God’s Prayer Book – Good things
Thursday November 10, 2022
We would likely be struck by how often the petition for life and good fortune is found in the Psalms.
God desires good earthly things for us. We may pray for them.
While we are called to suffer for His name’s sake and pick up our crosses and deny ourselves daily, it is an error to think that we should not desire earthly blessings. The error comes from desiring them more than we desire God’s will.
The fear of the Lord is that we desire His presence more than anything else.
The fear of the Lord is completely different from the fear of anything else because it makes you want to draw near to Him. What thing do you fear that you desire to be close to? To turn from the Lord is to sin. Therefore, the fear of the Lord is the fear of sin and the desire to be in His light and goodness. We may also fear discipline from God, and it is right to, but discipline comes when we take on sin as our master. Therefore, in essence, the fear of the Lord is the desire to be in His light and will and plan, and that gives us great capacity for things.
Earthly things, earthly pleasures, and the physical body are not evil if they exist in our lives by God’s will and authority.
Our petition for daily bread involves all spheres of necessity for physical life. The body is not evil - that is a false Gnostic doctrine. Physical things are not evil. The body and things become evil when they are perverted outside of God’s will.
Psa 103:1-5 A Psalm of David.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
It’s when His good things don’t match up with what we think are our good things that we run into problems. God’s people having the fear of the Lord is mentioned three times. Sins are mentioned as well, but they are not presented as the problem getting in the way of prosperity. So, we might conclude that we can sin all we like and be prosperous, but we would be incorrect (even by common sense). God purposely tells us things in a way that makes us have to deeply ponder them if we are to understand. Knowledge about important things can never be superficial.
The Lord performs righteous deeds,
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
9 He will not always strive with us;
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
14 For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more;
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children's children,
18 To those who keep His covenant,
And who remember His precepts to do them.
19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens;
And His sovereignty rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
22 Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
God desires our prosperity as it conforms to whatever is His will and our capacity. Capacity is a tricky virtue due to our ability at self-deception.
Fear of the Lord is the desire to please Him more than anything. It gives us capacity for things.
Capacity is the ability to enjoy good things and avoid the harm they can give.
Ability to enjoy good earthly things and avoid the harm that can come from them will only be ours when we fear the Lord, then we wouldn’t want too much or too little because we desire more than anything to please the Lord. We may desire capacity so that we can get more stuff, which at some level is us trying to fool God. That thinking is only the same as the parable of the rich man building bigger barns.
Keep in mind the themes in Psa 103 of fearing God, remembering His precepts to do them, obeying His voice, doing His will, while you try and figure out what is wrong with this rich man.
And someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." 14 But He said to him, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?" 15 And He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." 16 And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a certain rich man was very productive. 17 "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' 18 "And he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' 21 "So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
We are only to want capacity so that material things will not distract us from the riches of Christ.
Psa 37 is beautiful. It may be David’s final psalm, written in his old age.
Psa 37:1-11 A Psalm of David.
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
2 For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
9 For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
10 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
11 But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
This is one to read and pray whenever you find yourself getting stressed over material things. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart, provided that those desires have bowed to His will. You will see the principle of obedient humility throughout the psalm.
Depart from evil and do good,
So you will abide forever.
If the economy moves into a depression, have these words in mind and reassure yourself in prayer.
The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
And their inheritance will be forever.
19 They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,
And in the days of famine they will have abundance.
But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
He is their strength in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
Because they take refuge in Him.
And He said to them, "When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" And they said, “No, nothing.”
Better is the little of the righteous
Than the abundance of many wicked.
It is not selfish to pray for earthly goods if life in God’s presence is more important.
Pray for them and accept beforehand that God may deny them either because we lack ability or His infinitely complex plan involving billions of people might not include them. Jesus had almost no earthly goods though He had infinite capacity for them. It was not part of the Father’s plan. We must care for God’s will more than we do for things.
Good things are good, though they are not always profitable. We need to know what is good for us to have and when and defer to God’s will and love for others. Sometimes we have to forgo a thing because in so doing we are benefiting another.
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
We are to expect God’s gifts and anticipate the joy they will give us because they are from Him.
We don’t need a lot to greatly enjoy material things. One thing that shows your capacity for things is how you take care of them. I remember enjoying a 13-inch color television. You have Christ, which makes everything else very small in comparison, and when things are that small, more and less don’t make hardly any difference.
David anticipates his kingship in Psa 63, though it seems very far away as he suffers privation in the wilderness.
Psa 63 A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
4 So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
6 When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
7 For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek my life to destroy it,
Will go into the depths of the earth.
10 They will be delivered over to the power of the sword;
They will be a prey for foxes.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him will glory,
For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.