Tuesday, February 28, 2012

25 Days...Psalms 25

"To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.O my God, in you I trust;let me not be put to shame;let not my enemies exult over me.Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;they while be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous." -- Ps. 25:1-3
Don't you know that Anthony & I know about waiting? Man!

Waiting stinks (would have used a bit more crass word but I know I would get a disapproving comment or email from my mom).

The Jews know waiting. For centuries the waited for a Savior. A warrior like David that would smite their enemies & raise them up as kings of the world. But then Jesus came. He was not the warrior they were expecting. He was gentle. He preached forgiveness of sins, even to the Gentiles. He couldn't have been the one they waited for. He had to be an impostor! Christ's own disciples were confused after his crucifixion. Even John the Baptist questioned if Jesus was the anticipated Messiah(Matthew 11:1-6). I have a quote that I've always liked that seems appropriate for that, "How many times do we miss God's blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?" - Unknown.

"Make me to know your ways, O Lord;teach me your paths.Leade me in your truth and teach me,for you are the God of my salvation;for you I wait all the day long." -- Ps. 25:4-5
The Lord has taught me so much by His Word. I love this passage. I think I will start making this my prayer, "Lord, teach me your ways. Not man's ways. Not my ways. Your ways. 'Lead me in your truth & teach me.' Close off my mind to what the world claims is true. Teach me your ways. Lead me to your truth."
"Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,for they have been from of old.Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;according to your steadfast love remember me,for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!" -- Ps. 25:6-7
The Hebrew word here where "of old" is "olam." It means "long duration" or "antiquity" but it also means "futurity." In short, it means "forever," "permanent," "everlasting," "continual." So, the Lord's love & mercy has always been & always will be. 

Speaking of waiting & patience...I am amazed at how much patience God has with me. I continually make the same mistakes, commit the same sins, whine about the most pointless stuff to Him. And what does He do? He waits patiently. He doesn't strike me down. He doesn't abandon me. He doesn't turn me into an automaton & make me do His will without a choice. No. He leads people into my life to speak truth to me. He opens my mind to understand His Word. And He waits patiently for me to finally give up my soul & come fully to him.

"Good and upright is the Lord;therefore he instructs sinners in the way.He leads the humble in what is right,and teaches the humble his way.All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love an faithfulness,for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies." -- Ps. 25:8-10

"For your name's sake, O Lord,pardon my guilt, for it is great.Who is the man who fears the Lord?Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.His should shall abide in well-being,and his offspring shall inherit the land.The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,and makes known to them his covenant.My eyes are never toward the Lord,for he will pluck my feet out of the net." -- Ps. 25:11-15

"Turn to me and be gracious to me,for I am lonely and afflicted.The troubles of my heart are enlarged;bring me out of my distresses.Consider my affliction and my trouble,and forgive all sins." -- Ps. 25:16-18

"Consider how many are my foes,and with what violent hatred they hate me.Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.May integrity and uprightness preserve me,for I wait for you." -- Ps. 25:19-21

"Redeem Israel, O God,out of all his troubles." - Ps. 25:22

Monday, February 27, 2012

Psalms 26...26 Days Left

Psalms 26 is a prayer all Christian's should be able to pray. 

"Vindicate me, O Lord,for I have walked in my integrity,and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.Prove me, O Lord, and try me;test my heart and my mind.For your steadfast love is before my eyes,and I walk in your faithfulness." -- Ps 26:1-3

This is something I truly hope to do. I pray my motives are true. That if the Lord did test my heart & mind, they would stand solid. 

You hear stories of missionaries out in the field who are told to renounce God or they or their children or both will be killed and they stand firm as their entire family is tortured & murdered. You hear of young people like Cassie Bernall who was shot & killed in Columbine by her classmate because when asked about whether she believed in God, she said "Yes." You hear of all these things & then wonder, "What would I do in that situation?" You like to think you would hold strong & take the bullet or knife or torture. But, in the dark, all alone, when you think of such things...is it just me, or does everyone really wonder if they would hold tight & not deny Christ like Peter did (Luke 22)?

"I do not sit with men of falsehood,nor do I consort with hypocrites.I hate the assembly of evildoers,and will not sit with the wicked." -- Ps. 26:4-5

I recently shared an article on Facebook about Rick Warren teaming up with Muslims & claiming that we worship the same god. I do not intend on going on now about how this is not true but Warren teaming up with Muslims is not an example of the verses above. 

The verse says, "I do not sit..." "To sit with" someone was not the same thing as them sitting together at dinner. The Hebrew word for "sit" in this instance is "yashab." It means more than just hanging out & chatting. It means to dwell, remain, live with, marry. So in this verse, the psalmist is saying he does not form deep relationships with people who live & preach a false gospel or follow the ways of the world. 

Paul warned against this in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16a:

"Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;" -- 2 Cor. 6:14-16a

"I wash my hands of innocenceand go around your alter, O Lord,proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,and telling all your wondrous deeds." -- Ps. 26:6-7

When you have truly been forgiven, it is difficult not to praise the Savior. However, we can start to feel self-conscious after a little while & then almost feel ashamed. But Christ has blessed us so much, why wouldn't we want to share that with others in hopes that they will accept Christ & partake in the blessings of God as well. Do we hate our friends so much that we don't share the most amazing gift every freely given with them? 

God has blessed me so much that I have nothing worth half of what He has given me. All I can do is praise Him...there is nothing I have of worth. He is God. What could I possibly give Him. Everything I have is from Him...even my life. I am completely & utterly poor & wretched...I have nothing. The only thing thing I can offer Him is my praise.

"O Lord, I love the habitation of your houseand the place where your glory dwells.Do not sweep my soul away with sinners,nor my life with bloodthirsty men,in whose hands are evil devices,and whose right hands are full of bribes." -- Ps. 26:8-10

David is the writer of this psalm & since the temple has not been constructed yet, God's "house" & place His "glory dwells" is the tabernacle. 

David loved the Lord with all his heart (Acts 13:22). Once things had finally settled down on the war-front for David, he looked around & noticed what a lovely & ornate palace he was living in & then realized God's Glory only had a tent to reside in. David decided he should build a great temple for God to "rest" in. But, that was not what God willed. God had set aside that task for David's son, Solomon. All-in-all, David still loved the tabernacle. Not because it was some fancy place but because that is where God was. 

After Christ's sacrifice, those of us who have had our sins cleansed, are now the dwelling of the Spirit. We no longer have to go to a building to find God, He is living in us. 

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." -- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

"But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;redeem me, and be gracious to me.My foot stands on level ground;in the great assembly I will bless the Lord." -- Ps. 26:11-12

These last two verses sum up the whole passage. 

27 Days Left...Psalms 27

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?

This is verse 1 of Psalms 27. "The Lord is my light." 

Light has always symbolized understanding, wisdom, truth, knowledge. Just think of all those idioms. "Shine light on the subject." "Bring something to light." "A guiding light." "I have seen the light!" 

Here the psalmist says the Lord is his light. The Lord has revealed the Truth to him. He can only see the truth now through the Lord. What he could not decipher or was not evident is now clear. Like the old hymn says, "Once was blind, but now I see."

For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. -- Psalms 18:28
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. -- Psalms 36:9
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;let them bring me to your holy hill    and to your dwelling! -- Psalms 43:3
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. -- Isaiah 60:1 
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” -- John 8:12 
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. -- 1 John 1:5 

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes:

"God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world." (Mere Christianity: Book Three: Christian Behavior: The 'Cardinal Virtues')

I have witnessed this in my own life. When I started really reading & studying the Bible, I started noticing I was understanding things. I was understanding things in the Bible I never understood before. Even in life, I was understanding things that didn't have anything to do with what I was studying in the Bible at the time. I also noticed I was able to articulate my thoughts better. My communication, especially writing, skills improved greatly. (Please don't think that I think I am some kind of great writer or orator. I don't. But, if you were to read some of my past stuff, you might be able to see a difference. Even if my wording isn't better, the ease, joy, length of my writing is incomparably better.)

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that reading the Bible is some magical incantation to greater wisdom. However, Psalms 111:10 states, 

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!"

Once a person has truly seen the light of the Lord & that light is within him, he is commanded to not, & cannot, hide it. As part of His famous "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus says, 

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

dc Talk - In the Light from josiahtwitch1990 on GodTube.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

37 Days Left -- Psalms 37

Wow! Today's passage is AMAZING! I swear, I love the Bible so much. I have read through the entire Bible once & many of the passages hundreds of times and yet, I can discover parts as if I am reading it for the first time. 

On with it...

Psalms 37

 1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
   be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass
   and wither like the green herb.

 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
   dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.[b]
4 Delight yourself in the LORD,
   and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 5 Commit your way to the LORD;
   trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
   and your justice as the noonday.

 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
   fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
   over the man who carries out evil devices!

 8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
   Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
   but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

 10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
   though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
   and delight themselves in abundant peace.
There is so much here, I don't know where to start. 

It is so hard not to care what others think of us. You can hear 100 positive comments, affirmations, encouragements directed at you and one negative or cruel remark & that one will be what keeps you up at night.

As Christians, we must retrain our spirit, our emotion, our natural tendency, our mentality to not be driving by praise from the world but from serving the Lord God. That is what it means to "delight yourself in the Lord." I use to think that meant, to be happy with the thought of God. It was a little disturbing to me because, when I thought of God, I got more of an irritation/annoyance feeling rather that a feeling of joy. Like He was always trying to interrupt my plans, didn't really care about what I wanted, just wanted to rain on my plans. I just didn't understand that verse. I thought that I must not be getting what I want out of life because I don't go into this state of peaceful joy when contemplating the Lord. I just really didn't understand. 

What that verse means is once you get to the point in your relationship with Christ that you where serving the Lord, doing His will is a joyful duty (not necessarily a happy or easy task), He begins to "give you the pleasures of your heart." That "pleasures of your heart" bit has nothing to do with Him fulfilling your ever desire, want, or dream. What it does mean is that He starts to mould your desires to fit in His. He starts to change your plans, old dreams start to fade while new ones come to life. I use to HATE writing & public speaking was a nightmare for me. Now, I dream of writing Bible study/small group literature & speaking at women's/young ladies' conferences. I'm not sure if those will ever fully come to fruition, but I'm praying that if they are what God would have me to do that he open the doors for me.

Verse 6 reminds me of Matthew 5:14-16 where Jesus is describing how we are to be a shining city on a hill, a light that should not be hidden, where we get the song "This Little Light of Mine." We can only pray that we never do anything to dim the light of Jesus in our lives. We want to live as though it would be clear to everyone else that there is something extra special in our lives.

It seems so often that those who don't live upright lives, who don't do good always seem to be the ones that come out on top. There are reasons for those famous sayings, "Damned if you do, damned of you don't." or "No good deed goes unpunished." They sound so bitter & cynical but at times seem so true. But here, David tells us not to worry ourselves over this seeming injustice for their time is coming. This may be the closest some people will ever get to Heaven, why should I be envious of them. One day, Christ will return & those who did not choose to follow Christ will be sent to Hell (Rev 20:15) & those who do choose Christ will "inherit the land."

"Abundant peace." Doesn't that sound wonderful? There is a peace that comes over a person despite what they are experiencing at the moment, despite any persecution they may be receiving that "passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7) and that comes from God when you are walking in His path.

12 The wicked plots against the righteous
   and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
   for he sees that his day is coming.
 14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
   to bring down the poor and needy,
   to slay those whose way is upright;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
   and their bows shall be broken.
 16 Better is the little that the righteous has
   than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
   but the LORD upholds the righteous.
 18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
   and their heritage will remain forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times;
   in the days of famine they have abundance.
 20 But the wicked will perish;
   the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
   they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
 21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
   but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the LORD[c] shall inherit the land,
   but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

Psalms 14:1 says that "a fool says in his own heart 'There is no God.'" Many times when non-Christians oppose Christians so viciously, it has to do more with them dealing with their own guilt. God has written his law on the hearts of every man (Romans 2:14-15), we all know something is innately wrong within us. When an atheist or other non-believer sees us, it disturbs them & they must silence it, they must do something that will convince others that they are in the right & they can try to satisfy their guilt & silence God's call to their heart.
 23 The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
   when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
   for the LORD upholds his hand.
 Again, here is another reference of when we are walking with the Lord, we will be happier & when we do fall...& we will, we are only human...He is there to prevent us from falling too far & to help us back up again.

25 I have been young, and now am old,
   yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
   or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously,
   and his children become a blessing.

 27 Turn away from evil and do good;
   so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the LORD loves justice;
   he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
   but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land
   and dwell upon it forever.

 30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
   and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
   his steps do not slip.

 32 The wicked watches for the righteous
   and seeks to put him to death.
33 The LORD will not abandon him to his power
   or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

 34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
   and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
   you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

 35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
   spreading himself like a green laurel tree.[d]
36 But he passed away,[e] and behold, he was no more;
   though I sought him, he could not be found.

 37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
   for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
   the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

 Verse 31 reminds me of Epehsians 6:13-17 where Paul is speaking of the "Armor of God" and also Psalm 119:11 that says, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."
 39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
   he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;
   he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
   because they take refuge in him.
Once again the psalmist ends on such an encouraging tone, with verse 40 reminding me of Psalm 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

Psalms 38 (Yesterday)

So, like I said yesterday, I'm a couple of days behind so I'm going to try to catch up today. I'm going to read both yesterday's (Ps. 38) & today's (Ps. 37) passages but I'm not sure if I'll post on both of them. I'm ready now to talk about Ps. 38 but I haven't ready Ps. 37...so we'll see how it goes.

By the way, Psalms 38 is written by David and some speculate that this may have been one of his prayers regarding his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah. 

 1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
   nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your arrows have sunk into me,
   and your hand has come down on me.

 3 There is no soundness in my flesh
   because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
   because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;
   like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

 5 My wounds stink and fester
   because of my foolishness,
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
   all the day I go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning,
   and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and crushed;
   I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

 9 O Lord, all my longing is before you;
   my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
   and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
   and my nearest kin stand far off.

 12 Those who seek my life lay their snares;
   those who seek my hurt speak of ruin
   and meditate treachery all day long.

 13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
   like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
   and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
Once you come to the realization of the seriousness of what it means to sin, the weight of it is unbearable. The psalmist paints a very vivid & accurate picture of what the burden of sin is like. In verses 1 & 2, it almost sounds like he is blaming God, however, if you read on, in verse 5 you see that he is quite clear that this is his own doing, a result of his own "foolishness." However, God is convicting the author. God has been quite clear what He expects out of us, yet we are so arrogant & prideful that we think we know better than the Lord & we take things into our own hands, we do things our way. That is sin. God has also been quite clear as to what the penalties of sin are (Romans 6:23). 

The whole purpose of "the Law" is to convict man of his sin. To make him aware of what a wretched soul he is & to make him realize his need for a Savior. Once he accepts Christ as his savior, his remorse of his sin aids him in repentance. It drives him to leave the life he lived prior to his conversion & reminds him when faced with temptations again.

What the psalmist writes here is what we should all feel when we consider how we have blatantly offended our Creator and the one who gave his life so that we may be free from the eternal punishment of our blatant hatred of the One who loves us more than anyone on Earth could ever even consider loving us. 

 15 But for you, O LORD, do I wait;
   it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,
   who boast against me when my foot slips!”
 17 For I am ready to fall,
   and my pain is ever before me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
   I am sorry for my sin.
19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty,
   and many are those who hate me wrongfully.
20 Those who render me evil for good
   accuse me because I follow after good.
 21 Do not forsake me, O LORD!
   O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me,
   O Lord, my salvation!
There is so much in these last few verses of Ps. 38. First, he is waiting on the Lord & knows God will answer him despite the crushing reality of his sins. God is just waiting on us to cry out to Him. And, then he does. He confesses his iniquity & repents.

David then goes on to talk about how he following God but there are those out there that want to trap him, to get rid of him, to do harm to him just because of his loyalty to the Lord. 

This whole passage is almost a mirror of many true Christian's lives. First, you realize the weight of your sin, then you confess it to the Lord, next you start following Christ & living the Christian life, what follows are people (many times friends & family) who begin to hassle, harass, & attack you for doing what is right. In some countries & religions, this conversion can cost you your family, your job, your freedom, & even your life. The life of a Christian is not easy, it is not for the weak. 

But David ends the whole passage with a cry out to the Father. Despite realizing his wretchedness, being abandoned by his friends & family, & being actively pursued by people who want to do him harm; David knows he can rely on his King, his Salvation.