Friday, September 26, 2008

Psalm 26 & 27

from September 17, 2008

Psalm 26 is a bit difficult for me. David is telling God why He should vindicate him... how he (David) is blameless.. has unwavering trust in the Lord.. avoids evil... etc.

Now I'm not doubting David or saying he is a liar, but I cannot claim to be blameless.. to have unwavering trust etc. So for me, this Psalms is a list of things I want to be, but because of my humanness I can't. But I can pray these verses and ask God to strengthen my trust that it might not waver... to help me avoid evil... to praise Him that through the blood of Jesus I am blameless.

The scariest verse to me is verse 2 "Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind." It takes courage and fortitude to pray that and mean it, but WOW the growth that comes from a time of testing is priceless.

Psalm 27 is an old friend. I struggled with a stronghold of fear for a number of years and Psalm 27:1 was one of my "fear" verses. I clung to these verses, praying them over and over.

Ps. 27:1 "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?"

Today as I read, I was struck by 2 verses.. the end of verse 4 "to gave upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple" and verse 8 "My heart says of You, 'seek His face!' Your face, Lord, I will seek."

Jer. 29:13 assures us that when we seek the Lord, he will be found.

These verses contain a great goal...the ultimate goal for a believer... to seek God, to seek that deep personal intimate relationship with Him. What more could we want or need?

Psalm 24 & 25

from September 16, 2008

Psalm 24 is a psalm of praise and a wonderful segueway into Psalm 25. In Psalm 24, David declares that everything belongs to the Lord -- the Lord who is the King of glory, mighty in battle, the Lord Almighty. And then in Psalm 25 verse 1 he states:

"To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in You I trust, O my God."

David trusts the Lord of Psalm 24.

There are a number of verses in these 2 Psalms that are great to pray...

Ps. 24:3-6 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

Father, I want to ascend Your hill... I want to stand in Your holy place. Give me clean hands... give me a pure heart... help me to not lift up my soul to an idol... help me tear down the idols in my life already. I want Your blessing, Lord. May I be one who seeks Your face, O God of Jacob, may all those living on earth seek Your face.

Ps. 25:4-5 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Ps. 25:8-9, 11 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way... For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Lord, You are good - You are upright - Lord, instruct me, a sinner saved by grace, in Your ways. may I be humble and open to Your guidance as You guide me in what is right and teach me Your way. Thank You, Lord, for forgiveness... my sings are great and yet You forgive them.

Based on Ps. 25:12-14, 20, 21:

Lord, May I be one who fears You. Give me a sense of reverent awe at the thought of You ... who You are... what You do... Lord, for then I will move into a closer relationship with you. Instruct me in the way You have chosen for me... confide in me, Lord.. make Your covenant known to me. May my eyes ever be on You Lord. Guard my life... rescue me.. let me not be put to shame, for in You I take my refuge. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in You.

Psalm 23... The Shepherd's Psalm

from Sept. 15, 2008

Psalm 23 is a beautiful Psalm, but as one who grew up in church I find I read it without really taking it in. It is so familiar - I memorized it as a child and still say it in the King James Version no matter what version I am reading.

Oh, Lord, make the familiar fresh and new. You promise that all Scripture is important - useful. Help me to see the familiar with fresh eyes - newness so as not to gloss over it and miss all that is there.

Jesus is often referred to as a shepherd and we are His sheep. We even read how He would leave the 99 to go find the 1 lost lamb. Psalm 23 is a picture of our Shepherd and of us under His care.

A shepherd takes care of His sheep. He sees to ALL their needs - He protects and guides - verse 1 tells us that we have all we need in Jesus, our Shepherd.

Verses 2 & 3 tell us about our journey with Jesus -- green pastures not wilderness - green pastures are the abundant life of John 10:10.. that abundant full life Jesus came to give us... and Quiet Waters instead of a raging storm! Jesus gives us peace!

When I feel as if my life is barren and dry to that things are out of control and chaotic, I only need to turn to Jesus to find peace, rest, renewal -- I need only be still and rest in Him for "He restores my soul."

He will never lead me down the wrong path -- no, He leads me "in paths of righteousness" (v. 3). So if I find myself on the wrong path, then I can know I've strayed and if I just stop running, my shepherd will find me. Remember, He leaves the 99 to find the 1 lost lamb. He doesn't loose His sheep... but they do occasionally wander away.

Verse 4 "Even though" means I will -- this isn't a verse about something that might happen. I will walk through the valley of the shadow of death - there will be dark and difficult times in my life, BUT I have no need to fear - Jesus is with me. For there to be a shadow, there has to be light! And Jesus tells us He is the Light. I only experience a shadow in the valley, not complete darkness.

Jesus never hides out relationship - He makes it known that I am His and that He loves me -- He lavished me with His love, grace, mercy, Spirit (v. 5 & 6).

And I know without a doubt that I will live with Him forever!

Psalm 21 & Psalm 22

from Sept. 12, 2008

Psalms 21 is a Psalm of praise. The first part praises God for what He has done. The second part praises Him for what He is going to do.

Verse 7 popped out at me and I kept being drawn back to it:

"For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken."

Psalm 22:1 is quoted by Jesus on the cross... "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me."

This Psalm and others like it intrigue me. The Psalmist is despairing - he feels God is not there - desperate - being destroyed. Why would God include these in the Bible? Because there will be times in our lives when we feel this way Even though we know that God is ALWAYS there, at times He chooses not to reveal Himself to us. I believe it is a testing of our faith - a time of growth for us.

The Psalmist does seem to have a Hab. 3:19 moment - after listing all his woes (God is big enough to take it), he chooses to praise the Lord - to declare His name and He does. That's the goal. It is totally ok to pour out all our fears, frustration, concerns, etc. to God, but we want to do so in a way that encourages us to look at who He is and not stay focused on our circumstances. It's Matthew 11:28 - Giving Him our burdens and letting Him carry them.

Psalm 20

from Sept. 10, 2008

Psalm 20 starts off like a blessing and could surely be used as one...

"May the Lord answer you when you are in distress... may the Name of the God of Jacob protect You... May He give you the desires of your heart and make all your plans succeed...May the Lord grants all your requests."

And then verse 7- a wonderful proclamation - a choice has been made:

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."

Psalm 19

from Sept. 9, 2008

Psalm 19 is a wonderful song of praise...

v. 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

One need only stop and look at nature to see the truth of this... from amazing, breathtaking sights like the Grand Canyon, Mt. Everest, Red Rocks, the Redwoods in California, the Mississippi River, the Oceans... to small seemingly insignificant daily reminders... a day lily bloom... butterfly... rain shower... leaves on a tree... there is no doubt something greater than man created this world -- this cannot be an accident, happenstance -- especially not with the repeated actions of nature like day and night... seasons... yes, nature screams "Elohim! The Lord our Creator!"

Rom. 1:20 says "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse."

And Romans 1:22 - 23 says "Although they claim to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."

Rom. 1:25 adds. "They exchanges the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised, Amen."

Man may not always praise Him -- glorify Him -- but nature does -- it can do nothing less.

We are give a choice - an obvious one!

Ps. 19:7-11 is a wonderful passage which looks at the value -- the awesomeness of God's Word:

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

And Psalm 19 ends with a verse I pray often and fail at often... "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How could I not give You my life?

from September 9, 2008

I was listening to Phil Wickham this morning and these words reminded me again of what You did Lord...

Because of Your Cross, my debt is paid... Because of Your blood, my sins are washed away... Now all of my life, I freely give... Because of Your love, Because of Your love, I live

It takes an act of conscious... of choice to give You my life and yet You already own it. It's Yours, bought and paid for in full! How then could I not give it to You -- that would be stealing -- and why wouldn't I want to give it. After all You did to save it - there is no doubt You love my life -- me -- more than I love myself.

Psalm 18

from September 3, 2008

Psalm 18 starts off with a wonderful description of who God is...

Verse 1 -2 "I love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

and then WOW! Verse 7-18 describe God and paint a picture of His power... His might,,, His vastness:

"The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils."

I can see how these verses might sound frightening to some, but as a child of God they awe me. Yes, there is a tinge of fear, but it isn't frightened fear, it is that reverent awe we are to have before God.

I love how God goes beyond for us. The Psalmist cried out for deliverance from enemies and he got it, but God didn't just take care of the situation -- v. 19 tells us He brought the Psalmist out of the situation and into a spacious place. We read of God's vastness in the previous verses and then we see that He rescues us from the chaos of life and sets us in a spacious place.

My minds sees this as being in His presence. When life is swirling out of control, I call on Him... I acknowledge who He is and my need for Him... and I am able to leave the chaos behind and sit at His feet.

Verses 20 - 29 can baffled me a bit -- it appears I must be righteous, clean handed, humble, blameless, faithful, pure... but I am none of these and then I remember the key ingredient -- GRACE. Through the blood of Jesus I am made righteous, clean, blameless, pure....

Verse 30 again speaks of who God is... "...His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him."

I confess that the last part of this Psalm is odd to me... or maybe foreign is the better word. All the war descriptions and terms seem to be things which don't apply to me. And then I realize -- David had a real literal battle (many in fact) and I have a real battle (many in fact) too -- just not a flesh and blood one.

Eph. 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

So all I read in Psalm 18 about battle and fighting applies to the Spiritual Warfare in my life.

v. 32 God arms me with strength
v. 33 He sets me up and enables me to stand
v. 34 He trains me for battle
v. 35 He gives me His shield of victory
v. 36 He clears the way for me

and so I am able to overtake my enemies (v. 37)... to crush them (v. 38)... for God armed me with strength (v. 39) and made my enemies turn back (v. 40).

David ends Psalm 18 as he began it - praising the Lord.

Father -- We live in a battle zone - You tell us throughout Your Word that our enemy is real and he is out there prowling the earth ready to attack and devour. In his own way, the enemy tells us that in Job 1 when God asks satan where he has been and he replies "roaming through the Earth going back and forth in it." It can be frightening and daunting to think of this, but not if your focus is on You, Lord. Like David, we must keep our eyes on You -- acknowledging who You are -- seeing Your power -- Your might -- Your vastness -- help us to see You, Lord. And I must remember that I am not in this battle alone and that I don't have to go into it unprepared. You are always there to strengthen, guide, protect, deliver... We need only to keep our eyes on You. Amen!

Worship or Whine?

from Sept. 2, 2008

I took a slight detour from my walk in the Psalms today. I was working on some Bible study homework and as part of it I read Job 1. I am not a big fan of the book of Job... it confuses me at times and so much of it seems depressing to me. Although I do love the later chapters when God answers and tells Job WHO He is.. awesome chapters!

Today though, something clicked for me as I read. Something I had never really thought of even though I have read this passage many times before.

Life is going on as normal and then in verse 14 the Sabeans attacked.. verse 16 says while he (the messenger) was still speaking another came to announce that the Chaldeans had raided... and in verse 19 while the 2nd messenger was speaking another one came to announce the destruction from a mighty wind.

How often in my life does it seem that "bad" stuff comes all at once.. not just 1 thing... usually several. Job has that very thing happen... it would have been so easy for him to just throw up his hands and say "That's it... I've had it... what more can go wrong." But instead, we read that he chose to worship God.

What do I choose to do when things pile up on me? Do I worship or do I whine? Or do I just deal with my stuff in my own strength doing what has to be done but not letting God work through me... not being a willing vessel? Often during these times I find myself "too busy" for God... no time to read my Bible... barely time for quick rushed prayers which are usually offered on the move.

I get through, but at what price? What blessings do I miss when I don't worship in the midst of it all?

Psalm 16 & 17

from August 29, 2008

I love Psalm 16. It is an upbeat Psalm with some wonderful proclamations --

verse 2 I said to the Lord, "You are My Lord; apart from You I have no good thing."

verse 8 I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

verse 11 You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.

Psalm 17 is a prayer - I find it interesting that in verses 1 - 3 David tells God that he is clean .. without sin. I will never be able to say that this side of heaven. No one can or will. So these verses confuse me a bit. Is David truly clean at that time or does he just feel he is because there is no "big" sin in his life? Something to ponder....

I love how he asks "Show the wonder of Your great love" ... "Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings." (v. 7 & 8)... very descriptive, specific wording in those requests.

I also noticed our enemy the Lion shows up in this Psalm - verse 12 "They are like a lion hungry for prey, life a great lion crouching in cover." Isn't satan like that? Crouching... hiding... waiting to pounce.

David ends his prayer with the assurance of the Lord's provisions and presence.... an assurance each of us has.

Psalm 11, 12, 13, 14, & 15

from Aug. 28, 2008

Psalm 11 is another reminder that God is our refuge... that He is a God of Justice (v. 7).

In Psalm 12, David appears to be living among the wicked that were described back in Psalm 10 and he is seeking the Lord's protection from them. In verse 6 he declares, "And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times." I love that verse! It is a wonder reminder that what God says is true and He will do what He promises. We can take Him at His Word.

Psalm 13 is a great Psalm for when you feel God isn't working in your life or your situation. In verses 1 - 4 the Psalmist cries out ... where are You, God, have You forgotten me? You've left me here to deal with this alone. I am being overcome... and then in verse 5 there is that small yet important word... BUT

I feel forsaken - overwhelmed - under attack BUT....
v. 5-6 "I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me."

Choosing to praise God in spite of our circumstances is worship and it is what we need to do. Instead of wallowing in the mire, we choose to rise above it and focus on the most important thing -- God.

This Psalm reminds me of Job 1:21b "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."

A big key for me is to understand that it is a choice we make -- we choose to praise -- we are not force to do it and it isn't a magic spell that makes things all better or forces God to do it our way. It is a choice that affects our heart and attitude and our witness before others. When we choose to praise, we are choosing to TRUST Go - to take Him at His Word, which according to Ps. 12 is flawless!

Psalm 14 seems to be a lament for the wicked. David describes their deeds and attitudes, but there is a tone of sadness there.. I assume because he knows their fate. I've felt that way about someone or ones before -- those who totally blow off God -- it saddens me as much, or maybe more, than it angers me.

Psalm 14 does have a reminder for us in verse 6 that the Lord is our refuge (something we are told over and over in the Psalms).

I have prayed numerous times to be the person described in Psalm 15 -- to be blameless - righteous - speak truth from my heart - no slander - do no wrong to my neighbor - case no slurs on others - honor those who fear the Lord, but despise evil, vile -- keep my promises -- lend money without expecting it back - give to others with no motive - be honest.

I want to dwell in His Sanctuary - to live on His Holy Hill - to never be shaken - the thing is this is not a check list to get to heaven -- IF we are truly saved, we will want to live this way and we will strive to do so.

Jesus said in the New Testaments there were 2 commandments -- to Love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and might and to Love our neighbor as ourselves. If I follow those, I will live up to Psalm 15.