Monday, 25 September 2017

God's Rescue

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
These are familiar terms within the Psalms, often glossed over because of their frequent use. Light is often associated with truth throughout the Psalms (Psalm 18:28;36:9;43:3). But it also indicates the provision of clarity (Psalm 37:6; 38:10;112:4) and understanding (Psalm 119:105;119:130), and even favor with God (Psalm 4:6;44:3;89:15;90:8).
This psalm is a song of joy about God’s marvelous deliverance and may very well demand the broadest application possible. The Lord does provide truth for me as I search His Word—and sometimes that truth just pops into my head and heart when I most need it. He surely grants clarity and understanding to me. That is the primary ministry of the Holy Spirit on my behalf (John 16:13-15). And who can ignore the favor we receive in our salvation (Ephesians 2:8)?
The “rescue” of the Psalms is often set in terms of a military rescue, but it is also applicable to the eternal rescue from sin that is the ultimate focus of the Word. God is said to be the horn of our salvation (Psalm 18:2), a shield (Psalm 18:35), the rock (Psalm 89:26), our strength (Psalm 140:7), as well as my joy (Psalm 51:12) and my truth (Psalm 69:13). These descriptions draw a picture of protection, as does the phrase “strength of my life” in our text. It is consistently used in the Psalms of a rock or fortress that provides safety from enemy attack. All of these settings emphasize the often sudden and unexpected rescue of God’s people from sure defeat at the hands of an enemy. 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Singing Garments of Life

“The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.” (Psalm 65:13)
This is the concluding verse of the beautiful 65th Psalm, climaxing a remarkable series of testimonies about God’s providential care of His creation. In this final figure, the lands are pictured as clothed in beautiful, living garments—garments that shout and sing in joyful praise to their Maker.
The figure would be better appreciated in biblical times or in certain lands (e.g., New Zealand) today where flocks of sheep are so abundant that they literally seem to cover the pasture lands in wool. The flocks first provide a metaphorical garment for the pastures, then literal clothing for men and women. Similarly, the fertile valleys are everywhere arrayed in golden grain, which later provides food for both the animals and human beings.
And “the sounds of the earth are like music,” as the song so eloquently expresses it. For those with ears to hear and eyes to see, praise is everywhere being offered up to our great Creator and faithful Sustainer by the very creation itself.
Jesus also spoke of the beautiful garments of creation: “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30).
The verse following our text, therefore, appropriately exhorts, “Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands . . . All the earth shall worship thee” (Psalm 66:1, 4). 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Creation of Plants

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” (Genesis 1:11)
One of the favorite biblical arguments used these days by Christian advocates of an old earth comes from a forced interpretation of this verse. While the verse seems to teach “sudden” creation, old-earth advocates interpret the verse to necessitate an indefinite time period, at least long enough for seeds to grow up into mature, seed-bearing plants. Plants differ widely and are thought to have evolved all throughout Earth history. The third day, then, must be understood as long enough to witness the appearance of all “kinds” of plants and is equated with a vast stretch of geologic time. However, there are many biblical problems with this view—a few of which follow.
Scripture teaches that “in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” (Exodus 20:11; see also Genesis 2:1-4; etc.), and no meaning other than a solar day is biblically defensible. The “herbs” and “trees” mentioned can only mean small or woody plants that supposedly arrived late on the evolutionary scale, for the same words are used to identify food plants on Day Six.
Furthermore, the verb “bring forth” (Genesis 1:11) is also used when God made animals, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature” (Genesis 1:24), on the sixth day. It cannot be referring to the growth of a seed out of the ground but rather must imply the sudden creation of both plants and animals in abundance.
Such compromises are impossible biblically and are quite unnecessary. There are no true facts of science that are incompatible with the young-earth teaching of Scripture. We can be sure of its teachings. 

Friday, 22 September 2017

Things to Be Aware

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)
There are three Greek words translated “beware,” all of which stress watchfulness and potential danger. In a world under the control of Satan, there are many of his devices that can deceive and undermine the faith and life of the unwary Christian.
Our text cautions against false prophets who appear to be true prophets (or teachers, or pastors) but whose apparent spiritual teachings are subversive of biblical truth. John warns that “many false prophets are gone out into the world” (John 4:1), and Jesus said they “shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). Jesus also warned that His followers should “beware of . . . the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:12). These sects have their respective modern counterparts in the hypocrisy of legalists and the skepticism of liberals, both of which are destructive of true biblical faith and life.
Very relevant to today’s humanistic intellectualism is the warning of Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” This is the Bible’s only reference to philosophy, here evidently equated with “vain deceit.”
Finally, the apostle Peter says, “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17). In context, Peter is referring to those Christian brethren who have distorted the Scriptures in order to seek an accommodation with the naturalistic worldview of establishment intellectuals (2 Peter 3:3-6,16). Thus, Peter, John, and Christ Himself would urge constant wariness on our part.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Promised in Writing

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
For those of us who have trusted God for salvation, based on the finished work of Christ on the cross, God has already done for us the most difficult and costly thing He could ever do. He graciously sent His only Son to Earth and then to the cross and the grave in order to make forgiveness and eternal fellowship with us possible. We are now adopted children in His family, joint-heirs with His beloved Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:16-17,29, etc.), from whom we will never be separated (Romans 8:35-39), “whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
Consider our state when all this was being done for us. It is easy to love a beautiful baby who needs someone to care for it; but we were not at all attractive. We were filthy sinners, born in sin and habitually choosing to offend God’s holy nature by succumbing to “the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). Furthermore, we were even “enemies” of the cross at the time “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). Outside of His eyes of love and grace we would have appeared more like a repulsive maggot than a beautiful baby.
It stands to reason that He who has already done the most difficult, yea, infinitely difficult thing for us out of His great love will continue to manifest that love to us, especially now that we are of His family. As our text tells us, He will “freely give us all things.” With our best interests at heart, He will see that “all things work together for [our] good” (Romans 8:28).
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The House of the Lord

“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

The theme of the house of God is prominent in the book of Psalms. The phrase “the house of the LORD” occurs seven times, plus once each for “the LORD’s house” and “the house of the LORD our God.” There are three references to “the house of God,” one to “the house of my God,” and one to “the house of our God.” Then, “thy house” is mentioned 11 times, making a total of at least 25 explicit references to the house of the Lord in the book of Psalms alone.

Many of these passages refer, of course, to the actual temple in Jerusalem. On the other hand, since it was in the temple’s holy place that the Shekinah glory dwelled and where the high priest met once each year with God on behalf of the people, there naturally follows a personal metaphorical application with the house of the Lord referring to the spiritual presence of the Lord in the life of each believer.

In our text, the psalmist expresses as his highest desire that of continually dwelling in God’s presence all the days of his life. A number of the other references express the same holy desire, and the New Testament response is that, indeed, “ye are the temple of God, and . . . the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

It is wonderful to “dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,” but that is not all we can look forward to. The glorious concluding assurance of the 23rd Psalm is even greater. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:6).

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Blind Hearts

“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18)
It is a tragedy for a person to have blinded eyes but infinitely worse to have a blinded heart. No one ever willfully chooses to be sightless, but spiritual blindness is a product of the human will.
After Christ had given sight to the man born blind, the Pharisees still refused to believe, so Jesus said to them, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. . . . If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:39,41).
Like these ancient intellectuals, it often seems that modern intellectuals are incurably blind. They profess to teach science and philosophy of the highest complexity, but their understanding is darkened and their hearts are blinded when it comes to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul says: “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
Even very religious people, people who believe in God as Creator, may blind themselves when confronted with the truth that the Creator must also become their Savior. “But their minds were blinded . . . even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart” (2 Corinthians 3:14-15).
Nevertheless, Christ came as “the light,” and when anyone will simply in faith “turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:16), and the gospel will “shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4).