The Poor

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

images-3.jpegThe 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

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

Guard My Tongue

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

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

Old Testament:

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

God Fights For Me

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

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

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

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

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