“O love the LORD, all ye His saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful…” Psalm 31:23 KJV. After asking God in verse 16, to ‘make His face to shine upon him’, the psalmist realizes that what God wants most of all from us is our love. So here he encourages God’s people, to love the Lord! He recalls this desire of God expressed through the law, (Deut. 6:5) “and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Jesus repeats these words when asked “What is the great command?”. And yet, as clear as this is all throughout God’s Word, it seems few people today understand what it is to truly love God. To love God means to be supremely devoted to Him above all others! It means that He is the number one priority in our lives. It means that we live for His pleasure, rather than living to please self or those around us. Let us be sure, this is God’s desire for everyone of us, and nothing less. And the good news is, we can love Him because He first loved us. We can love Him, because He sheds His love abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And when we love Him faithfully, we have the promise, that He will preserve us. He will keep secure every soul who truly loves Him.
“Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant: Save me for Thy mercies’ sake.” Psalm 31:16 KJV. What a wonderful desire this is that the psalmist expresses. He wanted to live so that God’s face could shine upon him. This means to live so that God’s smile of approval and loving favor is resting upon our life. In the previous verses he has mentioned several things that cause God’s face to shine upon him. He has declared his trust in God and that God was his Strong Rock and Fortress. He has humbled himself and confessed that he cannot direct his own steps and asks to be led and guided by God. He has admitted his own weakness and says that God is his Strength. And even as he faces many troubles and enemies come against him, he continues to cry out to God for mercy and deliverance. This attitude of humble dependence upon God is what causes His face to shine upon us. May we understand, that God resists the proud but always looks with favor upon the humble and contrite heart. And let us carry this attitude with us in all that we do. May this be our desire and prayer, “Father, help me to live so that Your blessed face can shine upon me”.
“because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest His words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before Me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before Me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD.”2 Chronicles 34:27 KJV. This was part of God’s message to King Josiah after he had heard the Law of God and went to enquire of the prophetess. Like Josiah then, most people today do not realize that the Law of God still pronounces judgment upon sin. And until we humble ourselves and are willing to repent of the sin, judgment remains upon us. Many religious people today imagine that they can claim the atoning work of Christ to protect them from the judgment upon their sins. But let us understand, the only sin that Christ covers is that which has been confessed and repented of! There is no one who knowingly continues in sin who is covered by the sacrifice of Christ. That is not real repentance and it is not genuine faith. And there is no way for anyone to truly repent apart from the knowledge of sin and being humble enough to confess and forsake it. But thank God when we humble ourselves and give heed to His Word, He will hear our cry.
“Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me.” John 21:22 KJV. When Jesus had foretold the death Peter was to die, Peter then looked at John and asked, “But what about him?”. It was then Jesus asked this penetrating question, “What is that to you?” And then He gave these words we all should take to heart. “Your call is simply to follow Me.” This problem is very common because we are so prone to look at other people when we are facing difficulties. We begin to imagine, “Others don’t seem to have as many problems. Others don’t seem to suffer like me. Others have an easier life, etc.” And because things don’t seem fair to us, we become troubled. But let us receive Jesus’ words here. It is never our place to compare the path we are called to walk with the path God has for others. We are not called to live as other people, or to follow their footsteps. We are called to follow Jesus! The path He has for us may include little or much. It may involve much suffering and heartache. It may seem to us that life is not fair. But let us trust our Lord, that He alone knows the path that is best for us. And let us humbly follow Him wherever He leads us.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” Colossians 3:17 KJV. This is another reminder of what real Christian life is about. It is not merely believing a set of ideas. It is not going through religious motions. It is being radically transformed so that all that we do is for the glory of God. It is living so that everything we do can be done in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus. Which means, that everything we do is through His power and for His glory! It is done to please and honor Him. And if we can’t do something for His glory then we should not be doing it. Too many people imagine that their ‘religion’ is to be for certain times and places in their lives. Usually restricted to a few minutes each week at church. But may God help us to understand, true salvation is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week experience! This is what God calls us to and this is how genuine Christians live. And living this life is what produces true thankfulness in our hearts! We thank God that through His grace we can do all for His glory and in the power of His name.
“I will praise the Name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
Psalm 69:30 KJV. As we celebrate another season of thanksgiving, let us be mindful of the One to Whom we should be most thankful. Certainly we all have many people and things in life to be thankful for. But let us remember, that ‘every good and perfect gift comes from above’. It is from the hand of our merciful Father in Heaven that we receive the many blessings of life. It is He Who gives us strength and knowledge to be able to function. So we are called to ‘Magnify His Name’ with our praise and thanksgiving! May we understand, that thanking God as we should exalts His Name. But when we grumble and complain we do the opposite. In our complaining we bring reproach upon His holy name. Let us be those who magnify our gracious Lord with our thanksgiving. Let us agree with the songwriter: “I’ve got so much to thank Him for. So much to praise Him for. Well you see He’s been so good to me. And when I think of what He’s done and where He’s brought me from, I’ve got so much to thank Him for.” Happy Thanksgiving.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 KJV. One of the great changes that takes place with real salvation is, that the things we pursue are radically changed. In the life of sin, we used to seek only the things on a material level. We sought for fleshy pleasures and earthly riches. We sought for the favor of men and the success of the world. Most of all, we sought to please ourselves with as much of this world as we could get. But now, as those risen with Christ, we are seeking for new things! Now we seek for things above which will never fade away. We seek for the favor of God rather than men and to please God rather than self. We seek to lay up treasures above rather than piling up earthly riches. Instead of selfishly seeking to use people to our own advantage, we seek to lift them up into a personal relationship with Christ. Thank God when He saved us, He also changed our desires! May God help us never to settle for the watered down religion of this day, that leaves people still seeking the same things as before. That is not real salvation! We can know that we are risen with Christ, when the desire of our soul is to seek those things which are above.
“Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.” Ezekiel 47:4-5 KJV. This vision God gave Ezekiel was representing, both the progress of the Gospel in this world, as well as the spiritual progress possible to all of God’s children. When the river begins it is only a shallow stream. It is real, living water but not very deep nor wide. But as progress is made it becomes deeper and wider. The blessings it brings to us as well as those around us continue to increase. Until finally it is a great and wide river that blesses many and provides healing to all that it touches. But the problem with most people spiritually, is, that they get in and never move beyond the shallow experience of a new born babe. They sit down in the ‘kiddie pools’ of shallow, feel good religion and never progress to the deeper things and greater fruitfulness God is calling them to. By God’s grace, may we press on to the richer and fuller spiritual lives that God has for us.
“The LORD is my Strength and my Shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him.” Psalm 28:7 KJV. These words are a direct result of 28:14, where David had encouraged himself to “Wait on the LORD: Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart…” In that chapter he was going through a test and was looking forward, holding on by faith to the promise that God would come and help him in the way he needed. And here, David is giving praise to God for His faithfulness! The test he went through has become a testimony. He has experienced the comfort and joy of having God Himself as his Strength and Shield. He has discovered what every trusting soul has always found. And that is that God will help in the way we need. Because of this, he is praising God and rejoicing in his soul! But let us also note the words which set the stage for his rejoicing, ‘My heart trusted…’ He didn’t merely think good thoughts about trying to trust God. He didn’t just write nice words about how important it is to trust God. Rather, he put his faith in God into action, and trusted! Let us make the choice to trust God with all of our heart.
“Wait on the LORD: Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalm 27:14 KJV. In this passage the psalmist is encouraging himself to be patient, to hold steady even as enemies rise against him. He has experienced the lies and accusations of false witnesses. He has come through troubled times when his enemies have risen up in power. But through it all, he is looking to the Lord and holding on, because he knows God will not fail him. He takes courage in his soul, because he believes that God will move in these situations and show Himself strong in behalf of those who trust Him. He is sure that for all of his own weakness, God will strengthen his heart in exactly the way that he needs! And so, he repeats these words to himself, “Wait on the Lord”. May God help us today, to know in all the difficulties we face that our God will come to our rescue! Let us have this great confidence in God like David did, which encourages our soul, that this is not about my strength nor my ability to fight, this battle is the Lord’s! And He will come to strengthen my heart in the way that I need.