Do you ever find yourself looking around and seeing evil people that are doing good? You are trying to live a Godly life… you are trying to live for Christ… and maybe your money is tight… maybe you are going through a tough time… yet, all around you, ungodly people are doing well. You find yourself thinking, “what’s the deal? Why are they prospering and I”m struggling?”
The Psalmist was in that very position. In Psalm 37, the Lord speaks to the Psalmist and says, “Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.. (v.1)” And again he says “Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.”
Then, the Psalmist says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act” (37:7).
Be still and wait patiently….
The Psalmist is speaking to me here. I admit; I’m a terrible waiter! Terrible! But I find myself in a holding pattern in my life. I’m having to wait. Maybe you are in the same position. When we are in a holding pattern, it’s easy to look around and see others that seem to be doing well and we ask the Lord, “why?” “Why not me?”… I don’t have the answers but, I now that God is real and He is on the throne and I can trust Him.
The Psalmist also says in this text, “Trust in the Lord and do good…”
So, if you have lots of questions… if you see others doing well but you are struggling… If you are waiting on the Lord… the Lord reminds us to trust Him… Wait patiently on Him and He will bless us.
That’s the American dream, isn’t it?
I mean, if you ask a High School senior what they want to do in life, many will say, “I want to make a lot of money.” Money equals success or, so we are told.
There is nothing wrong with making money…but, we need to be careful how we make it. In s desire to get rich, sometimes, people can cut corners…maybe start doing some unethical stuff…maybe push the envelope a little…to get ahead and make money.
Proverbs says, “Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life.”
“Tainted wealth” is wealth accumulated by cheating or doing something illegal or immoral. It has no lasting value. Bernie Madoff had tainted wealth. Yes he was rich but he got it by cheating others. Jordan Belford, the wolf of Wall Street had tainted wealth.
But, the text also says, “right living can save your life.” That means living an honest life…a life of integrity.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to make money as long as greed doesn’t consume you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make money if it’s done legally. There is something wrong with cheating for it.
Today, focus on right living and work hard. God will take care of the rest.
Every day our goal as Christians should be to follow the Lord. Doing that keeps us in the center of God’s will. Following the Lord should bring us happiness and fulfillment. But, how do we know what the Lord wants us to do? At times, that can be a challenge.
Discerning God’s will, at times, can be challenging.. at times we may wish it were simpler. Well, in the Old Testament, they had a pretty simply system.
God appeared to Israel in a cloud of glory. When the cloud of glory came down as a pillar of fire and rested over the tabernacle that meant Israel was to stop. But when the cloud of glory raised, it meant Israel was to move. So, cloud comes down – stay; cloud goes up – go. Pretty simple.
Exodus 39:36-38 says, “Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.”
At times, I wish it were that simple for us. How do we know and follow God’s will?
The first step is through Bible reading. God has revealed Himself to us through His word. We are to read God’s word for direction in life.
The second step is through prayer. We pray to discern God’s will. As we read God’s word and pray, God speaks to us and leads us.
Maybe you are trying to discern God’s will. Maybe you have an issue you are really struggling with. God will speak to us if we pray. God will speak to us as we read His word. While it might be nice to have at times, we don’t need a pillar of cloud or fire today. We have God’s word and that is enough.
Do you have doubts about the Bible? About the Christian life? It’s ok if you do. Lots of people have had doubts. It’s ok if you have questions. It doesn’t mean you are a bad a person or anything.
Lots of people have doubts. Obviously lots of people who don’t know the Lord have doubts. Many people are skeptical.. A skeptic is someone who is not easily convinced. Some people are agnostic. An agnostic believes that nothing is known or can be known about the nature of God. An agnostic does not know if God exists.
In Matthew 28:17, the Bible says when the disciples met Jesus, “when they saw Him, they worshiped Him but some were doubtful.” Some were doubtful. In John’s gospel we read that Thomas was doubtful.
Maybe you have doubts. Maybe there is something in the Bible that you have read and you question if it happened or is legit? I understand…
Or, maybe you know someone who has doubts. Maybe you are trying to get someone to believe in Christ but you can’t get them past their doubts. Don’t criticize them. Acknowledge their doubts, try to help them if you can but move on.
President Lincoln once told a man, “Take all of this book that you can by reason and the rest by faith and you will live and die a better man.”
You are not going to answer every question you have about the Bible. But, you don’t have to… believe the parts you know and ask God about the rest when you get to heaven.
Taking responsibility for our actions is something that is missing in our culture. Instead of taking responsibility, we want to blame others. And, at times, even when we are wrong, we want to act as if we had nothing to do with it.
Pilate did this. Jesus was brought before Pilate. There was a custom that each year during the Passover, Pilate would release one prisoner. Pilate gave the people two options; Jesus or Barnabas. The people chose Barnabas.
Pilate tried to get the people to change their mind, but they wouldn’t. They insisted on releasing Barabbas. At this point, Pilate should have said, “Jesus has done nothing wrong- I’m releasing Jesus.” But instead, he gave the crowd what it wanted and released Barnabas then, Pilate washed his hands and said, “The blood is on your hands…”. Not necessarily…the blood was on Pilate’s hands too but he wasn’t taking responsibility.
Each one of us need to be willing to accept responsibility. Did you mess up? Ok, accept responsibility and learn from it. Don’t lie about it.
There is an old saying; “Every tub has to sit on it’s own bottom.” That refers to taking responsibility.
What makes Christians different from everyone else? We believe we are different… or we should… and the Christian faith is the only world faith that can state that it’s founder and Savior lives… So, the Christian faith is superior to all world faiths. That being so, what makes us different?
Is it going to worship on Sunday? That is something we should do but, just going to worship doesn’t make us different. What about Bible reading? Does that make us different? Again, that is something we should do but, it does not make us different. So what is it that makes us different?
In the book of Exodus, Moses says to God, “For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”
Let’s look at the background of this verse. God had gotten angry with Israel because they made a gold calf and were worshiping it. So, God’s anger burned and God told Moses He would not go with Israel any farther. So, Moses prayed to God and said, “God, if your presence does not go with us, don’t send us.” God told Moses that He had changed His mind and He would go with Israel.
Then, Moses said, “… your presence among us sets us apart from everyone else.”
Think about that verse… “your presence among us sets us apart.” How was God’s presence seen or experienced among the people of Israel? It was through the pillar of cloud during the day and the fire at night. God was leading His people.
How is God’s presence seen or experienced among us today? It is when we are filled by and led the Holy Spirit and the goodness of the spirit is felt… and others can see Jesus in us. God’s presence is seen when we are around people and our spirit is filled with love and peace and others sense that.
God’s spirit is felt when we are around people and we are caring and compassionate. God’s spirit is felt when we are around people and we are not critical of others or, we are not cutting others down.. but instead, we are encouraging and uplifting.
God’s spirit is felt when are giving and sacrificial. Today, many Christians will go to worship. But will God’s spirit be present? When we leave worship, will God’s spirit go with us? We must pray for that to happen because that is the only way the world can tell the Christian apart from the rest of the world.
“Thy will be done.”
That’s what Jesus prayed when He knelt in the garden of Gethsemane just before He was betrayed. Judas had made an arrangement with the Romans and Jesus knew that the hour of His betrayal was approaching. He went into the garden of Gethsemane and went alone to pray. Jesus prayed, “Father, if it be Thy will, let this cup pass from me… “. Then Jesus prayed, not my will but Thine be done.”
Could we have prayed that prayer? Could we have said “Father, I will accept the cup of suffering to atone for the sin of mankind?”
Every day we make decisions…every day we pray… But are we willing to pray “not my will but Thy will be done.?” That can be a difficult prayer because we all have our wants and desires. So, let’s imagine that our desire does not match up with God’s will….And we pray “Father, Thy will be done.” We are saying “Lord Jesus, I’m willing to set aside my desires for your will to be done in my life. “
Today, let’s all go to the Father with the spirit of, “Father, not my will but Thine be done.”
It’s this simple; do we believe that God loves us l? Sure we do! Do we believe that God‘s plans are better than ours? Sure we do l! So, if God’s plans are better than ours, His will is better than our wants and desires.
“Father, not my will but Thine be done.”