The Lord is Great #357

1  Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. 2  Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. 3  Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. 4  For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. 5  For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. (Psalm 96:1-6)

This song of praise and thanksgiving honors the Lord God for His great salvation and wondrous glory among the nations of the earth. He is to be elevated and revered as the Creator who “made the heavens” (v. 5). He is in every way superior to “the gods of the peoples”, fashioned by the art and devise of men. Such idols are mere trinkets that perish, but the Lord God is eternal is majestic glory. His dwelling place is adorned with strength and beauty. God is worthy of your reverent worship and thankful service. To serve any other god is utterly futile.

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“Be of good cheer, it is I” #356

24  But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25  Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:24–27)

As the apostles’ boat was tossed about in the Sea of Galilee storm, so our lives are often tossed about by the trials and uncertainties of life. Jesus is never far away. He is ever-present to comfort and to save. Like the apostles, we may be frightened at times, Jesus speaks words of comforting assurance to all who put their faith in Him. Take courage (“be of good cheer”), says Jesus. “It is I (lit., “I am”), do not be afraid”. He is the ever-existing One, the great I AM, who never falters and who never fails those who put their trust Him. Whatever life brings your way, courageous trust the Lord and follow His words. When you do, the peaceful calm of salvation will surely be yours (Matt. 14:28-33).

From Infamy to Glory #355

32  There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33  And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34  Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. (Luke 23:32-34)

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, when we honor the memory of those who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy”. 2,403 military personnel and U.S. civilians died in the Japanese attack that day. We honor those who lost their lives in the defense of our nation. Another day in the history of the world is marked by the great evil done on it. A gross injustice occurred the day Jesus of Nazareth was nailed to a cross to die. It appeared that evil had been victorious. But, God turned death and despair into great victory. The death and resurrection of Jesus overwhelmed sin and defeated death. The gospel calls upon us to honor Jesus Christ with loving, obedient faith. By his act of loving sacrifice we live with the sure confidence of eternal triumph.

Flee Sin #354

13  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 14  Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:13-14)

Sin is not forced upon us. None of us are compelled to sin. By yielding to temptation, we choose to sin against God. Being tempted to sin is not sin; all of us are tempted to sin. Thankfully, sin’s enticement can be resisted. God is faithful to provide a way of escape when we are tempted to sin. God’s way of escape from sin’s temptation will demand that you make a deliberate decision not to sin. Do not put yourself into situations that make it easy to sin. (You cannot play with fire and not get burned!) Resist temptation by running away from sin instead of running to it. God’s way is right, so put your faith in Him. His path of holiness and truth will always lead you away from sin.

Truth about Marriage #353

For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. (Romans 7:2-3)

Marriage ought to be honored by all (Heb. 13:4). Our passage teaches several divine truths about marriage. First, marriage exists between a woman and a man (“the woman who has a husband”). Same-sex marriage is not approved by God, and no amount of redefining marriage will make it so. Next, we learn that marriage is for life (“bound…as long as he lives”). Too often marriage is viewed as a temporary relationship, even though the vow is made “till death we do part”. Marriage is for life, so, choose wisely. Finally, we learn one commits adultery by marrying another while his or her original mate is alive (v. 3). Jesus gave one person in marriage one exception to this rule, that is, putting away for the cause of fornication (Matt. 19:9). Otherwise, only death allows for sinless remarriage. God hates divorce and will not hold guiltless those who dishonor marriage (Mal. 2:16; Heb. 13:4). We have no right to sunder what God joins together (Matt. 19:6).

Guilt Replaced with Joy #352

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

All of us have sinned against God, and because of our sin we are “guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19). God’s great redemptive plan justifies sinners by His grace through faith in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:21-26). When a Christian sins the Adversary will use the guilt of sin to try to paralyze you and keep you from being zealous for Christ. The devil lies to you that once you have practiced sin you are forever compromised and never able to be a productive Christian. This lie advances faithlessness instead of trust in God’s mercy. This lie comes from the wisdom of men instead of the truth of God’s word. If you are struggling with the guilt of sin, come to the Lord for release from sin’s bondage. Repentance will refresh your spirit, remove sin’s guilt and bring the joy of salvation.

The Restraint of Law #351

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law. (Proverbs 29:18)

Social order and harmony is achieved and maintained when citizens respect divine revelation and obey divine law. Otherwise, chaos invariably reigns. We are amazed and distressed to see injustice and criminal conduct rationalized as a “right” by those devoid of a fear of God. By definition, riotous mobs exhibit uncontrolled behavior precisely because people do not value God or others. Selfishness rules the mob. The restraints of decency are cast aside for the indulgence of self and sin. Only when people respect the rule of law and accept its authority over their lives will they value the life and property of others. God once command Israel not to “follow a crowd to do evil” (Exo. 23:2). It remains true that blessings come to those who honor God’s word and obey it.