Beseeching God in Tribulation

In times of deepest trouble, how do we most effectively call on God?

In Psalm 44, the Sons of Korah beg God for help in dealing with their present trials. The singers are referring to a national trial, probably a defeat in battle during the time of Hezekiah or Josiah, but with existing evidence we cannot be certain. Since the singers make no mention of the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, and since there is no mention of religious persecution, this Psalm is probably set during or after the Babylonian exile.

The Days of Victory

Korah’s sons begin by looking back. Israel had glorious days under the watchful eyes of their loving God. Through His power, Moses delivered the Hebrews from Egypt, Joshua conquered the Promised Land, and David made them into a mighty nation. Verses 1-3 demonstrate that fathers taught their sons for generations about the awesome works of God on their behalf. The sons listened.

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Partial Obedience

Real obedience is “right away, all the way, and with a happy heart.” Anything else is disobedience.

My oldest daughter Anna hates washing dishes. While she was growing up, whenever my wife or I asked her to rinse the dishes and load the dishwasher, she suddenly remembered homework or some other desperately important thing to do. My wife Nancy would ask again and again until Anna started shouting and Nancy started crying. Eventually I would intervene and Anna would do the dishes. She did a fine job, but the process was exhausting.

“Mack”, an employee of mine from several years ago, never refused to do a task, but did a poor job at it. If I asked him to update a spreadsheet, he might update a column and leave the rest unchanged. This had the unfortunate effect of changing the results in most of the other columns and ruining everything. In the time it took to correct his work, I could have done it, and four other things. “Mack” soon found other opportunities.

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Afraid to Be Holy

Holiness, being set apart, is exactly what most of us don’t want. It is scary, lonely, hard, and subjects us to all manner of injury. Yet God commands us, in company with our brothers and sisters in Christ, to be holy. 

This morning I mentioned to a member of my Bible Fellowship class that we would be studying holiness. Like many people, he asked if I meant “morally good or ethical.” “Actually,” I replied, “to be holy is to be set apart to God. Morality is only part of holiness.” To be holy, we must be morally like God, but we must also be different in non-moral ways from the world around us. Ancient Israel is a good example. Circumcision confers no moral benefit, but God required it of His people nonetheless. Following the dietary and hygiene laws in Leviticus results in better health, but not in claims to greater righteousness.

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Modern Idolaters and Chronological Snobs

Whether we admit it or not, we often think that we are smarter, more moral, and better than our ancestors. We should not be so sure. 

My son recently completed his first year in engineering at Virginia Tech, and found himself surrounded by highly accomplished and intelligent faculty and students. These people differed on religion, politics, lifestyles, interests, backgrounds, and almost everything else. Yet they agreed on one important opinion: people today are smarter, more virtuous, and perhaps even better overall, than people of yesteryear.

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A Witness Carol

Christians do not walk alone in the race of life. We run with our contemporaries and are supported by a cloud of witnesses. Thank God, for life is too hard to be lived alone.  

In his famous work, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens told the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly businessman who learned the true meaning of Christmas. Three important characters in the transformation of Scrooge from sinner to saint were the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future.

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The Value of Creeds

Creeds help us remember, and prompt us to think. We should use them more in the Church. 

Early in the history of the Church the “Scriptures” referred only to the Old Testament because the books we know of as the New Testament were not yet written or at least not in their final form. To ensure that early Christians knew the fundamentals of the faith, churches used Creeds, statements of faith with which one must agree to be considered part of the church. Hebrews 6:1-3 contains one of the earliest creeds in Church History. It includes the following:

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