Blessing Over Judgment

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My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. (Psalm 57:7) 

David is on the run, hiding in a cave. The bad guys are described as lions, ravenous beasts with teeth like spears and arrows, and tongues like swords. They hotly pursue David, setting traps for him everywhere he would go. So it’s no wonder that David begins this prayer crying out to God, 

Have mercy on me, O God have mercy on me, for in You my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed (v. 1). 

As David is prone to do in many of his psalms, he inserts the word Selah, reminding both himself and his readers to pause for a moment. He records how God answers his prayer: “God sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me” (v. 3). 

But the Selah comes in the middle of the verse, almost as if David is pausing to ask, “How exactly does God save me?” In this instance, it’s not so much God rebuking the wicked as it is God blessing David. After the Selah pause he says, “God sends forth His love and His faithfulness. 

By blessing His righteous servant David, God rebukes the wicked and vindicates David by creating a longing in those wicked men to also be blessed by God. 

In the New Testament we see that the arrival of Jesus was an act of God’s kindness: “Because of and through the heart of tender mercy and loving-kindness of our God, a Light from on high will dawn upon us and visit us” (Luke 1:78). And it is God’s kindness that continues to draw us to Himself: “…Are you unmindful or actually ignorant of the fact that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repent—to change your mind and inner man to accept God’s will?” (Romans 2:4). 

David foresees his enemies falling into the very traps they have set for him (v. 6). And then once again he calls for a Selah pause to consider how God has and is blessing him. 

From this point on, David expresses no more thoughts about the wicked people pursuing him, but all of his words through the remainder of this psalm are worship, praise, and exaltation (vv. 7-11). 

When evil people are assailing you perhaps you could pray this prayer: 

O God, that my heart could be so transformed that I desire Your blessing on my life more than I look for Your judgment or retribution on the wicked! I pray that my heart would be a place of continual praise to You, and not a hotbed of anxious thoughts about wicked people. Father, may Your kindness to me be such a powerful testimony to even evildoers, that they will repent—change their mind to accept You as their God too. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—My Rock

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

My Rock 

[God] alone is my rock and my salvation (Psalm 62:2).

     How noble a title; it is so sublime, suggestive, and overpowering. ‘My rock.’ It is a figure so divine that to God alone will it ever be applied. …  

     Unchangeable He is in His being, firm in His own sufficiency. He keeps Himself immutably the same. And ‘therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob’ (Malachi 3:6). … So is our God a sure defense, and we will not be moved if He has set our feet upon a rock and established our goings (see Psalm 40:2). …  

     ‘He is my rock.’ How glorious a thought! How safe am I and how secure and how may I rejoice in the fact that when I wade through Jordan’s stream He will be my rock! I will not walk upon a slippery foundation, but I will tread on Him who cannot betray my feet. And I may sing when I am dying, ‘He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him’ (Psalm 92:15).

From God Alone The Salvation Of His People

Spurgeon mentioned singing about God our Rock even when we come to death’s door. Immediately a couple of songs from my childhood sprang to mind.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown,
And behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee. (Augustus Toplady)

Where do I go when there’s nobody else to turn to?
Who do I turn to when nobody wants to listen?
Who do I lean on when there’s no foundation stable?
I go to the Rock, I know He’s able, I go to the Rock.

I go to the Rock of my salvation,
I go to the Stone that the builders rejected,
I run to the Mountain and the Mountain stands by me.
When the earth all around me is sinking sand
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand
When I need a shelter, when I need a friend, I go to the Rock. (Dottie Rambo)

My friend, no matter how unstable things may seem, no matter how uncertain the future may appear, remember the One and Only Rock. He alone is my rock and my salvation! Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t try to make your own secure place, but run to the Rock of Ages, and this immovable Mountain will stand by you and keep you secure for all of eternity! 

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Which Hand Is On You?

…the hand of God … the hand of foreign kings… (Ezra 7-9 and Nehemiah 1-2).

The picturesque language of someone’s hand being on another person signifies who is in control and to whom one is giving their allegiance. Ezra and Nehemiah boil it down to God’s hand or the hand of foreign leaders.

God’s hand brings:

  • favor with foreign kings
  • safety
  • courage 
  • coworkers
  • protection from bandits 

A foreign king’s hand brings:

  • a sword
  • captivity
  • pillage
  • humiliation 

Ezra explains, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him, but His great anger is against all who forsake Him” (8:22). So God’s hand prevents the hand of a foreign king from doing anything outside of God’s will. 

Here are two irrefutable and unchangeable principles: (1) I can only have one hand on my life at a time, and (2) I get to choose which hand it will be: God’s or a foreign leader. 

7 Quotes From David Livingstone

The Daring Heart Of David Livingstone by Jay Milbrandt is an amazing account of this man’s heroic and history-altering life. Check out my full book review by clicking here. Below are a few quotes that Milbrandt shared in his biography. 

“It is something to be a follower, however feeble, in the wake of the great Teacher and only model missionary that ever appeared among men.” —David Livingstone 

“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.” —David Livingstone 

“I shall hold myself in readiness to go anywhere, provided it be forward. … Our duty is to go forward … I have observed that people who have sat long waiting have sat long enough before they saw any indication to go.” —David Livingstone 

“As they are experts with the spear I don’t know how it missed, except that he was too sure of his aim and the good hand of God was upon me.” —David Livingstone, after surviving two spears thrown at him during an ambush 

“The Gospels reveal Jesus, the manifestation of the blessed God over all as minute in His care of all. He exercises a vigilance more constant, complete, and comprehensive, every hour and every minute, over each of His people than their utmost selflove could ever attain. His tender love is more exquisite than a mother’s heart can feel.” —David Livingstone 

“If the good Lord permits me to put a stop to the enormous evils of the inland slave-trade, I shall not grudge my hunger and toils. I shall bless His name with all my heart. The Nile sources are valuable to me only as a means of enabling me to open my mouth with power among men. It is this power I hope to apply to remedy an enormous evil [in the East African slave trade]. Men may think I covet fame, but I make it a rule never to read aught written in my praise.” —David Livingstone 

“I am a missionary, heart and soul. God had an only Son, and He was a missionary and a physician. A poor, poor imitation I am or wish to be. In this service I hope to live, in it I wish to die.” —David Livingstone 

Zero Casualties

The whole army then returned safely to Joshua… (Joshua 10:21).

The only time any deaths in battle are mentioned in the whole military campaign of Israel conquering Canaan is at Ai when 36 men died (7:1-5). Other than that, zero casualties.

A massive Israelite army, waging war against huge armies “as numerous as the sand on the seashore” (11:4), many of them entrenched in fortified cities, several of the warriors are giants, fighting on terrain that is unfamiliar to them—zero casualties! 

But why should this surprise us?

God doesn’t see masses of people; He sees individuals. He knows how many hairs are on each soldier’s head! He is able to keep alive all His children despite the rigors of warfare.

Total victory. Zero casualties!

The casualties at Ai were due to Israel’s disobedience. The ongoing victories were due to Israel’s total obedience: “As the Lord commanded His servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses” (11:15).

“All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fights for Israel” (10:42), with zero casualties!

We wage a spiritual warfare today that is no less rigorous or dangerous than the military campaign the Israelite army fought. God is still able to keep those who are His until He calls them home. 

Missionary John Paton, while surrounded by hostile cannibals, said, “I realized that my life was immortal till my Master’s work with me was done.” 

The same is true for you. Don’t fear the enemy. Don’t shrink from the battle. Obey God, and trust Him to bring you safely home to Heaven. Then you can say with the apostle Paul, as he neared the end of his campaign—

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). 

Jesus is able to keep you from falling until He brings you into His Father’s presence—zero casualties!

Close To God

Imagine being close enough to hear God’s voice—Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21)

Here’s a great question I recently heard: “What if God doesn’t want to give us answers, because He wants to give us His presence?” 

Perhaps if God showed me my whole path, I might just take off down the path as fast as I could. Maybe I’d even say something like, “Thanks, God, I’ll take it from here!”

But God wants me close to Him. He wants me to hear His voice at every single step saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” 

The model prayer that Jesus taught us is all about that closeness and total reliance on God’s close presence: 

  • Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name [close enough to worship Him intimately],
  • Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven [close enough to know His heart].
  • Give us today our daily bread [close enough to rely on Him for all of my daily needs].
  • And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors [close enough to know His forgiving love for me and for others].
  • Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one [close enough to His strength to say “no” to temptations that would entice me off of His path].
  • For Yours is the kingdom, and the glory, and the power forever [close enough to bask perpetually in His glory and His power].

God wants us THAT close to Him—to rely on Him, to lean into Him, to be empowered by Him, to be protected in Him. 

A good question for all of us to ponder: How close to God am I?

10 More Quotes From “Jesus Always”

Sarah Young beautifully weaves together passages from the Bible to help us hear Jesus talking to us in the first person. Check out my review of Jesus Always by clicking here. 

“‘Rejoice always’ [1 Thessalonians 5:16]. When your mind is going down an unpleasant, gloomy path, stop it in its tracks with this glorious command. See how many times each day you can remind yourself to rejoice. … These joyful thoughts will light up both your mind and your heart, enabling you to find more pleasure in your life. Choosing to rejoice will bless you and those around you.” 

“You definitely need Me as your shield. I protect you from many dangers—physical, emotional, and spiritual. Sometimes you’re aware of My protective work on your behalf, but I also shield you from perils you never even suspect. Find comfort in this assurance of My powerful presence watching over you. Fear no evil, My cherished one, for I am with you.” 

“The Trinity, comprised of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a great gift to you; it is also a mystery far beyond your comprehension. This blessing of three Persons in One greatly enriches your prayer life. You can pray to the Father in My name; you can also speak directly to Me. And the Holy Spirit is continually available to help you with your prayers.” 

“Although many of your prayers are not yet answered, you can find hope in My great faithfulness. I keep all My promises in My perfect way and timing. … I hold back till you’re ready to receive the things I have lovingly prepared for you.” 

“Living in this very broken world requires bravery on your part. Since bravery is not the default setting in most human hearts, you will need My help to be strong and courageous.” 

“I have infinite power, so ‘impossibilities’ are My specialty. I delight in them because they display My glory so vividly.” 

“No matter how you’re feeling, remember that you are not on trial. There is no condemnation for those who belong to Me—those who know Me as Savior. You have already been judged ‘Not guilty!’ in the courts of heaven.” 

“Your best preparation for the journey ahead is practicing My presence each day. … Trust Me—your Guide— to show you the way forward as you go step by step. I have a perfect sense of direction, so don’t worry about getting lost. Relax in My presence, and rejoice in the wonder of sharing your whole life with Me.” 

“As the world grows increasingly dark, remember that you are the light of the world. Don’t waste energy lamenting bad things over which you have no control. Pray about these things, but refuse to let them haunt your thoughts. Instead, focus your energies on doing what you can to brighten the place where I have put you. Use your time, talents, and resources to push back the darkness. Shine My light into the world!”

“Be willing to take responsibility for your own mistakes and sin without feeling responsible for the sinful failures of others. I am here to help you untangle your complex problems…. Be willing to live with unresolved problems, but don’t let them be your focus. My presence in the present is your portion.” 

Poetry Saturday—O Little Flock, Fear Not The Foe

O little flock, fear not the Foe
Who madly seeks your overthrow;
Dread not his rage and power.
What though your courage sometimes faints,
His seeming triumph o’er God’s saints
Lasts but a little hour.

Be of good cheer; your cause belongs
To Him who can avenge your wrongs;
Leave it to Him, our Lord.
Though hidden yet from mortal eyes,
His Gideon shall for you arise,
Uphold you and His Word.

As true as God’s own Word is true.
Not earth nor hell with all their crew
Against us shall prevail.
A jest and byword are they grown;
God is with us, we are His own;
Our victory cannot fail. —Johann M. Altenburg

 

Saturday In The Proverbs—God Is Sovereign (Proverbs 16)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…from the Lord (Proverbs 16:1).

God is Sovereign, which means He has supreme authority. 

The sooner—and more consistently—I acknowledge this, the more joy I can experience! According to Proverbs 16, acknowledging God as Lord and Master means: 

  • having the right answers (vv. 1, 24)
  • living with a clear conscience (v. 2)
  • thinking better thoughts (v. 3)
  • not getting swept away in judgment (vv. 4, 5)
  • experiencing mercy, truth, and atonement (v. 6)
  • peaceful living (v. 7)
  • contentment (vv. 8, 16)
  • divine direction (v. 9)
  • righteous living (vv. 10-12, 31)
  • favor among kings (vv. 13-15)
  • avoiding stumbling (v. 17)
  • avoiding pride (vv. 18-19)
  • happiness (v. 20)
  • having prudence (v. 21)
  • getting better understanding (vv. 22-23)
  • eternal life (v. 25)
  • satisfaction in my work (v. 26)
  • avoiding evil people (vv. 27-30)
  • self-control (v. 32)
  • seeing God’s providence at work (v. 33)

Not a bad list! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—If … Then (Proverbs 2)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…if you will receive My words… (Proverbs 2:1).

Some people find this hard to fathom, but it’s an undeniable truth—God wants to bless you!

But His blessings will only come in His ways. You cannot do what you want to do and expect God to bless that behavior. Proverbs 2 tells us that IF we will do what God asks, THEN God will pour out His blessings.

IF

  • receive God’s Word
  • treasure His commands
  • incline your ear to His wisdom
  • apply God’s understanding to your life
  • cry out for God’s discernment
  • lift up your voice for God’s understanding
  • seek God’s wisdom
  • search for God like it’s treasure

THEN

  • you will understand the fear of the Lord
  • you will find God’s knowledge
  • you will gain God’s understanding
  • you will have God’s protection
  • you will understand God’s righteousness and justice
  • you will be preserved by discretion
  • you will be saved by understanding
  • you will be delivered from evil
  • you will be kept from immorality

If I will do what God says, then God opens His storehouse of invaluable treasures!

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