Just days before Jesus gave up His life on the cross He was in Simon the leper’s house having a meal with His disciples when a woman came in. She had with her ‘an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head.’
You probably know the story well, Judas and the disciples are critical, see it as a waste but Jesus defends the woman saying ‘she hath wrought a good work upon me… For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.’
She gave in what the disciples considered a reckless way, what was likely her most expensive position and poured it all out upon Jesus head.
They saw oil poured out, wasted! Jesus saw love poured out, a heart consecrated!
Friends, nothing we pour out, love, time, possessions, money, talents, none of it is wasted if it’s poured out for Jesus, the waste is when we don’t pour them out for Him!
Friends, how much of ourselves do we pour out for Jesus and how much for ourselves?
1 Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days; let them flow in endless praise,
2 Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love. Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee,
3 Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King. Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee,
4 Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use every power as thou shalt choose.
5 Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart it is thine own; it shall be thy royal throne.
6 Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure store. Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for thee.
In psalm 54, David has just been betrayed and he pours out his troubles to God, pleading with Him to save him.
Then you get to the end of verse 3 and you find the word Selah!
David pauses, imagine him, once again his life is in danger, he’s poured it all out to the Lord and then he pauses, what happens in that pause?
His thoughts must have rested on the greatness and goodness of His God because he continues in faith saying
‘Behold, God is mine helper’!
David had confidence that the Lord would fight for him and defeat his enemies and believer, if we’re seeking to walk in God’s ways, we too can have this confidence. The enemy of our souls is far stronger than us but he’s not and never will be stronger than Christ who is IN us!!
Then in v6 we read this…
‘I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.’
Let’s dig a little deeper.
I will freely – nĕdabah – spontaneously, an abundant gift, a freewill offering, plentifully, willingly!
sacrifice – zabach – kill, offer, slay.
Sacrifice is the act of giving up something valued for the sake of something regarded as more important or worthy.
unto thee: I will praise – yadah – literally, to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands), praise, shoot, thanksgiving.
Friends, God is always worthy of our praise, even in the hardest places, praise brings perspective!
So Friends, whatever our circumstances today, let’s pause as David did and think on the goodness and greatness of our God until our hearts are also filled with praise!
We’re totally unworthy of God’s favour Friends and yet His word is full of rich promises to His people because He’s a loving Heavenly Father and in Christ we are worthy!
One that I particularly love is this…
‘And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:’
This is in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthian’s where he praises their generosity and tells us that God loves a cheerful giver.
The language in this verse always makes my heart swell with amazement at the generosity and thoroughness of God’s grace.
All grace, abound, always, all sufficiency, all things, abound, every!!
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Is able – dynatos – powerful, mighty, strong!
The next bit is really interesting, to make all grace abound is four Greek words perisseuo pas charis perisseuo
As you can see this phrase has the same word at the beginning and end, repeated words were their way of emphasising a point. So we have…
perisseuo – to superabound, in excess, superfluous, enough and to spare, overflow!
‘ “Abounding” is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.’
pas – all, any, every, the whole, whatsoever, whosoever, the whole, daily.
charis – grace, graciousness, especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; benefit, favour, gift, joy, liberality, pleasure.
(Interestingly this Greek word charis comes from the word chairo which means ‘joy, cheerful, calmly having ppy, to rejoice exceedingly’ and this is it what God’s grace does Friends, it enables us to live our lives for His glory and to do His will joyfully.)
Then we have perisseuo again – superabound, in excess, superfluous, enough and to spare, overflow.
Friends, God is powerfully and mightily able to give us the grace we need.
He has abundant, excessive, overflowing stores of grace.
God has ALL the grace we need, every day, for whatsoever we need it for, so that we can abound in doing His will joyfully!
And this grace is towards you believer!
‘that ye always having ALL sufficiency in ALL things,’
Ye always – pantote – at all times, ever.
Having – echo – to hold, posses, ability
all – pas – all, any, every, the whole, whatsoever, whosoever, the whole, daily.
sufficiency – autarkeia – self-satisfaction, i.e. contentedness, or a competence, contentment, sufficiency.
things may abound – here we have perisseuo again, to superabound, in excess, superfluous, enough and to spare, overflow!
Friends, God’s grace is always flowing, at ALL times, for whatsoever situation we’re, towards whosoever we need that grace and it’s available daily!
It’s free, it’s something we can have and hold.
Then there’s the sufficiency of God’s grace that He makes available to us. Interestingly this word also means contendedness and competence,
God makes His grace abound toward us so that we’ll always have enough and so that we can always have contentment and competence in doing His will, doing the good works He has called us to and living for His glory if we’ll just look to Him for it!
And that may not be great things Friends, so often it’s cheerful, loving faithfulness in the day to day tasks we need the most grace for.
So God’s grace overflows towards us that our lives might overflow with His love towards others in the things we do and say.
Whatever God asks us to do He has overflowing supplies of grace that He freely gives us so we can joyfully, contentedly do His will.
Will you draw from this ever flowing stream today Friend?
As I was reading in Corinthians this morning I began to wonder how many of us had set goals this year? Things we wanted to focus on, areas we wanted to grow in etc.
We’re now a third of the way through the year and life is looking very different to what any of us could have anticipated.
So has our goal, our focus had to shift?
Friends, Paul had a goal but it was a goal that didn’t need to change as his circumstances changed. His goal was a goal that he could aim for, not only in his day to day missionary life but even when he was shipwrecked on an island or when he was shut up in prison!
Paul knew well his imperfections but he still pushed forward day after day towards his goal…
‘Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’
Friends, today and over the coming weeks and months, as life gradually settles down to a new normal, where will our focus be?
Will our eyes be fixed on Jesus? Will we daily be… ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith?’
Ah Friends, is this how you long to go forward? Looking unto Jesus?
‘But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.’
This word translated keep is the Greek word – tēreō – to guard by keeping the eye upon, maintain, hold fast, keep, preserve.
Friends may this be our goal going forward, to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, running, focused on the prize of eternal life, holding Jesus tight by faith, praying that God in His grace and mercy will keep and preserve us both in this way and focused on eternity rather than the here and now.
I couldn’t sleep early this morning and as I lay there wrestling through some things in prayer the birds began to sing. So I got up, bundled up in a couple of blankets and watched the morning come.
First the blackbirds sang and then as it got lighter more and more birds joined in the chorus of praise to their Creator.
Then a blackbird came onto the lawn time after time, finding worms to take back to it’s nest, it’s beak so full it could hardly fly!
As I watched my soul was refreshed as I was reminded again of our Heavenly Father’s loving, watchful care over us.
Friends, we may not always feel Him near and sometimes we may, like Ezekiel feel that…
‘when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer… My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD.’
But Friends, the morning came for Ezekiel and the morning will come for you too, The flowers SHALL appear on the earth and the time of the singing of birds SHALL come.
Friends…’It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new EVERY morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore WILL I hope in him.
The LORD IS good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.’
Ah believer, cast ALL your cares upon Him for He truly does care for you. Although the night seems dark you are not forsaken!
‘Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are ALL numbered…’
Every single one of them Friends! Pull one out and God knows the new number!!
‘…Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.’
Fear not Friend, you are not in this battle alone…
‘Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s….Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you.’
God never leaves nor forsakes us so that we can boldly say, ‘the Lord is MY helper.’
Friends, Jesus is…’unto them which are called…Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.’
Keep leaning, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking, keep trusting and God WILL appear.
Lam 3:8,18, (Sol 2:12), Lam 3:22,23, Luke 12:6,7, 2 Chro 20:15,17, Heb 13:6, 1 Cor 1:24,25.
‘Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.’
So what is this love of God that believers are to love one another with?
Let’s dig a little deeper…
‘Beloved, let us love’ is translated from two Greek words
agapētos – dearly beloved, well beloved, esteemed, favourite, worthy of love.
agapaō – to welcome, entertain, love dearly, beloved.
So friends, we’re to love one another with a love that welcomes and treats others as worthy of being dearly loved and highly esteemed.
How, especially if others act in a way that makes them hard to love?
With God’s love because this unconditional love ‘is of God’! If we know and love God we have something others don’t, we love Him because He first loved us and when we received His love we also received the Holy Spirit to live in us as our helper.
We’re all made in the image of God and are capable of loving others but this love is marred by sin but the more we feast upon God’s love as believers the more our love will grow like His and we begin to produce that fruit of the Spirit ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.’
Many of us are facing new challenges at the moment and there’s so much extra patience needed as we try to carry on as normal, in a life that has changed so much in just a few weeks.
But Friends the Christlike love we need to be joyful, gentle and patient in this time is freely available to us if we believe and know God.
So how do we grow in this love? By growing in our knowledge of God.
The word ginōskō translated in our verse as knoweth means to feel, perceive and understand. This word was also used among Jews to describe the intimate knowing between a husband and wife. This isn’t a head knowledge but a heart and soul knowledge that comes from intimacy with God.
So again we see our need to draw near to God. Yes, drawing near to God when we can get a moment with our Bible is important but draw near Friend in the middle of you muddle, in those crazy, pulling your hair out moments of frustration, when you want to shout and scream like a two year old or burst into tears, draw near and rest in His love, ‘for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ There’s everything we need in God Friends if we just draw near and seek it from Him.
Jesus needs to go through Samaria, why? Because there were many souls in Samaria to be saved and blessed.
Friends, we must needs go through certain things in our lives, often hard things, why? Because God knows we NEED them!
We sin, we fall, we wander, we get lukewarm and God in His love and mercy sometimes uses hard things to lovingly correct us and bring us back.
Because He’s going to use them to answer our prayers, to bring us back closer to Him and to bless us!
God is a loving Heavenly Father…
‘He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever… Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him… bless the LORD, O my soul.’
Friend, praise God in your hard things, there’s a purpose in them, when the lessons are learnt He will appear for
‘them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.’
That’s the ultimate purpose Friends, God’s glory and through it, if sanctified, union, communion and a closer walk with Him!
Here’s David fearful and yet trusting, betrayed but looking to His faithful God as he says…
‘Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he SHALL sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.’
Ah Friend, is the burden too heavy, does it all feel too much? Do troubles, fears or sickness weigh you down?
‘Cast thy burden upon the LORD…’
The Hebrew word shalak, translated here as cast, means to ‘throw out, down or away, to hurl or throw.
Your burden isn’t something you tentatively, gingerly, give to the Lord and it isn’t something you give Him bit by bit, it’s something you hurl away from you, throw down at His feet in faith, trusting that He SHALL take care of it and sustain and carry you through these hard things.
This word translated as sustain can also mean ‘to keep in, to maintain, abide, bear, guide, hold, nourish and provide.
Friend, cast your burden upon the LORD and He SHALL keep you, He WILL maintain you in His way, He WILL abide in you and you in Him by sweet experience.
Cast your burden on Him and He SHALL bear you up, hold you and carry you through. He WILL nourish you soul and provide everything you need to live a life of obedience that glorifies Him.
‘he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.’
Keep leaning, keep trusting and He’ll carry you through.
But maybe you don’t feel very righteous, you always seem to be messing up and failing, the battle with your old nature is often fierce, what then?
Ah, dear believer, if you are in Christ then you’re covered in His righteousness. Yes you’re old nature is strong and you’ll sometimes fall but keep coming back in repentance and approach God though Christ and He will see you as you are, covered in Christ’s righteousness as He stands at the right hand of the Father pleading on your behalf.
No trial, no temptation, no evil can take you away from that position you have in Christ, so…
‘Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he SHALL sustain thee: he shall NEVER suffer the righteous to be moved.’
David, the most mentioned person in the Bible after Jesus, David who wrote so many psalms, David of who God said ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.’ THIS David knew what it was to be in the wilderness!!
David knew that barren place, that ‘dry and thirsty land, where no water is.’
So what did he do when he was in the wilderness, wait passively for God to draw near?
No, he sought God, early and earnestly!
‘O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;’
In His longing he seeks and pours it all out in prayer to God, stating what it is he longs for.
Friend, are you in a wilderness season? Do you feel as though you’re in a lonely, desolate place, wandering about and finding no water for your thirsty soul?
Then pour it all out to God, seek Him, tell Him that you long to feel His presence again.
Tell God that you long for those times when you saw His power and glory, when He met you in His house and spake those words of love and blessing.
Then move on as David swiftly does in this psalm, straight into praise, why? …
‘Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips SHALL praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.’
Friends, David, in seeking God moves swiftly into praise!
‘let the heart of them REJOICE that seek the LORD.
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.’
Even though you don’t feel God near, seek Him Friend, pour out your heart to Him and PRAISE Him because His lovingkindness IS better than life, find your satisfaction in praise because you certainly won’t find it in the distractions of this world!
‘Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.’
Not just in the feel good times but ALL the while I live! In the wilderness, in the trials, in the storms I WILL bless thee!
When you don’t feel God near still bless Him, still praise Him, He’s still worthy!
Will you Friend?
And what happens in that praise?…
‘My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:’
Friends, when we praise God, when we think on His goodness to us in the past, His goodness in daily provision and indeed with each breath He gives us, our soul finds satisfaction, as though we had been filled with a good meal.
Praise Him with joyful lips Friend because even in the wilderness there is much to praise Him for.
Believer, when you lay awake at night longing for your Beloved: rejoice in past mercies as David did and find comfort in knowing that your Saviour is indeed ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.’
His love is just as great as when you first felt it in those times of sweet blessing, His mercy is still great, His lovingkindness has no end, He is still your Saviour, your lover, your Friend, He is still your Rock, your Refuge and your Hiding place, keep seeking Friend and keep praising, even in the wilderness because ‘the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him and even when you don’t feel His presence as you would like to, look back on past mercies, look up in faith and look forward with hope because having Jesus we have everything!
There are times when our lives, those things going on, decisions we have to make, our spiritual state, so many things, feel overwhelming. But where does this overwhelm lead you Friend?
Do you cry out with David?…
‘From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.’
Is this your desire Friend, to flee to the Rock Christ Jesus and shelter in His love, to feel His strong arms holding you up?
Let’s dig a little deeper into the meanings behind the Hebrew.
From the end – qatseh – an eternity, brink, edge, outermost coast.
of the earth – ‘erets – to be firm, the earth, land, wilderness.
will I cry – qara’- the idea of accosting a person met, to call out, cry unto.
unto thee, when my heart – leb – this has a huge variety of meanings, among them… feelings, will, intellect, the centre of anything, broken, double hearted.
is overwhelmed:- `ataph – shrouded, clothe, hence (from the idea of darkness) to languish, fail, feeble, faint, self.
lead – nachah – guide, transport, bring
me to the rock – tsuwr – a cliff, rock or boulder, figuratively a refuge, mighty God, strength.
that is higher than I. – ruwm – exalted, set up, extolled.
Ah Friends, there’s so much depth here!!
When we feel on the edge, at the brink of despair, in the outermost depths of the wilderness, let’s be like David, crying out to our God, accosting Him, saying with Jacob…
‘I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.’
When our heart is overwhelmed, when the very centre of our being, our feelings and will are in turmoil, when we feel double hearted, pulled in two directions, or shrouded in darkness, languishing and faint in the way, lead guide and bring me to Christ.
Bring me to this rock, this firm foundation, this great Rock, let it be my refuge and hiding place, this Almighty God that is higher than I, exalted above all others and let me rest there, sheltered, safe in the arms of Jesus.
‘For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.’ and He STILL IS Friend… ‘
for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me’m