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  • John T. Polk II 4:00 am on 2013-04-22 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , bless God, Book of Psalms, , , , , , , ,   

    Psalm 135 Which God Should We Worship? 

    There is no assigned author, time, or place for this Psalm, but it certainly brings together elements from a few other Psalms to show God is above all “gods!”

    Verses 1-4 call for God’s People to praise Him;

    Verses 5-18 mention why God is Supreme;

    Verses 19-21 make a second call for God’s People to praise Him.

    Verses 1-4: Look at what the LORD has done to distinguish His Name: (1 His “Servants” in “the house of the LORD” know He is “good” (Jesus said, “No one is good but One, that is, God,” Matthew 19:17); (2 “Praises to His Name” are to be sung, “for it is pleasant” (that is, it is a joyful response to His Name); (3 God chose “Jacob” (whose name was changed to) “Israel” (not Ishmael!) “for His special treasure,” through whom will come Jesus Christ (Luke 1:26-33).

    Verses 5-18: The LORD is “great,” and “above all gods,” because: (Verses 5-7) He is All-Powerful (does as He pleases); Creator and Ruler of Earth (including heaven, earth, seas, deep places, water cycle, lightning in rain, wind from His “treasuries”). One God over all Creation, unlike idolaters who need many “gods” for one Creation! (Verses 8-12) He created and blessed the Israelite Nation by “signs and wonders” ending in the death of “the firstborn of Egypt” (man and beast! Exodus 9-12); defeated all the Canaanite nations for Israel to have the “Promised Land” (Book of Joshua); gave Canaan to Israelites as long as they obeyed Him (Deuteronomy 29). (Verses 13-18) NO idol has begun to accomplish as much for their people as God has for His! Idols are the product of human planning and carving, made in the image of a human (mouths, eyes, ears, none of which work because there is no breath of life!). God made humans in His own image (Genesis 1:26). Humans may become godly, but idolaters, those who trust idols, become cold, unfeeling, and blind, deaf, and dumb (or speechless).

    Verses 19-21: Because God is Creator, All-Powerful, Ruler over human history, He deserves the praise and blessing from the “house of Israel,” “house of Aaron,” “house of Levi,” and all “who fear the Lord” should “bless the LORD.” The living God deserves, and should receive, all praise and blessing from those whom He has helped.

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:36 am on 2013-04-19 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Psalms, , , , , , , sanctuary, , , true tabernacle, ,   

    Psalm 134 What Worship Is For 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-2 call for worship of the LORD;

    Verse 3 gives a blessing of worship.

    Verses 1-2: “Behold” is often useful in calling attention to: God’s covenant with earth (Genesis 9:9-11); God’s presence in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-3); God’s sweeping judgment against Egypt (Isaiah 19:1-4); God placing the foundation stone “in Zion” (Isaiah 28:16) which was Jesus Christ (Acts 4:10-12); and John the Baptist’s identification of Jesus as the Christ (John 1:19-36). (Verse 1) It points to the purpose of worship: to “bless the LORD.” “Then David said to all the assembly, ‘Now bless the LORD your God.’ So all the assembly blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the LORD and the king” (1 Chronicles 29:20). True worship is “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24), offered by “servants of the LORD” who are diligent to see that worship continues even “by night.” (Verse 2) Lifting up our hands before God, whether physically or mentally, signifies our openness of heart for His “glory” (Psalm 28:2; 63:4; 119:48; 134:2; 1 Timothy 2:8). “The sanctuary” was the sacred building used for worshipping God (Tabernacle, Numbers 3:38, then the Temple, 1 Chronicles 22:7-9). Today, it is the church of Christ: “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1-2); “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation” (Hebrews 9:11). A physical building is not a “sanctuary” today, but the sacred assembly is!

    Verse 3: “The LORD” (called Jehovah, Exodus 6:1-7) is also the Creator of “heaven and earth” (called Elohim, Genesis 1:1), and was known in Genesis as “Almighty God” (Genesis 17:1-2, El Shaddai; 2 Corinthians 6:18, Kurios Pantokrator), The All-sufficient One, source of all blessings. God blesses “from Zion,” then to the faithful worshippers under Moses, today through Jesus Christ: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:20 am on 2013-04-18 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Psalms, , , hyphenated "Christians", , ,   

    Psalm 133 Unity of Brethren 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.” This Psalm is attributed to David.

    Verse 1 pictures a “good” thing;

    Verses 2-3 illustrate what it is “like.”

    Verse 1: It is “good and pleasant” “For brethren to dwell together in unity!” One of the most satisfying sights is to see “unity” form from many, the very Latin phrase for the United Stated (e pluribus unum). Every hyphenated American has rejected this motto. All hyphenated “Christians” have missed entirely the New Testament teaching. Those who obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:15-16) are “baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13), and are called “Christians” (Acts 11:26). There are no kinds of Christians in the New Testament. When Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways, it was because of a conflict of judgment, not over doctrine (Acts 15:36-40). “Unity,” however, doesn’t mean brethren must stay on top of each other, for there are plenty in the world who need the Gospel. “The unity of the Spirit” includes “the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3), and narrowness in doctrine (Ephesians 4:4-6).

    Verse 2: Brethren’s “unity” shows how obedience to God’s teaching sanctifies (devotes, dedicates), just like, under Moses’ Law, Aaron was dedicated with  anointing oil (Leviticus 8:10-12).

    Verse 3: “Unity” of brethren reminds us that the unifying doctrine originates with God, not men (James 3:13-18), just like looking at Mount Hermon’s “dew” which settles “upon the mountains of Zion.”

    Thought: “Unity” is not a goal, it is a product of obeying the same doctrine (Galatians 3:26-29; 1 John 1:5-7). No “Unity Forum” can unite better than, or equally with, plain preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:54 am on 2013-04-16 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Psalms, , , , , , , , , , , , , weaned child   

    Psalm 131 What It Means To “Grow Up” 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.” This Psalm is attributed to David, but also could have been written about David, for it seems to express his child-like humility before God.

    Verse 1 defines humility;

    Verse 2 describes contentment;

    Verse 3 distributes this among his countrymen.

    Verse 1: “LORD, my heart is not haughty.” Humility is not downgrading oneself, but accepting oneself in view of God. “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honor is humility” (Proverbs 18:12). “By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4).

    “Nor my eyes lofty.” The way up is down, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Paul taught Christians “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:2). Moses was humble (Numbers 12:3), but God can: “Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted” (Ezekiel 21:26). Every person is a “creature” needing the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16).

    “Neither do I concern myself with great matters…Nor with things too profound for me.” “Great matters” are out of my control, and “profound” things are above my head. In other words, everything in this world doesn’t need everybody’s opinion! Facebook or Tweet that! This is not a “head-in-the-sand” approach to life, but a realization that all matters may not be our personal concern. Probably this verse is in the Law of Jesus Christ in Romans 12:16: “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.”

    Verse 2: “A weaned child” has made the transition from suckling to satisfied.  Comfort in the mother’s breast is no longer also the child’s sustaining food. “A weaned child” has learned that life is no longer dependent upon mother alone. The process of maturing has progressed. To be a Christian, one must be “converted and become as little children, [or else] you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Then spiritual progress in the faith is expressed by Peter: “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:1-3). Many who do not become Christians have refused the humility of repentance and baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Many of those who have become Christians have refused to be “weaned” from the “milk” of the Word of God. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14). Spiritual growth is stunted without study.

    Verse 3: “O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever.” This is a challenge for David’s brethren to move forward in their faith. The church of Christ is thus challenged: “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:3-5).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:17 am on 2013-04-15 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Psalms, , , , , , ,   

    Psalm 130 Are We “In” Too Deep? 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-2 give a personal appeal to God;

    Verses 3-4 give a personal trust in God;

    Verses 5-6 give a personal patience in God;

    Verses 7-8 give a national call upon God.

    Verses 1-2: (Verse 1) From deep places come the greatest devotions. Some people must plumb the depths of sin before they become alarmed at their condition, and repent. No one can be so deep in sin but that their cry to the LORD cannot be heard. “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the inner depths of his heart” (Proverbs 20:27). Some MAY be so committed to sin that THEY REFUSE to cry out for help from the LORD (Ephesians 4:17-20)! (Verse 2) The change from “LORD” (Jehovah) to “Lord” (Authority) sets the tone to approach Him with “supplication” (request), and not commands! The Jewish request, “From my mouth to God’s ears” is expressed in this verse.

    Verses 3-4: (Verse 3) God’s “data bank” is greater than any Government ever envisioned, for every thought (Hebrews 4:12), sight (Matthew 5:28), word (Matthew 12:37), and deed (2 Corinthians 5:10), is recorded by God – in the other book compared with “the book of life” (Revelation 20:12). (Verse 4) If it was not for God’s promise to forgive sin, no one would survive! This forgiveness is only offered through Jesus Christ (Acts 5:30-31), and only given to those who obey Him (Matthew 7:21-27; Mark 16:15-16).

    Verses 5-6: The hopeful expectation of morning light illustrates the soul’s “hope.” It is because of God’s laws that we hope for each morning, and it is in God’s Word that a soul “hopes” to find a new day of salvation.

    Verses 7-8: (Verse 7) The Nation of Israel, individually, should turn back to God in “hope” (anticipation) of receiving His “mercy” and “abundant redemption” (ransom required to be re-possessed). (Verse 8) The absolute promise of God is that “He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”

    Thought: That this was true for those living under Moses’ Law, now that Jesus’ Law is in force, His blood has purchased the church of Christ (Acts 20:28) and God adds those saved by the Gospel to His church (Acts 2:38, 41, 47).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:46 am on 2013-04-12 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Psalms, , , , , , , ,   

    Psalm 129 Scars of Youth 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-4 mention scars from youth while prevailing;

    Verses 5-8 describe uselessness in life for God’s enemies.

    Verses 1-4: (Verses 1-2) The “afflictions” from “youth” are what shape us as adults. Since this appeal is for “Israel” to say this seems to indicate the “afflictions” were what was happening to them in Egypt when they started as a nation (Exodus 1:8-14). Much later, God said: “I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt” (Hosea 2:15). Those who did the afflicting “have not prevailed.” (Verse 3) Egyptian slave masters scarred Israelite backs just as if plows had left the scars! (Verse 4) The righteous (upright, responsive to truth) LORD “cut” them free from “the cords of the wicked” (Exodus 2-15).

    Verses 5-8: (Verse 5) Leave it in the hands of the LORD. To “hate Zion” in the Old Testament, meant to despise God’s Temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, and the Israelites who worshiped there (Psalm 68:16; 87:1-3). The other side of God’s promise to bless His people who obeyed, was that He “will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you” (Deuteronomy 30:7). (Verses 6-8) This recognition of what God could do to enemies is based upon a frequent practice in the Mid-East, that is, to cover their roofs with dirt, plant grass which grew quickly with rain, but then as quickly dried out before it could be mowed or harvested. In other words, it would be worthless as to its usefulness and quickly forgotten. And the punishment from the LORD for His enemies should include no future blessing because of a good harvest, such as was used in Ruth 2:4. The desire is that God would make enemies suffer because of their own unworthiness.

    Thought: When Jesus came, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). It was prophesied of Him: “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). He took the scars of sin upon Himself to establish the church of Christ in its youth (Acts 2:22-41; 20:28). Becoming a Christian means casting our sins on Him in repentance (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), and being baptized for salvation from those sins (Acts 18:8; 1 Peter 3:21). Then God will render enemies useless (Proverbs 6:12-15;   1 Timothy 6:3-5).

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:29 am on 2013-04-11 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Psalms, , , , fears the LORD, , , ,   

    Psalm 128 What’s In It For Me? 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-4 show wonderful blessings of a family that fears God;

    Verses 5-6 show their hope for the future.

    Verses 1-4: (Verse 1) The rule is “everyone who fears the LORD” is “blessed” (happy, contented), regardless of skin, salary, or social status. “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin” (Romans 4:7-8). “The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot” (Proverbs 10:7).  “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him” (Ecclesiastes 8:12). Everyone who “fears God” walks in His ways. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). (Verse 2) Honest work is rewarding, supporting, and satisfying. “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, Whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12). “He who is slothful in his work Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” (Proverbs 18:9). Those who live on government give-aways never know the true wealth of health that comes to those who earn their rewards. It is repeated of those who “will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). (Verse 3) “A fruitful vine” is one that produces something good, and is a good description of a good wife. She is considered the “very heart of your house.” It is in husbands best interest to “to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28).  “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4). “Olive plants” produce very useful oil, capable of many applications, so  children add many moments of pleasure and happiness. A man whose wife and children sit around his table cannot be more satisfied. (Verse 4) A home that “fears God” cannot be improved upon for sheer joy.

    Verses 5-6: (Verse 5) For Israelites under Moses, “Zion” was the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the center of their worship, and from which their blessings originated. When individuals “fear God” and “walk in His ways,” it benefits their city for all of their lives. Obeying God is always good for our country, city, community. (Verse 6) Those who serve God not only are blessed themselves, and their families, and their neighbors, but into the next generations, “children’s children.”

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:26 am on 2013-04-10 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Book of Psalms, , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Psalm 127 Living in a Safe House 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.” This one is attributed to Solomon.

    Verses 1-2 describe a Safe House is the Lord’s House;

    Verses 3-5 describe a family in a Safe House.

    Verses 1-2: (Verse 1) Since this is credited to Solomon who had built God’s House (the Temple in Jerusalem, 1 Kings 5:1-5), this naturally fits. Moses’ “house” was the family of Israelites under Moses’ Law: “And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:5-6). Today the “household of God” (1 Timothy 3:15) is the church of Christ, thus the application would be that it is useless to establish any other church, or claim to be a part of the church of Christ, unless one goes all the way by obeying all of what God demands (Acts 2:36-47). Jesus said: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'” (Matthew 15:7-9). Since the “home” must be established upon the heterosexual love relationship in a marriage (Genesis 2:18-24; Matthew 19:4-6), then all attempts to build a family (house) based upon homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality is “in vain.” The same applies to Solomon’s Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:7-9), and every other city that has no foundation of faith in God! There is no purpose in building a house without God, and the sleepless watchman of a city is useless “unless the LORD guards the city.” There is no security in a church, home, or city, without God’s blessing. (Verse 2) It is “vain” (useless) to get up for work early, sit up late, suffering for food, when God is blessing. Diligence is good, as Solomon said: “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4).    Solomon also said: “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). Jesus, the wisest Man of all, said: “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).

    Verses 3-5: (Verse 3) There is no greater tribute to the blessing of a child than these verses. First, children are a “heritage” (inheritance) from God. There is no godly way to decide to have an abortion. The miniscule percentage of women whose lives would be in jeopardy should they birth the baby inside them in no way justifies the bloodthirsty, murderous, savage, brutal, sacrificing of human lives called “abortion.” (Verse 4) Second, children of our youthful years become a parent’s strength to endure, like arrows arming a warrior. Parents are people God is preparing to “take on” the struggle of life. (Verse 5) Third, the man should be “happy” because of his responsibility of fatherhood.  His children, unashamed by his duties common to man have his guidance that helps them to be able to take leadership in civic matters, as well. Good parenting affects the future, also.

    Thought:  Males who won’t commit to the responsibility of producing a child with their own marriage spouse, should never be given the opportunity by any female. Females who encourage or accept males as sires and not permanently married mates, are reducing child-bearing to an animal level. Having children without marriage is ugly, degrading, deceptive, and destructive, and should never be judged lightly.

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:13 am on 2013-04-09 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Psalms, captivity, , , , , reap in joy, sow in tears   

    Psalm 126 “Bring Back Our Captivity” 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-3 say even the world can see the effect of freedom;

    Verses 4-6 declare how fun life can be that’s free.

    Verses 1-3: (Verse 1) God had caused Israel/Judah to be removed from their Promised Land because of their gross sins (2 Chronicles 36:15-21), and when the promised time (70 years) was over, God caused Cyrus, king of Persia, to send them home (Jeremiah 25:1-14; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-11), and it was too good to believe. (Verses 2-3) When they came around, their rejoicing was heard throughout the countries where they had ended up. They were praising God for He “has done great things for us.” How great is seen in that God had three kings who worshipped idols do His bidding: Shalmaneser king of Assyria; Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; Cyrus king of Persia!

    Verses 4-6: (Verse 4) People often need the motivation given by remembering their former way and how much progress they have made from then. “Bring back our captivity” is simply saying, “Remind us of how bad our fathers were and what blessings are ours today.” When torrential rains fall, “the streams in the South” are filled to overflowing, and so it is when God blesses, like those filled banks, its often more than we can stand. (Verses 5-6) Through the pains of punishment, the harvest is joy; so the plagued consciences “sow in tears,” or don’t think their labors will find reward, only to be abundantly blessed by God with “seed for sowing.” Every harvest has the seeds of the next crop in it. To have been restored to their land after 70 years, prompted their faith to harvest the “sheaves,” once planted. Christians were taught this when Paul wrote: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: ‘He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.’ Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:8-10).

    Thought: The sinners who don’t believe God can save them have greater joy when finally humbled at the cross of Jesus Christ: Jesus on earth spoke them forgiven (Luke 7:36-50), but since He returned to Heaven, He authorizes their forgiveness upon proper obedience (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41). There is reason to rejoice when sins are forgiven: in heaven (Luke 15:7, 10, 32), and on earth (Acts 8:35-39).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:23 am on 2013-04-08 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Psalms, , , , , ,   

    Psalm 125 “Limits of Evil” 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-2 show the security of saints;

    Verse 3 shows the limit of wickedness;

    Verses 4-5 show the distinction between the two.

    Verses 1-2: (Verse 1) To “trust in the LORD” is to “lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), nor on “men” nor on “princes” (Psalm 118:8-9), but to leave God in charge. “In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: ‘We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, That the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, For in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength’” (Isaiah 26:1-4). Until God changed from the Law of Moses, “the LORD of hosts will reign On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 23:24). After the change to the Law of Christ, “you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22). (Verse 2) So, as the mountains of Jerusalem give protection, “so the LORD surrounds His people.” “From this time forth and forever” applies even today because God’s vigilance is upon the “heavenly Jerusalem” His church (2 Corinthians 1:1; 6:16).

    Verse 3: “The scepter” (rod signifying rule, dominance) of “wickedness” would not be allowed to “rest” on the land of the “righteous” to avoid their being beaten down to submission of evil. “He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, And the rod of his anger will fail” (Proverbs 22:8). Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 A.D., Jesus prophesied, “then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22). God knows when and how to stop sinners.

    Verses 4-5: (Verse 4) The LORD knows whom to reward, those who are “good” and “upright in their hearts.” Jesus said, “No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). He had been asked, “what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16. To Jesus, keeping the commandments of God is the “good thing” that makes one good enough to have eternal life. (Verse 5) The “wicked” are those who “turn aside to their crooked ways,” that is, do not obey God’s “strait” and “narrow” way (Matthew 7:13-14). “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity’” (2 Timothy 2:19). Since God will help the good, and limit and “lead away” the wicked, good judgment would be to walk on God’s side.

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:11 am on 2013-04-04 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Book of Psalms, , , , , , , ,   

    Psalm 123 What Shall I Do, Lord? 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verse 1 directs our eyes;

    Verse 2 directs our obedience;

    Verse 3 directs our hearts;

    Verse 4 directs our pleas.

    Verse 1: Since “heavens” means upper expanse, whenever we need to look for God, we must “lift up our eyes.” Jesus, as God, now is “dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). Morally, to “see God” is to see the effects of His Will in the obedient heart. Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Peter taught how a heart becomes pure: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:22-23). John added: “He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).

    Verse 2: It is not enough just to “look” for God, but it must be with a humble heart: “as” the servant’s eyes look in anticipation of what the master desires to be done; “as” the maid looks for whatever detail she may provide for her mistress’s satisfaction; “so” we look toward God for instruction. Our eagerness to obey Him prompts His willingness to extend “mercy” to us! He, however, has already given all of His instruction in His Book “once for all” (Jude 3). No one should look toward God without seeing Jesus in His Word: “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:9-10).

    Verses 3-4: We keenly feel the need for God’s “mercy” because we are “exceedingly filled” with “the contempt of the proud.” These are the people who, Jesus said, “this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause’” (John 15:25). Jesus had also taught: “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20).

    Thought: It is pitiful to see people “look up to:” Gandhi, Marx, Einstein, Darwin, Mohammed, “the Pope,” a pastor, ancestors, a teacher, philosophers, or gurus but look down on (denigrate) Jesus Christ! Truth is entirely the other way: “we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:23-25). We quote the statements that have influenced us the most: Do we quote Jesus Christ above all?

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:46 am on 2013-04-03 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Psalms, , , , heavenly Jerusalem, , , , , ,   

    Psalm 122 Jerusalem, the Holy City 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.” This Psalm appears to have been written by David, and sung when Israelites went to Jerusalem 3 times a year (Deuteronomy 16:16).

    Verses 1-5 show why Jerusalem is the Royal City;

    Verses 6-9 show how Jerusalem is the Holy City.

    Verses 1-5: (Verse 1) True worshippers are “glad” to “go into the house of the LORD.” The “house of the LORD” under Moses was the Tabernacle, until Solomon built the Temple where sacrifices were offered to God in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3:1). Before the Temple was built, David, when his child died, “went into the house of the LORD and worshiped” (2 Samuel 12:20). In the New Testament, the “house of God” is “the church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15), “the temple” “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-22). (Verse 2) How privileged worshippers were to be in that city. In the New Testament, how privileged worshippers are to be in “the heavenly Jerusalem.” “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24). (Verse 3) Jerusalem was fortified when built (2 Samuel 5:7-9), and walled when rebuilt (Nehemiah 12:27). The church of Christ, as the “new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:2), is walled by obedience which keeps the corrupt people out of it until they repent and are baptized into Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:9-27; Acts 2:38).  (Verse 4) Jerusalem was a place for uniting the “tribes” of Israel who obeyed the “Testimony of Israel” and gave “thanks to the name of the LORD.” The people were one as a people, in obedience, at worship. Isaiah prophesied about the church of Christ in Isaiah 2:2-3: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD’S house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3). (Verse 5) Jerusalem was the place for “the thrones of the house of David.” Solomon was on that throne (1 Kings 2:24); and other Kings of Judah, until Coniah to whom God promised “none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah” (Jeremiah 22:24-30). Jesus Christ was preached on Pentecost, in Jerusalem, by the Apostles: “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:29-31).

    Verses 6-9: (Verses 6-7) Jerusalem was to have been ruled by “peace,” they “prayed” for, “prospered” under, and were ruled by in their “walls” and “palaces.” The church of Christ must “let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

    (Verse 8) The customary greeting from the Jews is “Shalom” (Peace to you). The Apostle Paul in the New Testament repeated this constant desire for brethren (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3). (Verse 9) “Because” God’s House could draw His people together at times, they were able to “seek” each other’s “good.” The church of Christ assembles to “hold fast the confession of our hope,” and “consider one another” (Hebrews 10:23-25). When this is not the case, the Devil has prevailed, just as he did in the Old Testament.

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:47 am on 2013-04-02 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Psalms, , , , keeper, keeps, , , , ,   

    Psalm 121 Who Is Our “Keeper?” 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-2 raise a cardinal point of faith;

    Verses 3-8 reassure the believer that God is the Keeper.

    Verses 1-2: (Verse 1) The Temple in Jerusalem was on “the hills,” so it would be natural for an Israelite to look that way for help. So commonly was this believed,even the Syrians said: “The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys” (1 Kings 20:28). Then the question is asked: “From whence comes my help?” (Verse 2) The believer knew then (as now) that “my help” is “from the LORD” and no one else! “LORD” represents the Hebrew name “Jehovah” who identified Himself to Moses (Exodus 3:11-15), and also was the Creator of “heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1). The belief that the Creator and the Israelite God are different is a false belief.

    Verses 3-8: (Verse 3) God doesn’t allow the foot to slip back into continuous sin as the believer obeys His Word (1 John 3:6). That God provides for believers to falter from time to time is evident from 1 John 1:6-2:5. (Verse 4) The Keeper of Israel (under Moses’ Law) will not “slumber” nor “sleep,” there being little, if any, difference in the two. God is clearly not a sluggard (Proverbs 6:9-11)! (Verses 5-6) God is the cooling “shade,” protecting from harsh rays of the sun and dangers that come under the “moon.” God works 24/7 on behalf of His people. Today He calls His people “Christians” (Acts 11:26) who have been baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-29). (Verse 7) God “keeps” His people from “evil.” This is not a promise to protect them from what evil-doers may do to them, but keep them from regular evil desires and practices. By their obedience to His Word, He keeps their “souls” from being lost (today is through Jesus’ death, Romans 6:1-14). (Verse 8) God “keeps” the way the obedient will go free for coming and going (daily life) “from this time forth.” Jesus echoed this promise of security in the incident in Luke 11:27-28: “And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!’ But He said, ‘More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Luke 11:27-28)

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version,  unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:15 am on 2013-04-01 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Book of Psalms, , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Psalm 120 God Hears When the World is Saying Wrong Things 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-4 contrast God’s listening to help, and our having to listen to others;

    Verses 5-7 state how hard it is to live among war-mongers.

    Verses 1-4: (Verse 1) God hears our cries from distress. Jacob said God had done so (Genesis 35:3); David said God had (2 Samuel 22:7); Paul said distress cannot “separate us from the love of Christ” (Romans 8:35). (Verse 2) Integrity, trust, faith, dependability all are ruined by “lying lips” and a “deceitful tongue.” “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight” (Proverbs 12:22). Having a “deceitful tongue” is responsible for destroying the credibility of gossips, talebearers, editorial writers, propaganda press, factory fables, and many others. (Verse 3) There will be a judgment against a “false tongue.” “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). (Verse 4) Whoever said “words can never hurt me” wasn’t familiar with this verse. Words can pierce like “sharp arrows of the warrior,” and burn like “coals of the broom tree.” “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:2-8).

    Verses 5-7: (Verse 5) Little is certain of these places, “Meshech” (slave traders, Ezekiel 27:13) and “Kedar” (wanderers, Isaiah 21:16-17), but they represent the hostile environment many people experience, even today. (Verses 6-7) Patience and longsuffering can wear us down or wear us out when we are mis-matched with polar opposites on a subject like “war” and “peace.” There is “a time of war, And a time of peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:8), however “wisdom is better than weapons of war; But one sinner destroys much good” (Ecclesiastes 9:18). The wise can avoid war, but the foolish advocate it and their foreign policies depend upon it! Christians are not waging carnal war against their enemies (2 Corinthians 10:2-6). “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:24 am on 2013-03-29 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Book of Psalms, , , , , lost sheep, , , , , , , ,   

    Psalm 119:169-176 Tau Speaking to God – Hearing His Word 

    It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.

    Psalm 119:169-176  Tau                       Speaking to God – Hearing His Word

    Verses 169-172 give the connection from my mouth to God’s ear;

    Verses 173-176 summarize God’s blessings from the Word.

    Verses 169-172: (Verse 169) The only concern expressed is that the believer will be heard; the only thing asked for with this “cry” is for “understanding,” is this not what Solomon later will do? (1 Kings 3:5-14) (Verse 170) “Supplication” is presenting sincere needs and asking that something be done; “deliverance” is the blessing asked for that is described in God’s Word. (Verse 171) Coming from “my lips” indicates a heart full of lessons from God’s “statutes” (words marking out the right way). Jesus later would say: “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34-35). (Verse 172) Just as a healthy tree bursts forth with signs of life; a bird sings when it shares its life; a flower shares its color and fragrance; a believer full of the “righteousness” of God’s “commands” cannot be silent. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:16-17).

    Verses 173-176: (Verse 173) Choosing God’s “precepts” (words that superintend our way) will cause a believer to reach out for God’s leadership. (Verse 174) “Longing” (continuing desire) for God’s “salvation,” means the method of obtaining it is a “delight.” Wanting to be saved is not enough, a person must enjoy obeying God to reach for it. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:21-22). Since baptism into Christ is the moment of salvation (1 Peter 3:21), it is a delightful response for one who longs to be saved. (Verse 175) Knowing how perfect God’s “judgments” have always been, the soul blessed by God with physical and spiritual life “praises” God for all of these. (Verse 176) All of us can, and probably will, “go astray” by wandering off “like a lost sheep.” Most of us sin without intending to violate God’s Will, but by simply becoming too focused upon what we are doing at the time, and not paying attention to what should be important. God “seeks” “servants,” in other words, those who seek Him. “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25). “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

    Thought: By using different words to convey facets of God’s Word, its brilliance is better than any gemstone, diamond, or other precious jewelry. Psalm 119 shows that the Word of God is not a “dead book,” but bursting with life that brings to life any soul that has been numbed, deadened, or abused by the world. God’s Word brings from us a zest for life, enjoyment of life, and praise for the Giver of life!

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
    • preachercarter 10:34 am on 2013-03-30 Permalink | Reply

      Your closing statement rings very true. God’s Word is not dead rather His Word (that is the personification of God) lives in all that choose to honour His, well, Word.

    • John T. Polk II 11:39 am on 2013-03-30 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for your agreement. Truly, Jesus Christ is the Word of God in the flesh Who has shown all men what it means to follow Him (Titus 2:11-12; Mark 16:15-16). Feel free to visit our church website for further Bible studies. Please contact me if you have any questions or comments.

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