What Makes Us Tick Inside?

The great philosophers of ancient Greece sought to understand the inner nature of man, what made him tick. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle wrote down their thoughts which have been studied for thousands of years. Some people find Plato’s thoughts to be difficult and a little strange, but overall, he made a lot of sense. He lived roughly about the time of Israel’s Babylonian captivity.

No one knows the inner nature of man more than God himself, our creator. David recognized this shortly after he realized he was guilty of some shocking sins. In Psalm 51:6-7, by inspiration, he wrote down some great truths. He said, “Behold thou dost desire truth in the innermost being” (NASV). Deep inside of us, one of the greatest things we can do is be a people of truth. Not only should we speak truth to others but know the truth about ourselves: we are flawed and need God’s help and forgiveness. This breeds deep humility, enabling us to treat others with “gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love” (Eph.4:2).

The second truth David pointed out was that “in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom” (Ps.51:7). God himself can give us wisdom deep inside, which adds great quality and character to man. Philosophers have come up with some profound things, but wisdom from God truly enriches a life. If we ask him for it, he will give it to us “generously and without reproach” (James 1:5).

Sometimes we just need strength to carry on. Our inward man needs to come up with it at the worst of times. It is said in scripture that we can be “strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph.3:16). This is a blessing accessed in prayer by any Christian.

So, what makes us tick in our inner man? Truth, wisdom and strength – all from God through Jesus Christ. Look into the Scriptures every day and feast upon the truths found there. Pray to Him for help and wisdom – and do it with a humble attitude. That’s what makes us healthy and strong deep inside.

– Tim Johnson

The Great Reversal

Sport has a large place in the lives of many people. By and large, sports fans love the underdog, especially when a team or individual comes from behind and wins the championship – a reversal of fortune.

In the Bible we see a similar kind of reversal. Jesus said, “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it” (Matt.10:39). What is high is brought low. What is low is brought high. What is proud is humbled. What is out is in. What is in is out. That is because the standards and values of the kingdom are different than that of the world.

For example, it was David the shepherd boy who was picked to become king of Israel and not his older, stronger brothers. It was Jacob, the quiet man, who loved to stay around the tents, not Esau, the skillful hunter, who was given the birthright – although by cunning. It was Mary who was chosen to give birth to Jesus, not one of the thousands of women from better circumstances.

And how can we not mention the humble nature of our Saviour? Isaiah said of Him, “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:2-3). Yet in his death he saved the world, his resurrection gives all men hope, and he ascended to heaven to sit at God’s right hand (Acts 2:36).

The theme of the great reversal is carried out through the whole of the scriptures. The book of James and the Sermon on the Mount turn upside down the values of much of the world.

Are your values in line with His?

– David Johnson, with additions from Tim Johnson

A New Competition

We live in a very competitive world. We try to outdo one another, get ahead of each other, and try to carve out attention for ourselves and our opinions. People are often put down or ignored in the quest to come out on top. Competition can be a healthy thing, but not in relationships.

Paul said, “…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph.5:21). After living a life of getting his own way, this apostle bowed to the Lord on the Damascus road (Acts 9) and subjected himself to his fellow apostles (Galatians 2). It saved his soul and ushered him into the encouraging fellowship of the church.

Jacob subjected himself to his brother, Esau, after two decades of estrangement and grudges; it restored a difficult family. Joshua subjected himself to Moses and eventually took his place. David subjected himself to the prophet Nathan, repenting of disturbing sins and getting his life back on track. Subjection is not a sign of weakness, it’s humility solving problems.

It has a lot to do with honouring each other. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honour” (Rom.12:10). A footnote says, “outdo one another in showing honour.” This speaks of the care and regard we are to have towards each other. We extend it to each other in the fear of Christ. If Jesus honoured us by giving His life, we ought to honour each other.

Jesus turns competition up-side-down. Instead of competing for prominence, we outdo one another in showing honour.

Who have you honoured today?

– Tim Johnson

Change

Around our house, we consider November to be one of the most difficult months of the year. It’s dark, cold and the beginning of winter weather. But the 11th month is also a time of change. Daylight savings time ends, and regular time begins. Baseball season stops, replaced by hockey and basketball. Summer flowers give up the ghost and the snow arrives.

Most of us are uncomfortable with change. We reluctantly face the new when the old was just fine. Change demands action, readjustments and new strategies. We have to be patient with change because, most of the time, it can’t be stopped. We just must accept it. An aging friend suffered a stroke and was forced to move into a nursing home. Having lost much of her independence, she faced living in a small room with someone she didn’t know. She said, “It’s not so bad. You just have to accept it.” What a great attitude about a difficult change in life.

King David lived through many big changes and wrote the book of Psalms to tell us about them. He went from a humble shepherd to a national hero, then became an enemy of the state. Soon he became the king, admired by all, but then despised for his failures. His throne was strong, but he lost it to his son – only to be ushered back to power again. In many Psalms he cries out for God’s steady hand during all the madness.

One of his favourite descriptions of God is the Rock. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Ps.18:2). In his youth as a shepherd, huge rocks served as protection from storms and wind – a place of refuge. In a wider sense, God Himself served as a refuge during the changes of life.

Change may not be fun. Sometimes it’s good for us. Often, it’s very hard. But the Rock still stands as a refuge for you.

And November? We can handle it.

– Tim Johnson

More Desirable Than Gold

CS Lewis, the famous British author and broadcaster of the 1950’s, once called Psalm 19 “the greatest poem in the Psalms and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.” In it, David declares that nature reveals only partial answers about God, but His word reveals the rest. He said that God’s judgments in His word “are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold” (v10).

I did a little research about the desirability of gold. The largest owners of gold bullion in the world are governments. This is because gold has traditionally served as a source of security when there are upheavals in the world. In the 1960’s, Canada used to own about 1000 tonnes of the stuff, but has since sold off most of it. The Royal Canadian Mint has created quite an impressive business designing and manufacturing gold coins for the world’s governments. The United States has 8,133 tonnes, worth roughly $300 billion dollars. The top ten gold-owning nations in the world store about $804 billion! Apparently, that’s only about 15% of all the gold ever mined to date, which includes the ring on your finger.

David, being the greatest Old Testament Israelite king, must have owned quite a bit of gold. But he considered the word of God and its wisdom to be more desirable than owning large quantities of it. That’s a marvelous comparison that rings true in our materialistic country. It’s far better to learn God’s word than it is to have a pile of gold! The latter might be impressive, but the former will bless your life and give you great happiness and salvation. David, in verses 7-11, actually gives us eight blessings that the word of God can give us. Have a look, and marvel at what he says.

Oh yes, CS Lewis was right.

– Tim Johnson