O How Blessed To Belong To God

“Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

It still amazes me that God claims me as His child (1Jn 3:1). What I deserve the least God gives freely (Ro 5:6-8). If only we would stop living below our privilege and see ourselves as children of the God who made us.

Since we are His offspring (Ac 17:11), we should bear a striking resemblance of being made in His image (Ge 1:26). We should embrace what He loves and reject what He hates. There is no room for us to live worldly lives if we are children of the King of heaven (Da 2:47). We’ve been born again in the likeness of Him. So we belong to Him (Is 43:1; Ro 6:3ff)

Isaiah 43:1 (ESV)
43 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Dear God, Please keep me from wandering from your awesome presence. Mold my heart to love what you love. Help me to avoid anything that could cause me to be separated from you. I need you every moment. I am desperately in need of your guidance as I walk this earth. Help me to laud your praise and tell others about what you have done for me.

Don’t Fall In Love With Foolishness

Wisdom can be found if we will open our minds. So many just don’t look for wisdom in the at all. Read carefully Proverbs 1:20-33. The question arises “Why do you love being uninformed?” Wisdom and learning are available to any who will tune their minds to reason. It seems to be the case that people would rather remain ignorant and continue to make the same silly and stupid decisions which leads to worse and worse conditions in their lives.

There are really only three types of people, the simple, the fool and the wise. Simple people are those who have never been exposed to knowledge. The fool is the one who hears truth and rejects it. The wise person listens and applies the truth he has learned. A person cannot remain simple after he hears the truth. He will either become wise and abide by it or ignore it and become a fool.

There is grave the danger of rejecting wisdom. We bring calamity upon ourselves. Scoffers who love to scoff and fools who hate knowledge bring reproof and judgment upon themselves. Wisdom mocks that person, because they bring much more harm to themselves than is necessary.

There comes a point where we can become so foolish that wisdom is impossible to attain.

“Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. 29  Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD,” (Proverbs 1:28–29)

Seems we should heed the words of the apostle Paul

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

Jesus commanded us to know the truth in order to be set free (John 8:32). There is only one source by which we can learn the truth and that is the Word of God (John 17:17). Let us take every opportunity to come to know the truth better and apply our hearts to wisdom

“Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge” (Proverbs 23:12).

“making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:2–6)

The Lord is My Rock, Fortress, and Deliverer

Psalm 18:1–3 (ESV)
I love you, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

The people of the Lord are truly blessed to have God as our defender, strength, and salvation. There are many obstacles and enemies that try to overwhelm us and steal our peace and place with God. Peter tells us the devil like a hungry lion prowls about seeking whom he might devour (1Pe 5:8-9). He sets a trap to capture our souls. We need to always be on watch for the “wiles of the devil” (Ep 6:10-13).

Paul encourages us to be… “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;” (Co 1:11). Let’s remember that the wicked one cannot have any more strength over us than we allow, for we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us (Php 4:13). If we will let God be our defender and strength we have nothing to fear as to what the devil or anything else can do to us (Ps 118:6; He 13:6). It is in God that we find refuge from every enemy (Ps 27:5).

Is it any wonder that the psalmist promises to call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised? (Ps 118:3, 6). Who are you depending on to guard you against temptations and hurts from the devil?

Dear God “I cannot bear the loads of life unaided, I need your strength to lean myself upon” (Thomas O. Chisholm) Help me to remember the words of the psalmist “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” I need you every hour and moment of the day to strengthen and lead me. Thank you for your tender watchcare over me. I am nothing without you.

Oh, Boy We Get to Pay Taxes Today

Mark 12:17 (ESV) Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Today is tax day in the USA. It is time when most people resent the government and grudgingly send in their duty. It is a day that reminds us that we have a responsibility to the kingdoms of men. Not just to pay what we owe in tax but to pray for and honor the king.

Romans 13:7 (ESV)
“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

1 Peter 2:17 (ESV)
“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

These commands are extra hard to obey when we don’t agree with our leaders or our leaders are doing things that are counter to the goodness of God. Remember, God’s people have lived under despotic and evil rulers. We cannot find people much more wicked than the some of the kings of the world in the Old Testament. Think of Pharaoh during the time of the Exodus, Nebuchadnezzar during the time of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, or King Darius with wicked henchmen in his cabinet that tried to kill Daniel. Evil men ruled in Israel the whole time after the division of Judah and Israel. Immoral rulers were prevalent in Rome they even killed Jesus and most of the apostles. Yet, God says to honor that office not agree with their actions.

David didn’t agree with Saul and even honored the him as king while Saul was trying to kill him. Daniel used respectful language when talking to Darius, Belteshazar and Nebuchadnezzar.

Men abuse power and are self-serving. They will do things that oppress the innocent. Yet the positions of authority are God’s way of maintaining order. It is because of that that we are to render due respect and pay our taxes. After the money leaves our hands we are not responsible for how it is used.

Oh, Consistency Thou Art A Jewel

Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Many problems arise when we are only partially committed to God. Holding on to the world while trying to serve God is truly impossible. James 1:8 tells us that “a double-minded man is unstable in all his way.” Hypocrisy keeps one from being dedicated to anything or anyone. Hypocrisy shows just how unaccountable a person is to godly principles. One will say one thing while knowing they are never going to follow through. Living a duplicitous life will keep a person from ever building true relationships with God or fellow man. These hypocrites are looking only for what benefits themselves and are willing to lie to get it.

Proverbs 11:3 (ESV)
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

All that one gains in false virtue is soon taken from him. There is an old song we used to sing “True hearted, whole hearted, faithful and loyal by thy grace we will be.” This is the aim of a sincere Christian. To have an outward righteousness that matches his inward righteousness. When a person puts up a false front he can never really move forward in his life for God. The words of Joel demands that we “rend our hearts not our garments” (Joel 2:13). God is interested in the heart and its trueness to Him and His principles. Anyone can say they are good but their actions are what prove it.

Isaiah 66:2 (ESV)
“…this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

A true heart that serves without deceit is what God demands from us. Let us cleanse our hearts and mend our ways in such a way that they look and act the same.

There are Two Sides to One God

It is hard for me to read some of the imprecatory psalms. They are fear-filling and reveal the nature of a God that is both righteous and just. We find that God must punish the wicked. In Psalm 5:4 we discover that God does not delight in wickedness, He destroys those speak lies, abhors thee bloodthirsty and deceitful person. These qualities are balanced with the lovingkindness shown to those who keep God’s commands, and are lead by His righteousness.

It certainly isn’t popular to rebuke sinful people with the truth. However, isn’t it one of the kindest things we can do, to warn people that the holiness of God will not allow Him to be in the same place as evil. Sinners cannot stand in the presence of God (Psalm 1:5). In almost every psalm of this nature we find a plea for God to work on the heart of the one praying or singing the psalm. It is the righteous and virtuous that can rejoice in their God because He blesses them.

In the words of Paul in the New Testament, “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off” (Romans 11:22) A stern warning that captures much of the same message as the imprecatory psalms.

“God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11 NKJV).

The psalms truly give us pause to think that God must do what is just and holy. They should turn us from sin and cause us to bow to the holiness of such a devout God.

“…and was carried away into Abraham’s bosom…”

Lazarus the poor man wasn’t recipient of the best things in this life. He is described in a way that would make most all of us miserable. However, there was something about this man that showed his reliance upon God. For when he died he was ushered into a place of rich blessings. We are not told much about Lazarus other than that he was poor and filled with sores and that after death he went to live in Abraham’s bosom. The word used to describe him is ptokos, gives us more of a picture of just how poor this man was. Ptokos means devoid of anything, dependent totally upon others for the necessities of life, helpless, defenseless, poor and needy. A person can be ptokos in the spiritual sense. These are the people Jesus describes as poor in spirit. They are fully reliant on God for everything physically and spiritually.

I am longing for the day that I can reside in Abraham’s bosom and better yet go to that beautiful place called heaven. But, while I am here I will not amass the wealth of this world but rather fill my soul’s storehouse with treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). I yearn to be in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 27:4 (ESV)
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

Surround Yourself With True Friends

I am a firm believer that one needs to take someone to heaven with them and that each person needs all the help he can get to get there. It is only wise to surround ourselves with people who are of the same mind and judgement (1Co 1:10). The Hebrews writer encouraged us to encourage each other by gathering together in God’s house (He 10:25). He wanted us to spur one another on to love and good works (He 10:24).

Your dearest and closest friends should be those who help you to be the best Christian you can possibly be. We all need to be accountable to others who are accountable to us. Is it time to inventory our close companions to see if they are the kind that encourage us to heavenly pursuits?

Proverbs 18:24 (NIV) One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Many years ago I heard a preacher say that a true friend will challenge you when they know you are headed away from God and righteous living. That is the best kind of friend. Are you that friend?

Keep Me As The Apple of Your Eye (Psalm 17:8)

This passage is one of my favorites. It brings me great comfort and expresses how close I want to be to the Lord. The apple of the eye is a beautiful word picture. It is the reflection of yourself that you see when you look deeply into the eyes of another.

Eyes are precious to us. We protect our eyes at all cost. Even the Lord knew how much the eye needed safekeeping. In His wisdom God protected the eye in a boney socket which would preserve it from being hurt. He put special eye lashes to guard them from dirt and dust. He fitted them with eye brows to divert sweat from running directly into the eye. He put special ducts to flow cleansing tears to wash out foreign matter.

We all go to special length to defend our eyes from injury even wearing proactive glasses to deflect any damaging objects from reaching the eye. We use lenses that darken light from hurting the sensitive parts from too much sun blinding us. Yes the eye with its ability to see is so important that we give great care to guard it.

Now think of how precious is the one who abides in the eye of God. God has to be watching us intently and closely for us to be contained therein. All the special design is there to keep us safe in that special place. God sees us, guards us, goes to special lengths to protect us so we will ever abide as the apple of His eye.

I hope you realize just how special you are and how much God goes out of His way to keep you safe in His care. As we seek first the Kingdom, God provides for us our every need (Mt 6:33). He values us over the other things He created (Mt 6:26). He is watching over us at all times. He knows when we are hurting or happy. He guides us and keeps us even when we don’t realize it. God’s providence is a treasure we should value always.

Please relish your special place in the center of God’s eye. Do all you can so not to move from that sacred, special spot.

Have the Faithful Vanished From the Children of Man? (Psalm 12:1)

It seems that evil is prevailing in our world right now. It is disheartening to see so much that is anti-God, anti-good and so much unholy and profane action and thought. Where are the righteous? Why no outcry from those who love the Lord and His way? We often feel like Elijah who lamented that he was the only righteous one left. But God knew more than Elijah. God has record of every good and righteous person serving quietly in their surroundings (1 Kings 19:18ff).

My mother used to say, “You need to do what is right even if no one else will.” She was so correct in this wise saying. It is in the darkest times that we need to shine the brightest. Your courage to do right will rebuke others and also encourage the faint to rise up to serve more boldly.

Now is the time for us to ask God for more boldness in our day. The very definition of being bold means that we stand out vividly from the surrounding. Jesus reminded us to “let our light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14).

Remember the soul stirring words of John Stuart Mill, often attributed to Edmund Burke “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Dear Father, help me to stand up today and show the world what Jesus would do in the dark world of sin. Help me to encourage others to do right. Forgive my timidity and create in me a love for righteousness that demands action on my part. Through Jesus I ask this petition.