JUDGMENT is Good! (Last in the series)

Micah 6-7

Corruption, it seems, is alive and well.  We hear stories of bribery in other parts of the world all the time–India, China, and Russia, typically repeat offenders–but it’s not something we expect to find here in the United States,  We’re better than that, right?  I’d like to think so, but that doesn’t stop people from making stupid decisions,  When people make stupid decisions, and over a lifetime of 76 years, I’ve made plenty–they have to face the consequences.

Nowadays, that typically means a trial in a courtroom, but in Bible times it meant something more harsh, like maybe fire and brimstone?

Usually, yes; that is unless you count the time that God brought Israel to court for immorality in the Book of Micah.

Let’s look now at the last two chapters in Micah.

Micah 6:1-8

These 8 verses read like a courtroom drama:  “Law and Order: Jerusalem Crimes”.

THE SCENE IS SET –

I can just hear a lawyer yelling this now–“God is demanding that the people explain their actions.”

At this point, the Israelites were extremely corrupt.

A REVIEW OF MICAH –

Chapter 2:8-9  (NIV)

[8] Lately my people have risen up like an enemy.  You strip off the rich robe from those who pass by without care, like men returning from battle.

[9] You drive the women of my people from their pleasant homes.  You take away my blessing from their children forever.

Chapter 3, God calls out the leadership specifically:  verses 1-3

In chapter 7, God lists more specifics!  verses 2-3

[2] The faithful have been swept from the land; no one upright person remains.  Everyone lies in wait to shed blood; they hunt each other with nets.

[3]  Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire–they all conspire together.

So in Micah 6:1-8, the prosecution starts by asking the mountains and hills to listen.  They are the JURY!

[1]  “Hear now what the Lord says:  Arise, contend and plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.  [2] Hear, O mountains, the Lord’s controversy, and you strong and enduring foundations…”

The book of Luke in the Bible says that if we’re all silent the rock themselves will cry out in praise–so I don’t think it’s a reach that they could serve as a jury if asked by their Creator.

He then begins to list off what he has done, when it says in verse 5, God wants to make sure that the Israelites “know the righteous and saving acts of the Lord” (AMP).

What comes next is such a human action!  The people want to jump to the extreme!

They got from not listening to God’s Word at all to wanting to go overboard with burnt offerings, thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of olive oil and their first-born child (vs. 7)?

Really?  That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?  But this is how they thought!  They were like the criminal when, overcome with guilt, tells the cops to throw him in jail, and let him starve to death in a dark pit because he did something wrong.  And in my opinion, the Israelites deserved every one of those things.

They disrespected the creator of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  God would be well within His rights to simply point His finger and ZAP THEM with lightning bolts, or rain down fire and brimstone.

But He doesn’t.

In verse 8, God tells them what He wants:  That’s it!

Micah 6:8 (AMP)

“…to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God”

God doesn’t care about these huge outward displays of guilt.

He’s God!

He knows how you’re feeling, and whether your guilt is legit or not!

All He wants is for you to follow Him in all of His ways.  That’s the very definition of MERCY.

Going back to the courtroom for a moment…

This would be like the district attorney telling the judge, “We’ll drop all charges so long as the defendant comes back to us and does the right thing.”

What if in the military trials, with suspected terrorists, ended like that?  “Your honor, let this terrorist go free, so long as he promises not to do it again.”  That would never happen, right?

But God’s MERCY is so much greater than ours that we can’t really understand how far it really goes.

God promises that Israel will rise again!

That’s right–after all this, after the courtroom, the lawyers and the jury, God says, “It’s OK!  I’ll continue to bless you, and this is how.”

Micah 7:11-12 (NIV)

[11]  The day for building your walls will come, the day for extending your boundaries.

[12]  In that day people will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, even from Egypt to the Euphrates and from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.

So what does this mean for us today?  It means if you sin, if you do anything to disrespect God, to anger God, He doesn’t expect you to flip a little switch and become a SuperChristian to make up for it!

All God wants is for you to follow Him–the rest of it will take care of itself if you do that.

When you do sin–and let’s face it, it will happen–don’t wallow in self-pity and make absurd promises to God that you know you can’t keep.

Just be honest with God–admit you’ve sinned–and go back to following Him.

THAT’S ALL HE WANTS!

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CREDITS –

Credit:  Law and Order (1990-1991) Theme – Youtube video

Images/Photos:  Google Image Search – settings, advance search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV).

 

 

 

Walking, Talking and Chewing Gum

Colossians 4:5-6 (Amplified Bible – AMP):

[5] Behave yourselves wisely [living prudently and with discretion] in your relations with those of the outside world (the non-Christians), making the very most of the time and seizing (buying up) the opportunity.

[6] Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you].

Colossians 4:5-6 (New King James Version – NKJV):

[5] Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.

[6] Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Sitting Around the THANKSGIVING Table with Family and Friends

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After enjoying a scrumptious and thankful meal my daughter had spent the whole day preparing, my wife and I sat around the table, listening to the diverse conversation.  Every topic, from future vacations, work related issues, current events, and what ingredients went into the “bread pudding,” to…“There are ghosts that live in my barn.”

As my wife and I looked at each other, I whispered in her ear,  “Where is JESUS in all this?”

I had asked God’s blessing on our family prior to the Thanksgiving Feast, but where was JESUS at our table? What could I have said that could have been “seasoned with salt,” yet with grace and wisdom at the same time.  It almost seemed like ‘walking, talking and chewing gum, at the same time and not spitting out the gum.  Is that even possible to accomplish?

So what did I do?  I tucked the wad of gum, my unspeakable thoughts, to the back of my cheek…and just listened; not commenting, not wanting my speech to fall on deaf ears.

Was that the correct reaction?

good-at-maths-lets-see-9-638

I NEEDED WISDOM!

Our “CONDUCT” Our “BEHAVIOR”…

Conduct (Behavior), is in the present tense (v 5), meaning a continual action.  Not just for ‘special occasions’, but our behavior is to be continual–calling for believers to continually walk in WISDOM and TRUTH, no matter where they might be in place and time.  And for most of us, that can seem almost impossible as “walking, talking and chewing gum” at the same time.

Paul is not commanding us to do anything that GOD’S POWER has not provided the potential for us to accomplish ahead of time.  The apostle is calling us for a continuous, supernatural walk, which demands continual reliance on a Supernatural Source (The Holy Spirit).

Our responsibility then, is to continually work at our salvation with truth, fear and trembling as God in us, continually gives us the DESIRE AND POWER.

Philippians 2:12:  “work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ)” ~ AMP bible.

So Paul is writing about the PRACTICAL; how we, as disciples of Christ, are to WALK & TALK before the skeptical watching world.  And yes, that does include members of our families and friends who are unbelievers and who need our compassion.

As the old saying is true, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

WALKING THAT “WISE WALK”…TALKING THAT “SALTY” TALK

God calls all of us to LIVE lives of LOVE amongst each other.  To HELP our neighbors…to become a family, a community church of believers, that helps one another.

We must strive to always “be holy for He is holy” and “do all as unto the Lord.”

  • Walk in WISDOM toward them that are without.
  • Speak words of GRACE in LOVE.
  • We are the SALT OF THE EARTH – Without “salt” we will lose our savor (effectiveness), our essence to the unbeliever.

To Speak With Words That Are Full of Grace

The phrase “gracious” means ‘always with grace’ – ‘to be full of grace’ – overflowing with grace!  Grace also means “Favor”.

The word also carries with it the idea of the Lord’s influence upon our hearts…His unmerited favor (GRACE) and its reflection in our own life.

We Also Know the Tongue Has Incredible Power…(the power of life & death) For Good or Evil (Book of James is full of these words about the “tongue”).

A “KIND” Word Can Go A Long Way –

Think of a young boy with his first try at baseball and someone speaks words of encouragement as he steps up to the plate:  “Way to go, slugger!”

Proverbs 10:20-21 (AMP):

[20] The tongues of those who are upright and in right standing with God are a choice silver; the minds of those who are wicked and out of harmony with God are of little value.  [21] The lips of the [uncompromisingly]  righteous feed and guide many, but fools die for want of understanding and heart.

  • Love to give COMPLIMENTS.

ie. – Drive up window at McDonald’s…(mean) or (nice_loving).

A MEAN or HURTFUL WORD CAN BREAK YOUR HEART!

James 3, tells us that a TONGUE used wrongly…

The Message bible (verses 5-6):

“It only takes a spark, remember to set off a forest fire.  A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that.  By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.”

That’s pretty powerful!

Speaking With Grace Has A Requirement

To SPEAK with GRACE we will need GRACE in our hearts.

Colossians 3:16 (AMP):

Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.

Why do we need GRACE in our hearts?

Luke 6:45 (AMP):

The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright, and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.

  • A person who says kind things, has a kind heart.
  • A person who says negative things, has a negative heart.
  • A person who says mean things, has a mean heart.

What’s on the INSIDE, is likely to come out!

Colossians 3:17 tells us what happens when you have GRACE on the INSIDE:

“And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.”

DO ALL IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS!

This means with His Approval!

Do it His way!

Would the Lord approve of your SPEECH around others?

No one who CURSES, SWEARS, LIES, GOSSIPS, RUNS OTHERS DOWN…is letting the Word of Christ dwell in them richly.

** You’ll have a hard time yelling at another driver…in Jesus’ name.

** Saying unkind things to your husband or wife…in Jesus’ name.

** Saying negative things in the positive Name of Jesus.

Proverbs 12:13:  “The wicked is [dangerously] snared by the transgression of his lips, but the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall come out of trouble.”

Proverbs 16:13:  “Right and just lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right.”

Proverbs 23:16:  “Yes, my heart will rejoice when your lips speak right things.”

Something is NEEDED first, before we can have GRACE in our Hearts…

STEP 1. True Salvation!  

STEP 2 Complete Submission!  [Oh, how I fall short here]

FOUR TESTS TO TAKE OF “GRACIOUS SPEECH”:

IS IT TRUE???

“…seasoned with SALT…”

Seasoned With SALT
Seasoned With SALT

SALT was used for preserving and purifying.

SEASONED SPEECH is truthful.  Ephesians 4:15…tells us to SPEAK the truth in love.

Before you repeat a statement, make sure it is TRUE!!!!  Someone said, “I believe half of what I see, and nothing of what I hear!”

Just because someone said it doesn’t make it true!

It is easy to jump to a wrong conclusion.  PROVERBS 14:25 says  “A truthful witness saves lives, but a deceitful witness speaks lives [and endangers lives]”  (Amp.)

Before you BELIEVE something…Before you REPEAT something…Make sure it’s true!!!!

IS IT COMPLETE?

It is easy while sitting with family and friends at the dinner table, to get half of the Story.

What is said may be true, but it is not COMPLETE!

Before you swallow your “gum” while listening to the conversation; before you say something, make sure you get ALL the story!

IS IT NECESSARY????

What you say may be TRUE, it may be COMPLETE, but is it NECESSARY???

Ephesians 4:15  “Speaking the truth in Love” !!!!  

(1 Peter 4:8):  “Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].”

Some of the most hurtful words I’ve heard over time have been preceded by the words, “it’s the truth” or, “it’s real!”

Just because it is the TRUTH, doesn’t make it necessary!  There are times when silence is golden!

IS IT KIND???

(Rom. 12:10) –  “Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.”

(Eph. 4:31-32) –  “Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment and quarreling and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).    And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.”

I hope this blog-POST has been an encouragement to you as it certainly has been for me in study.  I needed WISDOM on my ‘gum chewing’ thoughts.

My Pledge, and I Hope Yours in the Upcoming Day…

  1. Determined to control my tongue!
  2. Say only good things about others!
  3. Remember my accountability! (Matthew 12:36)
  4. Ask the Lord to Help me!

(Psalm 141:3)  “Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.”

REMEMBERING THE POINTS OF INSTRUCTION FROM COLOSSIANS 4:5-6:

BE WISE  (Prov. 4:5, 7; 9:10; 11:30; 14:27) –

  • The principal thing is to GET WISDOM.
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of WISDOM.
  • Seeing souls saved around you is a result of and our evidence of WISDOM.

BE READY  (1 Peter 3:15-16) –

  • A good heart.
  • A good conscience.
  • Good CONDUCT.

BE KIND  (2 Timothy 2:24-26) –

  • Be gentle.
  • Be patient.
  • Be humble.

BE RESPONSIBLE  (2 Tim. 4:1-5; James 2:14-17, 5:13-16, 16-20; Mark 12:28-37; Galatians 6:10) –

  • Preach the Word.
  • Fulfill your ministry, whatever that may be.
  • Respond to others needs.

Oh, make me Lord, so much like Thee,

My life controlled by power diving,

That I, a shining light may be,

From which Thy grace may ever shine. ~ Robertson

 


 

Credits for this BLOG:

Colossians 4:5-6 Commentary by Preceptaustin.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP) except where noted in the Text.

Photo Credit:  Google Images

 

 

 

 

 

Simply Being There In Times Of Pain and Suffering

A FLOOD OF KINDNESS THAT CAN TURN WATERLESS IN DESOLATE TIMES:

Because of ice...
Because of ice…

“For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend, lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty.    My brothers have acted deceitfully like a wadi, like the torrents of wadis which vanish,  which are turbid because of ice,  And into which the snow melts,    When they become waterless, they are silent, When it is hot, they vanish from their place.    The paths of their course wind along,  They go up into nothing and perish,    The caravans of Tema looked,  The travelers of Sheba hope for them.    They were disappointed for they had trusted,  They came there and were confounded”   (Job 6:14-20 NAS).

A Dried-up Brook
A Dried-up Brook

 “Now to me you are [like a dried-up brook]; you see my dismay and terror, and [believing me to be a victim of God’s anger] you are afraid  [to sympathize with me]”  (Job 6:21 AMP).

THE BOOK OF JOB:

For the last week or so, I’ve been reading and studying in THE BOOK OF JOB.  Where else is there a better story in the Bible, to try to “dig” out the truth and to try to understand the “mysteries of  suffering” in comforting friends; how to approach the details of the situation–how much do we need to know, to pray for them effectively, what can we say to them without making everything worse?  All good questions.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have all the answers.  But what I did find in my investigation of God’s Word, the bible, it certainly answered a few of my questions and hopefully answer a few of yours as well.

Job’s Faith, His Friend’s Fears…

Job doesn’t know what the book’s audience knows:

1.  God Himself had praised Job’s righteousness…

2.  Satan had been the one who wanted to strike him down  (Job 1:8-12).

Although, while reading through the story, I find that Job is right, in the sense that GOD has done it (12:9; 17:6; 23:16), but he doesn’t know the entire story.  Neither do we in dealing with our friends maladies.

At the end of the Book, when GOD challenges human questions, He doesn’t bother to inform Job or his friends about Satan’s role in accusing Job in the heavenly court.

Two Principles Given to us for direction…

FIRST, Satan cannot touch GOD’s servant without GOD’s permission!  In fact, GOD earlier protected Job’s health (1:2), and afterward his life (2:6) from Satan.

So if we are GOD’s servants in this life on earth, we can TRUST that GOD KNOWS every hair on our heads; He may not initiate the “suffering,” but He still cares and has a purpose.  SUFFERING may test us (cf. 23:10), but it is NOT always a punishment.

SECOND, Job didn’t really need to know; what went on in heaven.  We don’t need to understand the universal dynamics behind the suffering; we just need to know that GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY.

–It is GOD and not Satan with whom we ultimately must deal with in times of trouble, and Job was right to make an appeal to GOD.

–We don’t have all the answers; neither do we have to.  We just need to REMEMBER the One who watches over us, does have the answers.

How Do We Help People Who Are Really Going Through Stuff–“Suffering”?

Job 2:11-13 in the NIV Bible:

[11] When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him (Job), they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.  [12] When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  [13] Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Have you ever visited someone in a hospital, a nursing home who was so ill, that their appearance was unrecognizable?  Their hair was unkempt, they had lost so much weight and lay there so frail… you felt liked turning your back and weep in the hallway.  I experienced this very thing with my mother before she died in 2008.  You ask yourself, What can I do, say, pray for this friend?  All good questions to ask.

In time of COMFORT…

If you have ever read the Book of Job, you find that Job’s friends came to COMFORT him in a time of loss, but later debate with him.

In verse 13, there is a key to be found when visiting a friend in suffering: “No one said a word…”.  

A close friend of mine recognized this verse with this simple idea:  “The three friends were of comfort until…they opened their big mouths!” There’s some real wisdom in that observation. Sometimes we confess to ourselves and others,  “I would call them, or go by to see them, but I don’t know what to say.”  Just BEING THERE is sometimes enough–‘no one said a word for seven days and nights’–they were JUST THERE TO COMFORT their friend… in SILENCE.

A Time For Weeping–verse 12

Crying or weeping differs in cultures.  In some societies, wailing in the midst of suffering can bring comfort to others.  When I was growing up, the idea of boys or men crying aloud showed weakness; “you hurt your knee…put a band-aid on it…’suck it up’… it will get better later.”  I remember thinking, “How much later?”

Reminds me of a story I found and read while studying for this blog; a conversation that transpired between a mother and her daughter:

“Where have you been?” the mother demanded.  The little girl replied, “On my way home, I met a friend who was crying because she had broken her doll.”  “Oh”, said her mother, “then you stopped to help her fix the doll?”  “Oh, no,” replied the little girl, “I stopped to help her cry.”

TWO THINGS the Bible says about CRYING:

#1.  “Don’t grieve like those who have no hope”  (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

#2.  “Weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice”  (Romans 12:15). 

Sometimes Our “Feelings” Interfere With Our “Comforting” —

FEELINGS of hating to go visit someone who is suffering from…DEATH of a family member; sickness; losing their job, and many more examples of “suffering.”  We have this little dialogue in our heads, and I say “we” because, I’ve had these thoughts too many times in my own head:

—  I would be touching their pain if I dropped by, or called them, or sent them an E-mail…

—  I reasoned, whatever I might say, wouldn’t be of much help.

—  They would probably think I was a ‘meddler’ anyway.

—  Maybe I would just make things worse.

—  Someone else, like their pastor, my pastor could probably help more.

Those FEELINGS are normal…but they are wrong!  We ALL need to know others care, as we have the same need!

Job’s Friends:

After sitting with Job for a week, his friends blew it.  They had a need to explore what went wrong and why Job suffered so much.  They seemed certain that Job must have done something wrong; there must be some unconfessed sin in his life, thus GOD was punishing him.  THEY WERE WRONG!!

CHRIST is the Head, and WE, the Church are His body…

He has put ALL THINGS under His feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church  [a headship exercised throughout the church],    Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself]  (Ephesians 1:22-23 AMP).

There you have it friends.  JESUS is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  He can minister to the “suffering” by His Spirit; through His body [that’s us!].  Since the physical body has appendages–arms, hands, legs, feet–we need to use are feet more often to minister, to comfort those who are in need.  Don’t wait for someone else to go.

Expressing Deep Feelings in a Tangible Way…

“Tearing their robes” (verse 12)

This was the custom of that day, to show deep feelings.  We certainly don’t tear our shirts as a custom today, so how else do you communicate to someone you so feel for them and feeling their pain?

Tearing one’s shirt says, “I feel torn inside”–“I feel so badly for you, that it’s tearing me up!”  Do you know what we tend to do?  We want to somehow cheer them up, so we say, “Oh don’t feel so bad.”  “It will get better.”  “You have your whole life ahead of you.”  “It’s too bad your mother died but she was 70, the bible says, 70 to 80 years and that’s it!  We have to expect it.”  I don’t know about you, but those words wouldn’t COMFORT me!  Another approach is to say, “Well, I went through that one…and let me tell you what I did.  I just got up, brushed myself off and moved on with life.”

Inside, the SUFFERING individual is feeling,  “Yeah, right!  Good for you!  How soon will you be leaving?”

Sharing our own SUFFERING with others…

We’ve gone through our own share of suffering, sometimes the other person will ask us how we got through it.  In that case, tell them, but unless they ask, just be there for them.  Even if it’s hard–even if you feel like you don’t have the right words to say.  You don’t.

Simply Being There
Simply Being There

Being Simply There For Someone Who Needs Comforted…

Job’s friends came to be simply there in his need.  Perhaps they were ready to bring him a drink of water, a loaf of bread to encourage him to eat; maybe in our day, even a homemade casserole.

You are very privileged, if you are the one…if I am the one, who has the quiet task of simply, silently being there.

Some of us are there to run errands, do some shopping, take care of the kids, make phone calls, provide meals, and fix their car or their plumbing.  It is a way of being with them without a word that’s the most important thing.

Being “tangible” in a time of need…

A neighbor and prayer partner with my wife, who in her mid 80’s,  fell and broke her hip and was in therapy.  She is an active widow who lives independently, even with her family nearby, even with her churches aid, Dianne wonder what she could do help.  So she called Darda:  “Darda, how can I help you?”  Just a phone call was needed and Dianne started taking Darda to the grocery store, helping her reach for items off the shelf, then bringing her home.

Darda’s independence was never in jeopardy, for Dianne was being simply there for someone in need of comfort.

CONCLUSION FINDINGS–“You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” ~ Author Unknown.

Job’s three friends went to sympathize with him and comfort him – BE THERE!  Don’t wait for someone else to go!

Job’s friends began to weep aloud – If you’re not a “weeper, a crier”…[I am not, although as I get older…] JUST BE THERE!

They expressed their feelings tangibly–they sat with him “silently” for a long period of time because they saw how great his suffering was.  This was no walk in the park for themselves.  They suffered WITH Job!

We certainly can’t do all of these things for everyone that SUFFERS.  But for loved ones, for very, very, close connections in our lives, when we can experience a great privilege of simply being with people in their most private and painful moments of life.  We don’t want to be like the torrents of a spring brook, when the ground isn’t thirsty–when someone in their suffering is hoping to find refreshing water– but were bitterly disappointed because the brook had dried up.

We do not want those who we have come to comfort in their pain and suffering, to say as Job,  “I have heard many such things; wearisome and miserable comforters are you all!  (Job 16:2).  Being there in SILENCE is sometimes the best medicine.

Credits:

Dr. Craig Keener’s Commentary – Category: The Old Testament.

Photos:

Photo Pin: Free photos for bloggers.

 

The Vital Signs of Spiritual Health

The Text today is:  PSALM 26

THE NEW YEAR IS HERE!

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Have you heard the greeting, “Have a healthy and prosperous New Year!”?

Doctor’s Dilemma–

I couldn’t be a doctor today.  Besides the blood, needles and sharp scalpels…there’s all those sick people!  Sick people all day long!  How depressing!  You visit someone at a hospital…you get them well, and then they turn around and get sick all over again!  Even Jesus said in Mt. 9:12 –  “Those who are strong and well [healthy] have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick.”

DOCTORS see you at your worst and they hear all your aches, complaints, pains and physical ailments.  Just once, I would like to make a doctor’s appointment, sit down in the examining room…and, when he asks me what’s wrong, I say, “Nothing…I just wanted to stop by and cheer you up!”

MAKING AN APPOINTMENT TO SEE THE GREAT PHYSICIAN–there’s no waiting! :

This is what DAVID is doing–he’s going to the GREAT PHYSICIAN…getting a SPIRITUAL check-up…only to find out…that he’s spiritually fit!  DAVID has been taking preventative medicine for his soul.  He has found the sin remedy and applied it to his heart and life.

David was a man after God’s own heart.  He wanted to please GOD in everything that he did, just as we did when we were small and wanted to please our parents in everything we did.  Now like David, we didn’t always do it…but that’s what David always wanted to do.

Trusting God to Keep DAVID from “Back Trouble”–

How many of you reading this have had problems with your back?  The older I get, it seems, the more trouble I have.  Notice what king David said in Psalm 26:1 (b):  “…I shall not slide.”

“Backsliding” —

David knew, as long as he trusted in, leaned on, and relied on the Lord, GOD could keep him from sliding back into sin.  As soon as he started looking to his own strength…trusting in himself, he would soon have “Back Troubles”–he would start to slide backward.

“LOVING-KINDNESS” – Psalm 26:3 (a):

What did David see when he looked at GOD’s FAITHFULNESS to him?  It was evident, because he saw GOD’s LOVING-KINDNESS!

Has GOD been GOOD to you this past year?  AMEN?

You may have experienced tragedies…some hard times…some disappointments.  BUT…it could have been a whole lot worse.  If it wasn’t for GOD’s “loving-kindness”…His grace and mercy…the devil would have had a hey-day in your life.

When you’re SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY, like David, you will see the positive side of everything GOD allows in your life.

Walking in GOD’s Truth [faithfully]– 

Psalm 26:3 – “I have walked in Your truth [faithfully]” (Amplified Bible).

Compare this verse now, with Verse 1: “I have walked in MY integrity.”  As far as DAVID knew, walking the way he knew, his WALK should be equaled to his TALK.  I don’t know about you, but boy…do I need the Holy Spirit’s help in this area at times, and He certainly has conversations with me in this area.

DAVID didn’t do one thing and believe another…he practiced what he preached.  He could say with the Apostle Paul in Acts 23:1 – I have lived before GOD, doing my duty with a perfectly good conscience until this very day.”

BUT…some people can be walking in their own INTEGRITY–their character…BUT…still  not walking in GOD’s TRUTH.

Did I confuse you here?  Let me try to explain.  In their own minds, they might be doing what THEY THINK is right!  BUT…in GOD’s mind, they aren’t walking according to His TRUTH–His Word.  They might be justifying their own sins within their own conscience and mind.

In other words, they might not see that SIN as a sin.  There may be sin present in their lives without their acknowledgement.  That’s why DAVID adds in Psalm 26:3 – “I have walked in YOUR truth.”

The Importance of How GOD Sees Our Life–

It’s really not how WE see our life.  We may not see our symptoms of sin…but GOD does!  That’s why we need to go to the Doctor–he may see something we missed!

I’ve heard before, that men in particular,  refuse to go to the doctor after confessing their symptoms to their wives because…he doesn’t want to know for sure what the problem is…and his condition gets worse!

DAVID could say, “I have walked in Your truth”, NOT JUST in what I think is right…but in what GOD thinks is right.

There are many STANDARDS today for right/wrong–

PEER pressure sets one standard;

PARENTS may set certain standards;

SOCIETY may set certain standards of behavior;

RELIGION sets standards for conduct and belief.

That all said, there is only ONE STANDARD by which we will all be judged on…GOD’s STANDARD!  We need to say along with DAVID:  “I have walked in TRUTH.”

HOW TO STAY SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY – Psalm 26:4-5: 

[4]  I do not sit with false persons, nor fellowship with pretenders;  [5] I hate the company of evildoers and will not sit with the wicked.

DAVID tells us how he was able to stay in Spiritual Health–he separated himself from the ways and influences of the wicked.  Much of our sinful indulgences are determined by the company we keep–by outside influences.  That certainly doesn’t mean we should avoid all contact with non-believers.  How else can we give our testimony?  What the emphasis here is, association is different than “hanging out with” continually.

While it is true that our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)…it is the INFLUENCE of others that drives us to commit these sinful acts.

My mother repeated this phrase to my brother and I when we were young on several different occasions:  “SIN LOVES COMPANY”…AND…the easier it is to join in…commit to the sin…we want to justify it.

How many times have you heard, perhaps used the words yourself...”But everybody else is doing it!”  Not for DAVID!  He’s going to stay away from people who TURN THEIR HEARTS away from GOD.

Another Spiritually Healthy Key – 26:6:

“I will wash my hands in innocence, and go about Your altar, O Lord”

DAVID points out another vital sign of Spiritual Health– Hand-Washing!

David came to the HOUSE OF WORSHIP with INNOCENT HANDS!

Have you ever wondered…why do people stay away from church today?  Perhaps, it’s because of a guilty conscience.  And yet, what a better place to come, with guilty hands and receive cleansing!

A LOVE for God’s House – 26:8

Another SIGN of a Spiritually Healthy Christian is LOVE for God’s house.

Those who sincerely LOVE GOD, have a love for God’s house…and will be in Church regularly.  It’s one thing to shun evil companions (that’s “negative goodness”)…it’s another thing to shun GOD’S HOUSE.

One way to bring joy & fulfillment into your life is to do what DAVID did in 26:8:  “Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where your glory dwells.”

Why was this so important and special?

“That I may make the voice of thanksgiving hear and may tell of all your wondrous works”  (26:7).

TO DAVID, WORSHIP was a POSITIVE experience…not just NEGATIVE living (shunning the “bad and the ugly” company you keep).  He LOVED to go to GOD’S HOUSE, because there, he could proclaim in public, what GOD had done for him in PRIVATE!  Psalm 122:1 says,

I WAS glad when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the Lord.

DAVID MAKES A REQUEST!

“Gather me not with sinners and sweep me not away [with them], nor my life with blood-thirsty men.  In whose hands is wickedness, and their right hands are full of bribes”  (26:9-10 AMP).

I like the way the Message Bible gives a mental picture:  “When it’s time for spring cleaning, don’t sweep me out with the quacks and crooks.”  

Being in sound Spiritual Health, DAVID can come to GOD with his requests.  David is saying, “When the day of harvest comes, GATHER ME in with the Godly.”

 THERE ARE 2 Types of HARVEST…WHEAT and the he TARES.

Harvest Time
Harvest Time

There are only 2 types of people – the LOST and SAVED.

Only 2 ways…GOD’S WAY and the DEVIL’S WAY.

Only 2 destinies…HEAVEN and HELL

Psalm 1:6:  “For the Lord knows and is fully acquainted with the way of the ungodly  [those living outside God’s will]  shall perish (end in ruin and come to naught)” – Amplified Bible.

DAVID KNOWS …which harvest he will be gathered into.

GOD KNOWS…who belongs to His family…He knows your name, how many hairs on your head (in my case, there’s not much there to count)…the thoughts and intents of your heart.

WE CAN’T TELL the wheat from the weeds (“tares”)…BUT GOD KNOWS!

What lies ahead for David (and us)…IF we are Spiritually Healthy Christians?

26:11 –  “But as for me”  

David isn’t going to let anyone drag him down, ruin his Spiritual Health.  He knows the wicked are infected with SIN–Society calls it a “Social Disease”–but whatever you want to call it…it’s still SIN.  And DAVID is going to stay away from them.  He knows that it is GOD’S MERCY keeping him away from SIN!

HAVING A GOOD FOOTHOLD ON THE ROCK–

The Vital Sign of having a good foothold on the Rock unfolds in 26:12 (a):  “My foot stands on an even place” ; “I am standing in a safe place”– NOT on a “slippery slope”.

DAVID KNOWS that slipping on SIN will ruin his relationship with GOD.   So, David wants to stay away from slippery places; to stand on FIRM GROUND–there, in the midst of “the congregation will I bless the Lord” (26:12 (b).

Having a Healthy & Happy New Year Ahead!

How concerned are we for our health…Spiritually speaking?  EVERYONE wants to have good health this coming year, I know I do.  AND David points us in the right direction.

OUR PHYSICAL AILMENTS –  We should follow our Doctor’s orders.  So why don’t we follow the orders of the GREAT PHYSICIAN for our SPIRITUAL AILMENTS?  Might the diagnosis be as simple as...”self-denial”?

Let’s spend the New Year, as concerned about our PHYSICAL HEALTH, as we are about our PHYSICAL HEALTH.  AND…when we do…we might find out…THAT…our PHYSICAL HEALTH will improve too!