Psalm 36: When You’re Against Or For God

Psalm 36: When You’re Against Or For God

Psalm 36: When you’re against or for God. David describes the decision on whether you’re against or for God as a matter of the heart. And he explains its impact on a person. Here are some thoughts on what Psalm 36 teaches us today.

Psalm 36: When you’re against or for God. When you’re against God, pride is a destructive, blinding force in your life.

In V.1-4, David describes a heart that rejects God by focusing on three words. First is the Hebrew word for transgression in V.1 which is “pesha.” It is also translated trespass and rebellion and means a conscious, willful rebellion against something. David means those who willfully disobey God’s moral laws.

Secondly, the Hebrew word in V.1 for fear is “pachad” and means a sense of terror or dread regarding your personal safety. In other words, it’s normal for us to have a healthy fear of an all powerful God. But the transgressor David describes has no such fear. Instead, he flatters himself and arrogantly makes plans against God’s law.

Thirdly, the word Iniquity in V.2 is the Hebrew word “Avon.” It means “to bend, twist, and distort.” Although a different definition than transgression, it makes a similar point. David means to bend, twist, or distort the law of God’s Word to a degree worthy of punishment.

Finally, David points out the deceptive nature of pride that the transgressor is completely blind to in his life. And boastfully embraces a rebellious lifestyle. It is a heart that rejects God and his ways in order to please itself.

Psalm 36: When you’re against or for God. David presents a more complete picture of God.

In V.5-6, David presents a more complete picture of God by listing four of his attributes:

  • Steadfast love extends to the heaven
  • Faithfulness to the clouds
  • Righteousness like the mountains of God
  • Judgments like the great deep

We celebrate God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. Acknowledge his righteousness. But balk big time when it comes to his judgments. Why? Because we understand what it means from our own judicial system. It is a reckoning. Consequences coming due. Wrongdoers get what’s coming to them. And punishment is dispensed.

And while we all inherently desire justice, when it comes to our own own willful transgressions against God’s moral law, we look for loopholes. Surely a loving God wouldn’t send anyone to a fiery hell for all eternity.

But a just God can’t simply look the other way. Because he is equally just as he is faithful, righteous, and love. And that justice must be satisfied. So what’s the solution?

And the answer is, God sent Jesus Christ to die in our place. Jesus was God’s gift love that satisfied the requirement of justice. But you must claim the gift by seeking forgiveness from and following Jesus. Which leads right back to the choice of rebellion or submission.

Psalm 36: When you’re against or for God. There is life, light, and refuge for those who follow him.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. (ESV Psalm 36:9)

In V.7-9, David celebrates God’s love. But even more, he delights in God as a fountain of life, source of light, and place of refuge. David understood this more than anyone since he was guilty of both adultery and murder.

But he confessed his guilt. Repented of his transgressions. Sought and experienced God’s forgiveness. And now celebrated the freedom of forgiveness. No wonder he delighted in God!

Followers of Jesus today can experience this same delight and access to light, life, and refuge. Although complete protection is not guaranteed on earth. Jesus taught his followers they would face persecution and death for his sake. But an eternal refuge awaited.

When you’re against or for God. God thrusts you down or lifts you up

David ends with praise in V.10-12 and asks God to guard his heart from pride and from following a path of wickedness. He recognizes that pleasing God involves pursuing righteousness. But it’s a path full of sinful sinkholes that drag you down. Especially pride. So he seeks God’s guidance for the journey.

And this is the way for followers of Jesus today. To pursue God’s righteousness wholeheartedly, but with humility. For temptation and sin surround us. So we must walk by faith, the power of God’s Spirit, and in a community of other believers.

While the final fate of transgressors is determined. Thrust down and unable to rise. Tripped up by spiritual blindness to their own rebellious hearts.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.

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God’s Path To Greatness

God’s Path To Greatness

God’s path to greatness is described by Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And he uses children as an example.

Of course, modern society has its ideas about greatness too and assigns it a special acronym: G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all time)

It means ranking the highest score. Attaining the pinnacle of pursuit. Excelling above everyone else. But Jesus turned the idea upside down and compared it to children. Here are three things I think he means about God’s path to greatness.

God’s path to greatness is unassuming and unpretentious

Jesus overheard his disciples arguing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. And their conversation was similar to modern ideas about greatness. Those at the top of the spiritual ladder. Who will be In charge in heaven. The best of the best. In a religious sense, that is.

But what drives this? Well, it probably starts as teenagers when we begin to wrestle with with self-image and comparison. How do I look? Do people like me? Am I popular? And this impacts our behavior and how much of our true selves we reveal.

Children, however, are unassuming and unpretentious. They accept what you tell them on face value and don’t hide behind superficial masks or seek recognition. What you see is what you get because they are unassuming and unpretentious. It’s a good example for all of us to follow.

Jesus is not saying to be foolishly naive. But to be honest and straightforward in all our relationships. To avoid comparing and competing and strive for authenticity.

God’s path to greatness gives others the benefit of the doubt

Children speak their minds without filters and express their thoughts and emotions openly. And since they speak honestly, they assume you do too and believe what you tell them. They also assume people have good intentions and look for the best in others.

Looking for the best in others is a trait you also see in Jesus. He regularly confronted people in their worst moments and yet he healed them, encouraged them with hope, and challenged them to behave better.

Jesus, like children, always gave people the benefit of the doubt. He saw their sin, but didn’t let it affect how he related to them. He saw clearly into their hearts, but chose to act towards them rather than react to them.

It is this aspiration that should drive those seeking greatness in God’s Kingdom.

Jesus taught that greatness means serving others

It was during his Last Supper with the disciples that Jesus presented one of the most counterintuitive teachings in scripture. It’s not natural even for children.

Why? Because despite all their innocence, they enter this world with a sin nature. Just like the rest of us. And one of the first words children learn when playing with other children is “mine.”

But Jesus clearly taught its importance for those who seek greatness according to God’s standard. It is putting the needs of others first and serving them. It is hard to do because it goes against our sinful, selfish nature. And often requires the very presence and power of God in our lives.

And still, we will regularly fail. But in Jesus’ willing, sacrificial death for our salvation, we have a perfect example to follow.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.

When God’s People Pray He Does Crazy, Amazing Things

When God’s People Pray He Does Crazy, Amazing Things

When God’s people pray He does crazy, amazing things, This was impressed on me when I attended Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Here’s my story.

When God’s people pray He does crazy, amazing things. Especially when we pray in agreement.

I was a first semester seminary student in a Survey of the New Testament class. The professor was about to start class with a prayer and asked if anyone had a prayer request. A woman raised her hand and requested prayer for a friend. Her friend was married to a man who graduated last year and they had moved to California to plant a church.

The woman said he turned down the opportunity to pastor an established church in Texas to follow this calling and didn’t even have support from the Home Mission Board or other parachurch organizations. His plan was simply to canvass neighborhoods, knock on doors, and build a church from the ground up.

So the woman asked us as followers of Christ and future ministry workers to pray. She didn’t say it, but it was written all over her face. The guy was crazy.

When God’s people pray He does crazy, amazing things. Especially when we follow His leading

I related to the guy and was living it myself. A midwestern boy from Cincinnati, Ohio who had traveled to Fort Worth, Texas to attend seminary. When I felt God calling me to ministry I met with my Southern Baptist church pastor who advised me that seminary was the appropriate step for me to take. Southern Seminary was just down the road in Louisville, Kentucky, but I sensed God leading me to Southwestern.

So here I was staying with the friend of a friend. An outsider in this foreign land of Texas where common wardrobe included cowboy boots and hats. And a new language that called long distance a “fur piece” and a crowd of people “Y’all.”

I think my family and friends thought I was a bit crazy too.

But I’ve learned since then that trusting God and exercising faith often appear that way. Just consider Joshua and the Israelites marching around the walls of Jericho for seven days and Gideon taking on a Midianite army of thousands with 300 men carrying torches and blowing trumpets.

What crazy ways to wage war!

Joshua and Gideon both probably felt a little foolish following God’s direction, but they obeyed anyway. And God amazingly delivered on His promise. If this man was truly following God’s will in this church plant, then I believed God would provide. So I joined with everyone else in the class and prayed for him.

When Christians pray God unleashes His power

It was several years later after I graduated from seminary and began working in church ministry that I heard about a growing church in California that was gaining attention in the Southern Baptist Convention. And the name of the pastor was the guy we prayed for in that seminary class.

The church he planted was thriving and growing like…well, crazy.

I was still in Texas and serving at a church too. Nothing sensational like his ministry, But he had followed God’s leading and so had I and that was the important thing. We both went beyond our comfort zone and responded to God in obedience.

I celebrated what God was doing in his ministry. And I smiled to myself as I remembered the distress in the woman’s voice in that seminary class sharing her prayer request.

I’m sure our class prayer was only one of thousands that was lifted up to God on his behalf.

And I remember how the professor smiled at the woman with love and wisdom. That said he also knew we served an Almighty God.

“What’s your friend’s name?” he asked.

“Her name is Kay,” the woman replied. “And her husband’s name is Rick Warren.”

In case you don’t know, Rick planted Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, California and later authored the best seller The Purpose Driven Life. He pastored Saddleback until he retired in 2022. Today it averages over 20,000 people in weekly attendance.

Crazy and amazing, right?

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview. Check out my Philippians Bible Study on amazon.

Finding Your God Center

Finding Your God Center

Finding your God center is an ongoing journey for Christ-followers. Because we live in a world of opposites. Right and left. Hot and cold. Big and little. And the best location is somewhere in the middle. Here are three principles from Ephesians 5:15-21 to help you find your God center.

Finding your God center involves watching your walk

V.15  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,,,

The word “walk” in v.15 is used figuratively and means your personal conduct and behavior. And notice that Paul takes a positive, proactive approach. He doesn’t rag on you about all the bad things to avoid. Or prescribe a specific “to do” list of good things either. But he provides three general principles to follow.

  • Take charge of your conduct
  • Control your use of time
  • Consider God’s will

Of course, our conduct is not completely controllable because we are still sinful. And often speak and act without thinking. But you can be mindful of it. And that begins with your identity as a child of God. Along with an awareness his Spirit is always present for support. You’re also to be mindful of his will as revealed through scripture. Like demonstrating love for others and treating people how you want to be treated. Along with other instructions throughout the Bible that present God’s will.

Watching your walk is both challenging and rewarding. Prayer, Bible Study, Worship and walking with other Christ-followers helps a lot.

Finding Your God Center involves navigating between legalism and license

V.18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit

The two opposites for Christ-followers are legalism and license. Walking on the extreme side of either one is like hugging a porcupine. It gets prickly.

The Ten Commandments represent God’s law and are fairly straight forward. And the inspired writers of the New Testament added other teachings we accept as straight from God. But sometimes, we add our own extra rules not spelled out in scripture. And then make our rules as important as God’s law.

This sometimes, leads to pride because we do such a good job keeping them all. Which, by the way is a sin, so maybe we didn’t do as well as we think. But other times, keeping those rules becomes a heavy burden. And God doesn’t want that for us either. Because He gives us grace. And Jesus wants us to experience the truth that sets us free.

On the other hand, grace is often used as an excuse for license.

Because Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:8-9 we are saved by grace and not works. Our relationship with Jesus Christ frees us from the law because of grace. And if you push grace to the extreme, you can reason that because God forgives your sin, you can simply sin and ask his forgiveness. Although Paul reminds us that grace is not freedom to sin.

And he warns about a lifestyle of debauchery which is unrestrained indulgence of lust and sensuality. And just like legalism, can become a form of bondage. In the middle of legalism and license is a lifestyle that pursues holiness and righteousness. Not because you have to, but want to please God.

And again. Prayer, Bible study, worship and walking with other Christ-followers helps a lot.

Finding Your God Center involves getting over yourself

V. 21 Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Entitlement is the word for our culture. Submission the word of God. And it’s not easy. Because of course, you have rights. So did Jesus. But he gave them up for you and me. And says if you will be his disciple you must take up your cross and follow him.

The Greek word for “submission” is hupŏtassō and means to be obedient, subject yourself to and put yourself under. It doesn’t mean demeaning or disrespecting yourself. But choosing an attitude of humility. Nor is Paul talking about political, civil rights. But how to interact with others in your personal relationships.

As Jesus demonstrated to his disciples at the last supper, following him involves a heart willing to serve.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.

God’s Word Guides, Frees, and Redeems

God’s Word Guides, Frees, and Redeems

God’s Word Guides, Frees, and Redeems you according to Psalm 119:129-136. It guides you with light and understanding, frees you from the bondage of sin, and redeems you from man’s oppression.

Because the Bible is not a collection of rules that take the fun out of life. But it molds you into the person God created you to be.

God’s word guides, frees, and redeems you by providing light and understanding

V.130 The unfolding of your word gives light and imparts understanding…

We live in a complicated world. Confused by competing messages. Fooled by deception. Captured through seduction.

What can you believe? Who can you trust? How can you know when something is true?

The Bible claims to be God’s words. According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, it’s God breathed. Which means He supernaturally spoke through its writers. Therefore, it is absolute truth. Accurate. Consistent. Reliable.

In a world blanketed by the darkness of sin, God’s word illuminates with a discerning brightness. And His Spirit guides your understanding. So when you read, study, and know His word, you recognize what’s false by holding it up to His truth.

God’s word guides, frees, and redeems you by releasing you from the bondage of sin

V.133 Keep steady my steps and let no iniquity get dominion over me

Sin is subtle. Stealthy. And quietly creeps up on you. We seldom plunge into it headlong, but slowly and imperceptibly. One slight detour from God’s path followed by another. A slow fade of small decisions in a parade moving steadily away from God. The gradual slide into a sink hole until we are firmly stuck in a mire.

And it starts off as fun and pleasure. Harmless and victimless. Until its seductive lure becomes a compulsory grip you can’t escape. God’s words guide you towards right behavior. His precepts towards healthy relationships driven by character and integrity.

And while many claim God’s word burdens you with legalistic demands, Jesus claimed the opposite. His truth sets you free. And his power releases you from the bondage of sin.

God’s word guides, frees, and redeems you by redeeming you from oppression

V.134 Redeem me from man’s oppression that I may keep your precepts

The desire for acceptance. Social expectations. Cancel culture. They are powerful forces that exert themselves in society. And the loudest, most insistent voices demand compliance. Even when you think or believe differently. And especially when you disagree.

So what do you do?

You can reverse your position and go with the flow. Disagree, but remain silent. Or stand firm and risk rejection.

And while I don’t have a specific answer on how to respond to the culture, scripture does reveal how to overcome oppression. Galatians 4:3-7 and Luke 4:18 are two passages among many others that provide an answer. The power of Christ and the power of God’s word offer freedom to those willing to listen and respond.

About Chip Tudor:

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.