Psalm 125 – What It Means To Have Faith – Part 1

The biggest challenge that our generation faces is that we do not know in what to believe anymore. We are going from one belief to the next in a blink of an eye. We are changing beliefs as we change clothes.

There is always a new fad, idea, trend, fashion, and cult waiting for us in the next commercial and advertisement, and we are taking the ride. We are trying all of them and sometimes we are mixing some of them, making our own knew religion and faith.

The Psalm 125 talks about faith and its real meaning. The pilgrims would not even start their journey to Jerusalem if they did not believe or have faith. Faith was the motivation and the sustenance for their long and difficult journey.

Do you think that they would face all those hurdles and difficulties in their journey to Jerusalem just for fun? NO! They did that because of their faith, they believed in something and someone, and because of that they acted

This psalm will help us to understand what “Having Faith” means in a practical way. According to this Psalm having FAITH MEANS CONVICTION. That is it; the first meaning of faith is conviction.

Faith is not a liquid that keeps moving and reshaping itself. Having faith means having convictions, assurances, and certainty. This is what the psalmist says, [1] Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.” 

The psalmist compares faith (trust) with Mount Zion. The mountain is a rock, immovable. Thus should be our faith and convictions. This is how the Bible defines faith: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1.”

As you can see, faith is being sure and certain. The psalmist says that faith is like the mountain Zion that cannot be shaken.

This psalm also tells us that FAITH MEANS DEPENDENCY. That is the second meaning that we find in this psalm for faith. Faith is dependency.

Verse 2 states that God surrounds us as the mountains surround Jerusalem. Here is the verse: “[2] As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”

Faith means that we depend on the Lord for our salvation, protection, and defense. As we know those people were simple people. They were not warriors, rich, or powerful. They could not depend on anything or anyone to save them or protect them. Look what David has to say: “[1] My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. [2] He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2.”

When we believe in God with all our conviction we will depend on Him for everything in our lives. God will surround us, save us, and protect us in our journey.

My friends, put all your trust in the Lord and depend on Him to surround and guard you.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 124 – The Lord Is My Defender – Part 3

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” This is the advice of the greatest Chinese war leader and military strategist, General Sun Tzu.

David, the shepherd, warrior, and king, also has something to tell us about war, oppression, and persecution. In this psalm he helped us to look at ourselves, and now he will move our eyes toward our enemies. He makes clear that we should LOOK AT OUR ENEMIES. He does that by helping us to look at our enemy’s actions.

David uses three figures to demonstrate their actions toward us.

A – Asphyxiation – “The Flood Waters” 

This is what David wrote: “[3] when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive; [4] the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, [5] the raging waters would have swept us away.” 

The first figure that David uses to demonstrate the action of our enemies is the flood waters. The idea is to oppose in an overwhelming way, giving us a small room to breathe. He uses words such as, anger, swallowed, flood, engulfed, torrent, raging. They express violence to intimidate and force to subdue.

This is what happens with peer pressure. It is so powerful that the person cannot survive and stand up for what he/she believes. The enemy will come with such force that we will acquiesce and give in.

            B – Separation – “The Sharp Teeth”

This is what David wrote: “[6] Praise be to the Lord, who has not let us be torn by their teeth.” 

David describes the second action of our enemies as sharp teeth. Those teeth, probably from wild animals have the ability to tear the flesh and rip them from the body. The application for us is about anything that produces separation in the body or division. The enemy will try to tear us apart, to create division among us so we will be weakened and easy to destroy.

            C – Isolation – “The Fowler’s Snare”

This is what David wrote: “[7] We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.” 

Finally, when the separation is done; the enemy will isolate us from each other. This is why we have the fowler’s snare here. The enemy will deal with us individually, and that will make his work much easier. When we are isolated from our brothers and sisters, the work of our enemy becomes attainable.

David knew that he needed a defender, because his enemies were coming against him with all stratagems and weapons at their disposal. The people who were traveling long distances to worship in Jerusalem also knew that they would encounter enemies along the way. With us it is similar. Every time that we decide to follow the Lord and serve Him we will face opposition.

We need to know their tactics and more importantly we need to know that we have a defender against them. We are not alone in this fight.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 124 – The Lord Is My Defender – Part 2

In one of the churches that I pastored, we had a gym and we rented it often for events and sports activities. One of the groups that rented our place was a Brazilian Martial Arts Academy. They had an all day long event that involved competition, training, and a form of graduation ceremony (I do not know the specific term to define that). 

After the event one of the owners came to me and asked if our church would be interested in having a self-defense class. They were thinking of starting classes for kids to deal with bullies, for ladies, etc. She told me that these kinds of classes were becoming very popular.

If you look on the Internet you can find all kinds of martial arts for self-defense. Here are the most popular and effective: Jujitsu, known as “The Art of Softness”; Taekwondo, known as “The Way of the Hand and Fist”; Krav Maga, known as “Contact Combat”; Aikido, known as “The Way of Harmony of the Spirit”; Wing Chun, from China; Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, named as BJJ, Gracie Jiu Jitsu, it is known as “Human Chess”; and Muay Thai, known as “The Art of Eight Limbs”. As you can see, people are trying to find ways to defend themselves. 

The challenge for Christians is that having only these set of skills will not be enough. This is what the psalmist in the Psalm 124 is talking about. We all, sooner or later will need a defender, and the reason is clear and simple, we just need to look at us to realize that we need someone. The first thing that we must do when we read this psalm is to look at us. The ability of our enemies to make war and their power are so great that we have no humanly chance to survive.

This is what David says here in this psalm. We have no chance to obtain victory or even survive against those powerful enemies. David describes the limitations of the people of God in 3 simple ways. Here they are:

            A – We Are the Minority – The first thing that we must realize is that we are not the majority, we are the minority. The great majority does not believe in what we believe; they do not believe in Christ; they do not believe in commitment with the gospel or with the church. Their numbers are exceedingly great, and we do not have a chance.

            B – We Are Powerless – Second we need to accept that we are powerless. We do not have the weapons and technology to face those enemies. We cannot fight in the same level with them. They have a trained army with all the equipment necessary for war.

            C – We Are Defenseless – Finally, he tells us that we are defenseless; we cannot defend ourselves. If our enemies decide to do something against us they can do it and will do it, because we do not have the capabilities, the tools, and the power to defend ourselves.

It is because of this that this psalm makes clear that the Lord, not us or someone else is our defender. We need someone who can look at us and have mercy. We need to understand that some fights are beyond our ability and strength. We just cannot win. It is at those moments that we should look up and seek the Lord.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 124 – The Lord Is My Defender – Part 1

Have you ever felt so hopeless and defenseless that it made you think about giving up? I am talking about that situation when you look around and there is nobody around to help you or fight with and for you. We all have been through this kind of experience in our lives, some of us more, others less, but that feeling is universal. When we are Christians that situation is inflated.

It is very important for us to understand that if we want to follow Jesus and commit ourselves to Him we will be persecuted. Sometimes, as we saw in the Psalm 123, people will make fun of us, the kind of joke that has the intent to hurt and diminish the person.

The apostle Paul warned Timothy about that, “[12] In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 2 Tim. 3:12.” Everyone who wants to attend church, commit him/herself with the gospel will suffer some kind of opposition and persecution. People will laugh at the beginning; after a while they will be upset; and then they will be angry. 

It is important that we understand that there is a system in place to fight against our faith and our commitment with God and His church. Because of that we need a defender. We need someone who will step up and put Himself between our aggressors and us.

Sometimes we are not attacked because our Christian life and our commitment are so weak and pale that we do not bother anybody. Our Christianity is so small that it is almost invisible. But if we decide to commit ourselves and start to follow Jesus and obey Him, them we will start to see some hostility.

David composed the Psalm 124. The scholars believe that he made this psalm when he was anointed King over Israel. We find the story in 2 Samuel 5:17-25. This is what the verse 17 says: “When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. 2 Samuel 5:17”

That was the situation with David, he was anointed the new king of Israel and the Philistines decided to attack him. The text says that they spread all over the place in a demonstration of power. Their intention was to strike fear in David’s heart.

David sought God and prayed for victory, and God gave him victory. Probably it was after the victory that David wrote this psalm.

This shows us that when enemies know about our call, commitment and desire to serve God, they will encamp around us and try to destroy our decision or us. It is at that time that the Lord will be our defender.

My friend, in the next few weeks we will learn important lessons from this wonderful psalm, lessons that will encourage us in times when we face opposition. We will learn that no matter who we are and who our enemies are, God, the Almighty God, is our defender.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 123 – Lord They Are Making Fun Of Me – Part 2

“Eu não levo desaforo para casa!” This is a Brazilian saying that means: “I do not take effrontery or insults to home!” The meaning is if you say something to me that I do not like or offend me; we will resolve that right away, before I go home. I will not go home carrying the affront.

Unfortunately, this attitude is becoming commonplace and accepted among Christians. We are just reacting to people that makes fun of us with the same aggressiveness and belligerence that we see in the world, among people that do not know the Lord.

What should be our reaction when someone makes fun of us and tries to put us down ridiculing us because of our faith and dedication to the Lord and His church? 

In the Psalm 123 we learn The Believers Right Attitude. The insults could come from people close to them or they could come from people that they met in their way to the temple. The psalmist also helps us to have the right attitude when we face this kind of situation. This is what he wrote:

“[1] I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. [2] As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.”

The first attitude is to trust in God. The psalmist says that God is sovereign; His throne is in Heaven. He is the Lord and also He is merciful. Because of that we can trust in Him. 

The second attitude is to humbly persevere. That is what we should expect from a Christian, a humble perseverance. The psalmist compares himself with slaves and the maids, waiting for his master and her mistress to answer them. He also says that they have endured all these things. The idea is not to pick a fight, but to wait on the Lord. 

Finally, we should pray for mercy. We will be able to suffer this kind of scorn and jokes with prayer. We must pray for mercy. We have to ask God to have mercy and to help us to survive these attacks. God is the only one who can help us during times such as these.

Look what the Bible says about Jesus in the worst  situation:

“[21] To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. [22] “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” [23] When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:21-23”

Because we are Christians and believers we will be offended. People will make fun of us. They will call us names. Because of that we have to have the right attitude. We need to pray for mercy, humbly persevere, and trust in God.

Don’t forget, He will take care of you and He will take care of those who make fun of you.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 123 – Lord, They Are Making Fun of Me – Part 1

Being a Christian today is not an easy task. People do not understand and do not accept the idea of God, church, discipleship and commitment. Because of that they make fun of us who want to follow Jesus and serve Him.

These are some of the names that Christians are called nowadays:

Who do you think you are, a Christian, a believer?

You are all against having fun

Bible thumpers

Right-wingers

Crazy whackos

Bible waving freaks

Narrow-minded

Nuts for Jesus

Religious fanatics

Fool

Crazy

Ignorant

Jesus freak

Probably you have heard of something that is not here on this list, but it has the same effect. What we must understand is that this attitude is not new. We are not the only generation in history that is suffering this kind of attack.

The people here in this psalm have a commitment to travel long distances three times a year for the holy festivals in Jerusalem, and because of that they were suffering all kinds of scorn and ridicule.

People would tell them, among other things this, “God let you be conquered and destroyed and now you are going to Jerusalem to worship?” “God is not helping you at all, and you are still going to church?” “Do you think that you are better than the others?”

The first thing that this psalm helps us to understand is the scoffers and their actions.

The psalmist tells us who they are: “for we have endured much contempt. [4] We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant.”

The first word that the psalmist uses to describe them is Proud. The proud are those who do not need anything, at least this is what they think. They do not need God. They can live without God and His Word. They are self-sufficient. They see people willing to sacrifice, to give, and to walk long distances to serve God, and they react in a negative way.

The next word used to describe them is Arrogant. In their eyes they are not only self-sufficient, they also believe that they know more than everybody else. For them people that believe in God and want to serve Him are ignorant and stupid.

The next thing that the psalmist helps us to understand is about their actions:

The first one is Contempt. Contempt would involve hatred and disrespect. They despise anybody who disagrees with them and their beliefs. We have seen this attitude growing lately. We have seen this in schools and in the public arena. If you have a different opinion and belief, you are treated as a second-class person. Unfortunately, this attitude will end up in violence.

The second attitude is Ridicule. Ridicule would involve mockery, scorn, and jokes. Christians are suffering this all over the world. It is interesting that on the TV shows it is okay to ridicule Christians, but not other faiths. We are witnessing an open season on Christ and His church. Do not get me wrong, organized religions have done many wrong things and some of them are even funny, but that is not an excuse for people to say whatever they want about Jesus, God, the Bible, and the rest of the church.

As Christians, we need to understand that this is the world where we live, and like the psalmist; we need to learn how to deal with that.

My friend, maybe you have experienced this kind of opposition in your journey, if yes, this psalm can help you.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 122 – Why Go to Church? – Part 3

“Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?” That is the famous quote from Maximus in the movie Gladiator, right after killing another gladiator. That Coliseum attitude, little by little, has been transferred to our worship services. People now come to church to be entertained, to have fun, to listen to good music, to watch a show.

This mentality is not only affecting the seekers, but also the churches, since many churches are doing everything that they can to produce an entertainment with high quality, so people not only will come, but stay.

The Psalm 122 gives us one more important reason to go to church – LEARNING. That is the final reason that the psalmist mentions. We come to church to learn from God, to learn His statutes and rules. 

This is what the psalmist says in the verse 5: “[5] There the thrones for judgment stand, the thrones of the house of David.” The people would go to Jerusalem seeking guidance and justice. They would go to Jerusalem to learn what to do and how to do it.

This is one of the main reasons why we should come to church, to learn the Word of God and His statutes and how to apply them in our daily lives. But unfortunately, we are not experiencing that in our churches lately. This explains the high level of Bible illiteracy that we have in our congregations.

Now that we know the reasons why we should go to church, this psalm also helps us to understand what we should do for the church. The psalmist shares with us what should we do for the church. The first thing is to Pray and work for her peace. In verse 6 we have this: “[6] Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure.” Because church is so important for us and for God, we should do everything to keep peace inside the church. We should be peacemakers beginning in the church. We should work to bring brothers and sisters together in the peace of Christ.

The psalmist does not stop there, he also tells us to do one more thing for the church and that is to Pray and work for her Prosperity and growth. In verse 9 we have this: “[9] For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.” We have the responsibility, all of us, to pray and seek the prosperity of the church.

Some of us want to receive what the church has to offer, but we are not in the church just to enjoy the Fellowship, the Haven, the Worship, and the Learning. We are there to make her grow with our gifts, participation and prayers. 

My friend, you cannot make your journey alone, you will need people, brothers and sisters to walk with you, to nurture you, to worship with you, to teach you, and to protect you. 

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 122 – Why Go to Church? – Part 2

There are many reasons why people stop going to church. Here is a survey with the top ten reasons. Some reasons mentioned here are valid ones, but some are just an excuse for people who do not want to go to church. 

Top Ten Reasons People Stop Attending Church

1. Simply got too busy

2. Family/home responsibilities prevented attendance 

3. Church members seemed hypocritical 

4. Church members were judgmental of others 

5. Moved too far from church 

6. Work situation prevented church attendance 

7. Church was not helping me develop spiritually 

8. Stopped believing in organized religion 

9. Church was run by a clique that discouraged involvement 

10. Got divorced/separated 

We live in a time that people do not need a good excuse or reason to stop attending church. Just not willing to go would be a good reason for many. They do not need to explain or defend their decision. They just don’t go, period.

The Psalm 122 gives us strong and important reasons to go to church. The second one is because church is a HAVEN. In a quick changing world where we do not know anymore where we are and what is going on; the church provides a sense of security and protection.

This is what the psalmist states in the verse 3:“[3] Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together.” Those pilgrims had to travel long distances and sometimes they crossed dangerous areas. To get to Jerusalem with its big walls and strong gates was a relief for them.

That is the same feeling that we should have when we come to church – a time of relief and refreshment in our spiritual life. Church should be a place where everybody feels safe and protected.

The third reason to go to church is to WORSHIP. We go to church not only to escape from the world, we go there to worship God and praise His name.

The second part of the verse 4 states this: “[4b] to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel.” Our main goal in church is to Praise the name of the Lord. He is the most important person in our service.

Sometimes we substitute Him with things, people and activities. It is not the Pastor; it is not the choir; it is not the children, nor the elders. It is not the music style and the facilities. The Lord is the one who should be praised and worshipped.

The second thing that the verse mentions is that we should do that “according to the statute given to Israel.” That means that we should worship God according to His Word.Sometimes we do many things in the service that has no place or support in His Word; we do it because we like it, or because we always did it that way. Worship should not be about personal preferences. We do not go to church to do what we want or like. We go to the church to worship the Lord according to His statutes.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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