The Lord’s Pleasure

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.” ~ Psalm 149:4

What a splendid thought that the Lord takes pleasure in His people! God is not some mean ogre sitting in heaven with a scowl on His face merely seeking to consume us. No indeed! He takes great joy and satisfaction in the salvation of His people. And why not? It was the glorious work of His own Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, that accomplished it. Such marvelous truth and amazing love adorns and beautifies those who truly humble themselves and earnestly come before Him.

~ apl

It Is Not Deep Words

“What doth it profit thee to enter into deep discussion concerning the Holy Trinity, if thou lack humility, and be thus displeasing to the Trinity? For verily it is not deep words that make a man holy and upright; it is a good life which maketh a man dear to God. I had rather feel contrition than be skillful in the definition thereof. If thou knewest the whole Bible, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what should all this profit thee without the love and grace of God? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, save to love God, and Him only to serve. That is the highest wisdom, to cast the world behind us, and to reach forward to the heavenly kingdom.”

~ Thomas a’ Kempis

How Sweet It Is

“The LORD will not cast off His people” – Psalm 94:14

One of the most wonderful truths of sacred Scripture involves the beautiful doctrine of the Christian’s assurance. It is one thing to know you were once loved enough by God to save you through His Son Jesus Christ. But how sweet it is, that after many years, often filled with sin, trial and tribulation, that God loves you just the same and will never cast you away. His is abiding eternal love and His promise is as steadfast and secure as the God who made it. The Lord will not cast of His people. Are you one of those?

~ apl

I Pray, Lord

“I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations;  but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’  Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” 

~ Nehemiah 1:5-11

In this magnificent example of a deeply faithful and sincerely earnest prayer, the Old Testament prophet, Nehemiah, grants God’s people for all time a wonderful model prayer that we can take to heart and meditate upon as we cultivate our own personal prayer life.

Nehemiah’s prayer begins as all diligent prayers should, by acknowledging God for who He truly is. Notice how Nehemiah confesses the Lord God of heaven is a “great and awesome God”. Likewise he stresses in his petition how the Lord is gracious and faithful, remembering His covenant and the attending blessings of “mercy” and “love” that are contained therein. Only after such a humble and reverent introduction does the servant of the Lord request the attention of His God towards his prayer.

Nehemiah’s prayer continues in a manner I recommend all prayers do. Look at the words he uses to pray to God – Nehemiah prays God’s own words back to Him:

Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations;  but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 

What better way to garner our Lord’s attention and to move Him to respond to our prayers than to recite back to Him His own infallible inerrant words! When we sweetly mingle together the power of God’s own Word with the petitions of a solemn and devoted prayer, we have what I believe, like in the case of Nehemiah, a beautiful and acceptable prayer.

Now please notice with me, beloved, not only does Nehemiah recite God’s own words back to Him, but he also recounts God’s own actions. Towards the end of this astonishing prayer we read:

Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.

Nehemiah “reminds” God of His merciful redeeming acts through His “great power” and by His “strong hand”. It should be clear the Lord loves to be gracious, to redeem and to restore. He loves when we can recall in our own hearts and minds His past goodness and use this truth as our motivation to approach Him in prayers for future blessings.

As we seek to come before our Lord in times and seasons of prayer, let us bear these things in mind. 1. The Lord should be acknowledged for the great and awesome God He truly is. 2. His own words make for a strong and powerful petition as we come to Him. 3. His own actions stand as a wonderful testimony to God’s faithfulness and goodness to His people. May we bear this in heart, mind and spirit as we say; “I pray, Lord”.

Grace To Desire

“O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire Thee with our whole heart; that, so desiring, we may seek, and seeking find Thee; and so finding Thee may love Thee; and in loving Thee, may hate those sins from which Thou hast redeemed us.”

~ Anslem (1033-1109)

Worship Is…

Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by His holiness, the nourishment of the mind with His truth, the purifying of the imagination by His beauty, the opening of the heart to His love, the surrender of the will to His purpose.

~ William Temple (1881-1944)

Little To The Imagination

“I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.”

~ Song of Solomon 7:10

Solomon was famous for his wisdom and the ability to put down in words human thoughts and feelings that express our deepest and most intimate emotions. In his “songs”, Solomon captures the beauty and essence of human desire, love and devotion between a man and a woman. And it is portrayed at times, as to leave little to the imagination.

The spiritual significance of King Solomon’s words here relate to Christ and His Church. As the man in the “songs” pursues his beloved, the woman to whom he gives his love (vs.12), so Christ loves and pursues His Church. Jesus’ desire is for you to respond to His love and to pursue Him and to desire Him above all else. May our love and commitment to Christ be so evident, steadfast and sure, it leaves little to the imagination.

Amen

With The Heart

Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.

~ Exodus 25:2 (NKJV)

The Christian religion has always been a matter of the heart. Form and fashion means very little to the Lord if the follower of God does not approach Him “with his heart”. Yes, we are commanded to bring our offerings. Certainly we should seek diligently to worship and serve the Lord. But even higher and greater than these lofty tasks is the willingness of the child of God to perform them from a love for the Lord with his whole heart.

~ apl

Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts

Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountain-head,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill!

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Where’er our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blest, when our faith can hold Thee fast.

O Lord, be Thou our strength and stay!
Make all our moments calm and bright,
Chase all dark thoughts of sin away,
Shed o’er us here Thy holy light.

~ Bernard of Clairvaux