Rewards For Faithfulness

NunI unabashedly tell anyone who asks me what my favorite book is … It’s the Bible. I have yet to find such a collection of writings that work every single time they’re applied.

Two summers ago we began a series of messages on the 119th Psalm. It appears that the psalmist shares my passion for God’s Word, as he writes time and time again the difference Scripture makes in his life.

The other thing that makes this psalm so cool to me is the organization of the 176 verses into twenty-two 8-verse segments, with each verse in a segment beginning with the the same Hebrew letter as its title. In the Hebrew language, the letters in the alphabet had their own meaning. In English an “n” is simply spelled “n.” It has no other definition or meaning. But in Hebrew the letter nun has both a spelling and a meaning. Nun is spelled nun-vav-nun (final), and it means both faithfulness and the reward for faithfulness.

Look at the three Hebrew characters that spell nun. Reading right to left it tells a story and gives the meaning of the letter/word—the one who is humbled in faithfulness will be the one who stands in righteousness. The perfect example of this is Jesus, Who humbled Himself when He came to earth and to the Cross, and then was exalted by the Heavenly Father to wear the crown of righteousness (see Philippians 2:5-11 and Revelation 14:14). Paul starts this passage by calling on us to “have the same attitude as that of Jesus” (v. 5), and concludes with the call to stick with it all the way to the end (see vv. 12-13).

RewardsThe psalmist calls us to this same thing in nun (Psalm 119:105-112). The “bookend” verses say, “Your Word is a lamp for me… so my heart is set on keeping Your Word” (vv. 105 and 112). In between the psalmist commits himself to a life of humbly persevering to God’s ways, and reaps the rewards of a changed heart, the joy of the Lord, and a heritage to pass on to others.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day—and not only to me, but also TO ALL who have longed for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10).

My heart is set on keeping Your decrees to the very end (Psalm 119:112).

Rewards here (new heart, joy, heritage) AND rewards in Heaven (a crown of righteousness). How awesome is that!!

If you are in the Cedar Springs area, I will be continuing our series through Psalm 119 next Sunday, and I would love to have you join us.

Links & Quotes

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Some great reading from today…

“Ask yourself—Is God justified in my justification? Do I prove by the way I live and talk and do my work that God has made me holy?” —Oswald Chambers

Keep praying and speaking out for Meriam Ibrahim’s freedom. Sudan has imprisoned her and sentenced her to death because she is a (gasp!) Christian.

“The economy shrank for the first time in 58 years! Many of you, this has never happened in your life. The Drive-By Media, of course, is going to ignore this. Or, as the AP does here, say, “The setback is expected to be temporary with growth rebounding solidly since spring.’ Really? Well, every Drive-By news report I’ve read on the economy for the past six years has had the word ‘unexpected’ or ‘surprised’ in it, meaning everything they’ve reported has been a shock. They haven’t expected it. So it’s no big deal. Yeah, it shrank 3%. But that’s just expected to be temporary. … And so, for I don’t know what—the umpteenth or gazillionth time in the last six years—we are being told that prosperity is just around the corner. How long has AP been spreading this sunshine now? How long have ABC, NBC, CBS, the Washington Post, the New York Times been spreading this BS that prosperity is just around the corner—we’re poised for growth, waiting to break out—while the day-to-day reality is it’s worsening?” —Rush Limbaugh

Do you take vitamin supplements? This latest report says you should, and it says you shouldn’t.

Lower courts make a ruling on redefining marriage that is just flat-out wrong.

“Joy is increased by spreading it to others.” —Robert Murray McCheyne

“satan will try to bring upon you the most dreadful temptation or trial you have ever faced. He wants you to get bogged down in guilt, condemnation and self-examination. Dear saint, you have to arise in the Spirit and get your eyes off your circumstances and bondage. Do not try to figure it all out. Start praising, singing and trusting God—and He will take care of your deliverance.” —David Wilkerson

Alexander Solzhenitsyn tells us why countries fail: “Men have forgotten God.” Read more here.

I Like Giving (book review)

I Like GivingWhen you read a title like I Like Giving you might immediately think, “This is a book telling me to tithe, or give bigger offerings to my church, or support my local charity.” And you would be dead wrong. Brad Formsma’s book isn’t really about giving money away, it’s about giving yourself away.

Brad writes, “When we choose to give, we change, and the people around us change. When we move from awareness to action, miracles happen. When we allow giving to be our idea, a world of possibilities opens up before us, and we discover new levels of joy.”

Indeed, Brad weaves together his own personal stories, with stories from other givers, and even a healthy dose of medical and psychological research data to show us just how life-transforming and joy-producing it is when we are giving people. Not only are the gift receivers benefitted, but so are the gift givers.

Let me state it again: this book isn’t about giving your money to a charitable organization or a church; it’s about you seeing a need and finding a way to take care of that need. If everyone took on this mindset, just imagine how our communities would change!

One final thought from author Brad Formsma—“I don’t think we can ever overestimate just how profound the effects of giving can be. You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving. The reality is that other people are watching how we live our lives, and what we do can have extraordinary effects in our communities. Generosity is for all of us. It is available to all of us, even when the cultural tide is moving in the opposite direction. Why not be brave and live differently?” (emphasis added)

Let I Like Giving be a springboard for you to live differently and to make a difference where you live!

I am a Waterbrook book reviewer.

Links & Quotes

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Some interesting reading from this weekend…

Assemblies of God missionaries were addressing the issue of sex slaves and sex trafficking as far back as 1917.

Chilly Chilton challenges us to view worship as serving: Serving Up Some Worship!

This infuriates me … a Planned Parenthood staffer recommends abusive sex to a 15-year-old! And guess what? Our tax dollars are paying for this garbage.

More medical evidence that stress is bad for your heart.

“It will take an infinite number of ages for God to be done glorifying the wealth of His grace to us—which is to say He will never be done. And our joy will increase forever and ever. Boredom is absolutely excluded in the presence of an infinitely glorious God.” —John Piper

Don’t just study; study well. Here are some important questions to ask yourself.

The Overview Bible Project has a cool look at the Psalms.

How can we ever hope that our kids will become moral, ethical, committed people when we can’t keep our word, can’t keep our pants on, and can’t seem to hold our tongue or liquor? To all three groups of leaders, I simply say: We don’t expect you to be perfect, but we do expect you to embody integrity.” Read more from Tim Elmore’s post The Only Way To Turn Students Into Ethical Leaders.

“As Christians we are called upon to exhibit the character of God, and this means the simultaneous exhibition of His holiness and His love.” —Francis Schaeffer

Links & Quotes

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Some things I was reading today…

“Adolescence is an attempt to grab the privileges of adulthood while still clinging to the privileges of childhood” —Rabbi Daniel Lapin. This got me thinking: How am I preparing my kids for adulthood?

Charles Darwin said his pursuit of knowledge diminished his joy of discovery. Read this: Let Darwin Teach You.

“To know nothing but Christ, there must be a continual flow of revelation from the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God, if He searches the deep and hidden things of the Father, and if He is to be a well of living water springing up, then that well of flowing water must be a continual, never-ending revelation of Christ. It awaits every servant of the Lord who is willing to wait on the Lord—quietly, in faith believing, trusting the Holy Spirit to manifest the mind of God.” —David Wilkerson

As he does so well, Ken Davis uses his hilarious adventures on the golf course to teach us about Golf And Repentance.

[WARNING] There is some fairly graphic language in this post, but it serves to illustrate how profane the pro-abortion movement is Sarah Silverman: The Abortion Movement’s Nutty Professor.

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

Food for thought: Worship In A Selfie World.

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.” —Rachel Naomi Remen

Pastor Dave Barringer has some good thoughts on Successful Communication In Marriage.

Joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing. It is the reverse of happiness. Happiness is the result of what happens of an agreeable sort. Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens. Only Jesus gives that joy.” —S.D. Gordon

The Holy Spirit does not bring text after text until we are utterly confused; He simply brings back with the greatest of ease the words which we need in the particular circumstances we are in. Then comes in the use of the will, will I obey the word which has been brought back to our remembrance? The battle comes when we begin to debate instead of obeying.” —Oswald Chambers

Links & Quotes

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Some great reading I found today.

God has sought us out: let us have good hope for those who are laid upon our hearts in prayer, for He will find them out also. … It is a point of honor with Jesus to seek and to save all the flock, without a single exception. What a promise to plead!” —Charles Spurgeon

Where is the outrage?! Christian Girls Abducted & Raped In Egypt.

[INFOGRAPHI] Right on the heels of Easter, Bible Overview has a great infographic of everyone in the Bible who was raised from the dead.

The apostles had this instinct: When in trouble, pray. When intimidated, pray. When challenged, pray. When persecuted, pray!” —Jim Cymbala. Read more from Pastor Cymbala’s great post on prayer.

“Throughout our history Americans have put their faith in God and no one can doubt that we have been blessed for it. The earliest settlers of this land came in search of religious freedom. Landing on a desolate shoreline, they established a spiritual foundation that has served us ever since.” —Ronald Reagan

“Nobody ever got anything from God on the grounds that he deserved it. Having fallen, man deserves only punishment and death. So if God answers prayer it’s because God is good.” —A.W. Tozer

Sacrifice is not giving up things, but giving to God with joy the best we have.” —Oswald Chambers

Come On In

Come On InThe Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is constantly calling us to “Come!” He wants to draw us nearer to God’s presence. But sin separates. Let me be more specific and more personal: My sin can make me believe I can’t come closer to God.

In Psalm 99:8, notice how the psalmist focuses first on God’s forgiveness, and then on His punishment. It’s as though he is saying, “Yes, God punishes sin, but He is first and foremost a forgiving God”—

…You were to Israel a forgiving God, though You punished their misdeeds. (Psalm 99:8)

God is slow to anger, but He must punish sin. His punishment is always to encourage reconciliation. He wants to remove the sin that separates us. This has always been His focus since the very first sin.

In fact the next psalm celebrates coming into God’s presence with joy—

  • Shout for joy
  • Worship with gladness
  • Come in with joyful songs
  • Remember that God made us and we are His
  • Enter with thanksgiving
  • Enter with praise
  • Come give Him thanks
  • Praise Him
  • He is good
  • His love endures forever
  • His faithfulness never diminishes

This should encourage me all the more to quickly confess my sin and repent from it, so that I can once again answer the Holy Spirit’s call to come deeper into God’s presence.

Poetry Saturday—The Very Thought Of Thee

Bernard of ClairvauxJesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest Name,
O Savior of mankind!

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this
No tongue or pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be Thou our glory now
And thru eternity. —Bernard of Clairvaux

Links & Quotes

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These are links to articles and quotes I found interesting today.

“It is not hard for the Lord to turn night into day. He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the skies. Let us be of good cheer. It is better on before. Let us sing hallelujah by anticipation.” —Charles Spurgeon

“A holy life is not an aesthetic, or gloomy, or solitary life, but a life regulated by divine truth and faithful in Christian duty.” —Tyron Edwards

“The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” —Leonard Ravenhill

“If you see church as being just your local fellowship, then you still have not found the true Church. The God-blessed, righteous Church starts where you live.” —David Wilkerson

“As long as Christians split hairs, Christians will split churches.” —Max Lucado

Uh oh! Minimum Wage Hike Would Eliminate 500,000 Jobs

From Tim Elmore: Four Timeless Ideas To Make Your Point

“The Christian church is the body of Christ, Jesus Himself being the Headship of that body. Every true Christian, no matter where he or she lives, is a part of that body, and the Holy Spirit is to the church what our own souls are to our physical bodies.” —A.W. Tozer

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