The Cry For Righteousness – Psalm 141:1-5

May God Guard Our Speech And Our Hearts From Wickedness

1 I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
hear me when I call to you.
2 May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like
the evening sacrifice.

3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
do not let me eat their delicacies.

5 Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
let him rebuke me-that is oil on my
head.
My head will not refuse it,
for my prayer will still be against the
deeds of evildoers.

Critical Cry

When we are in trouble, we cry out to God.  And that is the underlying desire that God places in our hearts – to seek Him out.  David, the Psalmist, cries out to God regularly, and petitions God to hear his pleas.  David remembered that God was sovereign, heard his cries, and would help him in his time of need:

6 In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
7 The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
8 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
9 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him-
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Wonderful Worship

David requests that his prayers be like incense, a fragrant offering to God.  He also requests that his raised arms be like a sacrifice before God.  In his worship and pleading to God, the Psalmist seeks to pour himself out before God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the Rock of his salvation.  David recognized the desire that God placed in his heart to please God in everything that He did.  That didn’t keep David from sinning, but his heart was constantly and consistently turning towards God.

Selective Speech

David asked that his mouth be guarded so that he would not speak evil from it:

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

David’s sense of God’s holiness and righteousness were paramount in how he lived his life.  We often carelessly say things to people.  David most likely did the same, and asked that God help him with that.  In addition to pleasing and honoring God in this, there is another good reason to ask for this ourselves:

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Determine Desire

David then asks God to help protect his heart from desiring evil:

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

Apart from the protection of God in our hearts, they will become corrupt.  In the beginning, it was so bad, that God could only find eight people on earth who were righteous before He flooded it.  He also said something telling about humans as a race of people:

The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

This is NOT to say that God makes mistakes.  He knew that we would do what we would do before He created the Earth.  But the pain of watching sin take hold of the hearts of men and what they would do grieved God, even though He knew it would occur.  That is why He sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to be our final and perfect sacrifice for sin.

God doesn’t make mistakes; He cleans them up.

Righteous Rebuke

David so greatly desired to he draw close to God and do God’s will that he would welcome a rebuke from a righteous man.  To do so would mean that David was somehow in sin, or doing something displeasing to God.  A rebuke from the righteous man would help him to straighten out whatever he was doing wrong, and therefore live in greater harmony with God’s character.  Oil on the head was used as anointing and healing, and David would indeed be blessed if sin that had blinded him was pointed out and addressed.

Evade Evil

David’s prayers were constantly towards the changing of hearts of those who were doing evil.  His prayers weren’t against the evil people per se, but rather against their evil actions.  And while David did get angry enough on at least one occasion to ask that the evildoers have their names blotted from the rolls of the book of life, he generally and genuinely desired that others would join him in his pursuit of God in righteousness and holiness.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I pleading for God to guard my mouth and heart so that I will not sin against him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, time and time again Your word declares You to be holy and righteous.  Help me to have a better and deeper understanding of just how holy and righteous You are.  Reveal to me the ways that I sin against You so that I can address them and walk ever more closely with Jesus.  Please do not overwhelm me, but gently and gradually help me to not only desire to overcome my sin, but to replace the my sinful desires with a longing for You in my heart.  Holy Spirit, Overpower my wickedness with Your holiness, and strengthen me as I turn from all unrighteousness and walk towards Jesus.  Lord God Almighty, You and only You are able to help me to overcome, for You have overcome.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Stewardship and God – Ephesians 4:28

It Is Not Only Important HOW You Make Wealth, But Also What You DO With It

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Stop Stealing

Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the Earth (with the exception of Jesus Christ), provided some insight into work:

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Solomon understood that there was more to life than merely acquiring wealth.  Security and prosperity come from the Lord, and not from our own endeavors.  When we take on the responsibility for trying to obtain what we believe is needed in order to live, we end up wasting our lives in vain by spending inordinate amounts of time and energy in pursuit of money and possessions that inevitably end up in the hands of others.

God has given us a Commandment to obtain our wealth through His proscribed ways:

You shall not steal

When we steal, we are coveting that which God has not directly nor indirectly provided to us.  It is a violation of His law of conduct between a person and society, as well as that person and God.  When we steal from others, it deprives them of what God has permitted them to obtain through their endeavors, whether legally or illegally.  Secondly, it says that we do not trust God to provide for us in our time of need.  Finally, it indicates that not only are we not content with what God has provided for us, but that we have greed and covetousness in our hearts.

It is better to be poor with integrity than to be rich and a fool.

Work for Wealth

Work expresses itself differently in everyone’s lives.  In this case, Paul indicates that we should all be doing something with our hands to generate wealth.  This is not a call to manual labor per se, but rather a call to use the gifts and talents that God has provided each and every one of us with in order to both do something that is legal (both in terms of man’s law AND God’s law) and that is desired by other people who are willing to trade either money, labor, or goods in exchange.

If you do not know what specific special skills God has provided to you for His glory and your monetary enrichment, seek the Lord in prayer and fasting for the answer.  Then, when God provides the insight, set your mind towards the goal of honoring and glorifying His name in that venue, giving all glory to God who has provided You with both the skill and opportunity.  Placing God first in this will surely honor and glorify His name, regardless the outcome.  And your dedication will be noticed by others who are in the position to promote you and use the abilities that you have been given for greater use and economic enrichment.

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Saving and Spending

There are only four things that you can do with money:

  • Spend it
  • Save it
  • Invest it
  • Give it away

In each of these, there is value.  Paul shows us here that there is value in giving some of it away.  God provides to us, and we should share as God places it upon our hearts with those who are encountering difficulty.  And while wisdom and discernment should be used when giving to others, we should give to others.

Those who live by thievery do so from self-serving motives – whether it is the thought of self-preservation (food, shelter, clothing) or greed and covetousness, it reveals where our hearts are.  Paul encourages those who now obtain their wealth through work to not only think about themselves, but also those who need assistance.

We are told many times in Scripture to help widows and orphans.  In the time when Scripture was written, those were the two most vulnerable segments of humanity within society.  Widows had no protection of a husband, and orphans had no family with which to provide them with basic necessities, guidance, skills, and resources for opportunity.

The opportunity to help those less fortunate than ourselves is a characteristic that God wishes to foster in each and every one of us.  And it is unnatural to one who has been rejected by society with no prospects of earning money to be compassionate towards others as they were starving or otherwise at the mercy of the physical rigors associated with homelessness.

Saving some of the wealth that we have earned is paramount to a measure of security.  And while we do not place our trust in the money that we have, from an emotional standpoint it is much easier to do our work when we don’t have to concern ourselves with the thought that we will be unable to meet our financial obligations as we frugally seek to stay away from debt.

Sharing and Shaping

In order to share with others, we must first have something to share.  This is a secondary benefit of dedicating part of what we have earned (and what has not be confiscated by our government in taxes for their continued efforts).  Good stewardship reveals itself in how we conduct ourselves and our finances.  Setting aside “for a rainy day” is one of them. Setting aside for the betterment of others less fortunate is another.

Additionally, it develops within us the ability to control our desires.  When we say “NO!” to the voice in our heads that tell us that we need something right now, we are better able to say “NO!” when something truly important occurs in our lives that requires us to have self-control.

A good rule of thumb to use when you believe that you absolutely, positively, MUST have something RIGHT NOW is to ask yourself some questions:

  • Will I or someone else be severely impacted in my/their physical well-being if I do not purchase this right now?
  • Is this something that I absolutely need (as opposed to something that I want)?

If you answer yes to either of these questions, you may need to purchase it.  Now ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I live without this (forever)?
  • Can I live without this for at least a week?
  • Will I be financially indebted or exposed to financial ruination if I choose to purchase this right now?

If the answer to all of these questions are “No’, then you probably need to purchase it right now.

If your heart is still set on purchasing something that you want and do not need, then give your emotions a hiatus.  Place purchasing the item on probation for a period of time, perhaps a month, or if very expensive, six months.  You may find that after a period of time, your desire for what you want to buy may change.  And if it is something that you really desire, you will be in a better place emotionally to get it at the best price possible.  Advertising and sales try to emotionally involve you in your purchasing decisions.  “90% off offer only today!” is very enticing not only from the perspective of getting a bargain but also from the knowledge that you will have it immediately.

The principle here is self-control over our desires.  Each of us should develop this so that we can better react to the triggers that we face when in the world – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.  When we can get these things under the control of the Holy Spirit, we are in a much better place to be trusted with additional resources by God for His glory.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I able to exert self-control when presented with the opportunity to be immediately gratified?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are to be praised, for You show such great self-control especially given the grievous nature of my sin.  You patiently wait for me to repent, and lavish your grace and mercy upon me.  You provide for my every need, and even some of my desires.  Help me, Father, to learn the self-control that will help me to be more useful in Your kingdom.  Keep my heart from worldly desires, and help me to fix my eyes upon Jesus, to look full in His wonderful gaze.  Remember me in my weakness, for when I am weak, You are strong.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Promises of God – Psalm 145:14-16

The Lord Provides For His People

14 The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Helping Hands

God promises to never leave us nor forsake us.  And in doing so, He is the lifter of our heads.  He upholds us when we are weak, and carries us when we are weary.  God becomes our strength, and shows us His love.  He ensures that when we stumble, we are able to get back up.  God greatly desires to see us succeed in Him.

Proper Provision

God provides for the needs of the least and the greatest of all His creatures.  He feeds the sparrows in the morning, and feeds us as well.  We can depend upon the Lord God Almighty to provide for our needs in His timing and in His way.  Care should be taken when it seems that God is slow in providing, for it is often a test of trust.  And even should we faint, we can trust in God’s provision of righteousness, for this physical life is fleeting, and we will be in His presence in Eternity.

Desires Delighted

God fulfills the desires of every living creature.  He provides for our deepest desire.  And when we have filled ourselves with the things of this world, He still waits to fulfill the desire for Himself that He has placed in each and every heart.  God calls us to re-evaluate our desires and align them with His heart.  Unlike the instinct of creatures, we can choose what we desire.  And when we desire God and His word, He will fulfill our every desire.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I desiring God above all?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, my heart cries out for You and greatly desires You.  I seek You with all of my heart and strength and soul and mind.  Help me to have more of You and to experience Your character in my everyday life experiences.  Help me to rely completely and solely upon You for all things, for You are the one who provides them all.  Teach me to be patient and to trust You more.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?