Friday, March 24, 2017

Psalm 83 - A Prayer for Israel

Five years ago I blogged "150 Days of Psalms." I've not looked at the old posts because I wanted to possibly have a new take, a fresh look - and I didn't want to be influenced by what I wrote before. I suppose it might be interesting to look after-the-fact at a psalm, but I haven't done that yet.

But today..... I looked.... and now I can't think of something different to say.

Here's what I said five years ago. I think it still works.

Today's Psalm is one that Israel still needs to use as a prayer - only the names have changed to the modern names of the same people: Iran, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, etc.

Christians can use that same prayer using these same names, plus they can add: China, North Korea, Indonesia, Sudan and many more.

14 Like fire that burns the forest And like a flame that sets the mountains on fire, 15 So pursue them with Your tempest And terrify them with Your storm. 16 Fill their faces with dishonor, That they may seek Your name, O LORD. 17 Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever, And let them be humiliated and perish, 18 That they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, Are the Most High over all the earth.

Pray today for Israel and for the Persecuted Church.

But I would add this - something that I left out. It looks like my thought before was for the "consuming fire" side of God. That was the psalmists desire too. But he added this (and I think I overlooked this) "That they may seek Your name, O LORD" and "That they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, Are the Most High over all the earth."

Sometimes I get caught up in wishing something terrible would happen to the "bad guys" that I forget that I also need to pray that they would come to know the Lord. We still need to pray for Israel and for the Persecuted Church, but we need to pray both parts of this psalm - May they be humiliated and perish, but also, may they seek the Lord and know Him.

A side note.......
Every day I do a search for that day's psalm. Every day there are many beautiful pictures with a verse of the psalm written on it. Today, there are only pictures like the one I used before: maps of the holy lands, charts comparing the old names of Israel's enemies with their new names... those kinds of things. So I made this one. Not exactly a pretty mountain scene or a butterfly on a flower, but it matches the verse.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Psalm 82 - Judging the Judges

Psalm 82 is a little confusing at first. What is he (the psalmist) talking about "gods?"
All of the commentaries that I read say the psalmist is talking about "judges."
Here's a nice explanation that I found. you are gods

Here is what this psalm says judges should do and not do.

  • Don't judge unjustly
  • Don't show partiality to the wicked
  • Defend the weak and the fatherless
  • Uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed
  • Rescue the weak and the needy
We should demand the same from our judges.

And then we should live our lives as we expect them to live.

What are some things that you can do to defend the weak and fatherless?
What are you doing to help the poor and the oppressed?
Are you rescuing the weak and the needy?

Somehow - over the decades - the church has abandoned our call and given many of these things over to the federal government. Now the government is jillions of dollars in debt and the church has become fat and lazy.

WE should change that. What are your ideas of how to live our lives within these guidelines for the judges? We can't judge the judges without judging ourselves.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Psalm 81 - A Call to Worship

Psalm 81 gives several instructions for worship. It doesn't come right out and say, "this is how you should worship" but it is all in there.

Sing and shout
"Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!" v.1

Play instruments
"Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre." v.2

Celebrate special feasts 
"Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;" v.3

It's a command, not a suggestion
"this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob." v.4

Remember what God has done in the past
vs. 5-7

Don't worship any other gods
"You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me." v.9 (8-10)

There is condemnation for those who do not listen to God and reward for those who do.

The choice is yours.
Will you answer God's call to worship Him?
Will you listen to Him?
Will you be satisfied with the blessings He gives?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Psalm 80 - Shine On Us

3 Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

7 Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

19 Restore us, LORD God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

Psalm 79 - for His Glory

Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name. Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name.
Psalms 79:9 NLT

Our Internet is out at home so I'm trying to blog from my phone. It looks different and doesn't seem to work exactly the same way, so I'm going to make this short. 

Psalms 79 is a song of lament - 
  • : to express sorrowregret, or unhappiness about something
Full Definition
    intransitive verb
  • : to mourn aloud : wail
  • transitive verb
  • 1 : to express sorrowmourning, or regret for often demonstratively :mourn
  • 2 : to regret strongly
  • synonyms see deplore

Jerusalem had been destroyed. Thousands had died. Where was God? How long would He stay away?

That's as far as I got last night blogging with my phone.....

Here's where I was headed.
Salvation is from God. God giving us salvation brings glory to His name. Forgiving our sins gives honor to His name.

Yes... salvation is a wonderful gift for us, but it is more than that. It shows the glory and honor of God. His righteousness demands a penalty, a payment, for sin. But because He is glorious and honorable He offers salvation. When we come to Him and ask for forgiveness it, and then He gives it, that shows His honor and glory.

I think that's pretty cool!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Psalm 78 - Those Who Don't Learn History...

...are doomed to repeat it. The saying by George Santayana was originally stated as "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Since Wikipedia says Santayana was an atheist he may not have been familiar with Psalm 78, but if he had read it he would have seen this. (This is a shortened version of vs.1-7. If you haven't read them yet you should.)

We're going to tell you the praiseworthy things that the LORD has done. He commanded that we teach his laws to our children and their children so they would trust in God and not forget what He had done and would keep His commandments.

After the opening verses Psalm 78 recounts the history of the children of Israel. The psalmist says we should teach our children so they WON'T repeat the history of their ancestors.

8 They would not be like their ancestors— a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

We need to do the same thing. We need to teach our children and grandchildren the ways of the LORD. Tell them how great He is. Teach them the history of Israel and let them see how the Israelites 10 they did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. 11 They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them.

If we and our children don't learn from the mistakes of the Israelites we are doomed to repeat it.

You should do this with your own history too. It's is definitely more personal and relate-able when it is YOUR story. Teach your children the good things you have done as you followed the LORD and about His greatness. Don't be ashamed to tell them your mistakes. They don't necessarily need to know all the terrible details, but let them know how your life was messed up when you turned away from God and how He put it back together when you returned to Him. (If that's your story.) In both cases tell them that you are telling them these stories so they will follow you in the good things and avoid your mistakes. 

Bottom line:
Teach your children history so they aren't doomed to repeat it. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Psalm 77 - Remembering

Have you noticed how easy it is to get discouraged? How easy it is to think that God has abandoned you? To question whether God even cares about you anymore? Everything is going wrong (so you think) so you just know that God has turned His back on you and forgotten you.

The writer of Psalm 77 was feeling that same way. He cried for help. He couldn't be comforted. He felt rejected by God.
7 “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? 8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

He was really in a bad place.

But look what he did. He remembered. 

He remembered what God had done in the past.
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

For some reason we have really short memories when it comes to what God has done for us and really long memories of the bad things that happen to us. We need to consciously work on reversing that.

How much worry could you avoid if you remembered how God had cared for you in the past? Would you live your life differently - like without fear or sorrow - if you remembered how God had answered your prayers in the past? Could you... well....ask your own question about something that keeps you from living Jesus' words in John 10:10 "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Would remembering how great God is and what He has done in the past answer that question?

Perhaps you could keep a list of things in the back of your Bible - a list of answers to prayer, times God took care of you in difficult times, times that He showed you the right path to take.... those kinds of things. Then the next time you're all worried or feel like God has abandoned you or turned against you, go through your list and remember all that God has done for you. 

Bottom line:
Remembering what God has done for you will get you through the difficult times of life.