Monday, June 30, 2014

He Returneth to HIs Earth

Psalms 146:4 KJV
His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Here is an excellent example of why Scripture must be compared with Scripture to come to an accurate and honest understanding of its message. On the face this verse seems to teach that when a man dies[1] he simply ceases to exist. "He returneth to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish."

This is, of course, the teaching of both Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists. Though they would deny the need of Scripture to support them, this is also the claim of the atheist.

But what saith the Lord?
  • From the Old Testament account of Saul illegally calling Samuel from the grave, to
  • Job's affirmation that, though worms would destroy his body, yet in the flesh he would see God, to
  • Jesus' teaching that the rich man died and in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torments
we know that life and thought do not perish with the body.

So what does this verse mean? John Gill says, "...His breath goeth forth,.... That is, the breath of a son of man, of any and everyone of the princes; it goes forth continually, and is drawn in again as long as a man lives; but at death it goes forth, and returns no more till the resurrection: the breath which the Lord breathed into man, and which is in his nostrils while he lives, and is very precarious. And when it is taken away, he dies, and he returneth to his earth; from whence he was taken, and of which he was made; upon which he lived, where he dwelt, and in which he took delight and pleasure, minding earth and earthly things, and which is now all he has; who, though he may have had many large estates and possessions, nay, have ruled over many kingdoms and countries, yet his property of earth is now no more than the length and breadth of a grave; he returns to earth as soon as he dies, becoming a lump of clay; and particularly when he is interred in it, and when by corruption and worms he is turned into it; in that very day his thoughts perish; in the day, hour, and moment he dies: not that the soul ceases, or ceases to think at death; it is immortal, and dies not; and, as it exists in a separate state after death, it retains all its powers and faculties, and, among the rest, its power of thinking; which it is capable of exercising, and does, as appears from the case of the souls under the altar, Rev 6:9. But the meaning is, that at death all the purposes and designs of men are at an end; all their projects and schemes, which they had formed, and were pursuing, now come to nothing; whether to do good to others, or to aggrandize themselves and families; and therefore such mortal creatures are not to be depended upon, since all their promises may fail; nay, even their good designs may be frustrated."

[1] Presumably an unrighteous man.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

No Complaining Allowed

Psalms 144:14 KJV
That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets.

One of the most notable troubles of the Jews in the wilderness was their complaining and murmuring. It was so much a characteristic of them that the complaining Jew is stereotypical of the race. Here our Psalmist prays that among God's people there should be "no complaining in our streets."

The lack of complaint is traced back to God's blessing upon them. He prayed that such things would happen among them that there would be nothing to complain about. But then there is the declarative statement of the final verse "yea happy is that people whose God is the Lord."

  • Happiness can be the result of things just working out for us, but it doesn't have to be so.
  • Happiness can be the simple result of knowing God as our own.
  • Happiness can be the result of having the right God as our God.
  • Happiness can be as simple as trusting Him whatever is the case

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I Am Thy Servant

Psalms 143:12 KJV
And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

David didn't claim to be more righteous than anyone else or more worthy than anyone else. He knew that in his person he was no better than even those who were his enemies.

David did not seek God's mercy for any specific quality he possessed or any combination of characteristics that distinguished him.

David had one plea only; "I am thy servant."

Friday, June 27, 2014

Watch My Mouth

Psalms 141:3 KJV
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

So important are the words we speak that the Psalmist asked God Himself to guard those coming from his mouth.

We take too lightly what we say[1]. We do not think them through. Often we speak as a means of venting:
  • Frustration
  • Anger and
  • Evil thoughts

The believer ought to learn better than this. What comes out of our mouths can never be taken back. It is unbecoming and unChristlike to pour out things that are not seasoned with grace.

God's Word answers this prayer through New Testament teaching. Jesus said we speak from the heart. Therefore the first place to look when we find the wrong things coming from our mouths is our heart. Change the heart and we will change our thoughts and our words. We change our heart by laying up treasures in heaven and not the earth.

[1] And very often what we write.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Strength Where I Most Need It

Psalms 138:3 KJV
In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.

Where I most need strength is in my soul.
  • My body may feel weak
  • My finances might be poor
  • My influence may fail
But these are not the primary places I need strength. What I need, when it seems like the enemy swarms in, is strength in my soul.

  • That strength will sustain me when my body is sore
  • That strength will cause me to praise God when my resources are gone
  • That strength will enable me to speak long after my life has passed from this earth

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

He's Preaching

Acts 17:2-3 KJV
And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

There is a change of person that happens in this verse. It goes from Luke telling us what Paul did, to a statement the first person said. It is almost universally accepted that the statement is that of Paul. One commentary suggests that the RSV Bible renders the passage better by adding (said he) to the text. The problem is that there is nothing to support the addition but the translators' opinion that the passage reads more intelligently. I propose a different interpretation;[1] that this statement is from the penman and not from Paul.

Luke, the inspired penman of the Acts of the Apostles, has an obvious message he desires to spread through his work in both this book and The Gospel According to Luke; he wants his reader to know that the Jesus he presents to the reader is Christ, the Saviour. It is not a stretch to call the entire book of Acts a sermon. It would not be wrong to view it as Luke preaching to his reader.

Imagine then that, in this brief verse, Luke looks to Theophilus, his original audience, and says that in Thessalonica Paul opened and alleged that the same Jesus Luke preached to Theophilus throughout his two books, is Christ.
  • It makes the verse read logically
  • It makes more sense than adding words the passage doesn't warrant and
  • It maintains the doctrine that Jesus is Christ

[1] Though I do not believe it changes the truth of the text.

Between the Promise and the Keeping of It

Psalms 132:11 KJV
The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.

The promise of this passage is very plain and God insists upon His keeping of it, that from one born to David's lineage would God Himself set upon the throne in Israel.

What a wonder must have been David's thoughts when given this promise. He could not have known the specifics, when this would take place; how many generations would pass before.

He could not have imagined the history that would be Israel's after his passing
  • The declination of the nation
  • The spiritual failure of many of his seed
  • The blindness of the Jews in Jesus' day
  • The destruction of Israel under Rome
  • The terrible persecution of the Jews by almost all the world
  • The German holocaust of the Jews under Hitler

But he knew this as a truth, no matter what happened between the promise and the keeping of it, God would never take back this promise. Jesus Christ, the Son of David and the Son of God will sit on David's throne forever. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Silence of the Night

Psalms 134:1 KJV
Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.

The Old Testament Temple was a place of constant service with priests and Levites divided and assigned every duty imaginable day and night. Every duty was considered holy and every servant was held responsible to worship God as a part of his duty. Thus certain priests and Levites were charged with the duty of standing watch or guard around the Temple through the night. It is to these men this Psalm is addressed.

There is a good deal of Scripture that speaks well of the morning hours. Here we find high praises for those who stand in the night. Albert Barnes writes of these night watchmen that it is, "as if they especially possessed the ear of God in the silence of the night, and when the world slumbered around them. There is something favorable to devotion in the silence of the night; when the world sleeps; when we are alone with God; when it seems as if God would more particularly attend to our cry since the rest of the world is still, and does not (as it were) need his care."

  • May all who serve in any capacity see their service as holy
  • May they all do their work as it truly is, as unto The Lord and
  • May they use every moment of their service to glorify and praise the Lord

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sure Mercies

Acts 13:34 KJV
And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

The Word of God, speaking of the resurrection of Jesus, calls it "the sure mercies of David." God had promised David that one from his seed would sit in the throne of Israel forever. The resurrection of Christ is the fulfillment of that promise.

The resurrection of Christ is also the evidence of God's sure mercies to every believer. God's mercy toward David is no greater than toward any believer. God's promises to him are no surer.

That God blessed David is indicative of God's blessings upon us. 

You Should Do This

Acts 14:15 KJV
And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:

Though God has suffered centuries of idolatry, wickedness and vain doing the truth is that men should turn from these vanities.
  • They serve no good purpose
  • They do not make anyone's life better
  • They will eventually lead souls to hell

God has always had some form of witness if men would but pay attention:
  • The consistent goodness of the law of nature
  • The still small voice of personal conscience
  • The word out there that there was a people who followed after God
And there is the preacher, who whether he stayed home to care for a single congregation or traveled as Barnabas and Paul did to establish new congregations, have faithfully delivered the message of God's Word; "Ye should turn from these vanities."

  • Not that the preacher forces people as in "Ye shall turn from these vanities"
  • Or that he coerces people as in "Ye must turn from these vanities"
but he preaches to the people "Ye should turn from these vanities", leaving it to their voluntary and free will.

Ye should turn from these vanities, whosoever you may be who reads these words. There is but one God. He sent His Son to die for those vanities that plagued your whole life. He has a better plan for your life with a better end to your life.

  • You should turn from your vanities to Jesus Christ
  • You should call upon Him to forgive you of your sins and
  • You should look to Him through His Bible to direct you the rest of your life

Friday, June 20, 2014

Constantly Affirming

Acts 12:15 KJV
And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

When Rhoda came to the praying company with news that Peter was at the door, they all accused her of madness.  But Rhoda knew the truth. Peter had in fact escaped the prison, escaped execution and was at the door of that very house at that very moment. Having the truth, Rhoda constantly affirmed that it was even so.
  • She would not quit
  • She would not give up
  • She would not back down
The truth was at the door. Peter was there.

Why, if having the truth then, would Christians quit, give up or back down with our message about Jesus Christ? The truth is as plain as Peter on the other side of the door.
  • The impact of Christianity upon world history
  • The testimony of countless numbers of Christians
  • The reality of faith in our own soul
proves to us that Christ is alive today and that He is just on the other side the door of each soul's heart, waiting to come in.
  • To save
  • To fellowship
  • To strengthen

We must constantly affirm before those around us that it is even so. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

As Zion

Psalms 125:1 KJV
They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.

Mount Zion is quite the study.
  • This was the site of the original city of the Jebusites which David conquered.
  • It became known as the city of David and later, as Jerusalem built up around it, took on a more sentimental and even mystical aura.
  • It is spoken of much in the Psalms and by most of the prophets.
  • In the New Testament it is used to speak of both the church of God and the Heavenly Jerusalem. It therefore transcends time.
It existed before the Jews possessed the Promised Land and will continue into eternity.
  • It was obvious because it was the highest point in Jerusalem and
  • It was beloved as being the site of their first victory over the city
God's word promises the same to those who trust in the Lord:

  • We have a history previous to our conversion
  • We have become accepted into the beloved
  • We have been made joint heirs with Jesus and
  • We will live eternally with God 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Jerusalem's Good

Psalms 122:9 KJV
Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.

People might have any number of reasons to support Israel as a people:
  • Their ancient and biblical heritage
  • Their historical and notable suffering
  • Their interest in alliance with America
The Psalmist says he has but one reason to pray for the peace of Jerusalem; because of the house of the Lord.

The house of The Lord has been moved since these words were penned. It no longer resides in a building in Jerusalem. God has moved from that place to the local church congregation. But this move in no way changes a believer's relationship with Jerusalem. It is
  • Because of our faith
  • Because of the Word of God
  • Because of what we learn when we are in the house of the Lord

that we, who are the most earnest believers, seek the good of Israel

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

And He heard me…

Psalms 120:1 KJV
In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.

View verse one as the end of the Psalm. The writer begins with the conclusion and then proceeds to the circumstances
  • He is surrounded by deceitful and lying lips
  • He finds himself in a strange and unfriendly land
  • His neighbors are warlike though his own desire is for peace
It is through these circumstances that he finds himself in distress.

But be careful not to see this Psalm as a complaint; far from it. He has described his circumstances only to give context for his prayer. The point is that, when he cried unto the Lord, "He heard" him.

What a way to view our own circumstances! We would do well to begin with our conclusion; "and He heard me." Each of us is walking through our own life story. We have circumstances, challenges and distresses that are unique to ourselves. But every Christian already knows the end of his story; "God heard us".
  • Through whatever our life throws at us
  • Whatever it was that made us cry out to God

when everything is said and done we will testify just as the Psalmist did, He heard us.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Unchangeable God

Psalms 119:52 KJV
I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.

I agree with Albert Barnes' Notes that this verse does not seem to speak of judgment in the sense of divine justice pouring down, but in the sense of God's immutable dealings in the affairs of men. He goes on to say, "When all else seemed to fail, it was a comfort to reflect that an unchangeable God presided over the affairs of people."

What comfort is ours when we reflect upon the constant, unchanging and merciful hand of God.
  • He does judge and chasten
  • He also renews mercy every day
  • He executes vengeance upon. Our oppressors
  • He also saves and spares any of them who repent
The dispensations of men have changed over the course of history but God's plan has not. I may be as comforted by remembering God's judgments of old as this Psalmist was maybe 3000 years ago. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Large Place

Psalms 118:5 KJV
I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.

There is something about open spaces that tends to relax a person. Even those used to urban life and being crowded benefit from viewing large open spaces while on a vacation or even in an afternoon at a park.

It is no coincidence that stress is called pressure. It pushes on us, closing us in. One of the mercies of God is giving us a promise of infinite
  • Space
  • Time and
  • Vision
 He is after all, without beginning or end. He invites us to gaze into the heavens where there is no end and realize that His promises for us are all there. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Psalms 116:8 KJV
For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

This Psalm was likely an expression of thanksgiving after an especially dangerous circumstance. If it was King David, for instance, he had any number of times when he might have been able to look back and think, "That could have turned out much worse!" Take, for instance, when fighting the brothers of Goliath, he, in his later years by then, grew weary and had to be rescued. He could have died, he could have witnessed the loss of his rescuers and he could have fallen in his weariness. Or consider David at the end of his years looking back at the whole scenario of his life. Many times he could have died. On many occasions there could have been tragic events leading to terrible years. There were times he was near to falling spiritually but God kept him through his life. 

There is a prophetic application of this that belongs to every Christian for we too have been:
Soul from death
This is salvation. None of us will ever know the death of all deaths, which is the second death when both death and hell are cast into the Lake of Fire.

Eyes from tears
Not that we have had no tears or that we will never have them again, but at the last God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes.

Feet from falling
This is prophetic of eternal security. Though there are hundreds of times in the life of every believer that, if our eternal salvation had depended upon ourselves, we would not have made it. But it doesn't depend on us. It rests in:
  • The work
  • The nature and
  • The character
of Jesus Christ.

The Psalm begins, "I love The Lord because…." These are great reasons to love the Lord. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Grace Extended

Psalms 115:9-11 KJV
Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.
house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.
Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.

Israel is a people God chose
While our religious nature is constantly tempted to prescribe to Abraham some credit for God's grace, none is either described or implied in the Scripture. Abraham believed God and that alone was accounted for righteousness.

The house of Aaron is a people God took
The whole tribe was dedicated to God's service in place of the firstborn of every home.

Ye that fear The Lord is a people God included

It's the grace of God that extends beyond those He chose and those He requires to those who come to Him of their own accord. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blessed Is This Man

Psalms 112:1 KJV
Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.

Here is a Psalm devoted solely to the blessings that belong to the man that:
  • Fears The Lord
  • Delight (greatly) in His commandments
The list is long and detailed
  • His seed (descendants) will be great
  • His family will possess wealth
  • His righteousness will last forever
  • His dark times will break with light
  • He will be remembered forever
I notice a few things:
He still has enemies
That's because there are still wicked people in the earth. Wickedness will never be compatible with righteousness.

This has a spiritual application for all believers
Forever is heaven. Whatever may be the circumstances in earth, every believer will experience these blessings in heaven.

There are some blessings that take time to bear fruit.
Words like generation and house lead us to think of posterity rather than personal.
Abraham's blessings were real but they were realized (and are still being realized) by generations that followed him.

There are some of these blessings that may only be realized by those who practice verse one literally

To fear the Lord and to delight greatly in His commandments is a kind of faith we see very little of. To love the Lord with all our heart and all our soul and all our might may seem idealistic. But it is the only way to fully realize what God has for us. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Acts 5:39 KJV
But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

Gamaliel is said to have been the son of that Simeon who held the infant Jesus at his dedication.  He is the man who trained Paul as a Pharisee and was well thought of as the Pharisee throughout his life. History records that he later became aggressive against Christians, requesting that a prayer be made against them a little before his death.

But here Gamaliel seems thoughtful and even sympathetic to Christianity a few thoughts come to my mind:

  • I wonder how many people are presumed to be believers merely because they are generally reasonable men?
  • What a tragedy for one to be so close to the truth but to miss it completely
  • What a wonder that God had men in places of high office (such as Joseph of Arimathea who craved the body of Jesus or Queen Esther who saved the people of Israel from certain annihilation) to accomplish His will. As rivers of water God turns the hearts of men for His purposes

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Battle to Conquer the Heart

Psalms 108:7-10 KJV
God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;
Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.
Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?

Though these are the words of David and address the success of His kingdom[1], it is God speaking in this context. Therefore we must interpret it prophetically as well as literally.

David's kingdom was hard won and long in coming. There were always detractors and much heartbreak. But when it was all said and done he ruled all portions of Israel and surrounding nations.
  • Moab and Edomite were relative nations
  • Philistia was their most notable enemy
Prophetically this speaks of Christ's eventual rule over all. When the plan of God is accomplished:
  • Believers will be united in doctrine and practice
  • Those brought up in non Christian religions will be brought instead to Christ
  • People who have been contrary to the gospel will be subdued and converted
Indeed all will be united in Christ.

There may be an application which can be made of the individual believer here as well. Though a follower of Christ, we find ourselves divided over our allegiance to Jesus:
  • Some things completely rub the flesh wrong
  • Some things we wished we obeyed but struggle with
  • Some things we obey but only half heartedly
The struggle to love Lord with all our heart and all our strength and all our might does not come quickly or without painful battle, but we are assured that Christ will, in the end, prevail. 

[1] Psalm 60 is nearly verbatim.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Deflecting Glory

Acts 3:12 KJV
And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

Here is a Biblical example of deflecting glory. That Peter and John were the instruments of God to bring healing there was no question. The healed man was there holding on to them and he was certainly healed. Peter's answer was classic. It establishes an excellent example for Christians to follow whenever people begin to focus more on men than God:
Why would you marvel at this?
Jesus had done miracles like this and much greater. This was a little thing compared to what they all knew had been happening in Israel during the life of Christ.

Why would you look at us?
None of them had ever claimed divinity or had asked for their names to be known. They were followers of One who had been executed by this very crowd. They were nothing.

We had no power to heal.
And they had never claimed it. Any power they had was given them of Christ.

We have no exceptional holiness.
They were sinners just as all men are. Only Christ was holy, sinless and divine.

You need the One you killed

The truly exceptional thing is, Jesus is willing and ready to forgive and accept all those who participated in His crucifixion, if they will ask Him.