Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Singing His Praises

Psalm 100:1-5

A Psalm of praise.

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” (Psalm 100:1-2)

This psalm is similar to many others, but it has been set to modern music.   It again stresses the need to take time to thank God for the wonderful things he has done for us.  All the earth has been blessed by his actions, and we ought to be thankful and enjoy those blessings. We should be singing with pleasure about what he has done. 

“Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:3)

The first thing in living a life of joy or happiness is to recognize God as God.  He is the creator of the world, but he is also the shepherd who cares for each of his individual sheep, taking care of their individual needs.  He is not just the God who lives a way up there in heaven, but he cares about each of us.    

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” (Psalm 100:4-5)

Knowing who the Lord is, we should not be afraid to follow him through a gate  but should be excited and thanking him even when we don’t know where we are going because we know he is Good and everything he does will be good for us, as Romans 8:28-32 reminds us.  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

We have nothing to fear.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Holy King

Psalm 99:1-9

“The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.  The LORD is great in Zion; and he is high above all the people.  Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.

The lid of the Ark of the Covenant was called the mercy seat, and represents God’s throne in heaven.  At each end of the mercy seat was a gold cherubim with their wings touching over the ark.  When God spoke to Israel, it was from the mercy seat, after they took the land.  The psalmist portrays God as speaking from his throne in heaven, emphasizing his authority.  He reigns, and all the people need to fear his power and majesty, recognizing he is greater than any of the people, and is holy, doing no wrong.    

“The king's strength also loveth judgment; thou dost establish equity, thou executest judgment and righteousness in Jacob.  Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.” (Psalm 99:4-5)

Human rulers are susceptible to flattery, and are subject to certain prejudices and emotions that affect their judgment.   In addition, their pride in their power leads to passing laws that frustrate the people, sometimes forcing them to break the laws and causing an attitude of rebellion.    God enforces laws that are fair and protect all the people equally.  They do not encourage wrong doing.   People ought to  exalt him because he is holy and will not be unfair or do wrong. 

“Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.  He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them.” (Psalm 99:6-7)

When God’s servants prayed to him, God answered them He spoke from the pillar of cloud so they knew what he wanted and they kept his commandments and the various feasts he gave to remind them of his blessings.  . 

“Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God: thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.” (Psalm 99:8)

Many times the people did not obey God’s commands.  When they sinned, he would punish their sin, but when they acknowledged their sin, he forgave them.  He never broke his promise to the nation, although many died because they would not keep their part. 

“Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.” (Psalm 99:9)

We ought to praise and worship God because he is holy, and will forgive when there is genuine repentance and sorrow for sin.  He will not break his promises or cast away those who sincerely trust him.  

Monday, August 29, 2016

Thanking God Now, But Looking Forward to Something Better

Psalm 98:1-9

A Psalm.

 “O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.” (Psalm 98:1)

If we will take the time, every day we will see new things God has done on our behalf.  It is not clear who wrote this psalm, but time after time, God delivered Israel in amazing and unexpected ways, miraculously giving them the victory.     

“The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the heathen.  He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” (Psalm 98:2-3)

Even Israel’s worst enemies were aware of God’s working in delivering them.  It was obvious that Israel could not have won without God’s help.  God had never forgotten his promises, and had repeatedly stopped attempts at genocide.  The entire world knew of the times he had delivered them and his promises to them. 
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Ps 98:5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.  With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.” (Psalm 98:4-6)

Once again the Psalmist reminds us to express our appreciation for what God has done for us musically.  Music affects our emotions more deeply than most forms of expression.    Used properly, singing the songs ourselves about things he has fond for us will make us more appreciative, bringing our emotions into line with the Spirit’s leadership.  Ephesians 5:19-21 instructs, “…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; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”  By singing to God, and thanking him for what he has done, we focus our emotions on God, rather than our feelings, allowing the Holy Spirit to have control, making us thankful and reducing our pride.    

“Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.  Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.” (Psalm 98:7-9)

Today many people are worried about Global warming, hoping to prevent it by reducing the emissions of so called greenhouse gases.   It will not work because they have not properly diagnosed the problem.  All of creation is suffering as a result of man’s sin, as Romans 8:18-22 tells us.  “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.  For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” 

The world’s suffering will only end when God sets up his kingdom on earth and the power of evil has been destroyed.  No amount of legislation will eliminate the problems.    When Christ comes to rule the earth everything , even including the inanimate objects will rejoice.  

Friday, August 26, 2016

Being Glad He Reigns

Psalm 97:1-12

“The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.” (Psalm 97:1)

Several years ago, there was a group who declared God was dead and held a funeral for hi.  Thousands of atheists insist he doesn’t exist, and millions more have chosen to worship some man or animal or inanimate object instead, because, as Romans 1:28 tells us, “…they did not like to retain God in their knowledge…”  Fortunately, as Mark twain commented on reading his obituary in the newspaper, the reports of his death have been exaggerated.

When God created the world, he established certain rules or laws by which it was to function.  Those laws include both moral and social principles, and the laws of science or nature.  Since creation, mankind has been trying to rewrite the rules. And make things work the way they want them.  The alchemists fo the middle ages tried to change the rules for chemistry.   Just a few years ago, suppoed scientists were proclaiming that we had been able to break the law of gravity, and modern evolutionists insist that at some point in time the laws of science have been changed.   Political powers try to rewrite the social laws and create an economy that functions without concern for the basic principles of supply and demand and human nature, and others try to rewrite the moral and ethical standards of right and wrong. 

Because God still reigns, they have been unable to change those laws, and even the most distant lands have should rejoice because of it.  Were the law of gravity to be overcome, for example, there would be nothing to keep the oceans from covering the entire earth and drowning everything.  There would be nothing to keep centripetal force from flinging the world away from the sun and everything on earth from freezing to death. 

Ignoring the principles of supply and demand have resulted in economic collapse and starvation around the world and led to riots and revolution throughout history.  The effects of changing the moral values can be seen in the mass murders and crime rates of modern society.   Without the power of God to enforce his laws, the entire world would be in random chaos, with no one able to accomplish anything.   If people were as smart as they think they are, they would be rejoicing that the world functions according to God’s immutable rules so that they can predict the results of their actions.
“Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.  A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about.  His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled.  The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.” (Psalm 97:2-5)

We usually do not associate God with clouds and darkness, which hide things, but as ! Corinthians 2:14 tells us, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”   He rules with absolute fairness and justice, but humanity has been corrupted by sin and cannot see or understand.   God sends a fire to destroy those who ignore his laws and those who hate him, and lightening to show his power and his standards, causing the world to fear.  Even the very hills melt away before his power. 

“The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.  Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.  Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD.  For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.” (Psalm 97:6-9)

God created life on earth, and the fact that the sun rises every day to provide light and make things grow demonstrates his righteousness in not allowing everything to die.  Anyone looking can see that he deserves our respect for his power and concern for us.  People who worship things he has made or even idols they made only show themselves to be fools, settling for something without power.  When Other nations ignored God, Judah and the city of Jerusalem worshipped him, recognizing he was the ruler of the earth and greater than any of the other gods people worshipped. 

“Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.  Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.  Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” (Psalm 97:10-12)

If we love and respect God, we should hate evil. Both because he hates it, and because it tries to destroy us.    Proverbs 8:13 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”  The evil seek to destroy those who are good, but God protects them.   He provides light and direction to guide them and gives them things to rejoice about.  Those who love and obey him should take the time to enjoy what he gives them and thank him for it.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A New Song Every Day

Psalm 96:1-13

“O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.  Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; show forth his salvation from day to day.” (Psalm 96:1-2)

Humans have become so used to the things that God does that we no longer think about them.    We don’t even realize how vitally our daily lives depend on him.   Colossians 1:16-17 says, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”   He not only created the universe and everything in it but it is by his power they exist day by day.

God didn’t just start the world running and walk away as some teach, nor does he periodically reach in and make adjustments as many seem to believe.  It is his power that holds the electrons, neutrons and protons together.  A nuclear bomb just releases a tiny portion of his power.  To keep an atomic generator from exploding requires constant monitoring and adjustments, yet the sun, which is almost infinitely larger has run without problems for centuries.  Without his control, it would have exploded and gone out thousands of years ago. 

The same God controls the weather so that one area has proper rainfall and abundant crops whie other areas experience drought or floods that wipe out their crops, allowing hundreds or thousands of animals and people to starve.    Every day, we can see different things he has done on our behalf, saving us from starvation, accidental death, diseases, military attacks or who knows what else.  Other times he gives us something we have longed for or reveals some beautiful view that leaves us in awe.  Literally a song describing what he has done today will be outdated tomorrow. 

“Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.  For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.  For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.  Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. “ (Psalm 96:3-6)

When we begin to understand his role in our lives, we will want other people to understand as well.  We won’t want them to waste their time on all the other gods they have invented, which have no power or impact other than in people’s imaginations.    Our God is the creator and he deserves all the thanks and respect. 

Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.  Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.  O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.  Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.” (Psalm 96:7-10)

God didn’t just create on or two races, but all of humanity.  Acts 17:26-29 tells us, “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.”

As people understand who God is they will begin to give him the respect and honor he deserves, bringing him tokens of their thanks and worshipping him instead of their idols.  We need to tell them who he is and warn them of his coming judgment, so that they can understand.

“Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.  Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” (Psalm 96:11-13)

All of creation is affected by God’s actions and benefit when he blesses the people.  They will be especially blessed when he comes and sets up his eternal kingdom and judges the earth, punishing the wicked and rewarding those who obey him.  Romans 8:21-22 explains, “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”  Sin has resulted in all the suffering in the universe, including the earthquakes, extreme storms, global warming, disease epidemics, wildfires and so forth, so that everything on earth is looking forward to God putting things back the way he intended them, eliminating the stresses they experience today.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Show Appreciation

Psalm 95:1-11

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.  For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.  The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. ” (Psalm 95:1-5)

Just realizing who God is, and how powerful he is ought to make us want to praise him for caring about us.  After all he is the creator of the universe and controls everything.  We ought to sing freely about his love and blessings. 

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.  For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:  When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.” (Psalm 95:6-9)

We can either choose to enjoy what God has done for us, or we can be fretting because things aren’t like we wanted them like Israel did in the wilderness, constantly rebelling and trying to make things the way they wanted them. 

“Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.”(Psalm 95:10-11)

God had been frustrated with Israel for forty years because no matter what he did they complained about is and demanded their own way. He finally told them that it was over and that that generation would not be allowed to go into the land and receive the promises.  I Corinthians 10:11 tells us, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”  If we want to continue to experience God’s blessings, we need to learn to appreciate what he has already done.    If all we ever do is complain, there is no reason for him to continue to bless us. 

Sadly, many people do not understand this principle even though it works the same way in human relationships, but most people are not as patient as God.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Allow God to Set Things Right

Psalm 94:1-23

“O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, show thyself.  Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud.  LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?  How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?” Psalm 94:1-4)

Romans 12:19 states, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”  Sometimes, as we see the things that go on around us, we wonder how God can let the wicked keep going and begin to ask how long God will let them get by with what they are doing.  It seems like they are  proud to think they can make up their own rules. 

“They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, and afflict thine heritage.  They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.  Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.” (Psalm 94:5-7)

The wicked set out to discredit and destroy God’s people. sometimes like the Moslem groups who want to kill everyone who does not practice their religion, the homosexual and transgender groups who want to have people arrested for saying their behavior is wrong, or the various socialist groups who tried to destroy the churches in their different countries.    Like the various city gangs, they attack widows and people who are not from their neighborhood, and kill kids who have no father to protect them with impunity.  They are convinced no one cares and that God will do nothing about it. 

“Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?  He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?  He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?  The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.” (Psalm 94:8-15)

The people are like animals, concerned only with their own feelings at the moment.  They do not look at what is really going on and have no respect for God or for other people.  They are like the people in the Black lives movement, rioting when a black teenager is killed for shooting at the police, yet looking the otherway when thirty six black people were killed by black gangs in one weekend.   They don’t understand that eh God who gave them the ability to hear can hear himself, or that the God who gave them eyes can see what they are doing.  They refuse to believe that the God who punished their enemies will also punish them or that the one who gives them the ability to learn right and wrong knows  the difference.  God knows how foolish and worthless people’s ideas can be. 
“Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.  For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.  But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.” (Psalm 94:12-15)

Depending on what is involvesd and the attitude of the one being chastened, chastening can range from simply telling a person they are doing something wrong, to actual physical punishment.   Any kind of punishment is frowned on our day, but Hebrews 12:6-8 tells us that when properly done, it is a demonstration of love.  “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”  Parents who care about their kids teach their kids to behave properly to protect them from worse things in the future.  It is far more loving to spank a child for playing in the street than to take him to the hospital because he got run over.  It is far more humane to spank him when he steals a pencil from another child than to have him put into prison fo robbing a bank. 

The person who is chastened by the lord is seeing God’s love demonstrated to prevent his suffering the same punishment the wicked suffer for their crimes.  Though it may be painful, God does not hate his children or diown them.  The punishment will ultimately lead to proper behavior.

“Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?  Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.  When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up.  In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:16-19)

Without God’s help, the wicked would have everything their way because their e would be no power to stand against them.  Standing against them would result in one’s death.  It would be easier to just go along with what they wanted.  Fortunately, God si there, and when we find ourselves almost ready to give in, God is there to strengthen us, and change our attitude and focus to see how he has blessed us. 
“Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?  They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.  But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.  And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the LORD our God shall cut them off.” (Psalm 94:20-23)

God gave the law so that we might know what was acceptable and what was not, as Romans 3:19-20 tells us.  “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  Would the God who set the standard for right and wrong ignore his own standard?  The wicked condemn those who follow God’s law as being evil, like Hilary Clinton saying “we have to get rid of those old Christian teachings.” 

Instead of us trying to kill her, or the various groups that oppose us, we are to depend on God to protect us. In Deuteronomy 32:35, he said, “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.”  In Romans 12:19-21, Paul tells Christians, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”  We should not allow our resentment against the way we have been treated cause us to do wrong in retaliation.  Instead, we should go out of our way to treat them right and let God settle the bill.   He can do a far better job than we could.   

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Eternal King

Psalm 93:1-5

“LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.  Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting. ” (Psalm 93:1-2)

God created the entire universe, using power mankind can only imagine.  He set the world in orbit and nothing less than God himself has the power to even alter that orbit.  He has the final say in everything that happens on earth.  Satan attempted to seize God’s power, and throughout history, mankind has tried to replace God’s authority with human authority.   Even today false teachers quote Judges 17:6 and 21:25 to prove a strong human power is needed in an effort to justify their usurping authority over the church.  In I Samuel 8, Israel demanded a king, even though, as Samuel told them in I Samuel 12:12, “…the LORD your God was your king.”  In I Samuel 12:17, Samuel told them, “…I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.”  It is sin for them even to want someone else to be their king or ruler. 

God established his authority in creating the world, and he is the eternal God.  There will never be a need for anyone else to replace him.  Exodus 15:18 states, “The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.”  When Jesus Christ sets up his earthly kingdom, it will be as coregent, not as replacing God the father.

The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves.  The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.” (Psalm 93:3-4)

Once it starts, it nearly impossible to stop a flood, although one can sometimes divert it around a particular area.  Even a realatively small stream can knock a person dowm or sweep a car off the road, and larger ones can destroy strong, well built buildings or sweep away mighty dams that were designed to control them.  God’s powere is greater than even the flood that carved the Grand Canyon  or buried the dinosaurs and created most of the landscape we see today.    No tsunami or tidal wave even approaches the power he has.    

“Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever.” (Psalm 93:5)

People often make commitments they are powerless to fulfill when the time comes.  Because God’s power is infinite, he is able to make what he promised happen regardless of the situation.  As a result we can depend on his statements absolutely,  He is incapable of lying and wouldn’t if he could.   His holiness is a characteristic of God, and it is what we would expect of those who claim to be his children.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Take Time To Be Thankful

Psalm 92:1-15

A Psalm or Song for the sabbath day.

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To show forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,  Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.  For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.” (Psalm 92:1-4)

Taking the time to think about how God has blessed us does a great deal to lift our spirits and remove depression.  Music tends to deepen the emotional impact of the song’s message, whether good or bad.   The Psalmist makes a point about using different instruments to share God’s loving kindness, whether a hammered dulcimer with ten strings or a psaltery or harp with a more serious sound. 

In Ephesians 5:17-20, Paul instructs Christians to do the same thing  “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  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.” 

An unthankful spirit is one of the characteristics of those who turn away from God as Paul describes in II Timothy 3:1-4.  “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”   Because they do not appreciate what they have, they become totally self-centered, with no concern for how their actions affect other people.  Their only concern becomes getting more for themselves and are never satisfied.    

 Learning to be thankful and sing praises to God plays a major role in maintaining a spiritual attitude.  In Colossians 2:6-7 Paul instructs. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”  Hebrews 13:15 commands, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”   A thankful attitude is crucial for a healthy attitude.   The Psalmist is focused on what God has done. 
“O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.  A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.” (Psalm 92:5-6)

The Psalmist understands God’s thoughts go to very root of things and as a result his accomplishments are beyond compare.  Unfortunately, those who are animal like, only concerned with their immediate pleasure do not understand that there is than immediate gratification.  They are like people in the story. The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs, destroying their future benefits in an effort to get more right now.

“When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever:  But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore.  For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.” (Psalm 92:7-9)

While the wicked appear to do much better for a time, it is a temporary situation.  Ultimately they will be destroyed forever, because God is the ruler of the universe, and he will see to their punishment.   Those who deliberately do wrong will be destroyed and scattered like a dead man’s ashes. 

“But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.  Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies, and mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me.” (Psalm 92:10-11)

For the gazelle, the size his horns are a sign of his maturity and power. God will make the horns of his servants long and strong as a sign of their blessing with God.   We used to spread oil on a cloth for the cattle to rub on to keep insects away and prevent their skin drying out.   God’s people will be protected from many of the annoyances of daily life, and they will get to see the punishment of those who have taken advantage of them.

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To show that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” (Psalm 92:12-15)

Those who do right will be like a palm tree, growing steadily regardless what the weather does, or like the local juniper trees, which survive and thrive, even when everything else is dying for lack of water.  Those that have placed their faith in God will flourish like a fruit tree planted in one’s garden.  While it takes several years for them to begin producing fruit, they will eventually begin to see the results of their work, demonstrating that God can be trusted in every way because there is no unrighteousness in him.  He will always reward people appropriately.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Benefits of Trusting God

Psalm 91:1-16

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. “ (Psalm 91:1)

This first verse states the theme of this Psalm, that those who abide in the Lord are protected by him from the evil around them, much like a baby bird huddling under its mother.  In this Psalm the Psalmist switches back and forth between telling what his decision is and what we could expect if we make that same decision.

“I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.  He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:2-4)

When we put our trust in the Lord, and go to him, like the mother bird protecting  her babies, he leads us away from the traps the world sets for us, and protects us from the sicknesses and disasters that affect others.  The closer to him we become, the more sure we can be of his protection in every situation.  We learn to trust his word completely. 
“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.  A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.  Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.” (Psalm 91:5-8)

Because you have put your trust in him you will not have to live in fear of home invasions by night or sneak attacks in the daytime.    You will not have to worry about a disease attacking while you are asleep or disasters during the day.  Even when others are dying around you or everyone you know  lose everything you will have nothing to fear.  You will see what happens to those who are wicked, but will not experience it yourself.  You have nothing to worry about. 

“Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.  For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.  They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.  Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.” (Psalm 91:9-13)

Because we have placed our trust in the same God as the Psalmist, we will be protected from all evil things.  While some may seem evil, Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  Ultimately, even those seemingly bad things will produce good results.  The plagues will not destroy us or our families because God will send his angels to protect us, even from stumbling over a rock and breaking a toe or turning and ankle.  Lions or snakes will pose no threat,

“Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.  He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.  With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16)

The psalmist finishes with God’s promise to those who love and obey him.   Because they have set their love on him, he will not only deliver them from the dangers around, but will cause them to be respected.   Because they have been interested enough to learn and remember his name, he will respond when they ask for help, delivering and honoring him, and giving him a long life, and ultimately, eternal salvation.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Life Is Short, Spend It Wisely

Psalm 90:1-17

A Prayer of Moses the man of God.

Tradition holds that this Psalm was written by Moses.  There is nothing to support the claim and there are some things in the Psalm that indicate it was not.  

“LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psalm 90:1-2)

God is the eternal I am.  He has no beginning or ending, but always exists in the present.    Mankind has depended on God from the very beginning, because he was God then, he is today, and he will still be eternally in the future.  He is without time, except as he has made it. 

“Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.  For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:3-4)

Because God created mankind, he has the right to do whatever he wants with them.  If he chooses to destroy a group, it is his right to do so, but no one else has that right.  He also has the right to have mercy and give them another chance if he chooses to do so.    As the Psalmist points out, to God, what will happen a thousand years in the future  is as clear as what happened yesterday, or even a couple of hours ago is to us.   As a result, he knows exactly what we will decide and can plan with certainty as to what the result will be, while giving us freedom to choose. 

“Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.  In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.  For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.  Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.  For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.” (Psalm 90:5-9)

People do not like to admit they do not control their destiny.  At any point their life can be taken away as easily as one can be waked from his sleep and as completely as if he were caught in a flood.    His life is much like the grass or weeds growing around the house.  What was growing vigorously yesterday can be cut down and wither away today.  God’s displeasure can result is suffering or death at any moment because he is constantly aware of what we are doing.  To God our actions are a story he has already heard.  There are no surprises. 

 “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.  Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.  So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:10-12)

The Psalmist says that a person can expect to live seventy and sometimes eighty years.  Since Moses was eighty when he began to lead Israel, it is unlikely he wrote this Psalm.    The Psalmist goes on to state that even if they live to be eighty, their life has been spent in labor and sorrow, constantly reminded death is coming and that life is only temporary and God can cut it even shorter if we anger him.  He asks that God teach us to be aware of days of our life so we utilize them wisely.

“Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.  O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.  Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.  And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” (Psalm 90:13-17)

Knowing that our life is short, the Psalmist asks how long we will be separated from God before he forgives and blesses again.  He asks that we be able to look back to the days of trials and struggles and rejoice in them, seeing how God worked through them for our benefit and that of our children.  As a result people will see God in us, and we will reap the rewards of having served him.   Galatians 6:9 promises, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  We don’t want to get discouraged and quit.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Believing God’s Promise

Psalm 89:1-52

Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.  For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.” (Psalm 89:1-2)

The Psalmist commits to singing God’s praises and sharing how dependable God is in every situation.  God’ mercy is eternal and infinite, and he demonstrates repeatedly how faithful he is.    

“I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.” (Psalm 89:3-4)

God had made a contract or covenant with David that his throne would be forever.   II Samuel 7:12-13 describes the covenant God made with David.   “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.   He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”  David praised God for his promises.  II Samuel 7 gives a brief summary of David’s response to God’s covenant.  Tradition credits this Psalm to Ethan, but this first part  records David’s expression of his appreciation.

“And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.  For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?  God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.

O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?  Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.  Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.

The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.  The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.  Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.  Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” (Psalm 89:5-14)

God is the ruler of the universe, and never changes.   There is no one who can be compared to him, who can always be depended on to accomplish what he promises.  He has infinite power, and is able to control the waves of the sea or destroy a mighty empire .  He is the creator of the universe and his land rejoices to hear his name.  His kingdome is characterized by justice and fairness to everyone, yet he is merciful in its administration, flexible enough to recognize the truth.  He deserves total respect and awe. 

“Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.  In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.  For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.  For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.” (Psalm 89:15-18)

Because God is so merciful and fair, those who know him are blessed to have him as their ruler.  They will be treated with respect, simply because they are his servants and he stands behind them.
“Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.  I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.  The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him.  And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.  But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted.  I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.

He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.  Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.  My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.  His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Psalm 89:19-30)

God had chosen David, an ordinary man, and anointed him as king, giving him His protection and help.  He would help and strengthen him when needed, and destroy those who opposed him.  He would experience God’s faithfulness and mercy, sand he would be well known and respected because of his faith in God.  His kingdom would become a sea power as well.  God’ covenant would never be broken, and his family would reign for eternity. 

“If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.  Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.  My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.  Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.  His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.  It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.” (Psalm 89:30-37)

Even if David’s descendants turn away and break their part of the covenant, God will not break his, but he will Judge and punish them for violating it.  No matter how they might violate it God will not break his promise.  It will be as permanent as the moon or one of the stars or planets.   

“But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed.  Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground.  Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.   All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbours.

Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice.   Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle.  Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.  The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame. Selah.” (Psalm 89:33-45)

Considering the promises to David, and believing he would keep them, it was hard to understand the things Judah was going through.  The entire kingdom was destroyed by the Babylonians, and other countries just took whatever they wanted.  All of the fortified cities were destroyed and Jerusalem was burned.  It was an embarrassment to admit one was a Jew.  The covenant seemed to have been forgotten. 

“How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?  Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?  What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.

Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses, which thou swarest unto David in thy truth?  Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people;  Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.” (Psalm 89:46-51)

Ethan asks how long will they remain in this state?  People have only short lifespans, and all of them die, so if God is going to keep his promise, and he is to see it, it needs to happen soon.  It really hurt to see the enemies making fun of their faith in God.  

“Blessed be the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen.” (Psalm 89:52)

Even though he felt totally forsaken and it looked like there was no hope, the Psalmist still believed God would keep his promise.  Right here we see where his faith kicks in.   It is that faith that assures we will receive the blessings, even if we don’t see them in this life.  Hebrews 11 describes the importance of that faith, illustrating it with the example of Old Testament saints.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dealing With Terminal Illness

Psalm 88:1-18

A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.

Tradition says that this Psalm was a statement of Heman the Ezrahite’s experiences as a person with a terminal illness.    

“O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee: Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry; For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.  I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength: Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.” (Psalm 88:1-5)

The author had reached a point where there was no longer hope of his surviving.  He had prayed, but had seen no change and now he was praying God would listen because he believed his death was very near.  He was very troubled in spirit, and no longer had the strength ot keep fighting.    Even death would be a relief, not to have to keep struggling, even though it also meant he would not be able to reach out to God. 

“Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.  Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.  Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.  Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.” (Psalm 88:6-9)

He was struggling with depression and felt that God was angry with him.  It seemed like God just kept sending wave after wave of bad news.  At the same time, it seemed like all his friends and acquaintances had deserted him because they found it so upsetting to be around him and he could not go out to find someone to talk to.  He was left to suffer alone and he had the feeling God wasn’t listening, despite his prayers. 

“Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.  Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?  Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” (Psalm 88:10-12)

He was asking why God allowed it to reach that point.  How much would a dead person benefit from seeing God’s miracles?  Even if they could enjoy it they couldn’t tell those who were still alive and it wouldn’t matter to the others who were dead.  Nobody would know what God had done for him.

“But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.  LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?  I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.  Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.  They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.  Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.” (Psalm 88:13-18

Despite his feeling God is angry, he would continue to pray, wondering why God was angry and refused to answer.  He was terrified about what was coming and felt like he was drowning in the fear, and was isolated from even those who loved him.  He wished he had died as child to avoid what he was going through. 

Heman’s experiences are normal for people going through terminal illnesses, and many times those who love them are so upset by what is happening that they withdraw, just at the time they are most needed emotionally, convinced they cannot help and trying to protect their own emotions.  While they cannot prevent the death, just knowing someone cares enough to be there can provide a great deal of emotional relief, even though they can’t answer the questions.     Too often we are too concerned with our own feelings to worry about the sense of isolation the sick person feels, even for medical professionals such as doctors and nurses.  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Jerusalem to be a Testimony To the World.

Psalm 87:1-7

A Psalm or Song for the sons of Korah.

“His foundation is in the holy mountains.  The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.  Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.” (Psalm 87:1-2)

Jerusalem is centered in the mountains of the Land God has chosen as his special land.  He prefers the Temple mount to any other location in all of Israel.   As a result of God ‘s presence, it is a magnificent and powerful city, respected in many countries.    

“I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.” (Psalm 87:4)

People took note of those leaders who were from other major cities of the region, because those cities were widely known, in much the same way Trump or other leaders from New York City or Los Angeles are viewed.  They talked about a person from the Ammonite capital of Rabbah, or the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon.  They knew about people from the cities of the Philistines, or even from as far away as Ethiopia. 

“And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.  The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.  As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.” (Psalm 87:5-7)

Jerusalem’s leaders would be as well-known as those of any of those cities, because God would establish her reputation.  God would cause people to be aware of people who had been born there.  In addition, Jerusalem would be known for their musicians, both vocal and instrumental as a place of worship.  It would be known as a place where God’s power was seen, welling up like water from a spring. 

At various times in her history, Jerusalem has been quite influential, but when Christ sets up his earthly kingdom, it will be the world’s capital.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Prayer For Help

Psalm 86:1-17

A Prayer of David.

Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.  Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.   Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.  Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.  For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” (Psalm 86:1-5)

Most people try to fix their problems by themselves and only turn to God when their efforts have failed.  Sometimes they even commit suicide, because they don’t understand God is far more powerful than they are, or they can’t imagine him forgiving what they have done.    David recognized his inability to solve his problems, and asked God for help.   Because he had made the effort to please God he had no load of guilt to worry about, and he had learned by experience to trust in God.  He had developed a relationship where he turned to God for help daily.  As a result he had no hesitation about asking God to make him rejoice, or about his willingness to forgive and not demand the maximum penalty for any sin his people might have committed. 

 Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.  In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.  Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.  All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.  For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.” (Psalm 86:6-10)

David had confidence God would answer his prayer.  He understood that God was unlike any thing other people call gods, and that he did things no one else could do, and that ultimately all mankind would come to bow before him in worship, recognizing him as the only God. 

“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.  I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.  For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.” (Psalm 86:11-13)

Many will never admit they don’t know something or have made a mistake for fear they will appear weak or dumb.  Unfortunately, that attitude leaves you unable to move forward because you  can’t ask for advice, and to change would imply you were wrong.  It makes you as dumb and weak as you were concerned about appearing. 

David asked God to teach him his way, promising to follow what he learned.  He promised to thake time to show his heartfelt appreciation, because he understood little he deserved God’s blessings, and had an understanding how much worse things could have been. 

“O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them.  But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” (Psalm 86:14-15)

Those who consider religion and faith in God a sign of weakness or ignorance attack those who trust God, and violent, immoral people try to take advantage and control others, placing their own desires ahead of God.  God, on the other hand, is concerned about others, being gracious and polite to them, putting up with unsatisfactory behavior, forgiving and teaching what is tight and proper instead of flying into a rage. 

“O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid.  Show me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.” (Psalm 86:16-17)

David that God have mercy, limiting his suffering and strengthening him so he can endure.  He further asks that God show evidence of his blessing and protection so that those who hated him might realize that it was God’s power protecting him and that they were going against God.  He knew that God had helped and comforted him, but those around needed to know as well.     

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Depending On God

Psalm 85:1-13

 To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.

“LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.  Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.   Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.” (Psalm 85:1-3)

Thirteen times in the book of Judges alone, Israel had turned away from God’s commandments, worshipping other gods and ignoring his commandments.  Each time he forgave them, restoring their land, and blessing them when they turned back to him.   Even when they rejected him as their king and chose a human king he forgave them.  It had been repeated time after time. 

Finally, David himself got proud of what he had and how strong his army was, and numbered the people, as described in II Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21.  God judged David and Israel for trusting their power rather than God’s.  As a result, seventy thousand men died, and David recognized how much he had sinned in placing his faith in the army rather than in God. 

“Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.  Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?  Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?  Show us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation.” (Psalm 85:4-7)

Though he had sinned and his sin resulted in so many people’s deaths, David asked God to forgive him, trusting him to be willing to forgive again.  He was counting on God not to hold a grudge against him or the nation.  Much as they deserved it the punishment, he asked that God show mercy and not punish them as they deserved, but that he would show them salvation as he had promised.    David illustrates the faith of the Christian, depending on God promise of eternal salvation in spite of his sin. 

“I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.  Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.” (Psalm 85:8-9)

Though he had disobeyed, he was repentant, determined to obey God, because he was sure of his forgiveness, and that God would again bless them and that he would prevent them from again turning away from him.   He recognized that without God’s help they would never be able to keep themselves from sin.  Paul describes the situation in Romans 7:14-25.
“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:14-25)

The old sinful nature we inherited from Adam and practiced for years  is still present, and takes over when it gets a chance.  The only way of being sure it will not again gain control is by learning to walk in the Spirit, as Galatians 5:16 tells us.  “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”   The only victory is through the power of God.   If it depended on us to stay saved, none of us would make it.   

“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.  Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.  Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.  Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.” (Psalm 85:10-13)

When we learn to walk in the spirit, empowered by God it affects our life.  Galatians 5:22-25 describes the effects of walking in the Spirit.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”  This prepares us to receive the blessings God wants to give us.  Galatians 6:7-8 describes the benefits.  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Abiding In The Lord

Psalm 84:1-12

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.

Traditionally this Psalm was designed to be sung by the descendants of Korah, the family charged with caring for the Ark of the Covenant, and accompanied by the harp. 

“How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!  My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.   Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.  Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.” (Psalm 84:1-4)

The Psalmist, David, finds The Tabernacle, God’s house very pleasant.  In Navajo the word ‘hogan’ refers to the traditional round home and literally means a home.  The word ‘kin’ refers to  a square house and just means house.  In Hebrew the word Tabernacle refers to a tent, but like ‘hogan’, it actually means a home, not just the place one stays.   

David finds the Tabernacle such a place of comfort and encouragement, he longs to spend his time there, and feels a little out of place when he is not able to go to the courtyard.   He describes himself as being like the sparrows which move into a Home Depot or Lowes, finding it a more comfortable and safer home for her babies than outside.  There are no hawks or cats stalking the babies, and the temperature is controlled so there is little danger of getting too hot or freezing nor are they bothered by cold winds or rain or snow.   They are blessed to find such a safe place to live.  In the same way, those who live in God’s house everyday are blessed far beyond those outside. 

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.  Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.  They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.” (Psalm 84:5-7)

The man who depends on the Lord for his strength, and his heart is in following God’s ways.  When he is going to struggles and sorrow, the valley of baca, he makes it his source of refreshment and the blessings of the house fill every cranny in his life.  As a result, they move from blessing to blessing, with little down time between.   Every one of them experiences the presence of God.   

“O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.  Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.  For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:8-10)

David asks that God would hear his requests and honor them.  God is our protection in every situation and we have been chosen by him.  He asks that God look on his chosen with approval, because a day with the Lord is better than a lifetime without him.   As has been stated repeatedly, for those who follow God, this earth is as close to hell as we will ever get,  For those who are evil, this earth is as close to heaven as they will ever get.  It would be better to get into heaven, if it is just barely inside the gate, than to spend eternity in hell, regardless how rich and powerful you may have been on earth. 

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.  O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” (Psalm 84:11-12)

For the Christian, God is like the sun on a cold cloudy day providing light and warmth, and protecting us from the cold and from unseen dangers.  He will give his people grace, gifts and blessing far beyond what they deserve, and cause them to be honored and respected.  He will see that those who do what is right receive every good thing possible.   We are mightily blessed for trusting in God.  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Praying for God’s Enemies

Psalm 83:1-18

A Song or Psalm of Asaph.

“Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.  For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.  They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.” (Psalm 83:1-3)

We often personally hurt because it seems like the World hates us.  In John 7:7 Jesus said, “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.”  We need to understand their hatred is not of us personally, but of Jesus Christ.  John 15:18-19 advises, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.   If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”   

Like Christians, Israel is not hated for their actions, because others have done far worse.  They are hated for their God.    Like a bunch of gangsters attacking a man’s family to try to force him to do what they want or punish him for interfering with their plans, the world has attacked Israel repeatedly, and will do so again during the Tribulation period.    

“They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.  For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.” (Psalm 83:4-8)

During the times of the Judges, Israel had been repeatedly attacked by the people around them.  They had been attacked by those who lived along the Mediterranean Sea, the Philistines and the Peop;e of Tyre and Sidon.  They had been attacked by Esau’s descendants, the Edomites and Amalekites.  By Ishmael’s descendants, including  the Midianites and Hagarenes, and by Lot’s descendants, the Ammonites and Moabites.  These groups had done their best to completely annihilate the Jews, working singly or in groups. 

“Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison:  Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.  Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:  Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.” (Psalm 83:9-11)

He prays that their enemies be as completely as Gideon defeated the Midianites with his three hundred men, or as Deborah defeated Sissera and the army of Jabin.  He prayed that their leaders would be destroyed like Gideon destroyed the Midianite leaders in Judges 7 and 8, who thought they could just take over God’s tabernacle when they pleased. 

“O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.  As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.  Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD.  Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth. ” (Psalm 83:13-18)

He asks that God’s enemies be persecuted and suffer like they were being run over by a wheel or like scraps of dried plants in the wind, like wood in fire or a wild fire raging in the mountains.  He prays that they will be afraid and humiliated to the point they turn to God in repentance and that other people believe in God, recognizing that Jehovah is the ruler of the universe.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A World Off Course

Psalm 82:1-8

A Psalm of Asaph.

“God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.  How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.” (Psalm 82:1-2)

In the modern world, it seems the powerful have tried to exclude God and ignore his principles.  They do not understand that as Jesus told Pilate, “…Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above...” In John 19:11.  Their power and even their very existence are dependent on him.  He will judge the most powerful and respected beings in the universe, even though they are considered gods by in the minds of themselves or others. 

Knowing this, how long will we continue to idolize or ignore the wickedness of those in positions of fame and power?  Political figures, business leaders, and entertainment celebrities are excused for things that other people would be imprisoned for.   Their actions encourage others to do even worse things, yet we treat them as if they were the best people on earth.

“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.  Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.  They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.” (Psalm 82:3-5)

Instead of seeking the approval of the powerful, we need to protect those who lack the finances to hire legal or political protection and those who have no parents to guide them through life.  We need to limit the power of the wicked to control those less powerful.  Unfortunately, many times those who need help have fallen for the promises f those who take advantage of them and walk blindly on in darkness, not realizing the only way those promises can be fulfilled is by taking even more control of them. 

Both socialism and fascism seek to control people completely.  The only real difference is in how they exercise that control.  Unfortunately in the modern political realm. socialism now called liberal and fascism is called conservative.  Neither is either Liberal or conservative, they just want power.  Unfortunately people adopt the ideologies and blindly pursue them not realizing the consequences  of those ideologies. 

 As a result of those idealogies, as the psalmist says, the foundations of the world are out of course.   The political system, the economic system, the religious system, the educational system, and the moral system are all messed up, because we have blindly followed one side or the other rather than seeking out the truth.  We have accepted and promoted the wicked rather than limiting their power.      

“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.  But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.  Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.” (Psalm 82:6-8)

God created us in his image and gave us the power to make informed decisions about our lives, so that we can live as his children in peace and safety.  Because of the choice to ignore or even support wickedness we live and die like people who have no knowledge of God, only to be destroyed and punished like those we supported.   The psalmist asks that God would Judge the earth , because ultimately it all belongs to him anyway.  That judgement is the hope of the righteous, because only God has power to put the world back on course.