Friday, May 20, 2016

May 21, 2016

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. The law of the Lord is perfect,  refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.  The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.  Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."  Psalm 19 

What causes you to praise?

That's a pretty good question to consider, isn't it?

Do you know how to answer it?

Let me offer a suggestion how you should answer it. This answer is not original to me, I am taking it from the Psalmist. Who knew how to praise better than he did?

What should inspire you to praise? Here's what caused King David to praise:

The first six verses make it clear that he was thrilled by the creation he saw around him.

Dozens of times during a typical day you are confronted by the amazing beauty of nature. Whether it is a dazzling sunrise, a clear blue sky, the songs of birds serenading you in the morning, the power of a thunderstorm, or a huge harvest moon at night, God's handiwork is hard to ignore.

Will you vow to take notice of how inspiring nature is from now on? Will you begin with your waking moments tomorrow and then consciously enjoy His interacting with your world through out they rest of the day? See how that affects your spirit.

That is reason for praise!

In the next verses, 7 through 11, the Psalmist was thrilled by what God was creating in him.

Unlike many who seem to thing the Bible is restrictive and negative in its tone, the Psalmist felt exactly the opposite. Look at the sense of excitement he expresses for the Word of God. Consider these phrases:

"Life for the soul", wisdom for the simple", "joy for the heart", "giving light to the eyes", "pure", "more precious than gold", and "sweeter than honey".

The stories, the truths, the wisdom, and the practical teachings of the Word of God give deeper insights into the heart and mind of God. Though His Word you can get to know Him intimately and not just from a distance. It is good to know nature but it is far better to get to know His nature!

That is reason for praise!

Finally, verses 12-14 give one more reason to praise, he was thrilled not only by what God had created and what God was creating in him through His Word, but he was also praising God for what He was creating through him. II Corinthians 5:17 declares he is a "new creation".

The Word of God is pure and powerful and active in the life of one who receives it gladly with obedience. As it recreates the person from the inside out, that person begins to have a positive impact on the world around him.

That is reason for praise!

Why do you praise?

You praise Him for what He has created! You praise Him for what He is creating in you! You praise Him for what He is creating through you!

The Intellectually Superior Philosophy

These days it seems fashionable to be identified as an atheist. Atheism has gained an exalted place in our modern culture because it is portrayed as an intellectually superior philosophy. But is it really?

Here's what the Bible says,

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."    I Corinthians 1:18-22

The great British preacher, Charles Spurgeon once said, "There are no atheists anywhere but on earth. There are none in heaven, and there are none in hell. Atheism is a strange thing. Even the devils never fell into that vice, for 'the devils also believe and tremble' (James 2:19). And there are some of the devil's children that have gone beyond their father in sin. But when God's foot crushes them, they will not be able doubt His existence. When He tears them in pieces and there is none to deliver, then their empty logic and their bravados will be of no avail."

So, what do we need to understand about these who arrogantly deny the existence of God and who demean those who believe in Him?

1) Most of them carry spiritual and emotional baggage that are the real reasons behind their refusal to believe. Unfortunately, their reasons for not believing have little to do with God and much to do with misconceptions about Him. Perhaps they have been disappointed by faith or by a person of faith. Maybe they were hurt by a church or damaged by a parent who used faith to shield their abusive behavior. They project their disillusions onto God.

2) Atheism is often portrayed as the modern and trendy way to think and people of faith are belittled as archaic and backward in their thinking. The truth is that people have been rebelling against God and trying to rationalize Him away since the Garden of Eden. Unbelief is nearly as old as belief.

3) An atheist's claim that there is no God is intellectually dishonest for this reason, it is an attempt to make humans into gods. That, in a way, is the ultimate irony: atheists in their denial of God, cannot help but replace the truly omniscient God with a cheap imitation - themselves.

4) Also, his claim that God doesn't exist is intellectually inconsistent because the only way that could be true is if the atheist knew everything it is possible to know. Otherwise, it would be possible for God to exist but that He existed outside of his knowledge or beyond his ability to know. Since there has never been an omniscient human being, there has never been an honest atheist.

5) God believes in atheists even if they don't believe in Him and He sent His Son to die for them. So we should pray for them and reach out to them in love. We should live our lives in ways that make God seem real.

Lest we be too negative toward atheists, let me remind you that at times each of us behave as practical atheists. How is that? When we know what the Bible says and we fail to obey it, we are acting as though there is no God - or as if we are gods. 

Before we criticize or condemn them, let's repent of our own disbelief and rebellion. God help us, so we can help them.