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BOOK 2: PSALMS 42-72
A LONGING FOR GOD
The second book of Psalms covers the next thirty-one chapterS which takes us almost half-way through one hundred and fifty Psalms. We do not actually know when they were written; quite possibly, it was during the reign of King Hezekiah. If not, it is assumed that they were resurrected during the reign of this godly king. We do know that a spiritual revival took place under his rule; and certainly, it would seem fitting that these particular Psalms would play an important role. Briefly, we do know significant facts about this book. Eighteen were penned by David and a number by the sons of Korah. Without going into full details, Korah was the great grandson of Levi. This family of Levitical singers served in the Temple and became great musicians and instrumentalists during the reign of David. This would certainly give prudence to their involvement in regard to the hymnbook for the nation of Israel. Elohim is used one hundred and sixty-four times, and Yahweh or Lord is mentioned thirty times. These are the two prominent names for the eternal God that we know and serve. Specifically, we note that the chief musician, Maschil, is named. Eleven Psalms appear with his name, and most likely, he was probably an instructor. Could the sons of Korah be the authors, or were the Psalms dedicated to them? We do know that they would arrange, lead and author music in the Temple. With this short introduction to these chapters, we now turn to a look at the forty-second chapter with man’s longing for God. There are over seven billion people in the world. Man has disobeyed and broken many of the commandments of God, but we can rest assured that the command to populate and replenish the earth has been well kept. Many areas of the world are overpopulated, and it has become impossible for the poorer countries to feed all the people. It is estimated that twenty-five thousand people die from starvation daily and one million die annually. Yet with all these people in the world and its troubling conditions, the greatest issue is loneliness. People cannot relate to one another; therefore, the deep feeling of loneliness has become an acute problem. This chapter looks at a deep desire for God. Without God, man starves spiritually and remains sinful, discontent, dissatisfied and destructive. Why? Man was created in the image and likeness of God for the purpose of having close fellowship with God. When separated from this primary objective, man becomes aimless and restless in his pursuit of peace and happiness. It is possible that David felt this loneliness and despair during the rebellion of his son, Absalom. The text states the search of every human being, but very few find the answer: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God, when shall I come and appear before God” (vv. 1-2)? All have a spiritual thirst.
The search ends with God. My soul thirsts for God rises as the first need (vv. 1-6). Again looking at creation, it tells us a great deal about who we are. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The important part of this verse is “a living soul.” The soul makes us unique from the rest of creation. It is the eternal part of man that allows us to live forever and ever. Both the animal and plant worlds do not possess “a living soul.” Only the individual is given the privilege of knowing God with the possibility of living with Him eternally.
The physical body needs food and water to sustain and keep it. Without these essentials, the body cannot survive. The soul also requires spiritual nourishment. The word is used six times in this chapter. Note that the Psalmist thirsts for God; he has a “longing for or deep desire” to the living God. Apparently, the author was exiled from Jerusalem and could not worship in the Temple. This caused him to have this unquestionable desire to get back into a right relationship with the eternal God. This quest was so deep that it brought endless weeping instead of eating and sleeping.
“Any of us more than twenty-five years old can probably remember where we were when we first heard of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
British novelist David Lodge, in the introduction to one of his books, tells where he was—in a theater watching the performance of a satirical revue he had helped write. In one sketch, a character demonstrated his nonchalance in an interview by holding a transistor radio to his ear. The actor playing the part always tuned into a real broadcast. Suddenly came the announcement that President Kennedy had been shot. The actor quickly switched it off, but it was too late. Reality had interrupted the stage comedy. For many believers, worship, prayer, and Scripture are a nonchalant charade. They don’t expect anything significant to happen, but suddenly God’s reality breaks through, and they’re shocked.”
The soul is the most important part of man; it is eternal. We do everything within our power to take care of the physical body and make it most comfortable, but too many people, believers and unbelievers, neglect taking care of the soul, never having peace and contentment in the spiritual realm of life. Like the Psalmist, they search for spiritual comfort but fail to find it. They live in continuous misery, never understanding the reason.
The soul never becomes satisfied without God. Many people are searching for the answer to life, but they are traveling the wrong way on a one way street. Jesus Christ satisfies the soul and provides the only way to heaven. In His travels one day, Jesus went through Samaria, a region usually avoided by the Jews. The Samaritans were half Jew and half Gentile, so the Jews would not associate with them. But Jesus had a purpose, that is, to meet the woman at the well. The Lord told her of living water with which she would never thirst. The soul thirsts for the reality of life, but it is never satisfied until we find God. God alone gives us rest and peace for the inner man. Is your soul thirsting after God, or have you found rest and peace with Him? Your thirst will never be quenched without receiving Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and living for Him daily.
My life needs God serves as the second need (vv. 7-11). The road we travel in this life is often dangerous, troublesome and difficult. It would be wonderful if our salvation ushered us immediately into heaven, but this does not happen. No, we must continue to live upon the earth and encounter the daily pleasures and troubles of life. When heartaches do come, we can easily feel down, troubled, depressed and forsaken.
In these verses, the focus is on the enemies who seem to be overwhelming. The onslaught never stops, but the Psalmist concentrates on the love of God during the day and praises Him at night. With full assurance, he moves forward knowing that God takes care of him personally and the needs in his life. Nothing is too great or too small for God; He possesses the exact answers for every given situation. His understanding of life is far deeper than what we possess, so we can entrust our lives and experiences to Him.
It should not be shocking to us that one out of ten take anti-depressants. Life overwhelms many people; therefore, they need help in their survival. If necessary, they should be taken. But understand that the blessings of God are the greatest anti-depressant that we have. Why do we dwell on the negative issues and problems of life? If we do this all the time, they will definitely overwhelm us. The priority should be the many countless blessings that God gives to us every day. Many of the Psalms deal with the issues of life, but the authors always come back to praising the Lord. The Apostle Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). If we would stop complaining and start praising the Lord, life would center itself in God and the issues would become small.
“John Wesley was about 21 years of age when he went to Oxford University. He came from a Christian home, and was gifted with a keen mind and good looks. Yet in those days he was a bit snobbish and sarcastic. One night, however, something happened that set a motion a change in Wesley’s heart. While speaking with a porter, he discovered that the poor fellow had only one coat and lived in such impoverished conditions that he didn’t even have a bed. Yet he was an unusually happy person, filled with gratitude to God. Wesley being immature, thoughtlessly joked about the man’s misfortunes. ‘And what else do you thank the Lord for?’ he said with a touch of sarcasm. The porter smiled, and in the spirit of meekness replied with joy, ‘I thank Him that He has given me my life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!’ Deeply moved, Wesley realized that this man knew the meaning of true thankfulness.
Many years later, in 1791, John Wesley lay on his deathbed at the age of 88. Those who gathered around him realized how well he had learned the lesson of praising God in every circumstance. Despite Wesley’s extreme weakness, he began singing the hymn, ‘I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath.’”
Have you learned to praise the Lord in every circumstance? You will never face a circumstance that God cannot handle, but you and I must rely upon Him as we travel through this life. God is watching and waiting. Has your search for God come to an end? And are you relying on Him to guide you through this life?
All have a spiritual thirst. But too many do not quench this all-important thirst. The soul has been designed by God to find satisfaction in and through Him, but the primary interest is in worldly attainments and pleasures, not the spiritual realities. And the travel in this life depends upon God and His guidance. In the same manner, people desire to be independent from God instead of living for Him. The thirst cannot be overcome without knowing God and living for Him. Spiritual starvation will be eternal unless one turns to the Lord for salvation and forgiveness.
It takes a special search to find God, but it is not difficult. God has made it easy for us to find Him. The religions of the world establish difficult steps in their search for God, and they definitely travel the wrong path and fail to find Him. God finds us through His Son; He has paved the spiritual road which ends the search. No one will find a valid excuse when he or she appears before the judgment seat of Christ. No, the cross of Jesus Christ is open to all; it sets in the center of world history for all peoples to see and believe. God is life; life is God. Without God, there is no true life. The soul and heart long for God, but the search will never end unless you turn to Him on His terms, not your terms. In your search for life, have you found the answer in the living God? Have you put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL
The entire world lives for a better tomorrow. We desire a better life for ourselves and future generations. Having traveled in many parts of the world, I have found this to be true in every nation and culture. Many people live in poverty and hopelessness, but they keep hoping for a better future. This thinking applies to both the Christian and non-Christian worlds; however, the non-Christian world basis its hope on a false and destructible foundation. The Christian lives in hope for the eternal rewards. What is hope? The dictionary definition is “to cherish or desire with anticipation or to want something happen or be true.” Our Christian faith is based on divine truth, so we can rest assured that all God promises will happen. This forty-third Psalm, very similar to the previous Psalm with the assumption that the two Psalms were one, teaches a hope in God. Apart from God, we have no hope. The world is not getting better; it is spiraling downward in sin and death. The Psalmist recognizes the importance of believing and knowing God. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenances, and my God” (v. 10). The very root of the Gospel gives us an eternal hope that cannot be matched in this physical world. Hope in God. What does the Gospel actually do for us? Foremost, it provides spiritual strength (vv. 1-3). We find three key words in these particular verses. Judge is the first word of importance. We are all sinners, and God has every right to judge us for our sins. We stand guilty and condemned before the Lord God. Nothing can free us from this position except the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Christ paid the full price for our sins. The impossible becomes possible by the work of God. Judgment usually comes from an unwelcomed source, that is, the enemy camp. If we have committed ourselves to the Lord and done His will, there is no need for alarm. The upright individuals can rest assured that God knows and sees everything. The false accusations will not stand in the end. The Psalmist cries out for the Lord’s help when the enemy does arise and attacks the innocent. The second word is strength. It is completely impossible to live a godly life in our own strength. Our power comes from the Lord, and He energizes us into effective, fruitful disciples. It is the Holy Spirit within us that keeps us standing for the truth and enduring to the end. In all honesty, most of us would surrender to the world, lay down our arms, and take a compromising position, but the Spirit of God enlivens us with dynamos or great power.
Christ knew that we would need help, so He sent the Paraclete or Holy Spirit. He dwells within us; therefore, we are never left empty-handed or defenseless (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 14:25; 3:16; 6:19). The enemies may be able to hurt the physical body, but they cannot destroy the spiritual life within us. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, sets the perfect example (Acts 7:54-60). Although he was put to death, the Holy Spirit gave him the strength to endure and ask forgiveness for his enemies.
And the third word is truth. All truth comes from God; there is absolutely no truth apart from God. The world resides in turmoil and confusion because it rejects the truth. Man searches for the truth, but he never finds it. Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6). Man can gain great knowledge in his quest for the truth, but he never finds the final answers without knowing the revelations of God and walking in the divine light.
“While an estimated seventy-four per cent of Americans strongly agree that ‘there is only one true God, who is holy and perfect, and who created the world and rules it today,’ an estimated sixty-five per cent either strongly agree or somewhat agree with the assertion that ‘there is no such thing as absolute truth’” (Christianity Today, September 16, 1991, p. 48, from George Barna, The Barna Report: What Americans Believe, 1991). This is a direct contradiction. If you believe in God, you can believe in His truth.
Second, it provides spiritual health (vv. 4-5). We can readily note that spiritual strength and spiritual health complement one another. If you have one, you will definitely experience the other one. The divine creation was to provide the best for us, and this continues to be the intent of God today. It is never the desire of God for us to live in sin, misery or turmoil. The redemptive plan provides the escape for us.
Does this mean that we will live a trouble-free life? Being spiritually healthy does not erase the difficulties of this earthly life. The judgment upon sin affects the whole human race in the same manner; thus, the Christian must endure many of the pains and sorrows like the unsaved. When God put a curse upon this world, it engulfed the entire world and its population. We as believers will not be free from the heartaches and troubles of this world until we reach our eternal glory. Christ Jesus has paved the way for a complete and eternal health for both the body and soul.
The basic steps to the healthy spiritual life are found in these two latter verses. From whence do we get our joy? The Psalmist finds his endless joy in the living God. Can we have peace and joy without God in our lives? It is possible to have happiness and contentment if one travels a godless road, but it is impossible to have real joy. “The words joy and rejoice are the words most often used to translate the Hebrew and Greek words into English. Joy is found over 150 times in the Bible. If such words as ‘joyous’ and ‘joyful’ are included, the number comes to over 200. The verb rejoice appears well over 200 times. Joy is the fruit of a right relation with God. It is not something that people can create by their own efforts” (Holman Bible Dictionary).
We also know that joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). With this fact, it specifically tells us that we cannot have true joy without the presence of the Spirit of God in our lives. And the Spirit does not reside in those who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The joyful soul finds rest in God and that rest offers an untouchable peace and serenity. Obviously then, like our salvation experience, peace also is a gift from God, but it never comes without knowing Him.
Have you found your ultimate joy in God? The world will never know this joy. But there are also many Christians who fail to enjoy life because of a continual distance from God. There are multiple causes for this state. Sin, rebellion, worldliness, selfishness and unsubmissiveness name the major ones. The full joy of the Lord does not come unless there is a full surrender, giving Christ full authority and control of your life and trusting Him to take you through the best circumstances in life, both the mountaintops and valleys.
The second basic step is praise. Were we not created to worship and praise the Lord? Praise is the key inspiration to life. We do not live unto ourselves; we commit our lives to the living God. If not, we live in misery under the control of His archenemy, the devil. So the question must be answered: Do you want to live in praise to God or misery to the devil? The Psalmist willingly put his confidence in the Lord (v. 5).
Contrary to human thinking, the Christian life is not a hindrance to the good pleasures of life. No, it frees us by praising the Lord and serving Him. Let me read this fifth verse as stated in the Amplified Bible which I use like a commentary: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my sad countenance and my God.” When we get down in life, we can be lifted up by praising the Lord.
THE TROUBLED HEART
Troubles come in life. There is not one person exempt from them. The amount of troubles varies from person to person. It seems like some individuals never get beyond the troubles of this life, while others tend to have very few troubles in their lives.
“The photographer for a national magazine was assigned to get photos of a great forest fire. Smoke at the scene hampered him and he asked his home office to hire a plane. Arrangements were made and he was told to go at once to a nearby airport where a plane would be waiting. When he arrived at the airport, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled, ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!’ The pilot swung the plane into the wind and they soon were in the air.
‘Fly over the north side of the fire,’ yelled the photographer, ‘and make three or four low level passes.
‘Why?’ asked the pilot.
‘Because I’m going to take pictures,’ cried the photographer. ‘I’m a photographer and photographers take pictures.’
After a pause the pilot said, ‘You mean you’re not the instructor?’”
This chapter is literally a prayer unto God for help to overcome a time of great distress and trouble. It is an outcry of the inner soul for divine help and deliverance. If we desire to overcome the troubles of life, we must put our trust in God. “In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name forever. Selah” (v. 8). We should never cease to worship, praise, honor, and reverence the Lord. Is this not why we were created? We cannot boast in ourselves and expect a good result, but we can put our boast in God and find peace and joy. Never stop boasting about God.
How do we boast about the Lord in our lives? We find four basic actions here in these verses. First, reflect on the past (vv. 1-3). When it comes to the human life, we are to think deeply about it. In no way should we dwell on it. Reflection takes a peek into the past, so that we do not make the same mistakes in the future. If we begin to dwell upon what has happened, it will eat at the soul and consume us in the present and future.
Too often, many people dwell on their troubles and blame others for what has happened in their lives. “If you could kick the person responsible for most of your troubles in the backside, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for two weeks” (Bits and Pieces, December, 1990). Instead of blaming everyone else or the circumstances of life for our troubles, we need to take a look in the mirror. We as Christian believers must be careful to put the blame in the right place. Normally, it is not God’s fault for what we are facing. God is never at fault. And certainly, we cannot transfer the blame to others. When we are wrong, we need to admit it. Do we not get into trouble because we fail to trust God and depend upon Him?
But how do we actually reflect? Most importantly, we should remember the good things. Memories should be precious, holding to the positives and letting go of the negatives. In these first three verses, the Psalmist makes a quick review of the divine deliverance of the nation. Clearly, the deliverance came by the hand of God, not from themselves. The human effort fails, but the divine intervention is an absolute success.
The perfect example is sin. No one can be forgiven of his or her sins without the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The cross is the divine intervention in human affairs to erase the deepest troubles of this world. Man will never overcome evil on his own accord; God must be our deliverer. All we need to do is confess, and God will do the rest (1 John 1:9). The trouble is disbelief; it will never deliver. We make a choice: sin controls us causing greater trouble or we control sin by putting our trust in God and His redemptive work.
The Church as a whole and the individual believer has the full power of God. God stands right beside us in the troublesome times as well as the good times. When we fail to access this divine power, we fall short of His will and get into deep trouble. It is impossible to change the situation without calling upon Him. The impossible becomes possible when we avail ourselves of this endless power and strength. The power of God brings us endless victories.
Second, respect the present (vv. 4-8). This is extremely important. In today’s world, we tend to think about the bad things that are happening to us instead of focusing on the good events in life. The Apostle Paul makes it clear: “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). It is not an option; it is a command. How often are we to rejoice? The key word in this verse is always. The circumstances should not get us down. We don’t rejoice in the circumstances; but rather, we rejoice in the Lord. And the Lord makes the difference in facing the circumstances no matter what may come.
We can live the Christian life with great confidence knowing that the Lord has everything under His authority and lose in life. As we progress and mature in Christ, our faith should become stronger instead of waning and weakening. How often do we try to make things right in our lives? Taking matters into our own hands adds to our troubled hearts. The outcome will always be an ultimate failure. Instead, we are to rely upon God, expect Him to give us His best, and anticipate a victorious finish.
Life is not an easy road, especially for us as believers. The arch enemy of God, the old devil, will always be stirring up the waters and causing troubles. The world is a constant adversary that has no clue to the realities of life, so the non-Christian world constantly and falsely attacks us. Here again if we rely upon our abilities to overcome, it will not work. Our own strength cannot conquer the spiritual forces against us. We must stand in the very light of God-reliance, not self-reliance.
And note that our textual verse is found in this section and tells us exactly what we should do: “In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name forever. Selah” (v. 8). All the credit for life’s victories goes to God. He deserves all the glory and praise. Where would we be without His redemptive plan? How would we ever overcome the issues of life without His constant presence and help? The love, grace, and mercy of God deliver us from the troubled heart. The cleansing power of the Gospel helps us to get up, start a new day and live a life pleasing to the Lord. The present should not get us down; on the contrary, it is an incentive to keep moving forward for the Lord and His kingdom.
Third, recognize the realities (vv. 9-16). We cannot live in a dream world. There is nothing wrong with dreaming; but eventually, we have to come back to the realities of this dark, evil world. Temptations, sins, afflictions, troubles, sufferings, disappointments, and hurts visit us constantly. They are part of life, and we must face them openly and directly. We can never let them get us down.
Admittingly, we as believers in the Lord look for His appearing to take the Church from this world. Like the Apostle John, we hope that He comes quickly (Revelation 22:20). And how often do we simply set back awaiting His return without reaching the world for Christ? Although there is nothing wrong in expecting His return, it does not give us a license stop doing the work of the Master. The early New Testament church believed that Christ would return in their lifetimes, but this did not stop them from reaching their known world. Generation upon generation carries the hope of His coming again, but the Church must continue until it happens.
We must face the realities each day; this is a constant fact. As we do experience each day, we can rest in the glorious truth that there will be victory in the end. Christ paid the price for the sins of this world; He has already won the victory on the cross. The spiritual war that is raging today has one ultimate outcome—Christ Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords—is already the Victor. But moment by moment, you and I must face and engage the battles of life. The enemies of the cross are ruthless and relentless. They do not quit or surrender. Thus, we need to go into battle well-prepared and well-equipped to claim victory in the Lord Jesus.
And fourth, rely on the truth (vv. 17-26). When the troubled heart overwhelms us, we can call upon the Lord. We should never forget Him. Here in this section, the writer does a thorough searching of the soul. It is important to keep in touch with God no matter what circumstance we encounter. We cannot hide ourselves or life’s encounters from God. Our God knows everything that is taking place in the world and our personal lives. We can hide nothing from Him.
The first step to knowing the truth is to live in the truth. Truth sets us free (John 8:36). Although the world covets freedom and independence, we are not free unless we have spiritual freedom. To be free, we must be forgiven and cleansed of our sins through the shed blood of Christ. We are redeemed by the infinite mercies of God (v. 26). God is truth; therefore, we must live in Him.
Moving to the second step, once we have been given redemption and pardon by God we must steer clear of sin and wrong-doing. This is where the Church and believers have a poor reputation. People desire to be saved and given a ticket to heaven, but they do not keep from sin. It is extremely difficult to bear witness for Christ in the modern world because believers and unbelievers look and act much the same. If there can be no discernment, why, then, should the world turn to the truth? The holy scriptures are very adamant that we are to separate ourselves from this world (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) and be holy (1 Peter 1:13-16).
And the final step to relying on the truth comes in a full surrender and commitment. We cannot be half-hearted or lukewarm when it comes to serving the Lord. Do we not cringe at the determination and intensity of our enemies to destroy the truth? In their commitment to destroy God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church and every believer, the enemies of the truth go to the nth degree. They are lawless and ruthless and let nothing get in their way. On the other hand, believers mull around the worldly fires like Peter who denied the Lord three times. How often do we keep silent when we should speak? Do we not fear what others might think or do if they know that we love the Lord? If you and I wear the Christian badge, we need to stand behind it and never let it down. It is all or nothing for the Lord.
Never stop boasting about God. Many times, the heart is troubled because of disbelief, non-reliance, and fear. We need to reflect on the past; respect the present situations, recognize the realities; and rely on the truth. God is always with us; He stands with us. He will never fail us. In all past, present and future eternity, God never makes a mistake. Why let the heart be troubled when we can trust God and praise His Name forever? Do not let the enemy defeat, discourage or distress you. Our God is far greater than the enemy. The beloved disciple of the Lord Jesus says it best: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Who is in us? We have the living Christ and the Holy Spirit. With them, we cannot lose.
“Heart is used in the scriptures as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is part of our being where we desire, deliberate and decide. It has been described as ‘the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity,’ ‘the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thought, understanding and will,’ and ‘the center of a person. The place to which God turns.’”
Continuously, the heart is troubled without God. This can be overcome by turning to Christ and surrendering your life to Him. And Christian, turn a troubled heart into a joyful heart. Yes, life is difficult, but our faith in God puts above the circumstances of life. Is your heart troubled today? Turn to God and praise His Name forever.
THE MESSIANIC REALITY
A picture is worth a thousand words. Words describe a subject or object, but a picture provides a visual. With modern technology, “selfies” have become a hot trend. People tend to take more pictures of themselves than photos of groups or others. In reality, we would rather see an image rather than have a picture-less explanation. The modern world speaks in pictures, not words. And in an instant, we can send a picture just as easily as words.
Throughout the Old Testament, words record the appearance, personality, attributes and mission of the coming Messiah. The writers give us the best picture that they had at the time. The New Testament reveals the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel writers have a greater understanding of who He is and report His ministry and miracles in their narrations. And vividly, we have the detailed accounts of His crucifixion and death on the cross to save mankind. Someday, in the near future, we shall behold Him face-to-face and be like Him (1 John 3:1-3).
This forty-fifth Psalm clearly teaches the messianic reality. Israel was and still is looking for a deliverer. The world in its present uncertainty and turmoil looks for a deliverer to bring peace and stability. The Church anticipates the coming of our Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ. And every individual needs a deliverer to overcome the main issue of life, that is, sin and its destruction. “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter.” Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is coming again!
Christ is the messianic reality for Israel, the world, Church and individual, and we have a vivid picture of who He is. Jesus Christ stands in majestic beauty (vv. 1-4). Note the key words that tell us who He is: fairer, grace, glory, prosperity, truth, meekness and righteousness. Do these not pinpoint the perfect Christ, the sinless Son of God? Christ has no hidden dark side or failures. He came to save the world from its evil, sin and destruction.
No mere human being could ever achieve the messianic beauty carefully and meticulously proclaimed in the scriptures. God Himself had to come and redeem man. Jesus Christ, the God-man, that is, fully God and fully man, took on human flesh to shed His blood for our redemption. God had to reveal His plan in human terms for all to understand its meaning. Christ died on the cross to be our Savior, but He is coming a second time to be the eternal King and Lord.
His kingdom and throne shall never cease; no one will be able to abolish it or take it from Him. All who believe in Christ, receive Him as Savior, and live for Him will reside in this eternal kingdom. No child of Christ will ever be lost. The work of Christ gives us the gift of full redemption from sin and death. And we shall reign with Him.
For the lost, the account is totally the opposite. Unbelievers will not enter this eternal kingdom; they will be lost forever. Unbelief causes them to reside in sin and spiritual death forever. There will be no hope or restoration for the unredeemed. Does God put them in this state? No, all who reject the Gospel condemn themselves. And the righteous, just and holy God simply pronounces the sentence upon them. If guilty, there is no deliverance without knowing and receiving the Savior.
Second, Jesus Christ abides in majestic wisdom (vv. 5-8). All the wisdom in this world cannot compare to the intelligence of God. “The scepter of this kingdom is a right scepter” (v. 5b). This statement set in the eternal truths provides us with the infinite wisdom of God that surpasses any acute wisdom of mankind. Man may think that he is wise; but in truth, it is the opposite. Human wisdom seems like foolishness when compared to the all-knowing, all-righteous and all-just God.
We also note the clear-cut divine commitment in this section: “You love righteousness, and hate unrighteousness” (v. 7a). Through the Lord Jesus Christ, you and I are reconciled with the righteous God. The cross, the divine road to atonement and remission of sins, comes because of the deep divide between what is right and what is wrong. It is impossible for us to make things right with God, but Jesus Christ, our Savior, bridges the gap for us. The wide ravine between godliness and ungodliness cannot be crossed without the precious shed blood of Christ, the Savior.
The garments of the Savior (v. 8) are not stained with evil and sin. No, our eternal Savior is the sinless, perfect Son of God who took our sins to the cross and forgave us. The Lord Jesus Christ—Prophet, Priest and King—cannot be rightly accused of any wrong-doing. Man can create false accusations and deny His divine work, but this does not change the picture. Christ Jesus, God’s personal provision, provides the only hope and reality of reaching heaven. There is no other way to obtain this glorious, magnificent eternal home. The personal heart must be right with God and this comes in knowing the Savior. Have you come to know Christ, and is He your Savior?
Third, He offers a majestic relationship (vv. 9-12). The Psalmist continues with the personal touch of God upon us, especially in reference to the Church. The idea of the Church can be found in the Old Testament writings, even though it is not directly mentioned. The Church is not a reality until the New Testament and does not exist prior to the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Without argument, it is clear that the birth of the Church takes place in Acts 2 when the Spirit of God came upon the believers. From that day forward, the Church continues and will continue until the second coming of Christ.
The second coming, of course, involves two distinct phases. The first is the church rapture. The Lord Jesus will come in an aerial appearance, and the church saints will be united with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). In the second phase, the Lord Jesus will put His feet upon the earth and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords for one thousand years. After that time, God will complete world history and usher in eternity.
No true believer will be exempt from appearing with Christ and joining Him for eternity. Despite much speculative teaching today, this will not be an all-inclusive union. It applies to those who know Christ and have their names written in the Book of Life. One must know Christ as Savior and Lord otherwise, all unbelievers will be left out. “None are brought to Christ, but those whom the Father brings” (Matthew Henry). In other words when God speaks to the heart, you must respond to the truth. A negative reaction will bring nothing but judgment, destruction and loss. God desires all to be part of His kingdom, but a failure to accept His terms leads to everlasting damnation.
And fourth, He establishes His majestic kingdom (vv. 13-17). We have already alluded to His coming earthly kingdom; but now, further explanation can be given about the eternal kingdom. When God anointed David as the king of Israel, He promised an everlasting rule. This, of course, is impossible without the eternal Messiah. The eternal Lord Jesus took on human flesh to redeem mankind. He is the complete God-man, totally God and totally man. Momentarily, He experienced death to remit sins, but His resurrection brought Him back to life and offers us eternal life.
The eternal God cannot be destroyed. The Godhead—God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—live forever. Life cannot be taken from the one who is life. And God promises an eternal home, that is, heaven, to all who believe and take on the new life in and through the Savior. No one will be lost who belongs to Him, and we will give constant worship and praise to the eternal Savior and King. And no enemy will ever penetrate or conquer this eternal bliss; we will forever be secure in the hands of God.
The Psalmist closes with a very important note: “I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations; therefore shall the people praise thee forever and ever” (v. 17). The Church moves from generation to generation; and despite what man says, it never becomes outdated or irrelevant. On the contrary, the reverse occurs. Man is the one that loses sight of the truth and its relevance. Thinking he has a much better approach to life, he omits God and loses life and its values. Thus, it is vital to keep the flame of truth alive at all times. We should allow nothing to extinguish the glowing flame of spiritual reality.
The King is coming! Jesus Christ is coming again! He made this promise to His disciples when He went back to glory. Although it is still a future event for us, it will happen. The truth never fails. Christ is truth, and He assures us that He will return. Anyone is free to ignore, deny and disclaim it, but it will come. If God says it, we can believe it. And all the present world conditions are pointing to a soon coming of our Savior as King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no power on earth or hell that can stop Him from coming again. The King is coming!
Can we truly believe that the King is coming? “Biblical prophecy provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Christ’s first advent, so both testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ. One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ—an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent, there are 8 which look forward to His second!”
If the Spirit of God and His Word do not convince you, you have no hope. Believe in Christ the Savior and coming King, or be lost forever. It’s your call. God offers you His life-changing gift of salvation; it is yours to accept or refuse. To accept brings eternal life with no regrets; to refuse brings eternal damnation with endless regrets. What will you do with the coming Christ? Tomorrow may be too late; your decision must be made now. OUR PRESENT HELP
Fear grips the hearts and souls of every individual, even though we do not desire it. The dictionary definition of fear is: “an unpleasant emotion caused by belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Quite frankly, the modern world causes great fear for its inhabitants. Terrorism has become a common everyday occurrence. Poor relationships have developed endless shootings and killings. And more importantly, the Church needs to recognize the unreserved attacks of the satanic forces upon it. Can we not conclude that we live in a world with much fear and apprehension?
With this in mind, the world is in a great need of help. All of its armies and security systems cannot protect it from the ruthless enemies of civilization. Despite all of the precautions and safety measures, nothing is one hundred per cent foolproof. Billions of dollars can be spent on the most elaborate security systems, but these will not always keep intruders from penetrating and doing endless harm and destruction. The world is an unsafe place to live.
“During World War II, a military governor met with General George Patton in Sicily. When he praised Patton highly for his courage and bravery, the general replied, ‘Sir, I am not a brave man. The truth is, I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of a gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands.’ Years later, when Patton’s autobiography was published, it contained this significant statement by the general: ‘I learned very early in my life never to take counsel of my fears’” (Unknown).
Is there an answer to all the fears and troubles that we face? “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (Franklin D. Roosevelt). We cannot let fear overtake us in any manner or form, but we must move ahead in life without letting it stop or control us. Although it is a constant visitor in the contemporary world, it should never receive a warm welcome and be allowed to reside long-term. We must rise above the fears that our enemies seek to impose upon us.
The Psalmist puts it where the rubber meets the road. Our refuge, strength and confidence come in the Lord God. Ever since its inception, the Church has faced endless persecutions and sufferings for the sake of the Gospel, but this should not stop us from bearing witness before the world. We can never allow these actions to create fear within us and control our actions for Christ. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (v. 1). God is our help.
How does God help us along the road of life? His presence erases all fear (vv. 1-3). We all face good and bad times in our lives, but the believer has the assurance everything works for our good (Romans 8:28). Furthermore, we can also be conquerors in every circumstance (Romans 8:36). Nothing should overwhelm or defeat us. But why do we as believers make things more difficult than they should be? When a trouble comes upon us, we tend to take a negative view instead of a positive one. Why is God bringing this into my life? What did I do to deserve this difficulty? In reverse, we should be asking: “What important lessons can I learn from this experience?” How is God using it for my good? And how can I be a witness for the Lord Jesus as I face this troublesome time? We should never let an existing condition shake us from our sure foundation, that is, faith in Christ Jesus.
The external world and its affairs can place minor and major bumps in the road, but they should never disrupt the inner peace and joy. God gives us a peace that passes all understanding. Peace is a major theme of the Old and New Testaments. Let us take a moment to highlight some of the major peace promises: a blessing (Psalm 29:11), perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3); a gift (John 14:27; 16:33), and greater than our understanding (Philippians 4:7). God is the Author, Supplier and Finisher of true peace. The world does not know God; therefore, it will never know peace. The presence of the Lord gives us peace regardless of the conditions of life.
Second, His presence remains forever (vv. 4-7). The existence of God will remain long after this earth is gone. We know and serve the eternal God. His past, present and future existence is endless. When nothing else existed, God did. The presence of the Lord is in this world, His Church and our personal Christian lives. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter that Christ promised prior to His ascension, abides in us. We are sealed until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:12-14).
What is meant by “the redemption of the purchased possession?” When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior, we are redeemed, meaning that we have been forgiven of our sin and now have eternal life. Yes, Christ redeems us immediately, but the full reward comes when we meet Him face to face and reside with Him in eternity. Heaven is the final consummation of the salvation experience; thus, we look forward with great anticipation to this day of redemption.
God is our present help because He is always with us. His plans for this world and individual lives center themselves in the eternal life. Interestingly, our God never stops with the temporary; His work always includes the eternal. We have three concrete examples to verify this great truth. The angelic beings were created by God and placed in heaven. From the very outset, they were given an eternal existence.
Man, created in the image and likeness of God, lives upon this earth, but it promised an eternal existence. Even though sin entered into the world and brought physical and spiritual death to the human race, God overcomes it with the giving of His Son on the cross. Eternal life is available to every individual, and God desires that none should perish (John 3:16-17). The earthly life is a forerunner to the better life to come, but it is conditional. Without Christ, there is no eternal life.
And third, all unbelievers face a divine judgment and eternal condemnation. This is difficult for us to understand. Why would anyone refuse the gift of eternal life and bring eternal judgment upon hisself or herself? The holy scriptures are very clear on the subjects of judgment and hell; they cannot be mistaken. And yet, there are millions of people who will be lost forever, condemning themselves from God and heaven. And consciously, they will know their condition with no opportunity to change it. It is very important to know where you stand. Are you with Christ or against Him?
And third, His presence will honor His fame (8-11). God does not need recognition; He already has it. When we talk about His fame, it is special recognition by the world that has not been seen since the fall of man. The world is moving faster and faster to a total anti-God sentiment. The general population wants nothing to do with God and have been indoctrinated to believe that He does not exist or is obsolete for the contemporary world. Regardless of the world’s thinking and positioning, God will be victorious in fulfilling His plan and bringing the world to an end. The Word of God leaves no doubt in our hearts and minds.
There will be the coming judgment, destruction and desolation upon the earth. The divine plan is right on target, and it will bring a completion to the evil, sin, destruction and death that have plagued man for millenniums. Strife, conflict, rumors of wars and wars themselves will come to a quick halt. How will this happen? We know that man cannot find a common ground for peace. Peace comes from God and must be the work of God. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace, will bring peace to this world for one thousand years. No one, not even the devil, will be able to contradict and oppose Him. In fact, the devil will be bound for this entire time period, and the human race will recognize the righteousness and fairness of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Nothing can stand equal with the truth and its outcome.
Twice in this chapter it says that the Lord of hosts is with us (vv. 7 and 11). We as believers can rise with great confidence in the midst of pessimism, uncertainty and fear. The key to the future is written boldly: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (v. 10). This is a personal invitation to stop and listen before it is too late. Now is the time for salvation; tomorrow will be too late. And God wants no one to be lost for eternity, but He will never force us to come to Him.
God is our help. Take heart and let the Lord wrap His arms of love around you. His presence takes away all fear; His presence remains forever; and His presence honors His fame. The Lord is always with His people, and He will never leave us or forsake us. We may turn from Him that causes the troubles in life, but we can always turn back to Him. And we can deal with the world and its problems in the manner that Isaiah writes: “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of men, neither be afraid of their revilings” (Isaiah 51:7). God is our present help in the midst of the world crises; in the future, He will take away all the fears and troubles that this world has to offer.
Let me close by sharing this account with you. The author writes: “In my late twenties, a bunch of my friends and I decided to sail around the world. I have to admit, though, at the time I was a bit worried. I hadn’t even sailed before. I was uneasy and anxious. So I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and praying about it, until it dawned on me that God was whispering.
‘Tim, I’ll give you peace if you read some books on sailing. The reason you’re anxious is not due to lack of prayer, but to your lack of sailing knowledge.’
I wasn’t unprayerful; I was unskilled. So I took a step I needed to take to ‘let’ God work His peace in my heart. I began reading about sailing.”
Word Books Publisher, p. 63
Could it be that we fear life and its events because we fail to know God, let Him help and neglect His manual, the Word? God is waiting for us to draw closer to Him every moment of the day. Is your life in right relationship with God? Why not make things right with Him now? God is the greatest help that we can have as we travel the road of life.
THE SOVEREIGN GOD
The world is moving at a fast pace for the one world government of the last days. The talk of the new world order surfaced in the latter part of the Twentieth Century. Today, there is a great push for nations without borders and acceptance of illegal immigrants. The cry for inclusiveness continues to surface as major headlines. This may seem right, but it never includes the Church and believers; rather, we are the ones that keep it from happening. And of course, none of this will happen without the downfall of the great beast—America and its affluence. There are numerous external and internal enemies who are plotting the demise of the greatest nation man has ever known. Man believes that this unified movement will resolve all the issues that are plaguing the human race.
God stands as the final and rightful authority, not man. This short Psalm gives us a vivid picture of the sovereignty of God. What is sovereignty? It is the ‘supremacy of authority and the full right and power of the governing body to govern itself without any outside interference.” God, the eternal Creator, Sustainer, Savior and Judge of this world, holds the sole power and authority to its existence. Ultimately, His plan will bring world history to an abrupt end, and man will have no say in the matter. There is no authority greater or equal with God. The text sets the record straight: “God reigneth over the nations; God sitteth upon the throne of His holiness” (v. 8). God is the final authority.
God, not man, will have the final say in what happens to this world and eternity. One, God rules (vv. 1-4). There are two major forces opposing the authority of God. Satan, the well-known first adversary, has been around for a long time. Initially, the highest angel in heaven he desired to at least be equal with God. God brought an immediate judgment upon the devil by casting him out of heaven with hosts of fallen angels. And today, centuries later, the old devil is still trying to dethrone God and rule the world. It will never happen because the cross work of Jesus Christ has brought the ultimate defeat of the devil and his hosts. Despite his endless attempts, he will never win.
The second force is man himself. Following in the footsteps of Satan, the human race seeks to omit God from life and society. In his endless dreams and pursuits, the human race believes in itself and fails to acknowledge God or give Him the credit. Both the biblical and historical examples attest to this insatiable hunger to worship himself instead of the living God. The fall of man in the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel stand as two irrefutable biblical examples. The attempts of leaders to become the one world leader puts light on defying the authority of God. And in the end, the antichrist under the umbrella of Satan and the false prophet, will again attempt to overpower the Lord God. No matter how much man denies the existence, power and authority of God, it will not deliver him from the ultimate sovereignty of our God.
God rules and has the final say. The world and its inhabitants are the creation of God; therefore, He has the final word on what takes place. He will rule the entire earth with His people. As the world comes to an end, our God will subdue the nations and peoples. And at the appropriate time, He will usher in His eternal kingdom for all who put their trust in Him. The downfall of the wicked is near. And rest assured that God knows what is best for this world and its peoples.
The Christian peace, joy, and comfort come in knowing that God has full control of this world and what happens in it. Charles Spurgeon wrote: “There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend to than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne…for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust.” We can trust His rule; we await His final rule; and we know with confidence that we will rule with Him. The heart finds its full rest when we let God have His way in our lives.
Two, God reigns (vv. 5-9). God does not just rule in sole authority, but He also reigns supreme. What is the present world trying to do? We alluded to it in the introduction; it has been the aim for centuries. Man seeks to unify, that is, to become one and take on the roles of ruling and reigning. God is subtracted from the picture. It all began at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). After the great universal flood, the human race migrated to the east as one people with one language. In an attempt to reach heaven and defy God, they built a high tower. God knowing their basic reasoning caused them to disperse, speak different languages, and form multiple cultures.
To this very day, man himself cannot unite into a one world with the blessings of God. The unity of the human race has to be on divine terms, under the banner of the cross, and specifically, in the structure of the Church. Anytime that man seeks to unite, he deliberately and openly defies God. And God will not allow it to come to a full fruition. Why? Man is not supreme; God rules and reigns with the human race in submission to His authority.
God will always do what is right; He is limited to holiness and righteousness. In other words, God can do no wrong. The Psalmist acknowledges Him as King; there never will be another world ruler. Yes, there have been attempts with the last being the future rise of the antichrist, but none have never or will never gain supremacy over the sovereign God.
And two important notes are cited for every individual. One, we are to praise God, an absolute duty. No one will have a sound excuse for not praising God. And two, we must be in full submission to the will of God for His world and our personal lives. The sovereign God sets the rules; we have no option except to obey if we desire eternal life and countless blessings.
But wait just one minute! How can people reject God and rebel against Him? The sovereignty of God and the freewill of man run parallel with each other. These two doctrinal lines will never be fully explained in this life. However, we will gain full understanding when we reach the eternal state. God sets the guidelines for us to know Him and receive salvation. The crucifixion and death of Christ on the cross gives us the full picture of God’s love, grace and mercy. There is no way into heaven except knowing Christ as Savior; but again, God does not force us into submission. We have the freewill to receive Christ or reject Him. An acceptance brings eternal joy; a rejection ends in spiritual death and eternal damnation.
God is the final authority. Rightfully and legally, God rules this world with complete and independent authority, and He reigns as the absolute Master and King of His creation. No one rises above the sovereignty to God. In the end, all will bow down to Him and acknowledge His supremacy. Without fault or failure, His judgment will be just and correct. Satan, his hosts and all unbelievers will accept their punishment without question or excuse. The warnings are ample and endless; the opportunities remain limitless and numberless; and decisions come lifelong and daily. No, those who are lost eternally bring it upon themselves and cannot blame the sovereign God. If you have never come to the foot of the cross and received Christ as your personal Savior, you will be lost forever without a valid reason. Why not make things right with God today?
We should be thankful to God for all that He has done for us. Everyone receives blessings from God, but very few acknowledge them and thank Him. Where do you stand in your relationship with the sovereign God? Listen to these words of Martin Luther and weigh your position today:
“If God did not bless, not one hair, not a solitary wisp of straw, would grow; but there would be the end of everything. At the same time God wants me to take this stance: I would have nothing whatever if I did not plow or sow. God does not want to have success come without work, and yet I am not to achieve it by my work. He does not want me to sit at home, to loaf, to commit matters to God, and to wait till a fried chicken flies into my mouth. That would be tempting God.”
Quoted in What Martin Luther Says in Knowledge of the Holy
Our God paid the price to forgive sin. His salvation is a gift to all who believe, but we must make a personal decision to know and follow Him all the days of our lives. Is God still waiting for you to respond?
THE UNFORGETTABLE GOD
It is so easy to forget. We misplace something, search high and low because we forgot where we put it, and eventually, find it where we put it. As we get older, we tend to forget. I like to think that it is not so much forgetfulness as it is doing things automatically and not remembering that we did them.
“There’s a story about a city dweller who was visiting relatives on a farm and the farmer gave a whistle and his dog herded the cattle into the corral, then latched the gate with her paw. ‘Wow, that’s some dog. What’s her name?’ The forgetful farmer thought a minute, then asked, ‘What do you call the red flower that smells good and has thorns on the stem?’ ‘A rose?’ ‘That’s it!’ The framer turned to his wife. ‘Hey Rose, what do we call this dog?’”
“First things first. It is rather comical when the primary things are made secondary. Victor Borge told about a couple going on vacation, standing in line waiting to check their bags at the airline counter.
The husband said to the wife, ‘I wish we had brought the piano.’
The wife asked, ‘Why? We’ve got sixteen bags already!’
The husband replied, ‘Yes, I know—but the tickets are on the piano!’”
It is common human nature to forget. Someone has said, “Blessed are those who give without remembering. And blessed are those who take without forgetting” (The Rest of the Story, p. 141). It would be very easy for God to forget about the fallen human race. Every man, woman and child is a fallen creature. God gives us the best in life, but we turn our backs on Him and forget His love and kindness to us. We deserve nothing less than God forgetting about us. Why should He remember us when we deny Him, rebel against Him, and do not appreciate what He has done for us?
This song tells us about the majestic God that loves and cares for us, even though we do not fully appreciate what He has done. God is majestic and awesome and continues to keep His hand upon this world and each individual. He offers us His revelations, promises, blessings, redemption, assistance, love, grace, mercy, strength, and eternality. He never gives us more than we can handle in life, and He is always there to guide and direct us. The text pinpoints that greatness of our God: “For this is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even in death” (v. 14). God never forgets.
This Psalm provides us with two glorious promises from the true, living God. First, He promises an eternal kingdom (vv. 1-8). When God anointed David, the shepherd boy, to be the second king of Israel, He promised an eternal kingdom. The Word of the Lord unfolds the divine plan for this everlasting kingdom. The Messiah foretold in the Old Testament prophecies would come forth from the root of Jesse, the father of David. The New Testament Gospel brings forth this Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will reign forever. Even though He was put to death on the cross for you and me, He arose from the dead and lives forevermore.
Jerusalem, the city of God, is a spiritual city. God establishes His eternal kingdom in the Church. The Old Testament is the forerunner to the rise of the New Testament Church. The greatness of the Lord is His provision for all believers to share in this coming kingdom. We must go far and wide and proclaim the truths of the Gospel, bearing witness to Christ and His salvation and bringing people into the kingdom of God.
God dwells with His people. As we come together, we have been called to praise the Lord. Christ, the Savior and King, has fulfilled every detail of the divine plan to overthrow evil, sin, unrighteousness, and imperfection. The kingdom of God is made perfect through the power of the Gospel, and we, too, will be made perfect for the kingdom. Presently, we who are saved by the precious shed blood of Christ must live the earthly life. Daily, we face the temptations, trials and troubles of life. In the future, the end will come and we will be ushered into the presence of God for eternity. The struggles and heartaches of this life will be gone; the kingdom of God will never cease.
God never forgets His words or promises. We can rest assured that all we read in the Holy Scriptures will become a living reality. For the saved, it will be a glorious awakening. We cannot even imagine how splendid heaven is. The biblical writings give us a little insight, but words cannot describe its beauty and splendor. And yet, we shall be ushered into the magnificence of God and His kingdom. Our spiritual hearts and eyes will be fully open to all the realities that we now believe without seeing. It will be the redeemed singing praises with the angels of heaven before the throne of God.
Sadly, there will be millions who will miss this eternal opportunity. There is no entrance into heaven without knowing Jesus Christ as personal Savior. How many deny God and His work? Too many turn away from the cross and look the opposite direction instead of turning to the cross and seeing the escape from misery, death and destruction. There will be no opportunity in the eternal state to change course; it is in this life or never.
“An unknown author once said, ‘As a boy, I thought of heaven as a city with dome, spires, and beautiful streets, inhabited by angels. By and by my little brother died, and I thought of heaven as much before, but with one inhabitant that I knew. Then another died, and then some of my acquaintances, so in time I began to think of heaven as containing several people that I knew. But it was not until one of my own little children died that I began to think that I had treasure in heaven myself. Afterward another one went, and yet another. By that time I had so many acquaintances and children in heaven that I no more thought of it as a city merely with streets of gold but as a place full of inhabitants. Now there are so many loved ones there I sometimes think I know more people in heaven than I do on earth” (Source Unknown).
The kingdom is real; it is eternal; it is for believers. Without Christ, no one can enter the eternal kingdom. God could not have given His plan of salvation any simpler. Even a child can understand Christ and the cross. There will be no excuse for anyone who rejects the plan of salvation. The kingdom is reserved for all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus. Have you made your reservation for a place in His eternal kingdom?
Second, He promises the present life (vv. 9-14). People look for stability in life. We try to find a person, belief or object that we can grasp for safety and security. The world puts its complete hope in a world system that offers no promises. As reality sets in, hopelessness and despair overtake a world that cannot save itself. Every day, the world crumbles into greater chaos and destruction.
The family of God finds peace and joy in the foundation and truth of the biblical masterpiece. The words of scripture are so eloquent that no man could write them himself. In due time, God inspired authors to write down His precious words of redemption, encouragement, peace, hope and eternal life. And although man has tried to destroy the Word of God numerous times, it still stands. Truth cannot be destroyed.
The presence of God and His Church in this world gives us the energy and ambition to rise each day and walk with God. It is His works, not ours, that make the world a pleasant place. Yes, there is darkness and sin all around us, but the light of the divine presence and power penetrates into this lost world and offers the hope and answers to the true life. Zoe, the Greek New Testament word for life, means eternal life. The child of God rests in this present life because of the eternal life within us. When we become a child of the King, eternal life begins. It is here now, not just a future reality.
Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord, is our Rock and Guardian. We can depend upon Him. We can lean upon Him in the troublesome times. God puts us under His wings. The old Christian hymn says it beautifully:
“Under His wings I am safely abiding;
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me;
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
Under His wings—what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blest.
Under His wings—oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me;
Resting in Jesus I’m safe evermore.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.”
God takes us step by step through life and guides us through the passage of death into heaven. There is not one moment that God forgets about us. Life would be so much easier for us if we would realize and understand that God is in control. Too often, we forget about God and try to be our own pilot. No, God is the pilot. Wherever life takes us, we must lean upon Him for the full journey. Life is a one-way trip to heaven or hell. God will never take you down the wrong path; you alone make that decision.
God never forgets. He walks with His children each day and knows our exact needs and provides them for us. His kingdom is eternal, having no beginning and no ending. The saints of all ages—Old Testament, New Testament, Tribulation and Millennial periods are part of this massive kingdom. Millions of people from all cultures and backgrounds will join in the hallelujah chorus to our great God and King. We shall live and reign with Christ in His magnificent kingdom. No true child of God will be exempt; God will welcome us with open arms of love, grace and mercy.
Eternal life begins immediately when we receive Christ, and He provides for us each and every day of our lives. God never lets us walk alone; He is right beside us each step of the way. No matter what happens, we can rest assured that God gives us the best and prepares us for our eternal home. We should never feel comfortable in this world because it is not our final abode. We are pilgrims traveling through a strange, foreign world that desires to destroy us. Our comfort and rest will come in the presence of Christ. It is our duty to serve the unforgettable God until He calls us home; and then, we will serve Him without the enemy’s malicious attacks.
“H. G. Wells was never particularly religious, but after he studied the history of the human race and had observed human life, he came to an interesting conclusion: ‘Religion is the first thing and the last thing, and until a man has God and been found by God, he begins at no beginning, he works to no end. He may have his friendships, his partial loyalties, his scraps of honor. But all these things fall into place and life falls into place with only God.’”
Where do you place God in your life? He should be the most important person to you. God guides us through this life and ushers us into His eternity if we know Him.
HOW TO BE WEALTHY
What comes to mind when I say the word wealth? Most likely, money becomes the main object in your thought. Every person has a personal definition of what wealth is to him or her. The primary dictionary definition even focuses on the material: “an abundance of possessions or money.” And many people would like to have wealth but will probably never obtain it. In talking with people, they would like to have a little more money to pay the bills and have a decent living. When it does come, they still are not satisfied. Interestingly, most wealthy people do not believe that they are wealthy.
The Word of God tells us to be satisfied with what we have. If we are not satisfied with the present possessions; in certainty, we would never be appeased with a little more wealth. The Psalmist puts a different perspective on wealth in this forty-ninth chapter. True wealth will never be found in material riches; its contentment rises from the inner man. An unknown author wrote: “Measure wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for which you would not take any money.” We all have a few priceless treasures, and no money could take them from us.
Riches cannot save an individual; works will never get one to heaven. You can own many things in this life and you can accomplish many great works, but neither will give you everlasting life. The plan of salvation is a direct gift from God. Although we owe Him everything that we have, even our lives, He asks us to believe in His redemptive plan, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. Salvation comes by receiving the gift from God. The text makes it very clear: “For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him” (v. 17). The wealth of this world will not be found in heaven.
From the biblical perspective, how does one truly become wealthy? One, wealth is a divine security—not a physical reality (vv. 1-5). Material wealth becomes an obsession for both the rich and poor (v. 2). If we allow it to consume us, most likely, we will miss the impact of genuine wealth. Such action should bring fear into the soul for the judgment of God will come. And God will pronounce an eternal damnation upon all who do not know the Savior, Jesus, the Christ.
Wealth is found in the life that we live, not the possessions that we gain. The child of God possesses eternal wealth and lives it daily. The believer does not have to live in fear of the coming judgment of God; but rather, we have the full joy of the Lord and satisfaction in our eternal destination. It is most important that we fix our eyes on the eternal realities that will never cease, rather than the earthly possessions that will come to naught.
The primary rise of spiritual wealth is highlighted from the scriptures by an unknown author:
His kindness and forbearance and patience (Romans 2:4)
The riches of God’s glory (Romans 9:23, Ephesians 1:18; 3:16)
The riches of God’s wisdom (Romans 11:13)
The riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7)
The riches of His mercy (Ephesians 2:4)
The riches of Christ are unsearchable (Ephesians 3:8)
Abounding in riches for all who call upon Him ((Romans 10:12)
The world offers uncertain riches (1 Timothy 6:17)
Jesus gives us true riches (Luke 16:11).
Two, wealth is a spiritual condition—not a material gain (vv. 6-14). The physical riches that we gain in this life do nothing to add eternal life. A rich man cannot go to God and pay a high price for his soul. Someone has said: “You never see a U-Haul behind a casket.” There are rich and famous people that have had possessions buried with them, but both the body and material assets decay.
Note also that they leave their great wealth to the future generations; but again, this will eventually lead to nothing. It is not wrong to accumulate wealth if one has the right attitude. The problem arises when the “love of money” becomes the main objective. The Apostle Paul tells us that the “love of money”, not money itself, destroys us (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
Again, the Psalmist makes it clear that death visits all classes of people. Nothing can save one from death as long as the Lord tarries, and no amount of wealth can be paid for eternal life. God has paid the full price for our salvation. Jesus Christ paid our debt in full on the cross. The believers, the upright, will be given honor and glory in the kingdom of God. The unbelievers, the wicked, will face eternal shame and contempt.
And third, wealth is a heart position—not an external fame (vv. 15-20). This gets into the crux of the whole matter about wealth. It is an internal condition to be real. We bring nothing into this world when we are born, and we will take nothing out in regard to material possessions. The physical wealth of this world has no merit or place in eternity. Even the unsaved will not be able to enjoy their riches in sheol or hell.
True wealth comes in knowing God and His power. There are people who reject an afterlife. To them, we die and have no further existence; yet, both testaments in the scriptures speak a great deal about the future and eternity. The Lord Jesus spent two-thirds of His ministry speaking about the coming judgment and existing hell. Why would He spend so much time on these two subjects if they were not true? For me, it is extremely hard to fathom a non-existence after death. In fact, it appears that this would take more faith on the part of an individual than believing in the afterlife. If you believe the Word of God, you can also rest assured that there is an eternal existence.
Having established this, these few verses speak about the tragedy of the lost soul. To reject God is nothing less than foolishness. Even if eternity were not true, what have we lost in believing in God and an eternal life with Him? The Apostle Paul puts it bluntly in the great resurrection of the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). To not have eternal life makes us most miserable, even more so than this world. Believe it or not! The Gospel of Jesus Christ and His magnificent sacrifice on the cross paves the way to the new and eternal spiritual life. And notice the great confidence of the Psalmist: “But God will redeem my soul from the power of [sheol]; for he shall receive me. Selah” (v. 15). Nothing will keep us from heaven if we know Jesus Christ, the Savior.
The wealth of this world will not be found in heaven. If God has given you wealth, enjoy it here on earth and share it with others. It becomes nothing in eternity, and every individual is on the same plane when it comes to the truth. God does not have favorites; there is no discrimination or inequality in eternity. Where is your wealth? The Lord has not blessed me with great worldly riches (even with my meager possessions, I am rich compared to most of the world), but He has given me untold riches with His daily blessings, endless provisions, and the eternal hope. There are not sufficient monies in the world to buy what I have in knowing and living for the Lord Jesus. Have you put your riches in the right place? And are your riches a divine security, spiritual condition and heart position? No man can take the wealth of the spiritual life from us.
Let me close with these thoughts. “The world system is committed to at least four major objectives, which I can summarize in four words: fortune, fame, power, pleasure. First and foremost: Fortune, money. The world system is driven by money; it feeds on materialism. Second: Fame. That is another word for popularity. Fame is longing to be known, to be somebody in someone else’s eyes. Third: Power. This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever. It is the desire to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit. Fourth: Pleasure. At its basic level, pleasure has to do with fulfilling one’s sensual desires. It’s the same mindset that’s behind the slogan: ‘If it feels good, do it” (Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p. 219). All four of these will fade and be gone in eternity. Why not place your wealth in the lasting presence with Christ and His eternalities?
THE SET PATTERN
As soon as we walk into a home, we can tell whether a person is organized or disorganized. One time when we were selling our house, the realtor came to look at it and determine the selling price. As we went into the garage, he remarked that he knew it would be well-organized. Why? He had already seen the rest of the house and realized that we like organization. Both my wife and I like a well-kept house with order.
Nevertheless, this is not normal for most people. It is much easier to be disorganized. Why does disorganization tend to be the norm for many individuals? For a moment, let me take a look at its scriptural and general implications of the world. Prior to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, we find no indication of any disorganization. It became one of the defects of the sinful condition. The dictionary definition supports this idea: “a breaking up of an order or system.” The divine order was rejected; man ushered in the ungodly state. It became so chaotic in just a few generations that God destroyed the earth and its inhabitants with a universal flood. It has become common practice to lack the discipline to be organized. And nations and individuals must deal with its ill effects and destructions on a daily basis. Personally, there are people who are happy in their apparent disorganization which is fine if they chose that lifestyle. We certainly do not have to be formal and stiff in all that we do; we are to relax and enjoy ourselves at the right times.
Organization is a foundational trait of the divine Godhead. There is nothing in the scriptures that indicate God is disorganized in His creation and plans. Salvation is a key example. Even before the foundation of the earth, God had redemption planned for mankind. God is God; He is holy and righteous. No one is superior to Him. He created life; therefore, He is the one to set the rules and boundaries for life and our benefit. The words of the Psalmist are an instructional Psalm on the set pattern established by God. Rightfully, we are to be in tune with Him: “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his [conduct] aright will I show the salvation of God” (v. 23). God sets the guidelines.
The biblical pattern tells us who God is and what He does in regard to the human race. Foremost, God is Judge (vv. 1-6). In this the writers of both testaments leave no doubts. The facts of life are set in stone by God who does not need to revise or change His plans. Even though we major on the physical life and its needs, this is not the priority established by our Creator. Life is more spiritual than it is natural or physical. Because of its many endless troubles and painful conditions, we focus on the earthly life. The Word of the Lord is written that we may have true life—the spiritual and eternal life.
The living God judges each individual on what we do with the inner man, the soul. Having provided the plan of salvation and way of escape for sin and spiritual death, God knows who is saved and unsaved. Jesus Christ is our advocate and substitute; He paid the full price for our personal forgiveness and new life. Nothing can separate us from the love of God if we receive Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Those who never come to know Him will pay the ultimate price of spiritual death, eternally banned from heaven and its pleasures. Let me repeat it again, God never condemns anyone to this lost condition; we do it ourselves if we reject His salvation for us. Like any judge, God pronounces the sentence upon the guilty ones.
But how do we keep in touch with God and set the spiritual life as a constant priority? The first six verses, in the contextual structure, give us the answer: “Gather my saints together unto me, those who have made covenant with me by sacrifice” (v. 5). The children of Israel were under a covenant with God; rightfully, they were to acknowledge it and be faithful (Exodus 24:7-8). Their worship and praise was to the one true God. Nothing was to separate them from their love for God. The separation came when they refused to obey the Lord and His commands.
Under the New Testament grace, we, too, have been called to know and worship the Lord. Prayer and its power allow us to have a daily and direct communication with God. The payment will be far greater than what we deserve as we note that God will gather His people for an eternal family reunion. It will never grow old, but it will get better and better.
Then, God is Deliverer (vv. 7-15). This brings us to the apex of the divine pattern. The entire divine plan is centered in salvation for the world. God deeply desires that no one perishes, but He does not force us into His salvation. Even though God shows His love to the whole world, the individual makes the decision to receive or reject the salvation plan. The eternal blueprint, fully designed and implemented before the foundation of the earth, provides the only option to make things right in our lives.
In these verses, we have two distinct addresses. The first is to the wicked (vv. 16-22). The Lord is extremely patient with this world and every person, but the day is coming when all of us will be held accountable. There will be the exposure of sinners and their sins before the judgment seat of Christ. The open book of unforgiven sins is well-defined: 1) outright rejection (v. 16), 2) refusal of instruction (v. 17), 3) companionship with sinners (v. 18), 4) evil speech (v. 19), 5) character assassination (v. 20), 6) disrespect for God (v, 21), and 7) improper status (v. 22). These seven sins represent the total downfall of man and cannot be overcome except by divine intervention. Jesus Christ, the God-man, became the perfect substitute for our redemption.
The second address is to those who are saved by the precious shed blood of Christ (v. 23). In a short-concise statement of twenty words, the author gives us the full picture of our salvation. He presents a three-step order: 1) praise God including the salvation experience, 2) practice moral conduct in obeying the commands of the Lord, and 3) prepare for the final joy in living with the Lord forever. The plan of God provides us with the best in this life, but it gets even better when we enter into eternity. Why in the world would anyone want to miss such a glorious life?
God sets the guidelines. Because He is the one true, living God, He judges, delivers and administers the world and its inhabitants. Our God has a well-organized divine pattern that is highly visible and understandable to every person. God does not make it difficult for us to be His children. Through the gift and sacrifice of His Son, we can be brought back into a right relationship with Him. God is not the problem; we become the issue when we fail to acknowledge God, believe Him, and receive Him. Rebellion keeps people from coming to know the Lord. Are you with God or against Him? You and you alone determine your position in eternity.
C. S. Lewis wrote: “When the author walks onto the stage, the play is over. God is going to invade, all right; but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else comes crashing in? This time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.”