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)