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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 103)

Psalm 103

Of David.Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 6.45.59 AM

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 6.48.18 AM

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

 

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Back to Basics (A Study of Titus 2): Part 3

We’re examining the Apostle Paul’s Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 8.15.29 AMparagraph on the Christian life found in Titus 2.  There we read:

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

We have seen that God’s grace is not only a SALVATION-OFFERING grace, but also a TEACHING grace.  It is a grace that FORMS OUR TASTES for the things of God.  God’s grace teaches us from two perspectives how to live the Christian life.  First, we see that His grace teaches us to DENY.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 7.44.18 AMDid you ever stop to think that what you deny as a believer is almost as important as what you affirm?  For example, we deny that Jesus is God’s highest creation (as our Jehovah’s Witnesses friends say).  We deny that all people will be saved whether they want to be or not (as our universalistic friends say).  We deny that homosexual behavior (as well as heterosexual promiscuity) is an acceptable lifestyle.  There are many ideas and beliefs that we Christians deny.  In this text, God’s grace teaches us to deny two categories which lead the believer away from the life God intends: (1) ungodliness and (2) worldly lusts.

This word ἀσέβειαν can be translated as “impiety,” “irreverence,” “wickedness” or “ungodliness” and is used six times in the New Testament.  In Romans 1:18 we read that “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness . . .”  In Romans 11:26 we read: “and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 8.08.42 AMhe will turn godlessness away from Jacob.”  The same term is used in 2 Timothy 2:16 where the believer is told: “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.”  This same term is used two times in the little epistle of Jude.  In verses 14-15 we read, 14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”  The word is used three times in verse 15!  In verse 18 of Jude 1 we read, “They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.”  Jude is referring to the predictions of the apostles about false teachers who would come, scoffers who will follow their own ungodly Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 8.24.55 AMdesires.  We also have the word used in our text, Titus 2: “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age . . .”

Do we recognize ungodliness when we see it?  There was an ad for a cleaning lady in a newspaper that read: “Wanted. One person to clean my house.  Must be able to recognize dirt.”  Are we able to recognize dirt? (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Titus 2

 

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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 102)

Psalm 102

A prayer of an afflicted person who Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 6.21.13 AMhas grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.

Hear my prayer, Lord;
    let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
    when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
    when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke;
    my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
    I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud
    and am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl,
    like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become
    like a bird alone on a roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me;
    those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
For I eat ashes as my food
    and mingle my drink with tears
10 because of your great wrath,Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 6.24.34 AM
    for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like the evening shadow;
    I wither away like grass.

12 But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever;
    your renown endures through all generations.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
    for it is time to show favor to her;
    the appointed time has come.
14 For her stones are dear to your servants;
    her very dust moves them to pity.
15 The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
    all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
16 For the Lord will rebuild Zion
    and appear in his glory.
17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
    he will not despise their plea.

18 Let this be written for a future generation,
    that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
19 “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
    from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners
    and release those condemned to death.”
21 So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion
    and his praise in Jerusalem
22 when the peoples and the kingdoms
    assemble to worship the Lord.

23 In the course of my life[b] he broke my strength;
    he cut short my days.
24 So I said:
“Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
    your years go on through all generations.
25 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 them
    and they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same,
    and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants will live in your presence;
    their descendants will be established before you.”

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in the book of Psalms

 

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Loving or Hating This World?

Some of you know of my friendship with John, my octogenarian friend in Canada. If you read the comments he occasionally posts on my blog — and my responses to them — you will see that we come at life from very different perspectives.

I’m going to post a few of his comments and my responses Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 6.57.08 AMfrom time to time and invite your comments to my comments about his comments! What?

Recently, John wrote: “Larry, You have an incredible inconsistent worldview. On one side you deplore the world we life in, but you engage in sentiments of weeping and wooing when one loved one is taken away.
Feb 8,2015 you used John Piper’s words to describe heaven: :No sickness, all your friends you had on earth are with you, you would have all the food you like, all the leisure activities you’re enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tested, no human conflict, no natural disasters.
Some years ago you you thanked all the people who prayed for you to recover from your heart surgery. With all the wonders of heaven that you believe so strongly, why would you hang on to this current world so strongly? I suspect that your “Certainty” is not as certain as you would like it to be.”

I responded as follows: “Good morning, John. Thanks for your comments of July 1st. Let me make sure I understand what you’ve said.</

You say that I have an incredibly inconsistent worldview. You say that I “deplore” the world we live in. I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion about my view. You then used my quote of Piper to argue, I think, that heaven is wonderful. Your question, “Why would you hang on to this current world so strongly?” is a great question.

Here’s what I believe about this world and the next. I believe this world is God’s good creation to be enjoyed and carefully used, but not worshiped (I Tim. 6). It will be renewed and all its brokenness healed when Jesus returns. But there is another world, another realm of existence beyond this one, and this world should get us ready for that world. Creation ought to be cared for (not exploited). The physical pleasures on this planet ought to be enjoyed to the glory of God, but this is not the only world there is.

We can and should grieve the loss of loved ones who pass away, especially if we have little evidence that they have come to terms with the God we have all offended. To die without Jesus as one’s personal Savior is the worst thing that could ever happen to someone.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 7.00.22 AMI am not to love this worldly system that opposes God and the things of God (= “worldliness”), but to serve God in this world as best I can.

To summarize, I agree with C.S. Lewis who said, “To love and admire anything outside yourself is to take one step away from utter spiritual ruin; though we shall not be well so long as we love and admire anything more than we love and admire God.” Even more, to love God allows us to love people more than those who don’t know God. Lewis adds, “Because we love something else more than this world we love even this world better than those who know no other.”

Your comments?

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2015 in worldliness

 

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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 101)

Psalm 101

Of David. A psalm.Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 6.30.29 AM

I will sing of your love and justice;
    to you, Lord, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
    when will you come to me?

I will conduct the affairs of my house
    with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval
    on anything that is vile.

I hate what faithless people do;
    I will have no part in it.
The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
    I will have nothing to do with what is evil.

Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,
    I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
    I will not tolerate.

My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
    that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
    will minister to me.

No one who practices deceit
    will dwell in my house;Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 6.31.59 AM
no one who speaks falsely
    will stand in my presence.

Every morning I will put to silence
    all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
    from the city of the Lord.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in the book of Psalms

 

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Back to Basics (A Study of Titus 2): Part 2

We’re looking at the Apostle Paul’s Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 8.15.29 AMparagraph on the Christian life found in Titus 2.  There we read:

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

Please notice that God’s grace is not just a SALVATION-OFFERING grace.  It is also a TEACHING grace.    We do not naturally know how to live as Christians, how to work out into daily experience the salvation we have been given.  We need to be taught; we need to see ourselves as students of God’s grace.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 7.46.35 AM“But I HATED school!”, some might say.  Get over it.  Whether you had a lousy English teacher or a grouchy math teacher — your instructor in the Christian life is God the Holy Spirit (see John 14-16 for some details).

Who sets the curriculum for these grace-lessons?  God does, of course.  He is the One who knows what we need to know.   I am deeply impressed by Flannery O’Connor statement when she said, “The high-school English teacher will beScreen Shot 2015-07-27 at 7.36.56 AM fulfilling his responsibility if he furnishes the student a guided opportunity, through the best writing of the past, to come, in time, to an understanding of the best writing of the present. And if the student finds that this is not to his taste? Well, that is regrettable. Most regrettable. His taste should not be consulted; it is being formed.”

Are you allowing God the Holy Spirit to FORM your tastes to the things of God?  In our next post we will notice two areas in which our tastes desperately need to be formed! (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Titus 2

 

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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 100)

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 6.25.53 AM

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 6.28.30 AM

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2015 in the book of Psalms

 

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