Reflections by the Pond

#616: Lost in Him

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August 12, 2013

The happiest, most content believer is the one who realizes and embraces the sovereignty of God over his life—not just a God who is sovereign over ministry or life decisions, the go-to resource whenever an obstacle or fork in the road is encountered, but a God who is ruler over every aspect of life.

The world tells me that I will be the happiest once I make myself, as William Ernest Henley wrote, "the master of my fate...the captain of my soul."

Bosh and nonsense. I know what I have to offer, and it is not nearly enough...

#615: The Shadows of the Evening Hours

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August 5, 2013

Time spent with God in the morning hours looks forward to the day ahead. Time spent with Him at the close of day looks backward to the day just concluded.

It is during our waking hours that we are most vulnerable. In slumber there is not just rest, but innocence. In our waking hours, however, the world with all its charms besets. Here lie enticements to evil, stumbling blocks to piety, grief, disappointments, frustrations, anger and, not least, myriad distractions from God. All these and more are what make of critical importance our preparatory morning time before the throne.

Then in the closing hours of the day we bring before our Lord all the challenges faced and failed. These we gather up into a bundle of confession and place it at His feet, seeking His forgiveness, His mercy...

#614: Still, Still with Thee

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July 29, 2013

They say a good breakfast is a healthy way to begin a day. They say a glass of orange juice is just the ticket to jump-start a lethargic mind and body. Some may opt, instead, for a bracing cup of hot, strong coffee and the morning news.

But nothing throws off tenacious slumber quite like the glory of the Lord. Nothing braces the mind and heart for a new day quite like an early-morning audience with His splendor. It is to fill the heart with unbounded joy; it is to begin the day parting the blinds of the earth's sky, to peer into the brilliance of heaven itself...

#613: Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty

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July 22, 2013

God the eternal Creator enjoys sovereign rule over the universe; there are no precincts, no elements beyond His reach. He controls everything man deems uncontrollable: weather, earthquakes, tides, suns and their orbiting satellites, comets and meteors. By His will they may unnaturally cease, by His will they may confound the most learned scientist.

The Lord may unnaturally bridle any of these for our comfort, or He may not. He may choose to protect us through the storm, rather than take us around it. One of the benefits of belonging to Him is that even when all hell is breaking loose around us, the peace of heaven quiets the heart...

#612: Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

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July 15, 2013

The weight of our earth-bound flesh is a chronic condition. In worship and prayer we realize its inconstancy and yearn for a better communion with our God and Lord. We also realize that the solution will not be found in flesh, in effort, but only in the God we long to more purely adore. He must be the one to overcome our predilection to worship at other thrones.

And when He does seal our heart for Himself, the evidence for His work in us is that we then long for the day when we will have the privilege and joy to spend eternity bowed before His true throne in reverent worship...

#611: O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth

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July 8, 2013

Beyond all measure, beyond imagining, beyond any experiential comparison are the words with which we might, if we could, faithfully describe the incomparable glory of our Lord and Savior.

The root of praise and thanksgiving (as different from worship) is our recalling and giving thanks for those things the Godhead has done for us. But when worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the interweaving of praise and thanksgiving with that worship is almost impossible to avoid.

The very existence of the Son of God as the earthly Jesus the Nazarene bespeaks less His being than His doing. Had the Son of God, second member of the triune Godhead, remained in His heavenly home He would not have died for our sins, and, absent that, we would never have gained access to worship or praise Him at all.

But He did die for us...

#610: Have Thine Own Way, Lord

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July 1, 2013

Worship is not some mysterious, ceremonial adjunct to our walk with God in Christ, somehow detached and indifferent to our daily life. Worship is central. It is foundational. It is productive.

No matter how honest we are in our worship, no matter how dedicated we are in our focus on God and His majesty—indeed, because of this intensity of focus—there remains a cause-and-effect result. Worship changes us. Worship produces something positive and righteous in our lives.

Faithful, authentic worship always redounds to the profit of the worshipper...

#609: The God of Abraham Praise

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June 24, 2013

Who is He? Who is this one enthroned above? He is, in any one moment, ancient and forever—the great I AM.

Worshipping in the Spirit before the thrones of heaven, we suddenly grasp the breathtaking truth: The same God who created all that is, who dwells eternally in the praise of heaven's created beings as well as the praise of all saints, who was the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses—this very same God is ours as well!

So what else can we do but fall down before Him, adding our voice to the resounding chorus that is His due...

#608: My God, I Love Thee

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June 17, 2013

God's love for man is not based on recompense, nor is it based on man's character, for man would be deficient in both from the perspective of holy God.

Man loves God because of God's character, and God loves man for the same reason: God's character. Man worships God because of who He is, and God is worthy of that worship for the same reason: because of who He is.

How can we truly love Him if we do not know who and what He is? What human love affair ever survived such ignorance? If we are indeed to worship Him simply, cleanly, honestly, how can we do that if we have not given ourselves over to comprehend the vastness, the majesty, the boundless personality of our God?

#607: O Worship the King

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June 10, 2013

No matter where we are, no matter who we are around, our current circumstances inevitably become to us the standard for normal. Given time, we grow accustomed to everything and everybody around us. Concomitantly, given time, that which we are not regularly around becomes abnormal, foreign.

So when, day after day, year after year, our immediate environs consist of the people and things of this temporal world, the things of God—and God Himself—will inevitably become foreign to us. Our standard of goodness becomes the good of this world. Our standard of generosity becomes the generous of this world. Our standard of beauty becomes the beautiful of this world.

Because even believers remain flesh, and thus tied to the things of flesh, it is necessary for us to nurture with purposeful intent the things outside flesh: things of spirit...

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