He Who Works Righteousness #735

Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart… (Psalm 15:1-2, NKJV)

The one who “works righteousness” finds a place of spiritual rejuvenation in God’s tent. Working righteousness has a bad theologian reputation due to a dramatic failure to properly demarcate works of merit (by which one earns His standing before God, Rom. 4:2, 4; Eph. 2:9) from works of faith (the obedience that completes faith, Jas. 2:17, 20, 22, 24). The apostle Peter told Cornelius and his house that God accepts all who fear Him and “work righteousness” (Acts 10:35). We are confident He still does. God’s inspired word contains the “instruction in righteousness” that equips us “for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). John said, “He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 Jno. 3:7). Without living in obedience to Christ’s truth we will not be righteous nor dwell in God’s presence.

He Who Walks Uprightly #734

Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart… (Psalm 15:1-2, NKJV)

When you were a child, did your parents ever tell you to stand up straight? Walking uprightly describes the spiritual posture of the one who may abide in the presence of God. It means to be sound, wholesome, innocent, having integrity. The Holy One has ever called upon people of faith to walk before Him in blamelessness (Gen. 17:1). To walk uprightly is equivalent to walking in God’s truth (Psa. 26:1, 3). Those who “walk righteously and speak uprightly” dwell on high and escape the “everlasting burnings” of God’s wrath (Isa. 33:14-16). The standard by which we straighten our moral and spiritual posture to walk uprightly is God’s truth. So, stand up straight and walk in the integrity of your heart, with God’s word inscribed upon it (Heb. 8:10). Walk uprightly into God’s tent and find rest.

Who May Abide in Your Tabernacle? #733

Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? (Psalm 15:1, NKJV)

We infer from the psalmist’s questions that not everyone dwells in the presence of the Lord. Furthermore, by merely asking, David acknowledges that it is God Himself who supplies the correct answer concerning who communes with Him. Man does not answer these questions for the Holy One of Israel. As we travel through life the Lord opens His tent to particular sojourners who meet His conditions, allowing them into His presence and offering them rest, refreshment and fellowship. God’s holy hill pictures the reigning Sovereign where He grants blessedness to all who wait before Him. Do you want the communion, rest and protection of God’s presence as you travel through life? If so, give ear to the inspired answers to David’s questions in the remainder of Psalm 15. We will look at those answers in the days ahead.

Be Transformed #732

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, NKJV)

We all fashion ourselves after something or someone. Some set of values, someone we admire, or some goal to which we aspire. The Christian makes a conscious decision not to assimilate the thinking, values and goals of the world – that system of evil that is in opposition to God. Now converted to Christ, a change occurs – a metamorphosis – that is visible and recognizable. This transformation must begin in the mind, for that is the seat of all that we are. Rather than doing those things that offend God, we live for His approval. His full or “perfect will” is set before us in His Scriptures, and there we go to learn what is “good and acceptable” before Him. Renew your mind, your thinking, so that in your life will be the light of the world and please your heavenly Father (Matt. 5:14-16).

Positively Negative! #731

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36, NKJV)

Some people only want a “positive” Bible message. Yet, by its very nature, the gospel is not only and always positive. The gospel convicts sinners of sin. To do that, it must identify the presence of sin in our lives (Jno. 16:8). To tell people they are murderers is not how many say we should “win friends and influence people” for Christ (“that’s just way too negative!”).  Yet, that is exactly what Peter and the other apostles told the crowd that day. They had murdered the Messiah. Christians who only want a feel good, positive approach to the gospel ought to reacquaint themselves with the suffering of Calvary, the horror of sin and the terror of the Lord. Sin and eternal death are positively negative! Without this “negative” part of the gospel, its positive power is gutted and the glory of salvation is dimmed. We better see the positive blessings of salvation in Christ when they are set in sharp contrast with the negative realities of sin. We must be willing to receive the reproof and rebuke of the gospel in order to be brought to faith and salvation.

The Eye of the Lord #730

18  Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, 19  To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. (Psalm 33:18–19, NKJV)

God’s careful, caring eye is constantly on those who fear Him and put their hope in His mercy. He does not forsake the faithful, who “fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). He is our life source, both in times of abundance and in times of need. Even more than providing for our physical life, God is our only hope for mercy and spiritual life in the wasteland of sin. Trespasses are forgiven and souls are refreshed with living water by His Son, Jesus Christ (Jno. 7:37-38). If you are struggling with the pain and desolation of sin, then put your faith in Jesus and your hope in God. Come to Christ by faith, and “take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). The Lord watches over all who fear Him and hope in His mercy. In Christ, we are “heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:26-29).

Broken Cisterns #729

For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13, NKJV)

Judah forsook Jehovah for idols. He was the God who gave them water for forty years in the wilderness and the land of Canaan, where they took cisterns they had not dug (Neh. 9:25). The false gods gave them no spiritual refreshment, only spiritual death. Christians must be careful to always and only drink from the fountain of living water, who is Jesus Christ, and not the broken cisterns of false teaching, religious error and worldliness (John 7:37-38). Do not forsake the Lord for broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Forgive from the Heart #728

23  Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24  And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25  But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26  The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. (Matthew 18:23–27, NKJV)

No doubt, the king in this parable alludes to God Himself and each servant, a disciple of Christ (see Matt. 18:21-22). Jesus illustrates how we must forgive each us with compassion or “from the heart” (Matt. 18:33-35). In Christ, God forgives sinners compassionately and completely. This is our pattern to follow in forgiving others. Forgiveness is about releasing a person from a debt they owe. God forgives our debt of sin. We must not refuse to forgive those who have sinned against us. If we do, He will not forgive us (Matt. 18:35). Have compassion, and forgive one another.

Overcome Evil with Good #727

19  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20  Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19–21, NKJV)

How very different this counsel is from that of the worldly-minded. Revenge is glamorized in movies, YouTube videos and just about every medium that exists. Self-vindication, not divine-vindication, is the impulse of the selfish and self-centered. Christians shun retaliation against evil as their personal “right” and responsibility. Instead, Christians overcome evil by continuing to do good things for those who are not good to them. This does not mean we are unconcerned with justice. It means we know that true, lasting justice will be exacted by the Lord God. He is perfect in knowledge, righteousness, wisdom and might. We much prefer for God to deal with the evil-doers. We know that when He does, it is always fair, just and complete. Do not fret over evil-doers; trust the Lord to right every wrong by and by. In the meantime, you overcome evil with good.

The Work of an Evangelist #726

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5, NKJV)

What is the work of a preacher? Is he a socialite who plans and provides the social events for the church? No, that is not the Bible description of his work. Is he the liaison between the church and the community, always expected to be seen at community events to represent the congregation? No, such a work is foreign to the pages of inspiration. Is he the pastor of the congregation? Not unless he joins equally qualified men as elders of the flock, since these are the shepherds of the flock (1 Tim. 3:1-7; 1 Pet. 5:2). His work is to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:2). He is a messenger of the gospel, the “sound doctrine” of Christ (2 Tim. 4:3). He does his work with a godly manner (reprove, rebuke and exhort with longsuffering and teaching) and with godly urgency (“in season and out of season”). He is a watchman (“be watchful”), and he is a servant (“ministry”). He must bear up under pressures that minimize and reject the gospel he preaches. Is this the work your preacher is doing? If so, encourage him, and help him fulfill his ministry.