Wednesday, February 29, 2012

God Stands!

 1God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
 2How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
 3Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
 4Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. 

 God Stands!

Picture a great meeting of all the gods of the nations and all the rulers of the world from the beginning to the end of time. Only one stands. Who may that be? You already know the answer: God stands! He gazes upon all those gathered before Him and challenges them with these words,
How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?
Then, God continues,
Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
That is the charge that God gives to all of the rulers of this world! How well do they do? Sadly, very few even receive passing grades. Most rulers of this world are more concerned about their own might, power, and riches, and have very little concern for their people.

Psalm 82 gives a realistic view of the reality of this world. All men are under the authority of God Himself. Whether they even believe He exists or not, the day will come when all will give an account to God, and must answer to Him for what they have or have not done in answer to the charge He has given to them.

Psalm 82 also implies that all people, not just the rulers, are under the authority of God and must one day give an account of their actions. As Paul explains to us in Romans 2, all people have the law of God written in their hearts.
15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. (Romans 2:15-16, New King James Version)

 Every man, woman, and child has a God-given conscience which excuses or accuses them, showing whether their deeds are good or evil. 

The question, then, all must ask is this: When God stands and judges all mankind, how will I answer Him? In truth, no one can stand as righteous before God, but those who have trusted in Christ will stand in the righteousness of Christ. In other words, instead of their own sin, God sees the righteous and holy blood of Christ which was shed on their behalf. Their sins are covered by the blood of Christ.

Sadly we live in a time when the truths expressed in Psalm 82 are largely ignored. However, may that not be said of you. May you, along with Christ, be found righteous when God stands in that final day of judgment!

God Bless You,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Resisting God!

 11But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.
 12So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels.
 13Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!
 14I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.
 15The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever.
 16He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee. 

Resisting God!

The important thing to note in these verses from Psalm 81 is that God is speaking to His own people. It is one thing for the ungodly to be found resisting God, but God is addressing His own people. Unfortunately, all to often we find ourselves in the same situation.

In Romans 7, Paul said,  15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. (Romans 7:15, New King James Version) Why is it so difficult, even impossible, for us to be obedient to God? Why do we, like Paul, find ourselves doing the very things we are trying not to do, and not doing the things we should? It is easy for us to be critical of the nation of Israel, but, in truth, we are just like them!

What, then, are we to do? Are we in a hopeless situation always finding ourselves resisting God? God said that if Israel had been obedient, they would have remained a nation forever, and would have been fed with the finest of the wheat and with honey out of the rock. Are we facing trials and difficulties that we would not otherwise face if we were more obedient to God? What can we do?

In Romans 7 Paul responded to this question.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:24-25, New King James Version)
Just as there was hope for the children of Israel, so is there hope for the believer today. Though we will always wrestle with our own sin while still on this earth, we have hope through Jesus Christ our Lord. Not only do we rest in Him, alone, for our salvation, but we also rest in Him to keep us from being overpowered by our own sins.

When we find ourselves wrestling with our own sins, it is time to fall down before God, confess our sins and ask for help to live our lives in a manner pleasing to Him. This help is made available to each and every Christian through the blood of Christ which not only saves us, but keeps us alive in Him. 

What an amazing God we serve. He does not just save us and let us fend for ourselves, but, rather, He saves us and then gives us the ability to love and serve Him faithfully. When we find ourselves resisting God, it is time for us to fall before Him and seek forgiveness, as well as help to say, "Thy will be done, O Lord, my Rock and our Redeemer!"

God Bless You,

Monday, February 27, 2012

Testimony of God

 8Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me;
 9There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.
 10I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. 

 Testimony of God

Does God speak to us? Yes! The most obvious way God speaks to us is through His Word, not in complex terminology that is difficult to understand, but plainly. Neither are His commandments sparse, but are scattered throughout His entire Word. Psalm 81 is a perfect example of not only God's instructions to His people, but also of the amazing testimony of God:
I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
This same promise applies to Christians today as well, as do the commandments God originally gave to His people, the Israelites. What is the first, and according to Jesus, great commandment?
 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
 38This is the first and great commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38, King James Version)
Spoken in another way, verse 9 of Psalm 81 states,
There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.
At our first reading of this verse we may say, "I do not break that commandment, for I do not bow down to idols and worship them." Yet, sadly, most of us are guilty of breaking this commandment as well as all of the rest. 

Is God only speaking of idols or foreign gods such as Baal? No. A strange god is anything we determine to be greater in importance than God. No person, place, or thing should be more important to us than God. He is to be the first and most preeminent in our lives.

For the true Christian, God is everything! Without Him we have nothing, and with Him we have everything. Only in Christ can we even begin to understand how to love one another; only in Christ does life have any meaning. Thus we read the testimony of God in Psalm 81, verse 10: Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

How rich we are in Christ, and how poor we are without Him. By the grace of God, ask Him to help you place Him above all else so that you may personally realize the testimony of God in your own life!

God Bless You,

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Delivered, Answered, Proved!

 6I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.
 7Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah. 

Delivered, Answered, Proved!

Rescued from the famine and brought safely to Egypt, under the care of Joseph, the nation of Israel thrived, so much so, that they became a threat to the rulers of Egypt who had long forgotten Joseph or the good that he had done for their country. Task masters were assigned and the Israelites were put to work gathering straw, making bricks, and laboring in the building projects assigned to them. In their distress they cried out to God. Would He hear them from a strange country that was not their own?

Of course we know the story. God raised up Moses from among them who eventually brought them out of the land of Egypt, and delivered them from the cruel hand of Pharaoh. Even in their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, God's faithful hand of protection was upon them. 

Truly, the history of Israel was a story of the continuation of God's care for His people. Again and again, He delivered, answered, proved! He delivered them from evil in answer to their prayers, and proved them by testing such as He did at the waters of Meribah, when Moses struck the rock and God caused water to pour out of it, as recorded in Exodus 17.

We serve this same God today! When we read these marvelous accounts from the pages of the Old Testament, we begin to know and understand this God we serve. Can we not see the same pattern in our own lives: delivered, answered, proved? 

How many times in our own lives have we been delivered by God in answer to our prayers? Again and again, He proves us through times of testing, and in doing so causes our faith in Him to grow stronger. The world offers many things, but none can satisfy, and all fade in comparison to the mighty God we serve who loves us, keeps us, and will eventually bring us to live with Him forever. In Him is light, joy, and peace, something unknown by this world which is filled with darkness, envy, and strife.

Take some time and read through the book of Genesis, and then remind yourself that this is the same God, who acts on behalf of His children in the same manner today. He, alone, is worthy of our love, honor, trust, and obedience.

God Bless You,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Moon Festival

 3Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
 4For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.
 5This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not. 

New Moon Festival

To what is the writer of Psalm 81 referring when he said, "Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day"? When you picture in your mind the number of Israelites, you begin to realize the practicality of using trumpets for communication. When the trumpets sounded the alarm, the men immediately prepared for battle. When the trumpets sounded without the alarm, the people knew they were being called to come before God.

God proclaimed that, as a memorial to Him, the nation of Israel was to come to him at the new moon (the beginning of the new month) for a day of feasting and gladness before the Lord.
 10Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God. (Numbers 10:10, King James Version)
Even though God literally walked with the children of Israel through the wilderness, and they as a nation has witnessed miracle after miracle, God understood their propensity to forget. 

Do we have the same propensity toward forgetfulness? Yes! In our day, churches not only meet at least once a week to praise and worship God, but they also observe communion, where Christians are called to remember what Christ has done to provide salvation to them.

Sadly, this world has such an enormous pull upon us that, except for the grace of God and His power given to us, all of us would completely immerse ourselves in the things of this world and shun the things of God. Indeed, as a Christian, our greatest grief is often this struggle which wrestles continually within our very hearts and souls.

Therefore, though we do not observe the New Moon Festival in our day, it is important that we do not neglect the worship of the Lord with fellow believers on the sabbath. In addition, it would be good for us to examine how we spend that day. Do we selfishly allot an hour or two to the Lord for worship and then treat that day as our own, or do we set aside the entire day as a day to worship the Lord our God both publicly and privately?

What an amazing God we serve; He really requires so little of us. By His grace may we return to Christ, our First Love.

God Bless You,

Friday, February 24, 2012

Music or Noise

 1Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.
 2Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. 

Music or Noise

There is nothing that seems to define a culture or an age more than music. Indeed, music is a rather loose term at times; some would ask whether certain forms of music are music or noise!

From the earliest times, music was important to each culture. As a matter of fact, early in the Bible in Genesis 4, verse 21, we read, And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. (KJV) Within just a few generations harps and organs of some sort were in use.

We can safely say, music comes from the heart of God, for many of the psalms speak of praising God with the harp and the cymbals, or, as in Psalm 81: Bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. Psalm 81 tells us, Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. God does not even care if it is music or noise, as long as it is done to His glory!

Does not God care if we give Him our best? Is it wrong to speak of music as noise? The important thing to God is not the quality of our singing, but rather the quality of our hearts! Some have been given beautiful voices and others cannot go beyond a monotone, but all can praise God with the fulness of their hearts. Everything on this earth is but a fraction of the glory we will hear in heaven. In heaven, we will all have beautiful voices, and will all be treated to the chorus of Angels.

The important thing to remember is that everything we have or do is to be devoted to the Lord because everything belongs to the Lord.
 11Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. (1 Chronicles 29:11, King James Version)
No matter who we are, whether great or small, we are God's creation, and are thus to give all praise and glory to Him. Even the creatures, who are but dumb brute beasts, give glory to God, their Creator. So whether you produce beautiful music or noise, may it be done for the honor and glory of God, who alone is worthy of our praise.
 11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11, King James Version)
God Bless You,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Broken Hedges

 8Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.
 9Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.
 10The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars.
 11She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river.
 12Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?
 13The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.
 14Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;
 15And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.
 16It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.
 17Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.
 18So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.
 19Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. 

Broken Hedges

As we read through the Old Testament, we are not at all surprised when God finally brought judgment upon His people. From the very beginning God promised to be faithful to them as long as they faithfully served Him. His promises were always cloaked in warnings should they cease from serving Him. Throughout their entire history, they seemed to only serve Him in a half-hearted manner, continually flirting with the gods and idols worshiped by their neighbors.

They were, indeed, a chosen people. Transplanted to Egypt during years of famine, they grew into a strong vine. From Egypt God moved them to their new home where they took root and filled the land. As long as they remained faithful, God put a hedge of protection around them. Presuming upon God, they seemed to alternate between periods of serving God and periods of rejecting Him for the gods and idols of their neighbors.

God continually warned them, and yet, when He removed His arm of protection, they seemed to be surprised by the broken hedges. Was there no help for them apart from God? No!

Rightly, Asaph, the writer of Psalm 80 proclaimed,
Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
Asaph understood that theirs was a spiritual problem; they did not need a stronger army, but rather, they needed a stronger faith!

Does God work in the same manner today? Does He have any control over the affairs of this world? When one nation rises to power and another falls, do they do so at the hand of God? Yes!

We live in a time when it seems that all of the countries in the world have forgotten God. Is there any nation remaining that truly serves God? Do we find any country whose leaders bow before God, seeking His wisdom in making their decisions? Sadly, that nation no longer exists!

Does that mean that God has no control over the affairs of this world? God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Even before Adam and Eve sinned, God had set a plan of redemption in place which would culminate with a final war of good versus evil. In one mighty cry, sin will be silenced forever!

As Christians, we should examine our "hedges!" If it seems as though we have broken hedges, we must go to our Lord, confess our sin, and seek His help. We will discover that we are most content with our lives when we are faithfully serving God. Let us pray, as did Asaph, that God would turn us again and cause our face to shine.

Only in Christ will we have a strong hedge about us, for He, alone, is our Rock and Salvation!

God Bless You,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It Will Be Worth It All

 4O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?
 5Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.
 6Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves.
 7Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. 

It Will Be Worth It All

Is it worth it? When all of life seems to be sorrows and tears for us, but seems to be sunshine and blessings for others, is it worth it? If we spend our entire life poor and needy while others seem to skate through on beds of ease, is it worth it?

There seems to come a time in every Christian's life when we ask such questions. The truth is, rarely is our life all bad, but even if it were, what a small price to pay for eternity with Christ. Is it worth it? Oh, yes!

Asaph wrestles with this very thing. Seeing his people in captivity, it seems as though God has all but forgotten His people. God seems to be feeding them with the bread of tears, giving them tears to drink in great measures. On top of that, they are in strife with their neighbors and their enemies laugh and ridicule them and their God.

The world is not so very different today, is it? When Christians go through troublesome times, yet trust faithfully in  God, the world is quick to mock and ridicule their faith. The world believes that faith is just an empty set of promises that women and children cling to for sustenance. We should not be surprised when we consider those who ridiculed Christ while he hung on the cross, dying for us.

It is right for us to cry out to God in our times or trouble, and ask God to turn us and cause our face to shine. But no matter what the answer may be, it is good to remember that, through Christ, we shall be saved. In Him is all comfort, joy, and peace--a peace that will last for all eternity. So, no matter what this life brings, let us remember, it will be worth it all, when we see Jesus!
It will be worth it all
When we see Jesus!
Life's trials will seem so small
When we see Christ'
One glimpse of His dear face,
All sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race
Till we see Christ.
God Bless You,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

We Shall Be Saved

 1Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.
 2Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us.
 3Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

We Shall Be Saved

Psalm 80, which is actually a continuation of Psalm 79, is divided into three sections, all of which end with, "we shall be saved." The writer correctly understands that the only salvation which will come to his people will be from the hand of God, the Shepherd of Israel.

It is interesting that the writer, in verse 1, speaks of the Shepherd of Israel who led Joseph like a flock. Joseph, you will remember, was taken as a slave to the land of Egypt. His brothers thought that they had rid themselves of him forever, and Joseph must surely have felt that his life was over. Gone were the privileges he had experienced in his father's house.

However, we know the rest of the story. God used Joseph to preserve his people during seven years of famine, and made of them a great nation in the land of Egypt. No wonder Asaph could say with confidence,
Stir up thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
 If God could so miraculously work on behalf of His people as He did to Joseph, and then later when bringing the nation of Israel out of the land of Egypt, then surely He could work on behalf of His people again.

Do we have that same confidence in God? When difficulties arise do we go to God first, or do we treat Him as a last resort, going to Him when all else fails? Are we so tied to this earth that we cannot see God working on our behalf in the same way He worked among His people during the time Asaph penned Psalm 80?

Asaph's God is the same God we worship today; just as He worked wondrously on behalf of His people then, so does He work among His people today. Our world is filled with pop psychology and self-help guides, but, truthfully, our only hope lies in God. If He comes to us and turns us again to Him, then we shall be saved.

What an amazing God we serve. 

God Bless You,

Sunday, February 19, 2012

We Thy People

 11Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;
 12And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.
 13So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations. 

We Thy People

 What picture comes to mind as you read the last verse of Psalm 79.
So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever; we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
In this psalm, Asaph has laid out his complaints before God, recounting the sad state of the nation which has been overrun and conquered by heathen nations. In the end, he understands that all that has happened and that will happen is of God.

As Christians, we are the sheep of Christ's pasture. Though we may be overcome with troubles on all sides, it is not our duty to unravel our difficulties, but rather it is God, our Chief Shepherd who will bring us through the dark valleys and into His eternal habitation where we will live forever!

How are we to respond to God's wondrous care? We Thy people will give thanks forever; to Him we will show forth praise, not only now, but in the generations to come. In saying this, Asaph is showing that there is a future--indeed a glorious future--for the children of God.

What have we done to deserve such glorious treatment? Not a thing! Our salvation is none of us and all of Christ. Sin on us has left a crimson stain, but He washed us white as snow. This was penned beautifully in a hymn written by Elvina M. Hall.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.” 
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him,
My robe, His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down,
All down at Jesus’ feet.
God Bless You,

You Raise Me Up

 8O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
 9Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake.
 10Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed. 

You Raise Me Up

I am often amazed at how contemporary God's Word is. Who of us has not had a time when were brought very low?

That was how Asaph found himself when he wrote Psalm 79. Asaph had seen the glory days of Israel during the times of David and Solomon. How he longed for them to return. What happened to Israel?

When Rehoboam, King Solomon's son became king, the congregation of Israel came to him and spoke these words:
Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee. (I Kings 12:4, KJV)
Here was Rehoboam's opportunity to establish himself as a wise, Godly king, but it was not to be. Taking the advice of his young peers, we find his response:
And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. (1 Kings 12:14)
The Bible tells us that this thing was from the Lord. Ten tribes, under the leadership of Jereboam, rebelled against the king that day, and formed the nation of Israel. The remaining tribes, under Rehoboam, were known as Judah.

Asaph, being a priest under the leadership of King Rehoboam, suffered the results of the king's foolish words. No wonder he penned such words of longing, asking God help return his people to their former days of glory.

What do we do when we are brought low? How do we respond to God? Do we blame God for our desperate circumstances, or do we call out to Him to help, realizing that He allows our trials to come so that we might grow in our faith and understanding of Him. 

Asaph had learned a very important lesson. If help was to come, it would come at God's hand. No matter what His circumstances, He would give God the glory. The words to the song, "You Raise Me Up," by Josh Groban could well have been written by Asaph.

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be
Then I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be
 (Josh Groban lyrics)

Let us go then today and stand on God's shoulders, for it is God alone to whom we can say, "I am strong when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be."

God Bless You,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Unthinkable

 1O god, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.
 2The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.
 3Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.
 4We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.
 5How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
 6Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.
 7For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place. 

 The Unthinkable

The Unthinkable had happened. God removed His hand of protection from Israel and allowed the surrounding heathen nations to defile Jerusalem. Their blood that was shed like water spilled round about Jerusalem giving food to the fowls of the heavens, but there was none left to bury them. The nation which once stood as a glorious testimony of God's help and protection, became a reproach to their neighbors. Astounded, the Israelites cried out, How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?

It was a dark time for the nation of Israel. Why did God allow such a thing to happen to His chosen people? Why was His wrath not spent upon the heathen nations that did not know or worship God?

Life poses many difficult times when we, like Asaph, are prone to question God. Though the nation of Israel was certainly guilty of mixing the worship of foreign gods with their worship of God, why did God seem to favor those foreign nations? We are tempted, when we do not understand God's lack of help in our lives, to question His motives?

Who is God, and who are we to question His actions? We tend to view God as One who should be there when we need Him, but One who does not require too much of us at other times. We do not want Him to interfere with our lives, but He must be there when difficult times come, and He must respond exactly as we think best.

However, when the difficulties come, it is time for us to fall before God and ask that His will be done. We are not God; we do not have His perspective or viewpoint on the circumstances of life. What may seem harsh treatment from our perspective, in reality, shows the great love God has for His people.

The chastisement of Israel was not pleasant for God, but it was necessary to cause His people to return to Him. God is not content to own just a small part of our hearts; He wants all of our hearts devoted to Him. He uses the trials and difficulties we face to keep us from loving this world so much that we forget Him.

So, when the unthinkable happens, let us remember to look to God our Hope, our Justice, and our Truth, to guide us through the dark valleys and bring us back into His courts of light!
 4Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
 5For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5, King James Version)

 God Bless You,

Friday, February 17, 2012

Is God Impressed?

 67Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim:
 68But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.
 69And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.
 70He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:
 71From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.
 72So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands. 

Is God Impressed?

When He looks down from heaven upon us, is God impressed? It does not take a great knowledge of the Bible to come to the realization that the things which please us are not necessarily the things which please God. Even from the few verses shown above, we see that God does not "run His train on our tracks."

There are not many Bible men more impressive than Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers while still in his youth, and put into prison in Egypt for crimes he did not commit, Joseph did not forget God. No matter where he was, he maintained a faithful testimony. God blessed Joseph abundantly for his faithfulness, raising him up in Egypt until he was second in importance only to Pharaoh, himself. Yet, when his descendants were unfaithful, God did not choose the tribe of Ephraim (Joseph's son), but rather the tribe of Judah to be the ancestors of Jesus.

Why did God choose the tribe of Judah? Judah was the tribe of David. What do we know of David? When in his youth, he was but a shepherd boy; however, God did not look upon his lowly station in life, but looked upon his heart and liked what He saw. This shepherd boy had a heart for God, and though he sinned grievously upon occasion, he never forgot God, his first love. It is not hard, then, to understand why God told Samuel to anoint David as the next king of Israel.

When we ponder the question, "Is God impressed?", what characteristics are important to God? Does God care about our riches, good looks, or intelligence? These are things that easily impress men, but God does not look on the outward appearance to form His assessments of us, but rather, God looks upon our hearts.

It is time that we, as Christians, take the Lord our God seriously. As we look upon our fellow man, let us learn to value integrity of heart, first in ourselves, and then in others. God has the unique ability to know our hearts; all those secret sins which can be hidden from our fellow man are glaringly obvious to the Lord. 

When examining your own life, how will you answer the question, "Is God impressed?" Let us turn our hearts back to the Lord; His opinion is the only one that matters. 

What an amazing God we serve. He saves us, He keeps us, and He gives us the strength and power to live our lives for His glory. Go to Him; He, alone, is our strength and our Redeemer!

God Bless You,

Thursday, February 16, 2012

God Awoke

 65Then the LORD awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.
 66And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach. 

God Awoke

Does God sleep? Is there a time when God is not available to us because He is sleeping? No! Often, in the Bible, the writers will use a figure of speech to explain God's actions. By saying, "God Awoke," the Psalmist is illustrating the suddenness of God's response to His people.

Earlier in this Psalm, Asaph speaks of a time when Israel experienced the heavy hand of justice upon their nation when God chastised them for their sin and rejection of Him. Using the godless nations surrounding Israel to conquer them, God took Israel through a time of great suffering at the hands of their enemies.

From a human perspective, it seemed to the nation of Israel that God was sleeping. However, we know that God never sleeps, and even the chastisement He sends in the form of persecution, plagues, or natural catastrophes is measured. In other words, nothing is truly removed from God's control. Though He may allow a time of persecution or testing, He never truly leaves or forsakes His children.

As a matter of fact, times of testing are a part of God's plan to cause His children to return to Him. When our hearts stray from Him, He gently rebukes us and brings us back into fellowship with Him. Of course, if we ignore His gentle rebukes, He will bring stronger times of testing.

When we stop and consider what is occurring, we must marvel at what an amazing God we serve. He loves and cares so much for His children that He does not allow them to stray too far from Him. Like a father establishing a boundary or safety-net for his children, so God gently prods us to return to Him.

Admittedly, when we are in the middle of difficulties, nothing appears gentle to us, and we are often tempted to charge God foolishly. How can God allow such things to happen to His children? It is good, at such times, to remember that God is God, and we are not! Times such as this give us great opportunities to test our faith.

Does God answer the prayers of His suffering saints? Time after time, as we read through the Old Testament, we see God's interceding on behalf of His children. He is always ready to offer forgiveness to His straying children. As a matter of fact, His answers to prayer often come so suddenly, and are so unexpected that it seems as though God awoke! One minute our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling, and the next minute He has answered our prayers in the most unexpected manner.

Let us take some time today to pause and thank God for His wondrous works on our behalf. Let us not be afraid to cry out to Him even if it seems as though He is far removed from us.

  1. Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
    Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
    Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
    Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
  2. Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
    Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
    By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
    Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
  3. Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
    And run not before Him, whatever betide.
    In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
    And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
  4. Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
    Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
    Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
    Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
God Bless You,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Abhorred by God

 56Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies:
 57But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.
 58For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.
 59When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel:
 60So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;
 61And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand.
 62He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.
 63The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.
 64Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation. 

Abhorred by God

What had they done? What sin had the nation of Israel committed that caused the Psalmist to write the following?
When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel.
Abhorred by God! Israel provoked God to anger by their religious practices of worshiping in the high places and bowing to graven images. It hardly seems possible that a nation which had experienced such marvelous miracles by the hand of God could so quickly turn away from Him.

Is it possible that Christians can so anger God by diluting their worship of Him by mixing the practices of the world in their worship that He would actually give strength to their enemies? Is it possible that a nation such as the United States, whose laws were originally founded upon the Word of God, could face defeat at the hands of God's enemies?

Yes and yes! It is dangerous to presume upon God. We have a tendency to think that God owes us because, even though we sin, we are so much more righteous than those who worship other gods. So, while we divert our Christian walk by setting our hearts upon the things of this world rather than our service to God, we are confident that God will honor whatever crumbs of service we throw at Him!

That may seem a little harsh, but that is exactly what Israel did. They did not stop following Him, but, rather, they mixed their worship of other gods with their worship of God. They did not believe that God would ever allow Jerusalem, the city of God, to be conquered by other nations. After all, Jerusalem housed the Temple which contained the Holy of Holies.

What does God require of His people? What did Jesus say was the first and greatest commandment?
 29And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
 30And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (Mark 12:29-30, King James Version)
What is required so that one is not abhorred by God? We must love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, and with all our strength.

Let us take some time today to go before God and confess our lack of commitment to Him, and pray for His strength, help, and guidance that we may live our lives in a manner which is pleasing to Him. No matter what our calling in life may be, our number one calling is our commitment to Christ. 

Oh what a wonder that Jesus saved me.
Out of the darkness no light could I see.
Oh what a wonder;  He put His great arms under,
And wonder of wonders, He saved even me!

God Bless You,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


 40How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!
 41Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
 42They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.
 43How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan.
 44And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink.
 45He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.
 46He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust.
 47He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost.
 48He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.
 49He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.
 50He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence;
 51And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:
 52But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
 53And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
 54And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.
 55He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents. 


It is interesting to note that we are looking at these verses from Psalm 78 on Valentine's Day. Could there be a more appropriate passage to demonstrate the love of God toward His people? We would not even know the meaning of love if it were not for God. 

As Asaph wrote these verses, note that the word, "He" (referring to God) is found in most of them. What a contrast we see comparing what God did to His enemies and what He did for His children. 

To the enemies of God:
He turned (rivers into blood).
He sent (divers sorts of flies).
He gave increase (unto the caterpillar).
He destroyed (vines with hail).
He gave up (cattle to hail and flocks to thunderbolts.)
He cast upon them (evil angels).
He made (a way to His anger).
He spared not (their soul from death.)
[He] smote (all the firstborn).

To His own children:
He delivered (them from their enemies).
He led (them to safety).
He brought (them to the border of His sanctuary).
He cast out (the heathen before them).
He divided (them an inheritance).

Can we read these verses and doubt that God is not living and acting on behalf of His children every single day? Can we read these verses and assume that God does not really care about what man does on this earth? Can we read these verses and not understand that God plays an active role in the nations of this world? Can we read these verses and not see that God will judge the nations that rise up against Him, and will bring His children safely home?
It is easy for us to become so involved in the daily affairs of life that we literally cannot see the forest for the trees. Let us never forget that a spiritual world coexists right along with the world we see, and God and His angels do love, guide, and protect the children of God. 

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Wind That Passes!

 32For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.
 33Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.
 34When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.
 35And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.
 36Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.
 37For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.
 38But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
 39For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. 

 A Wind That Passes!

There are few passages of Scripture that so pointedly illustrate our sin and weaknesses, and our Great God of love and compassion--for He remembers that we are but a wind that passes!

At first, we become rather indignant when we read of the Israelites. Though God wrought so many wondrous works on their behalf, they were still consumed with vanity and troubles. Even when they returned back to God, they flattered Him with their mouth while lying to Him with their tongues. How could they be so foolish? We would never be so foolish, would we? However, just a quick check in the mirror shows us that we are so prone to the same thing!

One day it seems as though we love God so much we can hardly contain our joy. He is our rock and Redeemer; when we inquire of Him, He is always there for us. Yet how quickly the winds of change destroy that great joy and peace we have in the Lord. How quickly we find ourselves speaking great words of praise to God with our mouths, but our hearts wander far from Him.

It is good to remember that just as our salvation does not depend upon us, so our continuing with Christ does not depend upon our own efforts. Does that mean we should never try to maintain a closeness with the Lord? Of course not! However, because God knows that we are like a wind that passes, our salvation and sanctification rest wholly upon Christ. It is He who saved us by His blood shed on our behalf, and it is to Him we must go for the strength and power to live faithfully for Him.

When pondering these things, a great burden is lifted from our shoulders. As we continually find ourselves lapsing back into sin, we do not lose hope. What we cannot do because of our sin natures, Christ has already done on our behalf. When God looks upon us, He sees the pure and sanctified blood of Christ instead of our own black hearts.

What, then, is the correct response? The true Christian responds to Christ with love, joy, and submission. Our hearts truly desire to love Him and serve Him, for that is the true path to joy and peace.

What an amazing God we serve. We may be but a wind that passes, but He is our rock and our salvation.

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

God Bless You,

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Good and the Bad

 21Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;
 22Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:
 23Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,
 24And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.
 25Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full.
 26He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.
 27He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:
 28And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.
 29So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire;
 30They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths,
 31The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel. 

The Good and the Bad!

As we read through this rather lengthy section from Psalm 78, we are struck by the good and the bad. First we see the good: God loved his people and blessed them with untold blessings; but then we see the bad: in His anger against their unbelief, God struck down the chosen men of Israel.

We see the good and the bad of God, but we also see the good and the bad of the people. It is really the same thing. For the people of God, great blessings are in store for those who love and serve their faithful Savior from the heart. This God who loves them so much not only provides eternal salvation for them, but blesses them throughout their troublesome days on this earth. For those people, however, who reject God, only death and destruction await them. Though they may have few if any troubles on this earth, a dark and dismal eternity awaits them.

I was struck, too, when I read these verses with the realization that God's favor will not necessarily abide with us forever if we reject His gifts to us. Those who have been blessed with the favor of God, and have seen His mighty works, but then reject Him cannot depend upon God's favor resting upon them forever. In other words, God is, indeed, patient and long suffering, but there is a point when He will turn His back upon those who continually despise and reject Him.

Even for the Christian, we must be careful that we do not presume upon God. It is easy to become so engrossed in the affairs of this life that we forget that we have a duty and responsibility toward God. God has saved us for a reason; He has granted to each one of His children a purpose for this life. Is it appropriate then, for the people of God, to become so immersed in the affairs of this world, and in the "getting" for themselves that they neglect God's purpose for their lives?

God is definitely a God of love who is long suffering and forgiving, but His patience will not necessarily abide with us forever if we neglect the duties He has ordained for our lives. It is good for us, as children of God, to take time to meditate upon God and His Word, and to pray that He will show us our true purpose for this life. It may not mean any outward change in our circumstances, but it will definitely mean a change in our heart attitudes toward God, and toward the people of this world.

No matter where we live, and no matter what our occupation, we have been sent by Christ as missionaries for Him, sharing the wondrous Gospel message with our friends and associates. That may mean as little as living our Christian lives before them or as much as inviting them over and sharing God's Word with them. 

Amazingly, God has created each of us so that we can live for Him and serve Him in whatever manner He chooses without really leaving our own comfort zone. What an amazing God we serve. Go to Him and ask Him to show you what He would have you do for Him.

There is no greater joy than living for the Lord, and seeing your life making a positive impact in the lives of others. 

And that is the good and the bad!

God Bless You,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Can God?

 17And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.
 18And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.
 19Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
 20Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?

Can God?

Having just recounted the wondrous works of God on behalf of his people, Asaph turned to the sad reality of his people's lack of faith--a lack of faith which continued to plague his nation to his present day. After personally observing miracle after miracle on their behalf, the moment they ran into difficulties the people complained,
Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
Before we become too critical of these people, let us stop and think of how prone we are to pose the same question when difficulties arise in our own lives: "Can God?"  How much would they need to see before they understood the Almighty Power of their God? How much do we need to read in His Word and see in our lives before we, too, understand our God?

Why is man so foolish? He is so prone to run after false gods or after a world tainted with nothing but anger, deceit, and self-love. Here we are, over 2000 years later, still following in the footsteps of a nation that foolishly questioned God over and over.

In truth, no man can come to God in and of himself unless his eyes are opened! Our faith never has and never will rest upon ourselves. Christ is not only the object of our faith, He, by His Spirit, is also the power of our faith. Only when we rest upon Christ will we cease to foolishly question God. Isaiah spoke of this very thing in Isaiah 35.
 4Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
 6Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. (Isaiah 35:4-6, King James Version)
Can God? Yes! 

When you reach those times of questioning God, go to Him asking for help to believe. He, alone, opens the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, and the tongue of the dumb!

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow!

God Bless You,

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Time to Remember

 12Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
 13He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.
 14In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.
 15He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.
 16He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. 

Time to Remember!

In verses 12 through 16 of Psalm 78, Asaph takes some time to remember the wondrous works that God had done in the lives of his people. Living at a time when his nation was quickly running away from God, he took some time to recount God's amazing works on their behalf.

Those works truly were amazing. When had it ever been heard that a nation experienced so many miraculous wonders at the hand of their God? When hemmed in by the Red Sea with the Egyptian army in hot pursuit, what did God do?
He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.
How did God care for them in the wilderness?
In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire. He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.
With an heritage such as this, how could they forget God? How could they so quickly turn away from their faithful God to serve the gods of the surrounding nations? Before we chastise them too greatly, we must first look at our own lives and note how quickly we are prone to the same spirit of forgetfulness and the same love of the things of this world.

How quickly we forget our own First Love as we are distracted by the wonders of this world. In our striving to taste the riches of this life and accumulate all that we can for ourselves, we often find ourselves straying farther and farther from the things of the Lord.

Let us then take some time to remember the great things God has done for us. Without Him, we would be but poor lost sheep wandering listlessly through our days. With Him we not only have the riches of heaven before us, but we have a life filled with joy and meaning. In times of fellowship with the Lord, our hearts are again awakened to the joy of His love upon us. Where, in this life, do we find such pure, unadulterated love? There is nothing in us that should have caused Him to love us.
6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8, King James Version)
As a child of God, take some time today to remember this wondrous love wrought by God for you!

God Bless You,

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

They Forgot God

 9The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.
 10They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law;
 11And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them. 

They Forgot God

The writer of Psalm 78 begins a rather lengthy section in which he recounts an historical summary of the nation of Israel. Again and again God showed Himself to be faithful among His people, and yet they continued to forget His wondrous works, and continually fell away from Him.

It was a sad day when Saul and Jonathan led the armies of Israel into battle against the Philistines, only to suffer an agonizing defeat which resulted in the deaths of Saul and Jonathan as well as the capture of the Ark of the Covenant. How could such a great nation have fallen so quickly? Where was God in all of this?

Unfortunately, we, as Christians, have the same tendency to forget God. When the difficult times come, we are more prone to seek the help of anyone except God. Though we can recount time after time when God has faithfully seen us through untold trials, we will look to ourselves to persevere through our difficulties rather than fall on our faces before God and humbly apply to Him for help.

Yet, it is the weak and foolish of this earth who are more willing to look to God rather than themselves. Those who have been given great abilities or great wealth tend to look to their abilities or their wealth to solve the problems they encounter.

God is often treated as some mythical entity that only the unlearned look to for help. How sad! Imagine how greatly those same abilities or wealth could be used to advance the kingdom of God if they were dedicated to God. Understanding that even our abilities are nothing compared to the greatness and power of Almighty God, those same abilities could be multiplied over and over when cast before our God and Father.

So, when we read verses such as those shown above from Psalm 78, and hear how they forgot God, let us fall before our Lord and Savior and ask that He help us to remember Him, not only in our times of weakness, but also in our times of great success. May we cast everything at the feet of Jesus, and seek to love and serve Him with the abilities that He has given to us, all the days of our lives.

May it not be said of us,
They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.
They forgot God! Help us, Oh God to never forget you, but to remember your great and wondrous mercies, beginning with your great salvation.

God Bless You,