Prayer of the Exiled

How long, most holy and true Lord God? I wait patiently for You to remember me. Enemies speak against me, friends are helpless to support me.

I am a stranger in the earth: do not hide your commandments from me!  Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth. Like my heavenly Isaac speak to me, “Come near now, and kiss me, my son.”  I need Your loving kindness that is better than life itself.

Only You by Your hand under my head and arm under my soul can lift me and sustain me with raisin cakes and apples of Your Spirit.

Seasons change, turn my bleak winter into blossoming summer. Blow oh north and south wind upon the sleeping garden of my life!

Where there is barrenness and a wilderness let the cross be planted in the midst of the garden of my heart.

Transplant it from Calvary and make it to me a new and living way, like the Tree of Life and let it wound the earth and when it is planted and bring forth a hundred fold.

My tears of repentance may make my bed to swim but only the mist of your Spirit rise in me and beautify early what no human nor I can sustain.

Warm my face with sunshine of your grace, let me labor for You so I may bring You into my mother’s house, the church and not let you go.

 

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Prayer Of the Soul Sick of Sin

Ezekiel prophesied of the new birth that was coming through Jesus Christ, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them…ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses…ye shall receive no more reproach… Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.” (from Ezek. 36:25-31)

It is important though we have been forgiven for our past sins that we take serious our bent and natural inclination toward future possibility of sin.  In our flesh “dwells no good thing” and there is an endless battle between the sinful and spiritual nature after we are saved (Gal 5: 16-18). This lah-dee-dah attitude church people have these days toward sin and temptation, shows not only a lack of fear for God, but a lack of respect toward sin’s influence and power.  We are to “put on Christ and not make provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof.”  (Rom 13;14) Now to “put on” is to be clothed with Christ that is not “put on”  a show but to wear the new clothes designed by Christ and throw out of our closet all the old fat, “what not to wear”  clothes of sin. Don’t keep the fat clothes because you don’t want to fit in them again. Sin does not fit in or on our lives anymore. Sin’s power has been broken  by what Jesus did on the cross. But it is still around attempting to enslave us through temptation or the solicitation to do evil.

Sin is breaking God’s law or lawlessness and Ezekiel called this iniquity and sins are also called abominations or the things God hates. That is what we used to let run our lives. We were out of control sinners and we did the things God hates.  Jesus propitiated (appeased) God’s wrath toward sin and sinners and expiated (made amends for) our sins by his death on Calvary’s cross. God hated and was offended by sin and he could easily send the sinner to hell without a second thought.  “But this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came to save sinners…” (1 Tim 1:15).  Not only did God make provision for past and present sins but future sins as well. It only makes sense. The cross had to secure the salvation of God’s people or else all would be lost. 

It is important that we clarify that the scriptures teaching about justification (or being made right with God) is by faith alone  and while are still people who have a propensity to sin, God sees us as saints.  Justification is external, outside the sinner. God legally removes the guilt of sin, the culpability, fault and responsibility of sin. Justification and is an act which is complete at once and for all time.  Thank God for that because of the times, more often than we want to mention, even after we know the Jesus Christ as our Savior, there are outbreaks of sin in our lives.  We repent by saying the same thing that God says about our sin: that we have broken his law and done something he hates. God then says, “if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). He deals with the fruit of sin in the sense of forgiving us in God’s sight.

God says in Ezekiel I will not only cleanse you from your filthiness but from your idols.  God justifies us by faith in Christ by cleaning our filthiness as he sanctifies or purifies us by cleansing us from our idols. Sanctification is internal, inside the sinner and deals with and removes the pollution, contamination, defilement of sin, and is an uninterrupted process that takes place over a lifetime. Idols were images set up in the place of God.  But the idols in our lives are the images or thoughts, and emotions that lead to words and actions. Idols attempt to lead us away from God. The Bible says, “And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them.” (Ps 106:36).  Idols are the devices of our enemy Satan who wants to catch and enslave us.  There is a lifelong idol bashing or iconoclasm going on in the Christian heart. God will give the genuinely saved person a hatred for sin and a love for God.  It is important that we take aim at our sin and fortify our faith against temptation, realizing the seduction to act out sin is ever-present.  God by his Spirit  deals with the root of sin exposing and eradicating the idols out of our hearts by the preaching and study of his Word and cooperating with his Spirit’s correction of our lives.  

The repentance I speak of is long after a sin has been committed and forgiven. It can be before or in memory of that sin and the desire never to go back to it.  It is brokenness over that sin. Too often Christian men and women confess their sins and then hope and wish the sinful desire and thoughts go away.  That is not genuine compunction for sin. We recognize that though we are Spirit led people we also have many “crooked ways” and “rough places”  that need to be straightened and smoothed out by the purifying work of the Spirit (Luke 3:5).  We are priests of the Lord (1 Pet. 2:9)  but we still need to be cleansed from presumptuous sins and secret faults (Ps 19:12-13) that lurk in the heart as latent evil.  God has not called us to live under the load of condemnation for sins that have been forgiven (Rom 8:1). He does not want us to beat our breasts asking for mercy already given and wallowing in guilt that has been washed away. Your sins are forgiven, dear brother and sister.  Trust in Christ and stand fast in his promises.  God says, “I will also save you from all your uncleannesses…that ye shall receive no more reproach.” (Ezek 36: 29-30).

The psalmist cries out, “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!”  He was praying,   Oh that the steps of my life were settled and steady keeping to the course you set.  This is a prayer from the psalmist that expresses strong emotion.  Adam Clarke paraphrases it saying, “Without thee I can do nothing; my soul is unstable and fickle; and it will continue weak and uncertain till thou strengthen and establish it.” (Clarke).  When we see our need to obey God’s law, we cry out to him because in our own strength we cannot obey him. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. So God answers our prayer and he gives us but James speaks of! I love this verse, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6; Prov. 3:34; Job 22:29; Isa. 57:15).  Oh his grace is yours dear child of God. In our weakness he is strong! He gives greater grace as we humble ourselves in prayer. 

One of the marks of the new birth prophesied in Ezekiel was that not only would we have a new supple heart and a spirit made alive and conscious of God, “Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.” (Ezek. 36:31). The Word washes out our idols, “the washing of water by the word” and when the Word exposes the root not just the fruit of sin we are broken and the washing of our weeping takes place as we repent of the hidden idol. “The tears that accompany repentance, conversion and inward renewal are linked both in the scriptures and in the later Christian spiritual tradition with the concept of penthos, “mourning” that purifies the soul… penthos in the New Testament is also mourning with tears; but it is a grief that leads to a determination to act or change.” (I. Hausherr, Penthos, the Doctrine of Compunction in the Christian East, Cistercian publ, 1982)

Isaac Watts the great hymn writer penned, “Physician of my sin-sick soul, to thee I bring my case; my raging.”  malady control, and heal me by thy grace. Pity the anguish I endure, see how I mourn and pine; for never can I hope a cure, from any hand but thine. I would disclose my whole complaint, but where shall I begin? No words of mine can fully paint that worst distemper, sin. It lies not in a single part, but through my frame is spread; a burning fever in my heart, a palsy in my head. It makes me deaf, and dumb, and blind, and impotent and lame; and overclouds, and fills my mind, with folly, fear, and shame.  A thousand evil thoughts intrude tumultuous in my breast; which indispose me for my food, and rob me of my rest. Lord I am sick, regard my cry, and set my spirit free; say, canst thou let a sinner die, who longs to live to thee?”

This is not the sorrow of the world that works death, but repentance that leads to life (2 Cor. 7:10).  Paul wrote that to saved people who had an idol of sin exposed in them.  Regret is not enough. Penance cannot earn anything with God.  You can cover “the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out” (Mal 2:14).   Esau “found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” (Heb. 12;:7).  Even when someone dies we must not give into despair. We should not sorrow as those that have no hope (1 Thess 4:13) or weep with,  “the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter…” (Eccl. 4:1).  

God gives the gift of tears to you. Joy is mingled with sorrow! You may have many tears on your face, weeping in secret places, weeping in prayer on your bed at night, sometimes as you wake up. God allows trials and problems to expose the root of the idols that exploit us. You may eat the bread of tears and drink tears in great measure. But it is a blessed gift. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Like precious seed he has given you tears.  He that granted you the gift of repentance in salvation, has given you the gift of tears in a deeper compunction.  Like a storm of weeping that washes the earth of its filth,  the sun of grace shines causing a garden of grace to bloom! That healing of heart is the sweetest. The Lord is with you. He is on your side and in His mercy is driving out of your heart by His Spirit the devestating idols that rob your joy and your tears flood out the devices that bring sin and guilt and pain.

You feel hatred for your sin, and pure love for God, you desire to not only be forgiven but to know freedom from the cancer causing idol-agent in your heart. God says, “I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee.” (2 Kings 20:5).  You have washed the feet of Christ with these tears often in asking forgiveness, now the release from this root sin will be yours. Your sin will be sent away from your heart. He will comfort you. He will then save your eyes from tears because he keeps your from falling in this area of your life.  He will wipe away the tears from your face as he swallows up that deadly sinful idol  in victory. In your mourning you rejoice as sin is exposed and put out by the Holy Spirit.  “Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded..” (Jer 31:16). That is the precious collaboration of you and God in work of the heart and inner man who is so neglected, you will be rewarded by “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”

Shot Down By Christ!

sword_spirit“Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the kings enemies whereby the people fall under thee.”  (Psalm 45:5).

Why does the Psalmist employ the metaphor of arrows and war?  It is because Christ is the ultimate conqueror!  Does that startle you about Jesus Christ?  How can he be the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and at the same time be “a man of war” (Exodus 15:3). Christ “is Faithful and True and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” (Rev. 19:11).  This is not war like we see in the world today. He does not use man made weapons, nor is he interested in real estate since he has a rightful claim to own all the earth (Ps. 24:1; Isaiah 66:1-2).  But he chooses on conquering the human heart and he uses spiritual arrows.

The scriptures use the picture of warfare because the bloodiest fighting  in all history was waged upon Mount Calvary where Jesus died for sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)!   The Bible says, “His “robe is dipped in blood and his name is the Word of God” (Rev. 19:13)! The living personified Word of God proclaims his sacrifice for sin, in the symbol of “his robe dipped in blood.” In war the enemies blood is spilled, but in this war Christ spilled his blood and became victor. The blood stained banner of the Cross is the flag of victory.  There is not a day that goes by where The Son of God whose  does not engage the human heart and mind to win it to himself and save them from destruction. No one comes to Christ easily! 

The Lord Jesus Christ fights in a sitting position (Ps. 110:1)  to save those inwtj_throne_ls_1 danger of losing their eternal souls  and he exacts justice upon those who stubbornly refuse to change (Isa. 42:13). In the time in which we live, Christ redemptively subdues the hearts of the men and women of this world. He will overthrow sin through the message of gospel. The Bible states that he waits expectantly until his foes become his footstool and his worst, his most hated enemy will be saved for the final coupe de grâce –death (1 Cor 15:25-26; Heb 10:13). 

The Bible says that these arrows “are sharp.  They are not blunt but exact, precise and intentional. They are able to cut through the excuses of people by razor sharp grace and power.  Through the teaching of the scripture the Spirit of Christ shoots down the root issues of argumentation, twisted thinking and barriers to the truth of God. The minister of the gospel acts like a  “crossbow” preaching the cross of Christ and he  launches the message of the gospel out of the quiver (the case that holds arrows) of the scripture. 

How important it is that the preacher must have weight in his message and force in his words! He has an incredible arsenal at his disposal-in the word of truth, the scriptures. The pastor must be like Jonathan and shoot arrows that send a precise message (1 Sam 20:18-42)! When someone begins to understand the Cross they will be cut to the heart with its truth.

When a courageous man preaches the message of the cross it is a gospel arrow that is shot into the deepest part of a person as the only means to awaken and regenerate that dead soul. You will know when a man is preaching the scripture by its character and disposition. It is a two edged sword (Heb 4:12) and God asks,“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?”   If it is not like that, it is not the Word! Look, the human heart is not a soft target. The heart is so hard before it comes to Christ it must be struck hard by a gospel hammer in order to be broken. The heart is so rigid it must be melted by fiery preaching.  The gospel is an act of compassionate aggression to fight for those who are “against themselves” and oppose their own spiritual welfare and salvation (2 Tim 2:25). Oh,  I pray that if you do not know Christ as Savior and Lord that the Spirit of God would slay the bondage of sin in your life by the power of his word!

christ1The problem with many preachers today is that they want to do not want to cause any pain in the hearts of people by the scalpel of the word so they medicate them with messages that numb their symptoms. Let us weep in prayer before God and ask his mercy that the Holy Spirit would not only operate in our church gatherings but perform operations on the hearts of those who hear the man behind the pulpit and the remove the malignant sin that has killed them and regenerate their souls that they might repent of sin and turn to God. “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” (Hosea 6:1NIV).

They are also shot “in the heart of the King’s enemies.”  Who are these targeted enemies?  People who do not know Christ are called the enemies of God and are hostile to God and prove it by their thinking and actions (Col 1:21).  The worldly mind hates God (Rom 8: 7). Christ loves these enemies, like Saul of Tarsus, who was rushing headlong to destruction (Acts 9),  he must stop them by Sovereign Grace and this involves the launching of these Divine arrows!  He shoots at close range and the arrow strikes with force that is point blank and they enter into the very core of the human being.  Sinner interrupted! He aims a spined arrow that cannot be easily removed! Oh how people need to be convicted of sin, struck through with the sharp arrow of the accurate gospel as Charles Spurgeon says, “Whether for love or vengeance, Christ never misses aim, and cause{s}… a wound which only he can heal.” 

Whereby the people fall under thee.   Christ causes people to fall. His message brings fallout. There are those, how sad, of whom the Bible says, that Christ is “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (1 Pet. 2:8).  Oh, how fearful it is to fall into the hands of the living God! And there are those who will fall in line with Christ, who will be enlisted by his call to follow him as disciples of Christ.

But Christ’s arrows will cause people to fall. He is Lord of heaven and earth and how ominous are his words in the Gospel of Luke, “Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Luke 20:18). Those who come must be broken of all their ideas, all their rebellion, they must be regenerated and given new life and God will be near to them as they repent and are contrite in spirit. But others will have the stone fall upon them and will be crushed! Oh I am sorry for you if you do not repent of your sins! Christ can by no means clear the clear the guilt of those who refuse to embrace Him as Lord of everything! They will be crushed to dust and blown away by the wind like stubble! Eternity is a moment away, will you not turn to Christ for salvation?  Is the arrow he has launched into you, stinging with pain enough to make you turn to him for healing?

cornerstone02 Christ comes into the human heart and exposes the real enemy: sin and then he shoots at it by the message of the cross! The arrow causes the human soul to seek the forgiveness and deliverance of Christ from a life dominated by sin as if it were a lethal disease that he needs to be cured from.  They must go to Jesus by whose wounds they can be healed (Isa. 53:5).

“For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.” (Isaiah 66:16).  There is the fire of God for condemnation and the fire of the Spirit for sanctification. There is a sword that brings salvation and there is a sword that brings damnation. No matter, in the end God will get the glory! Either your old life will be slain and you will be given a new life or you will be slain in the “second death” of the Lake of fire! Christ never misses those he aims at whether for salvation or damnation.

The message of the cross of Christ is the most sharp instrument that demonstrates the love and justice of God (Rom. 3:25-26; 5:10).  When Christ and his accomplishments are lifted up he draws with irresistible grace all those he effectually calls!  Obviously, it is threatening when we see Christ shooting at people!  It may be seen by some in an negative light because Christ shoots in justice against sin, but if we understand it  in terms of God bringing back to life the human spirit and saving their soul from eternal hell it is good news!  Whether people seem near to coming to Christ or far from God as they can it does not matter! Be encouraged and warned! No one is out of his range and you are never far from his reaching, saving hand! But sin no more unless a worse thing comes upon you and you fall unable to recover.