Wednesday, February 29, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 60

Psalm 60
Once again David is in the midst of a conflict and he's wondering where God is. But I had a thought while I was reading this. I think sometimes in our efforts to be "godly" and "trust" in God that we end up sitting around and are rather passive. I've talked to many people over the years who are just sitting on their blessed assurance when they should be up doing something. They want God to help them find a job but they aren't filling out job applications. They want God to make them healthy but they don't exercise or eat right. They want their kids to become good, law-abiding, responsible citizens but they aren't involved in their lives or setting an example for them. (are you following me here?)

David was asking God for help, but he didn't just sit in a field waiting for the bad guys to go away. Look how he ends this Psalm.

Give us aid against the foe,
for human help is worthless.
With God we will perform valiantly;
He will trample our foes.

David has found the balance between faith and action. He says "WITH" God...

So what is it in your life that you are asking God to help you with?

Now... what actions are you following to give God an opportunity to give you aid?

James 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 59

Our server, which connects us to the Internet and e-mail is not playing well with others this morning, so I'm trying to post this with my phone. So this will be a short post.

The thing that stood out to me today was the contrast between the wicked who, in the darkness of night snarl and prowl and growl - and David, who instead said, "I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning."

It reminds me of the "mainstream media" and their reaction to Christians, like Tim Tebow.

They snarl and growl about his display of faith (since he is Christian, not Muslim) and rather than fighting back, growling and snarling like they do, Tim tells about how good God is. That's a good example for all of us. I've seen some very hateful things posted about our President, Muslims and more all in the name of Christians. It's a far cry from Jesus' words that they would know we were His disciples by our love.

Please ignore phone typos. I'll add a picture of Tim Tebow or a Psalm 59 picture if our server gets happier with life.

As you can see, our server is behaving now.

Monday, February 27, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 58

"A Cry against Injustice" is the title of this Psalm. When I read "God knock their teeth out" I was taken back a bit. It seems like such harsh and graphic language for us sensible Americans. But I think the point is that as a lion's fangs are it's strength to destroy it's prey, so David is asking God to take away the ability of those who are practicing injustice to continue.

We should pray a similar prayer when we see injustice. The poor, the downtrodden, the weak, the homeless, those afflicted with addictions (even though it is usually their own bad choices that got them there) - the list could go on. All of these - even if their troubles are from their own choosing - deserve justice in their lives. We should pray for them and work for them that those in power do not take advantage of them and that they are judged fairly.

How do we do this? I guess it's a lot easier to say we need to take a stand for justice than to actually do something about it. My first thoughts are that we need to elect politicians who will make sure our court system is working justly and honestly. We need to elect a president who won't appoint judges who legislate from the bench. We should do what we can to get someone to replace the judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (the court doing the most damage to Christians values).

I know in the end God will judge the earth and bring righteousness to all, but until that day we should continue to pray "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 57

I think one of the awesome things to see in this Psalm is that even though God is exalted above the heavens - and we and the psalmist can join together in proclaiming His greatness - He sends from heaven and saves us. Even though He is the great God over all the earth, we can take refuge in the shadow of His wings. In other words, we are up close to Him and safe. That is an incredible thought to me. He is exalted above the heavens and yet He gives us shelter up close and personal. Pretty cool, don't you think?

Here's a YouTube video of a great praise chorus from several years ago that is based on the last few verses of this Psalm. Hahaha. Its a great video showing the beauty of the heavens and of the earth as seen from space, but at about 1:44 on the time you may notice what I noticed. Watch it and then read what it was.

Did you see it? The world was spinning backwards. Ooooops.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 56

Supplication for Deliverance and Grateful Trust in God.

1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me; Fighting all day long he oppresses me.

Top 50 Countries in Christian Persecution
2 My foes have trampled upon me all day long, For they are many who fight proudly against me.
3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
4 In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust ; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?
5 All day long they distort my words ; All their thoughts are against me for evil.

Voice of the Martyrs
6 They attack, they lurk, They watch my steps, As they have waited to take my life.
7 Because of wickedness, cast them forth, In anger put down the peoples, O God !
Open Doors USA

8 You have taken account of my wanderings ; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book ?
9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call ; This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise, In the LORD, whose word I praise,
11 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
12 Your vows are binding upon me, O God ; I will render thank offerings to You.
13 For You have delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling, So that I may walk before God In the light of the living.

Friday, February 24, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 55

Psalm 55
1 Give ear to my prayer, O God ; And do not hide Yourself from my supplication. 2 Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted, 3 Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the pressure of the wicked ; For they bring down trouble upon me And in anger they bear a grudge against me. 4 My heart is in anguish within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me. 5 Fear and trembling come upon me, And horror has overwhelmed me.

I realized yesterday why there are so many psalms where the psalmist is asking God for help, deliverance, to destroy enemies, etc. No, it wasn't because I suddenly had some bad guys coming after me. In fact, my rather uneventful life is part of the reason I wondered why David and the others complained so much to God about their lives.

Then, as I was scrolling through FaceBook I saw several who posted about a pastor in Iran. Iran pastor facing execution The pastor, Yousef (also spelled Youcef) Nadarkhani, was sentenced to death in 2010 for converting from Islam to Christian in a case that began in 2009.

Suddenly my worries about high gas prices don't seem to be very important. So I decided today that from now on, when I read one of the psalms where the psalmist is complaining about the wicked who pursue him, rather than just casually reading it and thinking about David being pursued by Paul, yet again, I will instead, spend a moment thanking God for a country where I am free to follow Christ without fear and then I will pray for pastor Nadarkhani and our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Muslim countries, communist countries and other such places where they risk their lives to follow Christ.

"Oh, that I had wings like a dove ! I would fly away and be at rest." v.6 What a beautiful picture and it is my prayer that they will find rest.
When I was young - like in High School - our adult choir sang a beautiful song based on v.22. It was written by Dr. C. L. Bass, one of my Dad's friends. In fact they worked together at FBC, Borger, TX in the mid 1960s. They were friends in college at Oklahoma Baptist University. Dr. Bass taught music theory at OBU for many years and then taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Maybe he still does.
So I found the song on YouTube recorded in 2010. It's a beautiful setting of a beautiful verse.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 54

I think it's interesting that so many of the Psalms begin with - or at least towards the beginning - have the phrase "God, hear my prayer" or something similar. My guess is that this was a common phrase of the day that you used when you approached God. I don't think it was spoken from a lack of faith or with the thought that God wouldn't pay any attention if you didn't say that first. You can always see that the psalmist had faith because he says things like "God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my life. v.4

Many times the things we say in prayer are a reminder to ourselves of things that God has said. So I'm thinking that as David or whoever was praying and writing out the Psalm as a prayer the phrase "hear me, "listen to my voice," "give ear to my words," were a reminder that you weren't just thinking to yourself or wishing on a star, but you were talking to God, Himself.

As I was typing that paragraph a verse came to mind that the people of the Old Testament couldn't experience. It's an encouragement we have to come before God because of what Jesus Christ has done for us.

Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. NASB

The King James Version uses the word "boldly"
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

What an awesome thought. We don't have to plead, "Lord, PLEASE listen to me!" We can come with confidence, knowing Jesus has made us right with God and therefore we can come to Him with confidence, knowing He will hear us.

That should make a difference in how you pray today (and tomorrow, and the next day and all day long....)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 53

Mankind without God continues to sink lower and lower. The psalmist here is pointing out something that is rather obvious - and we see it more and more across the USA and around the world. "All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt." v.3

We try to legislate morality. There are laws for businesses to follow to protect consumers. There are thousands of laws to protect us from each other. We try to get legislation to protect the unborn child (which we should continue to do) but in reality, as we have more and more people in this country who say "God does not exist" v.1 we won't be able to write enough laws.

This is a 15th century illustration to go with this Psalm, titled "David and the Fool."
 Notice God looking down from the cloud.
"God looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God." v.2

All the laws in the world can't change a man's heart. Only God can do that. I support efforts to protect children, marriage, consumers, etc. but ultimately I want to be about the business of sharing the good news that God can change a man from the inside out.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 52

It's one thing to brag about your kid's soccer team.
It's worse to brag about how good you are at something or about how big your house is.
But it seems like the worst kind of bragging is what we see in the first verse of Psalm 52 - someone bragging about what is evil.
When I read that I thought of all the celebrities over the years that have bragged about some of the wicked things they have done, or about their drug or alcohol abuse, or the number of women they've been with.

Ugh! We read over and over throughout scripture that God hates the proud or stands against the proud. Yet somehow, in today's society, we have come to the place where we celebrate the "proud" even when what they are proud of is not something that is good or godly. Verse 3 is lived out in front of us day after day. "You love evil instead of good, lying instead of speaking truthfully."

In contrast, our boasting should be "God's faithful love is constant." v.1 HCSB

8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. 9 I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it,

Let your boasting this week be a testimony of God's goodness and faithful love.

Monday, February 20, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 51

I have heard many sermons, lessons, Bible studies, devotions, etc. over the years taken from or based on Psalm 51. You probably know the story behind this Psalm. David had gotten lazy in his old age and instead of leading his army in battle he stayed behind. He was bored walking around the palace roofline when he spotted Bathsheba taking a bath. Rather than diverting his eyes and going to another part of the palace he decided to send for her and...

well, the story gets worse. As you probably already know, Bathsheba ended up expecting David's child. Long story short, Bathsheba's husband was an honorable man who wouldn't spend the night with his wife while his comrades were still at war, so David had to have him killed to cover up his sin. One big sin leading to a series of sins and ending up with murder! The prophet Nathan confronted David with his sin.

Psalm 51 is David's confession to God.

I'll just make this one point. (There are too many thirty minute sermons that could be a part of this post.)

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

We think of our sins as being against another person or from breaking a law or just doing something bad. But David knew that ultimately sin is against God. God is the one who has said what is sin and He is the One that said the wages of sin is death.

The cool part is He is the One that paid that price. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 There are many other beautiful truths in this Psalm. I'm sure you saw many of them.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 50

It looks like - in this Psalm - that God is tired of people showing up with their offerings with a totally wrong attitude. "Here, God, We're doing this for You." And then they were off to do whatever they wanted.

God is making sure we all understand that He doesn't need us to give Him goats or bulls. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. What can we add to Him or give Him that He doesn't already have? NOTHING. (I've heard preachers and teachers use this verse to show how much God owns - how rich He is - and they'll say something like " God, I need some stuff. Could you sell one of your cows and give me the cash." But what God is saying through the psalmist here is that He already owns everything, why would we think He needs something from us?)

So what does God really want from us?
14 Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High

Yes. Sin still has to be accounted for. Payment must be made. But if there is no change of heart they are pointless.

And of course the final payment for sin was made when Jesus gave His life on the cross.

So I think what I take from this Psalm is that God wants us to be thankful, do what we've promised to Him. He doesn't want meaningless words or sacrifices or offerings if there is no meaning behind them.

I could do another post on the beautiful imagery of the first few verses. I'll let these pictures share.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 49

According to Forbes - as of September 2011 - here are the top 11 richest people in America.
(I did 11 instead of 10 because I thought it was amazing that 4 of the top eleven people have the last name of Walton.) If you'd like to see the top 100, click here - Richest in America

1 Bill Gates $59 B 55 Medina, Washington - Microsoft

2 Warren Buffett $39 B 81 Omaha, Nebraska - Berkshire Hathaway

3 Larry Ellison $33 B 67 Woodside, California - Oracle

4 Charles Koch $25 B 75 Wichita, Kansas - diversified

4 David Koch $25 B 71 New York, New York - diversified

6 Christy Walton $24.5 B 56 Jackson, Wyoming - Wal-Mart

7 George Soros $22 B 81 Katonah, New York - hedge funds

8 Sheldon Adelson $21.5 B 78 Las Vegas, Nevada - casinos

9 Jim Walton $21.1 B 63 Bentonville, Arkansas - Wal-Mart

10 Alice Walton $20.9 B 61 Fort Worth, Texas - Wal-Mart

11 S. Robson Walton $20.5 B 67 Bentonville, Arkansas - Wal-Mart

I know Sam Walton was a godly man. But you'll notice he's not on the list. Warren Buffett is 81. Will he be on the list for 2012 or will it be whoever gets his riches when he passes on?

Today's Psalm was a proverb set to music. The psalmist wasn't saying that wealth is bad. He was simply stating that those who trust in their wealth will find it wasn't what was needed for their soul.

 7 No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him- 8 For the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying forever

Whoever, the psalmist knew that because of his relationship with God that he would be redeemed from the grave.

15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me.

Again - riches in themselves are not evil. There are many godly people with a lot of money and they use their money for the good of others. Those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior - who put their trust in Him, not in their riches - will find eternal life.

But all of us rich, poor or in-between need to pay attention to the final verse of Psalm 49
20 Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, Is like the beasts that perish.

Jesus had a warning for the rich (found in Matthew, Mark and Luke)
Matthew 19:24 NASB
"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Don't trust your money, trust what your money says, "In God we trust."

Oh, and in case you're interested. The FaceBook boys came in at 14 and 91.

Friday, February 17, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 48

God, within Your temple,
we contemplate Your faithful love.
Your name, God, like Your praise,
reaches to the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is filled with justice.

Here's a nice video of Third Day's song "Your love, O Lord"
It came to mind when I read this Psalm, although it may be based on several other Psalms. This video has a lot of scripture that corresponds with the lyrics.

We don't have THE temple to worship in, but when we gather together in His name He is with us. I hope you will join us Sunday in worship.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 47

God ascends among shouts of joy,
the Lord, among the sound of trumpets.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our King, sing praise!

I remember a song we sang as a kid "♫ ♪ Clap your hands, all ye people, shout unto God with a voice of triumph. Clap your hands, all ye people, shout unto God with a voice of praise! Hosanna! Hosanna! ♫ ♪

Here's a song by the famous Ralph Vaughn Williams that is nothing like that. haha. But beautiful. And the red robes! Awesome!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 46

I think one of the reasons I love the song "Made Me Glad" so much is that almost every phrase is taken from a Psalm. There have been many of the Psalms we've read so far that have put that song in my head. This is another one. Right there in verse one ♪ ♫ A very present help in time of need ♪ ♫ is the phrase that ends the chorus.

Be still and know that I am God. The Holman Christian Translation says, "Stop your fighting - and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth." The Psalmist is talking about how God is the one who can stop wars, v.7 but many have used this verse to talk about the individual (which is all of us at times) who is fighting against God. Or perhaps fighting, striving, against life in general, trying to fix everything ourselves and being so busy doing that we forget that most times we need to BE STILL, QUIT FIGHTING, stop trying to do everything on your own.
Look at the awesome power of God. The devastation He brings is often to get our attention so we see that He is the One with power. He is the one that is exalted. If we would be still we would see that. We would know that HE is God.
What difference will it make in your life today if you stop fighting, if you be still, and know that He is God and He is in control?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 45

A Royal Wedding Song on Valentine's Day! How cool is that?

The Psalm was written to celebrate the king and his wedding, but it is a beautiful picture of THE Wedding between Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Revelation 19:6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." 9 Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' " And he added, "These are the true words of God."

Happy Valentine's Day. The King has written you a love song.

There are many beautiful images in this Psalm. Some are describing how wonderful the King is. Others tell about the beautiful bride. Here is an awesome thought - when you think of the King as Jesus and the bride as you and me (as part of the Church).

The king will desire your beauty,
Bow down to him, for he is your lord. v.11

Here is another beautiful work of art by the lady who did the one above (and of course I really like it because of the "strings" theme.) v.8 in the Holman Christian Standard uses the word "harps" but other translations use "strings."
If you like this lady's artwork, she has many nice prints and gifts you can purchase. Visit her web site

Monday, February 13, 2012

Joyful Hearts Clown Ministry - Faces!

Our Joyful Hearts Clown Ministry worked on our faces last night. A clown's face is more than just some red lips and big eyes. The clown's face tells a whole lot about who he/she is. There too much behind that statement to put on this site, but if you are interested I can tell you more about it when you come join us!

It's important for us to have good, professional looking faces. We are not just a bunch of clowns. Our desire is to share the joy and love of God with everyone we see, so we want to be the best we can be as representatives of Hilldale and of our Savior. That may sound a bit strange when talking about clowns, but it's a quality I strive for in every area of life.

Here are some pics of us with our first faces on. I'm sure we will refine them and develop our makeup skills. Haha. "Makeup skills." I'm guessing Tommy, Tony, Justin and Joe never thought they would ever use that phrase! "Oh, yeah! Me and my friends were down at the church working on our makeup skills!"