Monday, January 23, 2017

Psalm 23 - A Fresh Look

I'm having a difficult time writing a post today.

Psalm 23 only has six verses, but they are so full of meaning that entire books have been written about them. A preaching pastor could easily preach a four or five part sermon series from this beautiful psalm.

So what can I say in a short blog post that would be new or different or could measure up to the great theologians who have written about it?

I did have this thought. The 23rd Psalm is so familiar, and we have heard it so often - usually at funerals - that we've come to the place that we just, kinda, ignore it. Familiarity doesn't necessarily breed contempt, but it can breed apathy. Or we relegate this psalm to funerals.

So what do you do when you find yourself skimming over a familiar passage of scripture? Here are a few ideas.
A fresh look at Psalm 23

  • Pray. Ask God to show you something new or how to apply it to your life or how you can use that passage to encourage someone else.
  • Read it out loud. You'll hear things that your brain might skip if you read silently.
  • Read it from several different translations. I've read Psalm 23 from the NASB for years. Before that KJV and probably NIV. Today I read it from the NLV.
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.I'm not going to tell you my thoughts about Psalm 23 on this post. Not because I don't have any, but because I don't want to limit what God may be saying to YOU today through Psalm 23. Bottom line:Ask God to give you a fresh look at Psalm 23.For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12Let the Word be active in your soul and spirit. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Psalm 22 - A View of the Savior

There are many Psalms that are called "Messianic Psalms." These are Psalms that point us to Jesus. Psalm 22 is one of these Messianic Psalms.

Look at these obvious references to the crucifixion of Christ.

  • "My God, my God, why have  your forsaken me?" v.1
  • But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. v.6
  • All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. v.7
  • “He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” v.8
  • I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. v.14
  • My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. v.15
  • Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. v.16
  • All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. v.17
  • They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. v.18
Those are the obvious Messianic references/prophecies that were fulfilled through our Lord Jesus Messiah ("Christ" is Greek for "Messiah") What's really cool to see is that Jesus fulfilled prophecies, not only by things He said (which a clever man might be able to do) but He also fulfilled all kinds of prophecies by things that were done to him by others. Amazing.

I'm sure I'm not the first to think this, but I think the last few verses are also Messianic. What do you think?

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever! 
27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, 
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. 
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive. 
30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. 
31 They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!

So what do we take from this? When we celebrate Advent (at Christmas time for all my Baptist friends) We celebrate Christ's first coming as we look forward to His second coming. All through scripture we find prophecies that were partially fulfilled in Christ's first coming and will be ultimately fulfilled in His second coming. Psalm 22 looks that way to me. As we see Psalm 22 point to and describe the crucifixion we can be certain (plus we read it in Philippians and other places) that all will one day kneel before him.

So..... here's a cool thought..... we get to be part of the fulfillment of Psalm 22. We can be the ones who tell the generations that follow us about the Lord. We can proclaim His righteousness and shout "He has done it!"

Bottom line:
Psalm 22 and it's depiction of the crucifixion shows that Christ's death was part of God's plan - not an accident.
When we see obvious fulfillment of prophecies concerning Christ's first advent we can be certain of the fulfillment of prophecies concerning His second coming.
We need to be telling others about Jesus.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Psalm 21 - Rejoice with Singing and Praise

We can't totally relate to what David is saying in Psalm 21. We aren't kings and queens. We don't have an entire nation watching us to see what God is doing in our lives.

But we can relate if we think about the blessings that God pours out on us. As joint heirs with Christ we are His children. Romans 8:17 Morning by morning new mercies we see. Lamentations 3:22-23

If you'll take some time and reflect on all that God has done in your life then you can join in with David in your response.

  • Joy in God's strength v.1
  • Greatly rejoice in God's victory v.1
  • Cheered with joy in God's presence v.6
  • Sing v.13
  • and Praise God's might v.13

Bottom line:
You may not be a king, but you still have a lot of reasons to praise God. When you notice all of the blessings in your life you'll be filled with joy - most importantly, the joy of His presence.
Then you won't be able to help yourself. You'll join the saints through the ages who have echoed David's words and you'll sing and praise His power.

Be exalted, O LORD , in Your strength; 
We will sing and praise Your power.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Psalm 20 - Praying for others

Up to this point in our 150 days through the Psalms most of the psalms have been the psalmist (usually David) asking God to protect him or deliver him from his enemies - basically prayers for himself.

Today's psalm is a prayer for someone else. ( says it's a psalm of David but the prayer is for the king too, so maybe David was speaking in third person....?)

No matter how it was written or who wrote for whom we can still get some prayer pointers on how to pray for others.

Pray for answers from God and for God's protection. v.1

Pray for God to send help - specifically help from heaven (with the Temple and Zion being references for God's dwelling and His presence.) v.2

Pray that God will be pleased with the offerings of the person you ar praying for - which would lead to praying that the person is living a life pleasing to God. v.3

Pray for the person's desires, that they are pleasing to God, so God will give him the desires of his heart. v.4

Be sure and praise God for answers to prayer - anticipated answers and then prayers after God answers. vs.5-6

Declare your trust in God. v.7

Bottom line:
Pray for others, not just for them to receive help, but so God will be praised.
5 Then we will shout for joy over your victory and celebrate your triumph by praising our God.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Psalm 19 - Three in One

Psalm 19 is one of my favorites. It is written with beautiful imagery and speaks wonderfully to three different thoughts. It's like getting three mini sermons in one.

It begins by pointing out how the heavens declare God's glory. vs.1-6 Even without words the speak of Him. All the wonder and superlatives that man can use to describe the heavens barely begin to compare with how they, in turn, tell of God's glory.

The second section, vs. 7-11 describes God's Word. His Word (law, precepts, statutes, commands, decrees) is described as being perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, enduring forever, firm, righteous, more precious than gold and sweeter than honey.

His Word has these benefits.

  • refreshes the soul
  • makes wise the simple
  • gives joy to the heart
  • gives light to the eyes
  • warns God's servants
  • and in keeping them there is great reward

The third part, vs. 11-14 (I know. I put 11 in parts 2 and 3) is a prayer about sin and is a good three part model for us to follow. David first states that a person can't always see his own faults, so he asks God to forgive him of his hidden sins. Then he asks God to protect him from willful sins. You know the kind. You face a temptation - something you shouldn't do - but in your sinfulness you decide to jump right in anyway. Last, he confesses his desire for his words and his thoughts to be pleasing to God.

At first look this is three separate psalms put into one, but they actually connect well. This psalm is the story of redemption!
  1. God reveals Himself to man. 
  2. God's word shows man that he is a sinner. 
  3. Man confesses his sin and trusts God to be his redeemer.  
Bottom line:
God invites us to be a part of His redemption story. Where are you in this story line? Part 1 - God is revealing Himself to you? Part 2 - God's Word is teaching you and showing you that you are a sinner in need of a Savior? Part 3 - You've confessed your sin and asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior?

Another bottom line:
After a person is saved he/she should join in with the heavens in declaring how glorious God is.
The benefits of knowing, trusting in, meditating on God's Word are even more wonderful once you know God in a personal relationship through Jesus.
And third, you should continue to confess your sin and ask God to keep you from willful sins. (and praise Him as your Redeemer)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Psalm 18 - Testimony Time

In several (most) of the psalms that we have looked at so far in our 150 day journey David is crying out to God for help. Today's psalm is written after God's help came - after David was delivered from his enemies.

It makes a nice outline for sharing your story (giving your testimony.)

First - tell how great God is, what he means to you. vs. 1-3

Then tell what your life was like before you were saved - vs. 4-6

Tell how God saved you. - vs. 7-19

Then tell how your life is different now - vs. 20 and following, especially verses 32-35

Praise the Lord again -
49 Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.

Bottom line:
Many people don't share their faith because they don't know what to say. They think they have to memorize a bunch of Bible verses and perhaps even have a degree from a seminary so they know all of the answers to everyone's questions. That's not the case. All you need to share Jesus with someone is to share your story.

My life before I met Christ
How I came to know Him (someone told you about Him, or through scripture reading, - YOUR story)
What my life is like now that I'm a follower of Jesus.

That's it.

What's your story?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Psalm 17 - Even the Good People Have Troubles

Psalm 17 is like many of David's psalms. He has enemies that are trying to destroy him. He wants God to save him. I wanted to see something different as I read this Psalm. This is what I saw.

David lived a godly life. He didn't speak evil of others. He always walked in God's ways and never strayed from them. He was praying because he knew that God would answer him. And yet......Even people who live good, godly lives have enemies and troubles.

David had enemies all around him. They were deadly enemies who were callous and proud. They were waiting for a chance to pull him down - like lions wanting to tear him apart.

As Americans we won't put up with such nonsense. If we have been wronged we fight back. It may not be an actual fist fight, but we can destroy someone on Facebook or Twitter in a heartbeat. We'll show them that we can't be pushed around and bullied. If it's bad enough we will call the police or better yet, a lawyer. We'll have them in a lawsuit so big they'll wish they had never messed with us!

 This, however, is not the way of Christ. Jesus said, "If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them." Luke 6:29

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” Mark 9:50

The Apostle Paul gave us the same kind of advice when he quoted from Isaiah. 

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 

Bottom line: (Remember, this part is a conclusion that leaves out a lot of the connecting sentences and thoughts. You'll need to draw your own lines to connect the dots.)

In Psalm 17 David knew that he was innocent. He asked God to protect him from his enemies. He didn't have a lawyer or assassin on speed dial to get back at the wicked people surrounding him.
If we follow Christ's teachings we will respond with love and let God take care of any revenge on our behalf. If we strike back we lose our saltiness. If we show love then people will know that we are His disciples.