Has God Forgotten?

Psalm 77:7-9
Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?
Selah”

If these questions were posed to us on a theology test, we would all answer “No, no, six times no.” We know that He promises:

Hebrews 13:5 “…For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

Lamentations 3:22-23 “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.”

 

Mark 13:31 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

Ephesians 2:7 “. . . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

His presence, mercy, promises, and grace are eternal. They will never change, wear out, or fail. No matter what our condition, as turbulent as it may seem, the promises of God are sure and steadfast. He will never change. But these questions are not posed as a quiz for the Bible student, but out of the difficulties the Psalmist is facing. We are not privy to the details that caused his condition, but by his own admission, his soul refuses comfort. It is quite common in times like that, to question the promises of God. When the tides of trial swell up against us, and we begin to go downward in sorrow, it can seem as though the promises of God have failed.

The Psalmist does more than state the problem, he also provides the solution.

Psalm 77:11 “I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.”

His trials had robbed him of sleep, but rather than letting worry consume him, he began to recall the mighty works of the Lord. He seems to have called to memory the Red Sea crossing. Thinking back to those who were boxed in, surrounded by mountains, armies, and the waters, it looked as if there was no hope. The promise of a land flowing with milk and honey seemed to be impossible, and the death of a nation imminent. That is, until the Lord showed up and meted out His promise to His people. The Psalmist was not a participant in that event, but since faith comes by hearing the Word of God, his strength was revived by calling to mind the faithfulness of God.

In your trial, don’t be consumed in mind by the storm you are facing, but rather flood your mind with stories of His faithfulness, and watch Him revive your strength as you await His deliverance.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 77

  1. Verses 1-3 tell us the psalmist is crying out to God yet “he remembered God, and was troubled.” Have you ever cried out to the Lord yet felt He was not listening?
  2. Starting in verse 10, the writer changes his focus. What does he start remembering?
  3. Sometimes we tend to focus on our woes instead of who God is, keep reading! This is the God that came to deliver you.


Old Testament:
Psalm 78- What’s Your Story?
2 Kings 2- Where Is He?
2 Kings 1- Is There A God In Israel?

Greatness

Psalm 75:6-7
“For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.”

Things in the kingdom of God run very differently than they do in the kingdoms of men. This is particularly true of exaltation. The word exalted means “to raise in rank or power, to be elevated or lifted above.” What exaltation is, and how to achieve it, are different in God’s Kingdom.

Jesus declared, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave” Matthew 20:25-27

The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is the one who serves. That does not mean if we serve we will be exalted to a place above serving, but when we serve, we are in the highest place. Servanthood is not a means to greatness, it is greatness. Paul wrote to the Philippians that we should, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but with lowliness of mind we should esteem others higher than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3). One of the driving factors behind selfish ambition is a failure to recognize that exaltation comes from the Lord. We see others push their way to the front and we think the only way to get ahead is to push and push hard.

Jacob was a man who struggled to understand that exaltation comes from the Lord. At birth, he was given promises that he would be exalted, and would inherit the promises of his father Abraham. Instead of walking in the ways of the Lord, and trusting in the promises of God, Jacob spent his life pushing to the front. It was not until he surrendered to the ways of God that he benefitted from the promises.

Instead of striving, pushing, manipulating, and worrying, why not sit quietly before the Lord, laying your needs before Him. When we learn to humble ourselves, then we will find true exaltation.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 75

  1. We are not to be boastful. When we are God has to deal with us. Is there an area in your life you may be boastful? If so, let God deal with it.
  2. The best way to get rid of boasting is by praising God. How does David praise God in verse 9-10?

Old Testament:
1 Kings 21- What’s It Worth
1 Kings 22- Inquire Of God

Vows

Psalm 76:11
“Make vows to the LORD your God, and pay them;
Let all who are around Him bring presents to Him who ought to be feared.”

Unknown.jpegIt is funny the things I remember from my youth or childhood. Some events seem as clear to me today as the day they first happened. Other events I have no recollection of whatsoever. I can remember one Saturday morning when I was 13. Myself and a group of the neighborhood boys were at our local  beach and the waves were unusually large. We made our way past the breaking waves and into the lineup. Not long afterwards the horizon began to fill with the largest waves my young eyes had ever seen. We paddled as fast as we could in hopes of getting past them, but for myself and a few others, our efforts were in vain. Wave after wave came crashing upon my head until I began to despair of life. Just then I began to pray. Keep in mind I was not a believer, I had never been to church, read a bible or even really considered the idea of eternal matters. Nonetheless, in that moment I began to pray and to pray hard. I can still hear the words of that prayer echoing in my memory, I prayed “God if you hep me I will never cuss again.” Soon enough the waves subsided, I made my way back out and immediately forgot the promises I had just made to a God I did not give a second thought toward.

When the psalmists speaks of making vows he is not referring to the empty promises we often make when we are overcome with fear or worry. We do not sway God by promising things we have little intention of keeping nor do we earn His favor by bribing Him with gifts. While my situation may have drawn my attention to God, if only for a moment, His attention was already fixed upon me. The Bible tells us that God thinks of us continually, writes down our thoughts about Him and even sings songs of joy about us. We do not bring gifts to God to win His favor we bring them because we have it. While our spending habits will reveal our priorities it is not primarily financial gifts that God desires from us. The apostle Paul wrote that we should offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices. That means that we surrender ourselves to live for Christ and do the things that bring Him pleasure.

Take a moment to make a vow to God. Don’t promise things you don’t have or can’t do. Instead determine today that you will walk with Jesus, leaning upon Him for comfort and strength and look for ways to show His love to others.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 76

  1. God is known in Judah for His mighty deeds against the Syrian army. What is God known for in your life today?
  2. Verse 4-9, God goes to great lengths to deliver the oppressed. Take time to dwell on these verses and remember that God wants to deliver you!

Slippery Slope

Psalm 73:2
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped.”

This psalm is the personal testimony of a man who almost fell away from the Lord. When he speaks of slipping, he is not talking about a little slip, but rather about throwing in the towel, and giving up on following the Lord.

His condition began when he bought into the lies of the devil. Jesus exposed who Satan really is when He described him as the father of lies. His lies are always the same. He brings into question the goodness of God, and makes sin look like something it is not. He did it to Eve, when he convinced her that God forbid the fruit in order to keep something good from her; persuading her that the fruit was the secret to really enjoying life. He did the same with the Psalmist, when he convinced him that God was keeping good from him, and those who rejected the Lord, were the ones who were gaining in life. From this skewed perspective, he describes the ungodly, “Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches” (Psalm 73:12).  He also spoke of the sinner as having no pain in death, great strength, no sicknesses, and living in abundant riches; all of which was and is completely untrue.

When the devil makes us think God is keeping good from us, he can also convince us that life is better away from the Lord; that is when we start to make compromises. We allow things into our lives that we had once laid down at the cross. Those things do give an immediate sense of pleasure, but like all sin, the pleasure is soon gone. We are then left ensnared in something that is robbing us of the abundant life Jesus provides. As scary as this may be, there is a solution.

The Psalmist declares, “Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart” (Psalms 73:1). He was rescued when he remembered the goodness of God. When he took his eyes off others, and put them back upon the Lord, he was reminded of the character of God.

Just as it is in the nature of the devil to lie, it is the nature of God to give good things to His children. James reminds us that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). Because He is good, He can only do what is good. In fact, the term ‘God’ is derived from an old word meaning ‘good’. Paul explained, having given us His only Son, He will freely give us all things (Romans 8:32). God will hold back no good thing from His children. If there is something I desire, and do not have, it may simply be that having it would not be good for me. It is so easy to lose perspective and begin to see the world through the eyes of the Psalmist. Thankfully, he explains what led to the lies being uncovered.

He declares, “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me— Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.” Psalms 73:16-17

The sanctuary was the meeting place with God, where the people of God gathered, and the truth of God was declared. If you are struggling, tempted to go back to the things of the world, rather than forward in your relationship with the Lord, get to the sanctuary. Get around the people of God, where the Word of God is being declared, and let Him remind you of His goodness.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 73

  1. In verse 3 the Psalmist says “For I was envious of the boastful.” Do you ever feel envious of people? How should you deal with those feelings?
  2. In verse 23 the Psalmist says that God holds him by his right hand, like you would hold a child. Do you ever feel like you need God to guide you like you would a child?

Old Testament:
Psalm 74- Why Have You Cast Us Off?
1 Kings 19- Alone?
1 Kings 20- No Experience Necessary 

You Must Be This Tall

Psalm 71:19
“Also Your righteousness, O God, is very high, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You?”

We have four boys who are separated by only five years. When they were little, we, like so many others families, spent a lot of our time visiting amusement parks. As the older ones grew, they were attracted to the bigger rides, and their younger brother wanted to do whatever they did. The problem was, many of the rides had a standard. If you were not a certain height, you could not ride. At times, this created quite a controversy. We tried everything to make him just a little taller, we spiked his hair, we bought shoes called “Heelies”, that had a wheel in the back, and provided a couple extra inches to his height. However, time and time again, when we reached the entrance, he was excluded. He simply did not measure up.

Just like the amusement park rides, heaven has a standard for entrance. That standard is not height, growth, accomplishment or good deeds; the standard is righteousness. But not just any righteousness; we must have the righteousness of Christ. In Matthew 5, Jesus explained that the Law of God is not merely an external thing, but can be broken with thought, as well as action.  He declared, we must be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). It is no wonder the Psalmist declares, “Your righteousness, O God, is very high.” The righteousness of Christ is actually so high it can never be reached by human achievement. Isaiah declared, “. . . we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). In other words, our very best moral and spiritual accomplishments will never be enough to meet the standard of entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Unfortunately, many of us, failing to realize that we will never attain perfection on our own, keep trying to “make themselves just a little taller.” Paul was like that. He considered himself to be a righteous man, and his accomplishments worthy of heaven, that is, until he met Christ. When that happened, he declared that his desire was,

“. . . not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”   Philippians 3:9

When we realize our own achievements will not gain us access to God, and instead, we come to Him through faith in Christ, we experience a great exchange. Our sins are placed on Him, and His righteousness is given to us. Paul put it like this,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

Have you stopped imagining that you are good enough for heaven? Have you stopped spiking your hair and wearing “Heelies,” thinking you can trick God into letting you in? Have you come to God through faith in Christ and received His righteousness, in place of your sin? If not, now is the time. Pray with me. “Lord, I recognize I am a sinner, and You are the Savior. I ask you to forgive me of my sin, and fill me with Your righteousness.”

If you made that decision, you have become a child of God. Take a moment and let us know so we can encourage you to follow Christ. Contact us at church@ccvb.net

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 71

  1. The Psalmist talks about being attacked by the wicked one, where does he go to seek shelter from the wicked one?
  2. Even when he is being attacked doesn’t fall away. In verse 14 he praises God despite the circumstance, what is one way you need to praise God in the midst of trials?
  3. In verse 15 he talks about God’s limitless righteousness. Have you ever encountered God’s limitless righteousness?

Old Testament:
Psalm 72- Ask God
1 Kings 17- Learning From Widows
1 Kings 18- Valley Decision

Enemies

Psalm 69:1-2
Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.”

This Psalm is fulfilled in at least three ways. First, it expresses an actual time in the life of David. His enemies have mounted up against him with such great force that he feels like one who is drowning in a mighty flood. The enemies he faces are those who have sided with Saul, to seek his life; those who were against him because he had chosen to follow God, and finally, and perhaps his greatest enemy, is his own sin. In the midst of the battle for his own life, sin had mounted up like an army, seeking to destroy him. David’s victory over these enemies is found as He seeks the mercy of God. He writes, “Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.” Psalm 69:16

Second, this Psalm has fulfillment in the daily life of the child of God. At times, we find ourselves facing enemies far greater than ourselves. Trials can be like a mighty force that we cannot overcome; there are even times when people turn against us. Like Job, when we need someone the most, we often feel like we have been deserted. However, the greatest enemy, the one that wages the most intense battle against us, is personal sin. We all know those times when our easily besetting sins seem to mount an offensive so great that we wonder when we will be taken down. It is in those times, we must follow the example of David, and look up to Heaven’s throne of Grace and cry out, “Hear me, O LORD, for Your loving-kindness is good; turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.”

Finally, this is another of the Messianic Psalms. It has it’s fulfillment at the Cross of Christ. Verse twenty-one draws our attention to the crucifixion; “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:21). Jesus was also surrounded by enemies. The enemies He faced were the religious leaders, Roman soldiers, a multitude of onlookers, and even some who had once followed Him. They were all now crying out for His execution. When Peter explained the events of the crucifixion in Acts 2, he made it clear that it was not the Romans, or even the Jewish leaders, who were responsible for the execution of Christ. He said to a group of people, many who had traveled from a distant land, and were not present at the death of Christ, “ . . .you have taken (Him) by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:23). Jesus went to the cross to satisfy the wrath of God. His death provided a way for the insurmountable forces of sin to be conquered, and eternal life to be provided. Our cry for mercy can be answered because of the atoning death of Christ. Even when our sins wage war against us, and it seems like a force too great to withstand, we can cry out to heaven for mercy, forgiveness and victory.

Take time to look to His mercy today.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 69

  1. David cried out until He was physically exhausted, His throat was dry and his eyes were swollen from crying, but He still trusted God to save Him. When tragedy strikes or when we are just beat down, we can turn to God and ask Him to save us. We will not be crying in vain.
  2. David was scoffed at, mocked, insulted, humiliated, and He was the subject of gossip. According to verse 13 what does David do despite the ridicule? Are you tempted to turn from or quit trusting God when the going gets tough? Continue with David’s example, God will hear you and rescue you.
  3. Verse 28 is referring to the “Book of Life.” In the New Testament Paul mentions it in Philippians 4:3. It’s mentioned also in the book of Revelation 3:5, 13:8, 20:15. What is this book and do you know for sure you’re in it?
  4. What will the humble see and be glad?
  5. What do we need to do to have a joyful heart?


Old Testament:
Psalm 70- Magnify
1Kings 15- It’s Time 
1 Kings 16- Walking Through The Lord

Salvation Among Nations

Psalms 67:2
“That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

Psalm 67 was written by an unknown author. We cannot know for sure who wrote it or what circumstances influenced its content. The one thing we know for sure is that it was penned by a person with a desire for others to come to the Lord. He pleads with God for mercy in his own life, in order that the world around him may come to a saving knowledge of God. The Psalmist is not alone in this. Paul declared

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).

As a result of this desire, Paul risked his life to bring the gospel message to his countrymen. At the conclusion of his third missionary journey, Paul made his way to Jerusalem with one goal in mind, he wanted to tell others about Christ. He received continual warnings regarding the danger he would face and the beating and imprisonment that lay ahead. Regardless of these threats, Paul pressed forward because his desire was for others to come to Christ.

The pattern of Paul has been followed by saints down through the centuries. Men, like Saint Patrick, who in the 6th century brought the gospel to the unreached pagans of Ireland and his contemporary, Saint Augustine, who brought the gospel to England. Saint Boniface, who in the 8th century brought the gospel to Germany,  Hudson Taylor, whose efforts brought the Gospel deep into China, in the 19th century. CT Studd gave up a life of wealth and comfort to bring the Gospel into Africa. Or the countless unnamed Methodist circuit preachers who took the Gospel to the settlers in the United States.

What the world needs today are men and women with a desire to see others come to Christ, regardless the personal cost.

Psalms 67:2 “That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 67

  1. This psalm clearly looks forward to the Lord Jesus’ return and His reign on earth. It also speaks of the fulfillment of something great, turn in your bibles to the gospel of Matthew 28:18-20. Why are the nations going to be glad and singing for joy?
  2. In verse 7 what is meant by the use of the word “fear”

Old Testament:
Psalm 68- The Spoils
1 Kings 13- Pray For Me
1 Kings 14- Faking It