Daily Encouragement Net
The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.

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Friday, April 30, 2021

Monroe Valley Chapel
Monroe Valley Chapel
On Tuesday we passed this tiny chapel built in 1841 in northern Lebanon County.
A quote often attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman who authored Democracy in America in the early 1800s, helps to identify how far we have drifted as a nation: "It was not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her success. America is great because she is good, and if America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

"For Such A Worm As I"

Message summary: We must recognize the awful extent of sin and that our only hope exists in God’s redemption through Jesus Christ.

Listen to this message on your audio player.

“How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in His eyes, how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot—a human being, who is only a worm!” (Job 25:4-6). "But I am a worm and not a man” (Psalm 22:6). “What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:24a).

Alas! And did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Bird feederSeveral weeks ago I placed a bird feeder on a movable post right outside our home office window. We wanted a good view of the birds feeding. The other day I moved the feeder and made a discovery some will find rather distasteful; worms had made a home under the board due to the moisture. Brooksyne, strange as it may seem, was so appalled by the sight that she took a photo but due to its rather gross nature forbids me from sharing the photo on this page but for the terminally curious we post it as a link here.

Juicy steakFor sure the sight of these slimy worms doesn’t whet my appetite and almost certainly not yours, but to a robin it’s like a juicy steak is to us.

The sight of these worms brings to mind the phrase in today’s opening hymn that many of us have often sung, "Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?" (Although many modern versions change the words to "for sinners such as I".)

Earlier this week we quoted a line from Charles Wesley's deathbed hymn,

In age and feebleness extreme,
Who shall a helpless worm redeem?
Jesus, my only hope Thou art,
Strength of my failing flesh and heart:
O could I catch one smile from Thee,
And drop into eternity!

We may wonder what these 18th century hymn-writers had with worms!

When I attended Bible College in the 70's there were various jobs around the campus for students to work at to assist with paying their school bills. For a time I drove the campus garbage truck, one of numerous interesting jobs I’ve had through the years. Not pleasant at the time but I now see it as part of God’s school of real life instruction (AKA “the school of hard knocks”). To this day I have a real appreciation for garbage collection personnel who work hard performing a service necessary to all and yet often under-appreciated. I wonder if there is a garbage collector appreciation day? There should be.

Garbage truckThe truck I drove was equipped with a front loading lift which attached to the dumpster and then heaved the dumpster over the cab emptying the contents into the back of the truck. Theoretically the driver could stay in the cab and never see or touch anything.

But sometimes you still needed to get out when something got jammed. I recall emptying the dumpsters behind the cafeteria. As I can vividly recall, especially during hotter weather, the dumpsters would have a lot of crawling maggots; tiny white worms that fed on the decaying food. It was a very unpleasant sight and odor to say the least!

At that time I was pondering God’s love for the fallen human race and considered what it would be like to send my precious child to live among the “maggots”. Well it sure has caused me to marvel in God’s far-reaching love. Some may find this particular illustration distasteful or offensive. But actually the Scripture uses this same imagery in our daily texts.

Bildad, one of Job’s friends, asks a question that is theologically sound in light of the rest of Scripture that teaches about our innermost need for God due to our sin nature: “How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in His eyes, how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot—a human being, who is only a worm!”

Isaac WattsIsaac Watts likely had this verse in mind along with our second text when he wrote the personalized phrase, "such a worm as I". In using this image he was illustrating a theological concept known as total depravity. This runs so contrary to the self-esteem emphasis of our generation but we must recognize the awful extent of sin and that our only hope exists in God’s redemption through Jesus Christ.

Paul, in what many see as a description regarding his state without Christ, declares, “What a wretched man I am!” (Surely he’d be required to attend a class or get counseling for positive self-image today.) But immediately following this he asks and answers his own question, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24b,25).

Matthew Henry, commenting on Psalm 22, which is considered a Messianic Psalm writes,

“What little reason has man to be proud, and what great reason to be humble! So weak and impotent, and so easily crushed, and therefore a very unequal match for Almighty God. Shall man be such a fool as to contend with his Maker, who can tread him to pieces more easily than we can a worm? ... Let us therefore wonder at God’s condescension in taking such worms as we are into covenant and communion with Himself, especially at the condescension of the Son of God, in emptying Himself so far as to say, ‘I am a worm, and no man’.”

Although Isaac Watts ends the first stanza of his hymn with this question, “Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?” the hymn goes on to declare that we have victory due to Christ’s reconciliation. In a refrain written over 100 years later, by Ralph E. Hudson in 1885, we exultantly sing the chorus:

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we do well to apply Bildad's counsel to Job to our own lives, considering that we are but a worm in comparison to Your greatness. You give grace to the humble and oppose the proud. We acknowledge that we are nothing, of no greater value than an earthworm or worse yet, a maggot, in comparison with Your glorious Son, Jesus Christ, who left the throne of heaven and emptied Himself of majestic glory to take His place among us. We are eternally indebted to Your magnificent love that provided a way through Jesus to loosen sin’s shackles so that we might be reshaped into Your likeness. It is in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.

Today’s first text is a response from Bildad, one of Job’s friends. I recall a conversation many years ago with
Tim Casey, a friend, who was a school librarian and a very thoughtful Bible student/teacher. We were musing about just how much counsel we should take from Job’s three friends since overall God repudiates their outlook. The truth in today’s text is amply verified in the balance of Scripture.

C.S. Lewis expresses the view:

"Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good-above all, that we are better than someone else-I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object." (Mere Christianity 1952, P.124).

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Alas And Did My Savior Bleed"  Video   Many modern versions feel compelled to change the original words to "for sinners such as I" in place of Watt's original "For such a worm as I?" This version retains the original.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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