"Delight thyself also in the Lord."
The teaching of these words must seem very surprising to those who are strangers to vital godliness, but to the sincere believer it is only the inculcation of a recognized truth. The life of the believer is here described as a delight in God, and we are thus certified of the great fact that true religion overflows with happiness and joy. Ungodly persons and mere professors never look upon religion as a joyful thing; to them it is service, duty, or necessity, but never pleasure or delight. If they attend to religion at all, it is either that they may gain thereby, or else because they dare not do otherwise. The thought of delight in religion is so strange to most men, that no two words in their language stand further apart than "holiness" and "delight." But believers who know Christ, understand that delight and faith are so blessedly united, that the gates of hell cannot prevail to separate them. They who love God with all their hearts, find that his ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace. Such joys, such brimful delights, such overflowing blessednesses, do the saints discover in their Lord, that so far from serving him from custom, they would follow him though all the world cast out his name as evil. We fear not God because of any compulsion; our faith is no fetter, our profession is no bondage, we are not dragged to holiness, nor driven to duty. No, our piety is our pleasure, our hope is our happiness, our duty is our delight.
Delight and true religion are as allied as root and flower; as indivisible as truth and certainty; they are, in fact, two precious jewels glittering side by side in a setting of gold.
"'Tis when we taste thy love,
Our joys divinely grow,
Unspeakable like those above,
And heaven begins below."
"O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face ... because we have sinned against thee."
A deep sense and clear sight of sin, its heinousness, and the punishment which it deserves, should make us lie low before the throne. We have sinned as Christians. Alas! that it should be so. Favoured as we have been, we have yet been ungrateful: privileged beyond most, we have not brought forth fruit in proportion. Who is there, although he may long have been engaged in the Christian warfare, that will not blush when he looks back upon the past? As for our days before we were regenerated, may they be forgiven and forgotten; but since then, though we have not sinned as before, yet we have sinned against light and against love--light which has really penetrated our minds, and love in which we have rejoiced. Oh, the atrocity of the sin of a pardoned soul! An unpardoned sinner sins cheaply compared with the sin of one of God's own elect ones, who has had communion with Christ and leaned his head upon Jesus' bosom. Look at David! Many will talk of his sin, but I pray you look at his repentance, and hear his broken bones, as each one of them moans out its dolorous confession! Mark his tears, as they fall upon the ground, and the deep sighs with which he accompanies the softened music of his harp! We have erred: let us, therefore, seek the spirit of penitence. Look, again, at Peter! We speak much of Peter's denying his Master. Remember, it is written, "He wept bitterly." Have we no denials of our Lord to be lamented with tears? Alas! these sins of ours, before and after conversion, would consign us to the place of inextinguishable fire if it were not for the sovereign mercy which has made us to differ, snatching us like brands from the burning. My soul, bow down under a sense of thy natural sinfulness, and worship thy God. Admire the grace which saves thee--the mercy which spares thee--the love which pardons thee!
[Tīmō'theŭs, Tĭm'o thyÌ†] - honored of god, worshiping god or valued of god.A young man of Lystra, son of Eunice, a Jewess, by a Greek father who was probably dead when Paul first visited the home (Acts 16:1).
The Man Who Confessed a Good Confession
As Paul contributes a full portrait of his spiritual son, many years his junior, let us string together the salient features of Timothy.
I. He was the child of godly heritage ( 2 Tim. 1:5). His mother was a Christian Jewess and the daughter of another devout Jewess, Lois. His Greek father's name is unknown. It may be that Eunice became a Christian when Paul visited Lystra, a town not far from Paul's birthplace, Tarsus.
II. He was a youthful reader of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:15). From a "babe" he had had knowledge of the Truth. How blessed children are if cradled in the things of God!
III. He was Paul's child in the faith (1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2 ). Probably Paul, a visitor of Timothy's house, led the young lad to Christ during his ministry in Iconium and Lystra since he refers to his persecutions there, which Timothy himself knew about (2 Tim. 3:10, 11). One writer suggests that when Paul recovered from his stoning at Lystra it was in Timothy's home he found shelter and succor.
IV. He was ordained as a minister of the Gospel (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6, 7). Conscious of Timothy's unique gifts, especially of evangelism (Rom. 16:21; 2 Tim. 4:5 ), it was fitting that Paul should choose him as a companion and fellow-worker. Faithfully he served Paul "as a son with his father," in the furtherance of the Gospel (Phil. 2:22). How indispensable he became to the apostle (Acts 17:14, 15; 18:5; 20:4)! Paul had no other companion so "like-minded" as Timothy, who enjoyed Paul's constant instruction (2 Tim. 2:3; 3:14).
V. He was an ambassador charged with difficult tasks. The responsible and delicate mission of restoring a backsliding church required both gift and grace (1 Cor. 14:17), as did the comfort of believers in the midst of tribulation (1 Thess. 3:2).
VI. He was co-sufferer with Paul in the afflictions of the Gospel (2 Tim. 1:8 ). Tradition says that Timothy died as a martyr for his faithfulness as a bishop in the reign of Domitian or Nerva. While attempting to stop an indecent heathen procession during the Festival of Diana, this God-honoring minister sealed his testimony with his blood. The two epistles Paul addressed to Timothy are rich in their pastoral counsel.
HONEST TO GOD
The prophet Isaiah put it this way: “For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived” (Isaiah 59:12-13).
Notice the key to the lock here: acknowledge.
In one breath, the prophet lays out a glossary of sin (offense, iniquity, rebellion, treachery, oppression, revolt, lies), and he establishes that we sin in thought (what the heart conceives), word (lies), and deed (all the rest). “Thought, word, and deed” is a way of talking about the whole of our lives. It is a way of saying, “God, I need my whole life to be exposed to your healing touch. I need to be honest about my transgressions that are overt acts, those that are careless words, and those that are imaginings which spring from secret motives.”
We can be thankful that sin, in its essence, is the negation of what is good. It is the “-less” or the “un-” of the created order: lovelessness, lawlessness, godlessness, unbelief, thanklessness, disobedience, faithlessness–in other words, darkness. Why be thankful about that? Because sin has no existence in and of itself. Go into a dark room, turn on a light, and the darkness disappears. “The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).
I’ve met many people who feel utterly hopeless about their faults and transgressions. They feel terrible that they keep disappointing God, and they wonder whether anything will ever be different. And this is key: they view their mistakes as an essential part of who they are rather than a good gone wrong.
Sin must be taken seriously. This disconnect from God is the universal condition of the human race, as Scripture makes abundantly clear: “There is no one who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46); “No one living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143:2); “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’?” (Proverbs 20:9); “the whole world is a prisoner of sin” (Galatians 3:22 ); “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:2); “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
But, on the other hand, we must keep remembering that mankind was made “in the image of God.” Good. More than that, very good.
We must be honest about our failings and our sins–otherwise we will never find forgiveness and healing. But no one should ever think his or her essential identity is darkness. Christ is the light, and he wants to shine in our lives. [More on that, next time.]
Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Free DVD available now.
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Today's reading: Ezra 9-10, Acts 1 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Ezra 9-10
Ezra's Prayer About Intermarriage
1 After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, "The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. 2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness...."
Today's New Testament reading: Acts 1
Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."