Love For God = Obedience

Psalm 97:10

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

I always love to read the Psalms and bask in the spiritual emotion David delivers through His inspired meditations.  As these verses from the Psalms come to us, I encourage you to read the entire and not just the verse or two presented.  I pulled the immediate context around the verse today to share both its wisdom and encouragement with you:

Psalm 97:9-12 (NIV)

For you, Lord, are the Most-High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
10 Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is sown on the righteous (Cf. Psalm 112:4) and joy on the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name.

Here, David affirms the supremacy of a single Holy Being … Yahweh … who is the Most-High God. His Being and power are infinitely above anything that could even be entitled a little god.  David wanted the people to know and to understand WHO they worship and the purpose for which He is to be exalted.  God is ultimately beyond our comprehension; and yet, He wants us to know Him and to love Him with the light that we have been given through His Spirit and His Word.

Love is the defining term of the relationship we are to embrace with our Most-High God. And there are qualities to love that we would do well to examine. We are commanded by God to love Him, to walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His commandments, decrees, and laws. (Cf. Deuteronomy 30:16) Thus, to demonstrate love for God, we are to be obedient.  David exhorts that those who love the Lord will hate evil.  Thus, to demonstrate love for God, we must abhor anything that is against what is good – as God has defined and revealed goodness through His Spirit and His Word. And love for God is manifested through faithfulness.  What we profess to God must align with what we do for God.  The Apostle John made these very same points:

1 John 2:5 (NIV)

Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.

1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 5:2-3 (NIV)

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome….

Paul wrote in Romans 13:10, “Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the Law.”  Love hates evil in any form!  This is what we need to understand.  And those who love the Lord are protected by God – for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.  Faithful ones are those who love God and love others as He has commanded.  Further, we cannot walk in darkness and practice evil because “light is sown on the righteous.” (See Also Psalm 112:4) I love how that is phrased: “light is sown”.  The light and wisdom of God is place in the soil of our hearts … it is sown and watered by the Holy Spirit … to indwell us and to grow and to bear the fruit of righteousness in our lives.  And likewise, the joy of this experience is embedded within us!  This is why the righteous … those who love the Lord and hate evil … are able to rejoice in the Lord and to worship Him.  It stems from the deep love of God for us so that our response can be none other than love itself … a love expressed by worship in Spirit and in Truth … and demonstrated through love for one another.  

I hope that you will find something here that speaks to your heart … to either challenge you, encourage you, or both.

So Now You Know!

Have a Blessed Day!

Sing To The Lord

Psalm 59:16 (NIV)

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

There are moments and times when we each of us can feel that the world is crashing around us … when we feel overwhelmed and anxious about things beyond our control … and it seems that nothing is going right in life; at least not according to our desires or expectations.  Such are the situations and circumstances in our lives … often involving stress within relationships with others and within ourselves as well.  But I believe there is an overarching purpose God is using in each of those times or seasons of our lives. His purpose is to deepen our faith in Him … to build a foundation of trust in Him …  to increase our reliance upon Him. Because we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Cf. Romans 8:28)

So I love this verse for us today … because it reminds us to shift our focus from the circumstances to the purposes. “I will sing of Your strength.” This inspires me to remember that there is power and strength available to me.  The resources of heaven are only a prayer away when I feel helpless to change the circumstances that I am going through.  It reminds me that God provides His strength … His grace to endure it and to persevere in faith.  “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Cf. Isaiah 40:29) And Paul affirmed, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Cf. Philippians 4:13) And in 1 Corinthians 1:25, Paul shared, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”  God strengthens us with all power according to His glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience. (Cf. Colossians 1:11)

In the morning, I will sing of your love!” The love of God for me … for each of us … is the best knowledge of all to keep in mind.  For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” From Jeremiah 31:3, we have the assurance that God loves us with an everlasting love.  It is an everlasting covenant of love … and God is faithful to His Word.  So, yes, we should sing of His love … we should acknowledge that His love and His strength are a fortress and a refuge in times of trouble.  Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Cf. John 16:33) Indeed, Jesus is our fortress and refuge! And we should go to Him … not to escape the problems or circumstances we face, but to navigate them with the confidence and assurance of faith that He will work them for our good according to His purposes.

In His “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus asked, “Can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to our life or another inch to your stature?” (Cf. Matthew 6:27) Further on, Jesus instructed:  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Cf. Matthew 6:34) The Apostle Peter likewise advised, “Cast all of your cares and anxieties upon Him because He cares for you.” (Cf. 1 Peter 5:7) Here Peter must have had Psalm 55:22 in mind which reads:  Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”  How well King David knew … and wrote for our admonition: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; 20 He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. (Cf. Psalm 34:17-20)

We do not have to be shaken with all the problems and troubles that come into our lives. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Cf. Romans 8:37) So, I encourage us to embrace God’s love for us … to receive His strength through the Spirit … and to express in our hearts the delight of His fulfilled promises.  Yes, sing of His strength! This morning, sing of His love!  He is your fortress … your refuge … your strength.  The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Cf. Proverbs 18:10) Indeed, your prayers to Him acknowledge His sovereignty over your life and bring you to a position of submission … of trust … of faith.  Yes, God is glorified when you enter His presence and seek Him for every need and aspect of your life. That is His purpose … because He does not want to be a part of your life; rather, He is your life.  Amen.

So Now You Know!

Have a Blessed Day!

God Is Faithful….

Isaiah 25:1 (NIV)

Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

This verse from the Prophet Isaiah is a call to praise and worship … exalting God for His “perfect faithfulness” toward His people.  We first find this gratitude for the faithfulness of God in the Book of Genesis – so this understanding of His nature has been affirmed at least since the time of Abraham.  Let’s look at that passage and some others:

Genesis 24:27 (NIV)

26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned His kindness and faithfulness to my master. 

Exodus 34:5-7 (NIV)

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulnessmaintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

Psalm 57:9-11 (NIV)

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 71:22-23 (NIV)

22 I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you – I whom you have delivered.

So I think you get the point.  The earliest believers recognized and praised God for His manifested love and faithfulness toward them.  So I think we need to be mindful and grateful ourselves.  As you look back on your life and all of your relationships and experiences … can you see the hand of God in your life?  Can you see the faithfulness of God in sustaining you through all the challenges, hardships, and sufferings of life … creating the unique story of you?  I know that I can.  In fact, without the faithfulness of God to guide me through the pitfalls and challenges I have faced, I would not be here to share this testimony. I have absolutely no doubt about the faithfulness of God in our lives.  So the question is whether we have been faithful to Him.  Ask yourself, “Have you been as faithful to God as He has been to you?”

I’m sure we all feel indicted by that question.  None of us have lived a perfect life.  All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Even after we came to a knowledge of the truth; received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior; and experienced rebirth through the Spirit; most of us have stumbled at best to walk the narrow road and to love one another as He has loved us. I think of Peter who boldly and rashly proclaimed that he would die for Jesus at the time of His arrest … only to swear that he “did not even know the man” just a few hours later. (Cf.  Matthew 26:74-75; Mark 14:72; Luke 22:60-61; John 18:27) So zealous was his boast and so vehement was his disownment.  And note how every Gospel writer recorded what happened! Oh, I’d say each of us has wept as bitterly as Peter at some point in our life because of our own unfaithfulness to God….

What amazes and encourages me, though, is that Jesus takes the initiative to comfort Peter and restore him to fellowship.  You can read about it in John 21.  And when we find ourselves in despair over our sin and unfaithfulness to God, the Apostle John shares with us this word of encouragement: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) John reminds us of that timeless truth: God is Faithful.  And so I repeat that message here because someone needs to hear it.  Someone needs to know that the discouragement and despair of unfaithfulness that has been defeating their life can be overcome.  Yes, you ARE forgiven! Your life and fellowship with God will be restored! God is faithful even when we fail….  Like Paul, I am convinced that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Cf. Romans 8:38-39)

One thing that caught my attention about this passage was the phrase “things planned long ago.”  I thought about that a moment.  I thought about the plan of salvation that was in the mind of God before the foundation of the world.  I wondered, “What other things did God plan long ago?”  Well, He planned my birth.  He determined the date, the generation, the place, the nation, etc.  God knew when and where He wanted me for His plans and purposes.  And despite a time of rebellion during my youth … in spite of the disobedience, failures, and unfaithfulness in my life … God planned my reconciliation and salvation.  I am His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do. (Cf. Ephesians 2:10) And each day of my life becomes another revelation of the things He planned long ago for me.  Yes, God is faithful over your life and mine….

So I am certain there is someone who needs to know that God is willing and ready to restore your life just like He did for Peter – a man who disavowed even knowing the Lord Jesus … just like He did for Paul – a blasphemer and a murderer … just like He did for me – another wretched sinner saved by grace through faith.  God planned your day of reconciliation long ago.  God knew just the right time … when you would bitterly weep … and open your whole heart to Him.  God knew your moment of confession would come, and He is faithful and just to forgive your sins because you have called on Him.  He is at the door of your heart … knocking.  And I can assure you, it is an indescribable feeling to experience the great love and faithfulness of God poured out in your life!  I urge you to open the door and bid the Lord Jesus to come in … and let your healing begin!

Father, I thank you and I praise you for your perfect faithfulness.  You have done wonderful things … too many to count as well look back over our lives.  Each one is a testimony of your surpassing kindness and your steadfast love.  Help, Lord, each one of us to embrace that you have been faithful to redeem us … to give us a hope and a future … to give us eternal life.  These promises were established long ago … and we can receive them by placing our faith in you.  You have proven yourself trustworthy, and I pray any person who has questioned the deep of your love will see the truth found in your Word.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  Great is Thy Faithfulness.  Morning by morning new mercies I see.  All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.  Great is Thy Faithfulness … Lord unto me. ~ Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960)

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/04/19

Psalm 18:1-2

[ Psalm 18 ] [ For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:] I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Another Psalm of praise for us to reflect upon … perhaps even sing within our spirits.  Beautiful words of affirmation that God is indeed the refuge for our souls.  He is trustworthy!  He is a sanctuary to all those who love Him.  I sense someone reading this blog needs this verse for confirmation! Someone needs to feel assurance that God is for them! My friend, if you ever doubt that God is for you … just read this Psalm of salvation and know that your enemies are defeated!  Call upon God in your distress. Ask for help.  He will hear from His holy temple.  He knows your voice.  He knows your name.  He will deliver you.  Trust in Him!  His love is faithful.  It is unfailing.   It is everlasting.  He is worthy of all praise!

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/03/19

Psalm 59:16 (NIV)

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

This is a beautiful excerpt from Psalm 59.  David wrote this Psalm when King Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.  If you read the entire Psalm, you will see the context is a plea for deliverance from his enemies.  It is a petition for God to deal with his enemies and to bring consequences for their evil intent.  But at the end of his prayer, David sings praise and thanksgiving to God for His power, love, and protection.  Look at Verses 16-17:

16 But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.

Though I find little eloquence in this Psalm (much of the tone is harsh to me), I do find a zealous message of reliance upon God … a sense of dependence upon God … and a profession of faith and trust in His vindication.  My observation is that David sees God in control of the situations he faces, and he trusts God to protect him.  David praises God because He is reliable and faithful to meet his needs.  So while the passage does not have great theological weight, it does convey two important aspects of how to exercise our faith: Prayer and Praise!

So when you come under duress or under attack … when you face physical, emotional, or spiritual battles … find a quiet place to get still before God and ask Him to deliver you.  Share with God your concerns … your feelings … your hurts … your needs. Then humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care (anxieties) upon Him, for He cares for you. (Cf. 1 Peter 5:6-7) And then remember to praise Him.  Praise Him because He is your fortress … your place of refuge. Praise Him because He is your strength.  You can rely upon Him to bring you through the situation you face!  For Jesus Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So you can boldly say: “The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Cf. Hebrews 13:5-6) Oh my friend, you CAN trust Him!  God has your back … and He loves you far beyond all you can imagine or conceive….

I am thankful that David was transparent and shared his own personal experiences for us. His writings enable us to draw upon the inspiration God imparted to him.  I hope each of us will endeavor to seek God with the same boldness that David did.  You might just be surprised at what honest prayer and joyful praise might do for your life…. Maybe we just need to realize it could be a great time to reset our mindset!  I pray we will … and that we will submit to what God has desired to do in us and for us all since the foundation of the earth … enjoy oneness with Him.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!