Poetry Saturday—The Praise Of God

FullSizeRenderSpeak, lips of mine! 
And tell abroad 
The praises of my God. 
Speak, stammering tongue! 
In gladdest tone, 
Make His high praises known. 
Speak, sea and earth! 
Heaven’s utmost star, 
Speak from your realms afar! 
Take up the note, 
And send it round 
Creation’s farthest bound. 
Speak, heaven of heavens! 
Wherein our God 
Has made His bright abode. 
Speak, angels, speak! 
In songs proclaim 
His everlasting name. 
Speak, son of dust! 
Thy flesh He took 
And heaven for thee forsook. 
Speak, child of death! 
Thy death He died, 
Bless thou the Crucified. —Horatius Bonar

Thursdays With Oswald—On Rituals And Vows To God

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

On Rituals And Vows To God

     There is a use for ritual in a man’s religious life. Because anything is necessary at one time of life, it does not follow that it is necessary all through. … When a man is in a right relationship to God ritual is an assistance; the place of worship in the atmosphere are both conducive to worship. …

     Any amount of futile religion is based on this line of things—“I have been eating too much, but now Lent has come and I will fast for a time.” There is nothing genuine in it, it has not the grip of God about it. When a man comes into the presence of God he refrains himself and remembers that he is not there to suffer from his own reactions, to get comfort for himself, to pray along the line of “O Lord, bless me.” He is there to refrain from his own personal needs and to get into the scope of God’s outlook. … 

     No man can keep himself a Christian, it is impossible; it is God Who keeps a man a Christian. … Jesus Christ came for the weak, for the ungodly and the sinful, and He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” not—“Blessed is the man who has the power to decide and to keep his vow.” Jesus Christ calls the man who says—“I cannot do it; others may have the strength, but I haven’t.” Jesus Christ says to such, “Blessed are you.” It is not our vows before God that tell, but our coming before God, exactly as we are in all our weakness, and being held and kept by God.

From Shade Of His Hand

These words from Oswald Chambers are his commentary on Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7. In this passage, Solomon warns against making hasty vows. Solomon says it’s better to remain silent than to make a vow and not follow through.

Chambers reminds us that it is impossible for us to keep a vow in our own strength. We don’t make vows to try to impress God, or as a part of a ritual, or because we think we need to do something special to “make up” for where we’ve fallen short. God wants us to come to Him in our weakness and say, “I can’t do this, but Christ in me can do this. I need Your help!” This is the posture and attitude that God honors and delights to help.

Book Reviews From 2016

The Tabernacle Of Israel (book review)

the-tabernacle-of-israelIf you have ever used the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible, you are probably familiar with the work of Dr. James Strong. By the way, if you haven’t used this concordance, it is 1500+ pages listing every word in the Bible and their Hebrew or Greek word and definition. By contrast, Dr. Strong’s book on The Tabernacle Of Israel is only 170 pages, but it’s just as jam-packed with helpful information.

I was recently reading through the books of the Bible where God gives Moses highly specific instructions for the portable Tabernacle that is to be used for the Hebrews to conduct their worship services. This temporary Tabernacle not only served them while they sojourned in the wilderness for 40 years, but it became the pattern for the brick-and-mortar Temple that King Solomon built years later, and its pattern is referred to again in the New Testament book of Hebrews as being a pattern of the worship in heaven. Obviously this is a significant thing!

Dr. Strong uses his extraordinary skills to compile an easy-to-follow study of the design guidelines, building materials, and exact layout of this Tabernacle. He uses not only the biblical accounts, but also augments his work with extensive archeological discoveries.

Then to wrap up the book, Dr. Strong talks about the significance of the layout, colors, materials, and even mathematical significance of the Tabernacle’s design, showing how it still impacts the New Testament Christian to this day.

This is an academic book, but it is well worth your time if you would like to get a more in-depth knowledge of the Tabernacle which God commanded Moses to build.

T.M. Moore On Considering Jesus

T.M. Moore“We cannot follow what we do not know. And if we do not know Jesus, if our vision and understanding of Him are vague or merely general, following Him, in any sense, will be an act of self-deception. …

“The writer of Hebrews understood this. Twice in his epistle he instructs us to ‘consider Jesus.’ We must consider Jesus if we have any hope of persisting in the faith, no matter the struggle or threat that comes our way (Hebrews 3:1). And we must consider Jesus if we are to run our own particular race as fully and swiftly as possible (Hebrews 12:3). Following Jesus, it seems, means considering Him carefully. The writer uses two different words which we translate by the term consider.

“The first, in Hebrews 3:1, is the same word Jesus used to instruct us to consider the lilies of the field. It seems to have an aesthetic sense to it, implying wonder, admiration, mystery, and awe. To consider Jesus in this way is to wonder at His beauty, majesty, mystery, and power, and to delight in meditating on Him and lingering in His presence.

“The second use of consider, in Hebrews 12:3, encourages a more analytical, logical, and even theological consideration of Jesus Christ. We must study Jesus, think about all the implications of His life, death, and resurrection, and apply our minds to taking every thought captive for obedience to Him (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).” —T.M. Moore

The Delight Of Praise

C.S. Lewis at his desk“Just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it. ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.

“My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. … This is so even when our expressions are inadequate, as of course they usually are. But how if one could really and fully praise even such things to perfection—utterly ‘get out’ in poetry or music or pain the upsurge of appreciation which almost bursts you? Then indeed the object would be fully appreciated and our delight would have attained perfect development. The worthier the object, the more intense this delight would be.” —C.S. Lewis, in Reflections On The Psalms

Poetry Saturday—See God In Everything

lake-michigan“Give me a new idea,” I said,
While musing on a sleepless bed;
“A new idea that’ll bring to earth
A balm for souls of priceless worth;
That’ll give men thoughts of things above,
And teach them how to serve and love,
That’ll banish every selfish thought,
And rid men of the sins they’ve fought.” 

The new thought came, just how, I’ll tell:
‘Twas when on bended knee I fell,
And sought from Him who knows full well
The way our sorrow to expel.
See God in all things, great and small,
And give Him praise whate’er befall,
In life or death, in pain or woe,
See God, and overcome thy foe.
I saw Him in the morning light,
He made the day shine clear and bright;
I saw Him in the noontide hour,
And gained from Him refreshing shower.
At eventide, when worn and sad,
He gave me help, and made me glad.
At midnight, when on tossing bed
My weary soul to sleep He led.

I saw Him when great losses came,
And found He loved me just the same.
When heavy loads I had to bear,
I found He lightened every care.
By sickness, sorrow, sore distress,
He calmed my mind and gave me rest.
He’s filled my heart with gladsome praise
Since I gave Him the upward gaze.
‘Twas new to me, yet old to some,
This thought that to me has become
A revelation of the way
We all should live throughout the day;
For as each day unfolds its light,
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.
Life will, indeed, a blessing bring,
If we SEE GOD IN EVERYTHING.” —A.E. Finn
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