Sunday, November 13, 2011

Psalm 147

1 Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
2 The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.
3 He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
4 He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
6 The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.
7 Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
8 Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.
9 He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
10 He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.
11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
13 For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.
14 He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.
16 He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.
17 He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?
18 He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.
19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.

Key Verse:
2 The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.

Key Observation:

In this psalm it is made plain that God is very involved in sustaining and providing for his creation.

Memory Verse:
11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

Devotion:

Since our American forefathers, there have been many who believe in God, but who also believe God does not really have anything to do with his creation; He started creation, but then has left it alone, or so the reasoning goes. The psalmest here disagrees strongly with that viewpoint:
1) He builds up Jerusalem and gathers the outcasts of Israel
2) He heals the broken hearted and binds their wounds
3) He knows each star and has named them
4) He is of great power and His understanding is infinite
5) He lifts up the meek and casts down the wicked
6) He covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain
7) He makes the grass to grow on the mountains
8) He feeds the beasts and the young ravens
9) He takes pleasure in those who fear Him, who cry to Him for mercy
10) He strengthens the bars of the gate of Zion, and blesses the children of Zion
11) He brings peace, and food (wheat) to us
12) He commands the earth, and the earth follows Him
13) He makes the snow come and the frost
14) He commands the snow and ice to melt

And lastly He shows His mercy and His commands to Israel. Does this sound to you like we have a clockmaker God? That brings us precisely to the problem of evil. If God intercedes so much in our current world, why is all the evil allowed to continue? I have many friends over the years that have not been able to get past this point. They readily see the great evil of the world, and thus they reason, no good God would allow such evil.

I think their problem is based on the fact that they do not see themselves as the worst of that evil. It is when we come to Christ that we see ourselves for the first time through the eyes of God. I have been reading Francois Fenelon, and in his chapter on self-abandonment he says:
“IF you would fully comprehend the meaning of self-abandonment, recall the interior difficulty which you felt, and which you very naturally testified when I directed you always to count as nothing this self which is so dear to us. To abandon one's self is to count one's self as nought; and he who has perceived the difficulty of doing it, has already learned what that renunciation is, which so revolts our nature. Since you have felt the blow, it is evident that it has fallen upon the sore spot in your heart; let the all-powerful hand of God work in you as he well knows how, to tear you from yourself.”
Fenelon says, and I agree, it is very easy for us to become “lost in our selves” and proud of our wisdom, our ability to learn and discern. For the Christian to win victory over this sin, Fenelon says: “Self-abandonment is not accomplished by means of painful reflections and continual struggles; it is only by refraining from self-contemplation, and from desiring to master ourselves in our own way, that we lose ourselves in God.” It is precisely at this point that I feel my non-Christian friends make their fatal error. They are intrinsically viewing themselves as adequate judges of the world, and their viewpoints assume that they are better than their neighbors.

Contrary to what the world thinks, God does not measure our good deeds against our bad deeds; there is no balance scale where He places one of us up against another and measures who is best. God is not concerned with any of our righteousness, for the scripture declares it to be as filthy rags in His sight. There is NO sense in which God is pleased with our sins, and even our best acts emanate from that well of sin nature that we are born with. We are in no sense Masters of our own fate, instead all we are, and ever can amount to is due to the wonderful works of God in his creation.

Indeed we have very little to do with our own salvation—God commands that we believe He sent His Son to die so that He might rescue us in our utterly lost state. The utterly lost state is precisely what my friends are missing. Before we condemn anyone else, we ought first to be condemning ourselves. And when we thus see ourselves through the eyes of God, all that we see around us, evil and good, becomes an extension of the mercy of God. Peter tells us this: “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

And I know, from study of the Bible, that all of us do not die, but rather are created souls for eternity. Those who do not repent of their misdeeds, no matter how big or small (remember that there is no scale measuring sinfulness), will perish in everlasting punishment. Our Lord warns us many times on this point. So in the long term the objection that evil is allowed free reign will be proven false. And the Lord will be proven righteous. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10)

Fran├žois Fenelon (2010-05-23). The Inner Life (Kindle Locations 559-561). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

Fran├žois Fenelon (2010-05-23). The Inner Life (Kindle Locations 455-460). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

Faith Is the Victory

1. Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise,
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below,
Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

2. His banner over us in love,
Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith they, like whirlwind's breath,
Swept on o'er ev'ry field;
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.

3. To him who overcomes the foe
White raiment shall be giv'n;
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in heav'n.
Then onward from the hills of light,
Our hearts with love aflame;
We'll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus' conq'ring name.

Chorus:
Faith is the victory!
Faith is the victory!
Oh, glorious victory
That overcomes the world.

Lyrics: John Henry Yates

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