Friday, October 1, 2010

Steadfast In The Tumult

1 Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. 2 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. 3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. 4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. 7 The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire. 8 The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory. 10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever. 11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.
Psalms 29:1-11 (KJV)

As I read this scripture, I was thinking of how life can be so tumultuous at times. Kids & bills & car repairs, terrorists & the economy & liberal’s agendas, friends in the hospital & overwhelming work schedules & the grass needs mowed. Etc., etc., etc. Whew! The problems of life can come in like a flood at times!

In this Psalm, David depicts how tumultuous the works of the Lord can be! His voice is a thunder! Personally, I like to sit on the porch and watch a storm thunder, lighting, and rain. Some folks are disturbed by the least rumblings of thunder, and even storm lovers are sent scurrying when the storm gets real bad! But David described it with words such as “glory”, “powerful”, and “majesty”.

David said the Lord breaks the mighty cedars, and causes them to skip like a calf. Wow! Sounds like an earthquake to me. The Lord can make the country of Lebanon and Sirion (Mt. Hermon) dance like a unicorn. Now, that is a powerful earthquake! It wears me out to move just a wheelbarrow full of dirt, but my God can toss mega-tons with the flick of His little finger! David said He also shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. Awesome!

The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire. Think of a campfire; one fire, but divided into many tongues. How pretty it is, and how intricate are the patterns. Who do dat? God! It seems like a simple thing, but I couldn’t do it – could you? (Kids, don’t’ try this at home! Finger burns are very painful.) God does this with just His voice!

The voice of God causes the deer to deliver their young, and the leaves to turn colors and drop from the trees in the fall. David reminds us that this terrible, mighty God of destruction is also the God of life and beauty.

“In his temple doth every one speak of his glory”. Those who are members of the household of God certainly speak of His glory! If all you can do is grouse and complain about what God is doing, I would say you might be in the wrong temple! Some self-evaluation may be in order here.

At times, my mind focuses in on how terrible things are, and I get unsettled, fearful, angry, and upset. Has that ever happened to you? I know David found himself in that mental state at times, but through his experiences, he learned some valuable lessons. He offers to us these gems of insight when he said:

” 10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever. 11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.

Is your mountain shaking, and big trees falling all around you? Are the floods rushing in? Are you in the wilderness of Kadesh right now, and if it isn’t bad enough just to be in a wilderness, is it quakin’ & shakin’ too?


God sits on the flood. Forever. Things over my head are under His feet! In that realization is strength and peace! God is over it all. In His peace, we can rise above the tumult, and sit as observers inside His force-field of protection.

As you observe and/or experience the power of God working all around you, remember to “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” These things will pass; God, and those in his temple, will remain.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jesus Doeth All Things Well

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Matt 27:46 (KJV)

Satan would condemn us when we confess discouragement or doubt. But these feelings are only human. They are not sinful in and of themselves. Of course, they CAN LEAD to us ultimately giving up on God. But to be tempted and to experience these feelings is not sin. Behold our scripture text: Jesus himself questioned the Father during the time of His greatest trial. Beaten, weak, hanging on a cross, three-forths dead, He questioned His Father. And yet the scripture says of Him "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth..." 1 Peter 2:22 (KJV) God showed no displeasure with his son.

We are no better than our Master. We will be tried to the furthest extent of our capacities. We will be tired, discouraged, and full of questions at times. And Satan will come to us at these times and accuse us of having given up on God. But in truth, as long as we are asking God questions and laying our weakness before Him, imploring His help, we have obviously not given up! Don't fall for the false accusations of the devil. Resist him, and he will flee!

Take your doubts, questions, hurts, and discouragements to God. Let Him answer them, and transform your doubt into greater faith.

In such times as these, I have received comfort and encouragement from the words of Fanny Crosby in "All The Way My Savior Leads Me":

All the way my Saviour leads me; what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy, who thro' life has been my Guide?
Heav'ly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate're befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.
For I know, whate're befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.

As you hang upon your personal cross, look ahead with full faith and assurance that God knows what He is doing, and the eternal good will far exceed the present distress.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jeremy Taylor Quotes

Jeremy Taylor Quotes: "Conscience in most men, is but the anticipation of the opinions of others."

Monday, March 8, 2010


Psalm 27
David sustains his faith by the power of God
A Psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. 4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. 8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. 9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. 10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. 11 Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. 12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. 13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Psalms 27:1-14 (KJV)


It’s path takes many strange turns. We come upon trials and situations that we never could have imagined. Many times, these situations are fearful.

David is talking here in the 27th Psalm about a horrible and fearful situation in his own life. But please note that the dilemma is not David’s main focus. The Lord is his main focus. This is illustrated by the fact that the first line of his Psalm is “The LORD is my light and my salvation…”. Secondly he mentions the problem in a general way; “…whom shall I fear?”

“The Lord” (specific) vs “whom” (vague, nebulous).

In times of confusion and turmoil, we need to stay focused on the source of our help. ”I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth” Psalm 121 Satan’s job is to destroy us. To do that, he will try to overwhelm and distract us with the sheer volume of troubles.

Please note that in Psalm 27, on the “trouble” side of the equation David mentions enemies, foes, an host, and false witnesses; all plural.

But on the “solution” side of the equation, it is always singular;

 The LORD is my light and my salvation vs 1
 the LORD is the strength of my life vs 1
 One thing have I desired of the LORD vs 4
 to behold the beauty of the LORD vs 4
 He shall hide me in His pavilion vs 5
 in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me vs 5
 he shall set me up upon a rock vs 5
 etc

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but there is one answer to all afflictions: God.

Peter was distracted by many waves. His solution was to turn his eyes upon the one and only Jesus.

In verse 8 of our text, David reminds himself of that which God reminded him. “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Let us repeatedly remind ourselves of this when the winds and waves of trouble are whipping about our heads. He is our refuge, our tabernacle, our rock. Focus, focus, focus - on the face of the Lord, not on the troubles.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Good People Led Astray

But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
Acts 13:50 (KJV)

And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. Gal 2:13 (KJV)

It is a sad truth that good people can be led astray.

Jesus said “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt 4:19) And at a later date, God confirmed this principle when He commanded “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matt 17:5)

How heartwarming it is to behold a man or woman who forsakes following the dictates of Satan and who commits to hearing Christ and following Him! The initial transformation of a life is wondrous to see. And what joy it is to watch this new creature as he walks the road of life in years to come, faithful to follow the Master and be transfigured more and more into the image of Christ.

For “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1) is an ongoing process. And the only way we can accomplish this is to continue hearing and following Christ.

And yet, even after a wonderful start, a few miles down the road good people are sometimes led astray. This is evidenced by the scripture texts. Let’s examine them a little.

First Example:

Acts 13:2 relates that “…the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. “ These holy men went from city to city preaching Jesus Christ as messiah and doing wonders and miracles by the power of the Holy Ghost.

When they came to Antioch, they were given an opportunity to preach in the local synagogue. Paul began at Moses and reminded those Jews of how God had so wonderfully been with the people of Israel and her leaders down through history. He showed them that Christ was the promised Messiah, come to earth through the lineage of David. He sadly recounted how recently the Jews in Jerusalem and their leaders hardened their hearts toward Christ and condemned him, finally convincing Pilate to crucify him. Paul then proclaimed the good news that Jesus had conquered death, coming back from the grave, and brought to us this great salvation!

This was the most wonderful news that could ever be reported, and the Gentile proselytes (Gentiles who had been converted to Judaism) received the gospel with gladness (vs. 42 and 48). But the Jews who were in charge were jealous of Paul and Barnabas (vs. 45). Too many people were seeing the truth of Jesus as Messiah, and were deserting their ship. Perhaps the Jewish elders had had it cushy for too long, and didn’t like their set up being shaken!

And so, we come to verse 50 which relates “But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.”

It seems a contradiction, but nevertheless, here it is. Honorable women and the chief men of Antioch persecuted and expelled messengers of God from their city!

Were these people true and honorable, but ignorantly following the orders of elders they were trained to obey since childhood? Or does it show that “not all that glitters is gold”? Perhaps God used this incident to reveal that the people of this city were inwardly something very different from what they professed outwardly. Maybe it was some of both: some were good but not too wise, and some were hypocrites all along, just like their leaders.

These Jewish elders were able to create a false impression of the apostles in the minds of the majority of the people. Astounding! But having the majority does not automatically make for righteousness. In the end, the apostles suffered shame and condemnation in the eyes of a corrupt society. But the all-knowing and righteous God of heaven looked on them with favor and honor, knowing that the apostles had only obeyed Him.

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Eph 5:15-17 (KJV)

Walk circumspectly. Circumspect comes from the Latin words circum (circle) and specere (to see). In other words, look around. Be aware of what is around you. Or, as Webster says, “careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences” The folks who condemned Paul and Barnabas at Antioch failed to do this. How about us?

Second Example:

Peter was certainly a great man of God. He had walked on water. He preached a great sermon on the day of Pentecost where three thousand souls got saved. And he had received visions directly from God.

In one vision, God taught Peter not to discriminate against the Gentile converts, because they were cleansed and accepted of God, just like believing Jews. But he pulled away from his Gentile brethren while the Jews were in town. Peter, a good man, was led astray because of his fear of the Jews from Jerusalem. (Thus, the reason for Paul’s rebuke. - Gal 2:11)

And consequently, Peter infected another good man, Barnabas, with divisiveness. Barnabas, this strong apostle of God “carried away”? Yep. It happened.

It is ironic that at Antioch, Barnabas was a victim of people who were led astray, but he in turn was led astray and offended Gentiles who had done him no harm!

Folks, this should show us that none of us are infallible. If the honorable and chief people of Antioch can be led into doing great sin to God’s emissaries, it is possible for us to do the same. If great luminaries such as Peter and Barnabas can be pulled into error, we in this day and age can also be led astray. Let us be careful to walk circumspectly and not be pulled into that number called Good People Led Astray.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Working of Godly Sorrow

The Working of Godly Sorrow

For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
2 Cor 7:8-11 (KJV)

Paul had written the 1st Corinthian letter to rebuke and chasten the church there for various sins. In chapters 1 and 3, he rebuked them for their sectarian spirit. In chapter 5, he reprimanded them for 2 things: 1) adultery in the congregation and 2) failure of the church to discipline the offenders. Taking disagreements between Christians before worldly courts was dealt with in chapter 6, …and so on throughout the book.

These are the reasons why Paul was saying in our beginning text from 2 Corinthians “For though I made you sorry with a letter…” He was referring to the 1st Corinthian letter.

From these things we can glean some deep lessons that will be good for our souls if we accept them and apply them to our lives.

First, God has a ministry that is charged sometimes to rebuke and chasten the flock. And while it is true that some ministers may abuse that solemn responsibility, we must keep in mind the gist of this scripture is that a true shepherd must, at God’s behest, at times chasten the flock.

Paul did not write 2 Corinthians to “take back” the things that he said previously. He freely admitted that he realized that he caused them sorrow, but it was necessary that he do so. At another time Paul stated “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” Gal 2:11 (KJV) Was Paul a monster, a man taking delight in causing pain? No he was not, but just the opposite. He loved his brethren everywhere so much that he would rather see them suffer temporarily in this life rather than go to the judgement with their sin and be cast into hell for eternity.

And then he pointed out that there is a right way to receive rebuke and a wrong way also. He told them that he was so glad to see that they “sorrowed to repentance”

This is the right way for us to receive a godly rebuke. Let it work godly sorrow in our hearts. He said, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation”. Paul rejoiced. That may sound weird that someone would rejoice in someone else’s sorrow, but if you study the whole situation, you will see that Paul saw the greater good that comes at the end of godly sorrow. He sees people making things right with God and their fellow man. Without godly sorrow, this cannot happen.

And then there is the wrong way to receive rebuke. Paul said “but the sorrow of the world worketh death”. The issue thus becomes Godly sorrow vs. the sorrow of the world. What is this sorrow of the world? What is it like?

One example is the little boy who, knowing better, steals a cookie from mommy’s cookie jar. Mom catches him and spanks his fingers. He cries and says, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” But later, when he is very sure that mommy is way in the back of the yard talking to a neighbor, he reaches in and gets another cookie!

This is the sorrow of the world. It leads one to put on the appearance of repentance, but for the wrong reason: to make mommy quit spanking! On the other hand, godly sorrow would cause one to repent because you know you have done wrong and disappointed mommy. When that is your motive, you’ll never go back to steal another cookie!

This scenario is also played out in the adult world. When a Christian sins, God has stated emphatically that his Holy Spirit will convict us of sin. At this point, we have another choice; repent or begin to make excuses for our sin (justify ourselves).

The Corinthians chose to repent. In verse 11 of our text, we see the complete and uninhibited repentance that godly sorrow wrought in them:

“For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

It wrought carefulness. These people determined that they would be very careful to watch their hearts and minds in the future, and to adhere to the admonitions that Paul brought to them from God. They did not take the attitude that Paul was a faultfinder. They did not resent him. Today, we see people in similar circumstances that resent the man of God bringing sin to their attention. “Oh poor me! The man of God is holding me accountable! Oh no! What will he hold me accountable for in the future? I feel like he is watching me! Oh no, poor me!” Paul held these folks accountable, and when he saw that they resolved to be more sensitive and careful in the future, Paul counted that as a good thing. But hypocrites surely do not want anyone watching their lives or holding them responsible for sin.

“What clearing of yourselves”. We know that many times when Jesus exposed the sins of the Pharisees, they would automatically justify themselves. (See Luke 10:29) We commonly see the same thing today. But though the Corinthians may have done that formerly, now that Paul has stepped in and rebuked them, they threw away all self-serving justification. They came clean, confessing their wrong, and eagerly proceeded to clear themselves by submitting to the rebuke of God which was delivered through Paul. “What clearing of yourselves”, something we rarely see in our day and time.

These Corinthians embraced Paul’s rebuke as the life-giving gift that it truly was. (Faithful are the wounds of a friend.- Proverbs 27:6) They became indignant, not with Paul, but with their own sins.

They indeed experienced fear - fear of an angry and almighty God. And they did not characterize that fear as something evil, but as righteous and appropriate. They let a healthy fear of a righteous God draw them to repentance.

“What vehement desire…” Upon realizing their error, these children of
God had a strong, overwhelming, and consuming desire to correct their hearts and minds and actions. This contrasts with many, which, in similar circumstances, have vehement desires to cover up their sins and stone the messenger who was sent from God.

What zeal and revenge! This was zeal to get revenge on Satan for the work that he had accomplished in the Corinthian congregation! How sad it would have been if they had zealously exacted their revenge upon Paul! That would have been sad for Paul to suffer unjustly, but more importantly, how sad it would have been for the Corinthians to forfeit an opportunity to get right with God!

Hebrews 12:7-8 says “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Sometimes, God will send the rebuke through the Spirit, sometimes through a message, but also sometimes through another child of God. If we say “That’s just his opinion”, we are not just rejecting a brother’s opinion, we are rejecting a chastening message sent by God. If you reject God’s message and God’s messenger, you are in fact rejecting God himself. You are not a son.

What if David had taken that course with Nathan? (Please read 2 Samuel 12) How different the flow of history would have been if David had not come clean and confessed. But, thank God, David did come clean! He did not deny his sin and then attack Nathan. He confessed his sin and repented. That is the ONLY proper response as far as God is concerned.

The Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart. Yes, he sinned at times. But David was always willing to confess and repent. That is what made him stand out.

Friends, let us remember Paul’s (and God’s) admonition and apply it to the situations that confront us in life today: “… godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”