Psalm 63 (Part Six)

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you (63:3 NIV).

Why is God’s love better than life? First of all, because it is the love of the Almighty, Eternal, Sovereign, Holy, Wise God. It is love that is sacrificial, shown by giving his Son to save people from our sins to eternal glory. God reveals various aspects of his wonderful love to us in the Bible.

  • God’s love saves his people from disaster. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! (Psalm 57:2-3 ESV; cf. Psalms 31:7-8; 32:10; 94:18) God’s love is experienced at a time of crisis.
  • God’s love counteracts God’s wrath. Who is a God like you, forgiving iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not hold on to his anger forever because he delights in faithful love (Micah 7:18 CSB; cf. Isaiah 54:8; Lamentations 3:31-33). This kind of redeeming love is revealed especially at the cross of Christ, Romans 3:24-26.
  • God’s love sustains life. Be gracious to me, Lord, for I am weak; heal me, Lord, for my bones are shaking; my whole being is shaken with terror. And you, Lord—how long? Turn, Lord! Rescue me; save me because of your faithful love. (Psalm 6:2-4; cf. Psalm 119:88, 149, 159). God’s love restores and refreshes us internally and externally. How I know this by personal experience!
  • God’s love is enduring, persistent, and eternal. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you (Isaiah 54:10 NIV; cf. Jeremiah 31:3; Psalms 118; 136). In the words of an old hymn, “When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
  • God’s love is a reason that we can bring our requests to him. Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions (Psalm 51:1 NASB; cf. Numbers 14:17-19; Psalms 25:7; 44:26; 109:21, 26; 115:1). The Spirit of God encourages us to find a warm welcome at the throne of grace, Hebrews 4:16.
  • God’s love has a prominent place in the life of his people. With your faithful love, you will lead the people you have redeemed; you will guide them to your holy dwelling with your strength (Exodus 15:13 CSB; cf. Psalms 13:5; 17:7; 26:1-3; 33:18; 36:7; 40:10; 48:9; 89:1; 90:14; 92:1-4; 101:1; 107:43; 143:8; Isaiah 63:7). This point is worthy of a study of its own, because it provides a model of how God’s unfailing love ought to affect our worship in a community of believers.
  • God’s love is abundant. For his faithful love to us is great; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Hallelujah! (Psalm 117:2 NIV; cf. Nehemiah 9:17; 13:22; Psalms 86:13; 103:8; 106:7, 45; Joel 2:13). Read through each of the scriptures cited and see how amazing God’s love is for us!

When we realize the nature of God’s unfailing love, then we will declare that his love is better than life!

Grace and peace, David

The Belt of Truth (Part Two)

IMG_0188Ephesians 6:14

How do we put on the belt of truth? In other words, how do we establish our minds in the knowledge of God that the Lord Jesus Christ has given us? We must aim at sincerity of heart in embracing Christ by faith. The Lord must be sought, believed in, and loved, and not merely the gifts and benefits that we may receive from him. Do you want to know the Lord (Philippians 3:7ff)? To know God through faith in Jesus Christ is the most important matter. (If you’re not sure what I mean, please contact me.) Though some might agree that knowing the Lord is most important, they develop instability in the inner person of the heart by fickleness. One moment they seem to want to be totally for Christ, but then they flirt with the attractions of the world, the flesh and the devil (1 Timothy 1:5-6; 2 Timothy 3:5).

We must pay attention to the ministry of the Word (Ephesians 4:11-16). Though listening to the ministry of the Scriptures is not a sacrament (a means of conveying grace to the heart by participating in some ritual), the Holy Spirit does use the Bible to develop and perfect correct ideas about Christ our Mediator in our hearts. This means that we cannot “channel surf” in our minds when the Spirit by the Scriptures is presenting doctrine to us. Some think that practical preaching is hearing some “how to” program, like “Seven Steps to Successful Family Living”. However, what can be more practical than knowing more about my God and all that he is?

Do not enslave your mind to any person or party (1 Corinthians 3:4-7). Evidence from God’s Word, not a polished or dynamic preaching style should convince your mind. There is a great difference between profiting from a pastor or teacher and idolizing one. Yet paradoxically, only a thin line separates the two. Far too many blindly accept what their favorite television and radio preachers or teachers say. Follow me only as far as I follow the Lord Christ.

Beware of curiosity (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Many are lured into Satan’s trap out of a plausible desire to understand error. “I want to know what it is, so that I can refute it.” To borrow from the style of John Bunyan in the Pilgrim’s Progress, Ms. Seducing Spirit can pretend to be Mrs. Honest Inquiry. Before you begin the study of error, make sure that your mind is humble before the Holy Scriptures and that you don’t have any loose threads of thought that the evil ones can grab hold of. Some matters are best left to very mature teachers, who “by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish truth from error” (Hebrews 5:14). If you do have to study error, make sure that you cleanse your heart with the truth of the Scriptures after examining falsehood. Don’t give the devil a foothold in a tired mind.

Humbly seek a settled, established mind from God (Ephesians 1:17f; Psalm 25:4; 119:18, 34). To paraphrase William Gurnall: Keep this deep in your heart. God who opens our eyes to know the truth must also give strength to hold on to truth (2 Tm 1:14).

Don’t stumble over differences in opinion that you see among people who profess to know the Lord (cf. Romans 14). Many things can cause a difference of opinion: pride, personality conflicts, ignorance, sin not put to death, twisting of the Scriptures, etc. All the clocks in town will strike twelve together before all the Christians in the world, or any local church, will agree together. Please be more concerned about seeing the power of the clear truth that you do know work in your heart than about how Christians disagree about the millennium or other minor matters.

Every day we must put on this basic grace of knowing the truth that is in Jesus. This is where we start our preparation for the day’s conflict. Approach life from the position that the living God has made himself known to you. Don’t play around with other ideas. Make a fresh commitment in your heart to pursuing the knowledge of the Lord. Only as you know the Lord are you ready for battle.

Grace and peace, David