Tag Archives: creation

The Way of the Lord! – Psalm 19

The Way of the Lord! – Psalm 19
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 25, 2017

In Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” the Queen of Hearts asks Alice where she comes from, Alice tries to explain that she is trying to find her way home. The Queen retorts, “Your way? All ways here are my ways!” We have all known folks who radiate the notion that “It’s my way or the highway!” And this might pass muster if you are an infant, toddler, or preschooler but it gets old and very tiring from an adult. Yet many live their lives this way. Perhaps they need to reconsider their way of life and consider the way of the Lord instead?

Here in this Psalm we discover the ways of the Lord are truly magnificent. In fact in many ways they are quite indescribable and incomprehensible. The Psalmist David tries his best to describe for his listeners the way of the Lord. Let’s discover what he sings…

READ: Psalm 19

As amazing as some of things mankind has created none of it compares to the creation of God. The Psalmist David teaches us that…

I. The way of the Lord is found in the works of his hands! (Vv. 1-6)

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

1. Within the next couple of months, our area will experience a total solar eclipse; a heavenly event only seen a few times in a person’s lifetime and extremely rare. When the ancients saw such phenomenon some thought some evil disaster would occur, however, others like the Hebrews saw it as a manifestation of the creative wonders of God. This is why the Psalmist David writes that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Both the starry skies at night and sunlit days declared and proclaimed God’s creative work because “Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” In fact the writer understood that the whole world experienced God’s handiwork, “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Therefore in his understanding there was no excuse for people not knowing there was a Creator; a God who made everything they saw in the heavens at night or saw in the sunlight by day! All they had to do was look up! From dawn till dusk a person could see God’s creative work for “In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.” Just as the sun burst forth in the morning and seemed to all of sudden appear like a rejoicing bridegroom or a runner ready to run his race we can see the work of God in the sun running its race across the sky each day! All of creation, all mankind had a front row seat to this heavenly spectacle as “It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.”  Truly for the Psalmist David the way of the Lord is found in the works of his hands!

EXAMPLE: Just as artists sign their works, use the same brushstrokes, or leave their fingerprints in the paint; or as sculptures that use certain chisels or polishing techniques that leave telltale marks on the statues they carve, we can see the signature of God in the things he has made. From the atoms that are the building blocks of everything there is to the most complex life form we see the signature of God in his creation. The Psalmist David simply looked to the heavens and saw that they declared God. The way of the Lord is found in the works of his hands!

In a world where so many are searching for something and often finding they have not been told the truth it is refreshing to find that God’s words are steadfast and true. The Psalmist David writes that…

II. The way of the Lord is discovered in his directions! (Vv. 7-11)

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

1. Not every child is perfect but almost every mother sees their newborn as such. Why is that? I believe it is simply because most every mother instantly falls in love with their child. By their sheer devotion they accept their child completely, utterly, and without hesitation. Faith is a bit like this. It is the individual’s willingness to utterly accept what God has revealed to them. Until one does, they can never ever fully understand or know God’s word. This is why the Psalmist David wrote that “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.” We are imperfect but God’s law is and can restore us completely when we follow its ways. In fact, “The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” God’s laws, his ways are not complex, confusing, or hard to understand; one simply follows God wholeheartedly and loves others as he loves himself! “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.” Some of the simplest folks I have known have been truly the wisest and happiest because they adhere to this one godly precept. For the Psalmist David God was not unknowable or a concept and neither were his laws; they gave him insight, light in a sin-darkened world, and a way to view reality as it truly was and so “The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” He knew that when one drew near to God they would be awed by his presence and humbled by the experience because “The fear (the awe) of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.” This is what reminds us who we are and whom we are to worship and is why there was no question of doubt in his mind that “The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.” David could absolutely trust in the law of God, his statues, precepts, commands, and ordinances. And as he did they became “more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they [were] sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” The Psalmist David had come to know God intimately by walking with him moment by moment in following his ways and in doing so he had learned that “By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” The way of the Lord is discovered in his directions!

EXAMPLE: I have found a wondrous consistency in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation that I did not find in any other spiritual work I ever read. The Koran, the Vedas, Book of Mormon, or other works seemed shallow, simplistic, disjointed, and totally fabricated. While there are those who will declare that there are also inconsistencies within Scriptures it is usually because they are like someone who looks at a sweet little child’s work of art and can only see the mistakes instead of the heartfelt joy, the beauty of creation, or its simple reliability. No wonder so many folks have not discovered what the Psalmist David did, that the way of the Lord is discovered in his directions!

Much of the psychological, emotional, and spiritual problems the world faces are because the world’s view of morality has been drastically skewed. The Psalmist teaches us that…

III. The way of the Lord is understood when we confess our sin! (Vv. 12-14)

Who can determine his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

1. Unless a person is willing to look at and acknowledge their own imperfections they are not being honest with themselves or others and certainly not with God. It can be difficult to do. This is why the Psalmist David asks, “Who can determine his errors?” And if course the answer is “no one can.” We are to narrow in our view of ourselves. Yet if we are willing to honestly look at ourselves and truthfully admit our sins we can be the people God desires. This is why the Apostle John would write, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:8-10 NIV) So the Psalmist David immediately confesses, “Forgive my hidden faults.” These were the sins he tried to hide from God but knew he could not yet he had deceived himself into thinking he could! Kind of like we do. Yet he took his condition one step further by requesting, “Keep your servant also from willful sins” because his whole desire was that “they not rule over me.” He did not want his headstrong nature and stubborn sin or anything that was unconfessed to rule or reign in his life! We often try to make excuses for our ungodly actions but this man wanted to be fully free from any guilt in order to follow God. He knew that if he was honest about his ungodliness then he would “be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” In thinking about the wondrous works of God and his simple yet beautiful precepts the Psalmist David realized his own evil nature. He would write in another Psalm, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” (Psalms 51:1-4 NIV) And so it is here we find him praying, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Because like Paul, David knew that “it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:10 NIV) The way of the Lord is understood when we confess our sin!

EXAMPLE: I find it humorous when a believer is caught in their sin and they blame circumstances, others, or try to justify their actions in that they deserved to commit this sin in this instance! I often want to blurt out, “Don’t you hear yourself?” For all of his faults David was willing to do whatever it took to restore his relationship with the Lord. And here in this wonderful Psalm about God’s creation David teaches us that the way of the Lord is understood when we confess our sin!

Conclusion:

The way of the Lord is found in the works of his hands! The way of the Lord is discovered in his directions! The way of the Lord is understood when we confess our sin!
—-
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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Hebrews 11:1-6 – What Is Faith?

Hebrews 11:1-6 – What Is Faith?
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December  9, 2012 AM

What is faith? Is it a feeling, an emotional response, or the intellectual exercise of one’s will to decide to believe in something based on the evidence no matter what others say? Webster’s Dictionary states that it is defined as, “allegiance to duty or a person, loyalty, fidelity to one’s promises, sincerity of intentions, firm belief in something for which there is no proof, complete trust, something that is believed especially with strong conviction, or belief and trust in and loyalty to God.”

The author of Hebrews gives us a definition of what faith is and then he spends the rest of this chapter in giving us examples of what faith meant for specific people. As we look at what he wrote and why, it should make us think about what our faith means to us.

READ: Hebrews 11:1-6

What in life are you certain of, that you know without a doubt you can depend upon? We can absolutely depend in life upon very few people let alone things. Human nature predisposes that at some point we will let one another down in some way. And material things in life are not made to last. In fact, many things are made with built in obsolescence. The Book of Hebrews gives us a wonderful promise then when he writes that…

I. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see! (Vv. 1-3)

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

1. The author had just concluded the previous section by reminding us that God states, “But my righteous one will live by faith.” So, this section is a call for those “righteous ones” to live by faith and he defines this faith. If we are to live by faith, what is this faith he desires we live by? He shares three fundamental ideals concerning faith: It is “being sure of what we hope for,” it is being “certain of what we do not see,” and it is “what the ancients were commended for”! Faith is not some societal definition of moral virtue, it is not something you can necessarily see, nor can it always be grasped intellectually or physically. It is not defined by a person’s acts of will, but a person will definitely act on their faith! We cannot see God’s grace but we can experience it for ourselves. The sacrificial act of trusting our lives to God’s promise through his Son, Jesus Christ, assures us peace with him and eternal life. (John 1:12-13, 3:16) When we trust God, whom we cannot see, he promises us eternity! Jesus gave us his life as atonement for our sin, and we give back to him our lives by faith in his sacrifice! The ancients could not see the outcome of their faith, just as often we cannot either, but we like them can live by our trust in what God has promised! In fact, we see the outcome of God’s plan in the creation all around us, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” This is why the apostle Paul would dramatically write, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 NIV) We may not be sure of nor perhaps understand how all things were made, but we can certainly be certain that they were indeed made by the hand of God, if we do not we are without excuse! Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see!

EXAMPLE: We cannot actually see the love someone has for us, but we can experience it. We experience their love for us as they demonstrate it to us through their lives. This is why Paul would write, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV) I will never forget how one Christmas I wanted a Lionel train set. It was way more than my father could afford and I did not really expect one. Imagine my surprise when I went out to the tree that year on Christmas Day and there set up around the tree was the Lionel train chugging around the tree! However, more than the train set, I will always remember the look on my father’s face when he saw how excited and incredulous I was that the train was really mine. All I can say is, he radiated his love for me that day, I knew without a doubt he loved me. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see!

I grew up in a faith where we were taught that we never knew if were good enough to please God with our lives. It was a constant striving for personal perfection and attempting to do just one more thing in order for God to be pleased with our lives. Can you imagine what it meant then when I discovered that God already loved me so much he sent his own son to die for me and that all I needed to do is respond by faith? Hebrews reinforces the fact that…

II. Without faith, it is impossible to please God! (Vv. 4-6)

“By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

1. How do we know when a person has faith? Can we look them in the eye? Can we see it in the color of their skin, the set of their jib, or in the new way they walk? Sometimes, bringing up the past helps us to see the present better. Now I am not suggesting that we nag one another about things we did in the past, but rather here, the author does so for a purpose. The author proceeds with examples of faith, and begins with Abel. The superiority of Abel’s sacrifice to Cain’s lay both in the substance and in the style of it; one was offered willingly and the other only for show; one was offered in faith and the other in pride. This is why, “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.” Cain plotted, schemed, and planned his “sacrifice” and the ultimate murder of his brother Abel! Planning to do “good things” for God in order to be given kudos or be recognized for it is the outcome of personal pride and not an example of faith. Hebrews then moves on to Enoch, who offers us even a better example of faith: “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away.” One verse, Genesis 5:24, relates the story of a godly man named Enoch. It is said that, “Enoch walked with God” and then because God loved Enoch’s faith, “he was no more, because God took him away.” It was because of his trust and confidence in God that Enoch walked with God, even before there was the Mosaic Law! “For, before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” God cannot be pleased in someone who has no confidence in him! “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” You see, without faith, it is impossible to please God!

EXAMPLE: The believer’s motto should be the same as Paul’s when he wrote, “Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12, NIV) Paul knew without a doubt that God loved him and was pleased with his life. In a day and age where so many walk around with insecurity problems and have to focus their entire existence on themselves in order to feel good enough about themselves, it is wonderful to realize that God focuses on our faith and not on ourselves! Hebrews related that Jesus “is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them!” (Hebrews 7:25 NIV) Today, remember the true meaning of Jesus’ birth, that God so loved us that he sent us his son, that if we simply believed in him we would be saved. God is pleased with our faith and without faith, it is impossible to please God!

Conclusion:
We discovered for ourselves two important truths concerning faith: Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see, and without faith, it is impossible to please God!

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 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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Today’s thoughts, Song of Solomon 2:1-4

By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 1, 2008

I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens. Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my lover among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. (Song of Solomon 2:1-4)

Did you ever sing, “He’s the Lilly of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star, the fairest of ten thousand to my soul!” or “He sets me down at His banquet eating table, His banner over me is love?” Many of us have. One is an old hymn and the other is an old camp song, but both come from this piece of very intimate prose by Solomon. Why? The authors of both of these songs, saw in this section of Solomon’s poem, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. However, it was not written to Him, it was written by love smitten lovers for one another! Yet in this beautiful Song of Solomon we discover the love and devotion of our Lord as it is directed toward us and as we should love Him as well. I find it interesting and kind of humorous that when early Biblical scholars read this they were often so embarrassed by its message they had to make it fit Jesus instead of its actual message of two lovers caught up in their devotion for one another.

This being the first day of May, what better way to start a brand new month than with a love song to our Lord. He is definitely far more wonderful than any flowers that bloom, or sweeter than honey from off the comb. Wait a minute! Isn’t that a song as well? And doesn’t it come from Scripture too? See, everywhere you go in the Bible you read about Jesus in almost every page, and the same is true when you go out into the world He created. Everywhere you look there are the handprints of God.

I watched the movie “Expelled” with a friend of mine. It is about how people who even hint that they believe or want discussion on Intelligent Design are ostracized, fired, and black-balled worse than anything from the 50s Communism scare. In one sequence of the film Ben Stein is asking noted atheist Richard Dawkins about it. Dawkins declares that there is no God. Stein asks him to put a percentage on it. He agrees to 99% assurance that there is no God. Stein asks him why not 97% or 95% OR 45%, why 99% that there is no God. Then Dawkins makes a startling admission when he confides that there could be intelligent design because it can be seen but that it was probably done by space aliens that seeded earth! Stein looks at him incredulously and asks, “Who created the aliens?” Dawkins quickly tries to save himself by saying that they evolved through Darwinian evolution. It was hilarious that even a rabid atheist had to admit that he saw design in nature that could only be explained by intelligent design.

In every blade of grass, in every child that plays;
In every song that is sung, and every tree that sways.
I find Him in the quiet spaces and in the busy streets.
I see Him on the simple faces of the people that I meet.

And just when I think that there could not be His touch,
I find Him in all the things that I love so much.
He is in the clear bold blue sky or in the spider’s web.
I sense Him in the early morn, when I sleepily crawl out of bed.

He is the happy wags of my little dog’s tail, and the kisses of my wife.
And at the closing of the day, He guards and keeps my life.
Oh, I find my Master’s hand in everything I see,
From the lofty majestic mountains to the wind-driven seas.

But most of all I discover Him best when I am quiet and alone.
It is there within my own life that He has made His home.
Where do you find the loving Lord? A rose, a star, in art?
Is He found there deep inside within your inner heart?

Dear child go out and discover the Lord today.
Look at all of creation or children as they play.
Sit by a sunlit window and open up His delightful Word,
I know that it is there at last, where you will find the living Lord.

NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

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