What Are We Learning from God?

Teach me to do thy will; for thou are my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143.10

What a wonderful way to start the day: “Teach me to do thy will; for thou are my God … ” This is not just a good word for the psalmist. It is good for you and me too. How do we go about doing the will of God? The starting place is His Word. The psalmist did not have the benefit of the whole of Scripture that we have now. We have the ability and the privilege of studying God’s Word to learn about Him and what He wants from His children. I think for most of us, our struggle is determining in our hearts to DO what we already know God wants. We gain nothing by trying to bargain with God. On the contrary, we find our greatest peace in doing what we already know to do. Once we make the determination that God is OUR God, the rest of life wants to fall into place and follow Him.

This phrase: “thy spirit is good … ” is more than simply bragging on God. The psalmist knows, and we must know too, that God ALWAYS has the psalmist’s best interests at heart (and that is true for us as well).

What does this last phrase mean to us? “lead me into the land of uprightness.” One translation reads: “Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” The psalmist’s heart desire is to walk in a way that will glorify his God. You and I need to come to this place in our lives as well. Gone are the days when we should choose to live selfishly. OUR heart cry must be that God would guide us in a way that will cause our lives to bring glory to Him. Once again, this is not a once-for-all decision. It is something that we must choose EVERY DAY – and sometimes more frequently than that. These are just my thoughts …

 

When Waiting Pays Off!

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait and in his word do I hope.” Psalm 130.5

Waiting is one of the most difficult things that any of us do. We wait on our spouse, or our children, or the order at the fast food restaurant, etc. I find one of my most difficult waiting times is when I am stopped at a traffic light and it seems like I need to shave when it turns green – I have been there so long.

But what we are looking at here is a totally different “wait”. Sometimes in our haste to “do what’s right” we get ahead of God. We may forget that God does not work on the clock the way we do. His view of things is from eternity past, to the present, and into the future with no end in sight. So waiting for the Lord to give us the next step must be more than an exercise in patience. It must be our daily routine.

As if the phrase “I wait for the LORD” wasn’t enough, the psalmist adds: “my soul doth wait … ” indicating that in his inner most being he has made the conscious decision to wait on the Lord. That may not seem like a big deal, but I can’t remember the number of times I have heard someone say, “the Lord told me to do it,” and whatever “it” was turned out to be the total opposite of what God had already told us in His Word.

Finally, the reason for waiting on the Lord is given in this last phrase: “in his word do I hope.” Remember that the word hope here does not mean that there is a possibility that something WON’T happen. Quite the opposite – it means that whatever God says WILL happen is as good as already done. That, my friends, is genuine hope. Let’s bank on that today. Just my thoughts …

The Riches of His Grace!

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1.7

The beginning words “In whom” refer to Christ. We have redemption through His blood. It is relatively easy to find someone who believes that all they need to do to get to heaven is have enough good works to offset their bad works. The only problem with that belief is that it is contrary to what this verse says. Redemption is ours BECAUSE of the shed blood of Christ. We read in Hebrews 9.22: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood: and without shedding of blood is no remission.” The ONLY reason Christ came to die was to pay the necessary price demanded by His Father for our sins to be covered. I can’t thank Him enough every day for paying this price for my sin.

There is a distinct biblical truth here. Christ’s blood paid for our sin so His Father could forgive us, and that forgiveness is based on the shedding of the blood of Christ. Make no mistake about it; He does not forgive us because we deserve it. On the contrary, if God should give us what we deserve, we would all spend eternity in hell. Our acceptance to God is made possible by the sacrifice made by His Son.

In this final phrase we find the words that make all of this possible: “ … according to the riches of his grace.” GRACE – just the sound of the word speaks volumes. Someone has suggested this acrostic: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. We can NEVER measure the bountifulness of God’s grace. When we have drawn heavily upon God’s grace we leave Him with no less grace than He had before we asked. Think of the repeated times in your life when God has extended grace to you – times when you did not deserve it, times when you had to strain to recognize it – and yet God was faithful. Thank Him today for His boundless grace and rejoice in the life he has given you “according to the riches of his grace.” Just my thoughts …

Why Am I Stuck Where I Am?

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119.165

I think you have to read that verse a few times before its truth sinks in. We are living in a time where many people – even Christians – are offended so easily. And the result of that offense is the reason so many “professing Christians” don’t go to church. We get offended is someone doesn’t shake our hand. We get offended if we are overlooked after we have done something “for the church”. The list could be extensive but there is no need.

Let’s look carefully at the two phrases in this verse: “Great peace have they which love thy law … ” What does it mean to “love” the law of God? Would that include the Bible – God’s written word? I surely think so. One of the problems with a careless or spasmodic reading of God’s Word is that we know just enough to be dangerous. I can’t love something deeply until I have examined it enough to have more than a superficial knowledge of it. When I am willing to love God’s law, then I am willing to allow His Word to correct me when I am wrong. I am willing to live my life in accordance with God’s Word rather than contrary to it.

Now this last phrase: “nothing shall offend them.” Our purpose in going to the house of God is not to get someone to shake our hand. Nor is it to allow us to find something that we don’t like and let that offend us. Our purpose – our only purpose – is to worship with the people of God. So what if I don’t like the color of paint on the walls. So what if I don’t like the new carpet. So what if they don’t sing my favorite songs all the time. If I am OFFENDED by these things, then I have allowed “my stuff” to get in the way of worshiping my Heavenly Father. And believe it or not, He does care if I worship Him. Just my thoughts …

A Pretty Good Exchange!

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5.21

When you received Christ as your personal savior, did you ever wonder what happened to your sin? Most of us have heard enough preaching to know the answer to that question. But let’s look closely today at what Paul is telling the Corinthians and us in the verse above. He (God) has made him (Christ His Son) who knew no sin, to be made sin FOR us (in our place); and why? He did it so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Christ).

It will be worthwhile for us to grasp the significance of this truth – Christ being made sin for us. When Christ was born, in that Bethlehem manger, He was born to Mary and Joseph as far as the legal heritage was concerned. But Joseph was NOT the real father for we read in Luke 1.34-35: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Mary knew that this child she carried was the Son of God, not the son of Joseph.

This holy child lived a perfect life, went to the cross, and became the only sacrifice that God the Father would accept. While He was on that cross, He took upon Himself the sins of the world: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, byt also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2.2) He took our sin so that when we received His payment for our sin, we could take His righteousness. Remember Paul’s words: “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” I am so thankful for this divine transaction that made salvation available to me. I think you are too. Just my thoughts …

 

Glorify God HOW?

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” 1 Peter 4.15-16

Peter has two thoughts running side by side here and we need to hearken to both of them. His first concept here is that our suffering ought not be because we have done something we should not have done, such as murder, stealing, evil doing, or sticking our nose into someone else’s business. We may need to read that last one again and ask God to deliver us from being too noisy.

Then he tackles the concept of a Christian suffering. Looking back at the book of Job, we see Job’s friends ASSUMING that Job is suffering because he has done something wrong. Not just one of them makes that claim, but all four of them. So when you and I see another brother or sister in Christ suffering, let’s not assume they have done something wrong and God is punishing.

If you are the one who is suffering, there is no shame in suffering. And God alone may be the only one who knows WHY you are suffering, and He may choose not to reveal that to you. So what is the attitude that we should take if we are suffering? Peter tells us: “let him glorify God on this behalf.” You may ask, “How can God be glorified in my suffering?” Is it possible that God is allowing you or me to suffer to show those who are watching us that God is enough – even in our suffering? I think there are times when we neglect to think that our suffering may not be about us at all. It may be about those around us who are waiting to see how we respond to our suffering.

It is also possible that God allows us to suffer so that we can do as Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 1.3-4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” While these are just my thoughts, they are worthy of our consideration …

This Is REAL Trust

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalm 56.4

When you read the phrase, “I will not fear what flesh can do unto me”, what comes to your mind? David certainly had occasion to fear flesh – especially when Saul wanted to kill him. So, what can we draw from this verse that will help US? David’s opening words give us the secret to not fearing what flesh can do to us.

In God I will praise his word … ” You may ask what does praising God have to do with overcoming fear of the flesh? We cannot, we will not, give praise to a powerless God. On the contrary, when we realize not just who our God is, but also come to understand His immensity and His power, praising Him is the natural by-product of KNOWING God in an intimate way. When Paul said in Philippians 3.10: “That I may know Him … ”, this word know is the same one used to describe a man knowing a woman in an intimate way. That is how we want to know God.

Now, David says: “ … in God I have put my trust … ” We exercise trust everyday in so many different ways. We walk into a room and sit on a chair that we trust. We flip a light switch because we trust the power company to supply the power. We get in our cars and start them, trusting it will take use where we want to go. So when it comes to trusting God, we need to use our trust in a greater degree because our ability to trust God more and more enables us to “not fear what flesh can do unto (us).” This is such a liberating place to be – knowing that God is worthy of our praise, is worthy of our trust, and is able to deliver us from whatever “flesh” may want to do to us. Just my thoughts …

The Absolute Certainty of God’s Love

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8.35-39

When professing Christians say something like “I don’t know if God really loves me. It sure doesn’t seem like it”, there is one thing I know … they have never read these verses and believed them wholeheartedly. Paul first asks what can separate us from the love of Christ. Then he spells out some circumstances that can occur to each one of us. And then he answers his own question: “37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Then in the last two verses he tells us the things that CAN NEVER separate us from the love of Christ. Let’s look: (1) death, (2) life, (3) angels, (4) principalities, (5) powers, (6) things present, (7) things to come, (8) height, (9) depth, (10) any other creature. I don’t see that he has missed any thing in this list. When it seems that God’s love has been removed from us, it is time to take a long, hard look into our own hearts to see who we have placed on the throne in place of God. Tough times come to EVERY believer. Disappointments come to EVERY believer. Trials come to EVERY believer. Where is God in all of these circumstances? He is exactly where He was when they placed His Son on the cross. He didn’t go away then and He is not going away now. Just my thoughts …

When Was the Last Time You Were Alone with God?

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46.10

Remember hen you were a kid and your mom used to say, “Would you just be still?” That was especially effective if she used my full name. Well, in this verse God is saying to us, “Be still, and know that I am God:” The fast pace of our culture seems to make it difficult for us to just be still for anything. But if we are going to LISTEN to God when He whispers, we really need to “be still.” Do you have a time anywhere during the day when you are alone with God – just God and you? Before someone has a heart attack and wants to tell me how busy they are, I get it. But you CARVE OUT time to do anything else you want to do.

If God is nothing more than a divine errand boy, you don’t have a God at all, you have a servant. That brings us to the next phrase: “I will be exalted among the heathen.” You ask, “How is God going to pull that off?” and my answer is that I don’t know, but He says, “I will …” and I know He will. But WHY can’t He be exalted in our lives? Are we so preoccupied or unwilling to grant God permission to be glorified in us? IF I am God’s child (and I am), then any changes that need to be made in order for God to be exalted in me must be changes that I am willing to make. God is just waiting … and waiting … and waiting for us to get things together.

Finally, this final phrase: “I will be exalted in the earth.” WOW, I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of what God is doing on this earth to glorify Himself. I want to be a vessel that He is willing to use to execute His plan. You and I know that God will not use a dirty vessel, so it is OUR responsibility to keep our vessel clean and available to God. Once again, these are just my thoughts …

Just Believe It!

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” John 14.1

When we hear someone say, “I have heart trouble”, we immediately think they are talking about that organ in their body that circulates their blood. And that would be right. But when Jesus says here, “Let not your heart be troubled … ”, He is referring to that spirit that lies deep within each one of us that allows us to express emotion. Jesus is coming to the end of His earthly ministry shortly. Soon He will be taken by the Roman government and falsely sentenced to die. In the preceding chapter Judas has betrayed Jesus and very soon He will be arrested. Jesus has been trying to tell them that He is going away, but they are reluctant to hear what He has to say.

This verse opens the door to many spiritual and practical truths. In the succeeding chapters He is going to tell them about the coming of the Holy Spirit who will “lead (them) into all truth.” But they are troubled by the truth that they will no longer be able to SEE Jesus and talk with Him as they have in the past. So He says: “ye believe in God, believe also in me.” He had always been truthful with them, and the promise He is about to make in verses 2 & 3 should reassure them. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, 3 And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that WHERE I AM, there ye may be also.

“ … ye believe in God, believe also in me.” So here it is in nugget form. Just believe God. Jesus did go away. Jesus is coming again. He is preparing a place for us. And we DO get to go and spend eternity with Him. Let’s just believe it and live each day like we believe it. Just my thoughts …