Archive for December, 2009

Psalm 64

David is having one of those days in Psalm 64.  The enemy is upon him and he is crying out to God for help and protection again.  He tells us he is “reduced to a whine….and a wimper…..obsessed with feelings of doomsday”.  Do you ever feel that way?  Like the world is just more than you can handle.  Like the enemy is all around and there is no place to run or take refuge.  It happens to all of us.  We first need to remember that there is a place for us to run and find refuge – God is always there and waiting for us to come to Him.  He wants us to bring our fears and overwhelmed life to Him.  He is in the business of providing “peace that passes all understanding” as His Word tells us in the new testament.  But we have to go to Him.  We have to carry our burdens to Him and then allow Him to take them off our shoulders and provide us rest.  David also tells us a bit about how the enemy works.  “Using their tongues as weapons….poison words”.  Do you consider the power of the tongue?  Far too many don’t.  We treat it way too casually as the tongue can be a terrible tool of destruction if it is not managed correctly.  It destroys if not controlled.  The enemy also will “shoot from ambush….shoot without warning”.  We won’t always see the attack coming – in fact the enemy will normally come at us when we least expect it.  We have to keep our guard up at all times.  The second we let it down, look out, cause here comes the attack.  But we do have an ally who knows where the attack will come from, and if we allow Him, “The God of the Arrow shoots”.  God can intervene and deal with the ambush if we are prayed up and walking in His protection. 

Do you pray for God’s hedge of protection in your life?  That is something I try to do every day.  I seek God’s hedge around my marriage, family, businesses, friends, church and many other areas.  I pray for it asking by name that God will protect and keep the enemy away.  I also ask that I will walk in God’s presence, because I know that the enemy cannot even approach if I am in the presence of the Almighty God.  There is no way for darkness to be where light is, so if I remain in the light and in God’s presence, the enemy cannot even get close.  He can fire the flaming arrows and try to catch me from the blind side, but if I am in God’s protection those will not get to me either.  David saw this at work.  “God’s work is the talk of the town”.  God is able to protect us, but we have to ask for his protection and remain under it.  Sometimes we choose to move away from God and what He will do and go it on our own.  We need to do our part to stay in His protection.  But another key is what we need to do once we recognize it: “Be glad, good people.  Fly to God.  Good hearted people, make praise your habit”.  Are you glad and giving praise when God keeps you safe?  Do you even tell Him thanks?  We take so much for granted.  I encourage you to make praise your habit.  Tell God just how much you love and appreciate what He does to keep you away from the plot of the enemy and the destruction that will happen if we aren’t in His care.  God is worthy of our praise.  Don’t miss telling Him another day!

Psalm 63

David tells us in Psalm 63 what a great relationship with the Father looks like.  He is in the wilderness, certainly still being pursued and not living the life that he had dreamed of yet, but he has his focus on right.  David knows that his relationship with God is key.  “I can’t get enough of you”.  Is that how you feel about your relationship with the Creator of the universe?  Do you long to spend more time with Him?  Remember how it used to be when you were courting your future spouse – same story – you couldn’t get enough time together.  You would make excuses to be able to see each other.  That is how we should pursue our relationship with God.  It should not be a task or big effort, it should be a desire and huge blessing.  Time with God is so critical to staying connected.  And David tells us “I’ve worked up such a hunger and thirst for God”.  That should describe how we feel – and the way we get that hunger and thirst satisfied is time in His Word and in prayer – in communion with Him.  Do you really have that hunger?  Are you feasting on His Truth every day – spending time in God’s Word and getting filled with His direction?  David also tells us “here I am in the place of worship….drinking in your strength and glory”.  We also need to spend time in worship with others.  Are you regularly surrounding yourself in His presence with other Christ Followers?  So often we lose sight of why we go to church.  Sure the fellowship is great, seeing friends and other believers is important – but we should go to church to meet God – to worship Him and be in His presence in the midst of His Family.  That is why we go to church.  When we spend time with Him, take in His Word, and are in His presence through worship we too can experience David’s results: “I am really living at last”.  That is how we got to the next level – no matter what the circumstances around us.

 David goes on to list the things he does to make that relationship real to him:

  1. I bless you every time I take a breath
  2. My arms wave like banners of praise
  3. I eat my fill
  4. I smack my lips
  5. It’s time to shout praises
  6. I’m free to run and play
  7. I hold on to you….you hold me steady as a post

This relationship is alive and requires us to pour ourselves into it.  God doesn’t do all the work.  He meets us more than halfway, but we do need to put our hearts and minds into it.  But what a glorious time we can have living in the presence of the Father.  This is real stuff – opportunity to have an intimate and deep relationship with God.  One last tip David gives us here.  Do you ever struggle to sleep at night?  Check this out.  The answer is not counting sheep: “If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection”.  The key is to come into the presence of the Almighty and have a grateful heart.  God is also the source of peace that allows us to sleep.  When we struggle, we just need to approach the Throne and give thanks for all that He has done.  That calms our spirit and allows us to rest in Him.  David gets it – even in the midst of chaos and threat to his very life – the secret is to be close to God.  Are you living that way?

Psalm 62

Psalm 62 captures David’s heart about God.  We can learn much here about the awesome God we have.  David starts by setting the stage for just who God is: “God, the one and only”.  There is no other.  There is nothing else. God is it. He is the only One.  The only source of life and power in this universe.  David makes it clear that “everything I need comes from Him”.  He doesn’t say some of my needs come from God and I manage to get the rest myself.  He doesn’t say most of what I need comes from God.  He says “EVERYTHING” I need comes from God.  Do you recognize that truth?  Everything pretty much covers it all folks.  There is nothing else left for us to lay claim to.  It all comes from God.  He alone is the source of every good and perfect thing.  He alone makes it happen.  David lists a few things that we should hang on to describing the God of everthing:

  1. He’s solid rock under my feet
  2. Breathing room for my sould
  3. An impregnable castle
  4. I’m set for life
  5. My help and glory
  6. A safe place to be
  7. Strength comes straight from God

David goes on to teach us how we should relate to the fact that God is the source of everything.  “I’ll wait as long as He says”.  We need to be plugged in to the Father and wait on His timing, not force things on our own timeline.  We tend to want it all now and not be willing to weight for His timing.  But God’s ways are not our ways, His time is not our time.  We need to be willing to wait upon Him.  We also need to learn this second lesson in relating to God: “trust Him absolutely….lay your lives on the line for Him”.  God is worthy of our trust.  Even to the point of death.  We need to trust Him that far.  We need to be so tuned in to His being in control and taking care of us that we totally give our lives to Him.  There is no other option than God for us.  David also points out the problem for us as humans.  “You talk a good line, but every blessing breathes a curse… as such is smoke, woman as such, a mirage”.  We really are a mess as people.  We try and look good and make people think we have things under control but the reality is that none of us do or ever can.  God alone is the source of all.  We at best can be good stewards of what He allows us to have.  We need to get that straight in our heads and hearts.  He owns it all.  It all belongs to Him.  We are nothing more than smoke and mirrors.  We need to put Him where He belongs in our lives – seated on the throne in total control with our worship and awe.  Is God there in your life?

Psalm 61

Psalm 61 is a short but powerful set of verses as David tells us about God and his relationship with Him.  He begins by making it very clear that they are in a relationship.  “God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer”.  David is willing to take his concerns and needs to God.  He is not afraid to let God into his life, in fact, he brings his needs and struggles to the Father.  David reveals that he sometimes gets a long way from God.  He gets out there on his own and needs to be pulled back closely to God.  “When I’m far from anywhere, down to my last gasp, I call out”.  David is human and dealt with struggles just like all of us tend to – tackle them ourselves and when we can’t handle it any longer – then cry out to God for help.  It is our nature and seems to be the way we tend to handle issues.  But we learn here that God responds to those prayers and cries for help.  And God gives us a place to come that is safe and protected when we call out.  “You’ve always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all”.  Do you go to God for solace and peace?  He is always there waiting to draw us to Himself.  We just need to come to the place we actually slow down and call out to Him to bring us out of the chaos.  He desires to give us a place of peace in His presence. 

David tells us that God has given us a “lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest”.  Have you considered that before?  God’s house is never sold out – it is never full – we will never see a no vacancy sign there.  When we come to Him to find His peace and protection, He won’t be too busy and unavailable for our needs.  But we need to realize that this is an invitation and it requires action on our part.  We must receive what He offers – it is not forced upon us – it is our choice to come into His presence and to take advantage of the promises He gives us.  Just like salvation and the grace He offers us to our sin problem through the blood of Jesus spilled on the cross.  If we don’t receive His gift – it does nothing for us.  It is only in the receiving that God’s grace becomes effective in our life as we make it our own.  David makes that clear here.  God is always ready to bring us to Himself if we receive the invitation.  “You’ve always taken me seriously God, made me welcome among those who know and love you”.   That’s an important truth we need to keep in mind.  God always listens and takes us seriously.  He doesn’t ignore our requests or treat them as unimportant or stupid.  God not only takes us seriously, He also welcomes us into His presence.  And He tells us that if we come to Him, we will be welcome in the presence of those who are His own too.  That tells us how the church should act – we should love people exactly the way God loves us.  That is the standard by which we should live.  It is not a place for those without issues.  The church is where people should be able to come to experience God’s perfect love.  And David ends this lesson in how God works by telling us “I’ll be the poet who sings your glory- and live what I sing every day”.  David is not going to keep God’s work to himself.  He will let the world know by his word and more importantly, by his life, what God is up to and has done in and through his life.  We are to be beacons of God’s faithfulness to those around us.  Do the people in your circle know just how faithful your God is?  Do people see Him at work in your life by the way you live?  That is what God desires from us – to proclaim His love to those in our patch!

Psalm 60

Psalm 60 captures David’s thoughts coming off the battlefield with the Edomites.  Joab had led David’s forces to kill 12,000 of the enemy but the battle is tiring and David is looking for God’s help.  During the reign of Saul and while David was being chased – it was a struggle with attacks from within and without.  There was no rest, no peace.  God is there, but David is dealing with continual attacks and is getting tired.  He feels abandoned, although that is certainly not the case.  So he calls for peace in his world, and requests God’s action to keep him safe.  “do something quickly…so the one you love best is saved”.  David is totally overwhelmed.  He is wrestling with his attitude and the difference between what he knows in his head and what he feels in his circumstances.  Isn’t that always the struggle?  We may know all about God in our mind, but when it comes down to actually putting that into action in how we live, we struggle with the reality of our current situation and trying to align those two things.  We can’t quite seem to make them line up.  That is where David is at. 

But things change and “that’s when God spoke in holy splendor”.  God has given them the victory as Joab wipes out a big batch of the enemy.  God is right there in the middle of it all.  It didn’t feel like it while David was going through it, but it certainly is the truth.  David gives us the reality of life here when he asks “give us help for the hard task, human help is worthless”.  This is the real world.  Man can do some things, but it is God who really is the only answer.  “In God we’ll do our very best, He’ll flatten the opposition for good”.  Man will give it a good attempt, but only God can truly deal with things for good.  Are you facing life’s struggles in your own strength?  Do you try and fix it on your own?  It won’t last, it won’t really work.  God alone is able to handle the battles of life.  We need to learn to go to him with our issues and concerns, and trust Him to lead us to the answer.  That doesn’t mean we just pray and forget about it.  But we need to pray first and then follow His direction in how to proceed.  He alone is worthy and able.  Our attempts as mere humans will never truly fix anything.  He alone is able.  We need to follow David’s example and run to Him!

Psalm 59

David continues to wrestle with the enemies in Psalm 59.  But he has his priorities right – he knows that it is God who will save him.  “My God…..rescue me….defend me……save me”.  David knows that God alone is his source of victory.  He knows that it is God that is dependable.  “I can always count on you……God in dependable love shows up on time”.  Have you experienced God’s power and saving love?  Or do you just muddle through the challenges and struggles of life determined to deal with them all on your own.  God is in the business of dealing with those things – if we let him.  David tried for a long while to deal with the enemies on his own.  Do battle and then flee until the next time to go to war.  But they just keep pursuing and he finally gets to the point that he realizes that it is God who can deal with them all – not himself.  We tend to hold on to things far too long rather than let God have control.  We want to handle things ourselves rather than allow the One who can deal with everything do it.

 David is clear that his role is now to pray and let God deal with the enemy.  He wants to be sure that “all the world will see that God rules…..everywhere that God is in charge”.  Rather than be in the fray, David is now the messenger to make sure that God gets credit and is shown as the victor.  “I’m singing…shouting”.  David is the voice that is pointing people to God who is doing the heavy lifting.  That is really what God wants from us too.  He doesn’t need us to be in the battle as much as He wants us to proclaim all that He does in our lives.  He wants us to let the world know who He is and what He is up to.  God is active and willing to make things happen when we call out to Him.  We need to be willing to let go and let God, and then tell the world what He has done.  And we need to record His faithfulness so we can remember just how good God has been.  That is so important for the next generations to see, and for us to do as teaching others of His goodness.  Are you letting God have control of your problems?  Are you making a list and checking it twice so you can tell the world?  That is what we need to do – show and tell His faithfulness!

Psalm 58

David writes a Psalm here that really asks some powerful questions.  It treads where scripture doesn’t normally intersect our world – politics.  “Is this any way to run a country”?  What a question for then and for today.  Certainly that question has been asked for many generations, and it is definitely being asked today.  He goes on to ask the follow up question that really defines the core issue – “Is there an honest politician in the house”?  It boils down to motive and what drives the decisions and actions that occur in government and politics today.  Do you know any honest politicians?  I know a few because of their character and Christ Follower hearts.  But certainly if we cast a broad stroke many feel that politicians are not honest and have their own interests at heart.  Why does that happen?  David calls it out.  Things happen “behind the scenes….behind closed doors…..make deals”.  There is mistrust because people are not involved in the process and deals get worked out in the dark.  Of course evil almost always happens in the dark – that is where the enemy works his magic.  But we have to be careful to not fall prey to believing that everything that happens behind closed doors is bad.  Having served in a lot of leadership positions over the years – you cannot effectively lead by making decisions with everyone involved.  It just can’t happen that way.  So there has to be balance between communication and effective leadership.  The problem with things that David calls out is that the motives are selfish and the focus is wrong.  These politicians are poison and are not listening to God’s commands.

He points out that “it’s worth it to play by the rules”.  That is what this boils down to.  If people, even politicians, will simply follow God’s commands and rules things work out the way God intends.  It is when we bend or break the rules, when we live with selfish motives, when we push God out of the center of what we are doing – well that is when we get this crooked politician problem that leads us to a country that is gone amuck.  And here is the reality of what David tells us will happen: “before what they cook up is half-done, God, throw it out with the garbage”.  While we may think we can get away with violating God’s laws and living however we want, there are plenty of empires and nations that have proven it never works over time.  The rise and fall of so many nations can be tied to how they treated God’s laws.  Why?  Because God’s law never changes and always proves itself true.  There is no bending the rules that will work over time.  And when a country decides to do things their way without regard to His commandments – well it just won’t go well.  It is no way to run a country.  As Christ Followers, we need to stand firm on obedience to God’s laws.  We have to resist any efforts to pulls away from that obedience.  If we allow things to move there, we will be part of paying the price when things get trued up to His law.  It won’t be a pretty sight!

Psalm 57

Psalm 57 is another of David’s Psalm’s when things are not exactly going as planned.  He is hiding in a cave from Saul and life is not feeling exactly like he is God’s chosen one.  In fact, David is on the run and tells God “I’ve run to you for dear life”.  He isn’t exaggerating here.  He is definitely being chased and targeted for death.  He is “hiding out under your wings” and trying to stay away from those that Saul has sent to pursue him.  Can you imagine?  David has been anointed as God’s choice to lead the nation and yet he is running for his life.  He doesn’t feel like things are going like expected – in fact he makes it clear that it is “God who holds me together”.  Who holds you together when life gets out of control?  Surely you have experienced moments like this in your life.  Do you run to God when things get tough?  Or do you just try and take control yourself and fight your way through the challenges?  Many do think they have to face the struggles alone.  But David shows us a much better way.  He runs to God.  He is not some wimp here – this is a mighty warrior and the heir to the throne – God’s choice.  So his fleeing to God is not because he can’t handle life on his own but rather because he has figured out a couple things about God that we need to keep in mind.

David tells us that “God delivers generous love….He makes good on His Word”.  How’s that for a promise?  God loves us far more than we deserve or can even comprehend.  His love is overwhelming for us to even try to understand.  What a great place to run to – into the loving arms of our Father.  He also always does what He says.  His Word never fails.  When God says it, there is always fulfillment.  And David knows what God has said about his life and what lies ahead.  He is running to that promise.  It is also important to note how David comes to God.  “Ready to sing….ready to raise a tune…..thanking you God out loud in the streets…..singing your praises in town and country”.  David is not quiet about God’s faithfulness and who he is depending on.  Are you singing God’s praises?  God desires our praise.  He desires us to lift His name before those around us – to thank Him out loud in front of those in our patch.  David notes that creation does that: “every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness”.  The skies can’t contain their message of praise.  How about you?  How will you let the world know of God’s faithfulness in your life?  How will you sing God’s praise today?  He desires it.  He deserves it.  Time for us to let the world know about our God!

Psalm 56

Psalm 56 is another of David’s pleas for God to “take my side”.  He is continuing to be pushed around by his enemies.  “Not a day goes by but somebody beats me up”.  Sound familiar?  Do you struggle with the constant assault from the enemy?  David was one who had a close relationship with God and yet was always being attacked.  So it is unlikely that we will find it any different.  In fact, it might be expected.  The closer we are to God, the more it seems the enemies of God will attack us.  It goes with the territory.  As Christ Followers, there are many who will resist our lives and what we live for.  And certainly Satan himself has a mission to destroy.  After all, scripture is clear that he is focused on three things – to kill, steal and destroy.  So we face the same kind of things that David faced.  We will be under attack from all sides in many different ways.  That is pretty much a given.  The real question is how we will deal with it.

David gives us a few hints how he has been addressing the attacks.  Scripture tells us that he got “really afraid” when facing the enemy.  Having a healthy realization of the enemy and what we are up against is a good first step.  We need to acknowledge that we are under attack.  David then says “I trust in God….what can mere mortals do”?  He recognizes that the battle belongs to God.  It is God who will deal with the enemy, and in fact, has already won the war.  The end of the story has already been written.  That doesn’t mean we won’t have struggles along the way in the daily battles of life, but if we have put God in His rightful place in our lives, we know how life ends.  What’s the worst thing that mortals can do to us?  Some may say kill us but Paul sets the record straight on that when he tells us “to live is Christ, to die is gain”.  We often fear death but as Christ Followers that is our point of entry into eternity with the Father.  That is not the end of the story but rather the beginning.  God is able to handle the enemy.  David knows this and lets God know he is trusting Him to deal with them.  And then David goes on “proud to praise God…..thanking you with all my heart”.  Is the battle over?  No – but David is already praising and thanking God for what He is going to do.  God is in control and ready to come to our aid when we face the enemy.  That doesn’t mean we won’t have to do battle.  It does mean we can know with assurance how the war will end.  God is faithful.  We need to trust and praise Him!

Psalm 55

Psalm 55 is David’s plea for help.  He cries to God about the situation he finds himself in.  His friends, dear friends from way back, have fallen off the wagon and are running amuck.  “We grew up together….you… best friend”.  Thngs are not going the way they should be.   Friends don’t treat people the way these guys are treating David and everyone around them.  So David reaches out to God.  “Open your ears God…..whisper your answer.  I really need you”.  Sound familiar.  A prayer of desperation.  David admits he has done all he can to get things under control and it is way out of his control.  “This isn’t the neighborhood bully mocking me – I could take that”.  Things have gotten out of control and David is calling to God for help.  “Who will give me wings”?  David wants to be lifted above the fray.  He wants to be out of the line of fire.  He is tired and says “I’m desperate for change”.  Does that describe your situation?  Are you just ready for change because you are tired of how things are?  There are lots of folks that appear to be there today.  Economic pressure, job struggles, family fueds, relationship challenges – so many things weigh us down and we just want it to be different.  But do we take David’s approach and call out to God, or do we just try to change it on our own?  Too often we waste far too much time trying to do it our way.  We can learn a thing or two from what David tells us in the rest of the story.

 “I call to God; God will help me”.  God is in the business of being active in our lives.  He will reach down and help.  “He hears, he rescues”.  While His desire is not to be our 911 call, He certainly “hears it all” and will answer.  God wants us to be in continual relationship with Him.  It should never be a 911 call because we should have Him involved in our lives moment by moment and be talking with Him about things all along the way.  If we live like that – with God in the center of it all – we can have the attitude David expresses: “My life is well and whole, secure in the middle of danger”.  Why?  Because David knew God was in control.  David knew that God heard his prayers but knew the landscape before he ever uttered a word.  They had a very close relationship.  That gave David confidence to utter this promise: “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders – he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out”.  What a promise.  God will carry our load if we let Him.  He doesn’t come and take it from us without our willingness to allow it.  But He is ready to help us out.  He wants to come along side us and lift the weight.  So why are we so slow to allow that?  Because we aren’t talking with Him every moment.  We haven’t built the relationship the way we should have.  The bottom line is how David ends this chapter: “I trust in you”.  Trust happens by spending time together.  We need to spend time with our Father.  We need to be in His presence and know Him.  Then we can have the confidence David displays and know how to allow God to carry our load and free us from the burden of life.  Are you willing to spend that time?  Make it a priority starting today!

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