September 30, 2016

Read Psalm 96

Jim Elliott served passionately to take the Gospel and glory of Jesus Christ to the nations. He would do this only to see his earthly life, and those of his four faithful companions, end in martyrdom among the Auca Indians in Ecuador at the age of 29. Their lives were not a loss because of the Gospel advance that occurred through their service to our good and faithful Lord. 

Psalm 96 that serves as an invitation to all the nations of the world to join Israel in praising God. It is also a prophetic picture of a future day when God will judge the entire world in righteousness. In this Psalm we see four areas where God expresses His desires for the nations. What does He want? What does He deserve?

1.    God Desires that the Nations Praise Him (vs. 1-3) – The Psalmist calls us to three specific aspects of praise. We are to sing a new son (vs. 1). We are to proclaim God’s great salvation (vs. 2). We are to declare His glory (vs. 3).  You see Jim Elliott’s heart through this statement drawn from a letter he wrote to his parents on August 8, 1950, “Surely those who know the great passionate heart of Jehovah must deny their own loves to share in the statement of His. . . .” What a compelling call to worship?

2.    God Desires that the Nations Fear Him (vs. 4-6) – The Psalmist calls us all to a healthy reverence for God. He gives us two reasons. The first is that we should fear Him because He is a great God. Secondly, we should fear Him because He is a glorious God. Consider this journal entry from Jim Elliott – “I sense a great need of my Father tonight. . . . I do not feel needy enough. Sufficiency in myself is a persistent thought, though, I try to judge it. Lord Jesus, Tender Lover of this brute soul, wilt Thou make me weak? I long to understand Thy sufficiency and my inadequacy, and how can I sense this except in experience. So, Lord, Thou knowest what I am able to bear. Send trouble that I might know peace; send anxiety that I might know rest in Thee. Send hard things that I may learn to rely on Thy dissolving them. Strange askings, and I do not know what I speak, but my desire toward Thee – anything that will intensify and make me tender, Savior. I desire to be like Thee.”

3.    God Desires that the Nations Worship Him (vs. 7-9) – Warren Wiesbe says, “praise means looking up, but worship means bowing down.” It means to acknowledge and ascribe to God worth and value by humbling ourselves before Him and submitting to His will for our lives. Consider this journal entry from Jim Elliott – “Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God. To worship in truth is not sufficient, that is to worship in true form. There must be exercise of the spirit; the new man must be stirred to action; we must have spiritual worship. Philippians 3:3: We have mention of emotional worship – exercising in soul as well as exercising in spirit. . . .”

4.    God Desires that the Nations Enjoy Him (vs. 10-13) – John Piper says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” In other words, God wants us, He wants the nations, to enjoy Him! 

Jim Elliott wrote in a letter to his family, “Remember you are immortal until your work is done. But don’t let the sands of time get into the eyes of your vision to reach those who still sit in darkness. They simply must hear.” 

He wrote in a letter to his mother on August 16, 1948, “Oh what a privilege to be made a minister of the things of the ‘happy God.’ I only hope that He will let me preach to those who have never heard that name Jesus. What else is worthwhile in this life? I have heard nothing better. ‘Lord, send me.’”

Jim Elliott said, “Our orders are: the gospel to every creature.” Because He believed that he wrote on October 28, 1949 – “Nothing is too good to be: so believe, believe to see. In my own experience I have found that the most extravagant dreams of boyhood have not surpassed the great experience of being in the will of God, and I believe that nothing could b better. That is not to say that I do not want other things, and other ways of living, and other places to see, but in my right mind I know that my hopes and plans for myself could not be any better than He has arranged and fulfilled them. Thus ma we all find it, and know the truth of the Word which says, ‘He will be our guide even until death.”

Jim did give up that which he could not keep to gain that which he could not lose. The question for us is, “will we?”

(This devotional is based on Chapter Five of Five Who Changed the World by Daniel L. Akin