4 Facts of Life (Psalm 90) – Notes

 

Paradise

1. The Shortness of Life: 
Life is Like Grass That Withers, Like A Sleep

Psa 90:5-6 
They are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up. In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers.

Psa 90:10 The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years…

2. The Struggles of Life:
Life is Full of Struggles

Psa 90:10 their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

3. The Seriousness of Life:
We Are Accountable To God For The Way We Spend Our Time Here

Psa 90:3 You turn man to destruction, And say, “Return, O children of men.”

Psa 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

4. The Satisfaction of Life:
True Fulfillment Is Only In God

Psa 90:14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!

Psa 90:16-17 Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.

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Blessings – Julian Hawken

1. Why blessing is so important?

The Hebrew word “to bless” means “to bown down”, “to prostrate”. When you say “bless”, you are respecting that person and holding him in high esteem.

In General 27 we find Isaac giving a very special blessing to his son, Jacob. This established a pattern for imparting blessing on loved ones.

Gen.27:28-29. Therefore may God give you Of the dew of heaven, Of the fatness of the earth, And plenty of grain and wine. 29 Let peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, And let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed [be] everyone who curses you, And blessed [be] those who bless you!”

This has become an important part of Jewish sabbath blessing. The man of the house pronounces the priestly blessing. Num 6:24-26 “The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”  The Jews say that’s where God looks at you three times. Then the father tells family what a wonderful wife and mother his wife is. The wife lights the Sabbath candle. Then one by one he will bless each of the children. Happens every Friday evening…

In NT, we find that Jesus came to bless us. He healed the sick and laid hands on children and blessed. The greatest blessing is the sacrifice on the cross.

Ephesians 1 says that we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.

All the storehouses of heaven are open for us.

God blesses us so that He can make us a blessing

2. Five key elements in blessing

A. Meaningful Touch.
Touch is more meaningful than words. Isaac blessed by laying on of hands. Jesus laid hands on kids and blessed.

B. Spoken Words.
Words can build us up or tear us down. We need to build and encourage people. There is enormous power in our words

C. Expressing High Value.
When we bless we much express how highly we esteem the other. God calls us the apple of His eye. God designed our eyes to be protected. He protects us. He values us so highly. More than that the OT shows that God is betrothed to His chosen people. And in NT, Jesus is betrothed to us. He loves us more than we can take. A good way to express value is to use word pictures. Isaac used word pictures “smell of my son…. like the field God has blessed” Those words add value to the rest of the blessing. Song of Songs.. word pictures.

The Holy Spirit may give you prophetic words for your kids, spouse, brethren, parents.

D. Picturing a Special Future. Jeremiah foresaw a great future for Israel.
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

E. An Active Commitment.
Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Recognize the gifts that your child has and encourage him in those gifts and when he is old he will flourish in those gifts

3. Several different kinds of people we can bless

A. Our Children.
Birthdays, graduations, family special evening times. Include God’s blessings

B. Our Spouse.
Special occasions. Could be a night out without kids or weekend. Time to bless.
C. Friends and Workmates

We have to actively decide to have special times to bless people

D. Church people.
May be plan a time to pray over people and plant God’s blessings

E. Elderly parents.

Decide to have regular get togethers to bless people

Let’s us the Lord to make us people that will bless

The Goodness of God

The Bible celebrates the fact that God is Good (Psalm 135:3). To state that God is good is to also acknowledge at the same time that God is the summum bonum, the Highest Good. His goodness is absolute in Himself, for He is perfect. His goodness is also towards us, in relation.

  • God is Good in His Being
  • God is Good in His Character
  • God is Good in His Acts
To the rich young ruler, Jesus declared that only God is good (Matt.19:17), i.e. in the sense of being the absolute good and perfect Teacher who alone can absolutely declare the truth that leads to eternal life. Sadly, the rich young ruler could not accept Jesus as the Good Master, refusing to follow Him. In his eyes, the world and its possessions were the more immediate good.
There are at least four crisis-situations in relation to our attitude towards God’s goodness.
1. Doubt Regarding the Selflessness of God’s Goodness
This was the situation that Eve faced in the garden of Eden when the devil deceived her to doubt that God’s goodness is selfless. He tried to make her think that God had some selfishness in keeping the forbidden tree’s fruit from humans; He knew if they ate of it they would become like gods. The devil attempted to severe “goodness” from God’s goodness. As a result, when Eve was deceived and sought the good apart from God, the forbidden fruit and tree appeared to be “good” in relation to her desire.
It is important to trust in God’s goodness as being selfless and impartial. He makes the sun to shine on both the just and the unjust. He is not good because of anything or anyone. He is good in Himself and is the ground of all that is good.
2. Fear Regarding the Surety of God’s Goodness
In Psalm 27, we find David assert that even if he is surrounded by enemies on all sides, he will not fear because God is with him. When we become afraid if God’s goodness would hold towards us and we are terrorized by uncertainty and anxiety about the future, we begin to lose hope. But, David asserts: I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.  “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psa 27:13-14 NKJ). 
The Scripture promises us: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28 NKJ)
3. Vexation Regarding the Significance of God’s Goodness
In Psalm 73, Asaph, a priest in the Temple of Solomon is vexed and frustrated because He knows that God is good (Psalm 73), but fails to see how God’s Goodness has any significance for him. He looks at the wicked and sees them prosper and asks if he has cleansed his heart in vain (Psalm 73:13). This turns him bitter, though he doesn’t show his inner struggle to people. But, then when he enters God’s sanctuary, where he beholds God’s goodness and beauty, he finds the solution to his problem. He has to learn that God’s goodness is not something about things and possessions in this world; God Himself is Good, and the heart that this Summum Bonum needs nothing else. One doesn’t find any true and lasting meaning in life unless one finds satisfaction in God alone. He writes:

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works. (Psa 73:25-28 NKJ)

He has understood that good is not about things, heaven is no heaven without God; for God alone is good and it is good to be near God alone.

4. Confusion Regarding the Sensitiveness of God’s Goodness
Job is a great paragon of patience in the Bible. However, there was a time he was confused too, because he knew that God is good and perfect, He is blessed; but, he was unable to see if God really cared for him. The devil wanted to prove that the just served God, or were just, for material or personal benefits alone. But, Job proved the devil false. That is the difference between true faith and utilitarian faith. Job stood through the test. Yet, Job felt darkness and confusion cover him. He cries out in anguish: “If I cry out concerning wrong, I am not heard. If I cry aloud, there is no justice. (Job 19:7 NKJ). But, God answer him from chapters 38-41 and shows how God cares for the universe; how much more for Job. In chapter 42, Job breaks down saying “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”  (Job 42:5-6 NKJ)
God cares for the sparrows of the air and the lilies of the field; how much more for us..
His goodness is selfless, sure, significant, and sensitive. He is all-giving, all-trustworthy, all-satisfying, and all-caring.

The Paradox of Divine Faithfulness – Part 3 – Divine Immutability in Justice, Mercy, and Grace

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent (nacham). For He is not a man, that He should relent (nacham).” (1Sam.15:29)
…the LORD regretted (nacham) that He had made Saul king over Israel. (1Sam.15:35)

There seems to be an apparent contradiction between the above two passages: the first tells us that God never regrets; the second, that He did. This again seems to conflict with the idea of immutability or the unchangeableness of God.

…the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)

But, does historical information in the Bible contradict the idea of divine immutability? Well, 1Samuel 15 is not the only case we are told about divine repentance (or regret or change of action). Remember that we aren’t talking of ontological immutability here (i.e. as related to His being); we are talking here of moral immutability – that God is unchanging in His decisions and moral character. In the book of Jonah, we find again the issue of divine repentance. God wanted to destroy the Ninevites, but

“Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” (Jon.3:10)

Now, in order to understand both these situations in light of the nature of God, we must first understand three of God’s attributes that come into action in these situations: Justice, Mercy, and Grace.

Justice is to reward and punish people according to their works.
Mercy is to not punish people according to their works.
Grace is to reward people, not according to their works.

In the case of Saul, the relenting of God is an act of Justice. Saul, by his action of disobedience, forfeited the promises of God.

In the case of Nineveh, the relenting of God is an act of Mercy. The Ninevites, through repentance, became subjects of the Mercy of God.

While Grace is more specifically the experience of saints in the New Testament because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, divine favor and graciousness is not absent from the Old Testament. Favor, in the Old Testament, is more a disposition of God to do good to the one He is favorable towards. Jonah weaves all these attributes of God in this statement:

“I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” (Jonah 4:2)

At any cost, it is clear that we cannot demand mercy, we cannot demand grace. We only seek it. We can only demand something that we are worthy of. The laborers in the Vineyard had to be content with what the Master gave them. They had no right to demand why He gave the same to those who came later.

God’s explanation to Jonah is worth looking into:
“Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” But the LORD said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left — and much livestock?” (Jon.4:9-11)

Obviously, the justice of God related to His eternal moral order and law. The mercy of God related to His consideration of the people as persons. Jonah pitied the plant because he found it useful to him; he was angry because it died. From the perspective of mercy, the people of Nineveh were more valuable to God than the plant was to the selfish Jonah. Of course, the people didn’t provide a shade for God, but they were valuable for who they were. In this anger and pity of Jonah, and the response of God to him, we find a grand interweaving of the ideas of justice, mercy, and grace. Does it mean that God contradicts Himself? Does it mean that He is not actually immutable?

Of course not. It only means that God is just, merciful, and gracious and we must understand the immutability of God as not being limited by justice only but also extending in grace and mercy. It also means that God expects us to have a soft corner while not forgoing rigidness and discipline. We must remember that the same God who forgave the Ninevites was the One who struck Ananias and Sapphira to death in the New Testament. More importantly, we must not lose sight of the justice of God when we’re seeking His mercy. There is no mercy for those who lack the sense and appreciation for justice. The depth of our understanding of divine mercy is proportionate to the depth of our understanding of divine justice.

It is not the case that God changed His mind; however, it is the case that God’s character is immutable with regard to His justice and mercy. It’s like the tap which has a hot water knob and a cold water knob. The hot water and the cold water is there; however, it is up to us whether we let the hot water out or the cold water out. Similarly, the justice and mercy of God is unchanging. However, it is also true that not everybody receives mercy though mercy is for all; similarly, not everyone stays condemned though all deserve the judgment of God. Let’s look at some qualities of those who receive the judgment of God and do not receive the mercy of God. Then, we will look at the qualities of those who receive the mercy of God in their lives.

Recipients of Judgment
1. The Rebellious (1Sam.15:23)
2. The Unforgiving (Mat.18:32-34; James 2:13)
3. The Unbelieving (Rev.21:8; John 3:18)
4. The Proud (James 4:6)
5. The Unrepentant (Rev.3:3; Rev.16:9-11)

Recipients of Mercy
1. Those who Fear God (Psa.103:11,17)
2. Those who have Faith in God (Eph.2:14; Titus 3:5)
3. The Humble, Broken Hearted, and Repentant (Luke 18:13,14)
4. The Merciful (Matt.5:7)
5. Those who come to His Throne of Grace (Heb.4:16; Psa. 4:1; Psa.86:5)

God is faithful in His justice and mercy. He does not show personal favoritism on any man (Gal.2:6). However, no man can also demand the mercy of God. It is His prerogative and sovereign determination. He has mercy on whom He wills (Rom.9:18). It is His to give equally to those who came later as to those who came first (Matt.20:14). There is nothing faithless and unlawful in what He does with His own things (Matt.20:13). However, one can choose to either be a vessel of mercy or vessel of destruction; it’s up to the person. Evidently, one who stands and says “I am worthy of divine mercy” has no brokenheartedness and humility. He cannot be a vessel of mercy, but only of wrath. However, the one who bows down and cries out with a true repentant heart receives mercy. Thus, God is faithful in His mercies to help (Heb.4:16), to deliver (1Cor.10:13), to forgive and to cleanse us (1Jn.1:9).