Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Of Weddings or Funerals

Ecclesiastes 7:2 KJV
It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

I will begin with a couple of seemingly unconnected thoughts, but they do come together, at least in my mind.

Today is May 31st 2011. Yesterday my family, including my sons: their wives, their and children who, for now, also include Jared and James made what is either our 22nd or 23rd annual trip to visit the family graves on Anita's side. The tradition began when Caleb was a baby and I expressed to Anita that we should begin making memories, traditions that would bind our family together through life. She suggested that her mom and dad visited the family graves each Memorial Day; and the tradition started.

Over the years I have heard a number of pastors say they preferred to officiate over funerals more than weddings, and I have come to think the same way. Ecclesiastes gives a Biblical reason for thinking that way.

Very few at a wedding really lay much to heart. There isn't much thinking in all the celebration.
• Parents are dying to see their child leave the nest so permanently and yet they are also concerned that it might not be permanent
• Friends are just there for the party and
• The young couple has not a clue how serious the commitment they are making truly is
No one is laying this to heart.

A funeral is an entirely different matter. Though culture is becoming more calloused and less caring in the face of death, this one thing is certain at every funeral, no one involved will escape the same fate. It is the end of us all.

The Bible says the living will lay it to his heart. Not all who are breathing are living, at least not in the sense of Biblical life, but there are those who go to the house of mourning and there God gets in their heart. And if that happens, then the house of mourning is a much better place than the other.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Faith of Our Faith

Luke 16:19 KJV
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

I am thinking today of the place of faith in our faith.

Faith sees the evidence that is unseen to the eye of practicality and perhaps even sees, through the evidence that the eye of practicality presents, the evidence the eye of practicality is unable to see.

For the faithless, the practical, they must act on what they know to be true based upon evidence. But because they don't know if they ever have all of the evidence they never know if they hold the whole truth. Bertrand Russell expresses this in his book on Problems of Philosophy. The problem with philosophy, as I can see it, is that it only has problems. It has not, indeed can never have any real answers.

Faith takes us beyond the problem and points out what is the answer in Jesus Christ. Man is truly a spiritual being, created to know Christ. Without Christ the wisest we can ever be is only to see the question.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happiness

Luke 15:7 KJV
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:10 KJV
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Mankind is always looking for that which makes man happy.

The Utilitarian's Creed is "the greatest happiness for the greatest number."
It is significant that he says happiness rather than good.

The philosopher, John Locke, proposed that each man possesses the unalienable right to life, liberty and property.
Significantly, when writing the declaration of independence Jefferson rephrased it; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Here the Bible tells us then that heaven is the end of that pursuit. The Bible tells us what it is that brings joy into heaven: just one sinner that repenteth. The question has to be raised, "why not over the ninety and nine?" The biblical answer is because there is no such ninety and nine. There is no such person as a just person that needs no repentance.

If in fact, as Jefferson wrote, we all possess the unalienable right to pursue happiness, I urge then that every man pursue repentance in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Watching

Luke 14:1 KJV
And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

Luke 14:7 KJV
And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,

Verse one says "they watched Him. "
Verse seven says "He marked how they…"

They were watching Him but equally important, and for eternal reasons, vastly more important is that He was
• Watching
• Taking note of, in some regard
• Keeping record of them

They watched Him looking for that thing they might accuse Him of.
He marked them, seeking some means to improve their standing with the Father.

His message, to those bidden has both earthly and eternal application. His message for mankind is the same. Jesus is mocked, scoffed and hated today. But His only real desire is to be a blessing to souls.
His message to the host has its only reward in eternity. That speaks also. Though there may be rewards for well doing on earth, the only ones that have any real significance are heavenly ones.

Friday, May 27, 2011

STAND STILL

Stand still.
A soldier has fallen to the ground today
The battlefield has had its way
He will not fight another day
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still.
Stand still and pray for those at home
And for soldiers while they roam
On foreign soil’s combat zone
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still.
That soul has now gone to beyond
To heaven’s glories or to hell’s real horrors
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still.
Stand still and thank God for His grace
You did not die in his place
That image could have born your face
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still.
Stand still and look this once more
To a far off hill on a distant shore
One there did His Father’s will
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still
Stand still and see Him on the cross
Giving all there was to give
That you and I might get to live
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still
Stand still and view that empty tomb
In it He found there was not room
So up He rose from that space
And left our sins in His place
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still.
Stand still if you would have Him win
For you a victory from sin
You cannot earn a home on high
By grace through faith is the Father’s cry
Stand still

Stand still
Stand still come this solemn Day
You owe him that much won’t you say?
A soldier’s fallen to the ground today
Stand still. Stand still.

Marvin McKenzie
For Memorial Day Weekend
5-25-2007

A Question Worth Working

Luke 13:23
Then said one unto Him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And He said unto them.

One asked the question, but the answer was to them all.

This is the question that ought to occupy the hearts and minds of men. The fact is, regardless of what we do in this life it is brief. The best good we can do is not merely to enjoy life and improve it for our children or our world, for regardless of how well we may do that, it is temporary and we cannot know what generations to follow will do with it. Ecclesiastes said the work of our hands may pass on to a fool.

But salvation; that is a different subject entirely. Rather than striving to see what good we may do for temporal society, rather to work at improving another's eternal prospects; now that is a work worth doing.

And this work requires that we recognize
First that there are few who are saved.
It is not universal. It is restrictive and exclusive to those who come through Christ.
Secondly, that the work of salvation includes not only justification but also sanctification.
God means to conform us to the image of Christ. To give ourselves then to the assistance of those in the middle of sanctification is to not only be a blessing to them but is part and parcel with our own sanctification.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Otherworldly

Luke 12:31 KJV
But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

The Lord places this very real contrast that is to exist between those of the world and those who are believers;
• Worldings seek after earthly treasures and
• Believers seek after heavenly ones

This is not to say that this contrast is hugely observable in modern Christianity. In fact the distinction has been completely skewed in American Christianity where we think seeking Christ is the way to gain earthly treasures. Those who truly attempt to seek the kingdom of God and allow God to add to their lives their daily necessities as He sees fit are so out of the normal they are generally looked upon as abnormal.

It must become the Christian to unplug from such worldliness and poor himself into the otherworldly. If we are going to reclaim biblical Christian faith we must seek not just "first" but "only" the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

She Didn't Get It

Luke 11:28 KJV
But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

Jesus was in the midst of a vital and life changing message
He was giving them a lesson on the uselessness and even danger of reformation.
• If all a person does is just cast out a demon in his life
• If all he does is sweep out some old sins
Jesus said that the demon which so easily beset him will return but this time with a vengeance and this time with demon partners. The state of the reformer is worse than it was at first.

The message is a serious one; hearers needed to reflect and let it sink in
But here is one that obviously didn't get it. This certain woman likely thought she was speaking some high praise to God but it was misguided. Rather than focusing on Christ or on his message, she is thinking about Mary. The roots of that Mariolatry run deep in man's soul!

Jesus corrects her by saying the really blessed are those that
• Hear the word of God
She obviously wasn't listening and
• Keep it
It isn't enough to be a hearer only. Blessings come from keeping and doing what is taught in the Bible.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Christ's Caring Correction

Luke 10:41 KJV
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

I am thinking about the caring heart of the Lord.

When Martha comes with her criticism of Mary and plea that Jesus would make Mary help, Jesus response was, "Martha, Martha."
• There was no harshness
• There was no rebuke
• There was a teaching moment

Jesus urged Martha that Mary's priority was the right one. Things will get done.

I take it from this that Martha was serving when it was neither necessary or her place. Some people won't sit down. Their nature is so stressful that they can hardly bring themselves to slow down a moment or two.

Jesus did not rebuke her, but neither did He grant what she asked.

I am looking for the Lord to do as He pleases and just be a part of His work.

Monday, May 23, 2011

But to Save Them

Luke 9:56 KJV
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

This is Jesus' final trip out of Galilee and he passes through Samaria. He sent His apostles ahead to find a place to sleep for the night but because Jesus was resolute about going to Jerusalem no one would give Him a room. The apostles wanted to see God bring down judgment for their lack of reception but Jesus said He had not come to destroy lives but save them. He just looked for lodging in some other village.

This is the spirit in which Christians should dwell. Unlike the Catholics and Reformers of the past whose reaction to those who disagreed with them was to persecute and even kill them, Jesus said He did not want to destroy any life. If they would not receive Him He would let them be and move on to speak with others.

That is how Christians should witness;
• Speak with people
• Be honest about our faith and
• Never compromise our convictions to gain a reception
And if they won't receive our gospel, do not hold angst for them but move on to speak with someone else.

As side note, we know their rejection was turned to faith when Philip preached there and saw a work of God.

Don't destroy them. You never know when they might make things right with God.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Waiting for Him

Luke 8:40 KJV
And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.

Another prediction of the return of Christ has come and gone. This one seemed to have much more media attention than many of those in the past. Technology and social networking transformed the news into a constant buzz on one sort of media or another. I don't know if that is an indicator of anything or not.

Christians seem to be pretty disturbed by it all because of the perceived negative attention it gives to our faith. I am of the opinion that our faith isn't damaged at all by such events but only serve to refine prove and expose our faith as being in Christ or some religion. The word says there must be heresies among you.

Jesus said when he returns "will He find faith among in the earth?" Faith is becoming increasingly rare, even among the so called people of faith. When Christ returns the next time there will be very few waiting.

I pray you will be one.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

See This Woman?

Luke 7:44 KJV
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

Jesus was never at a loss for object lessons in His ministry. His Father saw to it that those life events that would most clearly teach what pertains to life and godliness was at His disposal.

The lesson is about salvation through faith and how it manifests itself. When speaking to Simon he pointed to her works to prove her faith because that is all he could have seen. When sending her away in peace He pointed to her faith because that is what saved her.

There is also a picture of worship here
She came without fear into a Pharisees house
Christ was her object, not herself.

She came weeping
I suspect in both conviction of her sins and relief in finding the Saviour.

She came in sacrifice
The ointment was expensive yet spent on Christ.

She came in humility
• Washing His feet
• Kissing His feet and
• Anointing His feet

Friday, May 20, 2011

Christ Has a Name for You

Luke 6:13-14 KJV
And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,

Matthew sixteen gives us the account of this naming of Peter.

It is not merely that Jesus used what existed and gave an object lesson from it. Jesus created the play on words between the little pebble, Peter, and the Rock, Jesus Christ.

The Bible also tells me that all who are saved have a new name in Christ.
• I want to live in respect to that name
• I want to accept what Christ has called me to be and live to the fullest in His call

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Behold a Man

Luke 5:12
And it came to pass, when He was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprousy who seeing Jesus fell on his face and besought him saying, Lord if thou wilt thou canst make me clean.

Behold a man
This was a certain city because it would have been true in any city that there would be a man. Christians ought to behold that there are
• Men and
• Women and
• Children
all around them. Behold them and remember that much of what it means to be a Christian is to love them.

Full of leprosy
Leprosy is in the Bible the type of sin.
• Incurable
• Contagious and
• Gruesome

Sin is the burden of every soul.

His was no mild case, he was
Full of leprosy
And so we are no mild cases either. Sin has impacted and injured every realm of our lives.

He met Jesus
And in Christ is the answer to the need of every sinner. If we will only come to him we will find fullness of joy and forgiveness and peace with God and man.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Devising Good

Proverbs 14:22 KJV
Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.

The phrase "devise good" was an attention getter for me today.

The idea of devising a thing sounds like inventing it. It comes from a word that means to scratch, engrave, plough or fabricate.

This good does not exist on its own; it will not exist without
• Thought
• Planning and
• Execution

To devise good would mean to create the circumstances for the good to occur and then to construct the tools to put it together.

To work at good with such effort is an altogether worthy thing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pampered Into Poverty

Proverbs 12:9 KJV
He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.

At first read this verse sounds to be the opposite counsel than we learn anywhere else in the Bible. I have visions of Donald Trump who has all the servants and food he could want but is of poor reputation among the godly. Surface reading might make it appear that is better than the one who is poor.

But the key to understanding the verse is the phrase "honoreth himself." It helped me to think of it as "pampereth himself." (the word for honor means "to make weighty. It is the man who makes himself appear to be more important than he really is. It might mean that he thinks of himself as more important or more deserving than he is.)

The Bible is speaking about being disciplined with our resources so that we may afford both the necessities and those things that help rather than spending our money on pleasures and extravagances to the place where we find ourselves in want of real necessities.

Frugality and living in our means is the chief way to see our means increased.

Monday, May 16, 2011

All The World

Luke 2:1 KJV
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

Scofield's Notes say,
(Greek, "oikoumenē", means "inhabited earth"). This passage is noteworthy as defining the usual New Testament use of oikoumene as the sphere of Roman rule at its greatest extent, that is, of the great Gentile world-monarchies (Dan 2:7). That part of the earth is therefore peculiarly the sphere of prophecy.

I am interested in the phrase "all the world." Obviously the census and tax had no authority in places like Russia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. The term is target specific to that part of the world that was under Roman rule. That God chose to use it does two things;

First, it sets the definition through the rest of the Word and defines prophecy as relating primarily to that portion of the inhabited earth.

Secondly, it gives insight into the heart of God for that part of the world
God loves all mankind and seeks to rescue souls of any language tongue and part of the earth. But God has a peculiar interest in the part of the world that was under that Roman rule.
• It is where mankind began
• It is where He chose to focus the activity of the Word
• It is where He grew the people from which the Saviour came
• It is where He chose to dwell among men
• It is where the salvation of every soul who will accept it comes

The history of the Middle East to this very day impacts the rest of the world. At one time it was primarily through Catholicism and its influences (mostly negative and highly political.) Today it might be mostly through Islam, (still mostly negative and, becoming more political) but that part of the world never gets far away from our thoughts.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Accept or Reject; No Fence Straddling Here

Luke 1:3 KJV
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

Luke makes a claim in this verse that is a division maker. The bold assertions compel a person to either accept His account of the Gospel as heavenly truth or to reject it as an outright lie. There is no room for straddling a fence here. We must accept it as from God or we must reject it outright.

Having had perfect understanding
Luke means what he says. We cannot explain away his term. He claims perfection here, something that is impossible unless it is of God.

Of all things
Since he was not present when the Gospel account he is about to give happened, it would be humanly impossible for him to know all things unless they were delivered to him from a perfect source. John said that there was so much concerning Jesus that if it were all written the world could not contain the books. Luke did not receive all things from interview and study.

From the very first
Not meaning the beginning of the Gospel but His source of understanding of all things. It was perfect understanding and it was of all things because
• It came from the first
• It came from heaven
• It came from God himself

I read of a new book, out right now, that intends to expose the Bible as a lie. The author claims to have entered into his study of the Word of God as a believer and, though he also claims to do what no Christians do, and spend his life studying the Word, his studies have led him now to accuse the Bible of not only containing errors and inconsistencies, but intentional lies.

I think he is more honest than the person who says he believes the Bible is a good book, but he doesn't obey it. It must be heavenly and therefore we are obligated to it or it is a lie and we must turn from it. It's an issue of faith in God or not; of heaven or hell.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Problem? No Problem!

Mark 16:1 KJV
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

The customs of the Jews are such that it is difficult for us to get a handle on this passage. Jesus' body was already in the grave, sealed for three days. Why would these women even have the impulse to enter into the tomb to amount His body again? Some say it is because He was buried in such hast that proper anointing could not have been accomplished; they came to finish what they started. In any case they did come to anoint Him.

They came prepared
They had sweet spices for the anointing.

They came with a problem
Who would roll the stone away? I do not take it that this caught them by surprise but that they knew this would be a problem but came prepared anyway, expecting to somehow see it solved.

They came to find Christ risen
The stone was rolled away for them and something much greater than they imagined had happened. They only asked for a stone to be moved. They received a risen Saviour.

We never know what the Lord might accomplish if we come to Him prepared, but come even when we don't know how the problems before us can be solved.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why?

Mark 15:14 KJV
Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.

The question is why? Why was there such a hatred for Christ that the people were more willing to let a known murderer free than to let Jesus free? What is it that Jesus had done that led the people to desire Barabbas be set free and Jesus crucified? The people did not answer Pilate but it is not because there wasn't an answer.

They desired to be rid of Christ because leadership told them to
People truly are as sheep having no shepherd. So much so that when any one appears to be taking the lead, it is our nature to follow. Having little confidence and a poor sense of direction, we tend to follow the one who sounds most confident, even if he is just as unsure of himself inside.

They desired to be rid of Christ because it was the popular thing to do
Once the herd was moving in one direction those who had no sense of direction fell into the same pattern. They did not have to know if they were doing the right thing, they were doing the popular thing.

They desired to be rid of Christ because He brought too much conviction into their lives
Jesus challenged and in their minds threatened their comforts. If Jesus is the Messiah, His message changed most of what they believed they knew. They only had two choices; accept Him and become new creatures, or reject Him.

That is why our world rejects Jesus Christ. They may blame it on Christians; Gandhi, they say, said he would accept Christianity if it weren't for the Christians. The argument doesn't hold water because it is not Christianity a person must accept; it is Christ. Gandhi did not reject Christians, he rejected Christ. The reason people reject Jesus is because they know He would make them new. Some even accept a form Christianity rather than accept Christ. It is easier. It has leaders who encourage it. And in certain circles it is the popular thing to do. But ultimately it is still rejecting Jesus.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Practical Christianity

Proverbs 4:15 KJV
Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.

The Old Testament (especially the Proverbs) sounds much more action oriented than the New Testament usually does. There is no physical activity necessary in order to gain eternal life but I am reminded that grace places expectations upon the believer that in some ways are greater than those of the Old Testament.

Proverbs is a practical book.
And in that practicality urges us to aggressively turn from wickedness while we pursue wisdom and holiness. Notice the passionate nature of verse 15. He doesn't just want to us steer clear of the ways of the evil men, he wants us to take excessive measures to avoid falling into sin and to pursue wisdom with the same intensity.

These are not things to be taken for granted. We will not accidentally avoid the consequences of sin and see the fruit of holiness.

They only happen with purpose.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When God Will Not Hear

Proverbs 1:28 KJV
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:

I have heard and read preachers who warn that there comes a time in a man's life when he has quenched the Holy Spirit of God to the place where He will not hear our pleas for salvation.

Citing this passage and the account of Felix in Acts 24, who seemed to be under conviction but refused to be saved, and as far as the Biblical record reveals we believe he never got saved; illustrations are then given of
• Men on their death beds who cry out to the preacher, "It is too late, God will not hear me."
• Men trembling at the altar but who claim that same conviction; "God will not hear my cry."

But the only situation that may be attached to this passage with any authority would be when a man finds himself in hell. The rich man in hell pled for mercy but none was extended. Even his prayers for living family to be saved and spared that place of torment were left unanswered.

Nothing could be worse than eternal hell.

If there is a time on this earth when the repentant plea falls on the deafened ears of the Heavenly Father, I do not see it given to us in the Scriptures with any certainty. But I do see a literal hell where men and women cry out to the Lord but their prayers are unheard.

May God convict souls to be saved before it is too late.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just Repent

Mark 12:12 KJV
And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.

Jesus had just spoken a parable that describes the Jew's reaction to Christ and God's response toward it. They knew that the parable was directed against them. The appropriate action then would have been to repent. But that was not what they did.

First they sought to lay hold on Him
Response one was violent.

Second, they feared the people
Though this is the reason they did not lay hold on Christ it is also a reaction toward the conviction in their soul. Fear can draw people to Christ.

Third, and they left and went their way
What a shame that they left without reconciling to God.

Fourth they tried to catch Him in His words

Pastors may see the same responses from those who come to hear the Word. Rather than seeing the care in the preacher's eye, so many take the message to be an attack against them.
• Some become angry
• Some become fearful but not to repentance
• Some leave and never return and
• Some become critical of the preacher, looking for mistakes rather than listening for God

And all the while God's purpose and the preacher's heart is just to see people turn from their sins and be saved from a lost eternity.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Fear and Hope

Psalms 147:11 KJV
The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

God takes pleasure in the one who does two things,
First who fears Him
This defines the fear for us.
• It is not a fear that dreads to come.
• It is not the fear like that of a murderer or of an evil person.
It is true fear, but the kind that understands the consequences of not having mercy. It recognizes the seriousness and danger of sin and chooses to seek a resolution.

Second, who hopes in His mercy
This is a fear that sees God as
• Good and
• Loving and
• Full of mercy
There is real fear, but it is in the consequences of sin and not in the Person of God.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

A Sustaining Conviction

Psalms 145:17 KJV
The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.

The whole Psalm is an anthem of praise to God. It is difficult and probably undesirable to isolate one element for praise but it is necessary for the type of devotional meditation I am attempting daily.

With the challenges that make up life today (not as though life has ever been without challenges for the Christian, ours are just different now; one of them being we are softer and less able to bear trials) it becomes critical that we have this conviction.

God is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works.

Rather than questioning why God did one thing or allowed another the conviction that will bring us through safely is that whatever God does it is right and holy and by trusting Him we fair well.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Cause Me

Psalms 143:8 KJV
Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

David understood that it was not of him to decide to hear God's lovingkindness or to know the way wherein he should walk. All of this was a work that God must cause to happen in his soul.

And thus he prayed.

The Bible says
• He remembered the days of old
• He stretched forth his hands towards God and
• He thirsted for God
He prayed for what God would do in his soul.

Too much religion is about what we will do for God and not nearly enough about what He must do in us. We must have God cause us to come to Him cause us to know Him and cause us to walk with Him.

Friday, May 06, 2011

When the Righteous Smite Us

Psalms 141:5-6 KJV
Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

The Psalmist calls the smiting of the righteous a kindness.
He recognized the value of being rebuked and confronted by those who walk with God.

We might be tempted to think of the one who rebukes us, "Who does he think he is? He is no better than me!" And we would be right. But none of us is so right with God that we would not do well to be corrected. It is a kindness when correction comes, even if unpleasant to receive.

The Psalmist then makes this pledge; when the one who has smitten him falls into calamity his prayers will be on that man's behalf and his words concerning him will be sweet.

God grant these instructions to be taken into our hearts.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Flee? From God?

Psalms 139:7 KJV
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

This is an incredible thought. It is impossible to flee from God's presence.

And we do sometimes try to flee
• Because of a sin committed Adam and Eve thought they could hide from God but He found them out.
• Because of rebellion from God's will Jonah fled from God but in the middle of that stormy sea God was there.

Some people want to deny the existence of God but He will not let them.
Their hearts intuitively know God is there.

Some refuse to believe He cares for them.
But it does not alter the truth that when they look, behold He is there.

This is the most encouraging thing I can imagine today. He never leaves me even when I leave Him. He is always at hand. He is ever there when I call out to Him.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

His Own

Psalms 138:8 KJV
The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

The Psalmist describes himself, and I can see the wisdom in describing ourselves, as simply "the works of thine own hands."

To view ourselves in such a manner is humbling.
It reminds us that we are but dust. Life doesn't spring from us but from our God. We are responsible to Him for our very lives and we need to look to Him as the sustainer of life.

To view ourselves in such a way is also reassuring.
We are the works of His own hands. We are His concern. We may be assured of His care and of His watching over us.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

His Mercy

Psalms 136:1 KJV
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Twenty six times in twenty six verses Psalm 136 affirms "His mercy endureth for ever."

Such mercy!
• It is His mercy that rejoices the heart
• It is His mercy that redeems the sinner
• It is His mercy that searches out the lost
• It is His mercy that brings hope to the desperate

His mercy is what we need. The hope of His coming; the promise of His Word.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Brethren in Unity

Psalms 133:1 KJV
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!


The Bible tells us to endeavor and work at unity. As good and pleasant as it is when it happens, it is a lot of work to maintain.

This is a Psalm, and I am reminded of the nation of Israel. They were anything but a picture of unity.
• Saul spent the better portion of his career trying to kill David.
• David's own rag tag team contended over those who stayed by the stuff.
• He constantly strove for unity in the nation and saw terrible disunity even among his children.
• Eventually the nation divided into two parts after his death.
Unity is no easy task.

But it is wonderful when it happens.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Public and Personal Ministries

Mark 4:33-34 KJV
And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.
But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

Jesus spoke many parables in public as the crowds were able to hear them.
He had an awareness of the hearer's ability to listen and to grasp His message. Just because a person is sitting in front of us does not mean they are able to hear and receive the message we bring. The preacher needs to be aware of his congregation and their ability to hear.

Then Jesus expounded upon His messages alone to His disciples.
The preacher's work is not necessarily finished when he has finished preaching. There will surely be some whose desire for truth runs deeper than what was gotten from the sermon. They will not be content with merely hearing the message but will seek more understanding of the message.

The preacher ought to plan means to spend time alone with perhaps a handful of people to discuss in deeper detail what God has been teaching him in the Word. The greatest ministry will likely be accomplished in this smaller setting than in the larger one.