October 31 - Psalm 147

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 31 - Psalm 147:1-20

Do you ever get over the wonder of a God who cares for one single broken hearted person and knows the number and the names of the stars in heaven?

How good it is to sing praises to our God!!

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving!

This is the God who puts the clouds in the sky, brings rain to the earth and makes the grass grow. This is the God who provides food for not only the cattle, but the ravens.

The Lord is not impressed with strength or with speed, but He waits for those who fear Him, who put their hope in Him. (Psalm 147:10-11) We are cared for by a Lord who has defined love and who exhibits the love we should emulate moment by moment.

Extol the Lord, O Jerusalem, praise your God, O Zion!

This Psalm is written after the exile, when the Jews had returned to Jerusalem and were rebuilding their city and the Temple.

The Lord is the one who has strengthened the city gates, and blessed the people that returned. He brought peace to them for many years under the reign of the Greeks, He provided enough for them to eat. (Psalm 145:12-14)

And then we meet God's Word ... whom we know as Jesus Christ. Nature responds to God's Word. Snow and frost come when He calls, hail rains down. When the time is right, His Word melts the ice and releases summer breezes so the waters flow again. (Psalm 145:15-18)

This same Word revealed the Law to Israel (Jacob) and in doing so, called this nation to be different, to be separate, to be Children of God.

Praise the Lord!

November Blog Posts

Friday, October 30, 2009

It took me a little bit of time to discover what would be perfect for November. I'm not sure if it's perfect, but it will certainly be fun for me!

I'm going to spend the month of November looking at Mysteries & Revelations in the Bible. There is plenty to learn and God never seems to reveal His entire plan at once. In fact, unless you have read the Revelation, you might miss the answers to a lot of question found throughout the Bible. Final Answer: God wins.

We'll start off on All Saints Day - November 1 with some of the Great Mysteries that test the faith of men.

I'm thankful for all of you that read while I write. If you know someone that would enjoy this, please let them know about the website, or they can always get a daily email from me by sending a quick note to nammynools (@) cox (.) net.

October 30 - Psalm 145

October 30 - Psalm 145:1-21

This is the only Psalm that begins with "A Psalm of Praise" in its title. It is also an acrostic Psalm, each verse beginning (in Hebrew) with a successive letter of the alphabet. Now, our version is actually missing a verse - one of the letters. But, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, the missing letter and its verse were there. The Scrolls also incorporated the phrase ""Blessed be the Lord and blessed be his holy name" after each verse. This means that this Psalm was used as a hymn of praise with a call and response to the congregation.

Psalm 145:3-9 tell of the greatness of the Lord: his works, his mighty acts, his majesty, his great deeds, his abundant goodness, his righteousness, his grace and compassion. For all these things ,"All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you." (Psalm 145:10)

We see the Psalmist cry out with praise to God's everlasting kingdom. He is faithful to all his promises and cares for his entire creation. In Psalm 145:17-20, we read about the Lord who is righteous and loving, near to all. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him, saves those who cry out to them. He watches over all who love him.

The final verse of this Psalm closes with the words from the first verse.

Psalm 145:1 - I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.

Psalm 145:21 - My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

October 29 - Psalm 116

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29 - Psalm 116:1-19

Do you love the Lord? Do you say it often to Him? One of the things I could always count on with my Dad was that he told me he loved me. At the end of a phone call, before we parted, sometimes for no reason at all, when he was thinking about me. He said the words. We know how important it is to say those words to our family and friends, but do we know how important it is to the Lord! When we praise the Lord, we talk about worshipping Him and how He is worthy. But, do we every just say, "I love you, Lord" because we are thinking about Him?

He does do all these things that the Psalmist speaks of in the first couple of verses. He hears our voice and our cry for mercy. He turns his ear to us.

In Psalm 116:3, the Psalmist tells us that he was near death and this brought him to the point of calling on the Lord to be rescued. The Lord responded and the Psalmist says, "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you." (Psalm 116:7)

We are so fortunate to be called children of God. Anxiety and worry tend to overwhelm us and we forget who - we forget whose we are. Be at rest, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

In Psalm 116:12, he asks "How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?" Now, that's a great question. There is no possible way to repay the Lord for the blessings He has given us, is there?

Obedience, a continued relationship with the Lord, a thank offering, praise in the presence of others. The Lord wants nothing more than for the whole earth to know Him and to be in relationship with Him. Our public praise of His glorious work in our lives - lives lived out in full obedience to Him will draw people into His presence more than any preaching ever will.

He wants us to love Him. Praise the Lord!

October 28 - Psalm 113

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28 - Psalm 113:1-9

Sometimes I get to a Psalm where there is nothing to say other than ... spend time with this Psalm. Pray it, speak it, sing it ... Live it.

Praise the Lord.

Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.

Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore.

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets the name of the Lord is to be praised.

The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.

Who is like the Lord our God, the one who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.

Praise the Lord.

October 27 - Psalm 108

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 27 - Psalm 108:1-13

Huh! That's interesting! This Psalm is made up from portions of two other Psalms. Psalm 57:7-11 and Psalm 60:5-12.

Why do we praise the Lord? Is it because things are going well or that we are happy? Is it because of our circumstances? Do we praise the Lord because things aren't going well and we know that we need to raise ourselves up? Is our praise of God because we recognize the beauty of His creation?

In this Psalm David praises the Lord for no other reason than that the Lord's faithfulness is everlasting. No matter what our circumstances are or whether things are going well or we are happy or not, the Lord remains faithful.

For this reason alone, we exalt the Lord. (Psalm 108:1-5)

David had to face the Edomites over and over, and after he had been reminded of how God was faithful through all things, he hears God's voice of triumph before he enters battle.

"With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies." (Psalm 108:13)

October 26 - Psalm 104

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26 - Psalm 104:1-35

How great is our God!

One of the easiest things to do is to praise the Lord. The Psalms give us glorious hymns of praise that are ours to recite and ours to take into our souls.

One of the most difficult things to do is to praise the Lord. We forget that He is the author of all that exists and is worthy of all our praise. When we forget or refuse to praise Him, we deny our Lord that which we can offer without reservation.

In this Psalm we see the Creator, clothed in majesty. Psalm 104:2, "He clothes himself in light." I actually see that image in my mind. Can you?

Psalm 104:2b-9 is a recitation of creation as only a poet can pen.

By the time we get to Psalm 104:10-18, we experience the glory of God's continuing creative power. He didn't stop with creation, He continues to bring water forth to quench the thirst of the animals and the birds. His creation feeds the cattle and mankind, gives man vineyards, oil and bread, provides trees for birds to nest in and refuge for animals.

Psalm 104:19-23 perfectly describe the movement of the moon and the sun and then assure man that he is safe during the day and that the animals roam the night. There is a purpose for everything that God has created! His creation is perfect.

We see the culmination of that in Psalm 104:27-28. The sea creatures look to the Lord to give them their food at the proper time. He does so and they are satisfied.

I love Psalm 104:29-30. I feel like this sometimes. "When you hide your face, they are terrified, when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth."

"I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord." (Psalm 104:33-34, 35b)

October 25 - Psalm 103

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 25 - Psalm 103:1-22

Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Let everything within me praise the Lord!

David knew that he had many things for which to praise God
Love and compassion
Satisfaction of desire
Renewal of life
Righteousness and justice for the oppressed
Slow to anger - abounding in love
He will not always accuse, nor harbor anger forever
He treats us better than we deserve
His love is great
He has removed our sins from us

As I read through those things and through that portion of the Psalm (Psalm 103:3-12), I am reminded of the Love Chapter in I Corinthians 13.

God is all of those things and He calls us to be the same for the people around us. How can we be anything less. Yet, day to day we are judgmental, gossipy, cruel, angry, we show lack of forgiveness, we are self-centered and arrogant, we find it easier to yell and throw a tantrum if we don't get our way, we forget the incredible grace that has been shown to us and refuse to show that same grace to anyone else. Our anger controls us and we expect others to treat us better than we treat them.

But, the Lord is all of those things. He is perfection. He expects us to constantly strive to achieve these qualities, but to Him we give praise.

To Him who has established his throne in heaven and his kingdom rules over all.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.

October 24 - Psalm 99

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 24 - Psalm 99:1-9

As you read through this Psalm, you will see that there are three sections, each ending with the phrase "He is holy."

The first section praises God for the greatness of His glory. He sits enthroned between the cherubim. These are the same cherubim that were on the mercy seat, the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, which in Exodus 25:22, God tells Moses is where He will meet with him to give the commands for the Israelites.

He is holy.

The second section praises God for his justice. As mighty as He is , equity is important to Him. All of us have faced injustice in our dealings with authorities, whether it is a parent, teacher, lawgiver, boss. Sometimes we have to deal with things that simply aren't fair. But, when we come before the Lord, He is always just and will always be fair.

He is holy.

The third section praises God for answering prayer. Moses and Aaron as priests and Samuel as a judge and kingmaker all called upon God and He answered them. Again, the Psalmist reminds us that God is just and will punish misdeeds, but He answered the prayers of His people.

Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain.

He is holy.

October 23 - Psalm 87

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23 - Psalm 87:1-7

Psalm 87 is a tribute to Jerusalem on Mount Zion. Why is it so special? Because God chose it. In fact, people would be honored just to be born there (Psalm 87:5).

We travel to many different places in this country and for one reason or another find ourselves attracted to them. For me, I love the Boston or Washington, DC area because of its history. I love the New York City area because of its vitality. I loved spending time in the Grand Canyon and Canyonlands of Utah because of the grandeur and beauty. I love San Francisco because it is interesting and there is so much beauty there. I love Iowa because of the people and it is my home.

But, none of these locations resonate with me as Jerusalem does with the Israelites. While God may have chosen Iowa as my home, I am not joined by an entire nation of like-minded people in my love for this state.

Jerusalem is the city of God.

At the end of the Passover festival, Jews all over the world say the words "Next year in Jerusalem" as a means of expressing hope that the Messiah will come and they will be gathered as a nation once more under His reign.

The Psalm ends with the hope that Jerusalem will be filled with fountains of blessings and will be a spiritual home to all the nations of the earth (Psalm 87:4).

We can only pray "Next year in Jerusalem."

October 22 - Psalm 84

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 22 - Psalm 84:1-12

So many of these Psalms have been made into praise songs that I can barely get through them without singing them. It's actually pretty wonderful!

In 2 Samuel 23, David's last words begin with, "The oracle of David son of Jesse, the oracle of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel's singer of songs."

The Psalms were to be sung and when we put them to music we are continuing a tradition that God began in the man He loved very much. Think about that just for a moment. The words that David sang in praise to God, many of us sing over and over - even if it is in a different language ... remember God is the Alpha and Omega ... the first and last letter of the language. Jesus is the Word made flesh. These words of praise have come down through time to fill our hearts, just as they did the heart of King David.

The Psalmist opens this with words of praise for the dwelling place of the Lord. (Psalm 84:1-4). Now the wonderful thing about this is that in Revelation 21:22 we see that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple in the New Jerusalem. The dwelling place and the Lord are one and the same. The Psalmist is yearning to be in the presence of God. Nothing else matters!

In Psalm 84:6, the Valley of Baca is the Valley of weeping. Those who go through weeping with their hearts set on the Lord make it a place of springs. They go from strength to strength.

What an amazing image! As we walk through turmoil, if we do so with our hearts set on the Lord, rather than tears and weeping, we experience springs that come from our depths. We can move from strength to strength. It's like walking through a desert, but moving from an oasis of strength to the next. God offers us those springs of water in our desert!

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked." (Psalm 84:10)

The Psalmist would rather be in God's presence than anywhere else. So would I. I can't imagine any place better than that - and I can imagine a lot of wonderful places.

"O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you." (Psalm 84:12)

October 21 - Psalm 75

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21 - Psalm 75:1-10

This is another of the Psalms of Asaph. In the previous Psalm, he was lamenting the loss of Jerusalem and the incredible pain that the Israelites were facing as they were ripped from their homes. The very next Psalm begins with:

"We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds." (Psalm 75:1-10)

Before we come out of our pain and agony, before we get it all figured out. Right in the middle of the suffering is when we need to learn to give thanks. It is in that moment that we finally give up our own will and our own selfish thoughts and recognize that without God, we would be nothing and would not even have life.

Yesterday, I spoke about the permission we have to argue with God, to cry and plead and even question His actions in our lives. But, He does respond.

It is the Lord who chooses the time for things to happen, He is the one who will judge. But, He is the one who holds the pillars firm when the earth and its people quake. (Psalm 75:3)

This same Lord will deal with the arrogant and the wicked. He will bring down one man while exalting another. The Lord is the one who metes out punishment to those whom He has judged.

We need to be as the Psalmist, who sings: "As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob." (Psalm 75:9)

Even in the midst of turmoil, we need to learn to praise the One who has control and will deal with everything in His time.

October 20 - Psalm 74

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20 - Psalm 74:1-23

A national disaster. All seems lost. There is a possibility this was written during the time of the Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24-25). How could God have forgotten His love for the people that he redeemed? How could he have forgotten Jerusalem, Mt. Zion? Why would He reject them? The answer is found in 2 Chronicles 36:14-16.

The city is in ruins (Psalm 74:3), the enemy reached the sanctuary and destroyed it! If you read Psalm 74:4-8, you see the destruction they caused. This was devastating to the Israelites.

The Psalmist continues in Psalm 74:9, "We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be."

Those are words that many of us use when we plead with God to reveal Himself to us during times of stress. We seem so lost, He seems so far away.

I've spent many hours in pleading prayer with God, reminding Him and myself what He has accomplished for me in the past. Psalm 74:12-17 does that again. This beautiful poetry is a reminder to the Psalmist, to the reader and to the Lord of the glorious miracles that He has performed and Psalm 74:18-21 reminds the Lord of the covenant that He originally set forth with His children.

It doesn't matter that the children of Israel broke the covenant. The Lord promised to always remain responsible for his portion. He never stopped loving His people, though He allowed them to face challenges and deal with punishment when they refused to acknowledge His presence in their lives.

The last verses remind the Lord that people are mocking Him and clamoring against Him. The Psalmist calls out for Him to rise up and defend His cause.

Over and over I am thankful that these Psalms are in our scriptures. These are the Psalms that tell me it is ok to question God, to plead with Him, to remind Him, to be in conversation with Him. Sometimes that conversation is at the top of my voice and I have lost all control. God will never leave us, He will never be angry with us because we hurt and are questioning what He is doing. He will always love us and He will take care of us.

October 19 - Psalm 70

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19 - Psalm 70:1-5

I imagine that being a King of Israel had its high points, but goodness David had to deal with a lot of naysayers. I've been in churches where it felt like every time I offered up a good suggestion, there were 25 people running to ensure that it would fail. They would say terrible things about me personally, insult my family and even my little dog (that might be an exaggeration). Sometimes it felt as if nothing good would ever happen because of the negative attitudes that seemed to be predominant within those churches.

If I extrapolate that to an entire kingdom, I would find myself in David's position. Every time he turned around there was someone ready to kill him so as to steal the throne. Even his sons were against him!

Now, while David wanted his enemies to be shamed, those who honestly sought God would be glad and rejoice! While David spent a lot of time worrying over the stresses he faced, he never allowed them to completely overwhelm him. He always remembered that God was his help and deliverer.

What does it take to get you to the point where you finally remember that God is your help and your deliverer? Do you praise God in all circumstances?

There is no way that my interactions with small churches in Iowa and Nebraska approximates the assaults that David faced as the King of Israel. He found the strength to face all of those things through his relationship with God. And even though he complained, he always came back to the realization that God was with him through it all and that gave him reason enough to praise and exalt the Lord.

October 18 - Psalm 62

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18 - Psalm 62:1-12

The literal translation of Psalm 62:1 (My soul finds rest in God alone) is "Only to God is my soul silence."

Wow, that's beautiful. David waits in silence before God. He is confident in this waiting. God is His rock and salvation, a fortress and David simply cannot be shaken because he rests in God!

I think sometimes we allow the world to shake us up because we forget where our confidence lies. We get so wrapped up in our stuff and in our insanity that we forget everything we know to be true. God is unshakable and when we place our feet firmly on His foundation, we can not be shaken or destroyed.

Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from Him (from the love of Christ), so why do we allow ourselves to separate us from this foundation?

Psalm 62:3-4 tells about the attacks that come to topple David, but the words of Psalm 63:5-8 are so peaceful.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people: pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."

Don't trust in things of the world, or people that surround you. They are only a breath. Don't trust in things that you think will get you an easy out to your problems, David says. That will never help.

"One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you , O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done." (Psalm 62:11-12)

God is strong. God is loving. He is the only foundation that will remain.

October 17 - Psalm 61

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 17 - Psalm 61:1-8

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2b)

When I find myself feeling sorry for myself and pitying the poor, pathetic life that I lead, I know that I have entered a pit of despair from which it will require much effort to be rescued. There is generally no way that I will be able to do that by myself.

Sometimes people show up that encourage me and remind me what it looks like on the outside of the pit, sometimes all it requires is a lick on the face from my dog, but other times I am so far gone that no earthly entity will be able to wade through the garbage I've built around myself to get me to recognize the good.

I'm very fortunate, I know that God is my refuge, a strong tower - a place of protection. When things are that bad for me, I retreat until there is nothing left but the two of us. David says that he longs to dwell in God's tent (tabernacle / temple) forever and take refuge in the shelter of His wings. (Psalm 61:4)

That's where I want to ultimately end up, and sometimes when things are bad enough, I'd like to have God hurry the process.

But look how David ends this Psalm. Even though he would prefer to be in heaven with God, he knows that God has given him a task on earth.

"For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name." (Psalm 61:5) David is in charge of the kingdom of Israel. This was a charge given to him by God. And if God gave him the task, David means to fulfill it as well as possible.

"Increase the days of the king's life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God's presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. Then will I ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day." (Psalm 61:6-8)

O God, You have given me a lot to do. I don't know what it is that I have yet accomplished, but I know that I will be here as long as You call me to be here. While I am here, let me do your will and protect me as I do. I will sing your praise forever.

October 16 - Psalm 48

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 16 - Psalm 48:1-14

Psalm 48:1-3 is a hymn of praise to Jerusalem which sits atop Mount Zion. It is beautiful, the joy of the earth. But, the greatest thing? God is there.

I have worshipped in many different types and styles of church buildings. Some are gorgeous, an architect's dream, others are simple. Some were built by the men of the church and finished by the families within that church, others were built amid stress and divisiveness. I have worshipped in the beauty of nature, surrounded by lakes and trees, hills and mountains. I have worshipped in the home of Kentucky mountain folk, and in the homes of very wealthy friends. The location has never mattered. All that is important is that God is there.

Nations joined together to bring battle to Jerusalem, but when they saw the city, they were terrified.

"As we have heard so have we seen in the city of the Lord Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure forever." (Psalm 48:8)

God's presence brings security. You know, the Israelites dealt with battles and wars throughout their history. God always promised that if would submit to being His people alone, He would protect them and bring victory to them. It was when they struck out on their own, rejecting Him that they began to lose those battles to the point of losing all He had ever given them.

I love this Psalm, but read the last verses with me.

"Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation. For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end." (Psalm 48:12-14)

Look at yourself, count the fingers on your hands and toes, consider well your life, view yourself. You are the temple of God. You are the representation of Him to the next generation. He is your God forever and ever and will be your guide even to the end.

October 15 - Psalm 40

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15 - Psalm 40:1-17

"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 and put their trust in the Lord." (Psalm 40:1-3)

In Psalm 39, we didn't see a lot of patience. We saw resignation. Sometimes those two things look pretty similar. It's all in how we look at our life. Are you resigned to living through this season of your life or are you patient, knowing that the Lord has things well in hand and that He will walk beside you whether or not you sense His presence?

"Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods." (Psalm 40:4)

One of the ways past the self-pity that David easily fell into was to remember the blessings that God gave him in the past, the wonders God has done. He spoke of God's righteousness, faithfulness and salvation to people around him.

As soon as David moves past dark introspection and looks towards God, his attitude brightens and his despair lightens. He recognizes again that the Lord God will protect him.

"For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my heard, and my heart fails within me." (Psalm 40:12)

David's troubles haven't changed. His perception has.

"But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, 'The Lord is exalted!'" (Psalm 40:16)

Yes, we are poor and needy and plead with the Lord to spend time thinking of us. We count on Him being our help and deliverance. Please Lord, do not delay.

October 14 - Psalm 39

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 14 - Psalm 39:1-13

When I read the first verses of this Psalm (Psalm 39:1-2), it seemed as if David was concerned with many of the same things that James preaches against - gossip, slander, etc. But, as I continued reading, I realized that David had something completely different in mind.

He's furious with God and he knows that if he were to speak his fury out loud while the wicked are present, they wouldn't understand that he has a relationship with God that allows him to love and honor the Lord, while being frustrated and angry at the same time.

Do I know when to keep my mouth shut at my fury towards the injustices that I perceive to be coming from God?

In Psalm 39:3, we see that David is spending time with God and he can no longer hold back, "My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue." He has something to say, we'll just hope that no one but God is around to hear it.

Look at Psalm 39:9-10, "I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for you are the one who has done this. Remove your scourge from me; I am overcome by the blow of your hand."

The rest of this Psalm expresses David's acknowledgement that his life is short. He'd like to know just how long God will allow him to live on this earth, because he wants to know how long the pain is going to last!

We all feel that way sometimes. If life's struggles go on much longer than 24 hours, we begin to believe that they will be there forever. "Look away from me, that I may rejoice again before I depart and am no more." (Psalm 39:13) I just want one more day of happiness before I die, Lord!

I love David. He expresses things that I feel - even when we can look in from the outside and see that his life wasn't as awful as he believed it to be. The thing is - neither is ours. But, there are always moments when we feel as if we have been abandoned to a world that will destroy us, with no hope of rescue or salvation. Our spirits sink to the depths and we have no idea how to bring ourselves up out of the pits.

David knew though that there was a way. "But now, what do I look for? My hope is in you." (Psalm 13:7)

Tomorrow we will see him turn this all around as he recognizes that his salvation and hope will be found in the Lord.

October 13 - Psalm 37

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 13 - Psalm 37:1-40

Oh, those wicked, wicked people. David says that one day they will be dealt with. It seems to me that when he was writing many of these Psalms, he was more than frustrated with the fact that the wicked seemed to be achieving all of their earthly goals while continually giving him trouble.

This Psalm seems like it is a teaching Psalm. He is encouraging the reader in many different ways to hold out, even when the wicked around them seem to be winning.

Trust in the Lord and do good ... (Psalm 37:3)
Delight yourself in the Lord ... (Psalm 37:4)
Commit your way to the Lord ... (Psalm 37:5)
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him... (Psalm 37:7)
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath ... (Psalm 37:8)

When it feels like you are on the losing side, these things are not easy to do. I often want to trust in my own work - I know how to get things done though it might seem as if the people around me are left in a wake of destruction. Delight myself in the Lord? Come on - I have work to do, goals to achieve. There is much to do so that I can set these wicked people in their place. Commit my way to the Lord? But, He might not like my way and ask me to actually follow His will instead. Right now, I'm confident that my way will work. What if His way doesn't work the way I want it to?

Be still before the Lord? I'm much too busy to take the time for that. Refrain from anger? It just isn't happening. I'm so furious that everyone else seems to be winning and I am only working like crazy to hold my head above water.

Isn't it interesting how David was given insight into our lives!

When I was in high school, I had a friend (I use that term loosely). I was extreme jealous of her. She seemed to have it all - all the money she needed, good grades, easy access to her musical talent, on and on - yet she was as sneaky and mean as a snake. She sucked up to the teachers and treated those around her like dirt as she used them as stepping stones to achieve her goals. It seemed as if her wickedness would never be found out and she would always win, while others fell behind. No, I don't have a great story to tell you that she finally got her comeuppance. To this day, she has managed to carve out a life that seems to be great. Is she happy? I have no idea.

But, this passage isn't about her - or the wicked - it's about me - or David. The wicked are going to have to deal with their life choices at some point, but right now, I deal with mine.

Psalm 37:23, "The Lord delights in the way of the man whose steps he has made firm..."

I want the Lord to delight in me. It may take some time for me to see that the righteous win the day, but David says "Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to possess the land.." (Psalm 37:34)

It's not about the wicked. It's about me. I look for salvation ... for eternity.

"The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him." (Psalm 37:39-40)

October 12 - Psalm 30

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12 - Psalm 30:1-12

One thing I have learned from the Psalms is the permission that God has given us to cry and complain to Him when we feel lost and far from Him.

In the beginning of this Psalm, we find David where we are often at when things go well. He is praising God for the good things that have been happening to him. How easy it is to praise God when good things are going on around us!

O Lord, you've brought me up from the depths of despair, you dealt with my enemies so I didn't have to, you've healed my body and brought me back from death. I will sing to you, and everyone should sing to you - praise your holy name. Even though I thought you were angry with me, I was wrong ... your favor lasts a lifetime. Sometimes I can barely sleep through the night because I can't see you and I am stressed, but morning comes and I find you again. (Psalm 30:1-5 - My interpretation).

But, then things change in Psalm 30:6. David sees that his security is based on the fact that he is feeling good about his relationship with God. God has been answering his prayers and the sensation that God is near to him has been prevalent.

"When I felt secure, I said, 'I will never be shaken.' O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm;" (Psalm 30:6-7a)

Now ... look at Psalm 30:7b, "but when you hid your face, I was dismayed."

Wow, this is the way I deal with nearly every relationship I have. When I am confident in the relationship, I face everything in life with that same confidence. I am self-assured and can handle myself with that assurance. As soon as I feel that those strong relationships are pulling away from me, I become destroyed!

When I don't sense God near me, and feel as if He has pulled away from me for any number of reasons - generally because I've done something wrong. I am much more than dismayed, I can barely function.

David spends the next few verses reminding God that there is no good reason for God to be gone from him. "What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?" (Psalm 30:9)

Oh, I've cried out to God with those same types of words, "Lord, why can you NOT take care of me? Will it be to anyone's good that I face this problem? Where are you?"

David tells me that it's ok to cry out to God with disappointment and confusion because the next words from his pen are, "Hear, O Lord and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help."

Just because he is lost and confused doesn't mean he is turning to another to fix the problem. All he is looking for from God is assurance that God is paying attention and will love him and be merciful.

In the depths of the pit, David is aware of God's desire to love him. Even when it doesn't feel like it. He will praise God through all of it. I will praise God through all of it. No matter what I do, no matter how far I travel from God, no matter how much pain I am in, no matter what happens to me, I know that:

"You turn my wailing into dancing, you remove my sackcloth and clothe me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever." (Psalm 30:11-12)

October 11 - Psalm 29

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 11 - Psalm 29:1-11

What kind of images and thoughts do you have of our God? Are those thoughts and images BIG? David is thrilled with God in this Psalm and his descriptions of the power of the Lord are glorious.

Is this your God? David says we are to ascribe (give) to the Lord the glory due his name and to worship Him in the splendor of his holiness.

This great, big God speaks over the waters - He thunders over the waters! His voice is powerful and majestic,. It breaks the cedars. His voice strikes with flashes of lightning and shakes the desert. The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.

And all in his temple cry "Glory!"

We continue to get glimpses into the temple of the Lord throughout scripture, but imagine the power of that cry of "Glory!" when those in attendance witness the Lord's power in the sound of His voice! They are already there to worship Him, the temple is filled with His glory. When His voice rings out, every portion of creation responds in awe.

I am in awe of the Lord God who sits enthroned over the flood - the chaos that fills my every day life. He is God. He is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. (Psalm 29:10-11)

October 10 - Psalm 27

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October 10 - Psalm 27:1-14

There are so many verses in this Psalm that are not only familiar to me but I treasure because of their impact.

"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?" (Psalm 27:1)

I am not often fearful and afraid, but when I am, those emotions consume me to the point that I find it difficult to function. The words of this verse are so comforting when I actually apply them to my life. If I profess to believe in God, the Creator, why should I fear? He is the light the fills the darkest room, He is my salvation, He is the strength of my heart. I have nothing to fear.

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple." (Psalm 27:4)

Wow! I actually ask a lot more of the Lord, but nearly everything I ask is extremely self-centered and self-serving. And so filled with my daily needs. When my mother was dying, I remember the absolute peace that she had because she knew that she was transitioning to this state ... to dwell in the house of the Lord. That was all she had left to desire. I look forward to the day I can rid myself of earthly desires and want nothing more than to seek him in his temple.

"Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek." (Psalm 27:7-8)

Do you listen to your heart? My heart tells me to seek the face of the Lord. What a wondrous statement of faith.

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:13-14)

Are you confident that you will see the goodness of the Lord in your life while on earth? I am so thankful to have this confidence. When I talk to friends that don't actually have a strong relationship with God, I hear disappointment in life, fears that things will never turn around for them, frustration at the immediacy of their problems. All I can do is encourage them, pray for them and let them know that God really is watching. Sometimes it takes awhile, but "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

October 9 - Psalm 25

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 9 - Psalm 25:1-22

Psalm 25:7 "Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord."

Oh my goodness, I barely remember the sins of my youth. I'm much more aware of the sins I committed as I grew older. I do, however, remember being concerned that I might forget a specific sin as a teenager. I was so worried that I might forget some sin and that would really make God angry. So, I began to keep a notebook. Every time a sin would come into my mind, I would write it down and pray for forgiveness. I thought it might be prudent for God to actually help me out with the entire project, so I asked Him to remind me of sins that I might have forgotten. I was really trying to clean up my act.

Well, several months passed and I was filling page after page of this notebook with sins. I discovered that I was pretty awful. Mostly petty little things and thoughts. But, finally God got through to me. I was spending so much time dealing with my personal sins that I wasn't spending much time loving my friends and loving God. I was focused purely on myself. What a selfish exercise that had turned out to be.

Now, I think that it's terribly important for us to confess our sin and present it before God asking for forgiveness and then actively repenting, but that stuff isn't to consume us. We spend much too much time focusing on the negative in this world anyway.

If you continue to read through this Psalm regarding sin, you will notice that David doesn't spend too much time on the negative aspect of it. In Psalm 25:8-11, we see that the Lord is loving and he instructs the sinner and guides the humble, teaching them His way.

This Psalm is a beautiful plea for deliverance and forgiveness. Many of the words are familiar. Take some time to read through this - pray these words as you confess your sins before God. He is loving and faithful (Psalm 25:10).

October 8 - Psalm 20

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 8 - Psalm 20:1-9

Do you know that October is generally Pastor Appreciation month? Well, what better prayer than this for your pastor and leaders? And for our president and congressional leaders, for leaders around the world?

The opening portion of this Psalm (Psalm 20:1-5) is a congregational prayer that brought them together in intercession for their king.

As they prayed, the asked for protection, for help from the sanctuary (the Tabernacle), support from Zion (Jerusalem), acceptance of the king's offerings and that God would give David the desire of his heart and bring success to his plans.

How different could things look in our churches if we actually prayed regularly for these things for our leadership. But, then ... look at Psalm 20:5. "We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. may the Lord grant all your requests."

What incredible support David's people gave to him as he occupied the throne. There is no criticism in these words, no hesitation, no withdrawal of support. There is only prayer and joyous celebration. God had placed David upon the throne ... the people responded to the Lord.

In Psalm 20:6-8, David's response to the unison prayer is shared. He is confident in the Lord's work, he is assured of God's response from heaven. While other rulers trust in the things of this world (chariots and horses in David's time), he reminds his people that they trust in the name of the Lord.

And together, the congregation and David cry out, "O Lord, save the king! Answer us when we call!" (Psalm 20:9)

October 7 - Psalm 18

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 7 - Psalm 18:1-50

Do you know that this Psalm is found elsewhere in the Bible? Turn to 2 Samuel 22:1-51.

David has been through battles and fought Saul, and then ran into the Philistines again. Saul died and was buried (2 Samuel 21:14), David's best friend Jonathan had also been killed, and when all this was over, the Philistines showed up over and over until David's men finally dealt with them. When it was all over, David could think of no greater way to thank God for deliverance than to sing these words in praise.

There are many metaphors found throughout this Psalm and I wonder which of them might fit a situation you have recently faced when God stood beside you. Some of them are gorgeous, such as "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." (Psalm 18:9-10)

Others show the fury of the Lord, "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." (Psalm 18:7-8)

There are words that show David's complete reliance on the Lord, "He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me." (Psalm 18:16-17)

How do you praise the Lord?

"The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!" (Psalm 18:46)

The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!

The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!

October 6 - Psalm 15

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6 - Psalm 15:1-5

If you spend any time reading Revelation 4-5, you will glimpse images of the throneroom. Isaiah 6:1-4 shows another peek in God's sanctuary.

David asks who it is that can draw near to God's presence and worship where the Lord resides?

The next verses seem to be nearly impossible standards by which we must live. We must be righteous and speak the truth with no slander. We must not do our neighbor any wrong or speak badly about anyone. We must despise sin, yet honor those who fear the Lord. We are told to keep our oath, even when it hurts, lend money freely (with no interest), and care for the innocent. (Psalm 15:2-5a)

This Psalm points out clearly the difference between the Old and New Testament foundational structure. When Jesus came to act as the atonement for our sins, all of a sudden these standards become tolerable. When David was writing these verses, the only way to escape from the punishment of sin was to go to extreme measures with offerings and acts of penitence. There was never going to be a way that man could eliminate all of the sin in his life, no offering would be good enough, he would always be found lacking.

Until Jesus died on the cross. That was the perfect offering, the act which made it possible for us to stand in the throneroom before the Creator who sat on the throne. No longer will God see us simply as sinners and reject us from His presence. With the covering of Jesus' act of atonement, we are welcomed as children of God.

October 5 - Psalm 14

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 5 - Psalm 14:1-7

Yesterday I wrote about the pain of suffering that happens in the dark of night when all of the stresses of the world seem to press in on us. Yet, at the end of that, we know that the Lord never fails.

In this next Psalm, David begins by stating, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" I guess what he is telling me is that if I deny the presence of God because I can no longer feel that he is taking care of me, I am a complete fool. I'd have to agree.

The fool spoken of in Psalm 14:1 is someone who is morally corrupt. Now, while I may be a fool for ever doubting in God's power, those who are morally corrupt have never made an attempt to know who God is. They would be our modern day agnostics and atheists. They don't seek God, they make no attempt to understand him.

When the Lord looks down on earth, He can't find a single person that does good. The only hope is for mankind to individually turn to the Lord and call on Him.

In the future, David prays that salvation will come from Mount Zion (where God resides) for Israel. This is not something that David sees happening in the immediate future, but far off when the Lord God of all Creation restores Israel to its glory, brings all fo the nations in the earth under His rule and renews heaven and earth.

October 4 - Psalm 13

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 4 - Psalm 13:1-6

I imagine that everyone has faced something similar to the feelings that David is crying out in this Psalm.

O Lord, how long will I be alone while I deal with everything that I'm facing?

Psalm 13:2 shows us the pain of having those thoughts flowing through our minds without any temperance from an outside source. I can remember night after night of staying awake worrying about things at my business, worrying about getting jobs out, bills paid, employees, everything. David cries out, "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?"

Those nights seem endless and when you awaken in the morning and the worries seem to remain and darken your day, you begin to wonder how long it will be until the Lord hears and answers your cries!

It seems as if David knew exactly what I was feeling when he says, "Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death." (Psalm 13:3) There were nights I wished that I could just fall asleep and let death overtake me - I knew that it would be easier than what I was facing because at least I would be with God in person.

But, like David, I somehow managed to come to the point where I realized that the suffering my poor mind was putting me through was something that the Lord saw even when it didn't feel like He was responding.

Can you say that you trust in the Lord, even in those dark days? Sometimes it doesn't feel as if He is listening or paying attention to what we are going through, but even through that, David says, "But 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." (Psalm 13:6)

The Lord has been good to me, He has rescued and saved me more times than I can count. And when the darkness presses in on me, though it seems as if I am alone, I know that He has been there in the past, He will be there in the future, and He is with me in the present.

October 3 - Psalm 9

Saturday, October 3, 2009

October 3 - Psalm 9:1-20

One of the things that strikes me about this Psalm is the number of times that the nations of the world are mentioned. Psalm 9:5, 8, 15, 17, 19-20. David's line was expected to draw the nations to God. While this doesn't actually occur until the last days, this Psalm then becomes a beautiful song of prophecy.

In the NIV, Psalm 9:1 says "I will tell of all your wonders." The word 'wonders' comes from a Hebrew word which means 'things extraordinary or surpassing.' This word is used quite a bit in the Psalms to describe the works of God. Things extraordinary or surpassing. That's just beautiful.

Those first two verses (Psalm 9:1-2), "I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High." are a prescription for praise. I love to sing, I will gladly sing with all my heart. I have confidence in my voice and know that generally I am on pitch.

I have a friend who is constantly concerned about his lack of pitch. He has been told over and over that he can't sing, so he doesn't sing very loudly and whenever he sits behind me in church apologizes for the fact that he is singing at all. That breaks my heart! It certainly doesn't offend me. I would rather that he sing with joy because his heart is filled with praise. I don't know that God ever rejected someone's songs of praise because they weren't on pitch and I certainly won't either.

When I am glad, I do rejoice in the glory of God. But, you know ... sometimes I find that I forget to tell of God's wonders. I get so wrapped up in the craziness of my life that I might take a moment to thank Him, but I don't tell the world about Him as often as I should.

In Psalm 9:11, David says, "Sing praises to the Lord enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done."

Psalm 9:14, "...that I may declare your praises in the gates of the Daughter of Zion and there rejoice in your salvation."

We have a God that upholds our cause (Psalm 9:3), destroys the wicked (Psalm 9:5), judges the world in righteousness and governs the peoples with justice (Psalm 9:8), is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble (Psalm 9:9), does not ignore the cry of the afflicted (Psalm 9:12), is known by his justice (Psalm 9:16).

This is our God and we are called to praise Him, to proclaim among the nations what he has done and to declare his praises in the gates of the Daughter of Zion.

Today ... Praise the Lord!

October 2 - Psalm 4

Friday, October 2, 2009

October 2 – Psalm 4:1-8

Hmmm .. the NIV actually has translated this incorrectly. In actuality, the Psalmist is praising God for answering and for offering relief. I checked the New American Standard and a couple of other versions. In fact, the Hebrew says, “you have enlarged me when I am in distress.” In other words, God gave David room when stress hit him.

Now, that sounds wonderful! When I get stressed, it feels like the walls are closing in on me and I can barely function. But, God gave David a larger amount of space so that he could face what was bothering him.

After praying to a righteous God, David begins to deal with those people that are stressing him out. It seems as if everything that he does is being disrupted. There is opposition all around, but David asserts that God has set him apart and reminds those who are dealing poorly with him that the best place to be is in a right relationship with the Lord.

At whatever point David is in his life, there are people who follow him, but are discontent with his leadership. So, they ask “Who can show us any good?”

David responds in Psalm 4:6b with the benediction from Numbers 6:24-26, “Let your light shine on them, O Lord.”

He finishes with beautiful words of praise. Even in the face of the opposition, David knows who will care for him and who has given him the blessings that he has. The great blessings are found within himself, in his heart where the relationship he has with the Lord is fulfilled. And in the face of all of that stress, I find the last verse to be amazing.

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

I generally write these blog posts before I fall asleep at night. It is one thing to count on the safety of the four walls that surround me to keep me safe from harm, but it is fully a different thing to count on the safety of the Lord’s arms around me to keep me safe from evil.

October 1 - Psalm 2

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1 – Psalm 2:1-12

Take some time to read through this Psalm. If you are on the web page, you can hover over any Bible verse reference and it should pop up so you can read it right there.

This Psalm is quoted often in the New Testament and as you read it, you will discover why as you uncover its prophetic words. Jews read this Psalm as a remembrance of King David’s coronation, while Christians see it as prophecy regarding the coming reign of Jesus Christ.

It begins with a sense of astonishment as the Psalmist seems amazed that nations and kings think they can gather against the Lord God! Who in the world do they think they are? This is the Creator of the Universe, and He has shown that He will do amazing and powerful things in His anger and when He protects His people.

Now, in Psalm 2:2, we find the first hint of prophecy. “…against the Lord and against his Anointed One.” In Psalm 2:7, we get a little more information about the Anointed One: “He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’” This is an announcement that God intends for His Son to rule over all the nations to the ends of the earth. We will see this come to pass in Revelation 6:15-17 and Revelation 17:14 when the kings and nations of the world submit to the Lamb of God.

Have you ever consider the laughter of God? Sometimes I’m pretty certain that He finds me hilarious. Oh, I definitely hope He does. Otherwise, I’m just pathetic. But, in Psalm 2:4, not only does He laugh at those who think they can come up against Him, but He scoffs and then scares them as well!

This is the Lord who is not limited by time. He knows the beginning and the end. He IS the Alpha and the Omega. He sees the beginning of the kingdoms of earth and knows when they will end. He sees and knows the beginnings and ends of our lives. No matter what man may think as we try to plan and plot our way through to the future, the Lord will still be in control long after nations have come and gone and kings have been born and have died.

The Psalmist tells us all of this and then finishes the Psalm by saying “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2:12)

We are nothing but specks in the grand scheme of things. Our Creator has all of the power and could wipe us out with a sweep of the hand, but He offers those who trust in Him a place of refuge and hope. This is where I choose to reside.