a monthly devotional journal
Issue No. 63
I never had a bicycle with training wheels. My parents could never afford to buy me a bike that would be quickly outgrown, so I never had my own bike until it could be one large enough that it would have looked pretty silly with training wheels attached.
As if it happened just last night, I recall getting that bike. It was on the occasion of my 12th birthday. The bicycle was a 26 inch model painted a bright, fire engine red. I remember going to bed that night with that brand new red bike parked smack at the foot of my bed, where I could lie there and keep an eye on it, and make sure nothing happened to it before morning. I can still taste the anticipation.
While I never had one of my own, I had plenty of opportunities to observe bikes with training wheels. Simple inventions, these wheels were attached to the frame, one on either side of the rear wheel, and positioned just a few inches above the ground, so that if the rider tipped just a little in either direction, the training wheel on that side would make contact with the pavement.
Bikes with training wheels never fall over; there's always a wheel there to keep the bike and rider upright. The many bumps and scrapes, cuts and bruises of my childhood attest to the fact that bikes without training wheels certainly do fall over from time to time.
At the point of our salvation--at the moment in which our eternity with Christ is sealed--we are issued the Holy Spirit as a permanent resident. What we are not issued is a set of training wheels.
Some people believe that it is possible to live the Christian life without ever falling down. To those people--people who never fall down--I say: may your tribe increase. It has been my experience, however, that in the Christian life, we fall down from time to time.
How do we 'fall down' in our walk with Christ? What is the Spiritual equivalent of tipping over when riding our bike?
We fall down whenever we behave in a manner unlike Christ: the harsh word said in haste, petty jealousies that come between friends; failing to forgive another, pride that becomes a barrier to righteousness; silent envy that causes us to take what is not ours, a cold heart regarding the plight of another, laziness that permits the ways of the world to win out over the ways of God. And beneath it all, the lingering residue of unholy passions weaned and nurtured before we came to know Christ.
When we pray, our prayer does more for us than God. And when we fall, we are the ones who come up bruised and bloody from the experience, not the One who set us atop the bike.
But why do we fall down? We certainly haven't planned to; it's not what we want to have happen. But just when we've resolved to never fall down again--there go our wheels out from under us.
"All of us, even if we have no constitutional temptation to fickleness, must feel our own weakness if we are really quickened of God. Dear reader, do you not find enough in any one single day to make you stumble? You that desire to walk in perfect holiness, as I trust you do; you that have set before you a high standard of what a Christian should be--do you not find that before the breakfast things are cleared away from the table, you have displayed enough folly to make you ashamed of yourselves? If we were to shut ourselves up in the lone cell of a hermit, temptation would follow us; for as long as we cannot escape from ourselves we cannot escape from incitements to sin." C.H. Spurgeon
Is falling down supposed to be a part of the Christian life--or does it, instead, represent a measure of defeat in a life that has failed to attain some mystical level of purity? Interestingly, in his most thorough and profound treatise on Christian doctrine, the apostle Paul includes the following personal note.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:18-25a
Those of us who fall down from time to time can take some comfort and reassurance in the stories in Scripture of those who fell down from time to time.
"Most of us live only within the level of consciousness-- consciously serving and consciously devoted to God. This shows immaturity and the fact that we are not yet living the real Christian life. Maturity is produced in the life of a child of God on the unconscious level, until we become so totally surrendered to God that we are not even aware of being used by Him. When we are consciously aware of being used as broken bread and poured-out wine, we have yet another level to reach--a level where all awareness of ourselves and of what God is doing through us is completely eliminated. A saint is never consciously a saint--a saint is consciously dependent on God." Oswald Chambers
Before I was old enough to have my own bicycle, I took advantage of opportunities to ride those belonging to others. One fringe benefit of our family visiting another was that I would be able--depending on the benevolence of the resident kids--to ride their bikes.
Jerry, the son of our friends in Shell Rock, Iowa, had a bike that was a favorite of mine to ride. It was great fun to wheel it around the wide, tree-lined streets of the small town, around and around the block by the adjacent cemetery. There was only one problem: if I sat on the seat, my feet wouldn't reach the pedals. So the only way for me to ride the bike was to do so standing on the pedals, leaning from side to side to avoid the center bar. In fact, the only way I was even able to get on the bike was to launch myself from the edge of their rather large front porch.
The problem with riding a bike in such a fashion is that you have very little control over the vehicle. If you hit a curb wrong, skid on a patch of mud, or otherwise get into trouble, about all you can do is let yourself tip over sideways. Sometimes you land on your feet; most times you land with your shoulder hitting the sidewalk.
John Mark had a solid, Christian upbringing. His mother, Mary, was an important figure in the early church and, in fact, a group worshipped in her home in Jerusalem. It was to this home that Peter went after the angel of the Lord rescued him from prison.
Mark's family was influential, as well as wealthy. Barnabas, the land-owner who became for awhile the apostle Paul's ministry partner, was related. Mark had good pedigree, and I can imagine his youthful enthusiasm when it was proposed that he accompany Paul and his cousin Barnabas on their first missionary journey.
They traveled first to Seleucia, then sailed to the isle of Cyprus.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper. Acts 13:2-5
How different this must have been for the young man--how exciting to sail the Mediterranean, landing at the exotic island of Cyprus. Surely his youthful vigor and enthusiasm helped sustain him through the tougher moments of the journey.
But something happened between Paphos, on Cyprus, and Perga, which was on the mainland in Pamphylia. Suddenly, John Mark left the mission and returned to his home in Jerusalem.
From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. Acts 13:13
How do we know that Mark did not leave the mission on agreeable terms?
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. Acts 15:36-40
Whatever John Mark's reason for leaving, Paul was of the opinion that he had let them down, that he had abandoned the work he had set out to perform.
Why do we fall down?
In a perfect world we would be born with every bit of wisdom and knowledge we would need for any circumstance. But, as we all know, this world is not perfect.
We gain experience and wisdom over time, as we mature. The person who has been riding a bike every day for forty years will stay upright more consistently than the one who is just beginning. The venerable Christian, who has been walking consistently with the Lord for decades, will fall down less often that the one who just met Him yesterday.
Then again, we gain experience by falling down, don't we. The scars of failure can often be the best teachers. If you're paying attention when you blow it, chances are good that you may not blow it again.
It's a risky business, however, learning only from the mistakes we make. The better plan is to learn, from the beginning, from the One who has all the right answers.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word. Psalm 119:9 NASB
Do you recall the last time you 'fell down'?
Define this concept for yourself. What does it mean to you to fall down in your walk with the Lord. Work out for yourself what constitutes falling down--and what doesn't.
"When a traveler is newly arrived in the Alps, he is constantly deceived in his reckoning. One man declared that he could climb the Righi in half an hour, but after several panting hours the summit was still ahead of him. Yet when he made the boast, some of us who stood by were much of his mind--the ascent did seem easy."This partly accounts for the mistakes people make in estimating eternal things: they have been too much used to molehills to be at home with the mountains. Only familiarity with the sublimities of revelation can educate us to a comprehension of their heights and depths." C.H. Spurgeon
... but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 1 Cor. 2:10-13
A bicycle looks nothing like a horse, but there is one thing this two-wheeled mode of conveyance has in common with the trusty steed: When one falls off either one, the best thing for the rider to do is get right back in the saddle.
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:28-31
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Matthew 16:21-23
Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same. Matthew 26:31-35
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" John 13:6-9
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" John 18:10-11
Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with him." But he denied it. "Woman, I don't know him," he said. A little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." "Man, I am not!" Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean." Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly. Luke 22:54-62
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me? "He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." John 21:15-22
It seems that in all of Scripture, no one fell down more often than the apostle Peter. But to his credit, he kept getting back up and trying again. Even in the face of withering retorts from Jesus (and certain humiliation before the other disciples because of them) Peter never gave up. He hung in there to the end.
But of course, we need not single out poor Peter. Even the most cursory study of the disciples of Jesus reveals a veritable catalog of the frailties of the flesh. Peter seems to stand out, however, in his sheer ability to say or do the wrong thing at precisely the wrong time.
The question then presents itself: Why did he keep trying? Why didn't Peter just give up and return to his nets? The answer, I suppose, has something to do with his love for Jesus, and for his desire to please Him--to do better the next time.
This is no small thing, for it reaches to the heart of what motivates any of us to get back up when we have fallen down. There is, indeed, something in each of us that connects us to Christ: the Holy Spirit. Beyond that, however, there is a love for our Savior that develops over time, much like the earthly love we might have for another human being.
How would you compare the love you have for Christ to the love you have for another person? How is it different? How is it the same?
Just as we come as babes to Christ, and only gradually mature in Spiritual wisdom and knowledge as we walk with Him, our devotion to Jesus gradually matures and deepens the more we come to know Him. Our initial love for Christ is a young and fragile thing, based primarily on an appreciation for what He did for us at the cross.
But as we travel through life with Him, coming to recognize and appreciate His tender touch through the rough times; His comforting, forgiving arm about our shoulders when we have failed; sharing His joy over our triumphs--the longer we live with Jesus, the deeper and more profound becomes our love for Him.
This relationship is the basis for our desire to get back up and try again when we have fallen flat on our face.
But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. Psalm 3:3
It is our confidence in Jesus that encourages us when down; it is our love for Him that becomes our motivation to try again, and do better the next time.
What is Jesus' reaction to your falling down? Find the answer in Scripture.
Because I was a fairly typical, red-blooded American boy, the brand new bike I received on my 12th birthday did not long remain in its pristine state.
Young boys where I come from like to customize things, so it wasn't long before my shiny bicycle had been modified beyond all recognition.
The angles of the seat and handlebars were changed for a more racy profile, and many-colored plastic streamers were attached to the holes in the grips. An odd collection of things was added to the wheel spokes for noise and flash. Lights and buzzers, whistles and horns were added and subtracted on a regular basis for both safety and social status. The red factory finish was eventually improved upon with random blotches of spray paint: metallic green, silver and gold.
Then the fenders were modified--even removed. Factory handlebars were exchanged for those of a slightly more radical design. The shape of the seat became more of an artistic statement, rather than simply a perch for my bottom.
Also typical, with modifications to the appearance of my bike came modifications to my riding habits. On the first day with my new bike, I remained conservative, riding in genteel circuits round about the block. But soon I was jumping the curb, launching myself off graded slopes and banks, careening dangerously close to vehicles both stationary and moving. In no time, instead of obeying my father to use the kickstand when dismounting, I had adopted the habit of leaping from my trusty steed while still moving, thereby letting it slam and scrape into the ground with a most satisfying crash.
Curiously, as my reckless riding habits increased, so did the cuts and scrapes and bruises upon my person. When I rode sensibly, I remained astride the seat in an upright position; when I rode with reckless abandon, I paid a price for my antics--usually with physical pain.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 2 Samuel 11:2-4
The curse of free will is that we are free to do really stupid things. Sometimes we fall down purely by accident; it was never our intention. But very often we fall down because we have purposely put ourselves into a position where falling down is likely.
The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him." David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity." Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!" 2 Samuel 12:1-7a
Our selfish desires can blind us to the fact that we have even fallen down in the first place--especially when we have grown accustomed to the spills.
"Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own." "This is what the Lord says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'"Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord."Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die." 2 Samuel 12:9-14
Living under grace--under the blood of Christ--means that we will not die because of our foolish decisions to sin, but living under God's justice means that we will forever bear the scars of our sin. God's forgiving grace does not nullify the lingering effects of our wrong decisions.
"The same sins which put our Lord to death will put us to death if they can. O child of God, you never sin without injuring yourself. The smallest sin that ever creeps into your heart is a robber seeking to kill and to destroy. You never profited by sin, and never can. No, it is poison, deadly poison to your spirit. You know that it injures your faith, destroys your enjoyment, withers up your peace, weakens you in prayer, and prevents your example being beneficial to others." C.H. Spurgeon
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:8-11
During the latter half of my 4-year sojourn in the U.S. Navy, while stationed in San Diego, California, it became the fashion in our small group to acquire and ride a bike to and from work every day. I suppose the motives behind this inconvenient fad were both economy and general health but, all in all, I found the practice to be something akin to daily root canal.
I took no pleasure in arriving at work and arriving back home drenched in sweat and gasping for breath. "It'll get easier the more you ride," my slender companions informed me. Well, it didn't. It never got easier.
When my wife and I moved from National City, a suburb on roughly the same plane as the Navy base, to an apartment in San Diego proper, in a neighborhood so far uphill from the base that its ascent would cause a Sherpa's nose to bleed, I called it quits. From that point on my mode of transport was restricted to self-propelled vehicles one could ride without losing five pounds in perspiration.
As a result, curiously enough, while my waistline continued its outward expansion, my slender companions just got more slender.
My co-workers not only ended up in superior physical shape, they became expert bike riders. Their pedals had stirrups and straps that held their feet for greater power; they carried all the accoutrements, such things as water bottles, air pumps, lights; they could repair and change a tire on the fly; they could travel long distances without stopping; and they could ride for weeks and months, every day, and never fall down.
"One of the great hindrances to internal peace which the Christian encounters is the common habit of dividing our lives into two areas--the sacred and the secular. As these areas are conceived to exist apart from each other and to be morally and spiritually incompatible, and as we are compelled by the necessities of living to be always crossing back and forth from the one to the other, our inner lives tend to break up so that we live a divided instead of a unified life.
"The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is our perfect example, and He knew no divided life. In the Presence of His Father He lived on earth without strain from babyhood to His death on the cross. God accepted the offering of His total life, and made no distinction between act and act. 'I do always the things that please Him,' was His brief summary of His own life as it related to the Father (John 8:29). As He moved among men He was poised and restful. What pressure and suffering He endured grew out of His position as the world's sin bearer; they were never the result of moral uncertainty or spiritual maladjustment.
"We can meet this successfully only by the exercise of an aggressive faith. We must offer all our acts to God and believe that He accepts them. Then hold firmly to that position and keep insisting that every act of every hour of the day and night be included in the transaction. Keep reminding God in our times of private prayer that we mean every act for His glory; then supplement those times by a thousand thought-prayers as we go about the job of living. Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there." A.W. Tozer
Whether we believe that it is possible for a child of God to live his life without ever falling down, or that some falling down will be inevitable, our goal should always be to remain upright. And the amount of time we stay upright is directly dependent on how much time is spent walking with the Lord.
I'm reminded of the day a psychologist tried to relieve me of a migraine headache by using a form of image therapy (my phrase)--a method falling somewhere between hypnosis and bio-feedback.
While I reclined on his couch, relaxed with my eyes closed, he began drawing word pictures intended to have some positive effect on the pain raging between my ears.
He began with images of heat, at one point telling me to imagine a white hot beam of light piercing through the top of my head. That didn't work at all, so finally he switched to images of cold. The word picture that finally brought some relief was one in which I was walking through a snow-draped forest in the cold dead of winter.
Because I prefer being cool--even cold--to being hot, the cooler images were the ones that I better identified with. They were the ones that brought relief from the migraine.
The mental pictures you employ to describe the relationship God has with your life are not nearly so important as the fact that you have that relationship.
You may imagine God the Father as a white-bearded grandfather, floating off the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; you may imagine Him as blinding light, radiant energy; or you may not be able to describe Him at all, only as unspeakable holiness.
You may imagine Jesus walking alongside you, holding your hand; you may think of him leading or pulling you in a certain direction; or you may see Him in the distance, beckoning you toward Him. Maybe He even sits across a table from you, holding a conversation.
The important thing is that you have the relationship. If you never want to fall down, the only way to do it is to walk constantly with the One who will hold you up.
"For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process [trying again after failure] trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection." C.S. Lewis
The Christian has a privilege too often neglected--that of living, actually living, day in and day out, with the all-powerful God of the universe. We too often place God onto a mystical what-not shelf, arrange Him prettily with our other collectibles, and only dust Him off once a week when we feel compelled to pray to Him.
But the God of the Bible is more organic than that. He concerns Himself with the day-to-day minutia of the lives of those who call upon His name. His children matter to Him, and if He weren't interested in having a relationship with them, He wouldn't have bothered sending His Son.
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:10-11
I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us--yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, "Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me"; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Isaiah 63:7-9
It may grieve the Lord when we fall down, but I imagine it grieves Him more when we try to stay up on our own. While we must never forget the majesty of God, nor should we forget that He is the one in charge, we do Him a disservice when we leave Him sitting, untouched, atop the shelf.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:12-16
Locate more Scripture references that describe how personal our Lord is with His people.
Issue No. 67
[1.] Charles Haddon Spurgeon, from his All of Grace: An Earnest Word with Those Who Are Seeking Salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ. (return to footnote 1)
[2.] Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest, (Discovery House,1992) updated edition. (return to footnote 2)
[3.] Acts 12:11-12 (return to footnote 3)
[4.] Adapted by Margaret Clarkson (Hymn#2 in The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (WORD, 1986). I can only assume that Ms Clarkson is responsible for rewriting the first four lines of the second verse, which originally read
Here I raise mine Ebenezer/Hither by Thy help I'm come/ And I hope, by Thy good pleasure/Safely to arrive at home
We can not only thank her for removing the confounding "Ebenezer", but also for exchanging the tentative "hope" for the more resounding "know". (return to footnote 4)
[5.] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Christian Publications, 1982), p.117ff. (return to footnote 5)
[6.] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, bk 3, ch. 5. (return to footnote 6)
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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture is from the New International Version. NIV quotations are from the Holy Bible: New International Version, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission. NASB quotations are from the New American Standard Bible © 1960, 1962,1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation.
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