Psalm 26:7--That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Soldier's Sacrifice

A Soldier’s Sacrifice

Jesus’ voice I heard today.
I heard him croak with dying throat
of why he’d fought this final fray,
though victory did not make him gloat.

Humble stayed he till his death,
a hero with a servant’s heart.
He trusted God with dying breath;
he’d known his purpose from the start.

I heard this voice not from a book,
not from a hymn or Gospel song,
not nigh or near a pulpit’s nook
and not in nature’s praises strong.

I heard it as I knelt and wept,
for in my arms I held him trembling,
and from his face his blood I swept—
this soldier nigh to death’s assembling.

“Let them know,” with final breath
he said, “that I love them,
that for freedom I have welcomed death—
and now I go to be with Him.”

Saturday, May 19, 2012



A choice to make,
a choice to make—
How on earth is one to take
a road which one knows nothing of?

Look above, you say?
Not on earth the answer lies?
If you insist, then I will try….

Why heavens! In the heavens flies
a sparkling Star so bright and spry!
I see the path its shine descries,
so, leaving all my alibis,
I’ll gaze upon this twinkling eye
and to my path its light apply.

Now hear this mystery on my mind—
more curious case you’ll never find—
how when my eyes leave Star’s design
the path to me becomes unkind.
I still can see; I am not blind,
but to a halt my progress grinds.

Yet when I watch the starlight bright
I walk without a fear or fright—
even during darkest night.

I watch the Star and nothing else—
its guidance to me never fails.
So destination near or far,
I keep my eyes upon the Star.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Poetic Prophet

Isaiah 64:6--But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Isaiah was a prophet, but his prophesies were usually very poetic. Outside of the actual poetic books of the Bible, Isaiah contains some of the most poetic passages in the entire canon of Scripture. The above verse is nothing but similes, and they all deal with the topic of man's depravity. So, what exactly is the Holy Spirit trying to tell us through these four comparisons?

1) "We are all as an unclean thing". The first comparison is simple and straightforward. It simply states that we are all unclean. Isaiah doesn't even bother to identify the "thing" we are unclean like. This makes the reader focus on the fact of uncleanliness. However, the diction here is powerful. By simply using the term "thing", Isaiah puts a disgusted tone into the passage, as if what he compares us to is unmentionable and unidentifiable because of its extreme filth. All of mankind is greatly stained by sin. If you've lived, you've sinned (Romans 3:10, 23).

2) "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags". The next simile logically flows from the first. If you are a filthy, rotten, "unclean thing", then nothing you do or produce will even have an air of cleanliness about it; it will be unclean as you are. Everything that man sees as a righteous deed--donating to charity, going to church, praying, volunteering, saving someone's life--is seen only as a filthy rag in God's sight. As Elihu said, "If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?" (Job 35:7). This doesn't mean that our good deeds go unnoticed or unrewarded by God. Not at all. God blesses those who love and follow His commandments. All this means is that no matter what we do, no matter how "good" we are or how "righteously" we live, it will never be enough to get us to Heaven. You can never come close to being as perfect and holy as God is, and no good lifestyle, living right, or amount of good works will ever be enough to save you (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 3:20; Titus 3:5).

3) "We all do fade as a leaf". Next are the consequences of our sin, the first being the decay of our bodies. When God placed the curse of death on man in the Garden of Eden, mortality was instituted. Now our bodies, from the moment of birth, begin to age and thus progress toward death. Sin is what causes this. Not only has sin caused the physical decay of our bodies, but it causes spiritual decay as well. If you are saved, sin will put a wall between you and God. You will still be saved, but your relationship with God will become strained, your conscience will be deadened, and joy and blessing will be gone from your life. For the saved and unsaved, sin causes relationships with others to become brittle, and your life will go on a downward spiral you cannot stop yourself. Sin will only dig deeper the hole you will be trying to fill. Sin causes all things to "fade as a leaf" in winter (Genesis 3:19; Galatians 6:7,8).

4) "Our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away". Lastly, there is the final effect of sin: death. Keep that image of the fading leaf in your head, and then imagine the bitter winter wind finally blowing it free of its limb, dropping it to the ground, and leaving it to be crushed underfoot by some passerby. This is what sin does to us; we are the leaf, and it is the wind that brings to us our final destruction. All are under the curse of sin, and all will someday die (Ecclesiastes 3:20; Romans 5:12; 6:23; Hebrews 9:27; James 1:15; and many more).

So what are we to do? In just one verse containing four similes we've heard the worst news possible: Every human being is a sinner doomed to die one day, and there is no way we can save ourselves. But praise God that he has not left us helpless. He loves us and wants no one to perish. That's why Jesus our Lord came to this earth and died for our sins, to become our Atonement, Sacrifice, and Savior. Without Him we are hopeless, but with Him we have eternal life, joy, peace, hope, and happiness.

If you are saved today, rejoice in this fact! Rejoice that you have been rescued from an eternal destination called Hell and that this salvation can never be lost. Rejoice that you have been taken from the clutches of the devil and made a child of the living God. Rejoice that you have been freed from the power of sin and are a conqueror through Jesus Christ. Now go out and tell the world about it.

However, if you are not saved, then you have no reason to rejoice except for the fact that God offers salvation this instant. It's a free pardon of sin, a gift paid in full by Jesus, and you just have to reach out and take it. Simply pray to God, asking for forgiveness of your sin and trusting in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. I plead with you--and so does God--to not put this off. Now is the day of salvation, for you know not if you have tomorrow; you don't even know if you have the next second. Accept Him into your heart now. See the Salvation tab above if you need more detailed information.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Structured Plot, Unstructured Prayer

Nehemiah 6:8,9--Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart. For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

Plot structure is an important concept when organizing and planning a piece of literature, and it is also key to understanding literature when reading it. Plot structure, or narrative structure, is the way in which the events in a piece of literature are related to the reader. In Nehemiah, the narrative structure is chronological; the events are related in the order they happened. However, several times throughout the book, the narration is interrupted by Nehemiah's personal addresses to God, and the tense shifts from past to present. The above verses are not the only instance.

As I read through Nehemiah and noticed this, it struck me that Nehemiah's prayer life was such an integral part of his relationship with God that the Holy Spirit had allowed him to record his prayers in Scripture. The way in which they are recorded also interested me. In the middle of telling a story, Nehemiah simply pauses and writes a prayer to God. That would seem extremely odd to us today if a storyteller did such a thing when telling his story, or if a book was interrupted in such a way. But in light of two other passages, one can see that this should be normal, not only for Nehemiah, but for anyone who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

First Thessalonians 5:17 is a single sentence: "Pray without ceasing." This is a simple, imperative sentence with an understood "You" as subject. Basically that means that God is looking you straight in the face and commanding you to "pray without ceasing." God never wants us to stop talking with Him. He desires us to have the closest relationship possible with Him, and a relationship cannot exist without communication. That's why prayer is such an essential part of walking with God. Now, obviously we can't be on our knees with our heads bowed every second of the day. That's impossible. But God wants us to be communing with Him always, in our hearts and in our minds. He wants us to walk in and talk to the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us every second of every day.

Romans 12:12 reads "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer". It is part of a list of ways in which to live Christlike. Once again there is the mention of always praying. If you continue in something you do instantly, then you are always doing it. This also means that we should always be ready to pray, ready to take our troubles, cares, burdens, praises, and problems to the Lord. God wants us to know that we can always rely on Him. This is what Nehemiah did. Most of the time when he interrupted the narrative of his book to pray, it was to ask God for help. So while we should constantly be talking with God every second, we should also always be ready to seriously pray, like we do when we get on our knees and bow our heads, because we never know when trouble will arise.

Earlier I spoke of plot structure, but our prayer life should not be structured. It should flow freely and regularly. This is how our prayer life grows stronger. We should all follow the example of Nehemiah and "pray without ceasing", being ready always to come to God in an hour of need or trial. It's hard; our minds and thoughts are easily distracted. But the harder you try and the longer you persevere, the better you will become, and this will lead into a sweet relationship with God like none other. You will know Him like you never did before, and you will continue to learn more about Him and grow in Him every day. You will be better able to hear His voice and know His will. It will be easier for You to follow His Word, and your love for Him will increase unbounded.

And if you don't have a relationship with God, it's so easy to start, and it can begin today. See the Salvation tab above for information on how to be saved. It's simple, and it's the most important decision you'll ever make. Don't put it off.