Archive for February, 2010

Psalm 115

Psalm 115 is a chapter that demonstrates the power of God versus “their gods”.  The psalmist calls on God to “show your glory”.  And God does – in many ways.  The writer calls our a few of those ways:

–       On account of your merciful love

–       On account of your faithful ways

–       So none of the nations can say….”where is their God

The reality is just what the psalmist writes here:  “God is in heaven doing whatever He wants to do”.  He is not limited in any way.  He sits on His throne and rules as He wishes, when He wishes, how He wishes.  God’s glory shines brightly.

 The psalmist contrasts God with the gods that man makes or worships.  Those gods are “metal and wood, handmade in a basement shop”.  They are manufactured by man and have no power.  They can do nothing.  The writer points it out this way:

–       “Mouths that cannot talk

–       Eyes than cannot see

–       Ears that cannot hear

–       Noses that cannot smell

–       Hands than can’t grasp

–       Feet that can’t walk

–       Throats that never utter a sound

The gods that man make are all show and no go – they can’t do anything.  Yet we get pulled into worshiping these gods.  We allow things of this world to draw us away from the true God – the Creator and Master of the universe.  We allow stuff to replace God.  Stuff created in the basement that can’t do squat.  We need to “trust in God…trust your Helper….trust your Ruler”.  There is only one True God.  We can’t allow imitations to get in the way.  We need to worship Him and watch for His glory.  That is the reality!

Psalm 114

Psalm 114 is a short chapter that tells us about the power of God.  It is a bit of a history lesson on what happened long ago.  After “Israel left Egypt” – you remember that story of how Moses led the people out and across the Red Sea by parting it after God sent 10 plagues to get Pharaoh’s attention.  The people settled and the writer paints a picture of what it is like when a people is covered by God and His love and power:

–       “Sea took one look and ran

–       River Jordan turned around and ran

–       Mountains turned playful and skipped like rams

–       Hills frolicked like spring lambs

The reality is that all of creation knows the power of God.  After all, He put it all in place.  It is all under His control.   He alone is God.  And even the biggest things in His creation still know that God alone has the power to do as He pleases.

 The reason all these things happen?  “You’re in the Lord’s presence”.  Did you catch that?  Being in the presence of God means we are at the feet of the creator and the all powerful.   He is able, more than able, to do anything He desires.  Check out these words: “He turned rock into a pool of cool water, turned flint into fresh spring water”.  Never question the power of God.  He alone is worthy of our praise.  He is the Master of this universe.  Creation knows it.  We need to make sure we know and live like it too.  We are in His presence every moment of every day.  The same God who led the people out of Egypt and created this universe is our God today.  He is alive and well in control.  How are you living in relationship to Him?

Psalm 113

Psalm 113 tells us again how to relate to God.  It is written to “you who serve God”.  The psalmist is talking to me and you – to all who call on God as He is.  We are to serve Him but also to have a relationship with Him.  We are told to do these things:

–       “Praise God

–       Speak His name

–       Remember God is a blessing

–       Keep lifting your praises

We see a very common theme about how to relate to God through the Psalms.  He is to be praised and honored and feared.  He is above all else.  Our psalmist makes that clear as he goes on to say “God is higher than anything and anyone, outshining everything…..who can compare with God…..majestically enthroned”.  Are you seeing the truth here?  God is over all things, all people, all power, all possession.  He is in a class all by Himself.  None can compare to our God.

He is “surveying His magnificent heavens and earth”.  God has a very different perspective on the world than we do.  He sees all things from a very different vantage point.  What seems so overwhelming to us is just another small blip in His massive expanse.  That doesn’t mean He doesn’t care, it just means He sees things as they are in His world and is why “He picks up the poor from out of the dirt, rescues the wretched….gives childless couples a family”.  Those are things that overwhelm us but are pretty small potatoes in God’s patch.  He can handle anything that comes along with ease.  We just need to stay in relationship with Him and then make sure we come to Him with all that burdens us so He can step in and carry the load.  Too often we try and do it ourselves when we have a God who is just waiting for the opportunity to show Himself as who He is – our God!  Are you walking and praising and staying in relationship with Him?  If not, He is there ready and waiting to have that happen.

Psalm 112

Psalm 112 tells us what a “blessed man….blessed woman” looks like.  The psalmist gives us a couple characteristics that describe these people that are blessed by God.  He tells us they:

–       “Fear God

–       Cherish and relish His commandments

–       Generosity never runs dry

–       Lends lavishly

–       Heart ready

–       Trusting in God

–       Spirit firm

–       Unperturbed

–       Relaxed among enemies

Pretty important learning here.  The psalmist gives us some attributes that describe the kind of people God blesses.  A healthy fear of God is core as we have seen over and over.  Being in His Word and living by it through cherishing and relishing His truth helps us walk where God wants us to be.  As we understand that everything we have is His we are willing to give it away to those in need as He directs.  We have faith that allows us to trust Him and be ready for His direction – we are ready and firm and not swayed by anything around us because we know God is in control.  We can be this kind of person.  Nothing on this list is impossible by any stretch.  It is not easy – not normal in our culture today – but certainly something we can achieve with some focus and effort.  We basically just need to walk with God.

 So what else happens when we to beside blessing, as if that is not motivation enough.  Our psalmist tells us the blessed man or woman also has these characteristics:

–       “Their houses brim with wealth

–       Sunrise breaks through the darkness

–       No shuffling or stumbling around

–       Sterling and solid and lasting reputation

–       Honored life

–       Beautiful life

Wow – what a wonderful set of outcomes from living in God’s blessing.  We are warned that there will be attacks of rumor and gossip and rage from the wicked, but if we are blessed by God it “blusters away….ends up speechless”.  A blessed man or woman is living in the very presence of God who will be there to protect and take care of things.  That doesn’t mean there are no challenges – it doesn’t mean life is going to be perfect from our perspective.  It does mean that God is in control and will guide us through.  We have a God who loves us, wants to bless us, and will do so if we will just put Him in His rightful place in our lives and let Him truly be our God.  It isn’t too much to ask – to give Him control.  He is far better equipped than we are.  He knows all, sees all, created all, and wrote the story.  We simply can see one moment at a time.  Oh the blessing when we figure that out and let Him have the wheel!

Psalm 111

Psalm 111 is a very powerful chapter that really tells us so much about our God, and the psalmist’s relationship with Him.  A key learning comes from the summary the chapter ends with: “The good life begins in the fear of God – Do that and you’ll know the blessing of God”.  So we want to be blessed?  We need to learn how to fear God.  Does that mean to be afraid of God?  That could be part of it, but even that fear is not because God is mean or punishing, but because of the realization that God is who He is.  The fear of God means we recognize Him as Creator, as all powerful, as worthy of all our praise.  We come to understand that He is in control, He is the Master of the Universe, He makes things happen.  We know Him as judge and also love.  We need to learn to fear God.  So how does our writer describe his relationship with God?  Very personally – “I give thanks to God with everything I’ve got”.  God is looking for folks who are all in – who pour all they are into the relationship.  Being a Christ Follower is not a part time gig.  It isn’t a Sunday morning event.  Living for Jesus is 24X7X365 – all 168 hours of the week – it is a lifestyle that happens constantly. It requires all we are all the time.  Why does that make sense?  “God’s works are so great, worth a lifetime of study – endless enjoyment”.  God is that awesome.  That is why it makes sense.  We can spend until eternity comes studying God and never run out of things to learn.  He is that vast and awesome.   So the reality is we need to get started.  We need to get to know Him now.

 Our psalmist goes on to list a whole series of things about God that make Him great and worthy to be feared.  Check all these out:

  1. Splendor and beauty mark His craft
  2. His generosity never gives out
  3. His miracles are His memorial
  4. He gave food to those who fear Him
  5. He remembered to keep His ancient promise
  6. He proved to His people that He could do what He said
  7. He manufactures truth and justice
  8. He paid the ransom for His people
  9. He ordered the covenant kept forever
  10. He’s so personal and holy
  11. He’s worthy of our respect

Can you say wow?  Wanna know why we should be in deep relationship with God?  That is quite a list.  He is unbelievable and amazing.  And He wants to be our God – personal and deeply engaged in our lives.  Do you fear Him – not be afraid – but fear Him because of the list of things that make Him who He is?  That is the foundation of a good life and the secret to His blessing.  It is about the relationship.  If you aren’t there – get there – and do it today!

Psalm 110

Psalm 110 is written by David and is sometimes refered to as David’s creed.  It refers to Jesus Christ and gives us a picture of what His coming was to be.  Jesus does “sit alongside Me here on My throne”.  He was with God from the beginning and has been part of all things since Creation.  Jesus and the Father are one.  “You were forged a strong scepter by God” refers to not only Jesus being, but also the power of His Words.  Scripture tells us elsewhere that the Word is stronger than any two edged sword.  That is the reality of Jesus and His life.  He came and embodied the very power of God in the form of a human.  David continues to write and tell us that Jesus will rule even though surrounded by enemies.  God sends His Son to save mankind, and the response is to treat Him poorly until the point of killing Him.  Yet even through all that Jesus ruled and rules.  He was and still is in complete control.   We must not lose sight of that truth. Jesus reigns.  He is alive and in charge.  Whether it seems that way or it feels like it doesn’t change truth.  Truth is not dependent on my seeing or accepting it.  Gravity happens whether I think I will fall if I jump off a building or not.  Jesus is on the throne and ruling whether I know it, admit it or believe it.  Truth is truth without regard to what we think.  It just is.

God gave His word and won’t take it back”.  We don’t have to wonder if God will change His mind.  He doesn’t.  What He said is truth and it will be.  He never changes direction.  He won’t be changing His purpose and there is no plan B.  God is focused on reaching a lost world through His Son.  Jesus is the way – the only way – for us to deal with our sin problem.  “The Lord stands true at your side”.  Jesus is at our side.  He will be there to help us deal with the struggles of life.  David tells us he will help us with “crushing kings….bringing judgment…..handing out convictions…..crushing opposition”.  God is not going to leave us struggle along on our own.  He will be there to help us overcome.  He will provide us the means to live victorious.  This is all part of his plan.  “The King-Maker put his King on the throne; the True King rules with head held high”!  God has a master plan – a story – His Story – and Jesus is the main character.  While David never met the Messiah on earth, he certainly wrote about His coming and set the stage for life after He came.  Jesus is the King.  He is on the throne.  He is in control.  He came to set us free from sin but also to give us victory in life.  Have you found Him as your Savior?  He is waiting to come into your life and set you free!

Psalm 109

David is having another tough spot in life here in Psalm 109.  Life is tough and he is calling out to God for help.  “I loved them and now they slander me….they return my good with evil….they return my love with hate”.  Life is not fair and David makes it clear it certainly isn’t for him right now.  The reality is that we are all going to go through some rough patches in life.  Walking with God doesn’t mean we don’t have to struggle.  It doesn’t mean that everyone will always treat us well, or that things will turn out the way we hope and dream.  Being a Christ Follower doesn’t give us assurance that we won’t have really tough days, or years for that matter.  David’s story here is reality for many who walk with Jesus.  Life doesn’t always go the way we want it to.  Bad things happen to really good people, Christ following people, and we can’t always understand why.  Scripture does assure us that all things work together for good, but all things don’t always seem good.  David is in that patch.  Those whom he has loved and treated well are turning against him and making his life miserable.  They are just being a royal pain.  So walking with God doesn’t guarantee anything going our way…..

But it does mean that we will never have to go it alone.  God is there, even in the midst of our struggles and battles.  He never leaves nor forsakes us.  He has promised that.  And David knows that here too.  He calls out to God:  “Oh, God, my Lord, step in; work a miracle for me…..save me through your wonderful love”.  David calls on God with full knowledge and expectation that God is not only listening, but that God will take action.  David knows he is not fighting this alone.  That God is on his side and will come to his aid.  But here is a key point to David’s request.  David does not call for God to help him so he can get his own way.  Pay attention to what he says here in his request: “Then they’ll know that your hand is in this, that you, God, have been at work”.  David calls for God to get involved so God can be glorified.  Motive matters!  Too often our cries for help are all about getting our own way.  It is all about me, not about giving God the glory.  And people think God doesn’t listen and respond.  God isn’t interested in being your personal genie that comes running when you cry out and want it your way.  That isn’t how this works.  God wants to bless you so you can point the world to Him and give Him the credit and praise and glory.  This is not about David getting things his way.  It is about God coming to his rescue when the odds were overwhelmingly against him so he could give God the glory.  “My mouth’s full of great praise for God”.  This is all about Him, not about David and his needs.  We get it all wrong so often.  We think the world revolves around our problems and issues.  It doesn’t and never will.  We need to learn that life is a way for us to show the world that God loves us and we need to point everyone to God’s power at work in us and through our circumstances.  I am not the center of the universe.  Life does not revolve around me.  My cry to God has to be to point everyone to the reality that He alone is the center of the universe and worthy of our praise.  If we get that part right, we too will experience the relationship with the Father the way that David did.  Is God center of your life?  If not, make it so today!

Psalm 108

Psalm 108 is a great chapter in being ready.  Are you ready to be a Christ Follower?  David tells us “I’m ready”.  Ready for what?  “Ready to sing…to raise a God-song….thanking You”.  David is ready for relationship.  He is ready to interact with God and to call out to His faithfulness. “Every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness”.  David wants the world to know that God is faithful and worthy to be praised.  He is ready to walk with God in obedience.  He is ready to face whatever challenges the world throws at him because he knows the battle is not his alone, but God will be there to help.  He is ready to tell the world of God’s love and goodness.  David is ready.  Are you? 

He goes on to make this statement: “Give us help for the hard task, human help is worthless”. Where do you turn when you face the tough tasks in life?  Do you turn to humans to help you?  Or do you turn to God?  Where do you go first?  My experience is that far too often we turn to ourselves first, others second, books and resources third, and when those all fail, we finally get around to asking God.  Why folks?  Why do we start with things that can’t really answer the true questions of life or handle the difficult tasks that life throws at us?  Why don’t we first go to the One who not only knows the answers but wrote the questions?  He is able, very able to handle any and all of them.  He is not surprised.  He put it all together in the first place.  So why is it so hard to run to God with the struggles?  We are told to pull up our boot straps and figure it out.  Men particularly have the fix it attitude.  But it is not a sign of weakness to run to God.  In fact, it is a sign of spiritual maturity when we don’t have to run to Him, but just talk with Him because we are walking with Him moment by moment and He is right there already.  Don’t let Satan whisper in your ear that you can do it yourself.  That is exactly what he wants us to believe, because then we are not getting the power of God active in our lives.  Satan wants us to be self sufficient so we don’t need God.  He wants us to think we can do it ourselves.  But we can’t, and it is far better to rely on God before we completely blow it than come running when we have made a giant mess out of life.  Human help is worthless when compared to the vast wisdom and resources of God.  Go there first.  If you do, you will never come up short.  You will never need a second opinion.  And you will always be able to succeed.      

Psalm 107

Psalm 107 gives us a real clear picture of the repetition of life.  Man has a problem, God has a solution, and then man needs to thank God for His goodness and love.  David here records that circle of reality over and over.  We see man falling in a number of ways.  Each time, managing to separate himself from God and His love.  Then God zooms in and sets us free.  And we are challenged – because this perfectly describes you and me – we are told to let the world know about God and His love:  “All of you set free by God, tell the world….tell how He freed you from oppression”.  That is what God wants from us – to shout it from the mountaintops – that He is God and has set us free.  Jesus went to the Cross to do that – to free us from sin.  Who have you told about Jesus?  Who have you specifically shared the story of His setting you free from the burden and price of your sin?  If people around you were asked, would they say that you have told them the story of your freedom?  They should.  There should be no one in our circle of influence that has any doubt that we are Christ Followers who have been set free from the oppression of sin.  But too often we don’t tell the story.  Is that so much to ask by a God who gave it all so we could spend eternity with Him?  So here is the story:  “some of you wandered for years…..then in your desperate condition, you called out to God…….He got you out”.  That pretty much describes it doesn’t it.  We mess up, God intervenes and helps us get back on the road again.

 But as David describes this circle over and over, here is a list of what God does:

–       “He gets you out

–       He put your feet on a wonderful road

–       He poured great draughts of water down parched throats

–       He led you out of a dark, dark cell

–       He got you out in the nick of time

–       He spoke the word that healed you

–       He quieted the wind down to a whisper

–       He changed wasteland into fresh pools of water

–       He blessed them

–       He gave the poor a safe place to live

Bottom line is that God loves us.  He makes a way for us.  And David sums it up this way: “If you are really wise, you’ll think this over – it’s time you appreciate God’s deep love”.  Truer words have never been written.  Are you wise?  Then you best be sharing God’s touch in your life and telling the world how much you appreciate the God who loved you and gave up His most precious Son to pay the price for your sin on the Cross.  God loved the world so He gave!  He is the ultimate Go Giver!

Psalm 106

Psalm 106 continues the history lesson of God’s love.  The chapter starts by telling us “He’s good, because His love lasts”.  God is good all the time.  If you don’t remember anything else – never forget that.  We learn that “you’re one happy man when you do what’s right”.  Obedience is the secret to happiness.  If we walk with God, if we live His way, things will go much better.  Obedience is a key element of happiness.  But the psalmist goes on to give us a hint as to how to achieve that when he says “one happy woman when you form the habit of justice”.  If we want to succeed and find happiness through obedience – we need to build godly spiritual habits.  Spiritual disciplines are key to our ongoing success and our ability to live an obedient life.  We have to build those and follow them every day.  It is critical for our success in our walk with God.  But the reality of the human condition is stated here:  “We’ve sinned a lot, both we and our parents.  We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people”.  There it is – black and white – we sin and so did our parents.  And our grandparents and their parents and on it goes back to the garden of Eden.  Sin is a reality for us as humans.  And it matters.  It matters a lot in God’s eyes.  He can’t tolerate it.  So we have to deal with sin.  We can’t just ignore it.  We see several references as to why sin happens so easily and so often for us as humans: “After our parents left Egypt, they took Your wonders for granted, forgot your great and wonderful love….it wasn’t long before they forgot the whole thing”.  This is the root cause – we lose our focus on God.  We stop working on our relationship and God becomes irrelevant in our lives.  We think we can do it ourselves.  We push God out.  If you want to walk in obedience then you have to stay connected and close to God.  There is no way we will achieve it on our own.  We will fall flat on our faces every time we try.  God alone is the way we can live in obedience.  So what happens when we sin and forget God?

 “He gave them exactly what they asked for – but along with it they got an empty heart”.  When we sin and walk away from God, He doesn’t stop us.  Free will means we choose where God fits into our lives.  But when we do walk away, we find this gaping hole in our heart.  God alone can fill it.  He alone is the source of our joy and satisfaction and goodness.  And when we take it too far, well God gets really irritated.  He gets “Fed up, God decided to get rid of them”.  Never believe that God doesn’t take sin seriously.  He absolutely does.  He will deal with it.  And God was ready to get rid of everyone when one man got involved.  “Except for Moses, His chosen, He would have.  But Moses stood in the gap and deflected God’s anger, prevented it from destroying them utterly”.   Did you catch this?  God was going to destroy the people but Moses stood in the gap.  He got between God’s anger and His people and interceded for them.  Never doubt the power of prayer and a godly life.  Moses saved the people by his willingness to get involved and stand in the gap for them.  “Their way of life stank to high heaven”.  They didn’t deserve it.  But Moses was willing to go to God and intercede.  Who are you interceding for today?  Who are you standing in the gap to prevent from experiencing God’s destruction and wrath?  God listens to His godly followers.  “Phinehas stood up and pled their case and the plague was stopped”.  God listens to those who love Him and are walking in obedience and willing to stand in the gap.  Both Moses and Phinehas could have said it wasn’t their problem.  They weren’t the issue.  They could have ignored it and just let God have His way. But they didn’t.  They got in the middle of a mess that wasn’t theirs and interceded and used their relationship to save many.  Remember why these problems existed because we have the same issue.  “Over and over God rescued them, but they never learned – until finally their sins destroyed them”.  The people forgot and lost their relationship with God.  They just failed to stay connected.  Sin will destroy – it leads to death and eternal separation from God.  We have to find Him and stay in relationship with Him through Jesus.  God never leaves and never wants us to fall.  “Still, when God saw the trouble they were in and heard their cries for help, He remembered His Covenant with them, and immense with love, took them by the hand”.  That is the heart of God.  He loves us always.  He is waiting for us to come back to Him.  He wants to pour His grace and mercy out on us.  That is why Jesus went to the Cross.  God wants to be in relationship.  Anything less will be a big problem come judgment day!

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