Fulfilled Desires

Praise the LORD!

Oh, give thanks for the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD?
Who can declare all His praise?

Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!

Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation,

That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones,
That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nations,
That I may glory with Your inheritance.

-Psalm 106.1-5

These opening verses of Psalm 106 praise the LORD for the following three characteristics: goodness, mercy, and power. So, the psalmist asks for God to remember Him by pouring out grace and delivering him. The psalmist desires the benefit, joy, and glory which belongs to every child of God.

When studying the Psalms, we study the heart. The Psalms are essential experiential literature. When we understand them as such, we are able to rightly apply what we are reading. We are looking into the heart of a human author and his relationship with his great God. While this is the inspired Word of God, inspiration has a human component that cannot be denied. Therefore, we profit greatly as we study the heart-desires of each psalmist. The first key desire is expressed by the words…

Remember Me with the Favor

This is the definitive favor God gives to His people, His chosen ones, and those of His inheritance.  Our context makes it clear that these people consist of the nation of Israel. Christians find the definitive favor of God in Christ Jesus. We, too, are God’s people, His chosen ones, and those of His inheritance. We share in the faith of our father, Abraham (Romans 4). 1 Peter 2.9 says that we “are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people.” Paul reminds us that the Holy Spirit is the “guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1.14). Therefore, we pray for God to remember His favor and grace which come through Jesus Christ.

A second key desire is found in…

The Benefit of God’s Chosen Ones

Our idea of what is truly beneficial in life is different from what God deems beneficial. Men of the world have their portion in this life. God fills their belly with hidden treasure, satisfies them, and provides for their children (Psalm 17.14).  “Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish,” according to Asaph (Psalm 73.7).

True riches and honor are with Wisdom personified in Christ. He has enduring riches and righteousness (Proverbs 8.18). Our God visits us with His salvation and deliverance – not only temporal salvation but eternal salvation.

A third key desire is expressed by the words…

That I May Rejoice and Glory

We greatly rejoice even while grieved by various trials (1 Peter 1.6). We do not yet see Jesus, “yet believing, [we] rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1.8).  “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance” (Romans 5.3). Even “in the multitude of my anxieties within me, [the LORD’s] comforts delight my soul” (Psalm 94.19).  Imagine the joy and glory which awaits us!

So, these three desires of the psalmist find parallels for readers today. God received the prayer of the psalmist and preserved it as a pattern for His people today. We desire God’s favor and a satisfying, happy life. God wants us to pray for this. We must pray and not lose heart.

  • “Open your mouth wide, and [the LORD] will fill it” (Psalm 81.10).
  • “O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come” (Psalm 65.2).
  • “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is His delight” (Proverbs 15.8).

There is nothing you cannot bring to God. Ask believing from a broken and contrite heart, and you will find God willing and able to provide it. May God visit us with His salvation daily. May we desire it daily.

  1. Do I have an inordinate desire for the things of this world? This world cannot make a child of God satisfied or happy. I will never have as much as Solomon had. He concluded that wealth was vain and empty. I look toward an incorruptible and undefined, uncontainable inheritance that does not fade away. It is reserved in heaven not on earth (1 Peter 1.4).
  2. Am I laboring in God’s vineyard for an eternal reward? I shouldn’t dwell upon my unworthiness. I acknowledge it as a reality and call upon God to remember me, to remember His favor toward me. His favor is undeserved and unmerited. It is granted to me in Christ.  I need only believe. I must not waver in unbelief. I shall have my desires as I dwell and abide in Him. I must delight myself in the Lord, and He will give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37.4).

Perspectives on Proverbs: The Fear of the LORD

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
To turn one away from the snares of death.
– Proverbs 14.26-27

Proverbs 14.2a reveals that the one “who walks in his uprightness fears the LORD.” It’s important to note that the fear of the LORD feeds upright conduct not the other way around. That is, the person who is walking in his uprightness is the person already fearing the LORD. It is by the fear of the LORD that one departs from evil (Proverbs 16.6).

The fear of the LORD in Proverbs is the path to wisdom and righteous conduct. “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom” (Proverbs 15.33a). It is “by humility and the fear of the LORD” that one gains riches, honor, and life (Proverbs 22.4).

The theme of Proverbs could be summed up in Proverbs 1.7: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” We find our starting place in the fear of the LORD. So, note the following general observations about the fear of the LORD:

  • The fear of the LORD is not bound within Proverbs alone. It permeates the entire Bible.
  • When the Law was given to Moses, the people trembled as Moses brought them out of the camp to meet with God (Ex 19.16-17).
  • The holiness of God is so awesome (think the true sense of this word – to fill one with awe and terror) that to look upon His glory means certain death (Ex 33.20).
  • We connect the concept of holiness and fear. God transcends our human existence in that He cannot even look upon sin much less to dwell in the presence of sin.
  • Isaiah was ushered into the throne room of the LORD. The experience was terrifying for him. He saw himself as unclean and undone (Isaiah 6.1-7). Still, the LORD purified Isaiah for the purpose of serving Him.
  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. This means it is the proving ground that leads out to wisdom. Wisdom and right conduct find a starting point in the fear of the LORD.

Fear of the LORD in Proverbs

  • “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (1.7). This is a key verse. It tells us what Proverbs is about. Knowledge, wisdom, and instruction come to those who fear the LORD. The way of wisdom is the way of holiness. It includes my responsibility before God to maintain a virtuous, holy life.
  • “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; for their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of trouble making” (24.1-2). One who fears the LORD is separated from evil men according to this passage. Those who fear the LORD separate from those who hate knowledge and do “not choose the fear of the LORD” (1.29).
  • Knowledge is paired with the fear of the LORD (2.5). It leads to an understanding of righteousness, justice, equity, and every good path (2.9).
  • If we fear the LORD, we will depart from evil. We see the danger of being wise in our own eyes (3.7). “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (26.12). It is by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil (16.6).
  • How important is the concept of the fear of the LORD? “He who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil” (19.23).

Proverbs 14.27 reveals that the fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn us away from the snares of death. To fear the LORD is to so reverence and respect Him that you obey His will and seek to glorify His name in your life. To fear the LORD is to live an eternal quality of life. It is the opposite of testing the LORD by deliberately disobeying Him and daring Him to intervene in your life. That is truly a terrifying concept. This is why we work our salvation in fear and trembling. We serve the LORD with fear while rejoicing with trembling.

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life. It is the source of spiritual life for us as believers. Verse 26 indicates that it gives us security. We find true hope and even a long life in the fear of the LORD.

Those who do not fear the LORD feed on foolishness (15.14). If we will not fear the LORD, we will not have moral courage and strength. We will lack both spiritual and intellectual nourishment.

Warren Wiersbe wrote, “The soil of the heart must be prepared and the seed of the Word planted, or the water won’t do us much good.” The fear of the LORD is the instrument of preparation and planting. Maybe the intake of God’s Word (watering) fails us because there is little understanding of the LORD’s nearness to us in daily life. If we are living as if God does not exist, we cannot expect a close relationship with Him on Sundays. God is near all the time. My private and public moments must closely align in the fear of the LORD.

Touch Not My Anointed!

“Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.”

Psalm 105.15

Israel traveled from one Canaanite nation to another under Joshua’s leadership. They went from one kingdom to another, and God protected them. He did not allow anyone to do them wrong. His kings and priests (anointed ones) along with His prophets were protected from harm. God’s providential hand preserved the leadership of Israel. These were God’s anointed ones, God’s prophets.

The Misuse of Psalm 105.15

Today, all those chosen in Christ cannot be harmed. Enemies may kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul. But Psalm 105.15 has been mistreated by would-be followers of Christ today. Many so-called Bible teachers have utilized this verse to stifle those who criticize their teaching and preaching ministry. They believe people are dead or have cancer today because they criticized God’s anointed one, namely the Bible teacher himself. They identify as God’s anointed one for the purpose making certain they are no open to rebuke or censure when they sin or spread false teaching.

All Christians Are God’s Anointed Ones

What these supposed leaders fail to realize is that every single believer is an anointed one today. As children of God, we are anointed with the Spirit of Christ. Our goal is to live a life that is sober, realizing the great joy of our position in Christ.

Reigning Kings

Kings, prophets, and priests were anointed by God in the Old Testament. Yet all things are ours as New Testament saints. “All are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3.21-23). We will reign as kings with Christ because we submit to Christ. 

Every Believer a Priest

We have access to God through Christ. In this sense we are all anointed priests. We need no earthly mediator to intervene for us. Our only Mediator is Christ Himself at the right hand of the Father. So, every Christian is God’s anointed one. Every Christian will live as long as God deems fit for him or her to live.

Thus Saith the LORD!

As God’s anointed, we must speak even as the prophets of old spoke. But we are not prophets. We are not providing the world with new revelation from God. We are simply speaking what God has already revealed. Those who have Christ in them, will also have Christ come out of them.

The Irony of Misinterpretation

No one can really do us any harm. God works all things together for good to those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Sorrow, pain, sickness, trial, and difficulties all become vehicles God uses to transport us safely to our destination in the Father’s house.

Evil exists in this world, but it cannot really harm us. Peter was delivered out of prison just before being executed. James was beheaded and never released. Are they not both the anointed of the Lord? Did either one suffer harm? Did God protect and love Peter in a way that He didn’t protect and love James? Who was harmed? Neither. One just happened to be transported into the Savior’s presence faster than the other.

What a shame that Psalm 105.15 is used to abuse and fleece the sheep by supposed shepherds! Often, supposed Christian leaders use this verse as a crook to beat sheep into submission and keep themselves in a position of prosperity and luxury. When in truth, these leaders are seeking to harm the very anointed ones God is protecting. What irony! A very scary thought for these would-be followers to be sure.

Let’s make sure we understand our position as beloved children. Let’s make sure our condition reflects that position.

Perspectives on Proverbs: Avoid Assuming Apprehension

“A true witness delivers souls, but a deceitful witness speaks lies.”

Proverbs 14.25

The word ‘souls’ in this verse is another way of saying ‘lives’. The witness is the person testifying before some judicial authority. It is important that person speaks truth so that the innocent will go free and the guilty will be convicted. The contrasting element in the proverb is a deceitful witness. Such people speak lies and pervert the cause of justice. Earlier in Proverbs 14, the same principle is communicated:

“A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies.”

Proverbs 14.5

Some might explain the verse in the context of soul winning. This can be very dangerous at times and innocuous at other times. Regretfully, I have done this myself. But it is dangerous. We must rightly divide the Word of God and avoid assuming apprehension of a passage. Application might justifiably broaden to soul winning in this text, but I would begin with what the text actually means.

The 37th Anniversary of Heritage Baptist Church 

6D8DFCD9-12FC-49D6-BC47-25AD1700279C

1994 – When our church moved from an interim facility after about 10 years on East 18th Street

Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How old are you?”

And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.’ So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.” – Genesis 47.7-10

“How old are you?”

This can be a penetrating question if we divest it of all the baggage that comes with it in our present-day context. Old age is rarely respected in our climate. But it should be. It is akin to pointing out the maturity and the advancement of an elderly person. We see the wisdom in them as time flies. How much water has gone under the bridge? How much time do we ourselves have left? How can we invest in someone who is just beginning or in the prime of life? Can we help them avoid pitfalls, temptation, and adversity that we experienced? The discouragement and disappointment faced by those more advanced in years become very instructive for the young who will listen. And the young are still listening.

Jacob blesses Pharaoh and leaves his presence (47.10). Jacob was thankful for what Pharaoh and his kingdom had done to help his family. Certainly, this would leave an impression upon Pharaoh. Even as it should leave an impression upon us as a church. Many churches are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but they can sometimes be overbearing and belligerent with that gospel. Other times, they back away from the gospel and compromise the message of Christ crucified.

Our church must make disciples of all the nations, but we must do so gently, persuasively, lovingly, and compassionately in the years ahead. We will surely be a sweet-smelling fragrance to those who will receive the gospel but a foul, pungent, offensive odor to those who don’t.

Unfortunately, sometimes that foul smell is something for which we are all responsible. It has nothing to do with the offense of the gospel and everything to do with the offense of its messengers. We need the challenge of God’s Word to make the gospel the offense and not the messenger, the local church here in Antioch. I love people too much to needlessly drive them away from us.

How old are you, Heritage Baptist Church? What a great question when we consider the end of our lives as individuals. There remains a promise of entering the rest Christ secured for us. The gospel was preached to us as well as to them, but they did not profit from it. It was not mixed with faith. Yet a rest remains. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4.16). Let us do this together as a church.

Jacob did not attain to the years of his fathers. We may not attain to the years of 200-year-old historic churches. We have not by any means attained to the resurrection from the dead. Yet we press on, laying hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of us. As a church, we shouldn’t count ourselves to have apprehended anything. Instead, we will forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead. Press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

How old are you, Heritage Baptist Church? That is, how mature have we become? As many of us as are mature, let us have this mind of pressing on toward the goal. If in anything we think otherwise, God will reveal even this to us. To the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind (see Philippians 3.11 ff.).

Jacob lived 17 additional years in Egypt. The time was drawing near for his life to end. He requested that Joseph bury him in the Promised Land. Joseph promised he would do as requested by his father. The days of Jacob’s pilgrimage total 147 years. There is no reason to believe that his outlook had changed from the day they totaled 130.

Genesis will end with death of Joseph. Jacob’s family will become a nation within the incubator called Egypt. Israel will have spent over 400 years in Egypt. Exodus 12.37 tells us that when this 430-year period ends, the 70 become 600,000 men besides the women and children. Time flies.

The end is coming for one generation in our church as a previous one is already moving toward its reward. Will another rise up? I believe it will. Time flies, Heritage Baptist Church. Let us endeavor to press on in keeping the Great Commands of our Savior so that we might fulfill His Great Commission. Let’s pass that responsibility to the next generation with eager hope for the Lord Jesus to return and bring us to be with Him!

Learning to Sing

“I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 104.33).

That is, as long as I live here on the earth, I’ll sing praise to my God. There are two disciplines required for an attitude of praise. This attitude is highly prized because it is beautiful and content. That is, it is an attitude to be emulated. So, naturally we ask: How do we gain this beautiful, contented attitude of praise that is displayed in Psalm 104? We must learn to sing the way the psalmist did.

We must memorize and then meditate on God’s Word.

We need to be washed in the water of the Word. We need to think and meditate on whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Think about the fact that God thinks about you. The Bible says that His thoughts concerning us are more in number than the sand. You cannot speak of the Lord’s work in your life if you neither acknowledge nor remember it.

We must press on in life with a holy discontentment.

It’s one thing to fear God and keep His commandments. It’s quite another thing to fear God, keep His commandments, and be glad about it. We cannot be satisfied with life until we are satisfied in the Lord. We won’t reach higher ground if we never try to climb toward it. Don’t be content with where you are spiritually. Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37.4). If you truly seek the Lord, you will praise the Lord.

We have great privilege and position as children of God. We will find our hearts glad and lightened if we meditate on His creative, providential, and redemptive works. Our minds must turn to Christ throughout each day we exist.

“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You” (Psalm 63.1). Praise is not something you work up. It’s never genuine that way. It’s a reflection of a heart that truly mediates on our God’s person and work. Praise is Heaven’s language; we must learn how to sing praise to God!

Perspectives in Proverbs: Two Types of Sowing in Proverbs 14.18-24

Sometimes you are able to read one verse in the Book of Proverbs and it stands alone. It’s a self-contained nugget of wisdom. However, there are times when you read an organized paragraph with the collection. It helps to understand the meaning of a particular verse within that organized structure by considering the entire context. Here is an understanding then of Proverbs 14.18-24:

The simple and the prudent reap what they sow (vv. 18-19).

The poor and the rich treat are treated differently (v. 20).

Those who despise and those who are merciful toward neighbors (v. 21)

Those who devise and those who are merciful reap what they sow (v. 22)

The poor and the rich are rewarded differently (23).

The fools and the wise reap what they sow (v. 24).

Hopefully, you see that this whole unit of thought is bracketed by the concept of reaping and sowing by the way one treats others. So, this is why we ought to be concerned for the poor. It is also why we must work hard to keep ourselves from poverty. Also, we must have integrity when we deal with people in our lives. Anyone in our lives throughout the course of a day is deemed a ‘neighbor’.

The LORD is providing a good general principle for us to live by in these verses: He will reward good behavior by lifting us up in the eyes of others and prospering our lives financially. Of course, this is generally true in life. This is the nature of Proverbs. There are exceptions to the general principles we garner in this book. For instance, we don’t always see the evil bowing before the good or the wicked bowing to the righteous in places of authority (v. 19). But Joseph’s brothers did bow before Joseph. Pharaoh did bow before Moses. The saints of the Lord Jesus will judge the world (see 1 Corinthians 6.2).

Charles Bridges wrote:

Wealth is the crown … of the wise, but it cannot hide fools. It only makes their folly more apparent. Since it is wasted on their selfish gratification, it is not their crown but their folly. So whatever our talents are, let us use them for eternity; then they will be our everlasting crown.

Charles Bridges, Proverbs, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 111.