The God of Israel

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3 See how they lie in wait for me!
Fierce men conspire against me
for no offense or sin of mine, Lord.
4 I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
Arise to help me; look on my plight!
5 You, Lord God Almighty,
you who are the God of Israel,
rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
show no mercy to wicked traitors. Psalm 59:3-5

The more I go over these verses, the more I am convinced that we are very similar to King David. Within three verses he pleads for God’s help, praises the Lord, and then wants to exact revenge on his enemies. We’re similar because we can have those same emotions just as quickly. We know what it’s like to plead his His help. We know what it means to just look up and adore the Lord. And of course we know all too well how to lash out at our enemies in vindictive prayer.

What I’d like to focus on today is the first part of verse five: “you who are the God of Israel.” It’s appropriate in our current times because there is just so much anti-Semitic talk from politicians and their ilk. I’m convinced it’s a spiritual problem in that the nation of Israel is hated because it is filled with Jews.

Other nations around the world are hated. For instance, the United States is hated because it tends to be arrogant and independent in thinking (among lots of other reasons). Great Britain used to be hated because of the colonies it maintained around the world.

Still, some nations are hated by one or two nations (i.e., Japan and China, China and Taiwan, Russia and United States).

Similarly, people groups are sometimes hated by those surrounding them (gypsies in Europe, Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, Uighurs in China, Chukcha in Russia), but nothing compares to the hatred of Jews around the globe.

Pray for Israel as it seeks to exist in a very hostile world. Pray for those ministering God’s grace in that land.

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A Fortress Mighty and Strong

A Fortress Mighty and Strong

Our enemies in this world are many and fierce. Most of them are unseen and fighting against us behind the scenes.

To illustrate (and this will date me a bit), the opposing five players never let Michael Jordon go in for an easy score without a struggle. He still scored but not without five guys who were paid a lot of money to prevent him from doing just that.

  • If you’re going to do meaningful work for the Lord you will be attacked.
  • If you find yourself getting upset on a Sunday morning before heading off to church for no apparent reason, you are probably under spiritual attack.

Those are just two examples of times when we could be under spiritual attack. The enemy of your soul does not want you to “score” and will do anything under heaven to prevent you.

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is our fortress against the wiles of the enemies. Recognizing spiritual attack is as important as defending against it. Likewise, letting your guard down by being totally unaware is also bad.

The Holy Spirit of God wants us to call out to Him. He wants us to allow Him to work and to move in our lives. Unfortunately we get in the way.

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A Fleeting Life

9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.
10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Then people will say,
“Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth.” Psalm 58:9-11

I don’t think we realize how fleeting this life is. After wishing us a Happy New Year, our pastor remarked that it seemed like just yesterday that Y2K was here. He’s right. When we were still kids, adulthood couldn’t come fast enough. Now that we’re grown, we can’t slow it down. There’s even a multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry that tries to help you look younger and fresher. But still, the fact remains, we’re all growing old fast.

Similarly, I don’t think we fully grasp how it all will end (despite what we know from Scripture), and how God will judge the earth, especially when we see so much blatant and unanswered injustice. I’m glad I don’t have to sort it all out!

Until then, though, we trust in His wisdom, even when life doesn’t any sense. Fortunately we serve a perfect and righteous judge.

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He Can Take It

6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions!
7 Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child that never sees the sun. Psalm 58:6-8

Not all verses are devotional material, but since “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), we’ll see if we can unearth a nugget or two.

You can see the anger in what King David has written. He wanted vengeance. Obviously he had harsh things to say about his enemies. He seemed to still be in anguish because he was forced to flee for his life. Again, he had moods just like we do. Sometimes those different moods were reflected in the same psalm.

What would some of our prayers look like if we were truly honest with how we felt about some people? I fear that what David prayed would be mild compared to our harsh words and thoughts. It’s one thing to pray these types of words, though, but it’s entirely different to want to be the person acting on our words.That’s taking the prayers to another level

Bottom line is this: God can take what we have to say to Him. He knows how to answer those prayers.

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Underestimating God’s Power

3 Even from birth the wicked go astray;
from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.
4 Their venom is like the venom of a snake,
like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
5 that will not heed the tune of the charmer,
however skillful the enchanter may be. Psalm 58:3-5

The first part of verse three is absolutely true, though in a different sense than what David probably wrote it. We are all sinners from birth. We were all in desperate need of a savior because there was no hope for us.

The interesting thing about what King David writes here is that were it not for the Grace of God in our lives, we would be walking the same path and doing some of the same things. We say we would absolutely never do such and such, but history has proven time and again, if sin is not held “in check”, it only gets larger and more pronounced. Look at society as a whole. In general is it getting better or worse as the years pass?

So, how do you pray for the wicked?

  • We can pray as David prayed that God would punish the wicked (Psalm 58:6)
  • We can pray for God to punish the wicked (Psalm 5)
  • We can pray for protection from the wicked (Psalm 140:1)
  • We can pray to be delivered from wicked (2 Thessalonians 3:2)
  • We can pray for God to confuse the minds of the wicked (Psalm 55:9-11; Job 5:12)

God ultimately has the ability to influence and change the hearts and minds of the wicked. The apostle Paul is a prime example of this radical change. When Paul (then named Saul) was presiding over Stephen’s stoning (Acts 7:54-60), it’s doubtful the other Believers considered Paul would ever be “one of them.”

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