Table of Contents
The Keeper of Secrets                                                                        Chapter 1
Revealed Things                                                                                Chapter 2
You Give Them Drink From the River Your Pleasures                       Chapter 3
The Pleasure of Worship                                                                             Chapter 4
The Pleasure of Faith                                                                        Chapter 5
The Pleasure of Goodness                                                                 Chapter 6
The Pleasure of Radiance                                                                  Chapter 7
The Pleasure of Light Living                                                             Chapter 8
The Pleasure of Encouragement                                                        Chapter 9
About the Author
Why is the moth drawn to a flame? Why do children have to touch what they are told to leave alone? Why does, Don’t think about a polka-dotted elephant, put that image in your mind? Why are secrets so irresistible? In part, the 29:29 Principle is about secrets. In their proper place, secrets can be good things. But secrets present a huge challenge for our fallen human nature.
What killed the cat? Curiosity! Knowledge is power. When we think we know something others don’t we have a sense of power over them. If we think someone knows something we don’t, we’re immediately curious and want to know. People have sought secrets to their own peril, so we probably shouldn’t be so hard on the cat!
If a secret is concealed knowledge, then its opposite is revealed knowledge. That is the second part of the 29:29 Principle. Man’s knowledge, in the 21st century, is greater than it has ever been. The amount of information available is overwhelming. What are we doing with what we have? The defining asset of the Information Age is worthless if not used constructively.
The 29:29 Principle allows us to put secrets and revelation in proper perspective. Secrets, correctly viewed, can actually give us peace. Revelation, diligently applied, is intended to bring us pleasure and joy. To those ends, I invite you to read, learn, and drink from the river of God’s pleasures!
Soli Deo Gloria!
The Keeper of Secrets 
God is the Master of simplicity and understatement! That’s how the Bible begins: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Scripture offers no argument for Who God is or what He did. It just gives a simple statement of the truth. His Spirit inspired just five words for His creation of all stars and galaxies in the universe: He created the stars also. Moses was inspired to convey the Lord’s infinite knowledge with only nine words: The secret things belong to the Lord our God. Seven of them are one-syllable words! The statement is short, simple, and profound.
First, secrets exist. Working with Rivers of the World (R.O.W.) gave me the opportunity to found the Mathes Pastor Training School. Teaching, training, and equipping pastors is sometimes challenging but it is always a blessing. In our class sessions I have repeated one sentence many times:
God does not tell us everything there is to know, but He has told us everything we need to know.
That is a necessary recognition when teaching difficult passages of Scripture. Once we reach the end of what God has told us, we have to rest in the fact that He is God and we are not. Without faith it is impossible to please Him and the secret things require our faith. By faith we affirm He is good in all His ways. Faith in His Word lets us know He plans no harm for us. Instead, His plans are designed to give us hope and a future. By faith we agree God has always known everything that is knowable. Nothing has ever been a secret to Him. Faith lets us be at peace with the secret things of God. Even so, that can be easier said than done!
The peace faith should bring is elusive because we are not content to be finite. That was the original sin. Not in the Garden, but in Heaven. Satan’s fall is symbolically described in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18. These passages refer specifically to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, but they also reference the spiritual power behind those kings: Satan. These passages don’t tell us when Satan fell, but they do tell us why he fell. Angels were created before the earth. Satan fell before he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden. Therefore, Satan’s fall must have occurred somewhere after the time the angels were created and before he tempted Adam and Eve. Was Satan’s fall minutes, hours, or days before he tempted Adam and Eve? God did not choose to tell us that. But He did reveal to Isaiah the substance of Satan’s sin:

  1. I will ascend into heaven
  2. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God
  3. I will sit upon the mount of the congregation
  4. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds
  5. I will be like the Most High

Satan fell because of his pride. He wanted to be God rather than God’s servant. Satan was an exceedingly beautiful angel. He was probably the highest of all the angels, the most beautiful of God’s creations, but he was not content in his position. Remember what I said about pursuing secrets to our own peril?
Man has a perpetual question: Why? The question is OK to a point. We must ask it in order to learn. But pursing the question to its ultimate conclusion gives us, I don’t know. We have dreams that seem beyond our reach. Why? I don’t know. We have prayers that have not been answered the way we want or maybe we don’t think they were answered at all. Why? I don’t know. Sometimes life is hard and we don’t have answers. Why? I don’t know. But in those moments God has given us a Word: The secret things belong to the Lord our God. Those words provide rest and peace. They are a key to contentment in a fallen world. But that is not all we have been given. God has also given us a promise that things won’t always be that way! Today, we see things as if we are looking through clouded, colored glass. But a day will come when we will see Him face to face and know as we are known. Now that’s a promise my why-asking, inquiring mind can eagerly anticipate! But there are things which cannot be known.
The term secret simply means hidden knowledge. That is different than something we cannot know. Our Heavenly Father knows both. As unbelievable as it may seem, we are encouraged to know something that cannot be known. Huh? It’s an interesting thought process. Paul tells us to know the breadth, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love and then tells us that love surpasses knowledge! That can seem like an impossible exercise in futility. It isn’t. It’s your eternal future!
Jesus said He loved His disciples (that’s you and me) as the Father loved Him. How does the Father love the Son? He loves Jesus with eternal, limitless, abounding, exuberant love. Then Jesus said His disciples could abide in His love just as He abides in the Father’s love. How long has the Father loved the Son? For all eternity. Has Jesus ever been out of the Father’s love? No. Jesus’ followers (Christians) will never be out of His love. Think of it this way: The moment a sinner believes and repents he/she is on an unending journey into the love of God. He is infinite, His love is infinite, and we will experience it forever. That is one reason Heaven is going to be so grand. But the same principles apply in reverse. God’s judgment and wrath are also infinite. And that is why Hell also lasts forever.
We can find peace in God being the Keeper of secret things. We can find joy in pursuing Love that surpasses knowledge. And we have a purpose in making sure God’s infinite, forgiving love is no secret to a world that desperately needs to know it.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Chapter 2
  But the things revealed belong to
             us and to our sons forever, that we  
                   may observe all the words of this law. ” 
God knows the secret things, but He is also the Revealer of secrets. He keeps secrets or reveals them according to His Sovereign choice. This is an inescapable truth we cannot explain. How do I know? The Lord says, ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ If Jehovah, the Creator, the One Who spoke and caused all created things to come into being, is revealing things to us then we certainly ought to pay attention! Rest assured His revelation has purpose.
God does not reveal things to assure us He has all knowledge. The goal of His revelation is not our amusement or amazement. The King of kings gives His revelations as a gift. Even though we are sinful, we know the joy of giving gifts to those we love. And if we, the fallen and finite, can know how and why to give gifts, how much more does our Father in heaven know how to give good gifts to us? I’m going to say His gift giving is as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth. And that’s the first answer to why He does it: to demonstrate His love for us.
Another answer is to teach us. Through the Psalmist, God tells us He is the One that teaches Man. Could He do less? Think about it. One Who is infinite in knowledge and wisdom creates a universe of untold breadth and mystery. The pinnacle of His creation is a being in His image that is endowed with thought, comprehension, self-awareness, volition, and moral responsibility. That is good because God declared it to be so. But the creature is limited. God would cease to be good if He did not teach Man. So His teaching is a demonstration of His goodness toward His creation. That should be cause enough for us to pay attention to the Father’s revelations. If it isn’t, self-interest will do. Whatever the motivation, His revelations demand our attention.
The Lord teaches for our benefit.  The Hebrew word Isaiah used to communicate that is ya’al. My southern friends might think that means your friends and family, as in Y’all come back! (Couldn’t help myself!). It means to gain, profit, benefit, or avail. The idea in the meaning is to ascend to, or scale, a summit; or to rise above. And that is exactly what good teachers, especially the Good Teacher, want students to do! What God reveals can equip us to gain, profit, benefit and avail to new heights of living. That sounds a lot like having life more abundantly and that is why Jesus said He came.
Teachers have been a blessing in my life. The really good ones challenged and/or inspired me to rise above and ascend. Some teachers just cover the material and try to get everyone through it. Others are masters of their subjects and seem to make an adventure of learning. It’s a rare treat when one of those teachers is also the author of the material. Dr. Vernon Whaley and Dr. Elmer Towns are two such individuals. Dr. Whaley was my primary advisor in my doctoral program at Liberty. Dr. Towns is Liberty’s co-founder and a prolific author. Dr. Towns’ writings were teaching me long before I showed up at Liberty. These scholars and their teaching ability illustrate something very important. God’s revelations aren’t someone else’s stuff. He is the Author! This brings an added dimension to teaching: authority. Jesus taught as One having authority, not as the scribes and Pharisees. Notice the difference? The scribes were just covering the material. Jesus wrote the material. So He speaks with authority on salvation and faith because he is the Author of salvation and the Author of our faith. That is revealed to us in the Bible and He is its Author. The things revealed are given as gifts, they demonstrate His love, and they flow from the Divine Author and are explained with Divine Authority. The Revealer of Secrets has perfect material and methods. But His students have responsibility in learning.
Psalm 25:9 tells us how to learn: He leads the humble in justice and He teaches the humble His way. Sage wisdom and advice, in various forms, tells us we can’t teach a man that knows everything. A humble person readily admits his own need for revelation. Most of us probably didn’t think Jesus included learning when He said; Apart from Me you can do nothing. In this case, ‘nothing’ covers an awful lot!
But this requirement is not new. It’s part of the answer to Micah’s great question about how to walk with the Lord. We are to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. Obedience to the Lord allows us to experience blessing after blessing from Him. Walking humbly with God positions us for what He says He will do: He lifts up the humble. That links us right back to the Hebrew, ya’al, in Isaiah 48:17 (see previous discussion). The Lord’s teaching is intended to help us ascend or rise above, He teaches the humble, and the humble are the ones He lifts up. It now seems only an idiot would refuse the Lord’s teaching. O wait…the fool has said in his heart there is no God. Well, God is and we can’t afford not to be taught by Him.
As good as this is so far, it gets better! Jehovah’s revelations belong to us and our families forever! That communicates more than a gift. The Word God gives is eternal and unchanging. Therefore, the truth He speaks is always relevant. We often hear the Bible is out of date or antiquated. It isn’t and it never will be. We may not always make the connections, but that’s on us, not God’s Word. Just because modern societies are content to say wrong is right, and vice versa, doesn’t mean God has changed His mind or His Word. Ours is a generation too proud to be taught. We live in the time the Apostle Paul mentioned to Timothy. People don’t want to hear truth, so they gather for themselves teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. And this leads us to the final benefit of God’s revelations.
His revelations come with a purpose: that we may do all the words His law. That purpose brings protection from pride and sinful pursuits. It is not enough to know God’s revelations. That makes us hearers only. What is revealed is enough to enable us to do what He commands. Some of you are going to try to out-think yourselves here. Deuteronomy 29:29 is an Old Testament passage and part of the Law. Christians are free from the Law, right? God’s Word is eternally true and eternally relevant. Yes, we are free from the Old Testament Law, but that is a legalistic view. What are the principles the Lord wants us to know? Don’t be tempted to look for an easy way around ‘all the words of this law’ because there isn’t one. Here is how I know that. Remember what Jesus said in the New Testament? All the Law and the Prophets are embodied in, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and, Love your neighbor as yourself. Furthermore, He said if we loved Him like that we would keep His commandments. So look in the mirror and ask this question: Am I already doing all I can to love Him supremely and love others more than myself?  Any humble, honest person is going to have to answer, No. The good news is, the Author’s revelations will benefit you, help you rise above where you are right now, allow you to grow in humility, give you purpose, protect you, and let you experience the joy of being lifted up in the arms of your Heavenly Father! That’s great,  but it gets better!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Chapter 3
“You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures”
The opening verses of Psalm 36 are King David’s observations concerning the wicked. His look is brief. It only takes a quick look around for anyone to see and describe evil and wickedness. In contrast to the wicked David directs his gaze to Jehovah. What he discerns and describes is a beautiful expression of worship!
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Men will lack truth and mercy. Men will not exercise Godly judgment and or pursue justice. However evil and uncaring one person may be to another that is never the case with God! His lovingkindness (Hebrew word conveys goodness, kindness, and faithfulness) is unequaled. It reaches to the heavens. How high are the heavens? His goodness is inexhaustible. At best, Man will display goodness, kindness, and faithfulness in limited quantities with imperfect motives. The Lord possesses these qualities in infinite measure and there is no changing in Him.
As if that was not enough, David observes the Lord’s faithfulness. The Father is the One Who is Faithful and True. Faithfulness is not a quality He just possesses; it is an essential aspect of His character. If He were to fail someone who trusts in Him He would cease to be God! He is faithful beyond our capacity to understand. And make no mistake; His faithfulness that reaches to the skies is connected to everything we know of Him.
Divine faithfulness is connected to more than His promised blessings. He is faithful to His truth and His judgment. God is faithful by extending His goodness to evil men, which all believers once were. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But rest assured He will be faithful to righteously judge those who reject His offer of mercy and forgiveness. His faithfulness will not allow Him to break any promise – either of blessing or judgment!
David’s description of his King reminds me of seeing the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian. A cut gem has many facets. It sparkles with splashes of color that seem to dance around if you change your vantage point. We can only describe our infinite God one ‘facet’ at a time. Even then, we are limited in our perception and our expression. David said God’s righteousness is like the mountains of God. How would you describe something that cannot change, has not changed, and will never change?
A mountain is a pretty hard thing to miss. I can remember going on some long family vacations when I was young. We would get in the car and head west. A long time before we were on the mountains, we could see them. I didn’t mind the mountains, but I hated the trip. On one of those adventures I had been staring at the distant mountains for what I just knew had been hundreds of miles. I leaned up behind my Dad and asked, Are we ever going to get there?
God’s righteousness is like that. It is what people perceive about Him even though they are far from Him and choose to reject Him. His holiness and righteousness demand absolute truth and justice. Our world has convinced itself there is such a thing as relative truth: What’s true for you is OK, but my truth is different. As twisted as that ‘logic’ is, it is an open rejection of Who and What God is. He is absolute truth. He is righteous in all of His ways, and He has never committed a wrong of any kind to anyone. Even when we can’t perceive His righteousness, it is there. The psalmist said it this way: Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. And like those mountains we sometimes had to drive miles around, God’s righteousness is immovable and unchangeable. And that’s a great thing! It connects us to the river of His pleasures.
Next, David writes, Your judgments are like a great deep. That sounds strangely similar to Deuteronomy 29:29, The secret things belong to the Lord our God. Even with modern technology there are depths beyond human reach. That was even truer in David’s day. The essence of his thought is: We don’t understand how the Almighty does things. Just as the deepest parts of the sea are hidden from view, so are the paths and workings of God. David appointed a temple leader named Asaph. And Asaph addressed this aspect of God this way, Your way was in the sea and Your paths in the mighty waters, and Your footprints may not be known. Does that sound a little like poetic license? It isn’t. In fact those words might be considered prophetic. Remember Jesus walked on the water in the middle of a storm and got in a boat with a bunch of terrified disciples. If anyone had been able to search the path He used, would they have found any footprints in that water? It is absolutely wonderful that secret and mysterious things belong the Lord our God! If that wasn’t true, He wouldn’t be God.
In God’s lovingkindness, faithfulness, wisdom, and righteousness He cares for man and beast. This thought was taken up by Lord Jesus when said, Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Just four verses later, Jesus added, But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Our Father is infinite in His provision and that is why we may know Him as Jehovah Jireh, the God Who Provides.
But He is also the God that protects. The lovingkindness, mercy, faithfulness, righteousness, and provision of God are precious to all who know them. When one knows His lovingkindness, they know there is safety without question in the shadow of His wings. That word picture is one I saw as child on my grandparents’ farm. The little chicks peeped and ran and seemed to have no cares. But if they were afraid, or if the hen called, they would run to her from all directions. She would get low to the ground and spread her wings while the chicks scurried underneath. The Lord is not only able to protect, He desires to protect. Of Jerusalem He said, How often I would have gathered you under My wing as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not.
The table is now set for the pleasures of God. It would not mean nearly so much if verse 8 had not been preceded by what we have just seen. It is the Lord of grace, kindness, mercy, righteousness, provision, and protection that extends to us a magnificent opportunity. It’s an opportunity that can only begin to be appreciated by remembering the character and nature of the One offering it.
People who take shelter in the Lord will have their desires met. First, God meets their desires with divine quantity. They will be abundantly satisfied. The New American Standard says, They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house. I have been thirsty and enjoyed a cold drink of water. No matter how satisfying that drink was, I would be thirsty again. Jesus made the same comparison to the woman at the well in Samaria. He said if people drank from that well they would thirst again, but if they drank the water He offered, they would never thirst again. What the Lord gives is always more than enough because it flows from His infinite goodness and His infinite ability to give.
Second, the desires of people who take shelter in the Lord are met with divine quality. What kind of gifts do you give? Jesus acknowledged we know how to give good gifts to our children. And if fallen, sinful creatures know how to do that, how much more does He know how to give good (perfect/complete) gifts to His children? His ways are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth. The only thing He will ever give us is that which is good for us. Will we always see it that way? Your own experience answers the question. Faith in His infinite goodness has a way of changing our perception of circumstances.
Two men illustrate this point. Job’s belief in the goodness and worthiness of God led him to say, Even though He slay me, I will trust Him. Most people would classify their own death as a bad thing. Job wasn’t wishing for it, but even his death wouldn’t change his view of God and His goodness. Another man that suffered difficult circumstances was Joseph. He maintained his trust in the Lord. When he saw God’s plan come together, he was able to say, What you meant for evil God meant for good. Don’t be tempted to doubt your Father’s goodness!
We can be easily excited thinking about God’s ability to meet our desires with infinite quantity and quality. And that brings us to the substance of our desires. Isaiah asked, Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. When God says, Listen carefully to Me, understand that as, Learn from Me. Remember, He is our Teacher and Author of all that is good. I have to learn from Him how to ‘eat’ good things and delight in abundance.
We are easily sidetracked by things that don’t satisfy. They fall into three categories: Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life. John’s first letter says this covers everything in the world. Furthermore, these things are not of God but of the world. That means they will never satisfy. It doesn’t mean things in the world might not be important while we are here. But like our difficult circumstances, they must be viewed from a proper perspective.
Suppose you are extremely wealthy. Your child has worked hard to get through college and you want to give a gift to celebrate the graduation. Let’s say you choose to give the graduate a car. Going to work probably requires transportation. And a car is probably less expensive than another year of school! Do you buy a 1970 something VW bug with 200,000 + miles and one bumper missing? That’s not likely. You’d be inclined to ask if they had a preference and then go get the latest, greatest model of that car and let them drive it off the showroom floor. I know it’s weak, but that begins to give a picture of what we think we want versus what God desires to give us. We eagerly anticipate the old, beat up bug not realizing there is so much more that could be ours.
A key to understanding is in something that is probably familiar: Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. If the Lord, not something He has made, is our delight, what will be the desire of our heart? It’s obvious. We delight in Him and He gives us of Himself (reveals to us, teaches us, lifts us up, provides, protects, etc.). Jesus carried this thought into the Sermon on the Mount; Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. What things did He mean? Was it the stuff of the world: food, clothing, housing, etc.? He reminded His hearers that their Father, our Father, is already aware of the needs. Since God is infinitely good, His awareness is more than enough to assure His provision. How will He do it? He may provide in a way that is known to us or His method may be hidden from us (one of those secret things?). It doesn’t matter. My task, and yours, is to desire the Best One. Anything less is an unworthy ambition for us and a dishonor to Him. So our faith response is to desire Him first, believing/trusting He knows our needs and will meet them from His abundant goodness.
That’s like drinking from a fire hydrant! Ever used that phrase? People who desire the Lord get one up on the fire hydrant. We get to drink from God’s river. And it’s not your average stream. God calls it the river of His pleasures. First, however difficult it may be for us to grasp or comprehend, it’s real. God said it is. The pleasures emanate from Him. Desiring Him and delighting in Him, and receiving from Him mean the pleasures are centered in Him. He is the Source and the Giver of the pleasures. As such they will be perfect and abundant in every respect. The pleasures He gives are pure, just like the crystal clear river that flows from His throne.
Drinking is not optional. The KJV says He makes them drink. When the Eternal Sovereign says, Drink, what do you do?  We don’t readily see it, but that means God has determined to guarantee our delight and our pleasure. All the reasons why are probably hidden from us right now. But the thought is staggering if we ponder it. As much as I might like to guarantee happiness and delight for someone else (a spouse or child?), I can’t do that. That is an amazing aspect of God’s Pleasure River. I think this is part of what Jesus had in mind when He said, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (God is righteousness!) for they shall be satisfied. This is why the psalmist wrote, There are pleasures at Your right hand forevermore. And that satisfies the Lord’s children with fullness of joy.
Finally, God is the fountain of all life, natural or spiritual. Jesus said His life could not be taken from Him because He had power to lay down His life and take it up again. There is no life apart from Him. In Him we live and move and have our being. And in Him is life, and His life is the Light of men. So He is both the Fountain and our Light, the eternal Source of more-than-enough.
As wonderful as all of this is, don’t forget Jesus’ coming was for abundant life that begins here but it certainly doesn’t end here. We have been looking at the ultimate fulfillment of abundant life. That look should encourage and strengthen us. It should also underscore our divine purpose and cause us to live with a heavenly perspective. But how does it impact life today?
We live above the Tennessee River. It is fed by many smaller streams. Near our house is Lake Guntersville. It’s a result of TVA putting dams along the river for power, shipping, etc. Lake Guntersville is a huge lake and a well-known spot for fishing tournaments. The water in the lake came from somewhere, right? It may have started hundreds of miles away in a spring or gathered as rain on a summer afternoon. But water’s substance is the same in the tributary as it is in the river, and the same in the river as it is the lake. God’s Pleasure River is like that. Here we have examined what the river is like in its future, eternal state. That’s not where you are right now. Life here is like being on one those tributary streams. It’s going to take you to the River, but its substance is the same. Said another way, God never changes. What He wants for your eternal future is what He wants in the here and now. He wants you desire Him, to delight in Him, and He wants to give to you from the abundance of Himself. So what follows is several ways He does that. The subjects vary, but the truth is constant: You get to drink from God’s Pleasure River and you can do it today!
Soli Deo Gloria!
After Thoughts
                                                        Matthew 6:35
Chapter 4
The Pleasure of Worship
The secret things are the Lord’s, but what is revealed is ours so we may do what He has told us to do (author’s paraphrase). Jesus said there is a command at the very top of the list: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. He was asked about this more than once. The occasion in Mark 12 is my favorite. In the conversation Jesus connects the second commandment, Love you neighbor as yourself. He then explains who our neighbor is by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan. Why did He give that parable? It was to show us what loving our neighbor looks like. Genuine love of God will express itself by loving those He loves, i.e., our neighbors. That is an act worship. I am so glad we have a ‘visual’ for loving others. And our Father didn’t leave us on our own to wonder what His love looks like!
God’s love is on constant display. It is the creation around us. It’s in places like John 3:16: He so loved the world that He gave…  We see it Romans 5:8: God demonstrated His love toward us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. His love for us contains a great truth and a principle to remember. The truth is this: He loves us without precondition. While we were still sinners could be expressed, while we were still His enemies. Eternal God loved us before we ever had the chance to know Him. The principle is: love requires demonstration.
We are familiar with the discussions in James on faith and works. James says faith without works is dead. Genuine believing (faith) will have its inevitable outgrowth in the actions (works) of life. In the same way, genuine love requires demonstration. If we say we love, and are not driven to an action that expresses our love, we are experiencing something less than love. Christ loved us, and demonstrated that fact. He gave us a visual.
He has also revealed for us what it looks like to love Him. And in the way only He can reveal it, we are taught by a person that didn’t speak a word!  In a seminar on creative worship, we were given the task of preaching a sermon. Easy enough, right? That assignment got much more difficult when we were told we could not speak. Similarly, in Luke 7:37-50, a nameless woman gives an awesome, wordless sermon on worship. That has to be coloring outside the lines just a little bit!  But God often uses something or someone we least expect as His teaching aid.  The first thing we see is preparation for worship.
The woman came intending to anoint Jesus, bringing her alabaster box. She contemplated beforehand how she would express her love for Him. Her love was to be demonstrated by anointing the Object of her affection. The cost of the expression was not a concern. She considered Jesus worthy of the sacrifice (gift) she would bring him. She deemed Him worthy of the act, worthy of the time, and worthy of extravagance. Her example is worthy of our examination. With all her heart she demonstrated love for Jesus. And while we cannot physically anoint His feet, her actions demonstrate principles that must be present in all who would worship Him in spirit and truth.
At the top of my list of principles is worship being an end in itself. She did not adore Him and worship Him as a means to some other end. He is the object of our worship and He is the purpose of our worship. He must be first because only He is eternal. He must be first because He alone is worthy. Remember Haman and Esther? Haman wanted to ride the king’s horse, wear the regal robes, ride through the streets declaring what needed to be done for the one the king esteemed. Was that about honoring the king, or was it about honoring Haman?  When or if our worship is centered on anything or anyone less than Christ Himself, we have erred.
She has taught us by her preparation and we also learn from her position. Notice she took a place behind Jesus. This is reminiscent of Isaiah’s description of the heavenly throne room. The heavenly creatures continually cried, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory! Scripture records, With two of their wings they covered their faces, with two wings they covered their bodies, and with two wings they flew. Their presence was not the main thing!  They were hidden from view in the presence of the glorious, awesome majesty of the One Who clothes Himself with light. She did not come to worship Jesus to be noticed by Him or others. Humility marked her coming and it must mark our own coming. What is required of us but to walk humbly with our God?
She also teaches us to pitch our past. Love has driven her beyond cultural norms and comfort zones. She is not the kind of person who should be in such a place. And yet, here she is behind Jesus, compelled by love. Her life indicates she has searched for answers in all the wrong places. She is present because Grace will not turn her away. All the others would have cast her out because of her past, but Jesus allows her to stay. Better than all the others, she knows her past and her need.  Apparently, she also knows more than the crowd about Who she has come to anoint. Her preparation, position, and past have a close encounter with His presence, and she is overcome. The tears flow, and spontaneous worship occurs.
Why is it spontaneous?  Her intent was clearly to anoint Jesus. How does one intend to cry a river of tears?  One cannot plan that. Our adoration of Christ should be intentional.  Rendering worship to Him requires intent. We know how to plan special moments with our mates or other loved ones.  We prepare for them. How much more should we be intentional in our expressions of love for our Savior?  But, our Father often blesses us with moments we didn’t plan and we didn’t know were coming. How awesome is that?  This woman came prepared, her position was humble, her past didn’t prevent her offering, and then Majesty overwhelmed her. God inhabits our worship and everything changes. Deeply moved, the tears come and there has been no prior preparation for wiping them away. The moment is pristine – one worshiper and the Adored. How God desires this of His children! It is our pleasure to do it and His pleasure to receive it. There is joy in giving praise to the One Who wants us to experience His pleasure.
Fellowship with us is His idea.  He created it in the Garden of Eden and has provided for it since the Fall. Perfect fellowship with Him is the destiny of all who know Him and His plan is that it lasts for eternity. He calls us to worship and then gives us Himself as the only worthy object of that worship. It would be uncaring of Him to do less.
We can come to Him as this nameless woman did and be overwhelmed by His Person and His presence. We can bring our expressions of love and know He will receive them as offerings of obedience. He invites us, one on one, to know Him, love Him, and be loved by Him. His call is to a relationship, not a task.  All this is in such stark contrast to the modern discourses on worship. Were the events of this passage to occur in a modern church, would someone ask, ‘Were those traditional tears or contemporary tears?’ Our view of that to which our Beloved One calls us is often not worthy of Him or His call.
How many reasons could we cite for this worshiper remaining anonymous? How many come to mind? One reason is she represents me. In fact, all can identify with her. We all come with a past, yet we are afforded access to Heaven’s throne by the grace of Almighty God. We all come in great need to the One who in Himself is our Supply. Her actions remind us of these things and show us we are to come with abandon.
Those are reasons from our vantage point. What about God’s point of view? Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. It is not God’s will that any should perish but that all should come to eternal life. This nameless woman gives witness to the desire of God’s heart. All will come and honor Christ, but God desires that we come willingly and humbly. He knows our past and our need. He is still willing for us to come. He wants our love for Him to be the vehicle by which He changes us into a reflection of Him.
This woman’s past, and mine, was very unlike Christ. Her expressed love was Jesus’ instrument to transform her. His desire and intent is still the same. Our expressed love for His is what He uses to transform us into reflections of Him for the entire world to see. Seeing Him in us, they will glorify God. And is there a greater pleasure than knowing I don’t have to be what I was, but I can be a reflection of my Father? Drink long, and drink deep. Come taste and see that the Lord is good!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Chapter 5
The Pleasure of Faith
Have you thought much about a door? It keeps things out, but it also keeps things in. Most doors block sight. You can’t see what’s inside until you go through the door. And why should you be interested in a door?
We all know about doors and we all know about struggles with faith. These two are connected. In Genesis 12, Abram had reached the land of Canaan. His faltering steps of ‘partial obedience’ finally got him there. When he arrived, God clearly spoke to him. The Lord reminded Abram the land where he stood would belong to him and his descendants. The very next verse records Abram building an altar and worshiping. His obedience allowed him the pleasure of worship. But would he keep drinking from that river?
Abram camped between Bethel and Hai. Bethel means ‘house of God’ and Hai means ‘pile of rubble.’ It is amazing how God includes such irony in His word. Abram’s location is an indication of God’s purpose. Will Abram choose Bethel or Hai? One choice would bring blessing while the other would bring hardship. And it doesn’t appear from the text that the choice was all that apparent to Abram. And the truth is, they often are not very apparent to us. Only constant steps of faith keep us pointed toward the pleasures and blessings the Lord wants to give.
Abram decided to move away from Bethel and go south. Oddly enough, it’s the next verse (after his decision) that says a famine was in the land. When Abram arrived in the land, he had noticed the Canaanites. Then he noticed the famine. But neither of these was necessarily a problem. They were present to test his faith.
Now, about the door. ‘Reason and logic’ dictated Abram should keep going south toward Egypt. Things could be better there. Faith dictated Abram should stay where God had sent him and trust God to take care of him. One door is Faith and the other is Reason. They each function as all doors do.
The door of Reason kept Abram from seeing the trouble he would encounter in Egypt. The door of Reason kept him out of Canaan and let him into Egypt.
The door of Faith would have kept him out of Egypt and in Canaan. Opening that door would also allow access to God’s provision. What provision? God’s protection and provision would have been available in abundance. Those pesky Canaanites were what Abram feared. Abram could have experienced the pleasure and power of God’s protection. And is a famine too great for the provision of Jehovah Jireh? We know the answer. Had Abram trusted the Lord he would have experienced the pleasure of rewarded faith.
As you can read, Abram opened the door of Reason and spent a while living in Hai, a pile of rubble. That’s what Egypt was compared to the Promised Land. We can all take courage and hope in the fact that God is patient and kind. He understands our frail faith and gives us more than one chance to walk through the door of Faith. He did it for Abram and He can do it for you!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Chapter 6
The Pleasure of Goodness
Do you know people whose goodness blesses you? I do. Some of them pray for me regularly, some support our missions ministry in a multitude of ways, others go on mission as often as they can, and some exercise goodness by multiple choice; they do all the above! But goodness isn’t about what someone does. What they do is rooted in goodness. Here is a question: Is goodness something we can possess or is it the result of something else?
There are two sets of 10 Commandments in the Bible! Seriously. You’ll remember the ones that start with Thou shalt or Thou shalt not, and maybe Cecil B. Demille’s reverberating ‘G-a-w-d’ voice speaking to Charlton Heston (Moses) from the bush on Mt. Sinai.. Part of our teaching ministry in the Mathes Pastor Training School this year was teaching the first twelve chapters of Genesis. So how are these two sets of commandments connected?
Genesis 1 contains 10 commandments of God. They are not THE 10 commandments from Exodus 20, but they are God’s FIRST 10 commandments. Funny thing is, every time God said, it was done. He gave 10 commandments that weren’t broken. They never will be broken. ONE of them is the command for living things to bring forth fruit ‘after its kind.’ This unbroken commandment is why you’ve never seen (and never will) a pig give birth to a litter of kittens. Evolutionists need to study this one!
After God commanded the ground to bring forth plants, each after its kind, He said, It is good. Nothing in God’s Word is accidental or mistaken. Why does His, It is good, not appear until Gen. 1:12? A likely reason is something Christians desperately need to imitate.
What was the pinnacle of God’s creation? Man. Before there was land and plant life, Man could not have survived on the earth. It is good was connected to God’s purpose. The Earth needed to be habitable by God’s ultimate creation.
What is His purpose in the world today? Man. Specifically, it’s redeeming rebels and turning them into worshipers. How does He do that? Through you and me and other Christians (the Church). Do the people God wants to redeem find the Church habitable? Do we look remotely appealing to them?  (No, I’m not suggesting compromise. Far from it.)
Everything God does is good because He is the personification of goodness. He can’t do something that is not good. But what about you and me? The Apostle Paul said no goodness dwelled in him. He had a desire to good, but goodness was absent within him. His description of himself is a description for the sinful condition of everyone everywhere. So how is anyone ever going to be perceived as good?
The answer is in those two sets of commandments. The first ten commandments in the Bible were obeyed as God spoke into being all that was created. The Ten Commandments given from the burning bush on Sinai have only been kept by One Person: Jesus Christ. For us, goodness in this life is linked to obedience! And that is why God has revealed some of Himself to us: that we may do all the words of this law. Short definition: so we may be obedient!
Is being obedient about keeping some list of rules? Certainly not. That was the problem with the Pharisees. They kept the rules better than anyone and Jesus reserved His harshest comments for them. Their goodness was a pretense because their hearts were far from what Jesus demands. Our obedience will cause others to see the goodness of God in us. How do I know? Let your light so shine before men that will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
We can look at ourselves and our churches and say, It is good, but is it? Does who we are, and what we say, match our God-given mission and purpose? Is goodness flowing through us because of our obedience? Does who we are look good enough for anyone to want to join us? Remember those people I said blessed me because of their goodness? They aren’t perfect, but I know they do their best to be obedient to everything they know of Jesus. And that’s the answer to making the Lord, and His family, attractive enough for others to ask, How do I get what you have?  That’s the question we want the world to ask and that means our obedience has a purpose beyond ourselves.
Think of it like this. Jesus said He will cause rivers of living water to flow from those who believe in Him. Now, when He says (Isaiah 55:1; Revelation 22:17) those who are thirsty can come and drink for free, where do they go to get a drink? They go to you and to me. And the water will be more than appealing when it’s flowing from an obedient fountain!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Chapter 7
The Pleasure of Radiance
Genesis tells us God made a perfect home for Man. When Man messed it up by disobeying, some interesting things happened. The one I have in mind is being naked!
God made Adam and Eve and they were naked and unashamed. The day that changed begs a couple of questions. Their bodies were the same the day before they sinned as they were the moment after they sinned. What made them see themselves differently? I knew that part of the Genesis account, but hadn’t thought about it critically until I began studying to teach Genesis in our Pastor Training School.
One of my favorite writers is Dr. John Phillips. We were blessed to know him and spend some time with him. On this subject, he wrote: ‘Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were probably clothed with light, because God covers Himself with light as a garment (Psalm 104:2) and because the Lord Jesus, in His transfiguration, was similarly arrayed (Mark 9:2-3). The moment they sinned, Adam and Eve saw the light go out. The death of the spirit within them caused the light to be extinguished and, suddenly, the physical side of their being was thrust into a prominence it had never had before. They knew they were naked.’
Dr. Phillip’s idea gains more credibility when we remember the appearances of heavenly beings in the Scriptures. Many are described in terms of radiance or appearance like lightning or blinding presence. Perhaps those terms describe garments of light. Whatever the case, Adam and Eve saw themselves in a way they never had. Oddly, this is just another reason to join in what God is doing! What’s He doing?
Since the moment Dr. Phillips described as ‘the light going out,’ God has been at work to let Man return home to Paradise. Part of Paradise is what we’ve come to know as God’s Pleasure River. Scripture begins and ends in Paradise. In between, God is working to make possible Man’s trip home. Will we be clothed with light? We can’t know for sure, but I’d say it’s a good possibility. I’m looking forward to finding out. And the really cool part is, I am not supposed to find out by myself. Neither are you. We will find out together when we see Him.
Knowing what’s in store for us is a good thing. But that sometimes causes us to miss the application of those truths in the here and now. Whether or not our eternal state is one of shining radiance, our obedience to all the words of God’s law requires radiance now! And no, I’m not talking about walking around with lights or candles.
Those who have experienced it know the joy of being used by God. Those moments assure us that life is bigger than we are. We don’t have to live a small, dark, self-absorbed existence. Purpose for living is part of the abundant life Jesus came to give. And one of His purposes is what I am calling radiance: We are the light of the world. Ultimately, Jesus is that Light and He said while He was here He was the light of the world. But in His physical absence, He has called us to radiance, to be light in our dark world. And that means we get to foreshadow our Lord’s millennial reign. In that time His radiance will cause kings to come to His brightness. We can’t possibly outshine Him, but it’s a pleasure to get to be part of what He does!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Chapter 8
The Pleasure of Light Living
Another pleasure for the here and now is light living. Paul told Timothy soldiers don’t encumber themselves unnecessarily. Paul’s metaphor is key to understanding the joy of light living.
Soldiers are clothed, housed, fed, trained, and equipped by the military. Military doctors and hospitals are ready to treat the soldiers’ wounds or ailments. What is the soldier to do? Focus on the mission at hand. The soldier is to be on guard, vigilant, ready and capable to obey orders at a moment’s notice.
What’s true for the soldier is to be true of God’s children. Our Father has promised to meet our every need and call us to obey His commands. Unlike the military soldier, our Commander is always right, perfect in judgment, and loving to the point of sacrifice. Staying ready to do His will should be easy, right? It is very easy to weigh ourselves down with worldly concerns. It’s OK to enjoy the good things God has put in this world for our use, but it is not good to be consumed and/or controlled by them. Let’s put the thought into a different arena.
A luge competitor is racing down the ice. After she started, a section of the ice looked particularly interesting so she stopped, looked around, then got on with the race. Did you see that in this year’s Olympic Games? Of course not.
What about the speed skater who tried to skate with his backpack. The backpack was filled with weights, rocks, pictures of his family, and several other things. You didn’t see that either.
Imagine a figure skater in the middle of a required routine. Suddenly, she skates over to the side where a section of the ice is for sale. She buys a piece of the ice and then stays right there, no longer engaged in her routine. I know; you didn’t see that either! But if you watched, you saw something that illustrates the pleasure of light living.
Those things I made up (as well as the absurd picture) do not represent reality. People at the Olympics are there for one reason. They are competitors. They are there to win. Olympic competitors don’t add extra weight or stop on the track for a look around. The track is not something to be purchased. It is a place where skills and discipline are proved and displayed.
What we saw illustrated in the Olympics is stated by the writer of Hebrews: Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1b. This same truth was stated by Jacob when he said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their pilgrimage,” Genesis 47:9.
Tracks, rinks, and life-on-this-earth are things we simply pass through in order to win a soldier’s victory or a competitor’s crown. The problem is, we stop and buy pieces of it, get ourselves weighted down with things that don’t fit our mission, and forget we are just passing through. To make a difference (win?) we need to empty the backpacks, stop buying the track, and start running on it! A pleasure God intends for us to enjoy right now is pilgrim living, and that is light living!
Soli Deo Gloria!  
Chapter 9
The Pleasure of Encouragement
You are running a race and the path is lined with people cheering you on. You are engaged in an epic struggle and crowds of onlookers call out your name. The image that comes to mind is a boxing ring and cries of ‘Rocky, Rocky, Rocky!’ According to God’s Word, encouragement is a pleasure you are meant to enjoy.
People are energized and motivated by encouragement. Business leaders know the value of encouragement and find innovative ways to implement it. Encouragement ought to be abundantly used by Christians. Sadly, it is often lacking. There’s a word we all love to hear and it is Encouragement!  
Who doesn’t feel a bit like the kitten when we are encouraged? Have we engaged in ‘constructive’ criticism when encouragement would have been a better choice?  Correction is necessary, but it can be accomplished with encouragement.  What does God have to say about this “E” word?
Building the Testimony of the Church
Encouragement and Accountability

  1. Encourage One Another to Love and Good Deeds

Hebrews 10:24-25  And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

  1. Encourage One Another to Stay on the Right Path

Hebrews 3:13   But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today”, so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

  1. Encourage One Another by Example

Acts 2:42  They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

  1. DEncourage One Another by Using Your Gifts

1 Corinthians 12:12-25   For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many… But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

  1. EEncourage One Another by Bearing the Weaknesses of Each Other

1 Corinthians 12:26  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Romans 15:1-2  Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.

  1. FDo Not Discourage One Another

Numbers 32:6-9  Moses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, “Shall your countrymen go to war while you sit here?  Why do you discourage the Israelites from going over into the land the Lord has given them?  This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to look over the land. After they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and viewed the land, they discouraged the Israelites from entering the land the Lord had given them.

  1.  Giving Regularly and Cheerfully

NOTEGenesis 14 tells of Abraham and Melchizedek. It stands in opposition to some in the modern church who resist the tithe. They contend the tithe is part of the Law and New Testament Christians are free from the Law. We are free from the Law. But, Genesis 14 says the tithe was practiced well before the Law was given. Our obligation is actually greater. The New Testament teaches we are to ‘give as it has been given to us.’ How much have we been given?

  1. Leviticus 27:30,32Thus all the tithe of the land,  of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. For every tenth part of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.
  2. iiMalachi 3:10“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.  You are cursed with a curse for you are robbing Me the whole nation of you!Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this”, says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

iiiLuke 6:38 – Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure-pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

  1. 2 Corinthians 8:10-15 – I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
  2. 2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Just think about the encouragement that is yours! It can blow your mind if you meditate on it for while. How often would you want to be in the company of other believers (the church) if you were constantly encouraged? How appealing would the church be to unbelievers if, when they visit us, they experienced the divine pleasure of encouragement? Want to make this blessing even bigger and better?
It is more blessed to give than to receive!
Soli Deo Gloria! 
Chapter 10
The Pleasure of Knowing the Best is Yet to Come
And where is the principle in this book? We are forever looking for a formula or a ‘how to’ in order to convince ourselves we have achieved some level of mastery over our lives. The Pharisees had that problem. And a look around the Christian landscape says it still exists. This group has God ‘all figured out’ and everyone else is wrong. Insert your favorite names on either end of that statement. The truth is, if we are humble enough to accept it, we will never have God ‘all figured out.’ It’s not possible. He’s told us what we have to know, but we aren’t even capable of knowing all there is to know! It would behoove us to love each other better than we do and not to think more highly of ourselves than we should. Now, on to the Principle!
Jesus came so His enemies could life and have it more abundantly. We have seen only a few of the things He intends for our pleasure as we pass through life’s arena to receive our crowns. We can only state in imagery the future pleasures He holds in store for us. Why is that? Scripture tells us no eye has seen nor has any ear heard and no mind has imagined what good things the Lord has in store for those that love Him; i.e., those who keep His commandments. So obviously, all He holds in store is part of the secrets things that belong to Him. But the things He reveals are to help know Him, love Him, and build our desire to keep His commandments.
Every time we begin a new section of the Mathes Pastor Training School we study the Gospel of John. John structured his Gospel around seven signs that progressively show Who Jesus is. The first of those signs is turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. And this sign tells us about experiencing God’s Pleasure River.
Please allow a little ‘poetic license’ and imagery that may help connect these thoughts. You were once God’s enemy. He loved you anyway. He did all that was necessary to make it possible for you to know Him. He sent you an invitation to come and drink of the water of life freely. You accepted His offer. His living water now flows from you to others. And you have started a journey with Jesus. Your destination is His eternal presence and your task is to drink from the river of His pleasures. But that’s not where you are today.
Your journey begins in a dark world. But you have the pleasure of traveling with the Light of the World and you carry His light. Why? There are people all along the bank that don’t know the joys and pleasures that could be theirs. You can light the way for them. And that means you also have the pleasure of purpose. The stream you travel will take you to His Pleasure River, but that’s not where you are today.
Faith carries you along the stream. Think of faith as your raft. The stream you travel goes through some difficult places in this world. I’ve been whitewater rafting and there is a very important person in the front of the raft: the guide. The guide knows the river and the guide knows rafting. The guide gives instruction in advance so nothing takes you by surprise. For your safety and traveling pleasure, your Savior has provided a Guide; the Holy Spirit. And He is with you today, in the swiftest rapids or the placid pools. He cannot get out of your boat, so you will know the pleasure of companionship and safety.
And how do you navigate? In Psalm 23 David said goodness and mercy would follow him all the days of his life. I like to think of one sheepdog named Goodness and another named Mercy. They help the Shepherd guide and guard His flock. The Apostle Paul says we are saved by grace through faith. So if the stream that carries you is God’s grace and your raft is your faith, then your oars are Love and Obedience. The exhilarating truth is we don’t deserve to be on any part of God’s River of Pleasure! It’s about grace. He didn’t have to love us, but He did. He didn’t have to forgive us, but He did. He didn’t have to give us hope and a future, but He did. So, carried on His grace, lifted by faith, we love Him and obey Him. Love and obedience will guide us to the good works for which He redeemed us. Love and obedience will protect us from things we think we want; things that will only slow us down. Finally, love and obedience will see us safely over to Canaan’s side. And as much as I find the pleasure of encouragement in that little discourse, it gets even better!
Remember the wedding at Cana? When the servants had done what Jesus told them to do the Lord’s miracle became apparent. Water had been turned into wine. But this miracle is as much a concept as it was an event. The master of the feast couldn’t understand why the bridegroom had saved the best wine until last. That was not the custom of the day. Have you ever been pleasantly surprised? God does that. He is not bound by what we think He ought to do. He does not perform to our expectations. What He does is perfect, abundant, and better than anything anyone could have imagined.
Jesus began His earthy ministry at a wedding. The Bible closes just after we see a wedding, the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. Jesus’ wine in Cana and the Heavenly wedding scene have a thought in common: The Best is Yet to Come! Keep paddling!
Soli Deo Gloria!
O yes, here is the 29:29 Principle. It is ancient and simple, yet it is profound!
Principle, part I: The secret things belong to the Lord our GodTrust Him with that.
Principle, part II: But the things revealed belong to us and our sons forever so that we may do all the words of this law. – Obey  See it? The hymn writer saw it, and God’s reward for doing it is the River of His Pleasures! Enjoy
About the Author
Keith Burnett  
Director of Evangelism
R.O.W. – Rivers of the World
In 2011, Rivers of the World (ROW) invited Keith to become the organization’s first Director of Evangelism. Around the world, ROW asks, “What’s the toughest thing about living here and how can we help you change it?”  ROW then engages, trains, and equips mission volunteer teams to meet the needs.  Our ministry ‘tools’ include pastor training schools, medical missions, construction missions, orphanages, sports camps, educational projects, water purification systems, and economic development opportunities.  Innovative use of solar technology allows us to be effective where no power grids exist.  As helpful as these things are, they are a means to an end: inviting people to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Keith and his wife Debbie (high school sweethearts) have spent 40 years together in Christian ministry. They have been blessed with 3 daughters, 2 sons, and 8 grandchildren (currently!). Their journey has included serving churches in Texas and Alabama. Leading fellow believers to share God’s message of love and forgiveness has allowed them to share the Gospel in Russia, Spain, Australia, Kenya, Tanzania, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Belize, and the Dominican Republic.
Keith earned his Doctor of Ministry and Master of Divinity degrees from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.  His Master of Arts degree was comprised of work at Liberty and Southwestern Seminary, Fort Worth, TX.  Keith and Debbie are Native Texans who enjoy the people and beauty of Alabama. They live in Scottsboro, AL.

Keith Burnett |