Friday, August 30, 2013

Moving from Blessing to Blessings

Read Psalm 20.

When reading this Psalm it may remind us of the old traditional Gaelic blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

David's song of blessing takes us much deeper into the basis of our hope.  It is a prayer.
1. He prayed for specific responses from God. (vv.1-3)
"May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!"
-protect you
-help you
-support you
-remember all your offerings
-regard your sacrifices

2. He prayed for requests to God (vv.4-5)
"May he grant you..."
-your heart's desire
-fulfill all your plans
-your deliverance
-your victories
-all your petitions

3. He prayed for powerful results from God (v.6)
-God saves
-God answers

At the root of our hope is where we put our trust.  Some put their faith in things that will ultimately fail them.
"But we trust in the name of the LORD our God." (v.7b)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

This will Change your Life

Read Psalm 19.

The purpose of the Bible is not information, but transformation.  Life-change is to be the result of a personal relationship with the LORD.  The better we know His Word the more our lives will be pleasing and acceptable to Him.

1. God's Work. (vv.1-6)
Creation is a testimony to the existence, power and presence of the living God.  When a heart is open and receptive, the message becomes real and obvious.
"For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse." (Roman 1:20)

2. God's Word. (vv.7-11)
The Scriptures are totally reliable.  They provide words of instruction, wisdom, encouragement, warning and blessing.
"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 competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

3. God's Worker. (vv.12-14)
Self-valuation is not always accurate.  Let the Scriptures be the unchanging standard of right and wrong.
"How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word....I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." (Psalm 119:9,11)

A verse we should all memorize:
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Singing Along with David

Read Psalm 18.

This is a song of victory.  The inscription identifies this as written in response to being rescued from Saul and his army.  Though a warrior with his own troops engaged in the battle, David gave God full credit for His divine intervention.

Here the sweet psalmist of Israel showed his giftedness in writing artistic poetry.  Using multiple metaphors, David described graphically who God is and how God acted on his behalf.  It began with a testimony of worship.  He sings of his love for God and here is why-
"I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies." (v.3)

1. God rescued him.
David was in a tight spot, cornered, and seemingly with no way out.  God opened a door for him to overcome the adversity.
"But the LORD was my support.  He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." (vv.18b-19)
"You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip." (v.36)

2. God rewarded him.
David had done nothing wrong, yet he was being pursued to the death.  God saw his character and humility.
"So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight." (v.24)

3. God reminded him.
In his relief and joy, David recalled a truth he already knew, but at this point he could embrace it with even stronger faith.  God is trustworthy.
"This God-his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him." (v.30)

We can all sing along with David:
"The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation." (v.46)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

5 Prayer Requests in times of Trouble

Read Psalm 17.

As many other prayer songs in the book of Psalms, David was gravely concerned about attacks from his enemies.  Do not miss how confident in prayer he was.  His conscience and life were clean before God and,  therefore, he came boldly into God's presence with his requests.

He not only knew God heard his prayers but also that the LORD would answer him.  What did he ask God to do?

1.  He asked to be the center focus of God's attention.
"Keep me as the apple of your eye." (v.8a)
It was the assurance that God had His eye on what was happening that provided courage.

2. He wanted God's protection.
"Hide me in the shadow of your wings." (v.8b)
God was the refuge that was needed in times of trouble.

3. He wanted God's action.
"Arise, O LORD! (v.13)
God was more powerful than the enemy's threats.

4. He wanted God's succession.
"They leave their abundance to their infants."
Not only was his life and wealth a concern, but he wanted to be able to pass these blessings on to the next generation and beyond.  Leaving a legacy of faith was a top request of his.

5. He wanted God's satisfaction.
"As for me, I shall behold your face in  righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness."
It was enough for him to able to wake up from this trouble and find the character of God stamped on his life for all to see.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Trusting in God-What difference does it make?

Read Psalm 16.

Does faith in God make any difference in a person's daily life?  King David provided an analysis of the difference his trust in the LORD made both in the present and in his future.

1. " you I take refuge." (v.1)
When life became tough, God was there as a place of safety and comfort.

2. "I have no good apart from you." (v.2)
When everything around him looked bad and even his own sin bothered him, he turned to the LORD for His forgiveness and goodness.

3. "As for the whom is all my delight." (vv.3-4)
He loved to be with others who also trusted in God.  The mutual fellowship encouraged him.  While those who chose to place their trust in falsehoods only multiplied their sorrows in life.

4. "The hold my lot." (v.5)
Casting lots was an ancient form of decision making.  Believers trusted God to control the outcome.  He trusted God in those decisions of life.

5. "I have a beautiful inheritance." (v.6)
With God in control, his future was secure.

6. "I bless the LORD who give me counsel." (v.7)
As he meditated on upcoming decisions, he listened for God to guide his thoughts.

7. "I have set the LORD always before me."
He did not keep God compartmentalized at his place of worship.  God's presence was always in the forefront of his thinking.

8. "My heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure." (vv.9-10)
Inside and out- heart, soul and body-was upbeat because his eternity was secured by his faith in God.

9. " of joy...pleasures forevermore." (v.11)
All this was his as a result of his personal relationship with the LORD.

Who would not want such a life as this?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Who is Comfortable with God?

Read Psalm 15.

Imagine being invited over to a place where the LORD lives simply to enjoy time with Him.  Some would not respond to the invitation.  Some would go but feel a bit awkward.  Others would drop what they were doing in order to spend time with their best friend...and not want to leave.

David asked, "Who can be truly feel comfortable in the presence of God?

Sin causes us to feel distant from God.  Coming into His presence requires confession of what is wrong and receiving His gracious forgiveness.

Then, David made a check list for self-evaluation.
1. What I do.
Do I behave in a way that pleases Him throughout the day?

2.What I say.
Do I always tell the truth?  Does my vocabulary and content please Him?

3. How I treat people.
Do I help other people and do what is right by them?

4. How I fulfill my promises.
Do I do what I promised no matter what?

5. How I respond to those in need.
Do I try to take advantage of others?

6. How I handle my business.
Do I deal with others in total honesty?  Is my character for sale?

The invitation to spend time with God is available to all.  His door is always open.
"The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry." (Psalm 34:15)

Friday, August 23, 2013

How Good are You?

Read Psalm 14.

One of the qualities of God's character throughout the Scriptures is that He is good.  So, if a person rejects the LORD, how good can they be?

Yes, we know people who are nice, kind and friendly.  Philanthropists accomplish tremendous good deeds around the globe.  In fact, most folks seem to want to do what is right by each other.  This has led many to assume that man is innately good.  The question then must be raised, "Good by whose standard?"  Does human acts of kindness earn merit with God?  Can a person perform enough good works to be accepted into heaven?

This psalm makes God's evaluation of human character without Him perfectly clear.
1. He is a fool.
2. He is corrupt.
3. He does abominable deeds.
4. There is none who does good.

Such statements offend our pride.  It requires humility to acknowledge our sinful nature to God and seek His mercy and forgiveness in Christ.

The Apostle Paul quoted Psalm 14 when he wrote to the Roman Christians.  And, then he wrote, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:9-24)

That may be who we naturally are, but we no longer need to live in that condition.  God is good and He offers that goodness to us.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why does God wait to answer our Prayers?

Read Psalm 13.

Jesus encouraged His disciples in Luke 18:1 that they "ought always to pray and not lose heart."  Yet, the answers to our prayers do not always come immediately.  Waiting on God to work in us and in others can be an excruciating test of our faith.

Four times in this short song, David asked, "How long?"  He had prayed, but after sometime he saw nothing happening.  As a result, he felt forgotten and distant from God.  All day his mind churned on his need, wearing him down, while his enemy seemed to become stronger.

The turning point came when he made a choice to exercise his faith rather than his doubts.  His circumstances had not yet changed, but David did.

1. He remembered the past.
Many times before this, he had trusted God and God was always faithful.  Intentionally, counting one's blessings turns our hearts to thanksgiving rather than complaining about what we do not have.

2. He looked to the future.
He knew that sooner or later God would provide deliverance for him.  It would be on God's timetable not his.  Living in the hope of that coming answer to prayer turns our hearts to rejoicing.

3. He took action in the present.
He replaced the thoughts full of worry and anxiety with thanksgiving and rejoicing in the LORD.  As a result, he began to sing praises "because he has dealt bountifully with me."

Someone once said, "When we ask God to do something for us, He generally does something in us."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Somebody Lied!

Read Psalm 12.

We are not told who it was nor what they said, but some smooth talker lied.  David became so upset that when he looked around and all he could see were liars.

People lie in the hope that they will not be exposed.  They hide the truth for their own selfish gain and protection.  Flattery is a form of lying as it seeks the attention of another person for selfish gain of some kind.  The smooth talker wants to take advantage of the unsuspecting.  Specifically, David mentioned the poor and needy in verse 5.  God will respond.

Lying is a sin.  And, like all sin apart from the forgiveness of Christ, lying has eternal consequences.
"But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

Jesus said, "I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.." (Matthew 12:36)

What was David's point?  Why would he put such an emotional issue in song and give it to the choirmaster?  Because he wanted everyone to know the contrast between what men may say and the trustworthiness of God's word.

"The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times." (v.6)

God's word is of the highest quality.  His word is pure and holy.  The Bible is totally reliable.  Or in the terms of purified silver, "you can take that to the bank."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Responding in times of great Trouble

Read Psalm 11.

The enemies of Israel prepared for war.  As the king, David had to lead the nation in a response.  Some were overcome with fear and suggested that they run for their lives.  They did not feel there was anything they could do to prevent it.  "What else can we do?" (v.3).

But fleeing would mean turning their back on everything they said they believed.  It was God who established this kingdom.  It was God who raised up David to lead.  It was God's word by which they lived.  This was a test of their faith.  If they turned back, the very foundations of their society and culture would have been lost.

In this song, David encouraged the nation by reminding them of some basics of their faith.
1. "The LORD is in his holy temple." (v.4a)
Do not forget who God is.  He is on His throne and in total control this universe.

2. "His eyes see, his eyelids test, the children of man.  The LORD tests the righteous." (v.4b-5a)
The LORD is in heaven but He is not watching us from a distance.  He is up close and personal.  The events we face are tests of our faith to provide opportunities to practice what we preach.

3. "His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence." (v.5b-6)
The actions of evil doers is also in full view of God.  He will judge them and cause their schemes to come back on them.

4. "The LORD is righteous." (v.7)
God is dependable and faithful to always do what is right.  He loves those who do what is right.

Instead of only looking at the trouble, we need to look into the face of the One who loves and cares for us.
"The upright shall behold his face."  How personal is that?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Understanding the Anatomy of Oppressors

Read Psalm 10.

The Psalmist wrote this out of some confusion and discouragement.  He saw the those around him being taken advantage of by evil people.  He felt God was aloof and not answering his prayers.

Those most in need were the poor, the innocent, the helpless, the afflicted, the fatherless, and the oppressed.

How did the wicked oppressors think they could possibly get away with their sin?
1. Mental Arrogance. (v.2,4,6)
"I shall not meet adversity."
It is pride in one's heart that thinks they deserve better, that they can do what they want, and that they can actually get away with it.   It is pride that uses power over the defenseless for their own advantage.

2. Emotional Greed. (v.3)
It is sheer avarice that motivates one to think they can take what does not belong to them.  It is the height of selfishness and laziness to desire unearned gain.

3. Spiritual Rebellion. (v.3,4,11)
Psalm 14:1-"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'"
The root reason the wicked believe they can behave however they want is because they reject any accountability for their actions.  They willfully proclaim, "There is no God."  And, even if there is, "God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it."

Though we may not witness God's response to our prayers on our time table, God is alive and well.  He sees and does not forget.  He hears the prayers of those in need.  The ultimate accountability for those who reject the Lord is in writing for all to read in Revelation 20:11-15.  Without Jesus, people face a horrifying fate.

"Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up you hand; forget not the afflicted."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Looking at the State of the Nation

Read Psalm 9.

The King of Israel took time to write a song concerning the state of the nation.  As he counted all the blessings of God, he could only give thanks.

Though David provided the leadership in governmental affairs and to the army, he gave God full credit for what had taken place.

-It was God who protected the nation and pushed back the enemies. (vv.3-6)

-It was God who meted out justice for the people. (vv.7-8)

-It was God who ultimately cared for the people. (v.9)

The line is clearly drawn here between two types of peoples or nations:
1. Those who put their trust in in the LORD discover that God is their refuge in times of oppression, trouble, need, and poverty.  He does not forsake them.  He sees their plight and answers their prayers.  Though they experience hardships for a time, God blesses them and gives them a reason to sing.

2. Those that trust in themselves face an awful fate.  "The wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever" (v.5).  Instead of blessings, they receive God's judgment.  "The wicked shall return to Sheol, and all the nations that forget God" (v.17).

The solution is found in David's prayer at the end.  "Let the nations know that they are but men!"  It is when a person humbles themselves before this Sovereign LORD that they find His grace.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Reason to Sing

Read Psalm 8.

The choir is in its place.  Imagine all the instruments in the orchestra are tuned and ready for the down beat.  There is a brief moment of tension in the air and then the choirmaster drops his hand and those first glorious sounds burst forth at full volume declaring, "O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

King David wrote the words of this song by simply taking notice of what he could see.
1. He looked up. (v.3)
What he saw in the sky was not credited to an accidental bang.  They were orbs that God had specifically designed and put in their specific place.  It was His handiwork.

2. He looked at himself and others. (vv.4-6)
Taking time to consider the power of the Creator and His exalted position "above the heavens" made David feel mighty small.  True worship causes us to humble ourselves before God.  Yet, look at how the LORD has entrusted His creation to mankind.  Notice then that humans did not come from these other creatures and they are not equal to human life.  People are His handiwork.

3. He looked down. (vv.7-8)
These creatures are God's property.  He established their kind and their various behaviors, but He has given this stewardship and "dominion" to humans.  We are in charge of His handiwork.

Everywhere he looked he saw the majesty of the LORD.  It caused David to praise God in song.

When you look at the sky and the earth, what do you see?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Time out for Self-examination

Read Psalm 7.

Regular check-ups are a part of a good physical health regimen, along with some daily exercise.  Too often, the only time some folks go to the doctor is when there is a big problem.  The need is the same for one's spiritual life.  Daily coming before God for spiritual cleansing and filling with the Holy Spirit is a key to spiritual health and growth.

Yet, most often it requires a major threat to cause us to finally stop and take stock as to where we are and what we need to do going forward.  That is what David wrote about here.  He was facing a threat from some who wanted to take his life.  From the inscription, it appears to be a verbal one.  In turning to God for help, his first thoughts were to check and see if there was anything he did to cause this.  If he did something wrong, then he merely was getting what he deserved.

Here is his prayer list as he conducted the self-examination before God.
1. "Save me." (v.1)
Everyone facing a life and death situation from a soldier in battle to one fighting cancer and major times stress has prayed for deliverance.  No one wants life to end under such duress.

2. "Awake for me." (v.6)
He called upon the God of heaven to intervene and display His power in his circumstances.  God is the ultimate and all-powerful Judge.  He wanted to see God take action on this threat.

3. "Judge me." (v.8)
David realized that God's judgment worked both ways and not only on his enemies.  Though, he felt confident before the LORD that his life was righteous and had integrity.

4. "Test me." (v.9)
Knowing that God would deal with the evil-doers, he acknowledged that the LORD tests "the minds and the hearts" of everyone for righteousness and integrity.  His heart was open for God to point out anything that was wrong within him.  He wanted to be sure that he was right with God.

The proof one's faith and spiritual health is what happens next.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  To remain in fear is evidence of a spiritual weakness.  Only after the examination and prayer could David break out with such confidence in thanking God and praising His name.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Faith in a time of great Stress

Read Psalm 6.

David's prayer in song was "how long?"  How long will he have to endure the pain and suffering?  His distress went beyond physical discomfort, "My soul is also greatly troubled." (v.3)  Indeed, he blamed it on some "workers of evil" (v.8), "foes" (v.7), harassing people who had pushed him beyond his limit

Even when he tried to rest and get some sleep, all he could do was cry.

His request of God was to deliver him so he could continue to give God praise in this life.  Dead men cannot do this (v.5).

While those were his feelings, this song is one of his resolute faith!

He believed in these dark hours that;
1. God takes notice our personal problems.
"The LORD has heard my plea."
1 Peter 3:12-"The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer."

2. God personally takes hold and receives our requests.
"The LORD accepts my prayer."
This is much more than merely hearing our prayers.  When the father of a dying daughter came to Jesus with his request, Jesus told him, "Do not fear, only believe." (Mark 5:36)

3. The LORD personally takes care of us.
Psalm 46:1-"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear..."

Monday, August 12, 2013

When should you pray?

Read Psalm 5.

When should you pray?

The Apostle Paul wrote that we should pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Nehemiah prayed spontaneously throughout the day when things happened on the job.  Daniel prayed three a times a day.  Moses practiced regular times to be alone with God (Exodus 33).

Discipleship requires a disciplined time of intentional prayer.

For David, the morning was a time for worship.  Personally, I discovered a long ago that if I did not start my day with intentional Bible study and prayer it did not get done.  The busyness of life's demands will crowd out worship 100% of the time, unless we discipline ourselves otherwise.

As he began his day, David asked God:
1. To lead him in a right way. (v.8)
He recognized that there would be plenty of distractions by those who did not have his best interests at heart.

2. To deal with those who opposed God. (vv.9-10)
Ultimately, their rebellion was not aimed at David as an enemy, but God Himself.

3. To protect him. (v.11)
God is a refuge to those who love Him.  Under His care there is cause for singing and rejoicing.

4. To bless him. (v.12)
God's protection is not a hiding place alone, it is also the source of all God's provision.  His favor makes the difference throughout the day in connecting with people and working on issues.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Key to Answered Prayer

Read Psalm 4.

"But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him."

That is the simplest definition of the word sanctification.  Sanctification is not a word to ignore.  It is vital to understand.  The Bible explains two aspects of us being set apart for God.

1. Eternal.
"But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth." (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

At the very moment of believing in Jesus, we are set apart from the world to God.  This is a singular, eternal act of God's grace.  When the Bible speaks of this sanctification it is always in the past tense of one's life of faith.

2. Practical.
"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)

A growing believer in Jesus continues to work on a lifestyle that demonstrates that they have already been set apart to God.  This is an on-going endeavor of discipleship.  When the Bible speaks of this aspect of sanctification it is always in the present and progressive sense.

How important is it?  As the Psalmist wrote, sanctification is key to God responding to our prayers.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

6 Declarative Statements when there appears to be no hope

Read Psalm 3.

Outwardly, there appeared to be no hope.  (vv.1-2)
David was on the run for his life.  Everything had turned upside down on him.  He was a leader, but the nation was not following him.  He was a warrior, but he chose to run rather than fight his own son, Absalom.  He was a man with great faith in God, but his pursuers declared that even God could not help him now.

Inwardly, David broke out in praise!  (vv.3-8)
With his life on the line, how could he praise God at a time like this?
1. He Protects me.
God was his shield, not an army.

2. He Honors me.
God was his glory, not a position on the throne.

3. He Encourages me.
God was his source of strength, not his circumstances.

4. He Answers my prayers.
David had a history of calling out to God and seeing Him work in response.

5. He Sustains me.
David could rest and even sleep without fear, knowing that God was duty.

6. He Delivers me.
This is not Pollyanna thinking.  The threat was real.  But David knew the power of God and his full faith and trust was in Him.

"Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!" (v.6)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why is there so much turmoil in the world?

Read Psalm 2.

Why do the nations rage?  Why does not everyone embrace Jesus as Savior?

Rejection and outright rebellion against God is not new.  The first mention of such pride-filled actions occurred when Lucifer was expelled from heaven.  Ever since then Satan has made it his work to turn human hearts and nations to thwart God's will and purposes.

With the killing of Abel in the Garden of Eden, there has been a spiritual war against believers.  Today, from China to Africa, Christians are being killed and churches destroyed solely because of their faith.

What is God's response at the attempts of the rebellious to take over His creation and stamp out those who turn to Him?  He laughs!  He laughs not because it is funny but in derision.  It is insane that a person thinks they know better than God or can ignore His power and eternal claims.  At His will, at any moment, He can unleash His wrath on any of them.  This is His world.

The root issue is Jesus, the Messiah.  He is the One who will rule and reign over the nations from the throne of David.  But even more, the Messiah came to save us from our sin so we could enjoy an eternal and personal relationship with Him.

So, what should be done?
1. "Be wise." (v.10)
Only a fool ignores a warning like this.  Responding to salvation in Jesus is the most intelligent decision a person will ever make.

2. Serve and Fear God. (v.11)
Instead of rebelling against what He is saying, respect it.  Serving God leads to a life of rejoicing.

3. Embrace Jesus as Lord. (v.12)
Most translations use the phrase "kiss the Son."  This refers to an eastern response of bowing, kissing the hand or feet of a supreme authority.  In doing so, one finds peace and safety under their protection.

"Blessed are all who take refuge in him."  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What does godliness look like?

Read Psalm 1.

This first song in Israel's hymnbook contrasts a godly person and a wicked person.

What are the distinguishing characteristics?
1. We are known by the counsel we listen to.
A godly person draws his life coaching, first and foremost, from the Scriptures.
A wicked person has ruled God out of his thinking.

2. We are known by the company we keep.
A godly person desires to be with God's people for worship, learning and service to God.
A wicked person wants to hang with those who are rebellious and lead a lawless lifestyle.

3. We are known by the commitments we make.
A godly person speaks from a pure heart that seeks to meets the needs of others.
A wicked person responds negatively to spiritual things, even mocking and ridiculing.

What are the keys to growing in godliness?
1. A godly person delights in what God has to say.
He sees the Scriptures as a pleasure to know and invaluable to life.

2. A godly person meditates on what God has to say.
More than reading or studying, meditating has to do with talking to yourself about it.  Asking, "what does that mean to me and my behavior?"  Turning it over and over in your mind in order to put it into practice.

When does a godly person do this?
Day and night.  It is not a Sunday thing to do.  It is not limited to a daily quiet time.  Godliness is an all the time thing, while we are going about our daily lives.

What is the result?
Stability.  A godly person is firmly rooted by the values of the Word of God.
Productivity.  A godly person bears noticeable fruit in his labors.
Prosperity.  A godly person can be recognized by their spiritual vitality no matter where they are.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

3 Questions believing sufferers need to ask

Read Job 42.

What do I know now that I did not understand before this calamity?
Job realized a deeper understanding of who God is that he could not have learned in any other way.  For us, we may learn other lessons about God and ourselves.  For Job, it was summed up in these two statements.
-"I know that you can do all things."
- "I know that no purpose of yours can thwarted."

He said things he regretted.  His words were out of hurt and confusion.

How did God reveal Himself to me?
Job had a personal encounter with the one true and living God through his sufferings.  That was the turning point.  It was God's words that corrected and comforted Him.

There were three results of this meeting with God.
1. Job repented of his sin of finding fault with the LORD.
2. God rebuked Job's friends for their sin of misjudging Job.
3. God restored the fortunes of Job by 200%.

So what do we take away from this?
Believers in Jesus have an eternal, personal relationship with the same God who spoke to Job.  If we suffer and it is not our fault, we are find ourselves in a school that is designed to teach us a deeper understanding of God's love for us and our hope in Him.

"...we rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  (Romans 5:3-5)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Two Powerful Questions and the Ultimate Claim

Read Job 41.

God continued firing one question after another at Job.  All the questions here, except two were singularly focused on a scary sea creature called Leviathan.  In chapter 40, we are told about the huge land creature call Behemoth.  It is unclear as to the exact identities of these two.  Some have suggested that these are types of dinosaurs now extinct.  Many conservative scholars see traits of the hippopotamus in one and a giant crocodile in the other.  If mankind thinks these created animals are frightening, how much more to be in the presence of the Creator Himself.

Interestingly, the climax of God's personal inquisition came in verses 10a-11 with two questions and an ultimate claim.

1. "Who then can stand before me?"
The answer is no one.  As seen previously, it is human pride that thinks they know better than God and could possibly argue with Him.  There is coming a day, however, when even the most rebellious will kneel in surrender before the LORD.
" the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:10-11)

2. "Who has first given to me, that I should repay him?"
Job was a godly and generous man.  He did everything right.  He voiced several times that he did not deserve to suffer.  Indeed, he looked for God to reward him.  But God is no one's debtor.  Life with God is not transactional as a quid pro quo.  Some want to treat God in a manner that says, "If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."  According to God that is not so.

3. "Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine."
This is the irrefutable statement of a Sovereign God.  He claims absolute ownership of all things.  Everything Job had from his breath, his ability to have children, his ability to earn, his opportunities and all the results had been graciously given to him by the One who owns and controls all things.

The Apostle Paul asked: "What do you have that you did not receive?  If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)

"But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?  Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?'  Has the potter no right over the clay...?" (Romans 9:20-21a)

Humbling to acknowledge?  Yes.  But when one reaches that point they are in a perfect position then to experience God's grace as never before.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Embracing the Root Issue

Read Job 40.

Yikes!  God did not stop.  The questioning continued for two more chapters.

Did not Job already feel humbled?  Did he not put his hand over his mouth and commit to say no more?  The answer to both is "yes".  However, there is a difference is feeling sorry and regretting what one said or did and learning a lasting lesson.

In a time of great loss, pain or distress it is in our nature to question God, argue with Him, or even want to reject His plans for us.  Accepting the undesired circumstances is not the lesson to be learned.  That is a surface issue.  The root issue is moving to a deeper understanding of who God truly is and our relationship to Him.

Job wanted to argue his case with God to justify himself (v.8).  Such a thought exalts oneself to be on a par with the God of heaven.  So, let's compare.

God's questions to Job are comparison statements to Himself.  
"Do you have My power and ability?"
"Do you have a voice like mine that thunders to humble, create and provide?
"Are you really any match for My majesty and dignity, glory and splendor?"
"Can you make something like Behemoth, feed him, and take him on by yourself?"

Embracing our position before the LORD and exalting Him in our lives is the essence of worship.  The Psalmist David wrote in Psalm 8:3-4, 9:
"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?...O LORD, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Quiz for those who wish to argue with God

Read Job 39-40:5.

This is for everyone who thinks they know better than God how to run things, including their own lives.

All along Job wanted to argue his legal case with God.  In response, God systematically took Job through the creation.  To demonstrate His absolute sovereignty, God relentlessly in these two chapters pounded Job with over 40 questions in a row.

"Do you..."
"Can you..."
"Is it by your understanding..."
"Is it at your command..."
How humbling for a person to realize that the answer to all of God's questions is "no"!  None of creation is in the control of humans.  As Creator, God alone is the Owner and Sustainer.

Since this is true, then His final question was: "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?"  Who is man that he would argue with God or question Him as if God did not know what He was doing?

To this two chapter quiz, Job could only acknowledge how small this made him feel and put his hand over his mouth.   He would question God's authority in his life no more.

When the Kingdom of Judah suffered the loss of all things, living in captivity, Jeremiah wrote a letter of hope to them that God was in control.  All of God's actions are done with purpose for their good.  The present pain was not to be compared to God's plan for them...and for us.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Asking God "Why?" may not be the right question.

Read Job 38.

Elihu had just finished six chapters of defending God and wrapped up by referring to God's control of the natural elements.  Then, a whirlwind appeared with God's voice responding to Job at last.

In the next four chapters, the LORD never answered Job's question of "why" these things had happened to him.  Rather, the focus of what God had to say was singularly on "who" was in control the entire time.

The LORD drilled Job with questions such as:
1.  "Where were you when I created the earth?"
Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

2. "Where were you when I separated light from darkness?"
Genesis 1:3-4 "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good.  And God separated the light from the darkness."

Next, God described His personal control of the sea, the clouds, and the entire water cycle of the earth.

3. "Where were you when I set the stars in orbit?"
Psalm 147:4 "He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names."

4. "Where were you when I established and provided for the earth's food chain?"
Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?"

The God of the Bible claims personal responsibility and care of every detail life.  When compared  to this awesome God mankind is very small and insignificant.  However, the answer to Jesus' question is yes.  We are of much more value than any or all of His creation combined.  He personally loves us and gave His life for us.

Friday, August 2, 2013

What good does it do to talk about the weather?

Read Job 37.

Understanding when these words were written, the scientific knowledge is outstanding.  The Bible has much to say about the natural world-its origins, shapes, movements, functions and control.  It is completely accurate in every statement.

Elihu described the hydraulic cycle of the earth in the previous chapter.  Here he spoke even more of lightning, thunder, rain, snow, ice, winds and its effects on humans and animals.  The reasons for his treatise is that God created and controls all of it.  And, He does so, according to verse 13, with three basic motivations:
1. For correction.
The Bible gives many examples where God has used the natural elements as instruments of His judgment.

2. For his land.
The earth is dependent upon the water cycle for the soil and for life itself.

3. For love.
The blessings of different weather patterns at just the right seasons of the year provide enjoyment, refreshment, growth, food, and profit.

All of these actions are beyond any human power to control.  How then could a human argue with the One in heaven who has such sovereign power?

Then, because he felt Job's words were self-serving and self-righteous, he aimed his invitation directly at Job.
By the way, these are good for everyone to hear:
v.14-"Stop and consider the wondrous works of God."
v.24-"Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How do you respond to personal distress?

Read Job 36.

Claiming to speak on behalf of God, Elihu presented various ways people may respond.

When God brings about or allows trouble to strike due to sin, "he declares to them their work and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly" (v.9).  This is God's loving call to the very conscience of the afflicted to turn from their sin and live for Him.  Isaiah 53:6 defines sin as "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."  The essence of sin is selfish pride that thinks we may live our lives in any way we choose apart from our Creator.
1. Some people listen and repent of their sin.  The result is that they serve God with their lives. (v.11)
2. Some people do not listen and die never having learned from their sin against God. (v.12)
3. Some people choose to be angry with God, rebelling against Him, and suffer even greater consequences. (v.13-14)

The basis of his message is that God is "perfect in knowledge" (all-knowing) and "mighty" (all-powerful).  Notice how intimate and personal God's knowledge is of  individual thoughts and actions.  He intervenes at His will to correct or to bless accordingly.  While those statements are true, personal distress is not always the result of our sin.  To determine the difference we must listen to God's voice, examine ourselves, and respond accordingly.   God is at work spiritually and unseen, so we do not always experience or witness His responses here and now.  Many wrongs and rewards will be dealt with at the coming judgments after this life.

The good news, as Isaiah reminds us, is that this is why Messiah came and died on the cross.  "The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."  Our ransom from sin has been paid in full.