Thursday, March 26, 2015

Praising through the Problems of Life

Psalm 23:1-3
{A Psalm of David.} "Jehovah is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters.He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." (Darby translation)

David's Psalms have always been of great comfort to me, but they especially minister when I'm going through trials. I remember pondering them even when I was a teenager, when I felt that my adolescent world was caving in. The Psalms are timeless, even though written in ancient times, they are just as relevant today. When I get to heaven, I would be thrilled for a chance to meet David and discuss his beautiful words. But even more important, I will get to look upon the face of the One whom David wrote about, and never have to go through trials again. What a day to look forward to!

In the book Streams in the Desert, I read one post about how David had to go through many difficult times in order to write those words which have encouraged millions. It was not easy for him to go through all of that, but that was God's way of getting these beautiful messages of hope to us. God worked the hardest things in David's life to the good for all the believers who have received God's written Word. For March 19, the devotion declares that if David had not gone though those trials we would have not received the blessing they provide.

"One stinging sparrow spared would have been one blessing missed and unclaimed. One difficulty or danger escaped-- how great would have been our loss! The thrilling psalms where God's people today find expression for their grief or praise might never have been known." from Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman in the updated version edited by James Reimann, Zondervan Publishing House, 1997, page 121.

This morning when I had my time with God, I hunkered down in Psalm 40:1-3. I remember being drawn to this verse many years ago.

{To the chief Musician. Of David. A Psalm.} "I waited patiently for Jehovah; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. And he brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock; he hath established my goings: And he hath put a new song in my mouth, praise unto our God. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall confide in Jehovah." (Darby translation)

A few notes on some of the words:

The name Jehovah is one of the many names for God. It means "God in covenant relationship to those whom He has created. Jehovah means the Eternal, the Immutable One, He who WAS, and IS, and IS TO COME." (note Bullinger Companion Bible, Appendix 4)

I waited patiently: In the Hebrew this means "in waiting I waited." Bullinger, note Psalm 40:1

The words for pit of destruction and the miry clay: In the KJV it is called a horrible pit, meaning "state of sin and death which God alone can save a man" Miry clay means "The pit of perdition and the mud of corruption" (Dake Study Bible, note on Psalm 40:2)

I never realized before the meaning of the pit and the miry clay. I thought it just meant being in a bad situation. But the true meaning reveals where we all start out. The Apostle Paul says of the unregenerate man:

"that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." Ephesians 2:12 emphasis mine

Only God can reach down, in His tender mercy and pull each one of us out of that pit by His marvelous quickening by the Spirit. And that is what He does for each one who receives His gift of eternal life. But wait, there's more! He also sets our feet upon a rock.

The word for rock is "sela." It means "fortress, a refuge and security" notes from Bullinger Companion Bible on Psalm 40:2, Deuteronomy 32:13
It would be an amazing study to find all the references in the Bible to God being our rock and our fortress.

The result of all these things is a heart filled with gratitude: "And He hath put a new song in my mouth, praise unto our God."(Ps. 40:3) This new song will also be sung in heaven when time in human history has ended and Christ once again rules the planet. After the Lamb of God takes the scroll (the deed to planet earth that He won back at the cross), this will be the scene in heaven:

8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

​​“You are worthy to take the scroll,
​​And to open its seals;
​​For You were slain,
​​And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
​​Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 ​​And have made us king and priests to our God;
​​And we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5: 8-10

If we will be praising Him throughout eternity, doesn't it make sense to praise Him now for the trials and difficulties of life? It sometimes is not easy for me to automatically do this, but I know when I do, it takes the focus off of me and my little problems and back rightfully on God. I feel a sense of relief knowing that I am known by My Maker.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Thursday, March 19, 2015

It's My Birthday and I'll Rejoice 'cause I want to

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7

I am 53 years young today. The Lord has given me a heart to rejoice because He is my Savior and Lord, and I believe that He is coming back soon.
And so, I list 53 things He has given me to celebrate today because of Jesus' precious gift of salvation to me, in no particular order. (These can belong to anyone, anywhere, anytime who chooses to believe in the Son of God for eternal life.)

1) He loved me.
2) He washed me from my sins in His own blood.
2) He made me a king and priest through Jesus.

Rev. 1:5-6
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

4) I am a member in particular of the Body of Christ. "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." I Corinthians 12:27

5) No eye has seen the things He is preparing for those who love Him, but they are beyond what we could think or imagine.

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." I Corinthians 2:9

6) My sins (and all those of everyone who believes in Christ) have been cast into the depths of the sea. Love this verse from Micah: "He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:19

7)His eye is ever upon me to watch over me just as He watches over the sparrows.
Luke 7: 25-27 25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

8)He will never change His mind about me. “For I am the LORD, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob."Malachi 3:6

9) He gave me living water to drink and promised that I will never thirst again. John 4:10 "Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

10)Right now, this very moment, I am a child of God.

11) One day I will be like Him, for I will see Him as He is.

"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." I John 3: 2

12)I am going to a place where there will be no more tears, sorrow, crying or pain, no matter what I face in this life.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Rev. 21:4

13)I have a living hope

14) and an inheritance that Jesus is keeping for me.

I Peter 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

15) I am a brand new creation in Christ, and that is the way God sees me, not in my trespasses and sins. II Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

16) I am His sheep and He is my shepherd.

17) I shall not lack for anything I need.

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd;I shall not want.

18) I will be delivered from the wrath to come by Jesus, as will all who place their faith in Him. I Thessalonians 1:10 "...and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."

19)Surely God's goodness

20) and God's mercy

21) will follow me all the days of my life

22) and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23:6
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

23) I have been given everlasting consolation

24) and good hope through grace

I Thessalonians 2: 16 "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,"

25) The Lord is my strength

26) and my shield

27) When I trust Him, I am helped

Psalm 28:7 "The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him."

28) I have been given by the Father to the Son

29) and I shall in no wise be cast out of the Father's hand

“My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand." John 10:29

29) My Father rejoices over me with gladness

30) quiets me with His love

31) and rejoices over me with singing

Zephaniah 3: 17 "The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

32) I am totally complete in Christ.

"and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." Colossians 2:10

33) He who began a good work in me will complete it.
Philippians 1: 6 "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;"

34) the enemy has been defeated forever

35) I have been made alive together with Him

36) I've been forgiven all my trespasses

37) All the ordinances that I violated were nailed to the tree at Calvary

Colossians 2:13 "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it."

38) I am dead to sins

39) and I am alive to God

40) therefore, I no longer have to be a slave to sin

"knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin"
Romans 6:6

41) Neither death

42) nor life

43) nor angels

44) nor principalities

45) nor powers

46) nor things present

47) nor things to come

48) nor height

49) nor depth

50) nor any other creature

shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

51) He will never leave me

52) He will never forsake me

Hebrews 13:5 "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

and last but definitely least:

53) the Lord is my helper, I need not fear man and what he might do to me

Hebrews 13:6 "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

So I guess my physical birthday is just a day, it is my spiritual birthday that really counts. For without being born anew in Christ, none of these things would be mine. But with simple faith in Christ, all of these things are mine. And not only for me, but for anyone who believes in His name. If you are without Christ, why not make today your very own spiritual birthday?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Have Faith in God

"For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills." Psalm 50:10

Is it just me or are others also having a hard time getting through this never ending winter? Every day we hear more and more bad news. Sometimes we pray for a situation and do not see anything happen. This can go on for years. I thought about this today as I trekked through the slush and puddles covering the soggy ground, up to the shopping plaza in my town. The sky was an endless hue of gray, but it felt warmer than it had in days and just getting out of the house gave me a small lift in my spirit.

I thought to myself, how do I reconcile the fact that sometimes it seems no answer comes to my prayers? One little verse popped out in my mind: "Have faith in God." Four simple words, but they convey, oh, so much.

Those words are found in Mark 11, in the lesson Jesus gave about the withered fig tree.

20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”
22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.
23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."

Yes, but.

That thought entered into my head, but quickly I came up with an answer to my doubt as to the validity of Jesus' statement. There is an answer when I seem to have unanswered prayers. In times when we cannot see what God is doing in our lives, it is time to let our faith in God's ultimate goodness encourage us to stand our ground and fight the good fight of faith.

Right now, we see through a mirror dimly (I Cor. 13:12). But we have thousands of magnificent promises (II Peter 1:4) from the Word of God, promises we can claim even if we don't see their answer. What is faith anyway? It is being sure of something we cannot see, and it is the only thing that pleases God.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

We are living in unprecedented times. The wheels are turning quickly to the day when Jesus will come back to gather His church to their heavenly home, and fight for His people Israel when all the world goes against them. We are given each day to believe when we don't see, to have confidence in the perfect essence of God: His unfailing love and mercy, forgiveness for our sins, and hope for a glorious future.

The key is to get to know the promises and claim them now. We must do this for ourselves. We will not need the promises when we get to the eternal state. No, the promises are for now.

"We never question how He works, once we know Him for who He is. When I gain the treasure of knowing Him, I can well afford to trust Him." Miles J. Stanford

Have faith in God!