Friday, May 6, 2016

"Knowing where to find your hope!"

Day #128

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 6 - 8 …

Knowing where to find HOPE in this world is crucial to every person who is alive!  More and more people face anxiety and despair every day for one reason: they have no hope!  In spite of what they see and in spite of past experiences, they foolishly expect only “good things” to happen, and when they don’t, or when faced with trials and suffering, they lose what little hope they had.  Others pretend that all is well as they live on the edge of a cliff, waiting for the earth to shift.  Worry, fear and despair plague the human soul as God's wrath continues to be poured out on a world in rebellion against Him (Romans 1:18), and we await His final judgment when Jesus returns.  What a desperate state of heart and mind threatens to overwhelm the soul at any and every moment.  That WOULD be depressing ...

But … there IS hope!  David and the other writers of the Psalms lived in this world and faced the same temptation to give up, to be depressed, to despair, BUT they knew where to find their hope, and as you read their words the Spirit of God offers to you the same hope today.  The writers of the Psalms knew the same God you and I can know today:  the sovereign God who rules over all things.  If you worship a “god” who is NOT sovereign, who is NOT in control over the affairs of men, then what good does it do to pray, to believe, to attempt to live life with any true purpose.  Hopes and dreams may fail.  Everything is ultimately left to chance.  But this is not the God of the Psalms!!

In the Psalms we find honest thought and emotion, and we find certain truth and faith and hope.  There is no pretending in the Psalms.  Everything is laid bare for all to see, to hear and to experience.  Interestingly, both Psalm 6 and Psalm 7 speak of God's wrath.  Psalm 6 begins with the prayer:  "O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.  Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony" (6:1-2).  And in Psalm 7, verse 11, David writes, "God is a righteous Judge, a God who expresses His wrath every day."  This is the God whom many deny even exists.  Yet, it is in the honest awareness of His just anger and wrath against sin that you and I discover something more of God.

David repeatedly asks for God's deliverance.  Why?  Because he knows he has nowhere else to turn.  But also notice why he calls on the very God who is angry at our sin and rebellion to deliver him:  "Save me because of your unfailing love" (6:4).  David knew of God’s judgment AND of God's love through the testimony of the prophets, by the testimony of God's Spirit and by the testimony of God's promise of forgiveness.  David knew himself and David knew his God.  He didn't presume upon God, but rested in God's mercy … on God's willingness to withhold His judgment and to show His grace.

Not everyone knows these things; in fact, very few ever come to this understanding because it is the gift of God to those whom He chooses. There is a stark contrast between those who know God and those who don’t.  David can say, “The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer” (6:9).  But then he says, "All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed" (6:10).  David writes these songs as one who knows the love and mercy of God.  He declares, "I take refuge in You; save and deliver me …" (7:1).  Where do YOU find refuge?  Where do you go to rest safely in peace?  Can you say, "My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart" (7:10).  Not one of us is perfect in all our ways, but those whose hearts desire to praise God and to make Him known … who "give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness" (7:17), will experience His protection and His peace.

Even though he was king in Israel, David understood God’s justice better than most.  “Let the assembled peoples gather around You.  Rule over them from on high; let the LORD judge the peoples.  Judge ME, O LORD, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity” (7:7-8).  Humility is always necessary in approaching God.  In one breath, as it were, David could write, “My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart” (7:10), and then declare, “God is a righteous Judge, a God who expresses His wrath every day” (7:11).  So many people try to ignore God, even though they witness the clear evidence of His wrath and judgment around them daily.  Yet, those who know God’s grace and mercy can say with David, “I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High” (7:17).  What a privilege to know God through His Word and the testimony of His Spirit within you!!

It is in knowing God, then, and trusting in Him, that our hope is found. That fact should move you to cry out as David does in Psalm 8:  "O LORD, OUR Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"  (8:1,9).  It would be easy to feel like an insignificant speck in an infinite universe - especially today when modern technology shows us the far reaches of God's creation (at least, so we think!).  But David understands God's purpose in creating mankind in His own image:  that we might know and love God, our Creator, and live to serve and praise Him forever.  “You have set your glory above the heavens.  From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise!” (8:1-2).

In the variation and complexity and grandeur of His creation God has displayed Himself for all to see.  “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).  David looks at God’s creation and responds, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” (8:4).  The answer:  “YOU made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You made him ruler over the works of your hands” (8:5-6).  Therefore, WE have hope!!

May you have this hope today and every day as you sing God's praise and as you give thanks to Him for His justice and mercy, and for His grace in Christ Jesus, His Son and our Savior and Lord!

"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!  Help me today to find my hope in You and trust that You WILL deliver me as I live to praise You and to serve You, because of Your unfailing love toward me.   In Jesus' name, Amen."

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