The Tables Will Be Turned

At The Proper Time, Divine Justice Calls For Divine judgment.

Divine justice calls for judgment when you consider the cruelty and wickedness that has been carried out against the people of God throughout the centuries. And when justice is finally served, you and I will lift our voice in praise, and along with all the saints and the heavenly hosts, say, “just and true are your judgments, O Lord.”

Read: Psalm 149 // Focus: Psalm 149:4,6,9

For the Lord delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory … Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands … To carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD.”

God’s people have been the victims of injustice for far too long, but the day is coming when they will be not only victorious, but the administrators of justice upon this evil world.

“Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands—to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with shackles and their leaders with iron chains, to execute the judgment written against them. This is the glorious privilege of his faithful ones.” (Psalm 149:6-9)

With humility and through indignity, the saints of God have borne the yoke of oppression, but when Christ returns to set up his Father’s righteous rule on the earth, it will be with glory, praise and joy that his people will carry out just punishment upon those who have served Satan’s purposes.

“Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful. O Israel, rejoice in your Maker. O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King. Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp. For the Lord delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them. Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds.” (Psalm 149:1-5)

Now that kind of militant talk may make you a bit uncomfortable. You prefer to love your enemies and pray for those who have persecuted you. You more accustomed to think in terms of forgiveness and reconciliation, peace and tolerance than judgment. And rightly so! That is our assignment for the time being.

But at the proper time, Divine justice calls for Divine judgment. And Divine judgment is only right and fair when you consider the cruelty and wickedness that has been carried out against the people of God throughout the centuries. Just think of what the nation of Israel, the Jews, have endured—not the least of which was the horror of the holocaust.

And what about the church? Anywhere between one hundred to three hundred thousands believers are killed each year throughout the world for nothing more than believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Daily, in other parts of the world, the saints are mistreated, suffer economic terrorism, endure beatings, rape, imprisonment and death—by the thousands. Just because we don’t see those horrors here in the western world does not mean it is not happening elsewhere—or won’t happen here some day.

Yes, Divine justice is coming to this world. It has to, or God isn’t just and righteous. And when justice finally arrives, you and I will lift our voice in praise, and along with all the saints and the heavenly hosts, say, “just and true are your judgments, O Lord.” (Revelation 16:7)

Yes, the day is coming, sooner than you think, when the tables will be turned, and the saints of God will be in charge. God’s justice demands it; God’s fairness ensures it.

And thank God, by his grace and mercy, through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you and I will be on the right side of the table!

Making Life Work: One day the tables will be turned, and Divine justice will be served. But until them, speak out for just causes and practice patience.

The Ubiquitous They

“We” Should Be Doing What “They” Were Created To Do

It is only right and fitting that “they” should offer continual and heartfelt praise to the One who created them? So just who is this ubiquitous “they”? Everybody and each one—including you!

Read: Psalm 148 // Focus: Psalm 148:5

“Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.

The psalmist tells us that “they” should praise the Lord, since it was he who spoke the word and “they” were created. So just who in the world is “they”?

Have you ever heard people refer to “they” when they are talking? “They” did this; “they” did that; “they” want this; “they” want that. I call that the “ubiquitous they”—everybody in general and no one in particular. The psalmist is referring to the “ubiquitous they.” In this case, everybody and each one!

Whatever was created—which pretty well covers it—owes their existence to the word of the Lord. He spoke, and out of nothing “they” were created: Angels, heavenly beings, solar systems, weather patterns, geological formations, plant and animal life, rulers and authorities, along with “young men and maidens, old men and children.” (Psalm 148:12) I think it’s safe to say, you and I are included in this list. That is who “they” are.

Now isn’t it only right and fitting that “they” should offer continual and heartfelt praise to the One who created them? Unfortunately, and unbelievably, many of “them” have turned from worshipping he who created them and worship what he created instead. Romans 1:21-25 tells us about this sad descent into human madness,

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

How absurd is that!

But you can change that—me too! Let’s do what we were created to do. As we go about our day, let’s make it our aim that to lift up praise to the name of the Lord in all that we say and in whatever we do. If you and I will do that, at least two of “them” will do what “they” should be doing!

Making Life Work: On this day, simply do what you were created to do: offer praise with your lips and through you life to the One who created you!

What Gift Do You Give Someone Who’s Got Everything

A Fully Surrendered and Gratefully Responsive Heart Is What God Wants

What can you give God today to make him smile? Simply offer him your heart—that means all of you, body, mind and spirit—perhaps for the first time or maybe for the fiftieth time. Nothing moves God like those he loves (see John 3:16) fully surrendering and gratefully responding to his love.

Read: Psalm 147 // Focus: Psalm 147:11

“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”

You and I have had the joy of being given something by another that just made our heart sing—a birthday present, a Christmas gift, a Valentine’s Day card or some other expression of love, appreciation or gratitude. But what can you give to God to move his heart? How do you make the Lord happy? He has everything he wants and can create what he doesn’t have.

God is all-powerful—after all, he created universe beyond universe beyond universe, and all the planets and stars within them, even calling all the stars by name: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalm 147:4)

God knows everything there is to know—there is no limit to either his power or his understanding: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” (Psalm 147:5)

God has fixed up this little globe called earth to run amazingly well, sustaining its ecological systems: “He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow. (Psalm 147:15-18)

God has even ordered provision for the daily needs of his earthly creatures: “He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.” (Psalm 147:8-9)

So accurately, abundantly and consistently does God care for the earth’s higher inhabitants that their utter and ceaseless gratitude is only fitting: “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp” (Psalm 147:7)

What, then, can you give to a God who has it all and does it all? Only your fear and your hope, that’s what! What satisfies God to the core of his being is the fear that arises not out of terror, but from the kind of reverence and respect that comes from knowing that he is the giver and sustainer of life itself, the rightful owner of Planet Earth and rightful ruler of your life.

What causes God pleasure is the hope that looks to him for protection, peace and provision: “For he strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat. (Psalm 147:13-14)

What causes God pleasure is the patience that waits for him to execute justice and fairness: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

What causes God pleasure is the trust that expects him to fulfill his good purposes to all those who belong to him: “He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws.” (Psalm 147:19-20).

What gift can you offer to the one Being who truly has it all? Just your very life, that’s all.

Do you want to bring a smile to God’s face today? I think you know what to do!

Making Life Work: What can you give God today to make him smile? Simply offer him your heart—that means all of you, body, mind and spirit—perhaps for the first time or maybe for the fiftieth time. Nothing moves God like those he loves (see John 3:16) fully surrendering and gratefully responding to his love.

Be At Rest

Why Trust Anyone Other Than The Everlastingly Faithful God

What are you putting your hope in at this moment? The government? Your investments? The media? Your doctor? Science? Technology? The American dream? Not that any of those are inherently bad, but they are not God. Put all your hope in him and you will never be disappointed!

Read: Psalm 146 // Focus: Psalm 146:5-6

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—the LORD, who remains faithful forever.”

Here’s the bottom line, Biblically speaking, for you: God alone is faithful—no one else is! That’s what the psalm is proclaiming from start to finish in Psalm 146. And the fact that he alone is everlastingly faithful means there are some life-altering implications for you:

That is why God alone is worthy of your praise: “Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” (Psalm 146:1-2)

That is why you should place your trust in him alone: “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.” (Psalm 146:3-4)

That is why you should look to God alone to give you justice, provision, and freedom: “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free,” (Psalm 146:7)

That is why you should believe for God to give you vision, hope and reward: “ the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.” (Psalm 146:8)

That is why should expect security and fairness from him: “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” (Psalm 146:9).

That is why you should surrender to his eternal reigns: “The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.” (Psalm 146:10)

Only God is everlastingly faithful!

What are you putting your hope in at this moment? The government? Your investments? The media? Your doctor? Science? Technology? The American dream?

Not that any of those are inherently bad, but they are not God. They do not have unlimited power, foreknowledge of what the future holds, indisputable justice and complete moral clarity. Only the One who created all things, sustains the universe moment by moment, and holds tomorrow in his hands will be able to continually keep his eye on you (Psalm 33:18), provide you with everything necessary for life, health, happiness and peace (Acts 17:28, II Peter 1:3), shower you with his favor (Psalm 147:11) and fulfill his promise of your eternal life (Psalm 16:10, II Corinthians 5:1).

So put all your hope in God (Psalm 43:5) and you will never be put to shame (Psalm 25:3), nor will you be disappointed (Romans 5:5). Only he is everlastingly faithful.

Making Life Work: In whom are you placing trust: The government? Your investments? The media? Your doctor? Science? Technology? The American dream? Take a look at what is written on a coin in your pocket. What does it say? In God We Trust. Ding! Ding! Ding! That is the correct answer. Take a moment to exclaim that in a prayer to your trustworthy God.

Voyeuristic Worship

Reject Performance Based Worship and Just Sing to the Audience of One

Don’t be a voyeuristic worshiper. Next time you’re in a church service, forget the music style, the song choice, the smoke and mirrors, and the talent on the stage leading the singing. Shut all that out and give your heart in praise to the Audience of One.

Read: Psalm 145 // Focus: Psalm 145:21

“My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.”

I had occasion to be in another city some time ago where I attended a worship service. From all outward appearances, the church seemed to be thriving. The building was attractive and innovative, the guest services were effective, the publications were outstanding, outreach opportunities were plenty, the mission of the church was cleverly stated, the people were great looking, the worship band was hip, the songs were the latest—the “cool factor” of this church was extremely high. Oh, I almost forgot, they were even observing the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt have a cool café that serves Starbucks coffee and blueberry scones!

But I was bugged. As I looked around, I noticed that people were not engaged in the worship. They were watching, enjoying, applauding after each song that was performed perfectly by the band. And that, I think, was what bugged me: It was a performance—or it appeared that way to me. The congregation was really a “concert crowd” and they were watching and enjoying “worship” as it was performed onstage by their band of spiritual “rock stars”. Worship was happening voyeuristically.

Then it hit me! As I was looking around at everybody else and judging the authenticity of their worship, I suddenly realized that anybody else in that crowd could have looked at me “rubbernecking” and made the very same assessment: Voyeuristic worship. I wasn’t worshipping, I was watching.

It was in that moment that the Holy Spirit reached down and dislocated my heart—ouch! So I decided to worship. I literally whispered this prayer, “God, you deserve worship, and if I am the only person in this place that will do it, I will worship you with all of my heart. You’re going to get worshipped today, and I am going to be the one to do it!” And to the best of my ability, I did.

Now I’ve got to tell you, once I made that choice, and even thought I didn’t particularly like the style of music or the song choices, I ended up having one of the greatest experiences of worship I’ve ever had. I came into God’s presence and experienced the joy of giving my love to him, basking in his goodness, and experiencing his presence. And guess, what? When I opened my eyes, I saw a different church—there were lots of worshipers.

What changed? Not the church so much; it was me that had changed. My perspective was different. My heart was softer. And my experience of worship came close to what I think God wants it to be for me whenever and wherever I gather with his people to praise him: Worship from the heart of the worshipper. I made the choice to worship—style of music notwithstanding—and I experienced God!

That’s what David is doing here in this psalm—finding reason to give God the worship he deserves. That’s what this psalm is calling for from you and me. So the next time you have occasion, join David—and me—by making that choice to worship the God who deserves our very best worship. There are plenty of reasons, you know!

And if you are the only one willing to do it—which you are probably not—make sure that God gets worshipped!

Making Life Work: The next time you are in a worship experience, close your eyes, forget about everybody else, forget about the style of the music, forget about you, and just sing a love song to the Audience of One.

Living Under the Influence—Of You!

Before You Know It, They Will Be Eulogizing You

Time flies, and one day before you know it, you will be approaching the finish line of your life.  And when that day comes, what will those who have been under the influence of you have to say about your life? What will they say about the thumbprint you have left on them? Sobering, isn’t it! Time flies—which means you ought to live now in the way you want to be remembered then.

Read: Psalm 144 // Focus: Psalm 144:4

“Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.”

David’s words are so true—and sobering, aren’t they. Time flies, life is fleeting, and before you know it, those who were once so alive and vibrant are now ambling toward the twilight of their lives. And on occasion, the saying, “here today, gone tomorrow” forcefully intrudes into your world with an unmistakable wakeup call that this is not only true of the people you know and love, it is true of you as well.

I had the privilege of spending a great deal of time under two men who were my spiritual mentors—Dr. Murray McLees and Dr, Charles Blair. They were both great leaders in their day, and their influence in my life has been nothing less than defining. In their prime, they were unequaled in visionary, courageous, innovative and skillful leadership. They were statesmen in their ministries. They did for the Kingdom of God what not many others have done. These men were spiritual giants—God’s generals—but when I served with them, they were approaching the finish line.

Watching them in their bell lap was a bittersweet experience for me: I was saddened by the reality that they were not what they once were, but was gladdened by the reward that certainly awaited them for running strong and finishing well the race that God had set before them. Looking back on the ups and downs, the victories and the defeats, the sorrows and joys of their long and illustrious careers, King David’s words at the end this psalm (Psalm 144L15) aptly sums up their lives:

Blessed are the people of whom this is true;
blessed are the people whose God is the LORD.

These were men of God, and they were blessed. And I am blessed to have their thumbprints all over my life.

But time flies, and one day before I know it, I will be where they were. And when that day comes, what will those who have been under my influence say about me? And what about you? What will they say about the thumbprint you have left on their lives? Sobering, isn’t it!

O Lord, teach us to number our days aright so that we might live them wisely! (Psalm 90:12)

Making Life Work: What do you want people to say of you after you are gone? It would be a worthy assignment to write out your eulogy—the word spoken about you at your memorial service. But here’s the thing: you’ve got to live that way between now and then!

A Little Help Here!

God Help! At The Start, At The Finish And All The Way In Between

Walking a godly path is not the easiest road to travel. In fact, Jesus called it “the narrow road that only few ever find.” That’s why we need to pray, early and often, “A little help here!” Yes, the god-pleasing life can be achieved, but it will take daily dependence on God—a moment-by-moment, coming to him and getting a little help from above—which he will gladly give!

Read: Psalm 143 // Focus: Psalm 143:10

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

David was well aware of his own inability to live a righteous life before God. That’s not to say he didn’t try, or that he simply dismissed his failures with an, “Oh well, it’s just the way I am; I just can’t help myself.”

David knew the problem was much deeper than that—and much more troubling. And it wasn’t his problem alone. He knew that mankind was fundamentally flawed because of a sinful nature (“Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you,” Psalm 143:2), and that no matter how much we try, we will ultimately steer right off the cliff into personal sin. And from David’s personal experience, he knew that would probably happen early and often.

So the sweet singer of Israel makes his plea for help from above. If sin were to be overcome, it would take a little help from God. Actually, a lot of help! It would require God’s active mercy (Psalm 143:1), the daily renewal of his loving guidance (Psalm 143:8), and his shepherding care to keep David walking in his will and on the straight and narrow path (Psalm 143:10, cf. Psalm 23: 1-4).

Living the godly life is not the easiest road to travel. In fact, Jesus said it this way: “Heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate! The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose its easy way. But the Gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:14, TLB) Or as the Message translates it,

Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life — to God! — is vigorous and requires total attention.

Since our lives are out of fundamental alignment by virtue of the sinful nature that got passed down to us from Adam, by nature, we will continually drift toward the devil’s ditch. That will require a constant effort on our part to overcorrect just to keep on that “narrow way” about which Jesus spoke. Most of all, it will take daily dependence on God—day-by-day, perhaps moment-by-moment, coming to him and getting a little help from above.

To live the kind of life God has called us to live, we will need to exercise the same kind of temerity as the kid who wrote this prayer to God: “Jesus, I feel very near to you. I feel like you are beside me all the time. Please be with me this Thursday. I am running in a three-mile race then and I will need all the speed in the world then. If you’re re not busy, could you be with me at the starting line, the finish line, and everywhere in between?”

Yeah, that’s what we need: a little help at the start, the finish, and all the way in between!

Making Life Work: The world’s most powerful prayer is also the shortest and simplest: Help! Perhaps you should pray that right now!