Psalm 44-When God’s Power Is Only in Stories

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One of the signs that it is time to renew our commitment to the Lord, is when our only recollection of His goodness and grace are the stories from our ancestors.  As the people of Israel walked with God, they saw Him literally clear the nation of so many different tribes and peoples that listing them grew outrageous. Still, as they grew comfortable in their new home; they lost sight of the personal relationship God had with his people.  

The result was devastating, and the Israelite people lost everything they had gained. They were scattered and exiled away.  Soon, the only memories of his power, were the traditions and stories passed down generation after generation.  There were no personal victories; no stories of real power in their lives…

God wants to keep it real and keep it fresh. He reminds us that if we will seek him and trust him he will direct our paths, give us our heart’s desire, and lead us through the world’s mess and into an eternal life with him. It is not an easy journey; it is not without trial and temptation. If we will trust him, however, he will make our lives amazing and our walks with him–personal and full of love and his glory.  Jesus said it best, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you!” Matthew 6:33

God Bless You

We have heard it with our ears, O God;
    our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
    in days long ago.
With your hand you drove out the nations
    and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
    and made our ancestors flourish.
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
    nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
    and the light of your face, for you loved them.

You are my King and my God,
    who decrees[c] victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
    through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow,
    my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
    you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
    and we will praise your name forever.[d]

Psalm 42 & 43–The Unquenchable Desire for God

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In our relationship with God, there comes a point that we see our desire for God–become a need.  We obviously need God. Without God, we are separated from eternal life, and, we are entrapped in a culture of selfish destruction–where no one seeks anything, but personal desire and agenda.

When one is in tune with God; when your heart beats as one with him, then, when you face a day or a situation where God becomes distant, it is physically difficult to go on.  It is a thirst for life that only God can fill.  Many try to become independent from God.  They seek all types of alternatives other than seeking him–tragically, it does not quench the ravenous thirst that is left by the distance from God.

We are formed in his image, and he wants nothing more than to fill any gaps and meet the desires of our heart.  He, literally, is only one prayer away.  If we will seek Him; then He will meet us and meet our needs.  As we commune with Him; we experience a deep satisfaction. It is the same satisfaction one receives after drinking a cool glass of water on a scorching hot day.  God wants to fill us–he wants to give us the desires of our heart.  We have to seek him and allow him to lead–then, we will experience His amazing power and love.

God Bless You

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

Psalm 41–Be the Minister, Not the Judge

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One of the great mistakes we make, as people of faith, is–not treating others with the same regard, that God has treated us.  Before God, we are completely transparent and vulnerable.  He has seen our deepest thoughts and our vilest acts; and still he loves us. Romans 5:8 says it best, “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!”  

Still, when we experience so great a salvation; often, we allow his grace to somehow change the perception that we are now better, privileged and even somewhat superior to those sinners! Jesus told several parables illustrating the futility of that line of misconception.  The tax collector and pharisee in the temple,(Luke 18:9-14) the wicked servant (Matthew 18:21-35) that harassed his colleague over $20.00; are just two profiles of how we get proud of his grace in our lives.

David says it best! We are most blessed when we take the energy used to judge and marginalize others; and, simply use it to serve and encourage them. The great God of our universe; who created, planned and leads us–has the role of ultimate judge.  He will choose whom he wants to assist him in that role. Unless given said assignment, he tells us to be the ones to show the grace, mercy and love that he demonstrates for us. Each one of us, like David, may find ourselves on a given day; as loathed and ridiculed by the very folks we looked to for support. Be kind, merciful and Godly–like the King after God’s own heart!

God Bless You

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
    the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
    they are counted among the blessed in the land—
    he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
    and restores them from their bed of illness.

I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord;
    heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
My enemies say of me in malice,
    “When will he die and his name perish?”
When one of them comes to see me,
    he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
    then he goes out and spreads it around…

10 But may you have mercy on me, Lord;
    raise me up, that I may repay them.
11 I know that you are pleased with me,
    for my enemy does not triumph over me.
12 Because of my integrity you uphold me
    and set me in your presence forever.

13 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

Psalms 40–He is Worth the Wait

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Through the years, God has shown himself to be faithful. While circumstances change, God always remains true, and he listens to the cry of his own. There are times when we feel that we are alone and not going to make it, but, then God reaches in and fishes us out of the depths and replants us on solid ground.

David faced several periods of his life that seemed as though he was abandoned and alone.  Yet, in the midst of his darkest points, God appeared and restored him. He knew that God was faithful; even when David had not been.  David held on to the truth that we simply have to trust God and allow him to do things in his way and in his time.  That is a difficult truth and a worthy discipline.  If we will trust God wholeheartedly–as David did, then we will see God do amazing things. 

We only have to trust him, follow him and, like David, allow God to place us back on the solid ground.  Then we too can sing our praise to the mighty God we serve.

God Bless You

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods.[b]
Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare

Psalm 38 & 39–A God for the Tough Times

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We all love to read the happy Psalms; but, David wrote several of his songs about the tough times.  Psalm 38 and 39 are tributes to trying to hold on when times are difficult.  David was dealing with sin, He had allowed his life to become unruly–and for that he was paying a huge price.  In the midst of that, he felt regret and hopelessness.  There were no easy fixes. There were no comforting phrases or quips.

Still, in David’s pain, he went to the one place where hope was to be found–Father God.  He did not make excuse, he did not blame God for his trouble; no, instead, he simply sought God and God’s restoration.  David knew there was nothing the world could do.  The world destroys folks when they are in pain.  The only source of healing, forgiveness and restoration is God. 

In our lives, we need to accept responsibility for the choices we make.  We do not need to forward blame. We do, however, have the option of seeking God, His forgiveness and restoration when we choose to walk away. God forgives and restores–He is great at that! He sent his Son for that reason.  So, like David, we can always seek him–in good times and bad. We can also know He hears us–and in His time He will restore us.  

God Bless You

 

I said, “I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.

Psalm 37 Part 2–Be Still before the Lord

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The hardest part of living with an eternal perspective is having the patience to wait upon God’s timing. As one looks around this world–almost everything seems to be instant, real time or get it today! In the midst of that world view, the Lord calls his people to be patient and wait upon his plan and timing. For us, as Christians, that seems almost impossible.  

We try to be patient, but then we see the rest of the folks living it up and not honoring God or waiting for him. That triggers doubt and jealousy.  That coupled with the ridicule of the folks in the world–ridiculing God and anyone that would worship him…leaves us confused and distraught.  It is in those moments, that we have to rest on our faith; and, cling to the truth that God delivered on every promise that he has made–including our redemption by the sacrifice of his only son–Jesus.

It seems hopeless, but, we know it is not. It seems like the bad guys win, but they do not.  We must continue to cling to him, trust and follow him; and, allow him to complete his plan and work in our lives.  If we will, he will give us a full, purposeful life on this earth; and a glorious eternal life–with him, in Heaven.

God Bless You

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous
    and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    for he knows their day is coming.

 

Psalm 37–Delight Yourself in the Lord

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It is so easy to lose perspective.  When everything around us leads us to believe that only the godless and the selfish prosper; one can become discouraged quickly.  David struggled with that.  He was anointed by Samuel to be king.  He had defeated Goliath, he and his men had changed the world’s perspective about Israel from being a joke, to being a warrior nation. He sought God and trusted God–yet, there he sat, hiding out and on the run from Saul and his army.  In the midst of that angst, David pinned one of the great songs of promise in the Bible.

In short, David says don’t fret over the appearance of the bad guys winning–trust God, delight in him and watch him go to work.  He will keep you safe, he will give you the desires of your heart, he will show the world you have done well, and make sure they know what you said about God was absolutely true!

We will never be able to explain God’s plan–in human terms; for the godless to understand. He will have to simply do what he does, and at the right time; it will be obvious that God is the one that makes all things amazing.  In the interim, we have to focus upon him, delight in him, and mostly–simply trust him.  Then, he will execute his plan and blow our minds.  God is amazing! We simply need to trust him and delight ourselves in him.

God Bless You

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

 

Psalm 36–Living in a God Shaped World

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When we stop to imagine the vastness of God’s love for us, the depth of his care for the world, and the detail by which he keeps track of us–it is hard to fathom a life without him.  Still, there are many that spend their lives plotting to overthrow him, to undermine him, and to abandon completely the principles and model for which we were created.  For them the days are filled with emptiness and their thoughts are always pointed inward.  

There is never enough to do, never enough to possess and never enough attention to meet their endless needs.  It does not matter whom they hurt–the 1st and only item upon their agenda is themselves. Conversely, when we begin to focus on God, we become others focused and still God remains faithful to meet our needs abundantly.  He brings peace, sufficiency and hope beyond our wildest expectations.

When we see him in the lives of our young ones, we become elated to see the completion of his word in our lives.  He is all powerful, all knowing and in all places and times simultaneously–nothing escapes him nor does anything surprise or elude his sight. Still he loves us as we are, where we are and specifically because of who and whose we are. His salvation is a gift–given with the purest of motives at just the right time.  We are blessed beyond measure to be in relationship with this, the Almighty God!!!

Go Bless You

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
    How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
    in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
    letting them drink from your river of delights.
For you are the fountain of life,
    the light by which we see.

Psalm 35–God as Our Warrior

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It would be a hopeless feeling to face the world, its attitudes and its hatred for those that seek God–alone.  But the great news is that we do not have to.  David, while being chased by King Saul sought God for relief and protection.  He was not afraid to ask God to fight for him.

A warrior in his own right, David was not afraid to battle.  He killed Goliath, as a dowry for his first wife, he killed 200 Philistine soldiers in battle. He led a troop of men that literally put Israel on the map.  He knew strategy, he knew leadership and he had no fear–God was with him.

Still, he also knew to enlist God’s power and might to win the battle he faced.  God anointed him, God came between him and King Saul. So, David did the wise thing–he asked God to make the difference.  He asked God to lay the traps, fight the fight and win the day.

We need to trust God as fully as David did. We need to seek him for direction, hope, protection and victory.  He has placed us on this path, so we must now trust him to bring us to victory.  He will do it.  If we will allow him to be God, walk in the path he sets before us; then he will gladly take up the charge and deliver us the victory!!

Merry Christmas and God Bless You

Lord, oppose those who oppose me.
    Fight those who fight against me.
Put on your armor, and take up your shield.
    Prepare for battle, and come to my aid.
Lift up your spear and javelin
    against those who pursue me.
Let me hear you say,
    “I will give you victory!”
Bring shame and disgrace on those trying to kill me;
    turn them back and humiliate those who want to harm me.
Blow them away like chaff in the wind—
    a wind sent by the angel of the Lord.
Make their path dark and slippery,
    with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
    I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.
So let sudden ruin come upon them!
    Let them be caught in the trap they set for me!
    Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me.

Then I will rejoice in the Lord.
    I will be glad because he rescues me.
10 With every bone in my body I will praise him:
    Lord, who can compare with you?
Who else rescues the helpless from the strong?
    Who else protects the helpless and poor from those who rob them?”

Psalm 34 Part 2–Reverence for God is the Spirit of Christmas

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In the “seeker” friendly church environment, we often hold back the hard messages–for fear we may offend a potential seeker and drive them from the Lord. Paul said, “I have become all things to all people that I may win some to Christ.” I Corinthians 9:22.  The truth is, God is God and we are not.  If, in our passion to gain seekers, we lose the reverence for God and what he has done, then we truly lose the essence of why we need him at all.  

David says–Listen and I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What better man to teach that principle. While David was a man after God’s own heart, he made some huge errors that devastated his family and for a time his kingdom. Still, he was a warrior king–respected by his men and his people.  He lived and died knowing God intimately and loving him completely.  In that, he also knew the value of showing God the reverence he deserves. 

As David so kindly stated, God seeks to be there for those that follow and honor him. Conversely, he will turn away from those that turn away from him. They will fade into time without leaving a noticeable legacy. It is our choice to decide to follow or to rebel.  He longs for the opportunity to make a life for those that trust him; but, he is equally adamant that he will not bless those that turn away.  We, as his own, must live a life of trust and reverence–allowing God to be God of our lives.  As we do, we will build a legacy, we will live a purposeful and abundant life; and, we will make a difference in the lives of those we meet.  

Learn the fear of the Lord…then you won’t have to be afraid of anything life throws at you.  

God Bless You!

 

Come, my children, and listen to me,
    and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
12 Does anyone want to live a life
    that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
    and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
    his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
    he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
    He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
    but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.