Saturday is Before Sunday

Saturday is before Sunday. And it is with great intention that Saturday is before Sunday. Saturday is the Sabbath, the day of rest. It is the seventh day in which God rested from his work of creation. So, on Saturday we remember that our God is the Creator God, who made all things and sustains all things. Then there is Sunday, the first day of the week, but also the day that the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead! So, we remember and celebrate on Sunday the God of redemption!

So, Saturday is before Sunday – the two days coincide together – remembering the Sabbath prepares us for celebrating redemption.

Romans 11:20. “but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but be in awe.” My prayer for myself on this Saturday, is also a prayer for our church. May I, may we, be in continual awe of this great salvation.

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Reading is FUNdamental

One of the great joys of 2018 has been reading through the New Testament. A couple of summers ago our church was encouraged to spend the summer reading through the Psalms. And the reading plans have just continued since! Each day has been so timely. The joy of reading God’s Word is that this is when we hear him speak. Think about how this then affects prayer. Prayer is when I get to speak to God. And so when I read God’s Word, hear him speak, I then in prayer I get to speak to God. A conversation, a communion, is taking place! And it just leads me to say, “Reading is FUNdamental!”

There are also some good books to be reading. Good books are written by good authors and are called good because they help us in knowing God better and walking with him. And so, here are a few good books to spend the summer reading:

Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life by Jason Meyer.

Busy for Self, Lazy for God by Nam Joon Kim.

How to Finish the Christian Life by George and Don Sweeting.

5 Things to Pray for your Church: Prayers that change things for the life of your church by Rachel Jones.

Reading is for our joy.

How to Pray for Your Pastor This Sunday (and maybe for yourself as well)

A few weeks ago, a friend shared these words: James, I just want to be a better pastor. It was startling, a bit, to hear. My friend has been a pastor for fifty-one years. Yes, you read correctly, fifty-one years and after fifty-one years he is not talking retirement or how hard and difficult it has been or how discouraging and disappointing and depressing the ministry is, no. After fifty-one years, I just want to be a better pastor.

So, after six years or fifty-one years, how might a pastor be a better pastor? Especially since much of what pastor does and prepares for is preaching. This, I think, is a help (although convicting too).

*Three short bullet points that I think will make a great difference:

1. Since freedom from self-consciousness is ultimately a gift of God, you can’t make it happen. It’s paradoxical. If you focus on making it happen, it’s not happening. Since it’s a gift of God, pray earnestly for the gift of self-forgetfulness in the hours leading up to your preaching.

2. Since the pursuit of self-forgetfulness must be indirect — because fighting self-consciousness in the moment makes us self-conscious — let’s pursue it by stoking the fires of love for our subject matter and for our people. The more thrilled you are with what you have to preach, the less you are going to think about yourself preaching. That may be the most important thing I have to say, so I’m going to say that again: the more thrilled we are with what we have to say about God, about his ways, about his Son, about his gospel, and about the life we have in Christ, the less we are going to think about ourselves preaching it.

3. If in the midst of preaching, we become aware of ourselves and realize this — and God will give us the grace to do this — we need to say to that temptation, “No.” Just speak up: “No.” Then, inasmuch as it lies within us, consciously turn our back on that temptation of self-consciousness and focus again on the glorious thing we’re saying and on the people in front of us.

May the Lord work this miracle in all of us. Not just in preaching, but in all of our authentic communication.

I share this to help you whether a pastor or not. It is to encourage you in how to pray for your pastor this Sunday and perhaps not just pastors, but small group leaders; Bible study teachers; Sunday School teachers or in your witness. But especially pray it for your pastor.

*Read the full article here: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-do-i-overcome-crippling-self-consciousness

The Most Seemingly Unimportant Chapter in the Bible

Should the Old Testament book called Genesis be preached? Without hesitation or maybe with some wonder your answer is most likely, yes. And if yes, why then should Genesis be preached? And what should be preached?

But…what does it mean to preach? The word preacher first occurs in the book of Ecclesiastes. Listen to its introduction. “The words of the Preacher.” I like this; the word preacher means a collector of sentences. So, what does a preacher do with a collection of sentences? First, we hope he has studied the collection of sentences because study is integral to preaching. But a preacher preaches! Listen to what the Bible says to preachers. In this context it is to a young preacher, maybe thirty-seven years old. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:1-2b). I like this; the word preach means to proclaim, but biblically means so much wonderfully more. Listen to 2 Timothy 4:5. “As for you, always be sober minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” What is the ministry of a preacher? Preach the word. But here, the instruction is to fulfill your ministry. How does a preacher fulfill the ministry of preaching the word? It is right there in 2 Timothy 2:5. Do the work of an evangelist. Do evangelism or gospelize. Now this is exciting and it is how a preacher fulfills his ministry. To gospelize is to stress the victory of God’s gospel-message in the totality of His good news.

Where does God’s gospel message begin? Genesis. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). All the details are not there (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-5), but it is pregnant with thought. God’s gospel message begins there. There will be victory.

So, what does all of this, preachers and preaching and gospelizing, have to do with Genesis 36? It is exactly what I have been wondering. Should it be preached? If yes, it is a chapter in the book of Genesis after all, why should it be preached? What about it should be preached?

Genesis Relativizes Our Lives

Listen to how it begins. “These are the generations of…” I like how one translation words it, “These are the family records of…” The word generations (record) is rather important to the book of Genesis. The first time this word appears is Genesis 2:4. “These are the generations of the heaven and earth when they were created.” And it will appear nine more times until Genesis 36. It is found twice in Genesis 36. Listen to it. “These are the generations of Esau” and then again, “These are the generations of Esau” (Genesis 36:1, 9). Part of the point is that Genesis is filled with family trees – these historical records of people. And part of the big question is what to do with them.

I came across a really good article Thursday titled “Four Reasons Your Next Sermon Series Should Be Through Genesis.” I laughed because I thought this article for me and for you was about seventy sermons through Genesis too late. But the author gave good reasons that preachers should preach through Genesis. Genesis is foundational for understanding the rest of the Bible. Genesis consistently wades through “front page issues” like human dignity, marriage, etc. Genesis is beautifully written narrative.

But listen to this fourth reason. Genesis relativizes our lives without emptying them of significance. What does that mean? This perfectly applies to these genealogies. If you were to look at each genealogy beginning with Genesis 5 through Genesis 36, you would see people. And there is one critical observation with each person in each genealogy: people come and people go. In other words, people live and people die. But there is more. In each genealogy beginning with Genesis 5 through Genesis 36 there is time. Just consider Genesis 5. Throughout is this phrase: “Thus all the days of fill in the name were fill in the years, and he died.” There is a lot of time within each genealogy and then centuries between each genealogy, meaning time continues as people come and people go.

But there is more. Woven alongside these genealogies are promises. There are Genesis 3:15 and Genesis 9:15 and Genesis 12:7 and Genesis 15:5 and Genesis 28:15. And the point is that in all this time and the coming and the going, “the book of Genesis shows us the importance of God’s promises in the lives of God’s people.” These are not perfect people. Some are disappointing. Some are failures. Some are disappointing and failures. And especially in the life of Jacob, which was to be true for the first people to read Genesis, “the book of Genesis shows us the importance of God’s promises in the lives of God’s people as they journey to God’s place, the Promised Land.” So, how does this help us? “Clinging to God’s promises kept, we mirror those in Genesis who clung to God’s promises made.”[1]

The Most Seemingly Unimportant Chapter in the Bible

But then there is Genesis 36, another genealogy. It is different. Note again, the twice reference about the big idea of this chapter. It is found in verse one and then again in verse nine. “These are the generations of Esau.” In verse one, there is a little parenthesis added – (that is, Edom). There was a hint to this in Genesis 25:30. Just as Jacob is also Israel (35:10) so, Esau is also Edom. Both brothers become nations. The nation of Esau develops faster than the nation of Jacob and not just in terms of wealth, either. Listen to Genesis 36:31. “These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites.” Edom would boast kings much sooner than Israel. When Edom had kings, Israel served kings.

But Moses dedicates an entire chapter to the generations of Esau. And in this record, there are 81 names. There are sons and grandsons, chiefs/leaders, and kings. It is success upon success. But listen to Genesis 36:20. “These are the sons of Seir the Horite.” This is a completely distinct family from Esau. There is absolutely no relation whatsoever. Except when you read Genesis 36:8. There is a point in the life of Esau when he took his wives and his kids and moved to Seir. What did he find in Seir? He found people. And when he found people, he overtook them. And eventually, these two family trees, intertwined. It appears that Esau’s son took from Seir a woman as his concubine and had a son with her (cf. 36:12; 22).

Esau seems so unimportant. And if he seems so unimportant, this chapter seems so unimportant, perhaps the most unimportant chapter in the Bible. But as you keep reading, Moses keeps bringing our attention upon Esau (36:5; 9; 10; 15; 19; 20; 31; 40; 43). It is like some sixteen times. Why?

Esau Went Away From His Brother Jacob

In the midst of all these names, there is a little break in Genesis 36:6-8. It is partially about why Esau ended up in Seir. He had too much stuff or at least he thought he did. He was accumulating a lot of wealth and so he moved where he could have more room. The strange part is that he went where there was more people (cf. 35:8; 20). But the last part of verse six is the key. “He went into a land away from his brother Jacob.” God had promised to Jacob the Promised Land. This land is also known as Canaan. God made this promise to Jacob and Jacob clung to this promise. So, what does Esau do? He goes to another land, away from his brother. Why is this significant? Jacob journeyed to the promised land, clinging to God’s promises. Esau journeyed away from the promised land, letting go of God’s promises. He may have even thought that none of it was for him anyway, so why stick around?

But he had always treated the things of God this way. Remember, as a young man he traded his birthright for a bowl of soup. He had always treated the things of God lightly. And he walked away from God’s promises.

Is any of this important? Does it matter? Did you notice that the first record in this family tree are Esau’s wives? He had three of them, maybe four. There is a minor discrepancy in the names (cf. 25:34-35; 28:9; 36:2). He married the first two wives so as to irritate his parents. And then he married the third wife to try to please his parents. But then there are all these names, names of sons and grandsons. Just listen to them. What do you hear?

His wife Basemath, her name means perfume (36:3). Elon means region where deer are found (36:2). His son Eliphaz means pure gold (36:4). Nahath means rest (36:13). Dishon means gazelle (36:21). Shepho means bald (36:23). Aiah means hawk (36:24); Keran means turtle (36:26); Aran means mountain goat (36:28); Ithran means advantage (36:26). What is the point of these names? Keep in mind the intentional redirection throughout this chapter to Esau. Could these names reflect Esau? What he values? What he loves? Keep in mind, too, when we first met Esau, we were told that he is a man of the outdoors; a hunter and fisherman. There are only a couple of names that have anything to do with God. There was Reuel which means friend of God and Jeush which may mean God helps (36:4; 5).

So, What is the Point?

Again, it is just another genealogy, but different. It is of a man who did not live his life in the light of the things of God. He was not journeying to the promised land, and God’s promises held no value in his eyes. His son Eliphaz is interesting, though. He had some sons. But one in particular was named Teman (36:11). Eliphaz and Teman. This son Teman would also be a tribal chief, a leader, maybe of a thousand people within the nation of Edom. Listen to Job 2:11. “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite.” One of Job’s friends, yes that Job who suffered at great costs, had three friends. One of those friends was Eliphaz the Temanite, a descendant of Esau. But greater still, there is a possibility that Job, too, was a resident of the land of Edom (cf. 36:28; Job 1:1). In a land of all these names, bearing very little if anything with God, there may have been a man named Job, who in his suffering would declare, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27).

Here is something I could not wait to share with you. Remember, Edom produced kings. I never knew this until studying what I thought could be the most seemingly unimportant chapter in the Bible. King Herod also known as Herod the Great, was an Edomite, a descendant of Esau. One day he met some wise men. These wise men were seeking to worship a newborn king, he who was born king of the Jews. And King Herod sought to kill all the male children in Bethlehem who were two years old and younger. One such child was named Jesus the Christ, a descendant of…Jacob (Matthew 2:1-18).

Esau Though Was Never Forgotten

But the point is bigger and better than I ever anticipated. It does have a lot to do with three questions: should this be preached? Why should it be preached? What should be preached?

I thought so little of Esau. He showed no interest whatsoever for God or the things of God. He lived quite well ignoring the promises of God. But he was never forgotten. I want us to listen to Amos 9:11-12. “‘In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,’ declares the Lord who does this.” Esau is Edom. Edom are all those descendants of Esau who seem to reflect Esau. This very passage is quoted in the New Testament. Listen to how it is introduced. “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old’” (Acts 15:13-17). What does God desire in and from this genealogy?

God never forgot Esau. He was always working to reach people like Esau that they might seek God. It is amazing. Esau journeyed away. God pursued. Esau ignored God’s promises. God kept keeping his promises. And it was for the sake of people like Esau.

You might be like Esau. You are not forgotten by God. You may care nothing for him, but he cares for you. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The world is full of Esaus.

[1] Four Reasons You Should Preach Through Genesis; https://www.9marks.org/article/genesis/

How Can I Be Humble?

Humility is not an accomplishment; it is a worshipful response to what Christ has done.

A friend was asking me the other day, “How can I be humble?” He felt there was pride in him, and he wanted to know how to get rid of it. He seemed to think that I had some patent remedy and could tell him, “Do this, that, and the other and you will be humble.” I said, “I have no method or technique. I can’t tell you to get down on your knees and believe in prayer because I know you will soon be proud of that. There’s only one way to be humble, and that is to look into the face of Jesus Christ; you cannot be anything else when you see him.” That is the only way. Humility is not something you can create within yourself; rather, you look at him, you realize who he is and what he has done, and you are humbled.

*Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life by Jason Meyer

The God Who Answers Me

The 1968 Olympic games are remembered for being first. These were the first games to be held in Latin America and the first games to be held in a Spanish-speaking country. This was the first gold medal for George Foreman of the George Foreman grill. But not for grilling. It was for boxing. This was the first time East and West Germany would compete as separate teams. And then there was Joseph Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania. He was a long distance runner.

It was the Olympic marathon. There were seventy-five runners to start the race. But there would be just fifty-seven runners to finish the race. It was the halfway mark. Several runners were fighting for position when Joseph Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania fell. His leg was badly injured, bloodied, with a dislocated joint. About an hour after the gold medalist and the silver medalist and the bronze medalist finished the race, the crowd began to thin out. The sun was setting. And then word began to spread about Joseph Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania and his leg. He was not finished; he was still running! The crowd gathered and paused and waited and looked. Joseph was entering the stadium. The cheers grew louder and louder and louder as he hobbled across the finish line. Joseph Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania, a long distance runner had finished the race.

And then came the question. Why did he finish the race? Perhaps a bit puzzled, Joseph responded, “I do not think you understand. My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish the race.”

Why Did He Finish the Race?

Why did he finish the race? His leg was injured; it was dislocated at a joint. He was battered and tattered and tired. And he was old; seventy years old and he finished the race. And this is not Joseph Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania, a long distance runner. This is Jacob of Genesis 28 and Genesis 29 and Genesis 30 and Genesis 31 and Genesis 32 and Genesis 33 and yes, even Genesis 34. The big idea of Genesis 35 is that this Jacob finished the race. And this affects me.

This affects me for a most unsuspecting reason. When Jacob started this race, this journey, he was forty years old. I am holding on to being thirty-seven years old tighter and tighter as the year presses on, but I inch ever so closer to being forty. Do you know how many days there are in forty years? There are fourteen thousand, six hundred, ten days in forty years (for me, at least). And so, this has me thinking, a little bit, about these almost forty years or fourteen thousand, six hundred, ten days. I am thinking about what I have done (and what I have not done) with all of those days.

But then I stop thinking about what I have done and what I have not done with all of those days. I stop because of Jacob. It is because the big idea of Genesis 35 is that Jacob finished the journey and he was seventy years old. Let that sink in for a moment. Jacob was seventy years old, maybe even a little older than that, when he finished the journey. I am not yet even close to being seventy. But Jacob at seventy years old finishing the journey, makes me think a whole lot more about finishing. And I am thinking, a little bit more, about these days that are paving the way to the finish. I have questions.

Why did Jacob finish the journey? Listen to the end of Genesis 35. “And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac sojourned” (v. 27). This is what Jacob had longed for going back to Genesis 28. “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God” (v. 21). Jacob said that when he was forty! And here he is at seventy, coming again to his father’s house in peace. It is obvious that the journey took a long time. But why did he finish? Even in considering Genesis 34, the darkest moment in the story of Jacob, why did he finish the journey?
Listen closely to Genesis 35:1. “God said to Jacob.” Pause there. This is too significant. When did God speak this to Jacob? I think I might know. Listen to Genesis 34:30. “Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi.” Mark this verse, notice it and then read Genesis 34:31. “But they said.” And now read Genesis 35:1 again. “God said to Jacob.” See the progression? There are three speakers, one right after another. First it is Jacob, then his two sons, and finally, it is God. I think “God said to Jacob” immediately follows the events of Genesis 34. In other words, Genesis 34 does not end with this exchange between Jacob and his two sons. Genesis 34 actually ends with God speaking Jacob.

So, why did Jacob finish the journey? I love this so much and it is because in the previous chapter Jacob looks like a complete failure, as a dad, or as a man, or maybe simply as a believer. And with that in view, he finishes the journey because God told him to. Now, is that not something to hold on to?

Arise, Go Up to Bethel

Listen closely to Genesis 35:1. “God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel.’” This almost sounds too inviting or too formal. It is actually quite forceful and to the point. “Get up and go.” God speaks and when he does, it immediately follows the interchange of Genesis 34:30-31. And when God speaks immediately following the interchange of the previous verses, he says to Jacob, “Get up.” Why is that important? It means Jacob has been sitting. Jacob has been sitting, resting, for way too long. How long has he been sitting, relaxing, resting, comfortable? For about ten years, ever since he stopped and pitched his tent in a wide open and green space just beyond the city of Shechem (Genesis 33:18-20). I heard this best described as slothful ease. This will be important in a moment.

In Genesis 35:1, when God spoke to Jacob, there were a rush of commands that came forth. Arise or get up is a command. Go is a command. Dwell there is a command. Pause at this command. This is quite incredible. In the previous chapter, this word is used seven times (34:10; 10; 16; 21; 22; 23; 30). Where had Jacob been dwelling? Jacob had stopped on his journey, bought some land and pitched his tent right outside the city of Shechem (cf. 33:18-20). He stayed there for a good ten years. Then the people of the city and its leaders, desired that Jacob dwell with them and among them in the city. But God says to Jacob, and it is a command, “Dwell there.” Where is there?

There is one more command in Genesis 35:1. “Make an altar there.” What happens at an altar? Worship. But where is there? It is Bethel. Bethel is important for one reason. Bethel is mentioned three times in Jacob’s journey. The first time is Genesis 28. It is where Jacob first heard God’s voice. Listen to it. “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (28:15). What did God say? Simply, God made promises. Twenty years later, Jacob hears God’s voice a second time. It is summarized in Genesis 31:13. “I am the God of Bethel.” Just simply notice that God says, “I am the God of Bethel.” It continues. “…where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.” Here God does not make promises. Instead, he reminds. He reminds Jacob of a vow Jacob made. When did Jacob make this vow? Back at Bethel, in Genesis 28 when God first spoke and made promises. What is God up to? Mentioning Bethel and reminding of Jacob’s vow is meant to remind Jacob of God’s promises. Jacob only made the vow because of God’s promises.

In Genesis 31, God sought to remind Jacob of Bethel and in Genesis 35, God sought to remind Jacob of Bethel. Why? It is because over time as Jacob was making this journey, God’s Word, God’s promises grew strangely dim. And I think it is why Jacob stopped at Shechem and stayed for a while and grew comfortable. God’s promises had grown strangely dim to him. One of those promises God made at Bethel was, “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go” (28:15). Remember that promise.

Jacob Responds

Genesis 35:1 is when God speaks and it is all about reminding Jacob about Bethel. Concerning Bethel, God simply reminds Jacob that he is the “God who appeared to you” there. So, Bethel is significant and when God appeared to him there, he spoke to him there. Now here is what is so great; Genesis 35:2-4 is Jacob’s response to verse one. There are just two things I want to point out about Jacob’s response. First, look at verse two. “So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.” As far as we know, there was only person who had taken foreign gods with them on this journey. It was Jacob’s wife Rachel and he was ignorant of it (31:19, 32).

But now, apparently, Rachel is not the only person of Jacob’s household who has foreign gods with them and this time Jacob is not ignorant of it. Where did these foreign gods come from? May I suggest that these foreign gods were from Shechem and it is because Jacob stopped near Shechem all those years ago (33:18-20). May I suggest further, that Jacob had a foreign god? Now, what could be a foreign god? Money, power, prestige. I do not think any of those things were a god, an idol to Jacob. I think his foreign god was comfort. Remember, God’s first command to Jacob was, “Get up!”

Now listen to verse three. Listen to what Jacob says about God. “[God] has been with me wherever I have gone.” Do you see what just happened?! Jacob is remembering Bethel! In remembering Bethel, he is remembering one of God’s promises! “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.” This promise had grown strangely dim as Jacob sat at the idol of comfort.

The God Who Answers Me

But this is the part I could not wait to get to. And it is the part that has affected me the most. The reason we came back to Genesis 35 this week is because I have been asking questions. And the question on my mind all week was, how do I finish? And I am not talking about this sermon. I am talking about the journey. And even then, I do not think I am asking the right question. Part of me hopes that I am far off from the finish line. Some of you are a lot closer to the finish line than me. I am only 37. But when should you be asking, how do I finish? The better question, though, is, how am I finishing? This is regardless of age, too.

Listen to verse three. Listen to what Jacob says about God. This is his response to what God said. It is so great. “The God who answers me in the day of my distress.” What does Jacob say about God? He is the God who answers me. And it is really not, as some have translated it, “the God who answered me.” God is the God who answers! Who does he answer? Me. Who is me? (cf. John 1:12 and Matthew 6:9). Now, you will love this; the word answer, can mean, to sing a response.

But the point is that God answers me. Meaning, he is answering a request or a call. Therefore, who is doing the calling? Me! So, this tells me two things about how I am to be finishing the journey. Or what I really need more than anything else in finishing the journey. I need God’s Word. I need his promises. And I need to pray. And I need both of those things simultaneously always as a I finish.

I have one more thing to show you. Notice that Jacob says that God answers him in the day of distress. This word for distress appears in Psalm 34:6. “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.” And do you know what Psalm 34:8 says? “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Would you like to be tasting and seeing that the Lord is good? As you are finishing the journey?

Putting Pen to Paper

I quickly called this “Putting Pen to Paper.”  That is quite a strange title, is it not? What else would there be to do with a pen? It was the quickest title I could come up with in a short amount of time. I thought it clever at first. But it is actually just a way to say that I had to get my thoughts out on paper.

I am 37 years old. I have never thought much about being 37 years old until this past Saturday. I was writing out my sermon notes for Genesis 35. This chapter acts as the closing scene to the life of the patriarch Jacob. And the best estimation is that in this closing scene Jacob is at or near 70 years old. He is finishing his journey. It was a journey that began in Genesis 28 when Jacob was just 40 years old. And that is when it hit me – that is about my age. I am almost 40.

It causes some evaluation, some inventory taking. What have I been doing for the last 37, almost 40 years? That is some time to consider. Then in just looking at the life of Jacob, his life is so transparent in the Bible, what about the next 30 years? That seems to be the line in some country song, I am sure. What if God is so gracious to give me another 30 years? What will I do with those years?

And for some reason, Saturday evening, I had this desire to read a biography; a good, challenging biography. Sunday morning when I entered my office at the church, there it was. A biography. A good, challenging biography. God has granted a dear friend of mine a book ministry. And he thought I would like to read a newer biography on the life and ministry of Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Is that not amazing? It made me think this evening how incredible it is that God, the omniscient God knows our every thought (cf. Psalm 139). And what does God do with that knowledge?

It is a biography, a recent biography, by Jason Meyer. I had to read the foreword and the introduction twice only because each are worth their weight in gold. Anyway, one statement in particular pierced me. Of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones it was said, “The Doctor…” He was a medical doctor before he was a preacher. Perhaps he was a twentieth century version of the nineteenth century Charles Spurgeon. Yes, if you are familiar with Spurgeon, Dr. Lloyd-Jones had that kind of preaching impact. “The Doctor never got over how far down the Most High God came to save him.”

I think this it. I think this is what I have been longing for or missing. To never get over how far down the Most High God came to save me. Being a Christian was the most wonderful thing in the world to him.

It took the book ministry of a dear friend to get me one sentence or two that I might delight in God on a Tuesday evening.