Posted in Esther | Leave a comment
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The Book of Esther surveys a wide range of human behavior in a few short chapters. We see wantonness, drunkenness, anger, lust, treachery, pride, hatred, and duplicitous scheming being acted out in vivid colors. But we also see courage, wisdom, and perseverance, and the tale ends in a marvelous manifestation of God’s sovereign working of all things together for the ultimate good. May Christians today see ourselves as providentially placed and purposed by God for the accomplishment of His glorious plans. Below are links to a few highlights from the Book of Esther:

1. Excessive Celebration
2. God’s Invisible Hand at Work
3. Motivation for Evil
4. Prep Time
5. The Earthly King and the Heavenly King (*)
6. Beware the Forestalled Feast
7. Pride vs. Providence

* most-read post in series

Pride vs. Providence

July 25, 2013 at 9:58 am | Posted in Esther | 7 Comments
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In his pride Haman rejoiced with his family and friends, unknowingly bragging about the preparation for his own downfall and death.

Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.

Esther 5:10-13

Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.

Psalm 7:14

Haman was “pregnant” with wickedness and evil plans. Therefore, he gave birth to a “child” which brought evil upon its own “father.”

He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.

Psalm 7:15

Haman had “made his own bed,” and would now have to lie in it.

His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.

Psalm 7:16

On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.

Esther 6:1

Why couldn’t the king sleep that night? Perhaps he was worried, wondering about Esther’s request. Perhaps he was kept awake by the racket caused by the building of the gallows outside. God, in His providence, may intervene supernaturally in obvious ways into the affairs of men, but often He works through what seem to be perfectly natural circumstances. The king could have chosen any manner of entertainment, but he chose to read a book, and not just any old book, but the book of the chronicles. Some historical chronicles are boring enough to put anybody to sleep! The servant picked out which of the chronicles to bring, and God’s providence worked to bring Haman to the king’s gate early that day. Haman’s plan for the day was to see Mordecai hanging all day, but instead he would have to spend all day seeing Mordecai honored!

Could this have been arranged by God to offer Haman a chance to repent? If so, Haman certainly did not seize the opportunity.

And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered.

Esther 6:12

Despite being celebrated and honored all day, Mordecai did not fall into the trap of pride. When the festivities were over he humbly returned to his place. We must not let pride settle down and make itself at home in our hearts.

Prep Time

June 20, 2013 at 11:25 am | Posted in Esther | 1 Comment
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Lord, help Your people to be dedicated to You, and help us to stand against the attack of the enemy. Give us the wisdom to know when we need to use the methods of confrontation or separation in dealing with our problems, but help us to deal with people always in love. In the Name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

God often uses people to accomplish His purposes. One example is the gift of the Gospel, which is a great treasure. God could appear to people in person and preach it directly to them, but He has entrusted it to us.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:6-7

This is possibly the most well-known and often-quoted verse in the Book of Esther:

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14

It shows the providence of God, but it also shows that we may miss out on the blessing when God accomplishes His purposes anyway without us.

Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre. Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.

Esther 5:1-4

Esther was receiving Godly favor and influence. Why wasn’t she more direct with the king? There are some similarities in the way subjects approach an earthly king and the way God’s people approach the Heavenly King, but there are also many differences.

Esther prepared for her meeting with the king, including putting on her royal apparel. We should be thankful that God hears “emergency prayers” (Nehemiah 2:4), but most of the time we should make some preparation for our prayer time.

Lord Willing

November 28, 2011 at 11:31 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 5 Comments
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Have you ever qualified a promise to be at a certain place at a certain time with the condition, “Lord willing.” It’s sort of the Christianized version of the expression, “Weather permitting.” Some people say it all the time. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to say. There is some Scriptural support for it:

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

James 4:13-15 (emphasis added)

The Latin expression for “Lord willing” is Deo volente and there used to be a practice of putting the initials “D.V.” on wedding invitations to indicate the possibility – however remote – of a last-minute cancellation. For some people it is almost superstitious to say “Lord willing” before committing to anything.

Considering the sovereignty of God, it is true that all our plans are subject to His overriding and supreme will. But does the Bible give us any clues as to exactly what the Lord is willing – or not willing?

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

II Peter 3:9 (emphasis added)

We need to keep in mind every day, every minute, that we’re totally dependent on God. In the sense that God has desires, He is “willing” that we do His will. Therefore, it is good to pray, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

We are to put the will of our Heavenly Father ahead of our own will, so we have to to be very careful about saying what we do or don’t “feel” like doing. There are times when the providence of God hinders us from doing what it seems like He has called us to do, but, while it can be easy to deceive other people, it is impossible to deceive God. There are times when God wants my body to be used for His service, even though it is in pain. There are times when God wants me to go somewhere I don’t feel like going. There are times when He wants me to talk to somebody I’m embarrassed to talk to, or somebody I do not particularly like. There are times when He wants me to discipline my children even if it will disturb the peace in my home. I need to be even more enthusiastic about doing the Lord’s will when it feels bad than I am about doing it when it feels good. The remedy for a lack of enthusiasm about serving the Lord is not monotoning “Lord willing” every time I do my “Christian duty.” The remedy is remembering the Gospel and having it settled in my heart and in my mind that I really am excited and enthusiastic and zealous about doing what the Lord is willing – what He wants.

Timing Is Everything and Timing is Nothing

November 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Isaiah, Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Man to God: How long is a million years to You?
God: It’s like a minute.
Man: What is a million dollars like to You?
God: It’s like a dollar.
Man: Can I have a million dollars?
God: Just a minute…

God lives both inside and outside of time. God is not subject to time; time is subject to Him, for He created it. We are creatures, though, and we are fairly obsessed with time. The days on which we set our clocks forward or backward to accommodate Daylight Savings Time are days of great rejoicing or consternation for us, depending upon how the change affects each of us personally. Sometimes the only thing that bothers us more than being too early or too late for an event ourselves, is when someone we are depending upon does not show up “on time” for us.

One of the tasks of our faith is to separate this type of finite thinking from our meditations about God. God can never be late or early. He is perfect in all His ways, and in every attribute of His character. Therefore, His “timing” is always perfect.

We sometimes speak of God’s “providence,” and this word comes from the Latin pro, meaning “ahead,” and video, meaning “to see.” To make it simple, God’s providence refers to His ability to “see ahead,” or to see into the future. How often have we cursed the traffic jam which made us late for an appointment, but which also, unbeknownst to ourselves, kept us from being broadsided by a careless truck driver a few miles down the road? How often have we sulked over a rainy day which kept us from a big outdoor party, and only later realized what a blessing it turned out to have been when we were “forced” to spend the day indoors, reading, playing, and talking with our small children, who will never again be as small as they were that day?

The providence of God not only refers to His ability to see into the future, but also to His sovereignty and control over a future which, to Him, already exists by His Own power, and where He reigns even now, planning wonderful things for our tomorrows that we can not even yet imagine.

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Isaiah 46:9-10

The Shepherd Knows Where We Are Going

October 31, 2011 at 11:48 am | Posted in Selected Psalms, Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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The Lord is the Great and Good Shepherd of every true Christian, and He will make sure that His sheep do not lack anything that is truly good.

[A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

This is true in the green pastures (Psalm 23:2), and it is true in the darkest valleys (Psalm 23:4). But the Bible is very specific in telling us that the Shepherd leads the sheep. Since He is leading the sheep, and since He always has a foreknowledge of the terrain, why would the Shepherd ever lead the sheep into a dark valley?

There are a number of reasons, but one of the most obvious is that some of the most beautiful pastures, streams, and places of rest can only be reached by way of a dangerous and dark route. Sheep must stay as close to the Shepherd as possible for maximum safety – even when He seems to be leading in a frightening and confusing direction. He knows that a treacherous journey, with Him as the Guide, is always worth the trip. And we can know it, too, if we will learn to trust in the Shepherd and the “surely” of His promises:

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.

Psalm 23:6


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