Monday, October 31, 2016

The Wise Response to Slander

Princes sat and spoke against me,
but your servant meditated in your statutes.
Psalm 119:23

One of the great tests of faith comes when you are slandered.  You want to be there; you want to have a fair hearing; you want to reason together with the slanderer in the presence of an honest judge.  But slanderers do their work in the shades, away from open, honest dialog.  They put on a bold face, but they are cowards when it comes to openly facing those who know the truth.
When slander happens – and it happens to every godly soul – faith responds by focusing on the wonderful things of God.  What a relief God’s sweet thoughts are in times of trouble and sadness!
The dogs will bark, but what is that noise compared to the gentle voice of our Shepherd?  And Jesus keeps in perfect peace all those who have learned to keep their minds on him.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Not Ashamed

Then shall I not be ashamed,
when I have respect unto all your commandments.
Psalm 119:6

Whoever keeps the whole law,
and yet stumbles in one thing, he is guilty of all.”
James 2:10

In the Bible, the word “ashamed” often means “disappointed”, as in Jeremiah 14:3–4, when God sent a famine on the land: “Their nobles sent their little ones to the waters.  They came to the pits, and found no water.  They returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed. . . .  The ground is chapped, for there was no rain in the earth.  The plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.”
Those who believe in God’s Son have hope of being blessed at the end of this life; they have a sweet “harvest” to look forward to.  However, if while they live they disobey any of God’s commandments, they will be “ashamed” on the Day of Judgment.  
The psalmist said that he would not be ashamed if he obeyed all of God’s commandments, not most of them.  And James insisted that whoever broke one of God’s commandments was guilty of breaking them all.  Then, let us wait on Jesus to lead us; listening to him and following his holy Spirit, we will never sin.  That is the truth behind the wonderful promise of the Son of God through Isaiah: “They shall never be ashamed who wait for me.”

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fearless and Afraid

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear!
Psalm 118:6

What time I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
Psalm 56:3

The book of Psalms is so true to life.  We all, like David, have had times of great confidence, when we joyfully proclaimed that we will not fear men.  And, like David, we all have had times when we were afraid.  Those times when we were afraid do not mean that our times of joyful faith were false, any more than David’s fearful times meant his faith in God was false.  Times of fear do not void our times of faith or make us hypocrites.  They are only times of trial, given to us by God to teach us patience and humility.
All of God’s children experience times of great faith.  Go ahead and rejoice in those times; you’re supposed to.  But stay sober.  You know that troubled times, designed by God, will come to try your faith and to increase it.  Don’t be ashamed when you are afraid.  Just do what David did: admit to yourself and to God how you feel, and keep trusting Him.  The trial will pass.  And you will rejoice in hope again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No Resistance

God is the LORD, who has shown us light.
Bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar.”
Psalm 118:27

If you have been called by God, you have been chosen to be offered as a gift, a “living sacrifice”, for His Son.  It is as contrary to our nature to be that kind of gift as it was for an animal in the Old Testament to be willing to be a sacrifice to God.  It had to be held down, or tied to the horns of the altar, in order for the death blow to be delivered.  Only after they were dead could they safely be untied.
Spiritually, until we die to our flesh, we have to be held down by rules.  But once we die, we offer no more resistance to the will of God.  We are at that point like a sacrificial ox after being slaughtered; we offer no more resistance to the priest’s work.  This complete submissiveness to our high priest, Jesus, is what Paul was talking about when he said, “I die daily.”

Doing No Iniquity

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they that keep His testimonies,
and that seek Him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity: they walk in His ways.”
Psalm 119:1–3

Those who obey God do not sin.  God’s way is called the “perfect law of liberty” because obeying it makes us perfectly free from sin.  Walk in the law of the LORD; keep His testimonies; seek Him with your whole heart.  Doing these things, you will not – cannot – sin.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Not Given Over to Death

The LORD has chastened me sore,
but He has not given me over to death.”
Psalm 118:18

When I came to visit my cancer-ridden mother in her hospital room, she asked me to read that scripture.  A family member told me that he heard my mother’s physician say that he had never seen a larger tumor in a patient’s lung and that he had never met a person with a sweeter spirit.  She would be dead in a couple of weeks, but the Lord had comforted her while she was reading Psalm 118 shortly before I arrived.  If she had ever been touched so deeply by a single verse, I don’t know it.  It felt as if she was clinging to that verse with all her heart and faith. 
She knew that she had displeased God and that the cancer was the “sore chastisement” with which God had now afflicted her, but when I came into her room, I could see that her spirit had been touched in a special way by Psalm 118:18.  She was feeling, deep in her soul, the great relief of knowing that her heavenly Father had not turned her over to death.  She may have been entertaining the idea that she would be healed, as God had once healed her brother of cancer when he was given no more than ninety days to live, but that was not what He was saying to her.  He was telling her that although her body would die, she herself would be saved and live with Him.
This is reminiscent of the situation in 1Corinthians 11:27–30.  In those verses, Paul says that some saints in Corinth were suffering sickness because of their disobedience.  Others had even died because of it.  However, Paul went on to say that God had sent those sicknesses and had taken some home to be with Him “so that they might not be condemned with the world.”  In other words, God “chastened them sore, but He did not give them over to death.”  That was the encouragement Jesus gave my mother in her last days on earth.  She was one of the many dear children of God who, though often chastised, just cannot seem to overcome a serious fault, and  so, for them to continue to live in this world would not be good.  In those cases, Paul revealed to us, their loving heavenly Father may choose to bless them by taking them home before their appointed time.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Beyond Heaven

The LORD is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens.”
Psalm 113:4

The one who descended is the same one who ascended
far above all heavens so that he might fulfill all things.”
Ephesians 4:10
The heaven we know about is unworthy of God’s presence, and is unclean in His sight (Job 15:15).  God is so pure and so holy that He condescends to even look on things in heaven (Ps. 113:6).  The Bible repeatedly speaks of a holy place that is beyond heaven.  That is where God really is, and Jesus was exalted by God to sit at His right hand in that place.  Paul is the one who let us know that Jesus’ glory is much more than heavenly; it is so great that heaven itself is beneath him.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Telling the End from the Beginning

All nations compassed me about,
but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them.
They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about,
but in the name of the LORD, I will destroy them.
They compassed me about like bees; 
they are quenched as the fire of thorns.”
Psalm 118:10–12

Then, when the thousand years come to an end, 
Satan will be released from his prison,
and he will go out to deceive the nations,
to gather them for the war.
And they came up and surrounded the camp of the saints
and the beloved city, but fire came down out of heaven
from God and devoured them.”
Revelation 20:7–9
Be patient.  God has already told us how it all will end.  He is in complete control, and His prophets have proclaimed from the beginning of the world how it all will end: “I am God. . . .  There is none like me, making the end known from the beginning, and from ancient time what has not yet happened” (Isa. 46:9–10).

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wanted: Alive Only

The dead do not praise the LORD; nor do any that go down into silence.
But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.
Psalm 115:17–18

Notice, please, that the psalmist redefines death as a spiritual condition instead of a physical condition.  According to him, the dead are those among God’s people who are silent; that is, those in the Assembly of God who do not praise Him.  Next, the psalmist declares that the righteous will never stop praising God.   In other words, they are alive and will live forever.
If you are alive in God’s sight, then your voice is heard in the congregation of His saints, praising Him for His wonderful works and grace.  But silence in the praises of God is an open testimony to all, saying, “Help me!  I am dying!”
In the Old West of the 1800’s, posters of criminals were sometimes nailed to walls around town with the words: “Wanted!  Dead or Alive”.  But friend, God is better than that.  He only wants you alive.  He wants to hear your voice blend with all His saints, singing joyful praise and offering Him thanksgiving for all that He has done.  He is calling out to you, saying, “Forsake the foolish, and live!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Man’s Sinful Nature

Until recently, I was unaware of the Jewish opposition to the notion that we are all born with a sinful nature.  I had always heard it taught, and I assumed it was a universally acknowledged truth.  Besides, that people are by nature sinful and in need of a Savior seemed self-evident.  I did not know that so many people deny that truth, which is undeniably biblical.
Thinking on this, I realized again how much the apostle Paul learned from God.  Mankind’s natural state of sinfulness was a revelation to him from God.  It was not personal opinion that inspired Paul to write, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” and “In me, that is, in my flesh(ly nature), dwells no good thing.”  Without being greatly humbled by God, and without a revelation from God, Paul would have never even thought to confess such truth as that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ask for the Source

When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he’ll guide you into all truth.
For he won’t speak on his own, but whatever he hears, he’ll speak,
and he’ll reveal to you things that are coming.”
John 16:13

I’d have you to know, brothers, regarding the gospel delivered by me,
that it is not of man.  I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it,
but it came by a revelation from Jesus Christ.”
Galatians 1:11–12

Believers should ask those who teach them where they got the doctrine they are teaching.  If a man received his doctrine from another man, or from the headquarters of a denomination, or even from the Bible, the saints would be wise to leave him.  The true doctrine of Christ comes through revelation, and those who truly are servants of God declare what Jesus has revealed to them, not what men have taught them or what they have figured out from the Bible.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Being Shaped

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not.
They have ears, but they hear not; noses have they, but they smell not.
They have hands, but they handle not; feet have they, but they walk not;
neither speak they through their throat.
They that make them are like them; so is every one that trusts in them.
Psalm 115:4–8

What you worship shapes your spirit so that you become like what you worship.  If God is the author of what you believe, then you are worshipping Him and are being made like Him.  If a human devised the faith you believe in, then your worship belongs to him, and you are being made more fleshly every time you participate in it.  And if – God forbid! – the faith you believe in originated with Satan, then you are worshipping him and are becoming more and more like him as you continue in that faith.
Paul was wise to exhort us to examine ourselves to see whether we are truly in THE faith (2Cor. 13:5).  He wanted God’s children to become more and more like their heavenly Father, and not like the over-religious men who puff themselves up to devise their own doctrines, and certainly not like the very religious Satan.
Have you taken the time to examine yourself, to see whether or not the faith that you are in is the faith of Christ

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Let the Son Praise God through You!

Praise ye the Lord!  I will praise the LORD
with my whole heart in the assembly of the upright.”
Psalm 111:1

I will declare your name to my brothers.
In the midst of the congregation will I praise you.”
Psalm 22:22

In these verses, the hidden Son of God is speaking through the Psalmist, prophesying of the day when he would send the holy Spirit to us.  Every time the Spirit falls and we praise God, that prophecy is fulfilled.  That Spirit which falls on us is the Son (2Cor. 3:17) praising God through us “in the midst of the congregation”.
When you yield to the Spirit and let the Son praise God through you, you play a part in the fulfillment of the Son’s ancient prophecy of how he would praise God in the congregation of New Testament saints.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Reverend vs. Reverent

Holy and reverend is His name.”
Psalm 111:9b

Let me not, I pray you, give flattering titles to a man.
Job 32:21

One of the flattering titles ministers bestow upon themselves and upon one another is “reverend”.  But that lofty title belongs to God alone.  As the psalmist said it, “Holy and reverend is His name” – not ours.
My father, a minister of Christ for over 60 years, told me of the danger of being called “reverend”.   If you are reverent, he said, that is a good thing.  But only God is reverend; that is, only God is worthy to be revered.  We should all be reverent toward God, for “holy and reverend is His name.”

Friday, October 14, 2016

Who Has Understanding?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.
A good understanding have all they that do His commandments.”
Psalm 111:10

Keep therefore and do them, for this is your wisdom
and your understanding in the sight of the nations,
which shall hear all these statutes,
and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’
Deuteronomy 4:6

If you are obeying God, you are as wise as you can possibly be.  There is no wisdom or understanding beyond Him – or beyond you if you are in His will.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Real Answer

You are the salt of the earth,
but if the salt loses its flavor, with what will it be salted?
It’s good for nothing but to be cast out and trampled on by men.”
Jesus, in Matthew 5:13 

In the absence of the influence of the gospel, human ability to reason is diminished and the precious sense of right and wrong is lost.  Where the influence of the gospel is absent, truth is redefined in order to accommodate the lusts of corrupt human nature, and those who are good become a prey.  Without the gospel's influence, children cannot develop a noble character because they do not learn the fear of God.  Nor can they develop a true sense of justice, for evil is made to appear good, and good, evil.  This is happening now in our culture, and it is frightening to watch.  We are watching the rise of a generation without a conscience.
The spiritual blindness of modern political leaders is astonishing, but the fault is not altogether theirs.  Their contempt for the gospel of Jesus is the result of the problem, not the problem itself.  The fault belongs to us who believe in Jesus, for our lack of power and conviction for righteousness.  The power of the Spirit, when God's people walk in it, influences the society those saints live in; it even affects the conscience of those who hate the gospel.  Without the Spirit's power, in men’s eyes, the body of Christ is just another sect of talkers.
Rather than grumble, then, about the foolishness and wickedness of the rulers of this world, let us who believe humble ourselves and pray for a revival of true holiness among us.  Let us pray for a restoration of the gospel's influence on the body of Christ!  For if God’s power is restored to the body of Christ, then the body of Christ will again be “the salt of the earth”, and the precious gospel of Jesus will again influence society, keeping even sinners’ souls from complete decay.
In sum, the next time you see the leaders of this government do evil, ask God to restore His power and righteousness to us who believe, that we might influence them to do good instead.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

“Oh, That Men Would!”

Oh, that men would praise the LORD for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Oh, that men would praise the LORD for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Oh, that men would praise the LORD for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Oh, that men would praise the LORD for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31
It cannot be said too much.  Oh, that men would cease from strife, and instead, contemplate the mercies of God that surround them!  Oh, that they would feel gratitude for His incredible goodness!  That they would acknowledge His love, and give Him their love in return!  What a sweet place to live could this world be, if men would only acknowledge and be thankful for the many blessings God has freely and abundantly given to us all!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

You Will Speak

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.
Psalm 107:2

I believed; therefore, I have spoken.
Psalm 116:10
If you truly believe, you will speak, for you’ll receive the Spirit that speaks through you when it comes in.

Monday, October 10, 2016

You Can’t Tell Them

Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen,
to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise.”
Psalm 106:47

This is the unwitting prayer of every soul in Christianity who truly loves God.  In crying out for truth and unity, they are crying out to be delivered from Christian ministers, Christian traditions, and Christian doctrines, for those are the things that are confusing and dividing them.  But if you tell them that, they will turn against you.
God has to show them that the thing they love, Christianity, is the very thing that is confusing and dividing them.  It is the thing God most hates.  Sincere believers everywhere are praying for God’s cure for the deadly disease of division, while clinging with all their might to the thing that divides them: Christianity.  They are like a man pleading to be rescued from drowning while holding on to a boulder.  You can’t have it both ways.  The prayer of sincere children of God to be united with others who believe will never be answered until they let go of the stone that is pulling them down.
But you can’t tell that to God’s children.  To come out of Christianity is such a frightening thought to them that only God knows how to enter that tender part of their hearts with His Son’s piercing, liberating light.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Israel’s Example

The wrath of the LORD was kindled against His people,
insomuch that He abhorred His own inheritance.
And He gave them into the hand of the heathen;
they that hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies also oppressed them,
and they were brought into subjection under their hand.”
Psalm 106:40–42

God determined before the world began that the experiences of ancient Israel would be a warning to the body of Christ.  Israel’s history provided believers with a solemn warning, (1Cor. 10:6, 11–12), but God’s warning went unheeded.
Even before all the apostles died, God turned the recalcitrant body of Christ over to men who were strangers to the grace of God, and the experience of Israel was repeated:  “They that hated them ruled over them . . . and oppressed them and brought them into subjection.”  So it is, to this day.
May we live to see a restoration of God’s gentle favor toward His people.  May we live to see them trust their souls to men who have heard from God and have been sent by Him to guide them.  May we live to see God deliver His people from Christian overlords and put them once more in the nurturing hands of those who love them as He does!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Praise and Obedience

Then they believed His words; they sang His praise.
They soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel. . . .
He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.”
Psalm 106:12–13, 15

Praising God does not exempt us from the requirement to wait for His voice and yield to His guidance.  Worship without obedience is nothing but self-willed flattery, and God has never been brought under its spell.  On the contrary, His greatest displeasure against those who make shows of devotion without possessing the substance of it is displayed by His granting to those worshippers the perverse, self-destructive desires of their hearts.
Go ahead and praise God; He is worthy of it.  But He is also worthy of obedience, and His righteousness is accomplished and His wrath appeased only by the wise souls who do both.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

God Used the Egyptians, Too

He turned [the Egyptians’] heart to hate His people,
to deal subtly with His servants.
Psalm 105:25

And He saved them from the hand of him that hated them,
and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
He saved them for His name’s sake,
that He might make His mighty power to be known.”
Psalm 106:10, 8

God turned the hearts of the Egyptians against Israel for the same reason He rescued Israel from the Egyptians: to make His name known on earth.  He loved people everywhere and wanted them to know Him.  And in that love for a world drowning in superstitious fear of many gods, God worked mighty miracles and made His name known so that people would know there is a true and living God.
How very blessed is this world that God loved us enough to make His name known, and that He chose to reveal His Son to us!  Where would we be if He had not done so?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Holy Sap

The trees of the LORD are full of sap.”
Psalm 104:16a

The “sap” of the kingdom of God is the Spirit, and every tree that God plants in His kingdom is full of it.  This is why Paul said, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him” (Rom. 8:9).  And it is also why I warn everyone that no one is born again until he receives the holy Ghost (with the evidence of speaking in other tongues).  Do not believe the man who tells you otherwise!  Jesus said, “Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted.  Leave them!  They are blind guides of blind people.  And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (Mt. 15:13–14).  Do you want to fall into the pit with a blind man?  Just repent and let God plant you in His kingdom!
If God has not given you His sap, you do not have any and you do not belong to Him.  But those He plants in His kingdom are filled with His sap, and no one can ever take it from them.

Monday, October 3, 2016

A Safe Place To Obey God

He gave them the lands of the heathen,
and they inherited the labor of the people,
so that they might observe His statutes, and keep His laws.
Praise ye the LORD!
Psalm 105:44–45

God gave Israel their own land, the land of Canaan, so that they would have a place where they could safely keep His commandments.  Moses told Pharaoh that Israel had to leave Egypt to serve God.  If the Israelites stayed in Egypt and served God the way He wanted them to, Moses said, the Egyptians would become so angry, they would stone the Israelites (Ex. 8:25–26).
It is no wonder the psalmist said, “Praise ye the LORD!”  He and his fellow Israelites had been given a place where they could live and worship the way God wanted them to, without having to worry about provoking the heathen!  What a wonderful, safe place the Promised Land was for God’s people!  There was no other place like it on earth, where the standard was God’s law, and those who kept the law were not laughed at or attacked for doing so!
God has such a place waiting for those who love His Son.  It is an entirely new earth, where we may walk in the Spirit without being criticized or ridiculed for doing so.  This present world is filled with wickedness, and we all feel the daily pressure of it.  But on that new earth, our Promised Land, God’s righteousness will be the only standard, and the peace will never be disturbed.
Praise ye the LORD!