To be holy is to be happy

“In proportion as the sanctification of a believer advances, his real happiness advances with it” (Octavius Winslow)

“Man’s holiness is now his greatest happiness, and in heaven man’s greatest happiness will be his perfect holiness.” (Thomas Brooks)

We pursue happiness in the wrong way. We run after success, money, fame and pleasure, and once we have these they turn into ashes in our hands.

Holiness, on the other hand, carries with it a peculiar enjoyment – the kind only heaven can give. Pursue holiness and you gain joy that thrives even in the midst of affliction. Mere happiness cannot do this; it wilts at the first whiff of unfortunate circumstances.

Cure for Financial Worry

Sometimes I worry about money. Well, to be honest, sometimes is not accurate. Many times (though not most of the time) I worry about money. There are bills and debts to pay, and sometimes business is slow, and I worry that the income won’t be enough to cover this week or this month’s payables.

That’s when I remind myself of Philippians 4:19, which to my mind is the sovereign cure for financial worry:

“But my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

I have a loving, caring, and stupendously rich God! He knows my needs and he’s promised to meet them.

Worry, go away!

Suffering as Medicinal

Sometimes the Lord sends suffering in order to cure an inward corruption.

The sorrow that suffering produces serves as medicine to dissolve the rage or pride or some other wickedness that dwells in the hardened heart.

It softens the heart and produces compassion within.

In God’s hands suffering is the chisel by which he carves a beautiful saint out of plain marble.

We often blame God for our sufferings, not knowing that by means of the pain he is actually healing our souls and creating a work of art.

Ecclesiology is Politics

The greatest political events take place in the church.

Empires have fallen. Kingdoms have crumbled into dust. Kings and rulers have died and are forgotten. The church of the living God marches on.

Jesus joined no political party, held no political position, and more or less steered away from the political controversies of his day. But he built a kingdom that will never end; and to him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

And now he reigns in the hearts of his people who gather to praise his name, to hear his Word, and to obey his law. As a result, true change takes place — change that sweeps across time and space and lasts throughout eternity.

This is the highest and the truest and the most effective politics of all.

Mighty are the events taking place in the church, earth-shattering and world-changing in their consequences: praise, preaching, prayer, repentance, love, and obedience! The world notices it not, but the very configuration of the heavens is being changed as the church kneels down to pray. Multitudes of angelic beings rejoice, filling the heavens with roars of joy and the thunderous noise of relentless clapping, over one sinner who repents at the preaching of the gospel.

No wonder the Enemy does all he can to undermine the church. Be that as it may, the Lord of the church has decisively defeated him.

The church is where the action is!

How God deals with the sins of his children

Thus, I say, God deals with his saints in great variety; some shall have all their bones broken, when others shall have only the gentle strokes of the rod. We are in the hand of mercy, and he may deal with us as seems good to him; but for our parts, great sins ought to be attended with expectations of great depths and perplexities.

(John Owen, An Exposition of Psalm CXXX)

God, being merciful, does not deal with us according to what our sins deserve. He remembers that we are but dust. Nevertheless, he does chastise us for our sins. Even so, in his inscrutable wisdom, he treats his children differently. Some who have sinned greatly he rebukes gently and allows them to recover their peace in him without the great difficulty that others have in trying to recover themselves from their backsliding. Others he treats more severely, allowing them to wallow for a long time in the depths of the misery that may justly be considered as the consequence of their sins. This might seem discriminatory, but God has his reasons, and it is not for us to question his wisdom.

At the end of day, however he deals with us, we trust that he disciplines us according to his love and wisdom, and the result of it all is that we shall come forth as gold.

Vanity of Vanities?

“Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring very work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 KJV)

You can’t be blamed if the impression you get from reading Ecclesiastes is that “Everything is vanity” must be its theme. But when you reach chapter 12, there seems to be a great reversal of this theme. Instead of “Nothing matters,” this time everything matters because God will judge everything you do. The fact that God is there and will judge everything we’ve done makes everything we do significant. Our lives and actions are meaningful because there is a God who will evaluate all these and will stamp his seal of approval (or disapproval) upon all that we’ve done. If so, we have to make sure we’re ready to face him on judgment day.

God’s Anger

“God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation everyday.” (Psalm 7)

God can and does feel anger, but it is a righteous anger consistent with his righteous character. The Bible depicts God as a being who has emotions, but these emotions are under his control. If ever he becomes angry it is because he chooses to be. It is in this light that we should understand the biblical passages that describe him as being provoked by our sins. Being omniscient, he is not caught by surprise by them; nevertheless, he is genuinely provoked and his anger is genuine as well.

“If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword.” (Psalm 7)

The threat is real and should not be taken lightly. In 1 Kings ch. 16, because Baasha provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger with his idols, the Lord destroyed all his house (i.e., family) through the hand of Zimri, in accordance with what the Lord spoke by Jehu the prophet.

Do we take the Lord’s anger lightly? Do we provoke him to anger?

Lord, forgive us for the many times we have provoked you to anger. Help us to fear you with a holy fear. Amen.

God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Dignity

Psalm 8:4-6 KJV

[4] What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? [5] For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. [6] Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

If we see God’s sovereignty as a violation of man’s autonomy, then it will be a cause for stumbling; but if we see it as a vindication of man’s dignity, it will be a cause for rejoicing.

God’s glory is bound up with his free, merciful, and gracious exaltation of man, and towards this end he will exercise his sovereignty. He even went to the extent of doing the unthinkable: becoming man himself in the person of Jesus Christ in order to die for man so that the image of God in man might be restored. In himself man is nothing; he is but “from dust to dust.” But in Christ he is a little lower than God (NASB), crowned with glory and honor.

While I Live

“While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” (Psalm 146:2)

Praising the Lord is a life-time business. While I have breath, while I’m still alive, I should go on praising the Lord in every way, whether through singing, working, preaching, teaching, etc.

Now that I’m older (past middle-age actually) I’ve lost somewhat my relish for things I used to do in my youth, such as singing, writing poems and songs, composing and playing the piano, preaching, teaching, etc. Maybe it’s because when you grow old you’ve got less energy than before, and you tend to focus on the more “serious” aspects of life (e.g., work, preparing for retirement, providing for your family, taking care of your health) so that you tend to neglect “less important” things such as songwriting and the like. Actually, I still do these things, but not as often as I would like. And that’s why I’m thankful for this verse because it reminds and encourages me to keep on doing these things while I’m still alive. What’s more important than praising the Lord all the days of our lives? Yes, we praise him through our work, but we ought to praise him too through singing, songwriting, composing music, writing poetry, preaching – all the ways we can according to our gifts! Besides, the Lord also said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” So what do I do with the rest of my life? I will praise the Lord in whatever way I can as long as I have life in me.

Lord, help me to do just that: praise you in every way – sing, write, compose, work, preach, teach – while I have my being.