Against the Righteous

Thursday, October 19, 2017, 9:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Wait.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 37:1-15 (NIV).

The Wicked Plot (vv. 12-15)

The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

Who are the wicked? They are all those who practice evil, doing wrong to others. They are those who are immoral, depraved, perverse, and unjust. They are also those who make a practice of being mean, hateful, cutting, cruel and malicious towards other human beings. Although they know that God exists, for God has revealed himself to them through his created works, “they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised” (Ro. 1:21, 25).

So, God gave them over to their sinful ways, to do what ought not to be done. “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Ro. 1:28-32).

Because they resist God, and choose to go their own way, instead, they end up hating and resenting those who do follow the Lord and who live righteously, and thus they plot evil against them. One of the most prominent plots against the righteous which they scheme is to try to find ways to bring the righteous down to their level, to convince them to sin against God and to doubt God’s Word to us, which, of course, comes straight from hell. They will also try to destroy the reputations of the righteous through false accusations, or through setting traps in hopes to trip them up. And, if that doesn’t work, they will persecute them severely and even put them to death.

Do Not Fret (vv. 1-2, 8-11)

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.

Even though the wicked plot and carry out evil against us, we are not to fret (fear, worry). Our God is completely sovereign over all which he has made. The wicked cannot do what they do unless God allows it, and for a purpose. Evil only exists because God has not yet chosen to destroy it. When he does, it will entail the wrath of God being poured out on the people of the earth. And, then the end will come, and the righteous will be forever with their Lord, where there will be no more sin, sorrow, crying or pain. Amen!

Trust the Lord (vv. 3-7)

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

So, what are we to do when the wicked assail us? We are to trust in the Lord and in his sovereignty, believing that God knows what is best, that he will carry out his purposes, and that he will accomplish his will for our lives. Not only are we to trust him with our lives, even in the direst of circumstances, but we are to delight in him, commit our way to him, be still before him, and wait patiently for him to do all that he has promised he would do.

This means that we don’t retaliate (get even, take revenge), but that we pay back evil with good. We love our enemies by doing good to them, praying for them, forgiving them, and asking the Lord to save their souls. Even when people hate and mistreat us, we are kind back to them. But, kindness also means that we speak the truth in love, for it is neither loving or kind to ever tell people lies, even if the lies make them feel good. So, kindness confronts sin in sinful humans, warns of divine judgment, and calls for repentance.

This also means that we take our situations to the Lord in prayer, and we commit (entrust, hand over) our ways to Him. We don’t take action unless directed by the Lord, unless it is action that he has already directed through his written Word. We let him be our defense, our counsel and our help, rather than take matters into our own hands. If we are accused falsely, we ask him how to respond. But, if we blow it, and we respond in the flesh, then we apologize, we ask for forgiveness, and we lean on the Lord and on his strength and power to do better the next time a situation like that arises.

Wait! / An Original Work / February 8, 2014

Wait for your Lord. Be of courage.
Be strong, and take heart today.
God is always watching o’er you.
Trust Him with your life always.

Sing of your Lord. Praise His blessings.
Believe in His sovereignty.
He delivered you from your sin;
Gave you life eternally.

Rest in your Lord. Know His promise.
Beneath His wings rest secure.
Your God has a plan and purpose.
Let your faith in Him endure.

Trust in your Lord. He’ll not leave you,
Because He is faithfulness.
He will lead and guide; protect you.
In His love you can find rest.

 

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Waiting

Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 5:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 27 (Select vv. ESV).

No Fear (vv. 1-3)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

How is it that we can have enemies fiercely attacking and opposing us, and yet we are not afraid? Is it because we are superhuman, and thus we are incapable of being injured? Or, does this mean that we will never suffer physical harm or that we will not ever be cut to the heart, i.e. that we will not ever be injured emotionally? As well, does this indicate that we should never even feel fear nor have legitimate cause to ever be afraid?

With a careful read of the New Testament, concerning the lives of Jesus Christ and his apostles, I believe we can find the answers to those questions. They certainly faced much opposition to the work of the ministry of Christ, and to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were attacked verbally on a regular basis, accused falsely of things they did not do, and opposed strongly by those of their own nationality, race and religious heritage. As well, many of them were beaten, falsely arrested and/or imprisoned, and many were put to death for their faith and for their testimonies about Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation.

Jesus Christ, when he knew his time had come, and he was about to be crucified on a cross for the sins of the world, and to become sin for us, cried out to the Father, and asked if it was possible for this cup of suffering to pass from him. Yet, he submitted to the Father’s will. Paul said he came to the Corinthians “in weakness with great fear and trembling” (1 Co. 2:3). Later he mentioned that, when they had come to Macedonia, “We had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.” Thus, they did feel fear and apprehension, as well. So, what made the difference for them? How were they able to overcome their fears and to walk in faith and to do what they knew God had called them to do?

They trusted their lives into God’s capable hands, they rested in him, relied on his wisdom and grace, and knew that what they were suffering or were about to suffer was for the greater good, i.e. for the salvation of human lives. They had faith that God is who he says he is, that he is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and that their suffering did not lack purpose. They also knew that good (righteousness) would ultimately triumph over evil, and that one day all their suffering would be over, and that they would be home with their God, and that their tears would be wiped from their eyes. They also knew that our earthly lives are temporary, that this world is not our home, and that we have a better home awaiting us.

In Troubles (vv. 4-6)

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

The greatest antidote to fear is faith. It is confidence in what we believe and in what we hope for. It is reliance upon God, our creator, sustainer, Savior, healer and coming King. It is the knowledge that, through continued faith in Jesus Christ, we have salvation from sin, an intimate relationship and fellowship with Almighty God, and the promise of eternal rest. And, it is the assurance of his continued comfort, help, counsel, guidance, encouragement and spiritual protection from the evil one.

It isn’t as though we are protected from harm and that we won’t suffer, though, for we know that Jesus said we would share in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. But, he has provided us spiritual armor to put on with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us. Satan is a defeated foe. We just have to live like we believe that. He and his servants can kill the body, but they can’t kill the soul. From all outward appearances, it may seem as though Satan has the upper hand, at times, when all hell seems to be breaking loose all around us. Yet, when we resist him, flee from sin, stand strong in our faith, and don’t give in to his tricks, we are conquerors over Satan and sin, through Christ who loves us.

Teach Me (vv. 11-14)

Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

But, this means that we must walk in the faith we profess, listen to what our Lord is saying to us, and then follow in his footsteps and in the ways of his righteousness. If we want him to teach us his ways, we must be willing to walk in those ways. We can’t cry “Help! Save me!” and then do what we want, our way, whenever we feel like it. It doesn’t work like that. If we want victory over darkness, and to be rescued in times of trouble and distress, and to know God’s peace and joy, especially in times of trouble, we need to walk the narrow (straight, not crooked) path he has provided for us.

And, when faced with much adversity because we are following the way of righteousness, and we are walking that narrow road, we can be at peace. And, when things in this life and in this world seem to only go from bad to worse, and we wonder when God is going to turn things around, we must learn to wait on him to accomplish his purposes and to fulfill all his promises to us. We must take courage in knowing, again, that all our suffering is not without purpose, and that God will work all things for good, for those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose. We just need to be patient, and wait on the Lord.

Trust Him / An Original Work
August 15, 2012 / Based off Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.

God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.

Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.

 

Troubles of the Heart

Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Lifted Our Burdens.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 25 (Select vv. ESV).

Our Enemies (vv. 1-3)

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Very few people, I would suspect, know no enemies. Even if we were to try our hardest to not make enemies, we couldn’t please all people at all times. Yet, our goal in life should not be to be people who everyone will like, but it should be to live for God, to serve him, and to live holy and godly lives, pleasing to him, as well as it should be to love our neighbors as ourselves. And, when we do that, we will incur enemies, because loving God and loving others with God’s love is bound to be met with opposition and resistance.

For, it will mean that we will love as God/Jesus loves, we will stand for righteousness and holiness, and we will hate what God hates. God hates wickedness (sin), but he loves the sinner. It will also mean that we will stand on the Word of Truth, because therein is found the only hope of salvation from sin and eternal life with God Almighty, which comes from God. Yet, when we do that, we will be hated and persecuted as Jesus was hated and persecuted, because not all people will embrace the truth, but many will, instead, buy into the lies, because the lies tell them they can continue in their sin but still have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

God’s Ways (vv. 4-5, 8-10)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

The goal of our salvation is not merely to be forgiven our sins, to escape hell, and to have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth. If that is all there is to it, then why not die as soon as we are saved? What would be the point of living, if we are just going to continue in our sins? We are no better off than we were before, if this is true, because we will still be in bondage (slavery, addiction) to sin, and bound for hell, if God’s grace to us does not deliver us out of slavery to sin and free us to now walk in his righteousness.

But, thanks be to God, his grace to us is that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God made the way for us to be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and to be resurrected with Christ to newness of life (to be reborn of the Spirit of God), created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. By the Spirit, we can now be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we can now be walking according to the Spirit and to God’s righteousness on a daily basis. For, Jesus set us free, not just from the punishment of sin, but also from our addictions to sin. Sin no longer is to have dominion over us.

So, now that we have died with Christ to sin, by faith in Jesus Christ, and we have been born again of the Spirit of God, and we have been given new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to be lived to his righteousness, our desire should be to want to know the ways of the Lord, and then to walk in those ways. We should not be looking for loopholes to continue in our sin while claiming that God’s grace covers it all. We should be so in love with God/Jesus, that we continually seek to do his will, his way, with his heart, and in his power.

Fear God (vv. 11-15)

For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Yet, if we want to know the ways of the Lord, so that we may walk in them, then it begins with the fear of the Lord. We must walk in the fear (honor, respect, esteem, value, worship, obedience, submission to, and reverence) of God. Too many people who preach “the gospel” these days do not teach the fear of God or obedience to God/Jesus Christ and his Word, or submission to Christ and his cross. But, they teach an “entitlement” gospel which says that God does it all, and that nothing is required of us. There is no death to sin or living to righteousness in this “gospel,” and thus there is no fear of God, no honoring of him or respect shown to him.

Yet, where there is no death to sin, no living to righteousness, and no fear (reverence, respect) shown to God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), there is also no salvation from sin, and there is no hope of eternal life with God. For, the scriptures teach that if we continue walking in sin, i.e. if we make sin our practice, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven, but a fearful expectation of judgment and the fires of hell. But, for the one who walks in the fear of the Lord, who conducts his life according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, he/she will have the hope of eternal life.

Our Troubles (vv. 16-18)

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

One of the blessings (or benefits) of our salvation from sin, and our walks of faith with our Lord, is that God/Jesus/The Spirit is our helper, our counselor, and our comforter in times of trouble and distress, as well as he is our healer, deliverer and strength. In our loneliness or affliction, he desires that we call on him and that we trust in him to be all that we need and to supply all that is necessary for us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. He cares deeply about us, he has a heart of compassion for us, and he will see us through any and every trouble or difficulty which comes our way. Although he doesn’t always deliver us from our troubles, he will help us and strengthen us through them, resulting in his praise, honor and glory. Amen!

He Lifted Our Burdens / An Original Work / February 15, 2014

Based off Isaiah 9:2-7

People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.

Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.

Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.

We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.

Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.

He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.

 

Becoming Complete

Monday, October 16, 2017, 10:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 19 (Select vv. ESV).

God’s Word (vv. 7-11)

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

We read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

So, even though some passages of scripture may not directly apply to us, given to whom the words were originally addressed, and whether or not they were written under the Old Covenant or the New Covenant, still there is something we can learn from all scripture (Genesis to Revelation). We can learn from the examples of other people’s lives, and from historical events, and be taught God’s divine character and will for our lives, especially regarding his holiness and righteous, as to be applied to our daily lives.

The scriptures are God’s words to us, his instructions, his teachings and his divine counsel for our lives. Through the reading of God’s Word, we get to know him, we hear him speak his words to our hearts, and we gain understanding into his will and his purposes for our lives. When we drink in the Word of God into our daily lives and practice, we are encouraged and strengthened of heart, we are spurred on toward love and good deeds, we are guided into all truth, and we are given specific direction for our lives.

When we are downcast, we are lifted up, when we are sad, we learn to rejoice, when we are confused, we are enlightened, and when we are contemplating going a particular direction, or making a specific choice or decision, we may be warned to not go there.

The beauty of God’s Word is that it is how he primarily communicates with us his will and his directives for our lives, his mercy and his grace, his love and his kindness, his holiness and his righteousness, his justice and his judgment, his gentleness and compassion, and his passion and his concern for us that we live holy and godly lives, pleasing to him, for his glory. So, we should desire his Word, we should study it so we know what it teaches, we should open our hearts to hear God speak, and we should walk in his truths.

No Dominion (vv. 12-13)

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Can we do what is displeasing to God and not be aware of it? We can, because we may be blinded to our own faults, at times.

Yet, certainly this is not speaking of hidden sins, in the sense of secret sins that we fully know we are doing, and which we are purposefully hiding from others, though. God is not going to declare us innocent of such sins which we consciously commit and then hide and even cover up with lies so as to deceive others. These sins may fall under his grace, and therefore we may not be eternally condemned because of them, if we are not walking in them, but God is not going to excuse them away or look the other way, and then not address these wrongs to us. For, his goal is that we walk in holiness and righteousness, and not according to our flesh.

Yet, it is possible to sin and to miss it. For example, we may have a wrong attitude concerning something God has placed in our lives, or unkind thoughts about someone, or God may be trying to tell us something, but we are missing the cues, maybe because we are distracted with other things. Or, perhaps we are taking stuff into our minds which are not spiritually healthy for us, but we are just not sensitized to it. But, the more we mature in our walks with the Lord, and the more we respond to his Word and to the Spirit’s voice, speaking God’s words to our hearts, the more aware we will become regarding what is pleasing or what is displeasing to our Lord, so that we can correct those errors and then do what is right in God’s eyes.

Definitely we want to be kept back from presumptuous (bold, arrogant, insolent, willful) sins, for if we walk in them (make them our practice), we will not have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment. But, if we walk according to the Spirit, and by the Spirit we are putting sin to death, then we do have that promise of eternal life with God.

For, when Jesus Christ died on a cross to deliver us from sin, it was so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. In fact, his grace to us is not merely forgiveness of sins, but it is deliverance out of slavery (addiction) to sin. His grace is also not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin, but it instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. Jesus Christ gave his life up for us on that cross, in other words, so that sin would no longer have dominion over us, but that now Jesus Christ would be truly Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and us his faithful servants.

My Mouth (v. 14)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

If we have been born again of the Spirit of God, and have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and have been made alive to God in Christ, to the glory and praise of God the Father, then our desire should now be for God (for Jesus Christ), to please him in every way. The closer we walk with him, the more sensitized we will become to not doing what we know is contrary to his Word, and the more we will want to do what is right in God’s eyes. Thus, we will join with the psalmist in this prayer that our thoughts, our hearts, our attitudes, our actions and our words would be acceptable to God.

And, no matter where we are in our Christian walks, or what we are presently going through, we will look to our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and to his Word for our strengthening, comfort, encouragement, counsel, instruction, hope, healing, guidance, peace and security. Thus, we will put our trust and our hope in Him and in His Word, and not in ourselves or in our own resources, or in humankind, who are bound to fail us.

Trust Him / An Original Work
August 15, 2012 / Based off Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.

God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.

Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.

 

God Will Help

Sunday, October 15, 2017, 9:47 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Why So Downcast?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 46 (Select vv. ESV).

No Fear! (vv. 1-3)

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

Life on this earth has its ups and downs. Sometimes we experience relative peace and safety, and we are not seriously challenged with much in the way of adversity, trouble, or hardships. At other times, life’s circumstances hit us hard with difficulties, persecutions, heartache, pain and much sorrow. While some people seem to encounter more troubles than others, certain people appear to have life pretty easy, although appearances can be deceiving.

Yet we can be encouraged, for God Almighty – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, creator of the universe and all living things – is the refuge and strength of his people, i.e. of those of us who have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is our present (abiding) help in trouble. Although he does not necessarily remove us from our sufferings, though he may, and he sometimes does, he will carry us through them. For, he will give us all the wisdom, counsel, guidance, strength and endurance we need to endure, and he will also teach us what he wants us to learn through our troubles.

Not many of us like to be in pain, though, and so the tendency of many of us may be to immediately want to escape the suffering, yet we are called to suffer for the sake of Christ and his gospel, and we are destined to go through many trials and tribulations, because these are for our good. For, through our difficulties and troubles we learn perseverance, patience, and godliness; our faith is tested to see if it proves genuine; we mature in our walks of faith; and we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves.

As well, we learn humility, compassion, obedience and love; we share in God’s holiness; and for those of us who have been trained by God’s divine discipline, it produces in us a harvest of his righteousness. So, we should never fear, for God is doing good in us and through us for his glory.

Not Moved! (vv. 4-7)

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

When troubles come our way, which they most certainly will, how do we respond to them? With fear or with faith? With travail or with trust? With rancor or with rest? And, when we are facing such difficulties, to what or to whom do we turn first? To our own resources, to other people, or to God? As well, do we believe that God is absolutely sovereign over our lives, or do we rather see God as impotent, rather than as omnipotent? And, do we see Satan as more powerful and God as not able to do anything to help us?

I believe that many Christians respond to their troubles as though they believe that God can do nothing to help them, or as though he is not completely sovereign over their lives, and as though Satan still has power over them. And, that is why they are afraid, and it is also why many of them feel as though they have to resolve their own problems. It is because they don’t see that God is in their midst, that he is their fortress (strength), and that he will give them all the help they need to make it through whatever it is they are going through presently.

Some people find comfort in believing that God is impotent to do anything about their circumstances, because then they don’t have to deal with the knowledge that God could have rescued them, but he didn’t. They, too, don’t want to believe that a loving God would allow them to suffer in such a way, or even that it is his will that we should go through trials and tribulations. But, I find that belief to be unbiblical and disconcerting, because that says that I am on my own, that Satan has full power over me, and that my God, who is supposed to be my strength and help, is absolutely powerless against Satan’s schemes. Therefore, it is like going into a battle without my armor.

Where I find peace is in knowing that my God is absolutely in control over all that he has made, and that nothing can touch me but what God allows it (or causes it), and that he does so for his purposes, which God will work for my ultimate good and for the good of others. I find peace, too, in knowing that whatever he takes me through, he will give me everything I need to make it through, and he will never abandon me. So, even though I may face much opposition, trouble or heartache, I can stand strong in my faith, for my God is with me, and he is my strength and purpose, so I will not be moved.

Be Still! (vv. 10-11)

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

God/Jesus is often saying to us, “Don’t be afraid,” “Trust Me,” and “Be Still.” And, he can say that because he is in control over all that he has made, he has us in his hands, he is carrying us on his shoulders, and he is holding our hands, and he will see us through everything we are going through. Even though Satan is throwing his darts at us, and humans are mistreating us, and the opposition is fierce, at times, we can be at peace in the midst of the storm. We can rest in our Lord and in his sovereignty and in his grace, believing that good will come from it all.

Although things may look pretty bad at times, and it doesn’t seem right now that God is being exalted among the nations, but rather evil often seems to triumph over good, one day every knee will bow before God, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11).

God will triumph! And, Satan is already defeated, for Jesus conquered him via his death and resurrection, and his doom is sure. Satan can only still exist and be allowed to do the evil he does because God has allowed it to happen, and for his purposes, but one day that will all end, and we will be taken to be with our Lord. Every tear will be wiped from our eyes, and we will no longer be in pain or suffer or be sad, and in that we can rejoice!

Why So Downcast? / An Original Work
December 21, 2012 / Based off Psalm 42

Why so downcast, O my soul,
And why so disturbed now within me?
Put your hope in Jesus Christ,
For I will praise His name.
He’s my Savior and my God,
So therefore I’ll remember Him through
Storms and tempests sweeping o’er me.
Still I’ll praise His name.
Put your hope in God.

By day the Lord sends forth His love.
In the night His song is with me.
I pray to the God of my life.
I will praise His name. I say to God my Rock,
“Why must I be called to suffer this way?”
Foes attack me; Satan sneering.
Still I’ll praise my God.
Put your hope in Him.

As a deer pants for the waters,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God who’s living.
When can I meet Him?
My tears have been my food at night,
When men say, “So, where is your God?”
I pour out my soul to my God.
I’ll still praise His name.
Shout with joy to Him.

 

Partiality to Wicked

Sunday, October 15, 2017, 7:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 82 (Select vv. ESV).

Showing Partiality (vv. 1-2)

God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah

God is addressing the judges (rulers) of the earth, and yet all of us make judgments of some kind every day, so all of us can learn from this passage of scripture. As well, we read in the New Testament that God does not show partiality in his judgments (Ro. 2:11; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25), but he judges us all the same, by the same divine standard. So, we are not to show partiality or favoritism by human standards (Jas. 2:1-13), but we are to judge justly and righteously, as God does. So, how might we be judging unjustly today?

To show partiality is to give preferential treatment to one group of people over another, i.e. it is to treat some people better or worse than we treat others because of their social status, race, religion, culture, color of their skin, personality, and sex (male or female), etc. Yet, we have to consider how this better or worse treatment is to be defined, not by man, but by God, and what it means to judge justly and righteously, as God does, not as man.

For example, we don’t support or encourage sin in sinful humans and call that “being nice” and not showing partiality, nor do we participate in sin in order to not show preference to one group over another. Yet, we should not be guilty of placating (pacifying) some sins in people while we rail against other sins, especially to do so hypocritically. So, with regard to sin, we should treat all who are walking in sin the same, with the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, but also with his divine justice and righteousness.

The problem here for today’s modern church is that many do show partiality to the wicked by placating sin, by diluting the gospel in order to not offend, and by patterning their meetings after the ways of this sinful world in order to draw in the world (their customer base), so that the ungodly will keep coming back to their meetings. In order to do this, not only do they show preference to the ungodly, but they will sometimes treat the godly with disdain, and will even rail against them in public and will encourage them to leave if they cannot unify with the church’s worldly marketing strategy.

Rescue the Weak (vv. 3-4)

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

So, instead of showing preferential treatment to the wicked (ungodly), so that they will like us, or so that they will come to our gatherings, and to do so by compromising our faith and the gospel message, we are rather to give justice to the weak, the needy, the fatherless, the afflicted and the destitute, etc.

So, what is justice? It is righteousness. It is what is moral, ethical, good, reasonable, honest, honorable, proper, fair and evenhanded. So, this means that to treat people honorably and fairly, we must also treat them righteously, which again says that treating people with kindness cannot mean that we compromise truth, the gospel, or our faith, because that is not kind at all, because then we, in essence, send them straight to hell. So, fair treatment must also be coupled with righteousness rather than being devoid of what is godly, holy and good (in the eyes of God).

So, as the body of Christ, we need to cease to show preference to the ungodly, which we do by participating with them in their ungodly ways, by being entertained by their wickedness, or by placating their sins in order to not offend them so that they will like us. And, we need to show honor, respect and value to those who are walking righteously, rather than treating them as though they are misfits who must be reformed or discarded. And, we need to be rescuing the powerless and the needy from the hand of the wicked, both physically and spiritually.

Basically, rather than showing partiality to the wicked, by pacifying them and entertaining them, we need to be rescuing people from the control of Satan and sin, and we need to be bringing them into the light of truth and righteousness. And, we do this, not only by treating all people equitably, but by telling them the truth, and by not telling them lies which leave them still enslaved to their sins.

We need to tell them that Jesus died that they might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin and that we are resurrected with him to new lives, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And, we need to tell them that if they continue in sinful practices, they have no hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment and fire.

Arise, O God (v. 8)

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!

God is presently judging (chastening, reproving, censuring) the people of the earth, including his wayward saints, and yet more judgment (chastisement) will be coming. So, what is the purpose of this judgment? It is to punish, yes, but not just to punish, but to save. How so? When people are allowed to continue in their wicked ways, via favor being shown them, and without reproof, the Bible says they don’t learn righteousness. But, when God’s judgments are in the earth, the people learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:7-10).

But, it is not just the wicked or the wayward who need divine discipline, reproof, and chastisement. Even the godly need this in order that we may share in God’s holiness, and in order that it may yield “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (See: Heb. 12:1-13). Thus, when we go through trials and hardships, they test our faith, and they prove it to be genuine, if it is genuine, and they teach us to rely on God, and not on ourselves. As well, we grow in the grace of God, we mature in Christ, we learn perseverance, patience and endurance, and we develop godly character traits such as kindness, goodness, faithfulness and compassion.

So, we need to learn righteousness and justice and how to treat others with the love, grace, kindness, goodness, mercy, justice and righteousness of God. Yet, whether we will learn from what we suffer, or not, depends largely on us, not because we learn by obeying God out of our own flesh, but by yielding our lives to our Lord for him to live his life out through us. Amen!

Near the Cross
Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane

Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Acceptable Worship

Friday, October 13, 2017, 10:18 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 12:1-2 (ESV).

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

A Living Sacrifice

Because of what Jesus Christ did for us in dying on a cross for our sins, and in being resurrected from death, so that we could go free from slavery to sin, free from eternal damnation, and so that we could have eternal life with him, we should give of our lives (our entire being) to him as a living sacrifice. Living means we are alive, and sacrifice is something we surrender, lose, give up, not hold on to. For, Jesus said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we save (hold on to) our lives, we will lose them (for eternity), but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), for his sake, we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-17).

So, what should this look like, in all practicality? Well, first of all it means that Jesus is our Lord (owner-master), not in name or in title only, but as a living reality in our lives. He bought us back for God with his blood, shed on a cross for our sins, so our lives are no longer our own, but they are his, so we are to honor God with our lives. And, we are his bond-servants, who prefer what he prefers, and who obey him in his power. So, we don’t consider our lives to be our own, to do with what we want, but we regard them as belonging to Christ, and our desire is for him, to do his will, and to follow in his ways. Our salvation is not just about what Jesus does for us, but it is about living our lives for the praise of God, according to His will.

So, what should this look like when we get up in the morning, as we go throughout our day, and when the work day is done? If we have truly given our lives up for Jesus, to be lived for him, in his power, how would that look different from how we are living our lives now? Would we do all the same things? Have the same conversations? View the same material on TV, on the internet or in the movies? Spend our non-working hours in the same way? Live the same place? Read the same books? Or, have the same friends?

Our Spiritual Worship

What is worship? Someone told me the other day that all religions worship the same God, but can that be true? Or, can it be true that we can choose the way in which we worship God? Thus, one religion worships him this way, and another that way. But, is that possible?

Worship is defined here as giving up our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing (acceptable) to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds (of the Spirit). So, what is acceptable, holy and pleasing to God?

Well, first of all we must believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, be crucified with him in death to sin, and be resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our God is Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit. If we don’t all surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, making him Lord of our lives, then we don’t all worship the same God. And, holy means we are separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made to be like Jesus. And, what is acceptable to God? That we should believe on his Son and that we should no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, in the power of God.

In other words, true worship of God is not rituals or forms we go through, nor is it some emotional feeling we have about God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – but it is giving him the respect, honor, esteem, reverence, and obedience which he requires of us, and which he so rightly deserves. It is to believe what he says, and to do what he says, which means giving our lives to him as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to him. And, what is acceptable to him is that we love him with God-like love (agape love), which conducts our lives according to God’s will, obeys him, and loves others, too.

Transformed in Mind

We are to no longer be conformed (adapted, shaped) to the ways of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds. So, this means our lives should be remarkably different from people who make no profession of Christ as Savior of their lives. We shouldn’t do the kinds of sinful things we did before Jesus Christ set us free, either (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Tit. 2:11-14). For, when Jesus died on a cross, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This should be reflected in our daily lives. Daily, by the Spirit, we should be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, not entertaining them and giving in to them.

We shouldn’t be gossiping, overeating, lying, cheating, stealing, mocking people who are different from us, committing adultery, viewing pornography, and watching sexually charged TV shows or movies, etc. We also shouldn’t be wasting hours on end playing video games, reading novels, watching sports, or otherwise entertaining ourselves incessantly. Our Lord did not put us on this earth so that we would be entertained all the time. He put us here to worship him, to give him glory by our lives, and to do his will. And, he put us here to spread his gospel throughout the world so that many others might come to know Jesus Christ, too.

So, to be transformed in the renewing of our minds means we don’t think or act the same way we used to, and we don’t take the same junk into our minds on daily basis, like we used to, either. Instead, we fill our minds with the things of God, from his Word, and from our times of worship of him, and from times spent with other believers in true Christian fellowship, and also in times of service to our Lord in doing what he says, and in being who he has created us to be. In this way, we will no longer think or act or believe the same as we did, nor will we have the same attitudes, morals, and values, but those will be ever changing to be conformed to the likeness of Christ.

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work
December 12, 2012 / Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.