What Judges Teaches the Church About What We Are To Teach The Current Generation

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

5Apr5Apr2

The Bible says in Judges 2:10, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.”  It seems incredible that it could happen.  Only a generation after Joshua, Israel no longer knew the Lord.  The Lord instructs His people in Psalm 78:1–, “Give ear, O My people, to My law; incline your ears to the words of My mouth.  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.”  God knew the tendency of fallen man, even those who were His people; He knew the danger of forgetting His way and word.  Joshua is a book that God has given us to answer the question, “How is such a development and decline possible?”

This is a very important question, not just for the ancient Israelites, but for us.  Churches, too, have seen declines from one generation to another.  How can we understand and prevent this kind of calamity?

The book of Judges provides

A very clear answer

To our questions.

Its answer does not say everything that might be said in general, but it does say specific, crucial things that we must ponder to understand both Israel’s situation and our vulnerability.

To begin with . . .

Judges shows us that Israel

Descended into calamity

When it moved away from living

By faith and in the Word of God

To living by sight in the wisdom

And values of the world.

In Judges 2–3 the Bible records how Israel rapidly descended into great sin and disobedience, serving the idols and altars of the Baals and intermarrying with those who did not worship or walk with the Lord or live by His standards.  Idolatry and intermarriage are the great sins against which Joshua warned Israel again and again (Joshua 23:6–13).  And with good reason, for these two sins are interconnected.  The one leads to and reinforces the other.

This descent into idolatry and intermarriage

Did not happen overnight, however.

These acts of sin were the end results

Of various compromises that Israel had made earlier.

Israel had served the Lord faithfully in the opening of the book of Judges, but that begins to change at Judges 1:19, where the Bible says, “So the Lord was with Judah.  And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron.”

It does not appear that the Israelites actually fought

Against the chariots of iron and were defeated;

Rather, it seems that they saw the chariots of iron

And decided not to fight.

That decision seems very reasonable and proper

. . . To a people living by sight.

Chariots of iron were the most powerful military weapon of that time.

Israel, however, was called to live by faith in,

And obedience to, the Word of God.

The Word of God had come to her through Joshua, who said, “… For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and are strong” (Joshua 17:18).  Later in the book of Judges, we are shown how God kept His promise because Deborah and Barak were able to defeat Jabin, a king of the Canaanites, even though he had nine hundred chariots of iron (Judges 4:3).  The Word of God reminds God’s people that God “does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.  The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.”

We can see what went wrong –

The children of Israel were

Living by sight and not by faith –

But that does not show us why things went wrong.  For that, we must turn again to the words of Joshua recorded in Joshua 24:19-20, 23 where the Bible says, “But Joshua said to the people, ‘You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God.  He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.  If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good” … “’Now therefore’ he said, ‘put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.’”

Now, you may be asking, In what sense were they not able to serve or live for the Lord?  “If Israel was not able, how were they accountable?  What did Joshua mean when he said those words?”  He did not mean that the people were individually unregenerate and so were unable.  He did not mean that they would not be able to understand and live by God’s truth, and so would be unable.

The context of these verses suggests

That they would soon be leaderless –

Having neither Moses, nor Joshua,

Nor the elders who knew them –

And so would not be led and guarded

In faithfulness to the Word of God.

Joshua was recognizing that God would not give them another Moses or Joshua.  He would give them judges who would be for “delivers” for them (Judges 2:16).  But these judges would be only regional and temporary leaders.

The lesson that God was teaching Israel – and us –

In a variety of ways in the book of Judges

Is that the people needed a good and faithful king.

Israel’s problem was clear: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

Israel had to learn its need for a king and in turn to yearn and yield for a king – not a king like the nations as they would have in Saul, but a man after God’s own heart, namely, David.  Yet even David could not protect and lead God’s people ultimately.  He sinned, his house was divided, and he died.

Who, then, is the leader –

Perfect, faithful, and undying –

For God’s people?

Obviously,

Only

Jesus is such a king!

What is the antidote, then, for the church and its problems?  What will preserve a saving knowledge of God from generation to generation?

It is following our one and only

King and Lord, Jesus,

According to His Word.

Where the church fails to do so,

It will find itself, like Israel,

Unable to live by faith and obedience

Rather than sight.

But where the church turns to Jesus and follows ministers who faithfully preach His Word, it will live before Him.  The book of Judges is a mirror held up to the church that forces us to ask ourselves, “Is Jesus our Lord and King and do we live by faith in, and obedience to, His Word?”  If the answer is yes, the church from generation to generation will know the Lord.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Telling Our Story . . . Standing On Your Story

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

4Apr In John 9:25, the Bible records the man who Jesus healed of blindness responding to the interrogation of the Pharisees, “He answered and said, ‘Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know.  One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.’”  In today’s blog, I would like to continue looking at the topic that I wrote about yesterday on “Telling Our Story.”

If you don’t have a conversion story,

You don’t have a conversion.

I’m not saying you need to know the date, or the exact moment you were saved.  But . . .

You need to know it’s happened,

And

You should be able to relay the experience of it.

If a woman has become a mother, for instance, does she know it?  Is she sure of it? Does she know how it happened?  Does she remember going to the hospital and having her first baby?  She can give you all kinds of details, not only of how she became a mother, but how she continues being a mother today?

It’s the same way with knowing Jesus.  The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away: behold, all things have become new.”  Note two key truths in that verse – 1) A definite change takes place when we repent of our sin and ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior; and; 2) That change is known and observable.  The word “behold” means “to look and see the difference.”  Salvation doesn’t just sneak up on you while you’re asleep.  You don’t catch it like a cold.  You can’t enter into an eternal relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ without knowing you’ve done it.

Granted, it can take some time to develop.  It can take some time to grasp.  Maybe you’re like one of the blind men Jesus healed.  He knew something had happened to him.  The Bible tells us in John 9:10-11, “Therefore they said to him, ‘How were your eyes opened?’  He answered and said, ‘A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘God to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.”  He knew he’d had a memorable encounter with this “Man called Jesus,” but he didn’t know much more about Him in that moment than His name.

Yet, the account goes on.  The more he processed what Jesus had done and who He must be, he knew Jesus couldn’t be merely a man.  In John 9:33, the Bible record him responding to further questions from the Pharisees, “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing” – like heal someone from blindness.  As the day continued, Jesus found this person again and asked him, “’…Do you believe in the Son of God?’  He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’  And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.’  Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’  And he worshiped Him.”

For a while, this formerly-blind man knew the Lord only as “the Man called Jesus.” Maybe He was at least a prophet, a man sent from God.  But as Jesus revealed Himself more clearly, the man’s response became an absolute, “Lord, I believe.”  Jesus was the Son of God, and this man was now His follower.  That was his story, and he was sticking to it.

I’ve known people who’ve taken a long time – I can think of one man in particular who came to our church for ten years before accepting and confessing Christ as Savior.

The details of their stories are always different.

The way it happens is never quite the same,

Despite the fact that Jesus never changes.

But I don’t know anyone who’s been converted to Christ

Who couldn’t tell you what happened to get them there.

Their story is straightforward, simply, and powerful: “I know who He is.  I know what He’s done for me.  I know what I was like before I accepted Him.  I know how I met Him, how He’s changed me since I gave my life to Him, and I know that He’s still working in me today.” There are a lot of things I don’t know, but “one thing I do know . . . though I was blind, now I see.”

It’s the story of every believer.

Do you have that story?  Could you tell it to somebody today if God gave you the opportunity?  Don’t forget the part about how He’s still changing your life!  How would you describe this?

Because you have accepted Him as Savior and He is still working on you (Philippians 1:6) you should join me in a prayer of praise and thanksgiving:

“Lord, thank You for loving me, for Your grace that saves me.  Thank You for giving me a story that I could never have crafted on my own.  It still contains a lot of things I wish weren’t there, but it’s a story brimming with hope because You’ve written it and You continue to write it.  Help me to share it with others as a testimony of Who You are and of Your awesome power to redeem.  I praise You for loving me and saving me through Jesus, in whose name I pray, amen.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Telling Our Story . . . How God Saved Me and Changed Me

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

3Apr  When I lose sight of my hope, I’m prone to believe lies.  One lie I hear whispered frequently is, “I’ll never change,” that “I can’t change.”

It’s a lie completely contrary to the Gospel –

The good news that I can change,

Or rather that I can be changed.

Why is it after more than sixty years after God called me to Him, I can still find myself despairing, believing that I’m stuck as I am?

God’s Word is clear that

He is working to transform

Those He calls His own.

He’s making dead people alive;

He’s transforming His enemies

Into His children who share In the full inheritance of His Son;

He’s replacing hearts of stone

With hearts of flesh!

In Acts 9 we see a wicked man – a man with murderous intent – completely and radically changed. Saul sees a light and hears the Lord call him.  God changes Saul’s heart, gives him life, and makes him into a new man: Paul.  We all know what Paul went on to endure for the sake of the gospel – imprisonment, beatings, shipwrecks, martyrdomHe changed in a way that most people, maybe all people, would have never thought was possible.

My conversion story, and your conversion story, is the same as Paul’s.  We were wicked and dead when God saved us and made us new.  My conversion story is part of my favorite story, a small piece of God’s redemption plan of the world where He is restoring and reconciling and renewing.

Salvation means that we have been changed, and we are being changed even yet.  Our affections are being ordered to love the things God loves.  Our behavior is changing as we act more and more like Christ.  Our ambition is changing as we desire less and less glory for ourselves and more and more for God.

Christians who share this salvation story

Of how God is at work in their lives

Are testifying to God’s goodness and sufficiency.

When I visit with people, I love to ask how they came to know Christ.  How exciting, and what an encouragement I get, to hear how God revealed Himself to all kinds of people and saved them.  He changed them and is changing them!

We need to tell these stories of our conversion

To remind us that God is working.

The Good News of the Gospel means that we can know God personally, learn and experience His salvation power, and grow and discover God’s sufficient grace for every situation and stage of life; that we are not stuck with who we are and as we are until the day we die.

When my daughters were young, often they would ask me, “Daddy, why do you always read and pray?” or “Why do you always have to go to church?”  When we apply the term “always” or “never” to other people, we speak an untruth.  Human beings don’t “always,” or “never” do anything.  In our natural state we are not that consistent.  We “frequently,” we “fairly regularly,” or we “often” do things, but we do not “always” or “never.” 

As finite and sinful creatures,

We cannot lay claim to these terms,

They can only truly be spoken of God.

Only God is consistent in His nature and His action.  He alone has the power to change us.  When we believe the lie that we cannot, or will not change, we deny that God has the power to work in our lives.  We are rejecting the truth that we can trust Him for salvation because of His steadfast, unchanging love.

We must come to believe and accept with the writer of Hebrews that “Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, forever.”  In Numbers 23, we hear God, declaring through Balaam, “God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?”  

What great and glorious news this is!

When we are weary or defeated, let us be reminded and comforted with the words of A.W. Tozer:

“Our Heavenly Father never differs from Himself.  In coming to Him at any time we need not wonder whether we shall find Him in a receptive mood …Neither does He change His mind about anything. Today, this moment, He feels toward His creatures, towards babies, toward the sick, the fallen, the sinful, exactly as He did when He sent His only-begotten Son in the world to die for mankind.”

Salvation, regardless of the details

Of the person’s life before Christ,

Is a dramatic story.  It’s a story of change

That we need to share with each other

So that we wouldn’t forget who God is

And how he is faithful to us.

Truly, God is in the business of giving life,

Changing lives, and making all things new.

Sometimes we look at our live, or the lives of others, and wonder how things got that way and if it is possible for things to change.  Sometimes, even to Christians, the message of the Gospel seems to good to be true.  It is then that we find ourselves asking the age-old question, “Can bad guys really change?” 

As we understand and live by

The power of the salvation we have in Jesus,

We can emphatically declare,

“All the time, man!.  All the time!”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Happiness Hijackers

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

Apr1  An old, somewhat joyless man was nearing the end of his life.  His pastor asked him, “What robbed you of the joy of the Lord throughout your lifetime?” This was his insightful reply:

“THINGS THAT NEVER HAPPENED!”

I think we can all relate to that statement.  How frequently we become troubled and allow our happiness to be hijacked by things that never happened.  All too often we find ourselves believing the wry adage of Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong . . . will!”  We begin to believe that is an eternal, immutable truth, rather than the truth of God’s Word: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

The Bible prescribes a 3-part cure for our natural tendency to look for dark linings in every silver cloud. Let’s take a look:

1) Fret Not

The Bible says in Psalm 37:1-4, “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

The cure for fretting is focusing on the Lord.

The more we focus on the Lord,

The more we will delight in Him;

And

The more we delight in Him,

The less we will fret.

The Scripture commands us to trust our Lord even when we cannot trace Him.

2) Faint Not

The Bible says in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in well doing, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not faint.” The Bible also says in Isaiah 40:31, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

The cure for fainting

Is to be working

In the strength of our Lord,

Not in our own strength.

God has given us everything we need to do everything He has called us to do. That activity begins by acknowledging our dependence upon Him and trusting that He will renew our strength.

3) Fear Not

The Bible says in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Someone once said that fear can be described as “False Evidence Appearing Real.”

When we look through our natural eyes,

There is a great deal of false evidence that appears real.

But when we look through the eyes of faith,

We see a God who loves us and is in control of all things.

Recall the lovely, encouraging words of our Lord in Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

So . . . have you been troubled by any of the “things that never happened” in your life lately?  Remember: these things will hijack your happiness and steal your joy.

Let me exhort you to …

Fret Not . . .

Faint Not . . .

Fear Not . . .

But,

Have faith in God!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Golden Rule Really Rules!

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

28Sept Studies have shown that the happiest people in the world are those who invest their time in helping others. How happy are you?  The Bible says in Matthew 7:12, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  These words from our Lord Jesus Christ’s powerful Sermon on the Mount are frequently referred to as “The Golden Rule.”  This teaching of our Lord is rooted in the Old Testament, which makes perfect sense seeing that the Bible is . . .

ONE WORD

from

ONE GOD

to

ONE PEOPLE

More than 1,500 years earlier, the Sovereign Lord had instructed the people of Israel in Leviticus 19:18, 34, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. . . . The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

So, what exactly is this Golden Rule all about?

As an authoritative standard,

The Golden Rule is above

All other rules

In both prominence and purity.

It is designed to govern

Our conduct and to grow

Our capacity to bring ultimate glory to God

And incredible good to others.

I have heard it said that Jesus was not really teaching anything new here; that all religions teach basically the same principle, since at the core (it is said) all religions are fundamentally the same.

Is that notion true? Let’s take a look:

Hindu Religion – “This is the sum of duty: do nothing to others which if it were done to you, would cause you pain.”

Buddhist Religion – “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.”

Muslim Religion – “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”

Jewish Traditions (Talmud) – “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.”

Confucianism – “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

To be sure, these are all good rules to follow, but . . .

Can you see a major difference:

All these other religious rules

Are primarily negative – Do not do

While Christ’s Golden Rule

Is positive and proactive – Do!

Jesus is calling us to live a life of joyful, intentional, acts of voluntary service.

Living out the Golden Rule tells the world Whose we are.

By nature, as children of Adam, we all live self-centered lives.  But when we are raised from death to life by the power and grace of the Spirit of God, we are to lay our lives down for others with hearts that beat for nothing other than Jesus . . . who, while we were still sinners, laid down His life for us.

So . . .

Does the Golden Rule rule in your life?

I must add one final point before we close today’s blog.  I said earlier . . .

That “It is said” that all religions

Are fundamentally the same.

No statement could be more fundamentally false!

All the other major religions and all the cults

Require man to strive to ascend to God

By living a life of good works

That will make him acceptable to God.

Only Christianity teaches that God

Descended to man in gracious love,

Because we are completely incapable

Of ascending to a perfectly holy God.

Only Christianity teaches that

God alone has done all the work

Required for our salvation,

All the work that makes us acceptable to Him.

We rest in Jesus’ words on the cross, “It is finished!” – and therefore we do our good works because God so loves us, not to try to make God love us.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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No Spiritual Smorgasbord

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

28Mar

The Apostle Paul is led by the Holy Spirit to write in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

If we do not understand the biblical truth of what Paul said in the words “all things to all people,” we may find ourselves becoming absolutely nothing to anyone.  At that level of living, we have not only watered down our witness for Christ, we have likely lost it altogether.

So what is the great apostle Paul telling us in this verse?

Paul is speaking about those areas in life that come under the heading of “indifferent” – they are neither commanded nor forbidden by Scripture.  In these areas we have been given liberty to choose.  Paul was in no way considering actions that were contrary to the moral law of God in order to become “all things to all people.”

He would not water down his witness.

He would not compromise his faith.

He would not preach a false gospel . . .

All with the hopes of winning some to Christ.

Why?

Because Paul knew the biblical truth that

What you win people through,

You also win people to.

If you win them through the truth,

You win them to the truth.

Because Paul’s identity was in Christ, in those areas that mattered not, he did not care what others might think of him in order to reach the lost for Christ.

His identity was firmly fixed in Christ

And it could not be shaken by the opinions of others.

He ministered not for the applause of man,

But rather for the approval of God.

Paul knew he had been given great freedom in the Gospel, but he refused to use his freedom for any reason whatsoever that might negatively impact the faith of a brother or sister whose faith was not as strong as Paul’s.

As the former “Pharisee of Pharisees,” Paul knew the ceremonial law of God inside and out.

He knew that this yoke of the law

Had been removed by the blood of the Lamb of God.

Paul knew that his faithfulness to Christ

Meant freedom from the ceremonial law.

Yet . . .

If by submitting to it in any way,

A weaker brother might be

Brought to faith in Christ,

Paul would give up his freedom

And bear the yoke of the law.

He could do this because He knew what God had done for him during his Damascus Road experience: Saul, the one who had been the violent persecutor of the church had been transformed into Paul, the church’s primary preacher and pastor and the man would pen much of the New Testament.

Sadly, many in the church today misunderstand what Paul was saying in his epistle to the Corinthians, and they have become a veritable “spiritual smorgasbord” . . . for them, everything is up for grabs.  They are blown to and fro by every imaginable wind of doctrine in their misguided attempts to be all things to all people.  The truth is shrouded, the Gospel is watered down, and the whole counsel of God is obscured – if not distorted.

We must remember that we are merely instruments of salvation in the hands of the Almighty.  God saves; we simply share the truth of the good news of the Gospel and leave the results up to Him.

We don’t need to change the message

To meet the felt needs of lost people

In the hope that some might be saved.

Our God needs no spiritual smorgasbord to assist in the process of salvation; He needs and wants sold-out sinners who have been saved and changed by grace who will tell others the truth about the Savior.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Choosing My Standards

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

27Mar  The Bible says in Psalm 57:7. “My heart is steadfast, Io God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.”   David is talking about how God is the source of strength and encouragement in every situation in life.  In Psalm 101:3, he was led to write again about this and says that his joy, service, and outlook on life are a result of his personal faith in the Lord and his growing knowledge and relationship with Him.   Spiritually speaking, he is talking about a heart that is fixed, established, solid, sure in his relationship with the one true God, unmoved by whatever comes its way in the world; a heart that is rooted and grounded in the life and love of God, firmly built on the foundation of His Word, has its affections set on Christ alone, and is not swayed from the hope of the Gospel, and the doctrines of it.

David has determined within his heart to worship God. Though the world seems to be falling down around him, and things are out of his control, he will praise his God.  He knew the battles he faced were the Lord’s and that God would see Him through whatever he faced.  We are soldiers in the battle, but it is God’s who fights against Satan, the flesh, and the world.  Our only hope is in God.  We have reason to celebrate and take courage The Bible promises that no weapon formed against the child of God shall prosper.

If I were to ask you, “What are your values in life” what would your answer be?  I realize that is a question that would require some amount of thought!

Your values are your core beliefs

That shape everything you do in life.

There are a lot of people who would say, “It really doesn’t matter what you believe” but that is just not true.  It does matter what you believe.

Your beliefs determine your behavior

And

Your behavior determines what you become.

The kind of person you are, if you look at the foundation, is based on the things you have chosen to value.

In other words . . .

Your convictions in life determine your conduct.

And

Your conduct determines your character.

So whatever you want to be in life, it is important that your values are right because they determine and direct everything in your life.

If you want to build a lasting life

Of success and significance

You must build it on lasting values.

One thing that basically everybody in our society agrees with today — whether you are a liberal or whether you are conservative, democrat, republican, independent, religious or irreligious, a Christian or an nonchristian or an atheist or whatever — the vast majority of people say that our society today is in a stage of moral decline.  There is a decaying of values in our society.

Many surveys say that over 80% of Americans believe that the number one problem in America now is not the economy, but it is the decline and decay of moral values.  George Gallup did a pole and discovered that Americans today are more interested in values than at any other time in the past sixty years.  It is a very hot item.  Someone has pointed out that in the past year or so there have been over 350 articles in secular magazines that deal with the concern about the moral decline and decaying of values in America.  Some of the articles were: “Is the U.S. Morally in Trouble?”, “Can we save our culture?”, “The Character Deficiency Syndrome”, “Fighting to Fill the Values Gap”, “The Decline of a Nation”, “A Nation of Liars”, “The Moral Obtuseness in America”, “Living in the New Dark Ages”, “A Nation of Finger Pointers”, “How Moral Deprivation Breeds Kids With Attitudes”, “Morals and Mixed Signals”, “The People Magazine Sin Pole”, “The New Dangers of Relativism”, “Shifting Realities”, “Our Moral Makeover: The Spiritual Void in Drug Use”, “When Winning is the Only Thing”, “Signs of Hope Amid Moral Decay”, “Why is Common Curtsey Less Common?”, “Beyond Materialism”, “The Sexual Revolution Reconsidered”, “Faultiness: The Lack of Responsibility in Our Society”, “How Disregard for the Truth has Become Epidemic in America”.

From this sampling, what one discovers is that every single national magazine has devoted at least one cover to this issue of values and moral decline in the last two years.  This crisis can be seen in many areas.  I have listed five: politics, business, entertainment, education, and religion.  If I said write down the current scandal in each of these areas, you would easily be able to do it.

What is the cause of all this?  Why is there so much concern for all of this in our society?

Two words:

Truth Decay.

The fact is, we no longer value the truth in America.  Instead, we value two other things . . .

We value convenience: Is it easy?

And we value pragmatism: Does it work?

In fact, the word “post-truth” was coined in 2010, but was declared by Oxford Dictionaries as “the word of the year” in 2016.  “Post-truth” is defined as “an adjective relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.”

This represents a major shift in values in the last 40 years in our society.  Fifty years ago, there was almost universal agreement about what was true, what was right and what was wrong.  That did not mean everybody did it, because they didn’t.  But at least, fifty years ago in the generation that fought World War II, when those people did wrong, they knew they were doing wrong.  They chose.  They said, “I know this is wrong, but I’m going to do it anyway.”  And they would do it.  There was no disagreement about what was right or wrong or what was true.

Today it is very different.  We have an entire generation of young people and children who don’t even know the difference between right and wrong.  There are parts of our society that say, “There’s no such thing as right and wrong.  What may be right for you, may be wrong for me.  What may be right for me, may be wrong for you.”  So there are no standards by which you can evaluate your life and behavior.

What happened?  Why is it that in just one generation’s time we went from general agreement on “This is true!” to today, if I stood up and said, “This and this is true, this is right, this is wrong,” there would be all kinds of controversy about it.  And it happened in just one generation.  What happened?

We were sold a bill of goods.  We fell for three very destructive philosophies that have replaced truth in our society . . .

  1.  Individuality or individualism.

That is, live for myself, for only I can be the standard of my life, only I can judge what is really true, only I can judge what is right and only I can judge what is wrong and you do not have any place telling me what is right or wrong or true.  I basically am my own god and I live for myself and I have got to do what is best for me.  That is called individualism.  A recent survey by the Wall Street Journal of executives across America discovered that when executives in America have an ethical crisis about 44% of them say, “I consult with myself.” And only 3% say, “I consult with God.”

They are saying, “I set myself up as the standard.”  This is nothing new.  Individualism has gone on in nations for centuries, even millenniums.  Thousands of years ago the nation of Israel feel prey to this. If you want to read the dark ages of the nation of Israel, read the book of Judges.  It was a time of total chaos.  Why?  The answer is found in Judges 21:25 where the Bible says, “In those days there was no king in Israel (Israel had no authority; everyone did what ws right in his own eyes.”

Does that sound vaguely contemporary?  They just did whatever they thought was right.  There were no judges, no standard, no rule, no law, no absolutes, they did whatever they wanted.  That is an easy philosophy to hold onto because it means I never have to feel guilty.

I do not have to measure up to my standards, or your standards, or anybody else’s, and if you say, “This is right” then that may be right for you but for me, I am an individual and I run my own life.  That is the first philosophy.  The result of it in the nation of Israel was anarchy disregard for God’s way and that is going to be the result if America keeps going that way here. Anything goes. If I want to blow you away with a shot gun, fine! Because the only thing that matters is me.

  1. Secularism.

Secularism can be summarized in three words:

God is unnecessary.

That does not mean that

I don’t believe there is a God.

I might believe there is a God,

I just don’t need Him in my life.

For the last fifty years we have been systematically removing God from every area of public life – schools, government, media, newspapers, all the different areas of public opinion in life and we basically relegated God to Sunday mornings.  Many people believe in God but He makes up just a small slice of their life.  Most people believe that in matters of life and eternity they will decide for themselves how they are going to live their life.  They live and make decision like God is not necessary.  They think they have got it all together on their own.

This has all happened in just the last fifty years.

  • Fifty years ago, most school rooms had the Ten Commandments hanging on the wall, and they were a looked to as a standard of moral authority.
  • Fifty years ago, in many if not most school rooms, classes began with prayer, acknowledging our need of God in the pursuit of wisdom and life.
  • Fifty years ago, the majority of people in America went to church to express their gratitude and to worship God.

Today, that is exactly the opposite.  It has flip-flopped.  Obviously there are no Ten Commandments or prayer in schools.  And the majority of people do not go to church today.  So where are they getting their morals?  All the talk shows, and so-called “Reality” shows, take the most bizarre life-styles and behavior found on the planet, put them on stage and say, “This is normal!”  They are getting more and more bizarre in what they want us to accept and sadly many will applaud and agree!

The number one purveyor

Of values today

Is not God, the Bible, the church, or even parents.

It is television, radio, and the media.

So, in secularism, God has been removed from the main stream.  This is talked about in the book of Romans, chapter 1, verse 25, where the Bible says, “Who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”  That is called materialism – When you worship things instead of the God who created everything.  That is why there will be more people at the beach and the mountains worshipping creation and their tan, than there are at church worshipping God.

We hear about all of these uneducated tribes in some dark forest and say, “Isn’t it sad that these tribes get a little piece of wood and carve it into an idol and then they bow down in front of it and worship it? How uneducated!”  But Americans have idols too that we worship.  The only difference is our idols are made of chrome, jewels, or diamonds or can be folded and placed in our pockets.  A lot of people worship their boat, their house, their career, anything that is created, rather than worshipping God.  So God is unnecessary and we live for ourselves.

  1. Relativism.

That does not mean you have bad relatives.

You can summarize relativism

In two words:

No absolutes.

The idea behind relativism goes like this: What is true for me may not be true for you and what is truth for you may not be truth for me.  Therefore, what is right for me, may not be right for you and what is right for you, may not be right for me.  And nobody can say what is right or wrong because all truth is relative.  There is no real standard and truth is some vague idea.  That is a great way to live if you do not want to have any guilt.

Then you say, “That is your standard. My standard is this…”  If I do not measure up to God’s standard, I just lower the bar a whole bunch, or change the standard, and then I say, “Look how great I am!”  This is a problem and it comes up in a lot of familiar phrases: “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are sincere and it does not matter what you believe as long as you sincerely believe it.”  Really?  Have you thought through the logical extension of that?  If I think a cup is filled with water for me to drink but it is really filled with sulfuric acid and I drink it thinking it is water but it is sulfuric acid, then I would be sincerely dead.  It really does matter what you believe.  This type of thinking is also illogical because the statement itself is an absolute.  When you say “There are no absolutes” you have just stated one, which means obviously that statement is wrong.  You cannot make an absolute statement that there are no absolutes, that is illogical.

Truth is narrow.

That is why

It’s called truth.

God says He wants us

To know the truth.

We have been conned by individualism (live for myself), secularism (God is unnecessary), and relativism (there are no absolutes).  Decide today to stay with, or return to, the Word of God and choose His truth as your standard and determine to build godly values as the foundation of your life.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

God’s Glory Should Always Be Our At All Times, Part 3

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

21Mar  In Thursday’s blog, we began to look at Psalm 57.  Psalm 57 shows us that David understood a deep and valuable truth:

Although, he may not have realized

Why God was allowing him to suffer,

He did understand what God wanted

From him in his suffering.

David understood that to ask the question “Why?” in the midst of suffering is to ask the wrong question.  The proper question to ask is, “God, what do You want from my life in the midst of this trial and as a result of this trial?”

The answer is . . .

“God wants to be glorified.”

That is the theme of Psalm 57 (note the refrain, verses 5 & 11):

God’s glory should be our aim

At all times,

But especially in a time of trial.

Then we looked at what it means to glorify God? We saw that it means that God is worthy of all honor because of who He is, a God who is perfect in all of His attributes and ways.

To glorify God is to ascribe honor and praise to God

For who He is and for what He has done.

It means to show forth His excellencies, to exalt Him.

In simple language, to glorify God means

“To make Him look good as He really is through my life.”

On Friday, we began to deal with the question, “How do we do that?”  We looked at two ways David presents us in today’s blog.

Yesterday we looked at Psalm 57:1-6 and saw that . . .

  1. God is glorified as we trust Him in our trials.

Those verses teach us that if you see God as bigger than your problems, then you can trust Him, and He will get the glory.  God is glorified as we trust Him in our trials.  Trust involves relying on God alone; going to Him in prayer; and, seeing Him as bigger than our problems.

In today’s blog we will look at Psalm 57:7-11, where David shows us a second way God can be glorified in our trials which we will look at tomorrow.

  1. God is glorified as we praise Him in our trials (57:7-11).

So far as we can tell, David is still in the cave.  Saul is still the king, and he is still after David.  David’s circumstances haven’t changed much, if at all.  And yet, instead of self-pity and complaining, David breaks forth in praise to God. He teaches us two things about praise:

  • Praise is a matter of deliberate focus (57:7-9).

Praise is not our natural response in a time of trial.  Our natural response is to complain and get angry at God, or to get depressed.  But even though David’s enemy had fixed a net to catch him (57:6), David had fixed his heart (57:7, same Hebrew root) to praise God.  The repeated affirmations show that it was a matter of deliberate choice: “I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!”

Sometimes you need to praise God when you don’t feel like it.  You may think, “Isn’t that hypocrisy?”  No, it’s obedience (Psalm 45L17l 71:6).  Hypocrisy doesn’t mean doing things you don’t feel like doing.  If that’s what hypocrisy is, I’m a hypocrite every morning, because I get out of bed even though I don’t feel like it!  Hypocrisy is trying to present a false impression to others so that you look better than you are.  But praising God is a matter of obedience, and the test of obedience isn’t when you feel like obeying, but when you don’t.

The next time you’re going through a difficult trial and you’re depressed or overwhelmed, follow David’s lead and set your heart to praise God.  Get out a hymn book or put on a praise tape and focus on the Lord by singing to Him.

  • Praise is a matter of testifying to others of God’s goodness (57:9-10).

David wants the nations (those who don’t know God) to hear his praise.  Even though he’s going through extreme difficulty, he wants to sing about how good God is, so that others will hear and glorify God.

David specifies two aspects of God’s goodness

(Which often occur together in other psalms):

His lovingkindness and His truth, or faithfulness (57:3, 10).

“Lovingkindness” comes from the Hebrew word related to the stork.  The Hebrews saw the loyal love of the stork for its young and said, “God’s love is like that, only greater.”  He cares for and nurtures us with never-ending love.

“Truth” points to God’s faithfulness.  He is consistent and trustworthy.   He never fails His children.  He may bring us into severe situations and sometimes even from the human perspective to premature death.  But . . .

There is not a person in history

Who has trusted in the living God

And been disappointed.

Even those who have suffered greatly have testified to God’s abundant love and faithfulness which has sustained them.  Paul’s desire as he was in prison, facing possible execution, should be ours, that “Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

It is important that you focus your praise

On God’s loyal love and faithfulness in a time of trial,

Because it is precisely those qualities

Which Satan tempts you to doubt at such a time.

You will be tempted to think, “If God loves me, why is this happening to me?”  But, David’s voice comes singing from the cave, “God, Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens and Your truth to the clouds! Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth.”

It’s important not just that our individual worship, but also that our corporate worship be a vigorous testimony of God’s glory.  If someone who doesn’t know God comes into our midst, he should be able to tell from our praise that we worship a great God who is loving and faithful.

Pastor John MacArthur, in his book entitled, The Ultimate Priority, tells about a Jewish woman who went to a synagogue near the church he pastors for counsel because her marriage was breaking up.  She was given biblical counseling that ran contrary to what she thought was need and had been told by others.   She was upset by this and went to her car to leave.  It was on late afternoon on a Sunday, and as she walked to her car, she got caught in the crowd going to evening worship and ended up in the service.  She was so overwhelmed with the atmosphere of worship that she trusted Christ as her Savior and was baptized a few weeks later.  She later told Dr. MacArthur that she didn’t remember much about his sermon, but she was absolutely in awe of the joy, peace, and love that exuded from the people as they worshiped.  She had never seen anything like it.  Their praise led her to salvation.

What is your focus or aim in life, especially in a time of trial?

If your aim is your own happiness, to escape

As quickly as you can from your pain,

You are living for the wrong thing.

That’s what those in the world live for.

If your aim is to glorify and exalt God

By trusting and praising Him even in the midst of trials,

You’ve found God’s purpose for your life.

The Puritans had it right:

Our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

If you’ll focus on that purpose, He will give you a song even from the cave!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

 

God’s Glory Should Always Be Our At All Times, Part 2

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

21Mar In yesterday’s blog, we began to look at Psalm 57.  Psalm 57 shows us that David understood a deep and valuable truth:

Although, he may not have realized

Why God was allowing him to suffer,

He did understand what God wanted

From him in his suffering.

David understood that to ask the question “Why?” in the midst of suffering is to ask the wrong question.  The proper question to ask is, “God, what do You want from my life in the midst of this trial and as a result of this trial?”

The answer is . . .

“God wants to be glorified.”

That is the theme of Psalm 57 (note the refrain, verses 5 & 11):

God’s glory should be our aim

At all times,

But especially in a time of trial.

Then we looked at what it means to glorify God? We saw that it means that God is worthy of all honor because of who He is, a God who is perfect in all of His attributes and ways.  To glorify God is to ascribe honor and praise to God for who He is and for what He has done.  It means to show forth His excellencies, to exalt Him.  In simple language, to glorify God means “to make Him look good as He really is through my life.”

Now, the question arises, “How do we do that?”  We will look at two ways David presents us in today’s blog.

  1. God is glorified as we trust Him in our trials: 57:1‑6.

Although the word “trust” doesn’t occur in verses 1‑6, it is the main idea.  Trusting in the Lord has come to be viewed as a bit of nice, but totally useless, advice for someone who is in a trial.  But . . .

It is not useless;

It is some of the most practical

And sound counsel

We can follow

When we’re in a difficult situation.

So, we need to understand what it means to trust the Lord.

  • Trust involves relying upon God alone – Psalm 57:1.

David describes his trust as taking refuge in God.  He uses the picture of baby chicks which take refuge under their mother’s wings when a predator threatens them.  They are entrusting their lives to their mother’s protection.  During the 1950’s, when the cold war with Russia was at its peak and the threat of nuclear war seemed imminent, a number of Americans built bomb shelters in their backyards.  Taking refuge in such a shelter implies complete trust on the part of the person going into it.  He is entrusting his very life to those walls to protect him from death.  In the same way, we are to take refuge in God. We are to entrust ourselves to Him, depending upon Him to protect us.

Relying upon God alone means that we consciously do not rely upon two things:

  • We do not rely on human merit.

David says, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me.”  God’s grace or mercy refers to His undeserved favor.  It’s one of the most difficult concepts for our proud hearts to grasp.  I find that many who profess to know Christ do not understand the concept of God’s grace – This is reflected in the fact that they try to come to God on the basis of their own goodness.  They might pray, “God, I’ve been extra good lately. I’ve read my Bible and gone to church and I even tithed this month. Now, here’s what I want You to do ….” Or they ask, “Why this trial, God, when I’ve been so good?”

They think God owes them something.

That’s not trusting in God alone.

That’s trusting in human merit.

The only way to approach God is through grace.

  • We do not rely on human means.

Here David is, hiding in a cave. . . .

But he didn’t see the cave as his refuge,

He saw God God as His shelter and strength.

He saw beyond the cave to the Lord.

The point is, David hid in the cave,

But he didn’t trust in the cave,

He trusted in the Lord.

You may think I’m quibbling over small matters; but I contend that as American Christians, we are too heavily oriented toward methods.  Hardly a week goes by without my receiving a flyer in the mail urging me to attend some seminar that is guaranteed to build my church.  Some of the methods taught at these seminars are okay, while others are just slick business techniques applied to the church.

As long as our methods are in harmony with Scripture,

We are generally free to use them.

But – and here is the crucial issue –

We must be very careful not to trust in any method,

But to rely on the Lord so that He gets the glory.

Let me also point out that there are times when it is wrong to use any method, where we just need to wait on God to act on our behalf.  On one occasion when David was being pursued by Saul, David and his men were in the inner part of a cave when Saul, not knowing they were in there, went in the cave to “cover his feet” (i.e., sit on the toilet). David’s men said, “David, the Lord has delivered your enemy into your hand. Go kill him!”  David crept up and quietly cut a small piece off Saul’s robe.  Even at that his conscience bothered him.  His men thought he was crazy. “Why didn’t you kill him? God delivered him into your hands and you just cut off a piece of his robe!”  But David said, “Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed …” (1 Samuel 24:6).  David trusted that the Lord would remove Saul without His help (Psalm 57:2-3‑3).  It would have been wrong in that situation for David to help God out by killing Saul, even though David knew that it was God’s will to depose Saul and give the throne to David.

When is it okay to use human means and when is it wrong?  Search the Scriptures for examples.  It is always wrong to rely on human means, and sometimes it is wrong even to use human means.

Perhaps the real issue is . . .

Who will get the glory

If I use these human means?

I would rather err on the side of going light on methods and heavy on trusting God. Then God gets the glory.

  • Trust involves going to God in prayer – Psalm 57:1‑2.

Prayer is the language of trust.

This psalm is primarily a prayer.

Prayer is an acknowledgment

That our need is not partial, but total.

Prayer says to God and to anyone else around, “I am a dependent person. I am not self‑sufficient. I cannot handle this situation in my own strength, but only in Your strength, Lord!”

I heard a pastor, tell of an incident that happened while he was ministering in the Baltimore area.  He had the opportunity to speak to the Orioles baseball team while they were in the playoffs against the Twins.  He wanted to give the players a copy of a book he had written, but he didn’t have enough copies with him.  One of the players who was a Christian told this pastor to drop the books off at the team office and he would see that the players received them.

By the time he took the books to the office, the Orioles were in the World Series.  The pastor prayed, “Lord, it would sure be great to get some World Series tickets for my boys.”  So, he said to the secretary, “There wouldn’t happen to be any series tickets available, would there?” She did some checking and managed to come up with three box seats, one for him and each of his two boys.

At the dinner table that night, this pastor easily could have gotten the glory for himself: “Guess what your Dad managed to do today, kids?”  Or, he could have given the glory to luck: “Wow, was I lucky today!”  But instead, he wanted to teach his boys something about prayer, and so God got the glory.  He said, “I was praying that God would provide some World Series tickets, and He did!”

Trust involves going to God in prayer

And that way God gets the glory.

  • Trust involves seeing God as greater than my problems – Psalm 57:4-6.

David describes his situation in dramatic language.  It’s as though he is surrounded by lions, or fire-breathing dragons, or those creatures whose teeth are like spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.  They’re out to get David; he’s outnumbered; and it just seems like a matter of time until he is caught in their net.

But, right in the midst of describing his problems, we read verse 5.  It seems out of place.  It would have fit at the end of verse 6 to close the stanza, after David’s realization that his enemy’s schemes would come back on them.  But the verse jars you where it is.  Why is it there?

I think that in the midst of his problems,

David suddenly realizes that God

Is bigger than his problems!

Someone has said, “Trust is only as good as its object, and a trustworthy object inspires trust.”  But . . .

Sometimes it takes intense trials

To get us to look to the Lord

And discover how trustworthy He is.

We see this illustrated in the history of Israel.  When God brought them out of Egypt, Israel saw their problems as bigger than their God.  God had just delivered them from Egypt by performing a series of spectacular miracles, culminating in the parting of the Red Sea.  The next thing you read is that they went three days into the wilderness and found no water (Exodus 15:22).  As you read that, you’re inclined to say, “So what? The God who has done all these miracles can provide water!”  But what did Israel do?  They grumbled and complained, because they saw their problems as bigger than their God.

Later, when Moses sent the spies into the land, the majority report was, “It’s a nice land, but there are giants there. We can’t conquer it.”  And the people again complained and started looking for a leader to take them back to Egypt.

They still saw their problems

As bigger than their God.

But Joshua and Caleb saw their God

As bigger than their problems.

They said, “Sure, there are giants; but the Lord is bigger than the giants. He will give us the land as He promised” (Numbers 14:9).

The bigger your problem,

The more opportunity there is

For God to be glorified

As you trust Him with the problem.

Can you think of anything too difficult for the Lord?  If you see God as bigger than your problems, then you can trust Him, and He will get the glory.  God is glorified as we trust Him in our trials.  Trust involves relying on God alone; going to Him in prayer; and, seeing Him as bigger than our problems.  But, in Psalm 57:7-11, David shows us a second way God can be glorified in our trials which we will look at tomorrow.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

God’s Glory Should Always Be Our Aim At All Times, Part 1

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme21Mar  Elizabeth Elliot lost her first husband, Jim Elliot, when he and four other men were martyred as they tried to take the gospel to the hostile Auca tribe. She lost her second husband, Addison Leitch, to cancer.  On one occasion, she told of being in Wales and watching a shepherd and his dog. The dog would herd the sheep up a ramp and into a tank of antiseptic in which they had to be bathed to protect them from parasites. As soon as they would come up out of the tank, the shepherd would grab the rams by the horns and fling them back into the tank and hold them under the antiseptic for a few more seconds.  Mrs. Elliot asked the shepherd’s wife if the sheep understood what was happening.  “They haven’t got a clue,” she said.  Mrs. Elliot we on to say, “I’ve had some experiences in my life that have made me feel very sympathetic to those poor rams – I couldn’t figure out any reason for the treatment I was getting from the Shepherd I trusted. And He didn’t give a hint of explanation.”

If you’ve been a Christian

For very long,

You’ve been there.

The Shepherd you trusted threw you into some situation or circumstances that were quite unpleasant, and you didn’t have a clue as to why He was doing it.

David had been there.  In fact, he wrote Psalm 57 out of the depths of just such an experience.  When he was a teenager, David was anointed as king to replace the disobedient King Saul.  Then he slew the giant Goliath and was thrust into instant national fame.  But King Saul’s jealous rage sent David running for his life.  He spent the better part of his twenties dodging Saul’s repeated attempts on his life.

The title tells us that he wrote this psalm “when he fled from Saul, in the cave.”  Caves are interesting places to visit once in a while.  The lights show all the beautiful formations.  But David didn’t have electric lights.  He was hiding, so he probably didn’t even keep his torches burning.

Even with lights, I wouldn’t want to live in a cave, especially if there was a hostile army outside seeking to kill me!  If I were holed up in a cave, hiding from a madman and his army, and if God had promised me something that didn’t seem to be coming true, about the last thing I would be doing would be writing praise songs.  Yet . . .

Here is David,

Singing in the cave!

And he’s not singing the blues!

He’s exalting the Lord!

He has something to teach us

About how we are to think and act

In those times when we’re holed up in a cave,

When God’s promises don’t seem true.

David must have wondered, “God, why are You allowing this to happen to me?  You anointed me as king; I didn’t choose the job.  Why don’t You remove Saul and put me in office?”

Psalm 57 shows us that David

Understood something deeper.

Although, he may not have realized

Why God was allowing him to suffer,

He did understand what

God wanted from him in his suffering.

David understood that to ask the question “Why?”

In the midst of suffering

Is to ask the wrong question.

The proper question to ask is,

“God, what do You want from my life

In the midst of this trial

And as a result of this trial?”

The answer is, “God wants to be glorified.”

That’s the theme of Psalm 57 (note the refrain, verses 5 & 11):

God’s glory should be our aim

At all times,

But especially in a time of trial.

What does it mean to glorify God?  The Hebrew word (kabod) has the idea of “weight, heaviness, worthiness, reputation, honor.”  It was used of men to describe a man of substance or weight.  We use it in a similar way when we say, “He’s a heavyweight in his field.”  We mean, “This guy has substance; he must be reckoned with.”  When kabod was applied to God, it referred to His intrinsic worth.  It means . . .

That God is worthy of all honor

Because of who He is,

A God who is perfect

In all of His attributes and ways.

To glorify God is to ascribe honor and praise to God for who He is and for what He has done.  It means to show forth His excellencies, to exalt Him.  In simple language, to glorify God means “to make Him look good as He really is through my life.”

The apostle Paul said, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).  He meant,

“Let the promotion of God’s glory or honor

Be your aim in all that you do.

Strive in everything to act in such a way

That others may praise and honor the God

Whom you profess to serve

Because they have seen His attributes

Shining through your life.”

That should be our aim at all times . . . but especially in a time of trial.  How do we do that?  We will look at two ways David presents us in tomorrow’s blog.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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