Thursday, February 23, 2017

Psalm 34

Psalm thirty-four is a beautiful Psalm.  Psalm thirty-four is filled with beautiful promises from the Lord to His people.  David wrote Psalm thirty-four when he was homeless and still hiding from Saul. Saul was trying to take David's life.  David could have concluded that he had nothing for which to be thankful.  Instead David said in Psalm 34:1, "I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips."  Notice David said his praises for the lord would be on his lips at ALL times.  Do we praise the Lord at all times?  Do we praise the Lord when we have financial reverse?  Do we praise the Lord when we experience heartache and sorrow?  Do we praise the Lord when we experience daily irritations and interruptions?

We must remember that God works all things together for our good.  This does not mean that all of life's events are good in themselves.  It does mean, however, that the Lord uses even what we consider the bad circumstances in our lives for our ultimate spiritual good.  Through difficult times in our lives the Lord teaches us patience, perseverance, and dependence on Him rather than in ourselves. We grow spiritually during those times.  So even in difficult times we need to say with David in Psalm 34:3, "Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together."  Praising God in all circumstances is the secret to a life filled with joy.  Praise on our lips and praise in our hearts for the Lord lifts us above our difficulties.

When David was in the midst of a difficult circumstance in his life he sought out the Lord, and the Lord delivered him from all his fears (Psalm 34:4).  God did not deliver David from some of his fears but from ALL his fears.  We also must bring all our fears and worries to the Lord, and we must leave them with the Lord.  We must trust that the Lord will take care of our difficult circumstances in His perfect way.  Psalm 34:5 tells us, "those who look to Him are radiant" with joy.  When we keep our eyes focused on the Lord and on His promises our fears and worries will slip away, and our joy and trust in the Lord will increase.

Psalm 34:6 goes on to tell us that David called to the Lord in his troubles.  David knew that he had no resources in himself.  David knew that he was totally dependent on the Lord.  The Lord heard David's prayers, and He saved him from all his troubles.  The Lord will also save and help us in times of trouble. In fact, Psalm 34:7 promises us that "the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them."  The Lord's protective guidance and help is all around us each and every moment of our lives.  The Lord tells us to to taste and experience His goodness and faithfulness. Blessed and joyful is the person who finds his or her refuge and strength in the Lord alone!

When you or I are feeling overwhelmed with one of life's difficulties we need to trust the Lord, and we need to stand in awe of Him.  A child of God can trust the Lord completely, because Psalm 34:10b reminds us that "those who seek the Lord lack no good thing."  Wow!  What a promise! When our hearts are breaking the Lord hears our prayers.  Psalm 34:17-19 says, "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."

Notice once again the world ALL is used.  The Lord delivers us from ALL our troubles when we approach Him in faith.  He does this in His perfect time and in His perfect way.  Things will not be perfect until we reach our eternal home.  In fact, the Lord promises us that we will have difficulties in this life.  We can trust the Lord, however, to be with us all the way!  He has His perfect plan for our lives, and no ultimate spiritual harm can ever come to a child of God!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Psalm 33

"Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him."  Psalm 33:1

"We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name."  Psalm 33:20-21

Joy should be evident in the life of every child of God.  The Lord has given us so many blessings. Hence, our hearts and lips should burst out in song and praise to the Lord.  Psalm 33:1 says, "Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him."  The Lord has saved us by His grace.  The Lord's love and mercy to us is eternal. and He is always faithful. Therefore "it is is fitting for the upright to praise Him."

Everyday and always our praise for the Lord must be fresh and new.  Psalm 33:3 says, "Sing to Him a new song."  The Lord deserves our continual and daily praise, because as Psalm 33:4 promises, "the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does."

The Lord deserves our praise, because He is awesome in His character.  The Lord also deserves our praise, because He displays power and glory in His creation.  Psalm 33:6 tells us, "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth."  God not only created this awesome universe, but He continues to maintain it in perfect order.  "For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm."  (Psalm 33:9)  Finally, Psalm 33:11 reminds us that the Lord is worthy of our praise; because "the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations."  Our God is a faithful God, and His plans will always remain firm and eternal.

Blessed and joyful is the nation or individual who has the Lord as their God, (Psalm 33:12).  He is our only sure foundation and refuge for time and for eternity.  Psalm 33:17 exhorts us that a dependence on the things or powers of this world for our safety and protection is "a vain hope for deliverance."  There is safety and protection for the child of God, however!  That safety and protection is found in the Lord!  Psalm 33:18 blesses us by saying, "The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love."

Thus, we must use our lips and lives to praise our awesome and faithful Lord.  For He alone is our faithful "help and our shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name." (Psalm 33:20b-21)  He alone is our joy and our unfailing source of security and love!  Praise His glorious and awesome name!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

I Corinthians 16:5-14

"A great door for effective work has opened to me."  I Corinthians 16:9

In our passage today the Apostle Paul sent word to the Corinthian church that he would be remaining in Ephesus for awhile.  Paul said in I Corinthians 16:8-9. "But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me."  In spite of obstacles and enemies in Ephesus Paul believed God had opened up a door of ministry for him there, and he did not wish to miss that opportunity for ministry and service for his Lord.  Paul knew that if God opened up a door of service, He would also give victory.

God opens ups doors of opportunity for us also.  We must daily pray for the Lord's guidance in our lives.  We must not run ahead of the Lord, and we must not seek to open doors of opportunity by force or our own efforts.  Our own self-efforts will always fail.  We must seek God's leading and timing.  When it becomes clear, however, that the Lord is leading us in a particular direction we must follow the Lord and pursue that open door of service.  We must follow the Lord's guidance with trust and confidence.  We must also trust that the Lord will make our service for Him victorious and productive in spite of unavoidable obstacles along the way.

In our service for the Lord Paul says to us in I Corinthians 16:13-14, "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love."  We must be very careful to be on guard against apathy.  We must maintain our passion and excitement for the work of the Lord. We must also be on guard against the devil's philosophies and lifestyles which are all around us in the secular world.  Sometimes the world's philosophies can sound so logical and inviting, if we are not on guard in our spiritual lives.  As children of God we must filter and evaluate everything according to God's Holy Word.  In our service for the Lord we must "stand firm in the faith."  We need to do all that we can to grow in our love relationship with the Lord.  The Lord must become number One in our lives, and He must dominate every area of our lives.

In our service for the Lord we must also be men and women of courage and strength.  It is often difficult to live as children of God in this world.  True courage and strength comes only from a deep personal relationship with our Lord.  True courage and strength develops from relying on the Lord's strength and not on our own devices.  Only when we are finding our strength in the Lord can we become effective servants in His kingdom.

Finally, I Corinthians 16:14 instructs us that in our service to the God we must "do everything in love."  Service for God without love for God and others is worthless.  I Corinthians 13:2b-3 says, "if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."

May we not shrink from God's open doors of opportunity for service.  May we serve the Lord and others in love, and may our ministries and lives be squarely based on the Word of God.  May it be our passion to use every "door for effective work" for the Lord's glory!