Vindicate Me, O Lord

Very often when we are discouraged, our enemy is very adept at tempting us to focus on our suffering, to the exclusion of other, more important things. Yes, I did say “more important things.” This may difficult to accept, especially if you are currently suffering, but yes, there are things more important than your suffering.

I don’t mean to sound insensitive. The “more important things” to which I refer are things to do with your spiritual well-being. Using the term in a broad sense, I mean your integrity, especially before God.

Psalm 26 is a great example of the prayer of one who is suffering from what life sometimes deals all of us. When you suffer, in your cry for relief, remember to trust in the Lord without wavering, to walk in His truth. Learn to hate the assembly of evildoers and do not sit with the wicked. In short, do those things David said he had done in order to be able to confidently stand and await God’s judgment.

In so doing, even if your suffering in this life is terminal, you will triumph in the righteous judgment of God. Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

A Good Reason for Fear

“Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:20). Moses spoke these words in response to the fear the Israelites expressed over the awe-inspiring (and terrifying) spectacle of the giving of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:18, 19).

I find here an interesting point, along with our word of encouragement. Notice that Moses begins by saying, “Do not be afraid.” One can imagine a soothing tone with those words. However, he goes on to say that God had a reason for this demonstration: He was testing them and wants their fear of Him to stick with them!

That may be difficult to comprehend, but the fact is, there is such a thing as healthy fear. God wants you to know that no matter how much you suffer in this life, there is hope of something better (Titus 2:11-14). However, that hope comes with instructions and warnings about the alternative and responsibility on our part.

Love God. Obey His commands. Keep a healthy fear of the alternative in your heart, and remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Let It Go

This may surprise some, but I love that song (and the movie). However, I had in mind another source for this post, than the one of which the title reminded you.

I suppose all of us have negatives in our lives, from circumstances to acquaintances. The apostle Paul acknowledged such negatives in his own life. He identified Timothy and Epaphroditus as two bright lights among many negative people in his own life; people who “seek after their own interests,” people he called “dogs,” “evil workers,” “the false circumcision” and “enemies of the cross” (Philippians 2:19 – 3:19).

Two points about this text will help us overcome the negatives in our lives. First, we must “let it go”; we must forget what lies behind and press on to what lies ahead, the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (3:13, 14). Second, we must follow Paul’s example and the example of those who walk according to the pattern left to us in God’s Word (3:17). If we do, there is coming a day in our future when there will be no more negatives!

Let it go! You’ll be glad you did!! Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

I Will Call Upon the Lord

A favorite song around here gives us the title of today’s post. The first few lines come from Psalm 18:3: I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies (KJV). The rest of the song comes from Psalm 18:46: The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock and let the God of my salvation be exalted (KJV). It’s a popular song because of both the music and the sentiment, but some background to the song in our hymnals should give us our word of encouragement.

What caused David to express his exaltation of His God, His Rock, might strike you the same way. Read verses 4 and 6 of this text: The cords of death encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness terrified me…In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears (NASB).

Sound familiar? Open your Bibles and read this whole psalm (especially verses 7-19) and then say, with the psalmist, “Yes, I will call upon the Lord!”

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

The Lord is Not Restrained

I have written before in this blog about my affinity for heroic stories, especially those found in Scripture. I find the idea of standing bravely in the face of (seemingly) overwhelming odds for a noble cause to be inspiring.

On the other hand, many find themselves in that position, not because of some noble motive, but simply because of life’s circumstances. Is there a word of encouragement for them?

In 1 Samuel 14, King Saul’s son Jonathan had an idea to take on some Philistines without his father’s knowledge. With only his armor bearer, he snuck over to the enemy’s camp. What he said to the young man with him gives us our word of encouragement. He said, “…perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6). Even though the enemy saw them coming, these two young men killed twenty of the enemy.

It may seem that you are facing 10-1 odds in your struggles in life, but the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few. You, with Him by your side, can overcome.

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Who May Abide?

One of the saddest characteristics of discouragement is the feeling that one is not worthy enough for God’s grace. That feeling very often leads to despair and resignation in the face of sin and temptation. If one has no hope, why try to do right?

Well, on the subject of not being worthy enough, ease your mind. None of the rest of us is worthy enough, either! Jesus died on the cross for us while we were helpless, sinners, even enemies of God (Romans 5:6-10).

So, if none of us deserves God’s grace, how does anyone receive it? Many are the passages telling us what we must do, and we must take the whole of what Scripture says. However, there are a number of passages that boil it down for us into more general terms. One I ran across this morning is: O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart (Psalm 15:1, 2).

God’s grace is offered to you, if you submit to His idea of integrity, righteousness and truth! Praise God!! Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

That We May Not Die

When the Israelites saw that the nations around them had a king, they wanted one, too. Up to this point, God had led Israel through men He raised up to judge them. Now, they were rejecting God as their King for a man (1 Samuel 8:7).

In 1 Samuel 12 Samuel explained that the nation had done evil in this decision, but there was still hope. The statement Israel made is one that echoes down through the centuries: “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for a king” (1 Samuel 12:19).

Have you ever thought of your sins this way? Samuel does not excuse their sin and neither should we. Sin put Jesus on the cross. Samuel’s response, however, should give us hope: “Do not fear. You have committed…evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:20).

The New Testament tells us how to serve Him with all our heart. We now have hope to avoid eternal death because God loves you and I wanted you to know that, because I love you, too.

Donnie Bates