The Two Marks of a Wicked Person (PART 1)

Psalm 10:2-11
The psalmist describes two sides of the character of the wicked in Psalm 10:2–11. Structurally each description is five verses long and ends with the inner thoughts of the unjust oppressor, “He says in his heart” (10:6, 11). Two words summarize these wicked oppressors: arrogant and aggressive. Their pride and violence spell disaster for anyone who stands in their way.
First, the wicked oppressors are arrogant. The trouble they cause flows out of self-importance.
In arrogance, the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. (10:2)
Where does this abusive pride come from? For one thing, they forget that the rich and poor were both created by God. We did not make ourselves. We did not choose which family we were born into and the opportunities we were given. We did not decide how intelligent we would be, how wise we would be, how self-motivated we would be. All this is from God’s hand. The writer of Proverbs says, “The rich and the poor meet; the Lord is the maker of them all” (Prov.22:2). The wicked forget this. They like to view themselves as self-made men, like sharks made to swim at the top of the food chain. This pride is Darwinian at its core—a survival of the fittest that grinds the poor into the dirt. And in their arrogance, they think God will never do anything. They have nothing but contempt for God and laugh at any idea of judgment.
In fact, they do not worship God. They worship themselves.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (10:3, 4)
The word “for” (v. 3) tells us why the wicked pursue the poor. They turn on the poor and the helpless because they first turned against God.
What does it mean to boast in your desires? That is an unusual phrase. The wicked are proud of their desires. Their cravings are a virtue. After all, didn’t they succeed because of their will to win? Their greed got them where they are.
One of the most powerful illustrations of this came from the 1987 Oliver Stone movie Wall Street. The main character, Gordon Gekko, was modeled after high-powered traders who ran the financial markets like masters of the universe. In one famous scene Gekko delivers a speech to the nervous shareholders of Teldar Paper Corporation.
Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.
This quote struck a chord because it hit so close to home. The spirit of American materialism declares that greed is a virtue, that in fact greed is the foundation of success. This is the mind-set of the man or woman who boasts of the desires of his or her soul. They boast because they believe it is a good thing never to be content, never to be satisfied, always to want more. And in their greed, they grind the poor into the ground to get what they want.
It is sobering to notice that these wicked men and women renounce God by his personal name, Yahweh (“the Lord,” v. 3). This implies that these oppressors are not foreigners; they are Israelites who knowingly reject the God of Israel. In their greed, they loved money and possessions more than God. In their pride, they did not look for him. Finally, they denied that God even exists.

SOURCE: Culled from Rejoice the Lord is King (James Johnston).

God’s Grace and Our Finances

Proverbs 3:9-10
If you knew that something you desired could destroy your life, would you keep chasing after it? The Bible warns about a certain kind of pursuit that can cause one to:
1)Fall into sin.
2)Be mastered by foolish wishes.
3)Engage in activities that erode character.
4)Plunge into moral ruin.
5)Wander from faith.
In spite of these dire warnings, many people are still ruled by a longing to get rich.

There is nothing wrong with being affluent, as long as we follow God’s rules for wise living. Specifically, we are to honor Him with our money, which includes acknowledging that He is the rightful owner (Prov. 3:9; Ps. 50:10). And we’re also to give it cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7). The desire for riches becomes a sin when accumulation is among our highest priorities. If that is the case, the god we end up serving is money.
Believers are to live by grace in every aspect of their lives, including finances. That means we surrender wages, portfolio, and charitable giving into God’s hands. Furthermore, we accept what He gives ?as enough, even when the bank account seems low by the world’s standards. He has promised to supply our needs, so we’re to regard financial gains and losses as part of His will and plan.

I am not preaching a message that suggests godly people are rewarded with riches. Poverty and tough times are as common to believers as to unbelievers. However, the Bible promises that if we live by God’s grace, He will provide amply for whatever we need (2 Cor. 9:8).
Bible in One Year: Job 13-16

Your Power Source

“God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to you.” (Psalm 62:11, NLT)
Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT)

It is amazing what lengths people will go to in order to gain access to those they perceive as “powerful people.”
The Psalmist had it right. Power belongs to God. He is the one who can bring about the change we need in our lives and in the circumstances we encounter in this turbulent world.
In so many ways we are weak, powerless, and vulnerable. However, we have been born to a living hope. Subject to the sovereign will of God, we are kept by the power of God:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s great mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Now we hope for the blessings God has for his children. These blessings, which cannot be destroyed or be spoiled or lose their beauty, are kept in heaven for you. God’s power protects you through your faith until salvation is shown to you at the end of time.” (1 Peter 1:3–5, NCV)

Paul had a chronic physical condition that burdened him, and he prayed to have it removed. A message came from the Lord saying that God’s grace was all Paul he needed to sustain himself. He was told that God’s power works best in weakness. Paul said he would boast about his weaknesses so the power of Christ could work through him.
Is there a lesson for us here?

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27, NIV84)
May the power of Christ rest on you and me. Weakness may help make us better candidates for God to use.

Today, ask yourself: 
Am I acknowledging my weakness and dependency on God?  Is his grace sufficient for me?

SOURCE: Culled from KingdomNomics.

Your Guide to Life

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105 NASB

Why is the Bible so important? To many it is just a collection of stories. One possible option. But, in fact, the Bible is our guide to life.
From the story of creation, we receive a foundational worldview to shape our thinking. From Adam and Eve, we learn God’s designs, and the reality of temptation. From Noah, we see His standards and holiness. From Abraham, we learn how to live by faith. From Joseph, we learn to trust Him in every situation.
From Moses we learn the importance of humility, and how to lead, and follow His leading. From the Law we see principles that lead to success, and failure. From Israel’s history, we see the consequences of obedience and disobedience, and how quickly we can forget history’s lessons.
From David, we learn the heart of God. From Solomon, we learn the keys to Godly wisdom and the consequences of pride. From Isaiah, we glimpse His plans. From Ezekiel and Jeremiah, we learn the importance of obeying His call. From Amos, we learn that God’s call may seem outside our comfort zone. From Hosea, we learn the depth of His love.
From the Psalms, we learn to be honest with God, and sing His praises. From Proverbs, we learn discretion and wisdom. From Ecclesiastes, we realize how life without God can be like chasing the wind.
From Peter, we see boldness. From Paul, we receive an overflow of spiritual insights. From Hebrews, we understand how the old and new covenants work together. From Revelation, we receive His perspective of eternity. The benefits of the words and life of Jesus are too many to be counted, and the entire Bible is ultimately a testimony about Him (Luke 24:27).
Amazingly, the truths in the Bible apply to each of us. This is why we need to depend on the Bible. To learn and study it. To make it a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.

Today’s Inspiration Prayer
Father, give me a greater hunger for Your Word. Reveal more of Your truth to me. I seek Your wisdom and guidance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Further Reading: Psalm 119

SOURCE: Culled from Inspiration Ministries.


Your Relationships

“You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods.” – Deuteronomy 7:2-4 NKJV

It would have been ideal to enter a land with no conflicts or distractions. But God knew thereality. His people were about to enter the Promised Land, and He knew that it was filled withtemptations and opportunities for them to compromise. The rewards would be great, but they had to be prepared, or face defeat.
He warned them about the ways they could be led astray. They would have many opportunities to establish relationships with the people of the land. But they had to be careful. They had to realize how these relationships could influence them and draw them away from the Truth. They could start thinking wrong thoughts, and pursuing wrong goals.
The New Testament provides a similar warning, that we should avoid being “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). This does not mean that we should seek absolute isolation. In many practical ways, we all need to interact with people in the world. But there are dangers in being “yoked.” In being joined in heart and soul. These relationships can poison our minds and lead us away from the purity that God desires for us.
We always need to remember that if we have committed our lives to God, we have entered into a covenant relationship with Him. He has promised to provide for us, guide us, protect us, and bless us. But we must keep our part of the covenant. This means keeping His commandments, and never having any other gods before Him.
Today, ask God to help you evaluate your relationships. Make a commitment to serve Him, and seek first His Kingdom. And be careful about relationships with which you are yoked.

Today’s Inspiration Prayer
Father, I commit my life to You. Show me if there are relationships I should avoid. Give me Your discernment. I seek first Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Further Reading: Deuteronomy 7

Zeal for the Lord

“Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.’” – John 2:17 NKJV

Philip William Otterbein was on fire for the Lord. In fact, he was so intense in his faith that some found him offensive.
Born into a Christian home on this day in 1726 in what is today Germany, he was ordained in 1749. But, three years later, facing resistance, he responded to the call for ministries in America. He welcomed the opportunity, seeking a fresh start.
Even in his new homeland, he remained bold and zealous for the Gospel, fearlessly challenging his listeners to consider the condition of their souls. To repent of sin. To turn to God.

Feeling the burden to reach more people for Christ, he gained important insights into evangelism when he encountered the ministry of Francis Asbury. Incorporating what he had learned, he experienced new levels of breakthrough. But, just as he had found in Europe, some resisted his ministry.

Yet he remained zealous for the Lord. In the pulpit, he preached with such fire that listeners were known to weep, as they became convicted by their sins. He continually sought to rely on the Holy Spirit for his words. In one of his last sermons, he was so weak that he had difficulty speaking, and cried aloud, “O Lord, help me this one more time to preach your word.” Immediately he could speak with ease and finished the message. He died soon after, in 1813.
Asbury, the man from whom he learned so much, marveled at Otterbein’s zeal for the things of God. He observed how he sought “to be known only of God and the people of God.”

Today, God looks for people with this same kind of zeal and commitment to evangelism. Ask Him to ignite you with the fire of the Holy Spirit, and give you a compassion for Souls
Today’s Inspiration Prayer
Father, give me a burden for Souls. Forgive me for my complacency. Stir me with Your Spirit. I commit these people to You:. Move in their lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: John 2STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Inspiration Ministries.

Whole Life Worship

Scripture: Romans 11:33-36, Romans 12:1-8
For many Christians, the word worship is synonymous with the songs we sing in church services. This is often implied when those who lead music announce to the congregation, “Let’s stand and worship.” Singing praises to God is but one aspect of what the word means—it includes much more and is not limited to Sunday morning in a church building.

When the Samaritan woman spoke to Jesus about this, He told her a time would come when the place wouldn’t be important. In that day, worship would be done in spirit and in truth (John 4:20-24), as an integral part of everything in our daily life.

Let’s consider ways we worship God:
With our words (Rom. 11:33-36). Right after finishing a thorough explanation of doctrine to the church in Rome, Paul broke out in praise to the Lord. As our minds are filled with God’s truths, our worship will likewise overflow in prayer and songs of adoration, praise, and reverence.

With surrendered lives (Rom. 12:1-2). Instead of worshipping with animal sacrifices, we offer ourselves to the Lord through holy, obedient living. This is possible because God’s truth renews our mind, thereby transforming our life.

With service to others (Rom. 12:3-8). Everything we do can be an act of worship when it is done as unto the Lord. By His grace, He has even given us spiritual gifts that enable us to serve one another.

Think about your choices, actions, and words throughout the day—both to God and to others. How can they be transformed into worship?STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

Peace with One Another

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 13:11

As Christians, we have a special relationship with each other because of our union with Jesus. You’ve probably experienced this if you’ve met a stranger with whom you sensed a bond and soon discovered that you were both Christians.

Scripture calls us to be a source of encouragement and help to our brothers and sisters in Christ, yet most of us know at least one believer with whom we have more conflict than comfort. Perhaps our personalities don’t mesh, or we have different convictions that sometimes result in arguments. The problem could also be a matter of miscommunication or misunderstanding.

Whatever our natural differences may be, we can overcome them through Jesus Christ and live in peace with one another. Instead of building walls, we can express grace to others in the following ways:

Prayer. Make it a habit to lift up the other person in prayer to the Father.

Communication. Discuss the relational issue openly and honestly. Clear up any incorrect assumptions and uncover the source of conflict. Be willing to share concerns and listen to the other point of view.

Counsel. To work though the conflict, it may sometimes be necessary to enlist the aid of a godly counselor.

Restoration. Once the root issue is resolved and harmony is restored, both parties should agree to address new conflicts promptly as they arise.

God calls us to live in peace, and He has provided everything we need to obey Him. When we allow His indwelling Holy Spirit to control us, His goodness and grace will flow through us to others, creating harmony.STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

Right Words

‘Let your conversation be always full of grace.’ – Colossians 4:6 NIV
Our words have power. They can lift people up or bring them down. They can heal or they can hurt. They can speak God’s truth or the enemy’s lies. And we have the ability to choose, every day, the way we use our words. The Bible says: ‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight’ (Psalm 19:14 NIV).
When we stop and think, are our words pleasing to God? We can end up saying things in the heat of the moment, we criticise others and promote ourselves, or we tear ourselves down by saying that we’re not good enough. Controlling our words is something we all struggle with. Maybe this is why words are mentioned so many times in the Bible. In James, we’re taught that the tongue is hard to control. ‘The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image’ (v.8-9 MSG). And if we don’t try and use wisdom when speaking, our words can have bad consequences. When we’ve criticised others, we may quickly forget what we’ve said to them, but those words may stay with that person for their whole life. It can take years to break off things that other people have spoken over us. ‘It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that’ (James 3:5 MSG). Instead, the Bible tells us to ‘Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone’ (NLT).

What Now?
Think about the things you’ve said to others so far this week. Ask God for forgiveness for any words that haven’t been pleasing to Him.STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from United Christian Broadcasters.

Desire: Attractiveness

‘Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.’ – 1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV
The Bible tells us to eat, drink, celebrate, sing, dance, shout, and make music – all things we do with our bodies. And these things can actually become a way of remembering how good God is. Our physical lives are not separate from our spiritual lives. After all, it’s God’s Spirit who makes our bodies come to life. But if we’re not careful, our priorities can shift from God to ourselves and what we look like. We can become obsessed with our appearance, our weight, our health and the latest fashions.

The Bible never tells us that wanting to care for our bodies is wrong. In fact, it says: ‘Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.’ And we should respect, care for and honour that temple. God also made us with a love of beauty, but the Bible says: ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight’ (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIVUK). So our character is more important than how we look. While society is often focused on appearance, God’s focused on how we are on the inside. The Bible says: ‘God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7 NCV). Our character is the thing that will last. ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting’ (Proverbs 31:30 NIV).

So we need to think about our priorities. What’s the focus of our minds? The desire to be physically attractive? Or the desire to become more like Christ?

What Now?
Write out 1 Samuel 16:7 and stick it on your mirror. Every time you go to the mirror to check how you’re looking, read the verse out loud.
SOURCE: Culled from United Christian Broadcasters.