‘Make me pure – but not yet’

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2016 Issue –  The Presence of God‘You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Psalm 16:11

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (NIVUK): “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’– but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.’

The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”

In the first part of today’s study, Selwyn continues with yesterday’s discussion on the importance of always being truthful. He reminds us that it’s all too easy to be loose with the truth. He says: “So often we are willing to stretch a meaning to gain a point, to misquote if the misquotation serves an end, to exaggerate in order to impress.” We must be careful not to let these cases of intentional misinformation to become a habit in our lives – because they will grow to become something far more serious. Keep in mind that the devil is the master of deception – don’t copy his character.

Further on in the study, Selwyn looks at the second question: Have I been impure? He writes: “The question of purity is fundamental: if our life flounders at this it will probably flounder all down the line. This matter of purity seems to be an increasing problem in today’s church. …

This is a good moment perhaps to look into our own hearts and ask: Am I  a pure person? Do I allow my mind to dwell on things that blunt my awareness of Jesus’ presence in my life? If so, then repent of that tendency now.”

I’ve read that there is a growing number of people who think that pornography is harmless – this is of course the work of Satan. Pornography hurts many people and is extremely sinful – it is an area that should be strenuously avoided. Do you agree?

If you have a problem in this area, then pray to God for urgent help and start by throwing out all your pornographic material and severing all ties with pornographic sites on the internet – it is an all or nothing action – a small exposure to pornography – is still a fatal dose!

In summary, Selwyn writes: “Don’t adopt the attitude of St Augustine, who once prayed along the lines of, ‘Lord, make me pure, but not just yet.'” To be fair to St Augustine this quote was reportedly said when he was young (spiritually) and still exploring what it meant to have a meaningful relationship with God; I think he developed a very different attitude later in his spiritual life.

Any comments?

Truth in the inner parts

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2016 Issue –  The Presence of God‘You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Psalm 16:11

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

2 Corinthians 13:1-14 (NIVUK): “This will be my third visit to you. ‘Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: on my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me.

He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong – not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.

For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority – the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people here send their greetings.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

In today’s study, Selwyn moves on to a new topic, he writes: “Again we move on and consider a further step we can take to heighten our awareness of God’s presence in our lives: break decisively with all known sin. Nothing blunts the awareness of God’s presence in our lives as much as continuing to think or act in ways of which God cannot condone.”

Selwyn’s advice is extremely important; I have witnessed the complete collapse of people’s spiritual lives because of their refusal (unwillingness) to break decisively with all known sin.

The one area I liked was the five questions used by a man, known by Selwyn, to review weekly his spiritual life:

  1. ‘Have I been truthful and honest?
  2. Have I been impure?
  3. Have I allowed bitterness to take root in my heart?
  4. Has love been my motive in everything?
  5. Have I sought God’s glory – or my own glory?’

Selwyn then asks us, in regard to question one: “How do you and I stand in the light of that searching question today? You see, truth in inviolable. … Can you be depended on to tell the truth – no matter what the cost?”

I recommend that you spend some time in prayer asking God to show you if there are any areas in your life where unrepentant sin lurks and then – with the assistance of His amazing power – deal with it, once and for all. Your life depends upon it.

Your view?

A lesson in praise

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2016 Issue –  The Presence of God‘You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Psalm 16:11

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Psalm 63 (NIVUK): “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.

Those who want to kill me will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals.

But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.”

The following are the areas which I enjoyed the most, in today’s study.

“The more ready we are to praise, the more aware we will be of the divine presence.

If you are finding cultivating a lifestyle of praise difficult, remind yourself of these amazing truths: God is the one who truly satisfies, who upholds you and keeps you. His love is indeed ‘better than life’.

As you begin to dwell on HIs goodness, your soul will become thirstier for Him. Today, open your life, and your lips, to God afresh: be thankful for His mercies and great love for you.”

Remember, thankfulness is driven by His good gifts for us and depends a lot on circumstances; whereas praise is driven by our existence – that God is our Creator and we are the created. It is a recognition of who He is and all that we are – which is an expression of His love and goodness – it is our testimony to His saving grace, that without Him we would be dead, in our sins.

Any comments?

Making praise a habit

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2016 Issue –  The Presence of God‘You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Psalm 16:11

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Psalm 150 (NIVUK): “Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.

Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.”

In today’s study, Selwyn writes: “Let’s review what we have been saying over these past few days: there are many reasons why we praise God, not the least being the fact that when we do, we increase our awareness of His presence in our lives. How is this so? Because the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. …

Can I ask you to determine right now that you will make it a daily habit to spend some time in praise of God? …

If we do something for thirty days it can establish itself as a habit. What is wrong with establishing a habit that enables us to turn our minds towards the Lord and give Him praise, which He so wondrously deserves?”

You may recall that Selwyn has stressed the point that we will find it difficult to develop a habit of praising God if we depend on our feelings to determine when we offer praise to God.

It would be a good idea (if you don’t already have a daily praise encounter with our Lord), to establish a time, or a place or a daily event which will trigger a praise session between you and God.

Try to do it for the 30 days of June; the 1st of June is next Wednesday, so that gives you some time for prayer to work out, what method you might use, that will initiate genuine praise. After thirty days, and help from the Holy Spirit, there is a very good chance that you will establish a daily habit based on praise for God.

Sound like a plan?

‘Inner health made audible’

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2016 Issue –  The Presence of God‘You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Psalm 16:11

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Psalm 147 (NIVUK): “Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Extol the Lord, Jerusalem; praise your God, Zion. He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws.

Praise the Lord.”

I don’t have much to say about Selwyn’s view that there is a link between the readiness to praise and the state of our physical health. What are your views on this issue?

However, I do like this bit: “We are made in our innermost beings for praise. God designed us to be praising beings. And there is no surer way of completing and fulfilling ourselves than giving praise – we are doing the very thing for which we were designed.”

Any comments?

Praise is a choice

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2016 Issue –  The Presence of God‘You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Psalm 16:11

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Psalm 42:1-11 (NIVUK): “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon – from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?’ My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”

Like yesterday, we have another excellent psalm on which to meditate – the first line, as with Psalm 22, is also well known.

These are the bits I liked in today’s study, Selwyn states: ” Praise, unlike thanksgiving, originates not so much in the feelings as in the will.

The psalmist in the verse we have read today … recognises and admits to feeling downcast. He doesn’t dwell too long on his feelings but he is careful not to deny them.

So here’s a solution that it has taken me a lifetime to learn: whenever you feel sad or depressed, acknowledge your feelings and then decide by an act of your will to focus your thoughts upon the goodness of God. (That is, turn your thoughts to God in praise.)  Learn this now and I promise you it will help save you from protracted days of sadness in the future.”

Perhaps, there are people who have the unreal expectation that they will always be happy when they enter into a relationship with God – we are not in heaven yet – so until that time there will be many occasions when things will go wrong which may cause extended periods of sadness and a downcast state of mind.

As Selwyn advises in today’s study, it’s important to bring our true emotions to the throne of Christ and not to pretend that things are okay when they are not. With prayer, turn your heart towards God and praise Him for who He is – it’s the best response to the pain of life.

Do you agree?

Every reason to praise

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2016 Issue –  The Presence of God‘You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Psalm 16:11

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Psalm 22:1-11, 19-31 (NIVUK): “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. ‘He trusts in the Lord,’ they say, ‘let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. …

(19-31) But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honour him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfil my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him – may your hearts live for ever!

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him – those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”

Psalm 22 is one of the great Psalms, it starts with that famous line ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ And in Matthew 27:46, we read, “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).”

Some people believe that Jesus was thinking about this psalm as he was dying on the cross. It’s important to notice that this psalm is not all doom and gloom, it ends with the Lord having dominion over the nations and His righteousness being declared to all – for He has done it! Saved us from the death penalty, due to us because of our many sins.

Selwyn makes the following points in today’s study: “It is time now to explore yet another way in which we can heighten our awareness of God’s presence in our lives: taking the time to cultivate a praising heart. …

It might be helpful if we were to begin by differentiating between the terms praise and thanksgiving. Although thanksgiving is a close relative of praise, the two are quite distinct. We thank God for what He does and we praise Him for who He is.

There is always a reason to be thankful because we have been redeemed through the innocent suffering of Jesus our Lord. And there is always a reason to give praise because God never changes.” His goodness and love and faithfulness and provision – never ceases.

Did you enjoy today’s study? I liked it – more so – because I really love the meaning to be found in Psalm 22.