What God Wants You To Know (Psalm 94)

God’s Word is alive. Whenever I prayerfully read it, God always – always – speaks to me about something that applies to my life at that very moment. It might be a verse I’ve read many times before, but when I am going through something and need a word from God, that same verse brings on new meaning at just the right time. Oh, what a treasure I forfeit when I don’t spend time reading God’s love letter to me every day.

I’d like to share something Mom had underlined in her Bible, a couple verses that spoke to me from this psalm this morning. I think it might be something God wants us all to hear Him say as our world slowly opens up after the forced separation surrounding the virus.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (verses 18-19)

My prayer is that all of us will rest in the supporting love of our Lord. I pray that any anxiety we might feel will be replaced with joy that only God can give as we allow Him to console us.

Dear one, I would ask all of us to stop listening to the media tell us how scared we should be. Stop allowing Satan to cause us anxiety and hopelessness.

Listen instead to God, read His Word instead of the newspaper, and hear Him say that He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24); He wants us to cast our cares and anxieties on Him because He cares for us (I Peter 5:7).

Then, may we all go through this day, and tomorrow, and the next day with the confidence of God’s support, the joy that is ours through our relationship with the Creator. This is the day the Lord has made. We can rejoice and be glad in it, May 29, 2020, virus and all.

I think that’s what God wants us to know today.

Leading By Example (I Chronicles 29)

I believe the best leaders are those who lead by example. The “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality cannot result in good leadership; not in a home, in a church, or in a nation.

I was reminded of that when I read verse 9 today.

The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.

David himself had dug deep into his own pockets and gave generously to the cost of building the temple of the Lord. The other leaders had followed his lead freely and wholeheartedly. It was a cause for great rejoicing among them all.

David said something in his prayer that is a good reminder. In verse 14 the king prayed:

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. (emphasis mine)

I love that. Anything and everything we have is loaned to us by God, making us able to use those things for His glory. It’s a humbling thought, that God would entrust His riches to me.

So, what kind of example am I of this truth? Do I give my time and my resources (both of which are gifts of God)? Do I give generously, knowing what a privilege I have to use what God has given me for His glory?

And this is what is convicting me today: is my example one that inspires others to give generously of their own time and resources? Do I even want others to give with the same attitude I have, the same level of commitment, the same generosity? Or do I want them to do more than me, be better, more generous givers, more committed than I am?

Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the Lord? (verse 5b)

I want my answer to be a resounding: ME!!!

 

Blessed Because (Psalm 149)

It is often that the verses my mother underlined in the Book of Psalms have to do with God’s love, protection, and faithfulness. Just in this one psalm, Mom underlined four verses:

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” (vs 3)

“The Lord is faithful to all his promises…” (vs 13b)

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (vs 18)

“The Lord watches over all who love him…” (vs 20a)

David tells us that God is worthy of praise. He is faithful, near to us, and watches over us. These verses are timely considering the unrest surrounding COVID 19. I pray that they are your experience in all this, that you are resting in the knowledge that God is with you every step of the way. I hope you aren’t living in fear like those who have no hope.

Mom seemed to understand the correlation between our personal relationship with God, and His blessings on us. He is near to all who call on him. But in verse 18, David repeats that thought with this caveat: “to all who call on him in truth.”

It’s a mistake to think God comes near to just anyone who prays, or just anyone who isn’t an axe murderer. Not all roads lead to God. Scripture makes it clear that if we want to be near to God, we have to come to Him in truth. How can you know that truth?

Jesus said HE IS THE TRUTH. (John 14:6) You draw near to God through His Son. Period. Read God’s Word. You will find the absolute one and only truth by which you can enjoy a closeness with God.

God doesn’t protect just everyone, either. He protects those who love him, according to  the psalmist. Scripture talks a lot about love, and what love for God looks like. It’s not just three words, “I love God.” Love for God involves obedience, sacrifice of self, commitment, and a servant’s heart that lives love out of gratitude for what God has done. God’s protection is reserved for those who love Him, to those who have accepted what Jesus died to give, the forgiveness of sin and a glorious eternal home.

God’s blessings are directly related to our relationship with Him. Because, no matter what happens, if we live or die, if we have a brick home or a cardboard box, if we are a part of a big old family or alone, those of us who know Him have God! And those of us who know Him know it doesn’t get any better than that.

I am blessed because of my relationship with the Creator, Holy, Eternal God through His Son Jesus. I pray you can say the same.

That’s Harsh (Psalm 109)

David speaks pretty harshly about his enemy. He asks God to find his enemy guilty, to make his wife a widow and his children forced to beg in the streets. Then he prays that his enemy would lose everything, causing his family to be homeless. He even went as far as to say, “let no one extend kindness” to his enemy, and let no one take pity on his children. “Wipe him off the face of the earth,” David seems to ask, “and never forget what he did to me.”

David continued to pray that his enemy would get what’s coming to him. Karma, baby. He said his enemy loved to curse people, curse him back, God. His enemy found no pleasure in blessing, don’t bless him, God. Treat him like he treated me.

Yes, if you read Psalm 109 you’ll hear David ask God to show no mercy toward his enemy, and his enemy’s entire family – women and children. That’s harsh.

But I wonder if we’re not harsh enough on our enemy, Satan. I wonder if we’ve grown soft toward sin, if we’ve tolerated sin in ourselves and others, if we haven’t welcomed sin into our homes and churches by hiding it in our own hearts.

Maybe it’s time we look at our enemy the way David looked at his, and ask God to remove it, destroy it, so that it’s blotted out completely. Maybe we need to stop looking at sin like a little child or a widowed mother, and instead ask God to show no mercy in removing the sin from our lives.

Nail it to the cross, Lord!

Because the truth is, we can’t be too harsh on our enemy, Satan.

It’s My Fault (2 Samuel 24, I Chronicles 21)

Warren Wiersbe says of these chapters of the Bible, that David’s sin was pride. David counted the fighting men in Israel and Judah, which demonstrated the Jews’ superiority over other nations, and revealed David as the most powerful king. But according to Wiersbe, he did not “connect the census with the redemption money,”  as was directed in Exodus 30. (With the Word by Warren Wiersbe; Oliver-Nelson Books; 1991; page 194) It would appear this census was motivated by David’s pride.

What I like about David is, when he recognized that he’d sinned against God, feeling the heavy hand of God’s conviction, he prayed: “I have sinned greatly.” He didn’t blame anyone else, he didn’t make excuses, he didn’t rationalize his behavior. He recognized his sin, and he confessed it to God. have sinned.

We must never ignore the feeling of guilt, or learn to live with a heavy conscience. We must confess our sin, because when we do God is faithful to forgive! What joy!

But there is a lesson here. Forgiveness doesn’t automatically cancel out consequences for our sin. And that’s what spoke to me today.

The consequences for David’s sin didn’t just affect him. The entire nation paid for what David had done. For days, David watched while the people charged to his care, the nation he loved and fought for and led, suffered. Tens of thousands of them died, and there was nothing David could do but sit back and watch it happen, knowing it was his fault.

We all have people we care about: our children, our siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, our friends, co-workers, neighbors, adults and kids whom we love, fight for, and nurture. We all have people for whom we are responsible in one way or another. Isn’t it hard to watch these dear ones go through hard times, suffer illness and loss while you stand helplessly by? It’s a horrible feeling.

But what if the things they are going through are a direct result of sin you’ve committed? Your family loses their home because your drinking ends up costing you your job. Your adolescent child is having trouble dealing with losing you through divorce. Your company goes under because you embezzled money, putting your co-workers and friends out of their jobs. Your family lives in fear because you don’t control your temper.

Even if you confess your sin and receive God’s grace, consequences don’t magically disappear. That is an important lesson for all of us. That sin we are committing has far reaching fingers.

I don’t think there is a much worse feeling than watching those dear people suffer for what you’ve done. I remember the first time I saw my dad cry. We had been out for a family hike at a nearby state park. We’d walked for a time when Dad and I ran ahead and climbed a steep hill to hide from Mom and my sisters. But when they finally came into view, they weren’t even looking for us. So Dad kicked a rock, thinking that would get their attention. The rock rolled down the hill, hit another, larger rock, and went airborne. We watched in horror as that rock was hurled into the eye of one of my sisters.

Blood everywhere. Screams. Panic. Dad ran, picked her up, and ran to the car, Mom trying to get the others of us there as quickly as possibly. We crammed into the car and Dad sped to the nearest hospital.

My three sisters and I waited in the car while Mom and Dad took Peggy to the emergency room. I don’t know how long we sat there before we saw Dad come out of the glass doors. With head down, he walked slowly toward us. He opened the driver’s side door, sat down, then dropped his head onto the steering wheel and cried.

It wasn’t a whimper. The sounds coming from him came from a place very deep inside him. He moaned, and sobbed, it seemed like forever. Peggy had nearly lost her eye. And Dad knew it was his fault. He was responsible, and there was nothing he could do about it now. She would be scarred for the rest of her life.

Dad’s agony came from a place of innocence. And yet he always carried the guilt of that day. It was an accident. But that didn’t prevent Dad and Peggy from suffering the consequences.

How much worse, to know that the suffering of our loved ones comes as a result of our choices, our pride, our willfulness, our rebellion, our sin. How much worse when we are faced with the reality that there was something we could have done to prevent it.

Like confessing that sin, repenting, turning from it before it was too late.

I would encourage us all to be sensitive to the convicting hand of our Lord. If you are feeling guilty over a sin, no matter how small you think that sin is, confess it immediately. Ask God to forgive you BEFORE things get too far, and consequences begin to touch others. Repent before your stubborn pride boils over and burns the people you love.

I don’t think there are more bitter tears than ones that come from knowing:

It’s my fault.

God’s Way Is Perfect (Psalm 22)

Psalm 22:31 is underlined in Mom’s Bible.

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.”

 

David is talking about how hard life has been for him. The man had enemies. His enemies wanted him dead, and pursued him relentlessly. But David recognized the many times God moved on his behalf to protect him, and to give him victory after victory over his enemies. The king knew it wasn’t by his own effort, but by the mercy of God that he was still alive.

I notice that David equates God’s hand of protection and the victories over evil with his own righteousness. Look at verse 21:

“The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.”

 

In this psalm, David says things like, “His laws are before me,” and “He rescues me because he delights in me,” “To the faithful, you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.”

God reveals His faithfulness IF we are faithful. God demonstrates that He is blameless IF we are blameless. His purity is recognized IF we are pure. And IF we are crooked, IF we reject Him, He shows Himself to be someone you don’t want to mess with.

So many people are quick to say, “God is sovereign,” or “God’s will will be done,” as though God wrote a script we are forced to follow. Yet so often we see in Scripture the word “if.”

God, in His sovereignty, declared that His will will be accomplished if we obey Him. He is not willing that anyone die without Him, yet people who reject Him go to hell. Jesus died so that anyone can have eternal, but there is a “whoever believes” clause in that promise, an “if” if you will. You receive eternal life IF you believe in the Son of God.

And like the verse Mom underlined, God’s way is perfectly flawless IF we take refuge in Him. He is our protector IF we take refuge in Him. How do we do that?

Throughout Scripture God tells us the first step is to believe on the Lord Jesus, confess our sins, and accept what Jesus offers through His precious blood. Scripture tells us to obey Him, draw near to Him, be holy as He is holy. That relationship with God, available through the cross, is our refuge.

Please understand God doesn’t protect sin. He protects righteousness – His righteousness worn by people who receive it by His grace. To we who know Him, He is our refuge, our help in time of need, our strength when we are weak, our joy in all circumstances.

People are praying, “God protect our nation from this virus.” We need to pray, “God break the chains of sin in this nation. Convict us, forgive us when we ask, then heal our land.”

That’s God’s way. And it’s perfect.

Snap To It (2 Samuel 19-21)

David gave Amasa a position of great power. “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if from now on you are not the commander of my army in place of Joab.” (19:13) With that word, Amasa became the most powerful man in Israel, second only to King David.

But we really don’t read much about Amasa’s role as military leader. In fact, his first and only mission was an epic fail. And really, what David told him to do shouldn’t have been that difficult for the commander:

“Rally the troops! Get the men together and get back here in three days.”

Granted, they didn’t have phones back then. There was no texting or social media, no TV or even snail mail to get the message to soldiers sitting at home. I can see that it would take some coordinating effort and time to get the word out, then for the men to gather.

But Scripture tells us Amasa “took longer than David had set for him.” (20:5) So the king put the army under Abishai’s command, and set them out to battle instead. He wasn’t about to lose a war waiting for Amasa to do his job.

I don’t know why Amasa didn’t meet his deadline. Were the men resistant? Was he so inept he couldn’t get organized in time? Or did he simply not take David’s time frame seriously? Does is matter?

Well, I think it matters a great deal in my life. There are things my King would have me do in this war against His enemy. I’m wondering if I see my response to God in Amasa’s response to David.

God lays on my heart a person whose heart is ready to hear the Gospel. How quick am I to respond? Do I find myself thinking I’ll get around to it eventually? Do I tell myself I don’t know what to say? Do I shrink back at a little resistance? Do I not feel the same urgency God feels for that eternal soul?

God nudges me toward a ministry, toward teaching Bible study, toward serving in the nursery, or mowing my neighbor’s lawn. Do I snap to it? Or do I drag my feet, hoping maybe God was just making a suggestion?

In the account we read here in 2 Samuel, David appointed someone else to do Amasa’s job. And, seriously, there have been times when in the back of my mind I think if I don’t go, God is going to send someone else anyway. Whew! Ball’s in their court.

Amasa’s failure at the task that was given put him in a position that cost him his life. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. God may give my assignment to someone else, but there are consequences for blowing off the King.

Besides, I want to look at God’s commands, those nudges into service, as a privilege to serve my King. I love Him so much I want to obey with enthusiasm and do the best job at whatever He is asking me to do because He deserves my 100% effort. Why would I want anyone else to have the blessings that are mine as an obedient soldier in His army?

This is war. When my King gives me a command, I want to snap to it.