I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. – Psalm 34:1 (NKJV)
When I read this verse the first time, I was in my teens and did not know what life means. This verse appealed to me, and I would sing (or, as some people called, I would “bray”) at all times. But then, life came into the picture. Failures upon failures befell me; one sickness followed another. As I started to lose my vitality to my depression, it became harder to bless the Lord at all times. Even if I was singing a Christian song, it would be more a pathos, not a praise.
Oh, easy it is to bless the LORD when you are successful, when the days are shiny and your steps are peppy. How easy it is to praise Him continually when everything goes your way, when all your losses are recompensed, when you are filled with so much energy. Yes, it is not hard to bless the Lord sometimes. It is not hard to praise Him on certain days. But David says that he would bless the LORD at all times, that his mouth would praise God continually.
Does not David say that the Lord desires truth in the inner parts (Psalm 51:6)? How can I be sad at what has happened, yet bless the Lord at the same time? How can I praise Him when all I want to do is curl up in a fetal position and cry till I am too tired to stay awake? The Lord surely desires truth in the inner parts, right? I was confused about all these.
Then one day the Holy Spirit moved me to read the heading for Psalm 34, which says that this Psalm is sung by David, when he pretended to be insane before the Philistine king Abimelech, who drove him away. It was then David sang this song.
This was David, the anointed one, the one to become the next king of Israel, the son-in-law of the present king of Israel, and a man after God’s own heart. And he had to go to a Philistine king for protection, and being afraid of what would happen to him, he was acting as if he was insane and was driven away. And he chose that moment to say: I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
It was not when he won against Goliath, he sang this psalm. Not when he was victorious in battles after battles; nor when he married the daughter of the king of Israel. No, he sang this psalm at one of his worst moments; when he had to humiliate himself; when he was afraid for his own life. Yes, God did save his life, but imagine all those who were with David. What would they have thought their champion, acting like he was insane to save his life? They trusted him and followed him and here he was, acting like a mad man to save his own skin, all because of a “wise” decision he had made. Yet, in that moment of abject disgrace, David only saw the grace of the Lord saving his life, though he had erred by trusting his own counsel.
Now, I am no David. But almost all the embarrassing moments in my life were due to myself following my own counsel, decisions that sounded right and wise at that moment. What I forgot were how I had to struggle with depression because of those decisions, times when I had decided to commit suicide, times my hands have picked those sleeping pills and various medications. Yet, every time, the LORD intervened and saved my life. Why did He do that? Do I deserve another chance to live? Of course, not.
Yet, in His mercy, the LORD has forgiven me of my trespasses. And my Saviour Jesus Christ knows my weaknesses and He has been interceding for me. There were times when all around me, I saw accusing eyes, I looked up at the Cross, to see those eyes, those eyes that pierced the heart of Peter the night before, the eyes covered with grace and compassion, looking at me, telling that He understands my agony, that He has taken up my failures in the Cross, that He was forsaken so I could never be.
One look at the love of God our Father exhibited at the Cross… one look at my crucified Redeemer’s eyes… hearing the sound of the inexpressible groans with which the Holy Spirit praying for me… all these when I was in the worst state of my life… oh, how could I stop my heart from blessing this Triune God? How could I prevent my mouth from praising Him all the days of my life?
Oh, my heart, bless your Lord at all times. Oh my lips, praise Him continuously. Let the world think that I am insane to be singing the praises of my Immanuel at such a moment in my life. Let the people think that I have gone crazy to be blessing my Ebenezer, during these darkest hours of my life. But, I will bless the Lord at all times and His praises will be on my lips ever so continually. May the Lord accept this sacrifice of thanksgiving for ever and ever more! Amen.
But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. – Romans 5:20
As I look at Calvary, as I look at the Cross on which my Saviour Jesus Christ was hanging crucified, my first reaction is to turn my face away in abhorrence. Just like how repulsive the Israelites felt when they had to look at the bronze serpent, raised on the stake.
But the more I look at the suffering Servant, the Son of Man who knew grief, I realize what caused all these. My sins. My disobedience. My rebellious nature. My lustful heart. I must be the one who was punished like that. I must be the afflicted one. Then it dawns me, yes, it is true, that I must be the one… but it serves only one purpose. It serves only the Divine Justice. For I richly deserve that punishment. It would have told the world that the Lord our God is righteous.
The more I meditate on the sufferings and death of my Redeemer, suddenly the Holy Spirit whispers in me… it is not just for the “sins” I have committed… but for the “sin” that indwells in me. Jesus Christ did not just carry my “sins”, He became “sin” for me (2 Corinthians 5:21) on the Cross. Sin abounded; the Cross became an emblem of sin – the most repugnant sight on the world.. Yet, the One Who was suffering there was not guilty. Not guilty of anything. Innocence personified. Oh, the Cross is not only about Lord our God is righteous, but it also tells me that He is gracious.
In the obedience of Jesus Christ, the grace of God abounds much more. Much more than I can comprehend. All I can do is humbly bow my head before God our Loving Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son and my Saviour for the grace that abounded. Amen.
One night of bitter cold and pitiless storm, a mother was out in the wilds with her child in her arms. Unable to carry her precious burden and find a shelter, she took off her own outer clothing and wrapping it about her little one she laid him in a cleft of the rock, and hastened on, hoping to find help. Next morning some shepherds heard the cry of a child, and found the babe safe and warm in the rock’s cleft. Then, not far away in the snow, they discovered the mother – dead. She had stripped off her own garments and died in the cold – to save her child.
Did not Jesus do the same? He took off His clothing and hung naked on His cross – that we may stand in the final judgment arrayed in His spotless robe of righteousness.
– From Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ, by James R. Miller
You showed them that You are a forgiving God, but You punished them for their wrongs. – Psalm 99:8 (NCV)
The LORD God is merciful and gracious; and in His grace, He forgives my sins. But my soul, never forget that He is also a righteous and just God. Therefore, He has to punish me for my wrongs.
So, my soul, as you rejoice that your sins are forgiven, do not forget that the punishment for your sins have fallen on Your Saviour Jesus Christ. Never forget to look at the Cross at the Calvary. Never forget how much it cost God, the Creator of Universe, to forgive your sins.
It cost Him His only beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Never ever forget that, my soul, never forget that.
Jesus Christ. My Lord, my Master, my Saviour, my Redeemer. I love You, Lord. I love You.
The more I realized how vile I am, the more I realize how much I need Jesus Christ, my Saviour. I always knew that Jesus Christ had to die for my sins. I always repented for my outward actions, my thoughts and my words.
But never repented for who I am. Even when I start to repent, the monstrosity that I am, sort of strikes me with fear. How much my self rebels against the Word of God is something that I had no idea before. And suddenly the fear of being rejected by God loomed in my mind.
It is then I realized how much I need Jesus Christ in my life. How much I need His suffering at Calvary and His death in Cross. And the Redemption He bought by His own blood. Suddenly, it becomes clearer how much I need Jesus Christ and His Sacrifice on the Cross.
In what do you seek your glory?
Prayer: Do you seek glory in how much you pray every day? Are you proud that you spend more time in prayers than others?
Faith: Is your glory based on your faith? How strong you are no matter how difficult the circumstances become? How you can praise the LORD even in the midst of all the hardships?
Sufferings: Is your glory based on your suffering? On how much you have suffered for Christ, compared to others? That no one you know have suffered as much as you have?
Blessings: Do you glorify in the blessings that you have received from the LORD? Is this something that you are proud of? How your prayers are answered immediately?
These are the few common things, IMHO, that the Christians boast often. But, these are the few things that I have seen Christians murmur against the LORD too.
When their prayers are not answered quickly, they are upset with the LORD.
When their faith does not bring victory to them, they quickly question their faith or God in Who they trust.
When their sufferings are beyond what they can bear, they start to question the righteousness of the LORD.
When some blessings are denied, they are very upset with the LORD.
But, there is something that I boast upon. Something that would never ever disappoint me. That would never make me upset with the LORD. That would always bring joy to my mind.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Galatians 6:14 (NIV)
In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I look at Calvary and see what the LORD has done for me in the cross.
I know my prayers are heard by God our Father, because Jesus Christ, His Son and my Savior, was torn into two, so that I can draw near to the Throne of Grace fearlessly and with confident.
I know that the LORD is pleased with my faith, because my faith is not based on my self-confidence or my self-will. It is based on the One who died for me on the cross, Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.
Oh, there is nothing, nothing that can be compared to the suffering of Christ on the cross. So, when I think I am suffering, I look at the cross. I look at the sufferings that He endured for me. There is nothing to boast from my side.
And, all my blessings, all my success, everything that could be considered a blessing in my life came to me, only because Jesus Christ Himself became a curse for me on the cross, so that I receive the blessings of Abraham. (Galatians 3:13-14)
Now, I look again. There is nothing in me that I can boast. Prayer, faith, sufferings, blessings… everything came to me only through the cross of Christ. So, there is only one thing that I boast in. There is only one thing that I glory in.
The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What about you?
Matthew 28:18-20“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””
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When I was a young kid, I used to read a lot. Lots of mythology, fantasy stories, etc. But I had not read the Bible and I did not know much about being a Christian. There is this Catholic church in our town and there used to be this huge crucifix on the side of the road. I was twelve when one of my classmates asked me why was Jesus hanging from the Cross. And I had no idea. My mom got furious that I knew so much about other religions, but I had no idea why Jesus was hanging from the Cross. She made me read the New Testament.
As I was reading the Gospel according to Matthew, I was confused . This God is not like any other gods I have read in the mythology. To be honest, I was actually bored . But for a young impressionable kid, who was looking for a super-hero, the worst thing happened when I turned to Chapter 27 of the Gospel. In verses 40 and 42, Jesus who had been already crucified, was being taunted by two groups.
“Come down from the Cross, if You are the Son of God” – Matthew 27:40 (NIV)
“Let Him come down now from the Cross, and we will believe in Him.” – Matthew 27:42 (NIV)
I was really expecting that Jesus would come down from the Cross and prove that He is the Son of God to those who were mocking Him. To say that I was disappointed that He did not do that would be an understatement. But not only HE did not come down from the Cross, He did something that none of the superheroes had done – HE cried aloud, saying, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” and He died. I felt very let down. I closed the Bible, sat there wondering how my favorite heroes would have fought and beaten the hell out of everyone who tried to crucify them.
That was a long time ago. Now, as I read the same passages again and again, I am just grateful that the LORD Jesus Christ in His infinite grace has chosen that 12 year old disappointed kid to be saved from the schemes of devil and the gates of hell by His great sacrifice on Calvary that day. Now, I understand why Jesus had to die on the Cross that day. Now it makes sense why He did not come down from the Cross when his enemies were taunting Him. Now, there is a prayer in my heart and all I can say to God our Father is this:
Yes, as I meditate more on the Cross and what happened that day at Calvary when our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ was crucified, all I want are two things: 1. may I boast only about the Cross of our LORD Jesus Christ and 2. may I never boast about anything else.
I boast about the Cross of our LORD Jesus Christ because
of the love of Jesus Christ who suffered there for you and me
of the love of the God our Father who gave His only Son for you and me
innocent blood was shed there so that our sins could be forgiven
Jesus Christ bore all our sins so that we could become righteous in the eyes of the Most Holy God
Jesus Christ became a curse for us, so that we could receive the Abrahamic blessings and be blessed
of His stripes, we are healed
the punishment for our peace fell upon Him at the Cross
the dominion of sin came to an end in our life
we became dead to the world and are made alive to God and
He shared our sufferings, sorrows, loneliness and everything else, and showed us how to emerge victorious.
There are many more reasons why I boast about the Cross of our LORD Jesus Christ. But of all those things, first and foremost the Cross of our LORD Jesus Christ means to me is:
Yes, the Cross of our LORD Jesus Christ means the celebration of love our God has for us. The Cross of our LORD Jesus Christ explains how much Jesus Christ loves us. The Cross of our LORD Jesus Christ means, above everything else, that He loves us abundantly. And filled with the abundance of love that the Cross of our LORD Jesus Christ brings, I will proclaim wholeheartedly, with apostle Paul…
|Isaiah 53:3-4“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a Man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like One from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted.”
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