September 9, 2020
THE BLESSEDNESS OF FORGIVENESS
For a few moments I want to consider Psalm 32, which is eleven verses in all. It is one of the psalms penned by David. Usually one of the first things we think of when the name David is mentioned has to do with his sins rather than his victories. We more often think of David and Bathsheba than we do David and Goliath. We do the same with each other. This psalm has to do with David’s experience of when he tried unsuccessfully to hide his sin. He then confessed it and found forgiveness in the Lord.
But the psalm is written in an unusual way. David begins with the end. He summarizes everything before he starts talking about it. It's as though this psalm is a message to any sinning Christian that you don’t have to linger on in sin but you can experience God’s forgiveness. When he starts with the word Blessed David is saying, truly happy is the person. You aren’t going to be until you are forgiven and the sin in life is covered. Forgiven is such a beautiful word isn't it? Just the way the word flows off the tongue is rich. It means to lift or carry away. Oh, how happy is the man when the burden and the weight of sin has been lifted and carried away. That is a blessed fact for the sinner but here reminding us that it is a blessing for Christians also.
David used 3 words to describe his actions; his sin—1) Transgression, vs 1 is a word meaning rebellion (disobedience to God’s commands); 2) Sin, vs 1 means to miss the mark; 3) Iniquity, vs 2 means to be twisted or crooked (inward nature). Before you ever experience forgiveness you must see sin as it is in your life (not everyone else, but your own). Notice 3 things that David then goes on to say about what brought this happiness.
I. THE POWER OF CONVICTION. (3-4)
When he sinned he had a choice. He could confess it or not. David chose not to and tried to hide it but things went from bad to worse. Remember all that happened with Uriah? Instead of owning up to it he still tried to conceal it and for about a year he refused to admit it. These verses tell us what that year was like for David. He felt the chastening hand of God heavy on his heart and his life. Oh, I believe he went about his daily duties. He did normal things outwardly but inwardly he was struggling. He says that there was a roaring in his heart, vs 3; like the roaring of a lion in his heart to the point that it wore him out (waxed old, vs 3). Instead of having the freshness of God bubbling in his heart he felt dried up, v 4. When you’re there the joy bells of heaven don’t ring like they did. Your testimony won’t have the same effect. Your shout won’t have the same ring to it. David could have saved himself a lot of internal turmoil had he just confessed right away. Some aren’t going to have the real peace in their heart until they do; until they set right the wrong in their life. Prov 28:13-He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. You can carry that heavy load if you want to but you don’t have to. The power of conviction.
II. THE PLACE OF CONFESSION. (5)
The words “my” and “mine” are found four times in this one verse. David admitted to God it was he that sinned. He didn’t try to blame anyone else. With brokenness of heart he admitted his sin and agreed with God about what sin is. David finally quit trying to hide it and confessed it. The word guile in vs 2 speaks of deceit. In other words, he was no longer pretending. I remind you that David paid a heavy price for his sin. The longer we wait to deal with sin the more difficult things can be after we do. There are consequences even to forgiven sins. You see, God in grace does forgive confessed sins but God in government allows us to reap what we sow. For David the baby conceived died, his son Amnon raped his half sister Tamar, Amnon then was then killed by Absalom and then Absalom overthrew the throne of David and ultimately he was killed. I wouldn’t mess around with unconfessed sin. I’d deal with it right away. You’ll save yourself much trouble and much heartache. It means you may have drop some pride, but it's well worth it to have the peace of God again in your heart. The power of conviction; the place of confessing but then the see—
III. THE PRAISE OF CLEANSING. (6-7, 11)
David calls himself godly here, vs 6. It reminds us that Christian folk do at times sin and then lie about it. (We ought not do it but we can and do sin.) Those of us who have experienced His great salvation can fall. We are made godly by the blood of the cross but we still have a sinful nature. David in confession cried out to God and the Lord forgave him. David had learned a hard lesson. Psa 66:18-If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. Sin in the heart of the believer separates our fellowship with Him. It also silences the song of the heart, vs 7. One thing that stands out so amazing is the fact that although the Lord dealt with David’s sin He still loved David. All the while David was distant from the Lord the Lord was still right there as David’s hiding place. In vs 11 the shouts of joy have returned to his heart and they can when we in honest and with sincere hearts confess to Him. *God speaks in vs 9 and says to not be like the horse or mule. The idea is don’t be like an unbridled horse wanting to go your own way or like a mule too stubborn to respond. Like an unbroken horse He can break us; like a stubborn mule He can deal with us. It is so much better if we just repent.
Conclusion--I'm reminded of a story in 2 Kings 6 when sons of the prophets were building a place to live. While one was cutting down a tree the axe head flew off the handle and fell into the water. He came to Elisha and cried “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.” Elisha asked, “Where fell it?” And he showed him the place. That axe head represented power of service, the blessings of God and the ability to serve. He had lost it but knew where he lost it at. Is there some unconfessed sin in your life that would be the spot where you lost your usability? Psa 130:3-4-If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. What a beautiful word forgiven is. Covered is also. The word imputeth is a financial term meaning put on account. David says the Lord removed my sin from my account. He can do that for you.
September 2, 2020
STAYING STEADY IN THE STORM
On two occasions Jesus dealt with storms on the Sea of Galilee. In Luke 8:22-25 you find Luke's record of the first event. The story is filled with much instruction for our lives. It is loaded with encouragement and help for any of us on the sea of life. Storms do come to each of us and they often come suddenly and they come severely. The passage teaches us that storms should strengthen our faith but they can, and often do, shake our faith and cause us to fear. We often focus more on the storm than the Savior, getting our eyes on what we’re going through more than on Him. Storms are real; storms upset the normalcy of life and they can cause great despair but we must not get so focused on the storm that we miss Him. He is still the Master of the sea; He is still the One who controls all things. I believe we can find words of challenge to help us to stay steady in the storm. Notice the--
I. SITUATION OF THE STORM. (22-23)
1. Timing of the storm—it came when they were in the presence of Jesus, walking close to Him; Matthew 8:23-And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. We can understand when He allows storms to come when we are walking at a distance, but they were following Him; the word means “going the same way.” *Also came when they were obeying His commands, v 22; doing His bidding and obeying His word. We also understand when storms come when we fail to do that also. We believe in the chastening hand of the Lord (as a father / mother chastens children when they disobey). Also notice the—
2. Tempest of the storm—Mark 4-a great storm of wind; Matt 8-a great tempest in the sea (word great is Greek word “megas” from which our word mega comes from / word tempest is “seismos” which speaks of an earthquake). In either case it was sudden; it was so violent that the ship was covered with the waves (Matt) and the waves beat into the ship that it was full of water (Mark). The text says they were in jeopardy or great danger. How quickly these storms arose (and they did on Galilee). There could be smooth seas which suddenly gave way to churning waves that threaten to destroy. *Storms come in various ways—physical, mental, emotional, financial and more. They come in varying degrees—this one was a terrible tempest with waves beating into the ship and the ship was full. Do you ever feel like you’ve taken on about all the water you can stand? The situation of the storm; then see the—
II. SAVIOR IN THE STORM. (23a-24a)
Strangely He’s been asleep thru it all. Think of the—
1. Position of the Savior—Mk 4:38-he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow; the stern of the ship is where the pilot of the ship stayed. The pillow wasn’t comfy; it wasn't a Serta cool comfort with memory foam but was the leather cushion where the captain sat. (Even when it seems He isn’t paying attention, even when it seems He doesn’t care He’s still the Captain and the Pilot of our vessel. Our trouble comes when we move Him from the Pilot’s seat and take control ourselves.) Though asleep as a man, He was fully aware of the situation as God. Position of the Savior; the—
2. Petition of the sailors—these were seasoned seaman. They weren’t novices to storms but were now panicking; their situation was desperate. I see them rowing hard. I see Peter, James & John sounding orders for the others; see them scooping out water (more tossed out / more came in); then suddenly in desperation thinking they were going down, in desperation look at what they did—And they came to him, v 24. *See the person of their petition. They came to the right person (we often go everywhere else and to everyone else but Him). They’ve seen Him work miracles and wonders, but now they come to Him. (Why did they not come sooner?) *See the plainness of their petition, v 24. They came to the Commander; they sought the Captain of our salvation. Matt—Lord, save us; we perish; Mark—Master, carest thou not that we perish? Don’t think for an instant that He doesn’t understand or care where you are or going thru. (He understands betrayal; He understands loneliness; He understands pain; He understands weariness; He understands rejection; He understands disappointment; He understands!). Situation of the storm; Savior in the storm; but lastly see the—
III. SOVEREIGN OF THE STORM. (24b-25)
See how He—
1. Rebukes the storm—all He had to do was say the word and calm came. We go through all of our fussing, fuming and frustration without any calmness of soul till we finally get it to Him. Why did they wait so long; why do we? Psa 107:27-29-They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. What a difference when we bring Him into the situation. Then He—
2. Rebukes the servants—fear instead of faith had gripped their hearts (so often it does ours). Why were they so fearful? With all they had seen (power over sickness and evil spirits). Why were they so afraid? But don't we do the same thing? With all that we have seen Him do in our lives and other's lives, but yet we so often forget and have fear instead of faith. Storms shouldn’t shatter our faith but strengthen our faith in Him. Storms challenge our faith in Him. They push us to the limits of our own abilities and cast us solely upon Him.
Where is your faith today? Is it trusting Him with your burdens, knowing that He always hears? Are we resting on His promises in spite of what we see, v 22, knowing that He has all we need to face all we go thru? 1 Ptr 5:7-Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. If we struggle to believe it just look at the widow woman at Nain or the woman taken in adultery or Mary / Martha or the thief on the cross. His timing may be different than ours; His ways may sometimes seem somewhat confusing; we may not always have the answer to the “why” questions but we can rest assured that He knows and He cares. Don’t focus more on the greatness of the storm, but focus on the greatness of our Savior and then you can stay steady in the storm.
July 9, 2020
LIVING BEYOND DISCOURAGEMENT
When you read the six verses of Psalm 13 you cannot but sense that David is discouraged. It is one of those psalms that we aren't sure when he wrote it, but you can tell he feels miserable. Most of us have been there at some time or another. So many people seem to live their lives out in a minor key. Maybe from a long drawn out sickness or family problem. It may be a wayward son or daughter, an alcoholic spouse, an unreasonable boss. Maybe it is the grinding discouragement that follows an unachieved goal or some hopeless situation that seems to have no end. It often seems that when we are at our wits end, without a resource, at a loss for a way, perplexed and desperate that we begin to see God work. So often though we want to see God change our circumstance when He really wants to change us. We want Him to deal with our circumstance when He wants to develop our character. That is what this psalm is all about; how God can put the song back into our discouraged hearts.
I. WE SEE DAVID ON HIS FACE. (vs 1-2)
Four times David asks the Lord, how long? It is the language of confusion, anxiety and desperation. It's as though he is saying, "God, here I am. I'm trying to get thru to You! Where are you and when will you hear me?" Have you ever been there or are you there today? David feels like that Lord has abandoned him and left him to face what he is dealing with alone. I'll be the first to admit I don't understand and I don't like the silence of God. I like it when He speaks. I like it when He helps me understand, but sometimes it seems He is silent. So it was for David. David is on his face before God.
II. WE SEE DAVID ON HIS KNEES. (vs 3-4)
He turns from confusion to intercession. He cries for the Lord to consider and hear. The word trouble that David used means a tight place. When you feel so overwhelmed by discouragement that is exactly how you feel; as though you are in a tight place, like the very life is being squeezed out of you. As a matter of fact, when he said, lighten mine eyes, it was the idea of putting the sparkle back in his eyes again. David had lost that! Discouragement will do that to you. When you're discouraged, tell the Lord about it. Cry out to Him.
III. WE SEE DAVID ON HIS FEET. (vs 5-6)
The word But is the turning point in the whole psalm. Everything is changing for David now. He stands with a renewed trust, vs 5 and a restored song, vs 6. Only the Lord can do that! Only the Lord can strengthen our trust and restore our song. So often we want to just sit down in our discouragement and settle in it. But David asked some tough questions of the Lord and he prayed before he found his song again.
What has you discouraged today? Don't settle to sit down in that discouragment, but seek the face of the Lord. He can restore your trust and song if you'll look to Him today.
June 18, 2020
LIVING BEYOND DOUBT
Is there any of us who at some time or another hasn’t struggled with feelings of doubt? Doubt can come from a variety of sources—unsolved problems, unexpected events, unanswered questions, unkind comments and the list goes on and on. Whatever the source they all lead to times of doubt and even depression in our minds. Someone once said that serving the Lord with doubt in your mind is like trying to drive your car with the brakes on. I have come to understand that doubt comes and disappointment comes when I get my eyes off the Lord and I focus on my problems and on myself. That’s why one of the sure ways to living beyond the grind of doubt is to stop looking at myself and start looking at the Lord. If we don’t, all we’ll see is our troubles and that will lead us to doubt Him. So the answer to doubt is renewed faith in the Lord. What is needed is a fresh look at Him that our faith may be renewed and doubts flee.
That brings us to the text I want to think about. In Psalm 46 the basis of the song goes back to the Assyrian invasion of Israel. The Assyrians marched south destroying everything in their way. Ahead of them lay fields full of crops and grain but behind them they were trampled and destroyed. Jerusalem was surrounded and the Assyrian captain demanded surrender. Hezekiah was troubled so greatly and he seeks God’s help. In a miraculous move, God sent one angel in one night and this mighty army was no more. To commemorate this victory this hymn was written. It is a song that reminds us that no matter how dark the day, how difficult the way that God, in His own good time and way, can handle the things that cause doubt in our hearts. It is a song to focus our attention on Him and to replace our doubts with faith. Notice--
I. THE REFUGE. (vs 1-3)
Notice the word trouble; it means a tight place. Have you ever had one of them or in one of them now? Sure, we all know all about them. You don't have to go looking for them, they seem to find us no matter where we are. When you're in a tight place the psalmist declared that there is a refuge. That God is our refuge and strength is to recognize His great power and His personal care for us. When He is our refuge and strength, though the most difficult things can come our way, vs 2-3, we know we have safety and a sure help, because of who He is. So much in our world could cause us to doubt but rest assured in the fact that God is our refuge and strength. What doubt is tearing you apart right now? What is it that is worrying you, making it hard for you to sleep, hard to settle down and find rest? Take courage in the refuge.
II. THE RIVER. (vs 4-7)
Naturally speaking, this river to Hezekiah spoke of his present circumstances. One way and enemy used to gain victory over a city was to stop the food and water supply into the city. Hezekiah took precautions to see that the city had water while it was besieged. Their water supply was exposed, so Hezekiah diverted the water through a conduit 1,777 ft long into a reservoir inside the city walls. He then completely covered the spring so the enemy couldn't see it. While the city was under siege they had plenty of water that they enemy knew nothing about. The city had a secret river that kept them strong and the enemy didn’t know it. There is a secret river that God has put in our souls, John 7:38-He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. What does that mean? Jesus went on in vs 39-(But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive.) We have a generous provision in the Holy Spirit. He is our secret source of sufficient supply. What a Comforter He is. In vs 5 he talks about how God is in the midst of her and surely He is in the very midst of our situation. Though the enemy may rage, vs 6, God is the one in complete control. I'm glad I have a secret river deep within my heart that the enemy cannot stop from flowing, supplying me with grace and strength in my time of need.
III. THE RULER. (vs 8-11)
In these final verses there is the call to just stop and ponder, stop and consider the great hand and power of our God. When you feel doubt arise in your mind and heart, take a stroll back down through the pages of God's word and read once again how God has worked in days past. Read of victories when all seemed hopeless. Then stroll through the pages of your mind of how He has come through for you in your own life time and time again. He has never failed me once and He never will. Don't ever forget who He is and that He is always faithful to His own.
The Lord of hosts, which means all the hosts of heaven, is with us. He is with us in the car, with us washing dishes, with us at the house, with us on the job, with us in our financial binds, with us in loneliness and weakness, with us despite our failings and faults. He is with us. Don’t ever doubt that! Though, at times, the odds often seem against us, when you have the Lord on your side your always in the majority. God help us to always trust you in all things!
June 8, 2020
LIVING BEYOND DIFFICULT PEOPLE
Can I ask you a silly question today? Do you have any difficult people in your life? It may be a difficult relative or co-worker. It may be a person that you've considered a friend or a close acquaintance. It may just be someone that you have some regular contact with somehow in life, but they are what you would call a difficult person to deal with. Well, I have news for you, life is filled with difficult people. They're everywhere!! I'm afraid we're going to have to deal with them till the Lord calls us home. But, there is some help that we can find in the Word of God in dealing with difficult people. There are a few things given to us from the life of David as he gives it in Psalm 54. According to the title of the psalm it has to do with the story found in David's life recorded in 1 Samuel 23. David is fleeing from Saul and finds a place that he thinks is a place of safety in the Ziphite territory. It is within his own home tribe of Judah. Where else do you think you'd be safe, but around people you know and who know you? Well, a place of safety it's not and a people he can trust they are not, for they go to King Saul and tell him that David where David is hiding out, so once again he has to flee for his life. It is during this time that David pens the words of this psalm, when he has been hurt and disappointed by people he thought he could trust. He gives us some things we can do when we deal with difficult people.
I. NOTICE DAVID'S FIRST REACTION. (vs 1-3)
He cries out to God about the situation and asks the Lord to help him. That's exactly what we'd expect David to do, isn't it? Isn't that what we ought to do as well? When people have hurt us or let us down? When someone has intentionally set out to do damage to our lives? When those things happen to us, our first reaction ought never be retaliation, but to pray about the situation. David honestly tells the Lord all about it. Sure, the Lord knew, but David just pours it all out to God in prayer. And so should we. If you've been hurt by someone, pour it all our to God in prayer. He is the one who truly can do something about the whole situation anyway.
II. NOTICE DAVID'S FURTHER REACTION. (vs 4-5)
He seems to be speaking to himself, encouraging himself in the Lord. There's nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with just reminding yourself how reliable the Lord is to His own. That He is the one who will help us in such a time when others have turned against us. He will never do so. He is always faithful to His own. He then says something about His faith that the Lord will deal with those who work against him. He is putting them in the Lord's hands. That's what we must do. David knew that somewhere, sometime God would turn the work of his enemies against them and bring good out of it. David could have taken matters in his own hand more than once but would not do so. Never take matters in your own hands, but leave it in the hands of the only one who knows the whole situation and who can handle it in the right way.
III. NOTICE DAVID'S FINAL REACTION. (vs 6-7)
After all these things, praying about the situation and encouraging himself in the Lord, David then begins to just praise the Lord. He rejoiced in the fact of God's past deliverances and how he had seen the hand of the Lord work then and it gave him confidence in how the Lord would work now. Part of the reason for this could be from what 1 Samuel 23:27-28 says, But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land. Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines. Now read vs 6-7 again. You can almost see David slapping his knee with laughter and saying, "God, you did it again!" When we leave difficult people in His hand's, He will do the work in His way and in His time.
Difficult people are always going to be a part of our lives. If we allow it to happen, they will dominate our thinking and drain our energy. The first thing we need to do is pray; pray for them and for ourselves. Secondly, we need realize where you stand with God and encourage ourselves with the fact that He is our helper who is faithful at all times, though others may not be. Then lastly, leave it all in the hands of God and just go ahead, praise Him for all He has done and is doing in your life. I will leave you with one final thought found in Romans 12:20-21. Paul says, Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. As strange as it may seem, by showing love toward those who’ve made you’re life difficult often relieves your burden and lets God do some work on them. Is that easy? By all means, no, but with the Lord's help it can be done, when you pray for His help. Don't let difficult people get you down. Trust them in the Lord's hands.
May 21, 2020
THE GRIND OF LIFE'S DIFFICULTIES
I'm looking at Psalm 3 for just a few moments today. It is the first of the psalms that has a title with it, which sheds a flood of light on the psalm itself. It is taken from the events of 2 Samuel 15-17 during the time when Absalom returned from exile only to begin a conspiracy against his father. He summoned his followers to Hebron and marched on Jerusalem. David had to do the unthinkable; he had to flee the throne and lodge in the wilderness till the rebellion was put down. In this psalm David gets to the heart of the matter; that he was facing a time of trouble. This psalm describes what David went through during this time of difficulty in his life. The Lord has preserved for us a look into the thoughts and feelings of David during this trial. He is feeling the grind of the difficulty. It is the story of human life for the same trials and sorrows are common to all the saints of God, in every age, who live by faith in the Lord. Trials / difficulties have a way of grinding on us; wearing on us emotionally, physically and even spiritually. Notice with me how David faced the grind of life's difficulties in this psalm.
I. THE PRESSURE OF DAVID'S FOES. (vs 1-2)
You can sense in these two verses the multitude of pressure against David in the first part of vs 1 and the magnitude of the pressure in the last part of the verse. David seems to be astonished at the swiftness of how they came. Troubles often seem to come suddenly; snowballing on us. They seem to come in bunches and often multiply quickly. One moment David was king and the next moment he was an outcast on the run. How often it suddenly seems that our world is falling apart; our life gets all messed up and the enemy seems to have the upper hand. And then there were those telling him that his God was no help for him, vs 2. Boy, doesn't the devil do that to us also? Whispering in our ears an attack on our God that He has left us alone to face life? Then notice--
II. THE PROTECTION OF DAVID'S GOD. (vs 3-4)
David’s response to what others were saying was this. His trust remains unshaken in his God. Real trust in our times of trouble comes from a true understanding of all that God is and has put at our disposal. Instead of giving up, David began to rehearse in his mind and heart what he had in God. Be careful that you don’t major too much on the enemy and lose sight of God’s power and protection. He realizes his safety is in the Lord; the Lord is his shield, which is the idea of being completely surrounded. The Lord has you and I covered in all of our troubles. He also realizes in the Lord is his sufficiency. When he says, my glory, he is talking about the Lord's presence with him. I'm so thankful we always have His presence with us at all times. Then he said the Lord was the lifter up of mine head; it is the idea of being his strength. When the enemy has come in like a flood; when our heads hang low; when the insults have cut our hearts; when sorrows have beaten us down; when we fear the future; the Lord is the lifter up of our heads. He will lift us up when our heads hang low. Then lastly notice--
III. THE PEACEFULNESS OF DAVID'S HEART. (vs 5-8)
David knows that though he has been driven from the palace in Jerusalem he has not been driven from his position in the Lord. He may be outside the sheltering walls of the city but he’s still within the sheltering arms of God. You can see the confidence and the courage that David has in the Lord. You can feel the peace that he has in his heart because of that courage in the Lord. He is able to sleep. So many struggle to find a good night's sleep because of worry and anxiety, but David had learned to leave these things in the Lord's hands for he said he slept for the LORD sustained me. In the last verses of the psalm you can see how David had put it all in the Lord's hands to handle. He was saying, "Lord, you save me. You take care of my enemies. You deal with them all." That's what we have to learn to do is put it all in His hands and let Him handle it all for us.
Though storms may rage around us, in the depths of our soul He can bring the calm we need. It is a peace that the world cannot give and cannot take away. David comes to the end and says, “Selah”. The idea is, "Now, what do you think of that?" Though the foes oppose us and oppress us; though they may have opinions that trouble us, we can rest assured that our God will never leave us nor forsake us. He will help us through the grind of life's difficulties. Lean on Him today. He will not fail you.
May 14, 2020
FACING THE DAILY GRIND
Life has its way of grinding on us all, doesn't it? It isn't anything new for that is just how life is and has been down through the centuries for mankind. It is the toil of all that life puts on us when it comes to work, family, responsibilities, duties and the list seems to go on and on. Then you can add the pressures that come from being a Christian in a wicked world and the problems intensify for us all. Before you know it, you feel the grind of it all on your life. You wake up to face a new day with the dread of all you have to deal with. David in Psalm 5 experienced much the same things but he had a wonderful approach of how he dealt with the daily grind.
1. He began his day by asking the Lord to hear him, vs 1-6. That is how he started his day. Before he faced all that he faced; before he dealt with life and all that it would involve David talked to the Lord and asked for Him to give audience to what he had to say; to hear his voice. Can I ask you this? Is that how you start your day or do you grab a pop-tart heading out the door? How we need to slow down long enough to spend some time talking to the Lord before we rush out to face the day. In vs 4-6 David speaks of the wickedness of people and of the day. David knew he would go out into a world to face those things and wanted to talk to the Lord before he did.
2. He then asked the Lord to direct him, vs 7-9. David didn't want to end up going in the ways of the wicked so he asked the Lord to lead him the right way to go. The word lead means to govern or guide. We ought to ask that of the Lord at the beginning of every day. We don't know what we might face. We don't know what dangers we may encounter or temptations we may face. We need His help to find the right way to go. The idea of vs 9 seems to be that he wants his speech to be right, his actions to be right in line with God as opposed to the ways of the wicked.
3. He lastly asked the Lord to protect him, vs 10-12. David desired the Lord to keep him safe from those who sought to destroy his life. For him that meant physical, as well as, spiritual enemies. It could mean the same for us, but more so, our spiritual foes. We have a spiritual foe, the devil, that seeks to undermine our lives; to defeat, to discourage, to destroy our testimonies any way that he can. David seeks the Lord's protection as he faces the daily grind of life. The word defendest means to fence in, cover over or hedge about. That is what he desired and what we desperately need each day.
With that prayer prayed David is ready to face the grind of life. As a matter of fact, he ends the psalm with praise. I believe if we start the day in such a manner we can head out with joy in our hearts as well to face the daily grind.
April 23, 2020
VIEWING LIFE THROUGH THE RIGHT LENS 2 Kings 6:8-23
I have worn glasses all my life. As I have gotten older the changes in my eyesight becomes more apparent. Each year now I have to see the doctor and she checks my vision. She puts that weird contraption up to my face and flips from one lens to another in an attempt to clear things up. The letters at first seem blurry and I can't make them out. She'll say, "Can you read this line?" And I'll try. She'll flip another lens and say, "Is that better or worse?" What a blessing it is when she gets to the right lens and I can view things as they truly are. In the story of 2 Kings 6 there is a servant of Elisha that things weren't clear for him. He was seeing the enemy but wasn't viewing things as they really were. That's how it so often is with us. Often life gets confusing; things get out of focus to us and aren’t clear but what a difference it makes when we view life through the right lens.
I. PRESENCE OF THE FOE. (8-14)
The Syrian army was a thorn in Israel’s side. They were continually rising up against them. What is described isn’t a major war but the harassing kind of attack; plundering the land for the damage they could do and for what they could take.
**Larger picture for us is that we are in a battle. The enemy we face is real; his presence is real and he seeks to capture our thoughts and bring us into captivity. Eph 6:12-For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
**We may at times avoid him but, mark it down, there will come days when you feel overwhelmed and surrounded as they did by a great host in vs 14. They were compassed and outnumbered. At times the enemy attacks through a person; sometimes through a situation; but whatever the case, his desire is to make you feel the pressure on your life and to make you feel overwhelmed and outnumbered.
II. POTENTIAL FOR FEAR. (15-16a)
Question of the servant to Elisha was what shall we do or how will we make it thru this? Do you ever feel that way? We all do on occasions. We know we are to be a people of faith; we know that the God we serve is real but we all on occasions succumb to fear (what if or what will we do).
How often do we allow things to cause life to get out of focus to us? How often do we focus on the problems we face rather than the Lord we serve? Psa 25:15-Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. There is the presence of the foe & the potential for fear.
III. POWERFUL FORCE. (16b-23)
There is a pronouncement of why we shouldn’t fear, v 16b. There was a day when king Hezekiah faced a might enemy. He received a word from God and said in 2 Chron 32:8-With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us, and to fight our battles. In other words he said, they have horses; they have chariots; they have a great host; they have weapons of warfare—but we have the Lord! He was looking at the situation through the right lens.
**When we do it corrects our perception, vs 17-he saw; and it corrects our perspective, vs 17. The psalmist Asaph was struggling in Psalm 73 to put things into perspective. If you read vs 1-3, 5, 17. He couldn't understand the prosperity of the wicked and the problems of the saints. He wasn’t looking at things through the right lens until he went into the sanctuary. He said, Then understood I there end. It was then he understood.
When the Lord opened eyes of the servant, vs 17, he saw that the Lord has surrounded the man of God with horses and chariots of fire that he could not see before. There is the host of Heaven that God will dispatch to take care of one of His children. If He took care of His servant then, don't you worry, He will take care of you and I today.
What is it that has you surrounded, overwhelmed & worried today? Open your eyes to see Him; He has all you need. Viewing through the right lens changes fear to faith; gives a clear picture of who we serve! If God be for us who can be against us!
April 15, 2020
Psalm 91:1-2, 4-He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
We aren't told who penned this psalm though most writers link this psalm to the last in which Moses was the human author. It is suggested that it was written during the days of the wilderness journeys of Israel. It depicts for us the security of the person who puts his trust totally in the Lord. You know, as well as I, that this world in which we live is a wilderness journey. Nowhere did the Lord tell us that this way we would travel would be carefree or trouble free. As a matter of fact, He tells us just the opposite; that in this world we’re going to have tribulation. In the midst of days of trouble; in the midst of days of wilderness travels; in the midst of days when the hot sun of life is beating down on the back of your neck you need a psalm such as this. The theme that seems to stand out so vividly in this psalm is that of a hiding place. I don’t know about you but there are times that I desperately need such a place; a place where I can find refuge in my time of need. Whoever the psalmist was, we know that God is the author of the psalm and that He has placed here a truth that works, not just in days past for an ancient people traveling through the wilderness of Sinai, but it is a truth that works for an anxious people traveling through the wilderness of life.
We all, at times, need a hiding place. It doesn’t matter who you are, how strong you are, how self-sufficient you feel about yourself, there comes a time in your life when you need such a place. It is a place that is away from the pull of this world; a place away from the pressures of this world; a place away from the problems of this world. Every one of us needs such a place. It was a for the psalmist—
1. Secret place. (1) The idea is a hiding place. For the psalmist it was a place of nearness to the Lord (to be in the shadow of something speaks of nearness). This place, in one sense of the word, is such a secret place. Psa 27:5-For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. He called Him the most High; He who is lofty; He who is in control of all things. He is my secret place.
2. Safe place. (1b-2) Word Almighty is the Hebrew word Shaddai, which means the one who is all sufficient. This Almighty one is a refuge; a place of shelter; a place to find safety. He is also a fortress; it carries the idea of being surrounded. Psa 125:2-As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever. The psalmist declares that he is my God; in him will I trust. Psalmist declares it a secret place, safe place and a—
3. Secure place. (4) I once read of a missionary in Africa that described a forest fire that had swept through the bush leaving death and destruction. After the fire had passed, he walked a trail viewing the devastation. He saw a nest on the side of the road and he saw the charred remains of a mother hen. He moved the remains with his foot and out from under the burned carcass of the hen came her baby chicks that had been kept safe from the fire. It's the same idea here. Some say it could also refer to the wings of the cherubims covering the mercy seat in the Tabernacle. In that secret place of God’s presence there was a secure place. It was a place of mercy from the storm of God's wrath on sin. Either way it is a place of security.
Are you needing such a place today? In Him there is a hiding place from all that life puts on us. He is my refuge and my fortress. He is the Almighty One!
April 10, 2020
"One day at a time, with its failures and fears, with its hurts and mistakes, with its weakness and tears,
With its portion of pain and its burden of care--one day at a time we must meet and must bear.
One day at a time to be patient and strong, to be calm under trial and sweet under wrong--
Then its toiling shall pass and its sorrow shall cease; it shall darken and die and the night shall bring peace.
One day at a time, but the day is so long and the heart is not brave and the soul is not strong.
O Thou merciful Christ, be Thou near all the way; give courage and patience and strength for the day.
Swift cometh His answer, so clear and so sweet: 'Yea, I will be with thee, thy troubles to meet;
I will not forget thee nor fail thee nor grieve; I will not forsake thee; I never will leave.'
Not yesterday's load we are called on to bear, nor the morrow's uncertain and shadowy care.
Why should we look forward or back with dismay? Our needs, as our mercies, are but for the day.
One day at a time and the day is His day; He hath numbered its hours, though they haste or delay.
His grace is sufficient; we walk not alone. As the day, so the strength that He giveth His own."
---Annie Johnson Flint
April 8, 2020
Billy Graham once wrote,
"It has often been pointed out that Jesus lived in a small country and never went beyond its borders. He was so poor that He said He had nowhere to lay His head. His only pocketbook was the mouth of a fish. He rode on another man's beast. He cruised the lake in another man's boat. He was buried in another man's grave. And He had laid aside a royal robe for all this.
He never wrote a book. His recorded words would hardly make a pocket edition. Yet if all the words that have been written about Him were brought together, they would fill a thousand libraries.
He never founded a college to perpetuate His doctrines. Yet His teachings have endured for more than two thousand years.
He never carried a sword, He never organized an army, He never built a navy, and He never had an air force. Yet He founded an empire in which there are millions today who would die for Him.
And His name is "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Praise His name!" (Billy Graham - "Wisdom for Each Day")
To this I say Amen and Hallelujah!!
March 31, 2020
AN USHAKEN GOD IN A SHAKING WORLD
Everything seems so shaken in our world right now. Our minds and hearts are torn by what we are seeing go on throughout our world and even in our own nation, state and community. Things that just a short time ago seemed so normal for us are so strained now and abnormal. I know in time it will settle down, but for now things are so unsettled. I thought this morning about what Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:19-Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knowth them that are his.
Thank God this morning that we can look at the world that is shaking and say, "Nevertheless" or in spite of that; in spite of all we see, in spite of all we hear, in spite of all that is going on, the foundation of God stands sure!
For one thing, the foundation of His position stands sure--everything about Him stands firm today. Nothing about what has happened, is happening or will happen will ever change that. His foundation is sure. He sits firmly in control. We may not fully understand His plan or His purpose, but He has not lost control of anything today. Things change; times change; circumstances change; life changes, but He never changes.
Then, the commitment to His children stands sure--He knows them that are His. He knows where each and every one of His children are at all times and in every situation. He knows our burdens. He knows our fears. He knows our cares. He knows our needs. He knows everything about us and He cares like no one else can.
He has committed Himself to my needs and my care. I am so thankful that He loves me in such a way. Nothing that is going on in our world today has our God shaking whatsoever. His foundation stands sure and so does His commitment to His children. Rest in such love and trust in such care for He will never fail to take care of His own.
March 25, 2020
A CHRISTIAN'S RESPONSE TO COVID-19
It's amazing how the events of the past several weeks have changed our thinking and way of life. There are those that, no doubt for the first time in many years, it has caused them to think of the end times and of the coming of the Lord. We read the prophecies of the book of the Revelation and wonder about those days. I received an email just the other day and the headline of the email asked this question, "Is Coronavirus One of the Plagues in the Book of Revelation?" I thought, "Wow!" Well, I will answer that question before moving on--the answer is NO, it is NOT one of the plagues in the book of Revelation. It is something though how people have started thinking about the end times because of this pandemic. To be honest though I think this pandemic has given us a small picture of what it will be like AFTER the rapture of the church. It will be a time of great confusion and fear. It will be a time when the world will be looking for answers to all the events coming on this earth after the church is raptured out. It will be a time with indivdual leaders of nations searching for answers but all of those nations will be willing to come together under one man's leadership. And it will be a time when the Antichrist will appear on the scene having those answers for the world and bringing the whole world together under his system of government. With his charisma and wisdom he will seem to have all the answers they seek for and the nations of the world will submit to his leadership in a one world order.
There has always been a fascination with the end times and a desire to see if we can know exactly when it will be. We read in the gospel record of how that near the end of Jesus' ministry the disciples heard Him say that the stones of the Temple would one day be thrown down. These words troubled them so greatly that when Peter, James, John and Andrew had to opportunity to get Him alone they asked Him when those things would be and what would be the sign when all those things would be fulfilled. (See Matthew 24, Mark 13 or Luke 21) Jesus then gave them what is called the great Olivet Discourse of the end times. We must keep in mind that what He taught them was primarily Jewish in nature and dealt with the days of Tribulation. They DO NOT predict the rapture of the church. Now with that said, it doesn't mean that there won't be some of those things seen in various generations before the coming of the Lord. We do see nations rising against nations. We are seeing earthquakes in divers places. We do see famines throught our world. We have seen pestilence and pandemics before, and are seeing it right now and if the Lord doesn't come soon, our world will no doubt see all these things again and again.
But with what we are seeing now how do we as Christians need to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic? What does this pandemic teach us?
First of all, if there is anything these things have taught us, they have taught us that life is a fragile thing and that it can change in an instant. No matter who you are; no matter how wealthy you are; no matter what position you hold; no matter your social status, life can change in an instant and we must be ready to meet the Lord. Just this morning I heard on the news that Britain's Prince Charles tested positive for Covid-19. We have heard of ahtletes, movie stars, politicians along with all the countless ordinary individuals that have contracted this virus. It reminds us that life is a fragile thing and can change quickly. We can be healthy one day and sick the next. Only the Lord knows what lies ahead for any of us. It was the psalmist David that declared in Psalm 15:31-My times are in thy hand. So we realize life is fragile and can quickly change for any of us.
Secondly, it ought to teach us that we need to be prepared for the coming of the Lord. Is this pandemic a sign that His coming is near? Not necessarily, but the fact is, He is coming and I believe very soon. As a matter of fact, He can come at any moment. With it causing so many people's thoughts being carried away to the end of the world scenarios or the time of Tribulation on the earth, it ought to cause us to realize that the next great event on God's prophetic calendar is the Rapture of the church. I have said and preached for a long time that Jesus is coming soon and we need to be ready. According to the Bible there is not going to be any particular signs or warnings given prior to His coming. The Bible just says for us to be ready and that He will come as a thief in the night. No thief gives you any advanced warning that He is coming to break into your house. There will come a day when the Trumpet of God will sound, the dead in Christ will rise first and those who are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. That is the Blessed Hope of every child of God. We will not, as the church, go through any part of the Tribulation Period that is to come on this earth. Not a single one of God's children will be left behind to face that awful time that is coming on the earth during those Seven Years of Tribulation.
Thirdly, it ought to teach us that the most important thing in life is not trying to determine how the current events figure into the scope of God's prophetic program, but to realize that there are people who need to know the Lord. There may be someone that you can use this situation as an opportunity to tell them about Jesus Christ and of His amazing love for them. It has created uncertainty in so many people's lives. It is an opportunity that we, as God's children, have to be an example of what a child of God ought to be in a time such as this. It reminds me of the words Mordecai said to Esther in Esther 4:14-and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? God has placed us here in this world at such a time as this. We have a certain future and a glorious hope in Christ Jesus. So, maybe the Lord can use us to be a light for Him during this dark time. As someone said, "When Jesus returns, I assure you that He will not commend those who have accurately predicted the date of His coming, but He will say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant' to those who have been busy heralding the good news of Heaven throughout the bad-news earth." To someone who is fearful or afraid we can be a witness of hope that is found only in Christ.
Then last of all, a Christian response to Covid-19 must be one of faith. We do not understand all about these things, but we do know that the Lord is sovereign in His purpose and He will peform His will perfectly in the world. We know that among the billions of people in this world there is a group of people that are His children that He has promised to take care of and that He will provide for till the end of the world. He has promised that He would never leave us and that would never forsake us. He has assured us of His presence no matter what life may bring to us. So, we must trust His promises and live by faith in His word.
The days ahead are still uncertain for all of us and it's hard to say when it all will calm back down, but there is One who holds it all in the palm of His hand and He is my Heavenly Father and my Father has promised to take care of me, His child, till I get home. So I encourage each of you to continue to pray as you have never prayed before. Pray for one another that through these things God will keep us in His care till the storm passes by. Pray for our community, our state, our nation and our world that God would meet the needs of those who are sick and hurting and save sinners by His grace and comfort those who are in need.