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Desiring to build others up & give grace to those who visit

God is Ever-Present; ALL Things are Under His Purview

If God is not ultimately in control over even the times of suffering & great tragedy in this life, then He is no real god at all.

We have a tendency, I think, to see God in the “good” outcomes, and yet, we fail to see Him ever-present even in the midst of trials because that is somehow easier for our finite minds to comprehend (at least at a basic level). However, if we think deeply about this, we will see that if God is not ultimately in control of ALL things, then how can we possibly trust Him to be able to save us or to keep the promises that He has made in His Word?

And if we do trust in His promises, then we have hope that one day all the evil of this present world will be gone. One day the world will be made new. One day we will have no sorrow, no suffering, no pain,  & no questions of “Why?” Jesus has secured this hope through his death & resurrection, & the Holy Spirit has sealed that hope in us for those who believe. There is no true hope apart from Christ Jesus; there is only wishful thinking. And wishful thinking is no hope at all.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:1-11 ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.(Romans 8:18-25 ESV)

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.(Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

The World Is Watching, And They See Our Inconsistencies…Please, for Christ’s Sake & God’s Glory, Represent Him Well

A friend of mine posed this question with his analysis of it on Facebook today:

If God is in charge of everything … and Mitt lost … why are so many Christians angry? It poses a paradox to me. Either you don’t believe that God is in charge, or you don’t like God’s path.

He followed up in the comments with this:

I’m not really saying the original post in a snarky manner either. I just want to reveal the logic flow or thought process of all these angry, vitriolic rants on Facebook from self-professed Christians. Help me understand how these points are reconciled, if they are. Or is it only God’s Will if it abides by your agenda? It just seems strange that so many people who would be celebrating “God’s Will” if a Republican were elected are now spewing venom because things didn’t go their way. Isn’t it still God’s Will? Or does that only apply when they get what they want?

This:

It’s just that the angriest posts I’ve seen come across the feed have been people railing about “nowhere in the Bible is gay marriage okay” and how Obama’s election is sending us straight to Hell and voters should be ashamed. Just real anger. I’m sure there are plenty of non-Christian Romney supporters. I just haven’t seen the specific citation of any sort of ethos in their rants. Mostly they’re railing about specific issues that they disagree with but no explanation as to why. My original post is aimed at a) getting people angrily citing the Bible to think about how they arrived to their anger and/or b) show that thought process out. Kind of like “I’m anti-abortion but pro-capital punishment.” Okay, explain… Both are killing, so how do you arrive at the conclusion that one is okay, the other is not? I’m not attacking anyone or their beliefs. I just want to see how they get from point A to point B, and it’s still consistent with the core belief.

And this:

So my question is kind of like, you say God is driving the bus. It turns left. Now you say the bus is headed to Hell. So if God is driving the bus, then why all the anger? Isn’t God driving and he knows best? But if you’re angry because YOU think you know best, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that you either don’t believe God is driving the bus or you think He doesn’t know what He’s doing? Which goes against the core belief. But you’re still angry.

I should not surprise me (& yet it did) that those outside of Christianity are so readily able to see how little many of us really understand our faith. This Facebook conversation (among other recent events) just solidifies the fact that those of us who are Christians need to dig deep & really strive to understand exactly what it is we believe. We need to take things to their logical conclusions & struggle with the hard things to ensure that we don’t mistakenly misrepresent our Savior & God. Heed the words of the apostle Peter:

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. [emphasis mine]”–1 Peter 3:15-17 (ESV)

For the record, here was my response on the thread (please feel free to respectfully critique it):

It has been said that “The greatest single cause of atheism [or, in my opinion, agnosticism, rejection of Christianity, etc.] in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Your insight above at least somewhat seems to confirm this.

If God is sovereign over all things (& I believe that he is), then even the outcome of this election was not outside of His control. That doesn’t mean Christians can’t have concerns over President Obama’s policies. And it doesn’t mean they can’t be disappointed that he won because of those concerns. But at the end of the day, if you believe in God’s sovereignty, you should accept Romans 13:1 which says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Even if you believe President Obama is evil, you should recognize that God has used many evil rulers over the course of history to accomplish His purposes (this is extremely evident through the Old Testament).

Also, rather than spewing hateful words at the President & his supporters, Christians should heed the words of 1 Timothy 2:1-2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, PRAYERS, intercessions, and THANKSGIVINGS be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. [emphasis mine]”

I think it is also important that we keep in mind the full text of Romans 13. Do not forget that Paul wrote these words most likely while Rome was under the rule of Nero–not exactly a friend to Christianity!

As Christians in this country, we have a right & responsibility to stand against those things that are wrong, those things that go against God’s word, but we must do it with respect. We have a right to free speech, but that doesn’t mean we are obligated to express that right, especially in an angry & hateful manner. Meditate on Proverbs 13:3, 15:28,&  21:23; and on Ecclesiastes 5:2.

For some wise advice on how to respond to the outcome of this election, I recommend Christians, Let’s Honor the President by Russell Moore.

Changing My Mind On the Election at the Eleventh Hour

A few weeks ago I posted a couple of links to blog posts from Thabiti Anyabwile regarding not voting in tomorrow’s election. Since that time, I’ve been strongly leaning toward not voting in this year’s presidential election. I’ve been becoming ever more tired of politics in this great country with each passing year. I’ve gone from essentially a straight-ticket Republican to a cynical, reluctant participant in the election process who thinks all politicians are the worst of liars & wouldn’t know what their constituents believe/desire if one was standing in front of them telling them exactly what he/she thinks.

I’ve flirted with voting for a third-party candidate because I feel like the two-party system is a farce & only serves to further polarize our nation. I don’t buy the arguments (generally) that voting third-party (or abstaining from voting) is necessarily wasting your vote as long as you have taken the time to be informed about the candidates, issues, & political climate. I’ve been intrigued by Gary Johnson (I’m pretty sure economically-speaking I’m a libertarian at heart) & have posted some things about & by him on Facebook, but there are a few issues that he supports that make me a bit iffy about him.

I don’t believe a candidate has to line up exactly with me on all issues, but there does need to be some similarities across a broad range of issues.

All of that to say this: I’ve changed my mind for this election. I will be voting for president from the only two choices who have a shot at winning the office.

What made me change my mind, you ask? Well, it occurred after carefully reading through the posts linked to in A Multitude of Counselors | the Cripplegate. (I warn you; one or two of the posts linked to there are quite offensive in tone, & while I don’t condone that tone, the overall arguments are worth considering)

It comes down, essentially, to two things: math & life.

Frank Turk at the Pyromaniacs blog shows mathematically how a third-party vote or a non-vote helps to ensure victory for Obama.

Oh. Did I forget to mention that I wouldn’t be voting for Obama? And it has nothing to do with the color of his skin, where he was born, thinking he’s the Antichrist, or any other craziness like that. I won’t vote for him because I disagree with the majority of his policies not the least of which are his views/policies regarding abortion.

The two most accurate national polls from the 2008 election currently have Obama & Romney between one & three percentage points from each other. For me, after reading Turk’s analysis, this is too close of an election to “make a point” by giving my vote to a third-part candidate–especially since I am one of those red-side voters he mentions.

The reason I now think this is so important is primarily because I believe in the sanctity of life–>from conception to natural death. President Obama & the Democratic Party do not come close to holding my views on this issue:

“On the issue of abortion, the Republican platform states, ‘we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.’ The Democratic platform states: ‘The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.'[…]One party claims that no abortions should be legal and the other claims that all abortions should be legal.”–Albert Mohler

Obama’s record clearly shows full support of abortions at any stage of development. And while you might question Romney’s pro-life stance, here’s what we do know (according to Dan Phillips):

  1. We know that, of all the folks he could have chosen, Romney chose a VP with an outspoken and 100% pro-life record.
  2. We know that Planned Parenthood loves abortion, loves Obama, hates Romney.
  3. We know that he’s convinced activist Gary Bauer.
  4. We know that Romney is supported by The Right to Life of Michigan Political Action Committee, the Susan B. Anthony list, National Right to Life, Colorado Citizens for Life, and other groups.
You don’t like the exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother. I don’t like two of those three, either. So supposing Romney succeeds in preventing abortions except for those cases. You do know that that means preventing more than nine out of ten abortions, don’t you? Whereas your only other alternative, Barack Obama, favors preventing zero abortions?
The other issue in regards to life that I feel I have to consider this time around is the issue of the Supreme Court. The court is currently mostly balanced with 4 left-leaning judges, 4 right-leaning judges, and 1 swing vote. There seems to be a significant potential for the next president to significantly affect the makeup of the Court depending on who might retire or pass away during his term. I feel much more comfortable with a more conservative-leaning court than with a more liberal-leaning court that would potentially be more willing too re-interpret the Constitution.
On these two points alone, I feel I need to vote for Mitt Romney & against Barack Obama. And that doesn’t even include considering Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility, attacks on freedom of religion, etc.
Listen, I’m not thrilled about voting for Romney; if there were a better choice out there, I’d go for it. But, as Kevin DeYoung, points out, the question we should ask ourselves when it comes to the election is “How can I, with my vote, best advance what I believe to be the proper role and goals of government?” I personally believe in this election that I can answer that question with a vote for Romney. There may come an election when I think I can best answer that question with a vote for a third-party candidate in order to try to change the status quo & break up the the two-party monopoly (and, actually, when it comes to the US Senate race in Ohio, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing), but I don’t believe this is the election in which to do that.
Now, keep in mind, I fully believe in Romans 13:1. I believe God is sovereign over all things & will use whichever man wins this election for His good purposes. BUT…God has also placed me in a country whose form of government includes the privilege of the people being allowed to vote, & so I will prayerfully do so.
I will leave you with a prayer from John Piper regarding elections:

Father in heaven, as we approach this election on Tuesday, I pray

1) that your people will vote,

2) and that they will vote with a sense of thankfulness for a democratic system that at least partially holds in check the folly and evil in all our hearts so that power which corrupts so readily is not given to one group or person too easily;

3) that we would know and live the meaning of

  • being in the world, but not of it,
  • doing politics as though not doing them,
  • being on the earth, yet having our lives hidden with Christ in God,
  • rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s;

4) that we would discern what truths and values should advance by being made law and which should advance only by the leavening of honest influence;

5) that your people would see what love and justice and far-seeing wisdom demand in regard to the issues of education, business and industry, health care, marriage and family, abortion, welfare, energy, government and taxes, military, terrorism, international relations, and every challenge that we will face in the years to come;

6) and above all, that we will treasure Jesus Christ, and tell everyone of his sovereignty and supremacy over all nations, and that long after America is a footnote to the future world, he will reign with his people from every tribe and tongue and nation.

Keep us faithful to Christ’s all important Word, and may we turn to it every day for light in these dark times.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Bible Study

[Originally posted as a note on Facebook on May 16, 2010]

This morning I had the privilege of teaching the Disciple Hour (Sunday School) lesson to the men in my church without a prepackaged lesson (for those who might be curious, it was on 1 Peter 4:12-19). I have no idea how well I did; I think I did an adequate job, but I really am not worried about it either way. It was a gracious blessing to me from God to be allowed that opportunity if for no other reason than it forced me to study God’s Word more in depth than what I am used to doing on my own. I have never been very good at studying, & when it comes to the Bible, I have often used the excuse that I don’t know how to study as a way to avoid really getting into God’s Word. Many times I feel like I don’t have time to put into it, but it is more likely that I don’t WANT to put in the time & effort that good Bible study requires. What I would like to happen is that I read God’s Word & He just blasts understanding into my mind; what typically happens is that I read a passage or two of Scripture, have some sort of basic understanding of what it means, & there is no carryover of what I have read into my life. I now realize (I think I’ve always know this) that in order to get much out of what I read of God’s Word, I have to put much into it (& I don’t mean adding to God’s Word). It requires both time & effort; for me, it requires the use of multiple sources & translations. BUT, the effort is worth it! I can’t expect to be able to breeze through the Bible; I am going to have to take small sections & spend days or weeks or months working my way through them. I plan to continue working my way through the Bible on a daily basis because I think I do retain some of it, and I can’t say that I’ve ever read it cover to cover before. If I improve my basic knowledge of the Bible, I think it will make it a little easier to gain deeper knowledge of it. However, I also now plan to spend considerable time in a small passage to gain a deeper understanding of it & a deeper love of God. For this effort, I will be praying the IOUS (see below), & I would appreciate any prayers that others would be willing to offer.

I–Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain!-Psalm 119:36
O–Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.-Psalm 119:18
U–[…], unite my heart to fear your name.-Psalm 86:11b
S–Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.-Psalm 90:14

God’s Gracious Curveballs

“Either we believe Rom 8:28-29, or we don’t: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose; for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

What this means is that God is writing your life script. It means God is writing your story. And it means that your story is not without purpose – not your comfort, but your conformity to the image of Jesus Christ.

So when you wake up in the morning and something unexpected, surprising, horrifying, grievous, extreme, trying, terrible or shocking happens to you, you can know that it is coming from the hand of your good God. It’s a gracious reminder that you are not writing your life’s story. God is – the God who loves you so much that he sacrificed his son for your salvation. And the reason it’s a gracious reminder is that the greatest problem we have is that we spend far too much of our lives with self at the center, believing the lie that my life is my own, that I am in charge of my destiny, that I have life firmly in my control. These lies are just that – lies! And they only destroy us in the end.

So be thankful today for God’s gracious curveballs. They are the evidence that your loving Father is writing the story of your transformation from what you once were to all you were meant to be in Jesus.”–RW Glenn

Why It May Be a Good Idea Not to Vote This Year…

Two very important posts by Thabiti Anyabwile regarding voting in the upcoming election:

W.E.B DuBois Would Not Vote in This Election

Martin Luther King, Jr. Would Stand for Ideals Rather Than Settle for Evil in This Election

Whether you decide to vote or not in this election, you should take the time to at least consider what Mr. Anyabwile has to say in these two posts.

Is Doctrine Important?

In short, the answer is, “Yes.”

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t things that we should be willing to concede among brothers & sisters in Christ, but we must be careful to hold to the truths of God’s Word.

So, what can happen if we don’t maintain that doctrine is important? I submit for example an excerpt from a message someone I know (I don’t think I need to be any more specific than that for this person’s sake & because ultimately it’s not important to this post) sent me a few days ago:

“We had a ‘church consultant’ come in today to help ‘healing,’ but instead of talking about forgiveness and things that would have been relevant, he talked about ‘woman speak’ and ‘man speak (of course, woman speak is the one where someone says one thing but means and expects another– you know, ‘No, you don’t have to get me anything,’ etc. So basically, women are manipulative liars, and men are the hapless, direct creatures that have to follow them around and guess). It was bad enough, until he actually started saying that this could be avoided in marriage by occasionally giving a flower– ‘Not even a rose! Just one single flower!’– on some day where your wife isn’t expecting it, and then you’re out of the dog house for a while. THEN he said that that’s how we should view Jesus: He commands certain things for us, but he actually wants different things from us, and we should guess what that is. Obedience isn’t enough for him to love you, and neither is love; it takes weirdly spontaneous action that no one can predict or understand.”

How do you ever come to a conclusion like this unless you have abandoned doctrine & God’s Word completely?!

Read the Word. Study it. Think about doctrine. Work through those things that you have questions about. Ask questions of wise men & women who have spent much time studying these things. Pray.

How Could One Not Believe?

Psalm 19:1-6

During the drive home from work today, I was listening to a Wayne Grudem systematic theology lecture (you can get all 119 lectures free + shipping on mp3 CD or download each one free here) about the arguments for God, and as I listened I was thinking about Psalm 19 (I had been studying it last night, & Dr. Grudem mentioned it during this particular lecture), thinking about the expanse of the universe, thinking of the miniscule building blocks of our bodies and other things, & thinking of various things in between.

Do you know what struck me as I pondered these things? I was amazed! But maybe not by what you may think…

Yes, I was amazed at the beauty & intricacy of God’s creation. I was floored by the unfathomable depths of God’s creativity.

But…

I was even more astonished that there are those out there who do not believe there is a god. And, not only that, but there are those who go to great lengths to “prove” that we came to be by some unintelligent (this does not seem like an appropriate word choice) means.

I find it hard to believe that you can look at the vastness of space & the beauty of the stars; that you can see the sun rise & set; that you can hear the birds sing (& not just one kind of bird, but thousands upon thousands of different kinds); that you can study the complexity of the human body (not just the multitude of organ systems working together in harmony, but also the varied individual cells & the DNA & the processes that create energy & the billions of neurons in the brain…); that you can see the variability of the plant life & animal life & insect life; that you can study the structures of compounds & how atoms stick together in different structural arrangements; and that you can hear, see, smell, taste, & feel a thousand other things and not see proof that there is a God & that He is good.

And, yet, although I cannot understand that from a human perspective when I take the time to look & think about God’s creation, even God’s Word tells me it is this way:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:18-23 (ESV)

I am thankful for God’s grace & mercy upon me, undeserving though I am, that I have been blessed by God to be able to see Him. I have some friends that I would love to argue into God’s kingdom using various “proofs” & thoughts,  but I realize that no matter how good or how logical my argument may be, God is the one who calls & He does so via His Word.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Cor 3:7 (ESV)

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:8-17 (ESV)

Peace of Mind or the Peace That Passes All Understanding

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.[…] I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Phil 4:4-9 & 11b-13 (ESV)

Being at peace with a decision is not the same as having the peace that passes all understanding. Making a decision that falls in line with your own desires is likely to produce a peace about the decision, but having a peace that passes all understanding is being at peace with the God of the universe through Jesus the Christ even though we deserve no peace from Him because we have committed treason against His infinite attributes (in other words, we have sinned against Him). If you have THAT peace, you can be at peace no matter what situation you are in regardless of whether it lines up with your desires or not.

“It is a by-product of the presence of the ‘God of peace’ that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The full reality of that peace comes to bear as we obey the command of verse 8 above: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”–in other words, saturate your thoughts in Christ & the Gospel. (Thank you Pastor Gary for that helpful insight!)

Why Study the Psalms if I Don’t Get Them?

I’ve been trying to work my way through the book of Psalms & spend some time on each one using a commentary because I’ve always had trouble “getting” the psalms. I understand the basic gist of the psalms (or think I do), but they are generally not the inspiration & comfort to me that they are to so many people. Part of it is the structure of them; because they are poetry, I have a hard time understanding them. Call me shallow, but I’ve always had more difficulty with poetry that doesn’t rhyme (& many times I even have difficulty with that). Add to that the fact that the psalms are translated out of a foreign language with structural compositions that I have a hard time following, & it makes me want to just breeze through them to get them over with & just hope that God will somehow bless my mere completing of the task.

The bigger reason, I think, that they don’t have the effect on me that others seem to experience is that God has chosen to spare me of significant trials & sorrows to this point in my life (&, yes, I need to spend some time considering the implications of that based on some New Testament passages). Take the first 2 verses of Psalm 18 for instance (where I’m currently at in reading through the psalms):

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Now, I can accede to all that in my mind, but there is no significant sense of comfort there for me because I have not experienced that overwhelming need for a refuge & stronghold from my enemies whoever or whatever they may be.

So, does this mean that I have no reason to study these Scriptures more deeply & try to get more out of them? Absolutely not! And here are a few of the benefits I can see of studying them more in depth even though I do not experience them the way others do (in no particular order):

1. I may be able to point someone else to particular ones in the time of their distress.

2. God may more readily bring them to my own mind for comfort when I do experience trials & sorrows.

3. I will gain a better understanding & appreciation of the various attributes of God especially love, mercy, & faithfulness.

4. I may better see how the Old Testament looks forward to Christ & see Him in the Psalms (because, to quote Sally Lloyd Jones, “every story whispers his name” [The Jesus Storybook Bible])

5. I may gain a better understanding of poetry in general & in particular in how it is used in the Bible.

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