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

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

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

Who Are You Wearing?

Psalm 65:6
“Who established the mountains by His strength, being clothed with power; . . .”

Have you ever noticed, when movie stars are walking the red carpet, for one of their many awards presentations, they are not asked what they are wearing, but who they are wearing? One of the marks of success is getting a particular designer to make you a one-of-a-kind outfit.

Here the Psalmist declares to us what God is wearing. He is “clothed with power.” I picture God getting ready for the day and choosing to put power on as His garment. His power is infinite. No power on earth or in heaven can be compared to it. The power of the storm, the devil, sickness, and death, were all overthrown by the word of His mouth. Without sweating, straining, grunting, or pulling a muscle, Jesus spoke and conquered the greatest powers on earth. The people were fascinated by His great power; the whole nation was in awe of the One to whom even the demons were subject.

Between the resurrection and ascension of Christ, forty days transpired. During those forty days, Luke tells us Jesus was doing two things. First, He was appearing, to prove beyond a shadow of doubt, that He had, in fact, risen; conquering sin, death and hell.

Second, He was giving commands to His followers. These commands fit into two categories: go and wait. He was sending them out into the world with the message of eternal life. They were to start at home, then travel the globe, sharing with everyone the glorious message of salvation through faith in Christ. Before they went, they were commanded to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus instructed them that when the Spirit came upon them, they would be clothed with power from on high. Just like the Twelve, we have been commissioned to live a holy life in an ungodly world; to declare the hope of salvation with our family, friends and community.

Just like the Twelve, we have been promised power from on high to accomplish this. As you prepare to face your day, with the unknown temptations and opportunities that await, who are you wearing? Are you walking out the door clothed with all the strength that you can muster? Or have you taken time to sit at the feet of Jesus and be filled afresh with the Spirit of holiness? Let’s clothe ourselves with the power of the Spirit.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Psalm 66- Works Of God
1 Kings 11- Misguided Affections
1 KIngs 12- New, But Not Improved

Hungry?

Psalm 63:1-2
“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.”

Have you ever had one of those times when you are craving something, but you are not sure what it is? When that happens to me I tend to keep trying things, in an attempt to satisfy a craving that I cannot define. What is true with physical hunger, is also true in the spiritual realm. God created us with a need for Him. This need evidences itself with a desire to find meaning in life, answers to what lies beyond this life, and a craving to worship.

Man is incurably religious due to his built-in hunger to know God. This hunger to know God is sometimes clouded by the sinful world in which we live, and by personal experiences. Many, knowing an emptiness within, fail to recognize that it is a spiritual craving to know God. They attempt to satisfy it with relationships, substances, or experiences. Often, these very attempts to satisfy the cravings within, become addictions or leave us scarred. Instead of satisfying our need for God, they fill the spiritual hole within us with junk, which may take a lifetime to get out.

After meeting God, David went on to declare that his soul was satisfied. Meeting God does that. Once you have come to God through Christ, you no longer need to hunt around for spiritual satisfaction, you are satisfied. However, if you have truly met Him, you develop a new hunger. This is a hunger that keeps you coming to Him for more.

David did not write this Psalm as an unbeliever who just met the Lord, but as a godly man desiring to know God better. David gives insight to properly fulfilling our built-in hunger for God. He says, “So I have looked for You in the sanctuary.” While it is true that God is everywhere, and we cannot hide from Him, it is also true, there are places where we will have a greater chance of meeting with Him, and hearing from Him. It is much easier to hear, when we gather with the people of God in corporate worship. David, knowing his hunger was for God, made his way to the sanctuary, where he was sure to meet with God.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
1 Kings 9- If…Then…
1 Kings 10- What Does It Mean? 

Cry Out

Psalms 61:1-2
“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You. When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I .”

We cannot be certain of the occasion that stirred David to write this psalm. It may have been a time of great difficulty, opposition or trial. He may have been facing severe attacks from Saul, the Philistines or one of the neighboring kingdoms. It is also possible the struggles he faced were not external. It may have been that David was engaged in that great inner struggle between his desire to do what is right in the eyes of God, and his own human weaknesses. Whatever caused the dilemma, he concluded that the only solution was to cry out to the Lord. Crying out to God should include at least three things.

First, we cry out for deliverance from whatever it is that is attacking us. We need to realize,  no matter what the cause, Jesus is the solution. If you are being plagued by consequences to your own actions, cry out to God. If you are being unfairly attacked because you have chosen to live for Christ, cry out to God. If you are under the stress of inward turmoil or temptation, cry out to God. He alone has the strength to deliver us from all things.

Second, cry out to God for forgiveness. Often the hardships we face are allowed by God to expose things that are amiss within us. We learn to justify sinful behavior or cover it up, as if we could hide it from the Lord. During times of great opposition, our own sinfulness is often exposed. Those things are brought to the surface so we can cry out to God for forgiveness. Sometimes, this can be done privately by dropping to your knees and confessing your sin to our Heavenly Father, who delights to forgive us. Other times, there is value in making your way forward at church and treating the stage as an altar, where you can cry out to God and confess your sin and recommit your life to Him.

Finally, we should cry out to God for more of Him. Difficulty reveals weakness and weakness should reveal our need for God. Our needs can be met when He pours His Spirit out upon us. Individually and corporately, the greatest need the Christian has is for a fresh and deeper work of the Spirit. Looking at the current condition of the world, as well as most Christians individually, I would say we are in need of revival. We need God to pour out, from heaven, a larger measure of His Spirit upon His church. Join with me as we cry out to God to be filled again with Holy Spirit.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Psalm 62- Power
1 Kings 7- Limitless
1 Kings 8- Too Small

I Did It My Way

Psalm 59:13
And let them know that God rules in Jacob to the ends of the earth.”

In the early eighties, a well-known Christian band wrote a song called “God Rules.” In some ways, it became the anthem of many young Christians. I remember having a “God Rules” bumper sticker on my car, and proudly writing it on my school notebook. To me, that phrase was a slang term meaning little more than the fact God was best. I believe the Psalmist is saying much more than that, he is speaking of the sovereignty of God. The word sovereign means ‘to possess supreme power.’ David is declaring that God has supreme power over His people.

Throughout Scripture, we see evidence of God’s supreme power. We see nature bow to His authority when seas part, storms cease, and the sun stands still. Sickness, demons, and death are also at His beckoning, and obey His commands. It is clear, there is no power in heaven or on earth that is not subject to the sovereign rule of God. No power, that is, except the will of man.

In His sovereignty, God will not force you (at least not now) to bow to Him. He gives each of us a choice. We can choose to bow our will to Him in obedient surrender, or we can choose to resist His love and live our own way.

A modern song writer penned these words in contrast; “For what is a man, what has he got, If not himself, then he has not. To say the things he truly feels, And not the words of one who kneels. The record shows, I took the blows, and did it my way. Yes, it was my way”

David is boasting in the rule of God, while others boast in the fact that they have refused to submit to God’s ways. Again, Scripture makes it clear, one day all will bow to God. Paul declared, “. . . that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, . . . ” (Philippians 2:10). Even those who declare “I did it my way,” will bow before the One who sovereignly rules, and recognize that He truly is King and Lord. The problem is, only bowing then, is too late to reap the benefits of His rule. I would hope that as we age and come toward the end of our life’s journey, we would be singing, not that we ignored God, fought against Him and lived in rebellion, but that we had bowed to His supreme authority, and did it His way. The benefits are far-reaching. Paul said that godliness is profitable for all things having promise for this life and the one to come (1 Timothy 4:8).

Then and now, God still rules.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Psalm 60- Help From Trouble
1 Kings 5- Expanding Your Portfolio
1 Kings 6- The Temple

Respond With Love

Psalms 58:6
Break their teeth in their mouth, O God!
Break out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!

images.jpegThis has to be one of the most striking prayers ever recorded. David is looking at the behavior of those who have cast aside the ways of God and his heart cries out for justice. While it may seem harsh to ask God to break someone’s teeth there is an important principle that is vividly illustrated in David’s song. The principle is that there are certain things that should fill us with rage and produce in us a desire for righteousness.

The world we live in is filled with violence and it has become all too common to hear of school shootings, suicide bombings and other senseless acts of violence that take the lives of the innocent. Just recently, in response to one of these tragic events I heard a community leader say, “We will not respond with anger, fear or hate but with love.” While I completely understand the intent of her statement and the danger of allowing anger to control a life I also realize that there are certain things that should fill us with anger. We might go so far as to say there are certain things we must learn to hate.

It is only when we see the ravaging effects sin has upon individuals, families and culture as a whole that we will develop the proper attitude toward it and conversely begin to take the proper steps toward eradicating it.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Psalm 57- Shelter
1 Kings 3- Divided Heart
1 Kings 4- Wisdom