Thursday, May 26, 2016

Who Wants Life?

What man is he who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”
Psalm 34:12–14

This is so simple!  If you want eternal life, just do these things: tell the truth and be honest, do good instead of evil, and strive for peace with everyone.
God is not hard.  We can do these things, and if we do them, God will guide us into eternal life.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

While He May Be Found

To you, I acknowledged my sin, and my iniquity have I not hid.
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD’,
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.  For this,
every one that is godly shall pray to you in a time when you may be found.
Psalm 32:56a

An invitation from God to confess and be forgiven is a precious opportunity, and when God offers it, the wise take advantage of it.  The Bible contains a number of stories of people who missed their chance to be forgiven, such as Esau who “found no place of repentance, even though he earnestly sought it with tears” (Heb. 12:17).  It doesn’t matter how much you cry and pray when God is not offering forgiveness.
Seek the LORD while He may be found,” said Isaiah, “call upon Him while He is near!” (Isa. 55:6).  Wise counsel.  May we all do that.  For the day is coming when God will again close the door to mercy, and on that day, “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  May God grant us grace to be among those who will be rejoicing instead!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Even the “Falling Down” Part

So, Judas, having received a cohort, as well as officers from the chief priests
and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, and torches, and weapons.
Then Jesus, knowing all things that were coming upon him,
went out and said to them,‘Who are you looking for?’
They answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am he.’  
(And Judas, the one who betrayed him, was also standing among them.)
Then, when he said to them, ‘I am he’,
they went backward and fell to the ground.”
excerpts, John 18:3–6

When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes,
came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
Psalm 27:2

God knew everything that would happen to His Son long before it took place.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Acceptable Service

I will wash mine hands in innocency; so will I compass thine altar, O LORD,
that I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving,
and tell of all thy wondrous works.
Psalm 26:6–7

But to the wicked, God says, ‘What have you to do, to declare my statutes,
or that you should take my covenant into your mouth?’
Psalm 50:16

David understood that for worship of God to be acceptable, the worshipper must have “clean hands and a pure heart”.  He also knew that to serve God by speaking to others about Him accomplishes good only if the speaker is innocent in God’s sight.  To go about serving God with sin in your heart is worse than having sinned in the first place.  It is hypocrisy.
This is why God warns the wicked not to speak about Him.  He does not approve of sinful people testifying about His righteousness.  He does not accept that kind of service.  He wants the wicked to repent and be made righteous, then tell others about Him!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Doing Good in Hard Times

Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry.
But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold;
he shall give all the substance of his house.
Proverbs 6:30–31

Circumstances may put a person in such a difficult position that he feels he has no option but to do something wrong in order to survive.  A man who steals to feed his family, for instance, is not condemned by others because people know they would probably do the same wrong thing in the same difficult circumstance.
It is the man who chooses evil when he is not under pressure to do so that is condemned by society, and rightly so.  “Let them be ashamed”, said David, “who transgress without cause!” (Ps. 25:3b).
But there is something else to consider.  What about those who are hungry but refuse to steal?  What about those who suffer, but keep God’s commandments anyway?  This path, the path of stubborn righteousness and faith toward God, is open to everyone who is suffering.  Men may not despise a thief if he steals because he is hungry; still, God will judge his sin because the path of faith was available to him, if he had wanted to take it.
In God’s eyes, there is no excuse for sin, even though people will not condemn sin in certain circumstances.  The soul is wise who chooses to do good in hard times instead of doing evil and blaming hard times for it.  For God will reward us all according to our works, whatever our circumstances.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Unremembered Counsel

I will bless the Lord, who has given me counsel.
My reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
Psalm 16:7

Some instructions the Lord gives us come to us while we are asleep, in the form of dreams.  We may or may not remember such a dream; that doesn’t matter.  What matters is the residual effect of the dream on our spirit.  God uses dreams to adjust our attitude and give us direction even if we do not remember the dream when we wake up.
We bless the Lord for giving counsel, even if “our minds are unfruitful”; that is, even if we don’t remember the counsel He has given.  As long as our hearts are influenced by it, we are blessed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Perfect Heart

You have proved my heart; you have visited me in the night;
you have tried me, and shall find nothing;
I am determined that my mouth shall not transgress.
Psalm 17:3

This is perfection, and this is how you live your life when you walk in the Spirit.  Perfection does not mean you never drop a fork, or never trip on a rug, or always understand everything.  Perfection is a heart that will not lie, a heart that is determined to live uprightly in all situations.  Perfection is a heart like God’s, and that kind of heart passes every test.  When Jesus said, “Be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect,” this is the perfection he was talking about.  And he was telling us that it is doable.
Do not believe those who say that you can never be perfect.  They say that because of their unbelief.  You believe God, and He will lead you into perfection.  It’s the only place He ever leads any of His children.

Monday, May 9, 2016

One God; One Way of Worship

Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god:
their drink offerings of blood will I not offer,
nor take up their names into my lips.”
Psalm 16:4

The holiness and glory of God is so great that it demands exclusivity; that is, it demands that we worship Him and no other.  In practical terms, this means that we worship Him as He says to worship Him, and no other way.
This is why we do not add ceremonies to the way of worship God created through His Son.  Jesus said that the Father desires to be worshipped “in spirit and in truth.”  And if God has revealed how we are to worship Him, who are we to choose another way of worship?  Who are we?  But more importantly, who is God?
O LORD God, there is none like thee.”  He is infinitely wise, and good, and mighty, and holy.   He has condescended to speak to us and He has revealed how we can worship Him acceptably!  That one thing – that He deigned to show us the way – is what makes all other ways of worship so wrong that godly souls refuse to participate in them.
The sorrows of those who worship in a way that pleases themselves instead of in the way that pleases God shall indeed “be multiplied”.  But the joys and pleasures of those who obey God also “shall be multiplied”, as God promised in this same Psalm! “You will show me the path of life [and I will walk in it!]  In your presence is fulness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Psalm 16

O my soul , you have said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord!
My goodness does not extend to you, but to the saints that are in the earth,
and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.’
Psalm 16:1–2

This was the Son, talking to the Father and confessing that the Father is so great that there was nothing he (the Son) could do to make Him greater.  The only thing the Son could do was make the Father happy, and this he did by loving and blessing those on earth whom the Father loved.
It is the same with us and the Son.  Jesus has been “exalted above the heavens” and is “most blessed, forever.”  There is absolutely nothing we can do to make him more blessed than the Father has made him.  The only thing we can do is make Jesus happy, and this we do by loving and blessing those on earth whom Jesus loves.  Remember what Jesus said: “As often as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.”
If you want favor with God, then love and bless His children.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Psalm 15: What To Do To Be Saved Part Four

LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle?
Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? . . .
‘He that does not lend money on interest,
or take a reward against the innocent.
He that does these things shall never be moved.’
Psalm 15:1, 5

Requirement #8: Be merciful to those who are vulnerable.
The Amalekites took advantage of every defenseless person they ever met.  That is why God swore to Moses that He would eradicate them from the earth.  Godly people are not like Amalekites; they have compassion on those less fortunate than they.  If you can help one of God’s people with a loan, just do it without using the opportunity to enrich yourself.  Remember, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD.

Requirement #9: Do not lie for money.
You do not have to like everybody, but you absolutely must treat everybody honestly.  If someone is innocent, then he is innocent.  Do not be influenced by money to speak evil of anyone when you (1) know he is innocent and (2) when you don’t know for certain that he is guilty.  Maintain your integrity.

God has promised that those who live according to these simple rules of personal integrity will live forever.  Resist the pressures around you to compromise on any of them.  God will remember your faithfulness, and He is “not slack concerning His promises.”  You will be blessed with His eternal favor, and from that blessing, you “shall never be moved.”

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Psalm 15: What To Do To Be Saved Part Three

LORD, who shall abide in your tabernacle?
Who shall dwell in your holy hill? . . .
‘In whose eyes a vile person is condemned;
but he honors them that fear the LORD.
He that swears to his own hurt, and changes not.’
Psalm 15:1, 4

Requirement #6: Make righteous judgments.
We are required to know what is good and what is evil, and to condemn those who are wicked and to honor those who are godly.  In another place, the Psalmist said that if we want to live, we must “eschew evil”.  But how can we refuse what is evil without judging what is evil?  Or how can we “love what is good”, as God tells us to do, unless we first judge what is good?

Requirement #7: Be faithful.
When a righteous person has given his word that he will do a thing, he will be faithful to the person with whom he made that agreement – whether that other person is Jesus himself or the lowest sinner on earth.  And he will keep his word even if he learns afterward that the deal he made is not the best deal he could have made.  It’s not about the deal; it’s about being trustworthy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Psalm 15: What To Do To Be Saved Part Two

LORD, who shall abide in your tabernacle?
Who shall dwell in your holy hill? . . .
‘He that does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor.’
Psalm 15:1, 3

Requirement #3: Do not backbite.
When someone in authority speaks to us, God requires us to acknowledge that person’s God-given authority by not talking back at him in a sarcastic or rebellious manner.  Those who are saved in the end will be those who have respected in this life the “higher powers” that God ordained.

Requirement #4: Love others.
Love does no harm to its neighbor”, wrote Paul; “therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Requirement #5: Do not repeat gossip.
When a “reproach”, that is, a slanderous comment, is spoken against someone in our hearing, we must not “take it up” and carry it around to others.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Psalm 15: What To Do To Be Saved Part One

LORD, who shall abide in your tabernacle?
Who shall dwell in your holy hill?
‘He that walks uprightly, and works righteousness,
and speaks the truth in his heart.’
Psalm 15:1–2

David was moved by the Spirit to ask God who would be saved in the end, at the Final Judgment.  Then, immediately, God spoke back to David, through David’s own mouth, and answered his question, revealing what will be required of all who hope to meet Him in peace.  God began with these two requirements.  Meditate on them, and ask Jesus to help you live this way.

Requirement #1: Do righteousness.
This is God’s righteousness, not our own, and to be able to do His kind of righteousness, we must receive His Spirit, for the holy Spirit, alone, gives us the power to understand and live in God’s kind of righteousness.

Requirement #2: Be honest-hearted.
To speak the truth in your heart means that you are honest with yourself, about yourself and all others, including those you love most.  An honest-hearted man would rather see the truth, whatever it is and whoever it is about, than to look the other way and pretend the truth is not there.

Monday, May 2, 2016

If All Men Believed

You have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge.”
Psalm 14:6

The answer to all of life’s perplexing questions is Jesus, the Son of God.  If all men would humble themselves to Jesus, there would be peace everywhere.   There would be no crime, and no need for police or law courts.  If men would humble themselves to the Lord, love for others would reign in men’s hearts, and there would be no conflicts and no wars.  Political and social strife would cease altogether because those who walk with Jesus in the Spirit walk in harmony.
Hospital and medical clinics would become obsolete, for healing would flow like a river from Jesus, who “heals every disease.”  Hunger and poverty would cease to exist because the Father would “supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
What a wonderful world this would be if all men would believe!  Let’s do our part to make our part of this world like that, to make those around us feel secure and surrounded with love.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Power to Influence

Be followers of me, just as I also follow Christ.”
1Corinthians 11:1

The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.”
Psalm 12:8

Those whom God puts in positions of authority have a great responsibility to be and to do good because they are in a position of influence.  The ordination of God to be a leader brings with it power to move people, their thoughts and their feelings, not just the power to command, judge, and guide.  But will the person to whom God gives power use it wisely, for good, or use it foolishly, for evil?  If he uses it wisely, those under him will be and do good because his example has authority from God.  If he uses his power from God foolishly, those under him will drift toward evil for the same reason.
This is why Paul exhorted the saints to “pray for all who are in authority”.  He knew that “there is no power but of God.  And inasmuch as God has put them in office, those authorities have power that cannot hardly be resisted; it is the great power to influence others to do good, or to do evil.