Archive by Author | Paul O'Brien

Not Afraid, Really?…

Photo by JR Korpa 

“I will not be afraid of tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me on every side” (Psalm 3:6).

This verse by itself makes no sense and is even dangerous. I would be afraid and very afraid if thousands of people had it out for me. This would especially be the case if they were on every side. 😬

How could the psalmist write this? Why would David, the author, be so puffed up? It seems he’s either arrogant or amazingly naive.

Of course, with anything that’s written, no less the Bible, context is absolutely vital!

What we did not see yet about Psalm 3 is that David had already written, “I cried to the LORD, and He answered me” (v. 4). And so David could rest even in the midst of a very scary situation. David says, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me” (v. 5).

In the midst of all the many difficulties we face, may we with David confess: “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (v. 8). May we cry out to the LORD for help. May we take comfort knowing that He is our shield (v. 3). And then May we rest in His powerful and capable care.

“Be kind to one another”

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).

There is a right way and a wrong way to live. That is not popular to say but it is the undiluted truth. The right way is in accord with “the way [we] learned Christ” (Eph. 4:20). The wrong way to live involves “hardness of heart” (Eph. 4:18), callousness (Eph. 4:19), and corruption through deceitful desires (Eph. 4:22).

So, there are certain things we should not do. There is a wrong way to live and act. It is damaging and even devilish (James 3:15). 

Therefore, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” We should not be resentful. Sinful anger should have no place in our lives. Foolish arguments should never be heard to come from our mouths. We should never speak wrong of others. How can we try to tarnish a person made in God’s image (James 3:9)?! Lastly, how can we have ill-will for someone when God the Son paid the ultimate price for us?! How can we not be transformed by our heavenly Father’s sacrificial love so that we extend grace and love even to our enemies?!

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Satan Disguises Himself

“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Satan disguises himself.

That is a rather scary prospect.

The serpent of old (Rev. 20:2), the great dragon (Rev. 12:9), the one who goes around like a lion just waiting to destroy (1 Pet. 5:8), disguises himself. And his disguise is not what we would expect.

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. He cloaks himself in radiant dress in order that he may deceive. He once took the form of a serpent (Gen. 3:1). If a snake came up to you and talked and tempted you today you’d probably see right through it. You’d probably run.

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An Imprecatory Prayer

God, You are good and You do all things well.
You are a God of justice and power.
Bring justice, we ask.
This land is full of evil.
People disregard people made in Your image.
People capture other people
and use them and abuse them.
O’ LORD, may that not be!
People plot and carry out senseless acts of violence
O’ God, bring justice!
Destroy the destroyers of the earth,
Destroy those who destroy Your good creation.
Pour out Your anger on those who have no regard for You and Your law.
Why should they escape?!
O’ Lord, regard and repay their wrongs!
This world cries out for justice!
And Father, Your sons and daughters,
whom You purchased with the blood of Your precious Son,
are disregarded
and slaughtered like lambs.
O’ God, regard Your servants, Your sons, Your daughters.
Protect, we plea!
For Your glory!
You deserve the nations crying out Your praise!
Bring that about, we plead.
Father, may all who refuse the salvation offered through Jesus,
who is the wrath-absorbing-sacrifice,
receive Your right and holy wrath.
And Father, we thank You for Christ!
Without Him we would be damned.
We are not better than those for whom we ask for justice.
It is but by Your grace and mercy that you have made us righteous and new.
Yet, even while we have Your grace and even Your Spirit,
we struggle with sin.
So, even as we call out for justice, Lord grant us grace and mercy for those who wrong us.
You are the Judge, vengeance is Yours.
And so, we trust You.
We trust that all those who do not receive Your grace through Jesus Your Son
will receive Your wrath from His hand.
So, Father, make us merciful and forgiving, even as we trust in Your justice.
It is through Jesus our Great High Priest that we come and bring these requests.
Amen.

Be Eager to Maintain Unity

“Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2).

I quoted this verse to my daughter today and she looked at me with a confused look and said, “What does that mean?” 

That’s always a good question. I explained to her that in the Church we are all one big family and so we need to stay together and get along. We need to make sure that even when we’re mad and hurt by each other we work at still forgiving each other.

It is very necessary that we read this verse and heed its exhortation. It will inevitably be a verse we have to apply in our own lives. So, as my daughter asked, “what does it mean?” And I would add, “how do we do it?” and “what motivation are we given to obey?”

What does this verse mean?

It says to be “eager”? That means to want to do or have something very much. What do you do when you want something really bad? You pursue it. You work to get it. Even if there are opticals you keep at it. That needs to be us. We need to be zealous in our pursuit of unity. 

Notice also that we are to want to “maintain” the unity. Unity is not just important at one point in one situation. We should desire and work towards maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace at all times and through all situations. 

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We’re not fighting a human war

“For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

The Christian battle is not a battle of the flesh. The Christian’s weapon is not physical and material. But the battle is no less serious. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). 

As Christians, we are to fight. But our fight is the fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Our weapons are not human. We don’t use swords, knives, and guns. Instead, we carry “weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left” (2 Cor. 6:7). Our sword is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God (Eph. 6:17).

Our weapons, even though they are not of the flesh are powerful. They’re powerful because they are “through God” (2 Cor. 10:4). We are “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10).

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All His Benefits

“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).

If we are to rightly praise the LORD then we must know the LORD. We must know things about Him. We must know things about what He has done. We must know and not forget all His benefits.

“All His benefits.” I like that phrase.

When someone is thinking about taking a job they consider what the benefits of the job are. “Will I get enough vacation? Is the health insurance good enough?”

Yet the Lord gives “all His benefits” for free! Not as payment for work. The LORD heaps benefits on all those “who fear Him” (v. 11) because God is a God of “steadfast love and mercy” (v. 4).

God does not pay us for our sins as we deserve (v. 10). If He did that would be bad news and we certainly wouldn’t get all the benefits we enjoy. Just like a good Father, however, God shows great compassion and care to all who fear Him (v. 13).

The LORD forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies, and strengthens (v. 3-5). The LORD is merciful and gracious and slow to anger (v. 6). The LORD’s love is vast beyond comprehension. It is high—higher than the heavens, it is vast—further than the east is from the west, and it is long—from everlasting to everlasting (v. 11, 12, 17).

So, praise the LORD! Praise the LORD because He shows mercy and withholds the punishment we deserve. Praise the LORD because He shows grace and heaps on all sorts of blessings we don’t deserve. Praise the LORD because of who He is and all He has done.

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