Archive for August, 2014

It’s Not As Easy As It Seems (Psalm 37; Ezekiel 1)

August 29, 2014

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 37:7

Last evening I was reading a section in Matt Chandlers latest book, “Recovering Redemption.”  Matt was writing about his personal experience with fear and anxiety.  As I read through his description of the knee jerking moments, when the fear of what would happen to his wife and children if he died, I felt the weight of the gap between faith and reality.

Little did I know what awaited me in Psalm 37 and in Ezekiel 1.  First Ezekiel 1, in this chapter we are introduced to a prophet who would have the dreaded task of sharing with hard-hearted people.  His work would be with his own people and it would not be an easy work.  Second, Psalm 37, in this chapter David deals with the need of trust in God’s path verses trust in the path of the wicked.

Think it through:

For Ezekiel there was given a vision of God in a way that is beyond description.  Ezekiel would again and again come back to this vision as a source of comfort and trust as he walked through the years of his ministry.

For David, there was the daily reminder of this fact, “he served a God in whom we can trust and commit ourselves too.”  Here is David’s direction for us, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and he will act.”

This is exactly what Matt Chandler, Keith Joseph, and everyone who walks through trials must do.  We cannot hide from trials.  We cannot ignore them.  We must fact them with a committed mindset that says, “Yes, this is too big for me, but it is not too big for God.”  We must be willing to trust in His sustaining power as we wait for the moment when God will be glorified the most for His work.

This means, that in some trials, he will work immediately.  But at other times, he will work through a long process where we will be stronger and he will gain even more glory.

Our response:

Until then, “We must delight ourselves in Him.”  Paul understand this when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Phil. 4:4

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Seeing The Light (Psalm 36, Lamentations 5)

August 28, 2014

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light,” Psalm 36:9

Often we take the simplest of things for granted.  For example, “those who have electricity, take it for granted, until they don’t have it.” I can remember our scrambling to find flash lights and candles during a storm years ago.”  It had been so long since our last power outage that we did not even consider the possibility of not have electricity.

Consider this fact:  “It could be possible that you and I could overlook the light we have in our lives.”  The light I am referring to is the light of the gospel.

Think it through:

In Psalm 36, David shows us a great contrast between those who see the light (Vs: 7-12) and the who do not see the light (Vs: 1-6).

I. Look closely at those who do not see the light:

Here are people who sin without fear of judgment.  Here are people who do not realize sin is dictating their every moment.  Because of an absence of light, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

II.  Look closely at those who see the light:

They turn from their sin and take refuge in Jesus.  God grants them the right to drink from the fountain of life.  Such people are granted eternal life through Jesus (John 11:24-25).

Question:  “What is the difference between these people?”  Did one group do more than the other group?

There is only one difference, “The steadfast love of God.”

We serve a God who has chosen to bring us to the light, John 1:9-12.  There is nothing in us that is better than the people who do not see the light.  Only the grace of God in showing love to us has given us this right to see the light.

Our response:

“Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me…”

You and I should be thankful for God’s light changing our lives.  You and I should not be judgmental of those who have not the light.  We should reach out in the same way Jesus had reached out to us!!  Praise God that we have been blessed to see the light!!!

A good place to be (Psalm 34; Lamentations 3)

August 26, 2014

“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles,” Psalm 34:6

Question, “Where is the best place in the world to be?”  This was the question I possessed to my youngest son as we began our devotion time last week.  As John thought about the question and his answer, I could see in the excitement of his eyes that there were some good places going through his mind.  But there was one problem, “of all the good places,” where was the best place?

Brothers and sisters, it is the same way in our lives as well.  There are many wonderful places where we can go.  I think of the joy I have in going to church with my brothers and sisters.  I also think about the joy of going home every evening.  I think about the wonderful moments when I get to go to my parents home. I think about the brothers and sisters in Malawi Africa.

However these places could never be of joy unless there was another place at the top of my list.  Here is the place, “In the arms of the Lord.”

Think it through:

David has been on the run from Saul for many years.  He is weary of the fight.  David decides to leave Israel and go down to live among the Philistines.  Very quickly he realizes this is a mistake.  We find this story in I Samuel 21:10-15.  In this moment David cries out to God.  God leads David out from the this place.

The verse that speaks most to me in Psalm 34 is verses 18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

David realizes his mistake and quickly runs to the Lord.

Psalm 34 has so much to say to the person who is trying to determine where is the best place to be in life.  As I read through this chapter I could not help but see the parallel to the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:2-11.

Those with the right spirit understand the best place to be is in the arms of Jesus.

Our response:

You possible could be going through a hard moment in your life as you read this blog?  It could be that you are unhappy in the place where  you are residing?  If so, I challenge you to consider who wants to guide you and have sweet fellowship with you.  His name is Jesus.  Here is what Jeremiah discovered, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness,” Lamentations 3:22-23.

No matter how weary or how wicked you have become, God is willing to receive you, if you follow the path of Psalm 34:18.  Turn to this path today.  Truly this is the best place to go.

No One Escaped (Lamentations 2, Psalm 33)

August 25, 2014

“You summoned as if to a festival day my terrors on every side, and the day of the anger of the Lord, no one escaped or survived; those whom I held and raised my enemy destroyed,” Lamentations 2:22

The news was tragic, “Both sons were killed in the accident.”  This news came from deep in the heart of Texas in 2012 as a father’s truck had broken down.  The father had gotten out of the truck and was pushing the truck to the side of the road when a drunken driver hit the truck and both sons in the truck were killed.

What happened next is still being tried in Texas court.  Prosecutors claim, “The father went home and got a gun.  He returned to the scene and shot the drunken man.”  The father maintain’s he did not do this.  One thing is for sure, “Justice is sometimes a clouded issue for humanity!!!”

This mornings reading occupies Lamentations 2, “where we clearly see the righteous judgment of God upon the rebellious people of Israel.”  Notice Jeremiah’s proclamation of the judgement of God, “The Lord has done what he purposed; he has carried out his word,” 2:17.

From Israel’s earliest days the Lord had been clear with His people.  If you obey me, you will never cease to live in the land.  But if you disobey me, you will cease to live in the land.  Their exile is proof that God keeps His word.

Think it through:

1.  What is our response to God’s just judgment?

Jeremiah had the right response, “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches, Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord.  Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.”  

You and I face moments when we want to lift our hands against those who wrong us.  However we must choose to not obey the flesh.  We must cry out to God for His mercy and for His wisdom.

2.  What can we do when we are facing judgment because of others sins?

When you fast forward to Lamentations 5 you find this answer, “Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!  Renew our days as of old,” 5:21

Our response:

Father, may we never take matters into our own hands.  Help us to trust in your right justice and help us to rightly align our lives to your ways and not our own.  

Lifted out of the grave (Psalm 30; Jeremiah 51)

August 22, 2014

“I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.”  Psalm 30:1

Last week the acting world lost one of it’s favorite comedians, Robin Williams.  This 63 year-old actor committed suicide to the shock of many people.  His wife revealed last Friday that he had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson disease.  Many have debated that because of his constant battle with depression and the added weight of this disease, he felt the best thing was the grave.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, “This is a somber reminder of how bleak life really is without Christ.”  Here in Psalm 30 our writer lifts up the name of the God who had lifted him up out of the grave.  I truly add my praise in knowing that Christ has redeemed me from the grave (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Think it through:

I.  God has extended favor to His people, Vs:5

This favor is not conditional (It is for life).  This favor is not without trial (Weeping may endure for the night).  This favor is certain (joy comes in the morning).

II. God has extended freedom to His people, Vs: 11-12

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”  

Followers of Christ have a certain expectation of things to come, II Corinthians 4:17-18.  Ours can be a life that never is rocked by the news of tough times ahead.  We have a future that is certain!!!  Oh how I wish that Robin Williams could have grasped this truth.

Our response:

Let us be a people who always keep God’s Word in front of us so that we are not rocked by bad news.

Let us be a people who are always sharing God’s Word with those who are being rocked by bad news.

The God of forever (Psalm 27-28; Jeremiah 50)

August 21, 2014

“Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!  Be their shepherd and carry them forever.”  Psalm 28:9

It sometimes seems as if we get locked into each moment without any thought to what has happened before and what is happening around us.  Maybe you are asking, “What are you talking about?”  As a follower of Christ we must always think with a big picture in mind.  We serve a God who has a forever plan.

Think it through:

David speaks of God in familiar terms in Psalm 28, “He is the rock.”  As the Rock, God is forever the same.

In David’s life we see him pleading with the Rock (Vs: 2-5).  We read of David praising the Rock (Vs: 6).  We read of Davids great peace because of the Rock (Vs: 7-9).  

Brothers and sisters, God’s plan is a forever plan.  You and I do not have to worry that we are not going to exist beyond this moment.  We do not have to worry that the enemy is overtaking God’s plan.  Notice what Isaiah wrote:

Listen to me, O house of Israel, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to grey hairs I will carry you, I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and save,” Isaiah 46:3-4

Our response:

You and I can trust in our Rock to complete the work he has started in us.  You and I must realize that the work began before we were born and we must realize we are a peace in God’s great puzzle in accomplishing His glorious work on the earth.  This day, take heart in the fact that you are standing on the Rock of ages who is forever!!! Praise His holy name.  

The power of belief (Psalm 26-27; Jeremiah 49)

August 20, 2014

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” Psalm 27:13

The past few weeks have been anything but joyful for our Christian brothers and sisters who call the nation of Iraq home.  Many of them have been forced from their homes and find themselves as the people in whom the writer of Hebrews addressed as sojourners and pilgrims in Hebrews 10:34-38.

I can honestly write, “These believers are being challenged with truth belief.”

Here before us in Psalm 27 is a confident believer who is exercising the power of belief.

Think it through:

David it walking through tough times knowing two things:

1.  He is not alone (Vs: 1-13)

God’s presence in his life is both a light and a stronghold, Vs: 1-4.  God’s presence in his life is both a comfort and encouragement in the midst of tough times, Vs: 5-13.

2.  He will be delivered (Vs: 14)

David trusted in what Paul wrote about, “All things work together for his good…” Rom. 8:28.  

These two things lead David to encourage every generation of believers.  Notice his passionate plea:  “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage, wait for the Lord.”

Our response:

If you are personally going through tough times as a follower of Christ, follow the encouraging words of David.  Accept them and apply them in this troubled moment.

If you are not a follower of Christ, cry out to him today.  Check out Romans 10:9-10.

If you know of others who are facing tough times, and you do, pray that the words of David would sound clear in their heart and soul.

The joy of waiting (Psalm 25, Jeremiah 28)

August 19, 2014

“Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.”  Psalm 25:3

One of my many weaknesses is the weakness of waiting.  I am in the group of people who proclaim to God, “Give me patience and give it to me now.”  I am also one who struggles with waiting to see something accomplished.  I see the end result God intends, but I struggle with the waiting.  However, I am learning ever so slowly, the joy of waiting!

Our Bible reading for today is a great reminder of the joy of waiting.  David, as is often the case in Psalms, is facing enemies.  He cries out to God in trust, Vs: 1-2.  It is clear that in this moment he has not seen the end intended by the Lord.  However, he trusts in the process of waiting.

Think it through:

I.  David is actively waiting, Vs: 3-5

As he waits, David is in the process of exploration, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.”  

Brothers and sisters, God has much to teach us along the journey if we are willing to explore our circumstances.

As he waits, David is in the process of endurance, “For you I wait all the day long.”

Brothers and sisters, God is teaching us trust and truth of His great power in our days.  Do not ask to get through something before you have discovered God’s great power in the journey itself.

II.  David is amazed in his waiting, Vs: 6-10

As he actively waits, he is reminded of how he has sinned so many times, in particular during the early days of his faith.  He is amazed at how God has given grace and continues to give grace in the journey.

Brothers and sisters, God’s grace is for the purpose of forgiveness but also for the purpose of leading us to faithfulness in Him.

III. David is offering amazing worship, Vs: 11-21

David is in AWE of God (Those who fear you).  God has entered into covenant with David.  God has cleansed David, “Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sin.”  

Brothers and sisters, each day you and I must see the wonder of our God who leads us along the path of life.  He is worthy of praise while we wait.

Our response:

Here is David’s final resolve in Vs: 21, ““For I wait for you.” The Apostle Peter encourages us with this same truth in I Peter 1:5-9, “We will obtain the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls.  May this be our resolve as we wait!!! 

“The Lord is,” Psalm 23-24, Jeremiah 47″

August 18, 2014

“The Lord is…” Psalm 23A

Certainly the most familiar Psalm in all the Psalms is Psalm 23.  It is known as the “Shepherd Psalm.”  This Psalm is quoted and recited at funerals, weddings, and is memorized by children early in their scripture memory work in church.  Above all other Psalms the people of Israel know this Psalm the best.

This day I want you to approach this Psalm with fresh eyes, maybe as one who is looking at this Psalm for the first time.

As you approach the Psalm you see the first three words in the English Bible, “The Lord is.”

Think it through:

Please pause and reflect here, “The Lord is…”  Brothers and sisters, this is truly amazing to me!!!  David is writing from the viewpoint of one who has personal experience with the Lord.  He is able, under God’s anointing, to share with his readers some of the greatest truth about the Lord.

I have divided this truth into four categories:

I.  The Lord is Personal

“He is my shepherd.”  David reminds us that God has possessed him and now he possess God.  This means our God is a God of Salvation.

II.  The Lord is our Provider

“Lie down in green pastures.”  Our God gives peace and provision to our lies as we eat in green pastures and we drink from still water.  “The Lord restores our soul.”  Our Lord brings us to life and He keeps us alive, Psalm 19:17.  “The Lord leads us in paths of righteousness.”  Our Lord leads us to live a life that is right before Him and before the world.

III.  The Lord is our Protector

“Even thought I walk through the valley of death.”  Death does not harm  the child of God.  “For your rod and staff, they comfort me.”  The enemy will never overcome us and the flesh will never control us again.

IV. The Lord is worthy of Praise

“You prepare a table before me…”  We serve a God who brings us to celebration in this life and in the life to come.”

Our response:

One must examine his or her own life to discover if the Lord has possessed his or her life?  This is a personal matter.  It would be tragic to know the words of this Psalm but not the Lord of this Psalm.

The truth of this Psalm is amazing for all who know this Psalm.  I want to encourage you to memorize and meditate on the truth of this Psalm.  Your life will be altered forever by the truth therein!!!

 

Responding to what you see and hear (Psalm 19; Jeremiah 43)

August 15, 2014

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer,” Psalm 19:14

“Be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear.  For the Father up above is looking down on you…”  These words were edged into my mind as a child.  But they are not only for children, the words of this children’s song come directly from Psalm 19.

David is praising the Lord for what he sees and what he hears.

Think it through:

I.  In Vs: 1-6 David is viewing God’s handiwork (Creation)

As he views creation he is reminded of the goodness of God in creating all that we see and enjoy.  As he views creation he is reminded of the rebellion of man who plunged this world into a corrupt state.

II.  In Vs: 7-10 David is reading (listening) God’s Word

“The law of God is perfect, reviving the soul.  The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

David’s response to what he see’s and hears is amazing:  “Keep me from unconsciously sinning and keep me from consciously sinning!!!”

Now this is heavy stuff.

David’s desire is to both think and speak in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

Question:  “How can this be possible?”  Answer:  “Your mind and heart must be focused on both mortification of sin and magnification of scripture.”

God’s Word will cut out the sin in our lives and will fill our lives with wholesome things.

Our response:

We must first come to our Redeemer (Psalm 19:14, “He is our Lord, our Rock, and our Redeemer.”)  

We must desire to walk in His truth.  We will not be perfect but we will progress daily in our walk with the Lord as we sit at His feet!!!  We will also progress as we focus our eyes on His daily workings in the world.

It is my prayer that both you and I would see His handiwork and hear His word throughout each day and night!!!