“MY ONE-WORD RESOLUTION” or “MY ONE WORD” | part 3

Course: Spiritual Exercises

Part 3: Scriptural Authority and Precedent for and Examples of a “My One Word” Resolution

This is part 3 of our current lesson about the ‘spiritual exercise’ of making holy resolutions – and I’m borrowing the title of “My One-Word Resolution” or “My One Word” from another author.

In part 1, I laid the groundwork for the Scriptural exercise of making holy resolutions and the daily lifestyle role that making holy resolutions should have in our lives and discipleship after Christ. I also just introduced how I discovered the practice of making “One Word” resolutions and how it has influenced my life.

In part 2, I capsulized and summarized for you my seven-year story making ‘My One-Word Resolutions’ and living by ‘My One Word’ – and what those one-words have been over the past seven years.

If you haven’t watched those segments, I’d encourage you to do that… [the links to the YouTube videos are at the end of these lesson notes…]

I am on my way to offering some personal, practical exercises that you can take to choose, adopt, commit to, and implement your own personal “One-Word Resolution” for yourself. I promise: I’m going to get to that… but that is still going to be in the next segment, which will also be the concluding segment of this lesson.

“Is this whole thing Scriptural? …or just a trendy gimmick?”

But, before I do that, you may be wondering or asking: “Is this ‘My One Word’ a Biblical thing? Or is this just a novel, trendy, self-help, feel-good gimmick?” Well, thank you for asking because you really ought to be serious and conscientious about your spiritual exercises.

We’re not interested in practicing legalistic rituals and routines, nor do we want to be taken in by empty, useless, and superficial religious fads.

So, is there any Scriptural authority, precedent, mandate for focusing on a “one thing” and concentrating your attention on that “one thing” to grow into maturity and the likeness of Jesus Christ? Remember: that’s the goal we are seeking and reaching for. Growing up into the fullness of Christ-likeness is the ‘until we all reach’-goal that Paul sets forth for the church and the members of the church in his classic passage in Ephesians 4 … listen to this goal:

Ephesians 4.13-15 HCSB: 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.

“…make every effort to supplement your faith…”

Also, the apostle Peter exhorts and challenges us to keep on making holy resolutions and keep on growing by adding one grace after another, upon another, in progressive succession, supplementing each other … all in sync with one another:

2 Peter 1.5-8 HCSB: For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But, nobody can eat the whole elephant in one bite or in one sitting. You eat the whole elephant … one bite at a time. Likewise, we don’t grow up into the mature stature and likeness of Christ in one explosive growth spurt. It would be nice and easy and much more convenient if we could grow in grace that way. But, we grow up into Christ … one grace at a time.

In labor … ‘until Christ is formed in you’

If you want to keep on progressively growing up into the full measure of the stature of Christ, you need to have an immediate focal point. I’ve always been challenged by Paul’s heartfelt plea to the churches in Galatia. They were being lured away from making Jesus Christ the focal point of their faith and discipleship. They were drifting away into self-help, self-effort legalism to grow in their sanctification. I guess you could say they were making resolutions, but they were relying on their flesh to deliver them. He compares himself to a mother in labor, in travail to deliver her child. Paul says that the ‘child’ he is laboring to deliver in them is none other than Christ Himself – Christ-likeness. Listen to him in labor:

“My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you.” ~Galatians 4.19

“Focal point”

Do you feel this same travail and labor pains in your own soul? Are you agonizing to ‘deliver’ more of Christ-likeness in your own life? It will help you to have a focal point. In truth, you must have a ‘focal point.’

And, of course, when I say ‘focal point,’ my mind is going back to the days of Lamaze preparation for childbirth. Back in 1978 when our first child, Joy, was due to be born, Debbie and I participated in Lamaze preparation. Lamaze preparation was relatively new back in those days, best as I can remember, at least it was for us where we were. But, the purpose of Lamaze preparation was to avoid putting the mother to sleep for her delivery. So, through exercises involving concentration, relaxation, and controlled breathing, the mother could participate and assist in her own delivery. Of course, it was uncomfortable and painful as all childbirth is. But, to get the mother’s attention and focus off of her pain and discomfort, every delivering mother had a ‘focal point,’ some personal object that she would bring with her and have with her to focus on during contractions to help her maintain her focus on relaxation, controlled breathing, and helping with the delivery.

If you want to ‘deliver’ a fuller measure of Christ-likeness in your discipleship, your “One Word” becomes your immediate ‘focal point’ in your delivery process.

And the best place to begin your ‘delivery’ and your growing up into the fullness of Christ is at that point where you are most deficient, most delinquent, most disobedient.

However, we will also discover that God’s graces are all so inextricably related to one another in Christ, that when we resolve and commit to growing up in ‘one’ grace, we will also grow in many other graces also. They all support, supplement, and complement one another. Jesus doesn’t come to us and live in us in pieces; when you receive Christ, you get the whole Christ…the fullness of Christ.

But even Jesus didn’t grow up during the days of His flesh all at one time. Here’s how Jesus Himself grew up as a child…

Luke 2.40 HCSB: The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him.

Luke 2.52 HCSB: And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.

That’s how we, too, want to keep on growing up into His fullness, stature, and maturity.

Scriptural precedents for “My One Word”

But, you will find plenty of Scriptural precedent for focusing on “My One Word” and concentrating on implementing that one word.

Deuteronomy 6.4-5

For example: What is the “one word” that God has given us to serve as the ‘focal point’ of all our obedience to Him? If I asked you to sum up the whole duty of a human being – could you sum up that whole duty in one word? Yes, you could. That ‘one word’ would be ‘love.’ We have referred to this before, but when God summed up all of His commandments, and mandates, and human responsibilities in one word, that word is ‘love.’

Deuteronomy 6.4-5: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Yes, there are many other words that follow and flow out of love – that are born and delivered out of the womb of love – but every other responsibility and duty begins with and is summed up in love. This is God’s first and greatest commandment.

Romans 13.8-10

The same thing is true of our duties and responsibilities toward all our other fellow human beings, image-bearers of God. How do you sum up and fulfill every responsibility you have toward every other human being? It is love!

Listen to Paul sum up all of our mutual responsibilities to one another in Romans 13.8-10:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. HCSB

So, how’s that for a “My One Word”! And please keep on noting that when you adopt and live by any “My One Word,” you’re going to be sprouting out and branching out – laboring, travailing, delivering, giving spiritual birth to – many other words and graces in the doing of it.

A couple New Testament personal examples

But I want to highlight a couple New Testament examples and testimonies of fellow saints who practiced “One Word” resolutions, and did so with Jesus’ blessing and approval.

Paul testified that he had narrowed down his life’s goals and aspirations to “this one thing I do” in Philippians 3.12-16. Now, I realize that his “one thing” was a goal that he was reaching for, a goal that was all the way at the end of his life. But, I just want you to listen to his laser-like ‘focal point’ on that ‘one thing’:

12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. 16 In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. HCSB

We would all do well to reach forward to that next grace of spiritual growth that God has promised and given us in Jesus Christ to fulfill and attain with this same focus and passion: “But one thing I do…!”

Luke 10.38-42

I am sure, though, that my favorite example by far is that of Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet so she could hear, and treasure, and keep His words. Jesus just gushed with His pleasure and blessing on her attention, focus, undistracted concentration, and commitment. I want you to pay careful attention to her ‘focal point’ and make this your ‘focal point’ as well!

38 While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  39 She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”

41 The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.” HCSB

Coming up…

Now, I want you to keep this story as fresh in your mind as you can because I want to draw from it as we go now into laying out some specific practical steps you can take to implement the spiritual exercise of choosing and living out your “One Word Resolution.”

That will be in our next, concluding segment of this lesson. I am calling it: Some Practical Steps for Choosing and Adopting Your ‘My One Word.’” I will do just what the lesson title says: I will draw on what we’ve covered in these past three segments and give you some practical steps to follow as you seek what God wants you to pursue as your “One Word” Resolution.

I hope you will join us then also…

Here is the link to the YouTube video for this lesson segment:

https://youtu.be/x7hDj6y4lLE  |  Length 18:09

Here is the PDF version of these Lesson Notes:

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Our Dad’s ‘get out of death free’ token: his death from here

10 February 2021

Eight years ago today, 10 February 2013, our Dad died ‘in the Lord’ only four days after his 91st birthday. We celebrated all the promises of eternal life, hope, Heaven, the resurrection in glory, ‘we would rather be away from the body and at Home with the Lord,’ ‘blessed are the dead who die in the Lord’ – all of them. But perhaps one of the promises we most rejoiced in is the victory-in-death warranty that Paul gave us in 1 Corinthians 3.21-23 where he assures us that we ‘own’ death, too.

“For all things are yours, whether…life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

Death is ours! We ‘own’ death! Death is in our inheritance in Christ! Death itself is a gift from God! I learned a long time ago that the only way we believers in Christ can go to Heaven to be with Christ – which is far better! – is to die from here! And besides all the promises of being ushered into the Presence of Christ, death for Dad was a discharge and release from the heart-breaking suffering he endured and we witnessed during his final days as his physical body was breaking down and wasting away until it could no longer sustain his life. We grieved for our sorrow, but we could only rejoice that he had, at that moment, inherited “fullness of joy…pleasures forevermore.”

Death, for a believer in Christ is deliverance from that death! Death itself is your token to “get out of death free and go to eternal life”!

But his legacy continues to live on here in us, his children. I was mediating in Psalm 78 just yesterday morning:

“I will declare wise sayings; I will speak mysteries from the past – things we have heard and known and that our fathers have passed down to us. We will not hide them from their children, but will tell a future generation the praiseworthy acts of the LORD, His might, and the wondrous works He has performed. He established a testimony in Jacob and set up a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children so that a future generation – children yet to be born – might know. They were to rise and tell their children so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works, but keep His commands” ~Psalm 78.2-7 HCSB

Our Dad did ALL that! And Mom, we bless you, too! You both not only taught us well, but you lived before us and invested in us the life of faith in Christ that we learned from you, have professed, and are following. He invested his life and faith in Christ in us, and now his influence continues to outlast the death of his physical body!

So, as a tribute to our Dad – and our Mom – I want to post again this poem I wrote to him and Mom on his birthday way back in 1975. I set it to music and sang it for him many times, and it brought him pleasure then – but the pleasure he enjoyed while he lived here will pale to a weak chuckle in the fullness of joy that will thrill him when we also arrive to be with the Lord and with him … because ‘my father taught me to fear the LORD’!

You will find that poem here…

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LONESOME SOUL (Job 23) – a simple song of experience

~ What can I do when I cannot find

the Face of the Sun of my soul?

When I look ahead, behind, and around

but no refuge in sight I behold?

Does He not care that I labor here

pressed by such a heavy load?

Oh, that I could speak!

Oh, that He would hear

from the height of His Heavenly abode!

~ Is there no escape from this dungeon dark?

Is there no relief for my soul?

Do my friends not care? Is my hope clean gone?

Does His anger have no control?

How can I here in a foreign land

sing the tunes of Zion’s glad songs?

My harp’s clear notes

turn to mournful sighs,

and my tears fall all the day long.

~ But I’ll tell you now what my soul will do,

I will bring my complaint to my God!

He will plead for me! I shall rescued be!

And in comfort I’ll quietly abide!

Then I’ll sing with Moses and Miriam:

“Horse and rider He’s thrown into the sea!”

And my harp will blend

with angelic strings,

and I’ll praise Him eternally!

~Dave Parks | February 22, 1975

Primary meditations:

  • Job 23
  • Psalm 77
  • Psalm 137
  • Exodus 15
  • Revelation 15
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‘EFFECTIVE AND FRUITFUL’

This message was delivered by our Pastor Hershael York on 1/24/21. Here are some personal reflections and resolutions…

It was:

  • clarifying. It was a powerful, poignant, pointed, and personal clarification of the balancing and supplementing roles of God’s sovereign and gracious grant of faith [see verses 1 and 3: ‘has granted us’] and my personal responsibility to make every effort [σπουδὴν πᾶσαν παρεισενέγκαντεs] to supplement that faith with my own arduous effort. By the way, God also grants me His divine power [verse 3] with which I make every effort to supplement the faith He has granted me! God commands me to supplement His grant of faith [literally, ‘contribute besides’] with my own arduous decisiveness and commitment to give myself whole-heartedly to Him for His service.
    • “For this very reason [i.e., since God has freely, sovereignly, and graciously granted me this ‘faith of equal standing with ours’], make every effort to supplement your faith with…” ~verses 5-7
  • convicting. [more of this personal commentary following…]
  • and converting in the sense of moving me to make a fresh commitment to godliness and holiness of life before God. As Jesus had said to Peter years before, and the very thing he is doing in this final epistle: ‘when you have been converted, turned again, changed – strengthen your brothers’ ~Luke 22.31-34

This was a watershed, decisiveness crisis message for me, coming at a most critical juncture in my own personal relationship with Christ and dealing with my indwelling sin and self-will.

These are the words that most both haunt and goad me – every single word:

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” ~verse 8

The ultimate driving gear of this movement in my soul is Peter’s call to being effective and fruitful. I don’t want to be ineffective or unfruitful! I want to be effective and fruitful, not in the sense of fulfilling my personal ambitions or agenda, or desires for personal achievement; but rather in the sense of wanting to be used by God in whatever place, role, and ministry He chooses to assign to me. It is also so significant that this comes from Peter who has been such a personal model and example to me in his own history of personal defaults and restorations. See John 21.

I struggle with wondering and doubting just how effectiveness and fruitful I have been over the course of my walk with the Lord and my ministry. I struggle [maybe too much] with perceived feelings of failure. I’m going on 70 years old, and I’m in the last years of however long I have left of my life and ministry. And I look back over the course of my lifetime – where I have been, what I have done, and more importantly, who I have been – and I often wonder just how effective and fruitful I have been.1

I fear that so much of what we have grown used to thinking of as “effectiveness” and “fruit” is being effective and fruitful in our own ambitions, agenda, and achievements. I fear and confess that, perhaps, too often I have measured effectiveness and fruit in terms of tasks accomplished and visible results achieved instead of measuring them by the standards that Peter sets forth here in his exhortation: “For if these qualities [verses 5-7] are yours and increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” THERE is where the effectiveness and the fruit are found and must be increasing and growing: ‘in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’ and in all those graces and promises that have been granted to us and that we have obtained by this God’s grant.

This message left me broken and weeping:

  1. broken and weeping first in wondering if and whether I may have forfeited and defaulted in more effectiveness and fruitfulness I may have borne for the glory of my Savior if I had been much more diligent and arduous in supplementing and ‘contributing besides’ to God’s grant of faith over the course of my ministry. Can it be that I have forfeited power with God and usefulness to Him for the benefit of others by not being more diligent with my heart and not committing myself with more fervor and ardor to the ministry Christ has entrusted me with?
  2. but, broken and weeping also with hope in Christ, that if I will make every effort with diligent haste, that Christ will be pleased to use me in whatever ways He chooses to be more effective and fruitful here in the latest years of my life and ministry. After all, has He not GRANTED to us His very great and precious promises? His promises are His GUARANTEE that He Himself will give us and work in us with His own Divine power everything we need to be effective and fruitful in life and godliness! AND He will make effective and fruitful everything He has called us to do with ardor to actively and intentionally supplement [‘contribute besides’] the faith He has given us.

1 By the way, I do want to add this caveat and qualifier to what I said above about my own frequent introspective self-evaluations: I do know that we are not the ones who are qualified to judge our own service to our Lord, nor are we the ones who will make the final evaluations. Jesus Himself is. So, with that in mind, I have learned to trust in these words from Paul in 1 Corinthians 4.1-5:

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

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O, FOR A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD

O, FOR A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD

1 O for a closer walk with God,
a calm and heav’nly frame,
a light to shine upon the road
that leads me to the Lamb!

2 Where is the blessedness I knew
when first I sought the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
of Jesus and His Word?

3 What peaceful hours I then enjoyed!
How sweet their mem’ry still!
But they have left an aching void
the world can never fill.

4 Return, O Holy Dove, return,
Sweet Messenger of rest;
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,
and drove Thee from my breast.

5 The dearest idol I have known,
whate’er that idol be,
help me to tear it from Thy throne
and worship only Thee.

6 So shall my walk be close with God,
calm and serene my frame;
so purer light shall mark the road
that leads me to the Lamb.

~William Cowper

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SWEET WILL OF GOD

SWEET WILL OF GOD

1/ My stubborn will at last hath yielded;
I would be Thine, and Thine alone,
And this the prayer my lips are bringing,
“Lord, let in me Thy will be done.” 

Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee;
Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee.

2/ I’m tired of sin, footsore and weary,
The darksome path hath dreary grown,
But now a light has ris’n to cheer me;
I find in Thee my Star, my Sun.

3/ Thy precious will, O conqu’ring Savior,
Doth now embrace and compass me;
All discords hushed, my peace a river,
My soul a prisoned bird set free.

4/ Shut in with Thee, O Lord, forever,
My wayward feet no more to roam;
What pow’r from Thee my soul can sever?
The center of God’s will my home.

~Lilia Naylor Morris

~Dallas Christian Adult Choir

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“MY ONE-WORD RESOLUTION” or “MY ONE WORD” | Part 2

Course: Spiritual Exercises

Title: Lesson #5 – “My One-Word Resolution” or “My One Word” | Part 2

Part 2: My Seven-Year Story Making “My One-Word Resolutions” and Living by “My One Word” – and What They Have Been

In our last lesson segment, Part 1, I refreshed our minds about what Spiritual Exercises are just to get us back on track and in focus. Then I laid the groundwork for the Scriptural exercise of making holy resolutions and the daily lifestyle role that making holy resolutions should have in our lives and discipleship after Christ. I also gave you just a teaser about what a “One-Word Resolution” is and how I was introduced to this practice and exercise 7 years ago. If you haven’t watched that segment, I’d encourage you to do that. [link is imbedded above…]

What I want to do now is continue that personal story and give you some personal testimony about how I have implemented this exercise. So, I’m calling this Part 2 of our lesson: “My Seven-year story making ‘My One-Word Resolutions’ and living by ‘My One Word’ – and what they have been.’

So … now back to my story…

So, now that I’ve given you a little personal background about my long-standing exercise of making resolutions, and especially New Year’s resolutions, let me pick up the story of how I came across the book My One Word, and how it changed the way I make my resolutions.

I resolve…

It was late in the year of 2014. I was thinking ahead and praying about 2015. And, like Pastor Mike Ashcraft says in the teaser about his book, I was one of those who made lists of resolutions. They were all good resolutions. They were all resolutions that I thought I should make to serve the Lord more faithfully and walk more closely with Him.

But, I would think, pray, and meditate during the closing weeks of the year. And you know how that, even though the last 6-8 weeks of the year are busy with holiday events, and get-togethers, and activities, we usually still have some break from the normal pressures and focus of our regular work schedule. So, there may be some extra time in there to give a little more attention to other things … like preparing and making resolutions for the new year. And I would. And the lists of resolutions would be numerous, detailed, comprehensive, and oftentimes maybe overly-ambitious.

And I meant well … I was very conscientious about it.

But then, when the new year comes, your normal activities and responsibilities resume, and you get back to your usual demanding workload, and your attention becomes absorbed and preoccupied again just to live your normal life in many of the usual ways.

And what happens to your resolutions? I would often lose track of what I had resolved to do and what I had resolved to change and do differently. Sometimes I would even lose my lists of resolutions! It’s like I wouldn’t have the attention and time to fulfill my regularly-scheduled ministry activities and also give attention to and focus on making the extensive changes like I had resolved I would do.

And so very often, I would just revert back to some of my old imperfect ways just by default. Or, maybe I would become distracted, then discouraged, then defeated – and finally just give it up in frustration. And then, to make matters much worse, I would get depressed over my perceived failure to keep my resolutions.

Then, I discovered My One Word

Then, I discovered this book My One Word and read it. It changed everything for me. I began making “My One Word” Resolution beginning in January 2015, and I have continued that practice to the present.

I prayed about one major resolution that I should make to change my ways before God, and when I focused on that “One Word,” I discovered that other changes I need to make would also be included in “My One Word” and they, too, began to fall in line with “My One Word,” and I was actually pursuing several paths of growing in grace while I was focusing on “My One Word.”

How it has worked for me…

I think that maybe the best way to illustrate how “My One Word” works, and how it may prove to be a beneficial spiritual exercise for you, is to give you a personal testimony about how I have worked it in my life and experience.

So, let me give you a year-by-year testimony of what “My One Word” resolutions have been and how the Lord impressed each one on my life – and especially as I have prayed about what changes the Holy Spirit needed to make in my life as those changes were inspired and energized by the Word of God.

2015 – “REST”

So, as I say, 2015 was coming up. I knew there were changes that were going to take place in my life and ministry. Changes were going to take place in the church I was pastoring. I didn’t know how they were going to go or what the outcome of all these changes would be. I would find out later – but I didn’t know in 2014 going into 2015.

So, I was praying and seeking the mind and will of God for how I should lead in these changes. And, I was anxious about it all. I was anxious because of the uncertainty. I was anxious because I knew it was going to be an eventful and impactful year … I just didn’t know how the events would go or what impact it would all have on all of us.

As I prayed about it all, the Holy Spirit reminded me that I must have faith in God, trust Him, faithfully obey what I knew that I must obey – and REST!

And, always, as you seek a “My One Word,” your word to live by will come from God’s Word. He will give you the “One Word” He wants you to adopt and practice, and He will give you that word from His Word, the Scriptures, the Bible.

So, the words of Jesus in Matthew 11.28 were impressed on my soul: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST.” There it was – “REST”!

There were many others, like Psalm 37.7 KJV, “REST in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him…” To “REST” in the LORD means to give up my own worry and anxieties and trust Him implicitly … have confidence in His good intentions and purposes for me.

So, I went into 2015 resolved that I would not worry, or be anxious, or try to take matters into my own hands, but rather “REST” in the LORD, trust Him, and wait patiently for Him to work out His sovereign will and gracious pleasure in my life and ministry.

2016 – “DELIGHT”

As 2015 turned into 2016, the circumstances of my life and ministry began to be more complicated and difficult. But God was always there, working His sovereign pleasure and will in everything that was happening and developing. And I could sense that some of those circumstances were not headed in ways that were going to be particularly to my personal liking or pleasurable to enjoy. In other words, things were shaping up that had all the prospects that it would be personally painful and bitter to my personal tastes.

But, God was becoming more and more personal to me at the same time. I was enjoying more of His Presence and the joy, peace, and comfort of His personal company. I was “resting” in Him more. I was learning to trust Him more and just enjoy being with Him regardless of how things turned out for me personally.

So, as I continued with the LORD in 2016, He taught me that it isn’t enough for me just to “REST” in the LORD – as in just resigning myself to accept whatever He had planned for me – but I must “DELIGHT” in Him! I must not be content with just a passive and stoic acceptance of His will, but I must enjoy Him! I must treasure Him above my every other possession and personal experience!

And so “My One Word” was “DELIGHT.”

Again, “My One Word” for 2016 came from The Word of God.

  • Psalm 37.4, “DELIGHT yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
  • Psalm 1.2, “…but his DELIGHT is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.”
  • Psalm 40.8, “I DELIGHT to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” [quoted again by our Lord in Hebrews 10.7]
  • Romans 7.22, “For I DELIGHT in the law of God, in my inner being…”

And so the LORD began to draw my heart to seek Him for the sake of the DELIGHT of His company and His pleasure.

And not only did I learn more to “DELIGHT” myself in knowing Him, but I also reveled more in His “DELIGHT” in me! Proverbs 8.30-31 speaks of Christ in the work of creation, “…then I was beside Him, like a master workman, and I was daily His DELIGHT, rejoicing before Him always, rejoicing in His inhabited world and DELIGHTING in the children of man.” And Proverbs 15.8 KJV, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is His DELIGHT.”

There are so many other delightful Scriptures that call on us to DELIGHT ourselves in God just for the pure pleasure of knowing and enjoying Him! And many others that assure us of God’s own personal DELIGHT in us as His children and treasured possessions!

And so I resolved to more and more “DELIGHT” in God just for the pleasure of knowing Him and enjoying His company and His pleasure in me!

2017 – “FOLLOW”

As 2017 opened up, I could sense early on that there were going to be major changes in my ministry and in our lives as we had lived and known them up to that point. I didn’t know when these major, seismic changes and transitions would shift, but I knew they were coming. Nor did I have any idea where the direction or the course of our lives would take during the upcoming year.

So, going into 2017, “My One Word” was “FOLLOW,” and I resolved to the LORD that I would “follow” Him wherever His will would lead us. I got “My One Word” “follow” from John 12.25-26:

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”

So, there I had it. Jesus Himself was following the Father’s will even to the Cross. I resolved that I would “follow” Jesus wherever He chose to lead us, take us, and go with us. I also knew that wherever He leads us, and wherever we follow Him to, that’s where He wants us to be to be working through us. That’s all that any of us is ever called to do anyway, is “follow” Christ.

So, on May 28 of 2017, I resigned the pastorate where we had served for the previous 35 years because I believed that Jesus was calling us to ‘follow’ Him … we just didn’t know where. As it turned out, we pretty immediately ‘followed’ His leadership to come here where we are now. “Follow” was a good word for 2017 – and for every day of every other year also, of course!

2018 – “ABIDE”

As we went into 2018, we had been here at Buck Run for six months; so this new course and direction for our lives was still very new to us. I was suffering from a bad case of disorientation because the whole structure and order of my life and ministry had suddenly changed, and I hadn’t prepared for it. For the previous 45 years, I had been pastor of a church in some role or another – most of those years as a lead pastor. Now, for the first time in almost half a century and for all of my adult life, I was not a pastor of a church.

I’m not saying it was a bad place to be in, just different. I was not depressed or disheartened by the changes in my function and roles, but I was very disoriented, and somewhat confused and casting about for what I was supposed to do.

That’s when the Holy Spirit began to impress the word “ABIDE” upon my spirit – as in “Abide in Christ.” Or, Paul uses the same original word in 1 Corinthians 7.27, “So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain [or, ‘abide’] with God.” The word ‘abide’ simply means ‘to dwell, remain.’ 

God began to reassure me that I was not in a bad place at all! I had not lost my identity. My identity was still “in Christ.” I was still the same child of God. I was still the same servant of the Most High God. I was still a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. I was still loved by God and by my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. All that had changed was my practical activities and ministry roles.

So, during that time, God began impressing me that He had brought all these changes into my life and ministry because He wanted me more for Himself. He wanted me to spend more undistracted time and attention on seeking Him and delighting in Him. He wanted me to focus on and cultivate more my relationship with Him. If I was going to ‘follow’ Him, He would lead me to more ‘abide’ in Him.

John 15 began to reverberate in my soul:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

And so, “My One Word” for 2018 was “ABIDE” as in “abide in Christ,” “abide in His love,” “abide in the fullness of His joy.” I began to explore, express, and enjoy more my intimacy and my relationship with Christ and what it means to “ABIDE” in Him.

2019 – “CONQUER”  

The more I focused on abiding in Christ, the more conscious I became of my indwelling sin. And especially all the sins of “self”: like self-will, self-love, self-ish, self-seeking, self-pleasing.

The struggles of temptation to have my own will and way and to have what I wanted to have for myself were vicious and fierce and unrelenting. The more I wanted to abide in Christ, the more my indwelling sin nature seemed to revive, rear its ugly head, and rage with desire for what it wanted. It was war. It was an internal civil war that renewed its intensity and ferocity. It was a constant battle and fight for mastery over my will. It was like I was constantly and daily living in the raging war that Paul describes in Romans 7.21-23:

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 

Peter describes this battle, this conflict, this war with this call to spiritual arms:

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” [1 Peter 2.11].

And Paul describes his personal battle plan to CONQUER his indwelling sin in the language of destroying fortresses and strongholds and taking his every thought, feeling, and activity captive to serving Christ:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… [2 Corinthians 10.3-5]

I was far too often and too much being defeated, conquered, and being taken captive by my own indwelling sin. So, I resolved to “CONQUER” my indwelling sinful desires for my own glory, my own getting, my own gratification. I didn’t want to just struggle with my indwelling sin, which all believers do – I wanted to CONQUER my indwelling sin by the grace of God.

In Romans, chapter 6, leading up to the inner struggles and warfare against indwelling sin that he describes in chapter 7, Paul makes this victory proclamation in Romans 6.12-14:

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. [my emphases added]

When Paul says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body,” he is saying ‘CONQUER your sin, don’t let it CONQUER you.’ When he says, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace,” he is saying ‘CONQUER your sin through the life and power of God’s saving grace because God’s grace will not allow your sin to CONQUER or have dominion over you.’

Now, the way I came up with “My One Word” CONQUER is actually by creating an acrostic. You can say I cheated on “My One Word” if you want to, but I also adopted seven other key words: one for every letter of the one-word CONQUER.

So, Here’s how I resolved to CONQUER my indwelling sin:

  • Commit to loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength – make God Himself the supreme and chief love and desire of my life
  • Own personal responsibility for my response to this temptation
  • Navigate my desires away from the temptation and seek the Face and pleasure of God
  • Question the source and nature of every desire and temptation – where is it coming from? from the Father? or from the flesh?
  • Unite all the strength and desires of my love and will to seek God and His pleasure [Psalm 86.11]
  • Employ all the means of grace God has made available to me: the Holy Spirit, the Word, prayer, obedience, fellowship with the saints, accountability – and most of all, confession of my sins
  • Receive and Rejoice in the promised resolve, life, strength, and desire of the Holy Spirit to choose to love Christ … and Receive and Rejoice in His forgiveness when I do fail

2020 – “Conquer / LOVE”

Some years – or however long a season you choose to live by your “My One Word” – you may choose to adopt and live by the same “One Word.” Just carry it over and carry it on until you believe it has worked its intended grace and growth in your life.

I did that in 2020, last year. I retained the “My One Word” “CONQUER,” but I added a companion “My One Word” to give it a sharper, more intensified focus and application: “LOVE” … just the simple, bottom-line, first-commandment, root-of-all-things “LOVE.”

Actually, “LOVE” is the keyword to the “C” in “CONQUER.” The “C” in “CONQUER” is “I Commit to loving God with ALL MY HEART AND DESIRES … I Commit to purity and holiness and pleasing Christ…” That, of course, comes from the First and Greatest Commandment of all in Deuteronomy 6.4-5:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your might” [my emphases added].

And Jesus repeatedly confirmed the primacy and first priority of LOVE in His teaching and preaching.

When I adopted ‘CONQUER’ as “My One Word” in 2019, I knew that LOVE is at the root of all my sin, and so it will also be at the root of all my conquering my sin. You say: “How can love be at the root of all sin?” Well, it’s because all my sin traces its root and origin and birth back to what I choose to love. All of my sin and all my temptations to sin are born in the womb of my desires and what I want. And I want and desire what I love.

All of my temptations to sin are just solicitations and opportunities that are presented to me by the Tempter to indulge in some illicit and fleshly desire that my indwelling sin nature loves and wants.  

In my struggles and fight to CONQUER my indwelling sin, I repeatedly traced it back to what I was wanting, what I was loving. James does his spiritual forensics on our temptations and sin when he diagnoses it this way:

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” ~James 1.14-15, my emphases added

When Paul describes his own personal inner spiritual struggles and warfare with his indwelling sin in Romans, chapter 7, he repeatedly describes it in terms of “what I want” and “I have the desire.” It’s our dueling desires, the constantly raging war of opposing loves. He even says that the cardinal sin that woke him up to his wretchedness and extreme sinfulness before God and “slew” him was the sin of covetousness! What is covetousness? And what makes covetousness so bad?  Covetousness is our love, desires, and lusts which are perverted, and mis-guided toward and mis-placed upon the wrong objects of desire. We love what we’re not supposed to love. We don’t love what we are commanded to love.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. ~Romans 7.21-25, my emphases added

Do you see the war of competing loves, conflicting loves, adversarial loves fighting against each other in our inner souls and desires?

The apostle John starts off 1 John, chapter 2 with “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” So, what instructions does he give us when he teaches us how we may not sin? He commands us to regulate our lives and conquer our sins by choosing Whom we love:

Do not love the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” ~1 John 2.15-17, my emphases added

By the way, it was from this Scripture that I framed the “Q” in “CONQUER” as “Question the source and the nature of every desire and temptation – whether it is from The Father or from the world…”

So, that’s why, in 2020, I carried over the “My One Word” “CONQUER,” but then added the more focused “My One Word” “LOVE.” I adopted Deuteronomy 6.4-5 to memorize as my key Scripture to keep me focused on “My One Word”: to CONQUER my indwelling sin by LOVING the LORD my God with ALL my heart, soul, mind, and desires.  

2021 – “Conquer / FIGHT”

So, that brings me to where we are today – the beginning of 2021. Again, I’m retaining my 2019 “One Word” for 2021, except that again, I’m extending it with another intensifier “My One Word” … the word “FIGHT.”

I’m still battling and waging the ‘CONQUER’ war against my indwelling sins of ‘self’ – I’m waging that war by emphasizing and focusing on ‘LOVE’ as the primary weapon of my warfare. When I adopt and commit to practicing the “My One Word” ‘FIGHT’ for 2021, I am acknowledging that I am responsible to engage this war with all the weaponry and armor that God has given me by His saving grace and put at my disposal to FIGHT with.

In fact, this resolution “FIGHT” is actually already built into the “My One Word” I adopted for 2019: CONQUER. Remember that I told you that CONQUER is actually an acrostic with every letter being another resolution. So, the “O” in CONQUER is for “OWN” – “I Own personal responsibility for my response to this temptation…”

When I adopt the “My One Word” ‘FIGHT,’ I am acknowledging that if I CONQUER my indwelling sin with all of its illicit loves and desires, it will not happen on its own. My indwelling sin will not be conquered automatically just because I’m saved. I cannot be naïve, inattentive, lackadaisical, or passive about this inner war. Romans 7.22-23 is always raging in my members:

22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

I must FIGHT!

My indwelling sin will not be conquered without putting up its own fierce, vicious, and passionate FIGHT against me – even from within me; and I must FIGHT it back just as fiercely, just as viciously, and just as passionately in the life and power of the Holy Spirit.

I want to take the time here to tell you just how serious this FIGHT is. When Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6.12 that we do not “wrestle” [or fight] against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of darkness that are committed to eliminating us, the word that he uses for “wrestle” [πάλη] is used only this one time in the New Testament. It was a Greek contest [or ‘exercise,’ if you will] in which the fighters fought with one another until the victor, the conqueror, not only threw his opponent down, but pinned him and rendered him immobile with his own hand on his neck. In other words, the conquered opponent was rendered so weak, that his conqueror actually had his hand on his jugular vein and esophagus – he had the power of life and death in his hands over his opponent.

THAT IS THE FIGHT WE ARE IN! 

Paul charges Timothy in 1 Timothy 6.11-12:

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 FIGHT the good FIGHT of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

For Paul himself, that FIGHT was a FIGHT that lasted right up until the end of his life and ministry – it was one of the last testimonies that he gave before his own martyrdom:

“I have FOUGHT the good FIGHT, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” ~ 2 Timothy 4.7.

However, let me be perfectly clear about one truth: I am in no way suggesting or teaching that our FIGHT against our indwelling sin can be waged and won by any power or strength that is inherent in us.

In all of these discussions and teachings about CONQUERING our indwelling sins and FIGHTING against it in our struggles for holiness and godliness, I have tried to always emphasize that we don’t FIGHT sin and temptation to sin with our own will power or resolve or by making resolutions. In fact, if there’s one lesson I have learned from a life-long war against my indwelling sin, it is that IT IS MY OWN WILL THAT I’M FIGHTING AGAINST! The only power and strength that we have to FIGHT and CONQUER our indwelling sin is by the strength and power that is given to us by the grace of God.

You will never will-power yourself to holiness. What we are talking about is becoming more and more like Jesus Christ in every way: in our values, in our attitudes, in our character, and in our conduct. And you can’t do that with any and all the energies and strengths that you possess in yourself. God will have to work in you and through you to CONQUER your sin. You can FIGHT victoriously against your sin only in the strength that God gives you by His grace through the Holy Spirit.

In that all-equipping passage in Ephesians 6 where Paul trains us in spiritual warfare, he begins his training by reminding us that the only strength and weaponry we have for our FIGHT against sin is “in the Lord”:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. ~Ephesians 6.10-13

And so, I am resolving to assume my personal responsibility to FIGHT, even while I’m trusting in and relying upon the strength and power of God to make my FIGHT victorious and CONQUER my indwelling sin. The way I commit to FIGHT is by LOVING God with all my heart and obeying every word He gives me in the Scriptures in the power of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, I have also adopted Caleb in Joshua 14 as my model, exemplar, and my encouragement to engage this on-going FIGHT. In Joshua 14, they are taking possession of the Promised Land that God is giving them as their inheritance. That in itself is a prequel of the life we are now living in Jesus Christ as you will discover in Hebrews 3-4. God promised them the land. God is giving it to them by driving out their enemies from before them. But they must FIGHT to take possession of what God promised and is giving them. God Himself is FIGHTING with them and for them as they FIGHT at his command.

So, Caleb comes to his long-time comrade and compatriot during all their years of wandering in the wilderness, and he reminds Joshua how Moses promised them that they could have the territories that they believed God would give them if only they would trust Him and obey Him to go and take it. That was 45 years ago, but now they are in.

So Caleb asks Joshua to give him an additional ‘mountain’ or hill country territory that still had giant warrior inhabitants still living in it, the Anakim. He knew it would be a FIGHT, but he was prepared to take on that FIGHT because he knew that God would FIGHT for him and with him.

And, get this – Caleb was an 85-year-old man by this time. He was no spring chicken any longer. He was no merely ambitious young whippersnapper. He was an old, seasoned, experienced saint who wasn’t just out itching for a FIGHT, but was still willing to continue to FIGHT for what God had given him to have:

10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said. ~Joshua 14.10-12

So, that’s where I am this year. Still warring against my flesh and my indwelling sin, but still committed to CONQUER it by living by the supreme law of LOVE and being willing to engage the FIGHT as God gives me the strength, armor, and weaponry to FIGHT with.

I have been mightily helped and encouraged over the years in my struggles against sin and my aspirations for holiness by the ministry and writings of Jerry Bridges. He has written extensively on this subject especially in his books The Pursuit of Holiness, The Practice of Godliness, Holiness Day by Day [among others also…], but he wrote this little paragraph in one of his books that struck me years ago and has stuck with me as a constant motivation and inspiration to FIGHT against my indwelling sin:

“We Christians greatly enjoy talking about the provision of God, how Christ defeated sin on the Cross and gave us His Holy Spirit to empower us to victory over sin. But we do not as readily talk about our own responsibility to walk in holiness...We pray for victory when we should be acting in obedience.” ~Jerry Bridges [Pursuit of Holiness]

My act of obedience is to responsibly engage the FIGHT against the sin that dwells in me and CONQUER it in the strength and power of the grace of God.

OK – that is just a personal practical narrative of how this spiritual exercise of making holy resolutions has worked in my life and experience.

I hope you will join us for the next segment which will be some more teaching and examples from the Word of God to encourage us in this exercise: “Biblical authority and Precedent for and Examples of a ‘My One Word’ Resolution.”

I hope you’ll join us then also…

Here is the YouTube link to this lesson’s video:

https://youtu.be/WrvSAI_QKiA  |  Length 54:28

Here is a PDF of these Lesson Notes:

Posted in CONQUER, Discipleship, Holy Resolutions, My One Word, My One Word Resolution, Spiritual Exercises, Sunday School lessons | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“May prayer be made FOR Him continually…” ~Psalm 72.15

“May prayer be made for Him continually, and blessings invoked for Him all the day!” ~Psalm 72.15b

This Psalm bears the superscription “Of Solomon.” Whether ‘of Solomon’ means that David or some other Divinely-inspired author wrote this Psalm ‘of,’ about, or concerning Solomon with Solomon as the subject; or ‘of Solomon’ means that Solomon is the author himself – it is a prayer and appeal for God’s pleasure and blessings upon Solomon’s rule and reign over God’s kingdom. It is throughout a passionate appeal to God to bring to full fruition the covenant promises He had made to David and to his royal kingly descendants forever:

‘May they fear You while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth! In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!’ ~verses 5-7 ff

All of these desired and prayed-for blessings are just re-echoes from the covenant promises God gave to David in 2 Samuel, chapters 7 and 23.

“And now, O LORD God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and DO AS YOU HAVE SPOKEN!” ~2 Samuel 7.25

Without a doubt, as David recognized, these promises go far beyond any of David’s merely human descendants [2 Samuel 7.18-29]. These covenant promises were made concerning Christ [compare Psalm 72.8 with Luke 2.32-33], and they were made TO Christ Himself [Galatians 3.15-16]!

That being so, I have always been intrigued by verse 15b, “May prayer be made FOR Him continually, and blessings invoked FOR Him continually.”

We are used to singing in the second stanza of the beloved Isaac Watts hymn ‘Jesus shall reign where’er the sun…’, ‘FOR Him shall endless prayer be made, and praises throng to crown His head…’ Except that, in most of our later adaptations, it was changed to sing ‘TO Him shall endless prayer be made…’

Yes, it is true that we shall make our endless prayers TO Him; but the Psalmist said that ‘May prayer be made FOR Him continually…’ I have asked myself, ‘How do pray FOR Christ?’ He is not needy. He is not poor or deficient in any way to need us to pray FOR Him to receive or have anything. These covenant promises and blessings have been given to Him, and He shall every one of them in full!

But we do pray FOR Him! We pray FOR Him when we pray for Him to receive every covenant promise He Himself prayed to the Father to give Him when He prayed FOR Himself – like, in John 17, for example. He prayed to the Father FOR the covenant blessings the Father had promised and given Him ‘before the world existed.’

So, when we pray FOR Christ, we are praying FOR:

  • His Kingdom
  • His Name
  • His worship
  • His praise
  • His Word
  • His Gospel
  • His people
  • His Glory

Read the Psalm! Note the requests that the psalmist petitions God FOR the king. These are just some of the covenant blessings that the Psalmist prayed that God would ‘Give the king [verse 1]’ when he prayed FOR Him.

These are same petitions we pray to be fully given to Jesus Christ when we pray FOR Him continually! Let’s all join together and pray in unison and concert FOR Christ to receive them all fully!

“Blessed be His Glorious Name forever; may the whole earth be fill with His Glory! Amen and Amen!” ~verse 19

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“I WILL BE YOUR GOD!”

“YOU SHALL BE MY PEOPLE, AND I WILL BE YOUR GOD!” ~Jeremiah 30:22

I read this Pastor Richard Sibbes excerpt recently in the February 1 reading of Voices From The Past, volume 2, edited by Richard Rushing [Banner of Truth]. I just have to share it!

I wrote a personal note at the top of the page: “THIS God is God in all the supreme, sovereign, sweet, and sufficient meanings of what it is to be ‘GOD’ – and He gives Himself to me and commits: ‘I WILL BE YOUR GOD!’ I need a God. I want a God. I have a god … whomever or what it may be. But, THIS GOD says, ‘I WILL BE YOUR GOD, and YOU shall be My people!’ ‘And…can it be?’”

Here’s Sibbes: “God framed man to have communion and fellowship with Himself. This fellowship is where happiness consists. God’s love for man established the covenant of grace in the seed of the woman, Christ the Messiah, to restore mankind from the most miserable plight and misery into which Adam cast the world by his sin.

It is a most sweet sign of God’s great love that He would stoop so low as to make a covenant with us, to be our God and to be all in all to us! Consider such a covenant –

  • the Creator with the creature;
  • the immortal God and mortal man;
  • the glorious God, and dust and ashes;
  • the holy God and sinful man;
  • the great King of heaven and earth, and rebels and traitors.

For Him to condescend so low as to make a covenant with us, to enter into terms of agreement with us, is a wondrous sign of His gracious mercy and love.

This covenant is only by Jesus Christ, and to those who believe in Him. We enter into a relationship greater than the world can offer, and are freed from the cursed estate we are in by nature.

God delivers us from all ill, spiritually and eternally. God is able to save us against all our enemies whatsoever: our weakness, the devil, and all of our own corruptions or oppositions whatsoever.

Consider the wisdom of Heaven that says so much in ‘I WILL BE YOUR GOD!’

  • His wisdom is yours and watches you to find out ways to do you good.
  • His power is yours to keep you from danger, and to defend and rescue you from all enemies.
  • His providence is yours to turn all things to your good.
  • His mercy is yours to forgive your sins.
  • His love is yours to bestow all necessary comforts.

There is no phrase in Scripture that has so much in so little as ‘I WILL BE YOUR GOD!’ If we could but unfold and lay open this excellent promise. All other promises in the covenant of grace are members of this.

It is a wonderful and comprehensive promise: ‘I WILL BE YOUR GOD!’

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Judges … then Ruth – you never know what God is doing behind the scenes and under the cover of your darkness…

JUDGES … THEN RUTH!

Just a powerful conviction and encouragement.

In my Daily Time With God, I have been reading through Joshua and Judges. Especially Judges: what a debauched, perverted, raunchy, and dissolute time in Israel’s history. And to think this went on for over 300 years. And all because ‘they forgot the LORD.’

The writer of Judges makes this point, oh, so well. I have to believe that was the primary intentional take-away from his concluding narrative in chapters 17-21 [even after everything that had gone before…]. Just to let us know that “that was the way it was in Israel, ‘Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.’” Yes, they did ALL that!

And, not only did they do ALL that, but it was RIGHT in their own eyes.

And I say again, this went on for over 300 years. And it is going from bad to worse…

You finish reading Judges, and you just want to vomit. It’s depressing. You wonder: “Are they irredeemable? Can a people ever come back from this despicable abyss of degeneracy? Is it bottomless? Can this be turned around, redeemed? Can there ever again be any kind of a future worth expecting and living for?”

But, more than that, you have to ask: “Is God doing anything here? Is there NO hope? Can there ever be any expectation that a better, brighter day could ever come after this?’ This must have been the prevailing frame of mind for anyone who still retained even the feeblest, trembling “waiting for the Consolation of Israel” [Luke 2.25].

“Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take!

The clouds you so much dread

are big with mercy and shall break

with blessings on your head!” ~William Cowper

Keep reading.

The next book is Ruth.

The writer intentionally again begins this continuing narrative with “In the days when the judges ruled…” to let us know that the Story he is about to unfold in the Book of Ruth transpired “in the days when the judges ruled…” Yes, that’s right – in those same days!

And you know what that Story is, don’t you? Oh, yes! You know! Ruth, the Moabitess comes back to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi. God brought them back! Yes! God is still working! God is still doing His Thing!

Ruth meets Boaz, they are married, and they have a baby.

“And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David” ~Ruth 4.17.

And thus begin the immediate family tree and lineage that would give birth to David – and David brings us to Christ! Just a few generations later, Jesus, the Son of David, is born into our world in that same “little town of Bethlehem.”

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people! For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the LORD!” [Luke 2.10-11]

And He comes as the Light and Savior of the world! God did it all! Oh, yes! He did! And He still is!

The world and all its cultures of darkness cannot overcome the Light of the World’s coming to save us from all our sin and give us the Light of Life! [John 1.4-5]

You never know what God is doing under the cover of the darkness – whether it is the darkness of the world in which you are living or the darkness of your own life’s history and story. “Let Light shine out of darkness!”

Here’s praying God shines this Light into your soul … right now!

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