Friday, February 28, 2014

5 proofs of God's Love

Read Psalm 136.

Many have read this psalm wondering why the same phrase is repeated twenty-six times.

Musically, this is an antiphonal song.  There are several ways it may be used.  Commonly, the leader could sing the first line and the people would respond with the refrain.  Equally, it could be presented by two groups of singers or choirs.

Scripturally, the repetition drives home the message.  Love is primarily a commitment.  Yes, emotions are involved, but true love is evidenced by faithfulness no matter what.  God's love is well documented and also experienced throughout each day.  As the songwriter reminds us, it is not God's love that is wanting but our gratitude.

1. God's love is seen in His character. (vv.1-4)
Who He is.  He is good.  He is God of gods and LORD of lords.  He alone is all -powerful.  As the one and only eternal God, His love will not change.  He will be faithful forever.

2. God's love is seen in His creation. (vv.5-9)
What He has made.  He made the heavens and the earth.  He made the sun, moon, stars and planets and placed them into orbit.  To deny that God created these things is to rob Him of His glory and to spurn His love.

3. God's love is seen in His control. (vv.10-22)
What He has done.  Israel consistently reviewed the historic evidences of God's intervention in their lives.  They never got over the Exodus.  They recounted time and again how the LORD spared them against their enemies.  It was His love that causes God to act on our behalf.

4. God's love is seen in His care. (vv.23-25)
What He has done for us.  The God of heaven is personally knowable.  He loved us when we did not love Him.  He came to our rescue at times when we did not even know we were in trouble.  He faithfully supplies our needs.

5. God's love is seen in Christ.
What He has done to forgive us.  "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)  Our first step of gratitude is to embrace Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Our wholehearted response then is-- "Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

3 reasons to praise the LORD Today

Read Psalm 135.

The songwriter begins with a general call to praise Jehovah.  He urged the priests who served in God's house to praise the LORD.  As the verses progress, he gave specific reasons that underpin such a response to the God of heaven.

1. His sovereign choosing of His people. (v.4)
To fulfill His messianic plan, God chose Abraham, He chose Isaac, He chose Jacob.  The people of Israel were not selected because they were the biggest or the best but solely because it pleased God to do so.  It was totally unmerited favor on His part.  And, so it is with every believer in Jesus.  There is nothing in us that warrants the forgiveness and kindness of the LORD.  Yet, it pleases Him to extend His grace to us.  Praise the LORD!

2. His sovereign control of His creation.
Since He is the Creator, He is the Owner.  He has the right to do as He wishes with His property.  The psalmist provided several examples of God's control.
--The LORD is in ultimate control of nature.  Heaven, earth, the seas, rain, and wind obey Him. (vv.5-7)
--The LORD is in ultimate control of nations.  The historical evidence is clear.  God puts down one and raises another as it pleases Him. (vv.8-12)
--The LORD is in ultimate control of notions.  People, in rejection of God, will seek other means of life-guidance.  They will carve or cast their own gods.  They will worship items of God's creation on earth or in the heavens.  They will shuffle cards, read palms and tea leaves.  They will pretend that there is a god inside themselves and try all means of self-help.  Anything and everything may be worshiped once a person rejects the LORD and refuses to learn the Scriptures. (vv.15-18)  There is only one true and living God and He is personally knowable.  He has provided His manual for life.  Praise the LORD!

3. His sovereign compassion on His people. (vv.13-14)
God's people are not perfect.  They experience hardships, injustices, and times of great need.  What makes the difference for those who have a personal relationship with the LORD is our instant access to the Throne of Grace.  Forgiven and in right standing with Him, God encourages us to come boldly, with confidence, "that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)  Praise the LORD!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Let the worship Begin

Read Psalm 134.

This is the last of the songs of ascents.  One can almost feel the worshiper getting closer to the Tabernacle; perhaps, it was in sight.  When they could see the Levites standing at their assigned posts, ready to serve the people, the travelers broke out in praise.

Traditional worship services begin with a "Call to Worship."  This brief psalm serves a similar purpose.

1. It is a call to praise the LORD.
Upward.  He is the object of our worship.  So many become enamored (or distracted) by the building, the style of music, or the people around them and are not engaged in true worship.  Worship is the bowing down in submission and thanksgiving to the Person of God Himself.  Nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.

2. It is a call to praise the LORD together.
Inward.  Making public worship a priority is not an option for a believer.  We need to come together for teaching of God's Word, singing together, encouraging each other, and prayer.  To be a believer in Jesus is to be an active participant in a local church.  The New Testament does not know of any other kind of follower of Christ.
"...not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25)

3. It is a call to the LORD to bless their nation.
Outward.  The concern of our worship is make God famous.  We not only want the LORD's blessings upon our nation, but we want our nation to bless God!  One who knows the LORD wants others to come to know Him too.  Inspired and equipped, believers leave the occasion of public worship to serve God in the everyday places He has assigned them.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A case for Unity

Read Psalm 133.

Walking together to the celebration, they sang this song of unity.  

1. The fragrance of unity.
The psalm begins with reference to an earthly view of oneness.  It is a family of faith; brothers and sisters who are equally committed to the LORD.  David compared such unity to the anointing of the high priest. The ceremony included pouring a very fragrant oil over his head until it ran down his face.  The smell would have filled the entire immediate area and he would have carried that smell everywhere he went.

Christians give off a odor as well.  Nothing smells worse than a body of believers that cannot get along with each other.  It is most often the result of spiritual immaturity and/or sin.  The basis of our unity is our one faith in Jesus.  It is the unending work of church leaders to help believers to grow in maturity and obedience to Christ.  The family of God is to be serving together working in ministry, not gossiping or tearing down each other.  " equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Chris." (Ephesians 4:12-13)

The unbelieving world desperately needs to smell the fragrance of Christ on us.

2. The fruit of unity.
The psalm concludes with reference to a heavenly view of oneness.    The illustration is of dew falling on Mount Hermon.  In this dry and arid place, any moisture is precious.  With little rain, what dew falls sustains the plant life that is there.  Joining together with like-minded folks who are committed to unity is refreshing.  The world can sap energy and bring dryness to the soul.  Worshiping and serving the LORD together is invigorating to the spirit, encourages our growth, and sustains us.  But there is more.  The blessing of the LORD is eternal life.

We need to practice unity with other believers here because we are going to spend eternity together.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Anticipating Worship

Read Psalm 132.

As the pilgrims continued up Zion's hill to worship God, they would sing this prayer.  It served as a reminder of the past and encouraged them with some certain promises of the future.  In this song are the elements of true worship.

1. The place of public worship. (vv.1-5)
King David made it his priority to have a place where God would be worshiped.  First, he relocated the Ark of the Covenant and then raised the funds to build the Temple.  Everyone came to Jerusalem to worship the LORD and offer sacrifices.  

2. The keys to public worship. (vv.6-12)
Verse 7 provides a visual of the definition of the word "worship."  It has to do with bowing down in an act of surrender to God for who He is.  The elements of worship are all here: God's presence, leaders serving, people audibly rejoicing.

3. The promise of future worship. (vv.14-18)
God chose Jerusalem for His special attention and presence for all time.  The horn and anointed are references to the coming Messiah.  One day Jesus will rule and reign on earth and the world will once again look to that city as the center of public worship.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Satisfaction Found

Read Psalm 131.

From the slaying of Goliath to his national leadership, King David is well-known for his great victories.  Such a track record can wrongly feed a man's ego.  Many feel they must pursue big goals to achieve a sense of self-worth.  Driven by selfish ambition, life becomes a competitive game to win over others.  But not so with David.

The "man after God's own heart" set as his goal to conduct himself in a humble manner.  First, as a young man, he learned to be a good shepherd and serve the needs of his sheep.  He transferred those same skills to leading Israel's army and ultimately the nation.  In this brief song, he addressed some of his innermost feelings.

1. The Absence of Pride. (v.1)
David performed a spiritual EKG.  His heart showed an absence of ego-mania.  He was not driven by selfish ambition.  Next came the eye examination.  His vision and what he longed to accomplish was not the impossible dream.  He knew his limitations.  He recognized his giftedness and the opportunities God had given to him.  A servant's heart and a commitment to faithfulness will guard us against sinful pride.

2. The Presence of Peace. (v.2)
An infant is the picture of total dependence and selfishness.  The baby does not care what time it is or the feelings of anyone around them.  When they have a need they let it be known immediately and loudly.  There is no patience in them.  They want what they want and they want it now.  But as one matures, there is a growing ability to care for one's basic needs.  A transition takes place from looking to mother for nursing to seeking her for comfort.  David said that he had disciplined himself to calm down and quiet his soul.  How the LORD loves for us to run to Him for such quiet comfort and inner peace.
"You will keep him in perfect peace who mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3)

3. The Essence of the Promise. (v.3)
To give up one's pride and selfishness means a surrender to something or someone else.  To discover peace in a time of upheaval and great need means there must be something or someone who is trustworthy and transcends all the world around us.  David openly declared that his hope was in the LORD.  He called upon his nation to place their hope in the LORD and experience the satisfaction found only in Him.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A cry for Mercy

Read Psalm 130.

This is a deep cry for mercy.  We are  not told the source of the anguish.  It does seem to be that the nation was under some punishment for their sins.  While he prayed for relief, the psalmist processed thoughts with which we all can identify.

1. Their condition. (v.3)
As he prayed, immediately the feelings of guilt and unworthiness surfaced.  God keeps records of every sinful thought, word and deed.  Revelation 20:12 shows The Judge in heaven opening the books and holding each person accountable for every unforgiven violation.  Who can possibly stand under such judgment?  The answer is no one.  We are helpless to help ourselves.

2. God's character. (vv.4, 7-8)
The good news unfolds for us in that little phrase "But with you..."  The help we so desperately need comes from the intervention of God and His grace.  Gratefully, He offers what we cannot provide.
*Forgiveness.  The only basis for the forgiveness of any sin is the once and for all, sinless sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  The blood sacrifices under the Old Testament only covered the sin until the time the Messiah would take away it away (John 1:29).  When a person confesses their sin to Jesus, He forgives, removes, and cleans the account against us.  
*Hope.  People lose hope when they see no way out of their crisis.  Once forgiven, our relationship with the LORD is restored and we have all the power of God at work on our behalf.  Our focus of the future then is not on our circumstances but on the plan and purposes God has for our lives.

3. Their consequence. (vv. 5-6)
Sin may be forgiven, but the consequences remain.  With every sin there is a loss of some kind--in a relationship, an opportunity, a reward, or a punishment.  Though forgiveness is available, not everyone comes to God for His mercy.  This is a part of the psalmist's call to the nation.  Even with forgiveness, the resolve of the consequence we may suffer takes time.  Waiting for the LORD's timing to resolve our circumstances is a test of our trust in Him.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Encouraging the Sufferer

Read Psalm 129.

Looking back, the nation of Israel has a long history of being persecuted by its neighbors on all sides.  Ever since the nation was relatively in its "youth" they experienced oppression and threats.

The Egyptians put them into slavery for 400 years.  The Philistines, among others, consistently attacked at every opportunity.  Later, it was the Assyrians who took the northern kingdom captive.  Then, the Babylonians took the southern kingdom.  In Jesus' day they were under Roman authority.  In modern times, nation after nation has risen with the announced goal to annihilate the Jews.  Yet, the Jews are still here.  Though spiritually not where God wants them, nonetheless, the nation of Israel stands today on the same historic spot given to Abraham.

Here is more encouragement for the traveler during this time in history.  The psalmist has taken the persecution of his nation and personalized it.  Notice his use of the words "me" and "my."  The metaphors are graphic.  But the theme is that though the Jews have suffered, their enemies "have not prevailed."

1. Prevailing over persecution. (vv.1-4)
It is one thing for enemies to run roughshod over a nation, but here the pain was personal.  Even the memory was so painful, it was as if they plowed across one's back; not a little, but a lot.  The affliction had been great, but God is greater.  He cut the cords of the enemy that bound them.  He broke their enslaving chains and restored freedom to His people.

2. Prevailing over the persecutors. (vv.5-8)
The enemy, in their hatred, sought to shame Israel and to demonstrate that the LORD God they worshiped could not protect them.  But all the hordes of hell are no match for our God.  He can and did turn the enemies to shame.  Like grass trying to sprout up in shallow soil, the enemies of God cannot get established for the long-term, their strength will not endure, and there will be nothing profitable from their evil.  They do not even deserve the customary greeting of "God bless you."

These are good reminders to all that though we may suffer for a time, our God sees and cares.  His power is not diminished by the things that threaten us.  From God's perspective, the battle has already been won and the victory will come in His time.  "...the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment." (2 Peter 2:9)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Principles or Promises?

Read Psalm 128.

Singing songs that encourage one another in our faith is a Biblical part of worship.  This psalm would have spurred on the travelers toward Jerusalem for the feast days.

The expressions should remind us again of the difference between principles and promises.  A principle may be defined as a general rule to follow.  A promise is a vow to be fulfilled.  Confusing those two have caused many to fall into false doctrines while quoting the Bible.  If all these statements were promises of God then every believer would be wealthy and healthy.  Every believing woman would bear many children.  But such things were not true even of Jesus, the Apostles, or countless godly men and women throughout time.

Having said that, these are principles to live by.  They are ideals for which we work for, pray for, and long to see.  But the results truly belong to God.  Not all the results of godly living is material, nor are all the results seen in this life.  Indeed, the best results and rewards are those that are eternal and await us in heaven.

1. The Principles of Blessings.  (vv.1-4)
Note the qualification: This is for "those who fear the LORD and walk in his ways," our prayer is that--
-our work would be profitable
-our family would be fruitful

2. The Prayer for Blessings. (vv.5-6)
In the context of their travel to the feast days, Jerusalem was the center for the worship of God.  So, this was not only a prayer for governmental or civic blessing but spiritual as well.
-prosperity for the city
-peace for the nation

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Don't waste your Time!

Read Psalm 127.

Four of these fourteen Songs of Ascents are attributed to David.  Most of them are anonymous.  This one is came from Solomon.  Even a cursory reading, with his use of the word vain, would remind one of his book Ecclesiastes.

The man who had it all--the enormous work projects, the huge family, the wealth and wisdom--declared that it all proved to be "like chasing after the wind."  Grab a handful and what do you get?  Nothing.  Emptiness.  Everything in this life is temporal.  If that is all we have, misery is inevitable.  But the wise king new more.

1. It is vain to try to establish your home on your own.
2. It is vain to try to protect yourself and others.
3. It is vain to work so hard only to leave it all behind.
4. It is vain to think your family is belongs to you.

"Unless the LORD"
Without the LORD homes can fail, we have no real security to depend upon, and our work will have no lasting purpose.  Clearly, our children are not biological accidents, or some product of star-alignment.  Life belongs to the Author of life.

So, what are we to do?  Acknowledge Him.  We must surrender our thoughts to the Owner and Sustainer of our lives.  Then, and only then, are we free to live with eternal purpose and meaning.

Don't waste your time here on vain pursuits!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What kept them Going?

Read Psalm 126.

The words of the psalm appear to indicate that it was written after the nation returned from seventy years of Babylonian captivity.  Many never lived to see the return.  For those who did, it seemed like a dream.  It was hard to believe.  Applying this to the Songs of Ascents, such a song would have encouraged the travelers to keep going along their journey.

1. Remembering the Joy. (vv.1-3)
Nothing encourages the weary heart like counting one's blessings.  Looking back at the goodness of God and all His blessings is a joyous exercise.  The Apostle Paul admonished believers, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).  Perhaps, Paul felt the need to repeat himself because intentionally rejoicing is so often neglected.  Proverbs 17:22 states that "a joyful heart is good medicine;" it lifts the spirits of the one rejoicing and ministers to those around them.

2. Reaping with Joy. (vv.4-6)
The psalmist did not overlook when circumstances are not joyful.  Many days in life are filled with pain and sorrow.  We weep, but not as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).  Remembering the past kindnesses of God renews and refreshes us for the future.  Our God is in the restoration business.  He can take a dry river bed and turn it into a vibrant stream.  He can take the land worked by a tireless and exhausted farmer and produce bountiful crops.  He can take a weary and broken heart and fill it with His inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8)!

Monday, February 10, 2014

An immovable Faith

Read Psalm 125.

Walking up the mount to Jerusalem, the singer compared the geography of Israel to a few spiritual truths.

1. Like Mount Zion, trust in the LORD provides stability to life. (v.1)
People change, cultures changes, but "...I the LORD do not change..." (Malachi 3:6).  The eternal God of heaven is trustworthy at all times and in all places.  Therefore, those who have placed their eternal trust in the LORD possess a faith that is unmoved by the circumstances around them.  They stand upon the unchanging promises of God.  His word will not change.  What He says He will do.

2. Like the surrounding mountains, so the LORD provides security for life. (v.2)
Protecting the perimeter is a vital part of any defense.  More extensive than a wall, stronger than any army, God Himself stands between us and the enemy of our soul.  Satan understands this truth.  Concerning Job, the enemy said, "Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?" (Job 1:10a) 

3. Like the land of promise, so the LORD provides surety for life. (v.3)
When God makes a promise, it is guaranteed.  "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance..." (Ephesians 1:13-14a)  Gratefully, those eternal promises and our eternal life do not change even when we fail.

The psalmist was quick to add that not everyone experiences God's protection.  There are eternal consequences for those who do not place their trust in Him.

"More secure is no one ever than the loved ones of the Savior."
"Little flock, to joy then yield thee!  Jacob's God will ever shield thee;
Rest secure with this Defender, At His will all foes surrender."
-"Security" Lina Sandell

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Give Him the glory. Great things He has Done!

Read Psalm 124.

Those making the journey up to Jerusalem for the feast days encouraged each other with this song of remembrance.  As they looked back on the tests and tragedies of the past, they broke out in praise to God.  They did this, not once, but every time they made this trip.  They told the stories again and again.

If they had been attacked by an enemy was it not the army who fought back?  Yes.  But it was the LORD on their side who gave them the victory.  If the crops failed and they faced financial ruin was it not a timely rain that saved them?  Yes.  But it was the faithful and caring LORD who sent the rain.  If great loss or suffering threatened to be their end was it not doctors and friends who ministered to them.  Yes.  But it was the LORD who provided all the help that was needed.

When a crisis hits, people rightly seek help and pray for God's deliverance.  Yet, once the crisis is over and things return to normal, so do they.  They forget to thank those who helped them and they ignore the God who delivered them.  The LORD spares us in such times for a reason.  That reason is so we will never stop praising Him and telling others what a great God we serve.

Here then is the story of our lives: "If it had not been for the LORD who was on our side" all would have been lost.

“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD and his might, and the wonders that he has done.  He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God.” (Psalm 78:4-7)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Is Jesus your Lord? Here is the Proof

Read Psalm 123.

This is a song that pleads for God's mercy.  It was a time when the writer had had enough; in fact, more than enough.  Troubled by some contemptible, scornful and arrogant people, the psalmist cried out for the LORD to intervene on his behalf.

So many try to take matters into their own hands, only to make things worse.  When we reach the end of ourselves and our ability to fix life, then we realize what we should have done in the first place.  Instead of turning to God as a last resort, we must remember who is always and ultimately in charge.

Multiple voices will try to tell us what to do.  Man-made philosophies and self-help theories will all prove to avoid any remedy for our sin and the sinful behaviors of others.  Only Jesus Christ offers forgiveness.  Only He has paid the price for our sin.  Jesus is alive!  He is the Master and Controller of all things (Colossians 1:17).

"As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master..."  That is how we should be looking to God-- expectantly, eager, ready to obey whatever His Word commands.

1. The Master is the one in charge over His servants.
2. The Master is the authoritative voice for a servant to heed.
3. The Master is the one that servants certainly must obey.
4. The Master is the one who will hold His servants accountable.

These are some proofs of who is really Lord of one's life and whose servants we are.

Friday, February 7, 2014

4 encouraging calls to Worship

Read Psalm 122.

The pilgrims continued to encourage one another as they journeyed to Jerusalem.  It was time to come together for corporate worship.  Here were the calls to worship:

1. Go.
"Let us go to the house of the LORD!"
"Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25)

2. Go gladly.
"I was glad when they said to me..."
"But the hour is coming, and now is here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him." (John 4:23)

3. Go gladly giving thanks.
" give thanks to the name of the LORD."
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!  Give thanks to him; bless his name!"
(Psalm 100:4)

4. Pray for peace.
-Peace of the city.  "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!"
-Peace in the city.  "Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!"
-Peace within the people.  "For my brothers and companions' sake I will say, 'Peace be within you'."

How do these four encouragements match your attitude when it is time to gather with other believers for worship?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A song to sing on the Journey

Read Psalm 121.

The journey to Jerusalem for the feast days could be an arduous one.  If the  traveler came from the east, the elevation of Jericho is 1200 feet below sea level.  Jerusalem is 2600 feet above sea level.  It is no wonder why the psalms in this section are called songs of ascents,

Going in groups hopefully would provide some protection from thieves, but still they must contend with fatigue, the heat of the day and the uncertainty of night.  Singing together encouraged their faith, reminded them of their purpose, and renewed their endurance for the trek.  Watch how the psalm unfolds for the ones who sang this on journey.  

First, the singer encouraged himself (vv.1-2).  Looking ahead as the pilgrims walked up the hills to Jerusalem, either the site of the Temple came into view or at least the expectancy was there.  The Temple contained the presence of God in the Holy of Holies.  The pilgrim could not wait to arrive for worship and celebration.  The source of help is not in the creation but the Creator.  All along the way, God was the source of personal help.

Then, the singer encouraged others.  Notice the pronoun shift from I and my to you and your.  The singer now seeks to strengthen the faith of others.

1. There is no need to fear the night. (vv.3-4)  In the night watches, we need not fear.  The weary traveler may enjoy a good night's sleep because our God is always watching over us.

2. There is no need to fear the day. (vv.5-6)  Like the cloud that hovered over Israel in Exodus, the LORD is present as a shield and shade when the heat and stress is upon us.

3. There is no need to fear evil. (v.7)  As the Good Shepherd, God protects us so "I will fear no evil for you are with me." (Psalm 23:4)

4. There is no need to fear, not now or ever. (v.8)
"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

3 Points for Peace

Read Psalm 120.

Though this psalm was written some 3000 years ago, it is remarkably relevant.  Songs of Ascents were sung by pilgrims as they journeyed up the mountain to Jerusalem for feast days.  While walking together, certain themes would be expressed through these prayer-songs.

The theme here is that the nation was threatened by enemies in the north.  Two are mentioned by name: Meshech in Asia Minor and Kedar in northern Arabia.  These were guilty of lying, deceit, and only wanting war against Israel.

No wonder the writer felt distress.  The prayer asks the LORD for deliverance from them (v.2) and for the destruction of them (vv.3-4).

Peace.  What a salve for distress!  What a encouragement for the future!  The prayer for peace is based upon three key points.

1. He knew the LORD would answer his prayer. (v.1)

2. He separated himself from those who hate peace. (v.6)

3. He committed himself for peace. (v.7)

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How crucial to life is the Word of God?

Read Psalm 119:169-176.


In many ways this twenty-second and final stanza of this longest chapter in the Bible summarizes all the psalmist's previous concerns.  Spurgeon commented that in this last section the prayer contains increased "force and fervency."

In every single verse there is a reference to the Word of God.  Do not miss how pervasive the Scriptures are for living!

1. It is the source of our understanding. (v.169)
2. It is the key of our deliverance. (v.170)
3. It is the joy of our learning. (v.171)
4. It is the truth of our song. (v.172)
5. It is the our choice of our commitment. (v.173)
6. It is the delight of our heart.  (v.174)
7. It is the basis of our help. (v.175)
8. It is the hope of our rescue. (v.176)

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
(Hebrews 4:12)

Monday, February 3, 2014

What are you Thinking?

Read Psalm 119:161-168.

Sin and Shin

A love affair occupies the mind and influences everything else we do and want to do.  It fascinates the imagination as we think upon the object of our affection throughout the day.  Unashamedly, we let everyone know that this is the one for us.

The psalmist declared again and again his love for God and His Word.  He had given up every other spiritual pursuit as a false influence for life.  Indeed, he stood in awe of what God had to say.

Loving the LORD with all one's heart, produces two mind-changing outcomes mentioned in this twenty-first stanza.

1. Praise. (v.164)
"Seven times a day I praise you."  This is, of course, an hyperbole.  No one in love actually keeps score.  Such expressions are most often spontaneous and repeated.  The heart is eager to do so.  One in love with God sees His handiwork in every direction throughout the day.  It is an all-the-time thing.  The Apostle Paul wrote: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)

2. Peace.  (v.165)
"Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble."  In every stanza of this psalm the writer has prayed for deliverance of some kind.  Dealing with sin and adversity is normal to daily human life.  He was not saying his outward circumstances were peaceful; it was his inward condition that benefited from his love of God.  Peace in the midst of a storm will not make sense to some, as it did not to the disciples on the boat with Jesus asleep.  But once we have presented our requests to the God of peace, the Apostle Paul wrote: "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Praying on the brink of Disaster

Read Psalm 119:153-160.


"Look upon my affliction and deliver me."  What a mournful cry!

In this twentieth stanza, he continued his appeal for God to intervene on his behalf.  He not only asked to be delivered from his adversity, but three times he prayed "give me life."  Surely, he felt he was on the brink of disaster.

Notice how this prayer is in strong alignment with what the LORD has said and who He is.

1. "According to your promise." (v.154)
When we know what God has said, and our request is based up His Word, then with confidence we know we are asking according to His will.  "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15)

2. "According to your rules." (v.156)
God is the ultimate judge.  He is always consistent in His decisions because His Word is absolute truth and will not change.  The LORD rules and over-rules the authorities of this world.  So, as we pray, we look beyond the human factors involved and make our appeal to the One who has all power.  This is a claim of Jesus.  "All authority in heaven and on earth has been give to me."  (Matthew 28:18)

3. "According to your steadfast love." (v.159)
We may not feel our difficulty is a loving thing, allowed by a God who loves us.  But no matter our circumstances, God will always act in accordance with His character.  His love is faithful and His character is not altered by what we go through in life.  "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)

The good news of the Gospel of Christ is that He has already given us a life that can never be taken away.  "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses." (Colossians 2:13)