Archive for March, 2016

Psalm 105

Psalm 105 is a clinic in worship.  We are given a great view of what it truly means to honor and glorify God.  The first five verses teach us:

  1. Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
  2. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
  3. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
  4. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
  5. Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered”

Here are some key ways we can truly praise and honor our God, both through our external living and our internal connection.

If we break down the list of actions:

  • Give thanks
  • Call upon
  • Make known
  • Sing
  • Tell
  • Glory
  • Rejoice
  • Seek
  • Remember

These aren’t difficult things to do, but they let the world know of our love for God, and they let God know we love Him too.  There is one very obvious thing all these words tell us.  Worship and relationship is all about action.  These are action words, not things that happen while we sit on our hands in the church pew on Sunday morning.  If we’re going to truly be in relationship with God and make Him known to the world we live in, we have to get out of our chair and do things.  We have to act!

The psalmist gives us good reason to do that very thing.  “He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant forever”.  This is the living God we’re talking about – the Creator of the universe and the One who wants to know you and me personally.  First of all – He is the Lord.  He is worthy of our praise.  Secondly – He is judge and will be the One passing out justice for all time.  And finally – we are in a covenant relationship with Him.  The author reminds us of that covenant first made with Abraham, then restated with Isaac and Jacob.  God is committed to us!

Most of the chapter is a history lesson of God’s faithfulness.  He’s stood the test of time in keeping His covenant with us.  His Word is good.  He does what He says.  “For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant….he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil, that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws”.  God’s been faithful through the generations since the beginning of time.  His desire is for us to live in right relationship with Him and obedience to His will.  It’s not rocket science.  But it takes action.  How we live is a choice.  We must choose to live with and for Him!

Psalm 104

Psalm 104 is another psalm David likely wrote that praises God.  He elaborates on the greatness of creation and all God did during that period.  “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great”!  The psalm begins by calling out the obvious – that God is great and worthy of our praise.  It is our highest calling.  The author walks through the five days of creation, not saying anything about the sixth day when man was created.  But he methodically walks through the first five.

He does it by calling out all that God did:

  • “You are clothed with splendor and majesty
  • covering yourself with light
  • stretching out the heavens like a tent
  • lays the beams of his chambers on the waters
  • makes the clouds his chariot
  • rides on the wings of the wind
  • makes his messengers winds
  • his ministers a flaming fire
  • set the earth on its foundations
  • covered it with the deep
  • At your rebuke they (the waters) fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight
  • The mountains rose, the valleys sank
  • set a boundary that they may not pass
  • make springs gush forth
  • give drink to every beast of the field
  • From your lofty abode….the earth is satisfied
  • cause the grass to grow
  • plants for man to cultivate….bring forth food….and wine….oil to make his face shine….bread to strengthen man’s heart
  • made the moon to mark the seasons
  • the sun knows its time
  • make darkness, and it is night”

Creation was quite a feat, and God was in control of it all.  “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all”.

God created uncounted millions of species as part of His creation.  It is truly an overwhelming thing.  All that He created, both great and small, fit into an ecological system so great and so complicated that no man has ever fully understood all of it.  There is much to praise God for and give Him glory forever.  “May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works”.  The earth itself points to His glory through the power of nature, the beauty of all things as they grow, and the beginning and end of each day with the sunrise and sunset.  God had done amazing things.

David makes it clear how he is going to respond to the reality of the creation.  “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord”.  He’s going to sing and rejoice in all that God has done.  He loves God, and sets the example for how we should respond to the Creator.  God did amazing things through creation.  But it wasn’t just an event that happened at the beginning of time.  His creation happens moment by moment all around us each and every day if we open our eyes and look.  God is still creating through the very nature He set in motion.  God is alive and still doing His thing all around us each day!

Psalm 103

Psalm 103 is a psalm of David that is a mountaintop of praise to God.  David calls out a list of things God does for us, but begins with this reminder.  “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name”!  He begins with praise that comes from the very depths of his soul.  It isn’t just words or song, it is from deep within our soul.  And praise should emanate from all of me, not just some of me.  The praise that David describes here shows enthusiastic devotion to God through our covenant relationship with Him.   It is all of me blessing all of Him.

This chapter is the basis of many praise songs that have been sung over the years.  The verses connect because they are so personal and connect emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually.  David calls out the many ways that God blesses us:

  • forget not all his benefits
  • forgives all your iniquity
  • heals all your diseases
  • redeems your life from the pit
  • crowns you with steadfast love and mercy
  • satisfies you with good
  • works righteousness and justice for all
  • made known his ways….his acts to the people
  • merciful
  • gracious
  • slow to anger
  • abounding in steadfast love
  • will not always chide
  • nor will he keep his anger forever
  • does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities
  • steadfast love toward those who fear him
  • remove our transgressions from us
  • shows compassion to those who fear him
  • knows our frame
  • remembers that we are dust
  • flourishes like a flower of the field
  • steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting

David’s psalm is a clinic on exactly how much God loves us.  It shows us all the ways that He pours His benefits upon us.  We may have a benefit package at work, but it is nothing like what God showers upon us as His children.

One of those amazing benefits is around forgiveness.  “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us”.  Forgiveness happens when we seek to get right with God.  Scripture is clear that all of us are sinners – we fall short and miss the mark – we fail to meet the standards God has set and as a result we are sinners that face a very dark and painful eternity if we don’t address our sin.

But God is willing to set us free from that penalty if we will only get right with Him.  The process is pretty simple:

  1. Acknowledge – we have to realize we chose to sin and need to realize our situation
  2. Confess – be willing to tell God we are a sinner and sorry for our willful disobedience
  3. Repent – turn around and go the other way leaving our sin behind
  4. Receive – God offers us grace and mercy to cover all our sin through the blood of Jesus Christ but we have to receive that free gift
  5. Believe – We must take the salvation offered to us through Christ and make it our own
  6. Live – under the Lordship of Christ who comes in not only as Savior, but also as Lord of our life

He isn’t going anywhere.  His offer stands for eternity.  “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all”.  We merely need to come to Him and take the journey to be set free and truly praise Him for His love!

Psalm 102

Psalm 102 is a lament of tragedy and is a common format of psalms.  A lament is a prayer of the afflicted when he is overhwhelmed and he pours out his complaint before God.  A number of the psalms take that path.  There is often a common structure of those psalms according to Anderson:

  • address to God,
  • complaint,
  • confession of trust,
  • petition,
  • words of assurance,
  • and vow of praise

Certainly this psalm follows this path for the most part.  The psalmist begins with his address to God.  “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you”!  He approaches the throne with humility and respect.

But then the writer makes it clear he is going through some tough times.  Life is not going as expected.  He pleads with God to hear.  “Do not hide your face from me….Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily”.  The writer is in the middle of a crisis and wants God’s help.  He goes through a long list of how life is, and it isn’t pretty.

  • “my days pass away like smoke
  • my bones burn
  • My heart is struck down
  • I forget to eat
  • my loud groaning
  • I am like a desert owl
  • I lie awake
  • I am like a lonely sparrow
  • I eat ashes
  • I wither away like grass

Things are not going well.  There is physical, mental, social and spiritual challenges that are causing much pain.  The cry is deep for God to help.

The author knows that his prayers are not being made to a God that is not able.  “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. You will arise”.  This isn’t a question of whether God is able, but whether God is ready to act.  It’s about timing and asking God to take action now.  The writer is confident that God will answer and take control.  “Nations will fear the name of the Lord”.  The victory is His, and it’s a matter of time before God makes that clear.

For the Lord builds up Zion; he appears in his glory”.  He takes care of His people.  He answers prayer.  And when He does, we need to make sure His faithfulness is recorded and taught.  “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord”. Our job is to make sure we tell the story of God’s faithfulness to the next generation.  God is faithful.  He is always good.  He is in control.  “You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands….your years have no end”.  There is no shortage of stories to tell.  God’s faithfulness extends from creation.  We’re part of His eternal story, and we need to be sure to record our chapters in His story!

Psalm 101

Psalm 101 is one David wrote that is filled with resolutions.  It shows his desire to be a man after God’s own heart.  Look at what he says he is going to do:

  • I will sing of steadfast love and justice
  • I will make music
  • I will ponder the way that is blameless
  • I will walk with integrity of heart within my house
  • I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless
  • I hate the work of those who fall away
  • I will know nothing of evil
  • I will destroy whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
  • I will not endure whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
  • I will look with favor on the faithful in the land
  • I will destroy all the wicked in the land

David makes eleven statements of things that please the Lord that he was commited to doing.  It’s a picture of obedience to God’s desire placed in David’s heart.

David begins with song and music as the first two of his resolutions.  He is going to fill the air with praise and worship to God.  His topic is love and justice – a bit mixed in how they are given – but a great picture of the very character of God.  He is filled with love that includes His grace and mercy, but also must execute His justice because of His holiness and righteousness.  These are somewhat opposites in some ways, but they demonstrate the extremes of God’s love and standards for us.  David knows that even in the presence of judgment, God is worthy to be praised.

He continues with his desire of being blameless and walking with integrity.  David desires to live a life pleasing to God.  He wants to be perfect in obedience, but we know that isn’t possible.  So he wants to ponder how he can live for God.  He wants to set that example as he lives his life in his house and before others.  David wants to start at home.  He knows that if he can’t live in obedience in his own home, he certainly cannot do it in the world at large.  So he is focused on his own household first.

He knows the way to do that is to avoid and destroy whatever is evil.  He commits to not looking upon things that are evil.  What we see in our eyes enters our heart.  He will avoid being around those who do the work of evil, and will stay away from those with a bad heart and make it his strategy not to even know of evil.  He doesn’t want to be in their conversations or hear their discussions.  He wants to avoid it and focus on what is good and be faithful in walking in righteousness with His God.  That is how we have victory too.  We resist the devil, and he’ll flee from us scripture says.  David appears to be living that way!

Psalm 100

Psalm 100 is five short verses about getting into the game.  It isn’t a spectator passage as the writer gives us a set of very direct things to put into action in our life:

  1. Make a joyful noise (worship)
  2. Serve
  3. Come into His presence
  4. Know that He is God
  5. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise
  6. Give thanks
  7. Bless His name

Far too often we view our relationship with God as passive.  We go to church and sit in the pew waiting to be entertained.  A relationship with God is alive and active and requires us to get involved and off the bench.  We have to participate and join Him.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth”!  We may not be able to sing, but we can all make a joyful noise.  It doesn’t say ‘sit on your hands and watch’.  We are to let people know that we serve the God of Creation and the universe.  He goes on to say “Come into his presence with singing”!  The psalms are full of verses that tell us to sing to the Lord.  He is worthy, even if we think we can’t sing.  It is a way of showing our love and enter His presence.  That is really the key – to come near Him and connect.  Music and singing and a joyful noise can help us do that.

The writer is clear that we are to do something.  “Serve the Lord with gladness”!  Being a Christ Follower is not a spectator sport.  We have to get out of the pew and do something.  And that something begins with serving others.  God has a plan for us to do good for others.  He wants us serving people and loving them.  We are also told to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise”!  Being with Him and with others who are following Him is not a suggestion, it’s a directive.  We have to get up and move to where His people are.

But along with doing things, we also have to spend time simply with Him.  “Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture…..Give thanks to him; bless his name”!  We are to know God.  The relationship should not be distant, but very up close and personal.  We are His, and He desires that we know Him as intimately as He knows us.  That means we must spend time with Him and have our focus on Him, not ourselves.  It begins with an attitude of thankfulness and blessing.  God wants us to be His in a deep and intimate way!

Psalm 99

Psalm 99 is another psalm that talks about God as King.  And the reality is that He is still King and on the throne over all.  He is ruling the entire universe, just as He did from Creation.  “The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble”!  God is in control.  He alone reigns.  And we need to not only acknowledge that, but realize that as King He will someday call us to account.  God is not just ruler, He also is Lord to those who believe in Him.  Lord means that He has the seat on the throne of our life as an individual – that we have given Him control of us.  That is the kind of relationship God wants.

Part of His Kingship means we should praise Him.  “Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he”!  He is worthy of our praise.  He is holy.  God’s name means that all of God is worthy of our praise.  His love, His power, His anger, His promises and His judgment.  It is all good and in keeping with His nature and character.  And it remains the same forever.  God never changes.  “The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness”.  Judgment is coming, and it will come from the King.

Until that time, we need to be in a deep relationship with Him.  We are able to bring our praise and requests to His very footstool.  We can have a personal relationship with God Himself.  “Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he”!  That is one of the greatest gifts that God gives us – access to the King.  We need to approach His throne humbly and on our knees.  We need to remember that He is King and worthy of our praise.  But we can come to Him.  We have the opportunity to bring our praise and prayers to His feet.

The psalmist writes about Moses, Aaron and Samuel as examples of men who got this right.  “They kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them”.  Part of coming to the footstool of the King involves our obedience and life.  These three worshipped Him well and called Him Lord.  He was not just a distant King sitting on a throne, but rather a personal relationship that was on the throne of their life.  We need to live that same way, in humble obedience to what God has commanded.  Then we need to worship Him.  “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy”!

Psalm 98

Psalm 98 is another of the psalms that makes clear that God is the King of everything.  He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and worthy of our praise.  “Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things”!  God has done wonderful things, beginning with creation and leading right to today.  He has protected His people and kept them safe.  “His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him”.  He is the ultimate Super Hero and stands against evil each and every day.

He doesn’t fulfill His place in secret.  “The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations”.  There is often a question about God and what will happen to those folks from Africa or other places around the globe who haven’t heard about God.  Scripture is pretty clear that you really can’t live under a rock big enough to keep you from seeing what God has and continues to do.  “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God”.  It isn’t a mystery.  God is alive and at work and is doing it in the wide open spaces so that all can see.

We’re told again to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre”.  We are commanded to make noise to the Lord.  It is how we worship and let the world know that He reigns.  We are the mouthpiece to let the world know that He is Lord.  We are to shout it from the mountaintops and sing it from wherever we are.  It should flow out of us, not be something we are forced to try and manufacture.  Praising God should be the outcome of our living in His very presence.

There is much to celebrate with the God of the universe – starting with His deep and abiding love.  But there is another side of the relationship – the one that is based on his righteousness and holiness that will yield a different kind of interation.  “He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity”.  We like the positive stuff and knowing that God loves us.  But the truth is that love requires Him to also judge us.  It will happen when we stand before Him at death, and we are asked to give an account.  We’ll stand there as sinners that have fallen short and missed the mark and be asked:

  1. What did you do with Jesus whom God sent to this earth to tell His story of salvation but was captured, beaten, crucified and died on a Cross as a common sinner before He arose from the dead on the third day and conquered death?  His blood is our only hope to cover our sin and meet God’s requirements.
  2. What did you do with all the time, talent and treasure God entrusted to us?  We are to be stewards of those gifts and use them to serve God and people well.

It’s that simple.  We have to answer those questions someday.  Are you ready?

Psalm 97

Psalm 97 is written by an unknown author.  The book looks to the future and talks of what God will do.  It tells us about God’s place as King and Lord of all.  That is the tone from the very start.  “The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad”!  There is no contest as to who is reigning over the earth.  God sits on the throne and “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne”.  His reign is based on the righteousness and justice that are His very character.  And they are the basis for the judgment that He will pass on each of us when we stand before Him someday.

He is all powerful – fire, lightning, earthquakes and mountains melting like wax.  Nothing is outside His control.  Nothing and no one can ignore His greatness.  “The heavens proclaim His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory”. Even heaven itself proclaims His glory.  God’s glory shines like the sun – every person is covered by it whether they believe or not.  You can’t miss God’s glory.  His righteousness defines who God is.  In the basic sense it means He has never done anything wrong.  He is perfect and complete.  It is His standard for us.

The psalmist reminds us that those who worship other gods are missing the mark.  “All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols” need to stop their idolatry and worship the one true God.  There are lots of things that creep into our lives as idols.  Some of those things are made of wood or stone, but others are activities or actions that interfere with keeping God where He belongs – on the throne of the universe.  Anything that gets in the way of that is an idol and must be put aside.  “For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods”.

We’re given our marching orders here by the writer.  “O you who love the Lord, hate evil”!  That’s pretty up front and clear.  As someone who loves God we are to hate evil.  They are exact opposites – God and evil – and our response needs to be exactly the opposite as well.  We love God.  We hate evil.  We’re told the benefit of making those choice.  “He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart”.  What a blessed outcome.  Preservation, delivery, light and joy come to those who walk uprightly with our God!

Psalm 96

Psalm 96 was written by King David when he brought the ark into Jerusalem. The ark helped God’s people remember their past.  After David was dead, Solomon built a temple which was the house of God in Jerusalem. Four hundred years later enemies destroyed the temple but after 70 years, God’s people built it again. They changed the psalm a bit from David’s original in Chronicles to the psalm as we have it today.  It begins with an admonition to sing and praise the Lord.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day”.  Everyone is to recognize the blessings of the Lord and sing His praises everyday.  This isn’t just for God’s people.  God touches all people in all nations.  We’re to let the entire world know that He is God.  “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples”!  Some of this time God’s people are even in captivity, but we’re to sing of His goodness no matter what our circumstances.

Why should we sing?  “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods”.  There are several reasons given in this chapter as to why we should praise God:

  1. He is great
  2. He is to be feared
  3. Other gods are worthless idols
  4. He is Lord
  5. He created all things
  6. He is strong and beautiful

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary”.

The call to sing and praise God is not a mere suggestion.  We’re to worship and praise the Lord, who is ruler and king over all.  This psalm makes it clear that all mankind is to worship Him.  All people, families, and even those who do not know Him are to sing His praise.  “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity”.  He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  Our God reigns and is worthy of our praise.  He sits on the throne and is in control of all things today, yesterday since creation, and tomorrow through eternity.  “He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness”.  He will judge us all!

%d bloggers like this: