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Singing Psalm 82 you understand times of difficulty

What is the biggest culprit in times of difficulty?

How do gods use God’s gifts?

Psalm 82 captures it well.

These are they who have no knowledge,    To perceive no effort to make;They walk on in utter darkness;    All of earth’s foundations shake.” ~ Psalm 82:5



Tunnel vision.

“I’m just following policy.”

“That’s above my pay grade.”

“This new law is preventing me from helping.”

The biggest culprit in times of difficulty is to ignore the foundational source of the difficulty. Ignore culpability. Jump over the bad news of your sin. Only accept good news — and the foundations shake.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,  treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Jesus calls sinners to repentance. His people must own the bad news about themselves before they are able to receive and embrace the good news. Does anyone want brain surgery unless convinced there is a malignant brain tumor? Do you think you need rescuing when you are unaware of a perpetrator?

“God is in His congregation;    Judge among the gods, He stands.How long will you judge unjustly,    Favoring the wicked hands?” ~ Psalm 82:1-2

Singing Psalm 82 you understand that times of difficulty call for wisdom and courage

Who broke into the world to rescue you from times of difficulty?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:1-14

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” ~ John 3:19-21

Jesus saves you from feelings and desires that push out thoughts of godly ambition replacing it with selfish ambition as the majority party. He tells you the truth, the good news, about what brings happiness. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it for him and the gospel. 

Counterintuitive as it is, not coated with sugar, he has told you unabashedly the plain and absolute truth that will light your path to know him.

God, the Holy Spirit, revealed in the Word of God who is Jesus Christ, God, the Son and the God-man:

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” ~ John 17:3

Singing Psalm 82, you know you aren’t to fear earthly rulers, laws, or policies that would cause you to disobey the only true God. Ask with Paul, ”For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” ~ Galatians 1:10

The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. ~ John 10:31-39

Even still, Jesus continued to entreat the religious leaders, represented by the older son in the parable of the lost son, to celebrate with him when those living in obvious sin, representing the younger son in the parable who humbled himself, turned from death to life. 

If you have a relationship with someone in a position of authority, then you most likely interact with that person and have the opportunity to influence that person. 

Consider the well-timed words from Namaan’s servants and the difference they made by speaking up with gentleness and respect, preserving his dignity by asking him a question, instead of letting him go his own way. 

Had they been too afraid to attempt to intervene, to reason with him, Namaan would not have been freed from his physical oppression.

Is there someone in a position of authority who could use to be reasoned with? 

Ask the Lord to make you a good listener first and to give you words of truth and the opportunity to speak them into listening, receptive ears. 

Ask that those who walk in darkness would be moved in times of difficulty to turn and walk in the light.

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:14-16

You who have some authority, whether you are in a position of influence over many or few, are you there as God’s ambassador to accomplish his purposes or have you resigned yourself in times of difficulty to being an intelligent cog who nonetheless checks his heart out at the door as he’s led forth in an impersonal system of darkness?

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” ~ Matthew 15:14-15

Is the covenant with God your clear indicator as you make decisions or is there no clear, defined, reasonable head? Is there no face to “company policies” that are designed to put off the very people they ought to be benefiting? May the Lord bring about the end of such systems that prevent his people from doing good.

Singing Psalm 82 is an impetus for you to courageously and wisely speak the truth in love. 

You aim to intervene with gentle words out of love to protect the person with whom you are speaking and the people for whom you are advocating preemptively against these times of difficulty because crouching at their doorstep are those who promise to solve issues with “medical” interventions. Whether they are needed or not, whether they accurately address the real problem, seems to be beside the point. “Do no harm” is far from the mind where the devil has taken up residence. 

When those interventions fail, psychological rehabilitation programs for anything you overdo eagerly await just down the road focusing on behavioral changes and/or symptom relief. And when those fail to address the root problem there’s a new medicine that overpromises to cure what is ailing you.

How can you circumvent or break free from this vicious cycle?

With courage and wisdom, you make God’s business your business. Not in trying to do God’s job, but in that what’s important to God is important to you. 

When a lower law would have you steal, murder, lie, or break any of God’s higher laws, ask yourself, “Who made that law?” Ask the Judge among the gods to help you make every effort to perceive the situation and how to respond.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” ~ Galatians 6:2

All civil laws subordinate under the umbrella of God’s law that trump all laws.

When you are walking in darkness, you can’t see where you’re going. You might be less concerned than you should be. It’s a light shining on your path that reveals it to you. Then you’d not be deceived about the way you are going and about the pits just ahead that you are about to fall into.

Psalm 82 calls you to make an effort to perceive the times of difficulty and to get yourself where God’s heart is, in His congregation. Subject yourself to faithful elders in a local, faithful church. It might seem scary at first to come into the light and let Jesus shine on you. But you can then make an informed choice about the way you are going by the Spirit of Christ, no longer afraid but secure.

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!”’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” ~ Romans 8:13-17

What people do with and the advice they get regarding their minds and bodies is important to God and therefore is important to you. He will keep you in times of difficulty, make you to be still before him, restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you as you do whatever he has prepared in advance for you to do so that his glorious works might be displayed in our weak lives. Nothing more. Nothing less.

“Judge the needy and the orphan,    And the poor, distressed defend;” ~ Psalm 82:3

Singing Psalm 82 you understand that times of difficulty call for self-sacrifice

When you set out to serve and benefit others in times of difficulty, plan the way you go about it so that they actually are benefiting lest you purposely or unwittingly leech off of those under your care.

Compare and contrast the shepherds:

“These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.” ~ Jude 12-13

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.” ~ Ezekiel 34:2, 10, 12, 16

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” ~ John 10:11-18

In times of difficulty, burying your head in the sand is not an option. Jesus rescues his lost, strayed, injured, weak sheep. 

If you are among those whom he has rescued, then like your Teacher, Lord, and Master, who washed the feet of his disciples, even those belonging to the one who would betray him, you go and do likewise. 

You become one who serves and protects when, in times of difficulty, you are given the open door of opportunity to introduce people to the Rescuer.

“Free the destitute and needy;    Save them from the wicked‘s hand.“ ~ Psalm 82:4

Singing Psalm 82 you understand that times of difficulty call for covenant endurance

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” ~ James 4:17

How do you use the little time you have and the opportunities you have been given for God’s good purposes?

Are you, like Peter, blessed to recognize that Jesus is the Christ as revealed by the Father? Also like Peter, we don’t like to suffer and so are against his imminent suffering that had to take place before his glorious resurrection.

Because we fall so short, you ask the Lord to tune your ears to recognize and reject the voice of Satan in those who would urge you directly or indirectly to disregard Jesus and his word, his person and his work.

Make the most of the time, and the opportunities you are given in times of difficulty. Find the way that God is pointing you toward by the Spirit of Jesus to figure out how to bring about good through the evil intentions of those who set up systems of oppression that make it easy for those who would allow their intelligence to be held captive by these systems, systems which are designed for them to operate as highly intelligent drones that would give no thought to the ultimate end of their ways.

For you who are just starting out, or even for you who are more seasoned, fear alone can move you to be self-interested and self-protecting. You might not think about the interests of others and in times of difficulty might unwittingly oppress others or be unaware of their oppression and how you might relieve it.

“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” ~ Luke 17:2

There are those who cause little ones, vulnerable ones, to sin by enticing them to entrust their lives to their counsel over God’s and proceed to lead them astray.

What then is in store for those who kill defenseless little ones before birth for pay? What for those who invent ways to make money by confusing minds and mutilating bodies after birth?

Warn them to stop, turn, and worship Jesus who is gracious and true while there’s still time. Relying on money’s power leaves you wanting. Relying on God’s power leaves you satisfied.

“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” ~ Matthew 24:38-39, 44

It is through a covenant relationship and not an impersonal corporate policy that will move you to make judgments, or influence those who do, in order to benefit the vulnerable, the needy, the orphan, the poor, the distressed.

As Mordecai asked Esther:

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” ~ Esther 4:14

Who knows but that you are in the position of influence that you find yourself in for such times of difficulty?

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus makes it so that you want to stick your neck out and care in the times of difficulty that those you know are experiencing. He progressively and supernaturally changes you so that you repent of self-serving thoughts, burdened feelings, off-putting words and actions. Serving him is a reward in itself, you now think. And you would be right. He is the inheritance and very great reward of his faithful.

“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” ~ Colossians 3:22-24

You who are young, starting out in life, as you are pondering what it is that you are to do under the sun, consider your high calling in your covenant relationship with God. Choose wisely how you will walk in times of difficulty and who you will follow. Same goes for you who have been around the block a time or two.

Persevere in these times of difficulty. When it would be natural to lose hope and give up, rely on the Lord’s supernatural grace which is sufficient for you. 

Like Paul, you are surprised to find joy in suffering, that you can take pleasure and delight in times of difficulty. When the truth is clear that you are weak, that the answers are not within you or anyone else, you are drawn to seek God’s face in times of difficulty which in itself makes you strong in Jesus. When the scriptures clearly speak to you, that Jesus makes a point to, and his intention is to save you, not just those he walked with while on the earth two thousand years ago, it is then that covenant endurance is solidified and you trust him with and give him all of your heart.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” ~ Ephesians 5:15-21

When you are tempted to get drunk or to be aloof, burying your head in the sand in times of difficulty, God provides a surprising alternative: 

Sing psalms to exercise the full gamut of your emotions given to you for the purpose of drawing you near to the triune God. Singing psalms is connected to being filled with God, the Holy Spirit, and giving thanks to God, the Father, in the name of, by the preeminent authority of, God, the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Singing psalms can help you find words for unsettled feelings and thoughts. Orphaned, alone, and unclaimed, your thoughts and feelings find a threshing floor in the psalms where they can be tested in times of difficulty. The Holy Spirit winnows your thoughts and feelings there to be pursued if found worthy or abandoned if found wanting.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

With Jesus, you deny yourself, take up your cross daily, follow him, and overcome. In covenant endurance, be an example of an overcomer to others—especially in times of difficulty—even through death.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” ~ 1 Peter 2:24-25

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” ~ Matthew 19:29

In the new world, it is the wonder of wonders that Jesus gives to each one of his people the inheritance of eternal life, and a people from all nations are his possession as his inheritance for all eternity.

“Now, O God, arise, we pray You,    And the earth to judgment call;For You, as Your own possession,    Shall inherit nations all.” ~ Psalm 82:8

August 4-11, 2023


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