9. "Mercy, Lord God, Have Mercy!" Psalm 31:9

Text:  “Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly (body).”

                                                                                                                     Psalm 31:9.

Good morning, Christian in sore trouble!  It is not by ‘chance’ or ‘accident’ that you have rested your eyes upon this Bible Lesson from God’s Word today, my friend.  We serve a Sovereign Lord God, Who knows to the very hairs of our head, every detail of our lives, and all that we are currently going through in this increasingly vile and sinful world of open depravity.  Read on and be encouraged from God’s Word, dear friend.

Dictionary Definition: Mercy - (noun)  Forbearance towards someone in one’s power; a good thing regarded as derived from God; a happy chance; a forgiving disposition; clemency; compassion for the unfortunate.  (The Chambers Dictionary, page 1005)

All things are under the power and Divine Authority of the Living Lord God Jehovah.  Nothing exists in all Creation which is not under God’s Holy power.  Therefore, as fallen sinners each of us desperately need to have God’s mercy bestowed upon us - otherwise we would be consumed in an instant by God’s Holiness, and our souls turned away into a Christ-rejecter’s Hell. 

God’s mercy to Hell-deserving sinners is granted when we are given faith to trust in the Sacrifice of Christ Jesus made at Calvary’s Cross.  Without God’s graciously given mercy, we would be utterly consumed indeed.

“The Lord is known by the judgement which He executeth; the wicked (unrepentant sinner) is snared in the work of his own hands.  The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God.”  (Psalm 9:16-17)

“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish…I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent (turn from sin to serve Christ) ye shall all likewise perish.”          (Luke 13:3;5)

Adam fell into sin’s destructive pit through disobedience to his Holy Creator Lord God - Eve ate of the forbidden tree, encouraged Adam to follow suit; and they both died Spiritually on that very day, and according to God’s clear warning.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17)

Eve and Adam disobeyed the Lord’s command and, on that very day, the Spiritual part of our progenitors immediately died.  They became ‘fallen’ in sin; Spiritual communication and fellowship with their Creator Lord God was broken - death was introduced into God’s perfect Creation, and although Adam lived on, physically, until he was 130 years of age - Spiritually he had died on the day of his disobedience.

As mankind’s Representative Head, Adam plunged all of mankind to be born of woman into a fallen sinful, Spiritually dead, state.  That is why the Lord God had to send His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on a cruel Cross to redeem, buy back, the souls of all whom the Father has elected to Salvation.  Outside of Christ’s Atonement Sacrifice, there is no Eternal Salvation.  We MUST be ‘born again’ of Him.

When quickened by God the Holy Spirit, the first thing the sinner’s soul does is to cry out to God for His mercy and grace.  God calls us with His irresistible grace, we answer with a cry of ‘Mercy!’, and the Lord God hears our cry and saves our souls.

Verse 9.  “Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble.  This first sentence pithily comprehends all that follows; it is the text for his lamenting discourse.  Misery moves mercy - no more reasoning is needed.  ‘Have mercy’ is the prayer; the argument is as prevalent as it is plain and personal, ‘I am in trouble.’”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 150)

Verse 9.  “Mine eye is consumed with grief.  Tears draw their salt from our strength, and floods of them are very apt to consume the source from which they spring.  Dim and sunken eyes are plain indicators of failing health.  God would have us tell Him the symptoms of our disease not for His information but to show our sense of need. (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 150)

Every true regenerate Christian has God, the Holy Spirit, living within us.  When (not if!) we sin therefore, we immediately and profoundly feel the grief we have caused God’s Holiness within, and this in turn causes us to grieve deeply.  Saved souls sin every day, but we cannot stay or wallow in sin too long; we cry out to the Lord to lift us a fresh out of the miry clay, and set our feet on the Rock afresh.  God hears our cry and sanctifies us anew.  Our fellowship with Him is immediately restored, and we find peace in Christ.  Praise His merciful Name!  Glory to the Lamb Who hears our cry!

Thought:  Verse 9.  “Yea, my soul and my belly (or body).  Soul and body are so intimately united that one cannot decline without the other feeling it.  We, in these days, are not strangers to the double sinking which David describes; we have been faint with physical suffering and distracted with mental distress; when two such seas meet, it is well for us that the Pilot at the helm is at home in the midst of the water-floods and makes storms to become the triumph of His art.” 
(C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 150)

8. Spiritual Liberty! Psalm 31:8

Text:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.” 
                                                                                                                 Isaiah 61:1-2.

Good morning, Divinely-liberated Christian!  When our Father in Heaven gave you and I Spiritual ’ears’ to hear and believe His Word; to receive His ’effectual call’ from God the Spirit - we were not only redeemed by the precious Blood of Christ our Saviour, but set at total liberty by His Holy Spirit.  Hallelujah!  We prisoners of selfish sin are forever FREE!  Glory to the Lamb Who is truly worthy!  Amen.

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”   (John 8:32)

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  (John 8:36)

But what does the possession of this ‘Spiritual liberty’ mean for you and for me?  Many today will try to teach us that we, being born again of the Spirit of God, can now live our lives liberated from all laws and restraints; in fact, as we personally desire to live!  What nonsense! 

We who, by Christ, are made fit for Heaven cannot live like Hell on earth!”

Verse 8.  “And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy.”  Our ‘enemies’ are primarily the world, the flesh and the Devil.  Being enslaved by either one of this triune of enemies, snares us in a prison-house of Spiritual incarceration; our souls are ‘shut up’ in sin, and therefore we are enslaved to carnality and shame.

Verse 8.  “Thou hast set my feet in a large room.  Blessed be God for liberty: civil liberty is valuable, religious liberty is precious, Spiritual liberty is priceless.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 150)

“Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.“        (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Dictionary Definition: Liberty - (noun) freedom from constraint, captivity, slavery or tyranny; freedom to do as one pleases; the unrestrained enjoyment of natural rights; power of free choice; privilege; permission; free range; leisure; disposal; the bounds within which certain privileges are enjoyed  (The Chambers Dictionary, page 927)

As regenerate Christians therefore, we have a true liberty in God the Spirit, or, in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  This means that we are free to do, say, think, feel, practice all things which the Bible allows, according to our own personally enlightened and redeemed conscience.  As Christians we, at all times, seek to live our lives in a Christ like fashion - doing only the things that Christ Himself would have done and, in the Spirit of Christ Jesus.

This is why the nine-fold ‘fruits of the Spirit’ - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (or moderation) - are all character traits, actions, and expressions that fall inside the law of God.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

If we seek to live our daily lives inside God’s Spiritual law, then we are not ‘…shut up into the hand of the enemy…’ of licentiousness nor legalism!  We are truly FREE.  Hallelujah!

Dictionary Definitions: Licentious - (adjective) indulging in excessive freedom; given to the indulgence of the animal passions; dissolute.

Legalism - (noun) strict adherence to law; the doctrine that Salvation depends on strict adherence to the law, as distinguished from the doctrine of Salvation by grace (theology); the tendency to observe letter or form rather than spirit, or to regard things from the point of view of law.

The author learned this lesson the hard way - living a life of profligate sin; leading down, ever down, into darker and darker depths of depravity, until at 30 years of age, I found myself securely ‘shut up’ in ‘the hand of the enemy’, in a maximum security Prison serving two life sentences for terrorist murders!  My sins had ‘found me out.’

However, on August 12th, 1979, in cell 9 of H Block 6, Maze Prison, Northern Ireland, UK - the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed liberty to me, sin’s captive, and set my soul and spirit Eternally free!  Hallelujah!  The Lord looseth the prisoners!  Glory to His Name!

After spending some 16 years in prison (1977-1993) - the just consequences of my own personal sin - the Lord saw fit to release me from the prison-house, and has, for the past twenty-three years ’…set my feet in a large room…’ indeed.  In Christ, I am truly FREE.  "If any man be in Christ...", he is Free!  Hallelujah!  Jesus sets us free!    (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Thought:   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings… to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…”  Hear with your hearts and believe.

7. Christ: a 'Forever Friend'! Psalm 31:7

Text:  “I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy; for Thou hast considered my trouble; Thou hast known my soul in adversities.”

                                                                                                                     Psalm 31:7.

Good morning, forever-befriended Christian!  By God’s Sovereign grace and endless mercy, you and I have been befriended by God the Son, Christ Jesus, and His friendship is not of the ‘fair-weather’ variety - Christ Jesus is a ‘forever Friend’.  Praise and all glory to His merciful Name!

“And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the Friend of God.”          (James 2:23)

Dictionary Definition:  Friend - (noun) a person loving or attached to another; a close or intimate acquaintance; a favourer, well-wisher or supporter…  (The Chambers Dictionary, page 639)

When, by the quickening of God the Holy Spirit, we hear the Gospel; receive faith to believe by God’s good grace; and are Spiritually regenerated, born again, into God’s family, the true Christian church - we are blessed with friendship status.  Like the great Abraham, God forever after considers us to be His friends.  Hallelujah!  What a privilege for Hell-deserving sinners!  Glory to the Lord!

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  Ye are My friends, IF ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.”  (John 15:13-15)

Human friends - stable, sensible, and compassionate people - can be a very real blessing to us, as we make our way through the ups and downs of this life.  However, having Christ Jesus as our Divine Friend, puts all other ‘friendships’ in the shade.

“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly; and there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”  (Proverbs 18:24)

“What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear; what a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer…Can we find a Friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share?  Jesus knows our every weakness, take it to the Lord in prayer.” 

(Hymn: by: Joseph M. Scriven, 1855. Scriven wrote this hymn to comfort his mother, who was across the sea from him in Ireland. It was originally published anonymously, and Scriven did not receive full credit for almost 30 years.  Music: Erie, Charles C. Converse, 1868 (MIDI, score). In World War I, the tune was paired with the words to “When This Bloody War is Over.”)

Verse 7.  “ I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy.  These two words, glad and rejoice, are an instructive reduplication.  We need not stint ourselves in our holy triumph.  This wine we may drink in bowls without fear of excess.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 150)

Verse 7.  “Thou hast known my soul in adversities.  God owns (acknowledges) His saints when others are ashamed to acknowledge them; He never refuses to know His friends.  He thinks not the worst of them for their rags and tatters.  He does not misjudge them and cast them off when their faces are lean with sickness or their hearts are heavy with despondency.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 150)

It has been said, ’Everyone loves a winner’, and the world will seek to befriend us when they perceive us to be such.  However, when times get rough - financially, in marital breakdown; in health issues; or in employment and social standing - the fair-weather friends vanish like a vapour of steam and drift away.  We are abandoned to our fate.

The old saying, ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone…’, has been proven to be startlingly true to many of us, as we have suffered the loss of people whom we perceived as our true friends.  Such false friendship seems to have wings.

Yet, even when we have failed miserably; almost shipwrecked the God-given faith that we have, through weakness, temptation, or fault - our true Friend, Christ Jesus, has never left us, nor refused us the solace of His compassionate ear.  His Presence is open to us because, by His grace, we have been permitted to be His FRIENDS.  Wow!  What Divine grace!

“…For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear what man can do unto me.”     (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Thought:  “Yes, though we may have lost our rich attire and come to Him in rags; though our forms be wasted because of grief and waxed old (Ps.6:7 Luther Version); though sickness and sorrow have consumed our beauty like a moth (Ps. 39:11); though blushes, and tears, and dust, overspread our face (Ps. 69:7), He still recognises and is not ashamed to own us.  Comfort yourself with this, for what harm will it do you at last, though men disown, if God the Lord have not forgotten you?”  (Christian Scriver 1629-1693)

What We Believe

The Bible: We believe the 66 Canonical books of the Bible are the
inerrant Word of God; God-breathed truth to mankind; infallible and fully inspired by God the Holy Spirit; the supreme and final authority in all matters pertaining to Christian faith and practice. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) (Isaiah 8:20)

Mankind’s Natural State: We believe that mankind is born in a state of total depravity, with God’s curse for ‘original sin’ upon us. Therefore, because of our total depravity, we cannot save ourselves. Only an act of God’s free grace can save us, by God’s gift of faith to repent and believe in the perfect Atonement Sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the Cross for our sins. (Psalm 51:5) (Ephesians 2:8-9) (Acts 4:12)

God’s Absolute Sovereignty: We believe that God is absolutely
Sovereign in all things pertaining not only to Creation but in the Eternal Salvation of sinners. (Psalm 115:3) (Ephesians 1:11) (John 6:37;40;44)

The Blood of Christ: We believe in the full efficacy and power of the shed Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ - to cleanse and redeem mankind from our sin; the only means by which to fully satisfy the just demands of a Holy Lord God of wrath against sin; and to present repentant sinners as Holy in the sight of the Lord. (Exodus 12:13) (Hebrews 9:12-24) (1 Peter 1:18-25)

The Godhead: We believe in the Trinity and Unity of the Godhead. God exists in three distinct, equal, and Eternal Persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. These three Persons are One Eternal Lord God Almighty, there is none other God.
(Genesis 1:1) (Exodus 20:1-11)(1John 5:1-13)

The Deity of Christ Jesus: We believe in the pre-existent, Eternal
Sonship, of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal and Living Word who became flesh in the incarnation, yet at all times remained ‘God of very God’. (John 5:18) (Philippians 2:5-11)

The Person of Christ Jesus: We believe in Christ’s miraculous
conception and Virgin birth; His impeccable Sinless Life; and Atoning Death at the Cross as our Sin-bearer, Substitute, and Saviour - ‘...the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’ (Isaiah 53:1-12) (John 1:29) (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Christ’s Bodily Resurrection: We believe in Christ’s Bodily
Resurrection from the dead, on the third day after His Crucifixion, by which we are justified in the sight of a thrice Holy Lord God, according to the Holy Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-23) (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14) (John 11:25-26)

Christ’s Present Intercession: We believe in the present and continual intercession of Christ Jesus, seated at the right hand of God the Father; as our Saviour, Lord, and High Priest. He is thus our ‘...one Mediator...’ between God and man, according the Scriptures. (Psalm 110:1) (1 Timothy 2:5) (Hebrews 7:22-28)

Christ’s Second Coming: We believe in the literal, physical and
personal Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ - to resurrect His ‘born again’, and thus righteous dead; to translate (or rapture, catch away) His Bride, the universal Church and to establish His everlasting Kingdom. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) (John 14:1-3)

A Christ-Rejector’s Hell: We believe in a Christ-rejector’s Hell; a literal place of Eternal punishment created by God to contain the Devil and his angels ‘...which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation...’ (an estate of obedience to God in Heaven).

All those who reject the Salvation offered by God through and in Christ Jesus ALONE, shall go to this terrible place called Hell; until the Judgment Day at God’s Great White Throne, when the Devil, his evil angels, and all Christ-rejectors shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, there to be tormented forever. (Jude 4-6) (Mark 9:42-48) (Psalm 9:16-17) (Revelation 20:)

The Church: We believe that the church - all those who are Spiritually regenerated (‘born again’) by the Spirit of God, though Christ’s ‘...once for all time..’ Atonement Sacrifice at Calvary’s Cross - is a universal church made up of every nation, and colour, within all international territories. Christ makes us ‘members’ of His Church, according to His grace and the Divine Election of God the Father, and He ALONE is the Supreme Head of this Church Body. Our primary allegiance is to Him Alone. Praise His Name! (John 3:3-8)(1 Corinthians 12:12-31) (John 17:)

Church Ordinances: We believe in the ordinances of the Church: The Lord’s Day observance; Believer’s Baptism (i.e total immersion); the Lord’s Table; and in Anointing with oil believers who are ill, according to the practice/teaching clearly set forth in James Chapter 5:13-16.

Anyone seeking to know anything further reference the sincere Christian beliefs of the Ulster/American Christian Fellowship, or if we can encourage or pray for you in any manner, please contact us in Ulster or in America. It will be our delight to try to help you in your faith, love and service to our Saviour and Lord, the risen Christ Jesus. Bless you.

6. Reasonable Christian Hatred? Psalm 31:6

Text:  “I have hated them that regard lying vanities; but I trust in the Lord.”                                                                                                                                                                             Psalm 31:6.

Good morning, vanity-hating Christian!  It is commonly known worldwide that the Christian faith is a belief-system firmly established in love; truth, liberty, and freedom of personal conscience; and this is indeed so.  However, let me stimulate your thoughts today, beloved Christian, let me pose the question: ‘Is it reasonable, or legitimate for Christians to harbour or practice hatred?’ 

Bear with me, and I will seek to elucidate the thrust of my Scriptural reasoning.  It is a godly trait to reason things out in fellowship together; please help us, Lord God, to do so with mutual respect and Christian love.

“Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.  If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.  But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”   (Isaiah 1:18-20)

No matter how much one leans on established religious convention, or church traditions - one cannot ignore sections of Holy Scripture; God-breathed revelations, which have God the Holy Spirit as their Divine Author - that fly in the face of such established conventions, traditions, and practice!

Dictionary Definition: convention - (noun) …usual fashion, established usage…  (Chambers Dictionary, page 357)

Definition of convention in Oxford English Dictionary:  (noun) A way in which something is usually done: (Example) to attract the best patrons the movie houses had to ape the conventions and the standards of theatres.

Established Christian convention, therefore, is that we must be firmly established in love for others, even our enemies. YET, there are some Scriptural exceptions that clearly show that there will be situations and circumstances; social traits, and personality characteristics wherein, as genuine loving Christians, we must exercise a God-ordained hatred.  Fact.

Verse 6:  “I have hated them that regard lying vanities.  Those who will not lean upon the true arm of strength are sure to make to themselves vain confidences.  Many must have a god, and if he will not adore the only living and true God, he makes a fool of himself, and pays superstitious regard to a lie, and waits with anxious hope upon a base delusion.  Men who make gods of their riches, their persons, their wits, or anything else, are to be shunned by those whose faith rests upon God in Christ Jesus; and so far from being envied, they are to be pitied as depending upon utter vanities.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 149)

It is most clear from Mr Spurgeon’s comment above that it would be a disobedience to the Lord God if we - as genuine regenerate Christians - should seek to LOVE the practices and conventions of those who put their full trust in what Holy Scriptures call ‘…lying vanities…’.  We cannot do or practice what the Lord in His Word denies us permission to do.  We must exercise the required revulsion of all things, and practices, and desires (including our own!) that God’s Word clearly and openly reviles as sin.   Amen?  Lord, help us to do so.

However, we CAN love such people enough to confront their erroneous beliefs, false confidences; ungodly practices; doomed and futile superstitions; worship of idols; and foolish hopes - by proclaiming boldly and consistently the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and seeking to faithfully practice what we say we truly believe!  Praise His Name!

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…If the Son (Jesus Christ) therefore shall make you free ye shall be free indeed.”  (John 8:32;36)

“The Romanists feign miracles of the saints to make them, as they suppose the more glorious.  They say that the house wherein the virgin Mary was when the angel Gabriel came unto her was, many hundreds of years after, translated, first out of Galilee into Dalmatia above two thousand miles, and thence over the sea into Italy, where also it removed from one place to another, till at length it found a place where to abide, and many most miraculous cures, they say, were wrought by it, and that the very trees when it came, bowed unto it.”  (Christopher Cartwright 1602-1658)

How can we seek to join in ‘Christian fellowship’ with people who insist on, not only believing in such error, but seek diligently to teach others to believe such fables?  True Christian ‘water’ and superstitious ‘oil’ just will not successfully mix! (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Hear what God the Holy Spirit inspires the Psalmist to write: "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee?  And am not I grieved with those that rise up against Thee?  I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies."  (Psalm 139:21-22)

“Infinite stories they have of this nature, especially in the Legend of Saints, which they call ‘The Golden Legend’, a book so full of gross stuff that Ludovicus Vives, a Papist, but learned and ingenious, with great indignation cried out, ‘What can be more abominable that that book?’ and he wondered why they should call it ‘golden’, when as he that wrote it was a man ‘of an iron mouth and of a leaden heart’.”  (Christopher Caratwright 1602-1658)

Thought:  We cannot say that we love Christ’s truth without hating the Devil’s lies!  We must love those in error enough to ‘offend’ them with God’s truth.