Monday, June 27, 2022

Protecting God's People (Psalm 76)

 Protecting the Church

"In Judah God is known; His name is great in Israel. In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling place in Zion" (Psalm 76:1–2).

Calvin maintains that Psalm 76 refers to the time when God delivered the Jewish nation from the Assyrians. The LORD declared to King Hezekiah through Isaiah that “I will defend this city, to save it, for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake” (2 Kings 19:34). That night the angel of the Lord killed 185 thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the king of Assyria discovered what had happened, he withdrew and returned to Nineveh.

God greatly manifested His power to all the earth in this miraculous victory over the Assyrians. Such is the power God reveals in all ages in preserving His people. Just as He delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrian king, so He protects His church from its enemies. God protected Jerusalem because He had chosen that city as His dwelling place in which His name was to be called upon by His people. “God having, by this example, testified that His power is invincible for preserving His church, it is a call and an encouragement to all the faithful to repose with confidence under His shadow,” Calvin wrote. “If His name is precious to Himself, it is no ordinary pledge and security which He gives to our faith when He assures us that it is His will that the greatness of His power should be known in the preservation of His church. Moreover, as the church is a distinguished theatre on which the divine glory is displayed, we must always take the greatest care not to shroud or bury in forgetfulness, by our ingratitude, the benefits which ought to be held in remembrance for all ages.

Calvin continued, “Farther, although God is not now worshiped in the visible tabernacle, yet as by Christ He still dwells in the midst of us, yea even within us, we will doubtless experience, whenever we are exposed to danger, that under His protection we are in perfect safety. If the earthly sanctuary of Jerusalem afforded to God’s ancient people succor while it stood, we may rest assured that He will have no less care of us who live in the present day, when we consider that He has vouchsafed to choose us as His temples in which He may dwell by His Holy Spirit.” Those who have faith in Christ are God’s chosen people, and they will persevere to the end under His protection.

What response do the people give to the Lord in Psalm 76 when they consider His divine protection? What should your response be to God in light of His preservation of you? Show God gratitude for His power in preserving your soul. Spend some time in prayer today thanking God for His protection.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

God Exalts and Abases (Psalm 75)

"But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another" (Psalm 75:7).

All Christians can testify to the joy they feel when they hear someone who has gained great success attribute his achievements to the power of God: the runner who bows in prayer after winning a difficult race; the golfer who gives God the credit for his victory; the businessman who testifies that God gave him the abilities and opportunities to achieve success. Testimonies like these direct us toward the sovereign providence of God, reminding us that it is God who exalts men and God who abases them. Unbelievers attribute their victories and successes to chance or their own abilities. Believers, however, understand that God directs the affairs of mankind, and as the judge of all creation He decides who is to be raised up and who is to be thrown down.

The writer of Psalm 75 considers God as judge and speaks of His providence in the successes and failures of men: “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” The achievements of men do not occur by chance—people are advanced to their positions by the secret purpose of God that He might do with them what He will. In “casting down one man and elevating another to dignity, God orders the affairs of the human race as seems good in His sight,” Calvin wrote. Many think God impotent in the affairs of men, thus they attribute their successes to their own power, but God can just as easily exalt a man as cast him down. We must then learn from the psalmist to remain content with our own condition, for God has ordered the world according to His judgment; it belongs to Him alone to exalt or to abase those whom He pleases.

Those who believe that God directs the paths of all men will not depend on earthly means, but will look beyond these to God. Therefore, “the godly should submit themselves wholly to God and beware of being lifted up with vain confidence,” Calvin said. We should acknowledge our utter dependence on God in all things and not be swayed by the vain successes of the ungodly, for God has a set purpose for them; we can trust that His ways are just no matter what position we attain.

Read Genesis 45:1–8, 2 Samuel 7:1–16, and 1 Kings 14:1–9. What is the common theme of these passages? What do these passages say about God’s sovereignty in the lives of Joseph, David, and Jeroboam? What does this say about God’s sovereignty in your life? How should knowledge of this truth bring you contentment?

Sunday Sermon: "But the Lord..." (Jonah 1:3-4)

 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

US Supreme Court Decision on Abortion and After Roe

Yesterday's historic and momentous decision by the Supreme Court, while it doesn’t outlaw abortion outright, has given Christians a great opportunity to continue to advocate for babies as each state will now be considering its own laws regarding abortion. 

This is an opportunity to present the powerful message that from both a biblical and scientific perspective, life begins at the moment of fertilization. Abortion destroys a human being, someone who is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and created in the image of God. Abortion is murder—a child sacrifice to the “god of self.” As all 50 states now consider their own laws on abortion, education on this vital issue is needed now more than ever.

In May 2022, the United States Supreme Court suffered an unprecedented event: a draft of one of their opinions was leaked to the media, something that had never happened in the history of the court. And it was not just any opinion, it was the opinion on a case involving abortion. The draft opinion overturned the wicked Roe v Wade decision and returned the decisions to the states. You can read the final decision here (PDF).

Predictably, demonic activity increased at the potential to lose some of their regular human sacrifices. In the short time since the leak, at least 23 pro-life organizations have been either vandalized or firebombed. An infanticide activist even arrived at a Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home prepared to assassinate him! Fortunately, the assassin was thwarted, but the explosion of violence should come as no surprise from people who are willing to murder babies for their own convenience. It is sadly consistent with such a godless worldview.

Now is the time for Christians to step up in their home states and help end this barbaric practice forever! Now the final decision has been released. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled, “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.” In other words, down goes Roe!

Abortion is a vile, wicked procedure, and regrettably, the Supreme Court ruling does not ban the practice. Human life has value because all humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). And Scripture makes clear that we are known by God and created in his image from the moment of fertilization:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13–16)

The fact that the United States continues to allow children to be slaughtered in cold blood, then allows their organs to be sold for research is sickening and ought to cause us to weep. And God hates “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17).

Now is the time for Christians to step up in their home states and help end this barbaric practice forever! And let us continue to pray for those who may literally be on the front lines in this process and the families and lives continuing to be destroyed while abortion is still legal.

Praise the Lord for this progress, but there is much more work yet to be done in each state. Here are a list of resources for the state of Michigan where I live. You can find out how to help in the fight in your own state here.

One final note dear Christian from one who is getting hateful notes for speaking on this issue: your biblically rooted convictions will divide you from the world. You’ll be called bigot, hater, and all sorts of names for following Jesus. Your friends and family might even hate you for standing firm. 

Stand firm.

Find comfort in Jesus’ words: Matthew 10:34-39.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Silence of the Prophets (Psalm 74)

"We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet" (Psalm 74:9a).

The occasion for the writing of Psalm 74 is uncertain, but many speculate that it was during the Babylonian captivity of Israel because the psalm refers to the burning of the temple. Evidence against this theory, however, is that the psalm mentions the silence of the prophets, which could not be during the exile because there were a number of prophets at that time. Therefore, some say this psalm actually relates to the period when the temple was profaned under Antiochus Epiphanes. This, however, is questionable because the temple at that time was not utterly destroyed. Perhaps the psalm refers to a time during the Babylonian exile when the prophets were silent, sometime shortly before Daniel. Whichever the appropriate period might be, the psalm paints a graphic picture of Israel, assailed by calamities and faced with the silence of the prophets.

God used prophets to speak to the people, warning them of His judgments and giving them assurance that their sufferings would end. When God fell silent, despair wove its way through the Jewish nation. The prophets played a vital role—they offered consolation and inspired the people with hope of divine mercy. They were also heralds of the wrath of God, calling the people to repentance. Thus, when the people were locked in the chains of a foreign enemy, their fears were magnified by the silence of the prophets. They needed the reassuring words of God that their sufferings would end as well as a call to repentance. Though the prophets often used harsh language in their dealings with the people, this was necessary for their correction. Once the people were humbled, they offered assurance that they could hope in God for deliverance.

As Christians, we need not fear the silence of the prophets, for Christ has taken this office upon Himself (Acts. 3:22). Through the Scriptures, which are illumined by the Holy Spirit, He speaks to His people, warning, inspiring, instructing, and consoling them. When we are in rebellion, He rebukes us through His Word, calling us to repentance. When we are humbled, He offers assurance, establishing our hope of salvation that we might not be consumed with fear when under affliction.

How do you know a prophet is truly of God? (Read Deut. 13:1–5) Are the Scriptures sufficient in revealing to us God’s will or do we need further revelation from men who claim to be prophets? How does Christ as our Prophet reveal that we have no need of any more prophets like those in the Old Testament?