Saturday, November 23, 2013

Brother, the grass grows on your path

Early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in private devotions. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others. They would kindly remind the negligent one, "Brother, the grass grows on your path."
Today in the Word, June 29, 1992.

Friday, May 03, 2013

"I knew I was going down" - 78-year-old Boston Marathon runner Bill Iffrig

On April 15, 2013 78-year-old Bill Iffrig, of Lake Stevens, Wash., was competing in his third Boston Marathon (a 26.2-mile race) and only 15 feet from the finish line when a blast knocked him to the ground. He suffered a scraped knee and ringing in his ears.
Iffrig said he was “feeling pretty good” about his time when he saw the finish line in sight about 15 feet away. Then he heard a blast and his body trembled.
“The shock waves must have hit my body, and my legs just started going like noodles," Iffrig later told ESPN, "and I knew I was going down right there.”
“I made an attempt to get up, and one of the assistants came over and gave me a hand,” Iffrig said. “He went over and walked me to the finish line so I can finish.”

Afterwards he refused the use of a wheelchair as he walked six blocks to his hotel room!

Bill’s ordeal that day inspires us not to give up. After all the fatigue and sweat and pain, Bill was hit with a blast that knocked him off his feet just inches from the finish line. You and I are in a race and we are often hit by setbacks that knock us off our feet. We sometimes feel like even quitting. Look at Bill. He didn’t quit. He didn’t give up! He got up, put one foot in front of the other, and finished the race.

Paul the apostle writing to the Corinthians encourages them, and us, by his example. He often was discouraged and probably felt like throwing in the towel. He not only experienced the hardships of being a 1st Century missionary, but he also had to navigate through the minefields and explosions of criticism and attacks from the Judaizers and false teachers. But look at Paul. He did not give up. He did not quit. In 2 Corinthians 4:1 he writes, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.” And again in the same chapter he says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, 17).
Are you tempted to give up? Are there times when you’re so fatigued that you don’t think you’re going to make it? Maybe it’s a job or a course of education or even a marriage. Maybe on top of the expected hardships of such endeavours you’ve suffered a setback, some explosive problem that has knocked you off balance and threatens to take you out of the race. If you’re a Christian you have heaven on your side. There is too much at stake and the Lord will see you through. Don’t give up. Keep running. Look up… yes, that’s the finish line. Get up and go over it! (See also Hebrews 12:1-3; Galatians 6:9; 2 Timothy 4:7 etc.)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


At airports time stands still, is suspended. You are between leaving and arriving, somewhere between coming and going. You feel important. Why else would you be dressed up, rushing around trying not to look conspicuous? Anonymity is another common possession. That makes people watching extra interesting as you wonder what is taking that person from somewhere to somewhere else. Tonight the port is empty, almost. Some of the only patrons are a family of birds that make the architecture their home. The Multi-million $ structure never knew it would house a squadron of chickadees and the cleaning staff never thought it would have to scrub the droppings of God's carefree creatures! Oh look! The clock strikes 3:23 a.m. and the check-in begins... There is no point to this blog entry, other than the fact that people don't live in airports, they just pass through and in the 21st Century, in a wifi world, bloggers post quirky notes.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Psalm 23 - Three Secrets

Introduction: Called The Pearl of the Psalms, the simplest and sweetest song that was ever sung, Psalm 23 is The Shepherd Psalm. With his harp David unfolds the profound yet practical working relationship between himself and the LORD his Shepherd. He takes us from the GLEN, down into the GORGE, and then on up to the GLORY. There are three secrets [1]:

I. The secret of a happy life (vv. 1-3)
Every need supplied [2]

• He gives me Peace
• He Leads me
• He restores my soul

II. The secret of a happy death (vv. 4, 5)
Every fear removed

• “the valley of the shadow of death”
• “I will fear no evil”
• “in the presence of my enemies”

III. The secret of a happy eternity (v. 6)
Every desire fulfilled

• My cup runs over
• Goodness and Mercy
• The House of the LORD

Conclusion: David’s assurance – “I shall dwell…” We too can have assurance – “that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:11-13). Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you”. Because David could say “the LORD is my shepherd”, he had the blessed assurance that he was on his way to that wonderful place called heaven. Is the LORD your shepherd? Are you one of His sheep?

[1] John Phillips in his commentary on the Psalms uses this outline. However, I have seen this same outline in much older books. I don't know where it originated, but you can see why it is used and reused by generations of Bible students.

[2]“He makes me to lie down”: Phillip Keller in his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, explains how a sheep will not lie down until at least four requirements are met:

1. Free from fear
2. Free from friction (with other sheep, irritation)
3. Free from flies (aggravation)
4. Free from hunger

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Psalms - Songs from a Shepherd's Harp

Psalm 2 – Crown him with many crowns

Introduction: Psalm 2 is a royal or coronation psalm. Quoted or aluded to over 18x in NT, Psalm 2 is Messianic
(Acts 4:24-27; 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15).
We hear four speakers:

I. The voice of the nations - Conspiracy (1-3)

a) The People
b) The Plot
c) The Prophecy

II. The voice of the Father – Mockery (4-6)

a) God Laughs
b) God Speaks
c) God Crowns

III. The voice of the Son – Victory (7-9)

a) His Sonship
• “You are my Son”
• “Today I have begotten you”

b) His Heirship
• Universal Possession
• Unlimited Power

IV. The voice of the Spirit – Opportunity (10-12) (1)

Conclusion: “Repent or perish!”

The Spirit offers rebels conditions of peace:
• “Be wise,…instructed” – Intellect
• “Serve the LORD” – Will
• “Kiss the Son” – Heart

(1) Adapted from The Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren Wiersbe

Friday, February 08, 2013

Psalms - Songs from a Shepherd's Harp

Psalm 1 - Happiness is...

"He shall be like a tree planted..."

Introduction: "Middle C – everything flows up and down from that mysterious middle C – the dividing line between Treble and Base. But God doesn’t start the music of heaven with middle C. God finds a high note and starts there! Psalms begins with a very high note, “Blessed”, “Happy”! In Hebrew – the plural of magnitude… “happy, happy is the man!” God does not dole out His blessings one at a time, He pours them out in plural! The word ‘blessednesses’ is not found in the singular in Hebrew because there is no such thing as a single blessing; wherever there is one there is another." (1)


I. The Person God Blesses (verses 1-3)

“Blessed is the man…”

a) He is Separated from the World

b) He is Saturated by the Word

c) He is Situated by the Water

II. The Person God Judges (verses 4-6)

“The ungodly are not so…”

a) He is Driven

b) He is Doomed

c) He is Damned (See Revelation 20:11-15)


Are you a happy (blessed) person? The answer to that question reveals a lot about your character and destiny.
There are only two ways and two destinies: (see Matthew 7:13, 14)

(1) Exploring the Psalms, John Phillips

Psalms - Songs from a Shepherd's Harp

If the Bible was like a big house, the Psalms would be the music room!
At Northside Bible Chapel in Barrie this month we are spending some time in the Psalms. Winter is a good time to spend some time in the Psalms because it is a season in which we can often get down and the prayers of the Psalms often can echo or reflect many of the human emotions we feel as we seek God.

We are going to post the series outlines along with a few jottings, with the prayer that they may be an encouragement to you:

The Psalms we will be looking at are

Psalm 1 - Happiness is...
Psalm 2 - Crown Him with Many Crowns
Psalm 23 - Three Secrets
Psalm 42&43 - The Soul's Depression

The Book of Psalms has been called The Prayer and Praise Book of Israel. It remains the devotional guide, payer book and hymnal of believers of all ages. Every Human emotion and every spiritual ambition finds expression in the Psalms. As J. Flanigan says, we find
Praise and Prophecy
Duty and Devotion
Grief and Gladness
Joy and Sorrow
Tragedy and Triumph
Tears and Laughter
Trials and Trust


A. The Hebrew is "Praises" or "Songs of Praise" (Heb. Tehillim, cf. Psalm 145).

B. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, or the LXX) the title is psalmos which means "twagings" or "to pluck." This Greek term is used of the Psalms in Luke 20:42; 24:44 and Acts 1:20. A Psalm then, is a poem to be accompanied by music. See the superscription to Psalm 6 for example.

The Lord Jesus referred to the "Psalms" in Luke 24, along with the other two main sections of the Hebrew Old Testament, "Moses" and "the Prophets". This gives us a key to the Psalms and the most profitable study of this beautiful book. That is, to see Christ in the Psalms. The Messianic Psalms give us a glimpse into the heart and feelings of the Saviour as he went to Calvary and as he died for our sins. If the Gospels give us the facts of the Crucifixion, the Psalms give us the feelings.


Hebrew Poetry is different than English
But first ask yourself, Why poetry? (poetry versus pros)

Poetry can penetrate parts of the personality that pros would never touch.

Poetry penetrates the mind – more easily remembered, touches the artistic, intuitive part of the brain

Poetry touches the heart – poetry moves the heart (think greeting cards!), touches the emotional part

Read the following poem and think about how it evokes 'feeling':

They walked down the lane together,
The sky was full of stars.
Together they reached the farm yard gate,
He lifted for her the bars.
She neither smiled nor thanked him,
Indeed, she knew not how,
For he was just a farmer’s boy,
And she was a Jersey cow.

Peotry – three features: rhyme, rhythm, repetition
Remember this one?

Jack and Jill went up the hill…

Probably almost all of us could recite the whole thing because of the way poetry lodges itself into our mind and heart.

Hebrew poetry is unique

Rhyme – English poetry rhymes words, whereas Hebrew poetry rhymes ideas
Using parallelism (synonymous, antithetic, synthetic, etc.)

Rhythm – or metre, the beat placed on syllables.
“The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want…” 4/3 metre


David wrote about 73 of the psalms along with Moses, Asaph, Korah, Solomon, Heman and others. They were collected and compiled, some think by Ezra or Asaph or someone closely connected with temple worship.

There are actually five books of Psalms, that correspond with the five books of Moses or like a Poetic Pentateuch. Each book is followed by a doxology or a little 'praise the Lord'. The last Psalm (150) is the doxology to the whole book. Check it and see!

Five books
Book I – Genesis book 1-41; man, creation
Book II – Exodus book 42-72; redemption
Book III – Leviticus book 73-89; sanctuary, worship
Book IV – Numbers book 90-106; wilderness section (Moses 90)
Book V – Deuteronomy book 107-150; Word of God (Ps. 119)