BLESS THE LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
BLESS THE LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The LORD performs righteous deeds And judgments for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children, To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.
The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.
BLESS THE LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word!
BLESS THE LORD, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will.
BLESS THE LORD, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Psalms 103:1-22 NASB1995
God created us and He knows us. In knowing us, He also knew that we needed guidance and rules – Commandments. Exodus 20:1-17 lists the Ten Commandments as given to Moses. Everyone knows them, but, do we really? They are listed in descending order of importance.The first four are about God. The fifth pertains to our family. The last five are about our community.
- Worship only God
- No idols
- No use of God’s Name in cursing
- Keep the Sabbath holy
- Honor our parents
- No Murder
- No Adultery
- No Stealing
- No Lying
- No Coveting
God is GOD alone. He is not shared. The Bible is clear that He is monotheistic: “In the beginning GOD” – singular. There are no other gods out there, but there are many things that we elevate to that status. We are not to worship, or sacrifice to, or put any of those things in front of God, especially the false god of self. To dislodge any false gods we have to pursue the LORD – the positive counterpoint to the second and third commandments of “do not” or “no” is to love Him first and foremost. In Isaiah 45, five times God says “I am the LORD, there is no other.” Many times in scripture He reinforces that we are to love Him first. If you deny Jesus you deny the Father because He is a Triune God, THE Triune GOD. Look at the positive counterpoint to the “do nots”.
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”https://bible.com/bible/100/deu.6.5.NASB1995
Deuteronomy 6:5 NASB1995
When we put God first, worshipping only Him, it’s easier to keep the remaining nine commandments, but we are often like the Pharisees. We keep busy showing the world how religious and righteous we are. The thing is, no matter how much we love and reverence the LORD, we will break His Commandments. Peter, who was Jesus’ right-hand man, was adamant that he would never forsake his Lord. Hear His response, because Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself. Then read Peter’s reaction, later, after being asked if he knew Jesus.
Then he [Peter] began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed.https://bible.com/bible/100/mat.26.74.NASB1995
Matthew 26:74 NASB1995
Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”https://bible.com/bible/100/mat.26.34.NASB1995
Matthew 26:34 NASB1995
The truth is, we all have broken the Commandments. We have all broken the law. Is there anyone who hasn’t, at some point, said anything derogatory about their parents? Even the smallest thing? Can you honestly say you have never put anything or anyone above God, even for a moment? Have you ever disregarded your sabbath? It doesn’t have to be Sunday (or Saturday), but we do need a day of rest. God did it. Are we better than Him?
As for the rest, murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting, we are all guilty. I certainly am! I haven’t committed the physical act of murder, but I have murdered in my heart. I have committed adultery in my heart. I admit to stealing. If you have even taken so much as a piece of paper or a paperclip, you have stolen. Picked flowers without permission. That’s stealing. Lies. There is no “white” lie. Withholding information is a lie. Being jealous of someone – looks, clothes, wealth, spouse – we are guilty of coveting.
“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.“
John 1:9-13 NASB1995
There’s good news! Yes, we are all guilty. We have all sinned. God knew it before we did it. God knows it….. and He loves us and forgives us anyway. Jesus left heaven and came to earth, knowing that He would be put to death in the cruelest imaginable way. He did it to cleanse our sins with His blood. I don’t understand it. I can’t explain it. But I know it, and I am forgiven. Inexplicably, unimaginably, gloriously forgiven.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His Name,“https://bible.com/bible/100/jhn.1.1-12.NASB1995
John 1:1, 3-5, 12 NASB1995
Receive Christ. Accept His Love and His forgiveness. We can’t do life on our own, but we can with Jesus.
My power? What power? I don’t have any. I used to think that I could make things happen, and change my world to suit the way I wanted things. Do you think that you have gotten to where you are through your own effort and power?
“Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”https://bible.com/bible/100/deu.8.17-18.NASB1995
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 NASB1995
I was very busy making my circumstances conform to what I wanted, so much so that I alienated my family. Does your family support you in your power? We weren’t at the point of feuding, but my actions were enough to create a gulf between us. I wasn’t concerned about God’s will, only mine. In my journey through life, I’ve come across several families separated like mine, but there were a few who were feuding, and it tore them apart. I didn’t want that for my family.
He knew their thoughts, so he said, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A family splintered by feuding will fall apart. …. Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.”https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.11.17-23.NLT
Luke 11:17, 23 NLT
Finally, I came across a church with people who could see me, and who helped me to see how my destructive behavior was harmful to me, and to my family. Did my younger sisters and brother see me, and use my behavior as a reason for their own rebellion? I don’t know the answer to that, but I know that my behavior harmed our relationships. I wasn’t working for the LORD. I was working for me, for my heart, and it didn’t work out too well for me.
How is your heart? Are you in control of your life? Is the power in your hands, or have you relinquished it to God? He loves us, and He only wants the best for us. So why are so many people in bad situations? There are consequences for our actions. Sometimes they are immediate, but sometimes they are delayed. I am dealing with the consequences of my actions from years ago, and they will stay with me until I die. Often, we get to deal with the consequences of our parents, grandparents, and so on. All of humanity has to live with the decision, the exercise of their free will, of Adam and Eve. Sin was introduced in the Garden, and runs rampant throughout the world today.
God gave us the solution when Jesus, His only Son, came to earth to have His Blood cover us and cleanse us. I need that cleansing, and I have received it. Does that mean I’m now perfect and my life will be filled with rainbows and butterflies from now on? No, I am forgiven, but I still have those consequences for my actions.
Are you forgiven?
I read this statement this morning: “The New Testament does not say that the angels prophesied peace: they proclaimed peace—peace to men of goodwill toward God.” (Emphasis mine) It’s funny how you can know a thing, and yet read it again and suddenly it hits you. The angels weren’t saying that peace would come to the world, but that peace would be among those with whom He is well pleased. Compare these two versions of Luke 2:14.
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men.“
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;”
Ephesians 5:15-20 NASB1995
“From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. From prophets to priests, they are all frauds. They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 6:13-15 NLT
I want to be among those people with whom He is pleased, careful of how I walk, filled with the Spirit, and always giving thanks for all things in the name of the LORD. I don’t like being ruled by greed, and it’s easy to fall into it with the materialism of the world so loud and pushy around us. I see so much of it around me, and the longing of wanting what I perceive as my right…. but is it, really? If I should receive what I truly deserve – if anyone got what they truly deserve, I don’t think we would like it very much!
Give thanks for all things. That’s the ticket to a true and happy, full, and rewarding life.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 NASB1995https://bible.com/bible/100/gal.3.28.NASB1995
All for one. One race, the human race. Ordained by God, the Creator. He created Adam, then he created Eve, and he told them to go and procreate and populate the earth.
Because of Adam and Eve’s bad decision, human kind were banished from the garden and placed in the world ruled by the enemy. Not because God wanted us gone from the garden and His Presence, but because man chose to separate himself from it. That hurt God, and we have continued to hurt Him with our bad decisions ever since. But the ALMIGHTY God wasn’t going to let us, His finest creatures, created in His likeness, to be destroyed by the enemy. He sent His Son, His own being, to earth to atone for our sins. ONE for ALL; once for all.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.8.38-39.NASB1995
Romans 8:38-39 NASB1995
All you need to do is accept His sacrifice, and you can never be separated from the LORD ever again.
The sixth Commandment of the Ten says “No MURDER“, or “No MURDERING“. It was inaccurately translated in early translations from the Greek to say “no killing“. For centuries, there have been people who have used that to mean that any taking of a human life is wrong, but God was very clear on this if you study Scriptures.
There are things that the the sixth Commandment does not prohibit or forbid. One thing that is not prohibited is the killing of animals, because God gave them to use. In Genesis, God provides all animals for us to use, and in Leviticus, cruelty to animals is prohibited.
The LORD GOD made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.https://bible.com/bible/100/gen.3.21.NASB1995
Genesis 3:21 NASB1995
GOD blessed Noah and his sons: He said, “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the Earth! Every living creature—birds, animals, fish—will fall under your spell and be afraid of you. You’re responsible for them. All living creatures are yours for food; just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else. Except for meat with its lifeblood still in it—don’t eat that.”https://bible.com/bible/97/gen.9.1-4.MSG
Genesis 9:1-4 MSG
A just war is not prohibited, nor is defending our faith and families, self defense, or administering justice – such as in capital punishment. Remember, our God is a Warrior GOD. Individual vengeance is not allowed, but a legitimate government. In Romans 13, Jesus tells us to be subject to our government. We are to respect and love the lives of others; to seek out and cherish the “neighbors” in our lives, because they are the image of GOD.
The sixth Commandment prohibits killing an innocent person, i.e. homicide. All HUMAN life is sacred, but animal lives are not sacred. There are marred and mangled people who do abhorrent, ugly things, but they are still in God’s image. The first murder is documented in Genesis, when Cain became angry at his brother Abel, and killed him. (Read Genesis 4) Negligent homicide is included in this, such as an accident caused by drunk driving, or an avoidable situation where someone is fatally injured. You can imagine other instances as well. By this Commandment, suicide and abortion are prohibited. Life has been cheapened in our society. Suicide doesn’t “end it” for family or for the person whose life is ended. There is a judgment for every person, no matter how they die. However, it is important to note that suicide is not a mortal sin. It is a sin but it is not unforgivable.
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.8.10.NASB1995
Romans 8:10 NASB1995
EVERY life is precious to God. I suggest reading Psalm 139:13-17. Also, follow the science. Life begins at conception; it has been established that a human being is in the process of being formed at that point. Genetics are established at fertilization; it is a human life. Beethoven’s mother had TB, and his father had syphilis. Of his four siblings, one was deaf, one blind, one had dead, and one had TB – if his had an abortion, Beethoven wouldn’t have been born and the world would have missed out on a genius. But today, his mother would most likely have been advised to abort him. Think on that.
Abortion and euthanasia are murder. They are all the same. Even so, they are forgivable. Jesus came to forgive. Euthanasia is the direct and intentional taking of life – it is just doctor assisted suicide. Please understand that this is not the same as allowing a terminally ill person to die. It doesn’t mean to withhold palliative treatment, or needed pain medications. In Matthew 5, Jesus is talking about Commandments, and makes clear it is the SPIRIT of the law that we need to obey. When we have unjust or unrighteous anger, that personal anger is incipient murder, or murder in our hearts and with our mouth. 1 John 3:15 says that when we hate, we murder in our heart. When we call or think of someone as empty headed, stupid, a fool, dull, a moron, undeserving to live, or contemptible, we murder them in our heart. Instead, when we find ourselves feeling these things about someone, respond in KINDNESS. Don’t let the sun set on your malice or anger. It only hurts you.
“For GOD so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.https://bible.com/bible/100/jhn.3.16.NASB1995
John 3:16 NASB1995
Jesus was MURDERED for us, to save our lives, and for murderers. We did that. We murdered Him….. and GOD allowed us to murder Him. Jesus allowed us to murder Him. Without that, we wouldn’t have the Good News of the Gospel, which is that Jesus died to pardon murderers, which includes every single one of us, every human who ever or will ever live. That’s pretty amazing. I’m a murderer, but I am forgiven. Thank GOD. Can you say the same?
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My GOD, in whom I trust!”https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.91.1-2.NASB1995
Psalms 91:1-2 NASB1995
Thank you to Pastor Mark Hitchcock of Faith Bible Church, Edmond OK, for your preaching, inspiration, and insight.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” … For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.”https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.91.1-12.NASB1995
Psalms 91:1-2, 11-12 NASB1995
Who do you rely on? Who do you trust? I mean really trust? There are a few people in my life whom I trust, but there is a caveat. As much as I love them and trust them, I recognize that in spite of that love and trust, they will put their wellbeing over mine. That’s okay, too. They are human. Their immediate families should be their focus. I don’t expect them to put themselves into harm’s ways to protect me. I love them in spite of that, and I don’t judge them for it. There is one upon whom I know I can always trust, always lean on, and always depend on. His name is Jesus. Name above all names.
Do you know Him?
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.“https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.5.8.NASB1995
Romans 5:8 NASB1995
He doesn’t require anything from us. He offers us a gift. A gift that is without obligation, at no cost to us. We use our own free will to either accept it or reject it. There is no in between; no place for indecision. He is reaching out to you. Will you take His hand and accept Him?
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:15-19 NASB1995
Today we are celebrating the life of our Mom. Her children and niece, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren, special friends, as many as can be here. It will be livestreaming, too, for you to see. Join us in celebration! http://www.faithbibleok.com at 11am CDT
Phyllis Henry lived a full, interesting life. She didn’t have an easy life, by any means, and she wasn’t perfect. Having a pastor for a husband and 6 children to deal with kept her running, but she found time to help in the nursery at church every Sunday, and to be involved with the WMU, church potlucks, hostessing get togethers and visiting missionaries and preachers, and keeping peace in the family. (You have to be a Southern Baptist to understand 🙂 ) Our house always had to present a put-together face for people to drop in, so that meant keeping kids and toys and the paraphernalia of life out of the living room, and ready to offer tea or coffee at a moments notice.
On top of all that, my Dad was diagnosed with a debilitating disease a few years into their marriage, and the medications prescribed caused serious side effects leading to angina (heart disease) and eventually type 2 diabetes. It didn’t stop him from pastoring full time, going to college at night for his doctorate, visiting the sick, and trying to be the husband and father he needed to be. Mom added nurse, dietitian, and driver to her resume.
Her kids didn’t make her life any easier. We did chores and helped cook and clean as we got older, but children can be pretty self centered and we weren’t that different. School, life, hobbies, church and school activities, music and art lessons, we all stayed busy, too. Add chauffeur and tutor to her list of duties.
There was a lot of rebellion from the middle 4 kids. One left home days before his 18th birthday. I dropped out of college after 2 years and rejected pretty much everything I had been taught. The next two had a lot of craziness in their lives, too. The thing is, no matter how far I went, where or how I got there, and knowing how hurt and disappointed Mom (and Dad) were, I knew they loved me. It wasn’t until years later, YEARS later, when I wrote to Mom to ask for forgiveness that I began to understand Agape love. Dad had been gone for several years, and she said this to me. “There were times when we didn’t like you” (I know it was probably most of the time) “but we never stopped loving you and praying for you.” It’s because of their examples that I have a relationship with my LORD. Their faithfulness, their forgiveness, their love and faith in the LORD Jesus Christ was the centerpiece of their lives.
That’s how God is, I think. As His children, His Creation, we hurt Him and disappoint Him, constantly. But know this. He never stops loving us. He loves you. Maybe your parents didn’t love you. Maybe they loved you enough to give you up for adoption (that’s a powerful love).
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NASB1995
“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NASB1995
Mom loved us, and Mom loved the people around her, because she knew God loved her. She showed that love to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people. She is missed by so many. Her ready smile, her refusal to complain, her ability to listen. I know the angels rejoiced when she joined them.
I’ll see her again, in heaven. Love you.
What satisfies you? And what makes you happy? Is it your job? Your possessions? Your home, your car, your family, your bank account? I’ve had a great job. I’ve had a big house, full of nice things. I’ve had a husband who loved me, a bulging bank account, a fun vehicle to do road trips and exploring. But was I happy? We had our moments, but we were constantly looking for something more. The prophet Isaiah tells us:
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2 NASB1995
All of those things, those actions, gave us temporary happiness, but none of it gave us – gave me – lasting Joy. In all of this, there were people and circumstances that hurt us. Some were unintentional, but some was very intentional. Anger and resentment stole my joy. It took several years and lots of hurt to find the place where I could hear the words of Jesus and let them soothe my bleeding heart. One of the first things necessary to healing is to learn to let the resentment go. Forgiveness….
“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:23, 29 NASB1995
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB1995
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.” Psalms 37:7-8 NASB1995
I think that many times we go searching for our joy and happiness in the things I’ve talked about above to cover up the anger and frustration we have with others. By covering up and ignoring those feelings, trying to hide it – or outrun it – we are only hurting ourselves. We want joy. We want peace. We want the hurting and the anger and the fear and frustration to just stop.
We WILL have trials in life. People will hurt us. They will leave us, they will disappoint us. Circumstances will change. This fallen world will hurt us. Expect it. The trials we go through are crucial to our maturity in Christ. They allow God to do His greatest works. They produce steadfastness in us. I don’t like what James says here, but he’s right.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 NASB1995
He says “Consider it all joy” – how is that possible? It’s actually very simple. Joy is a state of mind; we make the CHOICE to Rejoice. Joy is found solely and completely in the recognition of the Sovereignty of God. We are not alone, he says “my brethren” and he means we are connected, sons and daughters through God the Father, and brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. He reminds us that when we encounter all of the various trials, we know that they are the “testing”, like when gold and silver are subjected to fire to remove the impurities. Our testing will be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and painful but it will REFINE our faith.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you…” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB1995
READ verses 5-9, too! Endurance is an active hope, a living Hope in and through Jesus Christ our LORD. When it takes everything we have to hold on, even when it seems all hope is gone. Remember Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted….” Your faith produces endurance living by and for GOD, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing when we see Him. God prunes us so that we may be more fruitful, and to bring Him Glory; to deepen our dependence on Him and NOT to be be independent and dependent on ourselves. It is through dependence on God that we find true independence, and that is when we will find true happiness, satisfaction, and joy! Trials bring us closer to God “by breaking and subdividing the stubbornness of our hearts.” – Daniel Dyke, an English academic and Puritan. The proper Christian response to trials is to be a source of joy.
“…. for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:10-13 NASB1995