23 August 2016

IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU


PSALM 136:1-26

In 1715 King Louis the 14th of France died after a reign of 72 years. He had called himself “the Great,” and was the monarch who made the famous statement, “I am the state!” His court was the most magnificent in Europe, and his funeral was equally spectacular. As his casket was put into position, orders were given that the cathedral should be very dimly lit with only a special candle set above his casket, to dramatize his greatness. At his memorial, thousands waited in silence. Then the preacher began to speak and he slowly reaching down, and snuffed out the candle and said, “Only God is great.”

Is it about you and me? NO! 
It’s all about Him and not about you and me! 
It’s all about Him and His attributes and character! 
It’s all about Him and His plan for mankind! 
It’s all about Him in the written word 
It’s all about Him in redemption and regeneration 
It’s all about Him!

The more I read God’s word the more I’m humbled by his awesomeness and love for a sinner like me and you! That He sought me out with forgiveness and salvation. That He demonstrates that by showering me with unmerited mercy every day. That He continues to work in and through me for His glory! Our LORD is always worthy of praise for the great things He has done. Giving thanks with a grateful heart as the Psalmist does in this wonderful psalm of praise for His goodness and mercy“Giving thanks to the LORD, for He is good.” (v1)

Spurgeon said this psalm is “the sweetest stanza that a man can sing. What joy that there is mercy, mercy with Jehovah, enduring mercy, mercy enduring forever. We are ever needing it, trying it, praying for it, receiving it: therefore let us forever sing of it.” As the Psalmist says “His mercy endures forever” not for a season or for a short time but FOREVER! What does it mean to be gripped by the glory of God? His unfailing love and mercy to creation and His called out ones (me and you). His mercy should be the foundation of adoration and motivation each and every day! The reason being.......Without His mercy we would never be able to understand grace and forgiveness found in His Son. Without His mercy we would never find hope.....rest....and a Christ-filled eternity!
  
Mercy plays an important part in God’s character! Micah wrote these words......... “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” Micah 7:18. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matt 9:36

Mercy by definition is a compassion, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant.
  
GOD’S MERCY IS DESCRIBED AS:
  
Great “For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you.” Isa 54:7
  
Rich “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved” Eph 2:4-5 

Sure and unchanging “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, [The same covenant into which God entered with the fathers was firm, sure, and eternal, and not changeable or temporary.] my steadfast, sure love for David.” Isa 55:3 

New every morning “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lam 3:22-23

Free “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love.” Eph 1:4
  
NOT ONLY IS HIS MERCY DESCRIBED IN HIS CHARACTER IT’S ALSO MANIFESTED IN:

His people “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” Luke 1:50

Sending Christ “because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise [There appears to be an allusion to a prediction of Malachi, in which Christ is called “the Sun of Righteousness,”] shall visit us from on high.”  Luke 1:78

To the repented sinner “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Luke 15:19-20

To whom He wills “......I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." Rom 9:15
  
When I read this Psalm I’m humbled by His provision through His beauty, creation, I’m amazed by His guidance and protection for those whom are His from generation to generation!.

WE AS HIS CHILDREN ARE REQUIRED TO DO 2 THINGS!
  
1. TO LOVE GOD FOR HIS MERCY

As David said “I love you, O LORD, my strength” Ps 18:1, It’s a deep seated love found in His mercy! Thomas Watson said “God’s justice may make us fear him, his mercy makes us love him. If mercy will not produce love, what will? We are to love God for giving us our food, much more for giving us grace; for sparing mercy, much more for saving mercy.” As Augustine said ‘I would hate my own soul, 'if I did not find it loving God.’
  
2. TO IMITATE GOD IN SHOWING MERCY.

God is the Father of mercy; show yourselves to be his children, by being like him! Jesus saidBe merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36. We are to show that same mercy towards one another [no exceptions because Christ died for all of mankind’s sins]. Ambrose says, “The sum and definition of religion is, Be rich in works of mercy, be helpful to the bodies and souls of others. Scatter your golden seeds; let the lamp of your profession be filled with the oil of charity. Be merciful in giving and forgiving.” A story is told about a gracious king who wanted to bestow a special honor upon his most gallant young soldier. This benevolent ruler decided to give the soldier one of his own precious jewels — an enormous gemstone of great value. Finally the day for the celebration arrived, and the king called the young man before him in order to make the presentation. As the soldier stepped forward to receive the gift, he looked at the costly gem and, realizing that it was more valuable than all of his worldly possessions, exclaimed, “Your Majesty, it is far too great a gift for me to receive." Grasping the hand of his faithful servant, the king replied, “That may be true, but it is not too great a gift for me to give.” And with that he placed the gem in the soldier’s hand. Humbled and overwhelmed, the soldier received the gift with tearful eyes of appreciation.

We are all like this young soldier! Guilty sinners, deserving none of our great King’s love or mercy. God’s mercy is far too great a gift for such unworthy people like us. But in His never failing love, our heavenly Father who is rich in mercy reassured us, “It is not too great a gift for Me to give.” All we could do is humbly and gratefully receive the gift of God’s magnificent mercy. That’s why this Psalm is all about Him! And this should be the way we live our lives? It’s all about you Lord. Praise His name and be thankful for His unmerited mercy to sinners like us! Praise His name and live by that same mercy towards one another! Praise His name because He is worthy of all our adoration and praise. Praise Him and praise Him....because it’s all about Him...... and not about you!

14 August 2016

GOD’S RESUME


Psalm 145:1-21

What is the one thing a great majority of us have done to tell someone else about who we are? The Answer...............A RESUMEResumes are very important especially if you’re applying for a job. Resumes give information about the character of an individual. Resumes help the employer to make the right decisions when it comes to hiring the best person for the job. Resumes are like a short biography of your life experiences and abilities. What I’m trying to get at is.......... when I read this Psalm I see something amazing about the faithfulness and providence of God. I see God’s awesome resume.

Just from this Psalm alone we see that God is:

Great in every way (v1)
Commendable in all that He does (v1)
Consecrated  and worthy of honor(v2)
Unsearchable because He is so big(v3)
Magnificent in His character (v5)
Awesome (v6)
Blameless  in all His doings(v7)
Graceful and compassionate to all(v8)
Calm and collective when dealing with His creation (v8)
Considerate to those who call upon His name(v9)
Mighty an powerful to get the job done (v11-v12)
Strong tower for our souls(v14)
Sufficient for all our needs (v16)
Omniscient in every way (v18)
Preserves the faithful with His faithfulness (v20-v21)

That’s an awesome resume would you say? Now look at your resume! How does your resume stand it comparison to God’s awesome resume? Let’s be honest! Not to good right! So let me ask you this question! Who are you going to put your trust in then? Yourself or God? Because God, is............ great, abounding, glorious, perfect, strong, mighty, satisfying and most of all faithful in all His doings. You and I on the other hand are prone to......... doubt, worry, panic, become bitter, resentful, and forgetful, lazy, and lack patience to name a few. Sadly though, all these character traits ultimately lead to a lack of faith which always gives birth to SINA lack of faith will always bring us to a place that we doubt God’s awesome resume. Take the disciples for example! The disciples are in a boat in the middle of a storm........Jesus is sleeping in the boat He is tired from all the miracles and ministering that He has been doing. What did the men say to Jesus in the boat “Lord, save us! We are perishing.” (Matt 8:25). What was Jesus’ response after waking Him up from probably a good sleep? “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith.” (v26) There was another time shortly after this incident that the disciples were in a very similar pickle, found in Matt 14:25-33. The only difference is that the disciples are without Jesus this time! They just finished witnessing one of the greatest miracles ever! The feeding the five thousand. Jesus told them to get into the boat and cross the Sea of Galilee. Again, they are in a storm that could end their discipleship program with Jesus. They see Jesus walking on the water and Peter cries out “Lord, if it’s You command me to come to You” so what’s Jesus response? “Come” (v29) But what happens? Peter see’s the waves crashing around him and he begins to sink and cries out “Lord save me” (v30) Again Jesus to the rescue and these are the words that followed as Jesus helped him back into the boat “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (v31)
  
A lack of faith will always give birth to doubt and SIN!

John MacArthur said “For some reason, we think of doubt and worry as "small" sins. But when a Christian displays unbelief...or an inability to cope with life, he is saying to the world, "My God cannot be trusted," and that kind of disrespect makes one guilty of a fundamental error, the heinous sin of dishonouring God. That is no small sin.” 

What did the Hebrew writer pen? “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Heb 11:6. See, faithfulness in God’s resume will always lead to joy.....peace......understanding and perseverance. Take the resume of godly a man named George Mueller, a missionary who lived by one thing.......faith! He and his best friend, Henry Craik, founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution in Bristol, England, with one of their prime objectives being to establish Orphan Homes for the many homeless children in Great Britain. Mueller and Craik had no money, nor did they intend to ask anyone for it: they believed that God would provide everything they needed - without patronage, without requests for contributions and without debts. All they had to do was pray, and God would provide. For 64 years, that was how George Mueller operated. In that course of time, he built The Orphanage campus at Ashley Down, where he cared for and educated over 18,000 children; educated over 100,000 more in other schools at the Orphanage's expense; distributed hundreds of thousands of Bibles and tens of millions of religious tracts; supported about 150 missionaries; travelled over 200,000 miles as a missionary himself; and shared the Gospel with over 3 million people around the world. And in all that time, he never asked for one penny from anyone, his children never missed a meal, and he never had a debt. 
Once, when there was no food to give the children and it was almost lunch time, one of Mueller's assistants came to him, worried. Mueller said, "It's not twelve o'clock yet." Just then, a truck pulled up to the orphanage loaded with food from an unsolicited donor. Often, Mueller had no idea where their next meal was coming from: he just trusted God's promises. Another time, when Mueller was onboard a ship that was lost in fog, he comforted the anxious captain by saying, "My eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life." They came out of the fog, and that captain later gave his life to Christ. 
George Mueller was totally dependent on God. That was how he wanted it. He wanted people to see that God was faithful and could be trusted. He once said, "I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith." His life certainly exemplified that. 
He wrote "There was a day when I died, utterly died: died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends. And since then, I have studied only to show myself 'approved unto God.'" GOD IS AWESOME! God is so awesome.......He faithful not only in the big things but also in the little things of life! God is so awesome.......He greatly concerned and involved in your life whether you believe it or not.

I remember a time when our pastor back in Ontario told my wife and me the story while he was at Dallas Theological Seminary as we were preparing to leave for ministry. There was time when he and his wife had nothing to eat! They lived in a small one bedroom apartment. The only thing they had was a couple pieces of bread and a bottle of ketchup left in the cupboards! But they accepted their present circumstance.........Allen, was about to pray and give thanks when all of a sudden there was a knock at the door! His next door neighbour had this massive plate of spaghetti asked if they could use this because they were invited out for dinner by visiting friends. They gladly accepted the gift; sat down and gave thanks to God for His faithfulness by providing for a need [not a want]. 

This is why God’s resume is so awesome! He is always faithful and worthy to trusted at all times

Whether your life is tough right now
Whether you lost a loved one naturally or tragically.
Whether you are battling cancer or another life threatening illness
Whether you’re out of work and see no hope for the future.
Whether you finances do not equal out according to you.
Whether your marriage is on the rocks and it seems like divorce is around the corner.
Whether your child has gone astray and living with the pigs.
Whether your husband or wife have lost their fire for Christ.
Whether your life seems to be a living train wreck that seems impossible to recover.
Whether you feel alone and god seems distant.................................God is faithful
  
Look at some the wonderful examples we find in the Scriptures!

Job the oldest letter in the bible..... Job said “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21

Abraham when he said “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering” Gen 22:8

Joseph “you meant it for evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Gen 50:20

David from what we read in this Psalm

Elijah a man of faithful prayer

Habakkuk “the just shall live by faith” Hab 2:4

The Centurion and his ill servant......”Jesus said “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” Luke 7:9

The blind man from birth “Jesus said...Do you believe in the Son of God? He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshipped Him.” John 9:35-38

The apostle Paul “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Gal 2:20

You and I when He grabbed a hold of our lives through His wonderful grace found in His salvation. Faithfulness will always bring about contentment and joy even in the midst of struggle....even in the midst of sorrow.....even in the midst of suffering. As David says in (v14- v16) It’s a faithfulness in His resume because He is Great and worthy of praise. Great is the Lord.........there are no mistakes to God’s providential plan when it comes to His sanctified children. He is so faithful He cares for you! Remember what Jesus said to His disciples? Let this not be true with us here today or the next. Jesus said to His disciples in the Gospel of Matthew something profound and a truth that we can hold on to even in a time like this. ( Turn to Matthew’s gospel chapter 6:25-33)
  
So let me ask you the hard question! DO YOU BELIEVE JESUS? The Christian faith is an active life that has been transformed by the Gospel which leads to a committed life unto Jesus Christ by Obedience. The Christian faith isn’t mere Intellectual exercise that we do from time to time. The only way to find victory to sin of doubt and lack of faith, is to seek the Lord and His righteousness, not the worlds or from looking within. James said in his letter “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally (bountifully) and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5)
  
This only comes when God allows trials to come into our lives.
It only comes through walking by faith.
It only comes by trusting in who Jesus claimed to be “GOD”
It only comes by seeking His Word for answers, not the world.
It only comes when we put our trust in His resume. 

I like what Hudson Taylor saysI have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done." As Jeremiah said “'Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.  (Jer 32:17). Don’t doubt what you cannot control! Seek the Kingdom and not your own understanding. May we never doubt the sovereign protection of our Lord and God? May we take this passage of scripture and grow from our mistakes, and learn to apply the wisdom from this passage to strengthen our faith in the living God.

 “The God who knows you best knows the best for you.” Woodroll Kroll
  
God is awesome and so is His resume! He will provide and prevail every time no matter how uncertain your situation might seem! (v14-v16) But! It comes down to this one question.........DO YOU TRUELY BELIEVE HIS RESUME OR DO YOU BELEIVE HE CAN’T BE TRUSTED?

07 August 2016

SECRET HEART



Psalm 51:6

Openness and accountability are two main ingredients missing in our society and the church these days. These are things that we desperately need the most, and these are the things we most resist. Do you have any secrets? Is there something in your life or past that only you know about? If so, I’m going to tell you some bad news this morning.... if you have private secrets that you never want known by others. See! I’m going to let you in on a little secret of mine. God knows everything! This is one of many amazing attributes God has! We call it “Omniscience”

Omniscience is defined as “the state of having total knowledge, the quality of knowing everything.” For God to be sovereign over His creation of all things, whether visible or invisible, He has to be all-knowing. His omniscience is not restricted to any one person in the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all by nature omniscient. This means that…..

God knows everything.

1 John 3:20 says “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”

God knows our very thoughts, even before we speak them.

Psalm 139:1-4 says “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.”

God knows our hearts from afar; He even saw us in the womb.

Solomon said this “…whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men),” 1 King 8:39

We come to a Psalm that demonstrates for us His omniscience, among many other attributes. David has done a terrible thing when we read Psalm 51He was involved in laziness, adultery, lying, betrayal and even murder. But, David understood what he did was wrong on a million levels and he also knew whom he sinned against (v1-v4) By David recognizing that he sinned against a holy God he also understood another truth that made him understand that he needs God’s help in. The answer is found in (v6) “you teach me wisdom in the (my) secret heart” 

“the secret or hidden part” It’s that secret part of the heart; the depths of the soul. The cleansing was to begin in that which was hidden from the eye of man; in the soul itself. Wisdom, heavenly, saving wisdom, was to have its seat there; the cleansing needed was not any mere outward purification, it was the purification of the soul itself. The same thing that Paul talked about to the Roman believers. “on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” Rom 2:16
  
May be……just may be, this you this morning? After opening prayer, the songs we’ve have sung and the preaching of God’s word that your heart is stirred and restless because maybe you are David this morning. Reason being….. It’s that part of you that no one, not even the people closest to you knows. See! This secret place is more than secrets or a bad past. It could be a present struggle and defeated life at this very moment. I’m here to tell you that “God knew all about this before you were even a thought or conceived.” This should cause us to stop out reverence and holy fear a bit, but it also should cause us to find peace and rest in Christ. Because God knew you were going to be messy before you were conceived. God knew that you were going to struggle or fall in many areas of life. This is why Jesus came to save us from ourselves….our reckless sin-filled lives! There is nothing hidden in your life that God didn’t already know about before you faced it. So my question to you is…….Do you want God to teach you wisdom in the secret heart? Our desire as Christians is for God to expose and restore every part of our being. Our desire as Christians is for God to disciple us through the word and by the Holy Spirit. Why? We don’t want to live the way we were before the gospel penetrated our lives…..we need be transparent seeking accountability! We all have different struggle and battles; we have an amazing God who is omniscience and He is here to help us as He did with David after his messy situation.

What David is asking takes great humility! Why? Because it makes us vulnerable and exposes our heart to change and many don’t like change. We like the status-quo. See change is hardThe question we need to ask ourselves is….. Will my heart be receptive like David or like the Pharisee’s that saw Jesus as a threat or a problem? Jesus confronts the Pharisees about this very thing in John 5:36-40 “But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

See, David has already established that he was the problem and the threat. That’s why he says this after this statement (v7-v10)Really think about this! Can you confess that statement to a holy omniscient God? Can you say what David said here…..TODAY, RIGHT NOW! Do you recognize that we are the ones who have been hostile and disobedient towards a holy God? If not! You need to start here! Ask God to search your heart and have Him draw you to your sin so that He can teach you in the secret heart. “Teach me wisdom” is the idea of true faithfulness and integrity, which is called wisdom. Job 28:28 says this “And he said to man, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'" And for David and us to know wisdom here is meant of knowing it practically and experimentally, so as to approve, and love, and practice it.

Can you truly ask this request knowing what you know right now about God? Can you, like David cry out this prayer? “Lord, please teach me wisdom in the secret heart?”

Teach me in my secret place how to love my neighbor? 

Teach me in my secret place how to love my family, my spouse, and my children unconditionally? 

Teach me in the secret place to love my siblings unconditionally.

Teach me in my secret place how to love my church family as Christ loved the church?

Teach me in my secret place how to love and help the less fortunate?

Teach me in my secret place how to love those of different races, colors or creeds?

Teach me in my secret place how to love the lost (all false religions, peoples) with the only message of hope the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Teach me in my secret place how to love those who disagree with me?

Teach me in my secret place how to serve faithfully in the church and outside the church?

Teach me in my secret place not to be boastful or arrogant with my church family and those lost outside?

Teach me in my secret place that I don’t have to be right or get the last word in all the time.

Teach me in my secret place how not to be a hater, angry or bitter towards others….especially those whom are the closest to me?
Teach me in my secret place how walk in obedience and not in my disobedience?

Teach me in my secret place to walk in purity and flea from all sexual immorality?

Teach me in my secret place how not to get entangled with the things of this world?

Teach me in my secret place to find my rest, peace and joy in You alone Lord?

See, if we could summarize what David is requesting it could be this! Lord, teach me in my secret place to love and do as you do? Can I hug and cry with the broken…those who have been mistreated by others in light of what has happened in the States recently or around the globe? Can I pour out God’s grace and mercy on those who oppose or dislike me for who I am in Christ? Can I love the unlovable? Can I display Christ though my sanctified life to a world of hostility and ignorance of sin and sinful practices? This is very hard to ask for! Because the secret heart is the place that we try and do our very best at keeping locked up to everyone…including God. The secret heart is where we entertain our sin and deepest longings. It’s that place where we feel most secured but in reality this is where our great chaos begins and ends. David knew it and we need to recognize it as well. To be gripped by the glory of God is to understand that HE KNOWS EVERYTHIHNG ABOUT YOU AND ME…..nothing is hidden! There are no hidden secrets kept from God. Will we submit to that truth and embrace it as David did…….then and only then will we be able to ask an Omniscient God that request. But by knowing this truth should make it easier for us to ask as well! 

J I Packer said this “God knew you and me, where we would appear in the course of time, and whom we would interact with. He even foresaw our sin in all its ugliness and depravity, yet, in love, He set his seal upon us and drew us to that love in Jesus Christ. We shall see Him face to face, but our knowledge of Him will never be complete. Our wonder, love and praise of Him shall go on for all millennia as we bask in the rays of His heavenly love, learning and appreciating more and more of our omniscient God.” As the Psalmist said “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.” Psalm 139:4. He knows you better than you know yourself! He created you for His glory. Loved ones knowing that truth! Can you cry out his pray towards an omniscient God to teach you His grace, His love, His desires in the secret place of your heart? Lord my prayer for me and everyone present that you teach us wisdom in the secret heart. Teaching us be a light and an example of your amazing grace.