Lucia's Blog: June 2018
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, June 28, 2018

JEHOVAH GOD, SHINE FORTH! PSALM 94

 "O Jehovah, thou God to whom vengeance belongeth, Thou God to whom vengeance belongeth, shine forth.  Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: Render to the proud their desert.  Jehovah, how long shall the wicked, How long shall the wicked triumph?"  
Psalm 94:1-3


Our Creator is a good and righteous God. Because He made us in such a way that we may choose to love Him and do what is right and good or ignore Him and do otherwise, our world is filled with wicked men and women who hurt and destroy the good that God wants. Our job as His faithful servants is to trust His ways and purposes when we cannot see the ultimate justice that He is bringing about. The day will come when all the righteous children of God will cry out, "Righteous and true are all your judgments!"  Psalm 94 presents our God in this light.

It is not easy to truly believe in God. Of course, it is easy to believe that God exists and that He is almighty and all-wise. The evidence is overwhelming in the Creation and the marvelous things that He has made. What makes it hard to truly believe is that we often see injustice that is not in harmony with the character of the God that we believe in. When the wicked afflict the righteous, we become impatient and wonder, "Can we truly trust our God?" That kind of doubt encourages us to disobey our Lord.

Psalm 94 focuses on the persecution of the faithful.  The wicked are selfish and proud.  They despise the way of Truth and those who pursue it.  One thing that struck me about this Psalm is that no matter how much wickedness, oppression, enemies, and evildoers cloud our lives, we have the assurance that our Jehovah God will triumph and shine forth.  The wicked will not defeat us if we genuinely call on Him to deliver us.  Our Jehovah God will bless His people and punish evildoers.

In this Psalm, we see a God of grace and love who upholds His faithful servants in any trial and who assumes the role of vengeance.  God's faithful children can rest assured that God will comfort and sustain them in their difficult time. God is not deaf or blind to unjust acts.  God knows everything, the ungodly acts of the unjust.  God calls them fools, for they cannot fool God, for He sees and knows everything.  He knows how worthless they are.  The unjust, the evildoers and those who defy God and His principles of righteousness will not escape God's righteous judgments and punishment. They will not destroy God's righteous onesfor He will rise up and not forsake His righteous ones.  And though our God is a God of love and mercy, He is also a God of vengeance.  A God who will rise up and act by bringing justice, and vengeance, for He does notice and He really cares.  What confidence, comfort and hope!

The Psalmist is especially calling for God to judge the proud that they may receive what they deserve.  It must not cause us any trouble or concern to ask God in prayer to give evildoers what is due to them, for He is a God of justice (vengeance).  When the righteous cry out to the Lord to shine forth, the wicked will not triumph!  I hope I can persuade you with the following words of encouragement when persecution, affliction, trouble, trials, and difficulties come your way.  I hope that you will hide yourself in the LORD our God and let Him sustain you, for He is the refuge for the righteous and the fortress for His faithful ones.  He will always be our only sure protection against anything or anyone that could possibly harm us! I certainly need these words of encouragement and assurance as much as you do!


I.   SHINE FORTH, GOD OF VENGEANCE!  (94:1-7) 
"O Lord, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth!  2 Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve!3 O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?4 They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast.  5 They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage.6 They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless;7 and they say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive."  

The Psalmist begins by describing God, not as a God of love and mercy but as a God of vengeance.  His appeal for judgment starts out with a complaint, for He is calling upon God to take His seat on His throne of glory and give the proud and wicked their just punishment. The word "vengeance" is from the Hebrew plural word,  נְקָמָה (neqamoth), that speaks of full and complete judgment.  He appeals to God in the urgency of his heart.  He pours out his feelings to God.  He calls on Him for three reasons:  to shine forth, to lift Himself up, and to render punishment.  Why? 
  1. Because God's judicial infliction of righteousness is His revenge.  
  2. Because God is the One who handles all vengeance.  
  3. Because God shines forth in the darkness, and as the Psalmist had cried out, darkness had taken over.  
And though God is righteous, He will according to His divine wisdom bring the wicked, the evildoers, into judgment.  The Psalmist is petitioning God to lift Himself up or to rise because it appeared to him that God was sleeping.  It appeared to the Psalmist that the wicked went free.  He wanted God to act and not be indifferent, but to punish the wicked.  He called on Him to carry out His vengeance and to deliver him from the hands of the evildoers.  He felt surrounded by them with no way out.  Does this sound familiar to you?  The Psalmist expressed his desire for the wicked to be stopped and not go free in triumph.  And since He knew that vengeance belongs to God alone, he wanted God to act by punishing the wicked.  The Psalmist cried out, "Jehovah, how long shall the wicked, How long shall the wicked triumph?"  The wicked around him were proud so He asked God, the Supreme Judgeto bring them before Him and demand that they give an account for their evil works.  The wicked around him were boasting about what they were doing.  The wicked were arrogant, selfish and vain.  The wicked enemies were destroying the Lord's nation.  "They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage."  

Have you noticed how often criminals and evildoers seem to have more rights than you?  If you agree, then this is your Psalm to read as you pray for God's deliverance.  Isn't it outrageous that the atheist questions our God's goodness and existence for allowing these evil doers to get away with evil?  But, there is one big difference between the one who believes in God and the atheist.  Although the Psalmist wondered when God was going to rise up and act, he knew quite well that God exists and is working on our behalf.  That is why he was pleading with Him to do the right thing and not hold back.

In verses 4-7, the Psalmist appears to be pleading with God to not allow the wicked to shine in their wickedness.  The wicked often appear to do evil freely or do as they please without any restraint.  In their freedom, they speak against our God, His Divine Word, and His church.  Not only are they free to do as they please by insulting their Creator and His statutes, but seem to find delight in oppressing, crushing, destroying and breaking God's children.  They are a hindrance to God's children.  They think that God does not care, or notice and that He is not looking at what they are doing.  Isn't it something that so many think this way when they sin?  In verse 6the wicked lack compassion.  "They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless."  They afflict the widow, the stranger and the fatherless by taking advantage of them. They can do that because the weak cannot defend themselves.  In verse 7, they say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive."  How cruel can they be?  Do they not have any consciences? How can they tolerate such actions?  Do they not know that they will have to answer to God, their Creator?  They believe that God does not see the wicked things that they are doing.  They recklessly say that God does not consider or understand what they are doing.  The wicked become persecutors, oppressors, murderers, proud, and boastful.  In today's society, the wicked will even teach our children that God does not exist, misusing and perverting science to affirm evolution with no other purpose than to deny their Creator and His creation.  We see this happening in our public schools and our universities.  We wonder why our children curse and deny their Creator!  What they do is cruel.  It exceeds their wickedness!


II.   THE LORD SEES!   (94:8-11)
"Understand, O dullest of the people!  Fools, when will you be wise?  9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear?  He who formed the eye, does he not see?  10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?  He who teaches man knowledge— 11 the Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath."

In verses 8-11, the Psalmist charges the wicked saying, "Understand, O dullest of the people!  Fools, when will you be wise?"  He is urging the wicked to shine in understanding and wisdom.  The wicked do not understand because they do not care to know God.  He tells the wicked to be wise in their understanding because they appear to be unaware that God is the Creator of everything. The Psalmist voices three rhetorical questions which demand affirmative answers.

  1. "9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear?"  Since God created the ear, He can hear what they say.  The One who made our ears can hear the wicked things they say and do!  So, is God not also a God who hears and understands what happens in this world?  Do we not expect Him to have the same abilities with which He has made us?  
  2. "He who formed the eye, does he not see?"  Is it that hard to understand that the same God who made the "eye" for us to see, perceive and make judgments is the God who also sees, notices, discerns and judges?  Likewise, since He created the eye, He is certainly able to see the wickedness that they do.  
  3. "10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?"  Are we not aware that the One who is the true Teacher of mankind, will also judge His people?  Indeed, God disciplines, corrects and judges His own children when they need it.  The God who judges others, will He not also judge His own children?  In like manner, our God teaches all men His knowledge, for He is the God of all knowledge and knows everything that is happening on earth.  "11 the Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath."  

Therefore, He has all power and authority to rebuke everyone and correct the wicked.  He assures us that He can punish the wicked and all their lawlessness.  Lest we forget, He Who created man, the ear, the eye and everything can with certainty know and search the heart of man and all his intentions.  He knows with certainty our thoughts.  He knows that man's thoughts are vain and fruitless.  He measures the thoughts of the wicked and finds them worthless and like a vapor.  For man's empty thoughts disappear quickly as does his breath. God knows everything!  Not only does He know everything, but He judges the thoughts, intentions, and actions of men.   We can rest assured that wickedness will not triumph. It will fail!  Those who dispute with God will fail, for righteousness will eventually triumph over lawlessness.  And although in their barren vanity, the wicked think in their heart that they will get away with their wickedness or lawlessnessGod is still in control, and He will chastise them!  And though God's judgment is not immediate, no one will escape it, for God will bring justice at the proper time.


III.   THE BLESSING OF GOD'S DISCIPLINE:   (94:12-15)
"12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, 13 to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.  14 For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; 15 for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it."
    • Blessings in Adversity:
In verses 12-17, the Psalmist stresses the need for the righteous to find blessings in life's difficulties.  He points out that blessings arise from hardship.  "12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law."  The word "discipline" or "chasten" in other translations includes all of life's discipline that leads us toward maturity. In this Scripture, the word "chastening" or "discipline" implies the teaching of God's Law.  The writer of Hebrews stresses the value of hard times calling it discipline, (Hebrews 12:3-13).  The Psalmist is also stating that God blesses men by teaching them His Law so that they will meditate on it with a willing and humble heart. In doing this, they can learn from Him WHO created the heavens and the earth, from Him who knows all our thoughts.  Can there be a better or more eminent Teacher?  Imagine all the knowledge He is willing to give us from His written Word.  It is too much for me to fathom!  All that He has revealed to us from that same Word so that we might obtain knowledge and wisdom and not perish.  Therefore, it is our duty to know the importance of that Word and be determined to read and study it with a humble heart.  God's Law is His instrument of instruction and method of teaching.  In our times of oppression and suffering, we learn from them as we endure them.  There are many hidden blessings when we choose to learn from our ordeals!

In verse 13the Psalmist prays to God to allow the sufferer to find some rest from the days of hardship as he patiently awaits God's judgment of the wicked.  He pleads, "3 to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked."  He prays for a time of quiet rest and undisturbed peace.  God's purpose in revealing His Law, His Word, to us is to instruct us to live righteously and godly.  It will give us rest and peace in the days of adversity.  For judgment will arrest the wicked when God puts them in the pit.  We can rest assured that God will deal with the wicked at the time God deems best. The "pit" here is the wicked man who eventually receives the judgment of his wickedness.  Indeed, God provides relief from troubled times and we are never crushed beyond hope. (1 Corinthians 10:13).  God will make sure to give us rest in the days of trouble.  He will get us back on our feet before the next challenge comes.  God will punish the wicked, for a time will come when a pit is dug for them and will be ensnared for their sins.  We can rest assured that justice will come!

    • The LORD Keeps His Own:
In verse 14, the righteous look at persecution and hardship through the eyes of reassurance, for they know that God will not forsake them.  "14 For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage."  God has promised to take care of us, His inheritance, His chosen people and we must believe that!  God will not reject His own people, for He will not abandon His special possession.  And though at times it seems as if deliverance is delayed, and times are difficult, God will not abandon us.  So, when you find yourself wondering, frustrated and discouraged about God's apparent lack of judgment on the wicked, you need to go back and read His revealed Word to know Him better.  This will be the only way to know with certainty that He will give you rest.  How do I know that?  Because He will not forsake or abandon those who do His will.  He will not forsake us, for we are His inheritance.  Such promise of assurance and rest!  Have you ever felt the way that the Psalmist did when he thought that God had abandoned him?  I have!  It is at such times that I must force myself to think of all His precious promises that He has given us, promises that reassure and strengthen our faith because we are His inheritance.  He has promised not to abandon us in the days of adversity, anxieties, cares, and trials.  And I believe with all of my heart that He will never break His promises.  This ought to motivate us to walk by faith and not by sight!

In verse 15, God's righteousness demands that justice returns to the righteous and that they always seek it.  "15 for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it."  The Hebrew literally says, "Because unto righteousness judgment returns and after it are the upright of heart."  Vindication will always come to the righteous and the upright of heart can indeed depend on such a promise.  The faithful do not have to fear God's judgments, but rather rejoice, for His judgments will bring glory and honor to them!  The faithful can rely on God's faithfulness toward them.  The righteous can trust in God's ultimate victory in the end!  In time you and I will truly see judgment rendered for righteousness.  The upright in heart will follow righteousness.  It is their righteousness that makes them just, upright and honorable.  The word upright refers to posture or position.  How would the righteous, the guiltless and unashamed stand-up? They stand upright in spirit and heart.  Righteousness and justice will triumph!  We must not be shaken when justice and righteousness are delayed.  The righteous know they will triumph if they persist in doing righteousness.  What about the unrighteous, the guilty and the ashamed?   They can't stand upright!


IV.   GOD, OUR RESCUER:  (94:16-19)
"16 Who rises up for me against the wicked?  Who stands up for me against evildoers?  17 If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.  18 When I thought, 'My foot slips,' your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.  19 When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."'

In verse 16, the Psalmist reminds us that although at times it seems as if we are standing alone, we are not really alone.  “16 Who rises up for me against the wicked?  Who stands up for me against evildoers?"  God will indeed stand up for us.  God will be our companion when others (our closest friends) forsake us and are not standing with us.  Only our God is faithful enough to walk beside us to help us as we walk through the deepest valleys of trials.  Only He will sustain us, for He is our Rescuer.  He is the only One who will protect us from the wicked and will stand up against our enemies. There is no better Deliverer than our God!  We can confidently rely on Him.  Without His help, we can do nothing!  He is our Comforter who loves us with an unfailing love.  A love that will support us during our most difficult and trying times.  And though His disciples may falter during the hours of crisis and ordeal, He has promised that He will not abandon us.  When Paul was in prison, he said that all had abandoned him and that no one came to his defense and stood by his side, except the Lord who stood by him and strengthened him, (2 Tim. 4:16-17).  Oh, such words of comfort!

Indeed, verse 16 contains some excellent rhetorical questions:
  1. Who will protect us from the wicked?
  2. Who will stand up against our evildoers?
The resounding answer is no one, except our God, for He is our only Deliverer on whom we can confidently rely.  We would be nothing if our God did not help us, for He is the God of comfort.  He will be there to provide for us and deliver us with His unfailing love.  His unfailing love can indeed support us through our difficulties and ordeals.  The Psalmist surely knows the answer and expects us to know it as well.  Who will rise up for us?  Surely, Our God will rise up for us!  No other god will help but the True God.

In verses 17-19, the righteous of the LORD acknowledge that had it not been for God, they would have gone under.  "17 If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence."  Had the LORD not held him up or helped him, he would have died.  The Psalmist refers to the grave as "the land of silence."   It is a metaphor that underlines the absence of any communication from the dead.  When the righteous suffer, they are confident that God is with them and is watching over them because of their faith and walk with God.  "18 When I thought, 'My foot slips,' your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up."  God manifests His providential care to His servant by making his journey a safe one.  When he feels that his foot is slipping, he is confident he can count on the LORD to rescue him, for he trusts that God's lovingkindness will supply his need.  The slipping foot here portrays those difficulties that could easily end in tragedy were it not for God's intervention.  God will hold us up or keeps us standing upright when we find ourselves in the midst of slippery places, finding it difficult to stand firm.  We clearly see that our God shines, that He is rising up and standing up against the wicked and all lawlessness, that He is our Ebenezer that Samuel spoke of in I Samuel 7.  In Samuel’s days, we see Israel during the darkest times of her history.  In those days, one of the fiercest enemies of the Jews, the Philistines, drew up in battle array against Israel, near Ebenezer.  As the battle spread, Israel was defeated and about four thousand men were killed on the battlefield, (I Samuel 4:2).  Needless to say, the Israelites could not understand what was going on.  They did not understand that the spiritual decline of the nation was forfeiting the protection and victory of Jehovah God.  When the elders sent for the Ark of the Covenant at Shiloh and they saw it coming into the camp, they all shouted with joy.  But there was a problem.  They were placing their trust in the magic of the Ark and not in the Almighty God Who dwelt above the Ark. This time they lost 30,000 as well as the Ark, (I Samuel 4:5-11).  God had given them conditional promises.  They had not kept or obeyed those conditions which were part of that covenant.  They had broken the covenant.  Since they had broken this covenant, God was not obligated to answer their prayers.

 In 1 Samuel 7:3-14, we read that Samuel tells Israel:
  • To return to their God with all their heart.
  • To remove their foreign gods from among them.
  • To direct their hearts to God, confessing their sins.
  • To serve God alone.  
All these things are part of repentance. They are a part of brokenness.  Samuel promised them deliverance if they had a heart of true repentance.  So they met those conditions for deliverance.   Now in the midst of all that, Samuel assembled all Israel at Mizpah that he might pray for them.    They had pled for Samuel to pray for them since they feared another attack of the Philistines.  He offered a whole burnt-offering in worship, and he cried to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him.  As Samuel offered the sacrifice, crying out to God for Israel, the Philistines were getting ready to attack Israel.  God fought for Israel that day!  He confused them on the battlefield.
“Now while Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines were gathering together to battle against Israel.  But God fought for Israel that day.  He thundered against them and confused them on the battlefield, so that they were badly beaten before Israel.”  

The LORD answered Samuel's prayer.   Let us consider God's answer to prayer and what Samuel did while he prayed to His God for their deliverance:

“Now when the Philistines heard that the sons of Israel had gathered to Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the sons of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. Then the sons of Israel said to Samuel, 'Do not cease to cry to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.'  Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it for a whole burnt offering to the Lord; and Samuel cried to the Lord for Israel and the Lord answered him.  Now Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, and the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.  The men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down as far as below Beth-car.   Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.'  So the Philistines were subdued and they did not come anymore within the border of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.  The cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even to Gath; and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. So there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.'"  (I Samuel 7:10-12)

God answered Samuel's prayer and helped the Israelites because:
  • They had repented of their sin.
  • They confessed their sin.
  • They rededicated themselves to the LORD.
  • They humbly asked for prayer. 
  • They wanted the LORD to fight for them, acting on their behalf.
  • Therefore, they behaved in a manner of repentance, acting for Him.
Going back to the Psalmist's words, "17 If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.  18 When I thought, 'My foot slips,' your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.  19 When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."'

If the LORD does not help us, our souls will dwell in deep dark silence.  We will be hopeless!  It is disturbing to see so many people in this world that are lost and know not the LORD's rest and deliverance.  When life hurls wickedness at them, they are overwhelmed with life's adversities and anxieties.  They seem to have no hope, rest, joy or deliverance for their lives.  This is sad!  Why?  Because they are sinking into an irreversible silence and darkness.  However, the good news for those, who love their LORD, know Him and have learned from Him from the Sacred Text, is that they have their LORD as their Ebenezer, their Helper.  His mercies are new every morning.  Certainly, His mercies carry and hold us up when our foot slips.  And although we might have a multitude of anxieties and cares, we find delight, comfort, refuge, peace, and strength in the LORD.  How does He comfort us in the midst of our anxieties, trials, and cares?  By putting delight and joy into our souls, because we know and are confident that He will judge righteously.  We know that He rules.


V.    THE LORD IS OUR FORTRESS AND REFUGE:   (94:20-23)
"20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute?  21 They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.  22 But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.  23 He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out."  
The final stanza of this Psalm takes us back to the beginning.  In verses 20-23the LORD shines for the upright in heart and against the wicked one.  The Psalmist tries to reason with God's heart and thinking.   In verse 20, the Psalmist asks, "20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute?"  The word "throne" in our context implies a group of people or nations who are ruled by evil and bound to accomplish their wickedness at any cost.  Wickedness is described as having been put upon a throne, given honor a platform to exercise a destructive influence.  The Psalmists asks, Will God allow the wicked to build an evil strategy into the form of command or a statute?  Will God then approve the wicked when he pursues it as a national commitment or personal resolve?  Will He unite and work with such a strategy?  The Psalmist obviously implies that He will not. He declares that God's righteousness will prohibit Him from doing it!  His holiness will not permit it and be compromised.  His holy and righteous nature will not compromise with evil.  He will not and cannot have fellowship with wickedness or lawlessness.  It is against His righteous nature, (1 John 1:5-6).  In other translations, “the devices of evil by law,” which would imply that His throne has fellowship with wickedness.  The Psalmist knew God would not go for that.  So the question is, what evil were they conceiving by law?  The evil was in the laws they had made against the life of the righteous.  They condemned the innocent to death.  So, will God approve any law that advocates and legalizes a sinful way of living?  Of course not!   Why?  Because the righteous acknowledge that when human laws conflict with the laws of God, they must follow the laws of God, (Acts 5:29).

Verse 21, states that the righteous are often trampled under the heels of the wicked, because of their faithfulness to God and His divine order of life.  The righteous are usually attacked by others who oppose their righteous living.  The Psalmist says, "21 They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death."  The wicked condemn the innocent to death.  They come against the righteous, seeking to destroy their life. In verses 22-23, we notice the confidence the Psalmist has in the LORD, in His work.  He is confident that God will defend the cause of the righteous, that He is the Rock of our refuge, and that we are safe in His providential care.  Not only will He protect us but with confidence, we can say that He will cause the wicked or unrighteous to reap as they have sown.  He will cut them off in their wickedness.  How do the righteous respond when they're persecuted?  They respond by trusting in God and hiding themselves in Him, for He is our safe refuge from the storms that rise up against us.  Regardless of the severity of the storm, the righteous can rest assured that God will be their refuge.  "22 But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge." Such powerful words of hope!  So why despair?  Our God is indeed our best "stronghold," and a cliff-like "rock" of "refuge."  God's righteous children can confidently put themselves in God's hands, for He is an invisible wall against all forces of destruction.

In verse 23God's justice will uncover the sins of the evildoers, and bring them down upon their heads.  "23 He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out."  We can rest assured that our God will turn or bring back the sins on the wicked.  He will destroy them!  You see, sin metes out its own punishment, for when we sow to the flesh, we must also reap what we have sown, (Gal. 6:7-8).  Evildoers will be punished for their sins on earth and will also be punished for their sins in eternity!  The lawless and the wicked must pass through two judgments:  the judgment of sin and the judgment of God's throne.   God's righteousness and moral law demand it!  A law He has built into this world and from which there is no escape.   And though one might escape from the law of gravity, it is not the same with God's Law or moral retribution.  The law, "whatever one sows, that will he also reap," (Gal. 6:7b) applies to more than personal giving.

Truly, the destruction of the wicked derives from two sources.  First, their sins will return to them, because what they intended to do to others will usually come back to them.   The destructive powers of evil (working through their own sins) will batter and destroy them.  Second, God will judge them in eternity.  God not only administers due punishment through His universal moral laws, but He also does it through His jurisdiction and lordship.  Justice will eventually come.  God will give us relief from our sorrows and from the evildoers who afflict us, for He will turn their sins upon themselves.  This leads us back to the beginning of this Psalm with the question:  "3 O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?  4 They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast."  The answer is that God will bring all humanity before His throne of righteousness and holiness to give account for their sins.  God will repay them for their sins, lawlessness and will be destroyed for their wickedness or lawlessness.  For He is the most righteous and just Judge!  We can confidently say, "Jehovah is on my side; I will not fear: What can man do unto me?"  (Psalm 118:6).  What hope and confidence in this truth! 


CONCLUSION:

The Psalms are undeniably beautiful!  They represent a rich tapestry of prayer and praise. Some reflect a texture of deep despair.  They glow with a deep peace and strength provided by our Lord. They exalt the Most High God. They express a range of human emotion and experience. They teach us how to improve our prayers that we might reach out to God from every imaginable experience. They help us find peace in the midst of turmoil.  Most of all, they help us grow deeper in our walk with our Lord.  The Psalms are my prayer book, for they help me learn how to love my God better, share my deepest fears and emotions with Him.  They strengthen my faith and help me to express my deepest emotions when I struggle to express them to God.  For me, the study of Psalms is an excellent way to enter God’s world of inspired and inspiring poetry!

Psalm 94 is a vivid portrait of the wicked, their attitudes and actions against God's righteous children.  This Psalm is a reminder of God's care and protection toward the righteous.  God sees His children as His own possession or inheritance, (94:5).  God regards those who seek first His kingdom and His righteousness as His responsibility.  As long as we His children remain within the circle of His will and fellowship, God will guide, protect and provide for us.  We can rest assured that He will!  God will not abandon the upright in heart, the righteous, for they are His inheritance.  He will vindicate the ways of the righteous.  He is a continual refuge and fortress to His godly ones.  He will take a stand against lawlessness or wickedness.  He is a shield for the righteous against all harm and wickedness.  His faithful children can rest assured that no evil will harm them.  God offers peace, comfort, and encouragement to the troubled heart.  Our God is like a caring and loving parent, for He extends His gracious hand to His children and covers them with His lovinkindness to sustain and keep them through their difficult times.  God provides His children times of rest from adversity.  God's goodness is amazing, for it is full, concrete and well balanced.  He is our Shepherd who covers all of our needs!

Psalm 94 teaches us that blessings are found in God's chastisement or discipline.  When we respond well to God's discipline, we demonstrate our good hearts as true children of God, (Hebrews 12:6).  God's discipline helps us to face our trials so that we might learn, mature and grow as we should.  Discipline has a humbling and softening effect, for it conditions our soul to heed the teachings of God.  Through adversity, our soul is being refined, polished and nourished for service to God's kingdom.  Our thorns make us more humble and cause us to look more consistently to God for strength Spiritual growth comes through the school of adversity.  When the school is over, and we graduate, we learn to be thankful for being chosen to be part of it.  We Christians must learn to rejoice and be glad through all of our experiences in life:  the pleasant ones and the adversities.  They build up a Christ-like spirit within us.

Psalm 94 is like a book about us, for it asks the question:  "9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear?  He who formed the eye, does he not see?"  If one should ask, What is God like?  He would simply turn to his body for the answer.  You see our hands, eyes, ears, and minds talk to us and teach us about the God who made us.  That same awesome God who made us and gave us our abilities can see all that is going on in this world in which we live!  He can hear our prayers.  He can speak to us and communicate His will through His revealed Word.  God has revealed in His Word an outline of what He wants us to do to accomplish His purpose for us.  The more we study about Him through His Word, the more we learn about what God is like.  We can reach to Him through His Word and His creation.

The godly can rest assured that persecution will come to them.  And though they might not be asked to die for their faith, they will at least be attacked for believing in God, (2 Tim. 3:12; Phil. 1:29).  Paul described persecution as an extension to Christ's sufferings, (Col. 1:24).  Psalm 94 gives us the answers to how we must respond to persecution and adversity.  The righteous must remember the following.
  • God will not abandon them in their time of trial.  
  • To look at the bright side, the blessings that come from our trials, persecution, and adversity.
  • To call on the LORD to carry out His justice and bring the wicked to judgment.
  • To commit to reading and studying God's Word to know Him better and find strength from it.
  • To keep following all righteousness with an upright heart.  
  • That our suffering, persecution and trying circumstances are God’s training tools.
  • That everyone will be repaid and that no one gets away with anything.  For the wicked will be judged, and the righteous will be vindicated.
  • That they can take comfort in God's consolations that He makes available for them.
  • That when afflictions come, it is good to remember that God will never side with evil.  Our righteous God will always be opposed to evil or lawlessness and will always stand with us against it.
  • Vengeance belongs to the LORD.
  • That evil comes back to haunt and punish those who commit it, (Rom. 6:23).
  • That God is our Creator, who will sustain us, for He is a refuge to the righteous and a fortress to the faithful.
  • He will always be our sure protection from anything that could possibly harm us. 
  • That Christ has told us that life in His kingdom must involve handling persecution and that we must go through fiery trials as citizens of God's kingdom.
  • That God is glorified when we endure hardship and those who oppose the King, His Kingdom, and His children.
  • That He knows the intentions of our heart and thoughts.  
  • That He is our Teacher and Master.
  • That He will give us rest.
  • That He will not abandon us.
  • That He will help us and hold us up.  
  • That He can carry us through. 
  • That hard times help us to learn the Way of the LORD. 
  • That the righteous find blessings in life’s difficulties and thorns.
  • That all these hard times, challenges and thorns will make us more reliant upon God.
  • That all this teaches us to be more diligent to follow God’s instructions. 
  • That God will cut off the wicked and their lawlessness. 
  • And finally, that the Father honors the righteous saying, "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  (Matthew 5:11-12).

Those who invest their life defying God and His principles of righteousness will not escape His punishment.  God will not allow the wicked to destroy the righteous!  We must remember that vengeance belongs to the Lord.  The Psalmist speaks of the LORD who sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins.  He used His Son's death and His blood to save us from His judgment coming for the wicked.  The beauty of all this is that He has provided a rest for our dying souls.  Moreover, He has promised to give us rest from our days of anxiety, when they seem to overwhelm our hearts.  Why not take advantage of His death and blood?  Why be cast off and be judged by the Judge of all?  Why not admit that you have sinned and are in desperate need of a Savior to rescue you?

May the LORD rise and shine on us in our time of need that we may not lose heart.  May we trust Him patiently waiting until we see the fulfillment of His good and wise purposes.  And may we always remember that vengeance belongs to the Lord and not to us.

Luci

Thursday, June 7, 2018

IT IS TIME TO WAKE UP!

"Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." 
 Romans 13:11-14 


Recently, I've been thinking about alarm clocks with a "snooze" button to help us wake up in the morning.  When the alarm goes off, we can hit that button and go back to sleep.  I usually do that!  Ten minutes later, the alarm will go off again.  I see two problems with snooze alarms. The first problem is that one can keep hitting the snooze button and go right back to sleep running the risk of being late or missing out on something.  The second problem is that although one can keep hitting the snooze button, he may get used to the sound of that alarm and stop hearing it at all and run the danger of sleeping right through the alarm.  God sometimes sounds an alarm in our lives and calls us to wake up and follow Him.   Sadly, most people hit the snooze button and say, "Not now Lord, call me again a little bit later."  They will hit that snooze button so many times that they don't even care that God is calling.  We must take down our "do not disturb" signs, come out of our comma, snap out of our slumber and awaken from our apathy.  And though God's alarm has been going off for many years, many Christians prefer to sleep, refusing to wake up and listen to their Creator.

It is about time we wake up from our slumber, for our world is getting worse and worse each year!  Many Christians are doing very little or almost nothing.  We make no change in our manner of living, either in our personal life or in the church.  We have obligations before God that we must fulfill to be pleasing and acceptable to Him.  We must snap out of our slumber and wake up, for we must know the time!  In Romans 13:11-14, Paul is concerned about the passage of time and we must be likewise.  Have you considered how fast time flies?  The thought of Christ's return compels us to be prepared for His coming.  It draws nearer.  And though we don't know when He is coming again, we do know that He will come at an unexpected time.  The Scriptures constantly remind us that "the time is short."  (1 Cor. 7:29).  "The Lord's coming is near."  (James 5:8).  "The end of all things is near."  (1 Peter 4:7).  "This is the last hour."  (1 John 2:18).  And "the time is near."  (Rev. 1:3).

Our text begins with the phrase, "Knowing the time."  Although God is not bound by time on this earth, He is indeed keeping time on this earth.  He is planning a time when He "will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up."  Knowing this, we must be prepared because all these things are to be destroyed.  We must make plans, set our goals and look to the future that we might be found living holy and godly lives.
"Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation...  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."  (2 Peter 3:14-18).

How many people die every day ready to meet their God?  Although we don't know when we will die or when the Lord may come, we must be ready, that is, prepared to meet Him.  Thus it is time to wake upfor the night is almost gone, and the day is near.  The darkness of sin is passing, for Satan has had his day far too long.  Mankind has had every opportunity to repent and overcome sin.  So often, we fail to acknowledge the slow and cumulative effect of sin in our lives.  Many are living a fairy tale kind of life refusing to live for Christ and do His will.  They refuse to accept the ultimate destination of their soul.  Many are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.  So play and pleasure rules their way of living.  They refuse to acknowledge the Truth:  the reality that life will come to an end and they'd better be prepared!  The truth is that they must seek the Lord in all things and do His will the best they can to be prepared for their end of life.  According to God's will, our purpose in life must be that of living holy and godly to please God.  Life must begin with God and must end with God!  Understanding this, the time has come to wake up from our slumber because salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.


I.   WAKE UP!  (Romans 13:11-12a)
"Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near."
  • Spiritual Alertness:

It begins by seeking and knowing Jesus.  Paul urges the Roman Christians to wake up!  Why?  Because of the nature of time and because time is short here on earth.   Our world is getting worse and worse day by day.  So, what are we Christians doing?  Has our way of living changed to accommodate our world with its worldliness and ungodliness?  Are we seeking to be like Jesus more and more, the way He demands that we live?  Are we seeking to make this world better by teaching them the Gospel Message to change their sinful way of living?    

Paul is speaking about awakening from spiritual sleep.  Sleep is a figure that implies moral inattention, indifference and carelessness which permits sin.  The Lord has exhorted us to not sleep as others do, but to watch and be sober.  He wants us to awaken to righteousness and stop sinning.  He wants us to arise from the dead so that Christ can give us His light.  Paul makes an urgent plea to the Roman Christians and it is a plea to us as well today, for our eternal salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  So when is that day of salvation?  Mark 13:32 gives us an answer.  "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  Also, Paul spoke of that day saying, "For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape."  (1 Thess. 5:2-3).  Peter spoke of that day saying, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed."  (2 Peter 3:10).  John said of that day, "Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you... Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!"  (Revelation 3:3; 16:15).  

So what shall we do then?  We must be vigilant in this present time, (Romans 13:11).  We must understand the present time like the men of Issachar "who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do."  (2 Chronicles 12:32).  We must understand that this present time is the age of salvation, grace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This age or season began with the church in Acts 2 and will not end until Jesus our Lord comes again.  God has given us wisdom and part of that wisdom is to understand that our time is short and that we must be on the alert for Jesus' return.  Thus we must increase our watchfulness.  Sadly, many people are hypnotized by the rhythm of life and this culture as if it had no bearing on eternity.  Some dare to laugh at those who warn them of Jesus' return, (2 Peter 3:3-4).

"For now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed."  

According to this Scripture, how can our salvation be closer if it has already happened?  Weren't we saved through the plan of salvation?  Well, our salvation has three tenses:  past, present, and future.  
    1. Justification - past salvation is the moment when we obeyed God, His Gospel (we believed, repented, confessed and were baptized) and our sins were washed away by the blood of Christ. We were sealed by the Holy Spirit, and Jesus' blood redeemed us from our sins.  It was the moment we were buried with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection through baptism to remove our sins, (Romans 6:4, 6-7).  
    2. Present salvation is the ongoing process of growth, (Romans 12:1-2).  It is where we are growing in Christ and living a holy life.  Through our justification in Christ, we are sanctified, (2 The. 2:13; 1 Thess. 5:23).  There is no salvation apart from sanctification.  If one does not walk by faith and desire to grow and be holy, then neither is he being justified.  There must be a change.  
    3. Future salvation is glorification.  This is when the Lord Jesus comes back for His church, (1 Peter 1:21).  We will finally be freed from the presence of sin, (Revelation 21:27).  This day is "nearer than when we first believed."  When Jesus rose from the dead through the power of God, He ascended to heaven where He was glorified as King of kings and Lord of lords.  One day we will be raised from the dead with a new body, and we will be glorified and go to heaven to be with Christ, (1 John 3:2).  Romans 13 talks about our final salvation which is nearer than we first believed.   

So knowing that our salvation is nearer than when we first believed, let us wake up and listen to His voice and spend time knowing Him better through His Word that we might be able to imitate Him in everything.  Let us spend more time in prayer and let us tell others the way of salvation that they might be saved from the wrath of God.  Every day that we sleep is a lost opportunity to serve.  Remember, the devil is prowling about, seeking to destroy us.  Therefore, we must lay aside or cast away the works of darkness, (John 3:20).  We must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them, (Eph. 5:11).  Wake up and get busy!  For the end of time is almost here and we don't have much time to waste.  We must go about our Father's business and do the work Jesus has left us to do for Him, which is saving souls!  


II.   LAYING ASIDE THE DEEDS OF DARKNESS:   (Verses 12b-14)
"Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." 
  • Putting On the Armor of Light:   (12b, 14; Ephesians 6:13-17) 

As God's children of Light, we must wait victoriously, (Romans 13:14) putting on the armor of Light.  The whole armor of God is the Truth or the Gospel, (1 Thess. 5:8).  God's armor is a defensive weapon against temptation, (Eph. 6:11).  It is an offensive weapon against the power of evil or darkness, (Eph. 6:17).  It is a fighting harness that provides us with service to Christ, (2 Peter 1:3).  It is the proper garb of righteousness, (Phil. 3:9).  If darkness is to flee from us and we must resist the devil, we must put on the armor of light and submit to God's will.  God's children are of the light and sons of the day.  We do not belong to the night or darkness, because we are sober, on the alert, and self-disciplined, (1 Thess. 5:4-6).  We must fight the dark side, grow up, stop acting like children and put aside the deeds of darkness. When we allow the Light to guide our footsteps, there will be no room for any kind of darkness or evil.  When we fill up our lives with God's will, we find the cure for the deeds of darkness, filling up our life with the deeds of righteousness.  Thus, we must put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of Light.  We cannot afford to let Satan reign in our hearts. Christ alone must reign there. He must be the only one who is allowed to rule our hearts.  We must not let darkness be more prevalent.  We must not be insensitive to the deeds of darkness even though we are surrounded by them.  We need to keep them out!
  1. Those in Christ have already put on Christ, (Gal. 3:27).
  2. Those in Christ have been commanded to put on Christ, (Rom. 13:14).
  3. Those in Christ have already put on the new self/man, (Col. 3:10).
  4. Those in Christ are commanded to put on the new self/man, (Eph. 4:24).
  5. Those in Christ must put on the whole armor of God, (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 6:11, 14; 1 Thess. 5:8).
  6. Those in Christ must put on love and other virtues, (Col. 3:12; 3:14).
  7. Those in Christ will one day put on imperishable, immortal, heavenly bodies, (1 Cor. 15:33).
  8. Those in Christ have already put off self/man, (Col. 3:9).
  9. Those in Christ are commanded to put off the old self/man, (Eph. 4:22).
  10. Those in Christ must put away all sin and all evil or lawlessness:  sinful, bad habits, vices, (Eph. 4:25; Rom. 13:12; Heb. 12:1; James 1:21; 1 Pet. 2:1).
  • How We Must Walk:  (Verse 13-14)

Our walk refers to our conduct.  This Scripture speaks of a positive walk, that we must walk.  There is also a negative walk in which we must not walk!  For Christians, there is a code of behavior, for we are children of the day and not the night.  This leads us to how we must not walk:  "not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy."  Children of Lightdo not walk in sexual immorality and debauchery, dissension and jealousy (seeking to tear others down to make us feel better), but rather we renounce these practices.  Sadly, self-centered Christians are more concerned with ego than with Christ, edging God out.  In the light of our salvation, we must lay aside the deeds of darknessbehave properly as in the day, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is talking deliberately, purposefully, significantly and permanently about putting aside the things of the old life, the old man of sin.  The old life or the old man must die and not be conformed to the pattern of this world.  As those who have been raised to live in newness of life, we must not give into temptations or make concession to sin.  We must take off our "night clothes" of sin and put on our day clothes of righteousness.  We cannot be Christ's followers and live our old, sinful life as well.  Rather, we must be continually putting on the Lord Jesus Christ and taking off the flesh at the same time, denouncing the old, sinful habits and removing them.  We put Christ on and imitate Him!  So we must acknowledge that Christ is coming again and that we must be watchful, on constant guard against our old sinful ways.  The good news is that the night (sinful life) is nearly over and the day (eternal life) is almost here.  Because of this we must cast off or lay aside the works of darkness.  Satan has already played all his cards, and we have victory on our side.  As good soldierswe must buckle on the "armor of light" and be prepared to make our stand!

Jesus died that cruel death on the cross and conquered death that we might have redemption and the hope of eternal life, (1 Cor. 15:57).  When the Spirit of Christ reigns and dwells in us, we cannot let evil enter our hearts.  God abhors evil and sin.  This is why He sent His Son to die so that He might conquer evil and death.  When we obey the Gospel and are baptized into Christ, we are clothed with Christ, and He must live in us!  We must live by faith, trusting Him and His Word completely.
"And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret."  (Eph. 5:11-12).  

The closer we walk in intimate fellowship with God, doing His will, the more spiritually aware we are going to be and the more we will expose the works of darkness.  How then, do we expose the works of darkness? By merely rebuking them and not participating in them!  The more we put on the armor of Light, the more we are going to shut the door to evil or lawlessness and refuse to take part in it and not welcome it to dine with us.  We must keep our hearts airtight closed off from sin.
"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.  Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?  We are not stronger than He, are we?"  (1 Cor. 10:21-22)

Evil is opposite to the righteousness of God.  We cannot mix righteousness with evil, for we have been commanded to hate evil and have no fellowship with it.  We must reflect God's Light in our way of living.  We must not justify evil as harmless.  Unfortunately, evil comes in many forms: in our media, our books, our schools.... and it is marketed to our children and our people.  Satan makes it look very appealing and popular. Satan is very astute and subtle in his evil ways.  We welcome evil because we think it is cute.  No! It is dangerous!  Evil enters our hearts, our minds, and our souls slowly and steadily.  It is a slow and gradual process that leads to the destruction of our souls.  It hardens our hearts to righteousness, (Amos 5:15).


CONCLUSION:

The Word of God plainly exhorts and warns us not to be deceived, for God is not mocked.  Whatever we sow, we shall also reap.  If we sow to the flesh, then we will reap the corruption of our own flesh.  Sowing to the flesh will lead to corruption.  But if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap everlasting lifeNo one can escape that Truth!  We Christian must sow seeds of faithfulness and righteousness.  God expects His children to stand for righteousness and against the pleasures of this world.  We must stand for the Truth and that which is right.  Likewise, we must stand against that which is darkness and lawlessness!  We are commanded not to love the evil things of this life, for if we love them, we are not loving God.  God comes first, not the pleasures of this life:  the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  We must oppose the works of darkness, for if we don't stand against them, we will be desensitized to sin, and we may begin to tolerate it in others, to accept those who practice it, to engage in sin ourselves and to defend the practice of sin.  When we refuse to stand against the deeds of darkness and sinwe embrace it and even justify it.  Therefore, we must hate every false way, (Psalm 119:128).  

We must hate sin and its dark works.  We must stand against every form of error, doctrinally and morally.  We must stand against the pleasures of the world. Otherwise, we will fall for them!  You see, the devil is no fool, for he has plenty of devices, wiles, and snares to deceive us, (Eph. 6:11).  He will get us if we let him!  One of his most powerful tools of deception is the gradual acceptance of sin.  For instance, if we refuse to stand against sexual immoralitywe run the risk of practicing it sooner or later!  If we don't stand against the works of darkness, we will sooner or later be practicing it, perhaps even without knowing it.   Satan will be happy if we slowly proceed in his direction, with baby steps, steps toward destruction.  It all starts by tolerating and embracing sin.  Take heed!

Although our Lord Jesus dwelt among sinners and ministered to them, He did not participate in their unfruitful works of darkness.  He soundly rebuked them, laying them aside and not partaking of them.  God hates sin and so must we, and indeed be imitators of Christ, (1 Cor. 11:1).  The pleasures of sin, works of darkness, are temporary and do not bring us peace and satisfaction but condemnation, God's wrath.  The Lord's church will not grow properly and be pure if we Christians don't actively oppose sin and its works of darkness.  We must stand against sin and overcome it by putting on the whole armor of God.

So, the hour has come for us to wake up from our slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.  So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the whole armor of Light.  This puts urgency in our Message, for we have little time.  Life in the flesh is night and eternity is day.  Thus, we must surrender and obey Christ, grow and serve Him.  God calls us to change and be transformed into His likeness, putting off the things of the night, sinful things, and putting on His armor of Light and living like Jesus our Lord.  It is time to wake up, for the Lord may come today or we may stand in His presence much sooner than we expect!  Are you ready?

Let's not be arrogant, uncircumcised in our hearts and resistant to God's Truth.  Let us love righteousness and hate evil by putting on the armor of Light in place of darkness.  Let's make it our goal to imitate what is good and not evil.  If we indeed are sons of God who claim to have fellowship with Him, let's then do good and hate darkness.  Let's not be deceived by it and become enslaved to the evil works of darkness.  Let's not be yoked with the fruits of darkness; let us not have fellowship with lawlessness.  Instead let us be partakers of righteousness, loving and walking in His light.  
"You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did."  (Acts 7:51).

So as true children of God, let us clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Let us act, talk and behave decently or properly as in the daytime like those who walk in the light of Christ.  Most people do their evil works at night when none can easily see them.  That is when most people often get into various kinds of trouble.  We must live as if God is watching us, and as a matter of fact, He is!  We were once darkness but now are light in the Lord.  We must live as children of Light and please the Lord and have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather expose them, (Eph. 5:8-17).  So let us clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus and refuse to indulge in the desires of the flesh and make provisions for it, ( 2 Cor. 6:14-15).

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."  (Matthew 5:14-16).

May we watch vigilantly and understand that our time here on earth is short and that our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  May we war valiantly and lay aside the evil works of darkness, our old life, and put on the garments of Light.   May we buckle on the armor of Light and prepare to make our stand as good soldiers of Christ.  May we walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel and renounce to sin.  May we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus and wait victoriously.  May we never make provision for the flesh regarding its lusts.  May we wake up to the Light of God and dress up with the Light of God.  May we take off our night clothes of sin and put on our day clothes of righteousness.  And finally, may we wake up and rise to obedience to Christ, for this is the life that pleases God.

Luci