Forgiveness: The First Work (Psalm 130:4)

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Have you ever been hurt by someone? I mean really hurt. Maybe you were used, abused, attacked or rejected. Has this ever happened to you? Chances are that everyone who reads this can answer yes to the question. How did you feel when this occurred? Did you feel hurt, anger, shame, disgust, confusion? You aren’t alone. The entire world knows how this feels. But even better than that, God knows how it feels. We did these same wrong things to God and brought some of those terrible emotions upon him as well. We can trust that God knows where we are and how we feel.

However in light of our terrible actions, God chose not to act with vengeance. Instead he chose to re-establish a relationship with each of us. He did not desire a God-slave relationship, but a love relationship. This relationship never would or could be established by man. If it was going to occur, it had to be started by God. Man was unable and unwilling to change, but God who is rich in love was willing to do whatever it would take for us to return to him. God needed to provide for man a way of salvation from his condition.

But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. (Psalms 130:4)

Fear of judgement could not bring about the desired change in man’s heart. That type of fear only creates a self righteous sinner who sees himself this way because of what he does right, but at the same time blindly fails to see the abounding sinfulness of his ways. What man needed was a love relationship. Forgiveness was God’s first step towards accomplishing and establishing that love relationship.

With that work being done, man’s heart would have a fear of disappointing the God that he loves. God accomplished this condition in man’s heart through forgiveness. His forgiveness did more than remove the guilt and penalty of sin. It brought about a relationship that would change man forever. Forgiveness from God brought the right kind of fear in man. Love sought the relationship and forgiveness accomplished it.

…the greatest of these is charity (love). 1 Corinthians 13:13

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Imagine (Psalm 129:1-4)

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Imagine how many people have treated you wrongfully because of your spiritual beliefs or disposition. People who would not forgive you, who hold back from helping you, deny you an opportunity for advancement at work, talked about you, plot against you or maybe just don’t like you all because you are a Christian. Now imagine what life would be like if God executed immediate vengeance upon those individuals. Maybe not kill them, but bring negative circumstances in their lives for how they have treated you. What would your life be like? Some may think, “Life would be awesome!” But would it really be? It may seem that life would be good because of God’s intervention in our lives, but we could also begin to feel invincible. When anything would go wrong, look out because God will be on the move. Life would quickly deteriorate into a selfish existence. Instead of God protecting us from what he doesn’t like, we would begin to think God should protect us from what we don’t like.

Imagine further now, that God would also take vengeance on you for each and every wrong doing that you do towards others. Life wouldn’t be too happy would it? Throughout every day, God would be zapping you and everyone else for your wrong doings. Behaviors wouldn’t change because we daily live with our sin natures and regardless of how much we try not to, we would still do wrong. Each of us would walk in fear for the next big whack from Heaven. Doesn’t sound too promising does it?

Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say: Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me. The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows. The Lord is righteous: he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. (Psalms 129:1-4)

What God does instead of working against those who do us wrongfully, is to works for us. Sinners will do their wrong, but God will hinder or cut back what they try to do to is. He will keep them from being successful at destroying us. In other words, their hypothetical whip of anger will have the cords cut short. Oh it will still hurt, but we will not be destroyed. Paul understood this when he said, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

God is always righteous and because of that his works towards us and for us will always be righteous. There will come a day when he will righteously execute complete vengeance upon sin, but for now his righteousness works in a different way. People will continue to hate, kill and oppress others, but we must remember in the midst of it all that we have a righteous God supporting us and cutting back the cords of the wicked.

Your Life’s Garden (Psalm 128:1-2)

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Each year, I set out to have a garden and sometime late in the winter, I begin to plan what I want to grow. I plant the seeds for tomatoes in March and nurture them until early May when I plant them in the ground. Much work goes into weeding and pruning the plants, but in the later part of July, I begin to eat the fruit of my labors. What a time to enjoy. There are others who attempt the same, but because of their lack of knowledge in gardening or because of inconsistent labor, their yield of fruit is disappointing.

This is much like our spiritual lives in that we eat the fruit of our labors. Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. (Psalms 128:1-2)

Instead of planning, planting and cultivating, we need to fear The Lord. Our fear of The Lord will affect our walk and lead us to follow his ways. The bounty that comes from these two is that we will eat the fruit of our labors, which will cause us to be happy and life will be good.

However in contrast, if we fail to fear The Lord and to walk in his ways, we also will eat the fruit of our labors. We also will fail to find happiness and life will not be good. The decision is ours and by whatever decision we choose to live, we shall eat the fruit of our labors. We may try to blame the undesirable fruit that we are forced to eat on God, circumstances or other people, but the gardener in our garden is us.

If you have weeds in your life’s garden, pull them up. Turn your heart away from your way and seek The Lord. Fear him and walk in his ways. The fruit that you yield will definitely be worth it.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

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Will God Protect You? (Psalm 121:7)

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What you think about a person affects how you interpret what they say. If you believe that somebody loves The Lord and they praise him for something, you are glad for them. If you don’t see them that way, you may view them as being fake. If you like somebody and they give you a compliment, you are grateful, but if you don’t like them, you may question what they are trying to get from you. If a person apologizes after hurting you, you may accept it as genuine, but if you view them in a negative manner, you could judge them as insincere. For each occasion, the words and actions that people do may be the same, but how you view the person before hand affects how you interpret those words and actions.

Our perspective of God determines how we interpret his word. If we believe him to be loving, then we see statements in his word as loving. If we see God as a strict judge, then we will continually interpret statements in his word as judgmental. When it comes to trials, people have varied views. Some view God as wanting us to be happy and that he will deliver us from all trials. Others see him differently.

The following verse can yield different interpretations. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. (Psalms 121:7). Some will think this verse promises deliverance from the trials and troubles of life and some will not see that at all. What they believe about God will affect how they interpret it.

In this passage, God promises to preserve the soul of the believer from evil and not the person from evil. If this were true, then Paul and the other Apostles should never have experienced the trials that they faced in life and their subsequent martyrdom. However in the passage, God promises to hedge about the believer’s heart and keep the evil that he faces in life from overcoming his heart or soul. Trials and troubles will be in ever believer’s life, but what God promises to do for us as we face such circumstances is to hedge about our souls and keep them from being overcome by evil. God will remain faithful to us and provide the protection that our soul needs as well as an opportunity to escape (I Corinthians 10:13).

Learning God’s Statutes (Psalm 119:71)

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A purpose for the trial or affliction may be to teach us to live by God’s statutes. It is easy for us to declare how we would live in certain situations, but to be in them and then live by God’s statutes is a different matter. Because of our sinful nature, each statute of God goes contrary to our natural instinctive response. Therefore, we need God to move us into the direction that he would want us to go. This teaching processes is much like when a herdsman goads his animals so as to move them in the direction that he desires. We too must be goaded by God so as to live like him. The trial of affliction with the Holy Spirit’s leading is the goading that we need. Without the trial, we would miss opportunities to learn of God and to live by his precepts.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. (Psalms 119:71)

Trials are never pleasant, but God wants us to learn of him. Life may be difficult with the trial, but a life of disobedience or away from God is always empty, troubling and sorrowful. We need to begin viewing trials as opportunities for knowing God better and to be drawing closer to him.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

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Two Steps To Being Happy (Psalm 119:1-2)

Everybody is in some way pursuing the same goal: they want to be happy. Many mistakenly think that money will bring happiness. So they strive for as much wealth as possible and come up empty. Others seek happiness in positions of power or by acquiring desired possessions, but again the results are short lived and disappointing. Still others turn to the vices of sin such as alcohol, drugs, and the various forms of promiscuous sex resulting with the same disappointment. If these are not the way to happiness, how can a person be happy?

True happiness, the kind that swells up into your heart and brings the satisfaction in life that you are looking for, comes from two practices. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. (Psalms 119:1-2)

A person will experience happiness that comes from God when they do not allow themselves to be defiled by the world around them. As they engage in life, these individuals battle to keep their acts aligned with God’s law and resist following the wrong examples set by the world. The second practice, which produces happiness, is to keep God’s word in your heart and to seek him with it. The word keep carries the idea of guarding or watching over something. If we guard the testimonies of The Lord in our hearts, it will enable us to seek him with our whole heart. This keeping and seeking brings the happiness that each person desires. We were created by God and because of that our happiness is dependent upon that relationship with him.

If you drift from this relationship, you drift from happiness. If you depart from following God’s laws and become defiled by the world, you lose happiness. Happiness can be obtained by the rich, poor, all nationalities, all age groups and intellects. God wants everybody to have it and everyone can by following two steps: stay true to God’s laws while resisting being defiled by the philosophy of the world and guard God’s testimonies in your heart.

Is God Good? (Psalm 118:1)

What makes a cake or dessert good? It is good because of the pleasure that it brings to the tongue. What makes a musical piece good? A musical piece is good because of its pleasantness to our ears and our hearts. Is God good? Of course he is, but what makes him good?

We could say that God is good because of his mighty power. To some degree we would be right, but his goodness goes beyond that. Many who gaze at the stars in the Heaven may state that God is good because of what he has created. Again this may sound valid, but God’s goodness goes much beyond that. A god could be all powerful and the creator of a vast universe and at the same time not be good. Imagine if Lucifer had been successful at ascending to the mount of God and seated himself upon the throne of Heaven as god, would he act with goodness. We know that he would act completely differently. From the scriptures, we learn how he will act towards mankind while he is personified in the person of the Antichrist. He will be ruthless, unloving and evil. He will be anything but good. Power and ability do not make a person good. So, why is God good?

God is good because of his mercy. To create, you only need power, but to have mercy, you must have a heart and to have mercy that will endure forever, it must be an attribute of your being and not just the result of an arbitrary decision. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalms 118:1)

God will seem good to you when you recognize his abundant mercy towards you. The more you recognize and identify his acts of mercy, the more you will see him as good. Those who fail to see God as good, fail to recognize or see God’s mercy.

Some have a hard time believing that God is good because he does not act in their lives like they desire or expect. God not coming to the rescue for Illnesses, lost jobs, accidents, financial loss, and domestic struggles persuades people to believe that God is not good. The fault is not with God, but man. These people have taken their focus off of the great work of mercy that God has done in their lives and instead focused on what they want or expect God to do. God is still good, but because of disappointment, they fail to see it.

Which person are you? They way to determine it is to ask this simple question. Is God good to you?