God Responds

Did God respond to the plea of Psalm 137? Absolutely! After seventy years in exile, every Jew who wanted to return to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and restore the temple was allowed to do so. And the Jews learned their lesson. While they were certainly not a sinless people after their chastisement, they never again struggled with the issue of idolatry. And to this day, they prize the Old Testament Scriptures above all.

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Generous with Grace

Before closing off our study of intolerance, two more sayings are worth our attention: The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered. (11:25) The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor,
The wicked does not understand such concern. (29:7)

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The Wounds of Intolerance

Is intolerance one of your daily grinds? Be honest. Do you have difficulty leaving room for opinions you don’t agree with or the conduct of those who fail to measure up? I can think of a number of ways intolerance rears its head: The healthy can be impatient with the sickly. The strong have trouble empathizing with the weak. The quick have little patience with the slow.

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The Dark Side of Tolerance

The founders of the United States formed this nation on the premise that each individual will one day stand before God and give an answer for his or her beliefs and conduct. The US was in fact the first modern state to establish an official policy of religious tolerance, which it formalized in the first amendment to the Constitution:

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Tolerance at Its Best

In the best Christian sense of the term, tolerance is an important aspect of grace. Tolerance provides “wobble room” for those who struggle to measure up. Tolerance allows growing room for young and restless children. It smiles at rather than frowns on the struggling new believer.

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Our Great Challenge

Returning good for evil is not a complicated concept; it’s very simple. Yet it is rare. It’s one of the most difficult tasks we ever undertake in life. Let’s be honest. Forgiving an offense is much easier when the guilty person is contrite and has sincerely apologized. But when the offender takes delight in our suffering or personally benefits from our downfall, choosing to treat him or her kindly defies everything we know about justice and fair play.

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Free-Flowing Grace

In a piece titled “Forgiveness Is a Condition for Our Own Freedom,” Neil Anderson wrote the following: Forgiveness is not forgetting. People who try to forget find that they cannot. God says He will “remember no more” our sins (Hebrews 10:17), but God, being omniscient, cannot forget. “Remember no more” means that God will never use the past against us (Psalm 103:12).

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Because of Who God Is

Having called the whole world to join him in song, the psalmist declares the reason God deserves universal thanksgiving and praise. His rationale for worldwide celebration is based on three facts concerning the Lord’s character. Reasons for the Commands. Fact 1: He is good. Psalm 100:3 told us “He is God,” the one and only Creator and Sovereign of the universe; this final verse 5 tells us “He is good.”

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God’s Deliverance

The final verse of Psalm 54 describes a sudden reversal. The first verses describe a dire situation, prompting David to plead for God’s help. By verse 7, his despondency has turned to triumph. His declaration, “He has delivered me from all trouble,” is past tense. Hebrew literature often uses the perfect tense to declare a future event “as good as done.”

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Speech That Wounds

Take a few moments to review Proverbs 15:2, which we will use as our outline as we discuss the destructive use of the tongue. [Saturday] we will concentrate on constructive uses of speech. I have never known anyone who has not, at some time, struggled to keep his or her tongue under control. Because we are fallen, sinful, selfish creatures, we naturally use words to serve our own interests—often at the expense of others.

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