Had It Not Been For the LORD

“ ‘Had it not been the LORD who was on our side,’ Let Israel now say, ‘Had it not been the LORD who was on our side when men rose up against us…’ ” (Ps 124:1-2)

Notice the use of the past tense, ‘had it not been’ implies that the victory has already been seized and that the time of turmoil and terror has passed.  The psalmist reminds us that we must seek the LORD in times of trial and then give credit to Him when the trial has been overcome.

Once our health is returned, or we have the new job, or our loved ones have recovered, we can make the mistake of rising from our bended knees and give credit to the doctors, our well-written resume, or the “coincidences” that led us back from the brink.  Yet, all of these things are merely tools in the hand of the Maker.  Does God use doctors? Yes.  In the same way that He uses coincidental meetings, kings, rulers, kindly strangers, and His own people to fulfill His plans.

Can we be thankful for the tools that fashioned the victory? Yes, and rightfully so.

But never forget the Carpenter that wields these tools – all glory goes to Him.  If He were not on our side, it would not matter who else was.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’ ” (Mk 10:27)

Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Employee of the Month

“Behold, as the eyes of the servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God.” (Ps 123:2)

When we show up for work, especially when we need the money, we are carefully to work in such a way that our labor fulfills the desires of our employer.  If your boss finds it particularly important that all the floors be swept three times a day – you sweep it three times a day, even if you think that is excessive.  If she asks that all memos be in 14pt Helvetica font – 14pt Helvetica becomes your new favorite font during business hours.  What you may feel is arbitrary or unimportant receives attention because it is important to the one you serve.

Why do we treat our religious beliefs differently?  If Christianity is about Christ, then what He values should be what we value.  The idea of finding a church that meets your needs is backwards – we should be part of churches that meet His needs.  Worship should be on His terms and in His ways, and yet churches abound that focus on worship being entertaining and exciting for us, instead of pleasing to Him.  Our eyes should look to the LORD like a servant’s eyes look to his master.

“Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.” (2 Cor 5:9)

Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Your Going Out and Your Coming In

“The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.” (Ps 121:7-8)
 
My wife has been making a lot of plane flights lately, which is abnormal. What’s more abnormal is she has been making them without me. Furthermore, my children are getting older and I am seeing them grow into their independence. As they mature they receive further responsibility and each day I see their autonomy growing.
 
All of this adds up to a household where many of us walk out the door, go our separate ways for large stretches of the day, and only reconvene at night to sit around the dinner table together. Thank you, Jehovah for watching our comings and goings!
 
We can’t protect our loved ones all the time, but we can teach them to follow God and we can place our faith in Him ourselves. Pray for their safety and pray that God will protect them from the evil one as they navigate a world that is often full of dark temptations and trials.
 
You can’t always be there to keep them, but He always is.
 
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 Jhn 1:2)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

A Dry and Weary Land

“O God, You are my God; I sall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Ps 63:1)
 
David wrote this Psalm during the time when he was fleeing from Saul and hiding in the Judean wilderness. That period of David’s life was completely unfair and David was denied the justice that was due him. David had done nothing wrong, and yet, the nation was led by a suspicious and paranoid king that hated David for no good reason. What good could possibly come from such circumstances?
 
Turns out, that when the land is dry, we learn to appreciate water more. When a nation’s morals begin to crumble, we begin to value the goodness and justice of God more. When our souls crave truth, justice, righteousness, and mercy, we become better people. If many are lost because they don’t have the love of the truth (see 2 Thess 2:10), then the opposite would also be true – a society that causes us to hunger and thirst for righteousness will lead to many seeking God who might not do so under more prosperous conditions. David valued justice precisely because he was denied it.
 
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matt 5:6)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Speak to My Soul

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me… say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’ ” (Ps 35:1,3)

Our souls need to be reminded of God’s strength and His role as our deliverer.  That is at least one reason that God has provided us with memorials.  The Lord’s Supper weekly reminds the church of Jesus as our Savior (see 1 Cor 11:26 and Acts 20:7) and the gathering of Christians encourages us to remain steadfast in His love (see Heb 10:24-25).  The constant reading of the Scriptures provides us with repeated reminders of our place in the mind of God to stir up our minds (see 2 Pet 3:1), and the many stories and examples of men and women saved by God’s deliverance surround us (see Heb 12:1).

These stories, letters, fellowship, and memorial acts speak to our souls a constant reminder:

“I am your salvation”

May we never forget.

Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Immersed in Pride

“Then Saul said to his armor bearer, ‘Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, otherwise these uncircumcised will come and pierce me through and make sport of me.’ ” (1 Sam 31:4)
 
It has been said that we die like we live. Jesus would state something similar in Matt 26:52, “all who take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
 
When we are first introduced to Saul, he was a moderately humble man by all accounts, but as his fame grew and his power increased, he fed his pride with the privileges of being king. That pride caused him to be suspicious of David when David received praise for killing Goliath. That pride caused him to lose the love of his daughter, Michal, and the respect of his son, Jonathan. And ultimately, that pride made him lose the support of Jehovah, too.
 
And in the waning moments of his life, defeated on the battlefield, what was Saul worried about – that the Philistines would “make sport of” him. We die like we live.
 
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Pr 16:18)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Press On

“From men of the world, whose portion is in this life, and whose belly You fill with Your treasure; they are satisfied with children, and leave their abundance to their babes.  As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.” (Ps 17:14-15)

There is nothing wrong with wanting a good family, to raise children, and to enjoy what blessings we’ve been given and then leave an inheritance to our children.  These are noble and healthy things that the Scriptures encourage (see Pr 13:22, Eccl 9:9, and 1 Tim 2:2)

But our desires should be loftier than that.  The blessings of this life are the “icing on the cake”, but our portion should not be found here, but hereafter.  The psalmist says that beyond the joys of hearth and home, he seeks to behold God’s face… something we simply cannot do in this life (see Ex 33:20).

We haven’t truly attained what life is all about until we’ve gone the last mile of the way.  Press on, better things await.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:14)

Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

He Knows the Way

“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.” (Ps 142:3a)
 
Our problems can be too big for us. I don’t always know how things will work out and the potential problems can be vast and varied depending on the trial… sometimes the scariest thing is not knowing what comes next or whether you can handle it.
 
Like a near-sighted man who left his glasses at home, our human frailty and limited knowledge can leave us grasping for answers and unable to see more than two feet in front of us.
 
But God sees the path with perfect precision. Our overwhelmed hearts are held in His steady hands. Our loving Father knows the road ahead and He won’t let us falter.
 
“that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being;” (Acts 17:27-28)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Inclined to Help

“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing…” (Ps 141:3-4)
 
Becoming the people we wish to be is a process and we are all works in progress. As we grow, we all need help to become the best versions of ourselves. A child holds onto a hand for added support while learning to walk.
 
The psalmist prays that God will incline his heart toward good and protect his mouth from foolishness as he grows. It is a wise and humble man that recognizes he needs help to avoid temptation and outside strength to grow. Even a seemingly insurmountable character flaw can be repaired with God’s gracious strength.
 
Want to become a better person? Ask your Creator for help.
 
“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ ” (Matt 19:26)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Counted as Incense…

“May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.” (Ps 141:2)
 
The Old Testament imagery of the incense burning perpetually within the temple and the animal sacrifices being made to God each morning and evening was a physical pattern that provides an illustration of what our lives ought to be.
 
Our prayers bring joy to Him and are sent before His presence as much as any offering made by the Old Testament priesthood. Your prayers matter. Your words are heard by the Ancient of Days. So pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17) and may our lives be living and holy sacrifices to Him.
 
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Rom 12:1)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites