Two Sides to Every Blessing

January 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 3 Comments
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In a previous lesson we learned two fundamental principles from Psalm 116:

1. God answers the prayers of His children.
2. God’s attributes tend toward rescue.

Here is another:

3. God’s affections are set on His children.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116:12-13

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” This question can be taken two ways. It can be seen as rhetorical. Obviously we can never pay the Lord back for all the benefits He has granted us. It can also be seen as practical. Although we can never pay the Lord back for what He has done for us, we certainly ought to be encouraged to serve Him out of gratitude.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Psalm 116:15

Again, this verse has a double application. First, God rewards those who die in the faith, and second, God is not indifferent when His saints are threatened with death.

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

I Peter 2:4-7

God loves His Son, yet He gave His Son to die for us. Therefore, it stands to reason that He loves us deeply. He will not let us die until the appointed time.

4. God approves His own Covenant.

O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.

Psalm 116:16

A “servant” is a “son of the Covenant.” God is faithful to keep His promises.

After God has rescued you, be sure to express gratitude. We cannot “buy” God’s blessings, but when we call for help in an emergency, it is only right that we thank Him, and keep whatever promises we made in the time of trouble.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116:12-14

God knows our hearts, and He may overlook rash words and promises, but here is a good recipe for post-rescue gratitude:

1. Give a thank offering.
2. Pour out some highly-valued part of your life like wine on the altar. People are often afraid to pour out the sin and vanity in their lives because they are afraid it will leave them empty, but it won’t! The Lord will fill you with something better.
3. Set aside part of your offering for sharing with others, and publicly thank the Lord in front of them.
4. Keep the promises you made.

The Great Rescuer

January 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Biblical Greats, Resurrection, Selected Psalms | 12 Comments
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Psalm 116 is about being thankful to the Lord after we have called on Him in a time of great danger and He has rescued us.

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.

Psalm 116:7

The psalmist had been at rest, but then trouble came.

I said in my haste, All men are liars.

Psalm 116:11

Men he trusted had lied about him.

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

Psalm 116:3-4

They almost caused his death, but He called on the Lord, and the Lord rescued him.

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

Psalm 116:1-2

This Psalm is probably from a testimony given in the Sanctuary. It contains parts of Psalm 56, other Psalms, and parts of Isaiah.

Let’s identify two of four main principles found in Psalm 116:

1. God answers the prayers of His children.

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.

Psalm 116:1

Whenever you find yourself in danger, call on the Lord. New, first-time parents will be keenly aware of this principle. Dad is at the far corner of his yard, perhaps on the top of a ladder, pruning a tree. Or mom is carrying a scalding hot pot of boiling water from the stove to the sink. Suddenly their new-born infant lets out a shriek of pain from his crib. Dad leaps from the ladder like a reckless school-boy! Mom instantly drops the pot of water! They race for the baby’s room without any regard for their own safety. Why? Because they love their child, and it sounds like the child is trouble. If wicked, sinful, intrinsically selfish, fallen mortals react this way when their child cries out in distress, how much more will our loving Heavenly Father (Who loves with a perfect love) come to the aid of His children when they – being in real danger – cry out for help?

Have you ever known of a situation where one child called on a parent for help, but the parent didn’t or couldn’t come help because he or she was already busy helping another child? This can’t happen with God. He is never “too busy” to hear or to come to the aid of one of His children. We should trust God in all types of troubles, and there are some troubles that are obviously hopeless unless we are rescued.

The Holy Spirit applied the plea of Psalm 116:3 to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in Acts 2:24.

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

Psalm 116:3

Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Acts 2:24

2. God’s attributes tend toward rescue.

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.

Psalm 116:5

Grace is when God gives us what we do not deserve. Mercy is when God withholds from us what we do deserve. Any time we are in danger, we are experiencing what we deserve. Rescue is what we do not deserve. However, God delights in grace and mercy.

The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.

Psalm 116:6

We have a tendency to respond to God’s grace like spoiled children. First, we are amazed by grace. Then, we start to assume grace. Pretty soon, we are demanding grace. When is the last time you simply and uncritically just believed that God does what He says He will do because He is God?

Next time, we will take a look at two more principles from Psalm 116.

Whitney Who-ston?

March 23, 2012 at 10:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Full disclosure: I was never a Whitney Houston fan, nor did I particularly dislike her. I have a vague recollection that one of her songs was the “theme song” played at my high school graduation. By all accounts she had an amazing singing voice. As a Christian, I would praise God for giving her the gift of being able to sing beautifully, and I would not even be opposed to recognizing that she may have worked hard training and cultivating that gift to its fuller potential.

When she passed away recently, I was not at all surprised to see an explosion of tributes to her. Apparently she was well-loved in the secular world. Most pop celebrities are. Here is what concerns me though: all the praise and honor given to her by the professing Christian community. I do not know if Ms. Houston was a Christian. I certainly hope she was. But it would have to be a pretty big stretch to say that the main thrust of her life was about magnifying Jesus Christ and His Gospel. I haven’t seen anything in the media to indicate that was what she was about.

So why all the adoration and praise from professing Christians? Why all the nostalgia and tributes to this “great” person who supposedly made such an impact on so many? It’s not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I seriously doubt that Whitney Houston was the only person who died on February 11, 2012. I wonder if any Christian missionaries, pastors, Sunday School teachers, parents, or grandparents passed away on that same day? I’m talking about people who devoted 20, 30, 50, 60 or more years of their lives to serving the Lord Jesus? People who left a legacy of Christian testimony and gave good evidence with the pattern of their lives of the saving power of our glorious Lord?

If so, it wasn’t on the evening news. There were no nation-wide televised memorial services planned. Again, I would not expect the secular world to honor true Christians, either during their lives or after. But if you are a Christian, be careful who you lift up as an example before your children and the folks over whom the Lord has blessed you to have an influence.

This is Whitney Houston:

http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRxdq4rAaXonsfAGTlvN1MOJb_N9LiKArPZo96JL3sAgu_zGzUy3tGwUF8s

Did you post a tribute to her on your Facebook? Did you wax poetic about how her music was the “background” to so many great moments in your life? Were you able to list anything that she accomplished for the Kingdom of God or acknowledge the impact she made for the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

This is a couple named Randy and Kathy Arnett:

Arnetts

They never had a hit record. They were never on the cover of People magazine. They never starred in a major motion picture. All they did was serve the Lord faithfully for over 30 years, proclaiming the gospel, planting churches, and training pastors and missionaries across Sub-Saharan Africa. When someone like Mr. & Mrs. Arnett goes home to be with the Lord, dear Christian, is it as big a deal to you as the death of a pop music icon?

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Psalm 116:15


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