Thursday, September 29, 2016

Living Perfect before God

I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way.  O when will you come to me?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”
Psalm 101:2

This is doable.  If David and others, such as Abraham (Gen. 17:1), walked perfect before God in the Old Testament, then certainly, we can walk perfect before God in the New.
More importantly, however, humbling ourselves to walk before the LORD with a perfect heart opens the way for Jesus to come to us.  And to have the Lord Jesus personally come to us is the greatest blessing possible on this side of the grave.  Let us firmly set our course and conduct ourselves in a perfect way in this life.  Then, if God will, we may experience the sweetness and glory of Jesus’ presence while we live in this world.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Proud Look

He who has a high look and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.”
Psalm 101:5

It is a good thing to care about our physical appearance.  We should love others enough to make the effort to be clean and presentable.  But it is not good when concern for one’s appearance consumes one’s attention.  The Bible says “a proud look” is one of the very worst of sins.  In fact, it is listed first among the seven sins God hates most:  “These six things does the LORD hate; yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look . . .” (Prov. 6:16–17).
So, go ahead and dress nice and comb your hair.  But remember that while people are judging you by your appearance, God is judging your heart.

Monday, September 26, 2016

No Choice

Choose this day whom you will serve.”
Joshua 24:15

It is a blessing, a precious gift from God, to have choices, and Solomon encouraged young people to enjoy it: “Rejoice, O young man . . . and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes” (Eccl. 11:9a).  In other words, go ahead and make the choices you want to make.  And then, Solomon added this caution: “But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment” (Eccl. 11:9).
The judgment for the choices we make in this life is certain, and it belongs to God, not to us.  After we have made our choices here in this life, no choice remains for us at all.  The result of our choices, God’s eternal Judgment, is not ours at all.  May God help us make good choices now, so that God will choose to save us later.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

God’s Salvation and Righteousness

The LORD has made known His salvation.
His righteousness has He openly showed in the sight of the heathen.”
Psalm 98:2

The Spirit sent the old prophet named Simeon to the temple to see the baby Jesus, and as soon as he saw the child, he exclaimed, “Lord, my eyes have seen your salvation!” (Lk. 2:29–30).
Jesus is God’s salvation and God’s righteousness, in person.  The verse above, written when the Son was still hidden and unknown, promised that one day, God would make His beloved Son known to all the earth.  How blessed we are to have been born after He did it!
Think about it.  We can now know God’s salvation and righteousness because God has revealed him!  What a precious gift!  Only a fool would refuse the precious invitation to come and know God’s Son, the righteousness and salvation of God, for he, the man Jesus, is the best friend anyone could ever have.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Even the Smallest Things of Zion

You shall arise, and have mercy upon Zion. . . .
Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor her dust.”
Psalm 102:13–14

Our Jerusalem is in heaven, and it is unlikely that dust and rocks are in her as they are in this earth’s Jerusalem.  But God’s point was not that we should love dust and rocks.  His point was that His true servants prefer even the smallest things about Zion over the best things that other cities have to offer.
The Zion of God is the body of Christ, and His true servants take pleasure in everything about it.  Even the smallest things of the Zion of Christ mean much to them because they have God’s kind of heart.  A servant of God may at times grow tired, and it is appointed to every man once to die, but as long as a true servant of God is here and has his strength, he is eager to do good to Zion, the family of God on earth.
The next verse in Psalm 102 tells us that when God’s servants value the body of Christ above all else, sinners are compelled to fear God.  “For your servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor her dust.  So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth, your glory” (Ps. 102:14–15).
And the next verse in Psalm 102 tells us that when God’s servants love Zion enough for God to use them to build Zion up, the LORD reveals Himself in His glory!  “When the LORD shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory” (Ps. 102:16).
May God fill us with love for the body of Christ!  If He does, sinners will fear God, and God’s children will see His glory.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise!
Psalm 100:3–4

David loved God so much that he believed the animal was honored if it was chosen to be slain and offered in sacrifice on God’s altar.  He once wrote, “The sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God” (Ps. 84:3).
In our beginning verse, David said we are God’s sheep, and he then invites us to joyfully enter God’s courts . . . where sheep were slaughtered and offered on the brass altar that stood in there.  David would have been thrilled at Paul’s exhortation to the saints in Rome: “I entreat you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1).
The gates are open; the fire is burning on the altar for sacrifice that stands in the LORD’s courtyard.  Who among His sheep today will receive David’s exhortation?  Who will follow Jesus’ example and pass through the gate with thanksgiving toward the altar, and enter as a joyful lamb into God’s court?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Coming to Judge

The LORD . . . is coming to judge the earth.  With righteousness
shall He judge the world, and the people with equity.”
Psalm 98:9

With all our Bible study, indeed with all our living, let us never forget the fundamental truth proclaimed in hundreds of verses like the one above: namely, the Lord is coming to judge every one of us.  “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” wrote Paul, “that each may receive recompense for the things done in the body, according to what he did, whether good or bad” (2Cor. 5:10).
There will be no appeal of God’s judgment, no plea bargaining, no excuses accepted.  That judgment will be eternal, final in every respect.  It is no wonder that Paul begins the very next verse (2Cor. 5:11) with “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord. . . .”

Monday, September 19, 2016

To Love God Is To Hate Evil

You who love the LORD, hate evil!
Psalm 97:10a

Hatred of evil is sure proof that our hearts love God.  Everyone who truly loves God abhors wickedness.  Listen to what the Son of God said through David, and feel his great love for his Father: “Do not I hate them, O LORD who hate you?  And am not I grieved with those that rise up against you?  I hate them with perfect hatred.  I count them my enemies!” (Ps. 139:21–22).
May we all love God that deeply and that truly.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

All The Gods Must Worship Him

Worship Him, all you gods. . . .  
For you, LORD, are high above all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.”
Psalm 97:7, 9
The word “gods” is often used in reference to men who are in authority, and to heavenly beings as well.  For example, God told Moses that He would make Moses a god over Pharaoh and Egypt (Ex. 7:1).  However, these verses from Psalm 97 remind us that no matter how much authority men or heavenly beings possess, all those “gods” are to bow at the feet of “the most high God” (Gen. 14:18–19), the One who gave them whatever power they have.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Zacharius: Not Just Dumb

And it came to pass on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child,
and they were calling it by the name of his father Zacharias.
But his mother answered and said, ‘No!  He will be called John.’
And they said to her, ‘There is no one among your relatives
who is called by this name.’ And they motioned to his father,
to see what he wanted him to be called.
Luke 1:59–62

We are told that John the Baptist’s father, Zacharius, was made dumb by God’s angel when the old priest did not believe the angel’s message (Lk. 1:19–20).  But apparently, the angel made Zacharius both deaf and dumb, for there would have been no need for Zacharius’ friends and relatives to make signs to him if he could still hear.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Where God’s Judgment Leads

But judgment shall return unto righteousness,
and all the upright in heart shall follow it.”
Psalm 94:15

God’s judgments show the way to God’s righteousness, as the Psalmist said in another place, “The LORD is known by the judgments He executes” (Ps. 9:16).  And because those who are upright love God’s judgments, they follow them into His righteousness.
Take time to consider the judgments of God; they will make you wise and lead you into God’s kind of righteousness.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

God’s Plants

Those who are planted in the house of the LORD
shall flourish in the courts of our God.
In old age, they shall still bring forth fruit;
they shall be fat and flourishing,
to show that the LORD is upright.
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
Psalm 92:13–15

The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek . . . to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD  that He might be glorified – Isaiah 61:1a, 3.

Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted – Matthew 15:13.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dealing with Injustice

When the wicked sprout up like the grass,
and when all the workers of iniquity flourish,
it is only that they shall be destroyed forever.”
Psalm 92:7

If we remember the truth stated in this verse – the wicked shall be destroyed forever – we will not become bitter when those who turn to wickedness prosper.  In the end, nobody ever “gets by”.  Keeping that in mind gives us the strength to obey God when others do not.
In this world, the wicked sometimes prosper, and the righteous sometimes have little.  Prepare yourself to deal with both of those realities while you live in this world.  If you do, you will find the strength to overcome the oppression of the ungodly.  Your heart will rest in perfect confidence that after this vain life is over, no wicked soul will ever again be blessed and no righteous soul will ever again suffer.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Wicked Rulers

Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with you,
which frames mischief by a law?
They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous,
and condemn the innocent blood.”
Psalm 94:20–21

Those who govern in this world are sometimes very wicked, and they sometimes pass laws to promote their wickedness, laws which oppress the upright and condemn innocent people.  The Bible provides stories of such bad government, such as the story of Nebuchadnezzar making a law that required everyone in his kingdom to bow to his huge golden image.
God can be extraordinarily patient with such evil rulers, and when He is, His children can grow weary as they wait for His judgments to relieve them of the oppression of the wicked.  But be faithful.  Our heavenly Father’s righteous judgment will come.  It always comes.
The author of this wonderful Psalm 94 encouraged himself, and us, in the two verses immediately following the two quoted above.  He concluded his psalm by saying, “But the LORD is my defense, and my God is the rock of my refuge.  And He shall bring upon [wicked rulers] their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the LORD our God shall cut them off.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Christ, the Faithfulness of God

Paul called Jesus Christ both the power of God and the wisdom of God (1Cor. 1:24).  Jesus called himself the way, the truth and the life of God (Jn. 14:6).  Jesus is also our hope (1Tim. 1:1) and the resurrection, in person (Jn. 11:25).  He is the embodiment of God’s love and goodness, and of the grace of God that saves.  He is everything, and the only thing, that redeems man and reveals God to man, not the least of which is God’s faithfulness.  That Christ Jesus is the faithfulness of God is repeatedly suggested in Psalm 89.

Psalm 89:1: Let me sing of the Lord’s eternal mercies!  Let me make known with my mouth your faithfulness through all generations!
Christ did not come to earth merely to talk about God; the whole world was doing that before he got here.  Christ made God’s faithfulness known, by coming to earth, taking on human form, and being God’s faithfulness in person, showing us God’s faithfulness in himself.

Psalm 89:2: Truly, I say, eternal mercy shall be established; in heaven shall you establish your faithfulness.
The Father established His faithfulness in heaven when He raised Jesus from the dead and settled him at His right hand – no longer a hidden Son, as he had been since the foundation of the world, but revealed and openly occupying his appointed place.

Psalm 89:4–5: I will establish your seed forever, and I will build up your throne through all generations.  Selah.  Then heaven will praise your wonderful work, O Jehovah; how much more shall your faithfulness be praised in the assembly of the saints!
In these verses, the Son foretold that after the Father created the body of Christ (verse 4), he himself would declare God’s praise in the midst of those saints.  In Psalm 22:22, the Son said it this way: “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation will I praise you!”
But notice as well that the Son foretold of heavenly beings praising God for His “wonderful work”.  That “wonderful work” is His Son, the only “work” God has ever done.  Everything else, the Son did (Jn. 1:3), as the Father willed it to be done.  The reason it was prophesied that angels would someday praise God for that work is that only in the future could they praise God for the Son, for until the Son was revealed in Jesus Christ, they knew nothing about him.

Psalm 89:8: O Jehovah, God of hosts!  Who around you is mighty like you and your faithfulness, O Jehovah?
The Spirit is asking the Father, “Who is like you and your Son?”

Psalm 89:24a: My faithfulness and my lovingkindness are with him.
The Father is explaining how it is that the Son could be His power and His wisdom, and His life, His goodness, His faithfulness, etc.  It is because everything that is true about God is in the Son.

Psalm 89:37: Like the moon, he shall be established forever, a faithful witness in heaven.  Selah.
The Son did not merely bear witness to God’s faithfulness; he himself became the faithful witness, settled in heaven forever at God’s right hand.  In Revelation 3:14, Jesus proclaimed himself to be “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.”  And earlier in Revelation (1:5a), John referred to Jesus as “the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead.”

Jesus is everything that is true about God; all the wisdom and knowledge of God is in him (Col. 2:3).  Without the Son, no creature knows, or can know, God.  This is why, when Philip asked Jesus to reveal the Father to him, Jesus replied, “Have I spent so much time with you, and yet you don’t know me, Philip?  He who has seen me has seen the Father.  So, how is it you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?  The words I’m saying to you, I’m not saying on my own; but the Father who lives in me, He is doing the works” (Jn 14:910).
After reading aloud that passage from John, my father once asked a congregation, “Has anybody seen God in you lately?”  That is the real question, for Jesus was the light of the world only while he was here (Jn. 9:5).  Now, those to whom he has given the holy Spirit are supposed to be shining in his stead.  After all, it is the Spirit that was in Jesus, the same Spirit that is now in us, which is the light (Jn. 1:4).  That light shined through Jesus, and men saw God in him, but Jesus is gone now.  So, men have no way of seeing God now unless they see Him in us who have the Spirit and are still here.
Jesus was God’s way and truth and light and faithfulness for men.  He did his job and finished his work.  May God help us to be the light now “in Christ’s stead”.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Satan Knew

He shall give His angels charge over you, 
to keep you in all your ways.
They shall bear you up in their hands,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.
Psalm 91:11–12

During Jesus’ temptation, Satan quoted these two verses.  He knew them, and he understood that when God spoke them, He had His Son in mind.  Billions of people alive on earth today do not know that.  They do not know that the prophets spoke often, and in great detail, of the Son of God.
Satan has an advantage over those who do not both know and believe their Bibles.  In the wilderness temptation, he discovered that he had no such advantage over Jesus.  Does he have that advantage over you?
Learn your Bible.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Only What God Decides

A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand,
but it shall not come near you.
Psalm 91:7

Ordinarily, if 10,000 people fell dead at your right hand, you would say that death had come close to you.  But this man didn’t think so.  He had faith, and faith knows that if God decides that death will not touch you, then death is not close to you no matter how many people die nearby.
Consider Jesus’ example.  After his crucifixion, Jesus descended into hell, but that doesn’t mean that Jesus almost lost his soul.  Damnation was never close to Jesus, even when he was in the presence of millions of damned souls.  Likewise, death and damnation are far from those who love Jesus now, in this condemned, death-filled world.
Only what God decides matters.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

No One Is Like God

Who in the sky is comparable to the LORD?
Psalm 89:6a

The expected answer to the Psalmist’s question was “nobody”, but there was one character in heaven who thought in his heart, “I am”.  Through Isaiah, God exposed those secret thoughts of Satan: “You have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the Mountain of Assembly, on the far north side.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.  I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13–14).
That is how every proud soul secretly feels.
Jesus was humble, not proud, and every humble soul knows in himself that no one is like God.  When a wealthy young ruler came to Jesus and addressed him as “Good teacher!” Jesus replied: “Why do you call me good?  No one is good except One, that is, God” (Mk. 10:18).  This is the way every humble person feels.  For example, Moses, the humblest man on earth (Num. 12:3), boldly told mighty Pharaoh, “There is no one like the LORD our God!” (Ex. 8:10).
Flee from pride; it is a lie, and it will make you a liar.  There is none like God.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Days of Our Years

The days of our years are threescore years and ten,
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labor and sorrow;
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
Psalm 90:10

The human life span was almost a thousand years long in the generations before the Flood, but afterwards, man’s years began to decline.  Five hundred years or so after the Flood, Abraham died at 175 years; a thousand years later, David died as an old man at 70.
That age, 70, is the age Psalm 90 tells us God has chosen now for the typical human life span, or 80, if one is especially healthy.  But be encouraged.  Moses, who wrote Psalm 90 and told us that 70 years had become man’s appointed lifespan, lived to be 120 years old.  From that, we know that no matter what man’s normal life span is, we are not going to leave this world until God determines that we have finished our course down here.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

God’s Secret Place

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Psalm 91:1

The “shadow of the Almighty” is not the “secret place of the Most High”.  The shadow of the Almighty is where those who dwell in God’s secret place choose to stay.
God’s secret place is in the Spirit, and those who walk in it choose to stay under God’s wing, that is, in His shadow.  They never go out and try to accomplish things on their own.  They are safe, with their lives hidden with Christ in God, and they love it.
Many have gone out on their own, “thinking to do God service,” but in the end, doing so cost them dearly.  God condemned them: “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied” (Jer. 23:21).  Walking in the Spirit, we wait; we deny the flesh’s urging to do something before God commands it to be done.  We rest in God’s shadow, and stay acceptable in His sight.  Paul summed it up when he said, “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
Let’s do that.  Let’s dwell in God’s secret place of the Spirit; all who do that choose to abide in the safety of His shadow.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Joyful Shout

Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound.
They shall walk, O LORD, in the light of your countenance.”
Psalm 89:15

The “joyful sound” mentioned in the verse above is actually a joyful shout.  Scholars define the Hebrew word used here as “a shout (of joy) with religious impulse”.  That’s a rather dry way of describing how a soul feels when he is so blessed and excited about the things of God that a loud, joyful shout bursts from his lips.  This “joyful shout” is not a silent, inner feeling.  It is public, and it is loud.  The same Hebrew word is used in other places, such as when the ark of the covenant was brought into the camp of Israel as they were about to enter into battle with the Philistines: “And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great [“shout of joy with religious impulse”], so that the earth rang again” (1Sam. 4:5).
Here are a some others:

2Samuel 6
14. And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.
15. And David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with [“a shout of joy with religious impulse”], and the sound of the trumpet.

2Chronicles 15
12. And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD  the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul. . . .  
. . . 
14. And they swore to the LORD with a loud voice, and with [“a shout of joy with religious impulse”], and with clarions, and with trumpets.

Ezra 3
11b. And all the people shouted with [“a shout of joy with religious impulse]” when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

Psalm 33
3. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with [“a shout of joy with religious impulse”].

Finally, it should be noted that sometimes, God feels so wonderful that He Himself shouts “a shout of joy with religious impulse”]!

Psalm 47
5. God has ascended with [“a shout of joy with religious impulse”]; the LORD  with the sound of a trumpet.

Now, if God does it, it cannot be a bad thing.  So, come on, everybody!  Let God’s “oil of gladness” flow down on you so that you make some holy noise for Jesus.  Be filled with the Spirit until you become so much like the Father, and His Son, and His saints, that from your lips, too, comes forth “a shout of joy with religious impulse”!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thinking about Death

Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12

Having observed people for many years now, I have concluded that in spite of all the evidence, people do not truly believe, down in their hearts, that they are going to die.  Intellectually, they know it is true, but in their hearts, they do not really believe it, and they do not want to think much about it.
Only fools do not consider their approaching death; all wise men do.  Solomon observed this and noted, “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth” (Eccl. 7:4).  You’ll find more wise men in funeral homes than in bars.
Think about death.  It is coming.  And if you do spend some time contemplating it, you’ll be a wiser person, and you’ll live a better life.