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Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.

Proverbs 27:9 says that “hearty counsel,” or the kind of advice which comes from a good friend, is as pleasant as “ointment and perfume.” Good, strong advice from a good, strong friend is a delight to receive. It shows that a person really cares about you and wants your best. “Hearty counsel” builds you up and strengthens you, and helps you face difficult things.

These words, attributed to George Eliot, define a fortifying friend: “Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

The Bible contains a wonderful example of a fortifying friendship between two men, David and Jonathan. In spite of circumstances which would make their friendship an unlikely one, they forged a bond that fortified each of them. Their relationship stands as a testament to what true friendship can endure and accomplish.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.

During World War I, the French decided to take one of the enemy’s strategic strongholds. But the enemy’s lines were so defended by trenches, parapets, and barbed wire that it was virtually impossible for the infantry to get through.

But the attacking general had amassed a large amount of powerful artillery. He began to fire round after round of the most explosive shells at them. With this excessive strength, a continuous fire was kept up for more than five hours, until all the trenches were covered, palisades thrown down, and wire entanglements blown to pieces. The infantry was then able to enter and capture the base with ease.

This incident is analogous to spiritual warfare. There are positions of the adversary that cannot be stormed or starved. There are defenses which seem impregnable. But with a barrage of constant prayer, the defenses can be lowered, and souls will be ready to surrender to the Lord. Let us be productive soldiers in the battle against sin and Satan.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

JAMES 4:14
You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

We discover from the Old Testament that the destructive practice of procrastination has been around for a long time (Proverbs 3:27–28; Isaiah 56:12). But the Bible has written the word NOW in large letters in the gospel message. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). The time for obedience is now! We cannot count on tomorrow, so we must take advantage of today. In business terms, yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is the only cash you have.

According to James, knowledge and responsibility work together. To sin ignorantly is one thing, but to sin in the face of known truth is quite another. Statements from our Lord and the apostle Peter confirm the truth that James presents in verse 17: We are held accountable for what we know but fail (or, choose not) to do (Luke 12:47–48; 2 Peter 2:21). Sins of omission are just as serious as sins of commission. To omit God from the planning processes of our lives, knowing that we should include Him, is sin.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

JOHN 14:1
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

A young boy was out in the country, climbing among a row of cliffs. He yelled from the top of one, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” The father turned around to see his son joyfully jumping off a rock straight at him. The dad became an instant circus act, catching his son, causing them both to fall to the ground.

When the father found his voice, he gasped in exasperation, “Son, can you give me one good reason why you did that?” He responded with remarkable calmness: “Sure … because you’re my dad.” His whole assurance was based on the fact that his father was trustworthy.

As Christians, we can throw ourselves into the arms of Jesus because He is trustworthy. We can stake our lives upon His promises, because He is a Man of His Word. If doubts assail us, we must simply look at the convincing evidence—His perfect track record! For instance, He said He would die and He did (Matthew 20:18). He said He would rise from the dead on the third day and He did (Matthew 20:19). He said He would return to His Father and He did (John 7:33).

Because Jesus is a Man of His Word, we can be assured He will keep His future promises as well. He said He will return for us and He will (John 14:3).

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.

God exists everywhere, but He is not always manifest everywhere. His manifest presence comes to us when He is praised. C. S. Lewis once wrote that “it is in the process of being worshiped that God communicates His presence to men … even in Judaism the essence of the sacrifice was not really that men gave bulls and goats to God, but that by their so doing God gave Himself to men.”

Perhaps you have experienced the wonderful presence of God during a special time of worship. As you were singing, praying, praising, and worshiping the Lord, you felt His presence closer to you than ever before! Worship causes the presence of God to be felt and experienced by His people. If you really want God to be in your church meetings, praise Him as best you can.

Satan tempted Jesus by asking for His worship, not His service: “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9). Satan understands the correct order—the one you worship is the one you will serve. And keep in mind Christ’s response in verse 10: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Some friends are willing to wound you in order to help you: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6). Consider the last part of the verse—the characteristics of an “enemy.” What to be on the watch for is essentially the flattering lips of a deceiver.

A person who constantly compliments you may not be a faithful friend. The wise person will quickly ask, “Why is this person saying all these nice things?” Sometimes that person has a hidden agenda. Perhaps they want something or are so insecure that fawning over people is the only way they know to find a friend.

So how do you find a faithful friend without being taken in by a flatterer or deceiver? Faithful friends edify, but they don’t flatter (Romans 15:2). They are humble and demonstrate love (Ephesians 4:2). They don’t always tell you what you want to hear. Instead, they are willing to rebuke you if necessary out of love for you (Proverbs 9:8).

Everyone needs to be close to someone who will ask them the hard questions about their lives. A faithful friend will ask those questions and not rest until he gets the right answers.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day.

Duncan McNeil, the Scottish evangelist, once said that in school he had a seminary professor who insisted on opening his theology classes with a question. No one could ever anticipate what the question would be. One day he said to his students, “Gentlemen, can someone give me a definition of the gospel?”

A student rose and read John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The professor said, “That is a good gospel text, but it is not a definition of the gospel.” Another student read 1 Timothy 1:15: “How true it is, and how I long that everyone should know it, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—and I was the greatest of them all.” Again the professor declined to accept it; he waited for what he wanted. Finally, a student stood and read 1 Corinthians 15:3–5, much to the professor’s delight. It was evident that he had the reply he desired; he said, “Gentlemen, that is the gospel. Believe it, live it, preach it, and die for it if necessary.”

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

JAMES 4:15
You ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

If you have read letters exchanged between Christians a hundred years ago, you may have noticed the postscript, “D. V.” These two letters stand for the words Deo Volente, which is Latin for “if the Lord wills.”

Submission to the will of God is James’s proposed alternative to the presumptuous lifestyle of the businessman: “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that’ ” (v. 15). This would be an aknowledgment that the planners wanted God’s direction and approval and would do nothing without it.

Christians generally agree that three basic issues are involved in knowing the will of God. First, there must be a willingness to do God’s will when we find it. Second, we must realize that God’s will is always in harmony with His Word. And third, we must come to Him earnestly in prayer seeking guidance. These steps will lead us directly into the will of God.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

JOHN 4:22
You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

As a pastor, I have come to realize that worship is the ultimate priority for which all of us were created. What does it mean to worship?
When Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman in John 4 about worship He said, “You worship what you do not know.” How can you truly worship something without knowing what it is? How do you worship a god you don’t know? Paul calls that ignorant worship.

All across the country last Sunday, churches were filled with people who walked in to worship something they did not know. People engaged in ignorant worship, and nothing really happened in their church or in their lives. They went through the external motions without ever really understanding the internal working, and nothing happened because God does not accept ignorant worship.

Worship is knowing God and worshiping Him, and if we do not know God, we cannot worship Him. Make it a priority to know God.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

1 PETER 3:7–8
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife.… Be tenderhearted.

In every survey I have seen asking women what is the main thing they need from their husbands, it’s always been the same: Tenderness. In our John Wayne and Rambo-inspired culture, men are encouraged to maintain a macho-type persona where tenderness and emotion are not to be displayed. In varying degrees and places, tenderness—not to mention tears—has been viewed as a sign of weakness. But, from God’s perspective nothing could be further from the truth.

Perhaps the greatest impediment to tenderness for men, especially when it comes to praying and pursuing spiritual interests together, is the presumption of weakness. We don’t like to see ourselves as helpless, totally dependent on God. And yet often, the greatest sign of strength that a wife is looking for in her husband is the evidence that he is totally dependent on God, and not afraid to confess his own need for Him. His vulnerability in that area is what frees his wife to confess her needs, her fears, her dependence on God as well.

A marriage that is led by a man who loves his wife authentically, sacrificially, deliberately, and unconditionally will be a prosperous marriage, one that mirrors the relationship between Christ and His church.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

[Pray] always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.

I once borrowed a car and as a favor to the owner filled it with gas. That big Oldsmobile station wagon had an ornament on the hood that said “diesel,” a sticker on the rear gate that said “Oldsmobile Diesel,” and a note on the fuel gauge reading, “Diesel Fuel Only.” So naturally I put diesel fuel in the tank. Big mistake, since the owner had recently converted it to gasoline. When it broke down on the main street of a village in New York, I had to explain why I had put diesel fuel into a vehicle with a gasoline engine.

I don’t think I’ll ever live that down, so I use it as the perfect illustration of Christians. We are human beings, and we have “Human Being” written all over us, but we’ve been converted into something else. If you try to run your new spiritual self on the old kind of fuel, it won’t work. There are a lot of Christians who haven’t figured that out yet. The fuel for the Christian life is prayer. Prayer is the energy that makes it possible for the Christian warrior to wear the armor and wield the sword.

You cannot fight the battle in your own power. No matter how talented you are, if you try to fight the spiritual battle in your own strength, you will be defeated.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works.

Perhaps we walked with God early in life, or even got all the way through college with our faith intact. But then, through small concessions in our lives, our walk with the Lord began to erode. Little by little we slipped away from the things that once had been important to us.

What should we do today? How do we get back? We must remember from whence we have fallen. Repent where we are. Go back and repeat the first works. Confess our sin. Acknowledge who we are. And then remember that God loves us.

The good news of the gospel, my friend, is that before the prodigal ever turned his heart toward home, the father had been praying and waiting for him, thinking of what it would be like to embrace him again in his arms.

God will not force Himself upon us. He will not come and drag us out of our situation. But if we will return, He will love us all the way back home.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

2 PETER 1:5
Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control.

Most of us would agree that when it comes to the battle for the right kind of living, the biggest enemy is not out there. The biggest enemy is right here—ourselves. That’s why the principle of self-control is so very vital. It is that quality which makes it possible to achieve the goals God has set before us.

In the Greek, the word “temperance” is kratain. It means “to grab hold of, to grasp.” I believe it’s the concept from which we get the idiom, “get hold of yourself,” which we use when we’re talking to someone who is getting too emotional. The word is used only seven times in the New Testament. In almost every situation, it is used to describe the importance of gaining control and reigning over our passions and desires.

The matter of self-control is a battle fought in the mind. The mind controls the passions. The battle is fought in the thought life. There is no conflict so severe as the conflict one goes through to subdue oneself.

I’d like to suggest that the best way to deal with the struggle for control over your thoughts and passions is focusing your mind upon Jesus Christ.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

JAMES 5:16
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another.

The ancient historian Eusebius portrayed James as a Nazirite, an Israelite wholly devoted to God (Numbers 6:1–23), whose times of prayer for his nation were frequent and prolonged.

Most of us find it very hard to identify with a man like James. Who do we know who prays so much that he develops knots on his knees? Perhaps the better question might be, “Who do we know who prays—really prays?” That’s not an unfair question, nor is it calculated to instill guilt. It reflects the surveys that have been taken by both Christian and secular researchers. It seems Christians today are too busy to pray!

One of the New Testament’s strongest passages on prayer is contained in James’s final words to his fellow Jewish believers. In James 5:7–12, the word for “patience” is used seven times. In this passage, the word for “prayer” occurs seven times. When patience is required, prayer is the key.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

The heart of the righteous studies how to answer.

For many years following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, people would ask one another, “Where were you when Kennedy was killed?” Now another date and event has replaced all others in the modern era as the subject of the “Where were you?” discussions: September 11, 2001. More than any other event in our day, the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., have redefined life for most people. And many people have come to fear that definition.

The only silver lining in this dark cloud of tragedy is that people are asking questions for which only the Bible has answers: What is our world coming to? Why do people do such things? What can we do to keep terror at bay? The answer that every Christian has discovered and every non-Christian needs to know is this: The world cannot be changed, but people can be. When someone asks you the post-9/11 questions, encourage them with the words of a first-century converted terrorist named Paul: The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16).
The only way the world will be changed is the same way individuals are changed: from the inside out.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

LUKE 2:49
And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

Have you ever come home from church and discovered you left a child behind? As your family gathers around the dinner table, your eyes fixate on the empty chair. “Where’s Johnny?” you ask. Blank stares and shrugged shoulders reveal the worst—Johnny got left behind.

When Jesus was just twelve years old, He too was left behind at the temple. His parents returned to find Him and discovered Him sitting among the teachers, asking questions. Greatly distressed, His mother asked Him why He had done this to them. He replied, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Even at a young age, Jesus knew He had a unique mission to accomplish. Convinced of this, He did not allow people or circumstances to deter Him.

What unique mission has God called you to? Has He commissioned you to a special assignment at home, work, or the church? Whatever it may be, pursue it with all of your heart. Then at the end of your life, you may say as Jesus did, “I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4).

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

The world needs kindness. But let’s narrow the scope even further. Your world needs kindness. Your home needs kindness. Where people are living in close proximity, kindness sometimes gets lost.

In the New Testament, the language given to the church is given to the home. The church met in the home. When Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you,” that’s also directed at the home.

We need to be tenderhearted, kind, and forgiving. The fruit of the Spirit is tested in that laboratory we call the family. If you can make it work there, it will work any place on the face of the earth

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

Blessed be the God … the Father of mercies.

In the New Testament, each member of the triune God (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) places a priority on encouragement.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Blessed be the God, … the Father of mercies [encouragement]” (2 Corinthians 1:3).
In one of his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul reminded his readers that Jesus Christ is also, at the very core of His ministry, an encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16–17).

And what can we say about the Holy Spirit? “Encourager” is one of His names! The King James Bible says of the Holy Spirit (in John 14 and 16), “However when He the Comforter is come.… ” The title “Comforter” translates the word paraklete, which means “to encourage.” When we encourage people, we live out the ministry of the third Person of the Trinity. He is the Encourager.

God the Father encourages. God the Son encourages. God the Holy Spirit encourages. We need to be encouragers because encouragement is one of the primary ministries—in fact, it’s a priority of our triune God.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

ACTS 17:26
They should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

There is a fundamental emptiness in every human being which can only be filled by the presence of God Himself. It is interesting to note that the only time Jesus Christ cried out in loneliness was from the cross when the Father forsook Him and allowed Him to die as a sacrifice for the world.
Without the presence of God, the most agonizing loneliness will afflict even the strongest person. No person should search for a solution for his loneliness without solving the basic issue of separation from God.
Accepting Jesus Christ, and being filled by His Spirit, is the first step toward overcoming the negative dimensions of loneliness.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God

ROMANS 11:33
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

The greatest minds of history have wrestled with the issue of the sovereignty of God versus the free will of humankind. Some day in eternity we may discover how the track of God’s sovereignty and the track of our responsibility finally come together. But the way we should look at this is so simple we sometimes miss it: Let God take care of His sovereignty and let us take care of our responsibility. God’s sovereignty explains things that humans cannot possibly fathom.

The sovereignty of God in our lives, from our perspective, is like looking at a weaving from the wrong side. We see all the various threads and knots and strands sticking out. We see it from the back side because we do not have the perspective that God has. But someday in eternity God will take that patchwork we have looked at and haven’t understood and He will turn it around. We will see the beautiful tapestry that has been woven out of our lives. We can spend all our lives trying to figure out why God does this and why God does that. Sometimes we just have to fall back on the fact that God is sovereign and in control. We can rest secure in that truth.

David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God
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