Psalm 50:9-11 – The Earth is the Lord’s

Psalm 50:9-11
9
 I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.

-We may have moved past the Old Testament system of sacrifices and offerings, but there is a truth here that is still very relevant to us.  Many try to “work” their way into Heaven and do good deeds that they hope will outweigh the bad.  A fundamental problem with works-based salvation is that we are attempting to give something to the Lord when the Lord already owns everything.  Just as He reminds the Hebrew here in Psalm 50, the cattle that they would sacrifice to Him already belong to Him.  With us, our tithes and offerings already belong to Him.  When we “do good deeds”, we use arms and legs that belong to Him.  If we could find something that didn’t already belong to the Lord, we might have room to argue that we are truly giving something to Him; but as it stands we are trying to use the Lord’s possessions to pay off a sin debt owed to the Lord.  Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Proverbs 2:3-5 – Hidden Treasures

Proverbs 2:3-5
3
 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
 
-If you knew you had a pile of gold buried in your backyard, how hard would you dig to find it?  Would you just shuffle some grass and dirt around with your feet and then call it a day?  Most of us wouldn’t.  Most of us would spend days and nights digging until we found the treasure.  God promises us that His Word is filled with treasures of eternal value and yet many of us at most just shuffle the surface around and then call it a day.  How can we expect God to honor that level of “devotion”?  God is looking for those who will go after the knowledge contained in His Word with the same level of diligence and enthusiasm that we would attack that gold mine in our back yard.  The only difference is you can dig and dig in your yard and probably won’t find anything, but if you dig and dig in God’s Word, you’ll find more than you ever dreamed of.

Hebrews 1:13-14 – Heirs of Salvation

Hebrews 1:13-14
13 
But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

An heir is defined as “a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another upon that person’s death.”  Such a claim can only be enforced in the presence of a legal document like a will and testament.  Jesus provided that legal basis as He shared in Matthew 26:28 “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  In today’s verse, the Bible calls us “heirs of salvation”, and this brings to light one of the most important aspects of salvation.  Christ has already died for the sins of mankind and that means our inheritance has already been legally transferred.  Salvation is not something that we are hoping to get at the end of life’s journey; it’s what we get immediately upon the profession of faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross.  “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

2 Corinthians 6:18 – Children of the Father

2 Corinthians 6:18
18
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Romans 12:2
2
 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

-In almost all cases, children will bear the image of their parents.  There are certain traits passed down genetically that give families an overarching resemblance.  For example, most of the men in my family have the same nose- for better or worse.  It is also important to note that children often share the personality traits of their parents.  Generous parents will typically have generous children; parents with prejudice will in many cases raise children with similar prejudices.  What is a Christian other than a Child of God?  It is important that those of us who claim to be His children bear a resemblance to Him.  Christians should never be mistaken for the world and Christians should never act or look like the world.  Whether it is a matter of looks, dress, or behavior, Christ-like is the standard.

Genesis 7:21-22 – No Pleasure in Judgment

Genesis 7:21-22
21
 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:
22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

Imagine the solemnity in the Lord’s voice as He inspires the words in verse 22.  Almost the entire human race has just died, and this is their epitaph. The Lord is reminding us that it was He Himself who breathed life into each of them (Genesis 2:7).    He is reminding us that although humanity had become wicked beyond imagining, they were more than just pieces of trash to be tossed away.  Judgment must come, but the Lord does not take vengeance with joy.  “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?”  (Ezekiel 33:11)

Matthew 6:12 – Forgive and Forgive Much

Matthew 6:12
12
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

-What an expectation and a promise- as you forgive, so will you be forgiven.  How do you suppose that Jesus meant this teaching?  Was He telling us that we would be forgiven as soon as we forgive others or that we would be forgiven as much as we forgive others?  I think it is safe to draw both conclusions.  We can expect to receive mercy and forgiveness when we begin to manifest mercy and forgiveness, but we can also expect to receive mercy and forgiveness to the extent that we manifest mercy and forgiveness.  If we forgive others none, how can we expect the Lord to forgive us any?  Likewise, if we forgive others little, how can we expect the Lord to forgive us much?  “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:2)

Genesis 50:18-20 – God Meant it For Good

Genesis 50:18-20
18 
And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

-There came a day in Joseph’s life when all of his brothers turned on him,  They threw him in a pit and planned to kill him before ultimately selling him into Egyptian slavery (Genesis 37:18-36).  God took this circumstance and eventually positioned Joseph so that all of those in the land would depend on him for survival including his brothers.  It would have been easy for Joseph to approach this day with thoughts of revenge and bitterness, but Joseph had only love and kindness to offer his brothers despite how they had treated him.  How did he manage that?  The answer is found right here in verse 20.  Joseph recognized that what his brothers had intended as bad, God made it good.  What’s more important than the happy ending here is the fact that Joseph didn’t see the evil of his brothers as a separate thing from the goodness of God; he grouped them together so that whenever he looked at one, he automatically saw the other.  Do the same when evil befalls you; wrap your circumstance up so tightly in the fact that God can use it for good that whenever you look at that bad thing, you can’t help but see God instead.

Psalm 66:18 – The Lord Will Not Hear

James 4:2-3
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Psalm 66:18
18
 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

-A healthy prayer life with God is the most vital aspect of our lives- physically, mentally, and spiritually.  No matter what part of life is in question, prayer is the single greatest thing we can do to impact our circumstances.  The Bible discusses a multitude of things that can hinder prayer, but these few verses do a great job covering the problems that keep us from having an effective prayer life.  I want to look at the three ideas contained in these verses separately.  1) We don’t have because we don’t ask; 2) We don’t have because we ask for the wrong reasons; 3) We don’t have because we regard iniquity in our heart.

3) We don’t have because we regard iniquity in our heart– This one should be obvious, and I think it is to most of us.  The problem comes from not realizing how absolute God’s zero-tolerance for sin really is.  We harbor secret sins and don’t think God will mind or we let little things slip and we don’t even really think about it ourselves.  But God doesn’t have grey areas or middle ground, and nothing escapes His notice.  In speaking of those who displease Him, God says in Isaiah 65:5, “these are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.”  Imagine trying to carry on a conversation with someone who was constantly blowing smoke in your face; you would seek to turn away, gag, and put some distance between you and the other person.  That’s what it’s like for God when we approach Him while holding onto our sin because He is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” (Habakkuk 1:13)  He can’t help but turn away in disgust and distance Himself from us.

James 4:2-3 – Because Ye Ask Amiss

James 4:2-3
2
 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Psalm 66:18
18
 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

-A healthy prayer life with God is the most vital aspect of our lives- physically, mentally, and spiritually.  No matter what part of life is in question, prayer is the single greatest thing we can do to impact our circumstances.  The Bible discusses a multitude of things that can hinder prayer, but these few verses do a great job covering the problems that keep us from having an effective prayer life.  I want to look at the three ideas contained in these verses separately.  1) We don’t have because we don’t ask; 2) We don’t have because we ask for the wrong reasons; 3) We don’t have because we regard iniquity in our heart.

2) We don’t have because we ask for the wrong reasons– How many of us have ever done the right thing for the wrong reasons?  We did something nice but only because we wanted recognition.  We helped someone out but only because we hoped they would reciprocate.  There is a difference between actions and intentions and the Lord is very interested in both.  Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  When we do anything, God can see why we did it and when we pray, God can see why we prayed.  God is always eager to give bountifully unto His children, but just as should be the case with earthly parents, He will never give just to satisfy our carnal whims and desires. 

James 4:2-3 – Because Ye Ask Not

James 4:2-3
2
 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Psalm 66:18
18
 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

-A healthy prayer life with God is the most vital aspect of our lives- physically, mentally, and spiritually.  No matter what part of life is in question, prayer is the single greatest thing we can do to impact our circumstances.  The Bible discusses a multitude of things that can hinder prayer, but these few verses do a great job covering the problems that keep us from having an effective prayer life.  I want to look at the three ideas contained in these verses separately.  1) We don’t have because we don’t ask; 2) We don’t have because we ask for the wrong reasons; 3) We don’t have because we regard iniquity in our heart.

1) We don’t have because we don’t ask– We may know of God, we may even know Him personally, but how can we say we are effectively communicating with God if we aren’t talking to Him?  How many friends have you had over the years with which you’ve lost contact?  It doesn’t matter how close that friend was at one time, if you haven’t spoken in 10 years, you don’t really know that person anymore.  If you have let yourself become estranged from God, you have made yourself a stranger to God.  God will always desire to rekindle such a relationship, but we must “draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to [us]” (James 4:8)