Saturday, November 30, 2013

4 provisions needed to overcome Injustices

Read Psalm 94.

The psalmist cried out for vengeance upon the wicked who had come against God's people.  He described them as "proud", using "arrogant words."  They had no mercy on the most defenseless of all, murdering widows, travelers, and fatherless children.  Their thought was that God does not exist, and if He does exist He does not see nor care about what they are doing.

The LORD of heaven not only sees, He hears, He disciplines, and He knows the thoughts of all people.  He does not forget His people.  He is a God of justice and He will eventually right every wrong.

In the meantime, while living with such injustice, how can a righteous person endure?  Living under the threat of physical death is the ultimate test of one's faith.  What kept the songwriter going included-
1. The help of the LORD. (v.17)
Day by day, moment by moment God came along side to strengthen him.

2. The love of the LORD. (v.18)
It was the assurance that God loved him, even if no one else did, that caused him to stand firm in his faith.

3. The comforts of the LORD. (v.19)
When he was hurting personally, or feeling badly over the awful things taking place around him, God was there to cheer his soul.

4. The stability of the LORD. (20)
The faithful, unchanging character of God provided a place of spiritual and emotional refuge and safety.

Without this hope, there would have been nothing left but despair.
"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:4-5)

Friday, November 29, 2013

The contrast of the King of Glory.

Read Psalm 93.

Earthly royalty, sitting on their thrones, are truly awe inspiring.  Their robes and crowns, their positional honor and power, cause everyone to cease what they are doing in order to hear what the monarch has to say.  The unnamed psalmist envisions the comparisons and contrasts of the King of Glory as the ultimate ruler of all things and everyone.

1. His robe.
He is not clothed in expensive furs, but with majesty.
2. His belt.
He is not girded with gold, but what surrounds His personage is omnipotence.
3. His rule.
There are no shouts of "long live the king" because He has always been in control and always will be.
4. His power.
It is not merely the forces of an army and the exercise of might against opposing nations that He controls but the very forces of nature are under His command.
5. His word.
The rulers of this world may declare their edicts.  Sometimes those decisions prove to be false promises or simply wrong.  God's word is totally reliable, sure and faithful.
6. His habitation.
John Emerich Edward Dalberg wrote in part, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."  The kings of this world have been notorious for their immorality, greed and/or abuse of their position.  But the overarching characteristic of the presence of the LORD is His holiness.

Isaiah was allowed to see firsthand what the songwriter penned.
"In the year King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim.  Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to the another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'" (Isaiah 6:1-3)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Song for Thanksgiving

Read Psalm 92.

For those who love the LORD, everyday is one of giving thanks.  We praise Him in the morning and at night.  It is with voice and on instruments.  While we are thankful for family, friends, those who sacrifice to keep us safe, and for blessings, ultimately all thanks belongs to God Himself.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..." (James 1:17)

1. We thank Him for who He is. (vv.1-4)
-His love is steadfast.
-His faithfulness is new every morning.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

2. We thank Him for what He has done. (vv.5-11)
His wonderful works extend from Creation to our Redemption to bring us to today.  This requires spiritual insight.  The natural person does not understand.  He sees what God has done and ascribes it to something or someone else.  This robs God of His rightful glory and thanksgiving.

3. We thank Him for what we have. (vv.12-15)
Flourish is a relative term.  We may not have all we want, but today the LORD has supplied much more than we need.  As people grow older, they slow down or cease their professions or work.  But those who know the LORD can continue to grow spiritually and bear fruit in ministry to others.

Two anchors of our faith in God:
He is right.  We are thankful to know the truth and to be on the winning side.
He is our Rock.  We are thankful to have such unchangeable stability in our lives.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When trouble troubles You

Read Psalm 91.

Dr. Lee Roberson preached a powerful sermon on the subject of trouble.
1. Trouble energizes.  We are lazy.  It stirs us to action.
2. Trouble clarifies.  It gives us vision.
3. Trouble magnifies our weaknesses in light of the power of God.

This psalm encourages believers that we have no cause for fear, no dread of harm, when trouble comes our way.  For those who place their faith in God, He is our shelter, shadow over us, refuge, fortress, cover, shield, buckler, dwelling place...
And, if that were not enough, "He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways" (v.11)

How does the LORD respond to those who trust Him in times of trouble? (vv.14-16)
1. I will deliver him
2. I will protect him
3. I will answer him
4. I will be with him
5. I will rescue him
6. I will honor him
7. I will show him my salvation
Seven quotes from God Himself.  We need nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What to do about the brevity of Life

Read Psalm 90.

Here is song from Moses.  He began by extolling the eternal nature of God.  He is from everlasting to everlasting.  God does not exist in time.  He is not limited to space or matter.  As Creator, He is the Owner of life.  And, He is the believer's refuge and final home.

Human life is the exact opposite.  We are here only for a while and then gone into eternity.  Earthly life is described like dust, gone as if swept away by a flood, a dream, grass,  a sigh.  It may last 70 years, maybe 80, then soon gone.  The last is an interesting statement from a man who lived to be 120.

Facing this reality, how should we be praying and what should we be doing?

1. Learning wisdom (v.12)
Teach us to number our days.  It is human nature to avoid thinking about our days being numbered, let alone wisely planning our lives according to its sure brevity.  Today matters.  That is also the title of one of Dr. John Maxwell's best books.  This understanding and learning causes us-
-to be urgent in what we do
-to be right in what we do
-to be prudent in what we do
2. Being content with God's love for us. (v.14a)
If He was all you had in this life, would you be satisfied?  Is He enough for you?
3. Rejoicing through it all. (v.14b-15)
Afflicted?  Yes.  Experienced evil?  Yes.  The secret to being "glad all our days" is being content with God and His love.
4. Seeing God's power at work. (v.16)
Praying is one thing.  Our faith is built up as we intentionally take notice of God at work all around us everyday.  He is active every moment.  Don't miss it.
5. Experiencing God's favor in all that we do. (v.17)
He is the One who opens doors of opportunity and blesses us.  It is His good hand upon us that makes all the difference in life and leaves a legacy of honor for those behind us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What happened to God's Promises?

Read Psalm 89.

Ethan, who wrote this song, is mentioned in two other places in the Old Testament.  He was Levite and considered to be a very wise man.  But here he was conflicted.  On one hand, Ethan praised God for His many character traits such love and faithfulness.  Then, on the other, He felt God had abandoned the nation in anger.  He even accused the LORD of renouncing His covenant with David (v.39).

Indeed, the very basis of his prayer is the Davidic Covenant found in 1 Samuel 7:5-16.  There the LORD made these eternal promises to David and his descendants.
1. I will make your name great.
2. I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more.
3. I will give you rest from all your enemies.
4. I will make you a house.
5. I will raise up offspring after you.
6. I will establish his kingdom forever.
7. Your throne shall be established forever.

The context of this psalm, however, appears to have been prompted by an enemy invasion and the king's loss of control over the nation.  So, what happened to all those promises?  God did not change.  Israel did.  Their disobedience resulted in them losing the blessings of those promises for a time.  With their national repentance and in God's timing He will restore and fulfill all His word.  Ultimately, Jesus, a direct and royal descendant of David (Matthew 1) will sit on that throne in Jerusalem and rule.

We must be careful not to evaluate life based upon temporal emotions.  God's word and His faithfulness do not change.  He is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).  When life does not make sense, God's word is still and always trustworthy.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Suffering in the will of God

Read Psalm 88.

When one hears the name Heman, we think of a person with unusual strength, stature, and ability.  But as Heman wrote this psalm,  we discover a man who was suffering, crying, and on the brink of death.

He prayed day and night, but up to this point the LORD had not answered his prayers.  Indeed, things became worse.  His "soul is full of troubles."  His health had brought him to the point of death.  All his friends had abandoned him.  There seemed to be no way out.  And, there is no happy ending to this song.

The basis of his prayer was that in death he would not be able to demonstrate the power and character of God's deliverance.  Notice the appeal to the character of God.
-"your steadfast love"
-"your faithfulness"
-"your wonders"
-"your righteousness"

Everyone, sooner or later, experiences the agony of praying with the feeling that God is not listening.  Our evaluation is based on the fact that nothing is happening to help us.  But our faith reminds us that God does see what we are going through and He hears our cries.  Further, the foundation of our hope is that the LORD is working His plan and purpose on His timetable, not ours.  It is our trust in Him that is being tested.

Suffering is as much a part of the human experience as breathing.  It may take different forms from various causes.  Suffering due to our own sin is God's design to lead a person to repentance.  But there are times in life when suffering is within the will of God to test the believer and to mature them in their faith.

Two reminders from the Apostle Paul's personal suffering in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
1. In our weakness, we learn that God' grace is sufficient for us.
2. In our weakness, we learn to be content.

Friday, November 22, 2013

In praise and prophecy for Jerusalem

Read Psalm 87.

This is a song in praise of the city of Jerusalem.  Not only was it a place of God's choosing, but in those days it was the center of world-wide worship of God because the temple was there.  Sitting on mount Zion, it looked beautiful.  The psalmist looked forward to the day when this will be a peaceful ("salem") city for the nations.

In that day, people will say wonderful things about Jerusalem.  Folks will be proud to have been born there.  It will be the fountain of blessings to all.

When will that happen?

The Bible explains that one day, Jesus will return to rule and reign for 1,000 years from Jerusalem.  Psalm 2 describes how the God, the Father will establish God, the Son as king on Zion's hill.  He will "make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession."

And, one of the rewards for those who place their faith in Jesus now is that we will rule and reign with Him.
"Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection!  Over such the second death has no power but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years."
(Revelation 20:6)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

3 Essentials to Prayer

Read Psalm 86.

This is a prayer from King David.  Interesting, how many of the Psalms were written as a result of a threat.  We do our best praying when we realize that we cannot help ourselves and cast our complete dependence upon God.  Follow David's thoughts as he asked the LORD to intervene.  These are essential components to seeing our prayers answered.

1. The condition of David.
The prayer came from a confident, yet humble heart.  His confidence was based upon his position and practice before God.  In verse 2, he said, "I am godly."  In other words, he did nothing wrong to bring this trouble.  He felt bankrupt in his ability to deliver himself.  He needed the LORD to act on his behalf.  He asked God to hear him, to spare him, to extend grace to him, and to teach him.

2. The commitment of David.
He recognized that there was still much to learn about being all that God wanted him to be.  His desire went further than the immediate help to "teach me."  How precious that part of the prayer must have sounded in the ears of the LORD!  What did he need to learn?  "Unite my heart to fear your name" (v.11).  James wrote that a double-minded prayer will not be answered (James 1:5-8)  The evidence of one with a whole heart for the LORD includes living according to God's truth and giving glory to His name (vv.11-12).

3. The character of God.
The basis of this entire prayer is the essence of who God is.
-"good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love" (v.5)
-"There is none like you..."  "You alone are God." (vv.8,10b)
-"All the nations you have made..." (v.9)
-"You are great and do wondrous things." (v.10)
-able to deliver souls from eternal torment (v.13)
-"merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." (v.15)
-able to show favor, help, and comfort (v.17)

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all..." (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Revive us Again

Read Psalm 85.

At some point in the past there Israel suffered great loss.  The psalmist admits that this happened because of their sin.  But once the sin was dealt with, God restored, or returned, their losses to them.

Now, feeling God's displeasure, even anger, they were in need of another restoration.

What is the problem?
1. Sin breaks fellowship with the LORD.
2. Sin brings discipline from the LORD.
3. Sin causes us to lose our joy in the LORD.

What is the cure?
"Let me hear what God the LORD will speak." (v.8)
Ignoring what God has to say is the first step toward sin.  Knowing and responding to what God has to say is the first step in restoring fellowship with Him.  When we acknowledge that God is right and we are wrong, we find "He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

What are the results?
-Restoration means we can bask in the love of God.
-We recognize His faithfulness to us.
-We live again doing what is right.
-We enjoy peace with God.
-His blessings will be upon our work.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What are you thinking on the way to Worship?

Read Psalm 84.

For most of us, Sunday mornings are a rush to get ready and leave.  Once there, we look for a good parking spot, quick greetings with a few people, and find a seat.  We hope the music and preaching are to our liking.

Contrast that thinking with this Psalm.  Verses 5-7 indicate that this was a song worshipers would sing as the traveled up the mountain to Jerusalem in order to worship at the temple.  The attitude is they could not wait to get there.

1. It was a time to sing.
The singer was excited about getting to the place of worship; not because of the building or others who would be around, but because they going to formally appear before and meet with God Himself.

2. It was a time to pray.
First, intercessory prayer was offered for the king.  God appointed and anointed their national leader.  The people depended upon the LORD to work through him in order to lead them to do what is right.

3. It was a time to serve.
Having the privilege of standing at the door of the place of worship could not be matched at any price.

4. It was a time to be blessed.
The sun speaks of God's provision.
The shield refers to God's protection.
The favor of God opens doors of opportunity.
The honor of God is how we are treated when we walk into His opportunities.

God does not withhold good things from us.  He loves to bless those live for Him.

Now, enjoy the service.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Praying for those against You

Read Psalm 83.

Asaph began with a call for God to let His voice be heard.  The enemies of Israel were conspiring to attack and "wipe them out as a nation."  However, with heavenly insight, he realized that these "crafty plans" were not only against them but truly this was a spiritual battle. Those surrounding nations were demonically energized to be haters of God (v.5).

Throughout the Bible, when God's people were taunted, challenged, belittled, or attacked, a godly leader verbalized the battle behind the battle.  It was not Pharaoh against Moses, but Pharaoh against God.  It was not Goliath against David, but Goliath against God.  It was not the Prophets of Baal against Elijah, but the false prophets against God.  It was not the wizards of Babylon against Daniel, but them against God.  In each instance, the antagonists paid for their actions with their lives.

But here, the psalmist prayed differently.  Yes, he wanted God to avenge Himself, even shaming them and bringing them down in disgrace.  But notice two other parts of his prayer that have eternal significance.

1. So "that they may seek your name." (v.17)
Asking God to destroy an enemy is one thing.  Or, he could have wanted the LORD make them sorry for what they did.  But, asking Him to bring them to repentance reveals a godly perspective on his part.  When people seek the LORD with a repenting heart, life-change will take place.

2. So "that they may know that you alone...are the Most High over all the earth." (v.18)
The reason people hate God is first and foremost an attempt to get rid of their guilt.  There is no real cure for guilt other than the forgiveness of God.  He alone offers spiritual cleansing of the conscience.  When people come to faith in the LORD, He receives the honor and glory due His name.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Who judges the Judges?

Read Psalm 82.

Human judges are placed in a weighty position.  They make decisions that immediately impact the lives of others; sometimes one person, sometimes an entire nation.  Since all authority ultimately comes from God (Romans 13:1), human judges are to be His representatives on earth meting out decisions in alignment with His word and wisdom.

When Asaph assessed the judges of his day, he saw a lack of understanding and accountability.  In this curious song, the writer imagines a time when God would sit in judgment of these judges.  He even writes what God would say to them.  In balancing the scales of power in a culture, human judges are to protect at least these four groups of people:
1. The Weak
These are folks who are low on the totem pole of society.  Financially, they have no strength of resources to fight the opposition, either due to loss or threat.

2. The Fatherless
Orphaned children have no parents to defend them and protect them them.  Without judicial decisions, they may become easy prey to every kind of abuse.

3. The Afflicted
People who have been brought down physically, financially, or otherwise in an unjust manner need intervention by a legal authority.

4. The Destitute
Not only have these experienced loss, but they have nothing left.  With no means of protection or help, they seek justice.

In John 10:34, as the religious leaders attempted to stone Jesus to death, He quoted verse 6.

Judges are  human.  Mistakes are made.  But when there is deliberate disregard for God's word, when financial or political bribery tilts their decisions, or when partiality of any kind is shown, there is One is heaven who will indeed one day sit in judgment of the judges.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It is time to stop and Listen

Read Psalm 81.

It was a time to celebrate.
Everyone, by statute, was to gather at this time to loudly sing and play on the instruments.  Most believe this took place at the Feast of Tabernacles.  God answered prayer!  They called on Him and He delivered Israel from the slavery of Egypt.  

But after all He had done for them, they turned aside from obeying the LORD.

It was a time to listen.
Three times (verses 8,11,13) the Psalmist speaking on behalf of God called the people to listen to what God had said to them.  Inexplicably, they gave themselves to strange gods and false teachings.  He chose not to strike them dead, but instead some of the most chilling words in the Bible are used, "So, I gave them over to their stubborn hearts."  (See also Romans 1:26, 28).  He left them to go their own way and suffer the consequences of their own making.  This is the essence of sin.

It was a time to return.
The call from God is "Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways."  This call to live for the LORD comes with promises of blessings.  The LORD wants to protect us from those who would do us harm.  The LORD wants to provide for us so that we may be fulfilled in life.

No one else and nothing else can satisfy the longing of the heart but God Himself.  It is stubborn rebellion in the heart that keeps people ever seeking and never experiencing true satisfaction.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A cry for Restoration

Read Psalm 80.

On behalf of the nation, Asaph voiced their alienation from God.  Three times (vv.3,7,19) he prayed for the LORD to "restore us" so that they may be delivered from their distress.  The KJV translates the phrase "turn us again."

He described Israel as a vine that God had planted on this land.  The LORD cultivated the vine and gave it everything it needed to be fruitful.  Yet, instead of being a beautiful, healthy vine bearing fruit, it had been attacked, devoured, and burned.

God did not move.  They experienced this distress for a reason.  Drawn away by their own sin and disobedience, the nation had turned to other things instead of the God.  It was they who needed to return by repenting of their sin.

Here are his requests in verses 17-18 to restore his nation.
1. He prayed for the leader.
If the nation was to be all that God designed it to be, the hand of the LORD needed to be on the leader.  The "son of man" with a small "s" is a reference to the king.  Godly leadership is essential to a righteous nation.  The Apostle Paul urged that we are to pray "for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." (1 Timothy 2:2).

2. He prayed for the people.
"Give us life."  Their current state of human existence was not working.  He cried for something more, a kind of life that only comes from God.  Jesus spoke of this in John 10:10-"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

Everyone born has physical life and breath with a heart beat for only a set number of years.  It is temporary.  The life that is offered by faith in Christ is real life.  Eternal life.  Abundant life.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rethinking our prayers for Help

Psalm 79.

This song from Asaph is very similar to his Psalm 74.  Jerusalem had been attacked, the temple defiled, some of those who served there were killed and left unburied.  The enemies scoffed at their belief in God because He did not protect them.

Why did God allow this to happen?

Asaph felt that the cause was due to sin.  Their disobedience to God had brought His anger against them and this invasion was their penalty.  The result was "we are brought very low."  Humility before God is the starting point of rebuilding a relationship with Him.  It is the required attitude of prayer.

Notice how he appealed to the Lord.
1. Help us.
Why?  "For the glory of your name."  These were God's people.  The temple was the sole place of sacrificial worship of God.  If the LORD would step in and help them, the restoration would bring Him honor by all.

2. Deliver us and atone for our sins.
Why?  "For your name's sake!"  Their defeat was not only against them but the very person and power of God.  The LORD's reputation had been totally disregarded and disrespected.

Asaph's question was "why should the nations say, "Where is their God?"

If God answered our prayers of help, who would get the credit?  How would God be glorified?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Overcoming a roller coaster Faith

Psalm 78.

This song recounts the historical roller coaster of Israel's spiritual journey.  They were up and down.  Casting their dependence upon God and then rejecting Him.  The call from Asaph was to stop this cycle by teaching the next generation the wonderful works of God.  This helped the teacher as much as the learner.

But this goes far beyond a set curriculum of knowledge.  The difference would only come by exercising a consistent faith in action.  This not only will affect the immediate next generation but "the children yet unborn" (v.6).

Why was Asaph so insistent?  Because as he reviewed history, he labeled the leaders of the past as "stubborn and rebellious" and unfaithful to God.  Then, he provided specific examples of this rebellion and how God responded.  Even in their times of rejection and unbelief, God gracious supplied their daily needs.  Yet, they provoked God repeatedly by their disobedience.  That prompted the LORD to intervene with discipline, sometimes with awful tragedies, to get their attention.

The nation, realizing they had sinned, repented and "remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer" (v.35).  But it proved to be mere lip service and not genuine.  Their lives did not change.

Through it all, God did not change His mind, nor His plans.  In His sovereignty, He chose the tribe of Judah to lead the nation.  He chose David to shepherd His people with integrity and skill.  They were back on track.

All of us can identify to one extent or another of the roller coaster experience of our faith.  God is good.  He is gracious in supplying our daily needs.   He is worthy of our trust and a consistently disciplined life.  "But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world." (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What to do when our faith Fails

Read Psalm 77.

Asaph was in great distress.  He described his praying as crying aloud to God with untiring outstretched hands.  The troubles he faced prevented him from sleeping.  As he tossed and turned, he began feeling alienated from God.

This caused him to question God's care for him.
"Will the Lord spurn forever and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?" (vv.7-9)

When the pressure upon us pushes us to the edge, when we feel that we have gone as far as we can go, and God has not responded with the help we so desperately need, what are we to do?

Asaph changed his focus from his problems to remembering the power of God.  He made a deliberate decision to recall and meditate what God had done for him and how He had delivered His people in the past.  He reviewed the mighty power the LORD displayed at the Red Sea (Exodus 14).  He realized it was his weakness, not God's, that brought on this spurt of unbelief.  It was strengthening for him to remember the facts of his faith.

If God can do that for millions of people and wipe out the world's most powerful army of the time, then what how small (not insignificant) and solvable are the problems we face?

"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh.  Is anything too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:17)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The God who is to be Feared

Read Psalm 76.

God sovereignly chose Abraham and his descendants and gave them unconditional, eternal promises.  The city of Jerusalem He chose as the place for the Temple and the center of worship under the old covenant.  His very presence was there in the Holy of Holies behind the curtain.

It is no wonder then that as Israel obeyed God that He jealousy protected Jerusalem from its enemies.  God demonstrated His presence by unleashing His power against attackers.  How are people to respond to such a God as this?

1. The LORD is to be feared.
At the root of all sin is the lack of respect, reverence, and obedient response to the God of heaven.  The answer to his question in verse 7 is no one!  Sooner or later all will come to fear the LORD.  "So that at the name of Jesus every knee should 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. The LORD will execute judgment on those who do not fear Him.
God's wrath is reserved for those who chose to ignore His claims.  Every individual will come to Him in this life out of great love and gratitude for His offer of forgiveness, or they will bow on command as they enter eternal punishment for rejecting Him.  He has proven His power of wrath time and again.  Even those who defy God will bring Him glory as He fulfills His purposes in judging them.

3. The LORD saves those who fear Him.
In verse 9, these are called "the humble."  When one surrenders their life to God, they come under His protection.  He not only is present to help now, but He has secured our eternity as well.  But "faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:17).  So, Asaph made a call to put our faith into practice:
-Keep your promises to God.
At the moment of salvation we committed to live for Him as Lord of our lives.  That is a 24/7 promise of thought, word and deed.
-Bring Him your gifts.
Giving and worship are inseparable.

Monday, November 4, 2013

For those who believe in Themselves

Read Psalm 75.

Each juncture of world history occurred and will take place at the exact time set by the Father.  For example: Creation.  The call of Abraham.  The Exodus.  The leadership of Joshua.  The anointing of David as King of Israel.  The exiles and return.  The birth of Christ.  The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  The ascension of Christ and coming of the Spirit.  The return of Christ.

This is also true of God's judgments.  At the time set by Him, He will judge rightly according to His word, not the laws and thinking of humans.  The LORD is sovereign and ruler over all whether one acknowledges Him or not.

1. God is in control of the earth's stability. (v.3)
Science calls it gravity.  Think of how much we depend upon the predictability and accuracy of the earth's rotation and the movement of the universe.  It is ludicrous for some to believe this happened by accident or long periods of time.  Such thinking would be totally unacceptable regarding any other subject.  Most importantly, it robs God of the credit and His glory as Creator.   It is affront to Jesus Christ Himself.
Colossians 1:17-"And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
Those who placed their faith in other beliefs will one day be judged.

2. God is in control of personal opportunity. (vv.4-7)
At the root of all sin is pride.  It is the egoist who thinks that their strength and power ("horn") got them where they are.  It is pride that distorts one's view of life and leads to a false sense of self-sufficiency.  It is pride that causes people to embrace the false belief that they have no accountability to the God who brought them into this world and provided opportunities for them throughout their lives.  Little do they realize it is God who puts down one and raises up another.

3. God is in control of eternity. (vv.8-10)
Those who reject God's offer of forgiveness and life in Jesus have nothing to look forward to other than eternal punishment at the Great White Throne judgment.  Note the chilling analogy that He already has prepared the drink given to those about to be executed.  However, spiritual death will last forever.

Those who respond to God's loving-kindness in Christ have a reason to sing.  The LORD will lift us up and welcome us to the place He has prepared for those who love Him.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

When Believers are under Attack

Read Psalm 74.

Asaph wrote of a time when the homeland was under attack.  In their invasion, the enemy destroyed places and items used to worship the LORD.  In addition, they scoffed at the God of Israel and began to set up their own objects of worship.  This went far beyond military might to raw spiritual warfare.  It confused him.  Why would God allow this?  Why did He not intervene to protect His own people?

His prayer was a call for the God of heaven to arise and demonstrate His glory.  Notice the elements of his appeal.

1. The power of His creation. (vv.12-19)
God had demonstrated His great omnipotence in the past.  As the Owner, He made and corralled oceans and their inhabitants.  He provided water on the land.  He divided day and night.  He made the seasons.  If God could do that then dealing with people on earth is a simple matter.

2. The promise of His covenant. (vv.20-21)
These were God's chosen people.  In Genesis 12, the LORD made unconditional promises regarding Abraham's descendants.  Promises were made to King David and his household forever.  It was from this family that the Messiah would come.  No wonder they were under Satanic attack.  It is God's commitment to care for His people and He will.

3. The perspective of His cause. (vv.22-23)
This fight was not one of "them against us."  Rather, this war truly belonged to God.

Believers are soldiers in the spiritual battles and we are totally dependent upon the Spirit of God to accomplish spiritual victories.  "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)

But do not forget to put on the armor God has supplied for our protection and skillfully use the sword He gave us for offense.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A cure for Envy

Psalm 73.

It happens to all of us.  We notice someone who has something newer, faster, better, more attractive, more expensive, or simply more.  Within us stirs an emotional desire to have, to buy, to acquire, or to accomplish.
That feeling may motivate us legitimately to higher levels of achievement.  But the warning in Scripture is to guard against the sin of envy.  It can be a fine line.  The motive question we must ask ourselves is, "Why am I feeling that way?"   Is it due to a lack of contentment on our part?  Is it due to our pride?  Is it the need for power to keep up with or exceed those around us?  Is it because we feel God is not meeting our needs?
Here is the insight: The felt need for more can never be satisfied.

In this Psalm, Asaph shared his true struggles and how he was able to resolve his envy.  These three steps of thinking help us to understand the cause of envy and its cure.

1. Looking at others.  (vv.1-12)
The problem started when he looked at those around him who were prospering and he realized they did not love God.  They took credit for their gains.  They did not seem to be troubled by tragedies and problems.  They got away with violence and criminal behavior.  They felt no accountability to God for their actions.

2. Looking at himself.  (vv.13-16)
The chief cause of normal depression is self-pity.  We compare ourselves with others and what we want things to be like.  The distance of the gap between our expectations and reality is the measure of disappointment.  Asaph lived a godly life.  He did what was right.  Yet, comparatively he felt short-changed.  Trying to understand this wore him down.

3. Looking to God.  (vv.17-28)
"...until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end."  When he began to worship, Asaph was able to gain a true perspective.  He had been concerned about temporal stuff.  100% of it could be lost, stolen, or burned up and 100% of it he would one day leave behind.  What he had through faith in the LORD was eternal.  That inheritance is "imperishable, undefiled, and unfading" (1 Peter 1:4).

The cure came when he realized that God is enough.  In His faithfulness, He supplies each day what we need.