Vindicate Me

Psalms 43:1
“Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause…”

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Arguments take place when we have differences of opinion. Both parties think they are right and the other is wrong. When these differences of opinion escalate they often lead to serious divisions. Marriages, families and churches have often been the unwary victims of intense argumentation. When arguments take place we have probably learned what to do when we are in the wrong; we humbly apologize and seek to make whatever restitution is necessary. But what about when we are right. Have you ever considered the proper action to take when you are in the midst of a misunderstanding between yourself and someone you care about? Perhaps it would do us good to reconsider what we do when we think we are right. David wrote;

“Vindicate me Oh Lord” 

Vindication is a word that speaks of judgment. It is used when we think that we are right and want other to know it. We want our case examined so that everyone will know that the accusations brought against us are false. This word is most commonly used of someone who has been falsely accused of a crime, but might also fit in a relationship where a misunderstanding or difference of opinion has escalated into an argument that has created a rift. When we find ourselves in a situation like that the best way to move forward is to get alone with God and ask Him to search our hearts and our actions and vindicate us.

I recall an incident when my wife and I had been in an argument. We both walked away upset with the other. When I sat down with the Lord and began to plead my case before Him I soon sensed that He was speaking to me. It is as if I heard Him say that while my position was right the way I went about it was completely wrong. I had not considered my wife, her feelings or her vantage point in the situation. Asking God to vindicate me led to a realization that there were things I could do differently in the situation. When we later sat down to address the situation I was able to apologize, listen to her side and we could rationally address the situation together.

The next time being right leads you to a conflict with another take the time to sit before the Lord and ask Him to search your heart and direct your path.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 43

  1. Take a careful look at verse 3, what does the Psalmist look to as a guiding light in the darkness of life?
  2. Look again at verse 3, where does the Word of God lead us?
  3. What effect did searching the Scriptures have on the emotional condition of the Psalmist?

Old Testament:
Psalm 44- Victorious
2 Samuel 13- What’s Love Got To Do With It?
2 Samuel 14- Banished

The Poor

Psalms 41:1
“Blessed is he who considers the poor;
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.”

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The Bible has much to say about the poor. The word poor is used almost 200 times in the NKJV of the Bible, Israel as a nation was required to set up a system where the poor was able to glean the edges of the fields to provide food for themselves and their families (This is part of the story line of the book of Ruth). Jesus spoke of blessing the poor, and encouraged His disciples to minister to them. In the book of Acts we see the churches sending aid to believers who were undergoing severe trials caused by famine and persecution and James writes warning the church not to neglect the poor or to treat them any less than we would the wealthy. It is clear that those who are neglected by men are highly esteemed by the Lord. That being said the Bible also places certain responsibilities upon the poor. The welfare system in Israel required the poor to work for the food they received and Solomon wrote that “much food is in the fallow ground of the poor.” When Paul wrote to Timothy regarding the widows he explained that the church had a responsibility to assist the widows who were godly but charity would not help those who were living a wasteful life.

As a follower of Christ it is important to see what you have as a blessing from God and to recognize that it all belongs to God. That attitude will help you hold on much more loosely to what you have received and cause you to be more willing to assist those who are in need.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 41

  1. Who is the blessed one that David describes?
  2. In verse 4, what does David request from the Lord?
  3. In verse 10, how does David deal with the mistreatment he receives from others?

Old Testament:
Psalm 42- Thirsty
2 Samuel 11- It Happened One Evening
2 Samuel 12- Loss

Guard My Mouth

Psalm 39:1-3
“I said, ‘I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me. I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; And my sorrow was stirred up. My heart was hot within me; While I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue:’”

There are times in life when words seem like a raging fire building within us and we are almost forced to speak. This can be positive, like when Jeremiah wrote of being so discouraged he no longer wanted to share the words of God with anyone, until those words became like a fire within him and he could no longer  contain them. Or this can be negative, like when gossip burns within us, pleading to be passed on to others; or when in the midst of an argument, we lash out with hurtful words that shatter someone we love.

Perhaps we can learn something from the pen of David. He wrote,  at those times he restrained himself by putting a muzzle on his tongue. I doubt David is speaking literally of a mechanism that restrained his mouth from moving. I think, instead, he set guidelines for his life that restricted him from saying foolish or hurtful things. We can do the same. The bible gives us some valuable guidelines which will help us control what comes out of our mouths. We can use the following verses like a muzzle, to keep us from sinning with our mouths.

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

1 Peter 3:9 “. . . not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”

Proverbs 11:13  “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”

Proverbs 15:1  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 39

  1. Has your tongue ever got you in trouble?
  2. Why is it especially important to watch what we say when unbelievers are present?
  3. David wants to know how short life is. Why is that important?
  4. Why is it important to know our own frailty?
  5. Knowing that life is brief, how can you live for eternity today?

Old Testament:
Psalm 40- Miry Clay
2 Samuel 9- Kindness
2 Samuel 10- Courage

Slippery Slope

Psalm 37:31 
“The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”

I am a sports fan. I enjoy watching a variety of athletics, and am always fascinated when an athlete achieves victory, almost effortlessly. No matter what the opponents do, they are unable to stop him. Over the years, I have come to understand that those who seem to win with the least effort, are really the ones who have put in the most effort. They are the ones who are first in the gym and last out. Their diets, workouts, sleep patterns, even off days, are regimented so as to keep them in the best possible condition for victory.

The same is true of the child of God. If we want to have success in our walk with the Lord, we need to be willing to invest time with the Lord. David gives the secret to success for the righteous: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”

Sometimes, walking with the Lord is like traversing a narrow mountain path with loose rock, over a sheer cliff. “Sliding steps” is a picture of falling into sin, and away from the Lord. It is all too common an occurrence to hear that our church friend has lost his way and fallen into one sin or another. The secret to avoiding the fall is: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”

We have all been in church and heard the testimony of someone who is serving the Lord. They talk of the great things God is doing in and through their lives. They share of people coming to Christ, and growing in Christ. We look on with envy, wondering how it is possible that they are being used so mightily by the Lord, while we are struggling just to get by. The secret of their success is: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” We read of the great men and women in Scripture, who overcame great obstacles, and achieved great victory in the fight of faith. They are the champions of Christianity, the heroes of Faith, the ones we long to meet in eternity and hear their stories first hand. They are the ones who conquered giants, knocked down walls, walked on water, led revivals, started churches and won the lost to Christ. The secret behind their success was: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”

If we want to be one who overcomes the struggles with the flesh, impacts the world for the kingdom of heaven, and leaves an example behind that others can follow, the secret is: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Let’s be sure to take the time to get the Law of God in our hearts.

Go to www.ccvb.net and join us as we read through the Bible. You will find a reading schedule, chapter questions, and a daily devotional to help you get: “The law of his God is in (your) heart; none of (your) steps shall slide.”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 37

This is one of the greatest of all the Psalms, don’t rush through it. Take time to enjoy the truths it reveals.

  1. Notice that fret and trust are contrasted. How is fret built? How is trust developed?
  2. After examining verses 3-8, make a list of the things we are exhorted to do.
  3. Are you doing those things today?
  4. Contrast the outcome of the wicked with that of those who trust the Lord.
  5. How are you encouraged by verses 23-34?
  6. How can you apply verse 30-31 today?


Old Testament:

Psalm 38- Guilt Free
2 Samuel 7- So Far So Good
2 Samuel 8- A Line In The Sand

God Fights For You

Psalm 35:1
“Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; Fight against those who fight against me.

We cannot be sure the exact situation that stirred David to write this Psalm, but we do know that he seemed to be under continual attack. From the start, he had to deal with those who continually came against him. His father neglected him, his brothers tormented him, the Giants ridiculed him, the king hunted him, and the neighboring nations sent armies to attack him. As a result, it would be fair to say  David was an expert on warfare and he knew how to fight on many different fronts. In this Psalm, he reveals the secret behind his success. When under attack, David looked to God for defense.

Most of us are not reading this from a foxhole or from behind enemy lines. We probably are not distracted by the sound of mortar blasts or gunfire, but that does not mean that we are not under severe attack. Paul told the Corinthian church  that the warfare we are engaged in is not natural but spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:2-3 and Ephesians 6:12). We are under constant attack from the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are under constant pressure to give in to a little sin and to conform to the world. When we fail, we face a new battle, dealing with the guilt of sin and trying to free ourselves from its grip. Like David, it is time we learn to look to God to be our defense. The greater the intensity of the temptation, the more it is necessary to cling to the Lord and stand behind Him as our shield. If you are in the midst of a particularly trying season of life, it is essential that you learn to make the Lord your hiding place. His Word works as a shield and a sword. Find a promise that relates to your struggle, hide behind it, and use it against the enemy whenever he hurls temptation, fear, depression, guilt or any other weapon your way. God is our defense, He will fight our battles for us. We can find victory when we learn to trust in Him.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 35

  1. David refused to fight his own battles, but elected to trust his life into the care of the Lord. Resign all to Jesus right now, and then pray for him to give you victory over the enemies of your soul.
  2. Prayer was more than a time of taking difficulties to the Lord. What else does David use his prayer time for? Consider verses 9-10.
  3. How does this encourage you to know that David faced these great trials and turned to the Lord?
  4. How you ever felt like David describes in verse17?

Old Testament:
Psalm 36- No Fear Of God
2 Samuel 5- Easy As 1,2,3
2 Samuel 6- What Went Wrong?

Beauty

Psalm 33:1
“Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.”

There can be great value in getting away from our manmade world and looking at the creative work of God. Seeing the beauty of His creation seems to give us new perspective on His love, power, and glory. I can recall one particular sunset in Africa that was so magnificent and seemed to last for an hour. The sky was filled with an array of colors, like I had never seen before. I recall how the view of the snow capped Austrian Alps, and the water falls of Kauai captivated me, filling me with awe and amazement at the beauty of God’s handiwork. I am sure you have a list of your own experiences that cause you to celebrate the beauty of creation. That being said, the Psalmist begins to talk about what God views as true beauty. He declares;

“For praise from the upright is beautiful.”

From Heaven’s perspective, perhaps the most beautiful thing on earth, is when the child of God looks up and shouts out with heart felt praise. It seems that our worship accompanies the sound of Angels singing, and fills the throne room of heaven like sweet incense.

There are many different types of worship. There are times when God does something in our lives that forces out praise; we cannot contain the joy within, and have to express it to Him. There is also responsive praise. Those times when we examine what God has done for us, perhaps in a time of communion, looking back upon the cross, our hearts are so filled with thankful worship for what Christ has accomplished for us. There is what we might call “faith-filled praise.” Those times when everything seems bleak and hopeless, yet we know the love, mercy, and power of God, so we begin to praise for what we know He is able to do. In those times, our worship will completely change our perspective in life. Perhaps the highest type of worship is when we praise Him, not for the things He has done, but simply for who He is. No matter what my perspective of life, God is still God. He remains the King of kings, the Lord of lords, high and lifted up above all His creative work. He sits enthroned in the floods of life, holding all things together with the Word of His power. Creation is under His authority and reacts to His commands, He even sends angels forth to do His bidding, and provide assistance to the saints.

No matter what you are facing this day, praise from the upright is beautiful. Take some time to get your eyes off of you and unto Him, and fill your room with songs of praise.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 33

  1. How is worship described in verse 1?
  2. According to verses 4-5, what motivates the psalmist to worship?
  3. How is the Word of God described in verses 6-12?
  4. How does verse 18 encourage you?

Old Testament:
Psalm 34- Lacking Nothing
2 Samuel 3- Loyalty
2 Samuel 4- Don’t Blame Me

Mercy

Psalms 31:9
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; My eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body!”

We cannot be certain of the situation that caused this psalm, but it is very clear the Psalmist was going through an extremely difficult season in life. He describes himself as being under severe attack and needing the Lord to be his fortress. He speaks of his troubles and his adversities, and his eyes wasting away in grief, as he cries before the Lord. He also goes into great length to speak of his emotional condition during this time. He describes himself as, “wasting away with grief, in both his soul and body” and being “like a broken vessel.” 

Without knowing the exact situation that caused his condition, we can still relate to what David was going through. All of us have known times in life of severe attack, grief and pain. The encouraging thing is, that no matter what David faced, he knew that the mercy of God was large enough, not only to comfort him, but to comfort all who endure the pain and hardship of life.

Whatever you are facing, take time today to sit at the feet of Jesus and cry out to Him.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 31

  1. David is facing some sort of difficulty in his life. He desires for God to listen to his appeal. How can we be confident that God listens when we call upon Him?
  2. God is no stranger with our trials. Verse 5 was quoted by Jesus from the cross. How does that encourage you today?
  3. How does knowing that David suffered trials help you in the midst of your own?
  4. Take the time to memorize verse 19.

Old Testament:
Psalm 32- Horses And Mules
2 Samuel 1- The Opportunist
2 Samuel 2- Shadow Boxing

Give To The Lord

Psalm 29:1-2
Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

When Moses pleaded to see the Glory of God, the Lord responded by passing before him and revealing His nature. He declared Himself to be merciful and gracious. The word gracious speaks of the giving nature of God. It is His desire to give what is best to man. James, addressing a group of trial-ridden Christians, reminded them, since God is gracious, every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17). The message of the Bible has a whole lot more to do with what God gives us, than what we are to give to Him. Hosea reminded Israel of what God had done for them,

“I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.” Hosea 11:3-4

The message of the New Testament is no different. Jesus declared,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Paul commenting on the giving nature of God wrote,

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

When it comes to giving, God is all in. He has spared nothing. He even gave His only Son. That being said, David exhorts us to respond by giving back to the Lord. When we understand all that God has done for us, it becomes very natural for us to give back to Him. After all, what do you have that has not been given to you?

This makes me think of two questions. First, what is it that God desires from you? David reminds us, God wants glory. That is, He wants first place in your heart and life. He wants to be exalted to the highest place in your life and living. He also wants your strength. He desires your life be surrendered to Him, and your abilities given back as instruments of righteousness. One of the most amazing things about the Lord is, He can take any talent given back to Him and use it to further the Kingdom, and reserve heavenly treasures. The Bible is filled with people who took their gifts as writers, singers, musicians, cooks, doctors, hosts, artists… gave them to the Lord, and furthered the Kingdom. The second question is, what do you have to give back to the Lord today? You may have had some rough experiences in life, causing you to devalue yourself. May I remind you, that you matter to God. He loves you and wants to use you. Right now, offer your life to Him as a gift, for all He has done for you. Who knows what amazing things God has in store.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 29

  1. List as many things as you can about the voice of God from Psalm 29.
  2. His voice is found in His Word. What does that say to you about the ability of the Word of God to change your life?

Old Testament:
Psalm 30- Silence Is Not An Option
1 Samuel 29- Winning Team
1 Samuel- That’s Not Fair

The Hearts Cry

Psalm 27:4
One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, . . .”

Did you ever have that daydream, as a kid, where you found the magic lamp, and the genie promised to grant your wish, no matter how outlandish it may be? Imagine what it would be like if God appeared to you, declaring He would give you whatever you asked for. How would you respond? What would you ask from the King of Kings.

The Bible records the stories of a few men who actually had that experience. God asked them what they wanted, and granted their request. Solomon, the son of David, after receiving the kingdom from his Father, was overwhelmed by the task of ruling the nation. While seeking God for direction, he had a fascinating dream. In Solomon’s dream, the Lord appeared, explaining that he would be given anything he wanted. Solomon’s response was for a heart that would listen to God, and wisdom to rule the people. During the ministry of Jesus, he encountered two blind men outside the city of Jericho. Upon hearing that Jesus was passing by, they cried out for help. Jesus responded to their cry with a question, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Their response was foreseeable, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”

Here we find David giving his unsolicited response to the question. He declares that if he could have anything from the Lord, it would be to dwell in the presence of the Lord all the days of His life. More than riches, wisdom, health, power, or prestige, the heart of David cried out simply for more of the Lord. David was not alone in this cry, Paul declared; “. . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, . . .” (Philippians 3:10). Like David, Paul’s heart cried out to know Jesus better. It could be argued, the greatest hero of the Old Testament was David; and of the New Testament, Paul.

David was known as a man after God’s heart, who led the nation to the pinnacle of godliness, prosperity and success. Paul, after a remarkable conversion experience, became the greatest evangelist, and pioneer of the Gospel the church had ever seen. He was responsible for writing at least thirteen New Testament books, and carried the Gospel across the Roman Empire. I think a case could be made that the reason for their success, above their contemporaries, had to do with the desire of their hearts. They longed, not for riches or reward, but for more of Christ. What is your heart’s cry? No matter what it might be, there is nothing greater than to cry for more of Jesus.

Psalms 27:8 “When You said, ‘Seek My face’ My heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 27

  1. What titles does David give to the Lord?
  2. What does David say is his one desire?
  3. What is your greatest desire?
  4. How can you make the Lord your first desire?
  5. In verse 8, how did David respond to the invitation from God?
  6. How can you apply verse 14 to your life today?

Old Testament
Psalm 28- Strength And Shield
1 Samuel 26- Leadership
1 Samuel 27- What Is Your Heart Saying?

Message For Moms

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Being a mom is among the greatest of all callings, but it is easy to forget our calling in the middle of the mundane day-to-day responsibilities that go hand in hand with parenting.
Perhaps a little bit of my story might prove to be helpful. Although, I have 4 sons who are grown and married, I want to take a few minutes to encourage the moms that are still in the thick of it. I remember when Jim and I were driving home from the hospital with our first son Nate and I started crying and said, “They didn’t even give me a manual- I have no idea what I’m doing.” I would say pretty much the same thing 27 years later. I often have said, “God didn’t give us a parenting manual because He wants us seeking Him.” Each child is so different and each life is so complex. One of mine and Jim’s favorite verses is from 2 chronicles 20:12 it says, “I don’t know what to do so my eyes are on you.” We have a God that loves us and our children so much that He wants us to Seek Him and He promises to lead us and instruct us.

Another one of my favorite verses is a promise found in Isaiah 54:13 says, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be the peace of your children.
That verse gave me so much hope, because I knew that even when I fail, the Lord was there teaching and speaking to my children. I can say He has been so faithful to do this.

I know as a mother one of our greatest weaknesses is fear. We could literally worry and be afraid of everything, Afraid that they wont be tall enough, happy enough, smart enough, afraid of what they’re eating or not eating, afraid of them dating, driving or what they will hear at school or see on the computer. It seems that there are so many things to fear in this world.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

In a recent sermon my oldest son Nate stated, “Fear is going to call but it’s not for you and it’s not from God.” This is because God has not given us the spirit of fear. When we are afraid it should cause us to turn to the Lord and seek Him in prayer.

Keep in mind that the Lord loves your children even more than you do and desires to strengthen you and to speak to them. We want to set a pattern for our children where they learn to find rest in the Lord, strength in Him and to go to Him when in need. We don’t want to walk in fear, but in the goodness, strength and peace of God.

A few years ago, before all my boys got married, I was half praying and half thinking. I prayed that the Lord would help me to be a better mom, a better wife, I prayed I would be more organized and keep my house cleaner, I prayed I would be a better Bible teacher and then I blurted out, “Lord I want to be perfect.” I wonder if you have ever felt that way? I just want to be perfect. Have it all together.

Just then I felt the Lord speak to my heart, “if you were perfect you wouldn’t need me.”

God is not looking for perfection He is looking for us to be needy, to look to Him and lean upon Him. He loves to help those in need. Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Parenting keeps us in need and should keep us coming to Jesus. We don’t know what we are doing, but our eyes are on Him.

If there is a secret to motherhood that secret is in realizing that we cannot do it alone but that all we need is found in Jesus. It is in God’s word that He speaks to us. Make it a practice to call upon the Lord and look into His word for wisdom, strength, direction, patience and anything else you may need. He is so faithful!

Blessings,

Kristie Gallagher