Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts.” Psalms 36:5-10 NLT
This morning I was overwhelmed by the desire to rest in the love of God! At the Wednesday church service, last evening, one of our brethren shared that he needed to come to church to experience the love of God with God's people. The culture we are in is inundated with such wickedness that we find ourselves weary and thirsty. We need to find our way to the oasis of God's love. Now, I'm not talking about this "anything goes" tolerance that this culture would like for us to believe about "love". I'm talking about Biblical, Holy, and wholesome love. This kind of love is what our souls are starving for. Only in God can we find this refuge. Are you weary, worn, and torn from the battle that rages in your life? Turn to Jesus! His love awaits. He will heal your wounds, help you in your weakness, grant you rest from the struggle, and give peace that passes all understanding. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT “Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever.” Psalms 136:2 NLT
Children Are a Gift From the Lord
Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are. Everything they say is crooked and deceitful. They refuse to act wisely or do good. They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots. Their actions are never good. They make no attempt to turn from evil.” Psalms 36:1-4 NLT
Wicked people are consumed with evil. They sit around thinking of ways to disturb the lives of the righteous. Their hearts are so dark that they can't discern good and evil.
“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.” Romans 1:28 NLT
When righteous proposals are placed before their eyes, they simply shrug their shoulders and dismiss them as invalid, unnecessary, or even oppressive. This is the way it is right now in the political state of our nation. Just two days ago, our Congress was given the opportunity to protect the lives of children who survive abortion attempts. This bill was called The Born Alive - Abortion Survivors Act. You would think that anyone with any shred of decency in their entire body would have agreed to do all that can, and should, be done to give a child life saving care when it had survived the gruesome process of an attempt to kill it ("abort" is the politically correct term). You would think that anyone would understand why a doctor should be criminally prosecuted for not trying to save the babies life. After all, do they not swear to the Hippocratic oath? To our complete dismay, the bill was defeated. Why? Because the wicked, liberal Democrats can't see the forest for the trees. If you think I'm being partisan, check the vote record. No Republican voted against the bill. Three Democrats voted for the bill (Casey - PA, Jones -AL, Manchin -WV). Three Republicans didn't vote (Cramer - ND, Murkowski - AK, and Scott - SC). Many are so blinded by their dark minds that they think they are doing what is best for the "health of the mother" and what protects those who are caught in the throws of "legally" killing these children. Yes, it's killing!! Life is sanctified by God!!! He is the One who gave us life and causes a child to conceive and develop in the mothers womb. Children are a heritage of the Lord! “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” Psalms 127:3-5 NLT "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is God's command (see Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17)! This, most definitely, applies to unborn and babies born alive during these horrible procedures. Anyone with any conscience at all would know that. The murderous activity of our nation cannot continue to go unpunished. Inevitably, we will face the judgment of God, and we already are, for our selfish crime of abortion. Don't even allow someone to argue that these procedures are necessary because of incest, rape, or deformities. Only a single digit percentage account for these categories. Rape and incest are terrible and only God knows the pain and suffering that come along with them. What about leaving the child in God's hands to decide if the child lives and what they become? There are many stories out there that can help us see this in the light of the child that was the product of these circumstances. In our nation, we protect those who have committed first degree murder by not allowing capital punishment in some states, as well as take care of them for years with tax dollar funds. However, we can kill a baby in the name of abortion and receive applause from the wicked. “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Romans 1:32 NASB This is preposterous!! We have lost our right minds!!We are swimming in our own sewer and we are intoxicated with our own presumed success. We think we are civilized, but we are only modern, evolutionary educated barbarians! God help us!!!
Great Is the Lord
“Malicious witnesses testify against me. They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about. They repay me evil for good. I am sick with despair. Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them. I denied myself by fasting for them, but my prayers returned unanswered. I was sad, as though they were my friends or family, as if I were grieving for my own mother. But they are glad now that I am in trouble; they gleefully join together against me. I am attacked by people I don’t even know; they slander me constantly. They mock me and call me names; they snarl at me. How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing? Rescue me from their fierce attacks. Protect my life from these lions! Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly. I will praise you before all the people. Don’t let my treacherous enemies rejoice over my defeat. Don’t let those who hate me without cause gloat over my sorrow. They don’t talk of peace; they plot against innocent people who mind their own business. They shout, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we saw him do it!” O Lord, you know all about this. Do not stay silent. Do not abandon me now, O Lord. Wake up! Rise to my defense! Take up my case, my God and my Lord. Declare me not guilty, O Lord my God, for you give justice. Don’t let my enemies laugh about me in my troubles. Don’t let them say, “Look, we got what we wanted! Now we will eat him alive!” May those who rejoice at my troubles be humiliated and disgraced. May those who triumph over me be covered with shame and dishonor. But give great joy to those who came to my defense. Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord, who delights in blessing his servant with peace!” Then I will proclaim your justice, and I will praise you all day long.”
Psalms 35:11-28 NLT
God Understands Our Struggles
“O Lord, oppose those who oppose me. Fight those who fight against me. Put on your armor, and take up your shield. Prepare for battle, and come to my aid. Lift up your spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Let me hear you say, “I will give you victory!” Bring shame and disgrace on those trying to kill me; turn them back and humiliate those who want to harm me. Blow them away like chaff in the wind— a wind sent by the angel of the Lord. Make their path dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them. I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me. I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me. So let sudden ruin come upon them! Let them be caught in the trap they set for me! Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me. Then I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be glad because he rescues me. With every bone in my body I will praise him: “ Lord, who can compare with you? Who else rescues the helpless from the strong? Who else protects the helpless and poor from those who rob them?”” Psalms 35:1-10 NLT
Do you ever feel like praying this way? This Psalm is written by David and is called an imprecatory Psalm. Imprecatory means to invoke judgment, calamity, or a curse upon ones enemies or those opposed to God.
Have you ever been so distressed by the assaults of others or looked around you at the state of our culture and felt like praying a prayer like David? I have! Often, I get disgusted with the wicked actions of others. Just the other day, I got extremely disgruntled in spirit about some things that are going on in our nation. Frankly, it seems like many have lost their minds. Wickedness floods our streets like running sewer. The stench is utterly nauseating. I can't believe how anyone wants to kill an innocent child, through any form of abortion, at any stage of pregnancy! These same people want to consider executing a baby after it has been born alive as well. This is insanity in its most manifest form. This kind of thinking and behavior gets my blood boiling. I find myself getting extremely angry about this kind of wickedness. My heart sinks and sighs in deep sorrow as I ponder the plight of our nation. The daily news, television programs, and social media are filled with negative propaganda that is intent on bending the minds of those who will listen. Is there anyone who is disturbed by it? I believe there are some. Maybe you are one of those who feels the oppression of the wickedness around us. Perhaps you are being vexed by the state of affairs in our culture as well. Wickedness should move us to a place of prayer. Today, the United States Senate will be voting on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This bill, if passed, will criminalize anyone who does not get a child, who is born alive during an abortion procedure, the proper medical care to sustain the child's life and aid its survival. Contact your Senators office today to tell them to vote for this legislation. This is a pro-life piece of legislation that needs all the support it can get. In my area, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis is voting for it. Hallelujah! I know this because I have contacted his office and I have received an e-mail from his office about the matter. Only in God can we find the strength to bear up under the weight of darkness that tries to veil our lives. Sometimes we need to honestly vomit up our frustrations and rid ourselves of the venom that eats away at our spiritual nervous system. God understands our struggles and He is able to hear our cries for mercy. Just like David, God will not forsake the righteous. In fact, He will come to our rescue and give us everything we need to sustain us. Let us praise our Lord in the midst of the battle. The ultimate victory has already been won. We aren't fighting for victory, we are fighting with victory!!!
The Lord Hears
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken! Calamity will surely destroy the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.”
Psalms 34:17-22 NLT
Are you bent beneath life's crushing load? Are circumstances in your life overwhelming? Look to Jesus! Give all your burdens to the Lord. If you are His child, He is especially attentive to your cry. He watches your life and actively moves on your behalf. “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.... 2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT God wants to intervene in your situation because He is your Father. He wants more for you than you want for yourself.
“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.” Luke 12:32 NLT You must remember that the temporary status of this life is but a moment. The eternal kingdom is yours. Look ahead child of God. Don't doubt in the darkness what God has revealed in the light. Discouragement is a primary weapon of the devil. If he can convince you that God has somehow forgotten you or isn't paying attention, you fall prey to defeat. God is our refuge and strength. “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalms 46:1 NLT Run to God, not away from Him. His arms are outstretched and He wants to pull you into His bosom to cradle you in his arms of love. The rest you need is in Him. Fall into His arms of love and mercy and let Him hold you today. He understands every intimate detail of your situation. Even when no one else knows, or fully understands, He does. Give your burden to Him! “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT
Do Things God's Way
“Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord. Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth.”
Psalms 34:11-16 NLT
This gives us a very important key that unlocks the doorway of life. Reverence the Lord, watch your tongue, resist the temptation of evil, do what is good, seek out peacemaking, and work hard at maintaining it. Should we choose to do this, we will open the door to the life God intends. This same passage of scripture is quoted by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:10-12. Many of us find it easy to succumb to the provocations of the devil. Like electricity, we follow the path of least resistance. We simply find it easier to get disgruntled with someone and shun them rather than doing the hard work of navigating through the maze of challenging relationships. We allow our temper to get the best of us and we retaliate rather than resist the urge. Our tongues get loose in the midst of conflict and we use our words to inflame the situation. Like gasoline on a fire, we fuel the frustration and anger until it explodes. The sad part is this: the aftermath. Following our controversial engagements with others, we often sulk in our disappointment. Looking back in retrospect, we see our actions as counterproductive and harmful. Regret fills our hearts and we find ourselves grappling with the pride to face the opponent with an apology and an attempt to reconcile. Sometimes we would rather ignore the person rather than seeking them out for resolution and reconciliation. God wants us to understand that it is, often, hard work to do the right thing, but it's the right thing. Bitterness and unforgiveness only lead to grudges that last years, even lifetimes. Like a prisoner locked behind bars, we find ourselves incarcerated in our own hatred. I have heard it put like this: Bitterness is poison that we drink that we intended to serve the one we hold responsible. Today, if you want the best out of life, do things God's way. Sure, it may not be what everyone else is doing, but so what! You may have to submit your natural man to the spiritual man, but it's well worth it. Today's scripture tells us that God will open His ear to the cry of the righteous and honor those who do what is pleasing to Him. He will also punish those who don't. He will even wipe out the remembrance of the wicked. I don't know about you, but I surely don't want that. I want Gods ear open to me and I want His blessing on my life. By God's grace, I choose life!
God Wants Our Best
“Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.”
Psalms 34:9-10 NLT
Living for Jesus is the best life. To settle for anything less is selling yourself short. Living for the One who, Himself, is life, is the purpose of life itself. The One who created all things is the One who knows the most intricate details of life. He is the author. He is the owner. Ignoring the owners manual is detrimental to anyone who is a automobile owner. There are specifications for tire size, air pressure, oil weight, transmission fluid, maintenance intervals, gas octane, etc. Driving a car vehicle without maintaining it is like waiting for it to break down. The same is true for human beings. Ignoring the specifications of The Word Of God is absolutely detrimental to the life we now live and the eternity that awaits us. Should we choose to ignore the Owners's Manual, a break down is coming. Solomon, in his elder years, left us some very important words to live by: “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NLT What a book end to a life that was lived in learning, lust, liquor, and luxury. Solomon knew everything a man could desire in his fleshly nature, yet he looked back, in retrospect over his life, with regret. His one regret was that He had not served the Lord as he could have. He spent the flower of his life on all the things that wouldn't last and then he handed the stem to God. He burned the candle of his life with temporary satisfaction and blew the smoke of a burned out life in the face of God. Solomon would beg of us to take inventory of our lives and carefully consider who and what we are living for. God wants our best! He isn't a cosmic kill joy. He is our Father! He knows what's best and He wants what's best. I choose to live for, and serve, Him! How about you?
God Is Good
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”
Psalms 34:8 NLT
God is good! In fact, there is no good without God. You can't even spell the word without His Name! Just because there is evil in this world does not mean that God is the blame. Sin is the culprit. Satan is the source of all evil. When Adam and Eve decided to sin by listening to Satan in Genesis 3:1-7, we all fell to the state of depravity we now know. The goodness of God refuses to leave us in this state without a way out. Jesus is that way out (see John 3:16-18; 14:6; Romans 10:8-10,13). God is so good that He became a human being and died in our place to pay our sin debt. The English word "gospel", in the Greek language, means "good news". The good news has always been, and always will be, that God loves us so much that He refuses to let sin destroy us. I simply want to shout today that "GOD IS GOOD"!!!!!!!Can I get a witness?
“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”
Psalms 34:4-7 NLT
Are you fearful today? Do you have burdens on your mind and heart that have weighed you down? Call out to Jesus! He is always available. You never get a voicemail, busy signal, or a list of prompts to direct you to a particular department. Jesus is accessible and available 365 1/4 days of the year and 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When we pray, there is something critical that we must remember. If there is sin in our lives, unconfessed to God, it creates a barrier of communication. Take a look at this scripture: “Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” Psalms 66:16-20 NLT God desires our communication and He wants to help us. His very nature compels Him to mercy and grace. A simple moment of prayer can change darkness to light, despair to hope, and separation to reconciliation. Cry out to Jesus today! Give your burdens to the Lord and leave it there. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT I remember the 1994 movie "Angels In The Outfield". Toward the end of the movie, Danny Glover, the actor who played the team manager, walks up to the mound and tells the pitcher (actor Tony Danza) that he has an angel with him. Although this was a secular presentation, the idea was simple: In the natural world there are supernatural occurrences. Today's focus text tells us that the angel of the Lord surrounds and defends all who fear God! If you are truly a child of God, that reveres Him, then you have an angel with you right now. You may not see them but they are there. Let this encourage you today. “Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.” Hebrews 1:14 NLT
“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.”
Psalms 34:1-3 NLT
Glorifying God with our words and actions is the highest practice of our human existence. Extolling God should be the driving force of all that we think, say, and do! Everything about our lives should exalt the Lord Jesus Christ! There is no person, or anything in all of creation, that is worthy of our devotion and worship. Our lives are given to us by God. Should we not use them to magnify His Name? We can choose to spend our days living for all the wrong things or we can recognize our need to live for the One who gave us life. Come brethren! Let us worship God with our lives, not just with our religious affiliation. Our attending of religious services, and participation in religious rituals, are empty and void if they are not performed out of a heart and life that truly loves God! A life that truly loves Him will put things in priority and proper perspective. When He is Lord of our lives, everything we do is under His authority. We are accountable to him. Whether we are a pastor, plumber, painter, banker, realtor, public safety officer, mill worker, food service worker, caregiver, disabled, retired, etc. our number one priority is to live life to glorify God at all times, in all that we do. Are you exalting Him with your thoughts, words, and actions?
Rev. Curtis Norris