He heard my cry!

There is no greater silence than that which envelops a person who is stuck in a miserable hopeless situation. Like a black hole that sucks up light, despairing hopelessness mutes even the deepest soul cry of the afflicted.  The event horizon between the catastrophic centre of the pit and those beyond it is an impenetrable barrier.  We cannot hear the deepest of anguish of those caught in its terrible grip.  But God can!hands-he-drew-me-up-500-wm

The Psalmist has been there and survived to praise His God who rescued him; “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.” (Psalm 40:1,2) The stillness of time at a black hole’s centre is a terrible teacher of patience. The hardest patience is that learned when there is no choice.  At the centre of despair there is no one but God. A stark choice emerges out of the urgent question; ‘Can He be trusted?’

The Psalmist says; ‘Yes,’  because; “He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.” (v. 3) The proud never heard his  cry they were too far away from his pit. Nor did those who ‘knew’ that bad things happen only to ‘bad’ people. You cannot trust the hard of hearing; “Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust, and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” (v. 4) The Psalmist knew he deserved no mercy; “My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; They are more than the hairs of my head; Therefore my heart fails me.” (v.12)  Undeserved mercy  gave him a new voice!

Undeserved mercy is a healing balm even for ears clogged with mud; “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.” (v. 6) Such mercy redeems a person’s life even though there is no possiblity of repaying the debt.  Mercy calls a man; “Then I said, ‘Behold, I come;’ In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” (v. 7, 8) Mercy re-writes a man’s heart!

Humility is exchanged for shame and a new man is born; “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified!’ But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” (v. 16,17) Urgency replaces complacency as God is needed and praised daily, moment to moment which is the life line of eternity.

All because God can hear your cry!

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What’s it all about?

Meaning is hard to nail down in this post-modern world.  Many believe we are products of evolution.  Yet, they fill themselves with silly thoughts of making the world a ‘better place’ as being a meaningful measure of  success.  The only success measure in evolution is the reproduction of genetic material from one generation to the next.  This has nothing to do with making the world a ‘better place.’ Given the declining birth rates of first world countries, success and meaning is a thing of the past.a-lack-of-meaning-it-jon-foreman

What meaning in life is there?  The Psalmist knew enough to take it up with God; “Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them.” (Psalm 39:5,6) Life in a post-Eden world has become one of hard knocks. The school of life wears us  down to nothing; “Remove Your plague from me; I am consumed by the blow of Your hand. When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth; Surely every man is vapor.” (v. 10,11) The most terrible plague of humanity is to be left alone with our own vain thoughts and futile deeds.

We hide, like Adam and Eve did after the fall, fearing God’s gaze because of our darkness.  Light destroys the dark and a shadow cannot exits under it.  Bereft, we  beg: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, A sojourner, as all my fathers were. Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more.” (Psalm 39:12,13) In the empty world without God this is the only meaning available. We live as shadows in a dark world! Is there no way back to the light? Is there no mercy?

There is a way back to the light and a life of meaning. His name is Jesus; “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) We have only to let go of our fear of being exposed; “The Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19,20) Come into His light and live a meaningful life.

“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16)

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Health – physical, emotional; and spiritual!

People believe in a link between emotional and physical health.  The adage – ‘look good, feel good’ underlies a lot of our thinking on this topic.  If we look fit and dress properly our emotions will follow along and success will be ours!  This cultural approach is epitomized by Diet Coke’s, 1997 marketing ploy; “The overall focus of the ads will be a look good/feel good/be sexy message timed to coincide with the start of the summer season, according to executives familiar with the campaign.”  And so we have been influenced to drink a lot of Diet Coke!lg_fg_feat

The concept that our spiritual health – that is our relationship with God,  has a profound effect on our physical and emotional health has been lost in a sea of diet cola.  Yet hundreds of years before mass marketing and soft drinks the Psalmist made a clear connection between our spiritual, emotional and physical well-being; “There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, nor any health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness.” (Psalm 38:3-5) Clearly a Diet Coke wouldn’t fix his problems our ours!

The Psalmist in his desperation is ready to admit that the fault is his, not God’s; “For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.” (Psalm 38:17,18)  Hundreds of years later some drunks trying to deal with their own spiritual sickness re-discovered the connection between accepting responsiblity and getting better. Alcoholics Anonymous says; ‘Recovery begins when you stop blaming others!’

In this broken world filled with disease pathogens, physical dangers and trauma, our physical and emotional health may be subject to factors beyond our control. But this is not so with respect to our spiritual health. Our spiritual health is always a factor of our personal choice and control.  Our spiritual health has a profound influence on our soul and body. The Bible tells us; “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?” (Proverb 18:14) The devil knows this and is always working to break our spirit, using sickness and disease as his goto weapons.

God came up with a cure!  His name is Jesus.  The great prophet Isaiah foretold of His healing; “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) No amount of Diet Coke will drive the devil and his disease out of our lives. There is really only one effective treatment for declining spiritual, emotional and physical health. It starts and ends with the prayer of the Psalmist; “Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!” (Psalm 38:21,22)

Amen!

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The future belongs to His own

For all of us the future is a big deal.  Some say the future is a long way off.  Few realize that it comes every second like waves on a beach wash the shore. What you do now affects your future and in no time at all.  ‘Now’ is in the past and the future has arrived in less  time it takes you to read this sentence.  And if you don’t pay attention you missed it.ch-1015-874363-front

The Psalmist understood the connection between now and the future; “Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace.” (Psalm 37:37) How are we to be blameless and upright? The Bible tells us; “Once you were alienated from God and were hostile in your minds because of your evil deeds. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence.” (Colossians 1:21,22) Jesus promised us peace with God through HIm; “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) To become blameless is a decision we can make now that secures our future!

What of those who live only for themselves and their own? They are alienated from God. Defending your own interests exclusively entails a hostility to all else, including God. Actions and behaviour motivated purely by self-interest always turn out less than what they could be. Evil isn’t necessarily one big bad thing.  Evil can be many little things and actions that are less than what they could be.  Sin means ‘missing the target.’  Wickedness can be a life of sin taken in baby steps rather than one big leap.  The Psalmist tells us the future of those who live only for themselves; “But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.” (Psalm 37:38)

Those who trust in Jesus have a future worth having: “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.” (Psalm 37:39,40) Your future is now!

What’s holding you back?

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A clear contrast

When I was a child in public school every year the Gideons would visit our classroom and distribute  a New Testament Bible including the Psalms.  What a contrast to the way things are now in our public schools.  The Gideons are shut out and so is the Holy Bible. In fact kids are often taught the opposite of what God’s Word says.  How did this happen?words

The Psalmist tells us the heart of  people who have no regard for God;  “There is no fear of God before his eyes. for he flatters himself in his own eyes, when he finds out his iniquity and when he hates.” (Psalm 36:1,2)  Those in control of our educational system have decided to flatter themselves in their own eyes by calling their wickedness good and Biblical goodness wicked.  The Bible calls out these ‘clever types’; “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:20,21)  Sadly there are many who are taken in by their brazenness and even more who are silenced by it.

Those who have no fear of God cannot be trusted; “The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit; he has ceased to be wise and to do good. He devises wickedness on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not abhor evil.” (Psalm 36:3,4) Self-serving people only fear for their own well-being and not those they are supposed to care about. The Bible tells us about such Godless individuals; “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

God, in contrast is faithful to His people who trust Him; “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.” (Psalm 36:7,8) Wickedness will not last or prevail; “Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the workers of iniquity have fallen; they have been cast down and are not able to rise.” (v. 11,12)

Wickedness drives people into the dirt of their insatiable appetites.

God lifts us up and satisfies forever!

What a contrast!

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The battle belongs to the Lord

We live in a world of conflict.  Everyone has been involved in some kind of conflict.  We are steeped in a culture of competition, litigation and abuse of power.  Who stands with us and defends our ‘rights?’  Our culture says you must defend yourself.  Some religious people say; ‘The Lord helps those who help themselves!’.  Both positions are un-Biblical.the-lord-willfight-for-you

The Psalmist rightly calls out to God for His protection; “Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; fight against those who fight against me.” (Psalm 35:1)  Like the Psalmist we live in a world where  people are against us not because of what we have done but who we are; “For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit, which they have dug without cause for my life.” (v. 7) Jesus told us that people would hate us because of Him; “Everyone will hate you because of Me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:13) Standing firm can be our only response to aggression.

The Lord is our witness and like the Psalmist, we call for His testimony in our presence; “This You have seen, O Lord; Do not keep silence. O Lord, do not be far from me.” (Psalm 35:22) This doesn’t mean we have no voice. Our voice is to speak His Truth into the situation we find ourselves in. Our vindication is in His hands; “Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication, to my cause, my God and my Lord. Vindicate me, O Lord my God, according to Your righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.” (v. 23,24) The battle belongs to the Lord!

Jesus tells us how to overcome in a hostile world. The key to freedom is in His Word; “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31,32)

Stand on His Word, live in His Word and be free in a world that would enslave you!

 

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God and country

A nation is only as great as its gods.  A country that puts God first is a country that will stand and prosper.  Prosperity comes not from the wisdom of political leaders working out of a spiritual vacuum.  Prosperity comes from Godly leaders following the Lord’s wisdom in their hearts as they guide and administer the nation God has entrusted to them.  A nation’s strength is in the spiritual integrity of its citizens.  It’s too bad many have forgotten this.d51ce41c472692c8714b815154847509

The Psalmist knew that people following themselves and their false gods amount to nothing; “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.” (Psalm 33:10) What is passed on to the next generation that is good and lasting comes from God; “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” (v. 11,12) Today, many Godless nations and their leaders only pass along crippling debt and environmental degradation to the next generation.

National security, community peace and personal well-being can only be found in a country where God is sovereign in the hearts of the citizens. Sadly people look for safety anywhere and everywhere but to God; “No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.” (Psalm 33:16,17) Yet we don’t get it; terror is at our door because God has left our house.

Where is hope? Where is peace? Where it always was and still is; “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him,  because we have trusted in His holy name.” (Psalm 33: 20,21) Peace and security has a Name. His name is Jesus;  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Trust Him!

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