You have delivered me from the attacks of the people;
you have made me the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
foreigners cower before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
Losing hope is something that can happen very easily, especially when we need it the most, ie when we are submerged up to our necks in deep trouble or when we have fallen so low that we hit the bottom. In those moments, when analyzing our situation, our mind tells us that there is no possible solution and that all is lost. Have you ever felt that way? It has happened to me several times. When problems relentlessly overwhelm us and conflicts arise from all directions there is very little time to focus on how we can escape the situation. Panic overwhelms us and the prospect that our life will soon cease to be becomes very evident. Even for an outsider, one that is not directly the subject of the difficulties, the situation will look like something inescapable and inevitable failure is soon to follow.
A couple of examples from the word of God come to mind. One is the case of Joseph, the son of Jacob. After being sold by his brothers into slavery, he ended up landing with his bones in prison. Everything was going from bad to worse, from free to slave, from slave to prisoner and if things continued like that, suddenly he would go from prisoner to cadaver. However, in due time God took him out of the terrible situation in which Joseph was placed and elevated him to nothing less than the second position of power and authority in the reign of Pharaoh. If that’s not an impressive and successful comeback, I don’t know what it is. The author of today’s passage, King David, also went through something similar. From being a fugitive in constant flight he became a powerful and successful king who conquered vast territories and amassed great fortunes. Can’t you see that for God nothing is impossible? No matter how large the problem that you find yourself in, you can be sure that God will always be able to bless you with a stunning comeback. You can trust him. Only to God be the glory!
Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time
is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him;
he refreshes the spirit of his master.
For those of us who are “enjoying” a very hot summer, the image of snow certainly gives us a nice sense of freshness. In a year when the drought has ravaged crops and decimated the water resources that are within our reach, we cannot wait for autumn and its inseparable successor, winter, to come with their cold and refreshing breaths. Enter a room with air conditioning after exposure even for a short time to the relentless and oppressive heat of the street and you will feel a pleasant sense of relief and tranquility. Likewise we can feel that we renew our spirit and relief takes the place of concern when we have someone responsible in charge of performing the tasks that have been assigned to him and he engages them with great commitment. As we apply the golden rule that Jesus taught us, when we happen to be the executors of the plan we must be very accountable and effective in performing the tasks under our responsibility in the same way we would like that others would carry out the activities we entrust them with.
Many times we do things just for the sake of seeing them fulfilled and to get rid of the concern that bothers us when the tasks have not been fully carried out. There is nothing wrong with that but it is better when the same activities are executed considering the welfare and peace of mind of those who ordered them. Let us be responsible with everything, small or large, that we have been given for our action. The joy of accomplishment and the satisfaction of he who has given us the responsibility of completing the task are the best awards that we can receive. To God alone be the glory!
The rich are wise in their own eyes;
one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.
Some people think that wealth comes from cunningly conducted business and that it is a demonstration of the wisdom of those who have become rich this way. Nothing could be farther from reality. While it is true that the word of God speaks of certain financial principles that will help us not to fall into debt and enjoy a healthy economy, these principles by themselves cannot guarantee financial success. The wise man honors God with his wealth and the first fruits of his crops. God knows the hearts of all men, so he knows the spiritual condition of he who presented the offering. The gift that someone “honors” God with may be ineffective if the heart of he who offers it does not act with sincerity and devotion. God gives us wisdom that allows us to make good decisions on any area of our lives, including our finances. Let us remember that the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord, which is obedience and reverence to God.
So wealth does not depend on cunning or a supposed “financial wisdom” but on the will of God that is good and pleasing and perfect. While there are many non-believers who “enjoy” the accumulation of money and apparently are happy, in reality they are not. Their alleged joy is only a facade behind which they hide their misery. As the apostle Paul told Timothy, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Let us act wisely and let us follow the teachings of the Word of God with grateful hearts for all the blessings, financial or of any other kind, that we have received from the mighty hand of God . To God alone be the glory!
Posted in Proverbs
Tagged Christianity, deluded, discerning, God, Jesus, joy, knowledge, love, obedience, poor, Proverbs 28, rich, righteousness, wealth, wisdom, wise
By the waters of Meribah they angered the LORD,
and trouble came to Moses because of them;
for they rebelled against the Spirit of God,
and rash words came from Moses’ lips.
Oftentimes when things go wrong the responsibility for what happened lies with the leaders. No wonder, since those who are in leadership positions are granted more power and this implies a greater accountability for the outcomes of their decisions. A good leader knows what he is exposed to and when something does not go as expected he takes full responsibility for what happened. However, on rare occasions, the responsibility lies not with the leader but on the followers. In the case of the popular protest against Moses because the shortage of water in the desert, the level of gossip of the people was so strong and so repetitive that it made Moses, an extremely humble man, to loose his cool and he ended up acting stupid and rashly carrying out the instructions that God gave him. Moses could blame the people, in fact, God disciplined the people for this and many other instances of complaint and murmuring. Moses’ failure was a result of his rebellious spirit which considered that what God had ordered him to do was a nuisance for his life.
We all receive God’s direction but sometimes we believe that the way we resolve the issues is better than God’s way and we end up rebelling against him. The basis for rebellion is pride and disobedience and we know that none of these things is pleasing to the Lord. When God commands us to do something and we think that there is a better way to do it, we should immediately stop and analyze where we are failing and identify what we need to do to fulfill God’s instructions to the letter. Otherwise it is very likely that we will end up falling into the deep pit of error and sin. Let us heed the voice of God and let us allow his Holy Spirit to lead us into the path of righteousness. To God alone be the glory!
Posted in Psalms
Tagged anger, Christianity, discipline, God, Holy Spirit, Moses, obedience, Psalms, rash, rebellion, sin, trouble, trust, wisdom, words
A gossip betrays a confidence;
so avoid anyone who talks too much.
We all need to communicate with each other. To a greater or lesser extent we all need to express ourselves and be heard by others. When someone pays genuine attention to what we are saying we feel honored and useful as we share with others a little bit of ourselves. Now, some people take this need to communicate to pathological and unbearable extremes. These are people whose only aim in life is to talk (usually about themselves) without stopping and without caring whether they are being heard or not. Of course they think others are paying attention and are very interested in knowing what they have to say, even if it is not true, and that’s why they never stop talking mostly inconsistencies. Many of them, having no other subject of conversation dedicate themselves to exposing personal information about other people, most likely something which is not in the public domain. The elements of secrecy and mystery add a little excitement to the subject being shared and the natural curiosity of those who are receiving the message above is conjugated to form an explosive mixture. Just as the Athenians and foreigners living in Athens attended the Areopagus to expend the time doing nothing but listening to and discussing the latest news, today people are guided by their carnal nature to find out about every gossip and news going around them and if they find someone like the people described above, the conditions are perfect for gossip and hearsay.
We should avoid this type of people and we should always stay away from them. A gossip rotten apple soon spoils the whole barrel. The apostle Paul exhorted us to always make our conversation pleasant and tasteful so no there is no room for gossip and backbiting. If someone likes to talk, let him speak of Christ and sparingly to avoid exhausting the patience of others. If anyone wants to come to tarnish our hearts with private information from others, let us pay no heed to their message and let us put a stop to those engaged in such a shameful activity. With our minds focused on our Lord Jesus Christ we will enjoy the peace and harmony that should exist between brothers. To God alone be the glory!
Posted in Proverbs
Tagged avoidance, betrayal, Christianity, confidence, faith, God, gossip, Jesus, life, love, obedience, Proverbs 20, righteousness, spirituality, talk, truth, wisdom
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.
What a wonderful opportunity we have to serve the Lord by serving the poor! It is a shame that we often look at them with contempt and arrogance. We believe that their poverty is the result of who knows what evil deeds that were done by them in the past. And even if it is so, we act as ruthless judges condemning them with disdain, when we should be giving them a hand if possible (it always is) and giving them another opportunity. Instead of acting with compassion as our Lord Jesus would do, we refuse to lend a hand to help them out of the deep hole they have fallen into. Egocentrism silences any remorse that our consciousness may bring out of our hearts. Instead of seeing it as an excellent opportunity to serve the Lord we see it as a nuisance that gets in our way and makes our life less bearable.
Let us follow the wise guidance of the Holy Spirit so we can serve our poor neighbors the same way that Jesus would do, but taking care not to usurp the rightful place of God as provider. We are mere pawns in the hands of the Universal Grandmaster placed on a cosmic chess board, carrying out God’s strategic moves that will lead us to victory. We don’t have to go too far to find opportunities to serve the poor. We can find them everywhere and just in case we have not noticed, they happen to be a majority, so we can’t say we do not know where to find them. Make sure that our help to them is not something done as a mere formality. Our actions must spring straight from our hearts and they must be at all times carried out for the glory of God and not for our own glory. Let us find where is the need so we can help with our hands and resources (which are ultimately God’s resources) to improve the lives of the dispossessed. Thus, we will be doing what the Lord expects of us. To God alone be the glory!
Posted in Proverbs
Tagged Christianity, faith, God, kindness, obedience, poor, Proverbs 19, reward, righteousness, wisdom, works
Your arm is endowed with power;
your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.
One of the biggest obstacles that keep us from walking close to God is our short attention span. The attention span of a person is the ability that someone has to keep his concentration on one task or stimulus, without being distracted by other people or things in their environment. According to studies conducted by psychologists the ability to focus on a target is necessary for learning and for successfully completing any project. We joke about the very short attention span of a child or a dog without realizing that we also have serious limitations in this respect. The world constantly bombards us with many messages and almost all of them are successful in diverting our attention from where it should be focused, which is pleasing our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. In a world where the use of mass media is intensifying every day is easy to lose focus on the things of God. The number of things that are competing to capture our attention, even for brief moments, it’s phenomenal. For the advertising folks is not so important how long they can grasp our concentration as long as they can secure it repeatedly throughout the day. Not surprisingly then, the indiscriminate bombardment of messages we receive minute by minute of our existence.
The solution is not that we move to the opposite end of the pendulum and we spend all day reading the word, in prayer and fasting. The extremes can never be good. We must strike a balance between the attention we devote to the things that keep us connected to God, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and our daily activities related to our work and family environments. However, the fact that we spend most of our attention and time on activities that are not spiritual does not mean we should not take every thought captive to Christ because everything we say, think and do must be related to our obedience to God. Let God be the center of our life in action and thought to keep us in a constant attitude of praise to his name regardless of what activity we are doing. Never lose sight of the purpose for which we were created, the glory of God. To God alone be the glory!
Posted in Psalms
Tagged arm, Christianity, exalted, God, hand, hope, Jesus, justice, life, love, obedience, power, Psalms, right hand, righteousness, strenght, wisdom
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
Just as it looks like that it’s the sun that revolves around the earth when the reality is quite the opposite, so it seems that when we sin and make mistakes, God turns his back on us. The reality is that when we sin, it is us who turn our backs on him. We sin because we disobey his commandments, or because we feel that certain aspects of our life do not need to be managed in accordance with the principles established by God. We sin because we place ourselves (or think we can place ourselves) above God. And when we sin we turn our backs to God to follow our own paths and make our own decisions without the participation of the loving guidance of our heavenly Father. With arrogance but also with shame we turn our faces away to avoid being confronted by the truth and justice emanating from the presence of God. Later, when things go wrong, we refuse to accept our responsibility for having failed and often we blame God for what is happening to us without understanding that everything is the result of our disobedience.
Since it was not God who has turned his back on us it is our responsibility to turn our face towards God so we can renew our relationship with him. He is always there. He has never left us. It is us who have separated from him and it is us who must seek and appeal for the mercy of God and through the merits of our Lord Jesus entreat God not to take into account our wrongdoing. Are you in affliction, trouble, anguish,distress or hardship? Have you considered that what is happening to you is most likely a result of your disobedience and distancing from God? The answer is in your hand. Turn to the Lord your God with a repentant heart and seek His forgiveness for all your faults. Then do not turn your face from the glorious presence of God and you will enjoy a relationship that will remain steadfast amid the most violent storm. To God alone be the glory!
Posted in Psalms
Tagged affliction, anguish, Christianity, consequence, disobedience, distress, faith, God, hope, Jesus, justice, life, loneliness, love, obedience, righteousness, sin, sinful nature, spirituality, trials, trouble, truth
Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
but those who heed it resist them.
When someone chooses to ignore God’s commands they are just trying to set their own plans and rules different to those of God. What they are really saying is that their thoughts and ideas are more important than what God has established as a standard for the human race. What they really do is to put themselves at the center of the universe and to put their interests above that of others. Arrogantly, they try to rise even above God, if this were possible. In order to ensure support for their selfish pretexts they seek the company of others who also have decided to abandon the standard of God to justify themselves because they are not alone in their boldness and rebellion. These rebels seek solace looking for one another to take advantage of what conventional wisdom suggests: “Misery loves company.” These villains form gangs to show defiance and to separate themselves even further from God.
For these, a sentence has been established already. Peter said: “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” And “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.” One thing we can be sure of, that each day the number of those who oppose the plans and statutes of God will increase. They have preferred to place their vile beyond the demands of holiness that God has established for man. Their growth and spread is just one more sign that the Lord’s Day is approaching. Let us look with hope to the glorious future that awaits us in which we will receive our reward for having remained faithful to the decrees of the Lord and the wicked will receive the punishment that they have sought for themselves. To God alone be the glory!
Posted in Proverbs
Tagged Christianity, faith, forsake, God, heed, hope, instruction, Jesus, life, love, obedience, praise, Proverbs 28, resist, spirituality, truth, wicked, wisdom
In the night, LORD, I remember your name,
that I may keep your law.
This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts.
In the never ending debate of those who think that salvation is achieved by works they quote many verses that mention obedience trying to show that it is what allows us to become children of God. This perspective of obedience as a requirement can only lead to legalism. Obedience is just the result of a life transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Obedience is the proof or evidence of the faith of a child of God and his dependence on his heavenly Father. Not surprisingly, James, the brother of the Lord said: “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” Obedience is the logical consequence of a total dependence on God. Faithbedience I think I have called it before. If we are not convinced that we depend on God in all activities and aspects of our lives, we will never see how important it is to obey God in everything. God has done everything necessary for us to be saved and, as the Psalmist says, our practice is to obey his precepts. Our sinful nature will always want to drive us out of subjection to God’s commands and to lead us into the territory of rebellion. If instead we let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit of God it won’t be necessary for us to deal with that problem. By the measure of our obedience we can calibrate our faith.
How big is your faith? Check whether or not you are obedient and you will find out. Is there an opportunity to be more obedient? Of course, since we are not perfect and since our sinful nature makes us validate what popular wisdom says: “A leopard never changes its spots.” Without faith and without the intervention of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit of God in our life can not show a true and effective obedience. Let us give the control of our lives to the Spirit of God and let us immerse ourselves in his word so we know what the rules that we must follow are and so we can meet our part. To God alone be the glory!
Posted in Psalms
Tagged Christianity, faith, God, hope, Jesus, law, life, LORD, love, name of God, night, obedience, precepts, Psalms, remember, righteousness, salvation, spirituality, wisdom