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The Mighty One, God the Lord, Has spoken and called the earth From the rising of the sun to its going down. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; A fire shall devour before Him, And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, And to the earth, that He may judge His people… Psalm 50:1-4

Psalm 50 is a tutorial for the faithful, an adamant warning for the faith-less, and a prophetic representation of our Lord’s return all rolled into one. Jesus is coming back; His return is both eminent and imminent.

“Gather My saints together to Me, Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” Let the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge. Selah “Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God!” Psalm 50:5-7

Here’s the truth: everyone is going to stand before Jesus; believers and nonbelievers alike. On that day, Christ’s divinity will be so incredibly apparent, these nonbelievers will become believers, but sadly it will be too late for them.

The psalm breaks down into two parts: what Jesus has to say to the saints (His followers) and what He has to say to the agnostic, atheist, doubter, heathen, pagan, unrepented skeptic. Let’s look at the good news first.

For the Believers

I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices Or your burnt offerings, Which are continually before Me. I will not take a bull from your house, Nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, Or drink the blood of goats? Psalm 50:8-13

God’s plainly saying that He doesn’t need our stuff. Parenthetically that begs the question, “So why do we give our tithe and offerings if God doesn’t need them?” The answer is that the giving is for our benefit, not His. Selah on that for a while.

The passage also points out that there is a difference between religious duty (which is not good) and religious privilege. In other words, giving is something we get to do, not have to do. I like the fact the Jesus says that He will not rebuke us if we’re giving for the wrong reasons, but rather tells us precisely what He does want.

Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Psalm 50-14-15

First, God wants our thankful praise.

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:15

Second, God wants us to keep the promises we make to Him (we aren’t required to make any vows whatsoever, but if we do, we better keep them).

When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. Deuteronomy 23:21

And finally, God wants us to communicate with and rely upon Him.

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Isaiah 55:6

For the Nonbelievers

But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, Or take My covenant in your mouth, Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, And have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes. Psalm 50:16-21

It’s a bizarre, and some say cruel, scene. Before Jesus stand the atheists. They have died on earth and now to their amazement they stand not in the midst of hell, but before Jesus Christ. In His awesome and undeniable presence, they now believe. Out loud, and I could imagine hysterically, they confess all their sins and swear repentance and allegiance to Jesus, but it is too late. While it is very sad, it is not cruel; they knew the truth beforehand and rejected Him. God is truth and He is just–any exceptions would make Him an unjust liar.

To make matters worse, many of these doomed souls claimed to be followers of Christ while they were alive. Jesus points out their error; they took His name, but perverted what He taught and what He stood for. Man cannot profess Jesus to be anything other then what His word the Bible says He is. Many may call Jesus by His name, but if they change His character and attributes, they worship a false god.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8

The Last Word

“Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver: Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:22-13

There we have it, the solution! God has made the way to salvation and eternal happiness incredibly easy—He has provided One way through His Son Jesus Christ. While some see ‘One Way’ has restrictive, I see it as simplicity. We have been given the easiest of decisions to make; it is a ‘yes or no’ proposition. Rather then question His methodology; we should jump at the only opportunity we have to be with Him in Heaven.

What are your thoughts?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6


These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. Jeremiah 29:11-14

Wednesdays are typically Asbury Park Train Station days. I pack up my guitar, drive the five miles or so to the station and settle into one of the pew-like benches. The mission: to share the Good News through song. Talking about Jesus in the train station is frowned upon, but singing about Him is apparently okay; regardless of how well or un-well you sing.

I always pray before I go and ask the Lord to open doors and such, but normally there’s not a whole lot of interaction. Occasionally someone will amble by and give an appreciative nod to the music and/or the Subject matter, but for the most part I’m just praying for some evangelical seeds to be planted. I’m not concerned—God is in control. Today was more interesting than most in that I had two visitors: Rob and Gene.

Rob

I could smell Rob before I could see him. As he sat down next to me it was clear he was inebriated; matted hair hung from beneath his faded cap, stains marked the back and sleeves of his winter coat, and the front of his pants were wet down one side to his knee.

“Music sounds good; mind if I sit down?” he asked.

“Thanks. Not at all.” I said.

He introduced himself as Rob and stuck out his hand. Rob wanted to talk and I wanted to listen, and like drunks do, he repeated the same comments and asked the identical questions over and over. When it was my turn we talked about Jesus.

I knew going in that was going to be a difficult road; talking to intoxicated people for the purpose of conveying a message (any message) is generally an act of futility. Nevertheless, there we were sitting on the same bench chatting away—I’m convinced God had orchestrated this meeting and it really wasn’t any of my business to figure out why He had.

I briefly shared my testimony and Rob was genuinely intrigued that God healed me of my addictions–He then confessed that he hated every aspect of his life. I told him God could heal him right then and there if he wanted Him too. Rob told me all about Jesus Christ and sin and salvation. I told him, “Satan knows Jesus too. The difference is that Christians follow Jesus.”

Sadly he chose not to follow Him this day. Rob got up to leave.

I gave him a tract and told him to put it in his pocket and to read it when he could see more clearly.

Gene

About an hour later Gene joined me on the bench. At first I thought Gene was a drunk too. He wasn’t. He wheeled his large, green plastic garbage can in front of him and sat down. A mop stuck out from beneath the bungeed lid and I spied a shiny toaster through the breach it created.

“Music sounds good; mind if I sit down?” he asked.

“Thanks. Not at all.” I said.

He told me his name was Gene and that he thought it was no accident that he chose to sit down next to me. “God wanted me to hear this music I guess.” He said.

“Are you a Christian?” I asked.

He said that he was and threw in, “And I’ve been clean for four years August 26th.”

Praise the Lord,” I said. “What happened four years ago that set you straight.”

Gene told me his tragic story, one littered with success, drugs, alcohol, and one relapse after another. One night, about four years ago, he planned on killing himself.

“I had a rock about this big,” he said holding up his thumb and index finger to form a circle, “and I was going to smoke the whole thing. I put out nine candles all around me and sat under a blanket in the middle. I broke off a piece and fired it up. Instantly the room got dark and I felt a big black man leaning over me and pushing me down. I knew it was the devil and smashed the pipe against the cement.”

Gene acted out the scenes as he spoke.

“I’m kinda ashamed to tell you what happened next—I prayed for Jesus to save me and immediately the darkness lifted and I was able to fall asleep. But when I woke up, there was the pipe and the crack, so I did it again. And the same thing happened! So I hid under the blanket and told Jesus, ‘If I see the light coming through this window tomorrow morning, I will give my life to you’. The next morning the sun was shining through the window and that was about four years ago.”

Gene went on to tell me how his life is today and about his church and his pastor. The truth of the matter is Gene’s life is still very, very difficult. While he was talking an older teenager walked over; Gene stood up and gave him a hug. If I were to size him up, I’d say the guy was a drug dealer.

“That’s my nephew,” he said hanging his head a little lower, “I shouldn’t be hanging around guys like that, but he’s family. I share with him what I can and pray for him all the time. He’s in God’s hands now.”

The northbound train was announced; Gene said his goodbyes and walked towards the platform.

“I’m gonna pray for you Gene…how can I pray for you?” I asked.

“The whole thing,” he said, “you can just pray for the whole thing.”

Rob and Gene

I don’t know, my heart breaks for both these guys. By his own admission Rob is rarely sober enough to grasp the reality of his situation, let alone God’s grace and plan for his life. Gene on the other hand is saved and his eternal future is secure, but satan is persistently on his heals trying to drag him to an early death. In the middle there’s me trying to understand why the Lord blessed me with an almost effortless faith. It all doesn’t make much sense right now.

If you remember, would you pray for these guys.


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So David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, each man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal‘s widow. And it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath; so he sought him no more. 1 Samuel 27:3-4

David had no business being in Gath; Saul wasn’t pursuing him any longer and Gath was a stronghold of Israel’s enemy the Philistines. In a very real sense Gath is a type (or picture) of the world. David ends up in Gath because he mistakenly paid heed to what his heart was telling him. By now David should have known better, but thankfully we have his error for our example.

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:9-10

David relies on his emotion to guide him, ends up back in the world, and puts together a series of blunders that will ultimately catch up with him. David may have been considered the apple of God’s eye, but nevertheless, God is not mocked and sinners always reap what they sow. However I don’t want to focus on David’s errors right now; I want to focus on one of his accomplishments. It’s found in Psalm 8, 81, and 84.

To the Chief Musician. On the instrument of Gath. A Psalm of David. O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen– Even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1-9

Did You Catch it?

David writes this Psalm and he plays it on the instrument of Gath—a pagan instrument! The worshippers when they heard it must have been shocked; much the same way many of us were shocked when electric guitars were brought into out sanctuaries. Looking back, I suppose there was a likely uproar when the first pipe organ was introduced too. And believe it or not, some folks are still being shocked. Check out this little snippet I pulled from a recent internet blog:

Obviously, God does not want us listening to flute music. Flutes and other woodwinds are horrible instruments. They entice us to sin with their wistful tunes…Clearly, Satan operates through the flute….keep woodwind instruments out of our public high schools. Warning labels should also be attached to music containing saxophones, flutes, or other instruments that require the touching of the lips.

In light of David’s accomplishment on the Gathinite instrument, this quote is laughable. Our Father has filled the Bible with one account after another of His taking that which was meant for evil and using it for good. God through David makes that point melodiously clear in his Psalms. There is no such thing as a bad instrument, just bad musicians. When glorifying and worshipping the Lord, we can feel free to use whatever instrument we desire as long as we do so in an orderly fashion. (Now where can I find me on of those Gath-a-phones?)


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