Archive for June, 2012

30
Jun
12

Satan’s Ongoing Deception

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”Psalm 62:5-8

This is quite a list of “absolutes” – that is, things that can only be said about God and no one else. According to these verses, only God can give us true rest, hope, salvation, and refuge. So why do so many people look elsewhere for these things?

I believe the answer to that question points out the power that Satan still has over this world. He leads millions of people into the lie that rest, hope, salvation, and refuge can be found in places other than God. You want rest? Take a vacation from everything, and simply languor in worldly pleasures for a while. Hope? Buy a lottery ticket and experience the thrill of possibly winning “the big one”. Salvation? Just sit back and convince yourself that God would never send anyone to hell – and go ahead and live the life that you want. And refuge? Satan would have us take refuge in all the diversions that this world has to offer. After all – you only live once.

Except these things are not true. We really will live twice. Where we spend eternity may require us to have the attitude of David in these verses above – in the full knowledge that eternal life requires us to put a reliance on God that is greater than any trust we place in worldly things.

 

29
Jun
12

No Self-Help Here

“Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? Is it not you, O God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.”Psalm 60:9-12

During a time of battle with the enemy, David cries out to the only one who can provide help – the Lord God. He even goes on to say that “the help of man is worthless”. What a contrast to our society today! Not only do we see people ignoring God and relying on other entities such as government and earthly counselors to provide assistance, but there is a large movement of “self-help” advocates who believe that “truth lies within ourselves”.

Not so! If we rely solely on ourselves or on other people for truth, we will certainly experience times of ultimate disappointment. All of us can probably attest to this with incidents from our own lives. Mankind is not perfect, and we are prone to selfishness. But God is truly unique – he is steadfast beyond what we can imagine. He never abandons His integrity, nor does He have periods where He doesn't have time for His chosen ones. We can witness this through the life of His Son, who lived for thirty-three years among men without giving into sin even once. God, and His Son Jesus, are the ones to whom I want to turn when I am in need.

 

28
Jun
12

Though The Wicked Prosper

“O Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. See what they spew from their mouths—they spew out swords from their lips, and they say, “Who can hear us?” But you, O Lord, laugh at them; you scoff at all those nations.”Psalm 59:5-8

I read a lot of news on the Internet. I try to keep up somewhat with politics and the changing face of our nation, with some hope that I can see it move toward a more godly place – through my own actions, and through prayer. I have to confess that the moral decline that I see going on around us is often very frustrating to me. Justice seems far away, and right is wrong, while wrong is made to look right. This frustration sometimes runs deep.

I took comfort in the words of today's passage. God scoffs at the wicked, even though I may not be able to see it. Though wickedness seems to be gaining more and more of a foothold in our culture, and injustice is shown to those who remain righteous, I am reminded that God is ultimately in control of everything. One day, every knee will bow before him in the knowledge that He was really there all along, and His words and commands did not change. I do not wish to gloat over those who will discover their error – but I want to use this knowledge as a comfort when I grow weary of watching morals degrade and the wicked prosper.

 

27
Jun
12

Always Praising

“I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.”Psalm 57:9-11

These words were borrowed for the worship song, 'Your Love O Lord'. What a great way to open up a praise and worship time! I am definitely reminded of God's greatness and awesome power, and that He is more worthy of my praise than I am possibly able to give.

The header to this chapter says that David wrote these words as a result of his experience when he hid in the cave from King Saul. I can't help but wonder if David was composing some of these words in his head while quietly waiting for Saul and his men to pass. Even in a moment when most men would be begging for God's assistance and deliverance, David takes the time to praise God for who He is. Is there a time when this is not an appropriate expression? I can't think of one. If we lived each moment of our life truly believing and relying on God's presence and ultimate deliverance, I believe it would fundamentally change the way we live.

26
Jun
12

Cast Your Cares…

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you.”Psalm 55:22-23

There are two sides to this passage – the sustaining power of God's faithfulness to the righteous, and the curse that falls on the wicked. Today, I want to concentrate on the first part.

“Cast your cares on the Lord” – how easy it is to say these words, but how hard it is to do them! Every day seems to bring some sort of trouble or trial for each of us. How do we deal with it? These verses guarantee that we will not fall from God's grace and attention if we will simply involve Him with our burdens and give them over to Him. For me, most of the time, that is easier said than done. I tend to be a “fixer” – someone who tries to take control of broken things and make them right using my own methods. Such an attitude is self-reliant, but not God-reliant. The truth is, these methods may sometimes work, but it is not necessarily what God wants. “God helps those who help themselves” is not actually found in Scripture – it is a man-made aphorism. What God wants is for us to know that we can always look to Him for justice, mercy and help, and that He knows exactly when and how to provide our needs. Is that any different than an earthly father who trains up a child to know right from wrong, but still wants to be there to help, even after the child is grown?

25
Jun
12

Friendly Fire

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.”Psalm 55:12-14

In the middle of this chapter where David is mourning the evil people that he is surrounded by, I found these verses. While the rest of the chapter is devoted to pointing out the unnamed people who persecute him, these three verses clearly point to someone who used to be close, but who has now joined with others to persecute the young David.

It seems clear that David once enjoyed a friendship with this person, and shared a level of spiritual depth. But now this person has turned and seeks to destroy him – probably allying himself with King Saul against David. We don't know who this person is, but it is clear that their turncoat actions have hurt him deeply. Insults from friendly places are the ones that hurt the worst.

24
Jun
12

Two Paths To Walk On

“Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue! Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living.”Psalm 52:1-5

I noted two observations from today's passage. First, the description of those who love evil more than good and who spread lies rather than the truth remind me a great deal of today's news media. When I read about current events in the newspaper or on the web, I am always amazed at the sheer ignorance demonstrated by those who don't seek real truth. How can the same people who vociferously champion human rights also take a pro-abortion stand? Not only do they practice deceit, they are at their root, deceived.

Second, it is clearly stated that God is both capable and willing to send someone to eternal destruction. Our world is desperately seeking a “god” who is all-forgiving and would never actually send someone to hell. But simply put, this is not true of the eternal God. These verses prove that to be so. This is not the desired “ear tickling” that the world wants. They don't want to think about a God who will enact His judgment on mankind, but rather, they seek a soft, tolerant, shifting-with-the-times “god” much like themselves.

I don't want to think about the possibility of spending an eternity in hell, for me or anyone else. But, I am glad that I serve a just God, who is unchanging, reliable, and who has given me the instructions I need to avoid such a fate. That sets Him apart from mere men. And through His grace, achieved not by my own actions but because He sent His Son to die on earth, I can look forward to mercy. This plan only works for those who accept His gift with knowledge, who are baptized into Jesus' death, and who are raised to walk a new and changed life. For those who don't, there is only everlasting torment.




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