The sea—it never stops.
On the surface the waters never stop moving inland to crash on the beach. Underneath, the same water never ceases to slide back into the sea only to regroup and make another run.
It never stops. It is continuous. The sun is motionless but to us it never stops moving. Every single moment of time is sunrise somewhere and sunset somewhere else. The rotation of the earth is continuous.
“Continually” and “Continuously” are not synonyms; they mean different things:
- Continually means to do something regularly and often.
- Continuously means to do something without ever stopping.
Even though modern translations of the Bible use the word, “continually,” the Greek word actually means “continuously”—without ceasing.
The Poet instructs us, “Search for the Lord and his strength; continually seek his face,” but the meaning is “continuously,” without ceasing.
At first these biblical injunctions to do something continuously seem completely out of reason. Is there anything we can do continuously? I suppose good discipline allows us to do good things continually, that is, frequently, regularly, and so on. But continuously? Without ceasing?
The difference in the two words helps us understand two great sources of strength:
- Those things we can do continually and
- Those things we can do continuously.
Things We Can Do Continually
These are the activities of life, the things we do and then stop doing.
- Making music
- Resting, on and on we could go.
Things We Do Continuously
- Listen, and
It appears to me that these very human activities are continuous.
- If we have stopped breathing, we are dead.
- We never stop thinking. Even when we sleep the mind does not.
- In the same way, we never stop listening.
If we extend the concept of sight beyond the recognition of light, to the recognition of images, when the lights go out or we close our eyes to sleep, we keep on seeing. The imagination is a widescreen technicolor film that never stops running.
In these miraculous continuous things we reveal the image of God in us.
The Lord is wonderfully continuous in His care for us. He never sleeps or slumbers, the Bible says, and His ears are always open when we pray the psalm says. His Spirit is the breath of life we breathe. His continuous heartbeat is the rhythm of the universe and of our bodies. The differences between continual and continuous help us understand the Christian life.
There are many things we must do continually:
- Worship privately and publicly,
- Read and live by the Word of God,
- Be led of the Spirit in daily work and witness.
These things we do frequently and regularly:
There are few things that we must do continuously
- Pray without ceasing—we must live in an attitude of thanksgiving and devotion to God.
- Seek the Lord—this should never stop! We must live with all our antennae up and trained on the voice of the Spirit. God speaks through all creation.
- Depend on the Lord—at all times in everything!
These activities are not things we do often and regularly; they are life processes we do constantly.
For us, the sea will roll in and then it will roll out again, ceaselessly. The sun will faithfully rise to warm the earth each day. These are reminders of God’s constant care. As we breathe and pump blood, and think, and see with eyes of sight and imagination, we can continuously know the love of God.
Psalm 105:1-4 NASU
Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.
Hebrews 13:15-16 NIV
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Luke 24:50-53 NIV
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
Psalm 121 NIV
I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip —he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you — the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 34:15 NIV
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.
Lord Jesus, In You I live and move and have my being. Sometimes I forget to take note of Your continuous faithfulness. Forgive me. Your love and care are the true constants in my life. Lord, help be faithful in the things I can do continually. As Your Spirit enables, I will do the continuous things: live in an attitude of prayer; listen at all times for the voice of the Spirit, seek Your face in all things, and look for Your truth in the details of each day. I want to serve you continually and live for You continuously. By Your Spirit, Amen.
Words and Music: Anne S. Murphy
1. There’s a peace in my heart that the world never gave,
A peace it cannot take away.
Though the trials of this life may surround like a cloud,
I’ve a peace that has come there to stay!
Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine;
Constantly abiding, rapture divine.
He never leaves me lonely,
Whispers O so kind:
“I will never leave thee,” Jesus is mine.
2. All the world seemed to sing of a Savior and King,
When peace sweetly came to my heart;
Troubles all fled away and my night turned to day,
Blessed Jesus, how glorious Thou art!
3. This treasure I have in a temple of clay
While here on His footstool I roam.
But He’s coming to take me some glorious day,
Over there to my heavenly home,
For more on Pride: “The Invisible Mountain”
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved