Archives for posts with tag: pt

In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” (James 1:18, NASB95)

I’ve been going over and over the book of James in the past couple of days [listened to it six times so far] because I read this book called How to Master the English Bible [Free synopsis:  Listen/Read one book over and over again in one sitting until you know the general outline and flow of the narrative/argument by heart].

Every time I listen through the book, this verse seems to pop out at me, especially the phrase In the exercise of His will. Since James is referring to this process as a kind of first fruits among His creatures, we know that he is referring to salvation here.  God brought us forth into salvation by the exercise of His will.  This is a humbling truth.  We’d like to think that the real process is this: In the exercise of our will we came to faith by the word of truth. The only difficulty here is, while this is what we think, it isn’t what James writes.

Indeed, what James writes literally is: “In the exercise of His will He gave birth to us by the word of truth.”  The Passion Translation puts it this way: God was delighted to give us birth by the truth of his infallible Word.

So let’s just recap what James emphasizes here in the process of God giving us the new birth [which Jesus refers to in John 3]:

  • Our birth into a life of faith comes about by an act of God’s will
  • Our birth into a life of faith comes about by the word of truth

God and the Scriptures are what are important here.  Even though this is humbling to me, I’m glad it is this way, because I do not believe I would have been smart enough to grasp God’s offer of salvation through my own intellect or desire. God exercises His will.  I’m good with that.


“The lips of the righteous feed many,
but fools die for lack of sense. ” (Prov 10.21, ESV)

To understand what Solomon is getting at (I think 😋) in this proverb, we have to remind ourselves what Solomon means by the righteous and fools.  To Solomon, the righteous are those who love God, who love and follow God’s law (see Ps. 119) and who encourage others to do likewise.  The fool, on the other hand, is the opposite of the righteous.  This person does not love God, does not love, nor follow God’s law, and encourages others not to love and follow God also.  The fool is diametrically opposed to God.

In this proverb, Solomon is speaking about words as a metaphor for spiritual food.  When those who love God and love his law speak, then those words will be spiritual food for everyone who listens and heeds their words. However, the words of the righteous will not be spiritual food for the fool.  Why not?  It’s because they do not listen to such words.  They don’t want to hear what God says, they have no interest in Him or in His laws, so they neglect it all.  This person will die for “lack of sense” (literally “lack of heart” in the Hebrew).  The fool will experience spiritual death rather than listen to the life-giving words of the righteous!

I like how the Passion Translation captures this verse:

The lovers of God feed many with their teachings,
But the foolish ones starve themselves
For lack of an understanding heart.

We would be wise, dear reader, you and I, to listen to the words of the righteous.

Let the entire universe erupt with praise to God.
From nothing to something he spoke, and created it all. (Psalms 148:5, Passion Translation)

Every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every year, the universe does what the psalmist calls it to do: Let the entire universe erupt with praise to God. We hear it in the rising of the sun each day (even in cloudy Michigan); we hear it each evening as the sunset paints the sky with purples, oranges, greys, and blacks; we hear it as we pass by the ungainly Sandhill Cranes that spend 9 months of every year foraging in and around our farm fields; we can’t help but catch our breath in wonder when we hear it in the whites and greens and reds of the aurora borealis, in the matchless wonder of the southern cross constellation, in the return of spring, in the rain that falls, and in the sum total of all creation everywhere.  They have one duty and they do it oh-so-well; they praise their creator in an eruption of praise that cannot be missed except by willful choice.  From nothing to something he spoke, and created it all!

Spurgeon writes here: “Those who were created by command are under command to adore their Creator. The voice which said “Let them be”, now saith “Let them praise.”

Amen and Amen.

He heals the wounds of every shattered heart. (Psalms 147:3, Passion Translation)

There is a lot packed into a few words here.  First, there is the acknowledgement that there are “shattered hearts” among us.  The Christian faith jumps down into the gritty alley of life right along with us and engages us at a realistic level.  It does not seek to minimize or deny our reality.

Second, the Lord knows which hearts are shattered and why the need mending and how they need mending.  There is no hurt that goes unnoticed by Our Lord, no one who is overlooked because he is too busy, no lost sheep whom he forgets about.

Third, the Lord enters into the brokenness of the world with us.  This is significant.  He not only knows and cares about us, but God the Son entered into the brokenness and was here with us, understands the difficulties we face, and has great compassion for us.

Finally, the Lord heals our wounds.  He doesn’t just know about shattered hearts, he works to heal the wounds.  I love how the prophet Isaiah put this truth:

He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those that are nursing.” (Isaiah 40:11, HCSB)



Weak and feeble ones, you will sustain.
Those bent over with burdens of shame, you will lift up. (Psalms 145:14, Passion Translation)

One of the beautiful things about the Christian faith (and one of the reason I think it is true) is the way that it handles shame.  That all of us carry burdens of shame due to past sins, current attitudes, feuds we have with others, poor choices that we have made, or even sinful choices that others have made that have affected us, is indisputable as the rising of the sun.  Shame is there, but how can we deal with it?  How can we be rid of these burdens of shame that weigh us down?

Mankind tries various ways to handle shame.  We try to ignore it, which neither works, nor relieves us of the shame.  We try to anesthetize it with drugs, alcohol, and various other stimulants or depressants, this works temporarily, but does not take away the shame and indeed leaves us worse off than before.  We can take the Buddhist approach and deny the shame, which has the advantage of helping us cope, but of course the shame is not taken away, we’ve just managed to convince ourselves that it isn’t there, or at least isn’t going to affect us.  Atheism is of little use, because it has nothing to deal with shame and we are left limping along with our burden, unable to either rid ourselves of it, or convince ourselves that it isn’t important.

The elegance of the Christian faith is that it doesn’t deny our shame, indeed it rather painfully points it out.  However, we are not left alone to wallow in miserable shame.  We come to the cross and Jesus nails it there, where it is paid for in full, where he takes it on himself, and we are free.  Shame is real.  Shame is painful.  Jesus came to deal with shame and free us from slavery to it, or as Paul points out:

He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. (Col 2.13b-14) .

Shame?  Nailed to the cross.  Sins?  Forgiven. Debt? Paid for.  Result? Freedom.

Like I said, elegant.

Let the dawning day bring me revelation
Of your tender, unfailing love.
Give me light for my path, and teach me, for I trust in you! (Psalms 143:8, Passion Translation)

In a world lit only by fire, which was the only world that David knew, the break of dawn was especially memorable.  Here David uses the dawning day as a metaphor for the hesed of God, the covenantal love that God brings for and for his people, which the Passion Translation calls your tender, unfailing love. Without any help from mankind, the sun returns day after day after day, and without any work from God’s people, God’s unfailing love is present everywhere that his people are present and at all times, in all seasons, for every occasion.

Daybreak brings light to a dark world, and so David uses the same metaphor to ask God to light up his steps, to direct his paths, to guide his ways, because David is all in with God; he trusts in God and in God alone.

If we are to follow in the footsteps of David, the coming of the morning should stir up our hearts to think anew about God’s faithful, ever-present love for his people, and the rising sun should call us to fresh, new trust for that day.

Let my prayer be as the evening sacrifice
That burns like fragrant incense,
Rising as my offering to you
As I lift up my hands in surrendered worship! (Psalms 141:2, Passion Translation)

The words surrendered worship aren’t in the text of Ps. 141.2; however, I believe the author of the Passion Translation would argue that they are implied in the text, and rightly so.  David raises his hands as an offering of praise to God and praise and worship of God must be surrendered praise and worship.  One can hardly claim that worship is worship if it isn’t surrendered worship.  When one praises God, one lifts him up as worthy of praise and by implication that there is no one and nothing higher than him to praise.  Praise of God also implies that we are lower than God and do not deserve the praise ourselves.  This is surrendered worship.

Prayer also expresses dependence because we are making needs known to God in prayer, we are acknowledging that he is the God who hears and answers when we pray, and we ourselves cannot bring about what we are praying for.  Dependence implies surrender.  Dependence upon God is surrendered worship of God.

May our prayers go forth to God in humble dependence and surrendered worship.