(Source of material:  Rev. B.R. Hicks) 

Please read Psalm 107.  This is a Psalm that expresses gratitude for 4 things.  Verses 1-8 give gratitude for redemption.  Verses 9-15 express gratitude for longing.  Additionally, verses 16-22 thank the LORD for being needy.  Lastly, verses 23-31 give gratitude for being a traveler.  Let's study a little about gratitude for longing.  

Please read Romans 7:15-25.  The intensely personal character of these verses seems to indicate that this was Paul's own experience as a believer.  He not only is explaining his own battle, but is also defining the same battle in the heart of all believer's.  This is his diagnosis of what happens when one tries to be sanctified by keeping the law.  Even though there is a longing within the regenerated human heart to be obedient to the LORD, the law (the flesh) has a strong opposite influence.  There is a disposition deep within a man's heart that produces acts of disobedience that are contrary to the longing to be like the LORD Jesus.  In verse 24, he exclaims that he is a wretched man whose body is experiencing a "living death".  The body, dominated by sin, much to the dismay of every believer, is a living death!  In verse 25 he thanks God for the turmoil of living in a body of death, at the same time having a longing to serve God in his mind.  

The LORD would like us to be grateful for the longing to be like Him.  As Paul stated, the inevitable result of making promises to God to serve Him "better" is failure.  Many times we determine, under our own headship and authority, to pray more, study more, fast more, attend church more, etc.  In our own flesh, we determine what is a "good" servant and what will satisfy Jesus.  Our own proud image is destined to come crashing to the floor because of the power of the flesh and its contrariness.  Failure is the speedy result when we strive in our flesh to be good.  When Israel was experiencing the exodus from Egyptian slavery, it was the cloud and fire, the Spirit, that got out in front and led the way.  In Romans 8:1-2, Paul declares the same principle:  "for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death".  It is the Spirit of life, the Holy Ghost, that will lead us out of the bondage of the flesh.  Our images of how to free ourselves from sin will not stand.  The Spirit does the work.  The LORD, after we fail miserably, simply asks us to be grateful for the longing to be free from the living death of the body of sin.  To have a desire and longing to be like Him is a street to a need of redemption. He will meet the need and convert the body of sin through the  leading of the Spirit and give us a GREATER longing to be like Him.  No flesh shall boast or triumph in His presence.  He does the work and asks us to simply be grateful for longing to be changed by the Spirit and be transformed into HIS image.  






                                                                                       (Source of material:  Rev. B.R. Hicks)

Please read Psalm 107.  This Psalm is divided into four parts, the first being verses 1-8.  This first segment has to do with gratitude for redemption.  When we lack thankful gratitude for the work of redemption and the high price that was required to provide it, we are on a backsliding path.  When the enslaved nation of Israel was in Egypt, the LORD had them slay a Lamb on the night of the first Passover.  They applied the Blood on the outside of their individual doors and went inside to eat of the lamb.  Their situation did not immediately change.  They were in the same house, it was still night, it was still dark, and death was all around them.  Plus, they were still in Egypt.  With the Blood outside as protection, Israel was to eat of the surrender and humility of the lamb, picturing their fellowship with the suffering of the Crucified Christ.  Their situation was the same---nothing had not yet changed. This shows us that the LORD wants us to accept our situations just the way they are.  They provide an opportunity to fellowship the humility and surrender of the Crucified Christ.  He wants us, in humility and surrender, to accept where we are: in the darkness of night, in the same house (as it were), still in slavery, with death all around.  Israel's situation, in the bondage of slavery, required the direct intervention of a lamb and its blood to provide redemption.  Slavery caused a need for the blood. Likewise, the LORD wants us to be grateful for our sitations because they cause a need for redemption and the Blood of a slain Lamb.

Please read Exodus 13:17-18.  The LORD did not lead Israel through the land of the Philistines, although it was near.  He lead them into the wilderness of the Red Sea---a place of solitary separation.  The wilderness is a place of dry barrenness or unrestrained growth.  He lead them to a barren place where there was no city and nobody around.  Where there is a need for redemption, the Blood will deliver and lead to a solitary, barren place of separation.  Here we cultivate the gratitude necessary for our situation---gratitude for things just the way they are because deliverance can be experienced through the Lamb, His surrender, and His Humility.  








                                                                                             (Source of material:  Rev. B.R. Hicks)

Please read Psalm 8:1-4.  The LORD is going to touch our works to determine the motive behind them.  Our works will be put through the fire.  Burned up works leave behind an unconverted will.  We must see how our will is joined to idols which are producing fleshly works.  He wants our will to be joined to Him exclusively which will produce works that will withstand the judgment fire.  When Jesus was dying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and it looked like He would not go to the Cross and save mankind, He laid down His will to the Father in humble submission.  He allowed the Father the option to change His mind because Jesus' will was in love with the Father---exclusively!  "Not my will but Thine be done"!

In verse 3, we see that the LORD uses His finger to shape light.  The moon and the stars emit light.  He used His finger to put a form to light and created the heavenly bodies.  There is power in the pointing of the finger.  He expects us to do the same thing in our daily situations.  Pointing to the light makes a form that will illuminate the darkness around us.  By praising His Name and confessing His justice and goodness, we are forming light which will make a luminary in our night sky.  We have been given power to point to the light!  Pointing is a gesture of contempt.  Unfortunately, we point in anger at people, places, and things.  Doing this creates negative images and we continue to walk in darkness.  Sometimes we point at our own faults and failures, as well as our past.  He wants us to point with our finger and form light!  Verse 1 says, "O LORD our lord".  Notice the psalmist didn't say, O LORD MY lord. God is OUR lord---He is the God of the brotherhood.  We need to stop pointing at people and start pointing at the LORD!  I can join my finger of light to His finger!

Please read Exodus 8:19.  The heathen, Egyptian magicians knew that God was pointing His finger at Pharoah.  The LORD was pointing at the problem; the reason why Israel was being held captive in grievous bondage:  Pharoah!  God points His finger at Pharoah (the old man) who is holding Israel (the new man) in slavery.  Pharoah holds prisoner.  The nature of sin is holding us captive!  The LORD wants "Pharoah" to set us free so we can go forth and worship.  God touches our carnal works so He can point to the problem: an unconverted will.  Works are connected to the the heart and will.  When He lops off the fruit, He can point to the cause of our problem.  He wants to set our will free from the controlling influence of Pharoah!  He points and says, "Let my people go that they may worship me"!

Please read Proverbs 7:1-3.  Here we see that the LORD wants us to bind the commandments upon our fingers.  Binding light to our fingers causes us to form positive images of His greatness and majesty, as well as His sovereign Authority and Headship.  With the commandments bound to my fingers, it is easy to confess Him as the Head over all things!  











                                                                                              (Source of material:  Rev. B.R. Hicks)

Please turn to Matthew 26 and read verses 34 and 35.  Jesus, the eternal, divine Word of God, spoke to Peter and he didn't believe the Truth as it issued from the Foutainhead of Truth.  The Christ declared that Peter would deny Him thrice and the words fell on deaf ears.  The rooster testified and Peter wept bitterly (verses 74 and 75); he believed the rooster over the divine Word.  Peter had sat at the feet of Jesus for 3-and-a-half-years hearing such things as sitting at the right hand of the Son of God, being a ruler, being given a portion of Israel as a kingdom, etc.  This incident proves Peter followed Jesus for the wrong reasons.  He had his sights set on being somebody important with power and authority.  He wanted to pay back the Romans by ruling them!  His motive for following and serving Jesus was wrong and the LORD needed to show this to him by having Peter deny Him. When he wept bitterly, he realized that he had followed Jesus for the wrong reasons.  He saw that he would not follow Jesus to the death; he wanted exaltation more than he wanted Jesus.  

Please read I Corinthians 12-13.  Verse 13 says that every man's works shall be made manifest by fire.  There are two types of relationships a believer can have with Jesus.  First, he can follow the LORD  for the benefits and exaltation he receives by being a believer.  Works can be produced by following Christ that emanate from carnal headship and our own will.  These works will be burned with fire.  Notice the scripture says the WORKS will be burned; the will remains.  Works can be produced under carnal, sinful headship with the will remaining untouched.  Second, a personal and love relationship can be had with the human heart and Jesus; you love Him just for Who He is.  Following Him out of love for His person and headship also causes works.  These will cause the will to be converted and will not be burned up at the Judgement Seat of Christ.  Jesus is compelled to touch our works to determine the motive for following Him.  He knows our works will go through the fire.  Out of great love for us, He tests and tries our motive to determine its origin.  Do I serve Him to reap the benefits or because I love HIM?   

At the Judgement Seat of Christ, after the works are burned away and the unconverted will is left, believers will accuse and blapheme God.  They will recount the times when they were treated unfairly and accuse Him of being mean and ugly.  There will be no filter on the will as they stand in front of God Almighty and denounce Him Name and Nature.  The will of man and the enmity within will be on full display as they point the finger and declare they are the victim of a mean and nasty God.  

Peter had to be shown his wrong motive.  The LORD, out of mercy and love for him, was compelled to reveal why he followed Him.  Jesus didn't want Peter's will to remain untouched and unconverted and eventually stand before God and accuse Him as unfair and unholy.  Likewise, the LORD will test and try our works to determine if we follow Him out of our carnal headship and will, or because of just Who He is.  If we love and adore HIM, we will follow Him whithersoever He goeth.  Up, down, high, low will be irrelevant.  Where He is---that's where I want to be because I love HIM!












                                                                                               (Source of material:  Rev. B.R. Hicks)

Please read I Kings 2: 18-19.  This is a story of a son honoring his Mother.  We know from earlier chapters, that Bathsheba was instrumental in Solomon ascending the throne after David died.  There was peace in the land because of David's warfare against the enemies of Israel.  Solomon, as King, ruled a peaceful nation of great wealth and prosperity.  The King sat on an opulent and elaborate throne in a room full of VIP's and dignitaries.  Bathsheba enters the throne room and Solomon honors his mother in front of all the assembled dignitaries by doing 4 things.  

First, he rose up from his throne as a gesture of respect and readiness to serve his mother.  He recognized instantly that it was Bathsheba, working in his behalf through her influence, that caused him to have a throne and kingdom.  He rose up with a grateful heart and willingness to meet her need.  Second, he bowed himself unto her.  The King of Israel, whom everyone bows to, descended in honor and gratitude to his mother.  He elevated her above his own throne; he demonstrated that she was more precious and valuable to him than his kingdom.  He gave honor, respect, and gratitude to her for giving him life and the opportunity to gain eternal substance on earth.  He was not embarrassed to demonstrate his love for her.  Third, he caused a seat to be set for her.  This was not a folding chair---he called for another throne which was in recognition of her exalted position.  Fourth, he commanded that she should be set on his right hand, a position of power and rulership.  

Solomon DEMONSTRATED his honor for his mother; it wasn't just theory to him.  Through his deeds and actions he made it clear to those assembled and Bathsheba, that he greatly loved, honored, and respected his mother.