I remember your name during the night, O Lord, and I will keep your law. This has been my practice, for I observe your precepts. The Lord is my source of security. I have determined to follow your instructions. -Ps. 119:55-57 (NET2)
Once again, back to one of my favorite Psalms! These verses stand out to me in particular right now, because I’ve been having some sleepless nights as I think about all of the things that are going on. I often get these bad nights when I am not focused on the LORD in prayer, meditation and the study of His word. Is the LORD your source of security? I hope that is the case.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. -Colossians 3:15 (NIV)
The Story Behind Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
Reginald Heber was born in 1783 to a wealthy family in west England.
Reginald attended Oxford and won several awards for poetry before he
became rector for his father’s church. Reginald become Bishop of
Calcutta in 1823 and served his people for three years before dying of
stroke. “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” read Reginald Heber’s
widow. Among her dead husband’s papers she found the words of one of the
most powerful and beautiful hymns ever written. But years would pass
before the lines took their place in worship services around the world.
In 1861, a publisher rediscovered the words. He asked John Bacchus
Dykes to furnish him with a tune. It made sense for him to turn to John
who had a natural aptitude for music (he graduated with a music master
that same year). John had been a church organist since he was
ten-years-old and was co-founder and president of the Cambridge
University Musical Society.
John accepted the words. Within thirty minutes he wrote the tune “Nicea,” which carried the praise of the Trinity. (taken from Godtube.com)
And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say,“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” -Rev. 4:8 (NASB)
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love its use will eat its fruit. -Prov. 18:21 (NET2)
One again, I think I will expound upon the virtue of keeping one’s mouth shut when the situation calls for restraint. Having been married for a while I know how difficult it can be to live with someone and have conflict, even though you may love that person very much and not wish to imagine life without them. Still there are times in any couple’s life (in fact, any human relationship) where disagreements occur and need to get resolved. Sometimes, they require some temperance of tongue to find the needed resolution. James understood that well, as did the author of Proverbs. In fact, an interesting thing is that the very next verse in Proverbs discusses the benefit of finding a good wife! There are no coincidences with our LORD. I thank God for my marriage and the difficulties that sometimes happen, as they are catalyst to grow closer to the Lord and each other. As a result, our marriage bond is strong and I would not wish to think about going through this life without it. Such can be the case in any human relationship where God is involved.
For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs? Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water. -James 3:7-12 (NET2)
There is much more in James 3 than just the verses I listed above. I think it would do anyone good to sit down and read the chapter, prayerfully meditating on what it says. Perhaps you might want to ask yourself if you have said or done anything today that might adversely affect another human being, be they a brother or sister in the LORD or someone who you should be trying to win to Christ? I know I sometimes do not like the answer I receive when I spend quiet time with the LORD in self-examination.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:19
There are those who would abuse this verse by trying to make it fit their prosperity teaching. Please don’t confuse worldly riches with those of God’s.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Ps. 37:4 (ESV) Here’s another verse that one could easily twist to try saying that God is taking shopping lists for material things to fill. Nope. Sorry. Not what He is saying here. If we are truly regenerated by God and wish to do His will, then our desires will be for those things that are pleasing to Him. Jesus was clear on His feelings about accumulating “treasures” here on Earth: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
Let us never forget this most famous passage: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. -Psalm 23:1 (ESV)
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. -2 Corinthians 7:1
While it is true that we are saved by grace and not for anything we have done, it is important to know that certain things are expected of us as children of the most high God. Throughout the New Testament, we are told such things as “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”(Phil 2:12) and “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26). Sounds a little confusing sometimes, especially if you are new to the family. Please understand, it is not about mixing in some works with God’s grace. Believe me, the Bible clearly teaches us that God’s grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).
If you’re truly worried about this, there is a very good chance you are saved. But… we can’t take chances on something so important that has such an eternal consequence. We are assured that we can know of our salvation. Do you love Jesus? Please note that I did not ask if you ever sin or do things perfectly. No, none of us do. Read Romans 7 and you will see that even the Apostle Paul had his struggles with the flesh and its sin nature. But, we must be careful to know that we are not ‘all set,’ just because we had an emotional moment at a crusade or church service and answered an altar call. No, that is not how it works. It’s about giving our heart to Him. There is a change that will take place in our lives, sometimes major and sudden — but often subtle and gradual as we grow and develop in Christ. As we grow, we will begin to experience the fruit of the Spirit talked about in Galatians and start to see some of the works that result from accepting Christ as our LORD. That is not mixing works with faith, it is experiencing works as a result of faith. May you have what is the title of an old and popular hymn: Blessed Assurance.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. -John 8:31-32
Just tell me what to do and I will do it, Lord. As long as I live I’ll wholeheartedly obey. Make me walk along the right paths, for I know how delightful they really are. -Ps. 119:33-35 (TLB)
The author of these verses knew enough about how good God’s law is to have the motivation to say “just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” In our daily Christian walk, can we truly say we have the same feeling for God’s will in our lives and can pray that without reservation? That really is in keeping with the Apostle Paul who wished to be a living sacrifice.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. -Romans 12:1
When we give ourselves over to God as a sacrifice, we find our whole way of thinking and viewing this world will change and we will start to keep our “eyes on the prize.” The only way to experience God’s tranquility is through a complete transformation of heart and mind. Only Jesus can offer us that.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. -Romans 12:2
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. -Ps. 119:18
I am sometimes involved in discussions about the process of salvation. In Reformed circles, it is sometimes called the Ordo Salutis (Latin for ‘order of salvation’). Sometimes, there is contention when one says that a person must be regenerated by God (born again) before anything can happen. Yet, despite anybody’s feeling about it, it is very much rooted in the pages of Scripture as undeniable truth. If we are called by God, we respond and experience regeneration. To say differently, that we somehow are able to make a decision first, implies we actually have something to do with causing our salvation. In reality, the Bible makes it clear that our redemption takes place entirely because of the grace of God. In our natural fallen state we are “dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1 states the following: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
How often did Jesus speak to people who heard the words, but had no idea Who was speaking them, nor were they able in any way, shape or form to comprehend them? At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. -Matthew 11:25
Clearly, understanding that we are saved only by the grace of almighty God is key to our faith. Our faith is imparted once we have been called by the Sovereign Creator & Ruler of the universe. Many will cry “foul!” and say that God’s ways are not fair. Perhaps not, by our limited human understanding, but be assured that God has reasons of His own to “have mercy upon whom He will have mercy.” For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. -Romans 9:15
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. -Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)
As much as I love the King James Version of the Bible, I have a special place in my heart for some other translations. I guess I would be kicked out of the ‘King James Only’ club for that! Nonetheless, I do like certain renderings in other translations from time to time and feel blessed that we have them at our disposal when studying God’s precious word. One of the things I like to do when studying passages with more than one possible interpretation is to pick up a paraphrase or dynamic translation to get an idea of what the translators think something is saying. I am, of course, free to agree or disagree with that — as I feel led. (I lump dynamic and paraphrase versions of the Bible in pretty much the same category because they are not literal in nature and therefore subject to more of the translator’s opinion than a “word for word” translation such as the ESV and NASB aspire to be).
Now on to my favorite dynamic version, the subject of this post: The New Living Translation. Having been a fan of its grandparent, The Living Bible, I can not help but feel some affinity for it. Originally to be an update of The Living Bible, it is not really a paraphrase, but a dynamic translation with the same ease of readability. I think it achieved its goal without sacrificing accuracy. Personally, I think it is an outstanding translation. It is easy to read and understand and closer to the original text than the Living Bible ever was. It has been a favorite of the evangelical world for some time — and for good reason.
In conclusion, I think that the New Living Translation (when used alongside the trustworthy, solid King James Version) can be a powerful tool in Bible study. I find its interpretations to be thoughtful, conservative and evangelical in nature. If I had any complaint concerning the NLT, it would center around the questionable manuscripts it is translated from. As always, I invite the reader’s comments [in a civilized fashion of brotherly/sisterly love]! I would love to know what your favorite translation is and why you have picked it.
For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. -Ps. 37:28
I have long been a believer in the doctrine of eternal security because I believe that anything less than that attempts to diminish what Christ did for us on the cross. There is tremendous biblical support for the doctrine, a part of which I will now share with the reader:
Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. -Ps. 97:10
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.-John 10:27-29 (NLT)
That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return. -2 Timothy 1:12 (NLT)
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39
I thought to myself, “I have become much wiser than any of my predecessors who ruled over Jerusalem; I have acquired much wisdom and knowledge.” So I decided to discern the benefit of wisdom and knowledge over foolish behavior and ideas; however, I concluded that even this endeavor is like trying to chase the wind! For with great wisdom comes great frustration; whoever increases his knowledge merely increases his heartache. -Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 (NET2)
Anyone who has spent any time in the book of Proverbs knows the immense value of wisdom as it is described and cherished there. Even in the pages of the Apocrypha, there is a ‘Book of Wisdom’ and other relevant writings on the subject that hold it in very high esteem. The wisdom mentioned in those writings is not what I believe Solomon is talking about in Ecclesiastes. The wisdom he refers to in chapter 1 is secular in nature.
To paraphrase the writing of Matthew Henry, there is much labor in acquiring knowledge, but little good can come from it if it is gained without a proper understanding of the source of all truth, who is God. The MacArthur Study Bible says this: When Solomon depended on empirical research rather than divine revelation to understand life, he found it to be an empty experience . Isn’t that pretty much true of anything sought without the LORD?