Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Glory Belongs To God

Psalm 117:1-118:29

“O Praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.  For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 117:1-2)

The shortest Psalm, these two verses address the fact that every person and country on earth should be thanking the Lord for his blessings.  Throughout their existence, he has made the things they need to survive available, and has offered eternal salvation and eternal hope, even to those who have been most rebellious and evil.  The same thing is required for salvation today as was required five thousand years ago, so that everyone can still have the same chance. 

“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.   Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.  Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.  Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever. “ (Psalm 118:1-4)

God had chosen Israel as his special people and the sons of Aaron as his high priests.  For over five hundred years, thy had repeatedly broken the covenant with God, yet each time they repented and acknowledged their sin he forgave them and blessed them again, not inflicting the maximum punishment they deserved.  The nation should thank God for always being willing to forgive, as should the priests who so often contributed to their sin.  Every person who serves God, whether Jew or not, has benefitted from that same mercy, and should thank and praise him for forgiving them. 

“I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.  The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?  The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.  It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.  It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalm 118:5-9)

David spent several years fleeing for his life, constantly in danger, and praying for God to protect him.  God blessed, destroying the kings who tried to have him killed and giving David the kingdom instead.  He understood what Paul meant in Romans 8:31-32, when he said, “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?”  The creator of the universe has invested so much in us that he will surely protect his investment, and he has the power to do whatever is needed.   No human or human agency can possibly overpower him, empowering those who support his peopleso that their enemies are destroyed.  It is far better to place our trust in God than any person or human agency, because he has a vested interest in us, and the power to accomplish his purpose, while humans may decide to cut their losses and desert you. 

“All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them.  They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.  They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.” (Psalm 118:10-12)

On the one hand David had been attacked by Israel, while fighting off Philistine invasions, Amalekites, and numerous other invaders.  It felt like he had disturbed a swarm of bees and couldn’t relax for a moment.   God had delivered him enabling him to defeat them and  stopping their attack like spraying water on burning weeds. 

“Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me.  The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.  The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.  The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.  I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.  The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.” (Psalm 118:13-18)

His enemies had done their best to knock David down, but God kept him from falling into sin or being destroyed.   Those who love the Lord live safely and joyfully, with God to act on their behalf.  While they experience his chastening and correction, they need not fear he will allow them to be killed.  
“Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.  I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.” (Psalm 118:19)

Even when we are doing our best we still sin.   David understood what Paul meant in Romans 7:18-19.  “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.”   It seemed so hopeless that in Romans 7:24, he asked, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?   In Romans 8:2, he answers the question .   “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”   Only God could make him fitted to receive his blessings, and he was confident he heard him. 

“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.  This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.  This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.  Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.” (Psalm 118:22-25)

This is specifically about Christ, but it also refers to those who have believed.  The world views Christ, and his followers as having little value, yet they are the ones God has chosen.   Having been treated as worthless, it is especially exciting to find God has chosen us.    We celebrate the day, knowing he is the one who made it happen, and expecting him to make things better for us.

“Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.  God is the LORD, which hath showed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.  Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 118:26-29)

We have been richly blessed that God sent his son to make salvation available to us, just as he sent others to protect David.  We go to his house to show our appreciation, recognizing it is him who showed us the truth.  We make sure he is the one who gets the glory, and not the pastor, the church, or anyone else, because he is the one who deserves it.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Loving God

Psalm 116:1-19

“I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.  Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.  The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.  Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.   Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.  The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.” (Psalm 116:1-6)

God’s love is described  in I John 4:10.  “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.   He loved us, even though we did not love him, and were in fact his enemies.   His love is the ultimate love, as Romans 5:7-10 shows us.  “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.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

Our love is comparatively small and weak, only occasionally approaching the same level.  I John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.”  Our love is selfish, based on what he has done for us, while his love is completely unselfish.  When a person describes themselves as loving someone just like God does, it demonstrates their pride and their lack of understanding of God’s love.    The psalmist, probably David, understood that God loved him so much he was willing to do almost anything for him, and loved God in return.   Assured of God’s love he had no hesitation about sharing his fears and insecurities with God, knowing god would not be upset about them.  He could count on God to help him with the problems as he had done many times before.    

“Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.  For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.  I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.  I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:  I said in my haste, All men are liars.” (Psalm 116:7-11)

Assured of God’s love and knowing he would take care of the problems, David was able to sleep peacefully, confident everything would be okay.  He made a commitment to walk with the Lord throughout his life, recognizing that even the best human beings would fail , but that God would not.  It was this confidence and faith that made him speak.

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?  I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.  I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.  Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:12-15)

What can we offer God in return for his love for us?  First, we can accept the gift of salvation he offers, and worship him.  We can keep our commitments to him, demonstrating our love by obeying his commands, as John 14:23-24 says.  “ 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.”

In Matthew 10:29-31 Jesus illustrated how important we are to God.  “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.   But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.   Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”  If he is concerned about the death of a sparrow, think how much he must care about the death of one of his children. 

Many times we are upset about the death of a loved one.  Isaiah 57:1-2 tells us, “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.   He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.”  Those who believe in God enter into peace for eternity.  Their death ensures they will not have to deal with the world’s evil any longer.  They are like Enoch in Genesis 5:24.  “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”   It ought to be  time of rejoicing, even though we will miss them.  

“O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.  I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.  I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people,  In the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 116:16-19)

David was determined to show his love and appreciation in any way he could, serving God whole heartedly, and thanking him for what he had done.  He would publicly praise God everywhere he went I hopes of causing those around him to serve God as well. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Give God The Glory

Psalm 115:1-18

“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.” (Psalm 115:1)

People often brag about what they have accomplished and how successful they are.  They forget that if God had not created them and given them the mental and physical abilities they could not have succeeded.  They breathe air he provides, drink water he provides, eat food he causes to grow, and depend on the health and strength he has given them to use the materials he has created to do their business, using the brain he gave them.   Literally, anything humans accomplish are the result of what God has done.  We need to give him the credit for making us able to do what we do. 

“Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?  But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” (Psalm 115:2-3)

From time to time, groups like the Buddhists and Moslems tell Christians how terrible it must be the not have a place we can go to see where Christ is buried, or a special temple where we can say God lives.  Part of the problem is that they do not see God working in many who call themselves Christians.    Christ is not dead, so no tomb is needed, and no temple could contain him.  Acts 17: 24-25 says, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;”  They feel sorry for Christians because the Christians have not told them how great their God is, and they equate him with the gods they worship.   

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.  They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.  They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” (Psalm 115:4-8)

The gods they worship are statues of people and animals made of gold or silver.  They have eyes, ears, noses, mouths, hands and feet that resemble those of the person or animal they depict, but those various parts are not functional.  They just look like the people who made them, but have even less power.  People who trust in them are stuck with no power to help them either. 

“O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.  O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.  Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.” (Psalm 115:9-13)

The leadership sets the example for the people.  The priests from Aaron’s family needed to set an example of trusting the Lord so the other people would learn to trust him.  God was able and willing to give them all the help and protection they needed. 

“The LORD hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron.  He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great.  The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children.  Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth.  The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:12-16)

His people were constantly on God’s mind.  He would bless the entire nation, and he would bless the priests and anyone else who would fear God, regardless how influential they might be.  He would cause them to prosper and grow as well as their descendants.  They had already been and were being blessed by the creator of the universe.   It all belongs to God but he has given the earth to man to live and care for. 

“The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.  But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.” (Psalm 115:17-18)

When they die the unbeliever’s bodies are go into the ground and their soul is cast into hell, where they endure constant suffering.  They do not praise God for where they are.  Those who trust God, on ther other hand, go to be with the Lord.  They will be singing his praises forever, because he provided a way to escape hell.  We praise the Lord because we know where we are going.

Monday, September 26, 2016

God’s Miraculous Works

Psalm 114:1-8

“When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;  Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.” (Psalm 114:1-2)

When the children of Israel left Egypt, they were leaving a place where they were forced to speak a language other than their native tongue.  The land of Judah, the southern part of the Land of Israel was their sanctuary, their place of safety and worship.  The entire land of Israel was their kingdom. 

“The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back.  The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.” (Psalm 114:3-4)

When they came to Red Sea, it separated so that Israel passed over on dry ground.  When they came to the Jordan River, the water stopped and began to pile up on the north side as if there was a dam.   When God came down on Mount Sinai, the whole mountain quaked greatly, according to Exodus 19:18, shaking the foot hills around it.  It is a picturesque description the Psalmist uses. 

“What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?  Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs?” (Psalm 114:5-6)

The sea normally does not separate and leave bare ground exposed, nor does a river normally stop flowing and allow the downstream side to run dry.   Mountains and hills rarely shake or bounce around.   The Psalmist asks what happened to cause those things ?    they were abnormal events. 

“Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob; Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.” (Psalm 114:7)*

It was the power and presence of God that made the earth tremble shaking the mountains and hills.  It was God’s power that turned a rock into a spring or artesian well gushing out enough water to satisfy millions of people, making it look like the rock was just a large tank full of water.  Only God’s miraculous power could cause these things to happen. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

God Is Personally Interested

Psalm 113:1-9

“Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.” (Psalm 113:1)

People who serve the Lord have experienced his salvation, and the peace of knowing there is nothing standing between them, and they regularly experience his working  on their behalf.  Unfortunately, emotions are very volatile, changing with our circumstances, so that even a minor difficulty can send one into depression, if allowed to do so.  By staying focused on the things God has done for us, we can reduce the volatility of our emotions, and as Christians we have a great deal to be thankful for.  .    

“Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.  From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised.” (Psalm 113:2-3)

We ought to be thanking god for what he does and who he is from the time the sun comes up until it goes down in the evening.    Before artificial lighting was available, most people went to bed shortly after the light faced in the evening, and got up as it began to get light in the morning.  Literally what the psalmist is saying is that we should be praising God every waking moment. 

“The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.  Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!” (Psalm 113:4-6)

A couple of times during his presidency, Barak Obama made visits to a carefully selected person’s home, making a lot of headlines because he took time to visit with someone who had no particular political importance.  God is more important and powerful than any world leader,  ruling the entire universe, not just a single country or even a single planet, yet he is willing to come into the lowliest and least important person’s home and spend as much time as needed to personally address their concerns.    By comparison, our president was too involved with his golf game to even hold a press conference or check that FEMA took action when floods in Louisiana forced thousands of people to evacuate and killed many. 

“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.” (Psalm 113:7-8)

God took a little shepherd boy from a relatively unknown family and made him King of Israel.  He has taken some of the poorest and most forgotten people and given them positions of great authority, here on earth, and in his eternal kingdom, according to Revelation 5:10.  “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” 

“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 113:9)

He is able to give a woman who is unable to have children a family to care for, giving her the joy of motherhood.  Sarah was ninety when she gave birth to Isaac, for example.  Knowing he takes a personal interest in us, even knowing how many hairs are on our heads, and that he is concerned about our most secret desires, we ought to thank him for even caring.  Most human leaders would not.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Reward For Obedience

Psalm 112:1-10

“Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.  His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.  Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.  Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.” (Psalm 112:1-4)

The person who holds God in high respect, taking pleasure in him will be greatly blessed.  In John 14:21-24, Jesus spoke to his disciples.  “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

 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.”

The person who loves the Lord and obeys him will experience God’s love in ways others do not.  He will have an awareness of God being with him and working in his life.  They will have a relationship those who do not obey will never experience.   The Spirit will produce the fruit of the Spirit in him, and he will have financial security and hope when others have none and his descendants will prosper. 

“A good man showeth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.  Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.  He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.  His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.” (Psalm 112:5-8)

That good man demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit in his life, showing love and concern for others,  and trying to help them by lending things they need.  He makes wise choices so that he doesn’t have to fear God’s punishment.    Because of his commitment, he will not be constantly flip-flopping on what he does, but will always be known for doing what is right.  Because he trusts the Lord he will not live in fear when things appear to be going badly, but will focus on God’s promises until he sees them fulfilled. 

“He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.  The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.” (Psalm 112:9-10)

Because he has been willing to share, and give to those who are poor, his reputation for doing right will last forever, and he will be highly respected.  Those who do wickedly will be jealous of his rewards and avoid association, losing all hope as they see him rewarded.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Fear Of The Lord

Psalm 111:1-10

“Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1)

Once again, the psalmist tells us we should praise the Lord, literally to take time to describe his wonderful works and thank him for them.    He has made a commitment to praise him with his whole heart. Not just halfheartedly, or going through the motions, whether in a church foull of dedicated Christians or out in public with everyone around. 

“The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.  His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever.” (Psalm 111:2-3)

What God does is beyond human capabilities or comprehension.  Like a person who cares about another person, those who care about him take time to look at the things he has done and praise him for them.  Everything he does is deserving of respect and praise, and he will keep doing what is right forever.      

“He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.  He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.  He hath showed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.” (Psalm 114:4-6)

We look at the Pyramids and the ancient Egyptian civilization with awe.  The ancient Greek ideas of democracy and Roman legal system still influence our thinking today, yet those ancient cultures have collapsed and their buildings are in ruins.   The things God created, the earth, the planets, even mankind themselves continue.  His standards of right and fairness exceed even those of the Greeks and Romans and are far better known.    All those kings have died and their power is no longer exhibited, but God continues to care for his people and the covenants he made are still in effect.  Even today we see demonstrations of his power, and one day, we will receive the things he has promised his heirs. 

“The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.  They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.  He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” (Psalm 111:7-9)

God does nothing in a deceitful manner, nor is he ever unfair.  Our justice system is based on human opinions while God’s is based on actual facts and knowledge.  Human laws change with each new administration, but God’s laws will remain in effect as long as the earth remains, according to Matthew 5:18.  “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”  We can be sure we are doing what is right by obeying them, but he has provided a means of redemption for his people when they fail to live up to the standard, so that his covenant or contract will remain in effect forever.    He is sinless and deserves our utmost respect. 

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” (Psalm 111:10)

Intelligence is the ability to think and learn from our experiences.  Knowledge is the things we have learned or know.   Wisdom is understanding the limits of one’s knowledge and abilities.    As we understand that God created the univerwe according to certain principles and physical laws, we begin to understand our limitations.  Hence, the statement that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.    People who keep his commandments understand that he is in control and stay within the limits he has set.  As a result they make far less serious mistakes than those who do not, and they praise him for their ability to accomplish things. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Prophecy Of Christ’s Coming

Psalm 110:1-7

A Psalm of David.

“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. “ (Psalm 110:1)

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record Jesus as saying this psalm was a prophecy of him as the Messiah.  Mark 12:35-37 gives the details of this first verse.   “And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David?  For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.  David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son?”  

Hebrews 1 and 10 refer to this first verse in stressing the pivotal role Christ plays in our salvation, but the entire psalm is about him.  It was written over a thousand years before Christ came.

“The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.   Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.” (Psalm 110:2-3)

When Christ came every effort was made to kill him and prevent his accomplishing God’s purpose.   Since his ascension into heaven, he has been seated at the right hand of the throne waiting until he is given his kingdom.   In the mean time, his people count it a privilege to serve him, glorying in the peace, joy, and freedom they find.   

“The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4)

Genesis 15:6 tells us, Abraham “… believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  God went on to establish his covenant with Abraham.  At the time, Melchizedec was God’s high priest, and effectively responsible for seeing the contract was followed much like the inspectors we hire to today to see that the terms of the contract are met. 
Some six hundred and fifty years later, God gave the law to Israel and established the Levitical priest hood.  As Paul points out in Galatians 3:15:15-22, The Levitical law did not any change God’s covenant with Israel.  “Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.   Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.  And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.  Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.  Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.  Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.  But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” 

As Paul pointed out, the Law was a separate contract that in no way changed the original covenant because it was written long after the original contract went into effect.  The scripture stated that Israel had spent four hundred thirty years in Egypt before the Law was given and that alone was enough to prove it could not be part of the original contract, without calculating the rest of the time involved.  Pauls statement in no way contradicts the Genesis and Exodus records.  In modern English, we would have added the words ‘more than’ to prevent confusion, but Paul was not writing in English. 

As a priest after the order of Melchizedec, Christ enforces or administers the original contract with Abraham, rather than the later contract or covenant with Israel.  Hebrews 6-9 explain this in detail, Making this verse quite important.    

“The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.  He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.” Psalm 110:5-6)

When he returns, at the end of the seven years of Tribulation, Christ will wipe out the armies of the world, and it will take months to bury all the bodies of those who will be slain.  All the countries of the world will surrender to him, and he will make Jerusalem his capital, ruling with a rod of iron, severely punishing any who violates his law.  During his reign crime and disease will be almost unknown. 

“He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.” (Psalm 110:7)

Because he has experienced the life on earth as a human being, literally drinking the water from the brook like other people, he will be able to understand forgive in a way those who have not experience ti cannot.  Hebrews 4:14-5:10 explains the importance of this prophecy. 

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.  And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.  So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.  As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.  

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;  Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 4:14-5:10)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Asking God To Avenge Him

Psalm 109:1-31

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

“Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.  They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.  For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.  And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.” (Psalm 109:1-5)

 David asks that God speaks on his behalf, because his enemies are attacking him verbally, slandering him, and hating him without reason.    The wicked hate those who do right because it makes them feel inferior.  Rather than change their attitudes, they begin to accuse him of what they would do themselves, retaliating against him for treating them well.  Romans 12:20 instructs, “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.”  We are not killing them with kindness, as some believe, but rather emphasizing their wickedness, making it clear what they deserve. 

“Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.  When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.  Let his days be few; and let another take his office.  Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.  Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.  Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.” (Psalm 109:6-11)

Because of their sin, David asks that they would be treated in the same way they have treated him, with a wicked person trying to control them, with Satan leading him.  Let him be condemned the same way the has condemned God’s man and let his prayer be and abomination to God.    They had sought to kill David and take his position, so David asks that they experience what they had tried to do to him.  Leaving their wives widows and the children as orphans, forced to go dumpster diving to survive.   He prayed that vandals would wipe out their stuff and thieves rip them off just as they had tried to do.  While this may sound harsh, it is exactly the principle behind the Golden Rule, that person deserves to be treated the way he treats others. 

“Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.  Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.  Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.  Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.  Because that he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.” (Psalm 109:12-16)

Because they showed no mercy, James 2:13 warns, “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy…”    Having tried to destroy David’s descendants, They deserved to have their entire line destroyed, and his sin should not be forgiven, but let God be reminded of them forever. 

“As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.  As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.  Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually.  Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the LORD, and of them that speak evil against my soul.” (Psalm 109:17-20)

God is a merciful God, willing to forgive nay sin, but at the same time he is a righteous God who will not just ignore sin,  Nahum 1:2-3 tells us, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.  The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”  If people refuse to make their sin right, he will take revenge for what they have done to others. 

“But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for thy name's sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.  For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.  I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust.  My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness.  I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads.” (Psalm 109:21-25)

God has promised to protect those who seek him and follow his word.  David asks that God keep his promise, not because of David’s righteousness, but for his own reputation as a God who keeps his promises.  David’s knees hurt from the time fasting and praying, and his enemies made fun of him or considered him stupid to keep serving God. 

“Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy: That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.  Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice.  Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.” (Psalm 109:26-29)

David asks that God take vengeance, but in such a way that his enemies know it is God doing it rather than David retaliating against them.  May they realize their own wickedness has caused their punishment. 

“I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.  For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul.” (Psalm 109:30-31)

David’s prayer was based on total conviction that God would do what he said, protecting and avenging those who serve him from those who are in power.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Expecting God To Do His Part

Psalm 108:1-13

A Song or Psalm of David.
“O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.” (Psalm 108:1)

David was determined to give God the praise he deserved.  He would use his own position and power as king to see that the entire nation heard. 

“Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.  I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.  For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.  Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;  That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.” (Psalm 108:2-6)

David committed to getting up early, and breaking out his harp and psaltery to sing God’s praise.  He would not only sing among his own people but reach out to other nations as well, because God’s mercy reached to all nations as well as the heavens.  His goal is that God would be admired and respected more than anything in the universe, and that the other nations might see how God cared for his people. 

“God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.  Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver; Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.” (Psalm 108:7-9)

At various times, other countries such as Syria, the Amalekites, the Ammonites the Philistines and others had seized parts of Israel.  David felt blessed, that in his day they had possession of all the land from Gilead and Manasseh on the east of Jordan to the Philistine area along the Mediterranean coast, and from the northern border with Syria to the border with Egypt.  He already controlled the Moabites and expected Edom and the Philistines to capitulate soon, giving him control of the entire region.    

“Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?  Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts?” (Psalm 108:10-11)

The Edomites had been a free nation for six hundred years before David became king, and their capital was considered almost impregnable.  Several times, the  Edomites had conquered parts of Israel.   For David to conquer them would require God’s help, even though in the past he had allowed israel to be defeated.  David expected God to give that victory at the time.   
“Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.  Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.” (Psalm 108:11-13)

He asks God’s help because he recognized the help of other nations would be worthless.  With God’s help, they would not need the help of others because it would be God winning the victory.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Observe What God Does To Be Wise

Psalm 107:1-43

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 107:1)

The theme of this psalm is that men ought to praise the Lord because he is always merciful, willing to give another chance when people are willing to acknowledge and make an effort to correct their sin. 

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.  They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.  Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.  Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.  And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Ps 107:9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalm 107:2-9)

God’s people ought to share how richly God has blessed them.  For four hundred years, Israel had been slaves in Egypt, abused and oppressed.  Ultimately there was an effort at genocide, with Pharaoh ordering that all male babies were to be killed, when efforts to work them to death failed.  Some had scattered into Libya, Ethiopia, Midian and Palestine in efforts to escape persecution, but were reunited under Moses leadership.  They spent forty years in the wilderness with no permanent home , living on Manna and the different waterholes they came to.  When they finally turned to the Lord, he brought them into the land of Canaan where he set out to bring them forty years before.   He had supplied everything they ever wanted.  They ought to praise the Lord for it.

“Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.  Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.  He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.” Psalm 107:10-16)

Israel had gone into slavery repeatedly during the period of the Judges because they would not obey God’s law, and thought his laws were too strict or unfair.  God caused them to be taken as slaves and forced to work for their enemies, and no one tried to set them free.  When they sought the Lord’s help he set them free.  They ought to thank God for repeatedly rescuing them and destroying their enemies. 

“Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.  Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.  He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. “ (Psalm 107:17-22)

Fools do not learn from their mistakes and keep doing the same things, with the result that the experience the same problems repeatedly.  They constantly complain no matter how much they have and keep doing the things that almost destroyed them before.   God responds even to the prayers of such people when they ask for help.  Thirteen times in the book of Judges alone, God answered Israel’s prayers and freed them from oppression by other nations, because his mercy endures forever.  They ought to be thankful God never gave up on them. 

“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.  For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.  They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.  He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.  Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” (Psalm 107:23-32)

Societies with am well developed infra structure are often unaware of how God’s power affects them.  They count on the government and infrastructure to Sailors, especially those in smaller ships, experience God’s power on an almost daily basis.   A storm can arise at any time, and directly affects what they do.  Huge waves raise them high in the air then bury them under a wall of water, threatening death at any moment.  They soon understand they have little or no control over what happens.  As a result they pray for God’s help, and he delivers them, so that they are no longer in fear.   Unfortunately many do not take the trouble to thank God when the danger is past.  How much better if they would share his blessings with others.

“He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.  He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.  And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.  He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.  Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.  He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.  Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.  The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.” (Psalm 107:33-42)

People who live in cities take little notice of the things God does every day.  They notice if the river supplying water goes dry or the wells stop pumping, or crop failure causes them to be unable to obtain food as a result of their wickedness.   That same God turns a desert into a pond and causes springs and seeps in dry land so that the hungry people flock to the area to plant and harvest crops where nothing grew formerly.  Other times he causes them to go bankrupt or lose their land due to political manipulations.  People lose respect for their political and business leaders, because they seem to make decisions with as little sense of what they are doing as a child lost in the desert, with no path to follow.  At the same time people who are considered intellectually and financially inferior are not greatly affected by the problems of the wealthy and powerful. 

“Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.” (Psalm 107:43)

If a person is smart enough to look at what is going on, he can see how God blesses those who do right, and understand the value of serving God.  Foolish people ignore such things and blame problems on other things.  For example, they blame floods, droughts and weather extremes on Global warming resulting from burning fossil fuels, rather than on God’s power.  

Friday, September 9, 2016

God’s Wonderful Mercy

Psalm 106:1-48

“Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.   Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? who can show forth all his praise?  Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.

Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; Ps 106:5 That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.  We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. ” (Psalm 106:1-6)

In prior psalms, the focus has been on the miraculous actions God did in order to create the world and give Israel a land of their own.  In this psalm the focus is on the mercy of God for not destroying them as they deserved.  As he looks back at Israel’s actions it is humbling to realize how little they deserve God’s blessing, and yet a righteous and holy God has chosen to love and preserve them.  They should be thankful that his mercy endures forever. 

“Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.  Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.  He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.  And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.  And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left.  Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.” (Psalm 106:7-12)

When they came to the Red Sea with the Egyptian army behind them the Jews pamicked, forgetting the miracles God had done in Egypt to set them free.  After crossing the Red Sea and seeing the Egyptian army drowned, the Israelites san Gods praises, believing his promise. 

“They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.  And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:13)

Shortly after crossing the sea, they ran out of food began to complain, forgetting his promise to supply.   God sent manna to feed them but before long they complained it wasn’t what they wanted, and they wanted something different.  He gave them quail, but they were never satisfied.   

“They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD.  The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.  And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.” (Psalm 106:16-18)

A short time after leaving Mount Sinai, some of the people got jealous of Moses and Aarons positions and decided to seize power themselves, led by Korah, Dathan and Abiram.   They were swallowed up by an earthquake, and the next day the people accused Moses and aaron of murdering God’s people.  God sent a fire and burned up a bunch more. 

“They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image.  Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.  They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt; Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.  Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.” (Psalm 106:19-23)

Just a few weeks after leaving Egypt and less than a month afte God met with them on Mount Sinai, The Jews Made a golden calf and credited it with having been the one who delivered them from Egypt, forgetting  all the miraculous things God had done, again.   As a result God told Moses he would destroy the whole bunch and Moses interceded for them. 

“Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.  Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness: To overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.” (Psalm 106:24-27)

When they sent the spies into the land, they refused to go into the land and and decided to g back to Egypt, angering God, who told them they would die in the wilderness and their children would inherit the land.  Rebelling against his statement, they attempted to go across mount Seir to invade the land.  The Amalekites and Amorites from mount Seir  were able to defeat and stop them. Forcing them to spend forty years traveling through various countries. 
“They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.  Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them.  Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed.  And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.” (Psalm 106:28-31)

They allied themselves with the Moabites and worshipped their gods, resulting in god sending a plague among them.  Phinehas executed a couple who refused to stop, and thus ended the plague.  He was blessed as a result. 

“They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes: Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.” (Psalm 106:32-33)

When they returned to Rephaim where God had brought water from the rock and complained again Moses became so frustrated he said some things he should not have, and was told he would not be allowed to enter the land. 

“They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them:  But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.  And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them.  ea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.  ” (Psalm 106:34-38)

When they finally entered the land of Canaan, they ignored God’s command to kill the inhabitants, instead intermarrying with them and adopting their religion and culture, even sacrificing ther own children to the heathen Gods. 

“Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.  Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance.  And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them.  Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.” (Psalm 106:39-42)

Because of their sin, God allowed them to be defeated and taken into captivity thirteen times in the book of Judges alone.   They suffered greatly at the hands of those nations who they had taken the land from. 

“Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity.  Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies.  He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.” (Psalm 106:43-46)

Time after time God delivered them from captivity and each time they went back into their sin and were taken again.  In spite of that he continued to deliver them because his mercy endures forever and he remembered his covenant, even making their captors to have pity on them. 

“Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise.  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 106:47-48)

Knowing how great God’s mercy is, we can unhesitatingly ask for his mercy again, thanking him that he will forgive again.  He is a wonderful God and all the people should thank and praise him.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

God’s Blessings On Israel

Psalm 105:1-45

“O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.  Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.  Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.  Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.  Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.” (Psalm 105:1-6)

In the previous Psalms, the Psalmist had focused on personally praising god and and recounting his blessings.  Here he is advising others, specifically the nation of Israel to remember what God had done for them, because they were his chosen people and knew more of his blessings than others. 

“He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth.  He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.  Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance: When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it.” (Psalm 105:7-12)
A thousand years before, God had made a covenant with Abraham, promising to give the land of Canaan to his descendants.  He confirmed his promise to Isaac and to Jacob, even though there were only a few of them at the time. 
“When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people; He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” (Psalm 105:13-15)

For over  two hundred years, God protected Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their families from the people around them, settling conflicts with Pharaoh, over Sarah, with the Philistines and Amorites over the land, with the Sumerians when they captured Lot, and with Syrians when Jacob left Haran, warning them not to attack his people.   

“Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread.  He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.  The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.  He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.

Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.  And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies.  He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtly with his servants. ” (Psalm 105:16-25)

Two hundred twenty five years after God directed Abraham to Canaan, he caused a famine, that resulted in Israel going to Egypt.  Before they went, he sent Joseph as a slave.  In Egypt, Joseph was cast into prison for several years before being released by Pharaoh and appointed to manage the food supply.  As a result the Egyptian people became slaves to Pharaoh and his rulers learned to control their people.    Israel began to grow and the Egyptians turned against them, making them slaves. 

“He sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen.  They showed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham.  He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they rebelled not against his word.  He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.  Their land brought forth frogs in abundance, in the chambers of their kings.  He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies, and lice in all their coasts.  He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land.  He smote their vines also and their fig trees; and brake the trees of their coasts.  He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillars, and that without number, And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground.  He smote also all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength.
He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.  Egypt was glad when they departed: for the fear of them fell upon them.” (Psalm 105:26-36)

After four hundred thirty years in Egypt, god sent Moses to lead Israel back to Canaan.  He sent many plagues on the Egyptians to convince them he was God and that they should let Israel go free.  The Egyptians were so glad to escape from the plagues they gave the Israelites silver and gold to leave.  Though some were very old there was not a sickly person among them. 

“He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.  The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.  He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.  For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.  And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness: And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people; That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 105:39-45)

God lead Israel with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, supplying them with manna and quail to eat and causing water to flow out of the rock for them to drink, simply because of his promise to Abraham.   After forty years, he brought into the land of Canaanand gave them the land, about seven hundred fifty years after making the promise to Abraham.  The homes were already built, the fields cleared and the crops planted when they moved in.  God had done this to give them freedom to follow his laws and guidelines.  They should praise God for the privilege, and for how he had made it possible.  Their entire history was a record of his provision for them.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

God’s Wondrous Creation

Psalm 104:1-35

“Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.  Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.” (Psalm 104:1-5)

The things we think about determine our attitude.  If we are thinking about how well off we are or what e we are accomplishing we have a positive attitude, but if we focus on what we don’t have or what how people have mistreated us we develop a negative attitude.  The difference between happy people and those who are not is what they chosen to focus on.  The psalmist has chosen to focus on the goodness and power of God, rather than the problems he faces.  As he does so, he constantly sees more to rejoice about. 

He waxes poetic, describing God as stretching out the heavens like a curtain and setting the floor joists for his house on the waters and using the clouds for a chariot and using the wind as a highway to propel them.    He created the angels as spirits rather than physical beings, and all the angels were originally ministering spirits.   Like a flame of fire, sometimes they can be seen or felt, and can have considerable impact on earth, yet can only be captured or held by in connection with the fuel source.    The same God laid the very foundations of the earth that support everything else.     

“Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.  At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.  They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.  Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.” (Psalm 104:6-9)

God completely covered the earth with the seas. Including the tallest mountains. So that seashells, petrified wood and other fossils are often found, even at high altitudes.   When God spoke, the dry land appeared and the mountains arose.    Today the water evaporates from the ocean, is carried by the winds over the mountains where it condenses and runs down the valleys to the ocean in what is known as the water cycle.  Though they may cause local floods, they can never flood the entire earth again thanks to gravity pulling them back into the ocean.    

“He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.  They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.  By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.  He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.” (Psalm 104:10-13)

At the same time, God has created huge underground reservoirs that feed springs among the hills.  They form streams and ponds that the animals drink at.  The trees grow healthy close by and birds flock to them to build their nests.  Those same streams often supply water for vast areas.

“He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.   The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.  The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.” (Psalm 104:14-18)

The native grasses are able to survive on just the rainfall, supplying food for cattle and wild game, and the various herbs grow for man’s benefit, providing food, shelter, and clothing.  Grape and berry vines provide delicious drinks and food that makes people feel good.  The trees produce an abundance of sap which can be used to make maple syrup,  frankincense, resin for sealing  containers or treating wounds, and various flavorings.  Various varieties of birds make their nests in different kinds of trees.  And the highest mountains are homes for the mountain goats, while marmots and conies make their dens in the piles of rocks that slide down. 

“He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.  Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.  The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.  The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.  Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.” (Psalm 104:19-23)

Our word for month refers to a moon, and is based on the time it takes for the moon to travel around the earth.  The exact dates can be easily determined by measuring exactly where or what time the sun sets.    When darkness falls, many of the animals come out to eat and the predators begin to hunt.  When the sun rises, the animals go to their dens and people become active, working until it begins to get dark. 
“O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.  So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.  There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.  These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.  That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.  Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.  Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.  The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.  He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke. “ (Psalm 104:24-32)

What a wonderfully complex and organized system God has created.  All the different species of animals and plants live together, depending on each other for survival.  Mankind’s ships s exist right alongside giant sea creatures that God made just to enjoy their playing.  Each one of them is dependent on god to supply what they need, enabling them to find it at the proper times.  Sometimes thay experience an abundance while other times they struggle to survive.  Ultimately they all die and their bodies decay, while God causes others to be born, literally creating the cell from which they will be born. 

“I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.  Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 104:33-35)

Realizing how much God has blessed, the psalmist is committed to singing his praises and worshipping him as long as he lives.   Each time he thinks of the blessings he will be encouraged and excited and enjoy the blessings.   He prays that those who try to deprive others of God’s blessings be removed from the earth and cease to exist.    He will worship and thank God.  It is impossible to stay depressed when you realize how much God does for use each day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Bless The Lord, O My Soul

Psalm 103:1-22

A Psalm of David.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.” Psalm 103:1-5)

The Hebrew word translated bless means to kneel in respect, to show adoration, to praise.  The psalmist, believed to be David, encourages himself to show adoration and respect for God, and for his holy name.  He reminds himself to remember what God has done for him.  He supplies his daily food, forgives him of his sin, he keeps him healthy, and spares his life in potentially fatal situations.  He also causes him to be treated with kindness and respect and not with the cruelty he deserves, giving him pleasure in this life, making him feel young and hopeful. 

“The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.  He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.  The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.” (Psalm 103:6-9

God enforces righteousness, and guarantees justice for everyone who has been oppressed and taken advantage of.  He has given guidelines as to what is acceptable by his law and his treatment of Israel and I Corinthians 1:11 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.”  We don’t have to try to guess what is right.  He has also demonstrated his mercy, grace and patience in hos he treated them.  Best of all, he does not constantly bring up our past mistakes and hold them against us, but puts them out of his mind so that we can rebuild the relationship. 

“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:10-14)

God knows us like a father knows his children and recognizes we don’t always understand or think about the consequences and effects of our actions.  He knows we are human and periodically do things that are not like they should be, and takes that into account, rather than punishing us unreasonably for our mistakes, although he does deal with deliberate sin.   Once a sin has been dealt with, he puts it as far away as the east is from the west, even though we may not have reaped the maximum punishment that we deserved. 

“As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.  For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.  But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. “ (Psalm 103:15-18)

It is so important we begin to realize how insignificant we are when compared to God.  He is eternal, while our life is so short as to be almost meaningless.   We are like a little weed or flower that grows quickly, then dies and a few hours later has dried up and blown away.  God’s mercy and blessings continue for eternity for those who love him, and his righteousness is carried over to future generations.  John 14:21 states, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”   He will show his blessings to those who care enough to obey. 

“The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.  Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.  Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.  Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.” (Psalm 103:19-22)

God has already prepared his throne for ruling the whole earth, and has already defeated Satan, and although there is still resistance, it is just a matter of time before the conflict ends.   Everyone from his angels to the least servant who serves him should take time to kneel before him and worship, thanking him and praising his name.