Category Archives: The Gospel

(Psalms 69-70) Jesus and the Psalms

So many of the psalms speak of what Jesus would endure on the cross. Guiltless, yet condemned. Treated horribly, rejected, scorned, beaten, He suffered and bled and died. The fact that God gave us a glimpse of our Savior’s sacrifice thousands of years before He came just cements the fact that this Book I read is true, and the God it reveals is exactly who He says He is.

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation continually say, “God is great!” (70:4)

(Psalm 32) There Is Joy

Have you experienced the joy of sins forgiven? There is nothing like it, is there? Guilt gone, replaced by peace. Shame replaced with joy. Lies replaced with Truth.

Yet sometimes sin creeps in and begins to steal our peace and joy. We put smiles on our faces and lie to ourselves and others that we’re fine. But the truth is not in us.

Day and night God’s heavy hand of conviction is upon us, our strength, our resolve to follow God is drained. It isn’t until we confess our sins and receive the grace of God’s forgiveness that we can once again know the joy that comes from being absolutely clean.

Therefore, let everyone who is faithful pray immediately. (vs 6)

We must not let sin gain a foothold. The moment God brings a sin to our awareness, we must pray immediately. The longer we wait, the easier it is to wait, and the harder our hearts become the harder it is to repent.

Look to God who says, “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.” (vs 8)

Then, with David we can “be glad in the Lord and rejoice.”

There is joy for us who have been made clean by the precious blood of Jesus. I pray that you will know that joy today.

(Psalm 25) For The Sake Of The Name

LORD, for the sake of your name, forgive my iniquity, for it is immense. (v 11)

Sometimes I think we spend too much of our worship thanking God for the blessings of home and family and comfort and peace and health and heaven, all of which are amazing benefits of knowing Jesus. We ought to be thanking God for all of that and more!

But David reminded me that none of it compares with the Name. None if it even comes close to equaling Creator God, the Person of Jesus Christ, or the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

Paul, in Philippians 3:8-11 says:

I count everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in himthat I may know him…

We are saved to be a gift to the Savior, not so the Savior can gift us with things. Paul tells us that anything short of Jesus Himself is rubbish!

The other thing about this verse is David’s admission that the sins God forgave him were “immense.” I can’t help but say the same of my sins.

Immense.

But God forgives me, cleans me up, dresses me in purity, and gives me as a gift to His Son.

I am saved for His sake! And I am blessed with Jesus Himself in return.

(Psalm 19) If Necessary Use Words

Creation is considered the “wordless book,” and Psalm 19 emphasizes that fact:

The heavens declare the glory of God… (verse 1a)

I’ve often said that I believe the most overlooked verse in the Bible is Genesis 1:16b (it doesn’t even rate its own verse number):

He made the stars also.

Just threw them up there like it’s no big deal. But the more scientists and astronomers learn about what is out there among the stars, the more that sentence reveals the amazing glory of God.

… and the expanse proclaims the work of His hands. (Psalm 19:1b)

It’s believed there are more than a million and a half different species of fungi in the world, 10,000 species of ants, 300,000 species of flowering plants, not to mention the delicate and precise workings of nature itself. All of it reveals an intelligent designer – much more intelligent than those who twist the facts to try to disprove the existence of the Designer.

Verse 4 of this psalm tells us creation is a message that “has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world.

Paul reiterated that in his letter to the Romans:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

So, does that let us off the hook? Shouldn’t our neighbor be able to be saved by watching his grass grow in his back yard? Is there salvation in the “wordless book” of creation?

I mean, I’ve heard it said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” Maybe it’s not necessary to sit with my unsaved neighbor, open God’s Word, and talk to him about Jesus.

Whew! Dodged that bullet!

But then I remember verses like John 14:6 where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Or when he said in John 3:3, “Truly, truly, I tell you. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” I don’t know how anyone can be born again simply by observing creation, according to what Jesus said.

How about Paul’s letter to the Romans:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Again, I don’t see how that can happen just by star-gazing. So which is it? Is there salvation in the wordless book of Creation, or in God’s Son Jesus Christ?

The answer is YES! But you can’t separate the two because Jesus IS the Creator:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)

I would encourage you to read that chapter in John. The Apostle very clearly tells us Jesus is that Word!

Creation reveals that there is a God, and the Gospel of Jesus reveals how God made the provision to redeem sinful people.

But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14)

Sounds like we who have received God’s grace through Jesus Christ need to be telling people about their only hope for salvation. Creation is preparing their hearts. It’s up to us to go and make disciples.

And, yes. Words are necessary.

Your words are necessary.

(Psalm 2) Chains? Or Lifelines?

Verses 1-3: This psalm paints a picture of a wild animal fighting against the chains which hold him captive. Snarling, writhing, pulling this way and that with teeth bared. But he is only hurting himself.

He doesn’t understand why he is chained. He just knows he wants to be free of them.

Verses 4-6: The one who has placed the chains on the beast sits back and waits for the beast to wear itself out. He knows those chains has placed the beast under his control, not the other way around.

Verses 7-9: In fact, he gets his authority from the owner of the beast, the big boss. The owner has made him his son! He’s been given the power to control the situation, extending to the ends of the earth.

Verses 10-12: The beast is better off in the hands of his captor, under the protection of the one given authority. Instead of fighting against him, the beast would do better to submit to him. “All who take refuge in him are happy.” (verse 12b)

Here’s what the beast doesn’t understand. He is chained for his protection. There are enemies out there stronger than he, determined to kill him. While he is under the protection of the one with authority he can move around, enjoy freedom within the safe boundaries set out by the one with authority.

Warren Wiersbe says: “Freedom without authority is anarchy, and anarchy destroys.” (Be Worshipful; David C Cook Publisher; 2009; p 24)

Let me say that again. “Freedom without authority is anarchy, and anarchy destroys.”

We are seeing a society of people racing toward destruction because they want to throw off the shackles of Truth, of rules, of religion. They want to create their own truth and will fight anyone who disagrees. Anarchy leads to destruction.

I’m not just talking about society in general. The same is true of the modern Church. We want the freedom to worship like we want, believe what we want, live like we want. Throw traditional dogma out and be free. Anarchy leads to destruction.

But there ARE rules. There IS Truth. There IS right and there is wrong. You may consider them chains. I see them as lifelines.

I am sure most of you get it. This psalm is talking about Jesus, the One given authority by the Father. Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus who tells us to follow Him, to be holy, to believe and be saved.

Jesus is not a bully-captor holding us back with cruel chains. He is the lifeline!

All who take refuge in him are happy!

(Job 37-42) Blessed Be The Name of the LORD

So after God spoke and Job repented, God blessed Job with even more material blessings than he’d had before the trouble began. Doesn’t that seem to support the prosperity gospel so appealing to so many theses days? If you say the right thing, manufacture the right faith, BOOM – you win the lottery. Makes me want to get my checkbook out and write a big one to Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Peter Popoff, Kenneth Hagin, and the like. Let that “seed money” do its thing.

I’ve sat here for quite a while this morning, trying to make sense of this because I don’t believe the property gospel is Biblical. I can think of many examples of believers who struggle physically and financially, yet consider themselves blessed. I believe the above mentioned public figures are charlatans. But the health and wealth gospel seems to be here in Job’s life. I went to the internet and read things from sources I trust, and even from sources I consider questionable to try to make sense of this passage.

Then I prayed.

Yeah, I know. I got that backwards, didn’t I?

God seemed to point me back to chapter one. And I was reminded that the book of Job is not primarily about suffering or loss, or even restoration. It’s about worship. Remember Satan challenged God on the idea that Job worshiped God because his life was easy. Satan’s premises was that if things turned for the worst in Job’s life, he would stop worshiping God.

The book of Job is full of imagery. We see pictures of nature, of creation, God’s supremacy, and His intelligence which is far above our own. We hear Job question, and can almost feel his agony. But what we don’t see is Job turning his back on God.

In fact, in the end, Job confesses his sin and falls on his face before the one true God as he realizes God’s ways are far above our own, and that through it all, God can be trusted.

However, as demonstrated in the book of Job, God delights in blessing his obedient children. Job once again enjoyed a materially blessed life. He had other children to fill his household. His physical problems were behind him. But here is what I think God pointed out to me today: Job wasn’t blessed because of things. He was blessed by his relationship with God. Remember what he’d said from the beginning?

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. (1:21)

If we make the book of Job about material blessings, we miss the point. The question asked and answered in these chapters is: is God worthy of praise and worship no matter the circumstances of life?

The answer is a resounding YES! Read what God says about Himself as He asks Job those probing questions. Is He worthy?

Paul told the church in Philippi (4:11-13)

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

That’s the message from Job’s life. Is it your experience as well, or are you waiting until your ship comes in before you truly worship God?

I pray we will all bow before our Creator God who is holy and righteous and does all things well. I pray that no matter what our struggles or disappointments or challenges or devastating circumstances, we will with Job continue to say:

Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Not because we think saying that will get us out of our trouble or move us to Easy Street. May we say it believing it’s true because:

The NAME of the LORD is worthy.

(Job 29-31) Prejudice

Do we get a glimpse at the less-than-righteous side of Job here? I have no doubt the man was a good, generous, upright guy who truly loved and feared God. God Himself called Job a righteous man, and God doesn’t lie.

But this man, who gave to the poor and fed the traveler, encouraged those who mourned, and received respect and honor from others, might have been a bit prejudice. In speaking of the young men who were harassing him, Job said this of their fathers:

I wouldn’t have put them with my dogs. They were emaciated, ate tree roots and shrubs like animals. These fathers weren’t fit for human society, and everyone treated them like thieves. They howled like wolves, and were forced out of the land.

Then Job says:

Now I am mocked by THEIR songs. I have become an object of scorn to THEM. THEY despise ME and keep their distance from ME. (30:9-10, emphasis mine)

Job is indignant at the very thought that the dregs of society would dare look down on him. But my question is, Job, why consider anyone throw-away?

I ask the same thing of us. ALL people are equally precious in God’s sight, and should be in the sight of all of His children: the unborn, the physically and mentally handicapped, the poor and the rich, the homeless and those living in luxury, homosexuals and those who reject that lifestyle, people with different skin color and nationalities, people with differing opinions, tattoos and piercings, grey hair and wrinkles.

We can be doing all the “right” things, we can be generous and loving and devoted to God. But is there a bit of prejudice in us, too? Because the truth is, ALL people need Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus, no matter what kind of life they are living!

God is asking me to do a prejudice check in my own heart. Might He be asking you to do the same?

(Job 25-28) Answers to Questions

Question: Who is the shortest person in the Bible? If you answered Zacchaeus, you would be wrong. The shortest person in the Bible is Bildad the Shuhite (shoe-height).

Groan.

Job and his friends have been talking about sin and righteousness, judgment and blessing. We know none of them have a lock on any of it. Once in awhile, though, someone will say something that resembles truth.

Like when Bildad, while comparing God’s greatness to man’s insignificance, asks the questions:

How can a human be justified before God? How can one born of woman be pure? (25:4)

The implied answer to those questions is – we can’t. You and I can’t compare our righteousness, our goodness, our love to God’s. A maggot can’t make itself pure any more than we can make ourselves pure before our holy God.

Then Job, as he has done consistently, points us to God, God’s vastness, power and perfection. We must bow to God. He doesn’t bow to us.

Yet we want to understand. We want to know what He knows.

So Job tells us, if we really want answers:

The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding. (28:28)

So many people want God to “show up,” to reveal Himself, give us a sign, change a circumstance. But God is telling us wisdom and understanding is available IF we go to Him on His terms: Fear Him, and repent of sin.

And if you go to Him on His terms, either answers will follow, or you’ll realize having the answers isn’t all that important, anyway. That’s wisdom. That’s understanding. And both are gifts from God to those who follow Him.

(Job 8-10) Prosperity

Bildad was perhaps the first health-and-wealth-gospel preacher.

But if you earnestly seek God and ask the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright… your final days will be full of prosperity. (8:5-7)

If you do this, this, and this, God will pay your bills and heal you. So yes, the prosperity gospel is in the Bible. Are we to base our faith upon it?

Even Job questioned the truth of it. He realized God’s ways are not our ways, and God is not accountable to us humans.

He destroys both the blameless and the wicked. (9:22b))

If I wash myself with snow, and cleanse my hands with lye, then you dip me in a pit of mud, and my own clothes despise me. (9:30-31)

Job’s outlook is bleak. But he is acknowledging that the evidence proves that good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people. The truth is you can’t buy God’s blessings with good behavior. So, no Bildad. What you say is not true.

Job needed to learn, as do we, that God’s ultimate goal has nothing to do with our comfort or material blessings. Paul emphasized this fact when he said in Philippians 4:11-13 that he had learned to be content in whatever situation he found himself.

Let go of expecting that check in the mail, and turn off the preacher who promises it will come if you do this or that, pray the right words, have enough faith, give enough money. That prosperity gospel was wrong when Bildad preached it, and it’s wrong in 2021.

(Nehemiah 9-13) Spiritual Integrity

Regarding Nehemiah’s harsh treatment of foreigners and sinners, the commentator in my Apologetics Study Bible used the words, “spiritual integrity.” In order to protect the holiness of God’s people, their spiritual integrity if you will, Nehemiah expelled those who didn’t worship God in truth. He kicked them out, and not all that gently, either.

Nehemiah knew the “negative spiritual ramifications” of accepting non-believers into the family of God. I don’t think we understand those spiritual ramifications today.

Even our pastors encourage us to bring sinners into God’s house. Worship leaders use Bethel and Hillsong music, inviting false teaching into our fellowship. We try so hard to look like our unsaved neighbors we no longer stand as a beacon in a dark world.

What are the negative spiritual ramification? Too many of us, too many of our churches, have lost our spiritual integrity. And you know something that makes me sad about that? Some of you will say that’s a good thing.