Sun, Dec 31, 2017

A Heart of Wisdom! Psalm 90

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A HEART OF WISDOM!

PSALM 90

            This morning we are going to take a short break from our study in II Thessalonians as we approach this New Year! I don’t know about you, but this year has flown by. I remember when I was in school and we read George Orwell’s book, “1984” and it blew me away.

            I could not believe how far away 1984 was. Now, not only are we well past that year but the technology and the things that George Orwell wrote about are upon us. Yes, Big Brother is watching!

            And here we are, on the verge of this New Year, 2018 and so many people have so many ideas about what they want the New Year to be like. They make all kinds of New Years resolutions and they have great intentions. They want to do these things, but in the end, mostly by the end of January, they are done, and they await the next year to try again.

            One study from the University of Scranton suggests that only 8% of us will actually achieve our resolution goals. There’s even an actual clinical psychology term for the cycle of repeated failed attempts to change ourselves: “False Hope Syndrome”, and it’s especially common for people who are trying to lose weight.

            At a 92% failure rate it is amazing that people even try anymore, but they still do. I think you can guess what is top on the list for New Year’s resolutions, it is weight loss. It is a problem and it can be very frustrating.

            I like this weight loss story, it is so true. There was this woman who walked into her bathroom at home and she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scale.

            Nothing wrong with that but she also noticed that when he was weighing himself he sucked in his stomach!

            The woman thought to herself, “He thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach.” Foolishness, right?

            So, the woman rather sarcastically said to her husband, “That’s not going to help.” 

            To which her husband replied, “Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers.”

            And you wonder why we don’t succeed with our New Year’s resolutions!

            Now for Christians, I don’t think we are any different. I think we struggle with the resolutions we make.
            “This year I am going to read through the Bible!” And when we don’t succeed, after a month or two, we feel miserable.

            “This year I am going to do this for the Lord!” And that comes and goes and yet, nothing was done.

            And we can make all kinds of resolutions in our relationship with God, in our walk with the Lord but I am not a big fan of these New Year’s resolutions. And with a 92% failure rate, none of us should embrace this.

            Then what should we do as this New Year is about to begin? Just walk with the Lord. Be open to the things that He is showing you. Are you going to fail at times? Absolutely. That is not the point. It is what you do after you fail. Do you get up again and keep walking or do you just lay there and do nothing?

            I think that can happen as we fail, what is the use. And let me share this with you because I think it will put things in perspective for you.

            During a Monday night football game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, one of the announcers observed that Walter Payton, the Bear’s running back, had accumulated over nine miles in career rushing yardage. The other announcer remarked, “Yeah, and that’s with somebody knocking him down every 4.6 yards!” Walter Payton, the most successful running back ever, knows that everyone – even the very best – gets knocked down. The key to success is to get up and run again just as hard.

- Jeff Quandt, Irving Wallace, Book of Lists, 1980

 

            How could he keep going? Because he focused on the prize, and if he was going to reach it he had to get up and do it all over again! That is what we need to do, PRESS ON!

            This morning, as we are the heels of this New Year, I want to go through Psalm 90 and I want to focus on three different areas that will help us in our walk with the Lord in this New Year, in 2018!

            They are as follows:

            A CORRECT PERSPECTIVE OF THE SITUATION – PSALM 90:1-2

            JUDGMENT LEADS TO CORRECTION IN OUR LIVES – PSALM 90:3-11

            TEACH US . . . – Psalm 90:12-17

            Now just a little background for this Psalm before we dig into it.

            Psalm 90 was written by Moses and is probably the oldest of the Psalms. This Psalm was most likely written during the wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel.

             Now specifically, if we connect it with any particular time in the life of Moses, the best suggestion is Numbers 20. Boice makes these comments regarding this Psalm, “The historical setting is probably best understood by the incidents recorded in Numbers 20: (1) the death of Miriam, Moses’ sister; (2) the sin of Moses in striking the rock in the wilderness, which kept him from entering the Promised Land; and (3) the death of Aaron, Moses’ brother.”

            So, with that as our background, let’s jump into Psalm 90 beginning in verse 1 and let’s see what lessons we can glean and apply to our lives as we prepare for the year 2018 as we look at “A Heart of Wisdom!”

 

PSALM 90

VERSES 1-2

            A correct perspective of the situation can change everything. Let me show you what I mean.

            You enter this building and you see a bunch of thugs taking a person, throwing him on a table and cutting open his chest and taking out his heart. Unbelievable.

            Not only that. But you do nothing and the other people who are standing just outside the door are doing nothing. They have the ability to stop them from removing this man’s heart, but they just ignore what is going on. They do absolutely nothing!

            Now when we hear a story like that we are outraged, and rightly so.

            But what if I told you that the building you saw this happen in was a hospital. And those people you thought were thugs were doctors, nurses. And they were removing this man’s heart to give him a new heart.

            Now we see that this was not bad, but it was good. We are not outraged, but we are thankful.

            Why? What changed? Our perspective of the situation changed and as that perspective changed; our feelings, our hopes, changed as well.

            That is what we see here with what Moses is saying. He is giving us a correct perspective of the situation, You are God.

            I think many times we lose perspective of the situation that we are in because the situation has us overwhelmed. And then, instead of resting in the shadow of His wings, we are anxious, we are worried, we wonder what we are going to do.

            And, in that, there is no rest, there is no comfort, there is no hope. Moses said, LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

            I think that is important for us to understand. We take refuge in the Lord and not in our strength, not in our might.

            In Psalm 9:9-10 we are told, The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

            What a comfort that should be to us knowing that God is for us and even in times of trouble He is there, we can rest in Him. And I think the idea here with putting our trust in the Lord, is that we are looking to Him instead of being overwhelmed with what we are going through.

            Let me ask you this. In this past year, 2017, did any of you go through difficult times? Did you have stress in your life, difficulties that you just seemed overwhelmed with and you did not know what to do?

            I am sure we all have, and I don’t believe any of us went through 2017 without any difficulties.

            Then what did you do about them? Maybe at first we tried to rectify the problem on our own and maybe it got even worse. We need to remember that the solution is seeking the Lord and taking refuge in the shadow of His wings. Resting in the Lord is where we find our strength to go on because the things we face in life can drain us!

            Also, in Psalm 57:1-3 we are told, Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by. I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.

            So, we see the Psalmist crying out to the Lord, trusting in the Lord and taking refuge in the shadow of His wings until this difficulty, this calamity passes by. Now I am not saying that he went into hiding or the Christian witness protection program where nobody knows where they are at.

            No, he is living out his life trusting in the Lord and resting in the Lord. When you rest in the Lord it does not mean you are doing nothing, not at all. But no matter what comes your way you are trusting in Him to see you through this time and that is where you find that rest!

            And in Psalm 62:5-8 we are told, “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

            I like that. I can pour out my heart to Him. I can lay all my burdens at His feet as I trust in His promises and rest in Him. He is my refuge, He is my shelter, He is my protection, He is my defense, He is exactly what I need no matter what I am going through in life!

            And one more, in Psalm 61:1-4 David wrote, Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name. You will prolong the king’s life, His years as many generations. He shall abide before God forever. Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him! So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may daily perform my vows.

            As you read this you can see that David is in pain; his heart is broken over the situation that is before him. And he just cries out to God, and in the Hebrew, it speaks of a loud wail, a wail of desperation, of hopelessness, of brokenness. And David feels, as he is going through this time that God is a million miles away.

            As you are going through difficult times, have you ever felt that way? I am sure that you have. And we know the truth, that God is with us all the time, no matter what we are going through, but we can lose that perspective when things are tough.

            Even David knew that was not true, that God was not far away. In Psalm 139 he said, Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea. Psalm 139:7-9.

            You see, it is one thing to know something, and quite another to apply that truth to our life. I think it is easy for us to theologically understand Biblical truth.

            The hard part comes when we go through a devastating time, like David did, and we just don’t feel close to God. But He is just as close as He was before, for the Bible tells us that. That is the time we need to put into practice those things we say we believe!

            Maybe you feel like you are treading water and you just can’t go on. That you are starting to sink. David felt that way and as shaky as things may be around us, as slippery a situation that we are in may be, David wants to place his feet upon the Rock, a place of stability, and so should we!

            And please understand that David is not looking for help from man, but from God, the Rock, a place of safety, that was higher than him or able to accomplish this task and answer David’s cry.

            So, when you are overwhelmed, you need to give it to the Lord, you need to cry out to Him and place your feet upon the Rock, Jesus Christ!

            And think about that for a minute. This Rock that David spoke of must be more than just a man, it is someone that is higher than David and I believe it is pointing to the deity of Jesus Christ. He is saying that God alone can help and will help us through all the storms of life that we will go through!

            David is crying out to God and he knows that God is his rock to bring stability, safety, protection to his life. May we understand that God is there for us as well.

            As we read on in this Psalm we see where David gets his encouragement in the present situation that he is facing. David looks back on God’s past help to strengthen him in the present situation that he finds himself in.

            For you have been a shelter for me, And a strong tower from the enemy. Notice, looking back to help him in the present situation that he is in!

            Thus, he will take safety under the wings of God, for then the only way for the enemy to get at David was through God.

            Remember what John said, You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. I John 4:4. 

            We need to have that perspective of God and His work in our lives. We need to remember what God has done in the past to encourage us in the present situations we are facing! If God is for us, and He is, then there is no one who can truly be victorious against us!

            As we enter 2018 we will face difficult times. I would encourage you as you do, that you look back and remember what God has done in your life back in 2017 and use that to encourage you to continue on!

            And keep in mind that the situation has not changed but David’s focus has.

            David is now confident that God will see him through this even though the situation has not changed. His hope is in the Lord, in the promises of God towards him and that is where he finds rest, comfort, hope!

            As we look to the Lord, as we trust in Him, it gives us confidence in what He can do to see us through the situations we are in. We need to believe in the promises of God, we need to trust what He has told us in His Word and walk by faith!

            And in Psalm 61:8 we see this Psalm end, where it leads is the praise and worship of God! So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may daily perform my vows.

            You see, when you cry out to God, when you focus back on Him, when you place your life in His hands or place your feet upon the Rock, upon Jesus, you can’t help but praise Him.

            When you look at what God has done in your life and how He brought you through those times, it brings praise unto the Lord because you are no longer focused on the situation!

            Now, back here in Psalm 90, just so we don’t lose the perspective of the situation we are in, Moses says, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

            That has never changed nor will it ever change, God is God! I know, not a deep theological point but it is an important point that we tend to forget.

            You see, Moses speaks of the eternal existence of God. In the Hebrew it speaks of God being in existence “From the vanishing point to the vanishing point.”

            So, before man ever existed, before the heavens and earth was created, the eternal God existed. He has always existed, and He will always exist, He is eternal!

            And Moses links this to creation, how In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1.
            I think many Christians lose sight of how big our universe is, over 14 billion light years and the number of stars in the sky is beyond our imagination. You see, it is God who created all these things and thus, He can handle my life.

            But don’t miss the point. Think about this for a minute. In 150 A. D. Ptolemy counted 1,056 stars and he claimed that the number could not exceed 3,000!

            And yet, in Jeremiah 31:37 and 33:22 we are told, Thus says the Lord: ‘If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the Lord.’ . . . ‘As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’

            We see two important points here. First of all, the heavens can’t be measured. Yes, there have been guesses and yet, as we have seen, the universe is expanding, and we don’t know how far it goes out there, some 14 billion light years or more, probably much more than that, some say 28 billion!

            Secondly, the Lord says that we will not be able to count the host of heaven, we will not be able to count the stars, they can’t be numbered!

            In regard to how many stars are out there, and there is more than 1,056 or even 3,000, Fraser Cain writes,

            It’s a great big Universe out there, with a huge numbers of stars. But how many stars are there, exactly? How many stars are there in the Universe? Of course it’s a difficult question to answer, because the Universe is a vast place and our telescopes can’t reach every corner to count the number of stars. But we can make some rough estimates.

            Almost all the stars in the Universe are collected together into galaxies. They can be small dwarf galaxies, with just 10 million or so stars, or they can be monstrous irregular galaxies with 10 trillion stars or more. Our own Milky Way galaxy seems to contain about 200 billion stars; and we’re actually about average number of stars.

            So an average galaxy contains between 1011 and 1012 stars. In other words, galaxies, on average have between 100 billion and 1 trillion numbers of stars.

            Now, how many galaxies are there? Astronomers estimate that there are approximately 100 billion to 1 trillion galaxies in the Universe. So if you multiply those two numbers together, you get between 1022 and 1024 stars in the Universe. How many stars? There are between 10 sextillion and 1 septillion stars in the Universe. That’s a large number of stars. [No kidding!]

- Fraser Cain, How Many Stars?, January 28, 2009

 

            So, God is right, we will not be able to measure the universe or count the number of stars. Yes, we have made estimates, but the exact number, the exact distance of the universe, forget about it!

            But let me also say this, God knows, and He knows every star by name! And those numbers of stars are beyond our imagination, we can’t even count that high in our lifetime let alone number them and name them, but as I have said, God has done that very thing! How big is your God?

            So, as we enter 2018 may we do so with the CORRECT PERSPECTIVE OF GOD – that He is in total control of this universe and our lives!

 

VERSES 3-11

            The second point that we see here is that judgment leads to correction in our lives. Now we may not like to hear something like this but God, our Father, loves us so much that He will correct us to get us back on track, to protect us, to keep us safe.

            Here we see a contrast between God’s eternal existence, and man’s mortal existence, that these bodies of flesh will return to the dust of the earth. And we can see how true that is, the death rate for man is still 100%. All will die; they will go back to the dust of the earth, only God is eternal!

            Now please don’t misunderstand me. In these bodies of flesh, they will not be eternal. I have no problem with that. And for those that are in Christ, they will go to be with the Lord for eternity. For those outside of Christ, they will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth!

            And the picture that Moses is painting for us here is that life is short. It springs up like the grass and then, by evening it is cut down. And yet, when you compare this life with eternity, it is nothing. And what many do is that they spend so much time planning for this life, which can be over in a moment, and they spend very little time preparing for eternity, preparing to meet their Maker! As I have said, life is short when compared with eternity, and yet how many people will sell their soul for the pleasures of this world? They trade eternity for what amounts to nothing!

            There are a few things we can look at in these verses but one thing I do want to focus on is what we read in verse 3 where the Lord says,Return, O children of men.

            God is calling out to sinful man to come to Him, the Holy Spirit is drawing people to Jesus and it us up to each individual to make that decision. To repent of their sins and receive Jesus or to reject Him.

            Yes, these bodies of flesh will not be eternal, but our soul and spirit are eternal and thus, where will you spend eternity?

            And for us as Christians, God loves us too much to allow us to go down a path of destruction without a warning or many warnings at times, not to go down that path.

            In Psalm 119:67 we are told, Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.

            The Psalmist is telling us that it was affliction that God brought into his life that awakened him out of his spiritual sleep. It got him back on track.

            Spurgeon wrote, “Often our trials act as a thorn hedge to keep us in the good pasture, but our prosperity is a gap through which we go astray.”

            God’s afflictions are not punitive, but corrective towards His children. He does not bring them into our lives to destroy us, but to restore us. God does chasten His children, not because He hates them, but because He loves them!

            Remember what Paul said in Hebrews 12:5-6, And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’

            You see, God’s desire for us is to heed the warning and draw close to Him. For the Psalmist, that is exactly what he did, as he clung to the Word of God, applying it to his life.

            Now in verse 9 Moses is saying that our years pass by with moaning, with sighs. Why? Understand that Moses wrote this during their wilderness wanderings. They had no purpose, that generation that refused to walk by faith was going to die in the wilderness, and all they could do is walk around waiting to die.

            Let’s face it, outside of Christ there is a world of people walking around, groaning through life, without a purpose, and they are just waiting to die!

            But that should not be seen in the life of a Christian. We should have the joy of the Lord. We should not be going around moaning and groaning through this life. We are to be a witness of what God has done in our life. And if you are moaning and groaning all the time, that is a horrible witness! Let your light shine that they may see God!

            And let me say this. Everything that we are going through is for a purpose. There is a reason why God allows things in our lives.

            Sometimes it is to correct us and get us back on track. Sometimes it is to get us to look to Him to be the strength of our lives. Sometimes it is to help us to grow in the faith. God has His reasons, He has a purpose and thus, as we are going through these times, may we seek His direction and walk accordingly!

            Then, in Psalm 90:10 Moses tells us,The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

            In other words, life is not easy. Folks, that is just the result of the curse. We work hard, and the reality is that we may live to be 70 or 80 or even a little more, and in those years, it can be difficult.

            That is the frailty and brevity and difficulties of life! That is the result of sin as I have said! But again, as Christians there should be joy seen in us as we live out our faith! Yes, it may not be easy, but we serve the King of kings and Lord of lords and we should do so with joy!

            So, in these verses here in Psalm 90 we have seen that JUDGMENT LEADS TO CORRECTION IN OUR LIVES either drawing us to the Lord, saving faith; or getting us back on track with the Lord because we have gone astray!

            As we enter 2018, may we be sensitive to what God is showing us and, like I have said, walk accordingly!

 

VERSES 12-17

            The last point I would like to bring out from this Psalm is that God TEACHES US . . .

And I will leave that open because there are so many things that the Lord is teaching us. There are so many things that the Lord is showing us so that our lives will shine brightly for Jesus! Think about it. In 2017 were you shinning or was your light so dim that your witness of Him was not seen?

            Again, Facebook has shown where some Christians are at and it is not good. The language, the words that I will not repeat because they are that bad and they can’t even be spelled out on Facebook because I think they would be taken down. The anger, the belittling, the abuse, the horrible way some Christians treat others.

            And before we point the finger at someone else, how are we doing? That truly is the key, and like I have said, Moses focuses on how God is teaching us different things, and there are several in this section.

            Listen again to what Moses said,So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.Psalm 90:12.

            Moses starts out asking the Lord to help him to number his days and then there are several things he asks for.

            Oh, that we would learn to number our days, to be aware of the days that God has given us and live them to the fullest serving Him. There was a commercial several year’s back that said, “Life is tough, so play hard!” That is what the world says we should do, but not God. That is not what Moses is saying here.

            I do agree that life is tough but there is a purpose for all that we are going through. God is teaching us all the days of our lives. Each day we get up is a new lesson that the Lord has for us, but are we listening? Are we paying attention? Or are we just complaining about life and all you are going through.

            Make no mistake about it, some go through some very tough times. And really, most of us do. That is not the point. The point is that God is teaching us through them. I know, I already said that, but I think it needs to be repeated because as we go through tough times we tend to lose focus of what God is doing and be overwhelmed by the situations we are in.

            The first thing that Moses asks for as we number our days isThat we may gain a heart of wisdom.Psalm 90:12.

            You see, when Moses considered the frail nature of humanity and the righteous judgment of God, it made him ask God for the wisdom to understand the shortness of life.

            Boice put it like this, “Of all the mathematical disciplines this is the hardest: to number our days. We count everything else, but we do not seem able to use our days rightly and with wisdom.”

            Yes, life is tough, it is short, and because of that we need God to give us His wisdom so we can maximize our time here on the earth. God has equipped us with abilities to do things in the body of Christ. Use those gifts, ask God to help you make better use of your time, and not to waste it.

            Paul said in I Corinthians 1:30-31, But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’

            Thus, through the work of Jesus in our lives He is imparting to us the Wisdom of God! May we listen and obey!

            Now some of you may be feeling that you are missing out on this and you don’t see the wisdom of God in your life. You don’t understand what is going on. Let me ask you this, did you ask God for His wisdom in the situation? If you didn’t you need to!
            James 1:5 tells us,If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

            I can’t tell you how many times I have asked for wisdom in what to do in a given situation and the Lord clearly showed me and the outcome was not necessarily what I wanted but it was needed.

            Clarke summed it up like this. He wrote, “Let us deeply consider our own frailty, and the shortness and uncertainty of life, that we may live for eternity, acquaint ourselves with thee, and be at peace; that we may die in thy favour and live and reign with thee eternally.”

            I don’t know about you, but I want to live my life in a way that honors the Lord in all I do and all I say and thus, I need His wisdom for the days that He has given me in this world! And so do you!

            A HEART OF WISDOM!

            The next point is that Moses asks the Lord to RETURN to Him in the days that he is living. We see that in Psalm 90:13. Now I think a better way to look at this is that we RETURN to the Lord. You see, as Christians the Lord never leaves us or forsakes us. But we can allow sin to distance us from God!

            In Jesus’s letter to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:5, He said,Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent.

            What was the problem that Jesus gave them this warning of removing their witness? They had left their first love. You see, they were doing the work but that was just about it. They were working, and the Lord desires a relationship with us!

            And what Jesus told them is really very simple. He told them to: REMEMBER, REPENT and REPEAT

            You see, remember when you first were saved, the love you had for the Lord, how that fire burned brightly in you. 

            Then repent before God, do a 180 degree turn back to Him, return to Him.

            And finally, repeat your first works or do those things you did when you were first saved, go to those Bible studies, spend time in prayer, be in fellowship with believers and fall in love with Jesus all over again! 

            Also, there is a warning and the WARNING is simple. If you don’t take the medicine, if you don’t remember, repent and repeat, God will remove your light, your witness of Him! 

            You see, we are to be light bearers of Christ, but if we remove Him from our lives, the light of Christ will go out, our witness will be gone.

            Thus, may we RETURN TO HIM and serve Him in the days that God has given to us.

            RETURN TO HIM!  

            The next point we find in Psalm 90:14 and the idea here is SATISFACTION! As Christians, it is truly sad to see so many believers complain about this and complain about that. They are not satisfied.

            In Proverbs 19:23 we are told,The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil.

            The fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom, but it is the source of true and lasting satisfaction.

            You see, having a relationship with Christ leads to eternal life, and as you continue to see all that He has done and all we have in Him, there is contentment in that.

            It is as Paul told Timothy, For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. I Timothy 4:8.

            Also, in Philippians 4:12-13 Paul tells us,I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

            Paul learned how to be content in whatever state he was in. He was content when he had much, and he was content when he had little. How could he do that? How could he be satisfied like he was in all things that came upon his life?

            Because of the Lord. He said,I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Do you see that? No matter how much he had or didn’t have he was content because it was the Lord who would strengthen him through these times. It was the Lord who would see him through these times.

            “Alexander Maclaren said, ‘The only thing that will secure life-long gladness is a heart satisfied with the experience of God’s love.’ This means that nothing will satisfy the human heart ultimately except God.” (Boice)

            It was not easy, but the Lord was with him through it all and thus, he found satisfaction in the Lord and what the Lord had given him all the days of his life!

            SATISFACTION!

            In Psalm 90:14-15 we see the fourth point that Moses speaks of as he asks the Lord to teach us to number our days and that is BE GLAD!

            Paul put it like this in Philippians 4:4,Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

            First of all, we need to remember that Paul is in prison for his faith when he wrote this epistle or letter. So, for Paul to speak of rejoicing, that blows us away. Someone says something against us and we are ready to go after them or say things that are not nice!

            Secondly, as Paul opened up this chapter, he spoke of two women in the church who were not getting along, and he is urging them and the brethren to help them work things out. It is after he speaks of this that he speaks of rejoicing in the Lord.

            And Paul uses the Greek word CHAIRO (khah’-ee-ro) for rejoice and it is in the present tense, which means to be constantly rejoicing.

            Now don’t think Paul is saying you need to have a positive mental attitude but he is saying your focus must be in the Lord for only in Him can we rejoice because He never changes.  You see, you can’t rejoice in the Lord when you are fighting with the brethren.

            Also, if you can’t rejoice in the Lord, if you are not content in the Lord, then you will complain and be discontent, and that is not a good thing.

            Listen to this story for it illustrates to us the idea of being discontent no matter what we may have. We are told,

            Sometime ago there appeared in a newspaper a cartoon showing two fields divided by a fence. Both fields were about the same size and each had plenty of the same kind of grass, green and lush.

            In each field there was a mule, and each mule had his head through the fence eating grass from the other mule’s pasture. All around each mule in his own field was plenty of grass, yet the grass in the other field seemed greener or fresher, although it was harder to get.

            And in the process the mules were caught in the wires and were unable to extricate themselves. The cartoonist put just one word at the bottom of the picture – “DISCONTENT”!

- Earl C. Willer

 

            How true that is for our own lives. Discontentment seems to lead us into situations in which we become all tangled up trying to get something that we may already possess or don’t really need. 

            God has given to us all that we NEED, not necessarily all that we WANT! And if we can rest in that, be content in that, our JOY will be full!

            According to Webster’s Dictionary the word “contentment” means, “the state, quality, or fact of being contented. A satisfying or being satisfied.” The word “content” means, “happy enough with what one has or is; not desiring something more or different.” 

            Thus, to be content then is the opposite of being covetous, or being greedy, or being worldly, or being materialistic. Being content in the Lord will also bring joy to your life!

            David Hocking put it this way.  He said, “There is ‘joy’ in the midst of trial when we understand God’s purposes and realize what He is accomplishing in our lives.” 

            BE GLAD!

            The fifth point is found in Psalm 90:16 and the point here is that we are to be OPEN TO THE LORD’S GUIDING!

            Make no mistake about it, we were created not only to worship the Lord but for good works, which also brings glory and honor to Him!

            In Ephesians 2:10 Paul tells us, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

            Now good works are not for our salvation for Paul just spoke of how we are saved; by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Then what is his point here. We are not saved to do nothing, we are saved to serve the King of kings and Lord and lords!

            Now some may say that works have to have a roll in our salvation because James says, Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:17. 

            No, that is not what James is saying. You have to look at the totality of the Scriptures and that would not make sense. And many did that and they rejected this letter of James because they felt James was teaching a works salvation. He was not!

            You see, works don’t save us but they are the fruit of our salvation, they show that we are saved! 

            And back in Ephesians, and I love this, Paul says that we are God’s workmanship or POIEMA (poy’-ay’mah) in the Greek which can speak of a poem or of a tapestry, a masterpiece. 

            When you look at the back of a tapestry it is a mess, it is ugly with threads going in all directions, you can’t tell what you are looking at. 

            But, when you look at the other side it is a beautiful picture, a masterpiece. 

            God is making us into a beautiful masterpiece and when we look at it through this side of heaven it may look like a mess, but when we get a heavenly perspective we see that God has made our lives into His beautiful masterpiece, what He began in us He will complete!

            Make no mistake about it, God has created good works for us to do in this life, He has prepared the works for us and then He has prepared us for the work and He tells us to then walk in them, do them. 

            But it is our choice to walk or make excuses why we aren’t walking like, “I’m too tired!” or “I don’t have the time!” or “I am not called into that ministry!” or whatever!

            God prepared the work and thus, we are to walk accordingly as Paul says in Philippians 2:13, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 

            If you don’t God will use someone else, but you will miss out on the blessings of serving the Lord!

            We need to be OPEN TO THE LORD’S GUIDING!

            The sixth and last point in the Psalm is that we are to SHINE FOR HIM and we see that in Psalm 90:17.

            I realize that many like to get the recognition for what they are doing, they want the praise, the award for their service or work but as Christians, that should not be.

            You see, all we do for the Lord is because the Lord has enabled us to do those things. Thus, He gets the honor, He gets the glory.

            And this last point does go along with the fifth point of being open to the Lord’s guiding and then walking accordingly. And I guess, this sixth point is acting upon that and as you do, as you serve the Lord, the work you do brings glory and honor to Him!

            Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16,Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

            You see, is what you are doing, what you are saying glorifying your Father in heaven? It should because that love for the Lord in your work, in your activity will be a witness of your faith!

            And it is interesting because, before Jesus speaks of honoring the Lord with our good works, He says in Matthew 5:13-15,You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.  You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

            In other words, are you shinning for Jesus? Are you making a difference in your home, your workplace, in school, wherever you go? You should be because being salt in a world that is rotting, being light in a world that is in darkness, will bring glory to God and it will make a difference in people’s lives!

            So, we need to SHINE FOR HIM!

            As the New Year approaches, 2018, a little over 12 hours away, may we desire to live for Him in this coming year and . . .

            HAVE A CORRECT PERSPECTIVE THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL

            CORRECTION BRINGS US BACK

            AND THE LORD TEACHES US TO . . .

                        DESIRE A HEART OF WISDOM

                        RETURN TO HIM

                        FIND OUR SATISFACTION IN HIM

                        BE GLAD IN HIM

                        BE OPEN TO HIS GUIDING

                        SHINE FOR HIM

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