Archive for November, 2009

Psalm 34

Psalm 34 challenges us to let the world know about God.  Do you do that?  Are you out there proclaiming God in every way every day?  Check out what the writer tells us:

–       “I bless God every chance I get

–       I live and breathe God

–       Join me in spreading the news

–       Let’s get the Word out

–       Worship God if  you want the best

Our relationship with the Father shouldn’t be secret.  We should wear it proudly and boldly and proclaim it in every way we can.  We are in a relationship.  God is not our Jeannie that we can just call out to for help when we need it.  God is alive and active and ready to be part of everything we do.  The question is – will we let Him?  Will we admit that He is there with us and let the world know it clearly?  We need to shout it from the mountaintop.  We are able to experience God.  The psalmist tells us “open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see how good God is”.  What a privilege to be able to see and taste what God is up to.  We can have that blessing.  We can experience that goodness.  We can be that close to the Creator.

 We are encouraged to “never hide your feelings from Him”.  Why?  Because we are in a relationship.  He cares about what we think and feel.  He understands what we are going through.  He wants to be an intimate part of our life.  God cares.  “God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray”.  Hello – are you hearing this?  God pays attention when we pray and He comes close to us when we put our focus on His throne.  He keeps us safe and protected when we are in His presence.  For some time now I have been praying that my day will be spent in His presence.  I understand that when I am in the presence of the King, the enemy can’t bother me.  So I pray that I will walk in His steps and be where He is every day.  Too many want to run from God and hide from his presence – maybe because of the life they are leading or the choices they are making.  But we are told in this chapter that “God-seekers are full of God”.  Does that describe you?  Are you running over with God?  Do people even notice Him in you?  We shouldn’t be able to hide the fact that we are Christ Followers.  It should leak and ooze out of us at every turn.  And it should show in how we live.  We are instructed here to “guard your tongue from profanity….no more lying…..turn your back on sin….do something good”.  People should know we are His by how we live.  It should not be a mystery or an accident that they see Jesus in us.  It should flow by the way we live.

Psalm 33

Psalm 33 is a joyful chapter.  It has two main thoughts that jump out at me.  First is the realization and recognition that “He spoke and there it was”.  He is the creator.  He made it all.  I love these descriptions of His creation: “Skies were made by God’s command….breathed the word and the stars popped out….scooped sea into His jug……put ocean in His keg”.  What a glorious world we live in.  He made this place we call home and created us to be part of it.  Because of that we need to “cheer God….sound best when praising….reinforce your hallelujahs….play his praise… song….trumpet fanfare”.  We need to be glorifying God and shouting His goodness from the rooftops.  We need to not only acknowledge His creation but we need to praise Him for it and all that He has done and is doing. He alone is worthy of our praise.  He alone should be the center of our attention and the praise we sing.

 But this verse really struck me: “Blessed are the people He’s put in His will”.  Have you ever considered that truth?  As a Christ Follower, we are put in God’s eternal will.  We will inherit eternal life.  What a blessing and promise.  And how do we know?  Because “God’s Word is solid to the core”.  What He says is truth and can be trusted.  It is going to happen because God says so.  That is all we really need to know.  The Bible says it which makes it true.  “He loves it when everything fits, when His world is plumb-line true”.  God’s Word is the plumb-line for our life. Want to know what to do?  Read His Word.  It has the guidance for life.  It contains the boundaries within which we will find His perfect will.  “God’s plan for the world stands up….His designs are made to last”.  His truth doesn’t shift like the sand on a beach. It is solid and gives us direction on how to live.  Because of that we need to realize that “he overlooks all us earth dwellers….he watches everything we do”.  We not only have the guidebook but there is also the expectation we will actually read it and live by it.  It isn’t sent as a suggestion for how we should live.  It is the standard by which we will be judged. It is the truth we will be measured by.  “God’s eye is on those who repect him…who are looking for His love”.  He is paying attention.  He is watching and He will be the judge when that day comes.  We need to get in His Word and learn it and live by it.  Only then will we truly be walking the way He commands.  We won’t accidently get it right.  As humans we need to be “depending on God; He’s everything we need”.  That is the only way we will truly succeed in life.  If we put Him front and center in our lives.  He alone will be able to lead us to a victorious life.  Are you walking in the light of His Word?   Are you living the Truth?

Psalm 32

Psalm 32 contains a couple of truths that really give us clarity on how to live.  The writer begins by talking about the power of confession.  The reality is that all of us sin, we are all guilty and fall short of God’s standard.  There is no one who can obey God’s commandments and live a perfect life.  That is God’s expectation and requirement if we are to make it into heaven on our own.  We have to live a perfect life – one without any sin – and all of us have already missed that boat.  Only Jesus lived a sin free life.  So our only hope for eternity with God is to accept His alternative way – to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior and allow His blood to cover our sin.  That is it – no other options exist.  Part of that process is confessing our sin and allowing God to set us free.  The writer here says “how happy you must be – you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean”.  That is exactly what happens when we accept Jesus as our Savior.  Our sin is removed and we are washed clean – whiter than snow.  When we “kept it all inside” the scripture tells us we suffer and it never lets up.  But if we “let it all out” through confession and “make a clean breast of my failures to God” – well “the pressure is gone….my guilt dissolved….my sin disappeared”.  That is what happens through our confession and reception of Jesus as our Savior.  We are set free from our sin and given entrance into eternity in heaven.  What a glorious plan and story God gives us.

 So who needs to do this?  Well scripture is very plain here: “Every one of us needs to pray”.  There is no one who is exempt from the need to seek God’s forgiveness from sin and His salvation through Jesus.  There is no one who will make it on their own.  Every person on this planet needs Jesus.  So don’t start reasoning why you think you are good enough – you are not.  You never have been nor will you ever be able to enter heaven on your own accord.  It will not happen.  So now is the time to make things right and prepare for eternity.  The psalmist goes on to give us some truth about how we then should live as well.  “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to stay on track”.  You ever ridden a horse without a bit and bridle?   I am far from being a horse lover, but my limited experience with our little Shetland pony was that if I didn’t have a bridle on, that little rascal would find some tree or fence to rub me off its back every time.  It was only when I had something in its mouth that allowed me to be somewhat in control that I had any chance of staying on.  Life is like that too.  “God defiers are always in trouble; God affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around”.  It is a choice.  We determine whether we will walk with God and be loved, or try and walk our own way and remain in trouble. It is our choice.  There are two critical decisions each of us has to make.  What will we do with Jesus and our sin?  And how will we live and walk in relationship to God and what He has given us?  Those two things determine our eternity.  I hope you have made your decision and taken action to assure life with God.  If not, today is the day!

Psalm 31

Psalm 31 is a very fitting passage for Thanksgiving Day 2009.  The writer lets us know that God is our blessor.  “What a stack of blessing you have piled up for those who worship you”.  God richly pours out His abundance on us.  He “takes care of all who stay close to Him”.  We have much to be thankful for.  Do you stop and give Him thanks?  But more importantly, are you walking with Him and staying close so you experience His goodness?  The writer tells us to “love God, all you saints”.  We are to be in deep and intimate relationship with the Father.  We need to proclaim as the psalmist does that “you are my God”.  But that means we need to be spending time with Him daily.  We need to be ever in His presence.  We have much to gain because “His love is the wonder of the world”.  There is nothing better on this planet.  We will never experience anything that compares to the love of God.  So why don’t we spend a lot more time basking in His love than living the rat race of our chaotic world?  I have no answer for that in my own life – how about you?

 The psalmist is yet again under attack.  But he knows where his refuge is.  “You’re my cave to hide in, my cliff to climb….I want to hide in you…put my life in your hands….you’ll never let me down”.  Oh the promises of God.  He is our refuge and our strength.  He is our unending source of protection and safety.  He alone is the one place we can run for our lives.  I was struck by this verse: “I hate all this silly religion, but you God, I trust”.  Is your trust in the church or your religion, or is it in the Creator of the universe and the One who has actually the place we can run for security?  Far too many put their trust and faith in something that will let them down.  The church is not our salvation.  Jesus alone is the way to eternal life. Scripture is very clear about that.  So don’t get wrapped up in religion, get wrapped up in the arms of Jesus.  He is the one place that helps assure our eternity.  If we don’t, we will feel like the writer who says “my life leaks away”.  Feel like that?  It happens if we aren’t tied to the rock and anchor of life – Jesus Christ.  Are you connected?  Can you really say “you are my God”?  On this Thanksgiving 2009, I pray that you have a relationship with the Savior and you know where your eternity will be spent.  There is nothing that deserves our thanks more than that.  Do you know?  If not, find out today!

Psalm 30

Psalm 30 is a very timely writing as we approach this Thanksgiving season.  This chapter is all about being grateful.  The writer has be in a mess, been wrestling with foes and struggling with life.  God has reached down and rescued him.  “I yelled for help and you put me together….you pulled me out of the grave…..gave me another chance at life”.  God is in the business of helping us deal with our struggles.  He is in the business of getting down in the trenches and getting dirty as He helps us overcome the challenges of life.  It doesn’t always happen on our timeline or in our way.  Don’t get the impression here that God is just sitting there waiting for our beckon call so we can direct Him like a puppet.  That is not how it works.  But when we cry out to Him, He hears and if we are living and walking with Him, He responds.  The psalmist says it this way: “across a lifetime there is only love”.  Sometimes that love is tough and is necessary to allow us to grow and build character.  Sometimes that love is an immediate action to remove us from our situation.  But God always acts in love and in our best interest.  Only He can see the big picture.  Only He can see all the factors and facets of our life from a viewpoint we will never have.

But the key learning here is how the writer begins the chapter: “I give you all the credit, God”.  Does that describe you?  Do you give God credit for everything that happens in your life?  Do you realize and recognize that ALL of it happens because of Him?  Often that is not the case for us.  We fall into the trap that life actually happens because of what we do and what we say.  Not true folks.  It all happens because of God.  Once we get that figured out we need to ponder our response.  The writer tells us what we should do: “Sing your hearts out….thank Him to His face”.  Do you spend time thanking God for what He has done regularly?  Do you approach His throne with gratitude every day?  How about singing praise to Him, not only on Sunday morning but as you go through the week.  I find myself bursting into song regularly when I am in the office or on the farm.  I am sure people that work for me think I am weird – well they actually know I am – but some days I just can’t help singing or whistling praise to the Father.  He has blessed me so much and there is so much to be grateful for.  Like the psalmist concludes “I can’t keep quiet about You.  God, my God, I can’t thank you enough”.  Does that describe your heart toward God?  Are you overwhelmed by His goodness and love?  If not, you need to open your eyes and see all that He has done and continues to do.  There is much to be thankful for.  It begins with the very gift of life itself and extends into every other part of life around us.  Stop right now and thank God for the gift of life and all that He has done for you.  You will never be able to thank Him enough!

Psalm 29

 Psalm 29 is all about God and His power and creation.  The writer starts the chapter by acknowledging God: “Bravo….encore….in awe before the glory….in awe before God’s visible power”.  We need to “stand at attention” and see what God is doing.  Do you even notice or recognize what God is up to?  Do you consider His every move?  God created our entire planet.  He designed the universe. But His interaction didn’t stop after creation.  He is involved day by day and moment by moment in the world we live in.  Yet sometimes I fail to see His hand at work, even in my own life.  I fail to feel His touch even when His handprints are all over my life.  How about you?  Do you get so comfortable in your life that you miss the important stuff?  Do you get so accustomed to what God is doing you don’t even recognize Him? 

 The writer makes sure we at least understand some of what God is up to.  He reminds us that God:

  1. Thunders across the waters
  2. Streaming brightness
  3. Flood waters
  4. Thunder tympanic
  5. Thunder symphonic
  6. Thunder smashes cedars
  7. Mountain ranges skip
  8. High ridges jump
  9. Thunder spits fire
  10. Wilderness quakes
  11. Pelting rain

God is in control of all of nature and life.  Sometimes we forget that reality.  And most of all, we forget that “above the floodwaters is God’s throne from which His power flows, from which He rules the world”.  That is our reality.  God sits in His throne and knows all and sees all and controls all.  It is absolute.  It is complete.  It is our world.  He is the King of this universe and we need to learn from the psalmist how to put Him in the reverent place He belongs.  “We fall to our knees, we call out Glory”.  Are you on your knees before the God of this universe?  Do you fall on your knees in reverence and respect?  Do you ever recognize that He is in control?  Scripture tells us that someday every knee will bow and every tongue confess.  We need to be doing that as part of our daily walk – recognizing that God is sitting on His throne and in control and living life in awe of His power.  The writer gives us the gut check.  Are you living that way?

Psalm 28

Psalm 28 talks a bit about prayer.  The writer is calling to God to hear his requests.  He is pleading with God not to leave him in “deafening silence” but rather to let him know that God is listening.  Do you ever feel like that?   Like God is not hearing your prayers?  Why does that happen?  And more importantly, is it true?  Does God not hear us, or do we just not recognize the reality that He does whether we feel like it or not?  The psalmist tells us that “He heard me praying” after ranting a bit about how it felt like no one was listening.  Scripture is pretty clear that God does hear our prayers.  God is listening, 24/7/365 and we don’t send them into cyberspace where they just vanish and go away.  God hears.  But that doesn’t mean He always answers them our way on our timeline.  That is where we tend to lose reality.  Our idea of God hearing is that He answers immediately the way we have asked Him to.  That is where the breakdown comes.  And the psalmist tells us part of the issue: “they have no idea how God works or what He is up to”.  Prayer is not about making God do what we want Him to do.  Prayer is about lining up our attitude and life with what God is doing.  It is about us getting on His page, not trying to sway Him to get on our page.  But we get that part wrong.  We tend to think that prayer is our ticket to manipulate God into doing the things we want.  In fact, prayer should be the way we understand God’s plan and join Him.  That is what it is all about.

 The writer does tell us that there a many who will try and pull us away or even harm us.  And we need to separate ourselves from those who “talk a good line….then moonlight for the Devil”.  The world is full of people who say one thing and live completely differently.  We need to pay attention to how people live far more than what they say.  Who we are surrounded by, who we spend our time with, those folks will influence us and can pull us away from God.  Just like your parents used to tell you growing up that who you pick as friends makes a difference – well the same is true in life.  Those we hang around with will impact us.  So we need to pick wisely and spend time with those who have “thrown my lot in with Him”.  We need to surround ourselves with those who are walking with God and who are “jumping for joy…..shouting….singing my thanks to Him”.  Are you spending time with real Christ Followers – people with a deep and growing relationship with Jesus?  It is important we do that.  That is not to say we should isolate ourselves from the rest, but we need a strong foundation of friends that can help us be grounded and walking with the Savior.  We need folks who all Jesus to “carry them like a good shepherd”.  And it goes without saying that we need to fill that role for all the folks in our lives as well.  Are you salt and light for the people you rub shoulders with each day?  Are you carrying the torch for Jesus and making sure people in your patch know how to receive eternal life?  Don’t be one who is just deafening silence about the most important truth the world needs to know!

Psalm 27

Psalm 27 gives us a glimpse at how we should rest in God’s presence and protection.  The psalmist writes “when all hell breaks loose, I’m collected and cool”.  Does that sound like your world?  All hell breaking loose all around.  Chaos and confusion everywhere you look.  Struggles and issues at every turn.  God is there and He knows our situation.  He is in the middle of our circumstances and ready to come to our aid.  The psalmist tells us how we should respond: “I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: to live with Him in His house my whole life long”.  That is the kind of relationship God desires.  For us to want Him and focus on spending our time with Him.  The writer describes our situation pretty clearly: “that’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world”.  Where do you go for peace and quiet? Do you go to God?  Is He your refuge and strength?  We can learn much here from our writer.  God is ready to be our peace and quiet, our place to go when we need to get away from the noise and chaos of life.  So why don’t we go running to Him?  Why do we try and deal with it all alone?

We also learn how God is there to help us deal with those who want to besiege us.  “God holds my head and shoulders above all who try to pull me down”.  Do you experience that in life?  Someone there trying to knock you out.  Sort of like playing king of the mountain where there is always someone that is trying to knock you off.  That is the reality of how the world is.  Especially if you are having any kind of success in your walk with Christ.  The enemy is out to pull you down and take you out of the game.  But God is there to hold you up and help you live victoriously.  That is how our life should be as a Christ follower.  We should not live in defeat, but in the victory of the Cross.  We know how the story ends so we should not be pressed down and pushed around.  We should be looking to God and saying as the psalmist does “point me down your highway, God: direct me along a well lighted street, show my enemies whose side you’re on”.  Got is willing and ready to be the factor that makes us victorious.  But it only happens if we let Him, if we come to Him for His power and allow Him to take control.  We have no reason to lose heart.  We have no reason to quit.  We need to “stay with God” and live life fully in the shadow of His victorious cross.  Are you living like that?   On top of the world and as a winner?  That is what God desires.  Don’t let the enemy rob you of that joy!

Psalm 26

Psalm 26 gives us some things to consider about spring housecleaning.  I know it is late fall, but it is always time to clean out the old and bad and replace it with God’s ways.  The psalmist says “examine me God, from head to foot….make sure I’m fit inside and out”.  Do you ask God to do a checkup on you?  Are you confident of your living to the point you ask God for an exam?  I don’t often do that.  Not because I think He will find something terrible – but because I am not completely sure so not willing to take the risk.  The writer here gives us some great advice on how we should live so we aren’t afraid for God’s inspection.  First he tells us “I never lose sight of your love”.  His eyes are always on God and he doesn’t get off the road into the weeds because he isn’t looking at the right place.  We need to keep our eyes on Jesus.  We see often in scripture what happens when we quit looking at the source of power.  Peter was able to walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink.  We need to stay focused and not get distracted by all the noise and places to look in this world.  We need to guard our eyes and avoid the things that lead us down a path toward sin.  Today that may be movies or magazines, or TV, and definitely can be the computer.  Do you protect your eyes from the evil we can see – pornography is rampant men and leads us away from God – and stay focused on the only Truth we can depend on? 

 Secondly, the writer tells us he “keeps step with you, never missing a beat”.  Do you walk with God all day?  I often think about that and say a little prayer throughout my day asking Him to keep me walking right beside Him.  We need to focus on walking with God.  That is His desire, and definitely our best path to success.  Third – the writer tells us that he doesn’t “hand out with tricksters, pal around with thugs, hates the pack of gangsters, doesn’t deal with doudle-dealers”.  Who we hang out with is a big factor in how we will live.  We need to surround ourselves with like minded people that will lead us and challenge us to walk with God.  Doesn’t mean we should never be around folks who don’t know the Lord – we can’t lead them to Christ if we never talk and invest our lives into them too.  But we need to guard our hearts and make sure the people we spend the majority of our time with have a common desire to seek God and live a godly life.  If we don’t we will find that walking with Him is a real struggle.  The psalmist goes on to say “I love living with you”.  Is that the song of your heart?  Are you happy to be living life with the Creator of the universe?  He wants to live with each of us in that kind of relationship and harmony.  And finally – the chapter ends with these words: “I bless you every chance I get”.  When is the last time you blessed God?  When you told people just how much you love the Father?  When you share just how much He means to you?  When you acknowledge the things He has done and is doing in your life?  Are you blessing God every day with the way you live?  Or are you distancing yourself from Him because you don’t want anyone to know you are a Christ Follower?  I want to encourage you to not live at a distance, but up close and very personal with God.  He wants to be our rock and redeemer and to have us bless Him by telling others all about our relationship.  Are you doing that?  No time like today to begin!

Psalm 25

Psalm 25 gives us some really great insight into the relationship we should have with God.  The psalmist lets us know that he has “thrown in my lot with you”.  He is all in with God.  How about you?  Are you totally sold out for God?  Have you made the ultimate and complete commitment of dedicating your life to Him?  Have you given up control and handed Him the wheel?  That is really God’s desire for us – to be all in.  No holding back, no hidden things (which aren’t really hidden anyway), no desire to keep a little off to the side for self.  Just complete and total sacrifice.  Our psalmist is there.  Then he gives a list of things he wants God to do:

  1. Show me how you work
  2. School me in your ways
  3. Take me by the hand
  4. Lead me down the path of truth
  5. Mark the milestones
  6. Rebuild the ancient landmarks
  7. Forget that I sowed wild oats
  8. Mark me with your sign of love
  9. Plan only the best for me

Wow – what a great prayer list to use in seeking God.  It covers getting His guidance, His direction, His forgiveness, His blessing – in fact it covers all we need to live life.  Take some time to reflect on these requests and put together your list of asks of God.  He is waiting to answer.

 But the psalmist continues and tells us an important truth: “every road you travel will take you to God”.  The reality is that even when we make wrong turns, it eventually ends up coming to God.  We can’t escape and run the other way forever.  Jonah tried, and ended up in the belly of a fish.  God doesn’t just let us run away.  But He has given us a map and the psalmist tells us to “follow the covenant signs….read the charted directions”.  Anyone want to tell me where we can get signs and directions?  The book is spelled BIBLE.  The experience is called prayer.  We have tools to help us know how to live and what to do.  But we need to spend time getting them.  Too often we treat God’s directions like men driving down the road that don’t know where they are going.  Do they stop and ask directions?  Nope – at least I don’t.  I have said hundreds of times that I can figure it out.  It can’t be much farther.  It is just around that next bend.  Today we have GPS to help us, and that is what the Bible is – it is our God given GPS but it only works if we turn it on and listen to the little voice in the box.  Here is the reality of what life can be like: “if I keep my eyes on God, I won’t trip over my own feet”.  Are you tripping all the time?  If so I am willing to bet your eyes are not on God, but on yourself and the road you want to travel.  If we keep your eyes on Him, if we have eyes for the Savior, we won’t have such problems in life.  In fact, the psalmist writes for God to “lift this ton of sin”.  Guess what, Jesus came to do just that.  He came to set us free from sin and to give us eternal life with God.  If we can get over ourself and realize that we need a Savior – we can ask Jesus to come into our life and fix our sin problem.  Then we too can have the expectant joy of the psalmist when he writes “I wait to see your finished product”.  God is not done with me yet, nor you.  He has much to do but we can certainly make that trip more enjoyable by reading the Book and following His direction!

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