Psalm

Say Anything

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If you are fortunate enough to have someone who is so close to you that you can share anything with, even your deepest darkest secrets, desires, fears and troubles, then consider yourself blessed. I’ve seen relationships between friends, siblings, spouses and even a parent with their child where no subject of discussion is off the table; anything can be shared, lamented about or celebrated. It is wonderful to know that God encourages, and at times orchestrates, these types of relationships. But I believe that God can be, and should be, our closest confidant. He should be the primary person we share everything and anything with. David knew that as he reveals in Psalm 142, verses 1 and 2:

“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.”

I’ve often considered how we must continue to remember that God is God and should be reverently feared and revered. I’ve said that we should approach him with humility and honor because he is holy, he is God, and he is the creator of everything we know. David learned this about God the hard way when Uzzah tried to steady the ark of the covenant with his hands and was killed right there on the spot because he neglected to revere the Lord, and his holiness. But David also knows that with God, we are able to share anything and everything. He knows everything about us anyway. The Bible tells us that he knows what we need before we even ask him. But there is something therapeutic about getting our thoughts and concerns off of our chest. God doesn’t mind. Jesus says that we are to come to him when we are weary and burdened. He says that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. So I encourage you to remember to open your heart before God when you pray. Don’t hold anything back. Tell him anything and everything.

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When I imagine very close friends, I conjure an image in my mind of two close female friends spending hours talking about their overbearing parents, the girls who are giving them trouble at school, and the boys they wish would ask them out. They hold nothing back, and trust the other implicitly with every thought, every feeling and every secret. God can be that for all of us. David said, “I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.” God doesn’t only listen, he cares. And not only does he care, he can help us, guide us and protect us. So I encourage you to talk to him today and every day. He is always listening.

Cherish Sin

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Does Satan have a stronghold in your life where you find yourself battling a habitual sin that you can’t seem to shake? He might have beaten you down so badly with shame and addiction that you feel like you’ll never be free of it. Or, you may have grown so accustomed to your sin, that you’ve learned to justify it to a point that it doesn’t even prick your conscience anymore. If that is you; if Satan has his hooks in you but you’ve decided to accept that you’ll never be free, I challenge you not to give up. Set aside the shame, humble yourself, and continue to pray and believe that Jesus will set you free. Because the more you grow comfortable with your sin, the more you are distancing yourself from God. In Psalm chapter 66, verses 18 and 19, the psalmist shares these words:

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.”

You see, we can’t comfortably continue in our sin, and think that our prayers will be effective. If we cherish sin in our heart, this psalmist says that the Lord will not listen. There is support for this truth in other areas of the Bible as well, explaining that God may not hear the prayers of those who cherish sin in their hearts, but the prayers of the righteous will avail much. So I challenge you not to cherish, or love, the sin in your heart. Because if you do, the Lord will not listen to you, and your separation from God will grow. Do what the psalmist did. Allow the Spirit to clean your heart. Then God will surely listen and hear your voice in prayer.

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Our spiritual unfaithfulness has a greater effect on our relationship with God than we might think. When we are spiritually far from God, he is spiritually far from us. But once we repent; once we humble ourselves before the Lord with a broken spirit, he will forgive us, restore us, listen to us and “hear the voice of our prayer”, as the psalmist puts it. So I challenge you not to cherish sin in your heart. Learn to see sin as God sees it; as evil and a vice that separates you from him.

Speak Out

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A believer once told me that it wasn’t his desire to proactively share his faith, but if someone were to ask him what he believed, he’d be happy to tell him that he is a Christian; a follower of Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why any believer, especially at this time in our history, would be afraid to share their heart about the gospel of Jesus Christ; to proclaim that they are a believer and to associate what they believe with biblical truth, but that is what God wants us to do even if it costs us something. I believe that our heart should reflect the heart of Jesus who spoke openly about the Father’s faithfulness and the salvation that can only be found in himself. And I believe king David would agree. He wrote these words in Psalms chapter 40, verse 10:

“I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.”

It is human nature to fear rejection and persecution, but these things can, and often do, accompany the open proclamation of God’s word. Only in settings like church or Bible study is speech about Jesus expected and accepted. It is when we share about him outside of the context of a church or a Christian event do we typically encounter rejection. But Jesus both operated within the synagogue and in the houses of sinners and unbelievers. He spoke about salvation in love and grace, not with judgment and condemnation. But he spoke about it all the same. And I believe that we should strive to follow his example.

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When it comes to sharing about your salvation to those who don’t believe, I encourage you to be like David. Do not hide Jesus’ righteousness in your heart; Speak of his faithfulness and salvation. Do not conceal his love and his truth from the great assembly. If believers remain silent, how will the lost learn about the salvation Jesus offers? In his word Jesus told his disciples to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” I believe that command is for us as well. So I would encourage you to be bold, to share about Jesus in love much in the same way Jesus modeled for us in the Bible. I encourage you not to hide Jesus’ righteousness in your heart, but to speak out concerning his faithfulness and salvation.

Not Withheld

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If you are familiar with the scriptures you probably know that our God is a God who forgives. When we sin, there is forgiveness and restoration available to us. Because of his grace, even if we continue to fall, he still loves us and he still desires for us to restore our relationship with him through repentance. But Paul warns that even though we know that “where sin abounds, grace much more abounds”, we shouldn’t use that truth as a license to sin. And Psalms takes it one step further. In chapter 84, verse 11, we’re told that when we are right with the Lord; when our walk is blameless, there is no good thing he will withhold from us. It says:

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

In the story of the prodigal son, the faithful son was upset that his brother, who rejected then returned to his father, was celebrated with a fattened calf, a ring and new clothes. But the father reminded him that everything the father has belongs to the faithful son. In this statement we too are reminded that “no good thing does the father withhold from those whose walk is blameless”. So if you have sinned and disobeyed the Lord, or if you have turned from him, I want to remind you that there is forgiveness through repentance. But if your walk is strong with the Lord; if you are faithful and blameless before him, remember that there is no good thing he will withhold from you.

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Often times we focus on how forgiving our God is, as well we should. Because all of us have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God, we all need and depend on that forgiveness. You might be in need of that forgiveness today. If you are, I encourage you to humble yourself, ask God to forgive you and repent (or turn away) from your sins. But if your walk is blameless; if you are right before God, then remember this truth from Psalms: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” Being blameless doesn’t mean that we are sinless. Everyone sins. No, being blameless is walking in step with the Spirit in as much as it is possible with us, which is a goal that everyone should pursue.

Made Wise

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There is great wisdom to be found in the Bible. So much so, that if we read it and do what it says, I believe that we are getting a better education on how to live life than any doctorate can give you from any university. If we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us through the word of God, we are made wise. We are wise with the kind of wisdom that teaches us how to live well in this life and how to prepare for eternity. But we need to read it, we need to think on it, and we need to follow what it says. Psalm 119, verses 97 through 99, encourages us with these words:

“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.”

Do you believe that claim? Do you believe that God’s commands found in the Bible can make you wiser than your enemies; that it can provide more insight than any teacher or professor? I do. I believe it because we are taught that the words found in the Bible are God-breathed. They are instructions and guidelines on how to live, given to us by our creator. The Bible points us to the Savior who points us to the Father; the one who has the power to bless us, to forgive us, and to save us. I encourage you to do what this psalmist did; meditate, or think, on his word all day long. Read it, learn it, follow it, and gain more wisdom than any man could teach you here on earth.

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I don’t think we, as human beings, understand how powerful the word of God is. If we did; if we truly believed that the Bible is the inspired word of almighty God, why wouldn’t we become scholars of it? Why wouldn’t we do everything we could to know everything we could about it? Why wouldn’t we do what the psalmist did; love it and meditate on it all day long? I want to remind you that the Bible is, in fact, the inspired word of God. If you read it, and allow the Holy Spirit to help you understand it, and if you follow what it says, you will be exceedingly wise. Proverbs teaches us our first lesson; that it all begins with a reverent fear of the Lord. It says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I encourage you to be made wise today. I encourage you to study the Bible.