Praising from the Mountain of Love – The Gift the Keeps on Giving – Purity 752
Purity 752 06/08/2022 Purity 752 Podcast
Today’s photo of the sun shining through the trees over a campsite comes from my cousin’s recent excursion to the top of Keller Peak in Running Springs, California. He was recently laid up with a foot and ankle injury a couple of months ago but now is back at it stating on his social media post that he was doing some “soulcleansing” by “putting in some work” while “resetting the batteries outdoors”.
Well it’s Wednesday, and I thought this photo of a summit campsite and his sentiments to cleanse the soul where perfect to represent “hump day” and our continual focus to find peace in our souls by walking and talking with God.
Like my cousin, I have found that the exercise of the body does have some ability to cleanse the soul as our bodies, and the life that God breathed into them, were the first gift that we received from God, and when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, they became temples of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. So it is good to keep our temples in order by keeping our bodies healthy and that requires proper nutrition, rest, and “putting in some work” from time to time with regular exercise.
After taking an uncharacteristic rest yesterday, I was raring to “get back at it” with my normal light exercise routine, and as my cousin testifies, I can confirm that there really is something to be said for the ability of simple exercise to “cleanse our souls as we can sweat out frustrations or just experience the simple contentment of knowing that we are being good stewards to the bodies that God has given us.
But as good as sweating out frustrations and stress, the assurance of being a good steward to our bodies, and feeling the euphoric rush of endorphins firing, may be able to give us a measure of happiness in our souls, as Christians we can raise our experience to the heights of joy by bringing our praises and thanks to the Lord as our spirits are in direct communication with our heavenly Father at all times.
Not for nothing, but while you can think through problems or set your focus on the things that lie ahead of you while you exercise, I can get a little frustrated, anxious, angry or depressed if the content of my thoughts is “just me” focused. When we try to do everything through our own strength and cunning, we can really begin to feel overwhelmed, worried, or burdened with our lives.
So while I work out, I may think of “what I can do” with the day ahead and with the situations that I have to face, but after a while I will get “sick of me” and will turn to the Lord and say something like: “And that’s why I am SO GLAD, that You are in my life, O Lord.” And than proceed to remember that I am not alone and will recall all that the Lord and I have walked through together to bring me to this “current day and present moment” and I will thank Him and praise Him for never leaving me or forsaking me and always being with me.
The weight of the world seems to not be so heavy when we have the Creator of the Universe on our side. As the word says, if God is for us, who can be against us!
Well, frankly, everyone can be against us! But with God, it just doesn’t matter, because when we walk with Him we never walk alone and when we continue to seek His presence and follow His wisdom for living we can have peace and joy regardless of the circumstances that surround us because He has “cleansed” and saved our souls the minute we placed our faith in Christ. His love pours into us with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, when we first believed, and it abounds in us when we abide in Him.
So there, I am “putting some work in” by exercising, contemplating the current events of my life, and rejoicing because I know that “There ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t not valley low enough, and there ain’t not river wide enough” to keep the Lord from getting to us!
The Lord has a mountain of love to pour out on us if we would just seek to receive it by keeping our relationship with Him a healthy one, where we care for our bodies, live according to His wisdom, continually reflect on His thoughts, His words, and Our story together, as an continuous expression of our faith.
This gift of our lives, our bodies, our relationship with God, His love, His forgiveness, His hope, His strength, and how it all goes together is the gift that keeps on giving. So live your life as a continual exercise of praise and worship to the Lord who gave us life and set us free to live with Him forever when He showed us the truth of Jesus Christ and we accepted the gift of His mercy, grace, and love.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
1 Praise the LORD! How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands.
2 Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.
3 They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever.
Today’s Bible verses encourage us to praise the Lord and they indicate that when we fear and obey Him not only will we benefit but the potential exists to influence generations through our faithfulness.
When you are brought up in a “religious tradition of Christianity” where no one seems to know the joy of their salvation and everyone seems to be under a burden of obligation to go to “mass”, you view the “fear of the Lord” as the fear of judgement and going to Hell and you view His commands as a list of requirements to meet with the silent warning of “or else” implied.
The houses of worship where “God is in the box”, require people to enter reverently, almost fearfully, because the doctrine of transubstantiation, teaches that He literally is in the communion elements, so God is in the house and you best come correctly into His presence, or you will face the wrath or condemnation of the priest, your parents, or the other congregants that bow low under their religious tradition but who may not be good examples of the joy or love of the Lord.
But here in today’s verses, the Bible speaks of people who are joyful who fear the Lord and obey His commands. Joyful? How can you be joyful in the presence of a God who is just waiting to send you to Hell? Or in an environment where His “believers” almost cower in His presence and will chastise and threaten anyone who doesn’t put on a show of reverence while they are “in the building”.
Well, the Bible is true and the fact that people can be joyful when they fear the Lord and obey His commands must point to something that is “other” than what we see in some liturgical churches.
It must point to a relationship with God that is His based on His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love rather than the traditions of men that corrupt the gospel of Jesus Christ by making us think that our salvation depends on our perfect obedience and can be something that we can lose.
While our God is awesome to be hold and should be feared by anyone who hasn’t been reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ, the fear of the Lord that the Christian has should be one that is born from the knowledge of His love and is reflected by our respect for His word and our joy at following the One who gave us life and set us free.
Only when we are assured of our salvation and the love of God for us, can we be joyful in obeying His commands. When we know the love of God and are assured that He isn’t going to condemn us to Hell at the drop of a hat, our obedience to His commands is an expression for our deep respect, fear, and love that we have for Him.
Unlike religious traditions that are fueled by fear and guilt, and seem to be fading away in our post Christian society, this joyful relationship with God is something that future generations could be influenced by to pursue and emulate as they can learn of the tremendous blessings that can flow from an authentic faith and love relationship with our God.
We can’t force anyone, including our kids, to follow the Lord but we can show them the joy that we have from knowing His love, from fearing His word, and obeying His commands and how a life dedicated to following Him is a blessing, not a curse or an obligation.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.
10 -My Prayer—Let None Say in the End, “I’ve Wasted It”
Your steadfast love, O Lord, is better than life. You have told us this in many ways. With these very words you have said it through the mouth of your servant David: “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” You have said it in the words of your apostle Paul, when he cried out in prison, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” O Lord, how much better you are than life! Does your apostle Paul not use strong language! Not just “better,” but “far better.” You are so much better than life that your apostle says death is gain. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” To lose everything this world can offer and be left with you alone is gain.
Why, O Lord, is your love better than life? Surely David gives us the answer in the way he speaks. He does not say, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise your love.” What does he say? He says that he will praise you, not your love. “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Is this not because the most loving thing about your love is that it brings us home to you—with eyes and hearts and minds able to see the riches of your glory? With all your wrath removed, and all our sin forgiven, lest anything prevent the pleasure of your presence. Is this not what divine love is—the will and work of God, to give us undeserving sinners everlasting joy in God? What else could love be, if it would be infinite! What greater prize might we be given than yourself, if we are loved!
O God, you know I tremble now for fear that many of the ones who call you Lord have made themselves the prize and glory of your grace. How many, Lord, have made your love a witness to their worth! Is then their joy a resting in your worth or in their own? So many decades have gone by in which the constant message from the world, and even from some ministers, is this: that love means making much of man. And so when men, with this assurance, ponder what your love might mean, they say the same: God’s love means making much of man. For proof they ask: Don’t you feel loved when someone calls attention to your worth?
I answer: Once I did. When life was better than the Lord, and not the other way around. There was a time love felt like this—when I could not conceive of any joy greater than the honor of my name. When I was so absorbed in me that it was inconceivable for joy to rise by my admiring rather than my being admired. Oh, yes, I’ve known what it is like to call the praise of men an act of love and justify this craving with the readiness to give the same. How satisfying it does seem—this love among ourselves of mutual admiration!
But now (thanks to your mighty grace!) I see it is an imitation. It has its roots in Eden long ago. The great destroyer of our love and joy said to our mother, Eve, “God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” Like God! She should have said, “I am like God already.” She should have seen the trick. But she did not, and oh, how many do not see it yet today! She was indeed like God! You made her so—your very image-bearer. Her calling and her high design was this: to image forth her Maker’s majesty, and with her joy and trust, make much of you. But then the evil thought was sown: “I could be like him in another way. I could be one whose majesty is seen, and love might be defined as making much of me.”
And so it came into the world, this great inversion we call sin. And love was made to stand now on its head. I grieve, Lord, just to put it into words, but here it is with shame: Your love no longer means that you do what you must do to make yourself our joy. It has come to mean that you do what you must do so we can feel our worth. It was a sad exchange. And doubly so: Not only did it rob our souls of that one joy that you designed to satisfy us for eternity, but worse, it robbed you of your honored place as Treasure of our lives.
And everything you’ve done since that dark day in Eden is designed to set things right. Oh, what a history of deeds and revelations you have wrought to make yourself the center of our joy and take back for yourself the place of honor in the world—to be the One your people treasure more than life. How many ways you said and showed, “I made you for my glory. I made you for my praise. I made you for my honor and my name.” And, lest we miss the point, you added: “In my presence there is fullness of joy; at my right hand are pleasures forevermore. Delight yourself in me! Be glad in me and leap for joy; I am your sure and great Reward! Come taste, and even now rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
Oh, what a grand design! To make our joy the echo of your excellence. To make our pleasure proof that you now hold the place of Treasure in our lives. To make the gladness of our souls the essence of our worship, and the mirror of your worth. To make yourself most glorified in us, O God, when we are satisfied in you. How could I, Lord, have ever been so blind to think that being loved by you means making much of me and not yourself? How could I put my eye to some great telescope, designed to make me glad with visions of the galaxies, and notice in the glass a dim reflection of my face and say, “Now I am happy, I am loved”? How could I stand before the setting sun, between the mountain range and the vastness of the sea, and think that everlasting joy should come from making much of me?
No, Father, love is this: At great expense you made yourself my glory and my boast. The cost was infinite by which you made yourself the Treasure of my life. You sent your Son, the blazing center of your beauty and your love. You gave him up to mockery, betrayal, thorns, the whip, the rod, the fists, the nails, the shame, and death. For what? To swallow up your wrath, and satisfy your righteousness, and bury all my sins as far as east is from the west and in the deepest sea, so that I might come home and see the galaxy. This is your love, O God, not to make much of me, but do whatever must be done so that I waken to the joy of making much of you through all eternity.
How then shall Christ not be my only boast! Not only that he bought yourself for me, O God, but is himself your perfect image and the blazing center of your radiance. What do I have that does not come from him? What gift of life or breath? What promise ever made did not receive its Yes in him? What one sweet thing—or hard thing you will soon make sweet—did I receive except that it was purchased by his blood? Not one thing I deserve, but hell. Yet everything is mine in him, and by his sacrifice alone. O God, forbid that I should ever boast save in the cross of Christ, my Lord.
And now shall we who treasure Christ and know your love is better far than life lay up, like all the world, our treasures on this earth? Would not we hear you say, as you once said, “Fool, will not this same night your soul be taken back? And then whose will these barns of bounty be?” Forbid, O Lord, that while the world is filled with need we would sit down and say, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” A terrible reversal awaits such lovelessness. “Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” We tremble at the words you spoke once to the heartless rich: “Remember in your lifetime you received good things, and that poor man, beside your door, received the pain; but now the great reversal comes, and he has comfort here, while you lie there in anguish.”
O God, such riches are a wasted life. Protect us, Lord. Grant us to hear and heed another call: “Lay up your treasure not on earth, but in the place where moth and thief will never come. Make treasures for yourself that cannot fail.” But then we ask, “What treasures, Lord?” We see you smile. “I am your Treasure and your great Reward. I am your food, your drink, your festal garments and your everlasting gain. I am your life and your all-satisfying Joy.”
Yes, Lord. That is enough. But we would ask, How shall we lay this treasure up? Is it not laid there by your grace alone and bought now once for all by Jesus’ blood? How shall we make this life—this brief and only life that we now live—a laying up of treasure there in heaven? To answer this, you know, O God, that I have written this small book. And I have looked not to myself or listened to some voice. But I have tried to probe your written Word and say what you have said. That is my only claim to truth—that I have echoed what you wrote.
The answer is that in this life we may begin to treasure Christ, and here gain, as it were, an aptitude for joy in him. A greater weight of glory waits to be enjoyed for those who grow in love to Christ. And what is love to Christ? It is the cherishing of all you are for us in him. It is the treasuring of his perfection over all the treasures of the world. It is delighting in his fellowship beyond all family and friends. It is embracing all his promises that there will be more pleasure in his presence than from all the lying promises of sin. It is a gladness in the present taste of glory and the hope of future fullness when we see him face to face. It is a quiet peace along the path he chooses for us with its pain. It is a being satisfied that nothing comes to us in vain.
There is a quiet kind of joy, O Lord, that Jesus did both save us from our sin and show us how to love. His life, as you have said, was both a purchase and a path. He died for us, and now calls us to die with him. He took our poverty upon himself that we, in him, might have the riches of his heaven, and he calls us now to use our riches for the poor. He did not count equality with you a thing to grasp, but made himself of no account and crossed an endless chasm between heaven and earth, so we might see what frontier missions means and join him in the final task. Is not this, then, the way we lay up treasure in your house—to give our money and ourselves to make as many rich with God forever as we can?
A quiet kind of joy, I say, because of so much suffering. I cannot rise above the great apostle Paul who called his life a daily death and put it in a paradox: “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet possessing everything.” O Father, grant your church to love your glory more than gold—to cease her love affair with comfort and security. Grant that we seek the kingdom first and let the other things come as you will. Grant that we move toward need and not toward ease. Grant that the firm finality of our security in Christ free us to risk our homes and health and money on the earth. Help us to see that if we try to guard our wealth, instead of using it to show it’s not our god, then we will waste our lives, however we succeed.
Dear Lord, I tremble now to pray for readers what I barely feel myself. But I have tasted what our life might be if I, and they, could walk along the ever-present edge of death, and smile with utter confidence that if we fell, or possibly were pushed, it would be gain. Oh, what abandon, what great liberty, what invincible resolve to love would be our portion if we walked this way! What readiness to suffer for the glory of Christ! What eagerness to show the poor that we would gladly spend and be spent to make them glad in God for all eternity! What lowliness and meekness and freedom from the need for praise and pay! All things are ours in Christ—the world, life, death, the present, the future. All are ours, and we are Christ’s. And none of it deserved.
And so, dear Lord, I dare to pray that everything I’ve written in this book, if it be true, explode with fear-defeating joy in Jesus Christ. Let every wavering heart remember this: You promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So may we say with death-defying confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
Forbid that any, Lord, who read these words would have to say someday, “I’ve wasted it.” But grant, by your almighty Spirit and your piercing Word, that we who name Christ as the Lord would treasure him above our lives, and feel, deep in our souls, that Christ is life and death is gain. And so may we display his worth for all to see. And by our prizing him may he be praised in all the world. May he be magnified in life and death. May every neighborhood and nation see how joy in Jesus frees his people from the power of greed and fear.
Let love flow from your saints, and may it, Lord, be this: that even if it costs our lives, the people will be glad in God. “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.” Take your honored place, O Christ, as the all-satisfying Treasure of the world. With trembling hands before the throne of God, and utterly dependent on your grace, we lift our voice and make this solemn vow: As God lives, and is all I ever need, I will not waste my life …
through Jesus Christ, Amen.
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