God

Spiritual Examination

Psalm 26A Psalm of David. Image result for spiritual examination

Vindicate me, O LordFor I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord;
I shall not slip. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth. I have not sat with idolatrous mortals, Nor will I go in with hypocrites. I have hated the assembly of evildoers, And will not sit with the wicked. I will wash my hands in innocence; So I will go about Your altar, O LordThat I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works. Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, And the place where Your glory dwells. Do not gather my soul with sinners, Nor my life with bloodthirsty men, 10 In whose hands is a sinister scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; Redeem me and be merciful to me. 12 My foot stands in an even place; In the congregations I will bless the Lord.

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The Shrewd God

Image result for shrewd“With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people, But will bring down haughty looks.” (Psalm 18:25-27)

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes shrewd “as having or showing a practical cleverness or [sharp powers of] judgment.” Did you notice how David constructed these words? The merciful, the blameless, and the pure receive an equal reaction from God but the devious is treated very differently.  (more…)

Faith in Prayer

” I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill” (Psalm 3:4).

Do you pray knowing that God hears your prayer and has already given a response? One of David’s many gifts was his ability to pray with confidence that the Lord had already answered him. The Psalms can appear to contradict itself but what we see as contradictions are the writers’ confidence that God hears and has answered their prayers.

A number of years ago, Psalm 3 brought me much comfort during a time when it felt like the whole world was against me. I prayed this Psalm with great desperation and anguish as I sought the Lord and his deliverance from life’s piercing arrows. There are times when the troubles of this life seem to have no end; time when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.  (more…)

The Usurper

Even The Land Obeys

“Because of the transgressions of a land, many are its princes; but by a man of understanding and knowledge right will be prolonged” (Proverbs 28:2).

If you are like me, you probably had to read over this passage a number of times before it becomes clear what message it conveys. In Leviticus 18, after warning the Israelites not to commit the sins of the inhabitants of the land before them, the Lord warned;  “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.  You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you”.

Solomon, in Proverbs 28, draws on this warning when he said that because of the transgressions of the [nation] many will come to rule over it. History has made clear the truth of this Proverb, which America has thus far been spared from, thanks to the constitution limiting the terms of those elected to political offices but even the constitution has limits. As a matter of fact, when it comes to the word of God everything is limited.

Leaders can lead a whole nation away from God; we have seen this throughout the ages and ancient Israel is the prime example we Christians often draw on. Europe has gone spiritually bankrupt because they have been led by those who are spiritually bankrupt and America is hastily following in their footsteps. In a democracy where those in power are elected to office, they either represent or mislead the people who vote for them. In the end, their spiritual health or poverty will be the driving force behind their ventures and accomplishments.

A democratic nation that votes for a spiritually bankrupt leader has either been deceived or that leader’s character and traits represent that which the citizens embellish.  The church, in a democratic nation, has to be concerned when the elected leader was and continues to be antithetic to biblically Christian values.

A known liar has either lied his/her way to the top office or they have successfully deceived the people.

A known cheater has either cheated his/her way to the top office or the people turn a blind eye to such a character flaw.

Someone known to have “an evil eye [for riches]” (Proverbs 28:22) who is elected to the top office has either deceived the people or is the personification of a set of national values.

Someone known to “increase possession by usury and extortion” (Proverbs 28:8) who is elected to the top office has either succeeded in doing just that or the people care little for the poor and the honest laborer.

Someone “who turns away [his/her] ear from hearing the law” (Proverbs 28:9) will neglect the rule of law even when he/she has the power to enact them.

A democratic nation that enables and emboldens the sins of those who continue to act in such a way may in fact have sunk to such level itself. A Christian nation that enables and embolden such behavior must keep in mind the very template we often draw on; Israel.

We should never forget that “the wicked will flee when no one pursues”; “because of the transgressions of a land, may are its princes”; “Those who forsake the law, praise the wicked”; Evil men do not understand justice”; “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity that one perverse in his ways, though he be rich”; “One who turns away from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination”; “He who covers his sins will not prosper”; “A ruler who lack understanding is a great oppressor”; “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife”.

Take heart you who read this, for when the wicked flee “the righteous are embolden”; “By a man of understanding and knowledge, right will be prolonged”; “those who seek the Lord has understanding”; “Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son”; “The blameless will inherit the good”; “Whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will have mercy”; “Whoever walks blamelessly will be saved”; “He who trusts in the Lord will be prospered” and “whoever walks wisely will be delivered.”

Let us, as a nation, adhere to the latter and not the former actions. (more…)

Unrighteous Zealots

“Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words”. (Proverbs 23:9)

In my devotional reading this morning, Dr. Adam Dooley of Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama commented that “Believers should neither feel obligated to nor responsible for those who hate the truth.” Dr. Dooley went on to state that “Regarding business, Christians should protect the weak with fairness and precedent, knowing that God defends based upon the truth rather than one’s status or power”.

I have to admit that, while I agree with the above, I have become skeptical of the human thought expressed on paper. This is true especially of Christians with whom I am either not familiar or whose words I am not able to reconcile with their actions. It bothers me that, as a Christian, I am becoming so skeptical of other believers but the larger issues is that we have come to this place; what then does the world think of us.

The Western church, at least in part, seems to be complicit in defending those who hate the truth and who seem to care little for the weak. Is this because, as research suggests, of the eroding biblical literacy and belief in the inherency of scripture? I believe this is part of the reason but the totality of this trend may be more sinister than we think.

The oldest sin is that which aims at self-gratification (pride). We in the West are drunk on the desire to satisfying our every desire. Technology is driven by our insatiable appetite for comfort and convenience and businesses thrive on our appetite for quick, “have it your way” service. I believe this sin is prevalent in the church today but is often masked behind “zeal”.

Some have suggested that Judas betrayed Jesus because he was a zealot who thought that by doing so, Jesus would revolt and return the kingdom to Israel. If this is true, Judas’ actions were motivated by a desire for self-gratification. Similarly, the religious leaders who plotted and called for the crucifixion of Jesus did so because He was a threat to their wealth and comfortable way of life. I’m sure you get the picture!

Today, the western church is busy fighting battles over the few issues we are zealous about; forgetting to defend the weak and uphold truth. Have we become self-centered zealots who willingly side with the violent to satisfy what we feel are the most important issues?

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God (God-breathed)” (2 Timothy 3:16) and is equally important and authoritative. Who are we to choose one issue over another, or ignore one sin for the sake of another? Should we not be zealous for every word of scripture? It is the very opposite of this that has created such decay in the moral and theological state of western society. When the church fails to lead the nation fails to thrive and sin becomes a cancer that takes hold of it.

Did not the Lord warn that when we fill the land with sin it will cast us out? I implore the church to repent of our pride and desire for self-gratification. We cannot impress God with our zeal and attempt to do so is only at our own peril. What then does the Lord require of us. “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

We have become too much afraid of the anger of fools and instead of reproving them, we flatter them with their own lies. How often do we hear Christian leaders say “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) but fail to “Love one another fervently with a pure heart” as we “Obey the truth through the Spirit” (1 Peter 1:22)?

We cannot lead if we fail to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not in us if we obligate ourselves to those who hate the truth and to those who strike the weak, simply because of their status or power.

Immerse Yourself In Scripture

There is a flood of information coming our way on a hourly basis and much of it is very convincing. But is that information all true? The enemy deceives us with partial truths and the only way to counter these attacks is to know the truth. We do this by immersing ourselves in scripture and prayer each day, throughout the day. We have to “put on the full armor of God“, take of the shield up faith and arm ourselves with the sword (word) of God. Today, immerse yourself in scripture and prayer and “you will know the truth and the truth will make your free“!