We Were Made for a Another World

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0
The longer I live and the more life I have to enjoy and wrestle with, the more my heart pangs with an aching desire for another place. One writer, Rhoison Harris, who wrote on this very topic, described the feeling of gazing upon a “radiant sunset”. He said, “It is in those moments that my soul is altogether satisfied and yet strangely lacking.” 

As a Christian, not only do these moments remind us of how omnipotent our Creator is, but the enjoyment of these blessings cause us to long for a place in which these moments are never ending - where true and everlasting satisfaction exists. When we have tasted a morsel of God’s goodness we can only hunger for more and feel empty when we cannot satisfy that feeling on our own. 

This is because we live in a world we were never made for - a world made perfect but then stained with sin. We are aliens, foreigners, and sojourners in this world waiting for that Kingdom to arrive and take us home. 

C.S. Lewis said in his book Mere Christianity:

“The Christian says, 'Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists...If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world...Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”

I am convinced these beautiful moments and blessings we experience on earth, as a result of our Father’s grace and goodness, act as a shadow (or as a movie trailer, if you will) of what is to come. This “other world” or “true country” as Lewis describes has been called “the place of rest” by Saint Augustine and “the Celestial City” by John Bunyan. They’re all wonderful descriptions of what we have to look forward to and yet they won’t even come close to measuring up to what it will truly be like when we arrive.

John describes it in Revelation 21:1-4 like this:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 

What a beautiful promise and picture of our coming home! 

Harris also shared in his article a reflection on these verses in Revelation by Dr. Phillip Ryken, “I love how Ryken describes these verses: What we find in these final few chapters (of Revelation) is a sanctuary for the heart of every lonely pilgrim who is longing for home…Amen, and amen!”

It’s easy to want to quench this thirst for satisfaction with things of this world, but the more we drink of the emptiness this world has to offer, the thirstier we will become. So set your eyes on Jesus and live like we believe and hope in this coming “true country”. Just from reading this passage in Revelation, we, if you are a Christian, can see the home that He has promised to us. If you are not a Christian, this is an encouragement and a warning. There is a better and satisfying world waiting for you if you submit your life to Jesus - a place with no death, no tears, full of joy, and where we are no longer separated from God Himself! 

1 Peter 1:3-9 describes this promise as an inheritance stored up in heaven for us: 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

If you don’t know Him, you aren’t promised this Kingdom and you don’t have that inheritance stored up in heaven for you. So, I urge you to come before your Father in Heaven and give your life to Him, so that you may enjoy Him fully and have a hope that will never perish! 

I’ll end with the lyrics to a song by the Gray Havens called “Far Kingdom” that reminds me of this “other world” we’re promised our hearts so desperately long for. 

“There is a far Kingdom
A ways from here
Beyond the storm and the sea
There will be no need of darkness
And none for tears
When that far Kingdom I see
There's a river we will know
Ever clear and ever full
From the fount that overflows
In the light of the King
And when we drink it, we will find
That this joy, ever full, will ever rise
And it'll rise on, in the Kingdom
In the Kingdom
There is a far Kingdom
On the other side of the glass
And by a faint light we see
Still there is more gladness
Longing for the sights
Than to behold or be filled, by anything
There is a far, far Kingdom
There at the end of the sea
Where they know my name
And until that far, far Kingdom
Calls me home
Oh, my soul, I will wait
There's a river we will know
Ever clear and ever full
From the fount that overflows
In the light of the King
And when we drink it we will find
That this joy, ever full, will ever rise
And it'll rise on, in the Kingdom
In the Kingdom
And when we drink it we will find
That this joy, ever full, will ever rise
And it'll rise on, in the Kingdom
In the Kingdom
And it'll rise on, in the Kingdom
In the Kingdom” 
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?We Were Made for Doxology? Morning, Evening, and Midnight

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0
If you grew up in church, currently attend church, or have ever visited church there’s a great chance you’ve heard and even sung the following lyrics:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Ending with a resounding “Amen”, this classic hymn has been a part of church tradition for decades, even centuries. It’s a song almost everyone knows, without knowing they know it and it won’t be dying out anytime soon. 

The word doxology originates from two Greek words, doxa, meaning glory, and logos, meaning word. Doxology literally means, “a word of glory,” meaning we sing, pray, write, read, and meditate on doxologies to give glory and praise to God. 

This doxology written by Thomas Ken is often met with heavy, dismayed, groans especially by the younger Christian generation. However, Isaiah 43:7 says God created us for His glory. So, when we look at this passage, the true meaning of the word doxology, and then at Ken’s purpose in writing his doxology, it’s not just made for one, much older, generation that only listens to classic hymns. It was penned specifically by Ken for his students, the younger generation, and meant to be carried into adulthood, into their old age, because it still contains the same rich promises, reminders, and truths about God. In fact, Scripture is filled with doxologies written by various authors, ultimately written by God, all for that same purpose - to cause people to glorify and be reminded of who He is. What God is saying through His word and what Thomas Ken is meaning to convey through his writing is that we were all created for doxology - we were made to glorify Him with our lives.

As we take a brief look into Ken’s life, we are better able to see how he made it a doxology to the Lord. 

Ken’s Journey to Penning his Doxology 

Ken was orphaned as a young child and raised by his older sister, Ann, who was married to Issak Walton (a familiar name to some as he was most famously noted for his classic The Compleat Angler). 

When Ken was just fourteen years old, he began Winchester College and then four years later he began his studies at Oxford University. He later returned to Winchester College and took a position as the chaplain to the bishop. 

It was during this time, in 1674, he wrote and published a book titled A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College. It contained several hymns, each for their own unique purposes. This manual, included the following instructions: 

"As soon as ever you awake in the morning, . . . strive as much as you can to keep all worldly thoughts out of your mind, till you have presented the first-fruits of the day to God, which will be an excellent preparative, to make you spend the rest of it better, and therefore be sure to sing the morning and evening hymn in your chamber devoutly, remembering that the Psalmist, upon happy experience, assures you that it is a good thing to tell of the loving kindness of the Lord early in the morning, and of his truth in the night season."

Among the hymns included in Ken’s manual, was his Morning, Evening, and Midnight hymns written directly to his students at Winchester College and Oxford University to sing upon rising in the morning and going to bed in the evening. The Midnight hymn was added later as a song for students to rehearse when they were struggling to sleep at night. These songs, each over ten stanzas, ended with the now famous doxology. 

As David Mathis wrote in his article The Best-Known Hymn in History: Why We Keep Singing "The Doxology" for Desiring God, “Each hymn was a confession of faith, and an invocation of divine blessing, tailored to its particular moment of the day.” 

Ken wrote these hymns about a God he truly believed in and whom he loved. He hoped his students would have that same infatuation and devotion to God, looking to Him in their every waking, and even in their every restful or restless, moment. 

While the doxology is only 25 words in its entirety, Ken was able to clearly communicate the gospel and the glory that God ultimately deserves from us through his lyrics (though our worship could never truly convey what God has done for us and who He is). 

All Goodness and Blessings Flow From Him 

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow” 

God is the one from whom all blessings flow. In fact, as Mathis pointed out, in 1 Timothy 1:11 and also in 6:15, God is referred to as the Blessed One. 

James 1:17 tells us that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” and in Ephesians 1:3 it says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”.

He grants us every good thing we experience and treasure in our lives today. The fact that we can wake up and take a breath is a blessing from God that we don’t deserve and yet still receive. This is what John describes in John 1:16 as “grace upon grace”. Just in these few words, Ken is recognizing his life belongs to Christ and was given to him by God not because he deserves it, but as a blessing poured out from His grace.

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Thomas Ken experienced many blessings in his life. He ended up becoming an Anglican minister, a royal chaplain to King Charles II, and eventually a Bishop of Bath and Wells. 

But even he knew that God’s blessings are not for our own benefit, although they do bring us joy, can make life easier, and often fill our wants and needs. No, they are meant to remind us that He holds the universe and sustains us. Ken, in his instructions, reminded his readers that before anything else, we are to present our first fruits of the day to Him, before anything else can reach us, we are to go to Him. The ability to do so is a blessing made possible only through the blood of Christ alone. For that, He deserves all the glory.

Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

He is our morning, evening, and midnight. He is our Amen. 

Praise God in Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost 

“Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”

We have the tendency to exclude, or only focus on, one person in the Trinity when we worship. While it’s not wrong or sinful to worship one of His persons, He is also glorified when He’s worshipped in all of his persons and in His entirety. 

1 Corinthians 8:6 declares the Trinity as the Being in which we and everything that exists was created from. Paul says in this passage, “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” 

He, in His goodness, even grants us every part of Himself, providing us with everything we need to glorify Him, to persevere in steadfastness, as well as giving us the grace to be forgiven (although it is not owed to us). Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

His Trinity is beautiful and deserving of our worship. Every explanation, symbolism, and demonstration of the Trinity we come up with will always fall short because in our human capacity we cannot comprehend it, but we aren’t meant to know everything. We’re only to trust in the One who has bever left us, continues to guide us, and will always hold us. That is enough. 

All Praise and Glory Belong to Him

As previously mentioned, we were all designed and created by our Father, as Isaiah 43:7 says, to glorify God - and to glorify Him with our whole selves.

Ken knew his very purpose and instructed his students and friends to be devoted to this same life of glorification. He said, “the Psalmist, upon happy experience, assures you that it is a good thing to tell of the loving kindness of the Lord early in the morning, and of his truth in the night season.” 

All of Scripture is saturated with these praises. Exodus 15:2 says, “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him my father's God, and I will exalt him.” 

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” and likewise, in Hebrews 13:15, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”

Finally, in James 5:13 it says, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”

Mathis too exclaimed in his article that “we were made for doxology”. 

“God is glorified in our heartfelt expression of praise. God made us for praise. He made us for doxology. He made the world that he might be praised. And these simple yet profound words serve that simple yet most profound human act of devotion — and all the more when we join our voices and sing together.” 

Later in his life, Ken was one of seven bishops who refused to sign King James’ Declaration of Indulgence, meant to promote Roman Catholicism. For his decision to take a stand for his faith and for this act of rebellion, Ken was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He would later be tried and acquitted. In his refusal to sign the document, Ken let his life be a declaration of his doxology to God. 

Let your life be a doxology to the Lord in your every waking and sleeping moment, go to the One who gives endless peace and joy. “We were made for doxology”, so let Him be your Morning, Evening, and Midnight. 
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Knowing God

By: TYLER SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0

Recently, I have been contemplating and pondering through the work of J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God. Packer wrote this book to bring life to the believer who is pilgrimaging through this world and into eternal salvation. The main corpus of the book revolves around this single phrase:

“Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives”

We are on a journey to seek truth in ways that we may never understand. We are on a journey to find something greater than what we have now. That’s the beauty of our modern culture today. We are all searching to find something: health, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness. We are on the search for something to please our very needs. We need something to fulfill our emptiness. The answer to that emptiness in Jesus!

Jesus is the something that we have all been looking for. In life’s pilgrimage, the solution to our void is Jesus Christ. Jesus is our only solution to salvation from this life. He even told his disciples this when they asked him how to find the way. Jesus said,

            “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)

Notice what Jesus says here, “No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.” When you are trying to seek God, you must first seek His Son. The only way to know the Father is to know the Son. It is when you acquire knowledge of the Son, that you have acquired knowledge about God.

We now have to ask ourselves: What is the aim of knowing God? What are my intentions with the knowledge I have acquired? Our aim of knowing God is to love him with all of our beings. When we love God, we should be intentional to pursue holiness because God is holy. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  

Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Life does move fast. That’s the truth about it. And when life moves too fast, you tend to miss the better things in life.

Today, you need to ask yourself if you are going to tread on this pilgrimage knowing God or not. If you choose to go off on your own, there are consequences of hell and damnation that awaits you. A life of eternal suffering. A life of decay and death. But if you choose to know God, then you will come to know the vast promises that are offered through His Son. Notice this beautiful promise offered found only in Jesus:

            “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

I encourage you to stop and think about how you plan to live your life. Will you choose to know God and to find satisfaction in Him?

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