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Pray for all people! — 1 Timothy 2:1-7

Pray for all people! — 1 Timothy 2:1-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 15, 2017

As I’ve mentioned before, prayer is our conversation with the Creator of the universe. However I often wonder not only what should I pray for but whom should I pray for as well. Now there are few of us who would not think it beneficial to pray for politicians but this is what I mean; we are faced with the conundrum of what we should pray! Now Jesus never suggested who we should or should not pray for but rather his encouragement was that we simply pray as often as we should.

Paul faced a lot of harassment for his faith. There were his old Jewish cronies who wanted to see him simply to shut up about his faith and then there were the kings, potentates, and pundits of his day that wanted him silenced as well. Yet Paul could not be quiet because he realized that the gospel message of Jesus was for all people everywhere. Paul however did not have the luxury of deciding who he should or shouldn’t pray for because he knew he was commanded to pray for all people. Let’s discover what he writes Timothy…

READ: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

A few months ago, a Regent graduate asked people to send her prayers for President Donald Trump and they poured in from all over the world, enough to fill a book titled “Prayers for the President.” With that in common, about five dozen of these prayer warriors felt it’d be a good idea to gather in Washington and actually meet each other in person and pray for the President. They called the event “Tea at Trump’s” which took place in the new Trump International Hotel. Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to…

I. Pray for potentates and politicians! (Vv. 1-4)

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1. Because Paul knew believers could be easily swayed from following the truth by those they had looked up to in life and that there were those like “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom [he had] handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme”, he realized the importance of prayer. So he writes Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone”! Some have seen a difference between each of what Paul listed here and have tried to say that this is a inventory of examples of prayer. “Requests” are supplications or pleas, “prayers” is literally the “breath” of the petitioner to God, “intercession” is the entreaty of the one praying, and “thanksgiving” is the gratitude expressed by the one praying to God. Therefore the believer is to plead, cry out, intercede, and thank God “for kings and all those in authority”! Say, what? Everyone means everyone including those who are our national leaders. The Christian, Paul writes, is to pray for those in charge “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”! So is Paul asking Timothy to remember to pray for those in charge so we might enjoy their non-interference in our lives or is he asking Timothy to pray for them that the nation we live in would enjoy peace and quiet? Both work for me. Who wants any politician, whether a king or an elected official prying into one’s affairs? However our attitude about praying for those over us reflects in our spiritual condition as well: “in all godliness and holiness”! But shouldn’t believers desire that those in charge do a good job of leading? Yes but more than that, Paul wanted all people to come to a knowledge of Jesus and he writes that “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” When we pray we are to pray for potentates and politicians!

EXAMPLE: When asked to pray during a local veterans meeting for their Congressmen one old gentleman stood up, leaned on his cane, and prayed, “Lord, give us strength, compassion, and patience but especially with those in Congress. Let them stop being such nincompoops who go on TV spouting all kinds of nonsense and promises they will never keep until you just want to smack them across the head with a bag full of quarters – which by the way is change I can believe in!” I’m not sure this is what Paul had in mind when he wrote what he did to Timothy that when we pray we are to pray for potentates and politicians!

When a lady who was a known prayer warrior was asked if it was hard for her to pray for people she did not necessarily like, she responded, “I just remember what the Apostle Paul wrote the Roman church: ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’” (Romans 12:12 NIV) Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to…

II. Pray for the wayward of the world! (Vv. 5-7)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.

1. Now one might ask “Why should we pray for those who ruin our lives, enslave us through governmental regulation, and generally make our lives miserable?” — meaning of course politicians. Yet our prayers are to be made for “everyone” including and especially for those who rule over us! Whether you voted for an Obama or a Trump you should be in prayer for both! They need Jesus too! But we must never lose sight of what our message is, namely that “there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men”! Peter told the crowd in Jerusalem the undeniable truth that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV) Not Buddha, Mohammed, or Joseph Smith can save any man, only Jesus can save, because Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all men”! The “testimony” of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was “given in its proper time”. Paul would marvel that “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 NIV) Even politicians! Paul would remind Timothy that “for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle”. Paul was not like those who wanted to lure or lie to new believers in order to confuse them about their faith but in fact he was “telling the truth” and he was “not lying” to them like others had done. Paul was “a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles” and to all people! Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to pray for the wayward of the world!

EXAMPLE: There are few folks who absolutely knew what they wanted to be when growing up. For those who did it has always kind of mystified me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized God was calling me into the ministry. If you would have asked me when I was younger I did not have a clue what I wanted to be and I tried several different things. The reason I mention this is that the world at large often does not realize its need for a Savior. While many may profess some kind of belief in God, few can relate to you what that means. This is why we are told to go into all the world teaching them to obey the commands of Jesus. It is also why Paul related to Timothy that when we pray we are to pray for the wayward of the world!

Conclusion:

Pray for potentates and politicians! Pray for the wayward of the world!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Hold on to the truth! – 1 Timothy 1:12-20

Hold on to the truth! – 1 Timothy 1:12-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 8, 2017

Like a lot of things in our society today, the truth has become subjective; truth depends upon how one feels, whether or not one thinks they are justified in whatever perverted proclivity they desire for the moment, or the deliberate movement of society’s moral boundaries. In a world where truth can be a slippery slope of a mixed bag of tricks one many wonder where in the world does the truth lie? What truth do we hold on to in our day and age?

Paul was a convert to the Christian faith and it wasn’t an easy thing for him to do. He knew where he had come from and in the Book of Acts he related “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.” (Acts 26:9-11 NIV) That was the truth Paul had known but he now had learned to hold onto a different truth, one that was revealed to him by Jesus. Let’s see how he tells Timothy to hold on to the truth…

READ: 1 Timothy 1:12-20

I could never figure out how in the world my parents could figure out what I had been up to until I got to be parent and then I realized it was because, as hard as it could be to fathom, they had been kids at one time as well! Nothing is hidden from someone who has already been there and done that; it was then I realized like Paul did in his relationship with Jesus that…

I. The truth exposes ignorance and unbelief! (Vv. 12-14)

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

1. Far from persecuting believers Paul had become one himself and now he could honestly relate that “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord”. The Messiah had saved him for a purpose. His purpose would be to reach the non-Jew, the gentiles of Asia Minor. It was Jesus who had given him “strength” to face those who now would doubt his conversion or question his integrity to the faith. In fact Jesus “considered” Paul “faithful”. So much so Jesus called Paul “to his service”. No greater endorsement could Paul have been given than that of Jesus and Paul had it “even though [he] was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man”, he was “shown mercy” by Jesus “because [he had] acted in ignorance and unbelief”! What had turned Paul around was his exposure to the truth in the form of Jesus! Remember while Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Jesus had already affirmed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) Paul had a face-to-face meeting with the Messiah while on his way to Damascus to persecute the church! But now he could boldly proclaim that “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” What Paul had once held dear in life no longer mattered compared to knowing the truth of Jesus as his Messiah! Paul knew the truth exposes ignorance and unbelief!

EXAMPLE: These past few weeks have been kind of different for me. I suppose it happens whenever anyone has to be examined in such an intimate and personal way. Being a very private person it was really embarrassing especially when I had to be in my birthday suit! I had to undergo a biopsy for the possibility of prostate cancer. After they took sonograms I told the doctor they had better not end up on Facebook! I am sorry if that makes you uncomfortable but I share this to say that sometimes total exposure can be totally disconcerting. Paul understood because the truth exposes ignorance and unbelief!

Sometimes in life we all need forgiveness for something. Compassion and understanding comes when we realize we need God’s forgiveness. Remember Paul said he was “shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief” and that the “grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love”. Paul clearly understood that…

II. The truth gives mercy to sinners! (Vv. 15-17)

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1. From where Paul had come from and where he was now in his life was a complete 180 degree turn around. He knew his past of being the “worst of sinners” and so “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance”, namely that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. He now realized that his personal vendetta against believers had come from his own selfish ambition. Remember he described it as an “obsession”. In fact Paul “began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.” (Acts 8:3 NIV) Whole families were taken away from their homes and persecuted by him in the past and the early church had not trusted him at first. “But for that very reason [Paul] was shown mercy so that in [him], the worst of sinners” Jesus might be glorified by the “display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life”. Paul now understood that Jesus loved sinners like him and had died and rose again for them and therefore him! What an extremely unimaginable thing to have happen! Paul would write, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:9 NIV) Paul knew that Jewish tradition taught a strict adherence to the Mosaic Law and therefore taught a completely different view. Paul now realized that the truth gives mercy to sinners!

EXAMPLE: We live in a world where folks want to be loved but few understand unconditional love. Many think love is found in lust, feelings, or by getting others to do things for them that they like. In fact there is a false notion that if couples live together first they will fall in love and their cohabitation will therefore be stronger. Contrary to the liberal mythos out there that wants you to think that this is true, it isn’t. In fact living together creates unresolved issues of trust, consistency, and commitment. Plus children created from these inconsistent relationships have problems of trust, consistency, and commitment in life. No wonder many in our day and age have a problem understanding that Jesus loves them unconditionally. Paul teaches us the truth gives mercy to sinners!

The message that Jesus brought is powerful not only because of what it offers but what it actually does. Paul would write that “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24 NIV) this is the truth of God and Paul teaches us that…

III. The truth never allows a lie! (Vv. 18-20)

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

1. Paul knew Timothy and knew him well enough that he could confidently write to Timothy as if he were his own child and so he writes “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you”. Timothy had been called to the ministry and those around him evidently had testified and spoken to this fact. Later we will learn that Paul would tell Timothy “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic (or uttered) message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.” (1 Timothy 4:14 NIV) More about this later, but we see that Paul had come to know Timothy personally and intimately enough he could write him in this way. Paul also knew Timothy was young and inexperienced and immature in some areas of his ministry. Timothy needed to be reminded that he needed to remember the spoken words of others that were made concerning him “so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience”. Paul would use the metaphor of being in a fight several times in his letters. He understood the consequences and the spiritual battle involved because “Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.” For whatever reason some of the early believers either never believed, were easily swayed, or were threatened to the point of denying their faith! Evidently “Among them [were] Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom [Paul had] handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme”. To deny Jesus after saying you believed in his sacrifice and salvation was the height of blaspheme, in fact Jesus taught to know he was the Messiah and then to deny him “would never be forgiven”. (Mark 3:28-29 NIV) Were these men redeemable? Perhaps this is why Paul spiritually handed them over to Satan “to be taught not to blaspheme” literally lie about Jesus when they had said they had believed the truth of Jesus! The truth never allows a lie!

EXAMPLE: For my father one of the worst things a person could do was to lie especially when it was to cover up something they knew could harm others. My sister could lie about anything, anytime, to anyone when she thought it benefited her. She was a rebellious teenager. We were all lined up and questioned about who had broken my mother’s prize cookie jar. We all said we did not do it. In fact I was wondering just when Mom made cookies to put in the cookie jar so that it might be broken when someone was stealing them! Since each of us said it wasn’t “me” all of us suffered the consequences. Many years later my brother and I learned it had been our sister who had done the deed. Even at 64 I still struggle that she was willing to throw us all under the bus by lying. We learn from Paul that the truth never allows a lie!

Conclusion:

The truth exposes ignorance and unbelief! The truth gives mercy to sinners! The truth never allows a lie!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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False teachers exist! – 1 Timothy 1:1-11

False teachers exist! – 1 Timothy 1:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 1, 2017

We live in a day where any convoluted and faulty theology is readily accepted and protected by a non-critical thinking society. My Daddy used to say that it is “okay to be open-minded but not to the point where your brains fall out and you step on them.” Far too many think that acceptance of the individual means we can never disagree with or question what the individual thinks, says, or does. I say “hogwash!” There are false teachers who want you to believe or follow their latest form of theological perversion. Take for instance the recent proclamation that the world was supposed to end last week or is it next week or the week after? Who knows? And do not get me started with those who come up with the latest and greatest end-times scenario, bleah! False teachers exist!

The Apostle Paul wrote his friend and new pastor Timothy in order to mentor and help him in his new ministry as a young pastor. Evidently he was facing some problems that needed some attention. Paul had come to Derbe and Lystra with Barnabas and had become acquainted with Timothy who plainly was a talented young man that God had called to be one of the early church’s first pastors. One of the early arguments against Christianity and Paul was that Paul was teaching a different gospel than Jesus had taught. Theological purity was absolutely necessary and Paul’s detractors knew it. Unlike our day where any view is validated, one did not stray from their master’s teachings in Paul’s day and even in Paul’s day false teachers existed, let’s see what that means…

READ: 1 Timothy 1:1-11

Far from disagreeing to the color of the mat in the foyer or what kind of timbrel to use in worship music the discussion in Paul’s day often went to the core of who Jesus was, what he taught, and what this meant. Paul lets us know that…

I. False teachers exist to promote false teaching! (Vv. 1-4)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work–which is by faith.

1. Like most letters of his day Paul immediately introduces himself and his bona fides; his legitimacy and credentials for addressing the issue in which he wrote his letter to Timothy about. Namely that he was in fact “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope”. My Dad used the bona fides of “because I said so” and that was good enough for us! However, Paul was an apostle sent out by the Messiah Jesus by the strict command of God! His letter was to “Timothy my true son in the faith”. Paul is letting anyone who questions Timothy about his bona fides that he was Paul’s “true son in the faith” and not some false teacher! And he continues by telling them “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul was not in this for himself unlike his counterfeit contenders. So Paul tells Timothy, “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.” Timothy’s job as a pastor was to make sure the gospel was taught truthfully and adhered to Jesus’ teachings. Some within Timothy’s church or in the area where he ministered wanted to drag them away from the “grace, mercy and peace” of Jesus and back into endless arguments about superstitions, fables, and family lineages! Paul knew if Timothy stood firm in the truth of the gospel, these heresies would fade because false teachers exist to promote false teaching!

EXAMPLE: Recently as I was taking a nap in my easy-chair when two finely dressed young ladies came to my front door. I was half-asleep with an unshaven beard and I could have sworn flies were lighting on me as I coughed and scratched my stomach while heading to the door. In the fog off my half-asleep mind I still immediately realized who they were and what they represented. One sweetly smiled at me and proceeded to hand me a tablet she used to pull up a video clip. “I have a short video to share with you…” but before she could get out another word I remarked, “Jesus is Jehovah to me.” The made a hasty retreat. False teachers exist to promote false teaching!

Interestingly much of what is taught today about the return of Jesus comes from the likes of

Jehovah’s Witnesses or Seventh Day Adventism rather than what is actually written within Scripture. Rather than teaching what the Bible actually says some authors are more interested in advancing themselves. Paul teaches us that…

II. False teachers exist to promote themselves! (Vv. 5-7)

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

1. Contrary to the fables, superstitions, and endless arguments about genealogies Paul tells Timothy that “The goal of this command [of Jesus] is love”! Wow what a difference between the good news of Jesus and the heavy load of superstition and Jewish fascination with minutiae and trivial arguments! These things are man-focused while the gospel “comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” No believer should ever promote themselves over the good news of Jesus and no Christian should ever do it out of selfish ambition or personal gain! The gospel of Jesus is about the truth of God and should always be given in sincerity and purity. Paul reminds Timothy that “Some have wandered away from [having a pure heart, good conscience, and a sincere faith] and turned to meaningless talk.” These false teachers of Paul’s day had ulterior motives, “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” They were stuck in the past and clung to the notion that they could earn God’s mercy, grace, and peace by doing the same things over and over again but never changing themselves! They feared they would lose the audiences and accolades of the people they had enjoyed. Jesus’ taught that salvation could be found in faith in him and happiness in life was discovered by walking with him in fellowship! What were they supposed to do with their genealogical charts and their endless pontificating concerning what the law was all about? They would lose their standing in the synagogue and their financial support as itinerant teachers! Paul knew that false teachers exist to promote themselves!

EXAMPLE: I confess I do not watch Christian television because there are so many heresies promoted on these channels. However, the other day I was bored and so I turned one on in a moment of weakness and there on the stage was a chubby guy with dyed hair and huge charts and graphs on the wall behind him. He was droning on about Jesus’ return we could be prepared if we just followed his teachings. Of course for a mere $29.95, plus shipping and handling, I could have his latest DVD and book about the subject! I wondered out loud that if his teaching on the subject was so important for the world to know why he didn’t simply give it away free! Then I remembered what Paul told Timothy: False teachers exist to promote themselves!

Many supposedly spiritual books, movies, and seminars are completely ungodly. Far too many in our day and age encourage a quasi Christian hedonism rather than spiritual purity. Paul knew that…

III. False teachers are contrary to sound doctrine! (Vv. 8-11)

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

1. Paul did not have a problem with some of what these men were trying to teach but rather how they applied what they were teaching. Paul knew in fact that “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.” Paul was not an enemy of the Law of Moses, however, these men were not using it to teach about Jesus, but instead they were using it to promote themselves. The law of God was a guidepost and a standard to show our sinful nature. Paul writes that “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious”. Those who followed God had no worries, but the law revealed the ungodly for what they actually were. The Law pulled aside the curtain. Therefore if one used it properly, for the purpose for which it was intended, the law would point them to Jesus! Paul then defines for Timothy what these lawbreakers, rebels, ungodly, sinful, unholy, and irreligious people were! There are those “who kill their fathers or mothers” in order to gain financially. There are “murderers” who kill others without reason; “adulterers” who have sexual relationships outside of their marriages; and “perverts” – this word describes being profane. In other words Paul is describing those who enjoyed and encouraged others to be socially and spiritually deviant. Sound familiar? Paul also included “slave traders and liars and perjurers”. Slavery would end because of Christianity and believers are not to lie or bear false witness ever. Point in fact Paul bluntly remarks that “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to” him as his apostle was evil as well! Paul knew that false teachers are contrary to sound doctrine!

EXAMPLE: Contrary to what some teach today God is not a black woman found in a shack and Jesus is not a hippie. God is more concerned with your spiritual eternity than he is about your emotional state for the moment. It saddens me that far too much of what is taught in churches, books, and Christian materials has more to do with making excuses for our “Christian” hedonism rather than living a holy life for the Lord. We want to mold Jesus into our modern day world and make him into someone he is not. I learned a long time ago from a very godly man than anyone or anything that makes the qualifier of “Jesus and” or “Jesus plus” is the beginning of heresy. In fact we learn from Paul that false teachers are contrary to sound doctrine!

Conclusion:

False teachers exist to promote false teaching! False teachers exist to promote themselves! False teachers are contrary to sound doctrine!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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God is our helper! – Psalm 70

God is our helper! – Psalm 70
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 17, 2017

A young man found himself in serious financial trouble. His business had gone bust. He was so desperate that he decided to ask God for help. He began to pray. “God, please help me. I’ve lost my business and if I don’t get some money, I’m going to lose my house as well! Please let me win the lottery!” After doing this several nights in a row and he still did not win he decided to pray one last time, “My God, why have you forsaken me? I’ve lost my business, my house and my car. My children are starving! I don’t often ask you for help and I have always been a good person! Please just let me win the lotto this one time so I can get my life back in order!” Suddenly there was a blinding flash of light as the heavens opened, the young man fell backwards, and he was confronted by the voice of God himself: “Young man, you are going to have to do just one thing first — buy a ticket!”

Now I am not advocating wasting your hard-earned money on a lottery ticket; what I am getting at is the fact that sadly this is exactly how many folks view God. They see him as some kind of genie whereby they do not have to personally contribute anything! This short Psalm records a prayer by David for a quick rescue from his present predicament. It also anticipates the rejoicing that will follow. Through the words of David we learn that God is our helper, let’s discover how…

READ: Psalm 70

We live in a fast food, microwave, immediate texting society where we want answers now, if not sooner. David’s day was no different. Here we discover that…

I. David desired God’s help quickly! (v. 1)

Hasten, O God, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me.

1. This corresponds almost word-for-word to Psalm 40:13-17 with a very few exceptions so it must have been an important request for David or he simply repeated himself. I prefer the latter. He cries out, “Hasten, O God, to save me”! David is literally requesting that God “snatch” him up and fly him to safety, almost like a hawk snatching up prey but in this case for safety’s sake and not to make David into a tasty meal! David wanted God to rescue him now! This is not new for David as I mentioned before because David had learned where he could go for help. He would sing in another Psalm, “Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.” (Psalms 143:7 NIV) It is kind of like the Apostle Peter who jumped over the side of the boat so he walk on the water with Jesus; he looks at the waves, feels the wind, and he begins to sink because of his fear! He took his eyes off the Lord! He cries out, “Lord, save me!” We are told that “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31 NIV) David did not want to show any doubt concerning his trust in the Lord and so like a lot of us he asks, “O LORD, come quickly to help me.” Who wants a God to take his time? Not me and neither did David. We learn that David desired God’s help quickly!

EXAMPLE: People can move fairly fast if they are properly motivated. Guys, you haven’t seen anyone move faster than a woman who sees her husband come through the living room with a basket full of assorted wash headed toward the dishwasher. Of course there was the time a friend of mine I knew when I worked at Continental Can who barely stopped his wife from putting water from the garden hose in her brand new car via the gas fill! If we desire God to move fast in our lives we need to realize that he is not our personal genie. Someone responded to one of my sermon posts that God had never answered him the way he wanted. He failed to know what David did; God answers those who know and trust him. We learned David desired God’s help quickly!

It can seem sometimes that the whole world has it in for us. Yet did you know that those who know the Lord can seek his protection? We discover that…

II. David asks for God’s safety! (Vv. 2-3)

May those who seek my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” turn back because of their shame.

1. We all have heard about the discourse of Jesus on the mountainside where he tells his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you ‘Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’” (Matthew 5:38-39 NIV) So it seems kind of odd or wrong or just plain vindictive that David is asking God for safety in his life against his enemies. However we have to understand first of all that when Jesus spoke the words he did on that mountainside he knew it was impossible for his listeners to do what he was asking them to do! That was the whole point. Their response would’ve been: “Are you crazy! How in the world can we do anything you are asking us to do?” Only those who loved God and knew he loved them could even come close to what Jesus was asking them to do! So notice what David asks God to do: “May those who seek my life be put to shame and confusion”! The idea here is that his enemies would be so embarrassed by their false accusations they would be disappointed and publicly ashamed! But David does not stop there he continues: “may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace”! Wow! He wanted them to feel what he felt! In fact, he bluntly asks that “May those who say to me, ‘Aha! Aha!’ turn back because of their shame.” It may look like it but David is not gloating over his enemies but rather they were gloating over David’s predicament. Proverbs reminds us that “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.” (Proverbs 24:17-18 NIV) Therefore David was kind of reminding God of this spiritual truth and in so doing he was reminding himself as well. The truth we discover here is the fact that David asks for God’s safety!

EXAMPLE: Did you hear that some politicians are asking for the pencil industry to change pencils? For the past thirty years America’s public schools have been producing students who are increasingly less educated. Liberal politicians across the country feel that pencil manufacturers are responsible for creating this education crisis and are filing lawsuits against them. They feel “pencils are faulty because they allow students to spell words incorrectly, as well as commit grammatical and mathematical errors”. Some believe that the pencil makers currently have technology available to put Student Safety Devices (SSDs) on their products. But they refuse to do it. These SSDs would prevent students from committing academic errors and help them to be better pupils. Pencil manufacturers, however, claim that their products are inanimate objects that do not cause students to commit academic errors. Of course I jest. It is as silly as forgetting that we are responsible as well for our relationship with God! Here we see that David asks for God’s safety!

There are those who think that all God does it wait around inactive until we ask him for something, nothing is further from the truth. As we listen to the words of this Psalm we learn that…

III. David seeks God’s salvation! (Vv. 4-5)

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “Let God be exalted!” Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.

1. Here is the key to what David has been asking God for the whole time. He related “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you”. The key here is for those who actively “seek” God. We are not to pull God out of a magic hat or rub an old oil lamp hoping that God will suddenly appear and answer all of our desires immediately. Jesus reminded his disciples, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 NIV) This is not a promise of unlimited wealth or a cosmic sugar daddy but rather for those who seek God will find him and discover for their own selves his salvation. God reminds us that “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” (Proverbs 8:17 NIV) In fact David continued by stating “may those who love your salvation always say, ‘Let God be exalted!’” Only those who know God can honestly lift him up in praise because they know his mighty work in their lives! We know that if we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, all that we actually need in life will therefore be given to us! David therefore returns to his original request by asking God, “Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.” David remembered his spiritual condition: “poor and needy” and who could “come quickly” to “help” and “deliver” him without “delay”! Perhaps David remembered the words of Jeremiah, “The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:25-26 NIV) Here we learn that David seeks God’s salvation!

EXAMPLE: While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, a local policeman was interrupted by a little girl about six years old. Looking up and down at his uniform, she asked, “Are you a cop?” “Yes,” he answered and continued writing the report. “My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?” He looked up and answered her, “Yes, that’s right,” thinking now she needed his help in something that was important. “Well, then,” she said as she extended her foot toward him, “would you please tie my shoe?” What we may think is unimportant might be very important for someone else. How good is it therefore to know a God who listens and acts to those who love him? Here we discover that David seeks God’s salvation!

Conclusion:

David desired God’s help quickly! David asks for God’s safety! David seeks God’s salvation!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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God is our teacher! – Psalm 25

God is our teacher! – Psalm 25
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 10, 2017

I walked over to her and knelt down to ask her why she was crying. All the other kindergartners were having a great time running and playing with one another, only she was sitting all alone and tearful. She looked up at me with tear-stained cheeks and lamented, “Oh, Mr. Lee no one wants to play with me!” I asked, “Did you ask anyone if they would play with you?” “No”, was her reply, “I just knew they wouldn’t want to!” I went to the nearest group of girls and asked them, “Would you do me a favor?” And they all responded they would, so I asked them if they could use another person in their group to play with and of course they could and soon she was playing with her newfound friends.

Sometimes we can feel all alone in whatever self-imposed predicament we have placed ourselves. It is good to know therefore that God has provided for us during these times when we need someone to come along side of us and teach us to step outside of ourselves. Here in the Psalm of David we learn that God is our teacher, let’s discover what that means for our lives today…

READ: Psalm 25

It is often hard for the young to ask for advice or help. It is part of our prideful nature to want to do it ourselves without relying on anyone else. David understood that…

I. God teaches us as he guides us! (Vv. 1-7)

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.

1. Who should believers spend time with? Of course our immediate answer is, “God!” However, what does that mean? Is it a quick solution, wishful thinking, or a way of life? Rather than just being a regurgitated formula or mantra David sings, “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.” It is to God that David gives his most intimate secrets to because he knows he can trust God with them. And in his insecurity he cries to the Lord, “Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.” In doing so he reminds himself that “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame”. God was David’s vindicator. He defended David and so he sang “but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.” David would have his prayers answered and his needs met; but the key David knew was in how he actually walked with God and is why he would sing, “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” David knew that in order for him to enjoy God’s company he had to remain in his presence. So, David asks God to “show” him his ways, “teach” him his “paths” and to “guide” him in his “truth”. This is both a dangerous and intimate thing for David to do. David is seeking to know God more personally. And so in this David prays three times for God to remember: “Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.” We all want God to remember his love and compassion for us and to forget all about our sins and wrongdoings. David understood that God teaches us as he guides us!

EXAMPLE: In the comedy movie “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) writes for a women’s magazine. She agrees to write an article about everything a woman does wrong in a relationship so she can write more serious things. She meets Ben (Matthew McConaughey). Andie works hard to drive Ben insane and make him break up with her, but Ben continues to stick around in hopes of making her fall in love with him. Andie gets Ben knocked out in a movie theater by talking aloud while watching a chick flick, rapidly moves her things into his apartment, acts overly possessive and sensitive and clingy. No one wants someone who is clingy; you know what I mean. Someone who always needs your attention always needs to be reassured that you “love” them and someone who is always suspicious of any other friendships you might have. God is not the clinging type nor should we be in our relationship with him. Rather we should follow the Lord because we trust him and honor him with our trust. It is called faith. God teaches us as he guides us!

Honesty with God is important because he already knows what we’re up to anyhow. Why anyone would try to fool God is beyond me and here in his psalm David sings that…

II. God teaches us through our confession! (Vv. 8-14)

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.

1. As David walked with God he began to understand certain characteristics about God. It is kind of like when newlyweds learn one another’s habits and they learn to love the other person because of them. David learned that “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.” David had ample opportunity to learn about God’s grace and in so doing he learned that God “guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” Like many of us David had to learn humility. Jesus taught that “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:3-6 NIV) Those who want to walk with God must learn what he desires and what he desires is all of us; those who can honestly sing with David, “All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.” Therefore we learn along with David that humility is the key to intimacy with the Lord and it begins with open and honest confession, “For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.”  So, like David, we need to ask, “Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD?” It is the one willing to confess their pride and sinful condition. Then God “will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.” It is never easy to confess our own sinful condition but it is a must if we desire to walk intimately with God yet if we do the outcome is wonderful because “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.” God teaches us through our confession!

EXAMPLE: Confession is the place where God meets us at our most vulnerable. If we are not open and honest with him he cannot work in our lives. I find it hilarious when I work on the playground that after watching as one child picks on another child or does something they know they are not supposed to do, when confronted they try to deny it. Sometimes it doesn’t matter even if I tell them that I was watching them the whole time as they did the deed they still try to deny that it wasn’t them. I wonder what God thinks of us when we try to deny or lie to him instead of openly confessing our sins? David related here that God teaches us through our confession!

Have you ever known someone who depends solely on what they learn in books but have no real common sense? Head knowledge is good but heart understanding will truly fill in the cracks for spiritual wisdom. It only comes, David sings, when we understand that…

III. God teaches us to depend on him alone! (Vv. 15-22)

My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish. Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you. Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles!

1. Do you blame others when things go south in your life? How do you respond when you are faced with a tough situation? Do you blame God? David poetically shares with us how he responded: “My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” David knew that only God could “Turn to [him] and be gracious to [him]” when David was “lonely and afflicted.” We can be like David when things go terribly wrong; he laments “The troubles of my heart have multiplied” and asks God to “free me from my anguish.” What was troubling David? He asks God to “Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me!” The psalm of David strongly links the prayer for deliverance and guidance to confession of sin. God’s teaches us that this is what he requires. Though God seems not to regard David’s prayer, faith does not fail, but renews his prayer, confident that God will still hear and save him. David continues by asking God, “Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.” The reference is to all the dangers which encompassed him, whether arising from his foes or his own sins. David’s prayer is therefore asking that the divine protection he needs might be balanced with the danger he faced; that he might not be destroyed, either by his enemies or by the sins which he had committed! David had learned that his “integrity and uprightness” were the only things that would “protect” him “because” his “hope is in” God who is both. However David was not just thinking of himself, he knew his actions carried consequences for the nation he ruled because he was supposed to lead it with “integrity and righteousness”. So, his final stanza is a prayer to God to “Redeem Israel… from all their troubles!” David learned that God teaches us to depend on him alone!

EXAMPLE: Feelings are not the same thing as faith. Paul would write, “The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:2-3 NIV) I have often been baffled by women who can instantly tell when another woman is hurting, come along side of them for understanding and help but not have a clue as to how to solve their own messed up lives! Peter would write about faith this way: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV) David would sing, “Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you”; David learned that God teaches us to depend on him alone!

Conclusion:

God teaches us as he guides us! God teaches us through our confession! God teaches us to depend on him alone!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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God is our guide! – Psalm 23

God is our guide! – Psalm 23
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 3, 2017

In our day and age few of us truly understand what it means to be a shepherd or even what sheep are all about. Of course if you have been around sheep you probably are still wondering what in the world sheep are all about. While a cow will walk into muck clear up to their hind tail and wonder how in the world they got there, sheep will freak out and happily run off a cliff together. I also realize that few of us would sit day in and day out through the cold, heat, rain, wind or snow watching a herd of grass-chewing wooly uncaring critters so understanding shepherding isn’t part of our modern day lives or personal experience.

Now perhaps in our day we could understand what it means to be a guide instead of a shepherd. A guide helps someone to go from one place to the next, meet a specific goal, or to acquire a certain skill. In David’s day shepherds were common and since he had been one himself he understood what it meant to be called a shepherd. Today let’s discover what it means for God to be our guide…

READ: Psalm 23

Watching or babysitting a toddler is in a sense a lot like being a shepherd. You have to continually be on your guard, keep them safe, and help them to get enough rest, nutrition, and play to keep them occupied, healthy, and growing; in a sense you have to herd them! Here we find David singing that…

I. God is our guide to a better way of life! (Vv. 1-3)

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

1. Through all of life’s struggles and his own selfish sin David had learned that “The Lord is my shepherd”. God guided David and often in spite of himself, but being his shepherd meant that God had deliberately steered David. And this was true. God had chosen David to be Israel’s king following Saul’s disastrous reign. God had every right to do so. Being Israel’s Shepherd God wanted to make sure the right man was in the right place to do the job he needed done for the time. Shepherds make sure their flocks are well fed and in his spiritual walk David realized that if God guided him, he would want for nothing. He would have what he needed from the Lord. In fact, David had experienced God’s care for him in that “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” It is when we follow the Lord that we experience his love, compassion, and care. We sleep better, we are more patient, and we find our spiritual strength in him alone. In a world that has floods, famines, and all kinds of natural and manmade disasters it is good to know that God can be our shepherd. And it is here that David gained the spiritual strength he needed. David would declare, “He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” God willingly guides us because he desires to! David had been a shepherd who became a king. He understood what it took to care for a flock of sheep and he saw in his relationship with the Lord the same kind of care and concern. God is our Shepherd because he wants to be! David realized that God is our guide to a better way of life!

EXAMPLE: Watching a toddler can drive one to the brink of sitting on the kitchen floor and begin babbling like a maniac. A few years ago a friend of ours had triplets. I cannot imagine how one would go about watching three little ones who are always ready, willing, and able to be anywhere, go anyplace, and get into anything. This is why God gave mothers the ability to multitask! I am always amazed at how mothers can be making dinner, answer the inquisitive questions of a two-year-old, and talk coherently on the phone! When you add several others to the mix like other siblings or a clueless husband then you realize just how truly special mothers are! They are truly God’s shepherds. Here in this Psalm David reminds us that God is our guide to a better way of life!

If you have never experienced real fear you have never lost your little child in a store full of strangers. You have been constantly reminding them to “stay close”, to “leave that alone”, to “quit picking up stuff off the floor”, and you look away for one moment and they are gone! Panic immediately sets in. Guess what? David understood this and reminds us that…

II. God is our guide during times of fear! (Vv. 4-5)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

1. Life is full of frightening things and experiences. From our birth until we die we are faced each day with something new that seems to tug at us, to make us fearful, or to try and sway us from keeping our eyes focused on the moment at hand. If you do not believe me, then perhaps you did not drive to worship today! In David’s day people faced all kinds of fears we will never know — Thank you Jesus! Plagues, famine, wars, slavery, and instant death were a constant part of everyday living. We get upset when a child is killed because we live in a day and age and country where most children are not threatened by their daily existence. But David understood fear and so when he writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” we had better take notice. For David God was a constant. Unlike many of us whereby we only think about God when we want a happy thought for the day or when something truly goes haywire, David understood what it meant to have God walking with him. We forget that every day we are “walking through the valley of the shadow of death”. Each day brings us closer to the day of our demise. Yet in this world we do not have to fear “evil” for God is with us! He comforts us, like a shepherd did his sheep, with his rod and staff; both a means of discipline and steering for a wayward lamb. In fact, when we depend on God’s presence we realize like David that he “prepares a table before [us] in the presence of [our] enemies”, those who would want to harm us or see evil in our lives. In fact, David came to understand that not only did he have nothing to feat with God right beside him but it was God who gave him the blessings of life! “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” We can focus so much on what makes us afraid or depressed that we forget where the blessings of life come from! David reminds us that God is our guide during times of fear!

EXAMPLE: Can you imagine being a toddler again and having to learn all the things they have to learn? No you can’t eat that, put that down, give that to me, spit that out, come back here, don’t take your clothes off in the store, stop throwing your food, you can’t have my glasses, it is nap time, no, I said “NO!”, I mean “NO!” You know what I mean? Even when you are little loud noises can scare you, being in a dark room, or unfamiliar people. Yet the one constant is that as a toddler you can be safe and secure in the arms of a loving parent, grandparent, or sibling. There in the loving arms of those who love you, you are safe and secure. And this is exactly what it is like when God is our Shepherd. David reminds us that God is our guide during times of fear!

There isn’t anyone who does not long of love and understanding; especially when you are little and have fallen or are frightened. In fact, the first person we learn to cry for is, “MOM!” As a believer we should learn that the first person we need to cry for when we need comfort and understanding is: Jesus! David reminds us that…

III. God is our guide everyday! (v. 6)

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

1. David was certain that he could depend on the Lord always. His trust was not based on what he did himself because David blew it more times than I can count; but David loved God. And in that love there developed a relationship between him and his Lord. We find it in the life of men like Moses, Isaiah, and Daniel. Peter had to be thumped along side of the head a few times before he understood the relationship and the Apostle John was one of the first disciples to grab a hold of the love of God and learn its truth for his self. Only someone who has walked with God through the thick and the thin of life can understand deeply the words David uses here: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” David would lose friends, children, wives, and a kingdom. He would wonder if God still loved him after he had been such an ungodly human being by having someone killed for lust. We forget that evil, hurt, pain, sin, and love can and does exist in all of us even when we are God’s children. Yet God has provided for us like a Good Shepherd. Matthew reminds us that “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36 NIV) Jesus told his followers, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:11, 14 NIV) David knew who his Shepherd was; he had heard his voice time and time again. God was David’s Shepherd daily in life but he came to understand that God would lead him forever. What about you, do you know who your Shepherd is? David teaches us that God is our guide everyday!

EXAMPLE: It is both amazing and a bit disconcerting that little children look to the adults in their lives for guidance. I was looking through photos that we took at the beach when my grandson was just a little guy. One is of me carrying him on my shoulders and you can just see the outline of us walking in the surf because of the mist. I remember the day well and when we were heading back to the car he followed me by stepping in the tracks I left in the sand. He exclaimed, “Look grandpa, I’m walking just like you!” Here we read David singing that God is our guide everyday!

Conclusion:

God is our guide to a better way of life! God is our guide during times of fear! God is our guide everyday!
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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God is our judge! – Psalm 50

God is our judge! – Psalm 50
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 27, 2017

“Man, are you gonna get it when we get home!” my brother yelled at me as we ran as fast as we could to the house. I had been roping and branding the dog (more about that in a bit) and he had caught me. And being the kind, law-abiding, and honest person that he was he threatened to “tell Mom.” Well, the race was on to see which one of us would get home first because we both knew that judgment day was coming and Mom was the judge.

Judgment is coming for the entire world but few give it even a moment of their time or thought. We discover here in the Psalms one written by Asaph a leading Levite musician who teaches us about God is our judge. Because God does not treat us as robots, slaves, or machines but rather he allows us to make our own decisions and to either be blessed or suffer the consequences of our choices. Let’s find out what it means that God is our judge for our world and us today.

READ: Psalm 50

“Come back here so I can give you what you deserve!” my mother declared as I stayed hidden under the porch with the dog. I knew what I deserved, the dog knew what I deserved, and certainly my father would shortly know what I deserved; but deserving something and receiving it are two different things. The Psalmist teaches us that…

I. Our judge will be God himself! (Vv. 1-6)

The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages. He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people: “Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Selah

1. Asaph understands who God is and immediately calls him “The Mighty One, the Lord” (ale ‘ĕlôhı̂ym, the yehôvâh) and he knew that when he spoke you had better listen! Evidently he had either seen or heard from the Lord and wanted to share what he had experienced. So he related that God “speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.” God was entering his courtroom for judgment. God was in judgment over all creation even “From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.” He has the right to judge because of who he is. And in fact while we may think we can do whatever we want when we want to Asaph reminds us that when “Our God comes” he “will not be silent” and like “a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.” Literally God consumes like a mighty wildfire everything because of his holiness! He alone “summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people” and proclaims: “Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” God of course is referring to the Israelites who willingly circumcised themselves and sacrificed their best in order to set themselves apart from all other nations for God alone. Our sacrifice was and is confirmed by Jesus’ own blood and sacrifice; therefore we are made his own with God in him! As Hebrews reminds us, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14 NIV) The Psalmist reminds us that our judge will be God himself!

EXAMPLE: As much as we in our human frailty want and sometimes demand retribution we fail to understand what true justice is all about. When I piped up and chirped that my brother indeed deserved “what was coming to him” my father bluntly reminded me that he was the “judge and jury” and not me. In fact he reminded me that he did not appreciate a tattletale. In our day and age there are those who think that they will be okay with God cause they are “good old boys” and harmless. They think God is some kind old dude who sits in heaven and winks at their playful sinful condition. Nothing could be further from the truth. The one who summons both heaven and earth and comes like a wildfire or stormy tempest to consume our sin will pass judgment on all of us. In fact, our judge will be God himself!

All I had done was play cowboys and Indians. I know this isn’t very politically correct but in my day and age that is what we did. And as part of the game I had to brand my livestock and the only livestock I had was our boxer dog Duke. So I used a pair of sheep shears and clipped a huge LH on his right hand flank. After my mother had seen what I had done, she chased me under the house. Now how was I to know she would take such an offense at the innocent play of a young child? Here in this Psalm we learn that…

II. As judge God will examine his people! (Vv. 7-15)

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, your God. I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

1. God now turns specifically to his own chosen people; namely Israel and now us! His words now apply to believers as filtered through Jesus’ sacrifice. Let’s discover what he says. “Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, your God.” What? You mean he is gonna speak against his own? Yes, but notice he is not going to hold us accountable for trying our best to follow him, “I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.” God understands when we do our best to try and follow him. He desires that we strive to be like Jesus but knowing we live in a sin-fallen world God knows we will not be perfect until we see him face-to-face. And God reminds his listeners that “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.” Just as he did not “need” the Israelites to sacrifice animals he knew they did it out of reverence and honor for him. We worship, pray, read his Word, and live for him in order to honor him because we follow him! Hey, if the Living God “were hungry” would he “not tell you, for the world is [his], and all that is in it.” Jesus told us the greatest commandments were to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV) This is truly what God desires and he asks, “Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?” The answer was of course; “No”. So what does God require? “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” As judge God will examine his people!

EXAMPLE: I think I am like a lot of folks who do not necessarily like going to the doctor. It isn’t because I do not like my doctor per say because he is a very nice person, however, I do not care for what he does. He asks really personal questions about my habits, weight, height, medications, and then he gets really physical and pokes and prods me and makes me feel utterly uncomfortable when I have to “bare-it-all”! Nothing it seems is hidden from his prying eyes! Well if you hate the doctor just wait until you see Jesus face-to-face! Talk about a complete examination! The Psalmist reminds us that as our judge God will examine his people!

“You wicked little boy!” my mother hollered. “Look at what you did to the dog!” Of course it would have sounded a lot more threatening if she hadn’t been laughing so hard when she yelled it at me. “Just wait until your father gets home and sees what you have done!” There it was, my dad would see the evidence for himself and I was hung out to dry. Here in this Psalm we learn that…

III. As judge God will examine the wicked as well! (Vv. 16-23)

But to the wicked, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face. Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue: He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”

1. God is not forgetful as some would hope or think and in fact the Psalmist writes that he now turns his attention to those who thought they would get away with their ungodly lifestyle: “But to the wicked, God says: ‘What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you.’” You see there were folks in Asaph’s day who thought of God only in their own convoluted esoteric terms. You know like those in our day who declare “I believe in God!” but their lives are anything but godly. They literally leave God’s actual words behind them in the gutter where they tossed them. God is not mocked. He sees what our lives are truly like. “When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son.” Kind of sounds like the vulgar, illicit, and abhorrent things folks do nowadays. Paul would say that “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness”… and that “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:18, 32 NIV) There are those who think that because they do not see God or hear his rebuke of their ungodliness that he does not exist, but he warns them, “These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.” To all those noble folks who think that by mocking and laughing at God’s people they were forgotten for what they did God answers them by stating, “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue: He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” As judge God will examine the wicked as well!

EXAMPLE: I am reminded of when Jesus opened the eyes of a blind man and those who thought of themselves as godly but were in reality totally ungodly folks did not want to believe it. Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man, meaning the Messiah, and it was he who had healed the blind man whom they thought of as sinful because of his physical condition. Well then being very indignant “Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say, this and asked, ‘What? Are we blind too?’ Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.’” (John 9:40-41 NIV) Jesus is returning and like Peter told the crowd “God appointed (Jesus) as judge of the living and the dead”. (Acts 10:42 NIV) And one day they will have to give an account of their lives to him! (1 Peter 4:5) The Psalmist reminds us that as judge, God will examine the wicked as well!

Conclusion:

Our judge will be God himself! As judge God will examine his people! As judge God will examine the wicked as well!
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This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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