Psalm 131 – The True Contentment – Part 1

Do you have everything that you need? What is lacking in your life? What is lacking in your house? Do you have the car that you want? Do you have the job that you dreamed of? Do you have the family that you planned? What about your TV or computer or phone? What about your health?

Contentment is something almost impossible for us nowadays. The commercials push us to wish for more and better and bigger. We are never satisfied with what we have. We always want more and more. 

 Psalm 131 written by King David tells us a lot about him. Even though he was the anointed king he was able to be content, even when he did not have everything that he wanted.

Between his anointing by Samuel and the kingdom it was 10 long years of waiting. Some people believe that it was during that time that David wrote this psalm. He did not get desperate, nor did he try to enforce his power over the people. He answered with the TRUE CONTENTMENT.

This is why he was able to write another psalm that we know so well, the 23rd Psalm. This is what he says in the first verse: “Psalm 23:1 A psalm of David. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.”” The idea is: if the Lord is my shepherd, I will have everything that I need. With that attitude someone can really be content. This Psalm can help us to see what  true contentment is.

1 – IT IS THE FRUIT OF HUMILITY – The first thing that David shares with us is that  true contentment is the fruit of humility. In  verse 1 he writes this: “[1] My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” Humility is the lack of selfishness and pride.

In this verse David tells us about pride and how it happens in our life.

            A – Not Proud in the Heart – The first thing that he tells us is that pride starts in our hearts. We have that desire inside of us. Pride is the thought of having something or thinking something about ourselves. David makes clear that his heart was in the right place.

            B – Not Haughty in the Eyes – After our hearts come our eyes. We see things that we desire. We look, and we wish for those things, and for status. David is praying and he tells God that his eyes are under control. He knew that if his eyes would gaze at things that he was not supposed to have he would be in trouble.

            C – Not Ambition too High – After that we start feeding our minds with things that are beyond our reach. We know that we will not have what we wish, but we want it anyway. That creates bitterness against us, people around us, and against God. David is telling us that he is not like that. He will not let the pride and selfishness take over his life and drive him away from his purpose in life.

My friend, we have been bombarded with so many advertisements and propaganda about all the things that we must have if we want to be happy, that it is almost impossible for us to resist and be content. Learn with David how to be humble and content.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 130 – The Need to Seek the Lord – Part 3

What are your motivations to seek the Lord? It is well known that many Christians attend church mainly on two occasions – Easter and Christmas. Others would come for other special events such as Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals. How about you? What is your motivation?

We also know that some people seek the Lord because they feel guilty, others because they are pressured. Some seek the Lord to please people or for pride. Unfortunately, some seek the Lord to earn Salvation. 

 Psalm 130 teaches us the need to seek the Lord, and in the last two verses the psalmist shares with us THE GREATEST MOTIVATION that he has to seek the Lord and wait on Him.

Here are the verses: “[7] O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. [8] He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”

Let us learn with the Psalmist the greatest motivations to seek the Lord.

            A – God’s Unfailing Love – The first motivation is God’s unfailing love. His love never ends, never diminishes, and never gives up. He is a loving God ready to impart His love with us at any time. His love does not depend on what we do or who we are. His Love is based on who He is. This is what John wrote: “1John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. ¶ God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

            B – God’s Ability to Redeem – The second motivation is God’s ability to redeem. God is the only one who can redeem us from our sins. We cannot do it, and we need to realize that.

                        I – Fully – He can redeem us completely. He can clean our lives in a way that we would not believe. Our sins can be forgiven and forgotten by God. The redemption produced by Christ and His works are enough to acquire forgiveness for all of our sins.

                        II – Totally – God also can redeem us totally. That means, without our help. The redemption that comes from God is a total redemption. He does not need our help to do the job. He will do it totally by Himself. The redemption that God offers is 100% free. There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves. God does the whole work.

Maybe you are in the same situation that the psalmist was, coming to church, but feeling far from God, empty, and without hope. The good news is that our God is a wonderful, powerful, gracious, and merciful God. If we recognize our needs He will come and redeem, forgive and accept us again. We only need to believe in His unfailing love and wonderful mercy. This is how Isaiah described this: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6

My friend, I do not know where you are in your spiritual journey, but no matter where you are, we all, without exception need to seek the Lord. Come, let us seek Him together.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 130 – The Need to Seek the Lord – Part 2

“I want it, and I want it NOW!” Parents more and more are listening to this from their children. We are living in a “NOW” generation. Everything must happen immediately. The businesses are trying to catch up with this new customer fever, trying to deliver their orders as soon as possible.

In Brazil we have a saying that goes this way: When God wants to make an oak tree it takes 100 years, but when He wants to make a pumpkin it takes just 3 months.” The waiting, that is the biggest challenge for us. We just cannot take it. We want everything now, even if we are not going to get the best thing. We want those things done and resolved right now, not later, not tomorrow, NOW!

The Psalm 130 helps us to have THE RIGHT ATTITUDES. These attitudes should come right after crying to the Lord. That is the second thing that the psalmist mentions here, the attitudes that the person in that situation must have. We find these right attitudes in the verses 5-6a – “[5] I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. [6] My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

            A – Wait for the Lord – The first attitude is to wait for the Lord. That is the biggest challenge for us nowadays. The psalmist is telling us that if we are serious in seeking the Lord, we should wait for His answer, and not only that, we should wait for His action. God is the only one who can deal with our situation. We should wait on Him to come and transform us.

            B – Hope in His Word – The second attitude is to hope in His Word. Our hope is not based in our wishful thinking; we hope in His Word. God will not do what He did not promise in His Word. The waiting does not mean that we gave up, or we think that God is not going to do anything that we are asking. It means that we know His Word and through that we know that God is the one who controls the time and circumstances. We will wait because we know that God is God, and He is sitting on the Throne governing not only our affairs, but the whole world. Our hope is in His Word and His promises.

            C – Wait with Desire – Finally, our wait is a wait with desire to see our hope fulfilled.When I was young, I had a hard time understanding this text: [6] My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Until I served in the Army and had to stay up guarding the gates all night long until the morning. That expectation has to happen with an intense desire; like the watchman waits for the morning. 

My friend, we all need to seek the Lord, but after we do that our next step is waiting, knowing and trusting that He is a good and powerful God and that in the right time, His time, He will act.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 130 – The Need to Seek the Lord – Part 1

Have you ever had that feeling that God is not close to you? It seems that we took different paths, we part ways, and now He is far. There are times in our lives that we realize that we are not close to God anymore. We understand that we left His presence and He is distant from us.

This sensation gets worse when we see the troubles coming in our direction and we know that God cannot be reached; at least we think that He cannot be reached. During these times a mix of fear, despair and the feeling of abandonment overcome us.

Psalm 130 narrates, in a beautiful way, the need that we all have to seek God in times of troubles. The psalmist was coming to church, but even though he was doing everything that his religion prescribed he had that feeling of distance from God.

It is in this situation that he cries out to the Lord. And the first thing that he describes for us is THE VITAL KNOWLEDGE that all of us who are feeling that way should have. The first thing that we should do is to recognize the important and vital things that we must know. The psalmist shares them with us in the verses 1-4 – “[1] Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; 

[2] O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. [3] If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? [4] But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

    A – Of Our Situation – The first thing that the psalmist helps us to acknowledge is our situation. Like the psalmist we should evaluate our spiritual situation. It is vital for us to know where we are in our relationship with God.

        I – Distance from God – The first thing that the psalmist recognizes is that He is far away from God. He cried out from the depths. He realizes that he is not close enough to God. Can you be bold as the psalmist to make a statement like this?

        II – Barriers to God – The second thing that the psalmist realizes is the barrier between him and God – The Sin. He says that if God keeps track of our sins, we are in  big trouble, because WE ARE SINNERS. That knowledge is very important for us.

    B – God’s Grace – Knowing our situation is very important in our journey, but we must move our eyes away from us and toward God. The psalmist shares with us another important acknowledgement that is crucial for us. We need to know about God’s grace. God is a righteous God; but He also is a God full of grace.

        I – He Listens – His grace makes Him able to hear our prayers from the depth and from our sins. We do not need to be afraid or discouraged, if we cry, God will listen.

        II – He Is Merciful – He will listen, not because we are good, but because He is merciful. The psalmist makes clear that He is merciful. The ability that God has to hear our prayers is based on His wonderful mercies.

        III – He Forgives – Finally, it is very important for us to know that our God is a forgiving God. No matter how you feel or how far you are from Him, He is still there waiting for you to come back home. He is there, ready to forgive you and bless you.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 129 – Facing Our Enemies – Part 3

In Brazil we have a saying when something very bad happens to us and we do not wish that on anybody, we say, “I do not wish that on anybody, not even to my worst enemy.” The last verses of the Psalm 129, the psalmist expresses some harsh words toward his enemies.

Some scholars think that it is a prayer, but others think that it is a prophecy. It is as if the psalmist was saying that this is what would happen if the enemies do those things. Some commentators just believe that the psalmist desires their defeat.

That is the second part of this psalm; it is an expression of his desire toward his enemies. As you can see he is clear in his desire, he wants their defeat in all areas of life.

This can shock you, but this is the beauty of the Scriptures, and principally, the psalms, we can see inside the heart of the psalmist. They express things that we would never say out loud. The psalmist really wants his enemies to be defeated; it is as simple as that.

            A – In the Social Life (public) – “[5] May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame.” Turn back in shame. The first defeat that the psalmist desires for his enemies is the defeat in the public life. The psalmist prays for a public defeat, so everybody would know that his enemy’s war and attacks were an unjust and wrong war.

            B – In the Material Life – “[6] May they be like grass on the roof, which withers before it can grow;” On top of public defeat, the psalmist desires his enemies to have brevity of life and productivity. Yes, this is the second thing that he desires a material defeat in their lives. He wants them to be ashamed and to pay financially for what they have done against God, faith, and the children of God.

            C – In the Spiritual Life – “[8] May those who pass by not say, “The blessing of the Lord be upon you; we bless you in the name of the Lord.” Finally, he does not want them to have the blessings of the people and the blessings of the Lord. If they are doing something wrong the psalmist does not want people to say: “God bless you!”

As you can see the psalmist desires a spiritual defeat for those enemies. They will know that their gods and beliefs are wrong. They will not be blessed by anybody. The blessings that support us in our struggles will lack in their lives because they do not accept God and His word.

This psalm helps us to know that in our lives we will face enemies who do not like our God, our faith and consequently, us. This psalm helps us to learn how they act, how they do, and what they will do against us. But we also learn how to resist and how to deal with the desires that we have in our hearts toward those enemies.

My friend, in our journey in this world we will suffer, some of us a little bit, some of us a lot, and we will face enemies that will do anything in their power to slow us down or totally immobilize us, but they will not succeed. At the end we will stand victorious with our Lord and our faith.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 129 – Facing Our Enemies – Part 2

Like the pilgrims, we Christians know that we will have opposition; we will face enemies in our journey. The question is not what or when, we already know the answer for those questions. What we need to know is how our enemies will act and what we can do to resist their attacks. 

Psalm 129 can help us to find answers for these questions. In our last article we saw what they do when they attack, now we will see how the enemy will labor against us.

            B – The Modus Operandi – The second aspect of the attack that we learn in this psalm is its Modus Operandi. This is how our enemies attack us. The psalmist describes the instruments that our enemies will use to shut our mouths and our lives.

                        I – Oppression – In verse 2 we have this, “[2] they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me.” The first way to oppose us is oppression. That is a political action. You are the minority among a majority that does not like you; or you are a majority living in a place where the minority rules against you.

                        II – Energy Drainage – In verse 3 the psalmist says this, “[3] Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long.” That describes the second way to attack us. It is to plow our backs; to drain our energy; to make us bleed until we do not have more strength to go on in our faith and struggle. That idea is to slow us down in our effort.

                        III – Tied – Cords – In verse 4 we have this, “[4] But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” Finally they will use cords to tie us and immobilize our efforts to keep practicing our faith. This is an attempt to stop us, totally.

            C – The Resistance – The next thing that this psalm helps us to learn is about the resistance in the middle of the struggle.

The psalmist is not complaining, against his enemies, he is making a statement of faith; he is standing his ground. He is declaring that he will stand up and will not bend down with those attacks.

There are two areas where he will stand up.

                        I – Internal (Inside) – In verve 2 we read, “[2] …They have not gained the victory over me.” Our first attitude is not to give in. That attitude is the internal one, “They can do whatever they want, but I will stand up and resist.” This is what the psalmist is saying. “I will not give the victory easily.”

                        II – External (Outside) – In verse 4 we have this, “[4] The Lord is righteous, he has cut me free.” The resistance is not only internal, but also external. The psalmist is not counting only on his own strength; he is, most of all, counting on the Lord’s help. The Lord is the one who will deliver us from our enemies. He is the one who is righteous and will cut us free from those cords.

My friend, now you know how the enemies will attack you and the weapons they will use. You also know how to resist. God will strengthen you and also will defend and protect you. Do not be afraid. Hang in there.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 129 – Facing Our Enemies – Part 1

In our lifetime we will have to deal with people that can be considered enemies, our enemies. They are our enemies, even if we think that we did not do anything to become their enemies. 

They are our enemies first of all, because they are enemies of our God. They do not like God, or even the idea that there is a God. Secondly they are enemies of our faith. They do not believe in what we believe. They will do everything that they can to destroy our faith. Thirdly, they are enemies of our behavior. Their hatred toward our God and our faith will bring their animosity to us. They do not like the way we live our lives. We will suffer for that, for our God and for our faith.

There is only one way out of persecution, and that is giving in. If you do not want to face your enemies, you must give up your faith in God, your beliefs, and your behavior. If you do not want to face your enemies, you must be quiet and not talk about your God and your faith. If you do not want to face your enemies, you must stop practicing your faith and the commandments of your God.

In  Psalm 129 we learn that the people who took the journey to Jerusalem to worship would have opposition, and sometimes those enemies would use violence to deter them. In the same way the enemies of our faith are real and active. They will do anything in their power to stop us or to destroy us, because of our God and our faith.

Let us learn with the psalmist how to face our enemies.

1 – RESISTING THEIR ATTACKS – The first thing that is mentioned in this psalm is how to resist their attacks. Let us look at how the enemies attack our faith, our God and us. In the first verse  we have this, “[1] They have greatly oppressed me from my youth — let Israel say”

            A – The Attacks – The first thing that the psalmist helps us to understand is the attacks.

                        I – Many – “They have greatly” – These attacks are many and great; this is the first thing that the psalmist mentions. It is not just a little word here and there; or a little action here and there. Our enemies will unleash a strong and organized attack against everything we believe.

                        II – Public – “Let Israel say” – The second thing mentioned in this psalm is that the attack is public. The psalmist calls for the testimony of the whole nation. He is saying that the attack is not something hidden in some corner of the world, but it is public, made in the daylight.

                        III – Time – “Since the Youth” – Time is the third subject that the psalmist mentions when he talks about the attack. This attack is coming and happening since he was young. It has been for a long time, and it does not look like it will go away soon.

Unfortunately, we do not need to go too far to experience opposition on our faith; we are facing it right here and right now. Our children are facing it in their schools; we face it in our working places, and sometimes in our families.

My friend, in the same way that the pilgrims sang this psalm as they went to Jerusalem to worship their God, do not let your enemies stop you from serving the Lord.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 128 – The Blessings of the Lord – Part 3

We are watching and some of us are adhering to the new fad among the evangelicals, the seeker-friendly church. Someone called it the zip code ministry. Those churches try to do everything that they can to attract seekers, people that are hunting or shopping for a church.

Most of us have been there and done that. At a certain point in our lives we thought that if we had a good community where we could plug in, our families would be better, and our personal lives would improve. We thought that the community would make the difference.

Sometimes we think that if the community has the blessings of the Lord our family will receive some and we will get some. We are wrong! This is not the way that God planned. He starts with the individual and goes to the family and then to the community.

After you have the blessing of the Lord in your personal life and in your family life, then and only then, will you  have the blessings of the Lord in your community.

3 – IN THE COMMUNITY LIFE – Let us see how the blessings of the Lord come to the community. In Psalm 128 we have these verses: “[5] May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, [6] and may you live to see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel.”

            A – The Temple is the starting point – The psalmist helps us to understand that the blessings come from Zion, where the Temple was built. We must realize that the blessings of the Lord will come to the community from the Temple.

            B – It involves your whole life – The Second thing that we must know is that the blessings will come from the Temple but it will involve our whole life. Some times we have a good season in our lives and we think that that will be enough to bring the blessings of the Lord. We are wrong. The psalmist says, “all the days of your life.” That is the goal and purpose for us.

            C – It will produce fruits – This kind of community life will bring fruits in our lives. They are the fruits that come from the blessings of the Lord. Let us look at some of these fruits:

                        I – Watching the community prosperity – The first fruit is that the community will prosper in every area. We will see good things in every aspect of our lives.

                        II – Watching your posterity – We will grow old and see our posterity grow. We will see our children, grandchildren, and some of us will see great grand children. This is an extraordinary blessing.

                        III – Peace – Finally we will have peace in the community. We really could use some of that right now, in our communities; the problem is that this is the end of a long and sometimes hard process. It is possible, but it is not always easy.

As you can see the blessings of the Lord start in our personal life, reaches our family, and goes to our community. Every one of us is responsible to bring these blessings to our communities and our families.

If our community does not have prosperity, growth, and peace it is because the blessings of the Lord are not flowing from our families and our personal lives.

Every one of us has work to do, to be an instrument in bringing the blessings of the Lord upon our family and our community.

Let us do it!

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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