Give Thanks to the Lord #809

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, 3  and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.” (Psalm 107:1–3, NKJV)

As the Psalmist described God’s beneficent mercy, he implores his readers to give thanks to Him because He is good. God promised to return a remnant of His people from the exile into which He sent them as a punishment for their sins (Deut. 28:62-68; Jer. 25:11; 29:10). Under the proclamation of Cyrus, king of Persia, God fulfilled His word, redeeming His faithful remnant from their enemy (Isa. 10:21-22; 2 Chron. 36:22-23). The return from Babylonian captivity prefigured the greater redemption of the “remnant according to the election of grace” that is accomplished by the gospel of Jesus Christ (Isa. 11:11-12; Rom. 11:5). Oh yes, God is good. His goodness offers sinners merciful redemption from sin’s bondage. God is gathering sinners unto Himself by means of the gospel. Trust and obey Jesus. Obtain His mercy. Live in His goodness (Acts 2:36-41). Give thanks to the Lord!

“Rest in the Lord” #808

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. (Psalm 37:7–8, NKJV)

The righteous person remembers to “rest in the Lord” when evil people appear to prevail. The word “rest” in verse 7 means to be motionless, silent, still. This reaction in the face of wicked people and their wicked schemes does not mean we do nothing; it means we continue to rely on the Lord and look forward to His justice. We “wait patiently for Him.” Otherwise, we are susceptible to burning anger that leads to more trouble. Do not turn to vitriol, violence or vengeance when evil people do wicked things. Forsake wrath, do good, and wait on the Lord. He will right every wrong in His time. Overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:19-21).

“Let the Righteous Strike Me” #807

Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked. (Psalm 141:5, NKJV)

We must be humble in order to accept correction. Unfortunately, kindness is not always in the heart of the one who chastens us. When parents correct a child, let it be from loving kindness, not unrighteous anger. When a fellow Christian warns or rebukes another over sin, let it come from kindness, not superiority and conceit. We need discipline and correction as we grow in Christ. We ought to willingly accept the sting of rebuke intended to correct and help us improve spiritually. Although painful when applied, good results will follow (Heb. 12:4-11). When the righteous must correct us it is for our good. Do not refuse it. Receive it, and turn away from wickedness. “Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Prov. 9:8-9).

Satisfied in God’s House #806

Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple. (Psalm 65:4, NKJV)

God chose David, a man after God’s own heart, to rule over His people Israel. David praised God for this rich blessing and the ability to come into God’s presence. David and his people were content, filled up with the blessings of approaching and serving God. Today, the church of Christ is the temple of God (Eph. 2:19-22). Like David, we ought to be satisfied by our spiritual blessings in Christ, which bring us into God’s presence and sustain us in His fellowship (1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 1:3-4). Truly, God is good. And so, we do not complain about the church as Christ built it. Its worship, its organization, its work, its ethics and morality elicits our praise and honor of the Lord. Instead of attempting to innovate and improve upon God’s holy temple, be satisfied to be a living stone in His temple and offer God acceptable, spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:5).

Perversion of Justice #805

If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them. (Ecclesiastes 5:8, NKJV)

Social and judicial oppression, and miscarriages of justice are not surprising by those in power. Solomon saw it in his day, and we see it today. Bureaucracy often frustrates justice, especially when officials with corrupt hearts protect their comrades as they oppress the innocent. In such a system of oversight, the oppressor is himself often oppressed by his superior. Hence, Solomon observed the systemic corruption of unrighteous rulers. In the context of Ecclesiastes,  this is but another reason not to set one’s hope upon earthly position and power. With it comes its own set of temptations, troubles and trials. Pursuing it is vanity and “grasping for the wind.” Therefore Christian, set your hope upon things eternal, not upon the shifting sands of human greed and power over others.

Listen to the Holy Spirit #804

“Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus;” (Acts 1:16, NKJV)

The Holy Spirit inspired the Holy Scriptures, and by them He speaks to us today. Do not expect the Spirit of God to speak to you through some “better felt than told” experience. The Holy Spirit will not give you an impulse of the heart apart from the Scriptures to convince you to follow the Lord. He speaks to us all in exactly the same way, by means of the words He put in the mouths of the prophets (2 Pet. 1:21). By these words the Holy Spirit speaks, convicting “the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (Jno. 16:8). Listen to what the Spirit is saying to you. Read the Scriptures, gain understanding, and follow His will.

Bless and Do Not Curse #803

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14, NKJV)

The Lord’s apostle challenges our faith, commanding us to speak well of those who despise us for our faith’s sake. Jesus Himself said, “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you (Lk. 6:28). It is nothing new for Christians to face personal conflict with worldly people who refuse God and His word. Our faith in Christ compels us to follow His example, and invoke God’s blessing on behalf of those who sin against us. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” reverberates in our heart, reminding us that we may be the only one who is praying for the sinner whose venom is directed toward us (Lk. 23:34). Be proactive when faced with persecution for your faith, and “bless those who persecute you.”

Independence Day #802

34  Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:34–36, NKJV)

The 4th of July. Across the land, parades, picnics and fireworks celebrate America’s Independence Day. How many will pause and ponder this paradox: Although living in a free country, most are not free at all. By committing sin, millions upon millions of Americans (as well as billions around the globe) are enslaved to sin. Freedom from a tyrannical king is cherished and celebrated. Yet, sin’s tyranny over the soul is more brutal and more enduring than any oppression from an earthly dictator. Are you truly free today? The Son of God wishes to make you “free indeed” by saving you from sin. How does He free us from sin? Jesus answered by saying, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jno. 8:31-32). Do not refuse freedom from sin. By faith, know and abide in the word of Christ, and the Son will make you free. That is true freedom.

I Hope in Your Word #801

114  You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. 115  Depart from me, you evildoers, for I will keep the commandments of my God! (Psalm 119:114–115, NKJV)

The psalmist trusted in God to preserve and protect him. God’s word sustained and fortified his confident hope in the Lord’s care: “And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I have hoped in Your ordinances” (Psa. 119:43). The evildoers would find no place of penetration and plunder of this man’s heart and life, because he kept God’s commands. John the apostle said that God’s commands are not burdensome (1 Jno. 5:3). Indeed, by walking in God’s commands we have solid hope. God’s unfailing word assures the faithful of His refuge and protection against the enemies of righteousness. Be faithful to keep God’s commands, and set your hope fully upon God’s word. He will not fail you.

Sympathetic High Priest #800

14  Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14–15, NKJV)

The fact that our great High Priest is exalted in heaven does not isolate Him from our deep need for relief in our struggles against sin. Although exalted on high, the Son of God is not hindered from understanding our feelings when we are tempted. We are exhorted to “hold fast our confession” for this very reason – that He has constant compassion for our frailty. Jesus has been tempted as we are. While He withstood every enticement, he refused every temptation, He knows the inward struggle that takes place when temptation happens. He offers “grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). May His ready compassion and steady love compel us to hold fast our confession to resist temptation, instead of letting go and sinning against our Savior.