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The Audacity of Praise
The Audacity of Praise

PreacherJP.2004 • January 24, 2020

Audacity, boldness; brashness; the nerve; the gall; the effrontery...these are words we could use to describe the approaching leper towards Christ. His wounds oozing with repugnance, ashes on his head, mantle rent, his top lip covered as he cries, “Unclean! Unclean!” Can you picture the crowds around him? They part almost as if Moses had held up the rod of God in hand in front of the Red Sea. They stare, some with curiosity, some with disgusted glares. He doesn’t care. He has heard the glad word that the Lord was there.


He had been to religion already. The only thing the priest could do for him was pronounce him unclean. That meant separation from all that he held dear. He couldn’t worship now, at least, not with others. He couldn’t see his family. He would have to leave the city and remain in an unclean place, with other vile lepers. Every day would only be a day closer to his death, when perhaps then he would find peace and relief. Then that news...


The Savior was there. In the city. Amidst the very people that had cast him out, but He was there. Audacity. He stands to his feet, even though he is in pain and begins his fast-paced walk toward city. Scowls abound, but inside he smiles. He doesn’t care! The Lord is there!


This leper understood one thing about God, one thing we would do well to understand...God is omnipotent. The leper had the audacity because he had already been stripped of every ounce of human strength, every iota of human reason, every minutia of human dignity. What was shame? What was pride? One step, two, just a few more, and falling at the feet of the Lord, boldly claims, “If thou wilt...”


He didn’t say “If thou canst,” but “If thou wilt...”


We claim to believe God is almighty, but had we the heart of the Leper, well, we might actually believe it in our heart. We carry with us Adam’s baggage of pride, self-will, anger, worry, lust, fear, doubt, and blindness. We don’t see ourselves as this leper, unclean by these very things. We don’t see the Lord as this leper either. Not only did he believe in God’s omnipotence, but he believed in God’s goodness.


“...thou canst make me clean...” Ah, there it is. Clean? Why do we need to be cleansed? We’re not so bad. Worry, that’s no big deal. Lust, every body does it. Anger, I just get mad, that’s the way I am. Doubt, come on...what’s the problem? If we had the heart of worship as this leper did, we would want cleansed. We would see ourselves dirty, defiled, desperate.


With Jesus, we have to come clean before He makes us clean. We have to, as that leper, throw off the pride of the world, not caring about their ridicule, and approach Jesus with audacity. We must audaciously believe that God is able, and not only able, but willing...


Matthew 8:3

3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  


What do you need to believe Jesus for? What have you been holding back from Him in doubt, worry, and fear? What has pride been holding onto that Jesus needs to touch? With audacity, approach Jesus now, and worship, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Jesus is willing. He will reach forth His nail-pierced hand and say, “I will.”


Jesus didn't mind touching the leper. He didn't mind "getting His hands dirty." To Jesus, ALL OF US are dirty before He cleanses us. He came to reach the dirty, defiled, and desperate. He came to cleanse the inner man of its depraved state. Depravity in its simplest definition means corruption. We are inherently corrupt. We are tainted. We cannot worship aright, nor enter heaven. We must be "born again," or "be born from above." Jesus must touch us in our very cores. Too many people focus on the externals of religion, but miss the internal. They worship horizontally and not vertically. Whether your church wears suits and ties or wears sandals and flip-flops..."Ye must be born again!" I can condemn the Hawaiian shirt-wearing worshipers just as they can condemn me, but unless Jesus touches my heart, their hearts...I, they will remain in the unclean, depraved state.


I must audaciously ask Jesus to save me. I must audaciously believe He can and will. And when He does, I must audaciously follow Him wherever He leads me. This is worship. Believing He can, knowing He will.


No matter how sinful you are, or the extent of your sin, Jesus is willing, and able...to cleanse you. Don’t mind the hypocrites. They’ll have their day, just like you. So you might as well come clean so He can make you clean.

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The Return of Awe to Our Praise
The Return of Awe to Our Praise

PreacherJP.2004 • January 23, 2020

What is awe? As a noun, it is fear mingled with admiration or reverence; fear; dread inspired by something great, or terrific. As a verb, it means to strike with fear and reverence; to influence by fear, terror or respect.


When was the last time you were struck with the fear and reverence of God? When was the last time you were influenced by His fear, terror or respect? Worshipers of this modern era lack that awe, that heart that is stricken with fear by drawing near to the presence of God. God has been robbed of His majesty in the hearts and minds of men in this present age. Regardless of man’s failure to honor God and rob Him in their minds, God still possesses all of these:


David declares, “Thine, O LORD...” God is the Possessor of what follows, “the greatness...the power...the glory...the victory...the majesty…”


The...singularly, not as possessing some, but all.


Greatness.


Importance. Preeminence. First. God holds first place in all of His universe. The heavens bow down to Him, the earth will bow down to Him. Do we recognize God’s sovereign right to be first in our lives? Our worship is nil if we do not recognize God’s first claim on our lives.


Isaiah 45:23

23 I have sworn by myself, The word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall swear.  


The world may rebel and declare their independence from God, but He is first, and will always be first.


Power.


Might. Strength. Dominion. Authority. God’s very name is Omnipotent.


Revelation 19:6

6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.  


All power belongs unto God.


Psalm 62:11

11 God hath spoken once; Twice have I heard this; That power belongeth unto God.  


God alone possesses the power to kill or the power to make alive.


Deuteronomy 32:39

39 See now that I, even I, am he, And there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: Neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.  


Glory.


Beauty. Splendor. Radiance. Fame. The Lord alone is beautiful. Any beauty that we see with our eyes is just an infinitesimal fragment of the beauty of the pureness and holiness of the Lord. His splendor is so great and His radiance so bright, that no man can approach His presence in manifestation.


1 Timothy 6:16

16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.  


Victory.


Conquest. Triumph. Subjugation. God will eradicate all enemy faction. He is a God of war. He is not some sissy God that America has made Him out to be. He will subdue rebels by either His cross or His sword.


Exodus 15:3

3 The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.  


Revelation 19:15

15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  


Majesty.


Royalty. Dignity. Sovereignty. God alone is Sovereign in His Universe.


1 Timothy 6:15

15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;  


He is exalted as head above all. Because of this, we have our rightful place, to worship at His footstool, with a renewed sense of awe. We should be struck with terror, realizing that our access to this Majestic God is bought and paid for the blood of His very Son. His commands should pierce through our wills and bring us into subjection. His beauty should cause us to fall on our faces, because we are dust before Him. This world’s allure should disgust us as we swear allegiance to this King of kings. Satan’s sway over this world should arouse us to spiritual arms before the commission of our very King to go and rescue the perishing. His glory should fill our mouths with praise...

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Does Your Praise Need a Resurrection?
Does Your Praise Need a Resurrection?

PreacherJP.2004 • January 22, 2020

How’s your praise? How’s your joy? How’s your hope? How’s your encouragement? Are you lacking in these areas? Are you discouraged, defeated, battered and bitter? Are you struggling in your walk with God? Are you questioning your trials and temptations? Is the enemy whispering to your soul, “There is no hope.” That is a dangerous, slippery slope, a destructive path that leads to all sorts of evil.


Jeremiah 18:12

12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.  


That is a place for the dead. If you are dead in your trespasses and sins (See Eph 2:1-2) then we urge you, “Look and live, my brother live! Look to Jesus now and live!”


Isaiah 45:22

22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: For I am God, and there is none else.  


If you are saved and have been given new life in Christ, and have found yourself in this place of despondency, Christ has a word for you. You need a resurrection of praise!


For various reasons, we can find ourselves in a place of despondency. Noah Webster defines despondency for us as “A sinking or dejection of spirits at the loss of hope; loss of courage at the failure of hope, or in deep affliction, or at the prospect of insurmountable difficulties.” A child of God should not be despondent, but it does happen to even the best of us.


Luke 24 gives us the aftermath on the lives of the disciples after their Hope had been nailed to a cruel rugged tree and laid in a tomb. To them, their Hope was dead. These men who had left all to follow Jesus were now heading back home, disillusioned and defeated, their Hope dashed to pieces. In Luke 24:13-34, we’re given a wonderful glimpse at the heart of Jesus as He comes along to two of His disciples who were wallowing in the pit of Despond.


Luke 24:13–14

13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.


These men were discouraged, shaken to the core with despair, and not knowing what to do next. But this next verse speaks to us the heart of the Savior toward those who are in the state of despondency,


Luke 24:15

15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them


“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained

Too deeply for mirth or song,

As the burdens press, and the cares distress,

And the way grows weary and long?


Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savior cares.”


The Savior drew near to them. They didn’t know Him at first. The Bible says,


Luke 24:16

16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.  


Its no wonder they didn’t know Him. Their Hope was dead. That’s the problem with despondency. it hides our eyes from seeing Jesus. Jesus didn’t suffer and die to leave us hopeless, but to give us a Hope that even death cannot defeat! But they couldn’t see that! And often, we cannot see it either! So Jesus has to come near, and probe our souls.


Luke 24:17

17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?  


The disciples answered Him by telling Him about how their Hope had been crucified, and how that it had been just three days since it happened. They explained how certain women of their company had reported that the tomb where their Hope was laid was empty, and that Hope was risen.


To get to the bottom of our problems, Jesus will ask, Why are you sad? What is holding you down? What is depressing you? He doesn’t send them to the quack and prescribe them anti-depressants, He doesn’t coddle them in their unbelief, but instead, points them to the promises.


 Luke 24:25–27

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  


After that, the men invited Jesus (Still not knowing it was their Hope, alive and well) to dinner. He complied, and as He broke bread with them, the Bible says, “Their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight” (See Luke 24:31) These men, once wearied with life and wearied with their journey, sprang to action. They had seen the Lord! They ran to tell the others. As they were telling the others, Jesus appeared in their midst.


Luke 24:36

36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  


That’s just our problem today. We need Jesus in our midst. What were the disciples doing before Jesus appeared? Wallowing in their despondency. If we’re going to have a resurrection of praise, we need Jesus in our midst. We meed a fresh vision of Jesus to revive us again! Jesus knew that and (after spending time demonstrating to them that He wasn’t a ghost! Luke 24:37-43) pointed them once again to the Promises:


Luke 24:44

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.  


Jesus then did three things to resurrect their praise.


First, He opened their understanding of the Scriptures.


Luke 24:45

45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,  


We are in desperate need of that. That requires an open Bible by the way. If our Bibles our closed, so will our understanding be closed. We cannot know God after our own intellect, but must have Him revealed to our spirits.


Second, He commissions them to preach.


Luke 24:47–48

47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

48 And ye are witnesses of these things.


Third, He promises them resurrection power.


Luke 24:49

49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.  


Jesus leaves for the right hand of the Father. The disciples return with great joy and where do you find them? In the temple, praising and blessing God.


Do you want to know how to tell if a Christian is despondent? His face will tell you. His words will tell you. But so will his church attendance. If you are missing church frequently, if you are missing Sunday evenings, and Wednesday night prayer meetings, chances are high...you need a resurrection of praise. You need a fresh vision of Jesus. Let Jesus draw near again.

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Calibrating Our Souls for Praise
Calibrating Our Souls for Praise

PreacherJP.2004 • January 21, 2020

Did you ever consider that our souls need calibrating to properly praise the Lord? To calibrate means to standardize by determining the deviation from a standard so as to ascertain the proper correction factors. Simply put, if I am not careful, I can allow my soul to deviate from the standard that God requires my soul to be in to properly praise Him.


The Psalmist David said, “My soul shall be joyful in the LORD.” The definition of joyful is to be full of joy. When the soul is in its proper position “in the LORD” then it will find itself full of joy. The problem is keeping the soul where it ought to be.


There is a home for the soul. Can we say with David,


Psalm 139:14

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Marvellous are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. 


 Well, can we? Do our souls know right well that we are fearfully and wonderfully made? We are a mixture of two worlds. Our bodies are made of clay, that is, earthly, and our souls are made of another substance all together. Our souls are immaterial. God is immaterial. By immaterial, we mean, not physical or made of matter. God has created our bodies to house our souls, but it really isn’t the home of the soul. There is a longing in our hearts, in that indescribable hidden chamber of the soul that hungers and thirsts for something that this world cannot provide. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. We desire intimate communion with something that even other humans cannot provide.


When our souls are out of calibration, or, out of position to commune with God, we seek to fill our souls with things. Cursed things. There is nothing in this world that hands can hold that we can take with us into the next life, yet they fill our souls. We are in need of calibration. A calibrating tool is used to bring that which is out of calibration back into calibration.


What tool brings the soul back into calibration so that it can be at home with God?


Is it the Law of God? The answer is a loud NO! The Law of God is undoubtedly a standard alright. Its a standard that is meant for the sole purpose of laying man out against the holiness of God in order to show him wanting in all areas of righteousness. It is a measuring rod that reveals to us that we do not measure up and cannot measure up. The Law reveals our sin. Our attempts to use the Law to measure up and recalibrate our souls reveals our ignorance of its purpose.


Romans 3:20

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  


We cannot draw nigh to God by our efforts to keep the law because the only purpose of the law is to reveal our sin.


Hebrews 7:19

19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.  


Thank God! The law couldn’t make us perfect (that wasn’t its purpose) so God provided a better hope. It is by that better hope that we calibrate our souls and draw near to God.


A Better Hope. What is that Better Hope? Is it church membership? Is it good works? Is it baptism? Is it restitution? No! All of these are works-based, and works-based equals “deeds of the law.” A Better Hope is a Person. That Person is our High Priest who intercedes on our behalf incessantly.


Hebrews 7:25

25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.  


That Mighty Intercessor Jesus Christ pleads on our behalf. When our souls drift from God (and they do) our Savior intercedes for us. To intercede means to stand in the gap and plead for mercy and grace. The wonderful truth is, God the Father never tells His Son no. That Better Hope is our only hope for our souls to be able to find rest in God.


So far, we have been discussing this in the abstract. So let’s bring it down to practicality. How do you calibrate your soul for praise? Well, we mentioned a minute ago that we cannot do that on our own. Our efforts cannot do it, but it does require our effort, but not in the way you might think. It requires our surrender.


Galatians 2:20

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  


The key to calibrating our souls for praise is found in what Christ did for us on the cross and by His resurrection, and our identification with that fact. Now, this is a spiritual truth. It cannot work on calibrating the soul that is unsaved but by faith. And just as that is true, it cannot work on the saved soul but by faith. if we are going to find a home for our soul, we must recognize that we are crucified with Christ.


Self has been put to death. This is odd to us because self gets up with me every day. Self says, “I want to do this” and “I want to do that.” Self is with me. But, I have to by faith see self crucified with Christ. I have to reckon it to be true. I have to by faith say, “Self, you’re dead. You’ve been crucified with Christ.” My soul will never be in tune with God as long as self rules the roost. Once self has been reminded that it is dead with Christ, enables me to move on to the next phrase of that verse.


“Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Ah, there’s that Better Hope. “Christ, self is crucified. I surrender myself to Your Life.” The Standard of Calibration, the One and only One who is Righteous lives in me. He tunes my heart to sing His praise. How often do I have to do this? How often does my soul need calibrating?


Daily.


Luke 9:23

23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  


“Every day,” as the preacher said, “we have to get up out of the bed and jump in the grave.” We have to die to self daily. Paul stated,


1 Corinthians 15:31

31 ...I die daily.  


Another preacher said, “Yes, but it doesn’t take all day to die.”


What truth is in that statement! It is a decision to be made from the very beginning of the day. We cannot praise God properly if we are going to allow self to sit on the throne of our hearts. Only Jesus has perfected praise, and if we are yielding to His life within us, our praise will be motivated by His power and perfected thereby.


Too many “Christians” (yes, I put that in quotations) had a once and done deal with God, prayed a little prayer, and said “I’m saved” but there is no praise in their life. What?! No Praise?! Something is radically wrong with a “child of God” that has no praise in his life. Either his soul was never taught where home was, or that soul never came home to begin with. No one was ever saved who stayed out in the pig pen. You have to come all the way home. Just ask the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. He wouldn’t have been saved if he hadn’t come all the way home to the Father. There is no “daily” with God. I say, if there is no daily with God and no desire for a daily with God, maybe you didn’t get saved at all! You say, “Oh, there you are, teaching a works-based salvation!” I say, “Ah, there YOU are, teaching a grace-based salvation that is no grace at all!” God gives us grace to live a holy life, without which no man shall see the Lord!


Hebrews 12:14

14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:  


I cannot pursue holiness without grace, and I cannot pursue grace without a daily walk with God. I cannot say that my faith saves me if my faith does not lead me to a daily communion with God. Can a person be saved and backslide? Absolutely. But what I am saying is, come home. Come home. If you don’t know where Home is, it’s at the Cross. It’s at that Empty Tomb. It’s at the right hand of the Father. And if you’re saved, it’s within you.


“Christ liveth in me”

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Sorrow Mixed with Praise
Sorrow Mixed with Praise

PreacherJP.2004 • January 20, 2020

The Christian life is a paradox. We think it today that to have any sorrow of soul at all as if that were a bad thing. Something must be wrong with the sorrowful Christian. Didn’t Christ die to make us happy? Therein is our problem. We get our theology too much from the world and too little from our Savior’s life. Christ did not die to make us happy, but to make us holy, and to make us holy, we must be allowed sorrow. Even our Savior knew what it was to experience sorrow, and yet, at the same time to be full of joy in God.


Matthew 26:38

38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.  


John 15:11

11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.  


Sorrow, when wielded by the infinite wisdom of God, serves a holy purpose, to expose that which cannot be seen, i.e. our soul, to that which cannot be seen of God, God. Sorrow is the Great Physician’s scalpel, with which He cuts away that which is causing us to depend to heavily upon ourselves and upon this present world. The worldling accuses the Christian of being a Christian because he needs a crutch. I say, Amen! Let the worldling depend upon his own supposed strength, for the day will come when his own strength shall fail, and he will find himself unable to stand in the day of judgment.


Jeremiah 12:5

5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?  


Again, sorrow, when sanctified, serves a great holy purpose:


2 Corinthians 7:10

10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.  


Godly sorrow works repentance, that is, turning away from self-dependence to the power of salvation found in God. The Christian, when cut off from self-dependence, finds that God is all-sufficient for every need of his soul. This produces a purity in praise.


What of the world’s sorrow? It produces death. Why? Because of its refusal to repent. Because of its refusal to see God’s Attributes as sufficient to make them happy. They only are happy when they are in their sin. Like the rich young ruler who was asked of Christ to allow the Surgeon’s scalpel to cut off his love of materialism, the Bible says,


Matthew 19:22

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.  


Are you sorrowing Christian? Take heart!


Psalm 30:5

5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.  


That’s the paradox! God’s brings sorrow to bear to tear out the idols of our hearts so that we might see the One True God more clearly!


Hebrews 12:11

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.  


Again, take heart, O Christian, when thy sorrows are many, for God is driving the furrow deeper and wider for thee to experience the sought after fruit of righteousness that those around thee might see God in you.


Would you rejoice more in having a life of ease, or in having a life that brought honor and glory to God?


Think of it, Christian. How much joy can you hold in God if you find joy in the things of the world? Your soul is immaterial. If it be possessed of material things, which are finite, then your soul cannot hold much of God. But, if it be stripped of its finite idol, and expanded by sorrow to receive more of the infinite God, isn't that a good trade? Our souls were made for so much more than worldly pursuits.


Our souls were made for pursuing God, with the capacity to hold the very God within our bosom. Only when we are full of God will we be full of joy. Sorrow mustn't always be with the purpose of chastening. Once we are full of God, we will be full of His heart. And to be full of His heart, well, the God of heaven sorrows. His sorrow is an infinite sorrow. Sorrowing for a world that rejects truth and life, His heart breaks knowing that the end result will be an eternity in hell with God's back turned on them.


Sorrow will be a part of the believer's life. We must not medicate it with the world's devices, but embrace it as the loving remedy of God to wound us, and make us whole.


Thank You, Lord, for bringing sorrow into my life so that I might lay my idols aside, and embrace You in Thy holiness. Grant me the capacity to know You as I've never known You before. Give me a renewed focus on Thee, upon Thy Goodness, and upon Thy heart. Allow me to share the burdens You have for this lost and dying world. Allow me the fortitude to allow sorrow to work deep in my soul. Grant me strength to endure the solitude required to know You in a more intimate way. In Jesus' name, Amen!

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The Gratitude of Praise
The Gratitude of Praise

PreacherJP.2004 • January 19, 2020

The wounded heart can find no rest until it finds its rest in God. Bitterness of soul is the poison that blinds our hearts to seeing all the good God has shown us. Bitterness is usually the result of unfulfilled expectations and pain caused by disappointment. These can be very grievous disappointments. Losing a good job, losing a spouse, losing a parent at a young age, losing your health, losing a child...begging the question, “God, why did you let this happen?”


The blame gets placed in God’s court.


Funny how the devil never gets the blame for the destruction sin has wrought in this wicked world we live in.


Let’s take a look at God’s courts. This term for courts is referring to the enclosure of God’s manifest presence. David’s life was filled with disappointments and reasons for bitterness. But he knew one thing: sin had entered the world and caused God to withdraw His manifest presence. He knew sin was real and that the penalty of sin was death. Sometimes, a long, slow death that left destruction and misery in its wake. He also knew that God desired for restored fellowship. He found all this out by the picture of the tabernacle and by the word of God. From those pages, and from his experiences with God he knew that God is good.


God is good. Always good. He knew that whatever calamities were in his life, he had a refuge in God. He knew that there was still good in his life, even in his most bitter disappointments, and found reasons to thank God.


The reason we do not thank God enough is because we are ignorant of who God really is. We blame Him because we do not know Him. If we really knew Him, we would thank Him for His mercy, His grace, His truth, His love, and on and on. Most importantly, we would thank Him for Calvary’s tree. We would thank Him that He saw us in our miserable state of sin, and provided a way for us to enter His very near presence.


Again, entering God’s courts must be done with thanksgiving. The first step to entering God’s court is having a sufficient sacrifice for our sins. At the very gate of God’s courts we find an altar to offer that sacrifice. We have reason to thank God because He has provided that altar and the sufficient sacrifice: His Son. Secondly, there is a laver within those courts. A place to wash ourselves from the filthy defilement of our flesh.


We are sinners. We fail God. We all come short of His glory. But there, right there in His courts is a place for us to come clean. His precious word is that water that washes us and purifies our hearts. If we are bitter with disappointments, that precious word can point us to the One who drank the bitter cup for us.


John 18:11

11 Then said Jesus unto Peter... the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?  


Third, there is the tabernacle with the outer sanctuary with the the table of shewbread and the lampstand. We enter therein and find sustenance for our very souls, a provision for us that meets our very real, very deep spiritual needs that this world cannot satisfy. That bread is Jesus, our bread of life. We have reason to thank God.


John 6:35

35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  


Then the lampstand, supplied with oil to burn continually. The tabernacle’s only source of light came not from the sun, but from the lampstand. Jesus said,


John 8:12

12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  


We have reason to thank God! We have light! We do not walk in darkness if Jesus be our Savior, we have light that the world does not have!


And O, the precious altar of incense that stands before the Holy of holies. The place where prayers are laid out before God Himself. We go to our friends and find no relief. We go to our pastors, and they do their best. We go to Google, and well…good luck with that. But there is a place that God has prepared for me to send my deepest heart-felt requests, and He hears them!


Psalm 65:2

2 O thou that hearest prayer, Unto thee shall all flesh come.  


And the Veil! Separated for millennia because of man’s sin and God’s holiness! Now that way has been made open to all who come through Christ! We have every reason to thank God because we can enter into His very near presence in Christ!


Hebrews 10:19–22

19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  


Let us not allow bitterness, disappointment, or doubt keep us from the presence of God. Let us enter His courts with thanksgiving, and let us praise Him for the truth that one day His very near presence will be present on this earth, and all that hinders our enjoyment of Him now will be forever removed!

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Created to Praise, So Why Aren't We? (Part 3)
Created to Praise, So Why Aren't We? (Part 3)

PreacherJP.2004 • January 18, 2020

We’ve been talking about how God has created us to enjoy Him and praise Him, but have asked the question, “Why aren’t we?” The reason is because of our distance from God. That distance, not measure in miles and spans, but in spirit and in heart. We are born spiritually dead to God and our hearts are far from Him.


Praise God, God is Love! He didn’t leave us stranded away from Him, He came to us in His Son Jesus to rescue us from our hopeless state, and to restore us to a right relationship with Him!


Our praise of God must be attuned to the heart of God. Listen, we’ve all heard those poor little children that sing off tune on those TV shows and think they’re really good at it. They get their little hearts broken when the judges have to tell them they’re terrible. They response is always the same, “Mommy told me I really have talent!” “Well kid, Mommy told you wrong!” I’m not saying that being able to carry a tune in a bucket is necessary to properly praise God. What I am saying is, just like we wouldn’t buy an album of one of those musically-declined, God accepts praise based off of how attuned our hearts are to Him.


The problem is, we think our hearts are in tune with good. Notice, I didn’t say God. Not everyone believes in God, but they believe they are good. Perfectly good, no...but good enough. Better than the next guy good. If there was a heaven (and there is, because there is a God) they'd be good enough. At least that's what man thinks. Why is that? Why does man think he is good?


Like the rich young ruler who came to Jesus, running to him at breakneck speed,


Matthew 19:16

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  


Jesus response was,


Matthew 19:17

17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.  


We should note a few things here. First, Jesus asking the man why he called Him (Jesus) good was not indicating that Jesus was not, but whether or not the young man recognized that Jesus was God. Second, Jesus made it clear that only God is good. We are not good. To be good, well, you have to be able to demonstrate that you can keep God’s commands. God’s law is the perfect standard of righteousness. To fail in one point doesn’t mean that made you imperfect. It reveals you are imperfect, and therefore, NOT GOOD!


God’s verdict upon man’s goodness is this:


Romans 3:12

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 


 Jesus was saying, “If you are going to enter into life (eternal) then you must demonstrate that you can keep the commandments.” He knew this was impossible, but the rich young ruler didn’t think so. The young ruler continued to question Jesus on this matter of good:


Matthew 19:18–19

18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


Jesus gave him a handful of commands that we have all broken, including that young man. We’ve murdered, some of us maybe not physically, but in our hearts. The Bible says that hatred of another is heart of murder (1 John 3:15). We’ve committed adultery, maybe not physically, but in our hearts. The Bible says to look on another with lust is adultery (Matt. 5:28). We’ve all lied. We’ve dishonored our parents. We’re guilty! The young man lies to Jesus and says,


Matthew 19:20

20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?  


The Lord didn’t point out every area he failed in keeping these commandments, but He does point out how far the young man was from God in heart.


Matthew 19:21–22

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.


Mark tells us that this young man came running. Now, he's leaving with his head hung low.


The young man wouldn’t forsake all and follow God. Why? Because his heart from far from God. He thought he was good. But only one is good, and that is God, and Jesus, well, He’s God. God manifested in flesh.


God manifested in flesh to show us what God is like. God manifested in flesh to atone for our sin and to reconcile us to God. God manifested in flesh to give us life anew by the power of His resurrection. God manifested in flesh so that He might make us like He intended.


Romans 8:29

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  


If our hearts are going to be after God’s own heart, then our hearts are going to have to be like Jesus’ heart.


1 Peter 2:21

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  


What about Jesus’ love for sinners?


Do we love those who have sinned against us? Or do we get vengeful and bitter? If we get vengeful or bitter, our hearts are far from Him.


What about Jesus’ kindness? Are we kind and tender-hearted toward those that inconvenience us or do we get cranky and irritable? If we get cranky or irritable, our hearts are from from Him.


What about Jesus’ devotion to the Father? Are we devoted to the Father, or are we devoted to our own purposes? If we are not willing to forsake all and follow Him, our hearts are far from Him.


There are many, many more examples that we could cite, but we should be able to see that we do not measure up to Christ. The truth is, we can’t. Not on our own. That’s why Jesus came. In Adam, our worship is not acceptable. In Adam, our hearts will always be far from God. Paul said this about his position in Adam:


Romans 7:24

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  


But he didn’t stop there. He went on to say:


Romans 7:25

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.  


It is not my ability to sing in tune that is acceptable to God. It is my ability to stay in tune with Jesus that makes me acceptable to God. Staying in tune with Jesus means this,


Galatians 2:20

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  


The life of Jesus in me is what brings me closer to the heart of the Father. The life of Jesus in me reveals the Father to me. O, I cannot demonstrate to you my friend that God is real in the physical sense. But I can sense He is real after the spiritual sense. He has opened my heart to Him, and He wants to open your heart to Him as well. You cannot see God, because the eyes with which to see God are not in your head, they’re in your heart. Your heart cannot see God until Jesus is in there.


Ephesians 3:17–19

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  

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Created to Praise, So Why Aren't We (Part 2)
Created to Praise, So Why Aren't We (Part 2)

PreacherJP.2004 • January 17, 2020

Yesterday we presented the wondrous truth of man’s very existence: created by his Maker to yield his praise to the Holy God of heaven and earth. We asked the question, “So why aren’t we?” What are hindrances to our yielding praise to God? We stated that,


The main reason we do not actively engage in praising God is because of the distance between God and man.


We discussed that it was not a distance geographically or astronomically, as A.W. Tozer put it. Man cannot worship what he cannot see. Man cannot see God. Yet the Bible says,


Matthew 5:8

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.  


But where are the pure in heart?


Proverbs 20:9

9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?  


The Bible says,


Jeremiah 17:9

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked...


Man cannot see God because man is spiritually blind. The distance between God and man is not of distance, but of nature.


Ephesians 2:3

3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.  


God has a perfect, holy nature. He attests all sin. He cannot even look upon it.


Habakkuk 1:13

13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, And canst not look on iniquity...


Adam blew it. Let’s face that fact. He sinned, and as a result, the entire human race was blinded by it. It was God who came to Adam, seeking him and asking, “Adam, where art thou?” Not that He had lost Adam, but that Adam had lost God. Adam did not know where he was and without God seeking Adam out there would be no hope of reuniting the two.


If we are to see God, then our natures must be changed to bring unity back to the relationship. God cannot fellowship with evil.


2 Corinthians 6:14

14 ...what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  


The answer is none.


God answered the distance issue Himself. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is clear that Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, has bridged the gulf between God and Man. His blood made it possible to atone for sin, and His resurrection made it possible for us to have new life.


New life.


The key to seeing God is new life.


This is called in Scripture,


1 Peter 1:23

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 


Jesus said,


John 3:3

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.   


We do not see Him with the physical eyes, but with spiritual eyes. Without the new birth, spiritual sight is impossible.


Ephesians 1:18

18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened...


But how does God bring us to this place? In Adam, we are all lost. We are all blind. We cannot even feel our way to God, though we try with all our might.


Isaiah 59:10

10 We grope for the wall like the blind, And we grope as if we had no eyes: We stumble at noonday as in the night; We are in desolate places as dead men.  


God shines upon men. The Holy Spirit enlightens the minds of the lost and shows them their lost estate, and points them to the Cross, “There, there you will find light! There, there at the Cross you will find life!”


So when we come to Christ by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and we believe that Jesus paid it all, new life is put within.


This creates the similarity needed for fellowship. Every true, born-again child of God has sensed God. He has seen God spiritually. How clear that picture is, well, that depends on our willingness to:


Hosea 6:3

3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord...


The distance between God and man again, is not physical, but spiritual. It is not a distance that can be measured in inches, but in heart. The closer our hearts are to His, the more we shall sense Him. And the more we sense Him, the more we will want to praise Him.


But why do His children grumble and complain instead of thanking Him and praising Him? Again, the answer is one of closeness of heart. David was called of God,


Acts 13:22

22 ...I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart...


It is no wonder David penned so many Psalms filled with praise to God. His heart was after God’s heart. So how do we get hearts after God?


First, by seeing our proximity to God is determined by our nearness to His likeness. In a society filled with good people, this is nigh impossible. We are not good people. We are sinners. Our iniquities and our sins hide God from us.


Isaiah 59:2

2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, And your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.  


Second, by determining to remove every obstacle of self that hinders our sight of God.


Galatians 5:24

24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  


Its easier said than done. We cannot see God’s heart without looking to Jesus. Jesus is the manifest presence of God for us today. By looking at His life, His attitude of praise toward the Father, and His treatment of others, we can see if our hearts are near to God or not. We will look at that tomorrow, in Part 3.


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Created to Praise, So Why Aren't We? (Part 1)
Created to Praise, So Why Aren't We? (Part 1)

PreacherJP.2004 • January 16, 2020

Did you ever consider why God made man in the first place? "Uh, God had a garden, right? He needed someone to take care of it?" No, that’s not why God created man. God created man for something so much better than just work, although work was God’s creation as well, and allowed man to take part in work.


God created man to show forth His praise.


If you do a word study through the Psalms, it rings out loud and clear that all of creation is to praise God, but with man, there is a special call to praise.


Psalm 47:7

7 For God is the King of all the earth: Sing ye praises with understanding


The mountains, hills, valleys, trees, springs, and oceans all praise God, but not with the understanding. They are inanimate objects. They praise God because they declare His majesty, but not with understanding. They declare that God is an all-powerful Creator, but they do not so with the understanding. Man was created with the capacity to understand who God is and to animatedly render praise to God for all He is.


If mankind was created to praise God, why doesn’t man seem to be about his business in praising God?


After all, praise is all about God, and man, well, man is all about himself. Praise has the reciprocal effect of drawing us near to God, and He near to us. By having God near to us, we find ourselves experiencing His love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (See Galatians 5:22-23).


What hinders man from praising God? The main reason we do not actively engage in praising God is because of the distance between He and us. God often seems far from us. To some, God seems so far off that He either doesn’t care or He doesn’t exist. To some, God seems so far off, that they believe no one cares about them, and they even become so convinced of their abandonment that they take their own lives.


The sad reality is, God is right here all the time. I could say, He’s right there all the time. Either way, it is true. God is here, and God is there.


Jeremiah 23:23

23 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?  


God is not far away from us as we might imagine Him to be. He is not some “far away God” who doesn’t care about what goes on in His creation or with His creatures.


Psalm 46:1

1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.  


God is not hiding in the heavens somewhere, trillions of light-years away. He is right where you are. No matter where you are.


Psalm 139:7–10

7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me.


God is in the heavens. God is in the earth. God compasses the two. God envelops the entire universe, yet is distinct from His creation in that He is Spirit and not material. This creates a problem for those who only believe in what they see. Yet we cannot hide ourselves from Him.


Jeremiah 23:24

24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.  


So why does God seem so far away? Like I said, its the distance between God and man.


A. W. Tozer, in his book, A Journey into the Father’s Heart, stated it this way,


"We talk about God being close to us or about the problem of God being far away. We don’t think right because we think geographically or astronomically; we think in light-years or meters or inches or miles or leagues. We’re thinking of Him as dwelling in space, which He does not. Rather He contains space so that space is in God. There is never any problem about God being anywhere, for the fact is, as the texts say, God is everywhere."1


He also asked this pertinent question,


"Why is it, then, that the world thinks of God as being infinitely remote, or as the song says, “far away, beyond the starlit sky”? When the world prays, as a rule they pray without any sense of God’s nearness at all. Always God is somewhere else. Always God is far away. Why is this?"1


He answers his question by pointing out the truth that distance between God and man is not measured by miles and light-years, but by our remoteness from Him.


"The reason is that in spiritual things closeness and likeness are the same thing. Remoteness means dissimilarity."1


We do not praise because we do not know what to praise. Furthermore, we cannot see what to praise because we are blind. It is not that God cannot be seen for the Scriptures emphatically declare that He can be seen.


Matthew 5:8

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 


So how do we see God? You’ll have to wait for Part 2.


1 Tozer, A. W., and David E. Fessenden. The Attributes of God: A Jouney into the Father’s Heart. Vol. 1. Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2003–. Print.

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Praising God in the Dark
Praising God in the Dark

PreacherJP.2004 • January 15, 2020

It is easy, O Christian, to praise God when the sun is bright, but what about at midnight? Once the heavens seemed to open and pour out blessing after blessing, but now it appears as if God has turned the heavens over thee into brass and the earth is iron. Everything you plant withers or dies in the kernel.


Deuteronomy 28:23

23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.  


People around you could see the glow that you had been with God, but now they say, “Where is your God?” They shoot out the lip and say, “God has forsaken you.”


O Christian, do not despair! Let God shut off every earthly fountain of blessing upon thee! Do not think that He has forsaken you! If earthly blessings vanish, it is God that is cutting them off to make you realize that this world is not your home! You are a citizen of heaven!


Let the heaven remain brass, and the earth iron, but pray to God anyhow! Paul and Silas were in prison, in the darkest hour, yet they prayed! They knew that they were removed from death and passed unto life and although their outward circumstances appeared to halt their forward march they knew that their march was not with flesh and blood but with the Captain of their Salvation! So they prayed!


Not only did they pray, but they sang praises! Its midnight. Its dark. (We know its dark, because later in the passage the jailer calls for a light) Its not just dark, its in the dungeon dark. Vile criminals, hungry rats, and filthy stink surrounds them. Chains are binding them and their feet have been secured in the splintering wood of the stocks. Instead of the chains silencing their campaign against the kingdom of darkness, they become the tambourines with which they praise God! The Bible says they, “sang praise unto God!”


Brethren, we will not always have the outward signal blessing, but we have the Bible! We know that, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!”


The Bible also says that, “the prisoners heard them!” O friends, we must remember that if we are to rescue prisoners, prisoners we must become. We must not become prisoners of our own depravity, but bond slaves to the One who set us free!


John 8:32

32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  


Jesus our Lord became a prisoner. They falsely accused Him and arrested Him. They condemned Him without proper witnesses. They “impeached” their King with only the evidence that He was their Promised Messiah. He allowed Himself to be crucified between two thieves so that He might set all thieves free by pardon. He used a rich man’s tomb and was imprisoned by the most lethal warden known to man, Death himself. But He couldn’t be held by Death. Death had to let Him go, and in so doing, broke the bonds of Death for us.


So if God seems far from you today, know that He is not. We may be far from Him because of our sins, but O, let us confess immediately and that Blood will wash us and bring us near once more!


But if God seems far for no fault of our own, let us remember that,


Acts 17:28

28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being...


We may not sense Him, but He is nearer than our own souls. We must trust God in the dark, pray to God in the dark, and praise God in the dark, so that those who are in Satan’s dungeons will know that our God is no evil taskmaster as their is, but is one that sets free on the inside!


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