A Reformed Congregation. Sierra View Presbyterian Church, Fresno, California

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Passion Week – Wednesday

Wednesday: The Cross of Christ

In 1985 John Stott published his classic book, “The Cross of Christ.” 20 years later the book was republished to commemorate its excellence and put it in the hands of a rising generation. That’s the same year Stott was named by Time Magazine one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Without question, his magnum opus remains one of the 100 most influential books in the past 100 years.

Stott very astutely organizes his book about the cross of Jesus Christ around 4 great themes: Approaching the cross, the heart of the cross, the achievement of the cross, and living under the cross. As we approach Good Friday and the climax of Passion Week, I’d like to comment on the cross of Christ and its rightful place at the center.

To approach the cross of Christ (to borrow from Stott) in a way that’s consistent with the biblical emphasis on Jesus’ sacrifice, we must do so from the proper starting point. We have to begin by asking how important the cross is? And the answer is, of course, the cross is central to everything. Everything about Jesus’ life was driving towards his death. His miracles, His teachings, His compassion and correction. All of it has a view towards the cross. The cross was central to the life and mission of Jesus, it’s central to the life of the church, its central to the life of the believer. William Farley, in his excellent little book, “Outrageous Mercy” says, “What the heart is to the body, the cross is to our faith.

Yet we can slowly, imperceptibly remove the cross from its rightful place at the center of our own lives, and put something else in its place. This happens in three ordinary ways.

First, we can become so familiar with the message of the cross that we lose sight of its significance. We may read or hear about some aspect of the atonement, but we say to ourselves, “yeah, I’ve heard that many times.” It doesn’t move us emotionally, anymore, and so we begin to grow cool in our affections for God. It’s only a short step from there to a pseudo-Christianity that has no cross at all. In place of the message of the cross we put a hunger for novelty.

Second, we can view the message of the cross as a message for the unbeliever only, as though redeemed sinners need the cross less than unredeemed sinners. This is a deathblow to any hopes of Christian maturity, because your faith is fortified and deepened by laying hold of the achievement of the cross. It was on the cross that your sins were laid on Him, and the blood of the covenant was shed. The believer must never move past the cross, but must always move ever deeper into it. Otherwise, we replace the message of the cross with a message of self-reliance.

Third, we can replace the power of the cross with a message more palatable to our sensibilities. It’s nicer and easier to pursue a religion where I can manage my own ability to deal with sin. What can be less palatable than the sight of an innocent man hung on a tree as One cursed by God in my place? “Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood.” The danger here is replacing the scandal of the cross with the scourge of self-righteousness.

Life under the cross, however, is never meant to be reinterpreted as life ‘next’ to the cross. We are never meant to live our lives with the cross ‘near’ us, off to the left or to the right. Rather, we are meant to live our lives with the cross at the center of us because the cross represents not only the forgiveness of sins, but a whole new relationship to God the Father, through Jesus the Son. A loving relationship that can only exist because of the cross-work of Christ.

In the haste of life, or even in the exercise of faith, where passions compete for your allegiance, have you set the message of the cross aside? Taken it for granted? Holy Week is a time for remembrance and returns. Hear the call of the cross beckoning you to its center. Then give praise to the glory of His grace for His outrageous mercy, given for you.


Hymn for Wednesday: Man of Sorrows

Man of sorrows what a name

for the Son of God, who came

ruined sinners to reclaim:

Hallelujah, what a Savior!


Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

in my place condemned he stood,

sealed my pardon with his blood:

Hallelujah, what a Savior!


Guilty, helpless, lost were we;

blameless Lamb of God was he,

sacrificed to set us free:

Hallelujah, what a Savior!


He was lifted up to die;

“It is finished” was his cry;

now in heaven exalted high:

Hallelujah, what a Savior!


When he comes, our glorious King,

all his ransomed home to bring,

then anew this song we’ll sing:

Hallelujah, what a Savior!






Passion Week – Tuesday

Tuesday: To Make Things Alive

 Take an afternoon sometime and write down all the reasons you can think of for Jesus’ life and ministry. I suppose we could fill innumerable pages. To bring light out of darkness. To fulfill the Law of God. We could go on. Today, as we get one day closer to the resurrection, I want us to remember that Jesus came to make things alive.

In His final days on earth, He chose to teach that lesson in the most unusual way conceivable: by cursing a fig tree so that it will not ever bear fruit again. Confused by that? You’re not alone.

The fig tree in question was symbolic of the religion the Pharisees would kill, and did kill, to protect. Theirs was a lifeless religion, the worst kind of all, based on a show of doing good things according to their laws and customs, while looking down their noses in judgmental hypocrisy at all others. Just as the fig tree bore no fruit or green leaves, so the Judaism of Jesus’ day, centered on the Pharisees, was a dead religion stuck in dry ground. The imagery of fig trees and vines was a common allusion to Israel in the Old Testament. More often than not, much to the Pharisees’ disgust, the allusion is to a vine that dies and gets trampled. It’s what happens when we lose sight of the mercy and joy of God. Psalm 105:33 serves as a clear example, “He struck down their vines and fig trees, and shattered the trees of their country.” See the symbolism, there? The fig tree represents the Jews and their religion.

Come back to Jesus passing by that fig tree. Matthew tells us that He was hungry and looking for something to eat. He might have expected to find fruit on the fig tree, but when He found none He cursed the tree and said, “May no fruit come from you again,” (Matthew 21:21). He didn’t curse the barren tree because He was crabby or throwing a fit. Like a hunger-inspired temper tantrum you might expect from a toddler. Instead, He was tipping off His disciples, and anyone who would hear Him, that a spiritual revolution was afoot. He was making a final break with Judaism and declaring Himself to true King of the Jews who is after a ‘heart religion’ that bears a fruit of joy, mercy and righteousness.

Naturally, the Pharisees ask Him about authority. We might like to see a reaction along the lines of, “Is something deeper going on, here? What does this all mean?” But no. Not the Pharisees. They refuse to look at the heart and instead ask Him who gave the authority to do these things! The tragedy of the Pharisees’ interrogation is that their lips make a profession of holiness, while their hearts are free from such concerns. They hunger for power, not holiness.

It’s the last week of Jesus’ life. It’s a matter of days before He will be crucified. And He goes out of His way to teach what we must receive as the single most important lesson of Passion Week: Jesus has come to make dead things alive in Him! The contrast couldn’t be brighter. Jesus is Life, the fig is death. Death is overcome by Life!

Life in Christ, the kind of life that Jesus promised and secures, always bears the marks of being once dead, but now alive to God. The fig tree represents the kind of religion that once was alive, but is now dead. Religion that is centered on the self, on the works of the flesh and on a show of spiritual superiority. And so it’s dead, and will always be dead. The events of Passion Week, from the Triumphal Entry, to the Fig Tree, to the Cross, remind us that Jesus came to overcome darkness and open the way of salvation. The salvation that belongs to the Lord always bears a fruit of righteousness in the soul of a man that is no longer dead.

Why did Jesus come? He came to make dead things alive. Will you present yourself to Him this week as one who bears all the marks of the new life He came to give? It’s a holy week, this Passion Week. It’s the kind of holiness that leads to lasting joy because in Him death is overcome and heaven is won. Let us be the children of Easter, then. Let us bear the fruit of His Spirit and be consumed with the praise of Life!

 Hymn for Tuesday: Welcome, Happy Morning


“Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say,

Hell to-day is vanquished, heaven is won to-day!

Lo! the dead is living, God, forevermore!

Him, their true Creator, all His works adore!


Maker and Redeemer, life and health to all,

Thou from heaven beholding human nature’s fall,

Of the Father’s Godhead true and only Son,

Manhood to deliver, manhood didst put on.


Thou, of life the author, death didst undergo,

Tread the path of darkness, saving strength to show;

Come then, True and Faithful, now fulfill Thy word;

‘Tis Thine own third morning: rise, O buried Lord!


Loose the souls long prisoned, bound with Satan’s chain;

All that now is fallen raise to life again;

Show Thy face in brightness, bid the nations see;

Bring again our daylight: day returns with Thee!



Passion Week – Monday

Monday: Passover

As we begin this Passion Week, it’s important to keep in mind the significance of Passover for the Christian’s celebration of the empty tomb. Passover, after all, is about a perspective on God’s covenant love. Without a Passover comprehension, we lose the heart of the week.

It all began with the Triumphal Entry. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem aboard a lowly donkey, He knew the adoring crowds were, for the most part, looking for deliverance from something. They craved freedom from the despotism and tyranny that marked their lives. And they saw Jesus as the means to their end. The Hosannas that went up that day were misplaced. They sang to exalt the agenda they believed Jesus was inaugurating. What they missed was that Jesus was coming to deliver them TO something as much as He was coming to deliver them FROM something.

A little background is in order. Jesus often had crowds that travelled with him. But do you wonder why such a large crowd assembled at the Triumphal Entry, seemingly out of nowhere? Where’d they all come from? Answer: It was Passover week. Don’t miss that. This annual feast was one of the “Pre-exilic” celebrations that belonged to the Jews, because it was established to remind them of the great Exodus out of Egypt.

On the night the exodus began, the Lord instituted this sacred moment of Passover. “Tell all the congregation of Israel that every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household…and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, when the whole assembly of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.” (Exodus 12:3, 6). The blood of the sacrificed lamb was then to be spread upon the doorposts of the homes of God’s people. Those ‘under the blood’ (so to speak) would be passed over when the Lord came that night to slay the wicked. On that night, Passover was established, and central to it was the Passover lamb to be slain.

Soon, there became two related feasts: the Passover followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a weeklong celebration. The two are so closely related, in fact, that they are often cited as the same thing (Luke 22:1, for example). This is why the crowds were so large the day Jesus came to Jerusalem. They were there to have Passover and take part in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. If they had only known that the One riding on the young colt was the Lamb their fathers had looked for.

Back to the crowds, then. Actually, I want to go back to another crowd, back to that first Passover night. That crowd of Hebrews left its Egyptian captors by the hand of a loving God. They left with haste, sure. But the bigger point is, they left. It was deliverance from bondage. But soon they died. They died spiritually because they failed to lay hold of a greater joy in what they were delivered to. They celebrated their freedom from bondage. Over time, they missed the blessing of God’s redemptive love for them. That’s what they were delivered to. A life bound up in the redemptive love of God.

True also of the crowds at the beginning of Passion Week. They celebrated their soon-to-be-realized hopes of being delivered from bondage. By week’s end, they betray their heartless religion, and they died. They died because they were unwilling to inherit the thing they were delivered to. The missed the Kingdom of God, because they missed the Passover Lamb. It was Jesus who was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. It is His blood spread over our hearts that delivers us FROM captivity to sin and judgment, and delivers us TO fellowship with God.

This Passover Week, amidst all the noise, will you miss the inheritance to which you’ve been delivered? If you feel yourself fading under the shadow of heartless religion, then remember that the very blood that was shed for you forgives even that, and calls you back into fellowship with God. More than that, the blood of the Great Passover Lamb invites you back into the loving arms of the God who keeps His covenant.

Let the beginning of Passion Week be for you a bridge. One that is built on the eternal magnificence of Christ and reaches from Him to you. Passover is the week that reminds the elect of the Kingship of Jesus Christ. Will you take your place in the fellowship to which you have been delivered? Will you come this week to bless the King of glory?


Hymn for Monday: At The Lamb’s High Feast We Sing

At the Lamb’s high feast we sing

Praise to our victorious King,

Who hath washed us in the tide

Flowing from His piercèd Side;

Praise we Him, whose love divine,

Gives His sacred Blood for wine,

Gives His Body for the feast,

Christ the Victim, Christ the Priest.


Where the Paschal blood is poured,

Death’s dark angel sheathes his sword

Israel’s hosts triumphant go

Through the wave that drowns the foe.

Praise we Christ, Whose Blood was shed,

Paschal Victim, Paschal Bread;

With sincerity and love

Eat we manna from above.


Mighty Victim from the sky!

Hell’s fierce powers beneath Thee lie;

Thou hast conquer’d in the fight,

Thou hast brought us life and light:

Now no more can death appall,

Now no more the grave enthrall;

Thou hast opened Paradise,

And in Thee Thy saints shall rise.


Easter triumph, Easter joy,

Sin alone can this destroy;

From sin’s power do Thou set free

Souls new-born, O Lord, in Thee.

Hymns of glory and of praise,

Risen Lord, to Thee we raise;

Holy Father, praise to Thee,

With the Spirit, ever be.

If the Foundations are Destroyed

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

I once sat under the most intriguing sermon series. It was called, “Psalms for the Postmodern Man” through a collection of the Psalms, naturally. I must confess that at the time, it didn’t really resonate with me. Probably because I was insulated by my books on Hebrew and History. Recently, however, I read through that same collection of Psalms and came to the same conclusion: they speak directly and almost impatiently to the crying need of the hour.

Psalm 11 begins the inquiry with a question in verse 3, “If the foundation are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The rest of Psalm 11, along with Psalms 12, 13 and 14, outlines the disaster that comes when the foundations are destroyed. But first things first, what are the foundations? The Old Testament concept of ‘foundations’ refers to the truth that forms the support structures of society. Like a pillar that holds up the building. Charles Spurgeon comments, “Can God be so long asleep, yea so long a lethargy, as patiently to permit the ruins of religion?” That’s what is in view here, the ruins of biblical religious exercise. If the foundations are destroyed, what happens?

Psalm 11:5-7 tells us what happens: men grow to love violence. David is seeking to take refuge in the living God, but his friends are compelling to him seek revenge upon his oppressor. Everywhere the gospel has gone, the peace of that society has increased. Conversely, where the gospel is absent, violence reigns. That’s what natural man does, he loves violence.

Psalm 12:2 tells us, ‘every man utters lies to his neighbor.’ When the foundations are destroyed, every man does what is right in his own eyes and therefore, he lies to neighbor. This becomes the native tongue of the world, because the world, dwelling amid the rubble of foundations, speaks the native language of the ruler of the age.

Psalm 13:2 tells us that wickedness will be exalted over righteousness, “…how long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” In Romans 1 the heart and mind of sinful man is revealed insofar as he not only goes along with unrighteousness, but he gives his hearty approval of those who do so. To many, wickedness prevails over righteousness. Far more Americans, for example, give themselves to the women of the Internet than the Christ of the church. That’s the enemy exalted over righteousness when the foundations are destroyed.

Psalm 14:1 completes the descent of foundationless postmodernity, “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’

But if you were to look at the same Psalms in order, and I hope you will do so, you will also find that each Psalm comes packaged with the power of God in His victory. “The Lord is in His holy temple” (11:4), “You O Lord will keep [Your pure words] and will guard us from this generation forever.” (12:7), “I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (13:6), “The Lord is his refuge…the Lord restores the fortunes of His people.” (14:6-7).

When the foundations are destroyed and the entire culture seems to have its feet planted firmly in mid air, What can the righteous do? They can fix their eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of their faith who, for the joy that was before him endured the cross, despised its shame and sat down victoriously at the right hand of God. If that is true, then we have a foundation that can never be destroyed. It belongs to us, then, to build His church through His word and spirit, to restore the foundations and advance His purposes.

The Divine Logos

“In the beginning was the Word…”

       In the opening sections of John’s gospel, there are a number of staggering claims made about or by Jesus Christ. John the Baptist, for example, makes the soaring claim, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). A short time later, still in chapter 1, Jesus goes to Galilee and finds Philip. He says simply, “Follow me,” and he does! Only the voice of God can generate such a response. Soon in chapter 3, John the Baptist will again exalt Jesus and say, “I am unworthy even to untie His shoes!”

But of all the lofty things said of Jesus, none is more so than the very first words of John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The original readers of this gospel might have expected John to simply quote the opening words of the Hebrew bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Instead, John surprises them and advances the Lordship and the preexistence of Christ. “In the beginning was the Word.” Jesus is the eternal Word of God.

Hebrews 1 picks up this theme and advances its clarity even further, “But in these last days (God) has spoken by His Son whom He appointed heir of all things through whom also He created the world.” (Heb. 1:2)

The witness of the scriptures is that Jesus is the eternal son of God, through whom God not only made the world, but also meets mankind in his (our) condition.

The theologian Andreas Kostenberger reminds us that here in the opening of John’s gospel is the only time the word “Logos” is used in such a clearly Christological sense. In other words, God wants to communicate that Jesus is the ‘divine self expression’ of God.

For that reason, the designation of Jesus as the eternal, divine ‘logos’ (self-expression of God) encompasses the entirety of Jesus’ life and mission.

The Logos became flesh and made His dwelling among us (1:14). The light shined in the darkness and the darkness did not (could not!) overcome it (1:5). He came to give those who receive Him the right become children of God (1:12). He came as the only Son of God, full of grace and truth (1:14). All of this ministry of Jesus Christ is summarized in that remarkable opening verse of John’s gospel: In the beginning was the Word (logos) and the logos was with God, and the logos was God.

This divine Logos of God knows you by name. He knows your frame, that you are but dust. He lays bare the deepest recesses of your heart and soul and examines you as a Physician. He also knows your doubts and fears, hopes and failures. He knows your sin. He lays that bare, too. But His grace is sufficient for all these things, and indeed abounds all the more. And He communicates this all-sufficient grace to you through His Word. The Logos of God.

My brethren, take your place among the saints and adopt a posture of worship and adoration for the divine, eternal Logos of God. Let your life reflect His lordship over you, because His love is perfect and delightful. Let the Logos of God dwell richly within you today, that His power may be made perfect in your weakness.

O God of My Righteousness

O God of My Righteousness – Psalm 4


The question of identity and being, known formally as ‘ontology,’ is a difficult one to sort through. What makes you who you are? On the shallow end, there are things like possessions and hobbies, that sort of thing. On the much deeper end there is family, passions, giftedness, community and things most surely believed.

If you’re like most people, your sense of who you are is something of a combination of all the above. And, if you’re like most people, indeed like me, then nearly everything above is in a constant state of flux. Things can feel fluid and unsteady, depending on how we react to current circumstances. With fluidity comes a certain amnesia. We forget who we are.

That’s why Psalm 4 is offered to the believer as a balm to the soul. David wrote it to be included in public worship because it speaks in a timely fashion to the constant need of the hour: the declaration of God’s triumph against the ever-present backdrop of shifting answers to the question, ‘who am I?’

David plants his feet in the bedrock of God’s personal care, and it gives him an unshakeable foundation. “O God of my righteousness.” This is the only time this phrase is used in the bible. It’s as though David is raising a banner or, if you like, planting a stake in the ground and saying to the shifting world, and to his own soul, “This is my God, the God of my righteousness. Here I take my stand against all foes and enemies. For God is my rock and my fortress. He is my righteousness, and He has made me glad.”

It’s not easy for David. He’s in a time of hardship, as seems to be the constant companion to the man of God. Men are bringing his honor to shame and elevating vain words against him. (v. 2-3) It’s a highly personal attack on his very identity. It’s forcing him to ask the question, ‘who am I? Am I worth so little that men dance happily over me as they run after lies?’

One might find a crisis rising within David. How could it not, given the things he’s enduring? He needs something good. Something permanent and foundation-like for his soul. And he finds it in verses 1 and 6, “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness.” (vs. 1). Charles Spurgeon said of this verse, “Herein is wisdom, let us imitate it and always take our suit not to the petty courts of human opinion, but into the superior court: the King’s Bench of heaven.” When we go to God and ask, “Who am I?” God will answer, “That’s the wrong question. The question is, ‘Who am I. And the answer for you is, “I am the God of your righteousness.” When God looks upon the hearts of His people, he finds righteousness because of the Cross. When I find myself with David in the wilderness, I say with him “Turn from me, o nations of my discouragement…but answer me, o God of my righteousness.” That’s the foundation: that God is His righteousness. He has lifted up the light of His face upon the righteous. (vs. 6).

If that is true, then how tender and timely is verse 7, “You have put more joy in my heart than (the wicked) have when their grain and wine abound.” That’s why there is relief (vs 1), silence (vs. 4), peace and safety (vs. 8) that attend the sojourning Christian in the wilderness of this world, wondering who he really is. God puts more joy in our hearts than the wicked have in abundance, because our possession surpasses the highest riches on earth: we have a God, Who is our righteousness.

Deal Bountifully With Me

Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.” – Ps. 119:17

Psalm 119 is by far the longest chapter in the bible. It’s 176 verses, arranged according to the Hebrew alphabet in an acrostic, of sorts. The lines of each section begin with the sequential Hebrew letter. Verses 1-8 each begin with ‘aleph’, and so on. You understand. It’s elegantly displayed. One  centuries-ago preacher  said of Psalm 119, “It is theological matter in a logical manner.” He’s right, too. The entire Psalm is dripping with theological weight.

Throughout the psalm the author is intent on magnifying the Word of the Lord, because steadfast devotion to God through regular time in the Word is the way of the righteous. He even says in verse 105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” You see how the emphasis is on devotion to God through the power of His word? This is the way of the righteous.

But there’s a curiously important turn of phrase in verse 17. “Deal bountifully with your servant…so that I may live and keep your word.” Do you notice the ordering of the words? The psalmist’s desire is to live unto God and keep His word. This is the language of sanctification. It’s the heart of the redeemed that desires to walk with God more and more, die to the flesh more and more. And to walk in a renewed manner according to the power of God. This is what sanctification is. John the Baptist best summarized the entire doctrine of sanctification by the little phrase, “He must increase, I must decrease.” – John 3:30.

We decrease and Christ increases in our lives as we live to God and keep His word. But what do you notice about the way verse 17 is written? Preceding any effort to walk with God or keep His word, is the sure experience and knowledge of God’s gracious bounty and dealing. In other words, the psalmist knows he has no hope of living according to the Word of God unless God has already poured out His love in him.

This is how it always is. Because God has loved us and freely given us all things in His Son, therefore, we love Him and walk according to His ways. What does it mean to ‘walk in His ways’ but to walk in a manner consistent with the scriptures? We, like the psalmist, must put off the things of the flesh and put on the things of the Word of God, by which He reveals himself to us.

The psalmist here is simply remembering that his desire and ability to walk according to the Word of God is entirely dependent on God’s love for him. “Deal bountifully with me…so that I may walk in your ways.” But here’s the rub…you will never walk in the ways of God, nor experience the lavishing bounty of God in your life if you are not committed to regular time in the Word of God.

The Word of God is powerful and sharp as a double edged sword, able to divide even body and soul. Keep the Word of God deep in your heart and let the Word dwell richly within you by spending regular time there. Maybe you need to resolve again to meditate on the Word both day and night (Josh. 1:8). The upshot? You will find your heart’s attitudes and desires changing more and more to reflect the bounty of God’s dealing with you.

Green is the New Green

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Ps. 63:1

This summer my family and I drove across the country. I mean, all the way across the country, and back again. It’s a vast space, this country of ours, and I recommend you see as much of it as you can. One inescapable observation after 6,000 miles: California is really dry. When I moved back here after some years in the South, I was struck once again with that same reality. Add to that an historic drought, and you’ve got the makings for a seriously thirsty place.  “Brown is the New Green!”

The story of Psalm 63 is the story of a thirsty soul. It’s the story of one who has tasted and seen that God is good, but who has found himself in a spiritual desert for a time. Ever experience that desert?  Psalm 63 is also the story of one who found his way out.  In God, Green is the New Green.

King David crafted this Psalm while he was in the wilderness, or the desert, while being pursued by his enemies, probably his own son Absalom. But his desert was more than the arid territory of the ancient near east. His was a spiritual desert that prompted his heart to seek God. If you glance through the Psalm, you’ll notice the penetrating language he uses to describe his pursuit of God in the wilderness: earnestly I seek you, my flesh faints for you, behold your power and glory. He even goes so far as to say that the love of God is of higher value than life itself: Your steadfast love is better than life!

In this Psalm we can detect David at his finest, not because all is well with his life, but because all is well with his soul. There is no better, more joy-filled place to be than at that place of absolute dependence on God. That’s where lasting joy and peace rise, where life in the Spirit feels most abundant. And that’s where the King finds himself in this wilderness exercise: he is in absolute dependence on God, which is the condition that God created us all to be.

The apostle Paul picks up on this idea in 1 Corinthians 1 and reminds us that God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. That is, the strong place their dependence on their own strength or ability, while the weak place theirs on the strength of God. Nothing is so perfectly aligned with the character of God, and so entirely out of step with the wisdom of man, as trusting in Christ in the deepest corners of your heart and soul.

Which brings us back to King David in the wilderness. It’s a dry land for him. His own son is after him. The men who seek his life were, at one time, his own trusted army. And he’s done nothing to deserve such treachery. Yet here he is, alone in the desert. What emerges from his depth, however, is a new indebtedness for the love that God has for him. David now seeks God from a pure heart, with pure motives, and a pure hope that is centered on God’s worthiness of praise.

As you consider the deepest recesses of your own heart, is God there in His glory? Does His power and glory (vs. 2) compel you to seek after Him with a full heart, David-like? Come and see that God is good, that His steadfast love for you is an amazing gift of His grace. Dwell securely in Him and enjoy the feast of His faithfulness until you are satisfied as with rich food (vs. 5). Remember how God has been your help in ages past, and has promised to be your guide, mediator and advocate both now and forevermore, through His Beloved Son. Let His faithfulness be your portion and the gladness of your heart, because fellowship with Christ pours the abundant rains of grace that turn even the driest of deserts into the green fields of delight.

A New Year’s Refocus

A New Year’s Refocus


“I’m going to stop eating sugar!” “I’m going to start working out again! Again!” New Year’s Resolutions: you gotta love ‘em. I always notice how the sporting goods stores load their showrooms with ellipticals and treadmills at the end of the year. Watch Craigslist in 8 weeks: “Workout equipment for sale, like new!” We’re pretty fickle, aren’t we?


This week’s “Wednesday’s Words” will be a little different from all the others. Instead of a devotional, I thought I’d lay before you a helpful list of questions for your consideration in the coming year. Rather than a New Year’s Resolution, consider it a New Year’s Refocus. It’s a short post this week. And, for the record, these aren’t original from me. We came across them someplace online, and I’ve simply edited them slightly.


As you reflect on your walk with Christ over the past 12 months, I wonder what you’ve learned. What has God taught you about Himself and about yourself? What might He be preparing you for in the New Year? To help guide you through those questions, here’s the list of 7 more that may be of value to you.


  • What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
  • What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask of God this year?
  • What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your devotional or prayer life this year?
  • In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year? What means has God given for you to make progress?
  • What was the biggest time waster of last year in your life?
  • What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church this year?
  • What is the thing you will do this year that will matter most in 10 years?


I hope you’ll give consideration to these questions. There is no right or wrong answer to any of them, and we’ll all have different ones. They are meant to get us all thinking and praying about things that matter as the New Year approaches. May God be gracious to you as you refocus your soul in joyful pursuit of His glory. Happy New Year’s to you all.