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Current study: Spiritual Warfare

21 April 2012

Week 16 Review

April 15 2 Samuel 1-4
April 16 Psalms 6; 9; 10; 14; 16; 21
April 17 1 Chronicles 1-2; Psalms 43-44
April 18 Psalms 49; 84; 85; 87
April 19 1 Chronicles 3-5
April 20 1 Chronicles 6; Psalms 36; 39; 77-78

Lesson #1 this week: don’t try to win the king’s favor by telling him that a rival is dead!

How can this lesson of Saul and David’s relationship possibly relate to us in 2012? That one is pretty obvious to me. If you are the “office snitch”, or the one who always wants to be first with the news or gossip, hoping to win favor, you might find that your words fall on less than happy ears.  Jesus had something to say about people who speak “truth” with motives that aren’t so pure.

You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. Matt 12:34-35 (ESV)

Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20  These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matt 15:17-20 (ESV)

Do you find yourself speaking “good” with a hidden agenda? You might consider the fate of the Amalekite when he gave David the “good news” of Saul’s death!

We saw lots of bloody battles, and lists and lists of family trees. Do you sometimes wonder why each of these things found their way into our Scriptures? I know that some of the gory parts of the Bible turn my stomach, and when I see lists and lists of people … yawn. Since every word of the Bible is inspired by God, we need to read through the less than thrilling parts with the same heart we have when we are excited by our reading.

We read lots of Psalms this week. We see a kaleidoscope of human emotions in the Psalms, and sometimes when I read a particular Psalm, it resonates with me as if I had written it myself.

In Psalm 6 we see anguish. Has God rejected me? The Psalmist prays for rebuke – but not in God’s wrath, in His love. Halfway through the Psalm, the writer shows his confidence in God’s love and mercy. When you pray, do you have the confidence that this writer does?

The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer. Psalms 6:9 (ESV)

Just three chapters away, the writer is jubilant. We see a twofold manner of praise. First, he praises the One who has shown mercy, and recounts some of those mercies. Then, the writer speaks of telling others of the good things God has done for him.

Are you a teller or a complainer? Do your family and friends only hear about your troubles, or do you tell them of the mercies God has given you? Don’t wait for God to do something “big” to tell others of His mercy. Start by telling others your salvation story. While you may feel it’s not too spectacular, most people will understand a simple story and relate to it better than to a spectacular conversion tale. Of course, if God spectacularly saved you, then share! It doesn’t matter how you first saw God’s mercy. It matters that you share it. What mercy has God shown you this week? For me, it was a time where He showed me that I am on the right path. From all the billions of people on the earth, He took the time to light another brick in my pathway of faith.
In Psalm 10, we see the proper way to deal with the wicked – prayer. Do you pray for those who oppose you, or are you more likely to take your complaints to your friends instead? Who can change a relationship, your friends – or God? When we take the time to talk to God about our troubles, we find that He will “strengthen our heart”.

“The fool says in his heart there is no God”. Psalm 14 laments a world that is atheistic and selfish, eating and drinking with no thought of God or of a Savior. This is the world we need to reach. In your dealings with others, do you show and tell people about God’s mighty deeds? Do you do your part to make sure everyone in your world knows that there is a God – and that salvation comes from one path alone, Jesus Christ.

I find David’s words in Psalm 11 the most comforting for the week. My memory scripture for this week comes from this Psalm.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”  I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:1, 2, 8, 9 11 (ESV)

Psalm 21 is a song of confidence. It’s a song of victory over my foes, and a song of confidence that God will walk with me through all my times of trial. Even though a battle may not go the way I think it should, I rest in God and the knowledge that He is there to give me the victory – as He wills it. When I turn my life over to God, I will still see trials. I may lose friends, or a job, or a house, but if I walk in the confidence that God is in control, I can rejoice in what I have stored in heaven.

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Tim 6:17-19 (ESV)

This passage spoke to the “rich”, but in our trials, are we not rich if we have God on our side? So sing the song of victory in Psalm 21. Be confident that whether you are rich or poor, in plenty or in need, God will give you victory. The victory may look different than what you expect or want, but God’s victory is always better than the world’s victory!

Do you know someone like the wicked person described in Psalm 36? Are you that wicked person? I know that this Psalm can describe me sometimes. I am a sinner, with a sin nature, and sometimes when I sin I think no one will see it. Instead of praying for someone I don’t like, I choose to gossip. I act unrighteously. But even in my wicked state, I am assured that God’s steadfast love endures. Even when I mess up, God is there for me, waiting for my confession and request for forgiveness. What an awesome God! He knows who we are, and He loves us anyway. All those things that your spouse does that irritate you – He knows and loves the person anyway. All those times that you have gotten on someone’s nerves? Yep. He knows and loves you too. We’ve heard the phrases that God doesn’t make junk, and that we are uniquely created by God. Stand amazed that God created the special person who is YOU, and fall on your knees to confess the wickedness of your heart. His steadfast love will see you through!

I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” 2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. 3 My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Psalms 39:1-4 (ESV)

Somebody was angry at the beginning of this Psalm! Do you ever get so angry that your heart becomes hot? Have you ever had to muzzle yourself when you are being unfairly treated? What is your normal response? I know my response is not the same as this Psalmist’s. I don’t want God to remind me how fleeting I am: I want Him to do something about my problem! Instead, the Psalmist cries for mercy from his sins. He doesn’t focus on the person who is giving him grief. He focuses on himself and asks forgiveness for his part in the problem.  Have you ever tried to solve a problem this way? When I think of asking God to forgive me for my actions instead of thinking of what you’ve done to cause the problem, I just want to … ummmm … refocus my attention on you. But it’s clear that God wants us to look inward for solutions before we look outward. Like the Psalmist, we should stand mute. I wonder how our lives would change if we tried to follow this simple principle?

To me, Psalm 43 and 44 went together. David laments about his feelings of rejection.

For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Psalms 43:2 (ESV)

His enemies were all around him. He couldn’t feel God’s presence. He reminds God that it was because of God that David won. But now, it seems that God isn’t with them.

But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies. 10 You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil. 11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations. Psalms 44:9-11 (ESV)

God’s chosen people were once again oppressed. They are easy targets for their enemies. David feels abandoned. Have you ever felt like saying this to God?

Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! 24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. 26 Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! Psalms 44:23-26 (ESV)

We know that David ultimately won victory after victory. He was a man after God’s own heart. But in his heart of hearts, he was a sinner just like you and me. His prayers weren’t being answered. He cried to God WAKE UP. Like us, David couldn’t see God’s plan, which included victories and defeats so we could be encouraged in our walk thousands of years later. When have you felt abandoned by God? When did you have to cry out for him to wake up? Was the wait ultimately worth it? Did you receive more blessings than you thought were possible?

A gospel song includes these words: “The God on the mountain is still God in the valley. When things go wrong, He’ll make it right. For the God of the good times is still God in the bad times. The God of the day is still God in the night”. Our walk includes mountain and valley experiences. 

When you are in the valley, remember that you are nourished there, and the mountain times are to tell others of His goodness. Thank God whether you’re in the “day” or in the “night”. He can make it right!

Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, 6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? Psalms 49:5-6 (ESV)

Could those word be written today? It seems that we constantly hear of troubles. Politicians this … military that … economy thus … gas prices so. Do you trust in your wealth? Do you have “enough”? Is stuff important? This psalm teaches that it isn’t. No man can save another. We’re all destined for hell.

Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish. Psalms 49:20 (ESV).

If you trust in “stuff” instead of God, you’ll perish. If you have not yet placed your trust in Jesus as your Savior, today is the day. It doesn’t matter if you have wealth or not. The wealth and the poor will end up in hell – and heaven. The difference isn’t your bank account. It’s whether you trust in God. if you want to know more about putting your trust in Jesus as the only way to heaven, email me. I’ll be glad to talk to you!

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. 2  In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord Psalms 77:1-2 (ESV)

The Psalmist is anguished. He doesn’t go to his friends, his spouse, or find a way to numb his mind to his problems. He goes straight to God. How many times have I forgotten this simple step? I would rather run in circles, screaming and shouting, than look to the One Who can solve all my problems. I think that my problem is too big for God, so I snatch it back and make things worse. Only then do I crawl back to God. I need to remember to pray first!

Over and over, Israel is reminded to tell about God’s marvelous works. We’ve seen it in other Psalms this week. But Psalm 78 gives us the command to tell our children.

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. Psalms 78:1-4 (ESV)
Many books and articles have been written in the last few years talking about how our youth are leaving the church because it’s not “relevant”. New Bibles have appeared with more up to date language; some Bibles have even become gender neutral in an effort to become politically correct. A firestorm was set a few months ago when a “Muslim friendly” translation was briefly offered.  We worry about “growing” a church. Some churches have light shows and coffee houses.

Does any of that give our youth an idea of the wonders God has done? I’m not against modernization (and I’m all about the coffee idea LOL), but is the modernization occurring in the church as a whole helping or hurting the cause of Christ? What can we do to get the youth back? I think that pastors who are unafraid to preach the whole Bible (even the parts that aren’t popular or politically correct) will do more to bring our youth back than having a loud “rock concert” type worship service. We need to pray and ask the Spirit’s direction. If your church is unsuccessfully trying to be relevant, maybe it should go back to the basics and tell the mighty deeds of God, show His commands, and teach the whole counsel of God. If you are fortunate enough to have a pastor who teaches the whole counsel of God, pray for him. Support him. Ask how you can help. Find ways to bring our youth back to church – and back to the salvation found only in Christ Jesus.

Speaking of modernization – a contemporary worship song was born from the words of Psalm 84. Better is one day in your courts, than thousands elsewhere! This psalm extols the beauty of God’s temple and by extension, the beauty of the church and ultimately of heaven.

Psalm 85 gives us a look at a people who have once again turned from God. The Psalmist recounts the former mercies of God and pleads for new mercies. He pleads for forgiveness for his sins, and he prepares to listen to God. Do you remember to ask for forgiveness and then wait to hear God speak?

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Psalms 85:8 (ESV)

There was a lot of meat this week! What stood out for you? Did you find rest and peace in the Psalms? Were you like me, finding conviction in some of your readings? Which verses will you choose to place in your heart this week? Let me know!
As always, if you need prayer, have a question, or would like to make a comment,  feel free to do so on the blog or in a private email to me.

I pray that God’s Words will be hidden in your heart and will come to the surface as you need them this week. Please take time to share God’s mercies with someone younger than you, and whenever there is an opportunity, take the time to share His mercies with anyone placed in your path.

We are more than 25% toward our goal of reading the Bible in 2012. Congratulations for making it this far and instilling a habit that will be of benefit to you now – and throughout eternity. See you next week!

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