Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me … "

Day #333:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - November 26th

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 137 - 139 …

In the whole scheme of things, what difference will your life make?  Does your life really matter?  James writes, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.'  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'  As it is, you boast and brag.  All such boasting is evil.  Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins" (James 4:13-17).  Those are sobering words, and yet they offer direction to those who know the Lord, the one Almighty God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.

You see, God is saying through James that knowing God and doing what He has revealed in His Word to be GOOD in His sight is the ONLY thing that matters.  When he asks, "What is your life?" … and then answers, "You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes," you might think that your life is utterly and totally meaningless.  Here's the truth:  it IS!! … UNLESS you live for the God who gave His Son that you may have life through Him!  Even a Psalm like Psalm 137 points to this truth.  At first glance it's about seeking revenge on the enemy.  Written some time after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and the Babylonian captivity, the writer expresses the importance of loving what God loves and hating what God hates.

Jerusalem was GOD's city!  Sometimes referred to as "Zion," this city had been chosen by God for the location of His temple amid the people whom He had chosen.  The Psalmist is praying for the glory of God to be revealed in His judgment on their enemies.  Some mistakenly believe that we should not pray for God to come against our enemies and His, but Paul writes in Romans 12:9 that we must "hate what is evil and cling to what is good."  Then he says that WE should not take revenge, seeking to live at peace with all people, but to leave room for GOD's wrath, "for it is written, 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord" (Romans 12:18-19).  Evil doesn't get a pass.  The only escape from God's wrath is faith in Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that comes from confessing your sin and trusting in His shed blood.

We who know God's grace praise God with all our hearts for His mercy to us, for we know that we, too, are sinners.  With David, we say, "I will bow down toward Your holy temple and praise Your Name for Your love and Your faithfulness" (138:1-2).  God strengthens those who are His to carry out His purposes on the earth.  "When I called, You answered me; You made me bold and stouthearted" (138:3).  Our desire is that all those around us would praise the LORD, our God.  When this is the desire of your heart, you understand your life and why you're here:  "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life … with Your right hand You save me" (138:7).  Therefore, I know that "the LORD will fulfill His purpose for me … Your love, O LORD, endures forever - do not abandon the works of Your hands" (138:8).

Here's something you and I need to remember every day:  God knows us and our lives are His, to be used for Him!  Jesus said that those who try to save their lives for themselves will lose it, while those who "lose" their lives for Him will find it (Matthew 16:25).  You can only have this perspective on life when you realize that God KNOWS you.  You can't hide, you can't run, you can't pretend, because God knows you!  David goes on in Psalm 139, "O LORD, You have searched me and You know me …" (139:1) … and then he goes on to explain the ways in which God's knowledge of him is exhaustive.  "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain - " (139:6).  In other words, God knows you and me better than we know ourselves.

That's not surprising when you understand who God IS!  You and I can't avoid His presence.  This is not the "presence of God" that believers experience when His Spirit opens our eyes to His love and goodness and faithfulness, but the fact that God sees everything, knows everything, discerns everything.  " … even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You" (139:12).  How can God possibly know so much about you and me?  Because He created us!!  It always goes back to this, doesn't it?  Nothing makes sense until or unless you begin with this fact:  God is your Creator and mine and we exist by His permission and for His purposes.

It is only when you fully grasp this truth that you rejoice in God's presence and give thanks for His grace to YOU!  "All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with you" (139:16-18).  As he thinks about God's providential care over him, David also understands that there is another group of people who do not know God, who do evil in the darkness and who stand opposed to God.  He expresses the deepest of emotions toward them ... the polar opposite of love:  "Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against You.  I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies" (Psalm 139:20-22).

How do we reconcile this with the command of Jesus to "Love your enemies"??  (Matthew 5:44).  Notice that Jesus is talking about our personal actions.  We are not to take revenge ourselves or do harm to our enemies.  But David asks GOD to "take care of them."  He is saying that God's enemies are our enemies, and that is true.  In Romans 12:20, Paul quotes Solomon, from Proverbs 25:21-22:  "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."  Loving God requires hating that which is opposed to Him, but our motives must be pure and right in HIS sight.  Therefore, David ends with a prayer:

"Search ME, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (139:23-24).  Pray that God will help you to see that when you come to Him through faith in Jesus, your life DOES matter ... as you fulfill HIS purpose to glorify Him!  "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).  Know that it is God's desire to use you to make a difference in this world, and He knows how long you have to do that.  Don't waste a day.  Go for it!!

"O Lord, my God, I find my life in You, for apart from You I have no purpose for being, for living!  You ARE my life and I thank You for giving me not only physical life, but also spiritual life in Christ.  Continue Your work in me as I live in Your presence daily and give me boldness and strength in the face of the evil around me, that I may truly glorify YOU, my God, in all that I do, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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