Psalm 41:1 – 3
1Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him;
2the LORD protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
3The LORD sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness you restore him to full health.
The Lord delivers from his troubles, the one who considers the poor and needy. This cannot mean that those who help the poor are never going to have troubles of various sorts. And it cannot mean that all his troubles immediately disappear. A simple consideration of the life of Jesus, the life of Paul and the plain teaching of Scripture confirms this.
What does it mean then? Your troubles will not prevent you from helping the poor. See verse 2 – the Lord keeps him alive – alive to continue on in his good work of helping the poor. This of course, does not mean that he will never die. He will die, but not until the Lord says so and not until he finishes the work God called him to do. (Or until God takes the work, or the person, away, for failing to do it!)
Verse 3 – God sustains him on his bed of sickness. Sickness will come but the saint who loves his neighbour (shown in helping the poor) will be sustained on it. The verse does not say “will not get sick” or “will be healed”. It means that even in sickness, which may come and stay, this believer will not surrender to despair.
What causes you to give up in the good works that God, in His mercy has allowed you to participate in? Troubles are not in our lives to keep us from serving our Lord. Certainly, some come that lay us aside for awhile or that force us into different types of service. But we are in the service of the King until He says we are all done.
Today, do some kindness to someone because God has put you in a place where you can. Don’t let your troubles stop you from bringing glory to Him through your love for your neighbour.
17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
Paul here is telling his story as he defends himself before a Roman tribune. His own testimony was that at the same time he was standing by and approving the stoning of Stephen, he was “watching over” the garments of those who had removed their coats to be able to better throw stones. What is entailed in “watching over” these garments? It seems legitimate to conclude that part of what it means to “watch over” these garments is to make sure that no one steals them while they are busy stoning someone to death. What a glaring example of misplaced priorities!! While they are murdering a man they want to make sure that no one steals from them. How human this is. We are all prone to see the speck in someone else’s eye and miss the log in our own. “You had better not do this small thing to me” we seem to say, while at the same time we are willing to do worse to them and much worse against God. Lord, preserve me from such hypocrisy. Today, guard your heart against seeing small things done against you as being more offensive than your sins against God.
17How long, O Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their destruction,
my precious life from the lions!
Verse 17 – “How long O Lord will you look on?” It would be a mistake for us to assume that in David’s day, God always came through and prevented him and others from enduring great difficulty at the hands of others.
We sometimes think that the great heroes of the Bible were seeing miracles everyday and always having all their prayers answered immediately as if they all they had to do to get what they wanted from God was say what they wanted and “poof!!” there it was. Not at all. David here in Psalm 35:17 has been praying for relief for a long time. He has not got the answer he wants and he cries out to God in his agony “How much longer must I endure this hardship?”.
This is not a challenge to the faithfulness of God. God knows what He is doing and we should be very grateful that we are not the ones who say “jump” and God is not the one who replies by saying “how high?”. God loves to give good things to all His children. But He knows best how and when to deliver us. What a comfort this should be to His children.
The fact that David endured his troubles for a long time should be a great encouragement to us. Ask God today for what you need and keep on asking. (He wouldn’t tell you to keep asking if He didn’t intend to make you wait.)And take great consolation in the fact that He is on the throne and knows best how to give you what you really need.
9 Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD,
exulting in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
“O LORD, who is like you,
delivering the poor
from him who is too strong for him,
the poor and needy from him who robs him?”
God delivers the poor and needy from those who rob them. What a verse! It produces all kinds of questions and without getting into any of them we can say that here is a verse that addresses credit card interest rates, unfair taxes against the poor, payday loan companies, sub-prime mortgage offers and much more. The ones who rob the poor are not the poor themselves. They are those who have become rich by means of their oppression of the poor. God knows, God cares and God will not forget. The rich, who have a harder time entering heaven than a camel would have going through the eye of a needle, need to take care of their souls. This means repenting of sins that profit them at the expense of the poor, and treating the needy with justice and charity.
The Good News in this is that those who take advantage of the poor can be forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ. The proof of such faith will be that they turn away from their oppressive policies and practises.
There is a subtle message here as well to those who are not rich. Do not envy them. For the most part, their souls are impoverished and they do not even know it. Give Psalm 73 a read and thank God that you have been spared the final destiny of those whose life on this earth was free of the troubles of most men.
1Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
2Take hold of shield and buckler
and rise for my help!
3Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers!
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation!”
The true follower of Jesus Christ never trusts in himself. Even when David was under attack his concern was that God would fight for him. A faith that takes matters into its own hands when things get really rough is no faith at all. We do not just trust God when we can figure things out or when things are not too bad. God is not just a fair weather friend and we are not to be fair weather followers. It is when things are really rough that the true state of our faith will demonstrate itself.
This is especially true in our spiritual struggles. Ephesians 6:10-18 reminds us that our struggle is not against people and our weaponry is not things we can come up with. Salvation, righteousness, faith, the Gospel and the Word of God, all held together by prayer is the armour that God provides.
Far too many Christians abandon these God given necessities for devices of their own when they are tempted or when life just gets too hard to handle. We will never know the power of the armour of God if we do not use them. Today, when you are tempted to speak or act in a non-Christian manner, do not resort to doing what any non-believer can do. Show the real power of God by responding to hardship as He directs us in His Word.
What should we value more than our lives? That question would no doubt produce many interesting answers. We would die for our children. We should be willing to die for our spouses. And we should be able to say without fear of contradiction, from the depths of our hearts,
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. “
Love the Saviour and live, not to be seen but that He might be seen through the work he has called you into. Oh that we might finish our courses and the ministries that we have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then leave the planet with a clear conscience.
Note that Paul says he wants to finish his course. Compare that wish with
2 Tim. 4:7 (ESV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
God granted Paul’s desire that he finish what he had been called to do. Considering all that Paul went through in his life as a missionary and Apostle this is a virtual miracle, certainly a shining providence. Mortals are no mortals here until their work is done.
18Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
The Gospel always means that there will be significant sacrifice because of coming to Christ. Those who had practiced “magic arts” came and burned their books. This would have represented a sizeable financial sacrifice. In Ephesus those who made their money from the manufacture of idols realized that the more people who became Christians, the less people there would be buying from them. There is no way to fudge this. People coming to Christ would mean they would lose business. It would effect their bottom line. If the idol makers themselves became Christians they would have to find a new line of work.
North America desperately needs to realize this and the church needs to articulate it in presenting the Gospel. No one can serve God and money. There can only be one Master and it must always be Jesus Christ. Coming to Jesus may cause the loss of more money than gain. And real Christians will take the loss joyfully. This may cause great consternation in many people but we cannot change the truth. It is Jesus or nothing. There are no Christian idol makers, prostitutes, gangsters, drug dealers, gossips, cheaters, heartless ignorers of the poor… There are only repentant ones.
1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
Acts 19:5 On hearing about Christian baptism the Ephesian disciples are baptized into the name of Jesus. Does this phrase “into the name of Jesus” mean that the traditional formula “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” was not used? Not at all. Paul, in verse 2, when he hears that these disciples have never heard of the Holy Spirit asks them “…into what then were you baptized?” In other words “How could you have had Christian baptism if you have never heard of the Holy Spirit? If you have had Christian baptism you would have at least heard of Him at your baptism.”
This means that to be baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus (verse 5) includes the mentioning of the Holy Spirit in the act of baptism. This is not a small matter. The doctrine of the trinity is essential to the Christian faith, or to put it more bluntly: if you deny the trinity you are denying the Christian faith.
The God of the Bible is the three Person God. He is the only God who is. You do not worship the God of the Bible if you do not worship Him who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – three Persons, One God. Do not see this as a small matter. It is crucial. This is worth dying for. Go to the Father today, through your great High Priest, Jesus Christ the Son of God, because of the Holy Spirit who lives in all believers. If there is no trinity you cannot get to God at all.
1 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4 For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
Why should we worship God with exuberance? Because the Word of God is true and God is faithful. Many people speak about how great exuberant worship is, and they have a point. But let us not lose sight of what makes it exuberant – the Word of God and the faithfulness of God.
No one has the right to worship at all if he is not a studier of the Word of God and can attest, from that study, that the Scriptures are upright. He will be a studier of the Word so that he can listen to God and obey Him and prove His faithfulness.
Are you an exuberant worshipper? Is that excitement in worship due to what God says in His Word? Is it based on a confirmation in your life of experiencing the faithfulness of God as testified by the Scriptures? The truths of God that we discover and grow in through hearing the Holy Spirit in Holy Scripture will excite the saved soul. This will not always lead to physically demonstrative worship, but it will produce worship that is genuine, joyful, faithful to Him and God centered.
And don’t think that true worship only happens in a building with all the music. The lives of believers are lives of worship. Go into this day as a true worshipper of God, fed by His Word and obedient to what He says.
Keep the Unity of the Spirit
Thistletown Baptist Church
November 16, 2008
You can click here to go to the Internet Archive page for this sermon, or listen to the sermon using the player below.
Last week we considered the matter of keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace as that is commanded in Ephesians 4:1-3. Christians, in a world torn by strife and hatred and cruelty and war … are to be a people who show the world that they are Christ’s disciples by loving one another. They work hard at keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace … . This is not a small matter. It is a crucial matter. The first thing Paul says to the Ephesians after he says that God can do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, is that we be humble, patient and loving with each other, keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Commenting on this chapter of Romans 14, Matthew Henry, a 17th century commentator, said:
It is certain that nothing is more threatening, nor more often fatal, to Christian societies, than the contentions and divisions of their members. By these wounds the life and soul of religion expire. Now in this chapter we are furnished with the sovereign balm of Gilead; the blessed apostle prescribes like a wise physician. … This chapter, rightly understood, made use of, and lived up to, would set things to rights, and heal us all. Continue reading