Archive for the 'Bible' Category

God Hates?

And God commends people for hating the evil that others are doing. What about “do not judge”? (Sarcasm) More on that later.

It seems that much of the church may need to be more aware that we are living with/before God and that he isn’t always happy about everything, and he isn’t always satisfied with believers, and especially not with those who are faking it. He doesn’t always “meet us where we’re at”, whatever that means. But praise God that he covers the sins of believers and doesn’t hold them against us. In addition, that we are in his favor (Luke 2:14). It may sound strange, but God doesn’t just love us because of what his Son did for us on the cross, but he also likes us. That he is always for us (Romans 8:31-32). And that he is holy x3 (Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8).

You have endured, suffered trouble because of my name, and have not grown weary. 4 However, I have this against you: The love you had at first is gone. 5 Remember how far you have fallen. Return to me and change the way you think and act [repent], and do what you did at first. I will come to you and take your lamp stand from its place if you don’t change. 6 But you have this in your favor-you hate what the Nicolaitans are doing. I also hate what they’re doing.
Revelation 2:3-6

Do not judge people who hate the evil that people do, based on their right assessment (judgement) of it, or those who point attention to it in a way that benefits others.

Anybody have another reference for being in God’s favor? There’s one I’m not finding.

Also see:
God's Love In The Bible and Evangelicals View of It | Scripture Zealot blog

Moderation Schmoderation

I believe in optimalation (or optimisation if you prefer) rather than moderation, which I’ve never really believed in. Scripture calls for ‘all’, ‘everything’, ‘more and more’ too often for me to believe in moderation in everything. Maybe I’m too much into the radical and crazy.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5

He said to all of them, “Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses every day, and follow me.
Luke 9:23

Always be joyful.
Never stop praying.
Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We always have to thank God for you, brothers and sisters. It’s right to do this because your faith is showing remarkable growth and your love for each other is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3

I found that most of the ‘extreme’ references have to do with love.

Before any of you wish to correct me, this should be tempered with the many things that really do need moderation.

When you find honey, eat only as much as you need.
Otherwise, you will have too much and vomit.
Proverbs 25:16

This is actually the verse that spurred on this post. (I got my days mixed up and read chapter 25 on the 26th and vice versa.)

Some commentators even widen this to the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. I don’t think at this time in this world it’s a problem for most people though.

Keil and Delitzsch on the above verse:

That it is not to be understood in a purely dietetic sense (although thus interpreted it is a rule not to be despised), is self-evident. As one can suffer injury from the noblest of food if he overload his stomach therewith, so in the sphere of science, instruction, edification, there is an injurious overloading of the mind; we ought to measure what we receive by our spiritual want, the right distribution of enjoyment and labour, and the degree of our ability to change it in succum et sanguinem, – else it at last awakens in us dislike, and becomes an evil to us.

Can one gain too much true spiritual knowledge at once? Study too much even if it isn’t to the detriment of other things in life?

The beginning of wisdom is to acquire wisdom.
Acquire understanding with all that you have.
Proverbs 4:7

If you think you’re wise, you’re probably not

God wants us to compare ourselves to him and know that wisdom comes from him. If you have other verses/passages on that, let me know. There isn’t much difference between a fool and a wise person when we compare ourselves to God, which should keep us humble. The more we know, the more we know how much we don’t know–if we’re doing it right–along with wisdom.

These are all NLT because I like how it renders 1 Corinthians 3:18, and I usually try not to use a bunch of translations in one post. [Edited for clarity.]

There is more hope for fools
than for people who think they are wise.
Proverbs 26:12 NLT

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.
1 Corinthians 3:18

For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?
1 Corinthians 4:7

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
James 3:13-17

God Is Spirit and So Are We

There are two messages to this post:

  1. Isn’t it amazing that being made in God’s image, we are also spiritual beings? The fact that we are able to be reborn spiritually, and with God’s Spirit in us is amazing beyond explanation or comprehension.
  2. This can only come from God. We can’t intellectualize ourselves into the Kingdom or just make a statement and then do nothing or have nothing to show for it.

This came about from reading the book that the quote below is from. I added some emphasis in the first two Scripture quotes so that hopefully you’ll see what I’m getting at. (Good luck.)

God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind.
Genesis 1:25 NLT

Then God said, “Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness.
Genesis 1:26 GW

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stubborn hearts and give you obedient hearts. I will put my Spirit in you. I will enable you to live by my laws, and you will obey my rules.
Ezekiel 36:26-27

However, he gave the right to become God’s children to everyone who believed in him. These people didn’t become God’s children in a physical way-from a human impulse or from a husband’s desire to have a child. They were born from God.
John 1:12-13

Flesh and blood give birth to flesh and blood, but the Spirit gives birth to things that are spiritual. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that all of you must be born from above. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it’s going. That’s the way it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
John 3:6-8

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them.”
John 14:23

Those who obey Christ’s commandments live in God, and God lives in them. We know that he lives in us because he has given us the Spirit.
1 John 3:24

We know that we live in him and he lives in us because he has given us his Spirit. We have seen and testify to the fact that the Father sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God lives in those who declare that Jesus is the Son of God, and they live in God.
1 John 4:13-15

Being born again is not only a confession. D.A. Carson says, “Where there is new birth, you will always see the results.” [Emphasis is his.] New birth has not necessarily taken place because “somebody’s made a commitment to Jesus.” Where there is new birth–where it has genuinely come from God–you will see transformation. You will see change in the life. That does not mean that people have suddenly reached perfection: we shall have more Christian growth and Christian failures in due course. But where new birth takes place, there is a change of direction, or origin. There is a cleaning up in the life. There is a transformation. There is a beginning of life from God himself that shapes our existence in a new direction.

–D.A. Carson, The God Who Is There

You give glory to my Father when you produce a lot of fruit and therefore show that you are my disciples.
John 15:8

As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

The New Covenant is still an agreement.

But now Christ has brought you back to God by dying in his physical body. He did this so that you could come into God’s presence without sin, fault, or blame. This is on the condition that you continue in faith without being moved from the solid foundation of the hope that the Good News contains.
Colossians 1:22-23

But the fruit comes from God.

You didn’t choose me, but I chose you. I have appointed you to go, to produce fruit that will last, and to ask the Father in my name to give you whatever you ask for.
John 15:16

I don’t mean to make a portrayal that seems to remove any responsibility on our part.

He gave the right to become God’s children to everyone who believed in him. These people didn’t become God’s children in a physical way-from a human impulse or from a husband’s desire to have a child. They were born from God.
John 1:12-13

How these two sides of God’s truth—His sovereignty in choosing us (Romans 9) and our responsibility to confess and believe (Romans 10)—reconcile is impossible for us to understand fully. But Scripture declares both perspectives of salvation to be true (John 1:12-13). It’s our duty to acknowledge both and joyfully accept them by faith.

–John MacArthur

Sproul Quote

Would God Take His Holy Spirit From David or Us?

I was thinking that naturally, the Holy Spirit, Spirit of holiness, or Spirit of God was thought of differently in Old Testament times than when after God’s Kingdom broke into this world (Luke 17:21). If we have been born again, we don’t need to worry about God taking His Holy Spirit from us.

Here is a great concise answer by a Facebook friend of mine:
“David’s anxious plea is not meant to cast a shadow on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints but an indicator of the human anxiety that naturally befalls man on account of sin.”
–Warren Cruz via Facebook

Treasury of David – Spurgeon’s commentary and collections of writings on them:

Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Withdraw not his comforts, counsels, assistances, quickenings, else I am indeed as a dead man. Do not leave me as thou didst Saul, when neither by Urim, nor by prophet, nor by dream, thou wouldst answer him. Thy Spirit is my wisdom, leave me not to my folly; he is my strength, O desert me not to my own weakness. Drive me not away from thee, neither do thou go away from me. Keep up the union between us, which is my only hope of salvation. It will be a great wonder if so pure a spirit deigns to stay in so base a heart as mine; but then, Lord, it is all wonder together, therefore do this, for thy mercy’s sake, I earnestly entreat thee.
–Charles Spurgeon

Verse 11. Cast me not away. Lord, though I, alas! have cast thee from me, yet cast me not away: hide not thy face from me, although I so often have refused to look at thee; leave me not without help, to perish in my sins, though I have aforetime left thee.
–Fra Thomé de Jesu.

John Calvin:
Verse 11. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. The words of this verse imply that the Spirit had not altogether been taken away from him, however much his gifts had been temporarily obscured…Upon one point he had fallen into a deadly lethargy, but he was not “given over to a reprobate mind; “and it is scarcely conceivable that the rebuke of Nathan the prophet should have operated so easily and suddenly in arousing him had there been no latent spark of godliness still remaining…The truth on which we are now insisting is an important one, as many learned men have been inconsiderately drawn into the opinion that the elect, by falling into mortal sin, may lose the Spirit altogether, and be alienated from God. The contrary is clearly declared by Peter, who tells us that the word by which we are born again is an incorruptible seed 1Pe 1:23; and John is equally explicit in informing us that the elect are preserved from falling away altogether. 1Jo 3:9. However much they may appear for a time to have been cast off by God, it is afterwards seen that grace must have been alive in their breasts even during that interval when it seemed to be extinct. Nor is there any force in the objection that David speaks as if he feared that he might be deprived of the Spirit. It is natural that the saints, when they have fallen into sin, and have thus done what they could to expel the grace of God, should feel an anxiety upon this point; but it is their duty to hold fast the truth, that grace is the incorruptible seed of God, which never can perish in any heart where it has been deposited. This is the spirit displayed by David. Reflecting upon his offence, he is agitated with fears, and yet rests in the persuasion that, being a child of God, he would not be deprived of what, indeed, he had justly forfeited.

ESV Study Bible Note:
Ps. 51:11 take not your Holy Spirit from me. Some have taken this to imply that the Holy Spirit can be taken from someone, at least in the OT; others have suggested that the Holy Spirit is viewed here in his role of empowering David for his kingly duties, and that this is a prayer that God not take the kingship and the divine anointing for kingship from David as he did from Saul (see note on 1 Sam. 16:14; cf. 1 Sam. 16:13). To evaluate these views, one should observe that the OT rarely discusses the Holy Spirit’s role in cleansing the inner life (besides here, Ezek. 36:27 is the main OT text on the subject), and certainly does not enter into technical questions of the Spirit’s permanent indwelling. Further, the fact that this is a psalm for the whole congregation argues against the idea that this is David’s personal prayer about his kingship. The whole tenor of this psalm is that, if strict justice were God’s only consideration, he would have the right to bring dire judgment on those who sin (which includes all of his own people), and that the only possible appeal is to his mercy. The function of the psalm, as a song sung by the entire congregation, is to shape their hearts so that they feel this at the deepest level, lest they ever presume upon God’s grace.

NLT Study Bible:
your Holy Spirit: Or your spirit of holiness. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can change the human will to make it “loyal” (51:10) and “willing to obey”

‎”You haven’t really understood Psalm 51 until you have realized that every word of this penitential psalm cries for Jesus. Every promise embedded in this psalm looks for fulfillment in Jesus. Every need of Psalm 51 reaches out for help in Jesus. Every commitment of Psalm 51 honors Jesus. The sin that’s at the heart of this psalm will only ever find its cure in the grace of Jesus.

Yes, Psalm 51 is a prayer of confession. And it’s true that Psalm 51 is all about what true repentance produces in the heart and life of a man. Psalm 51 defines how true repentance always produces heartfelt worship. But more than anything else, Psalm 51 is Immanuel’s hymn. The forgiveness of Psalm 51 rests on the shoulders of the One whose name would be Immanuel. The Jesus who would provide everything that David (and we) need took a glorious name. It is a name whose implications are almost too wonderful to grasp and too lofty to imagine. It’s a name that summarizes everything the biblical narrative is about.”

–Paul David Tripp, Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, went through a period of two years where he felt very far from God. In his autobiography wrote that the words of Psalm 77 kept invading his mind: “Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again show me favor?”
–Found in The One Year Book of Psalms

The Scriptures are sufficient by Thomas Brooks

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Scriptures are sufficient . . .
to inform the ignorant,
to confute the erroneous,
to reform the wicked, and
to guide and direct, support and comfort, the godly.

Here a lamb may wade, and here an elephant may swim!

Here is milk for babes, and meat for strong men!

Here is . . .
comfort for the afflicted, and
support for the tempted, and
ease for the troubled, and
light for the clouded, and
enlargement for the straitened, etc.

Oh,
how full of light,
how full of life,
how full of love,
how full of sweetness,
how full of goodness,
how full of righteousness,
how full of holiness, etc.,
is every chapter, and every verse in every
chapter, yes, and every line in every verse!

No human writings are comparable to Scripture:

  1. for antiquity;
  2. for rarity;
  3. for variety;
  4. for brevity;
  5. for plainness;
  6. for harmony;
  7. for verity.

All which should greatly encourage Christians to a
serious perusal of them. “Oh, how I love Your law!
I meditate on it all day long.” Psalm 119:97

Comfort for the Suffering

O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart;
you will incline your ear
Psalm 10:17 ESV

My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
Psalm 119:28

The next three go together. “Share in the inheritance of the saints” is eternal life.

This is my comfort in my distress, that your promise gives me life.
Psalm 119:50 NRSV

may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Colossians 1:11b-12 NRSV

I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18 GNB

This one is key for me. The glory that will be revealed will be so immeasurably better than the worst suffering, that it will have been worth it for what we will have then. It doesn’t lessen the suffering now, but it gives us some hope by faith.

The next two go together. The trinitarian God knows.

As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:13-14

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8 If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9 Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live?10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness.
Hebrews 12:7-10

Trusting God

Don’t trust people to make the world right.

Stop trusting people. Their life is in their nostrils. How can they be worth anything?
Isaiah 2:22

Politicians can’t do what God can.

Do not trust influential people,
mortals who cannot help you.
4 When they breathe their last breath,
they return to the ground.
On that day their plans come to an end.
5 Blessed are those who receive help from the God of Jacob.
Their hope rests on the LORD their God,
6 who made heaven, earth, the sea, and everything in them.
The LORD remains faithful forever.
Psalm 146:3-6

Don’t be preoccupied with evil people and envy what they get away with. Keep looking up. Could this mean not being overly preoccupied with certain causes?

By David. Do not be preoccupied with evildoers.
Do not envy those who do wicked things.
2 They will quickly dry up like grass
and wither away like green plants.
3 Trust the LORD, and do good things.
Live in the land, and practice being faithful.
4 Be happy with the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Entrust your ways to the LORD.
Trust him, and he will act on your behalf.
6 He will make your righteousness shine like a light,
your just cause like the noonday sun.
7 Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him.
Do not be preoccupied with an evildoer
who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes.
8 Let go of anger, and leave rage behind.
Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil.
Psalm 37:1-8

Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things that are above-where Christ holds the highest position. 2 Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things. 3 You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Christ is your life. When he appears, then you, too, will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4

When believers question their faith because they envy the prosperity and power of unbelievers, they can regain a proper perspective on life and confirm their faith by seeking God in the sanctuary where they will be reminded of their glorious and eternal relationship with the LORD in contrast to the sudden destruction of the wicked.

Allan Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms, Volume 2, on Psalm 73

We can’t even trust ourselves; for some strange reason we often prefer to.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

This is what the Almighty LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: You can be saved by returning to me. You can have rest. You can be strong by being quiet and by trusting me. But you don’t want that.
Isaiah 30:15

Trust the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths smooth.
Proverbs 3:5-6

We suffered so that we would stop trusting ourselves and learn to trust God, who brings the dead back to life.
2 Corinthians 1:9

Book Review: A Commentary On The Psalms Vol. 2 by Allen P. Ross

commentary-psalms-rossA Commentary On The Psalms Volume 2 (42-89) by Allen P. Ross

Stay tuned for an exclusive quote from the commentary on this blog.

You can read my review of Volume 1 here on Scripture Zealot blog. I will re-iterate some of what was written there in the beginning portion. I read the exposition of Genesis by Ross entitled Creation and Blessing and became a fan of him and his style. That exposition was perfect for me and my level of knowledge as is this commentary/exposition of the Psalms. According to Ross it’s “for pastors, teachers and all serious students of the Bible.” This commentary isn’t quite as academic as Goldingay’s, but it’s also not for new Christians. It’s very thorough, and didn’t leave me wanting. In fact, he answers questions I didn’t know I had.

Volume 2 isn’t as long as the first one, being about 100 pages shorter at 841. This is because it doesn’t have the excellent introduction that’s in Volume 1. It starts right off with Psalm 42. There is no index of any kind at the end of this volume or Volume 1, so I would assume that Volume 3 will. Volume 2 is exactly the same color and height as Volume 1, so they will look good next to each other on your bookshelf. The cover art is on the cover itself, so it doesn’t have a dust jacket, which I like.

The first section for each Psalm is the Introduction that includes Text and Textual Variants, which is the author’s own translation and plenty of footnotes on words, phrases and comparisons to the Greek version, which is very educational and is but one of the strengths of the commentary. I always like reading the author’s translation. To me it’s like a bonus, since I love comparing translations. One example would be in Psalm 73:4, which has literally-“their body is fat”, which the trusty NASB has (ESV has “fat and sleek”–huh?). I’ve seen the mention of fat being written in a positive light elsewhere in the Old Testament and that has always puzzled me, especially since I’ve always been into fitness. Ross says that this is figurative for flourishing and healthy. (So this can’t be used as an excuse.) He translates it as ‘healthy’. So does the literal translation convey the meaning? That’s getting off track, but he gives you this type of information just in the translation and footnotes alone. Also interesting (to me) is right off in Psalm 42:5 and 11 use the word ‘murmur’, which none of the popular translations that I looked at use. Murmuring is something that I’ve written about in the past.

Next comes Composition and Context which is basically a short introduction with any information that will be helpful in understanding the Psalm as a whole. Then there is Exegetical Analysis which might have a short comment on the genre and structure, and then a short Summary with an outline. The commentary itself is titled Commentary In Expositional Form. Sometimes he will go verse by verse and sometimes groups verses. The exposition is more like what you would hear in a sermon as opposed to a word by word exegesis of the original language, although he does delve into it fairly often, giving a short definition for each word or phrase, so you don’t have to know any Hebrew, or Greek when commenting on the Septuagint. Although it’s expositional, he sticks strictly to the text. There are no stories, anecdotes or personal opinions that don’t belong. Everything is very focused and orderly without being dry, partly because of the last section being a short Message and Application. He seems to follow C.S. Lewis’ philosophy in not using big words when he doesn’t have to. A good commentator doesn’t need to show off their vocabulary just for the sake of it. Something else a good commentator like Ross does is help you to learn to read Scripture better in general.

Although he interacts with other commentators, this isn’t a commentary on commentaries, or leave you wishing you would have just read the people he’s quoting instead of the book you bought.

I’m not one to be able to comment on any theological bent regarding the Old Testament and Psalms in particular, other than he is evangelical. (Here is a good one on Amazon.) He seems very objective and doesn’t insert any obvious biases and slants. I think this makes it a great commentary for a wide audience.

If I could write anything at all negative it would be that the font size is actually a little larger than what I like, which is a plus for many people, and the lack of indices. We won’t know how good those will be until we see the final Volume 3. Otherwise, like his commentary on Genesis, it’s nearly perfect for me and if you buy it, I hope you feel the same. It’s not cheap and doesn’t come in Kindle format.

If the publisher wouldn’t have provided a free copy for an unbiased review, I would have bought it.

Publisher: Kregel Academic (October 23, 2013)
Hardcover: 848 pages
ISBN-10: 0825425638

Buy it from Amazon.com

When We Lose, We Gain

What you have lost one way, you have gained another.

–Thomas Watson

This little quote by the Puritan says a whole lot–to me anyway.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.
Philippians 3:7-9 NRSV

Seek

But if you look for the LORD your God when you are among those nations, you will find him whenever you search for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29

Those who know your name trust you, O LORD,
because you have never deserted those who seek your help.
Psalm 9:10

Young lions go hungry and may starve,
but those who seek the LORD’s help
have all the good things they need.
11 Come, children, listen to me.
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Which of you wants a full life?
Who would like to live long enough to enjoy good things?
13 Keep your tongue from saying evil things
and your lips from speaking deceitful things.
14 Turn away from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it!
15 The LORD’s eyes are on righteous people. His ears hear their cry for help.
16 The LORD confronts those who do evil
in order to wipe out all memory of them from the earth.
17 Righteous people cry out.
The LORD hears and rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to those whose hearts are humble.
He saves those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person has many troubles,
but the LORD rescues him from all of them.
20 The LORD guards all of his bones. Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil will kill wicked people,
and those who hate righteous people will be condemned.
22 The LORD protects the souls of his servants.
All who take refuge in him will never be condemned.
Psalm 34:10-22

My son, if you take my words to heart
and treasure my commands within you,
2 if you pay close attention to wisdom,
and let your mind reach for understanding,
3 if indeed you call out for insight,
if you ask aloud for understanding,
4 if you search for wisdom as if it were money
and hunt for it as if it were hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and you will find the knowledge of God.
6 The LORD gives wisdom.
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6

I love those who love me.
Those eagerly looking for me [wisdom] will find me.
Proverbs 8:17

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
Lamentations 3:25

“Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 Everyone who asks will receive. The one who searches will find, and for the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “If your child asks you for bread, would any of you give him a stone? 10 Or if your child asks for a fish, would you give him a snake? 11 Even though you’re evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. So how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?
Matthew 7:7-11

Obviously, so many more could be included.

I was going to only use OT passages, but I couldn’t leave out the last one. I have to remember that if we ask for spiritual things that we know are God’s will according to Scripture, he will give them to us in his time. If we ask for a new car, maybe, probably not.

The Lord is Near

The Lord is always near, and we can go near to him.

The LORD is near to those whose hearts are humble.
He saves those whose spirits are crushed.
Psalm 34:18

The LORD is near to everyone who prays to him,
to every faithful person who prays to him.
Psalm 145:18

But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
Psalm 73:28 NLT

As you go, spread this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’
Matthew 10:7

The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5b

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
James 4:7-8a NIV

It’s interesting that resisting the devil is bookmarked by two things we can do.

God’s Will Is Always A God Thing

We need to get rid of these ideas that answered prayer is when God grants a request the way we want it. Or that it’s a “God thing” if something turns out the way we prefer it to. Or that “it’s a good thing God was watching out for us” when we avoided an accident or other calamity, but are quiet about God if otherwise. If “all our days were written in His book and planned before a single one of them began” (Psalm 139:16 HCSB), and “not one sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s consent” (Matthew 10:29 HCSB), then it’s all a God thing, whether or not we perceive the matter as good or bad. A friend wrote in a recent comment to a blog post, “There is nothing God can do, or any part of His will accomplished, except that His infinite love be a part of it. No matter how we perceive God’s will, His love is never diminished.”

Some claim that strong faith is defined by throwing our energies into begging God for a miracle that will take away our suffering and then believing without doubting that he will do it. But faith is not measured by our ability to manipulate God to get what we want, it is measured by our willingness to submit to what he wants. It takes great faith to say to God, “Even if you don’t heal me or the one I love, even if you don’t change my circumstances, even if you don’t restore my relationship, even if you allow me to lose what is most precious to me, I will still love you and obey you and believe that you are good.”

–Nancy Guthrie, Hearing Jesus Speak Into your Sorrow

Jesus and Paul received ‘no’ as an answer to prayer, which were both very integral parts of God’s will.

“Father, if it is your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, your will must be done, not mine.”
Luke 22:42 GW

So that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me– so that I would not become arrogant. I begged the Lord three times to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NET

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV

Even though you’re evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. So how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?
Matthew 7:11 GW

I’m challenged to pray that by faith I will see God’s will as always loving, whether or not things go the way I’d like, and whatever losses I may have, as with all of the immeasurably good things he gives me.

(When single verses are given to support an idea, it’s always encouraged to look at them in context.)

Prayer for God’s Strength

I confess that I often worry about not having enough money someday for whatever reason. God doesn’t promise that we’ll be prosperous financially or materially, contrary to what some Christians believe. But God promises grace and that he’ll be enough for us, however much he decides to provide for us and in what forms. I can imagine that some people are in this situation and wonder what God is up to.

The NLT Study Bible notes have this about Habakkuk 1:2-4:

“To Habakkuk, God seemed indifferent to the evil permeating society in Judah (Habakkuk 1:3-4) and unresponsive to his complaints about it (Habakkuk 1:2).”

“Habakkuk’s prophecy concludes with a psalm-like prayer.” The last part is below. I don’t normally post notes from study Bibles, but I think these are very helpful.

Habakkuk 3:16

“Although the full realization of God’s mighty power sapped Habakkuk’s strength to the point that he trembled, he would wait quietly (see Habakkuk 2:3) for God’s judgment to descend. • My legs gave way beneath me: Literally Decay entered my bones.

Habakkuk 3:16-19 NLT
I trembled inside when I heard this;
my lips quivered with fear.
My legs gave way beneath me,
and I shook in terror.
I will wait quietly for the coming day
when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
17Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

“After recounting God’s mighty acts of redemption (Habakkuk 3:2-15), and pausing to consider them (Habakkuk 3:16), Habakkuk now reaffirms his trust in God as he closes his prayer. • Even though . . . yet I will rejoice: Even if God never pours out material blessing on his people again, he is still worthy of all the trust and praise they can give. Come what may, the prophet could rejoice, knowing that the LORD is not only Israel’s Redeemer, but also the source of his own salvation.”

Philippians 4:11-13 TNIV
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Wanting God and Wanting to be Like Him

I would like to continue with trips through Scripture, but I think this will need some explanatory notes, or you might not know where I’m trying to go. I hope this makes sense.

I love getting to know God. I love God’s law and commands. I also like being like Him and wanting to be more like Him. The latter is a lot more difficult on our part, because it involves morality, obedience, self-denial, and holiness. These aren’t very popular these days, unless we’re talking about other people, of course.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even the drippings from a honeycomb.
Psalm 19:8a; 10 GW

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Psalm 42:1

Blessed are those whose lives have integrity,
those who follow the teachings of the LORD.
Blessed are those who obey his written instructions.
They wholeheartedly search for him.
They do nothing wrong. They follow his directions.
You have commanded
that your guiding principles be carefully followed.
I pray that my ways may become firmly established
so that I can obey your laws.
Then I will never feel ashamed
when I study all your commandments.
I will give thanks to you as I learn your regulations,
which are based on your righteousness.
Psalm 119:1-7

The psalmist here shows that godly people are happy people; they are, and shall be, blessed indeed. Felicity is the thing we all pretend to aim at and pursue. He does not say here wherein it consists; it is enough for us to know what we must do and be that we may attain to it, and that we are here told. All men would be happy, but few take the right way; God has here laid before us the right way, which we may be sure will end in happiness, though it be strait and narrow. Blessednesses are to the righteous; all manner of blessedness. Now observe the characters of the happy people. Those are happy, 1. Who make the will of God the rule of all their actions, and govern themselves, in their whole conversation, by that rule: They walk in the law of the Lord, Psalm 119:1. God’s word is a law to them, not only in this or that instance, but in the whole course of their conversation; they walk within the hedges of that law, which they dare not break through by doing any thing it forbids; and they walk in the paths of that law, which they will not trifle in, but press forward in them towards the mark, taking every step by rule and never walking at all adventures. This is walking in God’s ways (Psalm 119:3), the ways which he has marked out to us and has appointed us to walk in. It will not serve us to make religion the subject of our discourse, but we must make it the rule of our walk; we must walk in his ways, not in the way of the world, or of our own hearts, Job 23:10, Job 23:11; Job 31:7.

–Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible

In addition to God’s law, personal holiness and “living the [a ?] good life” being good for us, God calls us to be distinct from the world (Matthew 6:8).

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV

God’s will is pleasing to us and sets us apart from the worldly world.

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them.
John 14:23

So I don’t believe this is something that we should do as an act for the world, it should be done not only for our own good, but because we are living with a holy God.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like the idea of accountability partners because as it’s usually done, people become accountable to each other instead of helping each other become accountable to God. I haven’t looked deeply into this, but it isn’t something written about much at all in the Bible. We do have:

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
Romans 3:19 NIV

We do have something solid about conscience:

With this belief I always do my best to have a clear conscience in the sight of God and people.
Act 24:16

Again, we are living in the sight of God, not just people. Our conscience should be dictated by all of the law/commands we find in Scripture. Otherwise, we are being self-righteous, which isn’t thinking we’re better than others, but justifying the things we do from human logic, which is, in addition to being a human trait, usually selfish, and from a non-Biblical perspective. As J. B. Shearer noted: “The Pharisee knows nothing of this hungering and thirsting after righteousness, because he is righteous in his own eyes, self-righteous. But the man who has a sense of sin, and has tasted the comfort of pardoned sin, desires above all things to live aright.” And Spurgeon said, “I do not know of anything against which God’s fury burns more than against [self-righteousness] because this touches him in a very tender point—it insults the glory and honor of his Son.” Spurgeon is talking more about the righteousness we receive from the cross, but I think the idea still applies. God will show us what righteousness is (Matthew 5:6), in addition to having made us righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I believe that another benefit to having as clear of a conscience as we can is that it reduces stress. That’s if we aren’t fretting about God constantly looking for us to do something wrong, which isn’t what a good Father would do.

As a father has compassion for his children,
so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.
He certainly knows what we are made of.
He bears in mind that we are dust.
Psalm 103:13-14

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Philippians 3:16 NIV

The climax in all of this is the dreadful and wonderful:

Tell the whole congregation of Israel: Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.
Leviticus 19:2

Because you are children who obey God, don’t live the kind of lives you once lived. Once you lived to satisfy your desires because you didn’t know any better. 15 But because the God who called you is holy you must be holy in every aspect of your life. 16 Scripture says, “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:16

Dreadful because it seems impossible to be like our Holy God. Wonderful because he helps to become closer to it.

Being holy, as in being set apart, is God’s work. But we are also to strive to be holy. Knowing God’s character, as written in all of Scripture, is the only way we can begin to strive for holiness.

Also see:
Hunger and Mercy – Place for Truth – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals – where some of the quotes from this post were found
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges – a modern classic