Perpetual Prayers of the Faithful
“The Lord is my shepherd … I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:1-6 abbreviated
My wife asked me one day as we were driving, “Have you ever wondered how you are going to die?”
I tried to ignore her as the traffic was nasty, but as usual, once she gets something in her mind she wants an answer, so I mumbled something trying to distract her. You’d think after all these years I’d know that wouldn’t work, but at least it got me a brief reprieve.
When we came to a stop sign she turned her beautiful determined face toward me and said, “Well, have you?”
I stayed quiet as I knew from experience she had something on her mind she wanted to say.
After a few moments, she told me what was on her mind, “I think I’d like to die the way your Dad did. He was reading the paper in their backyard having breakfast under his grapevines and just fell forward with his head on his paper. Your mother had gone in to get him another cup of coffee, but suddenly a white dove bumped into the kitchen window and flapped its wings to get in. Mom was so startled that she went outside to look for the dove and found Dad had died. As she looked up she saw a dove with a broken wing fly away. That brings goosebumps every time I think about Dad’s home going.”
Again, by letting my better half answer her own questions, I’d heard an insightful answer that caused me to reflect on what she was saying.
I remembered how my Dad had been saved after my Mom had prayed for him for 25 years. He was a mean alcoholic who ran a carpenter union as its president. He had nasty habits such as throwing people down the stairs if they made him angry at the union hall. Still, my mother prayed and believed. She wasn’t going to divorce him because she knew someday he would be saved.
One evening while I was home from college, I told Dad, with a bit of fear, that I was afraid he wasn’t going to heaven with Mom, me, and the girls, and we would miss him. His answer surprised me, “If you’re afraid for me Bobbie, let’s go into the bathroom right now and settle this with God.”
We went into our little bathroom and I followed his lead and knelt beside him. Dad then asked the Lord to forgive him and save his soul despite all the evil he had done. As he repented tiny tears rolled down his face. I had a new father. The monster who had run Carpenter Local 701 was born again and Psalm 23 became his treasured prize.
He poured all the expensive crystal decanter liquor that contractors had given him to remain in his good favor down the drain. Yet, he had to conduct business in bars. He started wearing a cross on his tie and drank Coke instead of his preferred Irish Whiskey. For several years, he listened to Vernon Magee teach the Bible during lunch hour out in his car in front of the Union hall, and he even took notes.
I had a new creature father. He still had flaws but was on the potter’s wheel from that day in the bathroom when Mom’s prayers were answered. He experienced “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” that morning the dove broke his wing and flew away.
That was a wonderful way to die.
By: Charles Spurgeon
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 2:18-25
Of this God in Christ, our text says that he knew no sin. It does not say that he did not sin; that we know: but it says more than that; he did not know sin; he knew not what sin was. He saw it in others, but he did not know it by experience. He was a perfect stranger to it. It is not barely said, that he did not take sin into his heart, but he did not know it. It was no acquantance of his. He was the acquaintance of grief; but he was not the acquaintance of sin. He knew no sin of any kind,—no sin of thought, no sin of birth, no original, no actual transgression; no sin of lip, or of hand, did ever Christ commit. He was pure, perfect, spotless; like his own divinity, without spot or blemish, or any such thing. This gracious person, is he who is spoken of in the text. He was a person utterly incapable of committing anything that was wrong. It has been asserted lately, by some ill-judged one, that Christ was capable of sin. I think it was Irving who started some such idea, that if Christ was not capable of sinning, he could not have been capable of virtue. “For,” say they, “if a man must necessarily be good, there is no virtue in his goodness.” Away with their ridiculous nonsense! Is not God necessarily good? And who dares deny that God is virtuous? Are not the glorified spirits in heaven necessarily pure? And yet are they not holy because of that very necessity? Are not the angels, now that they are confirmed, necessarily faultless? And shall any one dare to deny angelic virtue! The thing is not true; it needs no freedom in order to create virtue. Freedom and virtue generally go together; but necessity and virtue are as much brother and sister as freedom and virtue. Jesus Christ was not capable of sin.
For meditation: It would have been awful for the sinless Christ to suffer just for one sin of one man. But for him to suffer for all the sins of a countless multitude past, present and future must have been appalling beyond all imagination. How God must hate sin! How he must love poor sinners! Did Christ die for you (Galatians 2:20)?
The Trouble With Touting Our “Truths”
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“So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her.” 2 Kings 22:14 (ESV)
When I was a younger woman, I knew where I could always go for wisdom. I planted myself on the tapestried bench in front of Mona’s desk. There I found both answers and affirmation.
Mona was our church’s receptionist and resident godly woman. In response to any dilemma I had, she’d open her Bible. There she pointed me to the solution for every problem. Although she could have filled our time with her opinions or her own version of the truth, she never did. She directed me to God for His Truth instead. Mona was a woman who proclaimed the authority that Scripture holds, an authority unmatched by our own advice.
I wasn’t the only one who turned to Mona for wisdom. Some days I’d make a beeline for her bench only to find it occupied by one of my pastors. They, too, sought out guidance from Mona. Regardless of age or gender, humble hearts knew that she would lead them to the truths in God’s Word. Mona mirrors Huldah, a Jewish woman who lived long ago.
Huldah’s short but powerful story makes it clear that she, too, was known for affirming humble hearts that sought the authority of God’s Word. When faced with the dilemma of the nation’s sin, King Josiah’s advisors sought Huldah.
The Book of the Law, which was written on a scroll, had been neglected and then lost for decades within the walls of the temple, despite the instructions given generations before by Moses. He directed leaders to read the Book of the Law every seven years to the community so that they would fear the Lord and follow His commands. (Deuteronomy 31:10-13) Instead, it was lost, and God’s people turned to sin and idolatry.
When the scroll was found, King Josiah had it read to him, and he felt such grief that he tore his robes. The words in the Book of the Law revealed the nation’s violation of God’s ways. Then King Josiah said to the High Priest and other advisors, “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found” (2 Kings 22:13a, ESV).
Under the Old Testament covenant, a mediator, like a prophet or prophetess, was required to seek the Lord. King Josiah’s advisors headed straight to a source they trusted: Huldah. “So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her.” (2 Kings 22:14) In the remainder of the account, Huldah the prophetess faithfully shared the message that God gave her. She told them that the promised judgements in the Book of the Law would come to pass, affirming the book’s authority. (2 Kings 22:16) And she revealed that godly King Josiah would be protected, affirming a humble heart.
This story fascinates me. It’s extraordinary on so many levels, but there’s one truth that I have held tighter than any other.
I want to be known as a woman who’s faithful to the authority of God’s Word and the humble hearts who seek Him.
When we only give our own opinions rather than point to the wisdom of Scripture, we let down those who are seeking advice. Let’s replace our own wobbly viewpoints and weak solutions with the reliability of God’s Word. Let’s lead humble hearts to Him instead of tethering them to us. Like Huldah and Mona, let’s be women known for touting God’s truths instead of our own.
“The angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘Behold now, you are infertile and have not given birth; but you will conceive and give birth to a son.’” – Judges 13:3 NASB
God had a plan for Samson. Even before his birth, God began shaping his life. He was on the right path until he was tempted by a Philistine woman who “looked good to Samson.” This relationship resulted in complications (Judges 14:5-20).
Then, he fell in love with another Philistine woman, Delilah, who tricked Samson into revealing the secret to his strength. After his strength left him, he was seized by the Philistines who gouged out his eyes and bound him with chains. When his strength was renewed, God enabled him to pull down the structure, bringing destruction to the Philistines.
His relationship with both women seemed so desirable to Samson. He wanted to fulfill his cravings and gain pleasure. He never imagined all the pain that would result.
Samson’s life shows how easily our hearts can be captured. We can quickly lose perspective, give in to temptation, and become slaves of our desires. We can develop questionable relationships or pursue goals that seem right but point us in the wrong directions.
These are important reasons to surrender everything to God. Seek His guidance. Base our lives on His Word. Be on guard against temptation. Commit your way to Him. Surrender to His plan for you. Ask Him for discernment and the strength to resist temptations. Be filled with His Spirit and His Word. Dedicate yourself to prayer. Trust Him. Be focused on fulfilling the destiny He has prepared just for you.