Archive for June, 2008
A great reminder for me today as I go out into a world that thinks that money, power or fame is the ultimate goal. American idols will only fade into nothingness, but the word of the Lord remains forever
Here’s what jumped out at me today:
3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. 4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Lord, today I declare my trust in You alone.
grace & peace,
As we finish up the final five Psalms, I notice that each of the remaining Psalms are praise Psalms. Today, in Psalm 145, David lifts up praise to God for his greatness and his works.
1 I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. 2 Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. 3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. 4 One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.
Two things hit me as I read today:
The words “every day” in verse 2 reminded me that I need to be consistent in my praise. I need to be consistent in my faith and in my reading of His word. I’ve learned that God IS merciful and full of grace. But when we can praise Him and honor Him in the good times and the bad, when we’re busy and when we have time for Him, that’s when the blessings really flow. A consistent faith reduces the emotional highs and lows that are so difficult to navigate. If we can keep our eyes on the Lord through it all, things just go better. I’m reminded of the verse in Matthew chapter 6:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Mt. 6:33)
The other thing I noticed in this chapter is in verse 4 where “one generation will commend Your works to another.” This was a reminder to me how important it is for our generation to make sure our children and their children hear the stories of the Bible. We have an important responsibility to instill in our kids a love for the Bible and the treasures within. How can we incorporate teaching our children into what we do in our men’s groups, in our worship services, in our homes?
Lord – I love Your word. Help me to seek You every day. Help me to know how to encourage others to seek You every day. Your works are great and worthy to be praised for all generations!
grace & peace
I found Psalms 144 interesting. David praises God for training him for war. He acknowledges that God has rescued him and is his refuge in times of trouble. He recognizes that with God, his family and his nation will be blessed. And, right in the middle of all this we find:
9 I will sing a new song to you, O God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you, 10 to the One who gives victory to kings, who delivers his servant David from the deadly sword.
We know David was a skilled musician. We have record of him soothing King Saul with his harp-playing skills. He was a song writer and worship leader.
In this Psalm, I see how David considers singing a song to God a gift-giving experience. I read this chapter as if he is saying, “You have done great things for us, so I will sing you a new song.
Have you ever wondered what you can give to God? I mean – He made everything that we can see – what can we possibly give back to Him? Sure, we give our tithes and offerings to Him. We know when we give to “the least of these” we are giving to Him. But what can we give directly to God?
Since I’ve had children, I’ve looked at my relationship with God in a whole new way. When my daughter was two years old, for example, she didn’t have a career or even an allowance. She had no money except for the few coins she had managed to collect from her treasure hunts or from begging her parents. Yet when it came time for Father’s Day or birthday celebrations, she always had managed to bless me with a hand-made card or drawing. I could tell she put her heart into her gift and wanted it to be special…and it always was. I kept them all. No, I probably couldn’t sell these treasures on ebay or in an art gallery. But, since they came from my daughter, they were so special to me – priceless.
I think David has given us a clue as to what we can give directly to God that will bless Him: a new song. If you’re not musical, you may be thinking that’s impossible. But try this…just make sure no one can see you – perhaps while you’re driving or when no one’s home. Just start praying to God in song. Tell Him your cares or your praises to a made-up melody. It doesn’t have to rhyme or sound like a top-40 hit. Just pour out your heart to Him and see what happens. Or – open the Bible to a Psalm and read His word aloud to a melody – in other words, sing His word back to Him. I’ve found these to be among the sweetest times of praise I’ve ever experienced.
Like a father receiving a gift from his young child, our Daddy wants to hear from His children – from their heart.
grace & peace,
The first half of Psalms 143 is a reminder for me today to think on the good things. There are plenty of things to distract us. We face trials and tests every day. Our friends and family disappoint us. We disappoint ourselves. The enemy makes our lives difficult. Stuff happens. Yet, like David reminds us in this Psalm, we need to meditate on the good things – like God’s faithfulness and greatness:
1 O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. 2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. 3 The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. 4 So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. 5 I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. 6 I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
Chin up, soldiers. It’s a war we’re in, but I know how this turns out… WE WIN!
grace & peace,
You know the story – David is being hotly pursued, his life at stake, by King Saul. According to Matthew Henry, David pens this Psalm inside a cave he’s been chased into. He cries out in desperation to God to rescue him from his pursuers.
4 Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. 5 I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” 6 Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. 7 Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
The part that jumped out at me was this: “no one is concerned for me.”
I lived the majority of my life not understanding the importance of friendships. I had been brought up to take care of myself and to be independent. My loving parents encouraged me to figure things out on my own. Being the “baby” of 5 siblings teaches you how to survive in a competitive environment!
So, when my life blew apart after a divorce, my friends all disappeared. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t figure out how to fix things and I was ready to give up. God heard my cry and sent people I didn’t know into my life to lift me out of my despair and pull me through until I could stand on my own again.
Since then, I’ve realized the importance of friendship with godly men. I looked up some of my friends from High School and we now get together every year from all over the nation for a long weekend. Through email we keep in touch all year.
My friends in my men’s group, the Wildmen, also understand the importance of friendship between men and I have dozens of men I can call upon in my time of need.
Now that I’m back on my feet, I try to make myself available to others for prayer, conversation, encouragement or other kinds of help. There are plenty of hurting people out there – people like David running from their pursuers, running from themselves, hiding from pain or rejection, struggling with addictions or griefs, who really need to look to their right…and find someone who cares.
Look to your left…who needs to see you today?
grace & peace,
As you read Psalms 136, you can’t help but notice the repeating of the phrase “His love endures forever.” There are 26 verses in this chapter and each one ends this way.
Unlike many Psalms, I can kind of see how this one fits to a song – as the Psalms were intended to be used. Yet, reading it without the musical context, the emphasis on this phrase had an impact on me. Here are the first three verses:
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
Kinda reminds you of the song we sing in our churches called “His love endures forever,” doesn’t it?
I’m thankful for this reminder today of God’s greatness, His provision, His power and majesty. But I’m especially thankful for His love, without which I would be lost.
Thank You for your forever love, Father.
grace & peace,
My soul confirmed the Psalmist’s words today from Psalms 135:
5 I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. 6 The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. 7 He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
It’s good to confess with our hearts and mouths the greatness of God. His authority is without limits – timeless and unmeasurable. He will do what ever He pleases.
It’s good to know that what pleases Him most is a relationship with His creations – you and me.
I took notice of the phrase “who minister by night” in today’s reading of Psalms 134:
1 Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. 2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. 3 May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.
The Bible tells us that there were priest or Levites who would keep watch over the temple all through the night. All the rituals and activities of the day were complete. The rest of the nation of Israel was at rest. I can imagine this could easily become a mundane, tedious task – sitting there night after night doing nothing. I picture a security guard staring at a closed circuit television of a security system – not the most glamorous of job descriptions.
Yet, the Psalmist is encouraging those tasked with this duty to not just sit there but to praise God with hands lifted up.
Since part of my calling has to do with leadership in a church, I started thinking about all the seemingly unimportant or the not so glamorous duties that are required to keep a local church running smoothly. I thought of all the behind-the-scenes people that never get the recognition they deserve. Yet, they continue to serve God faithfully.
The encouragement today is to praise God with all your might – no matter what you find yourself doing. If you’re the night watchman, praise God. If you’re a behind-the-scenes person, lift up your hands and worship God.
God bless You!
grace & peace,
These days, we hear a lot said about “unity.” Usually in the context of racial or gender discussions, unity is an important topic indeed. The Bible says that if a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand (see Mark 3:25).
The leaders of the nation of Israel had their unity issues as well – keeping all twelve tribes in unity was no simple task as the Scriptures indicate. Each had their own agendas and their own interests.
The passage in Psalms 133 today shows us a glimpse of how much of an issue unity was for their day as well:
1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
The words “precious oil” stood out to me as I read these verses. As I thought about this, these words gave new meaning to the importance of unity. The oil described is not ordinary oil. It is oil that is specially prepared for anointing – fragrant and costly. This was an important ritual in those days. The high priest (Aaron’s beard is mentioned – he was a high priest) would be anointed before entering the Holy of Holies – near the resting place of God Himself.
So – how good it is to live in unity. It’s like a sweet fragrance. It’s something that’s worth much. It’s important to live in unity if we want to live in the holy presence of our holy God.
grace & peace
Today, I find myself thinking about the resting place of God. We see in Psalms 132, today’s chapter, that Solomon, David’s very wise son, reflects on how diligent his father was in finding that resting place for God.
1 O Lord, remember David and all the hardships he endured. 2 He swore an oath to the Lord and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: 3 “I will not enter my house or go to my bed– 4 I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, 5 till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” 6 We heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar: 7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool– 8 arise, O Lord, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might.
As you may recall from reading 1 Samuel, David set up the first tabernacle and God resided there, in the Holy of Holies. This place was sacred ground where no one but the high priest could come once a year to plead for forgiveness and blessing for his people, and then only after a through ritual of sacrifice, cleansing and purification.
When Jesus Christ gave Himself up as the sacrifice for the sins of man, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was ripped from top to bottom. This signifies that no longer is a high priest required to talk to God on our behalf – but now we get the new priviledge of entering God’s presence ourselves – because of what Christ did.
So now, the temple, or tabernacle, has moved inside us as believers who have accepted the gift of the Holy Spirit. He now resides in us and works through us. How much greater is that? How much more valuable is that then even being able to visit Him in some fancy temple somewhere? We don’t have to travel long distance, we don’t have to wait in line, we don’t have to bother with any of that – He is right there! In You!
Now – having said all that – think about what this chapter says about David’s toil to find a resting place for God. David is quoted as saying, “I will not enter my house or go to my bed– I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
I’m so grateful He is a God of mercy because there are times I’m so tired, I don’t even think about praying before I crash at night. The encouragement for me today is to become more reverant about this holy temple that God now chooses to reside in – my body. I feel God calling me to take better care of my body, and not run myself so ragged so that I just collapse at the end of the day with no thought of the Holy Spirit living inside me before I allow sleep to my eyes and slumber to my eyelids.
Thank You for your word, Lord.
grace & peace,