Archive for January, 2010

He is All

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

To me, that verse sums up everything.  There is nothing I can add to it.  He is the way.  He is the truth.  And he is the life.  Life is only through Him and it is all through Him.  “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being…” (Acts 17:28a) 

He is the way- follow Him.

He is the truth- believe Him.

He is the life- love Him.

Deliverer of the Needy

“For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth, the poor also, and him that hath no helper.  He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.”

Psalm 72:12-13

The first question that this passage brings to my mind is “who is the needy person that the Lord says He will deliver and save?”.  The obvious answer is: me.  If we never realize how needy we are, we will never realize our need for the Saviour.  If we never thirst, we will never feel the need to “drink of the water of life”.  We are poor and needy.  We need the Saviour.

In His message to the Laodiceans, God says “Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing; and knowest no that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and bling, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:17-19) 

When we get the idea that we are rich and have need of nothing, we show just how desperately poor and needy we really are.  The Psalmist says that the Lord will deliver the needy, but He will have no part in delivering those who don’t think they need Him. 

In the last part of verse 12, He speaks of delivering him that “hath no helper”.  I can’t help myself or deliver myself.  My family and friends can’t help or deliver me.  There is no church or religion that can help or deliver me.  But Jesus can.  “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” (Hebrews 13:6)

The Just vs. The Wicked

For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

Proverbs 24:16

Here we see the difference between the just man and the wicked man.  There is an important distinction that we should take note of.  Notice that both of them fall.  “For a just man falleth..” and “the wicked shall fall…”.  Everybody fails at one time or another.  None of us are perfect, nor will we be as long as we inhabit these bodies of flesh and have to deal with our vile, sinful fleshly nature.  The just man doesn’t live a life of perfection any more than the wicked man does.  In fact, the Bible says that the “just man falleth seven times”.  It only talks of the wicked falling once.  You would think that a just man either wouldn’t fall or would fall a lot fewer than seven times.  But therein lies the difference.  The just man gets up.  As saved people, we are going to fail.  We are going to fall, but we must confess our sins and get back up!  The wicked falls and doesn’t get up.  There is no reason for a Christian to live a life of defeat when He has promised to forgive us, to help us and to be our strength.  Keep getting up!

Which Is Better?

…For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.  And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Exodus 14:12-14

The Israelites were a people of very little faith. God was in the process of delivering them from the Egyptians and from slavery, yet they were easily discouraged and they quickly forgot the great miracles that the Lord had performed for them.  (Does that sound like anyone you know?)  In this passage, they are up against the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s armies are in hot pursuit.  They decided that it would have been better for them to spend their entire lives as servants to the Egyptians than to “die in the wilderness”.  The one thing they forgot was that God was on their side- “the Lord shall fight for you…”.

God obviously didn’t bring the Israelites out of Egypt just to let them die in the wilderness.  Nor did He save us and bring us out of the world just to wander around in the desert and long to be back in Egypt.  God wants us to trust Him and follow Him.  The Israelites followed Him into the Red Sea and experienced one of the greatest miracles recorded in the Bible.  How sad it would have been if they had returned to Egypt and not trusted the Lord. 

We may get discouraged, but we must remember that the Lord did not “bring us out of Egypt” to die in the wilderness, but that we might follow Him and see the “salvation of the Lord”.


Where Else Could We Go?

Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

John 6: 67-69

There may be times in our lives when we will want to just throw in the towel and quit.  There may be times when we don’t understand.  There may be times when we aren’t sure of the way.  There may be times when we are confused.  But, like Peter said, “to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”.  Where else can we go if not to Jesus?  To whom can we turn if not to Jesus?  We can’t turn to ourselves.  We can’t “follow our heart”, as the Bible says that the heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)  We can’t turn to the world.  We can’t turn to some other powerless “god” of this world.  Where else can we go?

Jesus said in John 14:6 “… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  There is nothing else but Him.  We may have struggles, we may have hardships, we may have discouragements, and we may have our failures; but we can never leave Him.  He is everything.  Where else could we possibly go?

Bless the Lord!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and with tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things…

Psalm 103: 2-5a

The Lord is good and is worthy of our praise.  This should go without saying, but it is something that we often forget.  Sometimes it is good to sit back and think about all the Lord has given us and done for us.  Just look at this short list in the 102nd Psalm:

1. He forgives our iniquities.  In verse 12 of the same chapter is the great statement: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us”.  Verse 10 states “He hath not dealth with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”.  I am so glad that is in the Bible.  I’m so glad that God has not “dealt with us after our sins”.  I am a sinner by nature and a sinner by choice.  But He, through His mercy, has forgiven all my sins. 

2. He heals our diseases.  Of course, our main disease is sin.  He heals us.  A doctor may be able to set and help us to heal a broken bone, but He is the only one who can heal a broken spirit or a broken life.  We can take medicine for some diseases, but it is only the Great Physician  who can heal ALL our diseases.

3. He redeems our lives from destruction.  God is “angry with the wicked every day”, the Bible says.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- without God’s mercy, I would have been dead long ago.  He could have and rightfully should have destroyed me long ago.  But instead, He redeemed my life.

4. Crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies.  He is ever kind and merciful to us, who constantly disappoint Him and let Him down.  What more could we ask?

5. He satisfieth our mouth with good things.  God wants to bless us and help us and let us eat the good of the land, if we will just follow Him.  So many people think that living for the Lord would be so difficult and that they would have to give up the things they enjoy.  But the Lord is good- it is the way of the transgressor that is hard.  He satisfies us- something that no worldly pleasure could ever do!

When we think about the Lord and His wonderful blessings, how could we not say with the Psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits”?

Trusting in His Mercy

I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

Psalm 52:8b

That is really all we can do.  If it were not for the great mercy of the Lord, I certainly would have been dead long ago.  He loves us and sent His beloved Son to die for our sins.  How often do we forget or ignore Him?  How often do we sin against Him?  How often do we take His mercy and longsuffering for granted?  And yet He still loves us and still shows us mercy.

Lamentations 3:22 tells us that “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.”.  Our compassions fail often, but His do not.  I am a vile, sinful man, but my God is rich in mercy and I will trust in His mercy for ever.

Serve the Lord… A Little Bit

And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away…

Exodus 8:28

After a few plagues, Pharaoh decided to allow the Israelites to go worship and sacrifice to the Lord, but he doesn’t want to “go very far away”.  In the Bible, Egypt is always a picture of the world set in contrast to God’s people, who are in the world, but not of the world.  This ploy by Pharaoh is a classic ploy of the Godless world.  The world doesn’t mind if you are “religious”.  They don’t mind if you “sacrifice to the Lord”- as long as you don’t get too far away.  Don’t go to the “Promised Land”.  Go ahead and do your religious “duty”, just don’t get too far away from the world. 

As a teacher, it saddens me that so many kids (and adults) today want to “be Christians”, but want to live as close to world as possible.  That is definitely not how it should be.  “…Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?”. (James 4:4)  It grieves me to think of the times in my life when I tried to live as close to the world as possible.  May God help us, as Moses did, to reject this offer of compromise and draw as close to the Lord and His perfect will as we can.  May God help us to “come out from among them, and be ye separate”!

So They Will Know

Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.  But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Exodus 7: 2-5

When I have read this account before, I often wondered why God would command Moses to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go if He knew He was going to harden Pharaoh’s heart.  Why would Moses and Aaron have to go through the trouble of going back and forth to Pharaoh if God already knew what was going to happen- Pharaoh would have a hardened heart and would not let the people go.  As is usually the case, the answer is right there in plain sight; I just don’t know that I had ever seen it before.  The answer is found in verse 5: “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord… I stretch forth my hand…and bring out the children of Israel”.  The Lord’s reason for commanding Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go was twofold:

1. So that the Egyptians would know that He is God.

God wanted the Egyptians to understand that he is the Lord.  If He hadn’t hardened Pharaoh’s heart, the Egyptians might have thought that it was their kindness and benevolence that allowed the Israelites to go. 

2. So the Israelites would know that it was God who freed them.

If God had not hardened Pharaoh’s heart, His own people might have journeyed to the Promised Land thanking and praising Pharaoh instead of the Lord.  As it turned out, there was no doubt in the people’s mind who it was that brought them out of the land of Egypt.  Exodus 10:2 says “And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the Lord”.

Excuses, Excuses

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

Proverbs 20: 4

I may be crazy in this, but I am one of the few people who actually seems to enjoy the cold weather.  Personall, I would much rather work out in the cold than in the heat.  But whether the sluggard prefers cold or heat is not the point of this proverb.  The sluggard is a lazy man- the cold is just an excuse to rationalize his laziness.  If it wasn’t too cold to plow, it would be too hot.  Or, in the case of a perfectly beautiful day, it would be far too nice to work in the field.  The sluggard doesn’t want to work, so he actively seeks an excuse.  How easy is it for us to find an excuse to not do the things that we know we ought be doing?

I heard a quote a long time ago that has stuck with me through the years- “if you have a good excuse, don’t use it!”.  Put your hand to the plow and don’t look back.  Plow through the cold and the heat and let us labor for the Master!