Pour Over Me Fresh Oil

“But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
    you have poured over me fresh oil…

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
    and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
    they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
    they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
    he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” Psalm 92:10,12-15

“You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5b

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants.” Isaiah 44:3

Steady Spirit-inspired rhythms are beneficial and fortify purposeful living. Regular disciplines, the practice of learned truths, prudent boundaries, and consistently refined behavior are signs of spiritual health. But they can also hypnotize us into false maturity, rote answers, programmed responses, and dry output. We need fresh oil.

Has my daily quiet time grown stale? Do I stammer for answers when asked for advice, dull in recall of long-known biblical truths? Are there incidences that require specific wisdom and knowledge and I come up empty? On what habits do I rely to be adequate, yet find myself not progressing in understanding, or relinquishing pet sins, or putting away too-long-held godless attitudes? Have I grown callous to being convicted and changed? I need fresh oil.

Do I find myself snippy, irritable, or easily angered in an increasing number of situations, unable to exercise self-control? Where has lukewarm love for another diluted into disdain or apathy? What triggers my patience waning thin, or complaining growing fat? What evidence, if any, is there of the Spirit’s fruit in my daily attitudes and actions? Would my family or coworkers cite living proof? We need fresh oil. (Galatians 5:22-23)

When we come to Christ in repentance and genuine belief, we receive the Holy Spirit, who takes up forever residence in us. But cares and distractions trickle into our hours and psyches and fill us with all sorts of pettiness, fretting, frivolities, angst, and flesh reactions. We are commanded to be regularly filled with the Spirit, and He comes in fresh and abounding measure when we set these things aside and pray, and by God’s generous grace. If we desire His fresh anointing, He will give. (Luke 11:13; Acts 1:8; 2:38; 4:31; Ephesians 5:18)

“Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art –
thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great Father, I thy true son;
thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my battle shield, sword for my fight;
be thou my dignity, thou my delight,
thou my soul’s shelter, thou my high tow’r;
raise thou me heav’n-ward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.” ~Old Irish, translated by Mary E. Byrne (1905)

Oh Lord, daily pour over me the fresh oil of Your Spirit, filling me to every cranny of mind and heart. May my outflow reflect Your Spirit of splendor and power, all to Your praise.

What the Redeemed Say

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
    whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
    from the east and from the west,
    from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes,
    finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
    their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
    till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul he fills with good things…

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
    and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he shatters the doors of bronze
    and cuts in two the bars of iron…
He sent out his word and healed them,
    and delivered them from their destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
    and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!..

He made the storm be still,
    and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
    and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” Psalm 107:1-9,14-16,20-22,29-32

The redeemed of the Lord have much to say. Redeemed from trouble, from hunger and thirst and a fainting soul, from prison and affliction and the darkness of death, from foolishness in sin and the tangle of its consequences, from storms uncontrollable and the loud baffle of trouble, from wasted efforts and droughts of inspiration and hope… their hearts are full. The redeemed have been delivered, satisfied with good things, lifted from distress, released from bondage, and brought out into broad places. Their bonds have been broken, truth has set them free. They have been healed, calmed, watered, fed.

The redeemed of the Lord have much to say because the Lord has done much for them. His intentional and steadfast affection abounds, His innumerable deeds multiply by grace and power. Enumerating His works and considering His love and goodness causes thanksgiving to bubble over in loud praise.

So as His redeemed, how steeped am I in His benevolence to me? How well-versed am I in His plans and promises fulfilled through scripture, His protection and provision for His own then and now? When I speak, whether directly about Him, or any variety of topics, how does my redemption infuse my perspective, insights, and responses? Do my word choices, and messages formed, convey delight and joy in Him, gratitude for His mercies, hope from and for His deliverances? In what ways might meditation on His generous redemption change what I say, and how?

Lord, make me wise to attend to all You have done and do. You are worthy of praise, and as Your redeemed, may I continually say so to Your glory. (Psalm 107:43)

So Now, Lord…

“Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord:  ‘O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands,  and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.’” Isaiah 37:14-20

King Hezekiah was being threatened and taunted by Assyria’s Sennacherib, whose military swagger had swept through all the nations and their lands and now targeted Judah. He understood the gravity of his situation, and sought the Lord first through His prophet Isaiah, then approached His heavenly throne directly. He knew that their means of victory was only in looking up and clinging to the might of his Almighty, the Lord of heaven’s, the enemy’s, and Israel’s hosts. His confidence was in God’s rule, and his concern God’s renown. (Isaiah 36:1-37:13; Hebrews 4:16)

God makes clear that He does not act because of our goodness or smarts, and that we’re not delivered by our own power, chariots, and weapons. Before Him we are desperate, but He is great, full of lovingkindness and mercy and able to deliver. (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; 8:17; 9:4,6-7; Psalm 20:7-9; 103:6-7)

We face opposition every day- to our resolve, our intentions, our spiritual health, our purity. Enemies ridicule biblical beliefs and tightly held convictions, and even loved ones can inadvertently foment insecurity or loneliness. Ire rises, temptations taunt, and doubts assail. Our heavenly Father welcomes us to His throne to find grace and help in these times of need. When we approach, we must come confidently on the basis of all He is and can do, but humbly acknowledging we are weak against the foe. (Hebrews 4:16)

We must seek God on the basis of His righteousness, asking according to His upright standards and trustworthy promises to His people. He always fulfills His word, even if we cannot understand His timing, order, or methods. We beseech Him according to His character of mercy and justice. We must acknowledge and trust who He is, what He knows, and that He rules over all things with perfect precision and His ends in sight. We can then exalt His goodness and power as we look for His answers and His fame among the nations. (Deuteronomy 9:25-29)

When I receive the ‘challenging letter’- the harsh accusation or vile taunt- do I quickly react or thoughtfully respond? Would I resolutely make my way to the Lord’s presence, bow in humble submission and dependence, and earnestly pray, with eager expectation, that He will act?

Lord, please answer my pleas in such a way that You perform how and what only You can, so the world may know and be humbled before You in praise.

The Tongue of the Taught

“The Lord God has given me
    the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
    him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
    he awakens my ear
    to hear as those who are taught…

Let him who walks in darkness
    and has no light
trust in the name of the Lord
    and rely on his God.” Isaiah 50:4,10b

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her…
    that her iniquity is pardoned.” Isaiah 40:1,2b

“Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-
2

“Praise the Lord!
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
    who greatly delights in his commandments!” Psalm 112:1

The LORD GOD, covenant-keeping Sovereign, has given us the gift of conveying His word. He’s faithfully, consistently instilled truth to be real and relevant and powerful in our life, and made our mouth to speak. He never intended we use the mind apart from the tongue. We are not to take in and never give out, not to absorb yet never refresh. He’s given treasures of darkness not to hoard for ourselves, but to bring them into light. (Exodus 4:11; Isaiah 45:3; Luke 6:38; Galatians 6:6)

When He awakens us to His instruction and revelation, have we been alert and careful to store up treasures new and old? What particular life lessons have we learned, practiced, honed in our journey with Christ that could be helpful to another? What deep truths have become ours through unique experiences, growth in faith and understanding of God’s ways and character? How diligent are we at seeking out those who need encouragement, and stepping out of comfy company and crafted schedules into needy lives to offer God’s word? Would we generously take from all the riches entrusted to us to offer living water to satisfy His children? (Matthew 13:52; James 1:22)

Ability and willingness to bring comfort, truth, and light to God’s people takes morning by morning- regular alone time- to listen keenly. It takes saying no to the world, more sleep, and distractions in order to meditate on and apply and store up the wisdom of God’s word. It requires being open to His teaching, correction, rebuke, conviction, and filling. It flows from taking delight in His life-giving and -changing word so it permeates our reason and perspective. (2 Timothy 3:16)

What are we doing with the storehouse entrusted to us? Where are we casting Christs’s living bread upon the waters, among those with whom we work and live, so they can taste and see He is good? Are we attuned to the weary, and willing to offer the time and appropriate words to them, to build up, console, strengthen? (Psalm 34:8; Ecclesiastes 11:1; 1 Corinthians 14:3)

LORD GOD, keep my ear alert to Your voice, daily to listen and take in every nugget of the word You prescribe. Teach me discernment, mold my heart aright, and embolden my mouth as Your emissary to speak truth in love and spread light in darkness, for Your glorious sake. (Ephesians 4:15)

Daily Borne

“Blessed be the Lord,
    who daily bears us up;
    God is our salvation.” Psalm 68:19

“You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
    and comfort me again.” Psalm 71:20-21

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
    carried from the womb;
even to your old age I am he,
    and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
    I will carry and will save.” Isaiah 46:3-4

There is nothing when feeling low, or under weight of care, like the promise and experience of being borne up. Hope springs eternal when gravity breaks and light above shines. The sense of being supernaturally lifted and carried, with chin tilted upward, is both mysterious and of deepest comfort.

“You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3

So why do we wallow in circumstances? Why do we live so low? Why do we give up when weary, or surrender so easily when challenged? Because we trust our own strength, and it is fickle, and runs dry. We push on and press forward while our tank depletes, thinking too highly of our flesh capacity and too lowly, or too little, of God’s might. We neglect being filled with the Holy Spirit, when it is needful every day. (Ephesians 5:18)

How many failures will it take to acknowledge our need to be borne by Jesus? What insecurity, what arrogance, causes us to disdain asking for spiritual guidance and power, or refuse help and prayers offered on our behalf? It is one thing to be worn out because of diligent work performed whole-heartedly according to God’s call, and something very different to plow ahead on our own, self-fueled and puffed with pride, and end up exhausted. It is always worth it to wait for the Lord, and to act in His strength.

When is my time for daily renewal? How honest am I in confessing my lack, weakness, and need for grace? When I am drained, and faint, would I look to and get in step with the One who never is? (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Lord, may I not weary in doing the good You assign, but flourish in Your daily sustenance so You receive all the glory. Now to You who are able to do far more abundantly than all that I ask or think, according to the power at work within me, to You be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 3:20-21)

We Shall Do Valiantly

“Oh grant us help against the foe,
    for vain is the salvation of man!
 With God we shall do valiantly;
    it is he who will tread down our foes.” Psalm 108:12-13

“The Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” 1 Samuel 17:47

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s… You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf…’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:15,17

“Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!” Psalm 24:8

Many are the foes of the righteous. The enemy lives to steal, kill, divide, and destroy. The righteous face constant temptation to pride, greed, and lust. Jesus promised His children scorn, spiritual battle, persecution, suffering, and tribulation. But He also promises His presence and salvation. We need to fight, to enter the battle prepared and armed, to take God’s provided way of victory or escape, and boldly trust the result of every battle to the Lord who is mighty. In Him, we shall do valiantly, because greater is He in us than he in the world. (Isaiah 48:10-11; Matthew 5:10-12; Mark 13:13; John 10:10; 16:33; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 3:12-17; 1 John 2:16; 4:4)

What battle rages today? When confessed and forgiven sin sneaks back to haunt, we do valiantly by reckoning it dead. When doubts about our value and purpose smother us with self–loathing and too much focus on self altogether, we do valiantly by gazing at the cross, and rejoicing in the Lord’s steadfast love for His own. When the world’s enticements whisper in our ears, lure emotions, awaken alien affections, or captivate our senses, we do valiantly to name them, set our minds on the things of God, and tell the devil to flee. When fear grips and worry trips, we do valiantly to pray with thanksgiving. (Isaiah 43:4,25; 44:1-5; Matthew 16:23; Romans 6:6-11; Philippians 4:6-7; James 4:7)

We may be facing foes of flesh, those who castigate, criticize, or condemn, those who abandon, betray, or wound. Even here, we shall do valiantly when we rely on the One who is with us in the fire, and look for His redemption. Our hope and confidence in every battle is that Jesus wins. In the end, He is Victor. Sin and death are gone, the enemy is defeated, and all will be well. This certainty should fuel our courage in every conflict. (Isaiah 43:2-3a; Daniel 3:25; Revelation 20:7-10; 21:3-5,22-27)

Are we timid or brave? Daunted or prepared? What will it take for us to stand firm, hold our position, and trust the King of glory to triumph? And would we then praise His might and exult in His salvation? (Psalm 109:30-31)

Great Captain, fit me with a heavenly mindset and the armor of God, that I may fight valiantly every day against all that is opposed to You.

The Thing(s) About Daily Offerings

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Command the people of Israel and say to them, My offering, my food for my food offerings, my pleasing aroma, you shall be careful to offer to me at its appointed time… This is the food offering that you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs a year old without blemish, day by day, as a regular offering. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; also a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with a quarter of a hin of beaten oil. It is a regular burnt offering, which was ordained at Mount Sinai for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. Its drink offering shall be a quarter of a hin for each lamb. In the Holy Place you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the Lord. The other lamb you shall offer at twilight. Like the grain offering of the morning, and like its drink offering, you shall offer it as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.'” Numbers 28:1-8

Archaic, irrelevant, unnecessary. Such are our assessments of Old Testament directives and practices in the present day. The sacrifices were time consuming, bloody, and not so pleasant. Yet, Numbers is included in the Holy Scriptures, and is therefore God-breathed, and useful for us. (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Lord spoke directly and personally to Moses. He was thorough and specific in His prescribed assignments for the priesthood. He speaks to us personally through His holy word, and all He says we can trust as good and purposeful. Every offering was for Him, for His pleasure, acceptable according to His appointment. It was also for the Israelites, to teach that they were to submit to His supremacy and depend on Him daily. The Lord, through implementing the sacrificial system, pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus which would once for all do away with the need for others. (Hebrews 7:27; 10:9-14)

He also reminded His people that everything belongs to Him. We offer back to Him only what He’s entrusted to us. When we follow His prescription, He comes first in thought and in the day. We awaken contemplating what we’ll give, and how- always the best, for Him, in His time and way. (1 Chronicles 29:11-17)

And our offering is consistent, continual, morning and evening, day after day. Life lived with Jesus is not a sporadic or one time occasion. It is a regular rhythm of offering ourselves for His pleasure and purpose so that He lives through us, from when we rise to closing the curtain on twilight with Him. (Galatians 2:20)

This side of the cross, we are continually to come with a sacrifice of praise to our Rock and Redeemer. We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices in daily acts of worship and surrender of will, and regularly to remember Christ’s sacrificial death in the sacrament of communion. Are we so prone, and consistent? What habits and priorities dictate our usage of time, and how can we ensure a daily lifeline of honor, thanksgiving, and praise to God? (Psalm 71:3; Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 11:28; 13:15)

Lord, as You gave Your life for me, may I live mine for You, keeping You first and exalted every day.

Divine Garments

“Bless the Lord, O my soul!
    O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
  covering yourself with light as with a garment,
    stretching out the heavens like a tent.” Psalm 104:1-2

“Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.” Psalm 45:8

“And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.  And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years,  and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’  And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.  And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.  And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’” Mark 5:21-34

“He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” Revelation 19:13

It’s easy to diminish the Almighty into a human, and in some ways, rightfully so. The Son of God condescended to take on flesh as Son of Man, to become for us the perfect atoning sacrifice. He is indeed our Brother and Friend, yet He is also wholly other. Spiritually, He wears splendor and glory and the fragrance of love. Physically, He wore clothing that carried holy power. Always exhibiting a mysterious blend of human and heavenly, even the most banal of our Lord exuded divine characteristics. He is the Lord, there is no other (Isaiah 45:5,21-22; John 15:15; Hebrews 2:11-12; 10:9-10; 1 John 2:2)

When we think on Jesus, let us never forget He is far more than just like us. Beware reducing His resplendent Being to a chum in casual garb, a comrade who winks at crudeness or sloth, or joins us in gossip or complaining. He came in the flesh so we could live above it- bound by it physically yet heavenly-minded, Christ-like in behavior, and full of light. His garments are ours to approach, and touch, to be changed. (Hebrews 2:17)

Would we draw close to take in the scent of Christ’s robes of righteousness? Would we linger near and long enough to hear His voice, bask in His light, and learn the texture of His language and mannerisms? Would we cling to His supernatural cloak for spiritual guidance and strength? What healing of soul, attitude, or body do we need? (Isaiah 61:10)

Transcendent Lord, cloaked in majesty and splendor, adorn me in Your garments of grace. May my life exalt Your beauty and power.

Throughout All Generations

“Do not hide your face from me
    in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
    answer me speedily in the day when I call!

My days pass away like smoke…
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered…
I lie awake;
    I am like a lonely sparrow…
All the day my enemies taunt me…
For I eat ashes like bread
    and mingle tears with my drink…
My days are like an evening shadow
...

But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
you are remembered throughout all generations…
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
that they may declare… the name of the Lord,
and… his praise…

He has broken my strength in midcourse;
he has shortened my days.
‘O my God,’ I say, ‘take me not away
in the midst of my days—
you whose years endure
throughout all generations!’

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but you are the same, and your years have no end.
The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you.” Psalm 102:2-4a,7-9,11-12,18-21,23-28

“The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children.” Psalm 103:17

The day, my days, an evening shadow, my sleep, or lack thereof. Man is made to live and work and grow and rejoice within the structure of days into which we are born. Distresses are present, worries rise from past actions, immediate pressures, and future uncertainties, all bound within circadian cycles. But days with the eternal God are as a thousand years, and His years have no end. We order within the finite, and He the infinite. We number by days, and He, by generations of everlasting. (Genesis 1:27-31; 2 Peter 3:8)

Let us remember the But You of the enduring God. Our hope comes by setting our confidence in the Lord who is enthroned forever, remembered and mighty throughout every generations past, present, and future. His glory threaded through our today has always been and will always be. The earth and heavens that are the work of His hands are our secure abode now because of those hands. Our transient days, whether quickly vanishing in pain, or loneliness, or sorrow, are swallowed in His steadfastness and meaning.

Knowing that the Lord reigns, enduring in steadfast love and fulfilling His every intention, gives great confidence and compulsion to serve His purposes. While we have breath, what are we doing to establish His word in our generation and the next? How submissive are we to His rule of hearts and schedules, how faithful to declare His name and praise? (Isaiah 14:24; 46:11b)

Lord, help me hope in Your everlasting purposes, and contribute to Your praise by telling present and future generations of your steadfastness, redemption, and glory.

Overtaken

“But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us.’” Zechariah 1:6

“Your words were found, and I ate them,
    and your words became to me a joy
    and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,
    O Lord, God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes… For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Romans 1:17-18

“O Lord, Thou didst strike my heart with Thy word, and I loved Thee.” St. Augustine

Overtaken by dread at an ominous forecast. Overtaken by joy at a long-anticipated wedding, or the birth of a child. Overtaken by fear at a hard diagnosis. Overtaken by love in the sparkle-eyed smile of a child, or the tender embrace of a spouse. Overtaken by grief at a tragic loss of life, or a fractured marriage. Overtaken by wonder at a broken relationship made whole, a broken body restored and healed, a sin redeemed. Overtaken by rapturous awe at a sunset in a leaf. We are overtaken by many things tangible and intangible in day to day living, instances and moments that captivate the imagination, catch our breath, and arrest our hearts. In all these, we can thank God for the gift of senses and the human capacity for intuition, intellectual processing, and emotion.

What about the word of God? What about the Spirit’s stir? In our natural absorption with the world and its attending allures, and incessant headlines and urgencies, do we invest any energy and attention to being overtaken by the Lord? Emotions and focus are whipped to and fro by alerts and events someone else decides are important, but the word of God stands unchanged and alive, ready to refresh, instruct, correct, and nourish. (Psalm 119:89; 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12)

When we avail ourselves of the powerful word, we face God’s holiness and our despicable sin, and are humbled to repent. When our souls are overtaken by God’s mercy and love, and our logic by His gracious gospel, we are saved unto eternal life. When we seek God’s truth and savor His word, we tap into our lifeline and are filled with joy, certain we are His. When we are overtaken by the Spirit’s sway, we learn to discern according to wisdom from above, and to rebuff the devil’s blows and temptations. We freely exercise His fruit at home and abroad. (Galatians 5:22-23; James 3:17; 4:7-8; 1 Peter 5:8-9)

What will it take of intention, effort, and surrender for us to be overtaken by God’s word? Is there stubbornness that needs be softened, sin confessed, fixed allegiances released, time scheduled? God hears desperate cries from honest hearts, and His word can overcome any obstacle. What will we relinquish today so He can take whole hold of us?

O Lord, strike and captivate my heart with Your word upon every reading so I am never the same. Overtake my will and soul desire to be all for Thee.