Saturday, June 30, 2018

Saturday - Psalm 129 - A Long Hard Journey

ROM the time that the nation of Israel was conceived, they were oppressed.  Even while God was blessing them and raising them up to greatness, they had many enemies. Jacob had enemies among his own relatives and in his own land.  The Jews in Egypt were oppressed relentlessly after the passing of Joseph.  Israel was opposed regularly as they made their trek toward Canaan and again after they entered Canaan.  They were harassed by Edomites, Ammonites, Amalekites, Philistines and more.  And, they were eventually conquered by the Assyrians and by the Babylonians.  Later, they were dominated by the Romans.  In modern times they have been persecuted by the Germans and hated by Arabs.  Throughout their history, they have been hated (even to today).  Also, we know from Biblical prophecy that it will get worse BEFORE it gets better.

Israel has had a long, hard journey.  It is true that they have brought many troubles upon themselves through idolatry, polytheism, hedonism, secularism and proud traditionalism.  Their rejection of their own prophets and of The Great Prophet, Jesus Christ has been a source of many of their hardships.  Nevertheless, their pains have not mastered them. In time, they will rise above their persecutors.  God has not forsaken the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Romans 11:1-2).  He made many promises to them and He always keeps His promises.  God knew their flaws from before the time that He called them to Himself.  So, the enemies of the Jews are already defeated… before they even go out to fight. They are doomed to failure.  Even their fleeting victories are only earning for them harsher defeats.  God will bless Israel indeed (Romans 11:26).  Hallelujah!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday - Psalm 128 - Fear Brings Forth Fruit

OMETIMES I fear God. Sometimes I foolishly fear nothing and nobody.  At those bad times when I proceed without caution or care, I place myself (and others) in the path of grave danger.  Of course, fearing men is an inhibition (Proverbs 29:25).  But, fearing God is essential (I Peter 2:17) and (according to this psalm), fruitful.

First of all, fear can produce careful obedience (Psalm 128:1).  We tend to do things God's way when we are mindful of just how dangerous it is to spurn His authority.  When we remember how powerful and assiduous our God is in His oversight of our lives, we naturally lean toward compliance.  His greatness should produce faith and fear in our hearts.  And in turn, our fear of Him is supposed to produce certain things in us and for us... in addition to righteousness.

According to Psalm 128:2, the fear of God in us allows God to allow us to use the things that we work so hard to produce.  (Is that confusing?)  And, happiness and success go along with that.  Seeing a fruitful wife and productive children are among the many blessings that God can pour out upon His yielding sons (Psalm 128:3).  A long life and a good life come to men who otherwise would not enjoy either, specifically if we learn to live with a proper respect and trepidation in light of God's magnificent holiness, His eminence, His immanence & the imminence of His return (look them up – it’s 3 different things).  

While it is true that perfect love is a higher and nobler motivator than fear (1stJohn 4:18), the fear of God is wonderfully productive in this life. Of course, victory is available to us even now, if we will just claim it.  Just think of how frequently Christ told His followers not to be afraid!  In this dispensation, we can be fruitful without fear if we can master that great thing called "the love of God" (2ndTimothy 1:7).  Sadly, most of us have learned to submit to neither love nor fear, at least not entirely. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thursday - Psalm 127 - God in the Home

ABYLON’S king Nebuchadnezzar thought that he was a self-made man.  But, when he was finally supersaturated with pride, God cut him down to the ground and put him in a position where he was just about as low as he could go (Daniel 4:30-32).  Whatever Nebuchadnezzar was and whatever success he had, it was due to God's sovereign hand of goodness upon him, not due to his own fine qualities or gumption (Psalm 75:6-7).  In this psalm, we read that we are all dependent upon God for the success of our house... whether that house be a company, a church, a family, a governable sovereign state or a municipality.

Having 4 children, my wife and I recognize that we are so utterly at God's mercy concerning the future of our children.  If He is not with us, guiding and protecting us, all of our efforts will be wasted.  We could get up early, stay up late, work our fingers to the bone and worry ourselves into the funny farm, but without God's grace and presence, all would be useless. We must rest in Him (Psalm 127:2). After all, our children really belong to God anyway.  He has loaned them to us, that's all.  We have the privilege of loving them, enjoying them and training them... but truly they are not ours (Psalm 127:3).  Their potential is grand… and, the more the merrier.  But above all else, we need God in our home in order to point our children in the right direction and to spur them forward IN that direction.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tuesday - Psalm 126 - Living in a Dream

HE Jewish exile from Jerusalem lasted for 70 years (if you count from the destruction of Solomon's temple by Nebuchadnezzar to the completion of the second temple during Ezra's days).  This psalm fits best with the context of the Jewish remnant returning to Jerusalem after 7 decades in Babylon.  They had been gone so long that in some ways they had lost hope.  So much so was this the case that when God did deliver them, they felt like they were dreaming.  It was a "pinch me" experience for them.  They laughed and sang.  They rejoiced to hear the Gentiles around them remark in marveling amazement at the fact that God was giving their capital back to them.  They remembered the many tears which they had shed while exiled. They recalled the many prayers they had prayed for deliverance.  They realized that they were finally harvesting the fruit of their labors.  It didn't seem real.  It was too good to be true.  Surely, they were in a dream!  But no, it was reality.  God was doing great things for His people.

Has God ever done anything for you that was so wonderful that it felt like a dream?  He has a way of turning life's nightmares into dreams for us, if we are willing to live humbly before Him.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Monday - Psalm 125 - Like a Redheaded Stepchild

EDHEADS are rare.  And obviously when you hear the phrase "treated like a redheaded stepchild" you recognize immediately both the intended humor as well as the derogatory connotation.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with being either a stepchild or having red hair, but both characteristics do make a person relatively rare, and have (in certain cases) earned unfair harassment, hazing and abuse for some people.  

Anyway, if a person gets treated like they are guilty, when they are not... if an individual is unjustly labeled as inferior... if a person perceives that they are being treated like a redheaded stepchild; despair and/or rebellion can quickly result.  The psalmist addresses this in Psalm 125:3.  God doesn't treat His children the same way He treats His enemies.  Perhaps the simplest way of expressing the difference is to say that God punishes the wicked and disciplines the righteous.  I don't mean that the severity is so divergent, although that is true too (Romans 11:22).  The purpose is different.  Chastening is exclusively a family affair (Hebrews 12:6).  Discipline is not pleasant, it is painful, but God has our good in mind (Hebrews 12:11).  On the other hand, retribution; justice; condemnation; punishment... these things are reserved for the unbelieving and the devoutly irreligious.  These things are about God's anger and the preservation of holiness... not about the good of the recipient.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sermon Series: G.R.E.A.T. Grace

Why does Grace Baptist Church (GBC) exist? What is our purpose? What is our mission? What are our goals? What does the vision God has given us really look like? AND, where do you fit specifically in all of this? What can you do personally to help this congregation fulfill God's plan for us? 

Well, these are deep and significant questions. We can't get to them all in one sermon, and probably won't sufficiently address them all even in this series of sermons, but we can get started. This week we plan to commence a 5 week series called "G.R.E.A.T. Grace" out of Acts 4. 

GBC is a good church. We have many sincere Christians who are serving sacrificially as best they know how. But could we improve? Of course! We all need to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2
nd Peter 3:18). By faith in the Spirit and obedience to the Scriptures, we can become a G.R.E.A.T. church. 

Here is a quote from our church constitution: The purpose of Grace Baptist Church is to propagate the gospel and the whole counsel of God here at home and all around the world through a vigorous missionary outreach. How do we do that? And how do the biblically mandated purposes of Worship, Discipleship, Fellowship, Service, & Evangelism fit into (or extend from) this stated purpose?

The first purpose of the church that we will look at is Worship. Jesus told the woman at the well that the Father was (and is) looking for people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). What is worship: individually... corporately... collectively? Are we "doing it right?" Is it genuine? How can we improve? If a stranger walks in, will he or she recognize for sure that God is in us (1st Corinthians 14:24-26)?  Are we building walls that prevent people from connecting with us and with our Savior, or are we gladly tearing down walls so that others can see Christ in us free and clear (1st Corinthians 9:16-23).  Surely 100% of this local body would at least give mental and verbal accent to the need to break down barriers to the gospel.  But are we doing that in practice?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday - Jesus Gives Me Joy

Paul and Silas in Prison

Paul and Silas were thrown in prison for telling others about Jesus.  They even had stains around their feet.  Instead of being angry, they prayed and sang joyful praises to God.  About midnight an earthquake shook open the doors and broke away the chains.  The jailer was afraid.  Paul and Silas said, "We are still here!"  Then they told the jailer about Jesus.  The jailer and his family believed in Jesus and they were joyful too! (Acts 16:23-24)

Tonight is the last night of VBS.  Pray that the conclusion and the cleanup will go well.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thursday - Jesus Loves Me

John Wrote About Jesus

John was one of Jesus' disciples.  John wrote about what he had experienced.  John was there at the Last Supper when Jesus commanded us to love one another.  He was there at the cross when Christ died. He was the first disciple to reach the empty tomb after Jesus' resurrection, and he ate breakfast on the seashore with the resurrected Christ. John wrote all these things down so that we can know about Jesus and His amazing love for us. (John 13:1-35; 19:25-27; 20:1-10; 21:1-14)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday - Jesus Helps Me Believe

Thomas Believed

After Jesus' resurrection, He appeared to His disciples in a locked room, but Thomas was not there.  The other disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus.  Thomas said he would not believe unless he saw Jesus and touched the nail scars in His hands.  A week later, Jesus appeared to the disciples again.  He invited Thomas to touch Him, and Thomas believed. (John 20:19-31)

Do you realize to what extent God has gone to convince you to believe on His Son?  The whole book of John was written for that particular purpose.   The miracles of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus, His glorious resurrection, the witness of the Spirit, the existence of the church... in one way or another, God intended all of this to point you to faith in Christ.  Believe in His eternal divinity.  Believe in His humanity, innocence and perfection.  Believe that He died in your place.  Believe that He is alive today!

This morning a dear friend passed away.  Miss Alice Bennett was a kind and sweet soul who always treated me so generously.  She was a faithful member of GBC.  And of course, you can't join Grace Baptist Church without professing faith in Jesus Christ, so I expect to see her again.  She believed in the same Jesus I do.  We will meet again.


VBS continues tonight @ 6:00.  Come on out!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday - Jesus Give Me Hope

The Resurrection of Lazarus

One day Jesus' friend, Lazarus, got sick.  His sisters sent for Jesus to come and heal him.  Jesus waited 2 days before leaving.  He told His disciples that Lazarus' sickness would not end in death but would bring glory to God.  As they were leaving, Jesus said Lazarus had died.  The disciples were confused.  Jesus went to Lazarus' tomb.  Jesus prayed and called for Lazarus to come out.  Lazarus came out alive!  Everyone saw God's power over death.  (John 11:1-44)

This is our theme and story for tonight.  By the way, our verse for the week is 2nd Peter 1:3, "His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."

If you are not part of VBS, please at least be praying for the rest of us for safety and for effective ministry.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Monday - Jesus Cares About Me

The Lost Sheep

Many tax collectors and sinners came to listen to Jesus.  This upset the Jewish leaders.  So, Jesus told them a parable about a shepherd who had 100 sheep, but went searching for one that was lost.  When the shepherd found the lost sheep he rejoiced.  Jesus told this story to help the leaders understand that He cares about all people. He cares about you! (Luke 15:1-7)

NOTE: We are taking a 1 week break from our regular week of devotions in the "5 to Thrive" journey that currently has us in the book of Psalms.  We have Vacation Bible School this week at Grace Baptist Church.  The schedule runs today through Friday, from 6:00 - 8:15 nightly.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday - Psalm 124 - If it Wasn't for God

hat if?  Don't you just hate that question?  My children are always asking me "what if' questions... worrying about the hypothetical things that they imagine.  I usually answer their questions with a question. I usually reply, "What if elephants could fly?"  They hate that.

But here is a worthwhile "what if" scenario.  What if God was not on our side?  What if there was no tree of life?  What if there was no second chance?  What if God had never given us a Bible?  What if there had never been a prophet?  What if we didn't have the Spirit?  What if the Son of God had never descended to become a man?  What if Jesus hadn't died for you and me?  What if we were all still God's enemies?  It's not a pretty picture is it?

The psalmist states pointedly that if it weren't for God being "on our side," then even the physical opposition of other humans would be more than we could handle. If God wasn't "for us" then we simply wouldn't survive.  We would drown in perdition (I Timothy 6:9).  We would be hopelessly and utterly lost.

But, praise God, He is on our side(Psalm 124:8).  We are not out here on our own.  He is our Savior, our Friend, our Mediator and Protector.  He is our Comforter and Guide.  He understands us.  He cares about our plight and about our feelings concerning our plight.  He watches over us.  He is our Defender and help in time of need (Psalm 46:1).

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday - Psalm 123 - Dealing with Contempt

ho wants to be a doormat or a rug?  Don't all of us want some respect?  Whether we deserve it or not is not the point.  It is human to seek for validation, affirmation and attachment. We naturally want to matter and to belong to something that matters.  In fact, if you've ever been on the bottom... if you've ever been last in the pecking order, you know that even in that circumstance there is a fledgling struggle to feel important and superior by acting as if you are proud of what you are. Embracing our handicaps or idiosyncrasies and considering ourselves to be better than others specifically because of our shortcomings and inadequacies only proves that we crave worth.  We want to be exalted, not abased.  We want to be loved or admired or feared or at the very least: noticed by someone.  It's part of being human.  For better or for worse, this is reality. No man is an island.

Now, in Psalm 123 we find the psalmist looking to God for deliverance and for validation.  Like a willing slave looking to his master, we look to God for our purpose and meaning.  And, our sense of need for His attention and intervention in our affairs is heightened by the contempt which is poured on us from those around us who are "at ease" in this world; who are self-satisfied and proud.  There are enemies of the cross who laugh and mock at the "folly" of believers.  "Religion is a crutch for the weak,” they howl.  “The Bible is a bunch of fairy tales.  Spirituality is the invention of emotional men.  At best, Jesus was just a good man.  Heaven and hell are here on earth.  God is a myth,” etc., ad infinitum.  Don't you get weary of such base and baseless nonsense?  As if we invented ourselves (Psalm 100:3)?

The devil's crowd may treat us as an inferior breed until we have (like this psalmist) had our fill of it, but ultimately our God is going to rescue us, and then we will see who has the last laugh (Psalm 2:4).  Don't worry about the contempt of wicked men.  It will be their turn to face contempt eventually (unless we can see them regenerated first).  And, when contempt comes against evil men from God, there will be no escape for the lost in that day (Daniel 12:2).  Then, it will be worth it all for those of us who have borne reproach for Christ's sake (II Timothy 3:12).

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thursday - Psalm 122 - Glad to Assemble

ccording to First Peter 2:5, the children of God constitute a spiritual house made to be inhabited by God Himself.  Any place where God dwells is special indeed.  It is the place to be.  During the days of the Old Testament, the place to be was at the temple in Jerusalem of Judah in Israel.  These days, the place to be is with other believers in your local community (Hebrews 10:25).  It's hard to explain exactly why God manifests His presence especially in gatherings of the faithful (other than it being due to the fact that He promised to do so), but it is certain that He does show up when we sincerely gather in His name (Matthew 18:20).

This brings us to Psalm 122:1, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.” Well, amen to that!  I've honestly reached a point in my life where I tend to live for Sundays and Wednesdays.  You might say that it is only because I'm a pastor and a preacher. I disagree.  I know some laymen, saints in the congregation, who have repeatedly expressed the same sentiments unprovoked.  When it was said to David (to put it colloquially), "Let's go to church," he was so glad to hear that it was time to worship with other saints.  It was time to hear the Word.  It was time to give thanks corporately (Psalm 122:4).  It was time to promote truth.  It was time to pray and to fellowship with the saints.  And oh, isn't it always supposed to be a good thing to serve and to be a blessing to others in God's house (Galatians 6:10)?

Question: are you usually glad when it's time to assemble with other members of body of Christ? Why, or why not?

Wednesday - Psalm 121 - Never Sleepy

ave you ever had work to do, but you were so tired you couldn't do it right?  I remember once that I had to drive from Hartselle, AL to Winter Garden, FL (600 Miles in 11 hours) by myself.  That wouldn't have been a hard thing at all, except that I played basketball until 9:00 p.m., then showered before hitting the road immediately. The sun had risen on Christmas Eve before I made it to my destination.  I was so tired that I drove through the rain that night with my windows down and the radio blaring at maximum decibels while scanning the AM band continually... and I still dozed off several times.  It was not good. It was not smart.  It was not safe.

We are human. We wear out.  We get tired.  It's life. Some of us would like to imagine that we have unending energy, but we don't.  We are limited... exhaustible... expendable.  God, on the other hand, never tires.  He never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:3 & 4).  The God who made heaven and earth never checks out.  He never needs a break.  Whether the sun is shining, or the moon is glowing, God is awake and ready to preserve us and to keep us from evil.  He is the preserver of our soul (Psalm 121:7).  He preserves us forever (Psalm 121:8).  This is why we are eternally secure, because our salvation's duration is in the hands of our ever-aware God.  He stands guard over our soul.  He never drifts off.  He never gets distracted.  He never gets groggy.  He never loses focus.  He never gets sleepy.  His attention in every circumstance is perfect and thorough.  We can trust Him.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

PCC coming to Grace in tonight...

I have moved the normal Tuesday devotion to tomorrow because we have a group from PCC coming in tonight.  If you aren't busy, come on out @ 6:30 for some music, testimonies and a word from the Lord.  God willing, we will resume the 5 to Thrive meditations tomorrow.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Monday - Psalm 120 - In My Distress

ing it out: "In my distress He kindly will help me..." This grand expression from the old hymn I Must Tell Jesus includes some of the most promising words ever written. In Psalm 120 the psalmist had deceptive enemies who thrived on arguments and divisions. The author wanted no part in that.  He wanted peace. The bitterness and anger of conflict were more than a little distressing to him.  But he found his comfort in the promises of God.  He knew that when distress was overtaking him, he could turn to God for help and that God would be faithful to deliver him.  Enough said!  

Are you facing dilemmas in life which are distressing to you?  Don't let your heavy heart turn your eyes downward.  Look up! God specializes in helping us out of distressing situations (II Chronicles 16:9).  He has never once encountered an impregnable wall, an unapproachable obstacle or an invincible opponent.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Saturday - Psalm 119 - The Word of God

ere are 176 verses (divided into 22 sections and comprised of almost 2500 words) devoted to one theme: the revelation of God's thoughts.  We think differently than God does… and, that's not ok.  We have to learn to see His perspective... at least, to see it as much as He is willing to reveal it to us.  He has revealed Himself to us in several ways: in nature, through our conscience, in the person of His Son, through the Spirit's work in the church, in Israel and - most obviously - through the Bible (Psalm 138:2).  In this psalm, we find a conglomeration of vocabulary words used in reference to God's spoken and written words: His testimonies, judgments, precepts, ordinances, truth, law, commandments, statutes, ways and works.  When the psalm is read it should prompt us to do several things with the Bible: obey it, pay attention to it, devote ourselves to its Author, broadcast it, study it, love it, interpret it correctly, apply it, and enjoy it.  We must never doubt it.  We should never resist it.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Friday - Psalm 118 - This is the Day

ither God is good, or He isn't.  Either He made this day, or He didn't.  Either we will choose to rejoice and be glad today, or we won't.  Only the devil tries to muddy these waters and make these things more complex than they really are.  God is good.  This is the day that He has made.  I choose to be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).  And, if for no other reason, we should rejoice today because of God's mercy (1-4 & 29).  We who are as guilty as sin are always in desperate need of His mercy.  Never fear, God is near... He is always near to those who call upon His name.  "The Lord is on my side," the psalmist said (Psalm 118:6).  And hey! "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).  What can anyone do to us if God is on our side?  Jesus stated this plainly in Matthew 10:28. Fearing man - being intimidated by other fallen humans - will only trip us up and slow us down, but fearing only God is constructive.  It procures for us safety and security (Proverbs 29:25).

Sometimes the troubles of life seem to surround us like a swarm of bees (Psalm 118:12). They are everywhere, and yet even as we lash out in resistance, it is as if we can't drive away even one pestering problem.  Like fire racing across a field of dry grass, life's pains can destroy us with rapidity. But then again, just as swiftly, God can swoop in to save us... quenching the anguishes of our cursed existence and giving us a song in our heart again.  There have been many who have rejected His offer of aid, but their decision was a fatal one.  Our God is not just a help, He is the help that we need today and every day (Psalm 118:22).  No human solution is sufficient.  No material agent will do.  No temporal answer will suffice.  Jesus is the answer for your soul and mine.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Thursday - Psalm 117 - Truth Endures

hat is the opposite of truth?  What do we have when we have an absence of truth?  What contradicts truth?  Who is the primary opponent of truth?  Who is the source of all truth?  Who claimed to be the personification of truth?  What is the prognosis for the future of those from whom the truth (of the gospel specifically) has been hidden?  These are earthshaking interrogatives.  But, there are only two primary issues introduced to us in Psalm 117:2b... (1) the source of truth, and (2) the longevity of it.  Errors arise everywhere, are diverse & fluctuant, but truth abides.

In truth, all truth is God's truth.  Things are true because of God's sovereign oversight in creation.  He has laid down certain immovable principles, rules, standards, governing forces and boundaries that define and qualify observable things as truth or error.  Theological truth is the most valuable of all truths though.  For example, according to the third law of motion postulated by Sir Isaac Newton, it is true that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.  However, the consequences of that truth are not as significant as the truth that God hates sin or that He has decreed that the wages of sin is death.  The truths about God's character are the staunchest and most relevant of all facts.

Still, even that doesn't seem to be the first and foremost trait of truth at hand in the psalmist's mind here.  Instead, he emphasizes the longevity of truth:  It endures forever.  Lies are not naturally enduring.  They are chameleon-like and adjust to the demands of the circumstances.  They fall flat through the inadequacy of corroboration. They die a young death because they are monsters and are therefore shot down quickly by the simple wisdom of common sense.  They fade away like ghosts due to the difficulty of remembering the details of a fabricated reality.  But, truth remains.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tuesday - Psalm 116 - I Love the Lord

o you love God? Why do you love God?  We know that if He hadn't loved us first, we would have had neither an opportunity nor the ability to love Him in return (1stJohn 4:19).  In this psalm, the author describes just how God had loved him and therefore the reasons why he loved God in return.  He felt God's love because God listened to his requests (Psalm 116:1).  That is indeed quite special.  Listening, caring, helping, giving: these are the things that touched this singer's heart. God was willing to listen to him. God cared about his plight.  God was willing to help him and to bless him. Because of these things, this man was driven to love the Lord.  He was wooed in... snagged and caught by the grace of God.

Now, once you pause to give this scenario some thought, you realize that, it was hardship which placed this man in a position to experience God's grace and love.  If life had been easy, with no danger in sight, there would have been no opportunity for this man to see God's great grace (Luke 7:47).  It is in contrast to the harshness of life that the loving-kindness of God shines through most brightly (Psalm 116:3-4).  Not only is our love for God spawned in dark waters, but also our faith in Him.  And, so also our testimony.  He has been gracious.  We learned to love Him and to trust Him.  And, now we speak of Him because we can't help it (Psalm 116:10). We look at what He has done for us and we can't help but speak of the things that we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20). When we consider deeply how He has loved us and will love us until death, we can and do explode with shouts of adulation concerning His person.  We give Him thanks before all men.  We stand and gladly say in the ears of others, "I too love the Lord... because He has done great things for me"

Monday, June 4, 2018

Monday - Psalm 115 - Not unto Us

ontrary to the thinking of some modern philosophers, men did not make God.  He is not a projection of our mind.  He is not an invention of the weak and lonely.  God made us.  We are His invention.  We are products of His creative mind.  However, there HAVE been MANY gods who have been invented by men.  Naturally, if a man makes his god, then any accolades offered would have to be directed at the man, not at his dead deity.  Of course, there are no accolades deserved by either one (Psalm 115:8).  The man who worships a contrived divinity is spiritually and intellectually as dumb, deaf, blind, impotent and immobile as his idol is physically.  Trusting in someone who is even less competent than you are doesn't exactly make a lot of sense.

But when it comes to the true God, there is no question that accolades are not only deserved, they are expected.  And we are most definitely not the ones who deserve the honor.  The psalmist wrote, "Not unto us, 0LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory!"  We are so weak and helpless.  There are so many things that we can't do.  In fact, many of things that we can do and that we want to do, we still find ourselves somehow falling short of accomplishing them.  But this is not true with God.  He transcends us.  He does whatever He wants to do (Psalm 115:3).  As such, He is so very worthy of our confidence. So, instead of seeking for commendations and approval for ourselves, let us praise the only One who is truly worthy of praise.  Praise God!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Saturday - Psalm 114 - The Presence of the Lord

hen you walk into a room full of people, what happens?  Depending on your personality and experience, there are many possibilities.  Maybe you look for a place that might make you invisible. Perhaps you look for someone you know well so that you can attach yourself to them.  You may commence to meeting and greeting strangers and getting to know them.  There are many other possibilities too.  Consider what effect you have on the people in the room.  There are circumstances where the entrance of just one person changes the whole atmosphere.  When a judge comes into his court, when a bride steps into a chapel, when a queen appears among her loyal subjects... their presence changes everything.

How about the presence of God; what is the impact of His obvious presence?  The presence of God in the human heart brings a radical change. The presence of God in the assembly on Sunday morning is the defining ingredient.  The presence of God on earth during the days of Christ's incarnation turned the world upside down and turned history on its head.  The presence of God on earth at His second advent will revolutionize everything.

This Psalm reminds us of a few of the things that happened in Israel's history because God dwelt among His people.  Their escape from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea and of the Jordan River, the shaking of Mount Sinai and the fresh water that sprang miraculously from a rock in the wilderness... all of these occurrences were a direct result of God's presence among His people.

We know that God is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10).  Yet, He is not obvious and apparent everywhere.  Although He is superintending in every place that is a place, He chooses to manifest Himself specially and specifically in particular places, at specific times and to certain people.  Even in our lives as the regenerated children of God, we need God's approving and controlling presence with us (Ephesians 5:18).  We crave His comforting presence over us (John 14:16-18). 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Friday - Psalm 113 - From Poop to Princes

ccording to this Psalm, we should praise God all day long.  Why?  Well, among other things, He has taken us from the dunghill and has exalted us to a very privileged position indeed.  “He raises up the poor out of the dust…” (Psalm 113:7-8).  Although we were poor and needy sinners, quite literally, He lifted us up from the miry clay and planted our feet on solid ground.  He has removed us from a pile of poop and has given us status among princes.  In fact, He has even made us into princes. God “has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:10).  Praise be to the mighty God of heaven who has stooped so low that He could lift us up from our hopeless despair and establish a future for us. He is compassionate in that way... caring for the downtrodden, the underdogs, the lonely and alone.  What a wonderful God we serve!  Amen?  Hallelujah!