Saturday, December 26, 2015

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 38

Subtitle: A “Come to Jesus” moment.

Psalm 38:1-22 (GW)
O LORD, do not angrily punish me or discipline me in your wrath. Your arrows have struck me. Your hand has struck me hard. No healthy spot is left on my body because of your rage. There is no peace in my bones because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me. Like a heavy load, it is more than I can bear. My wounds smell rotten. They fester because of my stupidity. I am bent over and bowed down very low. All day I walk around in mourning. My insides are filled with burning pain, and no healthy spot is left on my body. I am numb and completely devastated. I roar because my heart's in turmoil. You know all my desires, O Lord, and my groaning has not been hidden from you. My heart is pounding. I have lost my strength. Even the light of my eyes has left me. My loved ones and my friends keep their distance and my relatives stand far away because of my sickness. Those who seek my life lay traps for me. Those who are out to harm me talk about ruining me. All day long they think of ways to deceive me. But I am like a person who cannot hear and like a person who cannot speak. I am like one who cannot hear and who can offer no arguments. But I wait with hope for you, O LORD. You will answer, O Lord, my God. I said, “Do not let them gloat over me. When my foot slips, do not let them promote themselves at my expense.” I am ready to fall. I am continually aware of my pain. I confess my guilt. My sin troubles me. My mortal enemies are growing stronger. Many hate me for no reason. They pay me back with evil instead of good, and they accuse me because I try to do what is good. Do not abandon me, O LORD. O my God, do not be so distant from me. Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my savior. (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

The weight of the LAW is a crushing burden. It kills a mortal man because of his sin. Without a savior we would all be without hope. If this psalm sounds like the nightmare of a living hell, well that is the reality of living in sin in a sin filled world. We have a few choices, but none of them will help us fix the problem. We can try to drown the pain in alcohol or take the edge off with pain killers and drugs. However, the reality of these attempts only mask the real problem and cause more pain in the end.

Sin is like an infection, unchecked it will only get worse. What is rotten on the inside starts to ooze and smell and drive people away. The body cannot heal itself without outside help. It needs the skilled hands of a surgeon to remove infected tissue and clean up the surrounding area. There is only one who can do this. This is the work of the one who created us in His image and who is able to recreate us again. Our Lord and Savior Jesus is the only one who is able to remove the sin and guilt from our lives and give us a new life in Him.

Jesus is able to do this because He met the demands of the LAW by standing in the path of our punishing blows and taking them upon himself. Our Savior died in our place to set us free from the punishment of our sin. Death had no power over Him because He lived without sin. He came back to life and gives eternal life to everyone who trusts in the forgiveness and salvation He provides.

Sometimes we have doubts and the guilt comes back to haunt us. We wonder out loud if God really paid the full price for our sin. We let despair get the best of us and we try to escape the pain on our own. We don’t like to hear the words that condemn us, but we need to understand that they are meant for our good. We cannot by our own power or strength believe in God or come to Him, we cannot come to Him with anything to offer in exchange for our salvation, we can only come us beggars pleading for mercy.

It is the broken and contrite that will receive forgiveness and salvation. And that leads us to the BOLD Outreach promise of this psalm. No one is beyond help! Every broken person who trusts in Jesus Christ, the Savior / Messiah, will be rescued from the destruction of sin now and into eternity. Some have called it their “Come to Jesus” moment. It is truly an awakening that opens our eyes to the helplessness of who we are, and the reality of who our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is. It is God's LOVE for us that compelled Him to die for our sins. He wants everyone to be with Him for eternity. He forgives those who ask for forgiveness and surrender their lives to His will. He grants eternal life to everyone who trusts in Him for salvation. BOLDLY GO and TELL others this GOOD NEWS!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 37

Subtitle: Let it Go, Trust in the LORD

Psalm 37:1-10 (GW)
1  Do not be preoccupied with evildoers. Do not envy those who do wicked things.
2  They will quickly dry up like grass and wither away like green plants.
3  Trust the LORD, and do good things. Live in the land, and practice being faithful.
4  Be happy with the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5  Entrust your ways to the LORD. Trust him, and he will act {on your behalf}.
6  He will make your righteousness shine like a light, your just cause like the noonday sun.
7  Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him. Do not be preoccupied with {an evildoer} who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes.
8  Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil.
9  Evildoers will be cut off {from their inheritance}, but those who wait with hope for the LORD will inherit the land. 10  In a little while a wicked person will vanish. Then you can carefully examine where he was, but there will be no trace of him.

(God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

There seems to be a preoccupation with evildoers these days. It makes news; something exciting to talk about, it sparks our curiosity. Every night the news is filled with some story about an evildoer, such as, ISIS and the war against anyone ISIS considers an infidel. Or the battle against God’s design for marriage, or the behavior of an extremist gunmen, or the defense of those who hold a total disregard for unborn children, and the list goes on and on. Little is said about the rejection of God’s Word and warnings of condemnation for not following God’s commandments, but that would be politically incorrect and biased and might cause the feelings of non-believers to be hurt.

Scientism has become our new standard for religion. Human reason, lust, the fulfillment of personal desires, financial security, sexual freedom, entertainment, personal achievements, and PC (Pseudo Christ – the LOVE God who looks the other way and says “That’s OK, enjoy yourselves, I’ll always love you.”), have become alternate idols to bow down and worship. Evolution has become the acceptable explanation for the origin of earth and mankind. Equality will soon mean equal to all other animals on the planet with equal protection against use for food, clothing, or death for the benefit of mankind. (Unless you are an unwanted, or unplanned, unborn baby human – no assumed rights will be granted; however, if a dog or cat were treated the same way unborn children are treated PETA would be all up in arms about the inhumanity of the treatment.)

So much for my venting, it is easy to become preoccupied by the actions of evildoers. God has a few choice words of advice for me.  Do not be preoccupied with evildoers. Do not envy those who do wicked things. They will quickly dry up like grass and wither away like green plants.”  Psalm 37:1-2

My LORD has promised to provide forgiveness of sin for me, for you, for ALL of us who place our trust in HIM. The evildoers do not believe in the LORD. Anyone who does not believe in the forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ’s death will not receive forgiveness, without forgiveness the penalty for sin remains intact. The penalty for sin is eternal separation from God in a place we call Hell.

The evildoer has only one hope for salvation; it is the same as ours, which is forgiveness through Jesus Christ. They need our pity. They need our prayers. They need our presence. They need to be shown the love of Jesus Christ. Do not become angry with those who are doing evil for they do not know what they are doing. They are under the control of their master, Satan. They need to be set free.

On this side of heaven we struggle with sin and the temptation to chase after evil desires, or lustful pleasures. Daily we need to be set free from sin that would keep us from trusting in Jesus Christ. Daily we need to surrender ourselves to the LORD. Daily we need to wait with hope for the LORD who delivers us from sin. Once we were evildoers, but now we are forgiven. Our past deeds are forgotten by the LORD who erases all of our sin.

Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him. Do not be preoccupied with {an evildoer} who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes. Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil. Evildoers will be cut off {from their inheritance}, but those who wait with hope for the LORD will inherit the land. In a little while a wicked person will vanish. Then you can carefully examine where he was, but there will be no trace of him.” Psalm 37:7-10

If God can forgive my sin, He can also forgive the sins of those who haven’t yet trusted in Him. Our BOLD Outreach Promise in this chapter is that everyone who trusts in the LORD will be made righteous. Their sin will be removed and they will inherit eternal life.

Entrust your ways to the LORD. Trust him, and he will act {on your behalf}. He will make your righteousness shine like a light, your just cause like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:5-6 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 36

Subtitle: An Inspired Truth… Rebellion separates us from God. However, God’s mercy keeps us from getting what we deserve.

Psalm 36:1-12 (GW)
1 There is an inspired truth about the wicked person who has rebellion in the depths of his heart: He is not terrified of God. He flatters himself and does not hate or {even} recognize his guilt. 3 The words from his mouth are {nothing but} trouble and deception. He has stopped doing what is wise and good. 4 He invents trouble while lying on his bed and chooses to go the wrong direction. He does not reject evil. 5 O LORD, your mercy reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God, your judgments like the deep ocean. You save people and animals, O LORD. 7 Your mercy is so precious, O God, that Adam's descendants take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They are refreshed with the rich foods in your house, and you make them drink from the river of your pleasure. 9 Indeed, the fountain of life is with you. In your light we see light. 10 Continue to show your mercy to those who know you and your righteousness to those whose motives are decent. 11 Do not let the feet of arrogant people step on me or the hands of wicked people push me away. 12 Look at the troublemakers who have fallen. They have been pushed down and are unable to stand up again.            
(God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

My first thought in reading this Psalm is to say,
“Thank God I am not one of the wicked ones who has rebellion in his heart!” 
“Thank God I know who Jesus is!”
“I have been given salvation because God knows my motives are decent!”

Really?   “I have had nothing to do with my own salvation.”
“I have been saved because God is extremely merciful!”
The difference between me and someone who doesn’t believe in God is the gift of faith. I know without a doubt that I deserve to spend eternity in HELL. I am dependent upon the grace and mercy of the ONE who has the power and authority to punish me forever. I have only one hope – GOD’S MERCY.

God in His mercy provided a way for us all to be set free from the punishment of sin. God took that punishment upon Himself by becoming one with us in the God/Man, Jesus Christ. He came into our world, lived and died in our place, and rose to life breaking the power of death. (The non-believer denies that Jesus is God, or that there is a hell, or that their sins will be punished. They live for themselves, their pride, their legacy, but not for God.)

His mercy reaches to the heavens…   His mercy is so precious.
His mercy gives us the fountain of life…  His mercy takes us from the darkness of HELL’S destruction and places us in the light of God’s Son, our Savior.

His mercy continues…to be poured out on us…who continue to sin and rebel against Him…even when we know the truth…and claim Him as Lord. We depend on His mercy…it is our only hope for salvation.

Allow me to have a healthy fear of you, O LORD. Keep me humble in your presence.
Let me wash away my guilt and sins in the mercy of your righteous blood.
You lived and died so I might be free from the punishment of my own sins.
Sins of arrogance… sins of rebellion… sins of flattery… sins of deception, trouble, evil schemes, this list could go on and on… I don’t deserve God’s grace, but I will rest in it, because it is where my hope comes from.

Here is the Outreach Promise in this Psalm: God’s mercy extends far beyond the deepest ocean or even the highest mountain. Mercy is available to everyone who is crushed by the weight of their sin. Mercy is what mercy does; it spares us from the punishment we deserve, when we recognize that we deserve to be punished for our sins and throw ourselves on the mercy of God.

God has spoken “Call on me for help, and I will deliver you!”
And in other place, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!”

There are no sins that God cannot forgive!   Call on Him, today!  He will grant you mercy and forgiveness.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 35

Subtitle: Being On the Winning Team

Psalm 35:1-4, 9-18 (By David) O LORD, attack those who attack me. Fight against those who fight against me. Use your shields, {both} small and large. Arise to help me. Hold your spear to block the way of those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your savior.” Let those who seek my life be put to shame and disgraced. Let those who plan my downfall be turned back in confusion. … My soul will find joy in the LORD and be joyful about his salvation. All my bones will say, “O LORD, who can compare with you? You rescue the weak person from the one who is too strong for him and weak and needy people from the one who robs them.” Malicious people bring charges against me. They ask me things I know nothing about. I am devastated because they pay me back with evil instead of good. But when they were sick, I wore sackcloth. I humbled myself with fasting. When my prayer returned unanswered, I walked around as if I were mourning for my friend or my brother. I was bent over as if I were mourning for my mother. Yet, when I stumbled, they rejoiced and gathered together. They gathered together against me. Unknown attackers tore me apart without stopping. With crude and abusive mockers, they grit their teeth at me. O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue me from their attacks. (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

GOD IS OUR SHIELD! He takes the blows that were meant for us. He is stuck with arrows and darts of the enemy, hit with the sword, beaten on by those stronger than we are and through it all He defends us. He fights for us! He blocks the attackers and engages in the battle so we can escape. Our God rescues us from those who hate us because of him.

We are in a spiritual battle against the followers of Satan. They hate us, because their master Satan hates God and anyone who follows Him. At times it may seem that we are being defeated but the reality is it is only Satan’s smoke as he goes down in defeat. Satan’s army is like that of many terrorist groups; misguided, cruel, arrogant, self-absorbed, and full of hate and vengeance. They hate the truth because it exposes the lies that they have been taught from their youth. Satan has convinced them to believe in lies, lies that many nations have listened to and followed for centuries, lies that some in America also believe, lies that convince them that they can buy their way into heaven by performing specific deeds, living a particular way, eating certain foods, dressing in a particular style or following certain rituals. These lie believers come in various shapes, and cultural forms, and don’t always believe the same lies, but they have one thing in common – THEY HATE THE TRUTH! 

The followers of Satan are truth deniers! Truth exposes their short-comings, their insecurities, their failed logic, their deep-seated evil thoughts and desires. Truth will humble them, so they muster up hatred and fight against truth lest they might be considered weak in the eyes of others. They especially hate God because God’s truth brings humility. They embrace Satan’s (truth) which is a lie, because it gives them the false sense of power and control. They consider humility and mercy as weakness and resist grace because of pride. Because of sin they have an internal hatred of everything that is pleasing to God. (As followers of Jesus we were at one time controlled by Satan and sin and stood in opposition to God, but by the power of God we were brought to a place of humility and surrender to the grace and mercy of God and received forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life.) 

We don’t stand a chance in the crosshairs of Satan’s weapons, but our loving Lord steps into the path and takes the hit. He rescues the humbled, protects and defends the helpless, He gives life those who call on Him. He is my shield and my defender. He frees me from the entrapments of Satan and blesses me with eternal gifts.

Our BOLD Outreach promise is this: God’s Word will deliver those who hear it and who by faith call out to Him for mercy. God has already taken the punishment for our sin upon Himself and has struck Satan with a fatal blow. When Satan, in his attempt to destroy God (by having Jesus die on the cross), gave His best shot using the religious leaders and Roman authorities to carry out his work, seceded in his ill-fated plan. The power of death, the hold that Satan may have claimed on God’s creation was destroyed, and with that, Satan’s power was rendered ineffective. Satan is still selling a lie. He has been defeated, yet continues to convince people that He still has the power to fulfil their selfish desires and ambitions.

Evil still exists in the world, but for believers in Christ its effect is only a temporary condition, because eternal life with Jesus Christ waits all who believe in Him as their Savior.  This is fitting place to end this reflection and a timely place as we approach the end of Lent and the beginning of the Passion Week. It is also March madness and I know who will be the victorious ones. The winning team is – TEAM JESUS. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 34

Subtitle: God will always provide for us!

My challenge in writing this blog is to find new expressions and insights for a theme that is repeated multiple times by David throughout the Psalms. The words of promise that jump out at me are the same ones that were used in almost every preceding Psalm.

“I went to the LORD for help. He answered me and rescued me from all my fears. All who look to him will be radiant. Their faces will never be covered with shame. Here is a poor man who called out. The LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles. The Messenger of the LORD camps around those who fear him, and he rescues them. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:4-8 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

Everyone who calls out to God, who trusts in the promises of God, who believes that God alone can save them, who recognizes that they are incapable of obtaining salvation on their own, will receive salvation though Jesus Christ. It is the Messenger (Jesus Christ) who rescues us from our sin, death, and the devil. It is Jesus’ death and resurrection that saves us from our sin. He is the One we can take refuge in. What He has to offer is GOOD, because He provides for us the greatest gift we could ever ask for, of which we are so undeserving, everlasting life with God in heaven.

So why does David keep repeating this same theme over and over, again and again in his Psalms? Maybe, just maybe, he needed to remind himself of the blessings that come from living a life of dependence on God’s promises. He had just left the company of the Philistines. He was living the life of fugitive. King Saul was trying to kill him. Anyone who tried to protect him was putting their life at risk. David needed a place to hide and last place Saul would look for him was in the company of the Israelites worst enemies, the hated Philistines! But, his life was in danger there also, so David pretended to be insane. He acted like he had rabies! He was foaming and drooling from the mouth. Not a pretty sight for the future king. Well, the Philistines didn’t want him hanging around their camp either so they threw him out.

Have you ever been rejected by everyone? Your people, your relatives, and even your enemies! David wrote, “Here is a poor man who called out.” And when he did he received comfort from God. This comfort came in form of peace, a peace of knowing that God would take care of him.

“Young lions go hungry and may starve, but those who seek the LORD'S help have all the good things they need. Come, children, listen to me. I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Which of you wants a full life? Who would like to live long enough to enjoy good things? Keep your tongue from saying evil things and your lips from speaking deceitful things. Turn away from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it! The LORD'S eyes are on righteous people. His ears hear their cry for help.” Psalm 34:10-15 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

Maybe like David we need to be reminded over and over, again and again that God will take care of us. We forget so quickly what He has done for us. A new day comes, new trials, new temptations, new failures, and new doubts! And so like David we need to constantly be reminded that God will provide for us. Here is our BOLD outreach promise:

“The LORD is near to those whose hearts are humble. He saves those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person has many troubles, but the LORD rescues him from all of them. The LORD guards all of his bones. Not one of them is broken.” Psalm 34:18-20 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

The broken heart is restored by God’s power. When your spirit is crushed God gives you His spirit of peace. God is always in control. Even after Jesus died on the cross, His bones were protected from being broken just as God stated a 1,000 years earlier. God’s Word never changes. He will always restore and make righteous those who trust in Him.