Archive for May, 2012

Psalm 84

Psalm 84 is a great chapter as it reminds us of our awesome God.  It is the foundation of a praise song – How Lovely is your Dwelling Place – which is how the chapter begins.  We need to remember that God lives where He has since the beginning of time, in heaven.  He sits on His throne as He has for eternity, and will continue to do that for all time.  God is God and He is in the place we desire to be.

My soul longs….faints…..my heart and flesh sing for joy”.  Do you long for God’s presence?  The psalmist certainly understands that while life on earth may be great, there is something far better, and that is to be in God’s presence.  It is much to be desired.  Why?  “Blessed are those who dwell in Your house, ever singing Your praise”.  Living with God will far outweigh all good things we experience on earth.  There will be no more pain and suffering.  There will be no more darkness or evil.  There will only be light, and love and joy.  And being in God’s presence will be the ultimate glorious way to spend eternity.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion”.  Is your heart filled with the highway to heaven?  Jesus is the way, the only way, for us to be able to experience what the psalmist is writing about here.  It isn’t about living right – because we can’t.  It isn’t about doing right – because we won’t.  It isn’t about going to church or helping little old ladies across the street – although we should.  Our access to heaven comes one way and one way only – through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  That is the only way – period.

Is it that big a deal?  You bet it is.  “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness”.   The psalmist gets it clear here – one day with God is better than a thousand elsewhere.  It is the ultimate destination.  There are plenty of great places in His creation to visit while we are here on earth – but eternity only offers a choice of two – and trust me that heaven where God reigns and is seated on the throne is much better than the alternative.  God has prepared a place for us.  He has given us a path to get there through Christ – and it is a free path that only requires us to receive His gift of grace and make it our own.  Oh that we would understand the importance and impact of that one decision.  “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk upright….blessed is the one who trusts in you”!  God is ready to bless us.  He is ready to reserve our room in eternity.  What is left is for us to make a commitment and decision to follow the One who can take us there!

Psalm 49

Psalm 49 begins with “hear this…..give ear…..my mouth will speak wisdom…..incline my ear to a proverb”.  The psalmist has some very important words for us.  He is going to share truth about an area that none of us like to consider – the reality that we will die.  No one wants to consider that truth.  But whether or not we want to think about it – it will happen – it is a reality – and we will experience it.

There are few certainties we can depend on, but death is certainly one of them.  “Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish”.  We all will die.  Whether rich or poor, whether old or young, it matters not our status or anything else.  We all will face death.  And we don’t know when.  We many have “foolish confidence” that it won’t happen anytime soon.  We may convince ourself that we have plenty of time.  But the reality is that we don’t know when or how it will occur.  But we do know that it will occur.

And when it does – we will have to give account.  We will stand before God at the judgment and have to give account.  The questions will be few and simple.  Do you know Jesus?  What did you do with the things I entrusted?  God will ask those two and we will answer.  The first determines where we spend eternity.  The second determines what that eternal state will be like.  If we have accepted Christ and have a relationship with Him, “God will ransom my soul….he will receive me”.   If we have not, eternity takes on a completely different outcome, but is still eternal.

The truth of death is given here.  “For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him”. We won’t take anything with us when we die.  The stuff we have spent our life accumulating can’t go along with us.  It is left behind.  It is gone for good.  We spend so much of our time on this earth gathering and saving things that will all be gone when we die.  We can’t take it with us.  It is not something that makes the trip.  So we need to think carefully about how we spend time and invest for the future.  Stuff won’t be part of the transition to eternity.  We need to let go and focus on the relationship with God!

Psalm 45

Psalm 45 is written about Jesus.  There are several versions of what this Psalm is addressing, but Spurgeon had this to say: “Some see Solomon and Pharaoh’s daughter here — they are short-sighted; others see both Solomon and Christ here — they are cross-eyed.”  It doesn’t get a lot more direct than that.  Some believe it is written about someone other than Christ the King, but historically for thousands of years, the scholars have agreed it is about Jesus.

The psalmist begins by saying “my heart overflows”.  That describes the way that we should relate to Jesus.  He should cause us to have a heart overflowing with joy.  We should see Him as king, yet someone we can talk with: “I address my verses to the king” and we should be ready to proclaim all the goodness of His life: “my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe”.  Jesus is the one blessed forever.  He is full of “truth….meekness…..righteousness” and deserving of our praise.

We see the truth that Jesus reign is forever.  “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever”.  Forever is a very long time.  And Jesus will be sitting on that throne from now through eternity.  He is the King.  He has the “scepter of righteousness” in His hand.  He has “loved righteousness and hated wickedness”.  If you ever wonder where Jesus comes down on good and evil – there it is.  He loves righteousness and hates wickedness.  He is for good and against all things evil.  And He will rule that way from His eternal throne!

So what will be the outcome of Jesus on the throne?  “I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever”.  Jesus will be remembered in every generation.  He will be lifted up and exalted by all nations.  What scripture says will come true – every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  It will happen.  It will happen in all generations.  Not one will pass that does not see Jesus for who He is.  That doesn’t mean all will believe, but all will know.  And He will be the center of praise and adoration and worship forever and ever!

Psalm 44

Psalm 44 contains a lesson on how we should parent and lead – we need to tell the story of God’s power and work in our lives.  The psalmist tells us “we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed”.  The story and history have been told and passed on.  They knew about God’s actions from the past.  They had heard about God’s power and how He has helped their anscestors not only survive, but thrive.  And the credit still is pointed to God: “not by their own sword….but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them”.

History is really His Story.  It is the story of God’s action in our life and what He has done.  We are allowed to be part of His Story, but it is His, not ours.  We do need to tell His story.  Scripture says we should tell it when we rise up, lay down, walk or sit.  We need to make sure those in our patch know about God’s story and how we fit in.  We need to be sure that our kids, grandkids and great grandkids know of God’s faithfulness in our life.  How can we do that?  Well telling the story is one good way – but we have to be very intentional and create the environment where that can be done.  Writing the story is a very good way to preserve it and pass it forward.  There are lots of ways to even create a book – with pictures and all – that can tell the story of God’s faithfulness in your life.  But the key is we must find a way to tell that story of His story!

The psalmist knows that God is in control.  “You are my King….not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me….you have saved us”.  Let’s face it – when things are going decent we tend to forget God.  We tend to rely on self and push God aside.  That is, until we hit the next rough patch and call out again.  Funny how that works.  But the psalmist knows that God alone is the source of power and strength.  God alone can save.

And then the tone changes as the psalmist calls out in frustration.  They feel abandoned, alone, and broken because it seems like God has left them to fend for themselves and it isn’t going well.  The question comes: “Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression”?  Ever feel like that – that God has left you all alone?  We often put ourselves in that place.  God doesn’t leave.  God has told us He will never leave nor forsake us.  But God may become quiet and wait for us to repent and get right with Him.  He may wait for us to cry out like the psalmist did “Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love”!   The truth of the matter is that God doesn’t go anywhere.  We move.  We lose connection.  We allow stuff to get in the way.  And we need to get rid of that and clean up the hindrances to our walk with God.  He is there.  He always has been and always will be.  Are you walking with Him?

Psalm 43

Psalm 43 has the psalmist pretty low.  He is seeking God to protect and defend him.  He is being chased and challenged and needs God to deliver him.  So what is the relationship – God is protector and where the psalmist runs.  “For you are the God in whom I take refuge”.  Where do you run when you need help?  Where do you find refuge?  Is God your source of refuge and strength?

The psalmist asks God to send out “your light and your truth”.  He wants God to be in his life – to lead and guide.  Here is what he asks:

–       “let them lead me

–       let them bring me to your holy hill

–       to your dwelling

God’s truth and light will lead us.  His direction can bring us to Him.  It is how we find His dwelling place.  God’s truth and light brings us to His holy hill.

What happens when God gives us guidance?  The psalmist shows us how to respond.  “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God”.  When we are walking with God, we want to worship.  We find true joy.  We praise him because the love of God penetrates our heart.  If we want to worship, find joy and praise God – we simply need to approach God’s altar.  We simply need to walk with God.

So how should we look at God?  As a source of hope.  He is the only true hope there is.  “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God”.  Why is God our only hope?  Because He alone is the author of salvation.  He alone can save our soul.  God is the only real deal out there.  He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Master of the Universe, First, Last, Great I AM.  God is our salvation and our hope – our only hope.  We need to run to Him with praise and accept the salvation He offers us!

1 Chronicles 2

1 Chronicles 2 continues the long list of genealogical names beginning with Abraham.  We see some pretty high profile men on this list: Joseph, Boaz, David to name a few.  And we see all sorts of relationships – concubines, daughter in laws, step mothers, multiple wives – but God used them all to fulfill His plan.  No matter what man does and how messed up some things get – God is bigger and more than able to direct the outcome to align with His plan.

There are a couple notable mentions as we go through this list of fathers and sons.  The first is “Er, Judah’s firstborn….evil in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death”.  You may recall in chapter one Nimrod got called out as a mighty man.  Well here Er gets called out for being on the naughty list. But it isn’t just a minor scolding.  He died because of his disobedience and evil actions.  God is sovereign and He won’t tolerate things forever.  My desire is not to be on that list – the men who failed to live God’s way.

The other mention that jumps out is “Achan, the troubler of Israel, who broke faith in the matter of the devoted thing”;  Achan messed up and is called a ‘troubler of Israel’.  He caused people to fall away.  We must be careful who we follow and be sure to stay God’s course.  Leaders must be worthy of our followership.  If they aren’t walking God’s way we need to bail and stop following.  While they have a huge responsibility for how they lead, we still have a responsibility to make sure the things they say are true and in line with God’s truth.

So in chapter one we saw scripture call out a man who was a good example.  In this chapter we see the opposite – a couple examples of guys who did not finish well.  Both had legacies.  One was good – these two not so much.  We need to consider how we live.  We need to realize that our actions and decisions matter.  Life is not a game or an unimportant time.  While it is short when compared to eternity, what we do and how we live during that short time is very important to what our eternity will look like.  It not only determines the legacy we leave here on earth, it determines the future we will have in eternity.  Are you living for Jesus?  Are you walking in obedience to what God requires?

1 Chronicles 1

1 Chronicles 1 contains a long list of names – the genealogy back to the very beginning.  There are some slight differences found here from other lists in scripture, but we shouldn’t get lost in the minutia, but remember that the key is the path from creation to salvation which is clear enough in the recordings in this book.  Chapter one takes us back to the very beginning, where God breathed life into His creation, a man named Adam.  The first 27 verses take the lineage from that day in the Garden of Eden to Abram, whose name became Abraham.

God created our lineage when Adam was given life back in the garden.  He cleaned things up and came through Noah as He began again a second time after the flood.  The second half of the chapter gives us the descendants of Abraham through the kings to a guy named Hadad.  That is where the chiefs of Edom come into play.  There are dozens of names on this list which are difficult to read and even harder to pronounce.  Does it really matter?  It absolutely does.  This book, and many other places in scripture, chronicles (how’s that for using the right word) what God has done.

As you read along in this chapter you come to verse 10 and these words jump out: “Cush fathered Nimrod. He was the first on earth to be a mighty man”.  You are strolling along reading names you can’t even say under your breath and along comes Nimrod.  Not a name many would equate to being mighty, but it is how God describes him here.  He is one of Noah’s descendants – Noah then Ham then Cush then Nimrod – making Noah his great grandpa.  Scripture doesn’t say much about him – in fact he is talked about in only one other place in Gen 10:8-9. But what is says is important in both places – Nimrod was mighty.

It is likely talking about his ability as a hunter.  Commentaries seem to point to his ability to deal with some of the wild animals that came along after the flood.  He was a “mighty hunter” in Genesis, a “mighty man” here in 1 Chronicles.  The key is that God had the writer stop from just making the list of who begat who and make note that Nimrod was different.  Nimrod had a special gift.  God has given each of us special talents and gifts.  And we too are part of a list of names that define our heritage and lineage.  The question is: what will it say behind your name?  How will you be remembered?  What will define you?  David is known as a man after God’s heart.  Nimrod as a mighty man.  What’s in your name?  What will your legacy be?

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