Devotionals

Week 31 – Ruth 3:16

Ruth 3:16, “And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her.”

“Who are thou,” was the first question that Naomi asked after Ruth’s visit to Boaz in the threshing floor.  Obviously Naomi knew who Ruth was.  She was the faithful, Moabite widow to Naomi’s son.  This was the committed, selfless woman who left her homeland to abide with her widowed mother-in-law who had also lost her children.  She was the virtuous, hard-working, obedient convert to the true and living God.  Naomi knew who Ruth was.  Naomi’s question was one of hopeful anticipation.

In verse one, Naomi shows her care for this dear young lady who had shown great kindness toward by returning to Judah from Moab.  Naomi was seeking the well-being of Ruth and wanted her to have a godly husband.  The commands that Naomi gave to Ruth were in response to the favour that Boaz had shown to Ruth in the fields.  Knowing that Boaz was a near kinsman, that he had already displayed his admiration for and kindness toward Ruth, and that he could be her kinsman redeemer, Naomi encourages Ruth to present herself to Boaz as his potential wife, (Ruth 3:2-4).

When Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions, (Ruth 3:5-8), lying down at the feet of Boaz, he also asked the question, “Who art thou?”  Boaz’s question was, in fact, a question of confusion.  “Who are you?!  Why are you lying at my feet?!”  Ruth responded, “I am Ruth thine handmaid…a near kinsman.”  Essentially, she said, “I am Ruth, your servant, but also your relative whom you can redeem.  And by lying at your feet, I am asking you to consider redeeming me, as your relative, to be your wife.”  She had only become Boaz’ relative by her first marriage to her now deceased husband.  He was akin to Boaz.  Yet because Ruth had left her land and remained with Naomi, she had, by Jewish standards, remained in the family of Naomi and Boaz.  Therefore, she could be redeemed by him if he chose to do so.  Boaz was taken by Ruth’s offer and petition because he was an aged man.  She had not sought for a young man, either rich or poor; she had sought him.  Boaz determined that first thing in the morning, he would do all he could do redeem her.

It is upon Ruth’s return back to Naomi that our text is taken.  Naomi, having sent Ruth the handmaid and kinsman of Boaz, wanted to know see if the LORD had shown favour, “that it might be well with [Ruth].”  Who was Ruth now?  Still a handmaid and kinsman?  In fact, more description is given.  Ruth was the handmaid and kinsman of Boaz, as well as, the daughter of Naomi.  When Ruth told her of the events of the night, Naomi knew that Boaz would have the matter resolved as soon as he could.

Drawing our attention to the question, “Who art thou,” let me ask you that question: “Who art thou?”  The responses we give may be as numerous as the people asked.  When asked by Boaz, Ruth could have said, “I am nothing more than a poor, widowed, Moabite,” but she did not.  She appealed to better truth.  “I am your handmaid (servant) and your kinsman.”  She was not dwelling on her past; she was resting in her present standing.  When Naomi asked, “Who art thou,” Ruth could have said, “I had hoped to be the wife of Boaz, but there is another kinsman redeemer, who I do not know, and I have little hope that it will be well with me after all.”  She did not.  She simply told Naomi the truth and rested in the promise of Boaz to do all he could to make her his wife.

“Who art thou?”  Are you dwelling in the past?  Or, are you resting in your present standing in Christ?  Do you tend to see only the heartache and suffering that has marked your past, or do you see that God is favourable to you and desires to be in close relationship and fellowship with you?  Of course, we cannot be in this relationship or fellowship without first having been saved.  You may be viewing your life and would answer the question, “I am a hopeless sinner with a sorted past.”  Or you could say, “I am a sinner who is appealing to the mercy and grace of God for salvation.”  God has done all that can be done to make you His own: He only waits for you to call upon Him for salvation.

You may be a Believer who would answer the question, “Who art thou,” by saying, “I am a Christian who has failed so many times and see no hope of being used by God.”  Or you could say, “I am the servant of God.  I am His child and He loves me.  He knows that I am but flesh, but He is rich in grace and mercy.  He can use me because I am one of His own.”

Brethren, do not dwell on your past; rest in your present standing as a child of God and lay hold of all of the promises that come with that high privilege.

Week 30 – 2 Corinthians 11:30

2 Corinthians 11:30, “If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”

There were many problems in the Corinthian church and amongst those problems were those who were glorying, or boasting, in their heritage and accomplishments, (2 Corinthians 11:18-21).  Boasting is such a typical characteristic of mankind.  It was used to prove the credentials or authority of those who would have the Corinthian church forsake the leadership of Paul for their own.

Yet, Paul’s boasting was entirely different.  It was not that he could not boast in heritage and accomplishments, (2 Corinthians 11:22-23; Philippians 3:4-6).  This was not the source of Paul’s boasting; his boasting was in infirmities.  “If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”  He picks up this idea in 2 Corinthians 12:5, 9.  “Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities, (9) “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

What do we boast about?  The average person would prefer to make themselves look as good as possible and speak of their accomplishments in order to make others think more highly of them.  Most do not view a description of their apparent failures, their troubles, and their broken down bodies as the source of great boasting.  There are those who take pleasure in describing their problems in order to gain sympathy.  This is not the same as what Paul was doing.  He was rejoicing in his infirmities and hardships.  As we read through 2 Corinthians 11:23-33, we read of trouble, pain, suffering, persecution, and rejection.  That does not make someone look good!  It makes us breathe a sigh of relief that it is not us going through all of that!

The Spirit of God is teaching us a very important lesson through our text.  Our boasting, the glorying that we do, must not be in our own greatness, but in the opportunities we are given by God.  Some of these opportunities may be glorious indeed.  But the Lord may give us opportunities to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ, and He wants us to glory in those with the same rejoicing as those things that seem more grand.  The Lord would not have us to go looking for trouble; but as we live for Christ trouble will assuredly come our way!  “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”  (2 Timothy 3:12).  We can and should glory in both.  When Peter and John had been beaten for preaching Christ, they rejoiced “…that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”  (Acts 5:41).

Suffering is not an indication that we are out of the will and favour of God.  It is not always to be counted as evil to experience suffering.  May God help us to glory in our infirmities which come because of our service for Christ.

Week 29 – Mark 12:18-24

Mark 12:18-24, “Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third like-wise. And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?”

The Sadducees were a group of religious people in Jesus’ day that did not believe in a resurrection. Furthermore, they only believed what they could find written in the books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy).

In this passage of Scripture, they have come to Jesus to ask a question. But the question they wanted to ask was not because they were seeking an answer; it was because they wanted to try and discredit the Lord Jesus. If they could show that He was in conflict with what Moses had written, then they would have proven that Jesus was not the Messiah, as He had claimed, for the Messiah would be in agreement with the Word of God.

You can imagine how their countenance must have fallen when the Lord answered them the way He did. In essence He said, “Are not the reasons that you are wrong on this subject because you do not know what the Bible says and because you do not know how powerful God is?” Religious people do not like to be told they do not know what the Bible says! Especially if they pride themselves on knowing the Bible very well. The critical mistake that these men made was asking a question that was founded on a wrong belief.

They were guilty of viewing the Bible through the spectacles of what they believed rather than viewing what they believed through the spectacles of what the Bible said. They truly did not know the Scriptures and, because of that, they did not know the power of God. They had erred!

We often do the same thing to the Lord. We have all been guilty of approaching the Bible and Biblical teaching with our preconceived ideas, our personal desires, and our presumptuous notions. We satisfy our own conscience by “asking” the Lord to show us differently, but we are not ready to receive the truth because we have approached Him with the assumption that we are already correct. In the same way these Sadducees missed the truth of the resurrection in one of Moses’ books, so we, too, often miss truths that are in God’s Word and available to one who will humble themselves before the Lord. There are multitudes of reasons why we do this, but in the end it is always the same root cause: PRIDE. Let’s humble ourselves before God and His Word and allow Him to speak truth to us at all times, even when we believe we are correct. Do not err in your life. We might all be surprised just where we have erred and missed out on the power of God!

Week 28 – Micah 6:1-8

Micah 6:1-8, “Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice. Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD’S controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel. O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gil-gal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD. Wherewith shall I come be-fore the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thou-sands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Every time I read these verses I have a sense of conviction in my heart. While the passage is written to Israel, the application to us is difficult to miss.

Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. He saw the steady degeneration of both kingdoms and was, as the other prophets, sent to be a voice that would call them to repentance and obedience to the Lord. The year of Micah’s prophecy would be approximately 750 B.C. It would not be long before the Northern Kingdom would be taken into captivity and dispersed by the Assyrians. God would spare the Southern Kingdom of Judah for another season, but ultimately they, too, would meet the fruit of their sin and rebellion.

As I read this passage, I see a couple of important points. Firstly, notice the Lord speaking with what almost appears to be consternation. “What have I done…wherein have I wearied thee?” Had the Lord been too hard on Israel? Had He expected too much? Had He mistreated them? The answer is, “No.” In fact, just the opposite was true. God had “brought [them] up out of…Egypt,…redeemed [them],” and given them Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to lead them. Furthermore, when Balak had called for Balaam to curse Israel, the Lord had put a blessing I Balaam’s mouth. He re-minds them of this so that they would “know the righteousness of the LORD.” Yet, in light of this and the many other blessings from God, the people of Israel still turned their back on Him, worshipped idols, and would not obey His Word!

Secondly, notice that the Lord was not looking for a sacrifice from the people in order to repair their relationship with Him, (vs. 6-7). How could there be enough sacrifices to cover the multitude of sins? What did the LORD want? He had already shown them. What He wanted was for man to “do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with [his] God.” He wanted their fellowship which would be displayed by their obedience. The verse is, again, as though the Lord is beside Himself in asking, “Have I really asked that much of you? Is it not enough that I have saved you, made you my people, and desired your fellowship?”

So it is with us. God has saved us from sin and hell through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He has made us His Sons, and desires our daily fellowship and obedience to His Word. Has He really asked that much of us?

No matter how much I grow in my Christian life, I still realise that I could be so much more faithful to Him. He is SO faithful. We are, many times, SO unfaithful. Are we walking humbly with our God?  Do we put Him before everything else in our lives?  Do we excuse sin or disobedience?

May God help us to be faithful to Him!

Week 27 – 2 Chronicles 26:16

2 Chronicles 26:16, “But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.”

What followed for Uzziah was a time of disobedience, rebellion, and ultimately failure before the Lord. A man whose life had been marked by honouring and pleasing God took a sharp turn in the wrong direction and he made a mistake that affected him the rest of his life. When we finish reading this passage of Scripture, we learn that God struck Uzziah with leprosy and he finished his reign as king in a leper colony. What a disappointing and sad way to finish life!

When we read a verse like this, we can see the context of the events and understand why the Lord gave us this information. He is giving us a solemn warning concerning our hearts when we become strong. Man-kind’s natural tendency is to have a heart that is lifted up when we are strong. A heart that is lifted up has its beginnings in self-sufficiency and pride. The end of a heart that is lifted up is destruction. The Bible records this happening time and time again. Even Satan’s fall as the covering Cherub was preceded by a heart that was lifted up. As the Bible describes the fall of Satan, it says, “Thine heart was lifted up…” (Ezekiel 28:17). Was Lucifer (Satan’s name before his fall) strong be-fore his heart was lifted up? Absolutely. He was the most privileged Cherub in heaven, occupying a place of authority and power.

Throughout the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, we read of king after king who failed the Lord in their hearts and it usually followed a time when they were strong or when they did not guard their hearts before the Lord.

It is common for us to desire to be strong. Most people do not enjoy being “weak.” Weakness is counted as a thing to be avoided by most of us. No one enjoys being weak. The reasons for avoiding weakness are varied, but the fundamental issues remain the same. Self-reliance, pride, arrogance, and the such like are at the core.

The Holy Spirit addressed this issue of strength and weakness in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, in which the Lord told Paul that His strength was made perfect in Paul’s weakness. Paul, like most of us, desired the thing

that had been causing him to feel weak to be re-moved. But the Lord knew better. God knew that it was in strength that some of His best servants failed. So the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, left Paul’s weakness in order to remain Paul’s source of strength.

I do not know what it is that causes you to feel weak. Some of you may be battling some-thing very serious and difficult in your lives. What I do know is that the Lord wants to be your strength. Do not let it be said in your life, “but when he was strong,” and be-come like so many of God’s choice servants who failed. Relying on your own personal strength as you serve the Lord will be the very thing that turns your heart and actions against the Lord. We need Christ to be our strength! (Phil. 4:13).

Week 26 – Psalm 126:1-4

Psalm 126:1-4 <<A Song of degrees.>> (1) When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. (2) Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. (3) The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. (4) Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.

In verse one, the Psalmist talks of the Lord’s past deliverance as being like a dream. The turning of the captivity was so unbelievable that they could only respond with laughter, singing, and praise, (vs. 2-3). Then, in a statement that reveals their absolute dependence upon the Lord, they ask Him to deliver them (turn their captivity) again.

The turning of Zion’s captivity is a type of the Believer being delivered from the captivating power of sin. When the Lord delivers us from these sins, our response should be one of laughter, singing, and praise before the lost. Further-more, like Israel, we should show our dependence on the Lord by seeking His continuing deliverance in our lives.

Week 25 – Ephesians 6:10-20

Ephesians 6:10-20, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.    Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Spiritual warfare, as it is usually called, is a reality for every Believer.  While we may not see it with our eyes, we can certainly see the effects of it when looking closely at our day-to-day activities and ministry.

A pitfall that some Christians fall into is to forget about the spiritual battle that is being fought because they do not see it with their physical eyes.  Because it does not seem to outwardly influence their lives, they do not give it a thought as they go through their day.  But they forget that the devil is subtil.  The Bible speaks of “the wiles of the devil” in our text.  Satan and his minions do not always work openly and outwardly, but rather prefer to perform their evil tasks in such a way so as to not draw attention to themselves.

Other Christians choose to ignore spiritual warfare, perhaps hoping that if they pretend it does not exist they will not need to get involved with something that, quite frankly, frightens them due to the unfamiliar nature of this warfare.

Yet the Word of God is clear as the Spirit through Paul tells us that, “we wrestle…against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Every Believer is wrestling with these forces of evil.  Not knowing it or realising it does not change the fact that we wrestle against the Satanic powers that are devoted to the stealing of God’s glory and the destruction of God’s people.  There is not an ounce of double-mindedness on their part: they are in a war and their intention is to win!  The first thing that a Christian must do is to accept that he is involved in this warfare.  Then, he must prepare himself for the warfare.  Finally, he must engage himself in the warfare.

In accepting that one is involved in the spiritual warfare, it is as simple as believing what God has said in this matter.  Our text is plain and outside of having a mind to spiritualise the passage, we can plainly see that each and every Believer is involved in spiritual warfare.

Preparing ourselves for the warfare, much like accepting it, is a matter of believing God’s Word and putting to practice the actions we are commanded to take.  Paul tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”  We cannot stand against Satan’s forces in our own strength or power.  He will crush us in an instant.  We must humble ourselves and trust only in the Lord’s strength and power if we are be prepared for this warfare.  Further, it is God’s armour that we must put on in order to stand, (vs. 11).  We see in these verses that preparation for battle involves a great deal of action.  Indeed, that is the nature of preparation: training, planning, and readiness.  Notice the commands that demand action: Put on – vs. 11, Take – vs. 13, Stand – vs. 14, Girt – vs. 14, Having on – vs. 14, Taking – vs. 16, Take – vs. 17, Praying – vs. 18, and Watching – vs. 18.

Engaging in warfare is a matter of using the equipment we have and applying the preparations we have made.  Perhaps this is where most fail.  We are given, I believe, two weapons in our text: 1) The Word of God which is the Sword of the Spirit and 2) Prayer.  Prayer is a weapon that Paul requests that others use for both their work, the work of other saints, and on his behalf in his work.  For Paul’s part, it is a weapon that gives him boldness in declaring the Gospel.  But a question needs to be asked: How many people actually use their weapons?  It is not that they do not know HOW to use them, but rather, DO they use them.  R.A. Matthews said this, “Unused weapons do not inflict casualties on the enemy, nor win wars.”  Consider this remarkable illustration:

On Omaha Beachhead, June 6, 1944, during WWII and the invasion at Normandy, “Only five infantry companies were tactically effective.  In these companies one-fifth of the men fired their weapons during the day-long advance from the water’s edge to the first row of villages – a total of not more than 450 men firing consistently.” – S. L. A. Marshall

On another front in the same battle Marshall writes:

“The best showing that could be made by the most spirited and aggressive companies was that one man in four had made some use of his fire power.” 

Only 25% of the men fired their weapons during that awful, bloody battle.  All of the men knew how to use their weapons, but only a few actually put their weapons to use.  Sadly, this is most likely a truth that applies to the Church of God.  Every Christian knows they have prayer at their disposal, but how many actually engage the enemy with their weapon?  Do we tend to go into the fight with our own strength instead of, after preparation, entering the fight with our weapon “firing?”

 

Brethren!, we must use the weapons our God has given us.  It is not sufficient to know we have access to Prayer; we must engage the great enemy of our God and use it every day.  The war is real, the enemy is ruthless, and the stakes are eternal.  Engage the forces of evil in Prayer and “withstand in the evil day!”

Week 24 – Luke 1:17

Luke 1:17, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

As the angel told Zacharias about the son that would be born to his wife Elisabeth, there must have been a mixture of excitement and disbelief regarding the work that lay ahead for his son.  The angel told Zacharias of the role that his son, John, would play as the forerunner of Christ, as prophesied in the Old Testament.  The summary of John’s work is given at the end of our text: “To make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

We often use the terms “ready” and “prepared” interchangeably.  Yet, the definitions of the terms and the use of them here in the Bible give them a bit of a different meaning and help us to glean some wonderful Truth.  “Ready” is defined, in part, as to furnish with what is necessary.  “Prepared” is to be understood as fitted for a particular purpose.  John was going to furnish the people of Israel with what was necessary for them to be fitted for the Lord’s purpose.

To illustrate, one might say that in order to make a cake, a person would need to make ready the ingredients in order to prepare the cake.  A cake cannot be baked without first having the necessary ingredients.  Once the items that are required to make the cake are collected, then it can be prepared for eating.  So, too, Israel needed some necessary ingredients before they could be prepared for the Lord’s intended purpose.

When John finally began his short ministry, he did four things to make Israel ready and prepared.  Firstly, John called the nation to repentance, (Matthew 3:1-2).  Secondly, he compelled them to repentance by announcing the coming of Christ, (Matthew 3:3).  Thirdly, John instructed the people in righteous living, (Matthew 3:7-12).  And lastly, he pointed the people to Christ, (Matthew 3:11-12).  The first three of these ingredients were the readying of the people, while the last ingredient was the preparation of the people.  When Jesus began His ministry just six months after John had started his, John’s desire was that Jesus increase and he decrease, (John 3:30).

We, too, need to be made ready and prepared for our service for the Lord.  While the individual sins and hindrances may vary from person to person, each of us needs to repent of those things that keep us from righteous living.  No effort will be made to make a list; rather we leave the probing, searching, and convicting to the Spirit of God.  From what do you need to repent today?  What is it that is keeping you from being ready and prepared for God’s use?  And if we need specific reason to repent, then we must be reminded of the coming of the Lord Jesus who will both reward and judge His people.  Furthermore, repentance is of no value if it is not followed by righteous living: otherwise it is simply the sorrow of the world that worketh death, (2 Corinthians 7:10).  And finally, it is with the desire of Christ increasing and self-decreasing that we strive against sin.

The question is, then, are we ready and prepared for the work and the blessings that the Lord has for us.  Are we a people prepared for the Lord?  May God grant it by His grace to be so.

Week 23 – Psalm 84:1-12

Psalm 84:1-12, “<<To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.>> How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!  My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.   They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.  O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.  For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”

As the Psalm writer wrote regarding the tabernacles of the LORD, he expressed his great love, admiration, and devotion to the sacred place where the presence of God resided.  It was the LORD that caused the writer to have the love he did for the tabernacles of the LORD and his love for the God was the very thing that fuelled his love for God’s house.

 

In this Psalm, written to be sung by the sons of Korah, the penmen spoke of the amiableness of God’s tabernacles that caused his entire being to desire them and the God that dwelt there.  He said that his “soul longeth, yea even fainteth,” for God’s courts and his “heart and…his flesh crieth out for the living God.”  In other words, he saw the LORD’s house as worthy of love and his soul earnestly desired, even failed in strength, that he might be there.  His heart and his flesh had an insatiable desire for God.  He was completely consumed with the desire to be near His God!

In verse three he speaks of the good fortune of the birds to have a place in the house of God.  As he speaks of the sparrows, we can apply this to the lowly.  The sparrow has little value in the eyes of man, even though God’s eye is upon them (Matthew 10:29).  When he speaks of the swallow, we can apply this to the wild.  The swallow is known for its swiftness, extended periods of flight, and love for freedom of flight.  Yet, there is the swallow, making its nest under the altars of God.

Those who dwell in the house of the LORD are blessed, (vs. 4)!  Those who find their strength in the LORD are blessed, (vs. 5)!  Those who trust in the LORD are blessed, (vs. 12)!

Coming back to the main topic of the Psalm, the writer said “a day in [the LORD’s] courts is better than a thousand” days.  Again, “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”  One might say, “Who would want to dwell in the tents of wickedness?”  We must remember that at times the tents of wickedness can be financially prosperous tents.  They can be prestigious tents.  The tents of wickedness can be alluring to the flesh, especially if one is discontented with the place they are dwelling or does not see the value of the place they reside.

Therein lays the great truth of this Psalm.  The title of the Psalm tells us that it was written for the sons of Korah.  The Korahites “were over the work of the service, keepers of the gates of the tabernacle: and their fathers, being over the host of the LORD, were keepers of the entry.”  (1 Chronicles 9:19).  They were doorkeepers in the house of God!  The Psalm is written to those who may look at their position as “simple” doorkeepers in the house of God as a menial, insignificant place of service.  It was intended to help them see and sing about the great privilege they had to be dwellers in the courts of the LORD.  They were blessed, indeed!

In whatever place the LORD has set us in His service, it is always good to remember that it is a privileged, blessed place.  In our humanity, and with discontented eyes, we can often view our place as menial or insignificant.  Many a Christian has looked to another place of service, another position, a different title, or another role as something better than their current position, title, role, or service.  It is not!  The place where God has placed us is the most blessed place we can be!  He has specifically designed us for the very purpose and has designed the purpose for the person.

May we all sing as the sons of Korah, “Lord, a day in the place you have placed me is better than a thousand days in another place.  I would rather be in the place of service you have given me, than to be in a wicked place of prestige and human prosperity.”

Week 22 – 1 Corinthians 8:13

1 Corinthians 8:13, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”

As Christians, we have a great liberty in Christ.  We are not under the demands of the Law in regards to our salvation, security, or sanctification.  That is not to say that the Law was unrighteous or imperfect, (Romans 7:12), but that Christ has liberated us from the works of the Law for our day-by-day existence.  However, liberty has its limits!  Liberty is freedom from bondage, not freedom from restraint and rule.  This is the gist of the eighth chapter of first Corinthians.

As we grow and mature in Christ, our perceptions and eventually our practices can change as we come to understand on more practical levels the Truths of God’s Word.  We gain knowledge in matters that help us to better grasp the great liberty we have been given in our salvation, but we must be cautious with knowledge that we do not forsake charity, (1 Corinthians 8:1).  Our maturity in Christ must never become self-serving or prideful.  Those traits will cause a great deal of damage to the Body of Christ that simply is not necessary.  Mature Christians seek to edify other Christians, even at the expense of things in which they have liberty.

It is with these types of thoughts in mind that Paul wrote our text.  He understood that a Believer could eat food that had been sacrificed to idols because, in giving thanks to God, it would be sanctified by God to the Believer.  The idols were dead and lifeless and the fact that someone had dedicated that food to a piece of stone or wood was not going to affect the spiritual life of the Christian.  Nevertheless, not every Christian had that understanding.  Therefore, Paul’s practice was to not eat food that may cause another Believer to be offended and stumble in his Christian life than to take advantage of his liberty in spite of others.

What a tremendous principle for our Christian lives.  Our primary purpose is to bring glory and pleasure to our God.  He is first and foremost in all things.  Following that, we must purpose as Believers to edify, that is to say, build up other Believers.  This glorifies God!  While we can live our lives free from the bondage of sin and the Law, we must stay within the boundaries of holiness and edification.  Certain practices and liberties that we have in Christ are not yet understood by other Christians who dwell around us and are daily influenced by the way we live our lives.  It may be that we need to give up something that is perfectly within the boundary of liberty, but steps over the boundary of edification.

When is the last time you examined your life to see if you have caused a brother to offend?  Are we living our Christianity for our sake only, or for the sake of other Christians?  Can we with Paul say, “If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend?”