Justification By Faith Alone

Abraham Justified by Faith

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed [in Yahweh] God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” [Genesis 15:6]

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”

Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Introduction

Let’s begin by briefly touching the high points…

[1] People are not saved by being good/righteous/keeping the law/being a Jew/Circumcision.

[2] People are made right with God {Justified} when they put their faith in Jesus.

[3] Salvation is a work of GRACE…something God does for us…We have every right to praise Him and no right to boast…Salvation cannot be earned

NOTE PAUL’S TWO EXAMPLES: Abraham and David

[1] Abraham was not saved by obeying the LAW, the law came 600 years later. He was saved by being circumcised: God gave him credit for being righteous before his circumcision [13 years].

[2] David certainly was not saved by keeping the law. He openly violated the law. God anointed David to write these words…

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”

The two brightest stars in the Hebrew heavens were saved by GRACE.

THE JEWS OF JESUS DAY WERE NOTHING LIKE ABRAHAM OR DAVID

John 8:56

Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

In Matthew 22 Jesus gets in a discussion with the Pharisees over David. Is the Messiah David’s son Jesus asked: they said “yes.” Then Jesus said, “Why did David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit refer then to the Messiah as LORD?”

The Jews didn’t rejoice to see Jesus nor would they call him LORD. Paul’s argument, “You worship Abraham, claim to be his sons, but you are nothing life him nor are you like David.”

Is your perception of who you are true/accurate. The Jews thought they were like Abraham but they had a false perception of themselves.

EVERY RELIGION IN THE WORLD TEACHES SALVATION BY WORKS

If you were the devil and you wanted to damn as many as possible: what doctrine would you corrupt? Would it not be salvation?

[1] Salvation by works appeals to man’s pride and vanity.

[2] Salvation by works robs God of His glory.

[3] Salvation by works eliminates Faith and mocks Grace.

[4] Salvation by works makes Christ death vain/senseless

Conclusion

For several years we did the FAITH PRESENTATION of the gospel. The KEY question is: “In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes to go to heaven.” More than 9 out of 10 will give you a works answer.

You can say what you want about the devil but he is good at what he does, which is to deceive people. That is why many will be shocked when judgment comes. Standing before Christ, they will give a works answer…it is recorded in Matthew 7

‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 

Stewardship

Psalm 49

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world,
both low and highrich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me—[evil/malice dogs me, snipping at my heels] New Jerusalem Bible
those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?
No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever and not see decay.
10 For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves.

12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning). Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.

20 People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.

Introduction

[1] First of all, the MESSAGE in this Psalm which is like a Proverb [word of wisdom] is for EVERYONE [Whole world–Jew and Gentile–High and Low–Rich and Poor. Poor people are tempted by greed–don’t kid yourself.

[2] The MESSAGE is a WARNING to those who put their trust in riches. There is a lot about death in the Psalm but this Psalm is not about death; it is about being deceived, conned or duped by riches.

[3] MONEY has A HUGE and POWERFUL influence. You can float in space but once you get into the gravitation pull of the earth, you are coming down. The world with it’s praise for riches will pull you down. Verses 16-18

Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them. Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper.

Transition

The author of this Psalms appeals to our common sense. There are some things that we need to meditate on, to think about.

I. WEALTH CANNOT PREVENT DEATH

No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—
8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever and not see decay.

[1] Wealth cannot prevent sickness

[2] Wealth cannot prevent drug abuse or solve it

[3] Wealth cannot buy you love nor happiness

There are probably a thousand other things that riches cannot do but it certainly will not prevent or delay your death. Everyone dies, rich or poor, high or low…no exceptions.

II. WEALTH CANNOT SECURE YOUR FUTURE

Financial security is a myth: there is no such thing. The greatest fool on earth is the person who believes in financial security. The story in Luke 12 about the Rich Fool is proof that it does not exist.

Just use your common sense: if someone or something does not give you power over death, you have no future. Death is the problem that has to be solved and money doesn’t solve it.

Although money is useful here and now: money as we know it doesn’t have a future. No matter how much you have, you cannot carry it beyond the grave.

Verse 10

For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.

III. WEALTH CANNOT ENHANCE YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

To the contrary, those who yield to the temptation to trust in money/riches/wealth become like the beast in their behavior. This is one of the pitfall of greed. The two great commandments are [1] to love God with all your heart and [2] to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.

Both the Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes were lovers of money. They would foreclose on a widow, put her in the streets. They refused to take care of their elderly parents. The Sadducees were so corrupt, so greedy that they turned worship into a money making scheme. This why Jesus cleansed the temple: they were cheating people right and left. They wouldn’t take Roman currency, they charged fees to convert the money, they also decided which animals were fit for sacrifice and they rejected animals that were fit so that people were forced to buy animals from them. They had turned the temple into a stock yard and a bank. They were making money hand over fist and doing it at the expense of hardworking, God fearing people.

Why would one Jew treat a fellow Jew like that? GREED, the love of money had turned them into beast, they were dog eat dog. When you care more about money than you do people, you have a problem.

God Has Blessed America

85 Lord, you have poured out amazing blessings on this land! You have restored the fortunes of Israel, and forgiven the sins of your people—yes, covered over each oneso that all your wrath, your blazing anger, is now ended.

Now bring us back to loving you, O Lord, so that your anger will never need rise against us again. (Or will you be always angry—on and on to distant generations?) Oh, revive us! Then your people can rejoice in you againPour out your love and kindness on us, Lord, and grant us your salvation.

I am listening carefully to all the Lord is saying—for he speaks peace to His people, His saints, if they will only stop their sinning. 9 Surely His salvation is near to those who reverence him; our land will be filled with his glory.

10 Mercy and truth have met together. Grim justice and peace have kissed! 11 Truth rises from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven.

12 Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings on the land, and it yields its bountiful crops. 13 Justice goes before him to make a pathway for his steps.

Introduction

This Psalm written in connection to the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon. It begins with thanksgiving and praise but becomes a prayer, a very good prayer. Oliver Cromwell was so moved by this Psalm that he made it a prayer for England.

As I read it this week {TLB} in my devotional time, the first line really caught my attention…YOU have poured out amazing blessings on this land! I know that this Psalm was about Israel but we here in the USA could and should confess that God has poured out His blessings on America [in an unprecedented way}. I know it is not politically correct to say that GOD HAS BLESSED AMERICA but it is true. How else can you explain the freedom and prosperity we have enjoyed.

GOD HAS BLESSED AMERICA

I am 70 years old and I have lived all 70 years in freedom. Our friends in Eastern Europe lived for 70 years under the oppression of communism. We here do not know what it is like to live in fear of a ruthless tyrant.

I know today is not Thanksgiving but I think we need to stop and give thanks to God for our freedom and or out country. We need to be thankful for our history and heritage. Our founding fathers are taking a pounding from the left today. George Washington has been labeled a racist because he owned slaves–nothing is further from the truth. He loved his slaves and did not allow them to be separated as families. He died in debt because he refused to sell his slaves. America was blessed by Godly and wise founding fathers. I am not ashamed of our history or our heritage: I am thankful. I am telling you GOD HAS BLESSED AMERICA.

WE NEED TO PRAY THE PRAYER

V. 4…Restore us again, God our Savior [TLB} “Bring us back to loving YOU!”

V. 6…Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? This is my prayer today and everyday…revive us again…fill each heart with Your love…May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.

–Pour out Your Spirit

–Awaken Your People

–Revive Your Work

–Manifest Your Glory

–Prosper Your Word

–Glorify Your Son

A WORD OF HOPE

I don’t know who wrote this Psalm, who it was that prayed this prayer, but some years later, God answered the prayer. The REVIVAL came under the leadership of Nehemiah and Ezra.

[1] Word was proclaimed

[2] Prayer was made

[3] Confession of sin

[4] Passion to Obey

[5] God manifested His glory

Prayer fulfilled in Jesus

Love and faithfulness {truth} meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Psalm 48

Psalm 48

A song. A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

How great is the Lord, how deserving of praise,
in the city of our God, which sits on his holy mountain!

It is high and magnificent; the whole earth rejoices to see it! Mount Zion, the holy mountain, is the city of the great King!
God himself is in Jerusalem’s towers, revealing himself as its defender.

The kings of the earth joined forces and advanced against the city.
But when they saw it, they were stunned; they were terrified and ran away.
They were gripped with terror and writhed in pain like a woman in labor.
You destroyed them like the mighty ships of Tarshish shattered by a powerful east wind.

We had heard of the city’s glory, but now we have seen it ourselves— the city of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. It is the city of our God; He will make it safe forever. 

O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple.
10 As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth. Your strong right hand is filled with victory.
11 Let the people on Mount Zion rejoice. Let all the towns of Judah be glad because of your justice.

12 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers.
13 Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations.
14 For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.

Introduction

Before we read the Psalm tonight, we want to do a little back ground. Approximately 700 years before Christ, Sennacherib, king of Assyria invaded the land of Judah, subjugating most of the cities but when he got to Jerusalem, he was unable to take it. The Assyrians were fierce warriors, blood thirsty barbarians would be a better description. They did not just kill and destroy, they tortured their opponents before they allowed them to die. The thought of facing the Assyrians, struck fear into hearts.

Jerusalem in a walled city and located on the crest of a mountain. It was not an easy city to conquer. Sennacherib began with a propaganda campaign; he tried to undermine the citizens confidence in their leader Hezekiah and in God Himself. As you may or may not recall, Sennacherib failed to take the city. He actually never shot the first arrow over the wall. The Angel of the LORD paid a visit to his camp and killed 185,000 soldiers in one night. Sennacherib was devastated and returned to Assyria in shame and disgrace. A couple of months later, two of his sons assassinated him while he was at his temple to pray to his god with a little g. Three Psalms were written to Praise God for this great victory.

I.

So before we read the Psalm: Note this is a Praise Psalm {song} celebrating this unbelievable victory.

[read the Psalm]

II.

The second thing I want you to notice is the repeated us of the word CITY. Six times if I counted properly. Notice the adjectives used to describe the city…

—verse 2–High and magnificent, the whole world rejoices to see it!

—verse 8–The city of glory and security

—verse 12–The strength of the city

III.

Since it is a Psalm of PRAISE, you see the emphasis on praise…

—Verse 1…How great is the LORD…How deserving of praise

—Verse 10…As Your name deserves O God, You will be praised to the ends of the earth.

We praise God for…

[1] God’s Awesome Power–[v.7]like a storm destroying the mighty ships of Tarshish.

[2] God’s Unfailing Love—[v.9]

[3] For the Victory He gives—[v.10]

[4] God is faithful and immutable—[v.14]

Transition

This is a quick overview of the Psalm, not let me give you some lessons to take with you.

1. WE DO NOT WORSHIP PLACES–CITIES OR TEMPLES. The Jews were tempted to worship the shadow and ignore the substance or the reality. We do not worship buildings, statues, edifices of any kind, this is idolatry. We worship God in Spirit and Truth. We worship a PERSON, not a place.

2. WE ARE TO CELEBRATE OUR VICTORIES. Nothing wrong with praising God for the good things He does. The Angels in heaven celebrate when one sinner repents. The Prodigal Father celebrates.

3. OUR FOCUS IN NOT ON GOD’S GIFTS OR BLESSINGS [Cities, buildings, temples, etc] BUT ON HIS PRESENCE. The glory of Jerusalem in not it its appearance: there is glory in it’s past and future. Mt Zion is where Abraham worshiped with Issac. It is where David brought the Ark of the Covenant, a symbol of God’s presence. It is where Solomon built the Temple. It is where Jesus died for our sins. Jerusalem, apart from Christ is just an ancient with with a lot of rocks and mortar. Jerusalem has no sky scrappers, no shopping malls, no sub-ways. It is nothing like Istanbul, New York or London. No parks, gardens, manicured lawns. You will see very few trees and very little grass. Mostly stone, dirt and mortar.

If I were to live in Israel, Galilee would be my choice hands down. They have vegetation, beautiful green mountains and lush green valleys. You will see none of this any where near Jerusalem.

The glory is not in the city itself. Jesus in the city, that was glory. Jesus in the Temple, that was glory. But in the temple and city alone, there is no glory.

Old Preachers Version of Burning Bush

Moses: “Wow, look at that bush!”

God: “Look closer, it is not the bush, it is MY glory on the bush.” Look over there Moses [other direction]…what do you see?

Moses…I see a bush

God…Look in the other direction and what do you see?

Moses…just an old bush.

God…That right Moses, just a bush. It is not the bush, it is my glory on the bush, any old bush will do!

Justification By Faith

Romans 3:

19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

Christ Took Our Punishment

21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Introduction

I think today we will approach our subject through the means of the question. Questions provoke thought: they engage the listener. So today we are going to asks some questions.

FIRST QUESTION: Who needs to be saved?

Or who needs their sins forgiven? Who needs to repent? Who needs to be justified before Holy God? The answer is found in Romans 3:23…

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..

There is the answer…ALL…since all have sinned, all need to repent, all need to be born again, saved, justified before God.

The Greek verb hä-mär-tä’-no is used here for sin; it means to miss the mark. We have all come short of the glory of God which is the perfection we see in Jesus or the Law. The Law was not given to save us but to show us how far short we fall. Think of the glory of God, perfection we see in Jesus, as the bull’s eye in the middle of the target. We are the archer shooting the arrow at the bulls eye but our arrow flutters and comes short of the target for three reasons or perhaps only two. First of all we lack strength. The archer must be strong enough to lock his/her elbow–other wise the arrow will flutter and miss the mark. We humans lack the strength to hit the bulls eye. We try to be good but we do not succeed because we lack the moral strength. A second reason the archer might miss the target is his aim. If his aim is off, the arrow will miss the target. Folks our aim, our motives are not right. If we tried to be perfect, we could not but there are days when we don’t even try. It also helps to have a straight arrow.

Bottom line, no one is perfect, not even close. Some are closer than others but it is a mute point: they can’t hit the bulls eye so who cares who got closer. Whether you miss in an inch or a mile, same difference, you are still lost in your sins.

SECOND QUESTION: How can a sinful man be justified before a holy God?

Job asks this same question thousands of years ago [Job 9:2] so it is not a new question.

Legally, morally, judicially: how can a man be justified before God?

The answer is simple: He is justified by the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD. Look at verse…

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.

We are not: I repeat, we are not justified by the deeds of the law [keeping the law].

Look at verse 28…

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 

Galatians 3:11…

Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.”

Many people have the will and the discipline to turn over a new leaf, to reorder their lives, to clean themselves up morally. The Jews of Jesus day believed that they were fully complying with the demands of the law. They were ultra religious but their religion was spells do and Christianity is spelled done. Every religion in the world has you doing something to justify yourself before God but only Christianity has A God who does it for us.

A moralist, a do gooder can crop the fruit off the apple tree…every time they see an apple that can get it pronto but it is still an apple tree because the root has not changed.

Attempting to keep the law does nothing to change the heart. This is why the Scribes and Pharisees were do gooders but had hard hearts. They were so cold and ruthless in their judgment of others that it made Jesus cringe.

We are not justified by our goodness…it is by the goodness of Jesus.

THIRD AND FINAL QUESTION: IF A MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY FAITH [IN CHRIST], HOW CAN THIS BE JUST OR LEGAL IN A COURT OF LAW.

Romans 3:25-

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Jesus has paid for our sins with His own blood.

2 Corinthians 5:21…

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

F.B. Meyer calls this the great exchange: Jesus takes credit for our sins and we get credit for His righteousness. What a deal…this is gospel…good news and it is for everyone.

Look at verse 22 and shout…

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Conclusion

Romans 3:26

For the demonstration [propitiation, sacrifice] , I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. {God is both Judge and Advocate]

{Story: night court in the early 1900’s}

When you go into Cracker Barrel and order lunch, they bring you a ticket. It is illegal to go in order and not pay for your meal. We call that stealing and it is not honorable. June and I went there after church a few weeks ago and we ordered our meal, enjoyed it and ask for our ticket. The very sweet little waitress, said, “Your meal has been taken care of.” This has happened before and I always react the wrong way, after thanking her I started looking around the room wondering who did it. Joyce had a guilty look on her face. She wouldn’t confirm yea or nay but I think she and Bob paid for our lunch. When the waitress said, “Your ticket has been taken care of,” June and I were legally free to leave the restaurant without paying a dime. I call that GRACE, don’t you.

Psalm 47

Psalm 47

For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise!
For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth.
He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet.
He chose the Promised Land as our inheritance, the proud possession of Jacob’s descendants, whom he loves. 

God has ascended with a mighty shout. The Lord has ascended with trumpets blaring.
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King over all the earth. Praise him with a psalm.
God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.
The rulers of the world have gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham. For all the kings of the earth belong to God. He is highly honored everywhere.

Introduction

I don’t know that anyone is listening to me but I continually tell folks that there is great reward in reading the bible through: from Genesis to Revelation. I read in a book where W.A. Criswell preached through the bible, it took him 13 years. In my early 30’s, I decided to do the same. A lot of folks thought I was crazy and there were times when I thought they might be right. I regret that I did not keep notes and it took be 28 years to preach through the bible. I am telling you folks, nothing has helped my theology more than preaching through the bible and now I read through the bible every year and I read every English version I can get my hands on. I am reading the Revised English Bible at present and I love it. I am also reading the NT from the message and the Wisdom Literature from the TLB and I am loving that as well.

I can tell you after reading through the scripture multiple times that there are certain themes or threads that are woven throughout the bible. I find this amazing since God used over 35 different people over a span of 1,500 years and yet these THEMES run consistently through the scriptures. A couple of them jumped out at me when I read this Psalm.

Transition

Tonight I will, LORD willing, share three.

I. THE FIRST HAS REALLY BEEN ON MY MIND LATELY AND IT IS THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

[1] Look at verse 2-3…He is the great King of all the earth. He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet.

[2] Look also at verses 7-8…For God is the King over all the earth. Praise him with a psalm. God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.

[3] Psalm 115:3…Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

[4] Daniel 4:35…“All the people of the earth are nothing compared to Him. He has the power to do as He pleases among the angels of heaven and with those who live on earth. No one can stop Him or challenge Him, saying, ‘What do You mean by doing these things?”‘

You see this thread running throughout scripture: God is always in control from the Garden of Eden until the return of Jesus. NOW, it does not appear that God is in control. When you look at the world, you see chaos and confusion. You see a bunch of dumb sheep running helter-skelter with no sense of direction or purpose. If we look into scripture, it tells us over and over that God is in control, that He has it and that nothing can thwart His plan and purpose.

Dallas Willard wrote a classic called the DIVINE CONSPIRACY, I read it twice before I figured out what the conspiracy is…IT IS GOD’S ABILITY TO USE EVIL TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSE.

The very best example of this truth is the CROSS, the crucifixion of Jesus. I blogged about his today. Pilate thought he had authority over Jesus. Annas and Caiaphas, two of the most evil men who have ever walked the planet, thought they were in control. The disciples were thrown into confusion and they thought Jesus had lost control and that they dream of the kingdom was dead. All were wrong: God was in absolute control.

Peter said on the day of Pentecost, “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.

When you look at the world you see confusion: when you look to heaven, you see God on the throne. The question is: where are you getting your information? One of my blog readers sent me a text this morning: he said I have made a commitment to get off of FB and stop watching the news. I congratulated him. All the world will do is keep you confused, doubting, afraid, frustrated, angry if you are a true believer and if you not, the best the world can do for you is give you a false hope.

II. A SECOND THREAD THAT I SEE PRACTICALLY EVERYDAY IN MY READING IS UNIVERSAL WORSHIP OF GOD.

I am not talking about “Universalism,” which is the belief that everyone will go to heaven eventually. Some universalist believe in a type of hell or purgatory but it is only to cleanse the person of their sin and rebellion. The big problem is that it is not supported by scripture.

What is taught throughout the bible is that EVERY KNEE WILL BOW. There is coming a day, a time when all men will recognize God as God. They may not worship Him out of adoration but they will out of fear.

Habakkuk 2:14

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Not only will all mankind bow to His sovereignty, all of nature will comply.

Isaiah 55:12

You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!

Trust me, when the finite if confronted with the INFINITE. Men will bow. His presence may mute us but we will bow and we will recognize that He is God.

Revelation 5:14

Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”

Psalms 72:11

All kings will bow before him, and all nations will serve him.

These verse go hand in hand with this Psalm. Look at the last verse…

The rulers of the world have gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham. For all the kings of the earth belong to God. He is highly honored everywhere.

III. THE THIRD THREAD IS REFERRED TO AS THE SCARLET THREAD

This refers to Jesus in Scripture. He is there from Genesis to Revelation. Philip Keller’s devotion on Psalms is called the “Song of Jesus.” He is right, Jesus is in every Psalm: this is truly amazing. He is in this Psalm… Look at verse 5…

God has ascended with a mighty shout. The Lord has ascended with trumpets blaring.

A lot of people don’t like the Living Bible but I do…it reads “God ascended into heaven with a mighty shout.” What a glorious image that paints in my mind. The VICTORIOUS Christ returning to heaven after His Mission on earth was complete. What a celebration that must have been. Perhaps one of the angels captured it on video so that we can see the replay when we get there.

Luke 24:25

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Human Depravity

All People Are Sinners

Romans 3:9-18…NLT

Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say,

No one is righteous—
    not even one.

11 No one is truly wise;
    no one is seeking God.

12 All have turned away; all have become useless.
No one does good, not a single one.”
{Psalm 14:1-3 & 53:1-3, Septuagint}
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.” {Psalm 5:9, 140:3}
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” {Psalm 10:7}
15 “They rush to commit murder.
16
 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.” {Psalm 59:7-8}
18 “They have no fear of God at all.” {Psalm 36:1}

Introduction

Last Wednesday night our message lacked clarity and I do not want that to happen again. Today’s message may be brief but I do want it to be clear and simple.

As I stated in the last Message, the Jews were convinced that they were exceptional and there are in a sense but not in the way that they think. They did not see themselves as “sinners.” They had no problem recognizing the sins of the Gentile world but they did not see their own sin. Neither did they believe that they would be judged. Paul dispels these myths.

–All men are sinners, Jew and Gentile alike

–All men will stand before Christ in Judgment, no exceptions

–All men, humans are born under the curse of sin, all are subject to sin, it is our nature, inclination, default setting.

–All men are totally depraved which means lacking in righteous. We have no righteous, none, nil, nada, zero, zilch or in plain English, “Not a bit.” I was in my late 20’s before this fact dawned upon me. None of us want to believe that we are depraved. We are convinced that there is some good in us. God had to convince me Himself–You have none!

Transition

I. FIRST OF ALL, LET ME ILLUSTRATE THIS TRUTH

Glass of hot water and a tea bag. Original sin tainted our entire human nature. We are cursed with a self-centered, vain-glorious pride that runs from the bottom of our feet to the top of our head. We are capable of doing good things such as obey the law, like the Jews BUT we are not capable of doing good things for the right reasons. Our motives are impure: we want credit, we want praise and recognition. Luther says that outside of grace we are motivated by two factors, [1] fear of punishment and [2] hope of reward.

II. DEPRAVITY MEANS WE ARE NOT ONLY VOID OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, WE ARE INCAPABLE OF PRODUCING ANY THAT GOD WILL ACCEPT

Adam and Eve were the first to sin. When they did, they attempted to cover their shame and guilt with their own works, industry, rationale, techniques, etc. They made themselves fig-leaf aprons. God said, “Unacceptable.” He sacrificed and innocent animal and covered them with the skin or fleece.

You cannot manufacture righteous, not any that is not tainted, not any that God will accept. Cain came along and tried the same thing and God gave him the same answer, “NO.”

You are not going to heaven because you are good…You are not good. No one is good except God and of course, Jesus was God.

III. IF YOU ARE NOT CONVINCED: LOOK AT WHAT MAN’S RIGHTEOUSNESS PRODUCES

[1] The first thing on the list is PRIDE and God hates pride. Every moralist, every do-gooder, every Pharisee you know is filled with pride. They are proud of their accomplishments, record, their reputation. Self-righteous is productive, it produces pride.

[2] Spiritual Blindness: the self-righteous always think of themselves as being righteous and they focus on their righteousness. The truly righteous, according to Luther, never see themselves as righteous. [I correct people, kindly, when they refer to me as being good. You are encouraging idolatry when you allow people to believe that you are good.

[3] Ignorance of GRACE. Until you understand and confess your depravity, you will not understand or experience God’s grace, not in full measure. Folks, I am telling you, everything is GRACE.

[4] As long as you do not understand GRACE, you will be critical of others and ungrateful toward God. Follow me here: You must first see your DEPRAVITY, then you will begin to understand GRACE and Grace will make you THANKFUL.

[5] When you become THANKFUL, you will become happy and content.

Conclusion

Luke 15 AND the story of the two sons is a perfect illustration.

[1] Both were sinners–rebelled against their father

[2] One came to realize his sin and error but the other did not

[3] One was satisfied to serve his father, the other became increasingly unhappy with his father.

[4] One is enjoying fellowship with his father and the other is angry with his father.

What made the difference? The Father’s love? No, it was the repentance of the younger.

If you are unhappy, ungrateful and angry with your brother there is a reason for it: YOU NEED TO REPENT.

Judgment {Part Two}

Romans 2:5-11, REB

5 But corresponding to your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are treasuring up for yourself wrath on the Day of Wrath, when the righteous judgment of God is revealed,
 6 who will repay each person according to his works
 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and incorruptibility, there will be life in the age to come.
 8 But to those who are selfishly ambitious and refuse to be persuaded by the truth but are persuaded by unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
 9 Affliction and distress will be upon every human soul who works evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,
 10 but glory and honor and peace will come to everyone who is doing good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,
 11 for there is no partiality with God.

Romans 2:5-11 NLT

5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality {not subject to corruption, unending, purity, sincerity} that God offers. But he will pour out his anger {orge} and wrath {thu-mos} on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead {pursuaded to follow unrighteousness} live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble {tribulation, extreme pressure} and calamity {distress, restriction} for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil [bad, harmful, wicked, worthless,ill]—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show partiality.

Review

[1] God’s wrath is revealed in two ways: presently in the law of retribution {1:18} and ultimately {2:5} in the final judgment where we stand before God.

[2] There is a JUDGMENT DAY which is future, it is on the calendar.

[3] God will Judge through Christ…

Romans 2:16…

In the day when God, through Jesus Christ, will judge what people have kept secret.

Romans 3:19…

Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth is silenced and the whole world is held accountable to God.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:10…

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

John 5:22-23…

Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. 

Revelation 20:11-12

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

Paul in I Corinthians 15…

25 For He must reign until he has put all his enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For He “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When He has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under Him, so that God may be all in all.

[4] No one is exempt from this judgment: no one can escape it. We are all accountable. The Jews believed they were the exception: that they would not be judged.

Introduction

Today we pick up at verse 5…

[1] Storing or stockpiling wrath

But because you are stubborn [rebellion] and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

Paul has already established the fact that God is forbearing, patient and kind. To forbear is literally to “hold back.” God is holding back on His wrath. Here is the problem: it is one of presumption…man thinks that since God has not judged him for his sins that He is not going to. In other words, we take God’s kindness for granted, assuming that He will always be kind and withhold judgment. Every act of transgression is a piece of kindling or bale of straw that we are stacking around us. The coming judgment is fire: so in our rebellion we are piling kindling for the fire.

The solution to this terrible problem is repentance, ASAP.

[2] Salvation by Grace, judgment by works.

He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.

Salvation by Grace, Judgement by works…sounds like an oxymoron, a paradox, a contradiction. If SALVATION IS BY GRACE, I am sure that it is; then how can we be judged by our works? There is a simple answer, the all knowing Christ is the judge. You and I could never judge another man by works…we would judge him strictly by what we could see and not by the condition of his heart.

Good works are not determined by the deed itself but by the motive. Look at what Paul says,

He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.

What are you seeking? Glory here is not vain glory, it is the glory of being like Christ. Honor is not prestige, it is pleasing God and getting a well done. There is no way Jesus can be in you and not come out. The little boy asks his dad, “Who is bigger dad, you or Jesus?” The dad said, “Why Jesus of course.” The little boy said, “Then if Jesus is in you, He should stick out.” We humans never know a person’s motives. We can make a calculated guess but God doesn’t have to guess: He knows the heart and the motive. We don’t even know our own heart or motives. The judgment we will face will be just because we will be judged by our works and our motives.

Lets look a little further for proof…

But he will pour out His anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness {injustice, transgression, unrighteousness} [persuaded by unrighteousness]. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.

The unrepentant [1] Live for themselves, [2] Refuse to obey {rebellion} and [3] They take the wrong path by obeying unrighteousness. REB reads, take evil for their guide. They give way to their passions.

Paul says if we live unrepentant self-willed lives we will suffer…There will be tribulation {extreme pressure} and distress {extreme restrictions} for every soul of man who does evil. There will be infinite freedom in heaven but none in hell. Some paint the picture of parties in hell but Dr. Wiersbe thinks hell might be solitary confinement. Loneliness can be tormenting. One thing is sure, there will be no parties.

[3] A Clear Choice

But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show partiality.

A missionary in China was teaching children and he told them the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. He asked them, who do you want to be like? The rich man or Lazarus. One of the kids raised their hand and said, “On the earth I want to be the rich man, in eternity, I want to be Lazarus.” In other words, this kid wanted the best of both worlds.

Life is made up of choices and the most important choice you’ll ever make is what you do with the gospel of Christ. If you repent and serve HIM, you will gain an endless [perpetual] and infinite reward: if you reject Him and do your own thing, you have nothing to look forward to; you have no hope. Hell and destruction awaits the rebel.

Judgment

ASV

Wherefore thou art without excuse, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest dost practise the same things. And we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against them that practise such thingsAnd reckonest thou this, O man, who judgest them that practise such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

REB

1 Therefore you have no excuse, yes you, every one of you who judges, for in those things in which you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you who judge practice the same things.
 2 And we know that the judgment of God against those who practice such things is in accordance with truth.
 3 Now do you suppose this, O you who are judging those who practice such things, and yet does the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God is intended to lead you to repentance?

CEV

Some of you accuse others of doing wrong. But there is no excuse for what you do. When you judge others, you condemn yourselves, because you are guilty of doing the very same things. We know that God is right to judge everyone who behaves in this way. Do you really think God won’t punish you, when you behave exactly like the people you accuse? You surely don’t think much of God’s wonderful goodness or of his patience and willingness to put up with you. Don’t you know that the reason God is good to you is because he wants you to turn to him?

INTRODUCTION

Our subject today is not a pleasant one but one that needs to be dealt with. It is never wise to avoid the truth and today’s message is the gospel truth.

In chapter one, Paul talks about the depravity of the pagan world, those who worship different aspects of creation rather than the CREATOR Himself. These people are not only guilty of perverting worship, they have perverted sex and are involved in degrading and destructive behavior. In their stubborn rebellion, God has given them over to their sin. This is a part of His judgement.

In Romans 1:18, Paul said…

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth]in unrighteousness

In other words, God’s wrath or anger against sin has been uncovered so that we can see it presently…working in the law of retribution. Retribution simply means that all sins have consequences, destructive consequences. If we make bad choices, we reap bad consequences. We see this law presently at work in the world.

In Chapter two, Paul introduces another revelation of God’s wrath….

But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

The word ‘revelation’ is the same root word found in 1:18 where it is used as a verb, here it is used as a noun. So we have two judgments revealed or uncovered: one is operation presently and one in the future. This second or final judgment is the one I do not want to talk about today but by the grace of God, I am.

TRANSITION

There are four things I want to say about this FINAL JUDGMENT.

I. IT IS ON THE CALENDAR–IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN

Jesus spoke of this day in Matthew 12:36…

“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

Hebrews 9:27 tells us it will follow death…

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment

It will come at the end of time as we know it: it will be the final event before heaven and hell are settled. So understand, this judgment is FUTURE. It is coming.

II. THIS JUDGMENT IS BASED ON TRUTH

Human imagination or opinion will not mean a thing. Our so called supreme court will not be a factor; they too will be judged. We know that God is JUST and He is aware of all the facts. This judgment rest solely upon His character and authority. There will be no appeals. His word will be final.

Story

Right out of Seminary, I was pressured into talking to a wealthy man about his salvation. I didn’t want to confront him but a crazy man came and picked me up and took me to the field where they were picking cotton. I used the EE question with him, “Sir, if you died tonight, where would you spend eternity.” Without hesitation he said, “It better be heaven or there is going to be a rhubarb.” Rhubard is baseball slang for a fight, brawl or argument. My whole system shuddered when I heard him say this…there will be no rhubarb.

III. GOD WILL DO THE JUDGING

Let’s read 2:1 again…

Therefore you have no excuse, yes you, every one of you who judges, for in those things in which you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you who judge practice the same things.

The Jews or the moralist were not guilty of sexual perversion but they were lovers of money which is a form of Idolatry.

I heard a preacher say once, “I am not a judge, I am a fruit inspector.” Call it whatever you like but I am telling YOU…You and I are not the Judge.

I started a men’s bible study class at my first church after seminary. One of the men was a lot like me, he was hard on others. We were on a lesson about judging others when he shocked me with this confession…“God has convicted me that my sin of judging is worse than the sins I am judging.”

IV. THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS JUDGMENT

Verse 3…

Now do you suppose this, O you who are judging those who practice such things, and yet does the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

The tendency of man is to divert the attention when he is confronted with his sin. When Jesus confronted Peter at Galilee, Peter immediately said, “What about John?” Jesus basically said, “That is none of your business…you do not worry about my plans for John.” Your final judgment, my final judgment will be very personal…it will not involve another soul.

CONCLUSION

The good news is there is ONE ESCAPE..Jesus! We do this by repentance. Don’t despise [devalue] the kindness, tolerance and patience of God. God’s kindness to you is not a sign of His pleasure with your life. His goodness to you is to lead you to repentance. The only way to avoid condemnation in the final judgment is to repent now.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,  always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
    From the very break of day, God will protect it.

The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts!
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.

Introduction

Psalm 46 is a great Psalm. Although ascribed to one of the praise and worship leaders, Dr. Wiersbe thinks it was written my King Hezekiah who among other things was a poet. The back drop of the Psalm would be the Sennacherib crisis where the brutal Assyrian army had laid siege to Jerusalem. The Assyrians made a lot of threats but never shot one arrow over the wall: matter of fact, the Angel of the LORD paid them a visit and the next morning, 185,000 Assyrian soldiers lay dead. God miraculously intervened and saved Jerusalem.

My present dilemma is my great love for this Psalm and all that I could say in connection with it but I know time is a factor and so I have prayed for the LORD to help me organize my thoughts. I do love this Psalm and I have two stories that I love to tell that are related.

FIRST: Let me give you the outline. There are three stanzas in the Psalm. Verses 1-3 are the first, 4-7 is the second and the final is 8-11. We are going to talk about three things: OUR REFUGE, OUR RIVER AND OUR RELIEF.

I. THERE US A REFUGE

God is our refuge and strength,  always ready to help in times of trouble.

God is are place to go when trouble comes. Our refuge is not a place but a person–Jesus Christ. When trouble comes, we run to Him. I’ve never seen a tornado up close and personal but if I saw one coming, I would run to shelter if I could find one.

I was raised on a farm and the image of little chicks taking refuge under their mother’s wings is vivid in my mind. When those chicks sensed danger, they ran to their mother who was waiting to cover them with her wings. In seconds, those little chicks disappeared.

Martin Luther loved this Psalm and he wrote a great hymn based on this Psalm…

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

The year 1527 was the most difficult year of Luther’s life. After the stress of leading the reformation for a decade, Luther began having physical problems: dizzy spells so severe that they could render him dysfunctional. Along with the dizziness was a ringing or buzz in his ear and problem with his heart and digestive system. Luther, literally thought, he was dying. He felt so near to death that he told a friend, “I’ve spent a week in hell with my entire body being in pain.” To make bad matters worse, the BLACK PLAGUE invaded Germany. Thousand fled the country but Luther and his wife Katie stayed to help and their home became a hospital for the sick and dying. Luther lost two children and was in fear of losing a third: during this terrible ordeal, Psalm 46 became the strength of his soul. Martin Luther found solace, rest and refuge in God.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God’s own choosing.
You ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabbath his name,
from age to age the same;
and He must win the battle.

NOTE: Now look at verse 2-3…

So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

The oceans, to the Jews, was a symbol of instability. One minute the oceans can be placid and the next, it can be roaring with huge waves, even devastating wave caused by earthquakes. To the Jew, the sea was unpredictable and dangerous and always changing.

The Mountains were a symbol of stability. Mountains generally stay fixed but Psalm 46 describes and upheaval, catastrophic change, mountains being shaken, crumbling into the sea. It is a picture of chaos, turmoil, upheaval, instability, and change. We are living in such times ourselves, sacred institutions like marriage crumbling and falling into the sea of secular humanism and political correctness. Such catastrophic change can cause us to fear, even to panic.

Although I am a change agent, there are some things, many things that I do not want to change and yet I can’t stop things from changing. I saw this on Andy Griffin a few months ago: Andy was planning to leave Mayberry for a job in Reliegh and Barney was visibly shaken. Some changes we don’t like, they are disturbing to us.

Almost twenty years ago, one of our senior adults was in a nursing home in Huntsville. She was also in a lock down unit. When I went in to visit her, there were 15-20 others in the room and all of them were making sounds. The noise made it impossible to think, let alone visit. One of the care givers, a beautiful black woman came to me and said, “You are a preacher, aren’t you?” I responded in the affirmative, then she said “Preach!” I said, “Are you kidding me, how can I preach in this racket and besides I don’t have a bible.” She quickly disappeared and then showed back up with a bible, she handed it to me and said, “Now preach.” I continued to protest, “Mam this will not work.” She said, “You open that bible, read it and then preach and see what happens.” The only passage I could think of was Psalm 46 so I opened to the Psalm and began reading. I was astounded. The room grew quiet. They stayed quiet until I finished. I preached to myself I suppose. I was discomforted by all the changes in Mrs. Ema’s life [the lady I was there to visit]. Change, especially when they seem to be for the worse, is disturbing to we humans. But we have a REFUGE. We have a place to hide. A place to rest and feel safe and it is in the arms of Jesus.

II. THERE IS A RIVER

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.

Max and David Sapp wrote a beautiful song inspired by this verse. There is a river…

There is a river that flows from deep within,
There is a fountain that frees the soul from sin.
Come to this water, there is a vast supply.
There is a river that never shall run dry.

Most all great ancient cites were built on rivers but not Jerusalem. They did have a water supply beneath the city. Matter of fact, Hezekiah was responsible for building a conduit to get the siloam spring in under the city. In the ancient world, a river was the symbol of life. Man cannot survive without water. Rivers flow and they symbolize abundant provision and unending joy. What the world offers is tinsel and fake: the world doesn’t know true joy or the source of that joy but you and I do. The river is JESUS.

III. THERE IS A RELIEF

Psalm 46 has historical significance: the LORD intervened and save Jerusalem from destruction. He fought Israel’s battle. It was over before it started. BUT it also has a prophetic significance.

We live in a broken world that is in open rebellion against God. All this chaos and turmoil is a product of man’s rebellion against God’s authority. Gay rights, same sex marriage, attack upon law and order…it is all connected and a part of one conspiracy. Psalm 2 comes to mind…

Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together
against the Lord and against His anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”

Here is the good news: God is sovereign–He is in absolute control. He is allowing many things to happen these days but there is coming a day when he will step in…He will appear and all the world will keep silent.

Yes my friend, God can stop the lying tongues, He can put a stop to the wars, He can destroy all their weapons of destruction. He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” This is a great devotional thought but the actual purpose here is to remind us that a day is coming when we will surrender to His sovereign rule. Literally, it means “take your hands off,” or “let go.” You are not in control, I am.

I love Dr. Taylor’s paraphrase in the LIVING BIBLE…verses 6-10

The nations rant and rave in anger—but when God speaks, the earth melts in submission and kingdoms totter into ruin. The Commander of the armies of heaven is here among us. He, the God of Jacob, has come to rescue US. Come, see the glorious things that our God does, how he brings ruin upon the world and causes wars to end throughout the earth, breaking and burning every weapon. “Stand silent! Know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation in the world!”

Now it is not wrong to use this passage as a devotional thought. Sometimes we need to be still, to look up, to reflect. A hurried pace will destroy any chance you have of having a devotional life. Sometimes we need to just be still. I listen to Steven Curtis Chapman sing “Be still and know that I am God,” a lot.

Be still and know that he is god
Be still and know that he is holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease

Be still and know that he is god
Be still and know that he is faithful
Consider all that he has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that he will never change
Be still, Be speechless

Another great hymn that comes to mind is Be Still My Soul

Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain

After the kids were grown, June and I were taking a little trip and we both forgot our DAILY BREAD DEVOTIONALS. I had been studying this passage so I shared a little devotional thought with June. In concluding, I said, “We are not going to be in a hurry. We are going to take a slower pace, just relax, set back and experience God.” In the blink of an eye, she shoot back, “Who can relax with you under the wheel.” It was all down hill from there.