Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Don't forget God's promises and His faithfulness!"

Day #207:  Daily Bible Reading - July 23rd

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 87 - 89 …

Most, if not all, people go through times of trials and suffering.  To think otherwise and to teach otherwise is a lie.  Life happens!!  And when it does, you and I need to know "the God who saves me" (88:1).  THIS God is faithful … ALWAYS!!  He never forgets His promises ... and He always keeps His promises.  Those who trust in Him find comfort and hope and strength and peace and joy in knowing that He is with us, no matter what the circumstances we may be facing or enduring.  In fact, the Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonians and all who believe that we should "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this IS God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).  Notice that it is those who are IN Christ Jesus who can do this, because the very Spirit of Christ is at work in us.

One of the most powerful examples of God's faithfulness (which many people miss), is His faithfulness to Israel.  I know I mention that often as we read through the Old Testament, but if God is not faithful today to the promises He made to people in the past, why would He be faithful to you and me today?  Are we not sinners as the people in those days were?  Do we not deserve His judgment every bit as much as they did?  If God broke His promises or did not fulfill His promises to them because they sinned "too much," at what point might God not keep His promises to us??

Psalm 87 speaks of those promises that God made to Zion, to Jerusalem, and to the people of Israel.  The writer declares that God will note each one that was born in Zion and that in the end God will establish Zion above all the other nations.  This is not the only place we read of these things.  Throughout the Old Testament God declares that He will never forget His promises to His servant, David (in fact, we read more about this in Psalm 89).  It is important to understand and believe this truth, because as you come to Psalm 88 you find the "sons of Korah," the writers of these Psalms, in a BAD place, spiritually speaking.

Some people wrongly believe that if a particular emotion and response to circumstances is written down in the Psalms, it is legitimate for us to feel and/or think the same.  If they questioned God, we can, too.  If they were overwhelmed and depressed, we can feel justified in being overwhelmed and depressed.  If they cried out as though God had abandoned them, we can do the same … and God will understand.  Can this really be what God would teach us through including Psalms like this in His Word?  Is it not rather that God is telling us, "Other people have felt this way and I delivered them, so don't go there!!!"

Psalm 88 describes a place where you and I who believe in Jesus Christ NEVER need to visit!  "My soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave" (88:3).  He cries out to the LORD, "the God who saves me," but he doesn't believe God hears him.  Is that true?  What does the Bible teach?  God hears His children when we cry out to Him.  The Psalmist writes, "You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.  Your wrath lies heavily upon me; You have overwhelmed me with all Your waves" (88:6-7).  He goes so far as to say, "I cry to You for help, O LORD; … Why, O LORD, do You reject me and hide Your face from me?" (88:13-14).

Does this sound like the God you know?  If you answered, "Yes" to that question, you don't know Him!  Let me explain.  Any of us can be TEMPTED to feel what the Psalmist is feeling … be we don't have to go there, and we shouldn't go there.  Such thoughts and feelings are a temptation to be dealt with by declaring TRUTH.  God allows us to face trials and suffering and struggles that we do not have the strength to endure on our own, but He is ALWAYS with us and He ALWAYS hears our prayers and He will ALWAYS give us all we need.  That is His promise in Christ.

Paul writes to the Corinthians and says, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But WHEN you ARE tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it!"  (I Corinthians 10:13).  And the writer of Hebrews states, "We do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).

The writer of Psalm 88 wrote these words, he did not believe he could approach God's throne, but we know God has given us access through the blood of Christ and He will never turn us away - EVER!!   Don't go where the Psalmist went.  Don't listen to Satan's lies.  Believe God's truth and trust in Him.  Run to Psalm 89, where the Psalmist begins, "I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations" (89:1).  How can he be so confident?  Because his mind is on GOD rather than his own circumstances.

He says in verses 3-4, "You said, 'I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant,  - I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.'" In Jesus Christ God kept His promise to King David.  He says again in verses 28-29:  "I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail.  I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure."  And in verses 34-36:  "I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.  Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness - and I will not lie to David - that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun."

So do you think God will fail YOU??  Have you believed in Jesus Christ?  Do you know Him as the descendant of David who now reigns on David's throne?  This is exactly what God promised to Mary when the angel told her that she was going to give birth to a son:  "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end" (Luke 1:32-33).  God is either telling the truth or He is lying … and if He is lying we have no hope in Christ.  The Old Testament is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and the New Testament explains that our hope in God's faithfulness is now found through faith in Jesus Christ.

Beginning with verse 27, the writer of Psalm 89 laments that God has rejected him, that He is angry with him and that he is facing shame and ridicule.  He asks, "How long, O LORD?  Will You hide Yourself forever?  How long will Your wrath burn like fire? … Where is Your former great love, which in Your faithfulness You swore to David?"  (89:46,49).  It can SEEM like God is far away and it can SEEM like He has forgotten His promises … but when that happens, it is His very faithfulness that you and I must stand on.  The Psalmist ends with a declaration of his faith:  "Praise be to the LORD forever!  Amen and Amen!!" (89:52).

God knows what is happening in your life.  There are times when our Father in heaven disciplines us (Hebrews 12:7-11), but not every trial is discipline.  There are times when God is "pruning" us (John 15:2) and there are times when God "refines" us (I Peter 1:7).  But ALWAYS God is faithful to us and He never leaves us or forsakes us.  Those who draw near to God through faith in Jesus stand firm on the promises of God and do not waver because He IS faithful to those who call upon Him in the name of Jesus.  Do that today and do not be shaken by circumstances or trials in Your life.  He is still the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David … and His love and faithfulness endure FOREVER!!

"Father, I thank You for Your love to me and for Your mercy and grace in Christ Jesus.  I rest in Your faithfulness and trust in You.  Help me to resist the temptation to doubt, to fear, to worry.  I stand on Your promise to help me escape from that temptation and ask that You help me to testify to others even in the midst of the struggles of life that Jesus is on the throne and the angels are singing, 'Holy! Holy! Holy! is the LORD God Almighty!'  To You I give my thanks and my praise, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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