Friday, April 29, 2016

It Is Up To You

Psalm 24:1-10

A Psalm of David.

“The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.  For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” (Psalm 24:1-2)

Everything on the earth belongs to God because he created it.   This includes the people who live here because he made them as well.  In the process, he established the physical and moral laws by which everything is to operate.  Because they do not want to follow God’s laws, or acknowledge His authority, mankind denies the creation, making up other stories about the origin of the universe.  They have deliberately rebelled against God, as Romans 1:22-32 tells us. 

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:22-32)

Though they have denied his existence, they will still face his judgment and the consequences of their actions. 

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?  He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.  He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.” (Psalm 24:3-6)

While mankind as whole has rebelled against God, there are a few who have not.  They have physically obeyed God’s commands, sincerely desiring to please him, not just trying to escape judgment.  They have not allowed their pride and desires to control their attitudes, nor deliberately tried to mislead people.  Such people will have access to God’s eternal kingdom.   Revelation 21:23-27 gives some detail.

“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.   And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.  And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.  And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.  And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” (Revelation 21:23-27)

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.  Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.” (Psalm 24:7-10)

In Revelation 3:20-21, Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”  The opportunity to enjoy God blessings are available to every person, as John 3:16 to 20 tells us.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” 

We can open the gates and allow Christ to come in, and receive eternal life, or we can keep them shut and suffer God’s condemnation.  It is our choice.  The default setting is to not believe.   If We choose to believe, he forgives and takes away our sin.  I John 1:9-10 promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Good Shepherd

Psalm 23:1-6

A Psalm of David.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)

Domesticated sheep are extremely vulnerable to many things.  They are not particularly fast or strong, and are small enough most predators find them relatively easy to kill.  There are a lot of plants that are harmful to them and they are susceptible to lot of diseases, as well as infestations of insects and parasites.  For protection they tend to gather in herds, allowing the herd to decide what they do rather than acting independently.   As a result they usually do not develop strong thinking skills for themselves.  Perhaps the most frustrating thing about working with them is realizing that they are intelligent creatures that rarely use their intelligence to the full. 

Since even the lead sheep have the same tendencies, a shepherd is invaluable to the herd.  The shepherd protects them from predators, moves them to where there is food while avoiding areas where harmful plants grow.  He shears excess wool so that it doesn’t become so heavy they can’t walk, and applies sprays and salves to protect them from parasites and infections.  Without a shepherd few sheep would survive their first year.  With this in mind, David describes the Lord as his shepherd, the one who protects and supplies every need.   

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:2)

While they are grazing, sheep bite off the plants and stuff them into the first stomach where the acid starts to break down the fibers.  Later they need to rest while they bring the food up and chew it thoroughly so their intestines can extract all the nutrients.  Without that time to relax and chew the cud, the sheep will become malnourished.  In green pastures, they can take the time to relax and chew the food, because they don’t constantly have to be looking for more.  The Lord provides plenty, and gives us time to digest what he has done. 

Wool holds and immense amount of water, sometimes as much as sixty pounds on a single sheep, making it very hard for him to get to his feet when wet.  It is important that the shepherd keeps his away from fast flowing water where he might be knocked off his feet and be unable to get up and drown. The Lord leads us to areas where we are unlikely to be trapped and unable to escape. 

“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” (Psalm 23:3)

The Lord applies the salves and medications to keep out insects and infections and ease our pain.  He leads us in paths where we are not overly tempted to go into sin, just as a shepherd leads the flock in places where they are unlikely to fall or be lost. 

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. “ (Psalm 23:4)

Sheep are extremely aware of their vulnerability, and something new terrifies them, but as they learn to trust their shepherd, they depend on him to deal with the things that frightened them.  As we get to know the Lord, we grow increasingly confident that he knows what is best and how to protect us. 

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” (Psalm 23:5)

The very best pastures often lie high in the mountains where there are a lot of predators, who are drawn to them.  Confident of the shepherd’s care, the sheep can focus on eating, without constantly worrying about one of the predators attacking them.  For reassurance, they can go to th shepherd to be petted and he will apply repellents to drive away the insects.    Life could hardly be better.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (Psalm 23:6)

The best part is that this is not a temporary state.  We experience these blessings throughout our earthly life, then will dwell with the Lord throughout eternity.  I Timothy 4:8 tells us, “…but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”  Why would anyone insist on going their own way and not to let the Good Shepherd lead them? 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

David’s Problems Were A Testimony For Future Generations

Psalm 22:1- 31

To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.

Apparently, this was a song to be sung at the offering of the morning sacrifice, just as it is getting light. 

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” (Psalm 22:1-2)

Once again David refers to how often we feel that God does not hear our prayers because we do not see instantaneous results.  We feel that God has forsaken us or turned his back, and though we pray continually it seems like no one is listening. 

“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.  Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.  They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. ” (Psalm 22:3-8)

David could see how God blessed their forefathers in the past, answering their prayers and delivering them repeatedly.  The problem was that he didn’t feel he was worthy of such response.  He had accepted the judgment of other people.  They mocked him and implied they didn’t think God would deliver him.  That is often what gets us into trouble.

“But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.  I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.  Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.” (Psalm 22:9-11)

When David looked at his past, he realized how much God had done for him, blessing him in allowing him to be born and letting him begin to learn of God as an infant. He asks that God be close in this time because there is nowhere else to turn.   
“Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.  They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.  For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.  I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.  They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” (Psalm 22:12-18)

While David is describing how he feels, that he is surrounded by angry bulls, his description is prophetic as to what Christ would go through when he was crucified.  He describes the pain from hanging on the cross that dislocated his bones, the craving for a drink of water, the shame of the people staring at him, and finally the gambling for his clothing even while he was still alive.

“But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.  Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.  Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.  I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” (Psalm 22:19-22)

Despite what he was experiencing, he asks that God would move quickly to save him, delivering his life from those who sought to kill him, because he knew God still heard him even though he didn’t feel like it.  He commits to praising God, both among his family and before the entire nation.

“Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.  For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.  My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.  The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.” (Psalm 22:23-26)

Those who love the Lord will understand that God has kept his promises, not turning his back to what David was suffering.  When David prayed God answered and he wants the world to know.    Those who fear God will be encouraged as they hear what God  has done. 

“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.  For the kingdom is the LORD'S: and he is the governor among the nations.  All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.  A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.  They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” (Psalm 22:27-31)

The entire world will understand God’s power and worship him as they see how God has worked in the Christian’s life to deliver him in the midst of his troubles.  Even the most powerful will recognize him as God, bowing to him as Lord.  Those who have already died will bow as well and there is no person who can escape that judgment.  A few will serve him, declaring his promises to future generations.  The problems we experience may not be even for our generation. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rejoicing In The Lord

Psalm 21:1-13

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!  Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah.  For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head.” (Psalm 21:1-3)

David promised he would rejoice in God’s strength, and in the salvation he had been given.   He had been saved from Saul repeatedly, then given all the things he most desired, including the throne of Israel, and a healthy family.  The word translated preventest means to precede or anticipate, and indicates God blessed him in advance of his earning it.

 In Luke 18:29-30, Jesus spoke to his disciples, “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake,   Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. “  David’s experience is an example of what the Christian can expect.  We are blessed here, with far greater blessings to come. 

“He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever.  His glory is great in thy salvation: honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him.  For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.  For the king trusteth in the LORD, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.” (Psalm 21:4-7)

David asked for life and God had given him eternal life.   In I John 5:10-11 we are told, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”  David was saved because he believed God, and we are saved the same way.  It is not something we did, but what God has done for us, as Titus 3:5-7 states.  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

“Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee.  Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them.  Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.  For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform.  Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them.” (Psalm 21:8-12)

In John 16:33, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  As long as we are in the world, there will be trials and opposition, especially for those who serve God, but God has already won the victory.   As Romans 8:31 asks, “…If God be for us, who can be against us?”  Why should we worry about things?  After all, he is more powerful than anyone or anything, and John 10:27-30 tells us, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.  I and my Father are one.”  There is no way anyone can take us away from God’s love.

“Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.” (Psalm 21:13)

God demonstrates his own greatness, we just praise him for being able and willing to do those things for us.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Trusting God To Answer Our Prayers

Psalm 20:1-9

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

“The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion; Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah.  Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel.” (Psalm 20:1-4)

This is a song of praise and encouragement.   It reminds us that God will hear and answer our prayers, John 14:13-13 tells us, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”   He will protect and strengthen his people, and will remember our efforts to please him, rewarding  us accordingly.  In II Timothy 2:12 Paul said, “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”  He has a record of everything we have done, and he will not lose it. 

“We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the LORD fulfil all thy petitions.” (Psalm 20:5)

Spiritual people are glad that a person is a Christian.  I Thessalonians 1:2-4 tells us, “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.”  They praise God for his salvation, and pray for God to bless him.

“Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.” (Psalm 20:6)

I John 5:14-15 tells us.  “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”   We know that if we are praying in accordance with what God desires, he will hear us, because the Holy Spirit conveys the message according to Romans 8:26-27. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”  If our attitude is right is no question about God’s willingness to answer our prayers.   

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.  They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.” (Psalm 20:7-8)

Other people may trust in their government or military might and weapons, and their defeat is certain.  We put our trust in god, and victory is assured.

“Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call.” (Psalm 20:9)

Friday, April 22, 2016

God’s Laws

Psalm 19:1-14

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.  There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3)

The most basic principle of science is that everything that happens is caused by something else, even though we may not understand the cause.  Science is ultimately the study of those causes and what their results are.  When we understand the principles, we can then apply them to cause things we desire.   Everything in the universe is the result of God’s actions and shows his glory and power.   We are frequently  given the impression that no true scientist believes in creation.  The truth is that while almost ninety percent of science teachers and professors do not, over eighty percent of the scientists who do actual research profess to believe in some kind of creation. 

Every culture on earth at one time worshipped some kind of God, and until recently, the Atheist belief had never been widespread.  Romans 1:18-20 states, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

The evidence of nature is clear regardless what language one speaks.  To deny God’s existence requires deliberately ignoring the evidence in nature.   As humans become more isolated from nature it becomes easier for them to ignore those things, but their very life depends on them every, and there is no valid excuse for not believing.    They are very much like the woman who said it didn’t matter whether it rained or not because she bought her food at the grocery store, never stopping to think that if there was no rain, the grocery store would have no food to sell.    If there was no God, there would be no universe for us to live in.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.  His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Psalm 19:4-6)

The very orbit of the earth around the sun and the rotation of the earth demonstrate the planning of God that the entire universe has been designed by God.  If the Big Bang theory and the expanding universe are true it is only a matter of time until we become so far from the sun that it no longer warms the earth enough to support life.  At the rate they claim the expansion occurs, life could only have existed a few thousand years.  The fact that we seem to have arrived at a state of equilibrium implies the theory is wrong, based on the principles of motion and attraction between the planets.   The orbits of the earth and other planets should be degrading steadily and the difference should be visible if the earth has been in this position for hundreds of millions of years.  We are unable to detect such degrading, indicating there is more at work than just the natural principles.    

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7)

Modern science depends on there being  natural laws that govern everything that happens, such as the law of gravity.  As we understand those laws or principles, we are able to predict what an action will cause and make wise decisions instead of just randomly trying things in hopes they will produce a desirable result.  The Great Awakening  of Christianity was a result of people believing that God had created the world to follow certain laws.  As a result of scientific discoveries, people turned to God. 

“The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (Psalm 19:8)

The natural laws God established to govern the universe cannot be broken.    God established statutes or rules for human behavior, and when followed guarantee the most satisfactory life possible.   Learning to follow them enables us to make wise choices in our relationships. 

“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:9)

Respect for God makes us afraid of violating his commands, but it recognizes his judgments are not arbitrary.  He is always the same, and will always react the same way.   While he could easily destroy us, we can depend on him to do what is right every time.  That confidence will last forever. 

“More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:10-11)

An understanding of God’s laws and statutes, and that respectful fear of God are worth more than any amount of money.  They make life more enjoyable than the sweetest things the world has to offer, and warn us about unseen dangers.   When life is over, they promise eternal blessings. 

”Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.  Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.  Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. ” (Psalm 19:12-14)

Even with the laws and statutes God has given us, we often don’t realize  when we are doing wrong.  We need the spirit of God to make us aware of what we are doing  so that we don’t just assume that what we do will be acceptable to God.  We often allow such sins to control us.  While we may do things that are wrong, they will not become a pattern of life if the Holy Spirit is in control.  Jesus said people will give an account of every idle word.  David asks that God would control both his words and his thoughts so that they would be acceptable to God. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Praising God

Psalm 18:25-50

“With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.  For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.” (Psalm 18:25-27)

Nearly everyone is familiar with the golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It is the basic principle of the Old Testament Law, as Jesus explained in Matthew 7:12.  “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  Unfortunately most people do not stop to think about the obvious corollary, that you are willing to be treated the same way you treat others.  In effect, if you hit me, you have given me permission to hit you if I choose to. 

Matthew 25 40 tells us that what we do to others is effectively done to God.  “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”   David says God will treat us just as we have treated other people.  If we were merciful and willing to forgive others, God will forgive us.   Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 6:14-15.  “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  If we kept ourselves pure, not taking advantage of others, he will do the same for us.  If we were rebellious and refused to do what he asked, he will refuse to give us what we want.     He will protect those who have been victimized, but he will destroy those who are proud and think they are better.   

“For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.  For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.” (Psalm 18:28-29)

II Corinthians 10:18 tells us, “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.”   David was not trying to show off what he had done, but was depending on God to let others know.  It was God’s power that had enabled David to defeat his enemies and accomplish the things he had done.  The glory should go to God. 

“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.  For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?” (Psalm 18:30-31) 

By his very nature God is perfect and everything he does is also perfect.  His word and commands have been tested and prove to be valid.  He will protect all who trust in him, and there is no other God.  There is no other foundation on which we can stand. 

“It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.  He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.  He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.  Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.  Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.” (Psalm 18:32-36)

God has provided the strength and guided David, enabling him to move through life without stumbling, like a deer.  He brought David into a place of respect and taught him how to win victories and given him the power to succeed.  He has also given him assurance of his salvation and kept him from falling into sin.  His care and support have made David great, and kept him from slipping. 

“I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed. Ps 18:38 I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.  For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.  Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.  They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.  Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.  

Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.  As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.  The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.” (Psalm 18:37-42)

David is remembering all the things God has done for him.  By doing so, he will maintain his love for the Lord.  As we saw in the previous lesson, when we forget what God has done for us, our love begins to fade.  It is crucial that we review what he has done regularly if we are to maintain our love for him.

“The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.  It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.  He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.  Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.  Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and showeth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.” (Psalm 18:46-50)

As David has reviewed the different things God has done for him, his feelings of love swell and he is impelled to praise God for all the things he has done for him, thanking him for each one.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Love For God

Psalm 18:1-24

“To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: And he said, I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.” (Psalm 18:1)

This Psalm was written soon after David became King, rejoicing in the way the Lord had protected him.  He committed to loving God.  One thing the world often forgets is that love is a choice, not a feeling, although it produces powerful feelings.  

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.  I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.” (Psalm 18:2-3)

David is describing his relationship with the Lord.  God is everything to him and deserves all the praise and glory for everything that had happened in David’s life.  David knows he will be saved as a result of God’s actions.  Once again we look at Titus 3:5-7.  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Our salvation and our victory is all the result of what God has done.

“The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.  The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.  In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.  Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.” (Psalm 18:4-7)

There had been times when David’s death was only a few seconds away, such as the time when he was hiding in the cave and Saul went into the same cave to take a nap, or David was on one side of the hill and Saul and his army were on the other side following them.  David prayed and God intervened, forcing Saul to go fight the Philistines and giving David respite. 

“There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.  He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.  And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.  He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.  The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.  Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.  Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

“He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.  He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.  They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.  He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:8-19)

David starts by describing, in fanciful terms, God’s reaction to the attacks on him.  It was like somebody had attacked a fire breathing dragon’s baby.  God got really upset and came rushing to his rescue, but this was God and not a dragon.  He sent out lightning and thunder, and a flood of water so there was no place for the enemies to hide.  Despite their efforts to destroy David, God rescued him, protecting him from every attack and protecting him from the flood that destroyed his enemies, giving him a great deal of freedom, simply because he was pleased with David. 

David had made a commitment to love the Lord.  As I stated earlier, love is not just a feeling, but a choice.    I John 4:19 tells us, “We love him, because he first loved us.”    Even at its best human love is self-centered, focusing on what we get from the relationship.  God’s love is totally altruistic, loving us even when we don’t show love in return.   Romans 5:7-8 contrasts our love with God’s.   “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.   But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”     Because he was aware of what God had done for him. David loved God, making the effort to please him. 

“The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.  For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.  For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.  I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.  Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.” (Psalm 18:20-24)

In John, 14:23-24, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.   He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.”  If we love the Lord, we will make changes in our lives, obeying him.    The biggest changes will be in our attitude as I Peter 1:5-9 states. 

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 2pe 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” (I Peter 1:5-9)

A person whose attitude doesn’t change has either never known or has forgotten what Christ has done for them.  If we are to maintain that proper love for Christ, it crucial that we be reminded of what Christ has done for us.  Like the church at Ephesus, as Revelation 2:1-5 describes, we can become so caught up in what we are doing for him we forget what he has done for us and leave that first love.  It is probably the biggest reason people turn away from the Lord.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Praying For God’s Justice

Psalm 17:1-15
A prayer of David.

“Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.  Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal.  Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. “ (Psalm 17:1-3)

In Matthew 23:14, Jesus said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”    The Scribes and Pharisees regularly used distorted interpretations of God’s law to justify seizing  the homes of widows and orphans, then stood up in the synagogue and made a show of long prayers to impress people with their spirituality.  David prayed that God would hear his prayer knowing it was not just an effort to fool God or himself. 

God knows the real motives for what we do, and David asked to be judged on the truth, not on just the appearance of what he did.  He was confident he would be blessed because he had done his best to follow God’s commands.  We are not qualified to judge ourselves or others because we see only the outward appearance.    God will show the whole truth, as Paul states in I Corinthians 4:4-5.  “For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”  David was simply asking God to judge what he had done on the basis of what God knew instead of what people thought.   

“Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.  Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.” (Psalm 17:4-5)

By following God’s word, David had avoided doing the evil things Satan would tempt him to do.  He asked that God would help him to stay on the proper path. 

“I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.  Show thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.  Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings, From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.” (Psalm 17:6-9)

David was praying to God because he believed God would listen.   He is not praying because he is perfect but because God is a loving God, and he is asking that God demonstrate his love.  He knew God takes care of those that trust him, and he asked that God would treat him as a beloved child, protecting him like a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings. 

“They are enclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly.  They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth; Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.” (Psalm 17:10-12)

Those who sought to destroy David were so wrapped up in their own ideas and thought they were smarter than anyone else.    They were like a lion stalking his prey, totally focused on not attracting attention to what they were trying to do, and oblivious to everything else. 

“Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword: From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.” (Psalm 17:13-14)

God uses even the wicked to accomplish his purpose, and punish those who will not obey, even giving them earthly possessions, but David asks that when they attack him, they come up empty handed and frustrated, with all their wealth being passed to babies too young to understand its value or keep it. 

“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)

David will be satisfied with his relationship with God.  He doesn’t need the things his enemies hold dear to be satisfied.  

Monday, April 18, 2016

David’s Commitment To God

Psalm 16:1-11

Michtam of David.

“Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.

O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.”  (Psalm 16:1-3)

This poem by David opens with the basic premise that He has put his trust in the Lord and expect him to preserve him.    As he points out, his righteousness does not even compare with that of God.   All he can do is demonstrate God’s righteousness and love to those who love God here on earth.  A thousand years later, John would make the same point in I John 5:1.  “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.  A lack of love for other  Christians clearly indicates a person does not love God, as I John 4:20 states.  “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”

“Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.” (Psalm 16:4)

The people who rush to find some other god will find more problems than they can handle.  David refuses to get caught up in the things they are doing.  As Jesus said in Luke 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”    Whether that other god is material things or some other idol, we have to choose which we will serve.   

“The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.  The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.  I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.” (Psalm 16:5-7)

David has chosen God for his inheritance, depending on him to meet his needs, and God has supplied all his needs.   Trusting God has led him to being satisfied with where he is at, and he feels blessed to have it.   He thanks the Lord for his advice and leadership.   God may lead us into places we would not choose, but when he leads us it will be a place that is eminently satisfactory.  In Psalm 37:3-6, David assures us of the benefits of trusting and serving God.  “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.  And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.”  When we put God first, and follow his leadership we can expect to be satisfied with what he provides. 

“I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.  For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Psalm 16:8-10)

David had committed to putting God first in his life.  As a result he was at peace and had hope for the future, knowing that his salvation was real.  While the last part is a prophecy about Christ, it is also a reminder that his children will not go into hell or stay in the grave.  In Philippians 4:6-11, Paul advises Christians to do the same thing, describing his own experience as a result of following that advice.  “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” 

“Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

God has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us through life.  When we allow him to fill us, we experience an ongoing joy in his presence, and then we find pleasure in everything about our lives , and it will be that way for eternity.    What more could we ever want?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Characteristics of God’s People

Psalm 15:1-5)

A Psalm of David.

“LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1)

David starts out by asking what kind of people going to live in God’s Holy Kingdom.  This is important because the scripture is quite definite that people who indulge in certain lifestyles will not be there.  I Corinthians 6:9-10 is very specific. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 

Revelation 21:27 describes the characteristics of those who will not be allowed.  “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” 

The only ones who enter are those whose names are written in the book of life.   David goes on to describe some of the characteristics of those who are written in the Book of Life.  They are the results of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. 

 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” (Psalm 15:2)

The first characteristic of those who will be going to heaven is that they do what is right as matter of course, n0t putting on a show to fool people.   They don’t lie to themselves or to other people about who they are.   

“He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.” (Psalm 15:3)

People who are going to heaven do not take pleasure in seeing others suffer or run down their accomplishments to make themselves look better.  They don’t gossip or try to destroy other people emotionally. 
“In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” (Psalm 15:4)

A person who is truly a Christian cannot just ignore evil, but must point out the wrong avoiding association with those who are involved.  He admires those who do what is right, and will keep his word, even though it costs a lot and he might be excused for not doing it.   

“He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” (Psalm 15:5)

Finally the man that pleases God is not wrapped up in making money, charging interest when he loans out money or seeking the maximum profit .  He doesn’t accept bribes ofr bonuses for convincing people to pay more or buying something more expensive.    

A Person who has these characteristics will not turn away from God to get caught up in sin.  Galatians 5:16 tells us, “…Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”  I John 3:4-10 explains in more detail.  “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.  And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.  Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Fool’s Decision

Psalm 14:1-7

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.  They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” (Psalm 14:1)

The fool tells himself that there is no God and that he will never have to suffer the consequences of his actions, ignoring the fact that everything in nature has consequences.  Removing rocks from the bottom of the pile results in those above sliding or rolling down.  Stripping the bark causes a tree to die.   There are things that naturally happen as a result of and action, and even the fool should be able to see that there will be consequences for his action whether God existed or not.   

Nature also teaches us there must be a cause for everything that happens.  Understanding that, we know spontaneous evolution is not possible.  Something had to cause the universe to come into existence, or to cause life to develop.   The fool denies the existence of God because he doesn’t want to take responsibility for his actions.  Once he convinces himself he doesn’t need to worry about the consequences, there are no meaningful standards of good or bad and he feels free to do whatever he pleases without concern.  As a result they do horrible things.      

“The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.   They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalm 14:2-3)

God looked down from heaven to see what men would do.   Paul quotes David’s conclusion and expands on it in Romans 3:10-12.  “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.   Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  Convinced there is no God, there is no reason for them to try to do good. 

“Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD.  There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.   Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge.”  (Psalm 14:4-6)

David asks if the wicked can really be so ignorant as to not realize God’s existence and power”  After all, As Romans 1:22-23 tells us, everything in nature tells us there is a God.   “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” 

Considering themselves too smart and sophisticated to believe in God, they have made fools of themselves, turning on God’s people and not turning to God.  They have made fun of the poor whose only hope was in God, and when trouble comes they have no hope themselves  and nothing to offer to replace the hopes of the poor. 

“Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.” (Psalm 14:7)

One day the Lord will return and straighten things out, restoring Israel to their proper place and making them rejoice in his blessings.  One can only wish that time was already here. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

When The Trials Just Drag On

Psalm 13:1-6

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

“How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?  How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2)

When we are struggling, sometimes it seems like the problems will never be resolved and that God has forgotten us.   Sometimes we almost give up hope of ever seeing and end to them.   For many years, David had fled from Saul, constantly at the risk of his life.  He wasn’t even old enough to get into the army when he fought Goliath, and he was thirty when Saul died.  Even then it would be seven more years before he was able to stop fighting with Saul’s army and unite Israel.  He had felt that sense that it would never end. 

I Samuel 27:1 describes such a point in David’s life.   “And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.” 

Although he believed God, even David reached a point where Human strength felt it could take no more.  He asks, “How long will this continue?”  How long will he have to keep telling himself one day God will give the victory?  How long will he be subject to the whims of those who hate him?   It is and experience we all have from time to time. 

“Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.” (Psalm 13:3-4)

David asks God to hear his plea, and take away his sense of hopelessness and depression.  He asks for assurance that his enemies will not kill him, like it seems will surely happen.   He also asks that they not be able to think they have won, or make fun of him when he is forced to move to another position.   It really hurts to be left with the feeling our faith in God has been misplaced, even for a few moments. 

“But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.  I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

Though David has come to point where it feels like God is not going to keep his promise, David is still trusting his mercy.   Though his sin deserves death, God is merciful and will allow him to escape the judgment he deserves.   Hopeless as it seems, he believes that God will save him.  As a result, he going to sing to the Lord because he has blessed him so richly. 

Sometimes, we just have to gird up our loins and keep trusting God, remembering how he has blessed in the past, no matter how hopeless it seems at the moment.  David experienced this several times, and most of us will as well. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Stability In An Unstable World

Psalm 12:1-8

To the chief Musician upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.

This psalm was intended to be played on the eight stringed lyre. 

Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.  They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. ” (Psalm 12:-2)

In II Timothy 3:12-13, Paul warned Timothy, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”   A thousand years earlier David observed the same thing,  that moral and ethical behavior seemed to be declining.  As David said, those with an attitude of doing what was right or being trustworthy were disappearing.   Without the Lord’s help men who wanted please God would be pulled into the same attitudes.  People would tell whatever lie was necessary to get people to give them what they wanted because there was nearly always a hidden agenda.   

“The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?” (Psalm 12:3-4)

God will judge and destroy all those who use flatteries and boast of what they will do.  All those who think they can solve all the problems with words and that God has no authority over them are in for a rude awakening. 

“For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. “ (Psalm 12:5)

God is aware of the suffering of the poor and the cravings of the needy.  He promises to take care of them, coming to their deliverance and protecting them from those who threaten them, puffing in and attempt to frighten them. 

“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.  Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (Psalm 12:6-7)
God’s words are absolutely pure, like silver that has been through the refining process seven times to eliminate all impurities.  He will keep his promises and preserve his standards forever.  Contrary to what many believe they will never be outdated or superseded.    In a world of planned obsolescence, they are something permanent.    It is a wonderful thing because the world tries to destroy God’s standards.
“The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.” (Psalm 12:8)

The people we pick as heroes determines the standards of our culture.  By setting a person as a hero, we tell people around us this is what we want them to be like.  If drug pushers or gang bangers are viewed as heroes, drug pushers and gangbangers will overrun the community.   If crooked cops are the heroes , crooked cops will become the norm.   In modern society, the heroes shown in our movies and television programs are really pretty terrible people.  While the writers insist they are just being realistic, they tend to promote the hero’s bad behavior as acceptable.  The worse the leaders and heroes are, the worse the culture becomes, because the wickedness is portrayed as acceptable and even desirable.
 It is important to understand that cultural attitudes are the result of choices by a culture, not of racial characteristics.  They can be changed, while genetic things cannot.

Fortunately God is still on his throne and will still keep his word.   Man’s wickedness will not overthrow him. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

If The Foundations Be Destroyed

Psalm 11:1-7

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
“In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?  For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.  If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:1-3)

The world constantly attacks those who serve the Lord.  As Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”   They constantly look for some weakness or inconsistency and make up lies to destroy one’s faith or credibility.  Christianity is based on faith in God and the trust that he will give us the victory over sin, and if Satan succeeds in destroying that, we have nowhere to turn.   There is nowhere else to run that will give us protection.  All we can do is put our faith in God and let him deal with the other things.  We need to put our trust in him before the attacks start.  It is far more difficult to build a strong foundation when under attack.

The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” (Psalm 11:4)

In Malachi 3:6, God said, “ For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  The continued existence of Israel was based on the fact that God is on his throne and because he has not changed, he still cares for them.  Hebrews 13:8-9 tells the Christian, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.  Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.”  

Because neither God, nor Christ change we need to get to know them and what they have said they expect.  Their expectations and the foundation of our faith has not changed. The old ways and teachings have not been updated by God.  The new doctrines are not from God and do not provide a good foundation.   

“The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.  Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.  For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” (Psalm 11:5-7)

In I Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul describes God’s trying the righteous.  “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 

God will test every believer’s works to see how it stands in the trials of life.  If it survives he will earn rewards.  If it is destroyed he will lose any reward he might have expected but he will still be saved because his foundation was Jesus Christ.  Those who have built their lives on the new doctrines do not have the proper foundation and it will not survive the fire, leaving them without even salvation.    

John 3:17-21 describes the situation for those who have not believed on Jesus Christ and accepted him as their foundation.    “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” They have refused to accept Christ because they do not want to admit their wickedness or give it up.   As a result they must face the consequences of their decision, judgment and destruction by God.   

God loves those who desire to please him and watches over them.  He hates the attitude of those who rebel against him and when they let that attitude define them they earn his hate.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Why Doesn’t God Intervene?

Psalms 10:1-18

 “Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1)

With t5his Psalm, David addresses a question that nearly everyone asks.  Why does God allow wickedness to get so bad?  Why doesn’t he just stop things and destroy the sinners?  He then looks at the attitude of the Wicked. 

“The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.  For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.“  (Psalm 10:2-3)

Like any bully showing off his strength by beating up somebody weaker, the wicked take advantage of the poor because they can’t hire lawyers and security forces to protect themselves.    David asks that they be caught by the very schemes they have used, because they brag about how they have been able to take and promote and encourage those who have been most greedy.   An example of this is the way the bailouts of 2008 and 2009 were handled to rescue huge companies that had taken advantage of thousands of people.

“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.  His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.” (Psalm 10:4-5)

In his pride, the wicked has no interest in God.  He openly and consistently does things that are offensive to God.  He is incapable of understanding true justice.  They think it unfair that a person who has taken the lives of other people should have his life taken, or that a man who has taken every thing other people have should have to repay his victims in full, even if it means his family loses everything. 

“He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.  His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.” (Psalm 10:6-8)

They are convinced they will be able to maintain their power by blackmail, bribery, intimidation and violence.  They curse and despise those around them, deceiving them and cheating them.  Their focus is on things that are not right, such as homosexuality and abortion, and their ideas for solutions are impracticable and unworkable.  
“He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor.  He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net.  He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.  He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.” (Psalm 10:8-11)

They are secretive, hiding what they are doing from everyone, hiding like a lion in his den, so they can catch people unprepared, like congress doing secret deals to get what they want.  They design schemes to take away people’s freedom and property while pretending it is for their benefit.   They make a big play of being poor just like other people and having the same problems in order to make people trust them.  They convince themselves God cannot or will not intervene.
“Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.  Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.” (Psalm 10:12-13)

By their attitude, the wicked imply God doesn’t care about right and wrong and won’t do anything about their sin.  David asks God to intervene for his own reputation, to establish his righteousness and to not forget the humble who recognize their limitations.    

“Thou hast seen it: for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.  Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.” (Psalm 10:14-15)

God has seen the wrong doing and deliberate efforts to hurt other people, and knows that the poor are depending on him for their protection and help.  David asks that God breaks the power of the wicked and then destroys the wicked actions and attitudes until none remains.

“The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.  LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.” (Psalm 10:16-18)

God is the everlasting ruler who will drive out all those who desire to destroy his land and people.  He hears and knows what the people want and need and cares about those things.  He will see that justice is done to everyone so that no one can take advantage of others.   While David never answers the question, he assures us that God will intervene one day. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Overcoming Despair

Psalm 9:1-20

 “To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, A Psalm of David.”

Muthlabben means “to die for the son.”  After Absalom was killed, David wished he could have died in Abaslom’s place.  While David was grieving, Sheba the son of Bichri attempted to take over the kingdom and David was forced to cut his grieving short and deal with Sheba’s revolt.  With God’s help Sheba was eliminated and David was restored fully to power.   

“I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvellous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.” (Psalm 9:1-2)

Despite all his trials and difficulties, David was committed to continuing to praise God.   He was committed to rejoicing and being happy and to letting people know what God was doing.  The best way to avoid depression is  to focus on the good things God gives us, and David’s choice was a good one.  Ephesians 5:18-20 Advises, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”

“When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.  For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.  Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.” (Psalm 9:3-5)

We can confidently trust God to not only stop our enemies, but to make them no longer a threat, destroying them.  He will judge fairly and rebuke those who don’t know better and completely destroying those who knowingly do wrong. 

“O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.  But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.  And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.” (Psalm 9:6-8)

In their pride, the wicked always think they can avoid judgment, but God is eternal, and there wickedness in destroying others will one day end forever.  God will be there forever, and he will provide real justice for those who have done what is right. 

“The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.  Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.  When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.” Psalm 9:9-12)

Even before he judges the world, God will take care of his people, protecting them from the wicked.  They can trust him keep his promise because he has not forgotten them.  He goes back and looks into who has hurt them. 
“Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death: That I may show forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.” (Psalm 9:13-14)

Absalom’s and Sheba’s rebellions had brought David’s enemies into the open, and they threatened his very life.  He asks that God have mercy on him, considering the their hatred and lifting him up so that Israel and Jerusalem can see God’s power.   David would rejoice in that God had saved him. 
“The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.  “The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.  The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.  For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever. “ (Psalm 9:15-18)

Though they don’t realize it, those who don’t know the Lord are caught in a trap of their own making.  God cannot bear to look upon evil, and he will not ignore injustice.  The wicked and those who refuse to acknowledge God will be cast into hell.  God will not always allow the poor and powerless to be oppressed and their hopes destroyed. 

“Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.  Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.” (Psalm 9:19-20)

David asks that judgment fall soon so that people will realize they are just people like everyone else and must answer to God.