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Loyal
Saturday, October 1, 2016, 5:36 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 25 (Select vv. ESV).

He Leads the Humble (vv. 8-10)

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

So good is our God that he sent his One and Only Begotten Son to the earth to die on a cross for our sins. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:21). So, when Jesus died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell and death. Through faith in him we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:24; Ro. 6:1-23). His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. This is how he instructs sinners in The Way.

When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we repent of (turn from) our sins and we turn to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We put off our old sinful self, we are born anew of the Spirit of God, and we put on Christ. He now lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. We have, thus, humbled ourselves before God in confession of sin, and in repentance, and in submission to his will and to his ways. And, so he instructs us in how we should live. We should count ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. We should no longer let sin have rule over our lives, but we should offer ourselves to God as instruments of his righteousness. Sin should no longer be our master, but we should now be servants (slaves) of righteousness (See: Ro. 6:1-23).

Fear the Lord (vv. 11-15)

For your name's sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

What does it mean to walk in the fear of the Lord? To fear God, in this context, is not to be afraid of him, but to have a respectful reverence for him. For example, I am not afraid of fire, but I do have a respectful watchfulness with regard to its use. I don’t play with fire, in other words, but I am careful to use it properly, and for good purposes. When used properly, fire can be our friend. It can warm us in cold weather, cook our food, and it can put an end to our trash. But, used improperly, it can kill and destroy. And, the same is true in how we treat God. If we just play church, and we show disrespect to our Lord, and we dishonor our God, the result is death and destruction. But, if we show proper respect, reverence and honor for God, the result is that he is our friend for life, and our souls will be well.

Lonely and Afflicted (vv. 16-18)

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

There are many reasons why we may experience loneliness or feel lonely. I know it is possible to be in a room full of people and to still feel all alone, except for God. In today’s world, this is brought on much by so many people staring at smart phones, tablets, computers, video games and TV, even when they are with other people, and even when they could be having conversations with others. So, you can be in a room full of people, and if they are all playing with their smart phones, tablets and/or video games, you may feel alone, even though there are people physically present with you, because they are not mentally or emotionally with you.

As well, as followers of Christ, we can sometimes feel alone if the people we are around (Christians included) are living worldly lives, and if we are living separated lives from the world because we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ. We may understand them, because we have been where they are, perhaps, but they may not understand us, and they may wonder why we don’t do the things that they do. The more separate from the world we become, the more alone we may feel, at times, unless we are around many others who have also seen the need to depart from following after the ways of this sinful world, who are also walking in the fear of the Lord. Especially if we are preaching the full gospel message, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, we may be ostracized by others, as Jesus was, and that may also contribute to our feelings of loneliness.

Along with this loneliness may be affliction, as well, and that may come from persecution, rejection, misunderstandings, and false accusations coming from those who do not like us for whatever reason. Those who are serious about God and his Word, particularly here in America in 2016, have a bad reputation right now. We are being tagged as intolerant, bigoted, hateful, and as religious extremists who must be silenced or reprogrammed. And so we may be pushed aside and people may not want to befriend us, even within the church, and thus we may feel lonely. Some of our opposition may be convinced that there is rightness in numbers and thus may strongly come against us because we don’t “go with the flow.”

Many Foes (vv. 19-21)

Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

So, we may pray, asking God to consider our loneliness, our afflictions and how many hate us and are working against us. And, we may ask him to guard our hearts, and to come near to us that we may sense his presence with us, because sometimes our emotions can get in the way of us feeling that he is near, even though he always is, for he will never leave us or forsake us. We may also ask to be delivered from our affliction, yet we know that these afflictions are necessary in our lives to mature us, to teach us perseverance, to produce in us godly character, and that we might learn to rely on God and not on ourselves. So, God may not always deliver us from difficulties and trials, but he will see us through them, and he will strengthen us in them.

The important thing here is that we do call on God in our troubles, and that we don’t let them get the best of us, but we learn to persevere and to grow in our faith despite all that is coming against us. We must trust in our Lord’s complete sovereignty over our lives and believe he will work everything out for our good, and for the salvation of human lives. We must hold on to his promises, and not give up just because life gets harder, and the persecution becomes even more severe. The road ahead may get rough, but he will direct us in the way we should go, and he will equip and train us and provide for us all we need to endure. So, trust him with your life. And, believe that he cares. For he is the best friend anyone could ever have!

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Joseph M. Scriven / Charles C. Converse

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.
 
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