Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Let him who boasts boast about this … "

Day #347:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - December 10th

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 143 - 145 …

I realize we are in the Psalms today, but as I read these Psalms of David the words of the LORD written by the prophet Jeremiah come to mind:

"'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this:  that he understands and knows me; that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD."   - Jeremiah 9:23-24

David knew his God!  Perhaps as much as any man who has ever lived, David had an intimate relationship with God that sustained him throughout his life and enabled him to serve God with zeal until his death.  As you read the Psalms David wrote, you hear his constant thoughts about God … Who He is, His character, how He acts, etc.  David knew His God, and you and I can know Him, too.  We live in this world, as David did, and we are human, as David was.  What David knew and what David experienced, WE can know and experience … and even MORE, because the King of whom David sometimes spoke has come and we know Him.  His name is JESUS!  And He came to reveal the Father that we might know our God, love Him and serve Him all our days, as David did.

Psalm 143 records another time in David's life when he felt tempted to give in or to give up.  "My spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed" (143:4).  Too often you and I seem to think that we are the first ones or the only ones to feel that way.  We may even feel guilty about expressing such emotions.  But here is David, the King of Israel, the "man after God's own heart," honestly expressing that he is about "at the end of his rope!"  What does he do?  To whom does he turn?  To the LORD, his God!  Why?

"… in Your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief …" (143:1).  David knew God.  He confesses, " … no one living is righteous before You" (143:2), but God IS righteous!  This is the God David writes about in Psalm 144 when he says, "Praise be to the LORD my Rock … He is my loving God and my fortress, my shield, in whom I take refuge" (144:1-2).  David knew his God!  In his times of trial he knows where to set his mind:  "I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done" (143:5).  What a beautiful and important example for you and me to follow!  One of the best things to do when feeling overwhelmed or anxious is to set your mind on God and to remember what He has already done.

Then, draw near to God, as David did.  He prays, "Do not hide Your face from me … Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You" (143:8).  KNOWING God loves you transforms fear and anxiety to faith and hope.  WE know that God has given His Son to demonstrate His love to us and Jesus has conquered the power of sin to enslave us by giving us His Spirit and His Word, the "sword of the Spirit."  Like David, you and I should pray, "Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground" (143:10).

Knowing God makes it clear that WE exist for HIM … not the other way around!!  "For YOUR name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life … for I am Your servant"  (143:11-12).  Isn't this the way you want to live?  Isn't this the way you NEED to live in order to praise the LORD, your God?  God has given you and me breath so that we could praise Him, acknowledge Him as God and serve Him with all the wisdom and strength He gives.  "O LORD, what is man that You care for him, the son of man that You think of him?  Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow" (144:3-4).  To know the one true God is the only reason to be alive!  With David we testify, "Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!" (144:15).

In praising God there is joy that cannot be found anywhere else in this world.  "Praise" is an eternal action produced by the Holy Spirit in response to the knowledge of God, our Creator and our Redeemer, our Savior and our Lord.  David understood the main reason believers have to praise God:  simply for Who He IS!!!  "Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom" (145:3).  It is so important to pass on the knowledge of God to the next generations.  David declares, "One generation will commend Your works to another …  They will tell … They will speak … They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness" (145:4-7).  You have to KNOW God before you will praise God.

Too many people today have religion but they don't KNOW God!  In explaining Who God is and what He does from His Word, I have had people say to me, "I can't believe in a God who would send people to hell."  But wait!  God doesn't "send" anyone to hell.  To Ezekiel God says, "'Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?' declares the Sovereign LORD.  'Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?'" (Ezekiel 18:23).  God calls sinners to repentance.  We have all sinned.  As David says, "No one living is righteous before You" (143:2).  God is just and it would be perfectly right for God to judge everyone with eternal death.

BUT, "The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made" (145:8-9).  The entire Bible reveals God's plan of salvation and His compassion and mercy in calling some out of the darkness to Himself through His promises and finally through Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, the Savior of all who believe in Him.  God doesn't "owe" salvation, forgiveness, life or anything else to anyone … not to you and not to me.  Yet, He calls some to be His children, to be His sheep, to KNOW Him, to enter into relationship with Him, and to live with Him - forever!!  This is the God the Bible reveals; this is the God David knew and this is the God we can know today.

We who have come to know Him by His grace to us are responsible to do what David did:  to tell others.  "All You have made will praise You, O LORD; Your saints (holy ones) will extol You.  They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your might, so that all men may know of Your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom.  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures through all generations" (145:10-13).  David knew God.  Do YOU know Him?  Have you called out to Him as David did?  Have you heard His call to you?

"The LORD is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made.  The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth" (145:17-18).  Therein lies the problem, however … apart from being born again by His Spirit and receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord, millions never call on Him in truth.  JESUS is the TRUTH and only by confessing Him as Lord can anyone know God as "Abba, Father."  Grace and truth meet together in Christ and apart from Him there is nothing to boast about, nothing to glory in.  But we who by His grace KNOW Him have a task to perform that no one else can do:  "My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.  Let every creature praise His holy Name forever and ever!" (145:21).

You might think you could never know God this way or that God would never call YOU.  But there was another man who knew God: the Apostle Paul.  God revealed Himself to Paul and humbled him, moving him to believe in Jesus and calling him to tell others.  So Paul wrote to the Corinthians:  "Think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that NO ONE may boast before Him" (I Corinthians 1:26-29).

Do you get that??  Do you think you still don't "qualify?"  There is ONE way to know God and it leads to ONE thing to boast about:  "It is because of HIM that you are in Christ Jesus, Who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written, 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'" (I Corinthians 1:30-31).  Let your boasting be in Christ Jesus as you come to God by faith, rejoicing in His love, compassion and mercy, and then live to praise His Name!!  Yes, "My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD!"

"O Lord, my God, I praise You …  for You are worthy of praise!  From everlasting to everlasting, You alone are God!  I sing to You and rejoice that You have made Yourself known to me, of all the people on the face of the earth.  You chose me to be YOURS, and I thank You daily for sending Jesus to bear the penalty for my sin and giving me His Spirit to open my mind and my heart to receive Your TRUTH!!  I call upon You, O Lord, my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliver!  And in YOU, my God, I will boast … in Jesus' name, Amen"

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