Monday, 31 July 2006
I love the “deep” things of the word of God. The study of theology is fascinating. I love coming across little nuggets that deal with the character of God similar topics. I love studying about all of the “-ologies” in the Bible.
However, I also love the simple things in scripture. Today’s verse is an example of such a great truth – “If sinners entice you, don’t give in.” We certainly live in a day of enticements. Every place we look there is something to tempt and entice us away from God. Television and the internet are only a couple of examples of how sinners may entice us today.
How do we handle enticements? I wish there was some seminar we could go to. I wish there was book to read or CD to listen to that could sort it all out. There are plenty of “helps” out there, but at the end of the day it is really up to us – “If sinners entice you, consent thou not.” If that is not simple enough there is even a children’s song – “If sinners entice you don’t give in, say ‘no’, say ‘no.”
It seems like we have almost forgotten how to say “no.” When enticements come there is a very simple answer, one that some anti-drug schemes have used. “JUST SAY NO!!”
Sunday, 30 July 2006
Man is an amazing creation. Even in his lost state man can learn and accomplish great things. Fallen man has achieved great goals and has grasped some amazing facts in his pursuit of learning and achievement.
All of this may be fantastic and we may marvel at man’s achievements. Yet, the best man can do on his own is a limited understanding of the knowledge of what is true and vitally important. All that man accomplished here is vanity and temporal. True knowledge, the knowledge that counts for eternity, is only possible when one has a reverential awe of God. It is tragic to look around and see men striving for that knowledge and falling so far short.
For us who are Christians our knowledge of God only really begins when we too have a reverential fear of God. Apart from that we will always walk around in confusion. Our problem comes when, instead of walking in awe of God we look all around us at the things we see and try vainly to figure things out for ourselves.
Lord, help me to everyday focus my life on fearing you more so that I can know more about You.
Saturday, 29 July 2006
What a fitting conclusion to the Psalter. All of God’s creation praises Him. His creation shouts out of His glory in its majesty and beauty. The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Verse two gives us the reasons why God is worthy of praise – His mighty acts and His excellent greatness. God is worthy of praise because of what He does and who He is. Everything about the Lord deserves praise and His creation does so.
We as His children are the major recipients of His greatness and His marvellous works. If anyone or anything should praise the Lord it is us. The final phrase of the Psalms is a simple expression – Praise the Lord! Let us never forget that He is ALWAYS worthy of our praise – for who He is and what He does.
Friday, 28 July 2006
Without Christ we are not a pretty site. In fact, the things the word of God uses to describe us are downright ugly. The Bible says that our righteousness was no better than vile, filthy rags. Our works were but dung. We lived on the ash heap. We were counted as enemies of God, without hope in this world. Our sin was so offensive that God could not even look at it. In the eyes of a holy God we were miserable, ugly, vile, filthy wretches.
Yet, there is a solution. Even the ugliest ducking can be made beautiful by the grace of God. What does it take to turn an ugly, miserable, filthy, wretched sinner into a thing of great beauty? Psalm 149v4 has the answer – “God will beautify the meek with salvation.” When a person realises the depth of their need without God, comprehending just how vile his own righteousness and good works are, and in meekness turns to God he can be made beautiful in God’s salvation. We are made His beautiful workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
God is beautiful in His holiness. Through salvation provided by Jesus Christ every person alive can be made beautiful when they turn to Him in meekness.
Thursday, 27 July 2006
In one sense we are told to forget those things that are behind and press on to the prize that God has for us. This of course refers to those things in the past that would keep us from serving God or keep us trapped in sin. It is vital that we lay those things aside.
There are things about the past that we are told to remember though. The psalmist writes that he meditated on what God had done in the days of old. When we read James 1 we find that this is part of the reason that we can rejoice in trials, because God uses those trials to mature and prepare us for the future so that we can look back and remember how God worked.
Lets remember to remember what God has done for us in the days of old.
Wednesday, 26 July 2006
The perils of the tongue – so serious that God gives it many, many references in Scripture. The clearest depiction of the dangers may very well be in James 2. God doesn’t mince words when He describes the dangers.
It boasts great things.
It causes a great fire
It is a fire
It is a world of iniquity
It defiles whole body
It sets the course of nature on fire
It is set on fire of hell.
It cannot be tamed
It is an unruly evil
It is full of deadly poison.
Is it any wonder that he psalmist writes – “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips”? If we think back over our lives we quickly realize that the vast majority of the problems we have brought on ourselves have been caused by things we have said, or something someone has said to us.
God says that no man can tame his tongue. Out tongues must be under control, and they must be under God’s control. Our speech must be guarded and locked up, just like the gate of a city.
May God have the kind of control over our speech that the psalmist prayed for.
Tuesday, 25 July 2006
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” - Psalms 139v23-24
At the beginning of the Psalm David write, “Thou hast searched me O God, and known me.” In this last verse he writes, “Search me O God, and know my heart.” David could write that because he strove to keep his heart so pure that he could open it up to God’s searching intense searching. David had a burning desire to live totally for the Lord. In order to do that he knew that His life must be pure.
Look at David’s call to the Lord
Search me O God
Know my heart
Know my thoughts
See if there be any wicked way in me
Lead me in the everlasting way
I wonder how many of us could pray that prayer to God everyday? The reason why we often cannot do so is that we know what is going on in our hearts. We know that deep down we don’t really want God to check out to this extent. We don’t want to open ourselves open to that kind of scrutiny.
What is the solution? One solution is to just not open ourselves to God like David did. That won’t work because God knows it all whether we ask Him to check us out or not. The other solution is the right one. By God’s grace and with the abiding Holy Spirit we can purify our lives and live in such a way that we could call on God to search us totally and completely.
May we each be able to pray everyday – “Search me O God.”
Monday, 24 July 2006
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” - Psalms 139v14-16
“God made me” – a very simple phrase which is the very first question in many catechisms. It is so simple that sometimes its simplicity gets in the way of the depth of its meaning. Christians can sometimes have very low self-esteem. While pride and arrogance are often a problem, there are times when Christians simply don’t like something about themselves, or they don’t like who they are.
When this happens people are forgetting the wonderful truth that God did indeed make each and every one of us. The beautiful wording of Psalm 139 is a wonderful reminder of this great truth about why we should praise God for who we are:
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
God did a marvelous work in me
My substance was not hidden from God
I was made in secret and mystery
In all of this:
God saw my substance
All of my members were “written in His book”
My life was fashioned according to His plan
There is a saying which is rotten English, but which really hits the nail on the head. “God don’t make no junk.” God made each one of exactly the way He wanted us. His plan is perfect. I have the physical characteristics He wants me to have. I have the personality that He designed for me. While these are not excuses for sin or character flaws that need to be dealt with we need to remember that each of us is the person that God fearfully and wonderfully designed us to be. Lets use those traits to serve Him with all of our might.
Sunday, 23 July 2006
Some things are just too amazing to comprehend. One of those concepts in the concept that the God who created the universe cares about me. In this passage David is overwhelmed with this truth. “God has encircled me. He has hedged me in from the front and the rear. He has laid His hand upon.”
I love this picture of God putting His hand on me. When I think back to sad, hurtful, and lonely times in my life there was always a friend there to literally or figuratively put their arm around me and give me comfort. There is someone to reach out their hand and say, “We can get through this.” There is something very special about a friend’s touch in hard times.
David says here that God “laid his hand upon me.” Like David said this is too much to comprehend, it is so high that I will never really get it so I must accept what God says by faith. God’s wonderful hand of comfort is there, He reaches out to me in hard times and lets me know by His touch that we can get through it.
Praise the Lord for this marvelous truth that I really can’t understand!
Saturday, 22 July 2006
“O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.” - Psalms 139v1
God not only made us who were are but He has thoroughly checked us out and He knows all about us. God knows all about it, more than anyone else can do or ever will. He know my strengths and my weaknesses. He knows my joys and my sorrows. He knows my victories and my defeats. He knows my spiritual highs and He knows when I am in spiritual struggles. He doesn’t miss anything.
Those little secret sins that we keep hidden? He knows them. Those light “white” lies we tell to make things easier on us? He knows them? On the positive side He knows when we are hurting or feeling all alone. He knows when we sorrow for others and He knows when we are feeling misused and maltreated.
In all of these situations and so many more we can rest in absolute assurance that we need not be alone. God knows it all. Praise God for the wonderful little phrase – “God knows.”
Friday, 21 July 2006
Sometimes it is very hard for us to understand what is going on in our lives. We may even say things like, “Why are you letting this happen Lord?” Things don’t fit our agenda so we are tempted to try and figure out what God is doing.
When we do that we forget a very important truth – God is in control and He is working in me to mature and perfect me to the kind of person He wants me to be. His perfecting and maturing process in me may not be the same as someone else. I can be assured however that God will mature and perfect that which pertains to my life and me.
Praise God for His perfecting work in ALL that concerns me.
Thursday, 20 July 2006
Praise God for His enduring mercy! No wonder the psalmist here seems caught up in the goodness of God in extending His mercy to us. God shows His mercy in His character, in His creation, and in His care for us.
There is a whole litany of struggles, some of them they brought on themselves, but still God’s mercy endures forever. Verse 23 is especially appropriate – “He remembered us in our low estate: for His mercy endures forever.” All of us were in that low estate, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by (grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2v4-7)
Where would we be without God’s ever enduring mercy? We would still be walking “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others “ (Ephesians 2v2-3)
Praise God that His mercy endures forever and that it extended, and extends today, to me!
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
The world has adopted a totally convoluted view of children. Not too long ago and Irish runner timed the birth of her child around time of an athletic competition. She had read that a woman’s body is at peak condition a certain time after birth so decided to give birth to be at her peak for the competition.
There seems to be a desire to have “designer babies” to fit the social needs. People are having babies then leaving them in the care of an au pair or nanny from a very young age. These children are being raised by another woman, or even worse in a crèche, nursery, or playschool.
Many women are choosing not to have children at all, or delaying them until their career is more stable. As a result, in the West, couples are not even having enough children to replace themselves. In the long run the west is facing its own destruction, as the population will continue to fall.
This is by no means a criticism on those who cannot have children, or whom the Lord does not give children, but we must remember the clear principle from God’s word. This principle has never changed. “Children are a heritage, an inheritance from God.” No matter what the world tries to say to us children are God’s precious gift. God sees them as fruit and has a symbol of strength. Children are to bring happiness and no shame.
What a precious gift! May we always see children in that light, and never take them lightly. What a joy to have a house full of children. May God’s people avoid the world’s trap of seeing children as a bother, and see them as a blessing.
Tuesday, 18 July 2006
As a former terrible worrying insomniac I love this passage. God just lays it on the line for all those people who stay up late going over and over their problems and then get up early doing the same. There is only one reason that we do this – we are looking for the answers in all the wrong places.
God is so gracious to remind us over and over again that we need not fear and fret as we go about our tasks. “Casting all your care on Him,” “Be care-ful for nothing,” and numerous other passages remind us not to live lives that are full of worry and care.
God gives a wonderful promise here. We need not lose sleep over our problems. God will give us sleep if we will allow Him.
It is indeed a waste of time to stay up all night worrying and fretting – lets avail of the sleep God promises us.
Monday, 17 July 2006
Homebuilding is one of the greatest responsibilities that Christians have. There is only one way to build a home though - everything else is vanity. We try all kinds of things in building our home, not all of them bad. But, unless we allow the Lord to build the house and we follow His directions for doing so we are truly wasting our time.
Fortunately God does not leave us without a plan. He tells us exactly what to do. His basic plan is simple – husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church, wives submit to your husband’s leadership, children obey and honour your parents, and parents bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
If we don’t follow God’s homebuilding plan we are doing it all in vain.
Saturday, 15 July 2006
Where would we be today if the Lord had not been on our side? Surely, with the psalmist we would say, “Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.”
Living for Christ has never been easy. We all have faced opposition at one time or another. There are people who just don’t want to see us succeed. Even worse they do not want the cause of Christ to succeed.
If God were not on our side we would surely be defeated. If God we not on our side we would be overwhelmed and swallowed up by the enemy. The great thing is that God is on our side! We can trust in and depend totally on Him. We need never be overwhelmed.
The next time it seems that you are about to be “swallowed up” remember that God is indeed on your side.
Friday, 14 July 2006
Psalm 121 is a beautiful Psalm with the theme of the Keeper. It was to be sung as pilgrims drew close to Jerusalem on their journey home. The hills of Jerusalem are in sight. The next psalm, Psalm 122, is to be sung as they stand at the gates of the city the next day. The pilgrims have almost finished a long journey. The Hebrew word “Shamar” appears six times in this Psalm. It is translated “keep” in verses 3,4, and 5; and “preserve” in verses 7 and 8. The word first appears in Genesis when Adam is instructed to keep the garden. It appears 470 times in the Old Testament. There are several applications of the word. It means to “hedge about”, “to guard a flock”, “to tend a garden”, “to keep safe and preserve”, “to watch over”, and “to pay heed.” All of these fit into Psalm 121. As we travel our pilgrim journey and look forward to our heavenly Jerusalem, we need to look more at the fact that “The LORD is thy keeper.”
When I think of a keep my mind goes to the marvellous castles in Ireland. Inside the castle walls is what most people think of when they think of a castle. The main building inside the castle walls is actually called the keep. It is here where the family was safe and where the treasure was kept. Guards kept the keep safe and secure. They were the keepers.
Every time I visit a castle and enter the keep I am reminded of my Keeper. In Him and in Him alone I find perfect preservation and protection. Praise God that He is my keeper!
Thursday, 13 July 2006
How easily man tends to be offended and stumble in his walk with the Lord. Every one of us can remember times in our lives when our walk with God faltered. There is usually something that “sets it off” and causes us to stumble.
There is a sure fire cure for stumbling and taking offence. God says that those who love the word of God will not easily be offended. The New King James version has “nothing causes them to stumble.” The two meanings go hand in hand – when we are offended we tend to stumble in our walk.
When we learn to love the word of God it does many things for us. In this passage we see that it gives us great peace and allows us to avoid offence. May we learn to love God’s word in such away that we prosper from these promises.
Wednesday, 12 July 2006
“Awesome” is a word which is has meant a variety of things over the years. People use the word in a very light and trivial way. A few years ago it was the latest expression of exclamation for anything which interesting. It was a synonym for other faddish words like “cool,” “groovy,” and such.
It is a shame is some ways that the word has been cheapened so. The word was once reserved for things that truly inspired awe. God Himself is in every sense of the word an awesome God. His creation is also awesome. When we see His divine hand at work we should stand in awe of what He has done.
There is something else that is awesome to the psalmist in this passage. “My heart stands in awe of your word.” God’s word is truly awesome. Over and over God uses His awesome word to speak to our hearts and give us direction in the most difficult times. His word has the answer to every situation we face. We often take His word for granted when we should indeed stand in awe of its power.
Tuesday, 11 July 2006
What do you think about all day? There are all kinds of things we can meditate on. Sometimes we think about the things we fear. Sometimes we think about the things we want. Sometimes we our thoughts are consumed with wrong thoughts. I think we all enjoy the days the most when we think about the things we love.
When people fall in love they seem to be consumed with the object of their affection. All day long they think about what their beloved is doing, where they are, and how they look. They truly spend the day meditating on their loved one.
The psalmist here refers to even a greater object of affection. He writes, “Oh how I love thy law – it is my meditation all the day.” What a deep love for the word of God! Can any of us say that we love the word of God so much that it is the source of our meditation all day long?
God, give me a love for your word hat is so great that it is all I can think about throughout the day!
Monday, 10 July 2006
Things change. We all know that. Perhaps we have gone back to a favourite restaurant after a few years with find memories of a special dish only to find that management has changed and the food is not the same. We may go back to a place where we once lived with memories of all the good times, and discover that everything has changed. Friends have moved on with their lives and we have gone in different paths. Seemingly everything changes and there is nothing we can actually rely on to stay the same.
There is one thing we can depend on to stay the same. God’s word never changes – it is forever settled in heaven. No matter what else happens in life we can always go back to the word of God with absolute confidence that it will not have changed. Some of the most ancient Bible manuscripts in the world are housed in the Chester Beatty library in Dublin. Even with my limited knowledge of Greek I can make out some of the words that are there and they are passages that I am familiar with. This speaks well of God’s preservation of His word on earth, but even more exciting is the truth that God’s word is preserved and totally settled forever in heaven.
Praise God that there is something that never changes – God’s prefect word.
Sunday, 9 July 2006
By what standards do we tend to measure ourselves regarding holiness and godly living? It is very tempting to compare ourselves to others and think things like – “Well, I am certainly not as bad as this or that person, I must be okay, because he is a good Christian.”
God sets a must higher standard. The psalmist presents the standard that God expects us to hold to – “I will be sound (blameless) in your word.” We only have one place to look when we are examining our lives to see how they please God, and that is His word.
Then, and only then, can we say with the psalmist – “…I will not be ashamed.”
Saturday, 8 July 2006
“My soul melts for heaviness.” What a wonderful word picture of what it is like to be discouraged and depressed. Financial woes, family pressures, death or illness of loved ones, betrayal by friends, illnesses, and loss of a job are just some of things that can cause our souls to “melt for heaviness.”
We have no need of having “melting hearts.” God, as He always does, provides a way out. He provides all the strength that we need. Where do we find that strength? Once again the psalmist points us back to the same source. We find the strength we need for everyday living in His perfect holy word.
Whenever we are burdened down with grief and heaviness may our first action be to go to God’s word for the strength to get through the struggle.
Friday, 7 July 2006
We live in a filthy world. The filth of the world is like a living being. We are always under assault from it. Sometimes it attacks is a frontal assault like a massive landslide. Other times it is like muck seeping under the door, but the attack is always on. Somehow filth always seems to find a way in.
So how do we deal with filth? What do we do when the filth sneaks in? Christians have all kinds of resources on how to deal with it. We have books, audio, and seminars on dealing with sin in our lives. All of those are well and good, but the psalmist hit the nail on the head
“How can a young man cleanse his ways?” The answer is simple – “by taking heed to the cleansing word of God!” God’s word is a mighty tide to wash away the filth of this world. If we could just learn to live and abide in His word, obeying it and meditating on it, the filth of the world would be washed away and would have no staying power. May we take heed to the word so that we are cleansed from the filth of this dirty old world.
Thursday, 6 July 2006
Every one of us can think back on times when we have been let down, or even betrayed by others. Sometimes we make foolish decisions and trust the wrong people. Other times we make right choices and then are simply betrayed.
It is easy to put our confidence in men. They are visible and tangible. We get immediate responses, and it is nice to sit down and have a cuppa tea and a chat. We do this even though we have been burnt and know that they are apt to fail.
We really have no other choice. We must trust people on a regular basis and it is not always a bad thing, However, it is far better to put our deepest trust in the Lord in every situation and always be aware that man may let us down.
When we trust Him we can be assured that we will never get burnt.
Wednesday, 5 July 2006
Everyone likes to have the best player, the biggest guy, or the smartest guy on their side. In sports teams spend millions to get the best players. Armies train their soldiers to perform the best in battle. We know that we can have a better chance of victory when we have this kind of person on our side.
The Philistines surely though they had it made when preparing for battle against Israel. The had Goliath of Gath, all 9 ½ feet of him, the champion of champions on their side. Israel were quaking in their sandals. Fear ruled supreme in Israel’s camp.
Then a young shepherd came to bring food to his brothers. When he saw Philistine’s champion he was mystified by Israel’s fear. “God helped me to kill a lion and a bear and He will help me now.” David knew that the battle was not his, but the Lord’s. He knew that the Lord was on His side. He knew that man had no power over him.
Even today fear is a powerful force. The truth has not changed. The Lord is still on our side – we still need never fear what man can do to us. Lord I believe, help my unbelief.
Tuesday, 4 July 2006
Self-glory is one of the greatest temptations we deal with and one of the one’s which has universal appeal. We all want to at least be acknowledged. We somehow want out lives and ministries to succeed in a visible way so that we look good, or so that we somehow receive glory.
The psalmist here had it right – “Not unto us God, but to Your name give glory.” God is all mercy and He is all truth. Because He is mercy and truth He is the only one who should receive glory. None of would disagree with this.
How does this play out in every day life? It means that we are willing to totally sacrifice our desires and goals for His glory. We must be willing to allow Him glory in our lives – that may very well mean that we never get recognised. But what does it really matter if our Lord is glorified?
Monday, 3 July 2006
Praise the Lord! The great, perfect, holy, separate, righteous, just, and awesome creator God loves His creation so much that He stoops down to see what is going on here! Not only that, He does a wonderful work for us as a result.
He raises the poor out of the dust and the needy out of the ash heap. This is an amazing picture. The KJV uses the word “dunghill” to translate the place where man dwells on his own. Paul used the same terminology when he said he counted all of his works but dung when it came to righteousness.
Not to long ago I visited Trim castle in Ireland. In the royal bedroom there is a gardarobe. The gardarobe is, in modern terminology, the toilet. It was a small chamber with a chute to carry away the waste. The waste was collected and its tender, the gong farmer would on occasion stir the waste to release ammonia to kill bugs and lice in the royal family’s clothing so they would hang there garments in the gardarobe.
Now imagine the gong farmer being called directly from the dung heap to the royal chamber. Not only that but imagine him given a seat in the royal chamber. As ludicrous as that sounds it is exactly what God has done for us. God has literally plucked us from the dung-heap of the world and set us a princes in His private chamber through the blood of Christ!
Sunday, 2 July 2006
Psalm 112 is a wonderful list of things that should characterise the man of God. As I read through these each of them challenged me. The section on steadfastness especially challenged me. The man of God is not going to have variableness about His Christian life.
Look at what is involved in being steadfast:
· He will not be moved forever
· He will remember what God has done
· He will not be afraid of bad news
· He will not be afraid
All of these are contingent on choices this man makes and where his heart is. Look at the emphasis on this man’s choices:
· His heart is fixed
· He trusts the Lord
· His heart is established
The mature man of God is not easily ruffled in His Christian life. Right at the very core of this is the key truth in this section – “His heart is fixed because he trust in the Lord.” There are far too many times in my life when I don’t manifest a “fixed heart.” I am shaken my news and circumstance. I lose a proper spirit based in the actions of other. The man of God surely has a “fixed heart.” When my spirit changes and my attitude is not right as a result of what I see or how I am treated or situations I am in it is because my heart is fixed on my surroundings instead of trusting Him. If I ever get to the stage that I TRULY trust my heart will be fixed because I will finally realise that all He gives me is that is best for me and best for serving Him
Saturday, 1 July 2006
David was really going through it. He needed God to intervene in His life. He gave a litany about how we was feeling about life and his place in it.
I am poor and needy
My heart is wounded
I am like a declining shadow
My knees are weak
My flesh fails
I am a reproach
When people look at me they shake their heads
When David asked for deliverance though his motivation was right. He did not ask for deliverance for his own sake. His pray that God would act:
According to His mercy
So that God’s hand would be seen
He did not ask anything for himself. We have no right to question David’s heart or motivation here. He wanted God to use his own dilemma for His glory. How often do we really pray in our struggles with this kind of heart and motivation?