Monday, January 31, 2011

Righteous and Wicked

 4The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
 5The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
 6Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
 7For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright. 

Righteous and Wicked

In our day, we seem to have a lot of conflict with the terms Righteous and Wicked. As a matter of fact, we are not comfortable with either one; we are more comfortable with that gray area in between. However, is there any gray area in between? No, there is no gray area in between the righteous and wicked in God's sight.

Verse 4 and 5 tells us: The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

That is where our discomfort lies; it is hard to comprehend God hating the wicked. In our day we make great fun of the concept of hell, and many are the cute caricatures attributed to the devil and his demons. God created hell for the devil and his angels, however the devil is not content unless he drags as many humans along with him as he can. 

Satan is rather effective, is he not? How many sermons have you heard in your lifetime on the topic of hell? Do you think that is just a coincidence? How often do you hear the word "hell" used as a swear word? Do we even think of it as a swear word any more? As Christians, if we truly grasped the horror that awaits those who go to hell, we could not run fast enough to tell all of our friends, family, and acquaintances about hell. What if they laugh at us? My question is: What if they don't? What if they actually listen and are saved from an eternity of pain and horror?

Is there no hope? Of course there is hope; our hope lies in the accepting of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only One who can save us from such a horrendous eternity. Christ came to this earth for the sole purpose of shedding His blood in payment for our sins so that we might become righteous in the eyes of God. Unbelievable, is it not, and yet it is true!

There are only two categories of mankind, the righteous and the wicked. Which one are you?

Verse 7 is for those who have come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, accepting His righteousness in place of our own wickedness. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.

Amazing love, how can it be,
That Thou, my God, dids't die for me?

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Voice of the Wicked

 1In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?
 2For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
 3If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? 

Voice of the Wicked

I am convinced that we Christians today do not recognize the voice of the wicked. We take lightly the onslaughts of Satan and his army, and are consequently often swept away by his whims.

David, however, as he penned Psalm 11, obviously understood the wiles of the Devil. Satan taunted him with the words, Flee as a bird to your mountain? For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

He is telling David, "Run; run to the mountain for safety. What can the righteous do if the wicked are ready with their arrows, and there is no safe place for them?"

When we have great doubts, do we ever attribute it to the works of Satan, or do we think we are so insignificant in the eyes of the Devil that he will not bother with us? If Satan has not successfully kept us from coming to the Lord, then we will be his target for the rest of our lives. His goal is to ruin our testimony, or to fill us with so many lies that we are too discouraged to do anything for the Lord.

In the past few months, you may have noticed that my writing has been somewhat sporadic. I would sit down to write a devotional, and I just could not do it. Finally, a few weeks ago I began to suspect that Satan was doing his best, and succeeding, to keep me from writing each day.

About two weeks ago I received an incredibly encouraging letter from a Christian in Nigeria. In my answer to him I shared the difficulty I was having and asked if he would pray for me. Not only am I able to write daily devotions again, I can hardly wait to write them.

I encourage you with two reminders. First of all, God is stronger than the wicked; when the voice of the wicked speaks to us, we must go to God in prayer. Secondly, do not be afraid to ask others to pray for you. God does answer prayer.

God is blessing my ministry in ways I could not imagine, but that is not because it is me. I am no one special, but just an ordinary person. God blesses this ministry because it is His. He gives me the words to write, because he knows what you need to hear. 

Like David, let us no longer be empowered by the voice of the wicked. Please pray for me, as I pray for you with every devotional I write.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mere Earthly Mortals

 12Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.
 13Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.
 14Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.
 15Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.
 16The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.
 17LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:
 18To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress. 

Mere Earthly Mortals

I love this translation of Psalm 10, verses 16 - 18, from the New International Version of the Bible.

16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
   the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted;
   you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
   so that mere earthly mortals
   will never again strike terror
.

Do the wicked fear God? Do the wicked really believe that God will call them into account for their wicked deeds? No! According to Psalm 10:13, the wicked say, Thou wilt not require it.

As Christians, it is important that we remember that the battle is already won. The LORD is King for ever and ever. Even now, the heathen are perished out of his land. 

Do we really live as though the LORD is King? How does that knowledge affect our day to day living? Maybe I should ask, how should that knowledge affect our day to day living? God defends the fatherless and the oppressed. Do we? 

I am deeply concerned for the lack of a viable Christian testimony in our nation. Christians have often become so obsessed with the things of this world that they forget their purpose for being here. Are we here to enjoy life and amass a fortune for ourselves? Are we here to spend every waking hour seeking to earn more and more? Are we here to raise our children to become famous or powerful?

God did not save us to puff ourselves up or to work to bring recognition to ourselves. God saved us to spread the Word of God to the lost. Jesus saves - even to the uttermost. God is so filled with love that He provided a way of salvation--a way to Him--through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do we care about our friends and loved ones who are lost? Do we pray for them? Do we encourage them and teach them that Christ is, indeed, the answer to all of our problems? 

God defends the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror

Remember we are mere earthly mortals. Only in Christ can is there love, power, and greatness.
Where are you going today? Are you going in God's direction or your own?

It is a sobering thought, is it not?

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Does God Forget?

 1Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?
 2The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.
 3For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.
 4The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
 5His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.
 6He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.
 7His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.
 8He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor.
 9He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net.
 10He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.
 11He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. 

Does God Forget?

The wicked, in his arrogance, stated, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. But, does God forget? 

Our world is filled with the wicked who are not the least concerned about their state before God. They say in their hearts, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.
 
The difficulty is, they do not appear to be wicked. As the Psalmist described, He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. In other words, he appeared to be Mr. Nice Guy to cause the poor to fall. 

Are we defenseless against the wicked? If we are poor, are we doomed to be his target? As Christians, how do we arm ourselves against the wicked of this world? Is their no hope for us? Psalm 10, verse 4 contains a key to answer these questions, The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

God is not in all his thoughts! As Christians, is God in all of our thoughts - not just some of our thoughts, but all of our thoughts? Why not?

Under persecution, Christians are much more aware of God's working in every moment of their lives. But those of us who have lived with very little, if any, persecution, have often lost that comfortable presence of God. 

People of the world live as though there is no God; look at most movies. Is God present? Most movies present a false world; they present a Godless world where any consequences for evil are simply from man. There is no God to make them feel guilty, or to whom they must someday give an account.

As Christians, let us pray that God would be present in all of our thoughts, every moment of every day. Let us remember to live in the real world where God is still on the throne, we have a specific God-given purpose, and the wicked will one day be brought into account for their deeds.

Let us also remember that God does answer prayer; we are never in a hopeless or helpless state. Though we may forget, does God forget? No, God never forgets his own, though we may often forget Him. Let us return to our First Love!

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

But Men

 15The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
 16The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
 17The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
 19Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.
 20Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah. 

But Men

Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.

We hear much today about world peace. What is required to attain world peace? The key is found in Psalm 9, verse 20. The nations must understand that God in heaven rules, and they are but men! True peace only comes from the Lord.

That, however, does not seem to be the case in our world today, does it? World leaders arise, and we place great expectations upon them, so much so, that we overlook their wickedness. Does God say, "I know you do wicked things, but you have good intentions. After all, you only want world peace."?

Remember, our God is a God of perfect justice; He cannot even look upon sin. The only cover for man's sin is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! When a nation forgets their true King, the Lord Jesus Christ, the nation will fall, because the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.

As Christians, it is our duty to not only live faithfully for the Lord before all men, but to pray for the nations. Pray that the world leaders would again look to God as their only leader, knowing that they are but men.

World peace will come, but it will come at the hands of our King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

God Remembers

 12When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.
 13Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:
 14That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.

God Remembers

How much do you remember? Most of us are not gifted with a photographic memory; most of what we read and experience will fall into the cobwebs of our mind, never to be remembered again. That is not true of God; God remembers everything from the creation of our world to the present. Well, He actually remembers everything from eternity past, but that is a concept we have difficulty understanding.

How often are we plagued by our enemies, yet it seems as though God turns an indifferent ear to our problems? Does God know what is happening? Yes, He knows even before we call for help? Why, then, does He not answer our prayers immediately? Why must we wait, sometimes for years for His answer? 

God does not live in time and space as we do; He sees the entire world tapestry from the beginning to the ending of our time. His answers are woven perfectly into that tapestry, exactly at the point where He has planned them to be placed even before the creation of our world. We only see the tiny threads on the back side of the tapestry that represent our time here on earth.

Psalm 9 encourages us to realize that God remembers. The psalmist reminds us: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble. When God makes inquisition for blood, the result is perfect justice on behalf of His children. There are no corrupt courts in the kingdom of God; all wrongs will be made right perfectly, and at the perfect time.

What should be our response to this knowledge? How did the psalmist respond? I will rejoice in thy salvation. 

God remembers! He is the author and finisher of our faith, and we rejoice in His salvation. It is not our job to do the work of God; justice is His, and he will bring every unjust thought and act to His perfect court where justice will be served!

Go, and rejoice in the God of your salvation!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, January 24, 2011

Not Forsaken

 10And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
 11Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. 

Not Forsaken

Some things can never be said enough times. Such is the case in Psalm 9, verse 10, shown above: For Thou, LORD, has not forsaken them that seek thee. 

Again and again, we are reminded that God, alone, is worthy of our trust; He never, never forsakes His own. Why is this true? It is true because our salvation is not of us. We cannot save ourselves; neither can we keep ourselves saved! We could not even love unless we had learned love from God our Father.

Friends, family, other believers, may fail us, but God will never forsake us or fail us. Why then, do we spend so little time with Him? Our God is available 24/7, yet how much of that time do we spend with God in fellowship, prayer, and praise?

In this series of devotions on the topic of First Love, we learned that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. God is our First Love; He is the author and finisher of our faith. The challenge to Christians today is that Christ would be preeminent in all aspects of our lives. By His grace, let us not fall victim to the emptiness of this world.

This reminds me of a chorus that I sang with my traveling quartet in college.

Christ is the answer to all of our problems,
He holds the key to the whole world's peace.
If we believe Him; if we receive Him,
Christ is the answer to all our needs.

Go now, you who are not forsaken, and live in the joy and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless You, 
Linda

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Perfect Justice

7 But the LORD shall endure forever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.

8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgement to the people in uprightness.

Psalm 9:7-8, King James Version



Perfect Justice


How long is forever? It is interesting to note that before the psalmist continues with verses 7 and 8 of Psalm 9, he reminds us that the LORD shall endure forever! How quickly our short life is put in perspective when we compare it to forever. As Christians, it is good for us to step back and look at the bigger picture. Our life is but a vapor, as we are reminded in the book of James.


Do we see perfect justice in our world today? Often it seems as though we see no justice at all. We live in a world consumed with greed and envy. "Justice" can often be bought for a pitifully small amount of money.


How do we live in a world such as this and maintain a spirit of hopefulness? Our LORD God is not consumed by greed; His righteousness cannot be bought. As a matter of fact, there is no way man can receive righteousness apart from God.


Jesus came to purchase righteousness for a people so filled with sin, that it was impossible for them to attain any form of righteousness at all. Yet, God requires perfect justice and perfect righteousness.


As Christians, first let us look to God who is our only Source of righteousness and peace, and second, let us pray for our enemies. Our righteousness is totally of God; apart from the grace of God, we would be walking with our enemies. The same hope we have in Christ is available for them as well.


Perfect justice; perfect righteousness, and perfect peace.


What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda


Friday, January 21, 2011

Presence of God

 3When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.
 4For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.
 5Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
 6O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them. 

Presence of God

It is a matter of perspective; David said that God had destroyed the wicked, yet the wicked were still there. Are the wicked gone today? No, they are ever present reaping havoc and destroying the people of God. 

It is good for us to step back from the details of our daily lives and look at the bigger picture, just as David is doing in Psalm 9. Man is busy in this life doing good and evil, but every single person will stand before the presence of God. What then? What affect did the evil man have before God? None! 

In ways we are unable to understand, God uses even the wicked to bring to pass His perfect plan for all of mankind. He is never thwarted by the acts of man! In Genesis, we see the picture of God using Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt to show His marvelous works on behalf of His people.

This is exactly the point that David is making in Psalm 9:3-6. After praising our marvelous God in Psalm 9:1-2, he continued by stating the reality that the wicked were already defeated. 

Is that true in our day as well? Yes! The wicked are busy building and creating a world without God - but what they are attempting is an impossibility. The reality of the presence of God does not depend upon our belief, nor is it affected by our unbelief.

Let us pray for strength and faith to understand that God is continually working on our behalf. As Christians, let us fall before the presence of God, where everything is holy, and just, and pure!
Oh, Lord, come quickly!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sing Praise

 1I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
 2I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. 

Sing Praise

In the middle of times of great trouble, the psalmist pauses to reflect on and praise the Lord. This is not just a momentary pause, but a time of reflection with his whole heart. How often do we take the time to step back from our daily lives and praise the Lord from our whole heart?

It is true that we take time to praise God in our worship services, but what about times of personal praise in the quietness of our own home, or when riding in a car, or taking a walk? The Christian life is one of great joy, but how often do we rob ourselves of that joy by being so immersed in our own struggles that we do not meditate and reflect upon the marvelous works of God our Father?

The psalmist understood that joy does not come from us; true joy comes from God! It is as we reflect upon Him and His goodness to us that our hearts are filled with joy. Even Jesus Christ, when called "Good Master," proclaimed.

 18And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. 

Jesus not only came to provide a way of salvation, He continually pointed us to God. He did not want men to focus on Him as a man, instead He encouraged the people to focus on God as the author and foundation of life, and as the only true, good, being. 

Jesus was not good because He was a man; He was good because He was the God-man!

I encourage you today to set apart some time to focus on God. Here is a great verse to get you started.

I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Excellent!

 1O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
 2Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
 3When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
 4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
 5For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
 6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
 7All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
 8The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
 9O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! 

Excellent!

Psalm 8 is such a beautiful Psalm. While singing God's praises the psalmist is marveling at God's creation as well as what God has done for man.

Who is man that God should love him so? God stills the enemy through the voices of babies and children. When we look at God's marvelous creation, observing the sun, the moon, and the stars in their infinity, why did God show such favor to such an unworthy people?

Nothing we have done has made us worthy. Just as the work of God is due to His excellent name, so is His name praised through His love of his human creation. Though we do not deserve it, look at what He has done. We are, indeed, lower than the angels, yet He has crowned us with glory and strength; he has made us above all the works of His hands.

What have we done with the charge He has given? How have we taken dominion over the things He has placed in our hands. God not only created us, but He created us with a purpose to fulfill in His kingdom. Are we so busy living our lives that we do not even consider our responsibility to God? Have we replaced the priority of serving God below the things that consume our lives? 

By the grace of God, let us return to our first love! Let us serve the Lord our God with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind. Then, let us join the psalmist in proclaiming, O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's Up with That!

 14Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.
 15He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.
 16His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.
 17I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

 What's Up with That!

I am not surprised by the sin that is around me, but when that sin crouches at the door of the saints of God, I ask, "What's up with that?" We read Psalm 7, verses 14-17 and say, Yes, that is true, the wicked do not get away with their sin. God sees and God acts in His own perfect timing.

I am amazed, however, when Christians just do not get it! Do they not understand that if God judges the wicked, how much more will He deal with the sin of believers? 

What do you do when a dear Christian leader and friend is found to be false, speaking the truth but living a lie? What do you do when your church is left grieving over the revealed sin of its leaders?

Sadly, this is all too common in our day. As Christians there are two important things to remember. 

1st, there but for God's grace go I! Let us not take an attitude of pompous self righteousness, but let us humble ourselves before God, knowing that only by His grace do we live a holy life before Him!

Second, let us understand that God chastens His children. No sin will be left buried, but God will deal with His children in a manner which helps them to grow closer to Him, and which brings honor and glory to His name.

When we are left reeling from the results of our "perfect" leader falling into gross sin. Instead of saying, "What's up with that!", let us pray for him or her, and then let us praise God according to his righteousness.

As a Christian, be careful that you do not place your trust in your Christian friends and leaders. Love them and encourage them, but do not let them replace your love for God.

I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

In ways we cannot know or imagine, God is always glorified!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, January 14, 2011

An Angry God!

 11God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
 12If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.
 13He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors. 

An Angry God

In Psalm 7, David presents to us an angry God. We love to think of a kind and loving God, but we tremble, and rightly so, when we think of an angry God. However, how could God be truly righteous and just if He ignored sin?

As a Christian, how are we to balance our love of God with our fear of God? The Bible tells us to fear God and keep his commandments, and yet it also tells us to love God.

 13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 

 5And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 

Looking at the passage from Psalm 7 above, what is it that makes God so angry? It is the unrepentant heart that makes God angry; God lashes against the wicked who turn their back on Him, ignoring His righteousness and holiness. God has paid dearly, by the death of His own Son to bring salvation to an unworthy man. How do we respond to God's offer?

As Christians, we must be so careful that we do not look around us, and seeing God's lack of intervention or judgment against the wicked who surround us, begin to imitate those same sins. Does God see the wicked sin? Will they really get away with their sin? No! Though maybe not in their lifetime, the day of judgment will come when all men will be judged and will receive their just reward.

As Christians, let us fear God, knowing His hatred of sin, and then, by His grace, seek to live our lives in an upright and holy manner, because we love God. How does God then bless us? God grants us peace and contentment in Him. We may not have a life free of trials, but we will have a life of peace, joy, and contentment in the Lord our God.

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, January 13, 2011

All of God

 8The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.
 9Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.
 10My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. 


All of God

I received an interesting email today from a reader who posed this question.

Does God punish us for our sins even after we ask for forgiveness, and how long will he keep punishing me for it, although I pray and ask for forgiveness?

Let us look at David; David was a man after God's own heart and yet he also committed some serious sins (adultery and murder). How, then, does he dare to call himself righteous?

Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.

Psalm 7:9 gives us a key to the answer. Here it is as translated in the New King James Version of the Bible.

Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,
         But establish the just;
         For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.

Ours is a religion of the heart and mind. As David was a man after God's own heart, we, too, must seek to remember our first love. How do we do that? How can we live day after day without sin? We cannot. Where, then, is our defense?

My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. 

We must always remember that our salvation is all of God, and none of us! It is God who saves us, and it is God who keeps us.

Now let us get back to my reader's question.

Does God punish us for our sins even after we ask for forgiveness, and how long will he keep punishing me for it, although I pray and ask for forgiveness?

While on this earth we will always be plagued by our own sins. Does God just ignore our sins? If God is leading us, why does he not keep us from committing sins? We are not robots, are we? God uses our sins to grow us closer to Him. When you think of that, it is really quite amazing.

God punishes the wicked, but He uses the sins of His people to reform them that they may become more and more like Him. We know that God is ready to forgive; so as this reader has asked forgiveness we know that God has answered that prayer.

However, our sins often have results which will affect us for the rest of our lives. David sinned with Bathsheba and in having Uriah, her husband, killed in battle. God forgave David of that sin, however David suffered trouble in his own family for the rest of his days, as a result of that sin.

What do we do when we have committed a great sin? Go to Christ; plead for His forgiveness. But, remember that though we are forgiven, we may still suffer the consequences of that sin. However, Christ is with us wherever we go; He continues to comfort and guide us and use that sin for His own glory.

I do not understand that, but I know it is true. What an amazing God we have!

Truly our righteousness before God is all of God, and none of us!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Does God Sleep?

 6Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.
 7So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high. 


Does God Sleep?

As David plead to the Lord for help, he said, Awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.

Why would David make such a comment? If God must awake, then was He asleep? Does God Sleep? Often David uses familiar language that is not to be taken literally. The sense of sleeping is only from our perspective. Of course God never sleeps; He is available to us 24/7. However, from our perspective, it may seem as though God is sleeping, in those times He seems so distant from our needs. 

I received an interesting question from one of my teen readers, yesterday.

So my question for you is how do you keep the fire burning bright for Christ? Also, how do you keep your life centered around him in a society like ours where everything is focused on yourself? 

How did David keep such a strong faith in the Lord? How could he face being pursued by King Saul, and yet always conclude that God answered His prayer, and kept him safe? David constantly meditated before the Lord; he even penned many of those meditations in what we know as the book of Psalms.

How do we keep our lives centered around God in a society like ours where everything is focused on yourself? God has given us His Word; let us be found constantly reading and studying His Word, and maintaining our fellowship with God through prayer. Prayer is not only asking God for help; in prayer we also need to praise our God, and fellowship with Him as one friend does with another.

How do you keep the fire burning bright for Christ? Truthfully, we cannot! But, God can! It is so important that we understand our need of Christ. It is He who saved us, and it is He who keeps us living faithfully before Him. In our prayer, let us constantly cry out to God to keep our first love for Him. 

Also, it is a good idea to, like David, put down our thoughts in writing. I struggle with these questions, myself. I believe all Christians do! However, by writing these devotions, God has greatly strengthened my trust in Him.

Does that sound too simplistic? Sometimes it is the simple answers that we miss the most often.

Let us pray for one another, that God will be glorified through His faithful flock, living by His power, and bringing constant praise to Him, alone.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, January 10, 2011

Deliver Me!

 1O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:
 2Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
 3O LORD my God, If I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands;
 4If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)
 5Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah. 

Deliver Me!

The chips are down! Everything is going against me. I have done nothing wrong, and yet my enemy continues to seek my life. Is there none to deliver me?

Few of us have experienced what David did when Saul continued to seek his life. Yet, all of us have had times when it seems as though everyone and everything is against us. Though we cannot understand any reason to deserve it, the whole world seems to be against us. "Is there nowhere to turn? Is there anyone to deliver me?" we may ask. 

As David falls before the Lord he states, "If I have done something to deserve this, then, yes, let the enemy take my life!"

It is important for us, as Christians, to remember that we live in a fallen world. Even though, by God's grace, we are living a life pleasing to Him, it does not mean that we will not suffer. Sometimes we get the idea that God is sending punishment our way for deeds we have done. It may be that He is; but it also may be true that God is using the circumstances to test our faith in Him. 

Are we only fair-weather friends to God? It is easy to trust God when everything is going right, but it is entirely different when nothing is going right. As we read of David's life, and see the persecution he faced, let us remember that David was a man after God's own heart. He always returned to His First Love.

May God grant us the same spirit; may He give us the grace to look above our circumstances, no matter how bad they may be, and see Jesus!

What an amazing God we have; He will never leave us nor forsake us!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Lord Heard!

 9The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.
 10Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly. 

The Lord Heard!

So far, Psalm 6 has been somewhat dismal, but what an ending! David is triumphant; the Lord heard! Part of being human is experiencing difficult and discouraging periods in our life. At the time, it seems as though it is going to be that way for the rest of our lives. It even seems as though our prayers just bounce off the ceiling.

Where is God? Sometimes we rely far too much on our emotions to gauge our relationship with the Lord. When that happens we need to do exactly what David did in Psalm 6. After David finished expressing his complaints and pleas to God for help, he stepped back and took a good solid look at his situation. 

What did he discover? Even in the midst of his grief, when it felt as though God was nowhere near, he understood that God was right there beside him. The Lord heard! Just because it did not seem as though God was helping, he considered who God was, and realized that his feelings did not dictate God's actions.

This is the real secret of living a contented Christian life. Knowing that God is always right beside us, even when it does not seem to be true, will give us the courage and fortitude to go on. Where is God?

God is with us at all times. Let us wrap our arms around that truth, and use it to go forward on those days when it seems as though life is hopeless. We rest in God, and not in our feelings. May we say then, with David, the Lord heard!

Go then, in the peace and joy of the Lord!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Grief

 1O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
 2Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
 3My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
 4Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
 5For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
 6I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
 7Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
 8Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping. 

Grief

This Psalm is a perfect example of the reason we so love the Psalms. David poured out his heart to God in the middle of a time of great grief. Most of us have not literally faced a situation where the king of the land has sent armies after us purposing to take our life, yet, the grief we face in our lifetimes is not any less real or important to us.

Because we are so familiar with David, we sometimes slide over Psalms such as this without realizing the great grief and agony that David experienced. After all, we know the rest of the story, but David did not!

We understand the physical ramifications of grief and stress; we see it expressed by David in verse 2.

For I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

But even more than the physical difficulties he experienced, he exclaims:

My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?

Have we not said the same things to God? We even say, with David, O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

However, David was a man after God's own heart. Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

Do we have the faith to come to the same conclusion? Remember, this is not a comment David made later when everything turned out well; this is a comment he made while in the middle of this time of grief.

The Lord hears our voice when we cry to him. May we live our lives in the same manner, in faith, believing that, though we may not see it now, God hears and is answering our prayers to him?

Thine is all the glory; in Emmanuel's land.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Rejoice!

I did not mean to take such a long break! Christmas just seemed to come too fast this year. I am really looking forward to continuing our Bible Devotions from the Psalms entitled, "First Love." Today we will be dealing with Psalm 5:11-12.

 11But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. 

 12For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield. 

 Rejoice

 Being so near to Christmas, it is easy to understand how God delights to bless His children. The best part of gift giving for my husband and me, is watching our children and grandchildren open their gifts, and seeing the delight in their eyes. We must understand that God feels the same way toward His children.

Often, our focus toward God is on all of the unhappy times that come into our lives. "Why does God allow that?" we ask. It is important to realize that God's priorities for us are not the same as our priorities. With the goal of shaping us so that we may grow more and more like Him, He allows adversity to mold us into faithful and loving children.

Is that not really the same goal we have when we discipline our children? Discipline is not fun! However, a spoiled child is not a delight to anyone. 

So, let us ponder the verses shown above, and let us rejoice in our amazing God. God defends His children, blesses them, and puts a guard around them. How amazing is that? Let us not become so entangled in the troubles of life that we do not recognize God's blessings on our behalf.

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

God Bless You,
Linda