When the Wicked Attack the Innocent

I wanted to share a passage from Psalms today.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from dread of the enemy. Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the throng of evildoers, who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless, shooting at him suddenly and without fear. They hold fast to their evil purpose; they talk of laying snares secretly, thinking, “Who can see them?” They search out injustice, saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.” For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep. But God shoots his arrow at them; they are wounded suddenly. They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them; all who see them will wag their heads. Then all mankind fears; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done. Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!
(Psalm 64:1-10)

The wicked may delay or even escape justice here on earth, but no one can escape God. God is a merciful and gracious God, but He is also a holy and a just God. We are encouraged here by the Holy Spirit through David to take our refuge in God, with full assurance that He is a safe place and He will bring the wicked to justice.

It will not be well with the wicked

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
(Ecclesiastes 8:11-13)

It may seem that the wicked get away with their wickedness, but as Solomon reminded us here, it will not be “well” with them in the end.

Read it again, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life…but it will not be well with the wicked.” There is no “getting away with it” when it comes to God. But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23).

Many times in the Scripture, we see God’s people groaning and lamenting over the wickedness done around them. They, like God’s people today, wonder why God lets it go on and when God’s going to do something about it. It is especially hard when the good people suffer so much at the hands of these wicked people. But remember that God is very aware both of the righteous and the wicked. He will eventually deliver those who fear Him, and He will bring swift justice on those who do not fear Him.

Here is a passage from 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 that once again brings comfort to the righteous that God will take care of them and He will punish those who do not fear God.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering–since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Man, time just continues to blow by!

Today I want to share with you a psalm of blessing. Psalm 20. Meditate upon the blessings that David through the Spirit of God wishes for God’s people.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah. May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions! Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.
(Psalms 20:1-9)

Think of the areas of life that these blessings cover:

  • Our worship.
  • Our prayers.
  • Our salvation.
  • Our relationship to the things of this world.
  • Our relationship to political leaders.
  • Our plans and heart’s desires.
  • Our confidence, trust and hope.

It is a reminder to me that God’s blessings cover every aspect of my life. God wishes to bless His children in all areas of their existence.

I really like that the Holy Spirit led David to write that God wants to bless your plans and heart’s desires. Of course, we must make sure that those plans are in line with God’s word. But keep in mind that God encourages you and smiles upon you when you have plans and seek to fulfill the desires of your heart (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10). It may be going back to school. Maybe you are going to work on your finances, or make improvements to living a healthier lifestyle. Your plans may be to start a business, or go on a family vacation. Maybe you plan to spend more time with your Christian brothers and sisters. Regardless, God wants you to dream, plan and have an imagination. Go for it!

Let’s start this New Year in 2018 thinking of how richly blessed we are, and how God wants to continue to bless us. Also remember that our desires and plans are encouraged by God, as long as we line our wills with His.

God’s Word Can Make You Wiser

O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Your precepts.
(Psalms 119:97-100)

What power did the word of God have upon David? According to these verses, God’s word:

  • Made David wiser than his enemies.
  • Gave him more insight than all his teachers.
  • He was able to understand more than the aged.

I do not believe David was being arrogant and cocky when he said this. You can say these words out of a prideful heart thinking you are the cat’s meow of Christianity. And if we have that attitude, God will have to teach us some very difficult lessons in humility (Phil. 3:15)!

What I believe David is saying is that because of God’s word he was able to deal effectively with his enemies. We all have enemies, whether or not we follow God’s word. But when we listen carefully to the instruction of Scripture, we have an understanding and perspective that is foreign to the people of the world. It will truly stand out and shine.

God’s word did not make David the “smartest man on campus.” He was not more intelligent than his teachers. David wasn’t the man with his hand always up because he knew all the answers. This didn’t mean that David was condescending to his teachers and argued constantly with them because he knew better. You can look to Jesus at 12 years old as an example (see Luke 2). The teachers of the Word in the temple were just amazed at his understanding and answers. That is the power of the Word in a person’s heart. There is such growth and insight that comes from it.

Finally, the word of God made an old man out of David real quick. The Bible and its wisdom will make a young man or woman sound like they are decades older. Why? That’s the power of the Holy Spirit producing His wisdom within you through the word. How often do you see that young man or young woman at church who simply blows you away with their understanding? They may be 10, but they sound like they’re 40!

God’s word is just awesome and powerful, isn’t it?

The Silent Treatment

Do you know about “the silent treatment”? I’m sure you do. We have either been on the giving or receiving end of this one, or both. There are a lot of ways we can give the silent treatment in our relationships. One is simply turning a cold shoulder and refusing to talk to the other person until they “learn” the lesson we want them to learn. How well does that work?

Other ways we can show the silent treatment is by avoiding direct confrontation, but instead we use sarcastic jabs or disgusted looks to make our point. Or we can talk in broad generalities of how “everybody” does something or “we” need to change this, when it really isn’t everybody. You are just hoping that your broad sweeping statement will hit the person you think needs to hear it.

Regardless, the silent treatment just isn’t going to lead to effective communication and restored relationships, is it?

Let’s take a lesson today from the life of David, specifically in regards to his relationship with his sons, Amnon and Absalom (2 Samuel 13-14).

Absalom had his brother, Amnon, murdered, because Amnon raped their sister Tamar. Absalom had every right to be angry, but went about it the wrong way. David was angry, too, but did not address Amnon’s sin head on; instead David went silent (2 Samuel 13:21).

Absalom also went “silent” for two years before he had Amnon murdered, for the Bible says here that:

And Absalom spoke to his brother Amnon neither good nor bad. For Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar. And it came to pass, after two full years… (2 Samuel 13:22-23).

Two years passed. Nothing. No words, either good nor bad. Did that silent treatment help this relationship? Was Amnon’s sin/crime dealt with properly? Did it heal and restore the hurt? No, all it did was fuel Absalom’s hatred and his scheming commenced as to how he would payback Amnon for raping Tamar.

After Amnon was murdered, Absalom fled. David was angry and sad, but again, David went silent. He did nothing. Notice the Scripture. 5 years passed before a word ever was spoken between David and Absalom.

But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day. So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead (2 Samuel 13:37-39). 

So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. And the king said, “Let him return to his own house, but do not let him see my face.” So Absalom returned to his own house, but did not see the king’s face (2 Samuel 14:23-24).

And Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, but did not see the king’s face (2 Samuel 14:28).

This may be an extreme example, but I believe the Holy Spirit gives us a great illustration of how the “silent treatment” can completely blow up a family and destroy relationships.

Let’s take some time today to reflect upon this in our relationships. Are we the type to give the silent treatment? Do we understand how hurtful this is to those we love when we behave this way? If so, how will we begin to change this, and directly deal with relationship problems head on with love and tenderness? Avoiding confrontation and running away from problems will never bring healthy and restored relationships.

One book you could read, along with the Bible (Proverbs, Sermon on the Mount, James, etc.) is the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. We are reading this right now at home, and it is proving very helpful to us.

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
(Matthew 18:15)

Plumbing the Depths of God’s Love – Transparency

3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long.  4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah.  5 I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:3-5 NKJV)

Are you living transparently with God and with those who mean the most to you?

Remember the points under discussion this week.  We have all sinned, sinned against God, and God alone.  He will forgive us of our sins.  Only He can.  The result of our trust in this…in His mercy through faith is that we can live a blessed life regardless of our circumstance or relationships.  This is a great promise and hopeful perspective.  Yet we don’t always allow God to forgive us…we either ignore or deny the sin in our life and the consequences are grave.

David describes how terrible it was to keep his sin to himself.  His bones wasted away through his groaning all day long. His strength was dried up and the hand of the Lord was heavy upon him.  David is describing the burden of the guilt of his sin.  His sin is eating at him continually and the guilt is wearing him down.

What does this look like in your lives?  Do you carry around sin and the associated pain?  Does your conscience keep after you with ever present reminders of the fact you did something you shouldn’t have?  Sin hurts us individually and it hurts those we care about.  Sin ultimately and initially hurts God!

It’s there for all of us whether it is a sucking chest wound or a mere flesh wound.  It doesn’t matter, it’s there.  Ignoring sin leads to committing more sins.  In fact, what we think of as small sins (flesh wound) grow into more serious sins (sucking chest wounds).  For some reason we truly think we can get away with our actions.  For some reason we think that since we can hide our sins from one another and from our family, God will not know.  This course of action leads to our own spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical destruction.

God is going to work on us to bring the sin to light.  He is not going to waiver in this and when we can see the sin and the destruction it is causing, like David did, we will go from “worldly sorrow” to “Godly Sorrow”.  World sorrow deals with fear of being exposed or sorrow from being caught.  Godly Sorrow comes when we are looking at the Lord and not ourselves and realize we have done all this wickedness to God and we need to make it right.

David is no longer in denial here.  He is not looking for the easy way out.  He is done trying to fix things.  He “acknowledges” and “confesses” his sin and iniquity to God.  No more hiding!

This is man’s part.  We have to go to God with our sin…no more hiding.  God is faithful to do His part…forgive, atone, not impute our sins, transgressions or iniquity upon us.

Let’s change our mind.  Let’s not just expect others to “be right” or “make right” or “be exposed” for what they have done, but let’s demonstrate reconciliation in our own lives.  We are all exposed…God sees…God hurts…God longs for reconciliation.  When we get that right, then our feelings for others go from “being hurt because of” to “hurt for”.  Because we want everyone else to feel the same peace/joy we have found…we hurt when we see them languishing in sin like we did.  We can endure that kind of hurt.  God does.

No more excuses.  No more denial.  No more trying to hide.  No more trying to “fix it”.  Acknowledge your sins, confess them, ask God to forgive.  You and those most important in your life cannot afford anything less.

Psalm 26 part 2

Yesterday, we considered Psalm 26, and the requests David made of God.

Read it again today and meditate upon it. This time consider David’s desires, heart, hands, feet, voice, etc.

Of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes. But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.
(Psalm 26:1-12)

His feet – He walked in his integrity (vs. 1,11), and walked in God’s faithfulness and truth (vs. 3). David wanted to “go” about God’s altar (vs. 6). Because of this, his feet stood on level ground (vs. 12). He was stable in God, standing on a firm foundation.

His hands – David’s hands were washed in innocence (vs. 6). His hands were not like the sinners and bloodthirsty men, in whose hands were blood, evil devices and bribes (vs. 10).

His desires and mind– David trusted in the Lord without wavering (vs. 1). Because of his humility and love for God, he opened his heart and his mind to God’s inspection (vs. 2). He “loved the habitation” of God’s house and fellowship with God’s people (vs. 6-8,12). Where did David want to be? In God’s assembly blessing Him among His people. In contrast, David hated the assembly (fellowship, congregation, association) of evildoers (vs. 4-5,9-10).

His behind – He did not sit with men of falsehood (vs. 4), nor with the wicked (vs. 5). Verse 8 doesn’t say “sit,” but we know from verse 8 where David wanted to sit, in God’s house.

His eyes – God’s steadfast love was before David’s eyes (vs. 3). Think of what that says about the “focus” of David. Where did he choose to fix his eyes? On the lovingkindness of God.

His voice – Vs. 6-7 shows that David would go about the altar of God, “proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all” His wondrous deeds. What did David do with his voice? Vs. 12 says that in the congregations, he blessed the Lord.

So, guys, think about these things. What about our voices; what do they say? What about our behinds, where are they sitting? Where are our feet walking? Upon what are our eyes focused? What are our hands doing? What do we love and what do we hate? Who are my friends? What types of people do I love to hang out with, and whom do I avoid?

Again, this is a great prayer, and we can clearly see here why David was called a man after God’s own heart.

Psalm 26 part 1

Today and tomorrow we will look at Psalm 26. Take time to read it and meditate on it.

Of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes. But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.
(Psalm 26:1-12)

Please think about the prayer of David here. Consider the requests he made of God.

Request #1Vindicate me, Lord Lord. David wants the righteous and merciful judge to litigate his case.

Request #2 Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. This is one of many times that David invites God into his soul to search it, examine it and test it. He wants to be right with God, and he wants anything not found pleasing to God to be taken away.

Request #3Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men. David’s heart and desire is to be in fellowship with God and with His people. He does not want to be associated with the wicked, nor does he want to be swept away in their lifestyle and the consequences of it.

Request #4 Redeem me, and be gracious to me. The thing he wants the most is the mercy, grace and redemption of God.

This is a great prayer. It would be good to consider using this prayer in your time with God, maybe even today.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will look at David’s heart, desires, hands, eyes, feet, voice, etc. that are discussed in this Psalm.

Let Them Measure the Pattern

“According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it” (Exodus 25:9).

Moses was commanded by God to make the tabernacle according to the “pattern,” God’s pattern (See also Exodus 25:40; Numbers 8:4; Acts 7:44). Everything God told Moses to do had a specific point, because God was looking forward to Christ and His church. The Hebrew writer taught that the things of the Mosaic law, tabernacle, sacrifices and priesthood served as a “copy and a shadow” of the heavenly things (Hebrews 8:5).

This same expectation of building after the pattern was placed upon King David as he began all the preparations for the temple which his son Solomon would build.

“All this,” said David, “the LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern” (1 Chronicles 28:19).

In contrast to the obedience of Moses and David in following God’s pattern, there was a king years later named Ahaz who disobeyed God by seeking another pattern. He traveled to Damascus, and met with the King of Assyria. He came back with a pattern for a different altar and had it built (2 Kings 16:10).

During the days of Ezekiel the prophet, God’s people were in complete defiance of His laws, and because of it God punished Judah through the kingdom of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple and took thousands of the people of Judah into captivity. God looked forward, though, to the days of their return and the days of the Messiah. Through Ezekiel, God called His people back to the “pattern.” If they would examine the words of God which contained that pattern, they would hopefully be ashamed of their sins and turn back to God (Ezekiel 43:10).

Let Them Measure the Pattern

“Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern” (Ezekiel 43:10).

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul served as a pattern for us in many ways:

  • In his salvation (1 Timothy 1:16). The longsuffering and grace extended by Jesus to Paul serves as a pattern for all who will believe in Jesus Christ.
  • Through his life and character (Philippians 3:17; 4:9). Men like Titus and Timothy were also to serve as a pattern in their behavior (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7).
  • The doctrine and sound words he taught (2 Timothy 1:13). These were to be taken by men like Timothy and taught to others so that the pattern of sound doctrine would be repeated for generations to come (2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Corinthians 4:17).

God has a pattern that He wants us to follow. How we are saved. The way we behave and talk. Our worship to God. It is important for us to examine the Word and to find that pattern of sound words and follow it. As men and leaders in homes and churches, we are to have the courage and love for Christ to lead others in following God’s pattern, which first and foremost comes by living the pattern ourselves.

You have had pity on the plant

Then God said to Jonah…”You have had pity on the plant…”  (Jonah 4:10).

I encourage you today to read Jonah 4 today. Jonah was angry, really angry. He was angry because he knew God was gracious and merciful. God showed mercy on the city of Nineveh and forgave them because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. Even though Jonah preached to them, he really didn’t care about the salvation of the souls of Nineveh. He preached in anticipation that this effort would fail. Nineveh would reject God and God would toast them.

Read the last verse of chapter 3 and the first verse of chapter 4. God relented because Nineveh repented and Jonah vented. Jonah went outside of the city in verse 4 and waited in eager anticipation of God raining down judgment and destruction upon Nineveh (Jonah 4:5).

Notice the mercy that God had upon Jonah, while at the same time teaching a critical lesson. God prepared a plant to grow up and shade Jonah “to deliver him from his misery” (Jonah 4:6). Jonah was very grateful. Next, God sent a worm to destroy the plant. Then God brings a “vehement east wind” and the sun “beat on Jonah’s head” (Jonah 4:8).

All Jonah wants to do now is die. Now Jonah is really ticked off. This provides one of those “teachable moments.”

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” But the LORD said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left–and much livestock? (Jonah 4:9-11).

You have had pity on the plant

This being Wednesday, our focus is on parenting. I want to take this concept and apply it to parenting. As a Father, God was parenting Jonah. There are some valuable lessons to learn here in parenting.

Our children sometimes will care more about the plant, which creates teachable moments. They will get really upset about something, like a sibling borrowed a shirt without asking. Justice must be administered! It is times like that that we can help direct them to areas where they really should focus their passion. We are there to help them gain some “perspective.” Jonah cared more for a stupid plant than he did for 120,000 souls. Andy Harrison wrote an article recently about “Misplaced Compassion,” and today’s article connects well with it.

We must show mercy to our kids at those times, like God showed Jonah. I mentioned in Monday’s article about a sermon that Mike Sullivan preached recently. He made a point that Jesus was not self-righteous about the self-righteous. Jesus ate with the Pharisees, too. He loved them and wanted desperately for them to understand His grace and mercy. As we see the hypocrisy and double-standard in our kids, we must remember God and Jonah. God kept teaching Jonah and showing mercy to Jonah, too.