Archive for April, 2016

Getting to know Him (Psalm 102-104)

April 29, 2016

Bless the Lord, all his works.  In all places of his dominion.  Bless the Lord, O my soul.”  Psalm 103:22

If you follow this blog you know that I have been blessed to spend time with my dad the last few days.  One of the things that amazed me with this time was in some of the happenings from his life that I had never heard of.  My day, seldom shares about his childhood.  As John and I listened to stories from his childhood, we were amazed at how God had been gracious and merciful to my dad during his childhood years.

Question:  “Do you ever have the time to pause and reflect on what God has been doing since before time began?”

Psalms 102-104 give us insight into who this God really is:

  • In Psalm 102 we see the love of our eternal God.
  • In Psalm 103 we see the amazing work of grace.
  • In Psalm 104 we see the creative work of God.

In each of these chapters we find such great insight that should lead us to overflowing worship of our God.

I want to illustrate this by looking a little closer into Psalm 103.

  • In Verses 3-6 we see no less than six benefits of knowing Him.  Can you identify them?  Take time to write them down: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

  • In Verses 8-13 we continue to see more and more benefits of knowing Him.  Again identify and write down as many as you see: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

    As  I considered all that I wrote down the following reality came into my heart:  “I am unworthy of knowing such a God.”  You ask, “Why?”  Look at verses 14-18

     

    For he knows our frame;[a]
        he remembers that we are dust.

    15 As for man, his days are like grass;
        he flourishes like a flower of the field;
    16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
        and its place knows it no more.
    17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
        and his righteousness to children’s children,
    18 to those who keep his covenant
        and remember to do his commandments.

    This is amazing:  God, who created us, watched as Adam walked away from Him.  God placed a curse upon man as a result of the fall.  Men’s lives began to be like grass and the wind that passes away.   As men lived their lives, God, In His steadfast love reached down to us through Jesus.  Jesus offered a sacrifice for our sins.  Now men can again be in relationship and fellowship with God.

    This is what I am getting to know more and more every day.  This was what Paul prayed for us to know in Ephesians 3:18-19

    18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

    This is my prayer for you today!!!  May we know Him!!!

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Who is responsible? (I Chronicles 7-10)

April 28, 2016

“So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the commandments of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance.”  I Chronicles 10:13

The last three days I have spend much time driving back and forth to Atlanta with my Dad taking care of his safe travels to the doctor and then back home to Kentucky.  Each day Dad would comment on the vast amount of traffic as well as the construction.  Each day we would see traffic accidents and always would be the same question:  “I wonder, who is responsible?”

As you and I continue in reading the genealogies of God’s people it is important that we ask ourselves this question:  “Who is responsible for their successes and failures?”

Now before we answer the question, I want to point out three common characteristics we see in every genealogy:

  1. We see the faithfulness of God.  God was and is always faithful.
  2. We see the faithfulness of a few.  There were some in each tribe who were faithful to God.  We see an example of this in 7:27 “The son of Nun, Joshua.”
  3. We see the faithlessness of many.  We see an example in Saul, 10:13-14.

As I discover these common characteristics, the answer to our question becomes obvious.  “Our successes are not of our doing and our failures are clearly of our doing.”

This causes me to become extremely humble in this moment.  I am reminded of the words of Paul to the church at Ephesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing;it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 2:8-9

The KJV translates as, “Not of yourselves.”

Brothers and sisters, you and I are in God’s family because of His faithfulness in extending mercy and giving grace.  All of this culminated in Jesus spilling His blood for our cleansing, Ephesians 2:12-14.  We are now accounted as the faithful because of His faithfulness.

Oh that you and I would walk in faithfulness carrying the message of a faith that is not of our own doing!!!

“Are you listening?” (Psalm, 81;88;92-93)

April 27, 2016

“Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!” Psalm 81:13

“What did you say?”  This was the question my dad kept asking as we traveled together to his doctors appointment.  It is clear, my dad has a hearing problem.  Years of exposure to heavy equipment without ear protection has greatly affected my dad’s hearing.

Question:  “Are you and I hearing God correctly?”

In Psalm 81 we see a clear call to both praise the Lord (Vs: 1-3) and to listen to the Lord (Vs: 8-9).

The readers had every reason to praise the Lord. He had delivered them from bondage, provided their every need, and had given them the law to govern their daily lives, (Vs: 4-7).  But instead of praising and listening to Him, they chose to praise and to listen to other God’s, (Vs: 11-12).

The Psalmist pleads with the people to turn to God with every question and to open their hearts to receive God’s answers, (Vs: 13-17).

Question:  “Are you and I hearing God correctly?”

My dad cannot hear men’s voices correctly without help.  You and I cannot hear God’s voice without the help of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit teaches us God’s Word, I John 2:27; II Peter 1:18-21, as we open our spiritual ears to listen.

This day I am mindful of the following:

  • Our God leads us through difficult days (Psalm 88).
  • Our God makes us productive even to old age as we listen to Him (Psalm 92).
  • Our God reigns over everything and everyone (Psalm 93).

I want to listen to this glorious God in whom is worthy of praise.  Take time to read the below scripture and listen as you read.  Ephesians 1:15-22

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[a] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,

“Lord, I am listening to you!!!”

Where does hope begin? ( I Chronicles 6)

April 26, 2016

“These are the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the Lord after the ark rested there.” I Chronicles 6:31

In this chapter you and I are confronted with a long list of names.  These names are hard to read and even harder to pronounce. It would be so easy to just get through the chapter and miss the meaning given by the Lord.  This chapter is a source of great hope!!!

Consider the following:

  • Israel has returned from captivity and it is troubled times.
  • Israel is struggling to understand who was to be in leadership both politically and spiritually.
  • In this chapter God reminds them of His divine order of spiritual leadership.
  • The Levites were to serve in the temple.  They were God’s chosen leaders to perform the sacrifices to the Lord.

Big deal:  “It would be through their work that Israel would be reminded of their need of a Savior.”

It is to Jesus that they would be called to look for, I Chronicles  17:11-12.  It would be Jesus who would come to be the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world, John 1:29.

Brothers and sisters, “this list gives us hope in knowing that God had a plan in place that leads us to Jesus.”

Consider this:  “All Christ followers are also on a list.”  We are on a list that is recorded in the Lamb’s book of life.  We are called to be His ambassadors in this world, II Corinthians 5:20.  We are called to be a kingdom of priests, I Peter 2:9-10.  We are bear His name to the world.  In doing so we are giving hope to the world.

My challenge is for you to understand the why of your name being on the list!!!

Seeking God’s Viewpoint (Psalm 73; 77-78)

April 25, 2016

“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discovered their end.”  Psalm 73:16-17

It has become almost a daily thing in my life to do the following, “Lord, I wish I had known this as a young believer.”  Yes, each day God shows me His viewpoint as I read his word.  And Yes, each day I think about how I should have known this when I was much younger.

Here before us is Psalm 73 in which the Psalmist is struggling with understanding why He is suffering (as God’s child) and the wicked are being blessed.  This was the deep nagging question for Job as well.

As we read the 28 verses of this chapter we discover God’s viewpoint concerning this question.  Follow the outline:

  • The Psalmist is confused about the benefits of following God, Vs: 3-16.
  • The Psalmist is clouded in his viewpoint of following God, Vs: 21-22.
    • He was about to give up, but God moved in.
  • The Psalmist found clarity as He met with God, Vs: 17-20; 23-28.

Brothers and sisters, “over and over again you have read this blog pleading with you to daily spend time with God.”

Here again we see this same pleading.  Life is too difficult and our enemy is too crafty.  We need God’s view every day. Keep this in mind, “When you don’t know why and when you feel lost, look to God.  He always has the answers we need.”

And yes, I wish I had learned this earlier in life!!!

On the list (I Chronicles 1-2)

April 22, 2016

“I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever.” I Chr. 17:11,12

How embarrassed he must have been as he stood there, all dressed up, but denied access to the event for one reason.  The reason, “His name was not on the list of invited guest.”

Question:  “Are you on God’s invitation list?”

The first nine chapters of I Chronicles gives us a detailed list of the elected people of God from the beginning of history to the return of Judah from exile in the sixth century. The list is important for the following reasons:

  • This people were a covenant people.  “God keeps His promises.”
  • This people lost their kingdom. “Jesus will come and restore the kingdom.”
  • This people experienced both judgment and blessing.  “Jesus came and took the wrath of God so that we could be on the list of those blessed by God.”  Romans 3:21-26

Brothers and sisters, it would be so easy to just skip over these chapters and to think, “This makes no sense.”  But with each name we are reminded of God’s great grace in choosing a people for himself.   A people who were sinful and a people who were under the Father’s wrath.  With each name, God points us to our need of Jesus!!!

As I came to the end of chapter two, I was reminded, by the Spirit, of this verse: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:15

All those who stand at the Great White Throne judgment will be cast into hell because their names were not on the list.  Another verse came to mind: “But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”  Rev. 21:27

Only those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus will make the list.  Suddenly I Chronicles 1-2 takes on new meaning as I realize, many on that list did not make heaven.  Being born in the right family does not get your name on the list.

Getting right with Jesus is the only way.  Thank you Father, for making me right with you through Jesus Christ.  I have made the list!!!

Refusing to get caught up in it (Psalm 6; 8-10; 14; 16; 19;21)

April 21, 2016

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Psalm 16:11

Recently, while having my mind a thousand miles away, Sherry asked, “did I hear her previous statement to John.”  In that moment I recognized the situation between them was one in which both wanted me to side with them.  In that moment I was so thankful that I had not heard Sherry’s statement.  I was easily able to refuse to get caught up in it!!!

However, in more serious things, you and I do not find it so easy to not get caught up in it.  For example, David seems to be caught up in trials of various kinds.  In our selected readings he has trials that range from physical sickness to spiritual attacks to his well-being.

Without a doubt many of you can identify with how hard it can be to stay on the track of peace and productivity when life’s issues seem to sweep us up in their all-encompassing arms.  But consider this, “David was able to both own his trials and to overcome his trials.”  Keep this in mind, “This did not mean that he did not go through them.”  The fact is, “He did go through them.”  But the key was this:  “God was with him directing his path, speaking to his pain, and supplying his need.”  

I offer Psalm 16 for your reading once again.  As you read, take notes of how God was with him and how he will be with you.  Take notes of how God spoke to His pain. Claim those same notes for your life.  Jot down the way God supplied His need and praise Him for supplying your need.

Here is Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.[b]

The sorrows of those who run after[c] another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.[d]
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[e] rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.[f]

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Read it again!!!  Once you have finished turn to II Timothy 1:12 and I Peter 4:19 with an eye to see God’s way to get through.

Can we try this at home? (II Samuel 1-4)

April 20, 2016

“And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.”  II Samuel 1:12

When I was a kid, reality shows were still a thing of the future.  The craze is my day was with shows that tried to expand the belief system with over the top feats being performed by sports stars.  In the midst of all this people began to try these feats at home with devastating results.  Eventually the programs would have a disclaimer at the end of each show, “Do not try this at home.”

Question:  “Is it possible to do in our home what David did in front of the the nation of Israel.”  You may ask, “What great feat did he accomplish?”  Here is a short list from our readings:

  • David was broken over the death of his enemy, II Samuel 1.
  • David did not take advantage of a tough situation, II Samuel 2.  David asked God if he should go back to Israel.
  • David did not allow Joab to get away with revenge, II Samuel 3.
  • David avenged the murder of one of his enemies, II Samuel 4.
  • David honored his enemies for their positive works in the world, II Samuel 1; 3.

When I look at David’s life I see a man who had a different heart and it showed.  Now I know what some of you are thinking, “David was a special man. I am not like that.”

It is true, David was a man after God’s on heart.  But He was not perfect.  We see his failure in II Samuel 3:2-5 in marrying multiple times which was forbidden by God, Deuteronomy 17:17.  David would pay a severe price for this sin.  David was a man like you and I, but He followed God which leads us to understand we must  also follow God.

Is it possible for you and I, in our homes to follow Davids path of caring for all people, even his enemies?  Jesus taught us this very truth in Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[a] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

God’s call on our lives is to have the love of God for all people even those who are our enemies.  This can be difficult if we are just focusing on trying to love those who are our enemies.  We must first fall deeply in love with God and with His ways.  Then we can love others.

Because David understood the love of his father, Psalm 142; 145, he was able to love even his enemies.  May we be able to do the same for the glory of God.

Our Shadow (Psalm 121; 123-125; 128-130)

April 19, 2016

“The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.” Psalm 121:5

Question:  “what is always with you, but never speaks?’  Answer, “Your shadow.”

This may seem as a strange way to begin the blog, but it is very appropriate in light of Psalm 121.

Keep in mind we are reading the Psalms of ascent.  These were the songs the people of God would sing as they made their pilgrim ascents throughout the year to Jerusalem.  In this particular Psalm the singers were praising the Lord who was ever with them.  The writer uses the metaphor of our shadow to illustrate the ever abiding presence of the Lord in the believers life.

Consider how God, unlike our shadow, speaks into our lives:

  • He is the God who spoke this world into existence. Vs: 2
  • He is the God who constantly is with us both speaking and guiding our lives, Vs: 3-4

This amazing God keeps us from stumbling.  He keeps us from being destroyed by our enemies.  He is ever on watch for our lives.

  • He is the God who keeps His covenant promises, Vs: 6-8

There is no one like our God, who is the shadow who is always with us.  Peter knew Jesus this way as he spoke in Acts 1:21.  Jude understood this about our God in Vs: 24

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,

John the Apostle understood the future joy of our shadows covenant blessing, Revelation 7:13-17

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Take time this day to praise our God for being our shadow!!!  He is always there.  Allow this to calm you in your storm.  Allow this to remove the weight you are trying to carry.  Allow this to establish your worth before God and to God!!!  Allow this to lead you into His presence to worship Him!!!  Allow this to move you to share Him with the world where you live.

What can we say to these things? (I Samuel 28-31; Psalm 18)

April 18, 2016

“Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring.” Psalm 18:50

There are moments when we hear someone’s story that we are motivated to action in our own lives.  This often happens at a funeral when we consider the life of someone who has died.  We then, in turn, look at our own lives with an eye to be more intentional or to mirror what someone else has done.

Consider our readings for the day.  The events of I Samuel 28-31 are placed before us as a historical narrative of Israel’s first two kings.  These chapters teach us about Saul’s last days as king which will give way to David becoming king.

Question: “What can we say to these things?”

  • Saul’s story ends in the same way that everyone’s story ends, who turns away from God’s commands.

In chapter 28 Saul fears for his life.  He has no answer from God.  We see the wickedness in his heart being revealed as he seeks the help of a witch.  We see the revealing of his end as God allows Samuel to speak to him from the grave.

In chapter 31 we see Saul’s final moments.  He dies in battle. He is shamed after death. He is honored by his people.

As I stand at Saul’s burial I say, “I don’t want to be like Saul.”

  • David’s story continues in the same way that everyone’s story continues who follows the commandments of God.

In chapter 29 David is protected from having to fight his own people.  In chapter 30 David is strengthened by God, Vs: 6, to overcome the enemies of his people.

As I see David’s life at this point, I say, “I want to be a man who is after God’s heart.”

Now here is where it get’s really God.  David pens Psalm 18 many years later, after he has been on the throne for some time.  David remembers God’s faithfulness during the tough days, 18:4-6.  David rejoices in God’s faithfulness in every fight, 18:18-19.  There is no one like our Father, Vs: 29.

This is really important here:  “We look to one greater than David.”  We look to Jesus Christ who is the offspring of David.”  

We see in Christ life the perfect Son of God who teaches us how to always be faithful.  We see in Christ life one who gave his life so that we could be saved.  We see in Christ life the charge for us to take the gospel to the nations, Romans 15:9

This is what we are to do with what we have read.  Always consider Christ and always conform to the image of Christ!!!!