Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Turning affection into Actions

Read Psalm 116.

The Gaithers sing the beautiful song:
"So many reasons why I love the Lord.
So many reasons I can't count them."

One reason this psalmist sang that he loved the LORD was because He answered his prayer.  In a very personal exchange with the God of heaven, he discovered that the LORD is gracious, righteous and merciful.  It changed his life.  His affection for God turned into actions.  Notice how many times the words "I will" appear.
1. I will continue to call on God. (v.2)
2. I will live a life that pleases God. (v.9)
3. I will praise God for His deliverance. (v.13)
4. I will pay publicly what I promised. (v.14, vv.18-19)
5. I will give thanks in prayer as a sacrifice. (v.17)

Don't miss one of the most life-changing questions in all the Bible in verse 12.  It is a question that should motivate every believer throughout every day.  It should cause us to check our own list of "I wills".
"What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?"


Monday, December 30, 2013

The God of the Bible is Unique

Read Psalm 115.

The God of the Bible is unique.  There is none like Him and there is no true God besides Him.  The song begins with the praise, "To God be the glory!"

What about those who question the very existence of God?  Or, if they do believe there is one God in heaven, often there is a desire to question what He does or does not do.  But this One is not accountable to His creation.  "Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases." (v.3)

If a person rejects the God of the Bible the greater question is, "What is the alternative?"  They are left to their own religious devices.  They turn their faith to objects they made with their own hands.  But those manufactured idols do not work, do not speak, do not hear, do not do anything or any good.  Some worship the creation, instead of the Creator.  Others, place their faith in a man-made philosophy of one kind or another in an attempt to rationalize God out of their conscience.  But none of those alternatives address their need of the forgiveness of sin and assurance of eternity.

Our God is One who personally involves Himself in our lives.  Three times in verses 9-11 we are reminded that He is our help and shield.  In other words, He is the provider of what we need and He is our protector.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Remember what the LORD has Done

Read Psalm 114.

The nation was consistently reminded of those historic times where the LORD demonstrated His power on their behalf.

Three hallmark moments are in this psalm:
1. The Red Sea divided.
In Exodus 14, the rejoicing of freedom from bondage turned quickly to terror as the Egyptian army trapped Israel against the shores of the Red Sea.  But God intervened and parted the sea.  Israel crossed on dry ground.  Their pursuers all drowned as they attempted to follow.

2. The Jordan River divided.
In Joshua 3, God gave the next generation a similar experience.  Leaving their camp on the east side of the Jordan River, the nation marched toward the water at flood stage.  When the priests stepped into the river, it parted and Israel walked into the promised land on dry ground.

3. Water from the rock.
Between the first two miracles that are mentioned above is this one.  During the forty years of wandering the wilderness God miraculously provided for the nation.  In Exodus 17 they had no water for the millions of people in the Sinai desert.  The LORD instructed Moses to strike the rock and an ample supply of water flowed from it.

They never were to forget those times in the past when God intervened, answered their prayers, and met their needs.  More than their history, these events branded them as a nation.  No one else ever experienced these things.  But even greater was the overarching lesson of their faith.  The LORD always uses the miracles to deliver a message.  The earth trembles at His presence (vv.6-7).

God's miracles are proofs of His presence and care of His people.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

He is the God who changes Lives

Read Psalm 113.

No one who believes there is a God in heaven would argue His greatness.  The psalmist pictures the LORD seated on high watching what takes place in the universe and specifically on earth.

So, how is the God of the Bible different from all man-made mythical gods?  The LORD of heaven not only created all things, and controls all things, but He sovereignly intervenes in individual lives.  He has a purpose and a plan for each one.

Two examples are given here.
1. The poor.
He does not raise up every poor person from their poverty.  But when He does it demonstrates His power to change a life.  More than seeing this only as an economic change, consider the statement in 2 Corinthians 8:9.  "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich."  There is no poverty like spiritual poverty.  There is no greater wealth than becoming a child of the King of Heaven.
2. The barren woman.
He does not give children to every woman.  But when He does it is evidence of His miraculous power to give life from conception.  "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, everyone of the the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them." (Psalm 139:16)

Everyone who comes to Him by faith experiences His grace.  That intervening grace changes our lives to be conformed to Christ.  As the songwriter began, so he closed: "Praise the LORD!

Friday, December 27, 2013

6 principles of blessed Life

Read Psalm 112.

It is important to distinguish between a principle and a promise.  When God makes a promise, it is a commitment that He will certainly fulfill.  When the Scriptures state a principle, it is a broad, foundational truth that may vary in its effect from person to person.

In this psalm, there are multiple, general descriptions of one who is blessed by the LORD.
1. The children will be strong champions and live uprightly.
But not every believer even has children.  And, as diligent as some godly parents are, their children do not always live lives that please the LORD.  Our responsibility is to be faithful stewards of what and who God chooses to give us. (1 Corinthians 4:1-2)

2. The person will enjoy prosperity.
But not every fully-devoted follower of Jesus dies rich.  Indeed, many of the rich in every country are among the most wicked.  However, God has promised to meet the needs of generous believers. (Philippians 4:13)

3. They have discernment.
Like a light being turned on in a dark room, the Holy Spirit helps those who love the LORD to understand the word of God and apply it to life.  Such discernment comes from Him. (1 Corinthians 2:10)

4. All goes well with them.
If a person is generous and just then everything in life is fine.  But sometimes the most kind and giving people may be taken experience heartache, great disappointment, and loss.  Proverbs 19:17 reminds us that "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed."  That is a promise.  God sees our good works and one day will reward us for them.

5. Their legacy will be forever.
One who fears the LORD is firmly established and their good works will always be remembered.  But many who love God serve Him quietly and in obscurity.  Even many of the so-called famous Christians are forgotten in a single generation.  But the Savior promised to never forget us.  "Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands..." (Isaiah 49:15-16)

6. He is not afraid.
But many things in life can cause even the most mature in the faith to tremble.  But God's promise is "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

Regardless of the individual circumstances, God character does not change.  "He is gracious, merciful, and righteous" no matter what our temporal evaluation may be.  Know and practice the principles, but depend on the promises.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The best Christmas gift Ever

Read Luke 2:1-20.

Dr. Luke recorded the words of the angel to the shepherds that night: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (v.11)

Truly, that verse is the foundation of all we need to know both here and for eternity.

1. Who came.
The word Christ means Messiah.  Jesus was the long promised One who would come.  "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14)  Immanuel, literally "God with us."
2. Why did He come.
Jesus came this first time as the Savior.  "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).  We owed a debt we could not pay.  He paid a debt He did not owe.
3. Where He came.
He was born in Bethlehem of Judea, sometimes called the city of David.  Why there?  It was because the human lineage of Messiah came from Abraham through David to Joseph.  See Matthew 1.  God used the Roman taxation to move Joseph and Mary to the very place Micah predicted hundreds of years before.  See Micah 5:2.
4. To Whom He came.
He came for every individual who ever lived.  Since sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, all the believers in the Old Testament looked forward to a day when their sin would not merely be covered for a time but would one day be taken away.  Since the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, all believers look back and rejoice in the forgiveness and cleansing God has provided.  But do not miss the personal pronoun: "unto you."  Yes, Jesus paid for the sin of the world, but it is only effective when an individual comes to the Savior and by faith accepts God's unspeakable gift of salvation.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)  It is the best Christmas gift ever.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How to respond to an Awesome God

Read Psalm 111.

The second half of verse 9 should be memorized by all those who love the LORD.  The name of God is holy and to be revered.  Never should His name ever be used flippantly, as in OMG.  The name of God is awesome.  Too many have lost the meaning of the word awe and use this name of God for every and any thing.  He alone is truly awesome.

So, how did this songwriter respond to the holy and awesome God?

1. He gave thanks in corporate worship. (v.1)
The Bible does not know about secret believers or those who keep their faith to themselves.  Assembling with other believers to praise the LORD and to give thanks for what He has done is an essential part of genuine worship.

2. He studied God's works. (v.2-9a)
A cursory reading of the Bible once in a while will not satisfy.  One who has experienced the grace of God possesses a desire to know more.  Study of the word of God takes time and consistency.  Learning to feed oneself with the Scriptures is essential to spiritual growth.  Notice the benefits listed here:
-It reminds us what God has done.
-It reminds us what God has provided.
-It reminds us of God's power.
-It reminds us that His word is trustworthy.
-It reminds us of our redemption.
-It reminds us of God's promises.

3. He practiced what he learned. (v.10)
Just knowing what the Bible says will not change our lives.  The Scriptures were not given to us for our information but for our transformation.  That transforming work takes place as we put into practice what we know God wants us to be doing.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A glimpse of the 2nd coming of Jesus

Read Psalm 110.

Amazing!  Just imagine, David was allowed to overhear a conversation in heaven among the Godhead.  Literally, verse 1 states, "Jehovah said to Adonai," "my LORD said to my Lord," or "God, the Father, said to God, the Son."

The psalmist was reassured by revelation of the Holy Spirit that the Messiah would one day come to judge and rule over all the nations on earth.

A few hundreds of years later, Isaiah famously prophesied concerning the Messiah, "the government shall be upon his shoulders...of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom..." (Isaiah 9-6-7)

In Mark 12:36, Jesus quoted Psalm 110 and quizzed religious leaders concerning the eternal nature of the Messiah.

Peter quoted this Psalm and used it to proclaim that Jesus is both Lord and the Messiah.

Hebrews chapter 1 quotes Psalm 45 to declare Jesus is God and includes Psalm 110:1.

Jesus now serves as our eternal High Priest.  But when Jesus returns He will be the conquering King of kings and Lord of lords so vividly described in Revelation 17.  All believers will rule and reign with Him.  "Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power..."(v.3)

We will join those loud voices of heaven in singing the Hallelujah chorus that Handel could only imagine.
"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Let's sing all four Stanzas

Read Psalm 107.

The call is for all who have personally experienced and witnessed God's redemption to say so.  Extolling His powerful rescues and breakthroughs are the messages of our lives.

Four examples are given by the psalmist.
1. Those who were in physical desperation. (vv.4-5)
Wandering around in life with no sense of direction, they became unable to support themselves.  The were homeless and destitute, without hope.
2. Those who were in affliction. (vv.10-12)
These choose to rebel against God's word, refused to listen, and suffered the consequences.
3. Those who brought misery on themselves. (vv.17-18)
Their own foolish, sinful decisions turned on them.  They endured such suffering that they could not eat and thought they would die.
4. Those who faced perilous storms. (vv.23-27)
They did not do anything wrong to bring on this trouble.  They merely endeavored to conduct their business, to earn their living, when things turned bad.

In each instance, they came to the end of themselves.  That is when they called out to the LORD for help.  Four times the refrain is repeated (vv.6,13,19,28) and each time he delivered them.  Four times the the chorus includes the words, "Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love."

If you have reached the end of trying life on your own, call on the LORD for His deliverance today.
If you have experienced one of God's miraculous breakthroughs in your life, tell someone else today.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Handling hurtful Words

Read Psalm 109.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is a false statement!  Words do hurt.  And, they can hurt worse with more lasting effect than any physical pain.

There simply is no substitute for having faith in the God.  Believing that He will execute justice and ultimately right every wrong relieves us when we are helpless.  He is the God of all comfort.  It is when there is no remedy for our pain that we can experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit and have His peace that surpasses all understanding.

Here was David's prayer in the midst of his suffering.
1. The Cause. (vv.1-5)
He found himself surrounded by evil people who lied about him and said hateful things.  What made this hurt even more was that these were people that he loved and had helped.
2. The Curse. (vv.6-20)
In pouring his heart out to God, he presented an entire list of vengeance that could be brought upon these enemies.
3. The Cry. (vv.21-26)
"But you, O God my Lord."  Now, the turning point.  It is interesting to note that David was not taking these actions but asking the LORD to intervene on his behalf.  Once the lies, rumors and gossip has gone out, it is difficult for one to defend themselves.  Meanwhile, David paid an awful price physically during the suffering.  He cast himself on this fact of his faith: God's steadfast love for him.
4. The Contrast. (vv.27-29)
They curse; God blesses.  They will be put to shame; David will be glad.
5. The Confidence. (vv.30-31)
His prayer was not whining or mere venting.  Being full of faith, he prayed with thanksgiving and praise, knowing that the God of heaven was poised to step in and help.

"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'" (Romans 12:19)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A description of one man's daily Devotional

Read Psalm 108.

King David's heart was right before God and firm in his faith.  Therefore, he could pray and worship the LORD with great confidence.  The evidence is in his repeated statements of commitment.  Four times (ESV) he declared "I will."

1. "I will sing."
How he worshiped.  "With all his being" would indicate that his song was full of energy and volume.

2. "I will wake the dawn!"
When he worshiped.  He woke up early in the morning ready to boisterously worship God.  It does not seem that his daily devotions would be called a "quiet time."

3. "I will give thanks."
The beginning of his worship.  He did not initially approach God with his list of requests.  The first item was to thank the LORD for what He had already done.  And, the thanksgiving was not only in prayer but he wanted others to hear how good God had been to him.

4. "I will sing praises to you among the nations."
The extent of his worship.  Those who do not know the LORD need to hear these praises and thanksgivings from those who have experienced His wonderful love and faithfulness.  His worship continued throughout the day as he encountered other people.

Question: How does my personal worship compare to David's practice?


Monday, December 16, 2013

Examples of God's Goodness and Love

Read Psalm 106.

The song recounts a few of the nation's turning points of faith.  God's character and commitment to those who belong to Him are evident.  Though the people rebelled, the LORD was faithful.  When they saw God's goodness, they sang His praise.

1. The Red Sea (vv.7-12)
For 400 years, the Jews were slaves in Egypt.  Even after witnessing God's power in the ten plagues, they rebelled in fear when cornered.  "Yet he saved them for his name's sake." It was His name and His reputation that was being questioned.  Moses had intervened.  The destruction of the Egyptian army was all about God, His plans, and His promises.  "Then they believed his words; they sang his praise."

2. The Wilderness (vv.13-23)
During the 40 years in the desert, God provided for them every day.  But His provision was not good enough for them.  They rebelled and wanted more.  "He gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them."  They paid a high price for their discontent.  Next, the Person of the LORD was not enough for them.  They wanted more.  So, they rebelled and made up their own so-called gods.  Had it not been for the intercession of Moses, the nation was doomed.  God spared them in answer to prayer.

3. The Promised Land (vv.24-46)
God kept His promises to them, but it was not enough.  They complained, disobeyed and turned from the LORD to demonic worship.  God sent a plague.  "Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed."  But the cycle continued.  "Many times he delivered them" (v.43).  "For their sake he remembered his covenant" (v.45).

In spite of our many failures, God does not change.  His mercy and forgiveness are available to all.
"Praise the LORD!  Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The needs of Israel yesterday and Today

Read Psalm 105.

The psalmist taught the nation the word of God and its history through song.

1. Genesis (vv.8-24)
The nation of Israel began with the LORD's unconditional covenant with Abraham.  God promise a land, innumerable descendants, and blessing upon them forever.  The covenant passed from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and so on.  The book of Genesis concludes with Joseph's rise to power and all the Jews moving to Egypt.

2. Exodus (vv.25-43)
After 400 hundreds years, the Jews had heavily populated the best of the land of Egypt.  They became a threat to Pharaoh.  His response was to put them in slavery.  But God raised up Moses and Aaron to demonstrate His power in the ten plagues.  The Jews left Egypt "with joy and singing."

3. Joshua (v.44-45)
Joshua had been mentored by Moses.  He was the obvious choice as the next national leader.  He led the Jews in taking back the land God promised Abraham and his descendants.  Why did God want them on that land of promise?  So "that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws."  In other words, this was the place for them to live and worship the LORD in freedom and obedience.

That was history.  What did the nation need now? (vv.1-5)
-Give thanks
-Call on His name
-Make known His deeds
-Sing to Him
-Tell of His wondrous works
-Glory in His name
-Seek the LORD
-Remember who He is and what He has done

This list provides the elements of worship for all of us who know the Lord Jesus Christ.
For Israel today, "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." (Romans 10:1)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Do you see what I See?

Read Psalm 104.

Anyone who thinks that creation is a merely a Genesis issue need only to read this psalm.  God's personal and detailed creative acts are the bases of this song of worship.  The shear greatness of God is seen everywhere.  But there is more.  It is His continued sustaining of the creation that causes us to break out in praise with this songwriter.

1. When he looked at the sky with its lights and clouds, he saw the splendor and majesty of God. (vv.1-6)
Some only study the movements of the heavens and never open their hearts to the Creator and Controller of all things.

2. When he looked at the earth with its rivers and oceans, he marveled at God's control. (vv.7-9)
Verse 9 is a direct reference to Genesis 9:15.  God promised never to destroy the entire earth again with a flood.  The rainbow is His reminder of that promise.

3. When he looked at the birds, animals, sea life, and mankind, he realized how lovingly God provides for all of them. (vv.10-26)
The LORD did not just begin the world and then let go on its own.  He is personally involved in the care and feeding of His creation.  "These all look to you, to give them their food in due season" (v.27)

"O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
They pow'r throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art!"
-Stuart K. Hine

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rethinking the benefits of our Faith

Read Psalm 103.

King David shouted in song, "Bless the LORD, O my soul."  Then, he encouraged everyone else to join him.
Praising the LORD expresses our great gratitude for all that God has done and is doing.  This is not a church exercise, but a personal attitude that flows into each moment of the day.  No matter how great the stress or loss, one cannot be negative or depressed with this heavenly perspective.

Here is David's list of benefits in living for the LORD.
1. He forgives our sins.
"As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." (v.12)
2. He provides our health.
Each breath is a gift from God.  As long as He allows us to be here, He has a purpose for us.
3. He offers eternal redemption.
Without His intervention of salvation in Christ, we have no hope.  Notice the temporal contrast later in this psalm. (vv.15-16)
4. He gives love and mercy.
God does not give us what we deserve, but as a father shows compassion. (vv.13-14)
5. He satisfies with His goodness.
God is good.  It is His nature.  Therefore, He is good to us.  When a person opens their hearts to Him, they realize this truth and He fills it to overflowing with His goodness.  There is no other contentment like this.
6. He does what is right and just.
These character qualities of the LORD are repeated throughout the Bible.  Sooner or later, the hand of God will always do what is right and correct every wrong.
7. He extends His grace.
God "does not deal with us according to our sins" (v.10).  It is His grace to us that provides all these benefits of our faith.

Now, that is David's list.  What is on your list today?  Take time to tell the LORD in prayer and thank Him for all His benefits to you.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

There is hope for the Future

Read Psalm 102.

This is the prayer of one who was hurting.  Physically, the psalmist ached so badly that he would forget to eat.  As a result his body suffered even more.  The restlessness prevented sleep.  On top of that there was emotional suffering from enemies.  He felt that he would soon die at an much earlier age than expected.  That was his reality.

"But you, O LORD..."  His hope was not in his physical, nor his emotional, well-being.  It was his personal faith in God that gave him confidence about the future.

1. He had hope in God regarding his nation. (vv.13-16)
The land had been given to the nation of Israel by God's unconditional promise.  Though circumstances may appear bleak for the moment, the writer knew that one day the LORD Himself would rule and reign from Jerusalem.  Then, all nations will worship Him.  The future is secure.

2. He had hope in God regarding his prayers. (v.17)
To be destitute is be stripped of everything.  It is more than being needy.  With no means or ability to help oneself, to be destitute is to be totally dependent.  That is the relationship God wants from each person.  God helps those who cannot help themselves.  Casting our inability upon His limitless power and plan is the starting point of a blessed life.

3. He had hope in God for the coming generations. (vv.18-22)
"So that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD."  That includes us some 3000 years later.  How can we praise God when all around us appears to be getting worse by the day?
-"God is enthroned forever" (v.12).  He is in control and step by step He is unfolding His future plans.
-God "hears the groans" and will "set free those who were doomed to die" (v.20).  Not only does He hear our prayers and see what we are experiencing, but He has all-power to deliver us.
-God will take care of the next generation, just as He has provided for us (v.28).

"Many things about tomorrow I don't seem to understand.
But I know who holds the future and I know who hold my hand."
-Stuart Hamblen

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

9 do's and don'ts of one who belongs to the LORD

Read Psalm 101.

David not only served as shepherd, a mighty warrior, and king, but he was called "the sweet psalmist of Israel."  Music gained him entrance into the service of King Saul and continues to be a major part of his legacy.  In this song he made nine commitments using the words "I will."  These do's and don'ts express the need of all who desire to live a life that pleases the LORD.

1. I will sing.
This is the new song of praise to God for His personal love and His concern to bring about justice.
2. I will make music.
His praise was not limited to his voice.  He also used instruments to worship God as well.
3. I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Doing what is right requires thinking and considering what God wants us to do.  Thoughtless words and deeds lead to sin.
4. I will walk with integrity.
Incongruity is hypocrisy.  A double-minded person behaves one way when people are watching and another privately.
5. I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.
Our choices of what books and magazines we will read or not read, the television, movies and internet sites we will view or not view are a tests of our integrity.  These are character decisions.
6. I will know nothing of evil.
Often, it is curiosity or the popular thing to do that leads us to explore or experience sinful things.  Sin is never victim-less.  Everyone involved and everyone around those involved are affected.  Evil is always energized by demons.
7. I will destroy slanderers.
When gossip and slander is allowed dissension will be the result.  These are cowards who use words to talk about others instead of speaking with them in love.
8. I will not endure pride-filled people.
God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.  Tolerating an egoist will hinder the grace of God in every situation.
9. I will look with favor on faith-filled people.
If you desire to live a godly life, then surround yourself with godly people.  Watch.  Listen.  Learn from them.

Monday, December 9, 2013

6 commands about our Worship

Read Psalm 100.

At eight years of age, my Sunday School teacher led us in memorizing this psalm.  There are six commands regarding our worshipful responses to the LORD.  Notice that it is not the building, nor the wonderful ministries, but the person of God Himself that is to be praised.

1. Make joyful noise.
The call to worship is for everyone.  Worship does have its solemnity and dignity but our attitude is to be one of joy.  It is an absolute privilege to know and honor the God of heaven.

2. Serve the LORD with gladness.
This has to do with work related to worshiping God.  Some lead.  Some sing especially.  Some play an instrument. Some speak.  Some greet.  Some usher.  All are to participate.  Our faces, body language, and words are to reflect a glad heart.

3. Come in singing.
Not just the musicians but everyone is to vocally participate.

4. Know the focus of our worship.
He is God!  Worship helps us refocus from the distractions of this world to remember where we came from and whose we are.

5. Enter with thanksgiving.
Often we come to God wanting something from Him.  Worship is a time to thank Him for what He has already provided.

6. Bless His name.
It is His reputation that we praise and honor.

Why?  Because of His goodness, love and faithfulness.
"Oh, taste, and see that the LORD is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" (Psalm 34:8)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

3 things most people do not know about God

Read Psalm 99.

Singing has always been a part of worship.  The psalmist wanted everyone to understand to Whom they were singing.  This was not a casual chorus but praise for the One called great and awesome.

1. The LORD is to be feared. (vv.1-3)
To fear God means much more than reverential respect.  Here, the very thought of the holy LORD on His throne should cause the people to tremble and the earth to quake.  What a contrast to what most people experience in worship!  Usually, God has to scare us to near death before we tremble before Him.

2. The LORD sits in the seat of judgment. (vv.4-5)
If someone were to ask what two things does God loves, how many would respond with justice and equity?  But this One in heaven is concerned with the statutes of behavior He has prescribed.  He watches the processes and procedures of how decisions are made.  He loves it when matters are handled rightly and evenly.  His holiness will not tolerated wrongdoing by anyone.

3. The LORD hears the prayers of obedient believers. (vv.6-9)
Notice what preceded their prayers.  God spoke.  "They kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them."  They prayed.  God answered.  Knowing God's word and obeying it are precursors to asking Him for anything.  Disobedience requires repentance and forgiveness.  Experiencing God's forgiveness allows us to forgive those who sin against us.

There is nothing like a clean heart to move us to correctly worship our holy God.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Time to stop and count your Blessings

Read Psalm 98.

The psalmist is counting his blessings and calling everyone, including all nature, to join in singing praises to God.  The LORD had done marvelous things and he could not be silent.  This is a new song, much different than those estranged from God can sing.  Everyone on earth enjoys the blessings of God moment by moment throughout all of life.  But stopping to give credit and honor to the One to whom it is due requires time, thought, an open heart as well as an open mouth.

1. God had demonstrated His power. (v.1)
Where did God demonstrate His power to you this week?

2. God had made known His salvation. (v.2a)
How have you responded this week to His deliverance of you?

3. God had revealed His righteousness. (v.2b)
When this week did you see that God was right?

4. God had shown steadfast love. (v.3a)
What happened this week where God's love was evidenced to you?

5. God had been faithful. (v.3b)
In what ways did God show His faithfulness to you this week?

"Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love."
Thomas O. Chisholm

Thursday, December 5, 2013

3 Questions every person must Answer

Read Psalm 97.

This wonderful song is a universal call to praise the One and only God.  The psalm is full of theology and answers some basic questions to which every human being must respond.

1. Who is God? (vv.1-5)
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the writer provides a view of the LORD on His throne.
The visuals are further described in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4.  Note also the sounds and power that emanate from His presence.  His rule is founded upon the character qualities of righteousness and justice.  Theses two qualities are emphasized in light of His coming judgment upon the earth.

The Apostle Peter gave a matching preview of this coming in judgment.
"But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly...then the heavenly bodies will burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed."  (2 Peter 3:7-10)

2. What about other beliefs? (vv.6-9)
Don't we all worship the same God?  The Creator of all things, the eternal God, claims absolute exclusivity.  The Bible does not mince words concerning other belief systems.  All others will be put to shame and even now are worthless.  There is even an invitation here for all those so called gods to worship the LORD alone.
When the Philistines placed the Ark of God before their idol Dagon, the idol was discovered on the ground before the Ark and broken. (1 Samuel 5)

Jesus could not have been more clear on this point.  "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

3. What should we who know Jesus do about this spiritual warfare? (vv.10-12)
-Hate evil.  Believers must not tolerate personal sin, nor be complacent about the sin around them.
-Know that God delivers His own from evil people.  Indeed, the enemy of our souls has already been defeated.
-Rejoice. and give thanks.
"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith." (1 John 5:4)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Can you hear me Now?

Read Psalm 96.

There are times to be silent.  There are times to worship the LORD in quietness.  This psalm is not for one of those times.  Notice some key words: sing, bless, tell, declare, ascribe, say.  The praise of God in this song is vocal, audible and loud so as to be heard around the world.

1. We are to Sing. (vv.1-6)
Our song is a new song.  It is different than the world sings.  The words tell how great God is in His what He has done.  In contrast, all the false gods of this world are worthless.
Question: How is my music different because of my faith in Him?

2. We are to Speak. (vv.7-10)
Our words to this world is a declaration of God's glory and honor due to Him.  It is a call to come and worship the LORD because of His sovereignty and our accountability to Him.
Question: What am I saying in my daily conversations that demonstrate this?

3. We are to Celebrate. (vv.11-13)
Our mission is to spread the message.  This is a call to all of creation itself to join us in celebrating our faith with joy and gladness.  God is right.  He is faithful.  He will judge.
Question: How will those around me today see and hear my celebration of joy and gladness?

"Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,.
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise."
-Robert Robinson

Monday, December 2, 2013

An Invitation to Sing

Read Psalm 95.

This song is an invitation to all to join in singing.  Some may feel they cannot "carry a tune" and have no capacity.  But the writer encouraged making a joyful noise.  Whether you can sing or not, make it loud.  Some may feel they have no reason to sing to the LORD.  So, the writer reminds us of several.

1. A call to sing praises to God. (vv.1-5)
"Oh come..."  Why?  Because Jehovah is a great God and King above any other persons or objects of worship.  He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things.  There is no one like Him.
"I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me." (Isaiah 46:9)

2. A call to worship God. (vv.6-7a)
"Oh come..."  Why?  Because the LORD is not only God, but He is our God.  We are His people.
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." (Psalm 23:1)  The eternal, life-changing word in that verse is the little word "my".  He is ours and we are His, forever.

3. A call to listen. (vv.7b-11)
"Today...do not harden your hearts."  Hearing God's voice requires a soft heart; one that is open to receive what He has to say.  Every moment the LORD wants to give us direction, guidance, and wisdom.  Those who close their hearts toward Him are on their own and pay an awful price.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."
(Psalm 32:8)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

4 provisions needed to overcome Injustices

Read Psalm 94.

The psalmist cried out for vengeance upon the wicked who had come against God's people.  He described them as "proud", using "arrogant words."  They had no mercy on the most defenseless of all, murdering widows, travelers, and fatherless children.  Their thought was that God does not exist, and if He does exist He does not see nor care about what they are doing.

The LORD of heaven not only sees, He hears, He disciplines, and He knows the thoughts of all people.  He does not forget His people.  He is a God of justice and He will eventually right every wrong.

In the meantime, while living with such injustice, how can a righteous person endure?  Living under the threat of physical death is the ultimate test of one's faith.  What kept the songwriter going included-
1. The help of the LORD. (v.17)
Day by day, moment by moment God came along side to strengthen him.

2. The love of the LORD. (v.18)
It was the assurance that God loved him, even if no one else did, that caused him to stand firm in his faith.

3. The comforts of the LORD. (v.19)
When he was hurting personally, or feeling badly over the awful things taking place around him, God was there to cheer his soul.

4. The stability of the LORD. (20)
The faithful, unchanging character of God provided a place of spiritual and emotional refuge and safety.

Without this hope, there would have been nothing left but despair.
"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:4-5)

Friday, November 29, 2013

The contrast of the King of Glory.

Read Psalm 93.

Earthly royalty, sitting on their thrones, are truly awe inspiring.  Their robes and crowns, their positional honor and power, cause everyone to cease what they are doing in order to hear what the monarch has to say.  The unnamed psalmist envisions the comparisons and contrasts of the King of Glory as the ultimate ruler of all things and everyone.

1. His robe.
He is not clothed in expensive furs, but with majesty.
2. His belt.
He is not girded with gold, but what surrounds His personage is omnipotence.
3. His rule.
There are no shouts of "long live the king" because He has always been in control and always will be.
4. His power.
It is not merely the forces of an army and the exercise of might against opposing nations that He controls but the very forces of nature are under His command.
5. His word.
The rulers of this world may declare their edicts.  Sometimes those decisions prove to be false promises or simply wrong.  God's word is totally reliable, sure and faithful.
6. His habitation.
John Emerich Edward Dalberg wrote in part, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."  The kings of this world have been notorious for their immorality, greed and/or abuse of their position.  But the overarching characteristic of the presence of the LORD is His holiness.

Isaiah was allowed to see firsthand what the songwriter penned.
"In the year King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim.  Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to the another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'" (Isaiah 6:1-3)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Song for Thanksgiving

Read Psalm 92.

For those who love the LORD, everyday is one of giving thanks.  We praise Him in the morning and at night.  It is with voice and on instruments.  While we are thankful for family, friends, those who sacrifice to keep us safe, and for blessings, ultimately all thanks belongs to God Himself.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..." (James 1:17)

1. We thank Him for who He is. (vv.1-4)
-His love is steadfast.
-His faithfulness is new every morning.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

2. We thank Him for what He has done. (vv.5-11)
His wonderful works extend from Creation to our Redemption to bring us to today.  This requires spiritual insight.  The natural person does not understand.  He sees what God has done and ascribes it to something or someone else.  This robs God of His rightful glory and thanksgiving.

3. We thank Him for what we have. (vv.12-15)
Flourish is a relative term.  We may not have all we want, but today the LORD has supplied much more than we need.  As people grow older, they slow down or cease their professions or work.  But those who know the LORD can continue to grow spiritually and bear fruit in ministry to others.

Two anchors of our faith in God:
He is right.  We are thankful to know the truth and to be on the winning side.
He is our Rock.  We are thankful to have such unchangeable stability in our lives.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When trouble troubles You

Read Psalm 91.

Dr. Lee Roberson preached a powerful sermon on the subject of trouble.
1. Trouble energizes.  We are lazy.  It stirs us to action.
2. Trouble clarifies.  It gives us vision.
3. Trouble magnifies our weaknesses in light of the power of God.

This psalm encourages believers that we have no cause for fear, no dread of harm, when trouble comes our way.  For those who place their faith in God, He is our shelter, shadow over us, refuge, fortress, cover, shield, buckler, dwelling place...
And, if that were not enough, "He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways" (v.11)

How does the LORD respond to those who trust Him in times of trouble? (vv.14-16)
1. I will deliver him
2. I will protect him
3. I will answer him
4. I will be with him
5. I will rescue him
6. I will honor him
7. I will show him my salvation
Seven quotes from God Himself.  We need nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What to do about the brevity of Life

Read Psalm 90.

Here is song from Moses.  He began by extolling the eternal nature of God.  He is from everlasting to everlasting.  God does not exist in time.  He is not limited to space or matter.  As Creator, He is the Owner of life.  And, He is the believer's refuge and final home.

Human life is the exact opposite.  We are here only for a while and then gone into eternity.  Earthly life is described like dust, gone as if swept away by a flood, a dream, grass,  a sigh.  It may last 70 years, maybe 80, then soon gone.  The last is an interesting statement from a man who lived to be 120.

Facing this reality, how should we be praying and what should we be doing?

1. Learning wisdom (v.12)
Teach us to number our days.  It is human nature to avoid thinking about our days being numbered, let alone wisely planning our lives according to its sure brevity.  Today matters.  That is also the title of one of Dr. John Maxwell's best books.  This understanding and learning causes us-
-to be urgent in what we do
-to be right in what we do
-to be prudent in what we do
2. Being content with God's love for us. (v.14a)
If He was all you had in this life, would you be satisfied?  Is He enough for you?
3. Rejoicing through it all. (v.14b-15)
Afflicted?  Yes.  Experienced evil?  Yes.  The secret to being "glad all our days" is being content with God and His love.
4. Seeing God's power at work. (v.16)
Praying is one thing.  Our faith is built up as we intentionally take notice of God at work all around us everyday.  He is active every moment.  Don't miss it.
5. Experiencing God's favor in all that we do. (v.17)
He is the One who opens doors of opportunity and blesses us.  It is His good hand upon us that makes all the difference in life and leaves a legacy of honor for those behind us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What happened to God's Promises?

Read Psalm 89.

Ethan, who wrote this song, is mentioned in two other places in the Old Testament.  He was Levite and considered to be a very wise man.  But here he was conflicted.  On one hand, Ethan praised God for His many character traits such love and faithfulness.  Then, on the other, He felt God had abandoned the nation in anger.  He even accused the LORD of renouncing His covenant with David (v.39).

Indeed, the very basis of his prayer is the Davidic Covenant found in 1 Samuel 7:5-16.  There the LORD made these eternal promises to David and his descendants.
1. I will make your name great.
2. I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more.
3. I will give you rest from all your enemies.
4. I will make you a house.
5. I will raise up offspring after you.
6. I will establish his kingdom forever.
7. Your throne shall be established forever.

The context of this psalm, however, appears to have been prompted by an enemy invasion and the king's loss of control over the nation.  So, what happened to all those promises?  God did not change.  Israel did.  Their disobedience resulted in them losing the blessings of those promises for a time.  With their national repentance and in God's timing He will restore and fulfill all His word.  Ultimately, Jesus, a direct and royal descendant of David (Matthew 1) will sit on that throne in Jerusalem and rule.

We must be careful not to evaluate life based upon temporal emotions.  God's word and His faithfulness do not change.  He is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).  When life does not make sense, God's word is still and always trustworthy.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Suffering in the will of God

Read Psalm 88.

When one hears the name Heman, we think of a person with unusual strength, stature, and ability.  But as Heman wrote this psalm,  we discover a man who was suffering, crying, and on the brink of death.

He prayed day and night, but up to this point the LORD had not answered his prayers.  Indeed, things became worse.  His "soul is full of troubles."  His health had brought him to the point of death.  All his friends had abandoned him.  There seemed to be no way out.  And, there is no happy ending to this song.

The basis of his prayer was that in death he would not be able to demonstrate the power and character of God's deliverance.  Notice the appeal to the character of God.
-"your steadfast love"
-"your faithfulness"
-"your wonders"
-"your righteousness"

Everyone, sooner or later, experiences the agony of praying with the feeling that God is not listening.  Our evaluation is based on the fact that nothing is happening to help us.  But our faith reminds us that God does see what we are going through and He hears our cries.  Further, the foundation of our hope is that the LORD is working His plan and purpose on His timetable, not ours.  It is our trust in Him that is being tested.

Suffering is as much a part of the human experience as breathing.  It may take different forms from various causes.  Suffering due to our own sin is God's design to lead a person to repentance.  But there are times in life when suffering is within the will of God to test the believer and to mature them in their faith.

Two reminders from the Apostle Paul's personal suffering in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
1. In our weakness, we learn that God' grace is sufficient for us.
2. In our weakness, we learn to be content.

Friday, November 22, 2013

In praise and prophecy for Jerusalem

Read Psalm 87.

This is a song in praise of the city of Jerusalem.  Not only was it a place of God's choosing, but in those days it was the center of world-wide worship of God because the temple was there.  Sitting on mount Zion, it looked beautiful.  The psalmist looked forward to the day when this will be a peaceful ("salem") city for the nations.

In that day, people will say wonderful things about Jerusalem.  Folks will be proud to have been born there.  It will be the fountain of blessings to all.

When will that happen?

The Bible explains that one day, Jesus will return to rule and reign for 1,000 years from Jerusalem.  Psalm 2 describes how the God, the Father will establish God, the Son as king on Zion's hill.  He will "make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession."

And, one of the rewards for those who place their faith in Jesus now is that we will rule and reign with Him.
"Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection!  Over such the second death has no power but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years."
(Revelation 20:6)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

3 Essentials to Prayer

Read Psalm 86.

This is a prayer from King David.  Interesting, how many of the Psalms were written as a result of a threat.  We do our best praying when we realize that we cannot help ourselves and cast our complete dependence upon God.  Follow David's thoughts as he asked the LORD to intervene.  These are essential components to seeing our prayers answered.

1. The condition of David.
The prayer came from a confident, yet humble heart.  His confidence was based upon his position and practice before God.  In verse 2, he said, "I am godly."  In other words, he did nothing wrong to bring this trouble.  He felt bankrupt in his ability to deliver himself.  He needed the LORD to act on his behalf.  He asked God to hear him, to spare him, to extend grace to him, and to teach him.

2. The commitment of David.
He recognized that there was still much to learn about being all that God wanted him to be.  His desire went further than the immediate help to "teach me."  How precious that part of the prayer must have sounded in the ears of the LORD!  What did he need to learn?  "Unite my heart to fear your name" (v.11).  James wrote that a double-minded prayer will not be answered (James 1:5-8)  The evidence of one with a whole heart for the LORD includes living according to God's truth and giving glory to His name (vv.11-12).

3. The character of God.
The basis of this entire prayer is the essence of who God is.
-"good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love" (v.5)
-"There is none like you..."  "You alone are God." (vv.8,10b)
-"All the nations you have made..." (v.9)
-"You are great and do wondrous things." (v.10)
-able to deliver souls from eternal torment (v.13)
-"merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." (v.15)
-able to show favor, help, and comfort (v.17)

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all..." (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Revive us Again

Read Psalm 85.

At some point in the past there Israel suffered great loss.  The psalmist admits that this happened because of their sin.  But once the sin was dealt with, God restored, or returned, their losses to them.

Now, feeling God's displeasure, even anger, they were in need of another restoration.

What is the problem?
1. Sin breaks fellowship with the LORD.
2. Sin brings discipline from the LORD.
3. Sin causes us to lose our joy in the LORD.

What is the cure?
"Let me hear what God the LORD will speak." (v.8)
Ignoring what God has to say is the first step toward sin.  Knowing and responding to what God has to say is the first step in restoring fellowship with Him.  When we acknowledge that God is right and we are wrong, we find "He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

What are the results?
-Restoration means we can bask in the love of God.
-We recognize His faithfulness to us.
-We live again doing what is right.
-We enjoy peace with God.
-His blessings will be upon our work.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What are you thinking on the way to Worship?

Read Psalm 84.

For most of us, Sunday mornings are a rush to get ready and leave.  Once there, we look for a good parking spot, quick greetings with a few people, and find a seat.  We hope the music and preaching are to our liking.

Contrast that thinking with this Psalm.  Verses 5-7 indicate that this was a song worshipers would sing as the traveled up the mountain to Jerusalem in order to worship at the temple.  The attitude is they could not wait to get there.

1. It was a time to sing.
The singer was excited about getting to the place of worship; not because of the building or others who would be around, but because they going to formally appear before and meet with God Himself.

2. It was a time to pray.
First, intercessory prayer was offered for the king.  God appointed and anointed their national leader.  The people depended upon the LORD to work through him in order to lead them to do what is right.

3. It was a time to serve.
Having the privilege of standing at the door of the place of worship could not be matched at any price.

4. It was a time to be blessed.
The sun speaks of God's provision.
The shield refers to God's protection.
The favor of God opens doors of opportunity.
The honor of God is how we are treated when we walk into His opportunities.

God does not withhold good things from us.  He loves to bless those live for Him.

Now, enjoy the service.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Praying for those against You

Read Psalm 83.

Asaph began with a call for God to let His voice be heard.  The enemies of Israel were conspiring to attack and "wipe them out as a nation."  However, with heavenly insight, he realized that these "crafty plans" were not only against them but truly this was a spiritual battle. Those surrounding nations were demonically energized to be haters of God (v.5).

Throughout the Bible, when God's people were taunted, challenged, belittled, or attacked, a godly leader verbalized the battle behind the battle.  It was not Pharaoh against Moses, but Pharaoh against God.  It was not Goliath against David, but Goliath against God.  It was not the Prophets of Baal against Elijah, but the false prophets against God.  It was not the wizards of Babylon against Daniel, but them against God.  In each instance, the antagonists paid for their actions with their lives.

But here, the psalmist prayed differently.  Yes, he wanted God to avenge Himself, even shaming them and bringing them down in disgrace.  But notice two other parts of his prayer that have eternal significance.

1. So "that they may seek your name." (v.17)
Asking God to destroy an enemy is one thing.  Or, he could have wanted the LORD make them sorry for what they did.  But, asking Him to bring them to repentance reveals a godly perspective on his part.  When people seek the LORD with a repenting heart, life-change will take place.

2. So "that they may know that you alone...are the Most High over all the earth." (v.18)
The reason people hate God is first and foremost an attempt to get rid of their guilt.  There is no real cure for guilt other than the forgiveness of God.  He alone offers spiritual cleansing of the conscience.  When people come to faith in the LORD, He receives the honor and glory due His name.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Who judges the Judges?

Read Psalm 82.

Human judges are placed in a weighty position.  They make decisions that immediately impact the lives of others; sometimes one person, sometimes an entire nation.  Since all authority ultimately comes from God (Romans 13:1), human judges are to be His representatives on earth meting out decisions in alignment with His word and wisdom.

When Asaph assessed the judges of his day, he saw a lack of understanding and accountability.  In this curious song, the writer imagines a time when God would sit in judgment of these judges.  He even writes what God would say to them.  In balancing the scales of power in a culture, human judges are to protect at least these four groups of people:
1. The Weak
These are folks who are low on the totem pole of society.  Financially, they have no strength of resources to fight the opposition, either due to loss or threat.

2. The Fatherless
Orphaned children have no parents to defend them and protect them them.  Without judicial decisions, they may become easy prey to every kind of abuse.

3. The Afflicted
People who have been brought down physically, financially, or otherwise in an unjust manner need intervention by a legal authority.

4. The Destitute
Not only have these experienced loss, but they have nothing left.  With no means of protection or help, they seek justice.

In John 10:34, as the religious leaders attempted to stone Jesus to death, He quoted verse 6.

Judges are  human.  Mistakes are made.  But when there is deliberate disregard for God's word, when financial or political bribery tilts their decisions, or when partiality of any kind is shown, there is One is heaven who will indeed one day sit in judgment of the judges.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It is time to stop and Listen

Read Psalm 81.

It was a time to celebrate.
Everyone, by statute, was to gather at this time to loudly sing and play on the instruments.  Most believe this took place at the Feast of Tabernacles.  God answered prayer!  They called on Him and He delivered Israel from the slavery of Egypt.  

But after all He had done for them, they turned aside from obeying the LORD.

It was a time to listen.
Three times (verses 8,11,13) the Psalmist speaking on behalf of God called the people to listen to what God had said to them.  Inexplicably, they gave themselves to strange gods and false teachings.  He chose not to strike them dead, but instead some of the most chilling words in the Bible are used, "So, I gave them over to their stubborn hearts."  (See also Romans 1:26, 28).  He left them to go their own way and suffer the consequences of their own making.  This is the essence of sin.

It was a time to return.
The call from God is "Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways."  This call to live for the LORD comes with promises of blessings.  The LORD wants to protect us from those who would do us harm.  The LORD wants to provide for us so that we may be fulfilled in life.

No one else and nothing else can satisfy the longing of the heart but God Himself.  It is stubborn rebellion in the heart that keeps people ever seeking and never experiencing true satisfaction.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A cry for Restoration

Read Psalm 80.

On behalf of the nation, Asaph voiced their alienation from God.  Three times (vv.3,7,19) he prayed for the LORD to "restore us" so that they may be delivered from their distress.  The KJV translates the phrase "turn us again."

He described Israel as a vine that God had planted on this land.  The LORD cultivated the vine and gave it everything it needed to be fruitful.  Yet, instead of being a beautiful, healthy vine bearing fruit, it had been attacked, devoured, and burned.

God did not move.  They experienced this distress for a reason.  Drawn away by their own sin and disobedience, the nation had turned to other things instead of the God.  It was they who needed to return by repenting of their sin.

Here are his requests in verses 17-18 to restore his nation.
1. He prayed for the leader.
If the nation was to be all that God designed it to be, the hand of the LORD needed to be on the leader.  The "son of man" with a small "s" is a reference to the king.  Godly leadership is essential to a righteous nation.  The Apostle Paul urged that we are to pray "for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." (1 Timothy 2:2).

2. He prayed for the people.
"Give us life."  Their current state of human existence was not working.  He cried for something more, a kind of life that only comes from God.  Jesus spoke of this in John 10:10-"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

Everyone born has physical life and breath with a heart beat for only a set number of years.  It is temporary.  The life that is offered by faith in Christ is real life.  Eternal life.  Abundant life.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rethinking our prayers for Help

Psalm 79.

This song from Asaph is very similar to his Psalm 74.  Jerusalem had been attacked, the temple defiled, some of those who served there were killed and left unburied.  The enemies scoffed at their belief in God because He did not protect them.

Why did God allow this to happen?

Asaph felt that the cause was due to sin.  Their disobedience to God had brought His anger against them and this invasion was their penalty.  The result was "we are brought very low."  Humility before God is the starting point of rebuilding a relationship with Him.  It is the required attitude of prayer.

Notice how he appealed to the Lord.
1. Help us.
Why?  "For the glory of your name."  These were God's people.  The temple was the sole place of sacrificial worship of God.  If the LORD would step in and help them, the restoration would bring Him honor by all.

2. Deliver us and atone for our sins.
Why?  "For your name's sake!"  Their defeat was not only against them but the very person and power of God.  The LORD's reputation had been totally disregarded and disrespected.

Asaph's question was "why should the nations say, "Where is their God?"

If God answered our prayers of help, who would get the credit?  How would God be glorified?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Overcoming a roller coaster Faith

Psalm 78.

This song recounts the historical roller coaster of Israel's spiritual journey.  They were up and down.  Casting their dependence upon God and then rejecting Him.  The call from Asaph was to stop this cycle by teaching the next generation the wonderful works of God.  This helped the teacher as much as the learner.

But this goes far beyond a set curriculum of knowledge.  The difference would only come by exercising a consistent faith in action.  This not only will affect the immediate next generation but "the children yet unborn" (v.6).

Why was Asaph so insistent?  Because as he reviewed history, he labeled the leaders of the past as "stubborn and rebellious" and unfaithful to God.  Then, he provided specific examples of this rebellion and how God responded.  Even in their times of rejection and unbelief, God gracious supplied their daily needs.  Yet, they provoked God repeatedly by their disobedience.  That prompted the LORD to intervene with discipline, sometimes with awful tragedies, to get their attention.

The nation, realizing they had sinned, repented and "remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer" (v.35).  But it proved to be mere lip service and not genuine.  Their lives did not change.

Through it all, God did not change His mind, nor His plans.  In His sovereignty, He chose the tribe of Judah to lead the nation.  He chose David to shepherd His people with integrity and skill.  They were back on track.

All of us can identify to one extent or another of the roller coaster experience of our faith.  God is good.  He is gracious in supplying our daily needs.   He is worthy of our trust and a consistently disciplined life.  "But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world." (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What to do when our faith Fails

Read Psalm 77.

Asaph was in great distress.  He described his praying as crying aloud to God with untiring outstretched hands.  The troubles he faced prevented him from sleeping.  As he tossed and turned, he began feeling alienated from God.

This caused him to question God's care for him.
"Will the Lord spurn forever and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?" (vv.7-9)

When the pressure upon us pushes us to the edge, when we feel that we have gone as far as we can go, and God has not responded with the help we so desperately need, what are we to do?

Asaph changed his focus from his problems to remembering the power of God.  He made a deliberate decision to recall and meditate what God had done for him and how He had delivered His people in the past.  He reviewed the mighty power the LORD displayed at the Red Sea (Exodus 14).  He realized it was his weakness, not God's, that brought on this spurt of unbelief.  It was strengthening for him to remember the facts of his faith.

If God can do that for millions of people and wipe out the world's most powerful army of the time, then what how small (not insignificant) and solvable are the problems we face?

"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh.  Is anything too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:17)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The God who is to be Feared

Read Psalm 76.

God sovereignly chose Abraham and his descendants and gave them unconditional, eternal promises.  The city of Jerusalem He chose as the place for the Temple and the center of worship under the old covenant.  His very presence was there in the Holy of Holies behind the curtain.

It is no wonder then that as Israel obeyed God that He jealousy protected Jerusalem from its enemies.  God demonstrated His presence by unleashing His power against attackers.  How are people to respond to such a God as this?

1. The LORD is to be feared.
At the root of all sin is the lack of respect, reverence, and obedient response to the God of heaven.  The answer to his question in verse 7 is no one!  Sooner or later all will come to fear the LORD.  "So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:10-11)

2. The LORD will execute judgment on those who do not fear Him.
God's wrath is reserved for those who chose to ignore His claims.  Every individual will come to Him in this life out of great love and gratitude for His offer of forgiveness, or they will bow on command as they enter eternal punishment for rejecting Him.  He has proven His power of wrath time and again.  Even those who defy God will bring Him glory as He fulfills His purposes in judging them.

3. The LORD saves those who fear Him.
In verse 9, these are called "the humble."  When one surrenders their life to God, they come under His protection.  He not only is present to help now, but He has secured our eternity as well.  But "faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:17).  So, Asaph made a call to put our faith into practice:
-Keep your promises to God.
At the moment of salvation we committed to live for Him as Lord of our lives.  That is a 24/7 promise of thought, word and deed.
-Bring Him your gifts.
Giving and worship are inseparable.

Monday, November 4, 2013

For those who believe in Themselves

Read Psalm 75.

Each juncture of world history occurred and will take place at the exact time set by the Father.  For example: Creation.  The call of Abraham.  The Exodus.  The leadership of Joshua.  The anointing of David as King of Israel.  The exiles and return.  The birth of Christ.  The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  The ascension of Christ and coming of the Spirit.  The return of Christ.

This is also true of God's judgments.  At the time set by Him, He will judge rightly according to His word, not the laws and thinking of humans.  The LORD is sovereign and ruler over all whether one acknowledges Him or not.

1. God is in control of the earth's stability. (v.3)
Science calls it gravity.  Think of how much we depend upon the predictability and accuracy of the earth's rotation and the movement of the universe.  It is ludicrous for some to believe this happened by accident or long periods of time.  Such thinking would be totally unacceptable regarding any other subject.  Most importantly, it robs God of the credit and His glory as Creator.   It is affront to Jesus Christ Himself.
Colossians 1:17-"And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
Those who placed their faith in other beliefs will one day be judged.

2. God is in control of personal opportunity. (vv.4-7)
At the root of all sin is pride.  It is the egoist who thinks that their strength and power ("horn") got them where they are.  It is pride that distorts one's view of life and leads to a false sense of self-sufficiency.  It is pride that causes people to embrace the false belief that they have no accountability to the God who brought them into this world and provided opportunities for them throughout their lives.  Little do they realize it is God who puts down one and raises up another.

3. God is in control of eternity. (vv.8-10)
Those who reject God's offer of forgiveness and life in Jesus have nothing to look forward to other than eternal punishment at the Great White Throne judgment.  Note the chilling analogy that He already has prepared the drink given to those about to be executed.  However, spiritual death will last forever.

Those who respond to God's loving-kindness in Christ have a reason to sing.  The LORD will lift us up and welcome us to the place He has prepared for those who love Him.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

When Believers are under Attack

Read Psalm 74.

Asaph wrote of a time when the homeland was under attack.  In their invasion, the enemy destroyed places and items used to worship the LORD.  In addition, they scoffed at the God of Israel and began to set up their own objects of worship.  This went far beyond military might to raw spiritual warfare.  It confused him.  Why would God allow this?  Why did He not intervene to protect His own people?

His prayer was a call for the God of heaven to arise and demonstrate His glory.  Notice the elements of his appeal.

1. The power of His creation. (vv.12-19)
God had demonstrated His great omnipotence in the past.  As the Owner, He made and corralled oceans and their inhabitants.  He provided water on the land.  He divided day and night.  He made the seasons.  If God could do that then dealing with people on earth is a simple matter.

2. The promise of His covenant. (vv.20-21)
These were God's chosen people.  In Genesis 12, the LORD made unconditional promises regarding Abraham's descendants.  Promises were made to King David and his household forever.  It was from this family that the Messiah would come.  No wonder they were under Satanic attack.  It is God's commitment to care for His people and He will.

3. The perspective of His cause. (vv.22-23)
This fight was not one of "them against us."  Rather, this war truly belonged to God.

Believers are soldiers in the spiritual battles and we are totally dependent upon the Spirit of God to accomplish spiritual victories.  "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)

But do not forget to put on the armor God has supplied for our protection and skillfully use the sword He gave us for offense.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A cure for Envy

Psalm 73.

It happens to all of us.  We notice someone who has something newer, faster, better, more attractive, more expensive, or simply more.  Within us stirs an emotional desire to have, to buy, to acquire, or to accomplish.
That feeling may motivate us legitimately to higher levels of achievement.  But the warning in Scripture is to guard against the sin of envy.  It can be a fine line.  The motive question we must ask ourselves is, "Why am I feeling that way?"   Is it due to a lack of contentment on our part?  Is it due to our pride?  Is it the need for power to keep up with or exceed those around us?  Is it because we feel God is not meeting our needs?
Here is the insight: The felt need for more can never be satisfied.

In this Psalm, Asaph shared his true struggles and how he was able to resolve his envy.  These three steps of thinking help us to understand the cause of envy and its cure.

1. Looking at others.  (vv.1-12)
The problem started when he looked at those around him who were prospering and he realized they did not love God.  They took credit for their gains.  They did not seem to be troubled by tragedies and problems.  They got away with violence and criminal behavior.  They felt no accountability to God for their actions.

2. Looking at himself.  (vv.13-16)
The chief cause of normal depression is self-pity.  We compare ourselves with others and what we want things to be like.  The distance of the gap between our expectations and reality is the measure of disappointment.  Asaph lived a godly life.  He did what was right.  Yet, comparatively he felt short-changed.  Trying to understand this wore him down.

3. Looking to God.  (vv.17-28)
"...until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end."  When he began to worship, Asaph was able to gain a true perspective.  He had been concerned about temporal stuff.  100% of it could be lost, stolen, or burned up and 100% of it he would one day leave behind.  What he had through faith in the LORD was eternal.  That inheritance is "imperishable, undefiled, and unfading" (1 Peter 1:4).

The cure came when he realized that God is enough.  In His faithfulness, He supplies each day what we need.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Leadership every nation Wants

Read Psalm 72.

This is David's prayer for Solomon as the crown was passed from father to son.  How does one pray for a national leader?  There are no less than nine requests made for the new king.

1. Justice for the poor and needy.
All authority to mete out justice comes from God.  Human judges are to represent God with the knowledge of their accountability to Him.  Having leadership that stands in the gap for those who are powerless, that stands against oppressors and those who commit crimes is essential to the survival of any society.

2. Righteousness.
Not only must leaders be correct what is wrong, they must lead according to what is right.

3. Prosperity.
Good leadership creates an environment for growth.  The people then are refreshed by them  and "flourish" personally and financially.

4. Peace.
Living quiet peaceable lives is the goal of a civilized society.  Those who govern have the God-given responsibility to protect the people from internal strife and international threats.

5. Expanded Influence.
This is the essence of all leadership.  The prayer here is that based upon the first five above, the leader would be so respected, so blessed, and so supported by his own people that he would be equally received and revered by other nations.

6.  Long Life.
"Long live the king."  That is no only a good sentiment for well-wishing, long tenures of God-honoring leadership is a blessing to the people.

7. Abundance.
With great productivity comes an abundance in resources.  Great amounts of resources give leaders and the nation plenty of options for expansion, protection, and meeting the needs of the people.  When the nation is enriched the people should be as well.

8. Fame.
When a nation has such leadership as described here, it becomes well-known and attractive.  The reason is that everyone wants to live in a place like this and follow this type of leader.

9. Blessed.
This kind of leader and this type of society does not come through self-help efforts.  It is a "wondrous" thing that comes from God alone.  He blesses such leaders and nations in order to reveal His glory, not theirs.

"Righteous exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."  (Proverbs 14:34)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A God for all Seasons

Read Psalm 71.

Here the unnamed song writer made an assessment of his life.  A need for safety and stability appears to have prompted it.  He looked to God for refuge and rescue from those who sought his harm.  A good scare or tragedy causes us to stop and take stock of where we have been, why we are here, and, most importantly, where we are headed.

1. From Birth. (v.6)
"You took me from my mother's womb."  Birth is no accident.  As Psalm 139 explains in detail, the LORD superintends even conception and formation.  People are born with a God-given purpose to fulfill.  The Psalmist cannot recall a time he did not "lean" on the LORD.

2. From Youth. (vv.5,17)
All during his days of growing up, the LORD provided for him in two strong areas.
-"For you, O Lord, are my hope."  No matter what happens in life, God never changes.  He is always there and has our future secured.
-"O God, from my youth you have taught me."  The only way to know and experience God's purpose of why we are here is be taught by Him.  It does not come to us naturally.  Time must be invested in knowing what God has said in His word.  "The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple." (Psalm 119:130)  As we invest that time, we discover the Holy Spirit helping us to make application for life-change in order to live in a way that pleases God.  "These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.  For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10)

3. To Old Age. (v.18)
A lifetime of learning God's word and living according to His purpose has influence.  The charge is to tell the next generation of God's power, how He answered prayer, and how He intervened to provided refuge and rescue.

"You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?" (v.19b)

Monday, October 28, 2013

I need help and I need it NOW

Read Psalm 70.

Many of the Psalms were written as reminders to the nation.  They would sing them at particular times of travel, worship, or celebration.  This one was to be sung "for the Memorial Offering."

1. The cry is for urgent help. (vv.1 and 5)
He needed deliverance and he needed right away.

2. The cry is for protection from hurt. (vv.2-3)
His enemies sought his harm and even his life.  They ridiculed his faith.  The prayer was for God to deal with them and put them to shame.

3. The cry is for victorious hope. (v.4)
He looked beyond his circumstances by faith.  "God is great!"  Indeed, God is greater than the threats.  God is greater than those who plot against him.  The victory is assured either way.  So, let the people of God rejoice, be glad, and sing.

"When the righteous cry for help,the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles." (Psalm 34:17)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Waiting for God to Act

Read Psalm 69.

David felt overwhelmed.  He cried until his throat hurt and his eyes were nearly swollen shut as he waited God.  One his chief concerns was how this stress affected those around him.  He became alienated even from his own family.

When he tried to worship or humble himself in prayer and fasting, his adversaries used those very things to mock him.

Yet, through it all David's faith never wavered.  He trusted God to act on his behalf at exactly the right moment.  "But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.  At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness." (v.13)  God will not be a minute late in providing His deliverance.  Waiting is the hardest part.

He could sing praises in the midst of the pain because of the certainty of God's love, care and plan.  This song was never meant to be a complaint but a testimony to others.  "You who seek God, let your hearts revive.  For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners." (vv.32b-33)

If these circumstances are ever true of you, you will in the best company imaginable.  For so they treated Jesus.  No less than three verses in this Psalm were later identified in the Gospels with the persecution and sufferings of Christ.
Verse 4-John 15:25 "But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: They hated me without a cause."
Verse 9-John 2:17 "His disciples remembered that is was written, 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'"
Verse 21-Matthew 27:48 "And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it him to drink."

"That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death." (Philippians 3:10)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Does God care about those in Need?

Read Psalm 68.

God helps those who cannot help themselves.  It is sinful pride that causes us to think we can live without dependence on the LORD.

David wrote this song so that the nation would be reminded of God's power.  His enemies are powerless against Him.  They will be scattered, driven away, melted and will perish.

Notice the specific groups of people in verses 9-10 who gain the LORD's special attention for defense and assistance.
1. Fatherless.  Those who have lost their parents or who have been abandoned by them can discover that God is available to meet their needs as a faithful heavenly Father.  Something many of them never had.

2. Widows.  In several places in Scripture, there are reassurances, and even specific instructions, for the care of these women.  It is stated here that God is their protector.  Those who would mistreat or seek to take advantage of widows will in fact find themselves experiencing reprisals from God Himself.

3. Solitary.   There are so many who live alone; single adults and the elderly.  They may and will experience times of loneliness, but no one is truly ever alone.  The LORD is omnipresent and is always available to those who seek Him.  His steadfast friendship supersedes what any other companion could supply.

4. Prisoners.  As they pay for their crimes, they not only lose their freedom but their livelihoods.  Time is lost to produce any income for their future.  But when an incarcerated person who has paid their judicial debt is released they need help.  God can open doors of opportunity for them and restore those lost years.

"In your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy." (v.10a)  

And, then to all of us we have these words of confidence for everyday:
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

4 Reasons to Praise the LORD today

Read Psalm 67.

The source of all blessings is God's grace.  He extends to us what we do not deserve and what we cannot earn.  In the first verse, the psalmist reminds us that His grace to us is personal and relational.  He sees our need and our capacity in light of His purposes for us and responds...with His smile ("his face to shine upon us.")

While this song is one of praise, to be accompanied by stringed instruments, it is also missional in nature.  He called for everyone in the world to sing along.

Why should the LORD be praised?
1. God's saving power is extensive.
The personal knowledge and worship of God was not limited to Israel.  This wonderful "good news" is available to everyone.  As the promise was made to Abraham in Genesis 12, "in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."  The prophets preached that the Gentiles would worship the LORD.  Jesus' charge to His followers is that we are to teach all the nations.

2. God judgment is equitable.
He will correct every wrong.  When the LORD judges sin He does it "right."  Ultimately, all wrong-doing and evil is against God.  He keeps accurate records of all disobedience of words, thoughts and deeds.  His justice will prevail.  Unless there is personal repentance of these and faith in the blood of Jesus for forgiveness, there is eternal punishment waiting.

3. God's guidance is effective.
He will lead us to do what is right.  It may seem that the nations are out of control.  Certainly, Satan and his demons are at work to bring degradation and upheaval worldwide.  But the LORD is sovereign and all these things are working toward the climax of God's purposes.  His plan has been given to us in writing to know and to encourage.

4. God's provision is evident.  
Our mental and physical strength to work comes from Him.  The opportunities to earn come from Him.  The blessing upon our work for income and increase are His.  He not only has promised to meet our needs, He does!

Praise HIM!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Here is the Test-imony

Read Psalm 66.

"There is no testimony without a test."  The psalmist has come through the test and made an "A".  In verses 10-12, he described it as coming through a fire, like a carrying crushing burden, and making it through a flood of water.  He saw the results of his prayers.

The word much overused word "awesome" (ESV) has to do with reverential fear and respect.  In Scripture it is how mankind is to react to the person and power of God.  The jaw drops in astonishment and we declare Him to be full of "awe."

In verse 5, we are invited to witness the mighty hand of God at work.  He performed miracles in the past by drying up the Red Sea for Israel.  He is active now as He observes and is aware of every move of people in all the nations.

"Yet" (v.12b).  The purpose of the test was not in the fire, the burden, or the water.  The purpose was that by coming through those things he would see the faithfulness of God and give Him glory.

God is good.  And, as a result of passing the test "you have brought us out to a place of abundance."

How did the psalmist respond?
He wrote a song so we could sing along with him and praise God.
He presented a special thank offering to God.
He recommitted himself to fulfill his promises and live for God.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reasons to rejoice and keep your Promises

Read Psalm 65.

Everywhere David looked he found another reason to praise the LORD.  It was this all-encompassing awareness of God that motivated him to keep his promises to the LORD.

The key reasons people make vows to God and do not keep them is they have no awareness of His involvement in their lives and feel no accountability to Him.  At important junctures in life such as weddings, the birth of a child, a life and death situation, or in times of a major stress or need, it is normal for people to pray and make promises.  God hears those prayers (v.2).  Then, as life moves on, they tend to forget and treat those words as unimportant.  However, God does not forget us or what we said we would do.  Indeed, He reminds us of His presence everywhere.

How does God show Himself to be present and powerful?
He forgives our sins. (v.3)
He satisfies our souls in worship. (v.4)
He created the mountains. (v.6)
He created the seas.(v.7)
He paints the sunrises and sunsets. (v.8b)
He controls the water cycle of earth. (vv.9-10)
He provides the growth of crops. (v.11)
He provides the multiplication of the animals in the pastures. (vv.12-13)

Why is the God of heaven so personally involved in these details?  "So that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs." (v.8a)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Don't let evil discourage You

Read Psalm 64.

Do not be discouraged by what unbelievers say and do.  Do not waiver in your faith.

David prayed for God's protection from wicked people who plotted against him.  He described their lies and threats as weapons of war--swords and arrows.  He was innocent, yet they ambushed him with their words.

Even more, these evil enemies had taken time to carefully devise their plans to kill him.  They thought they could execute the perfect crime against David and go undetected.  Obviously, David found out.

"But God."  Not only did David know, but God knew.  This prayer looked to God for action.  The LORD could destroy evil-doers with their own devices.

When God punishes sin, there are two results in verses 9-10 that bring Him glory.
1. Among all people.
The purpose of God's judgment is to strike fear in the hearts of all people.  No one will get away wrong-doing.  Such accountability for personal sin should cause everyone to stop and think about their own fate.  The response should be one of repentance toward God and faith in Him.

2. Among believers.
God's judgment is a reminder to believers that He will eventually deal with all injustices.  That truth alone should cause rejoicing in the midst of persecution.  In the meantime, we take refuge in Him.

Friday, October 18, 2013

For those who are Lonely, Thirsty, and Hungry

Read Psalm 63.

The inscription of this song indicates that David was in a southern wilderness area.  Looking out over the "dry and weary land" provided a perfect analogy of how he felt spiritually.

1. Lonely
Being in the desert, he was away from the place of worship in Jerusalem.  The isolation created within him a desire for the presence of God.  He may have been surrounded with his men and other followers, but no one else could fill that spiritual emptiness inside.  He sought the LORD "early" or "earnestly".  The root word in Hebrew is "dawn".  Spending time with God was the first thing on His agenda for the day.

2. Thirsty
Waking up in the morning in an arid environment, his body craved water.  But just like that, inside he had a thirst for God's presence, His power, and His glory.  Jesus called it "living water" in John 4:10.

3. Hungry
Traveling in the wilderness, food supplies were somewhat limited.  A sumptuous feast would have been a pleasurable thought.  Yet, God alone could satisfy the hunger of his heart.  And, it was not only in the morning time that he prayed and meditated on God's goodness to him.  At night, in bed, when things were quiet, his thoughts reviewed how the LORD had helped him and how God had protected him.

Why did he feel this way toward God?
"Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips shall praise you." (v.3)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

There is Power in Silence

Read Psalm 62.

David was teetering on the edge, just about to fall.  Surrounding him were scoundrels ready to push him over.  But he understood full well "that power belongs to God."  So, he waited.  Twice he stated that he waited in silence for the LORD to deliver him.

Waiting in silence may be the most difficult of all the Christian disciplines.  Suffering in quiet can be agonizing.  It is natural for us to gripe and complain, argue and defend, when being mistreated.  We want to bend the ear of anyone who will listen, just to be heard.  

Kenneth Boa in his classic book, "Conformed to His Image" wrote, "Silence is at odds with the din of our culture and the popular addiction to noise and hubbub.  This discipline relates not only to finding places of silence in our surroundings but also to times of restricted speech in the presence of others." (p.83)

Waiting on God is not just being quiet.  Having poured one's soul out to God in prayer, we then must listen with expectation to what He has to say to us in solitude, from the Scriptures, or from encounters with others.  It involves trusting that He is active on our behalf, even when we cannot see any movement at all.  Our hope must be in Him, not in the circumstances that are seen.  The real power belongs to the LORD.

"He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength....but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:29,31)