EVERY DAY WILL I BLESS THEE

“Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.”
Psalm 145:2

There are many things in life that require our attention and need to be addressed with consistency. We have domestic duties that must be attended to regularly. There are vocational responsibilities that demand our faithful participation. However, even with these important obligations there are occasional days of rest and vacation. But, there are some things that should be done every day. The Psalmist reminds us that “every day” we are to bless the Lord and give Him praise. Every day of our lives there ought to be moments of gratitude and giving glory to God.

It is reasonable that we would bless the Lord, giving Him thanks and praise, every day. Every day we enjoy His blessings and provision. The air that we breathe and the health we enjoy come from His good hand. The strength and desire to serve are the results of His grace in our lives. He watches over us with care, directs our steps, and establishes our thoughts daily. He never slumbers nor sleeps. There is not a thought in our minds that He does not know; He sees us each time we stand or sit and is there to lift us when we fall. He is certainly deserving of our daily praise. Many things in our lives are constantly changing. Our feelings fluctuate and our attitudes are not always the same, but there is a constant in this world that shall forever remain the same. God never changes and is, at all times, worthy of our sincere praise.

Most of us would admit that we could be more consistent in the daily exercise of giving Him thanks and praise. May our hearts be stirred by the testimony of David and our resolve be expressed in his words, “Every day will I bless thee.” This matter of daily praise brings a dimension of appreciation and God-consciousness that is not experienced nor enjoyed by many. The more our minds are fixed on the Lord, the more our hearts are thoughtful of Him, the more we see Him in our daily experiences, the more vital and dynamic our spiritual lives will be. Can we not find ample reasons even now to give Him thanks and praise? The Psalmist continued by saying, “I will praise thy name for ever and ever.” This will be one of our eternal privileges, throughout the centuries and millenniums, to daily give God honor and glory. Why not begin today?

YE WHICH ARE SPIRITUAL

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Galatians 6:1

This Scripture supplies great wisdom concerning the possibility of Christians straying into sin and their recovery. Regardless of what some preachers may say, it is possible for God’s people to be “overtaken in a fault.” Even though we have been born again and are indwelt by the Spirit of God, it does not mean that we are incapable of sinning. God does not want us to sin; and in every temptation, there is a way of escape. When we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, and we are promised forgiveness and cleansing when we confess our sin. This should be the path that we take when we have sinned. We should immediately turn from our sin and humbly receive God’s forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ. However, if a Christian continues to live in sin, his heart can become hardened and he can become more ensnared in his disobedience. This does not mean he is lost, only that sin can overtake us.

The Word of God further teaches that the wayward child of God can be restored. We find numerous examples of this in the Bible. Every detour from God’s will leaves a person with regret, shame, and even permanent scars. It is always best for us to avoid those unwise and expensive turns away from God. We want everyone to know that the wisest decision is always to stay away from sin and remain on the path of obedience. However, when a person does take a wrong turn spiritually, it is possible to “restore such an one.” People can be restored to fellowship with Christ and service for the Lord.

This is a much needed ministry. Just as we want the Lord to use us to win lost souls to Christ, we also want the Lord to help us to restore those who have turned from the straight and narrow way. The Bible encourages “ye which are spiritual” to restore those overtaken “in the spirit of meekness.” It takes spiritual people to be effective in the ministry of restoration. Those who are carnal or walking in the flesh will not have compassion on the erring. A Spirit-filled person recognizes that he could “also be tempted,” and it is because of God’s grace that we remain faithful. May God help us to avoid the path of sin, but always be ready to lend a helping hand to the fallen.

WHAT CAN WASH MY SINS AWAY?

“For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.”
Jeremiah 2:22

Jeremiah compassionately proclaimed the Word of the Lord to God’s people. They were a backslidden nation, guilty on many counts of consistent and intentional sin. Their transgressions were not hidden from God. The prophet said there was no possible way, humanly speaking, for their sins to be cleansed. Jeremiah spoke of the futility of removing sin by physical washing: “For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap,” it could not take away their sin stain.

The stains of our sins may sometimes be hidden from ourselves or others, but those marks cannot be hidden from God. To His people, God said, “thine iniquity is marked before me.” The sins of these people were clearly visible to their Maker. Men may attempt in different ways to cover or hide sin, but to no avail. Some are hopeful that good works may somehow cover up the evil that we have done, but the mark of sin will still remain. Others think that the waters of baptism might in some way wash the stain of sins away, but baptism cannot remove sin. There is only one solution for our sin problem. The songwriter said it this way, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh! Precious is the flow that makes me white as snow. No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.” The only provision for the spots and stain of sin is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Without the application of His vicarious death, there can be no cleansing and forgiveness for sin.

Thank God for what the death of Christ and His bodily resurrection mean to us. There was no hope for us to ever be reconciled to God. The mark of our sins could not be removed from the sight of our Holy Creator. But when the blood was applied to our lives, when we by faith trusted in Jesus for salvation, the stains of our sins were made white as snow. We can be free from our past and have a clear conscience before God because we have been washed and made pure by His blood. We do not have to carry the guilt of past sins if we have received Christ as Savior. Our hearts should never tire of thanking Him and praising Him for His goodness to us, and we must keep telling the wondrous story to those who have never heard.

ASA WAS WROTH WITH THE SEER

“Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.”
II Chronicles 16:10

Asa had been an exemplary king of Judah. He took away the altars of strange gods and commanded the people to seek the Lord. Asa feared the Lord and publicly sought Him. But in the thirty-sixth year of his reign, fearing a pending assault from Israel’s army, he entered into a league with the king of Syria. When that happened, a seer by the name of Hanani came to Asa and rebuked him for relying on the king of Syria rather than depending on the Lord. Asa was guilty. Where in times past he had cried unto the Lord in similar situations, he now placed his confidence in the help of men. When the prophet rebuked the king, rather than humbly accepting his correction, King Asa “was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house.” The king, who had such a good testimony of depending on the Lord and seeking to please Him, became angry when confronted about his sin.

A number of lessons could be learned from this sad event. We should be cautioned that any of us can put our confidence in man in a time of great need, even though we have deliberately and consistently depended on the Lord in the past. None of us are exempt from relying on the arm of the flesh. God has a way, in His goodness, of exposing our confidence in the flesh that we might repent and return to trusting in the Lord for our help and deliverance.

Another thing can be seen in Asa that should strongly warn us. He responded in anger to the voice that sought to turn him from his own way to God’s way. The Bible says, “he was in a rage with him because of this thing.” Much can be learned about our spiritual condition by monitoring how we respond to correction. There is a part of us that does not enjoy being reproved. It is not uncommon for someone who is confronted with the error of his way to become defensive and make excuses for his transgression. Our pride does not want to admit when we are wrong, but reproofs of instruction are a part of life.

A wise man will listen to and receive correction, but the Bible refers to one who resists reproof as a fool. Asa could have received his correction, acknowledged his mistake, and repented. Had he done so, he would have been better for it. Unfortunately, he became angry and died in disgrace.

TO THIS MAN WILL I LOOK

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
Isaiah 66:1, 2

God is the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of all that is. He abides in Heaven; and from there, He reigns over His creation. It is not as though He needs anything from us. God cannot be impressed by anything we might do or offer Him. It is an unwise individual who believes that we can provide anything for God that He could not manage without. God is completely self-existent and self-sufficient. Then, to what person would God look? What is it in man or woman that could gain God’s attention? The Scripture tells us, “to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” God is looking for those who demonstrate an attitude of humility.

There are certain qualities which God is seeking to find in His creation. He is looking for individuals with a spirit of brokenness, those who are meek and poor in spirit. Since God is searching for hearts that are humble, we can know that the Lord is not looking to those who are prideful. We are reminded again that our greatest adversary can be ourselves. Our sense of inadequacy and helplessness does not disqualify us from God’s attention and assistance. One cannot be so conscious of his limitations that God would consider him unqualified to receive His help. It is rather our self-confidence and independence that forfeits many of the benefits and blessings that God wants to bestow on us. It is arrogant and prideful for us to live as though we can manage without God. It pleases God when we are aware of our great need for Him, and when we are conscious of our incapability without Him.

God is looking for those who are hungry and thirsty for Him. He is seeking those who are desperate for His help, utterly dependent upon His grace and power, and “trembleth at my word.” Our Father is attentive to those who take the Bible seriously, reverencing the Scripture as His holy and preserved Word. From Heaven today, God is looking to those who love the truth and know how much they need Him.

BE IT UNTO ME ACCORDING TO THY WORD

“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”
Luke 1:38

The angel Gabriel visited Mary with a most unusual message from Heaven. She had been chosen to give birth to the Son of God. Mary needed an explanation for how this might occur, since she was a virgin. The angel said that through the power of the Spirit of God, she would conceive in her womb; it would be a supernatural birth. Mary immediately surrendered to God’s will for her life, referring to herself as “the handmaid of the Lord.” She was God’s servant, available and submitted to His plan for her life.

God had a very unique purpose for Mary’s life, but He also has a purpose and plan for each of us. Her response to the heavenly messenger was to offer herself as a willing servant. This should be our response to God’s will for our lives. We are His servants, ready to follow His leadership, available to carry out His orders. It cannot be overstated; when the Lord saves us, He wants to use us in His great work. Unfortunately, too many of those who claim to be His children appear to be unwilling to be His servants. Mary saw herself as the Lord’s handmaid. In expressing her submission, she said, “be it unto me according to thy word.” She was willing to be whatever God said she was to be, and do whatever the Lord stated that she should do.

How is it that we might know God’s will for our lives? We read of it in the pages of Scripture. Our confession should echo Mary’s desire, “be it unto me according to thy word.” We want it to be, in our lives, according to what God has said. If God says we are to be His witnesses, we want that to be true in us. When God says we are to love each other fervently and forgive all who wrong us, we want it to be in us according to His Word. Because the Lord tells us in the Bible that our lives no longer belong to us since we have been bought with a price, we heartily agree to what He says. When God’s Word commands us to use our gifts and resources to serve Him in and through the local church, we cheerfully obey. Wherever He wants us to be and whatever He wants us to do, we are His willing servants. We stand ready to follow His directives. What a blessing it is, and what glory it brings to our Lord, when we can sincerely say to our caring heavenly Father, “be it unto me according to thy word.”

THE HOUSE OF ONESIPHORUS

“The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.”
II Timothy 1:16, 17

We learn to appreciate those in our lives whom God has used to encourage us. Onesiphorus was such a friend to Paul. One would think that the faithful apostle would have no lack of loyal companions, but from the Scriptures we learn otherwise. Paul wrote of those times when his friends forsook him, when he would have been alone had it not been for the presence of His Savior. In this epistle, the man of God expresses to Timothy his appreciation for Onesiphorus, and asks the Lord to be merciful to his house. Of this friend, Paul said, “he oft refreshed me.”

Onesiphorus was a source of encouragement and spiritual refreshment to God’s man. Everyone needs to be encouraged from time to time, even aged and mature servants of God like Paul. Perhaps there have been few more committed and effective encouragers than Paul was. Yet, he himself stood in need of encouragement. If Paul needed to be uplifted and comforted, the same can surely be said of us. Onesiphorus was from Ephesus, in Asia, but he came to Rome to visit Paul. The church at Ephesus owed its beginning to the missionary work of Paul. Writing of his friend’s concern toward him, Paul said, “when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.”

Paul was in prison in Rome. It was a trying time as Christians were being persecuted. For Onesiphorus to search for the preacher included a degree of danger. Onesiphorus, Paul wrote, “was not ashamed of my chain.” We can only imagine the spiritual, emotional, and physical difficulty Paul faced in these times of incarceration, especially when he was abandoned by those he loved and cared for. He found a pronounced source of encouragement in the visits of Onesiphorus. The name Onesiphorus means “bringing profit, or one that brings profit.” He lived up to his name. How profitable are those who are there to encourage us in times of weakness and loneliness.

The testimony of Onesiphorus serves to remind us of the value of Christian friendship and fellowship. It also challenges us to be an instrument of encouragement to others, even to search out those who are particularly in need of a refreshing word or act of kindness.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR SINS?

“And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God?”
II Chronicles 28:10

It was a confusing and spiritually dark time for the nations of Israel and Judah. Because of Judah’s wickedness, the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Syrians; and the Israelites slaughtered 120,000 of the valiant men in Judah. As the Israelites were taking 200,000 of their brethren captive, Oded the prophet confronted them with the words of our text. The Israelites were purposing to keep the children of Judah as slaves. But Oded said, “are there not with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God?”

Judah was delivered into the countries of Syria and Israel because they had forsaken the Lord. Israel was only able to plunder Judah because God was chastening His people. Israel was taking advantage of the situation, taking much spoil and intending to enslave the women and children. God used the prophet Oded as a voice of conscience and reason. The preacher pointed out that while Israel was benefiting from the weakness brought on by Judah’s sinful deeds, Israel had their own sins to consider. Would it be right for Israel to gain from Judah’s sins, when the nation of Israel was also in a state of great national sin as well? They received the prophet’s message and allowed the captives to return home.

Israel’s behavior points out something that is similar and somewhat common among God’s people today. Sometimes when Christians see God chastening one of His children, or hear of someone who has fallen into sin and is experiencing the accompanying trials, they may act as though they are perfectly sinless in their own lives. To paraphrase the prophet Oded, he asked Israel, “What about your sins?” Imagine the hypocrisy of the men of Israel, plundering, killing, and capturing the backslidden families of Judah, when their own lives were filled with idolatry and wickedness. This should be a lesson for us all. Before we exploit the calamities of those who are fallen into sin, we should ask ourselves, “What about my sins?” This resembled the behavior of the hypocrites who wanted to stone the immoral woman, when Jesus said for the one without any sin to cast the first stone. When we are tempted to be condemning and critical of other’s faults, let us not forget about our sins.

WHO TOUCHED ME?

“And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?”
Mark 5:30, 31

Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, had begged Jesus to come and heal his daughter, who was at the point of death. As Jesus went with him, the crowds thronged them. At the same time, a desperately ill woman, believing that she would be healed if she could but touch the garments of Jesus, pressed through the crowds and touched His clothes. Immediately she was healed, and Jesus asked, “Who touched me?”

Because of the multitude of people, the disciples had no way of knowing who touched Jesus; many people were touching Him. However, there was something different about the touch of this woman. Others were pressing upon the Lord and touching Him, but what made the touch of this woman unique? Hers was a touch of faith, for she was convinced that touching Him would do for her what the physicians were unable to do. Without being noticed by the disciples, or bringing attention to herself, this woman reached out to the Savior, and her faith was rewarded. Later we are told that Jesus said to the woman, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague” (Mark 5:34).

Jesus knows when someone, with simple and sincere faith, touches Him. This is what the Lord wants us to do – come to Him with our needs and our problems. He wants us to come in faith, believing that He is able and willing to assist us. It is not our eloquent words or social status that gets the attention of Jesus. It is not our popularity or position that causes Him to notice us. It is faith that moves the hand of God. To this weak and needy woman, getting to Jesus was not an easy thing to do. He was surrounded by crowds of curious people. Who was she among so many? She represented the kind of seekers whose pursuit is rewarded, those who are trusting and believing in Him. It is fair to say that there are multitudes today who seem to be interested in being near Jesus, but how many are really reaching out to Him in faith? In an atmosphere where many appear to be in the vicinity of Jesus, when we reach out by faith to trust Him for the needs of our lives, He will know who touched Him.

THE LORD ANSWERED HIM NOT

“And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.”
I Samuel 28:5, 6

Saul, as the first king of Israel, knew what it was like to have the Spirit of God working in his life. However, Saul began to act willfully and impulsively, and disqualified himself from reigning as king. Instead of sincerely repenting and turning back to God in humility, he sought to justify his rebellion and continued down the path of pride and self-confidence. The Bible says, “The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul” (I Samuel 16:14). Saul remained steadfast in his will to reign without the leadership and blessing of God. When the Philistines gathered their armies to fight with Israel, Saul was overcome by fear. He prayed to God, but “the LORD answered him not.” After everything else failed, Saul disguised himself and sought the counsel of a woman that had a familiar spirit, engaging in witchcraft.

What a sad state for a man who once walked with God. Saul was out of touch with the Lord, and desperately needed advice. Frustrated and fearful, he looked practically anywhere for spiritual direction. There is one place he did not look. He did not look to God with a sincere heart of repentance and brokenness. He did inquire of the Lord, but there is no indication he sought God in confession of his life of disobedience and rebellion. He did not want to repent and honestly get right with God. Saul just wanted God to give him help against the Philistines, but “the LORD answered him not.”

When we turn against God and the commands of His Word, we cannot expect Him to give us the direction we need. He is not obligated nor inclined to answer the prayers of those who have rejected His leadership. God wants to guide us. We need His counsel at all times, but especially in times of crisis. This is where Saul was, facing a dreadful enemy, yet unable to get God’s advice.

What should we do when it seems that the Lord is not answering us? Our first priority must be to sincerely and humbly seek the Lord, and honestly confess any known sin in our lives. God’s silence should be an incentive to inventory our lives and forsake every bit of self-will and prideful independence, that again we might be able to hear Him.