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Salvation Comes from God Alone

O Lord, how many are my foes!  Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah  

But you, O Lord, you are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.  I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

 Psalm 3:1-4 ESV

Have you fought a battle where the odds seem to be against you? Josh fought a war against cancer.  His body was brutally overcome by it, but his soul persevered to glory.  Soon after his death, someone close to my heart told me to stop praying to God since He didn’t keep Josh alive.  “There is no salvation for him in God.”  These were the same mocking words David heard during a desperate time when he needed to be encouraged in his faith.  He would have to find solace from God alone as he poured his raw emotions to the Lord in prayer.

David opens the psalm with an exclamation mark, which should draw us to feel his intense desperation.  We get a picture of him surrounded by enemies on all sides, and the opposition growing steadily.  He insists we take notice of just how many by his repetition of the word.  The fearless leader of an evil rebellion opposing his rightful authority is not from a foreign army but from within his people. The war is not from afar—it hit close to home. It came from his own house. We can verbally hear the mockery from others.  William S. Plumer in his commentary suggests the ones mocking him were David’s supposed friends.  The cruse is not just hurled at his poor soul, but at God himself and His people.  The distress would be insurmountable by human strength.  Pause and think about being in a situation like that…

The words “But you, O Lord” break the silence.  David turns to behold the Lord.  We get a picture of the king of Israel humbly broken to tears, bowed before the Lord who is lifted high above the heavens.  David does not see the Lord as far off but sitting on His glorious throne hearing His child’s cries.  Thus, he was sure of his deliverance.  “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain, that a man could strike his life on it a thousand times.” Martin Luther

I wonder in amazement at David’s confidence.  Especially since the unraveling of his kingdom was at least in part of his own doing, as a consequence of his sin with Beersheba.  His confidence did not come in himself.  His faith was on God alone for his salvation.  It was not based on his own power, but on his position before God.  David heroically trusted hinged on the Lord choosing him to be His anointed.  His position anchors his faith to pray with boldness. “…he trusted God to restore his crumbling life and grant deliverance in the midst of his humbling experience.  Confidently, he claimed that the Lord would lift his head with courage and peace that only God could provide (Ps 9:13).” (Dr. Steve Lawson) If we walk by faith in Christ, we too, can have full confidence that the Lord will lift our head with joy.  He may not deliver us in this life, but ultimate deliverance will one day be won for His people.

Kiss the Son

27770168-7894-4bec-9980-e5124c3243b2“‘I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 2:7-12 ESV

A father with his new baby is the sweetest thing to watch. Josh was present at the birth of our youngest son. He cried the minute Nathan entered our world. There was a gleam in his eyes.  If I could read his mind, it would probably be filled with all that he wanted to give his son. The first order of business was to give him a bath. However, Josh would have provided anything for his beloved children. It makes me wonder how much more a Heavenly Father would want to give to His divine Son. Not only is God merely desirous to give His Son whatever He asks, God is also able to grant any request. Josh was just a man plagued with his mortality. Although his heart was to give our son all his love for all his days, he was sadly unable to do so for long.

God the Father is all-powerful and everlasting. His supreme authority points us to the loftiness of His Son—the anticipated Messiah. The Father is capable of giving His Son all the nations of the world for all eternity. Ultimately, redemption from His enemies will be gloriously given to Christ along with the title deed to the earth. “Here he declares that his very enemies are his inheritance. To their face, he declares this decree, and ‘Lo! here,’ cries the Anointed One, as he holds aloft in that once pierced hand the scepter of his power, ‘He hath given me this, not only the right to be a king, but the power to conquer.’” Charles H. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David.

Before pride swells up and we, like the Pharisees, think we Jesus comes to right all our wrongs and set our enemies straight, let us remember where we come from, and make sure of where we are heading. Who are Jesus’ enemies that will be dashed to pieces? We are. Without God’s choosing to take us from the kingdom of darkness into His kingdom of light, we are doomed. We are not natural born heirs like Jesus. We first stand as his enemies, deserving death and torment for our rebellion. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8.) You and I must kiss the Son to be pardoned freely. He has every right to be angry at us.  Even toward us who have been saved if we trample the Son of God and take lightly His blood shed with our persistent sin (Hebrews 10:29.)

Our whole-hearted adoration is the only acceptable response. When we are tempted to abandon ship due to the weight of our problems, may we repent of our unbelief. Let us hold fast to Jesus as our refuge. When life seems full of scars and raging wars, he is our healing resting place. When our circumstances are utterly contrary to our hearts deepest longings, we can look beyond it, to a satisfying reward—Christ himself. All who find Him to be our consolation are promised a blessing in this passage. Friend, I pray we would not harden our hearts, but serve Him with fear and rejoicing.

Why the World Hates Christians

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples’ plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” Psalm 2:1-6 ESV

All around us people reject God, and actually do everything in their power to come against all He stands for, and all that stand for Him. The world scoffs at Christians because they scoff at Jesus. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.’” John 15:19-20a.

Followers of Christ will not be left in shame at the coming of our glorious King.  One out one person will die.  Every day we get older and closer to the day we breathe our last.  Those who do not follow Christ, follow Satan headlong to the peril of death in hell.  God reaches His mighty hand and calls us to repent from the rebellion that mankind ensued even since the day Adam and Eve sinned.  Whoever doesn’t heed this warning, rejects God who not only is Creator but even Himself died that we would be free of our own unraveling.  If you are scoffing at him and there will be a day that He will scoff at you.  If you have trusted in Jesus as your Savior there will come a day when you will no longer be the object of contempt of ridicule… We will be joyful subjects of the glorious King. We get to hail Him and take part in His heavenly Kingdom.

As children of God, we don’t fear shouting our Father’s praises no matter how much the world tried to silence our song.  Christians are told to keep their faith to themselves.  We are being pressured to keep our religion in our hearts, our homes, and our pews.  No matter where God leads, we have a story to tell of our redemption and God’s work in our lives.  Even amidst the walls of a hospital at the end of our lives, or at the end of ourselves, believers can boldly proclaim Christ and look forward to our heavenly reward.  We were at one time walking in darkness, like the rest of the world—headed for hell! God saved us and he’s coming soon.  He is on His way! How could we possibly keep this a secret?! God has done, is doing, and will continue to do wonderful things through His people.  May we be excited to see His providences with eyes of faith, and to tell of them to all around us!

The Passings of the Wicked and the Righteous

“The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Psalm 1:4-6

The Bible repeatedly contrast the righteous with the wicked. I don’t believe God does this to merely condemn the wicked, but to warn us all, and show our great need for a Savior.  “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”(John 3:17-18) The bleak reality is that in our natural state we are all prone to wickedness.  The definition of wicked here does not refer to something kind of bad, but kind of cool.  The wicked are described as those who stand for all that goes against God and are morally bankrupt.  “Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness”(Psalms 52:7)  One characteristic of the wicked is they do not last, but are blown away like a wilted leaf.  They will not withstand judgment, but will ultimately perish.

We don’t need to look far to find examples of wickedness.  Right after the fall of humanity, the first son of Adam wickedly attacked his brother.  Why?  “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.”(1John3:12) We cannot be quick to point our finger others.  Wickedness can be found in our hearts.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9)  All of us fall so short of living God’s way, because of sin.  We can’t possibly do enough “good” to achieve a right standing with God on our own.  We need to be rescued from our selves.  There is only one Savior who is able to save us from our wickedness—the Lord Jesus Christ.  He innocently died in our place to bear the punishment for our sins, was buried, and rose from the grave to give us His righteousness.

The righteous are now privileged to enjoy a restored relationship with the Father, and glory in Christ forever.  God knows the ways of the righteous.  He is intimated acquainted with those whom He has adopted as His own children to resemble His likeness.  “His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions.” Charles Spurgeon

The Blessedness of Believers

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalms 1:1-3

Last night, my four-year-old was having night terrors. He was deeply troubled. Nothing would console him. His heart was calmed only by his abiding in my presence for the rest of the night. His happy place was by momma’s side. What is your happy place? Everyone longs for happiness. It’s not sinful to seek joy as long as we search for it not from the wickedness of the world. God is glorified by our delight of Him. Inexhaustible joy is found by abiding in God Himself. And we find Him in His Word. God is best seen in the person of Jesus Christ. He is revealed throughout the pages of Scripture. His person, words, and works are revealed in the Bible. One of God’s attributes is that He is blessed. In His presence is fullness of joy (Ps16:11), because it’s who He is (Eph 1:3). If we spend time with Jesus in God’s Word, we will be like him. It doesn’t mean we won’t suffer. Sometimes the times of our deepest sorrows are also the moments of most intimate communion with God, and as a result—the times of richest joy. “The God-centered life draws its spiritual vitality from God’s Word, which is compared to streams… The godly sets down deep roots into a reservoir which will never run dry—one that refreshes, revives, renews, cleanses, and satisfies those who draw upon it (John 15:3, Eph 5:26)” (Spurgeon)
Isn’t it amazing that our creator God would subject Himself to pain and suffering when He is deserving of all glory, majesty, and honor!? He didn’t need us in heaven in order to make it blissful. “He was perfectly blessed in Himself before the first creature was called into being.” (Arthur W. Pink.) He chose to create us to reflect His image and to enjoy Him forever. We sinned. Yet, He did not give us what we deserve. God still chose to lavish His blessings on us. He made a redemptive way back by sending His own son to suffer in our place that by faith, in Christ, we would be given a share of eternal joy with Him. May we seek God’s grace to order all our steps to follow steady after the LORD and find unending blessedness by His side among those who also walk in His way of righteousness. “When indwelt by the living Word, the leaf of the righteous does not wither, meaning all that he does will have eternal value and lasting results.” (Dr. Lawson)
Heavenly Father, you are our joy when our hearts ache with longing for more… Your blessings are imperishable and unending. In your Word is found Christ—the sure Hope that anchors our souls in this tragic, turbulent world. May we not follow after the sin that makes a wreck of our lives and tosses our faith about, but be steadfast in our pursuit of love (1 Cor14:1) through your Word. In the blessed name of Jesus. 

Waiting for the King. Looking to the Cross.

It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” 1 Pe 1:12

The dread of waiting drives some of us to conspire to avoid traffic, lines, and crowds.  Most of us desire to grow in our patience, yet not many of us would be willing to wait to gain it.  The prophets of old desired to see the Messiah but they had to go to the place of waiting to behold the glory of His coming.  By God’s grace, He revealed to them as they searched the Scriptures diligently, they would not be the ones to welcome Christ, but a coming generation would be blessed to identify Him in His sufferings.  They selflessly served others by the enlightening of the Holy Spirit.  They point us to the cross.  “Ancient prophets, itinerant preachers, and exalted angels have for ages stood in service to this salvation that has been the joyful business of God’s servants over the centuries.” (David Helm)

The glory and wonder of the cross are found at the incomprehensible revelation that the God of the universe would have to suffer to make a once-for-all atonement that animal sacrifices could not cover.  Angles still long to behold the mystery of the gospel.  It baffled their minds to understand such a wonderfully great salvation to undeserving rebels like us.  It ought to captivate our minds too and lead us prostrate before the cross in humble adoration of crucified King.   “Knowing this, I hope you have a surge of spiritual fortitude to remain faithful wherever God has placed you.  Hearts were made to rise in worship.  And looking ahead, our minds are to be made ready for action.”  (David Helm)

The Treasure of the Christ Revealedk

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” 1 Peter 1:10-11 ESV

The Bible reveals to us Gods marvelous salvation plan.  Praise God for the prophets and the Scriptures given to us through them!  We can’t dismiss them as outdated.   Just like a treasure chest of gold and pearls would be of great value to us years later, the gold mine of God’s Word—specifically the gospel, is history’s greatest treasure.  The prophets point us to Jesus and how much we need his saving grace.  We hold the fullness of the treasure of the gospel in Christ made known to us!

All of the 66 canonized books of God’s breathed out words are relevant for our daily living (2Tim3:16).  It, first of all, points us to how far short we fall of meeting God’s standards.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Rom 3:23.  Then, it provides the only way of escaping God’s just wrath upon us for rebellion against his law.  “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:6-8.  And it teaches us how to follow Christ, “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1Thess 1:9-10.  With as much enthusiasm as the prophet’s year ago, we too should search and study carefully God’s promises and how we are called to follow and point others to the Messiah-King until they are fully realized.