Psalm 130–Amazing Grace

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We all understand the amazing power it takes to create and manage a universe…God said let there be light, and there was light. He formed stars and planets. He filled the earth with life and created people to care for it. He has built and destroyed empires–He is  a mighty God! Still, it is his grace and mercy that sets him apart and allows us to know and follow him.  

The psalmist knew that–He did not cry out from the depths for God’s power–he cried out for God’s mercy.  The psalmist knew that only God’s grace and mercy could restore the broken relationship between men and God.  We have all sinned. We have all tried countless times to run our own lives and be our own boss–all with less than stellar result.  

Still, even before Christ’s sacrifice, men of God knew that the relationship could be restored by God’s mercy.  That mercy has transcended time, space and culture and has allowed us–black-hearted and flawed, to be restored into relationship with God.  The fact that a holy God can fellowship with a “wretch” like me, is truly amazing, amazing grace.  So as his chosen, we need to not only respect God’s almighty power; but, like the psalmist, we need to accept and be grateful for God’s amazing grace and mercy.

God Bless You

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love
    and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from all their sins.

Psalm 129–Press On

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The psalmist was probably writing this Psalm during the reign of the Medes & Persians. The Children of Israel (Judah) were in captivity in Babylon and Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls. It was in this time of immanent release–that the psalmist could see God’s plan unfolding.

The point of  the psalm is to remind the reader–that, while God allowed trials in their lives, the enemies will ultimately be defeated, and God’s people will be victorious.  The time frames for that victory could be slower most would like, but, training takes time and perfecting his saints–not comfort, is God’s top priority.  It is similar to a heavy weight prizefighter–while training; the fighter is pushed to the limit…day-in and day-out. He may face dozens of sparing partners each day; all with the goal of exposing weakness and correcting mistakes.  Still, all the training has a purpose–which is simply victory in the scheduled fight.

Israel and christian alike, face battle after battle each day. The endless number of trials and temptations are like sparing partners for the prize fighter. Each has a unique quality, that tests a different component of our faith and daily walk.  We see our greatest foes in the areas of our greatest weakness. Still, at the end of the day, we will be victorious. We will stand as champions in the shadow of Christ. But, as Paul promised in Philippians 1:6–“He who has begun a good work in you will carry to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” My friend Jeff Cathey closes each conversation with the same phrase–Press On, and that is not only a great encouragement; it is God’s urging for us–His Chosen!

God Bless You

They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”

    let Israel say;
“they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
    but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back
    and made their furrows long.
But the Lord is righteous;
    he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”

May all who hate Zion
    be turned back in shame.
May they be like grass on the roof,
    which withers before it can grow;
a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,
    nor one who gathers fill his arms.
May those who pass by not say to them,
    “The blessing of the Lord be on you;
    we bless you in the name of the Lord.”

Psalm 128–Reverence Leads to Legacy

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Psalm 128 is a lovely blessing given to those that fear the Lord.  Having a great and healthy reverence for who God is– brings peace  to our lives.  We are happy to seek him; but, there is little in the culture that would encourage a right reverence for Him. The Psalmist, also dealt with that issue.  Israel was reputed, by God, to be a stiff-necked people.  They were stubborn, they were disgruntled, and they were not always reverent to the Lord.  

As a nation, they saw God clear the land and hand it over to them. He led, fed and protected them for over 40 years. Once he handed them the gift, they started to pull away. As they were less dependent upon him for the basic elements of life–food, water, protection, health and guidance; the people became less reverent, more independent and more stiff-necked. 

The result was never good and often found the people back in bondage and slavery.  But, if a person would continue to trust and follow God–that reverence often freed them from the silly things that would entrap them. Things like a need for stuff, power or notoriety. One would realize they were accepted and a  part of a plan that would bring them hope and a legacy.

In our world, the struggle remains real.  Everything pulls at us to chase the fleeting rewards offered by the world. Only those that seek God realize that he gives us the peace, confidence and the purposeful life we long for. If we will trust Him–He will give us what we need and leave for us a legacy, through those we touch and those we raise, that will point back to His leadership and to our love and focus upon Him.

God Bless You

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
    who walk in obedience to him.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
    blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.
Yes, this will be the blessing
    for the man who fears the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion;
    may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life.
May you live to see your children’s children—
    peace be on Israel.

Psalm 127–Of Buildings and Children

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Solomon, the wisest man in the world and the greatest builder, penned this psalm. Appropriately, the psalm speaks directly to building and to children.  Solomon built temples, castles, monuments, parks and numerous edifices to Israel’s golden years. Still, at the end, he recounted in Ecclesiastes–that all that building and achieving was worthless.

So, it is appropriate, for him to remind us that those who build without God’s leadership and blessing–are simply wasting their time.  We need to spend our time seeking Him, going where He is and joining Him in His work. There, we will accomplish lasting change and leave a monument to His eternal glory. Remember also, that He never allows tribute paid to Him to go unrewarded.

Our greatest legacy, however, is the legacy of our children–Solomon tells us–that a group of Godly, caring children are anyone’s greatest legacy and monument to a life well spent.  Our kids reflect us; and our faith, better than any writing, honor or achievement. 

They are more than a tribute to us; Solomon reminds us that great kids are a weapon for us, and advocates that stand on our behalf. They will be at our side long after the parade has passed us, and life has taken its toll.  Whatever the investment–our kids are more than worth it. They are never a labor in vain! 

God Bless You

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves.

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

Psalm 126–Living the Dream

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There is something about God overseeing our lives that changes our perspective on everything. Solomon said it best–“Be grateful for what you have, not ungrateful for what you do not have.” Ecclesiastes 6:9 NLT.  When we allow God to be in charge, He restores us with His infinite power and wealth. The psalmist recognized that and said it was the things that dreams were made of…Peace, joy and laughter. The world that was looking on even had to admit–God did some nice stuff for those folks.

In this life, it will never be easy, training rarely is! When we allow God to steer the ship, we see Him provide in the most impossible times, we see Him protect from the most disastrous situations; and, we are always being prepared and transformed into His image and at His side.  It IS truly the stuff that dreams are made of! If we look close each day–we will see God’s hand in our lives; a kind word, a helpful gesture or simply a reminder of His amazing creation–each point out that God is amazing and He personally cares for us!  That the God of the universe loves us unconditionally and cares for us personally, that shows we are truly “Living the Dream.”

God Bless You

When the Lord restored the fortunes of[a] Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.[b]
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes,[c] Lord,
    like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.

Psalm 125–God’s People Will Endure

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Things are not always as they first appear.  We live in a world where the church remains under fire and the people that are doing all manner of evil seem to hold all the cards and carry the day. The Psalmist faced the same frustration. David followed God closely and for years lived in a cave hiding from a King that God took his hand from. The other kingdoms that surrounded and attacked Israel worshiped all manner of god’s and idols. Still, they were forever capturing and enslaving God’s people.

The psalmist kindly reminds us that God’s people, no matter the appearance, will last as others fade away. Our lives are eternal, his kingdom is eternal and his provision, protection and preparation is eternal. There are surely trials, temptations and detours along the path in this journey–but, we cling to the same hope as the psalmist–we are unshakable, unbreakable and unstoppable as God’s kids. Like the psalmist, we must cling to the hope of glory and the truth of God’s promise–it is there where we can find the peace and direction to withstand any storm.

God Bless You

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,

which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain
over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
their hands to do evil.

4 Lord, do good to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.
5 But those who turn to crooked ways
the Lord will banish with the evildoers.

Peace be on Israel.

Psalm 124–But For God, a Reflection

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The psalm, this particular time, is attributed to David. It is a song reflecting on just how much the Lord has done for his people. The verses cry out–“But For God…” But for God, Israel would have been defeated, destroyed and swallowed up into obscurity. There would have been no legacy, no Savior and no redemption.  But for God, there would have been no hope, no guidance, no nation. It was as if David was looking out of his palace and watching a sunset. There, in the peace of the twilight, he realized the heights, the depths the miracles and the focused attention of almighty God to bring Israel to its place of prominence.

As we look at our lives, we too could sing–But for God. We would be lost, without hope, without purpose and without eternal life. We would literally have nothing.  Like King David, we can see–that it is God that has made our existence a life of meaning and purpose. He has shown us the power of prayer, the joy of worship and the legacy of love that only a father, Abba father, could share with his children.  There are no valley’s so deep, that God cannot walk through them with us. There are no heights so high that God cannot bring us to them.

We are blessed beyond measure, and like King David, we know that–but for God, we would not have a chance or a legacy!

God Bless You

If the Lord had not been on our side—
    let Israel say—
if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
    when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
    the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
    would have swept us away.

Praise be to the Lord,
    who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
    from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
    and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 123–Keeping Focused

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The Psalm today is short, sweet and to the point–in the midst of the world’s contempt and ridicule, we must keep our eyes focused on the Lord. We must focus on God with the intensity of a bond servant. He alone provides, He alone protects and He alone cares more for his own than anything else created in the universe.

In the midst of the chaos, in the midst of the war we face each day; we alone are tasked with the duty not to focus on the circumstances–but, to stay focused on the one who knows his plan for us and trust him to execute it in our lives. If we will focus on Him with that level of intensity, He will provide direction, provision and peace!

God Bless You

I lift up my eyes to you,
    to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
    as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    till he shows us his mercy.

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us,
    for we have endured no end of contempt.
We have endured no end
    of ridicule from the arrogant,
    of contempt from the proud.

 

Psalm 122–Of God and Country

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Today, the psalmist rightfully remembered the wonderful gift of  worship in a land that was safe for God’s chosen people. The psalmist actually rejoiced at the thought of going to the place of worship.  Then and now, It is a highlight to go to God’s house, get in His presence and join others in praising and worshiping the One that gives life, hope and purpose. Israel was God’s nation, he led them, established them and protected them–as they cleared the promised land. He helped them to rise as a prominent nation and established Jerusalem as their capital. 

We live in a nation that, like Israel, was founded on the ability to worship God freely. Millions of people gather each weekend, in various houses of worship, and remember that all that they have, and all that they are–came as a result of the freedom to worship God.  When we realize how much a privilege it is to worship; in this nation under God–we, like the psalmist, can rejoice and be thankful that we live in a land where worship is not only allowed but looked forward to from sea to shining sea!

God Bless You

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
    in your gates, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built like a city
    that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up—
    the tribes of the Lord
to praise the name of the Lord
    according to the statute given to Israel.
There stand the thrones for judgment,
    the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity.

Psalm 121-God our Protector and Advocate

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The Lord remains our protector–anytime, any condition and under any circumstance. The Psalmist is careful to explain the care God takes to make sure his children are protected.  From the rising of the sun to the setting of the same, God is watching and caring for us. We need not place all our confidence in any human source–God is still large and in charge!

So, in our lives, prayer is the greater work.  We need to seek him in all aspects of our lives.  We need him to guide us in our work, relationships, families and worship. He needs to be “the source and guide” to our daily walks.  Jesus said it best in John 14:24-27, “These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

God is with us, watches out for us and is our advocate–a true protector indeed!

God Bless You

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.