Psalm 18:20-27

This passage meant a lot to me yesterday as I went through work, realizing that sometimes it is just hard doing “the right thing.” I thought maybe some others of you needed to hear the same message I did, so simply put, there is no commentary here, just this passage of Scripture:

Psalm 18:20-27 (New Living Translation)

 20 The Lord rewarded me for doing right;
      he restored me because of my innocence.
 21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
      I have not turned from my God to follow evil.
 22 I have followed all his regulations;
      I have never abandoned his decrees.
 23 I am blameless before God;
      I have kept myself from sin.
 24 The Lord rewarded me for doing right.
      He has seen my innocence.
 25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
      to those with integrity you show integrity.
 26 To the pure you show yourself pure,
      but to the wicked you show yourself hostile.
 27 You rescue the humble,
      but you humiliate the proud. 


Are you afraid of the dark?

So many kids, it seems, are afraid of the dark. They are worried or scared that monsters may be there to “get them.” I remember those days, and I’m still uncomfortable in the dark, but I’m not afraid of it. I am afraid of heights, which some people say is just foolish, since I want to jump out of airplanes (but that’s a whole different story).

As an adult, are there any things YOU are still afraid of?

In Genesis, we can read about a day when Adam and Eve were afraid of God:

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him ‘Where are you? So he said, ‘I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid.'” Genesis 3:8-10

If we read the Scriptures prior to this passage, we discover the reason that they were afraid: Adam and Eve had disobeyed the Lord and eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Have you ever disobeyed the Lord? Have you ever disobeyed your parents? Did you hide, or at least dread seeing them after you went against their wishes?

All of us, have at some point or another, disobeyed a rule, command, or the Will of the Lord. It seems almost inevitable for us as humans to be 100% perfect all the time.

However, the good news is that God is a forgiving God. He knows we’re not perfect and He is willing to forgive us of our sins. That’s why He sent Jesus Christ to die for us. He knew we could never qualify for entry to Heaven on our own. But God, out of His divine knowledge and preparation, sent Jesus to earth to reconcile us and show us mercy and grace.

Nothing we can do on our own makes us worthy of the reward of eternal life in Heaven. However, there is something we can do to make us acceptable to God and the reward that awaits us. And that one thing is to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. We can invite Him into our hearts and life and allow Him to be Lord of our life. Being Lord of our life means that we will depend on Him for guidance in what we do, and seek out what we can do to honor and glorify Him by spreading the Good News and doing His work in our churches, as missionaries, and as lay persons throughout the world.

Don’t be afraid anymore! Accept Jesus as your Heavenly Father and allow His love for you to cover all your mistakes, and let Him forgive you of all your sins (past, present, and future).

Praise Receipts

Recently, a church member came to me and informed me that she received a blessing from praying to the Lord on a day when she vowed only to “Give Thanks to the Lord” and to ask for nothing in return. I thought to myself – wow!, when we truly commit to doing God’s Will, and ask nothing in return, we in fact DO receive something in return – a mighty blessing.

The Psalmist reminds us to give thanks to the Lord many many times throughout Scripture, but also gives insight on “how to” give thanks.

Psalm 35:18 – I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.

While we needn’t always give thanks in public, it IS important to give thanks publicly on occassion. Others need to hear about the blessings that God bestows onto Christians. It seems way to often that those who don’t deserve anything “appear” to get rewarded. However, there are many more blessing given to those who do deserve the rewards. Blessings are given frequently to Christians who are following God’s Will in their lives, and we should want to spread the wonderful joy that we receive when we get them. So next time the Pastor, or Deacon, or whoever asks for “prayer requests” – don’t forget that “Praise Receipts” are just as important to be noted in the church assembly.

Give thanks publicly to God for those praise receipts and you may find that your prayer requests are less lengthy than you might think.

So the church grew…

Ever wonder why churches don’t grow?

In the days immediately following Jesus’ death and resurrection, the church grew quickly, by leaps and bounds, but why doesn’t that happen today? As you read the Scriptures from Acts, we find that Paul began preaching and going on mission trips. On one such trip we find that Paul and Timothy:

“went from town to town, instructing believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day.” – Acts 16:4-5

Simply stated, the members of the church “followed” the teachings of Christ. Ever wonder why I named this blog “FollowinGod” ???

It’s when we “follow” Christ that we are more likely to succeed. It’s when we follow Christ that we are more likely to understand. And it’s when we follow Christ that we are more likely to do His Will and expand His Kingdom.

Next time you wonder why the church may not be growing, don’t point to those people who have left, but think inwardly about what YOU can do to be a better follower of God. How can we show God’s love through us? How can we help God grow our church?

Abiding love

Simple and to the point…

“Abiding love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.” – Psalm 32:10

Some translations change the word “abiding” to “unfailing.” Whichever translation you use, realize that God’s love for you is TOTAL…and…COMPLETE. You need nothing else when you fully trust in the Lord!

Look!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just “see” God as He walks by us? (To always know He’s there?) We read about John (the Baptist):

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! – John 1:29

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  – John 1:35-36

John was actually Jesus’ relative (Mary [Jesus’ mother] and Elizabeth [John’s mother] were cousins). But we never heard about John and Jesus meeting prior to now. Doubtful that they had Facebook or MySpace to know each other, but even while unborn, John “lept” in Elizabeth’s womb. There was a relationship between these two from the very beginning! 

Wouldn’t it be great to have the kind of relationship with somebody that you just “know” everything about them? That you leap for joy in their presence? That you know them so personally that your love for them exceeds your self-love?

That’s the kind of love that Jesus has. And He’s willing to share it with you. All that is required is that you offer your heart in return to Him. Open your heart today and invite Jesus into your life. Give your life to Him, and obey His commands.

“Here’s your sign”

So many times, people argue that the Old Testament is not to be used today. They claim that it was only valid for ancient times… prior to Christ… under Mosaic law… etc.

However, the Old Testament continues, even today, to prophesy about the future (the book of Daniel foretells the coming Revelation). 

But today, I want to go back in time, some 2000 years, prior to Christ’s arrival on earth. In Isaiah we find the prophetic words about our Messiah: Jesus Christ.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14

Many people claim they have never received a “sign” from God. A child born of a virgin, however, is a huge sign that you just can’t miss. Even more so, His sinless life…, death, burial and resurrection to new life is a sign that no man before Him could ever imagine. All foretold in the Scriptures.

Yet, there are literally millions of people that still don’t believe in Jesus.  Take a moment this season and tell others why believe. What signs and wonders and mighty blessings has He given you? Tell others of these miraculous deeds and help them come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Forgiving one another

Recently an adult (we’ll call “Bill”) confessed to me that he was having trouble forgiving someone (we’ll call “Joe”). We talked for some time about the situation and Bill knew that he was wrong not to forgive Joe, but Bill was really struggling with what Joe did and just couldn’t forgive him.

Bill knows Scripture very well, and also knows that he must forgive Joe. However, Bill was upset because Joe never said “I’m sorry” and Bill was also worried that Joe might do something again that might hurt him in the future.

Everyday, we live in a world of “hypotheticals.” At work, we say “what if…,” knowing full well that this hypothetical situation may never occur. We seem to be more pessimistic sometimes, and forget that God is in control. Too often, we allow the “what if” or possible future situation to control our present situation.

Unfortunately, in situations like these, I don’t have the power to help Bill forgive Joe. I don’t even have the words to say to help him understand what he already knows about forgiveness. 

But Christ told us that we should

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

When I look back upon how Christ was treated by others, I wonder how He could have forgiven any of us for the pain, the suffering, the agony, and the BETRAYAL that He suffered. If Jesus had lived in a world of “what ifs” or thought about how we would continue to treat Him, He might never have forgiven us. But He did! Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life as a showing of His love for us and a symbol of His forgiveness of us.

 

And While I believe that Scripture is the ultimate and best source of our teaching, I do believe that some people on earth have really taken the intent of Scripture and laid it out in “layman’s terms” with a twist to help us understand it better:

  • “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes
  • “He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

One final remark that reminds us that forgiveness is not a tool that is used in seclusion:

  • “Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.