Friday
Jul142017

Psalm 27 - The Antidote to Fear

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It was Franklin Delano Roosevelt on his first inaugural address who famously said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Fear has a debilitating, paralyzing effect even when it resides only in the imagination.

In Psalm 27, David begins with a very positive declaration. Twice he proclaims that he doesn't fear anyone or anything. Notice his words, "The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

If we take a close look at this Psalm, it wouldn't take long for us to discover David's secret to living a fearless life.

Verse 4 holds the key: "One thing I have desired of the Lord that I will seek..." And what is David's number one priority in his life? It is to draw near God and enjoy His presence all the days of his life. David has gotten so familiar with the ways and character of God that his confidence in Him has become firm and unshakeable. Fear vanishes in the presence of love.

The more we get to know the powerful God of the Scriptures the less fear has a hold on us. The more we depend on our abilities and circumstances the greater fear has influence over us. Personal closeness with God drives away fear.

David confesses that he would have lost heart "unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." David's life is a myriad of difficult circumstances, yet he always holds out in fervent hope of God's goodness and redeeming power. He is absolutely certain regardless of his situations in life that God will be there for him. He knows God from personal revelation and experience borne out of intimate knowledge of Him.

Towards the end of Psalm 27, David underscores the importance of learning to wait upon the Lord, "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!" The kind of waiting David is talking about is an active engagement that implies trustful expectation in God's sovereign will that He will work everything out for our good and for His glory. Fear will not thrive in this kind of spiritual environment.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)
Sunday
Mar262017

Psalm 26 - The Prayer of a Truly Converted Soul

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Salvation is the impartation of a new nature in a person's life. You can tell a Christian by the way he or she lives. His desires are now entirely different from before he came to know Christ. Her focus is to live honoring and glorifying God.

Whereas Psalm 25 is a plea for God's forgiveness because of one's sins, Psalm 26 is a prayer of a person who has been totally forgiven by God. It is a prayer brimming with confidence not in one's ability to be good, but in God's ability to forgive.

"Vindicate me, Lord," David implores of God, "for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered." Some may say that it is rather condescending to pray a prayer like that for after all no one is entirely blameless. But then David expresses that it is through God's love and His faithfulness that give him such confidence: "for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness."

Our basis in claiming righteousness does not rest on our ability to achieve it but rather on God's ability to impart it through faith in Christ's finished work on the cross.

Far from being perfect but when we are living in Christ and His life is flowing through us there is now a feeling of disinclination toward anything that is ungodly. Notice David's change of character: "I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked."

After David has experienced God's deliverance, now his heart is tuned to worship, "I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds. Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells."

Psalm 26 teaches us what a truly converted person to the Lord is like. First, there is confidence in the forgiveness of sin that God grants. Second, there is a distinct aversion to wickedness. And third, a truly converted person is someone who is drawn to worship Him.

Wait there is a fourth one, the last verse gives us another one, "My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord." A truly converted person has a desire to witness for the Lord publicly in "the great congregation." How can we not witness if we have received the greatest gift of all. There is within the heart of a truly converted person an irresistible force to share what he has found.
Monday
Mar202017

Supreme Court Justice Nominee Neil Gorsuch and the “Nuclear Option”

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Today marks the beginning of what would likely be a contentious Senate confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch, nominated to the Supreme Court to fill the vacant seat left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He is a Federal Appellate Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit – a position given to him with strong bipartisan support from both sides of the political aisle - Democrats and Republicans.

Neil Gorsuch is known as a staunch Constitutionalist and strong adherent to the rule of law, one who is committed to textualism or originalism – someone who interprets the Constitution based on its original text and language as understood by the original writers, and someone who doesn’t view the Constitution as an evolving or living document subject to changing societal needs.

At his acceptance speech he remarked, “…in our legal order it is for Congress and not the courts to write new laws. It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people's representatives." I couldn’t agree more.

As a vigorous battle looms in the Senate for his confirmation with democrats threatening to filibuster his nomination, the possibility for Republicans going “nuclear” by changing the 60-vote threshold with a simple majority of 51 votes championed by the Democrats themselves may actually happen. Indeed it is the only one route to ensure his nomination.

A Harvard Law graduate with sterling judicial record and independence, Judge Neil Gorsuch will be a superb addition to the Supreme Court in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia - someone who will work to preserve one of the nation’s most cherished freedoms – our religious liberties, not just for Christians but for all people of faith.

 

 
Sunday
Mar052017

Psalm 25 - A Childlike Humility

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The gnawing feeling of guilt and shame overpowers him. The possibility that his enemies would expose some dark secrets of his past haunts him. Several times, David implores God not to put him to shame. David alludes to the sins of his youth and his rebellious ways and for God not to remember them.

We’ve been there. We experience it from time to time when some dark secrets of our lives come back to haunt us. We wish it never happened. But the reality is we are sinful beings prone to wander and rebel against God.

And so David feeling the weight of his sins asks God, “Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love…do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways.” He is heartbroken, remorseful, and repentant. He appeals to God on the basis of His mercy and love.

Having gone to the Lord with contriteness of heart David experiences the awesome freedom from guilt and shame that only a gracious God can give. He declares, “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

In my readings of the Psalms, I am always impressed with David’s childlike humility especially during the most difficult seasons of his life. Just consider his very first words at the beginning of this Psalm, "In you, LORD my God, I put my trust." When we come to God in the trusting and believing ways of a little child setting aside our pride and selfishness, we will indeed experience God’s amazing grace.

Like David, the moment we experience God’s liberating truth we will want more of Him. In a typical fashion demonstrating David's utter reliance and enjoyment of God, he declares, “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” The reference of "God my Savior" obviously refers to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the Savior of the world.

And here’s a beautiful promise for us today, “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.” The precious gift of intimacy with God is like no other. It comes through a childlike humility.
Sunday
Feb122017

Psalm 24 - God Owns It All

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"The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness..," so says the beginning of this Psalm. Simply stated the verse tells us that God owns it all. It is reinforced by the next statement in the same verse, "...the world and those who dwell therein."

If God owns it all, what then are its immediate theological and practical implications?

If God owns it all, then it debunks and controverts the theory of evolution which espouses that everything in this world sprung on its own through evolutionary processes without someone causing it to happen. All of creation points to a Creator and all of nature is a grand design that points to a powerful, creative Designer.

If God owns it all, then I should live daily in gratefulness and thanksgiving for everything that I am and have acknowledging that without God I have nothing.

If God owns it all, then I should be a careful, conscious steward of everything that has been given to me including all my talents, abilities, wealth, and resources to be used for God's glory and benefit of mankind.

If God owns it all, then there is no room for pride and vain glory for what I think or claim to have achieved and accomplished in life - they are His and His alone - gifts on the basis of His grace and mercy.

If God owns it all, then as a rightful owner there will be a day of reckoning when the owner Himself will ask us to account on how we've lived our borrowed lives, used our opportunities and spent all the resources that are at our disposal.

The implications are endless, but suffice it to say that at the end of the age, apart from our salvation in Christ which is forever secure, our works will be judged on the basis of our faithful stewardship of all the resources that have been entrusted to us by our Master. Having this mindset enables us to live with clarity and purpose.

The Psalmist then moves on to the question of "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?" - a question that echoes a previous psalm - Psalm 15. The answer is found in verse 6 - they are the generation of Jacob who seeks God's face. Going up into the hill of the Lord is not something that is accomplished through human efforts but rather through the King of glory (verses 7-10). But it requires seeking after this King of glory; for to be qualified to enter God's holy hill we seek not after our own righteousness but we seek after the King of righteousness who alone can grant us that righteousness that qualifies us. As we draw near God He will draw near us (James 4:8).

Which is why David, the author of this Psalm, encourages us to lift up our heads and behold the King of glory, the Lord strong and mighty. And who is this King of glory? He is no other than the Son of Righteousness, the only begotten Son of God, the LORD of hosts - Jesus the Christ!