Blogging through the Psalms: God loves to forgive.

Psalm 67

The people of God cry out to Him for blessing, mercy and justice. They maintain that these will be great signs for the Gentiles because they will be able to see that there is a God in heaven who is almighty but also loving and righteous. The nations will look at the people of God and see a people who have been redeemed from sin and granted forgiveness and grace despite their sinfulness. Yet they will also see justice being meted out. The Lord punishes the sins of the unredeemed but disciplines His people for their sins. Though the discipline may seem like punishment because of its severity and pain, it is not. Discipline is a means God uses to help His people grow in faith.

Today the Church is God’s people. Like the people of ancient Israel the people of God today will face His discipline. The people of God now as then failed to show concern and care for the widows and orphans, the needy and the suffering. The Church has also failed to extend God’s grace often preferring to preach the gospel solely about His wrath and anger. While we should never forget that God will punish the wicked with hellfire, we must recall that now is the time to dispense grace, to tell people of God’s love and care. Lost people need to hear that message. The reason is because we all live in the same cruel and heartless world. How sad it is that those who reject God’s offer will face eternity which will be more of the same pain and misery. No one should, therefore, rejoice at such a prospect but weep and use their sorrow to preach a balanced message of mercy and justice to the lost.

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Blogging Through the Psalms: Praise for salvation.

Psalm 66

Here is a Psalm of worship that urges us to sing out the praises of our glorious and majestic God. The Psalmist knows that salvation is his because he does not regard iniquity in his heart. He knew that he was a sinner but did not maintain that his sin was good or neutral. He confessed His wickedness to God and did not try to conceal it or lie about it. The Lord forgives such honest repentance. Thus believers should always maintain such an open attitude before the Lord. Many in the church today who call themselves believers cherish iniquity and think God does not mind. They have redefined sin, but they will find that God does not know them because they do not know Him.

This type of worship emphasizes the greatness of God as demonstrated by His works. The psalmist notes God’s work in the Exodus with the crossing of the Red Sea and victory over the Egyptians. Such events are real and the Bible is filled with them. These should occupy our worship as well as our prayers especially when we are in the midst of afflictions. Many of our forefathers in the faith who remained faithful to the Lord kept them in their hearts and minds even when they were hard pressed. They praised God and they knew that His deliverance and salvation were sure.

Of course the ultimate work of God is salvation through Jesus Christ. This great work of salvation should form the main part of worship as we praise Jesus for what He has done as well as thank God for His grace and mercy expressed towards we who are unworthy. We should thank God for the Blood of Jesus which makes us worthy.

Blogging Through the Psalms: God is in Control.

Psalm 65

This is a Psalm which praises God for the bounty of the harvest. The ancient people were agricultural and thus relied on the land and what it produced for sustenance. They relied heavily on clean water and sufficient rainfall whereas we scarcely give thought to the weather except when it inconveniences us or causes widespread devastation and loss of life. The ancient people thanked God for the rain because it was a sign of his blessing. They thanked God because He was in control of all the elements which today we idolatrously refer to as “nature” or “mother nature”. But God the Almighty holds all the elements of the earth, wind, rain and fire in His hands.  

Perhaps the words of the Psalm seem foreign to us because we are so divorced from agriculture and the land. The fluctuations of the stock market, the vain promises of politicians, the activities of celebrities and the violence of wicked men occupy our minds more. Yet nothing happens in the world, in history that God does not know about or control. All things happen only by His say so. Just as He controls the chaos of the storms and the seas He controls the chaotic ravings and violence of nations, peoples, and terrorists. All events in history run according to His plan and sovereign will. This should help give the Christian assurance and peace even while the rest of the world is in turmoil. God is always right even if that answer can often be scary. This awareness of God’s providence should affect the way we live our lives. Nothing we do can circumvent his ways even if we choose to ignore Him or carry out our own plans without regard to His will.

Blogging Through the Psalms: Trusting God to handle our enemies.

Psalm 64

This Psalm is a prayer of David in time of persecution. As with previous Psalms, there are enemies out to get him. Their attacks have been sudden, unexpected and unprovoked. Such is the way we who are Christians are often attacked. We feel like we have been ambushed while all we were doing was trying to honor God, avoid sin as well as be kind and compassionate to our friends, neighbors, relatives and enemies. Suddenly someone snipes at us with unkind words and bitter invective seeking to cripple our witness and ruin our lives.

At such times again we want to lash out in response, to defend ourselves and hurt the one who hurt us. Yet this is the way of the world. And in the world it only fosters more war and more violence as we see in the streets of our inner cities as well as in many undeveloped nations. Revenge is the driving force as people seek to maintain their honor. Those who have been insulted or shown disrespect seek to show how big and important they are.

But instead of reacting in the heat of the moment, we must turn to the Lord. He will take care of the problem. The punishment of the wicked often occurs suddenly when they think they are safe and secure, when they think they are in the prime of life, at the peak of their strength. Perhaps the worst punishment for the sinner is the sin itself. The sinner becomes a slave to his sin and cannot overcome it. He is condemned to repeat it over and over again in an effort to achieve satisfaction and happiness. They never do. Maybe that’s what Hell is like. What do you think?

Blogging Through the Psalms: Coping with despair.

Psalm 63

This Psalm is another that David prays when he is being threatened by enemies. This time he describes his feeling of despair to being in the desert. He feels spiritual weariness, hunger and thirst because the word of the Lord is missing. It has dried up like a stream in the desert heat. He desires that the Lord replenish him, slake his thirst and give him guidance and encouragement. Certainly we can all identify with this imagery for we too have often been in the spiritual desert, that is, if we are honest enough to admit it. At such times we do not hear the Lord and his relief seems far away. We cry out to God however, because though we cannot hear Him He hears us.

Often in the middle of the night we are awake because there are so many concerns plaguing our minds. At such times we must call out to the Lord because when we do we can begin to experience a measure of comfort and peace. We realize that God is there willing to listen to our complaints no matter how long, deep, angry or troubling they are. That is one of the great things about our God: He never tires of hearing our grumblings. Our fellow Christians and our relatives often do. They get to a point where they just get so frustrated with us that they tell us to cut it out and get on with it. They think we should not have such troubles. Others cope, why can’t we? I know this well as I have experienced it myself, many times, in churches from Christians and in my family.

In effect such people want only to hear good things not pain and sorrow. They cut us off in the midst of our despair without offering any real help. God may tell us to get on with life but as He does He comes alongside us and carries us through. He provides constructive guidance and solace as well as the strength and ability to carry out His counsel. And that makes us feel and act better.