Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Let the Name of the LORD our God be praised!!"

Day #263:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - September 17th

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 111 - 113 …

God's Word tells me that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).  In the end, everything will work out for my good, so if it looks right now as if something is NOT working out for my good, it must not be the end!!  God is still working in the midst of my circumstances and yours and He has promised to be with those who trust in Him and who acknowledge Him as Lord.  The writers of the Psalms continually point us to this truth because as we live in this world it can SEEM like evil wins, like those who do not know God prosper, and like those who seek the Lord face more trials and struggles than those who don't … so it seems.

The writers of the Psalms felt the same things we feel as we live in the world today.  Yet in their words we find strength to do what they did:  turn to the Lord for strength, wisdom and courage to persevere, to endure, to press on.  "I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly" (111:1).  How important it is to gather often with God's people, knowing that His Spirit unites our hearts and that we are stronger together than we are apart.  "Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them" (111:2).  Setting our minds on God AND on His deeds brings a peace of mind that cannot be found anywhere else.  Then we can say, no matter what men may do, HE is good … ALL the time!!

Part of the reason God is good all the time is His unchangeable character and that character is revealed in His covenant.  The Psalmist writes, "He remembers His covenant forever!" (111:5).  It is a blessing to live in this age when the chosen people of God, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, live in the land God promised to their fathers.  "He has shown his people the power of His works, giving them the lands of other nations" (111:6).  Not only that, God sent His own Son to be born of a woman, of the seed of Abraham, a descendant of King David, from the tribe of Judah, to fulfill His promise to send a Savior.  "He provided redemption for His people; He ordained His covenant forever - holy and awesome is His Name!" (111:9).

Thus, "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; … to HIM belongs eternal praise" (111:10).  Perhaps it would be good for us to write down our statements of faith in words as the Psalmist did.  Surely, we have the same testimony, and MORE!  We can testify about Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, and about the fulfillment of God's covenant in even clearer terms than the Psalmist.  I wonder sometimes, what is holding our tongues?!  If we know these things … if we really KNOW these things in the depths of our hearts, and if we cherish God's works and "ponder" them - think about them … then won't we be constantly praising our God, the LORD, the Creator of the heavens and the earth??

God never promised us that life would be easy, even when we're serving Him.  We tend to think that if we're serving God, He should make things easier; yet, it often seems to work out the other way around. How can that be?  Because He wants to display HIS power IN us and through us.  "Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in His commands" (112:1).  He goes on to declare, "Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.  He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.  His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes" (112:6-8).

What a promise that is!  How assuring to know that God is at work in our lives in ways we will never know and can never imagine.  He holds believers in His hands and His love endures forever!  Meanwhile, "the longings of the wicked will come to nothing" (112:10).  Notice that God is always calling us to live today by faith, pointing to a future where the present struggles are no more.  More and more often I think of the words of the Apostle John in Revelation 21:3-5:  "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.  … He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  Where else do you find such assurance?!

Evil will not win.  The wicked will be overcome and God's kingdom will be established in a new heaven and a new earth.  God is with us now and He will be with us then.  We already HAVE eternal life and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord … NOTHING!!  That's why the words of Psalm 113 are the words of every true believer, every child of God:  "Praise the LORD.  Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.  Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore.  From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised!" (113:1-3).

That is our "occupation," our job, our purpose in this life and in the life to come.  OUR God reigns over all the earth and it is in His Name that we serve and in His Name that we preach and in His Name that we hope!  Putting your faith in Jesus Christ, join with those described in Revelation 12:11:  "They overcame … by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony."  So with the Psalmist "I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly" (111:1).

"Heavenly Father, it is when I set my mind on YOU and Your works that praising You becomes the very breath that I breathe.  Not only are You the only true God, the Creator of all things, but You have called me to Yourself in Jesus and given me Your Spirit so I can come to You, 'Abba, Father.'  How precious are my thoughts of You, O LORD, my God!  I praise You because You are worthy of my praise, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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