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Passage: Psalms 96-102

On Thursday, July 11, 2013, Yujin wrote,

Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves (Psalm 100:3).

These words seem so much more relevant today than when they were written in the days of David. It is somewhat reflected in the oft cited quip: "I know two things are true. There is a God, and I am not He." While no one will say that they are God, many, if not most, live as though they are. 

God made us and not we ourselves! I wonder if we recognize the vast divide between the creature and the Creator. God says in Isaiah,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Again, Isaiah writes,

We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:8).

Friends, what are the implications of this? We derive our worth from our Maker. What is more, He knows us more intimately than we can ever imagine, and we can make no claims against Him. Since God ultimately does with us as He pleases, we have no autonomy apart from His will. It is, therefore, utter foolishness to imagine that we can chart our own course or determine our own end.

We speak of natural laws. He established them. We speak of spiritual principles. He wrote them down. God, as Creator, stands before, behind, above, and beyond all things. 

If we fret, it should only be because we don't know Him. And if we have come to know Him, we ought only to fret because we may still be foolishly living as if we did not. 

Therefore, friends, let us stop fretting about mundane things. Let us not be disturbed by the foolish strategies and exploits of people, as they take offense and bicker, trying to get a leg up on one another, as if in the eternal scheme of things, this will give them any advantage or even be remembered. Everything in this life and world is passing away. It is nearness to our God which is our good. We ought instead just to be busy with trusting Him, loving Him, and obeying His Word. 

As the Scripture also teaches,

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).


Passage: Psalms 96-102

On Thursday, July 12, 2012, Fernando wrote,
Psalm 98:7-9
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

I have at times prayed a similar prayer, praising the return of, and the correction to all things that comes with, Jesus. I usually then consider those on my prayer list, then give thanks for the time; and gladness that its not up to me to push the "go" judgment-button.

Passage: Psalms 96-102

On Wednesday, July 11, 2012 (Last Updated on 7/11/2013), Yujin wrote,

Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
    Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.

    Tell everyone about the amazing things he does (Psalm 96:2-3).

They say that the two topics you should never bring up in a friendly conversation are politics and religion. Why? I surmise it is because people carry strong, emotionally-charged views in regard to them. But isn't this for good reason? Political matters concern issues of governance that can either benefit or adversely impact every member of a society. And religion goes even further because it concerns the convictions and values that touch both the present life and the life hereafter. For this reason, I think we should often speak of politics and religion, because these seem to have the greatest significance for people, who would be living otherwise shallow and meaningless lives. 

Yet, society has made discussions of politics and religion taboo. Even in Christian circles, we are only encouraged to discuss safe topics, which are those where everyone is in full agreement. Why? Because touching on controversial matters might be divisive. And so the maintenance of "peace" is valued above the discernment and discovery of truth. And where leaders are concerned that their members don't hold their views, it may be that the leaders' authority is valued above the authority of truth.

Are we too concerned about being politically correct and religiously proper? This comes to mind as I read the psalmists' bold calls to proclaim and publish the Gospel of God's salvation and His glorious works to the nations. Yet, our praises are locked up in the sound-proof walls of our church buildings. Our Gospel is but a watered-down and nebulous mantra about "accepting Jesus into your heart" or some vague idea of God's fatherly love for everyone.  Even though we are called to proclaim and declare, we find most evangelists and preachers only begging and pleading. Yet, I never read of Jesus begging anyone to be saved, nor Peter, nor Paul. Instead, they declared the Gospel clearly and boldly. If we were to study the evangelistic practices of Jesus, we would be surprised at how bold, direct, uncompromising, and even offensive He was. 

When Paul calls believers to make the most of every opportunity to influence outsiders, he writes, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:6). This has often been taught as counsel for Christians to be nice and relevant in sharing the Gospel. But the expression "full of grace" reminds me of the witness of Christ, which John writes was "full of grace and truth." Thus, full of grace suggests full of Christ. Christ needs to be at the center of our witness, even the grace of God that we have received in Him. Regarding salt, "it is almost consistently used in the New Testament to refer to judgment or discernment, and I don't see it used differently here. In other words, our words must be examined in light of God's Word. This is why Paul in a similar context advises believers, 

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Jesus told His disciples to have "salt in themselves." He was telling them to examine themselves, to be discerning, to speak truth. When these things are done, then believers will "know how to answer everyone." 

Friends, sometimes during praise time I don't sing. It is not because I do not want to sing, for I love to sing, especially Christian songs. But I don't sing because the theology, that is the teaching, in the lyrics are wrong or so far outside of biblical truth, I fear God would be dishonored if I were to sing them. Many songs wax eloquently about wanting to see this or feel that, but such desires are never encouraged in the Scriptures. There is so much that the Scriptures do encourage. Why do we need to invent new things. Just for a song? Just to stir our emotions? And is it not a problem to be stirred by unbiblical ideas? 

Therefore, I encourage both praise leaders and members alike to think before you sing. Consider what you are singing. Consider what you are declaring in the congregation. Consider what you might be humming out in the world. If it is biblically sound, and I don't mean that the song simply uses words from the Bible, but if it is truly consistent with biblical teaching, then don't just sing it in the sheltered walls of a church building, sing it at home, at the office, along the way, and everywhere else in this free country of ours. Declare it! Proclaim it! Boldy! Clearly! 

Passage: Psalms 96-102

On Tuesday, July 12, 2011, Stephen wrote,

When I look at myself and this world, I cannot help but to feel discouraged. But when I look up and see who my God is, my heart becomes filled with comfort and joy. The psalmist of 102 expresses his sorrow to the Lord but, at the end, he says:

 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change themand they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.

 Nothing will last forever but our God and the most amazing fact is that He loves us who are insignificant! Let us be encouraged everyday by who our God is.