Saturday, March 31, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 91

Whew! Long day. But it's still day 91. :-)

Psalm 91 is a favorite of many people. It has such beautiful word pictures describing God's care and protection. These are verses you should hide away in your mind and heart so they are ready to come to mind during those difficult days we all face from time to time.

Side note.

The devil quotes scripture too! He quoted Psalm 91 when tempting Jesus to throw Himself off of the top of the temple.

It's important to not only know scripture, but to interpret scripture in light of other scripture and in context.  You can't take a verse out of context and try to make a case for or against something using it that way. Scripture will never contradict other scripture or general biblical principles. Some Christian sects and even some denominations sometimes take a single verse and develop an entire doctrine based on that verse. If other verses show it in a different light they ignore those  or explain them away rather than  developing a well-rounded scriptural doctrine. (I'll not point out any guilty parties in this post.)

Another side note.
As you know, I always look for pictures to go along with these posts about the Psalms. Today I ran across several tattoos of Psalm 91. Ha! this guy has a big arm! I would have to use my back to get all of this on me.

Friday, March 30, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 90

Psalm 90 compares God's eternal being and man's passing, temporary life. I love the phrase "Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." and " For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by"

But here's an incredible thought; even though we are like grass that comes up in the morning and by evening has faded away, we can say with the psalmist, "Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations."
The eternal God who sees a thousand years like it was yesterday and who created the world and all that is in it allows us - invites us - to dwell in Him. Awesome!!

When we see our true position in Christ - dwelling in Him - then we will be like the psalmist and see how sinful we are before God. But as we acknowledge our sin - even our secret sin - to Him then we can experience v.14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Dwelling in the eternal God, experiencing His lovingkindness each day, singing for joy and being glad all our days. Awesome!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 89

I don't think I ever remember reading or hearing the name Ethan the Ezrahite before, but I like his psalm. Here's what Wikipedia says about him. "Ethan (Hebrew: אֵיתָן, Modern Eytan / Eitan Tiberian ʾÊṯān ; "Firm") the Ezrahite, is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. It may be that Ethan was a cymbal-player in King David's court. He authored Psalm 89. Charles Spurgeon theorized that this was the same person as Jeduthun."

So there is hope for percussionists that they can do something productive. hahaha. Just kidding. Percussionists keep the whole ensemble together. It's a very important job.

An important thing to remember when reading about the covenant with David is that it has been ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

But what I want to mention today are all the beautiful word pictures describing how great and awesome God is. Use these as a time of prayer and worship. I think you'll be amazed at what it does for your prayer life and for your attitude for the day. As we see God in His infinite glory we can't help but grow in our faith, grow closer to God, and live our lives in a way that brings Him glory.

1 I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. 2 For I have said, "Lovingkindness will be built up forever ; In the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness."

5 The heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD

8 O LORD God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty LORD ? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. 9 You rule the swelling of the sea ; When its waves rise, You still them.

14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You. 15 How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance. 16 In Your name they rejoice all the day, And by Your righteousness they are exalted. 17 For You are the glory of their strength

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 88

My first thought was "this guy needs some sort of anti-depressant." In seems like in most of the psalms that are crying out for help from God that at least somewhere in the psalm the writer mentions God's faithful love or His mercy or something. This one doesn't do that.

Maybe this psalm is here to let us know that it's OK to let God know that you have no hope - that you feel like a man in the grave, overwhelmed, without strength, with your eyes worn out from crying.

It seems like I should have more to say here... My suggestion to the psalmist and to you if you are in a place like this is to first, know that it's OK to pour out your heart to God like this and second, read more of the psalms and find the hope that is written in them. God does care, even when you don't think He does.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 87

John Newton, the writer of "Amazing Grace," wrote many hymns. The first line of "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" was taken from Psalm 87. (It is sung to the tune AUSTRIAN HYMN by Franz Joseph Hayden.)

I was fascinated by the stocky guy standing next to the organ. Will he sing? Is he a body guard? Ends up he turns the page a couple of times.

1. Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
God, whose word cannot be broken,
formed thee for his own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou mayst smile at all thy foes.

4. Blest inhabitants of Zion,
washed in our Redeemer's blood;
Jesus, whom our souls rely on,
makes us monarchs, priests to God.
Us, by his great love, he raises,
rulers over self to reign,
and as priests his solemn praises
we for thankful offering bring.

As you can see from his hymn text Christians have always seen references to Zion - although originally written about Jerusalem - to ultimately refer to the New Jerusalem. So you may want to re-read this Psalm with that in mind.

Monday, March 26, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 86

There are a lot of great verses in this Psalm.

There are verses that are a good model to pray when you have sin to confess:
"Listen, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy." v.1

Be gracious to me, Lord,
for I call to You all day long." v.3

"listen to my plea for mercy" v.6

There are verses that declare God's attributes:
"For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive,
rich in faithful love to all who call on You." v.5

"For You are great and perform wonders;
You alone are God." v.10

"For Your faithful love for me is great" v.13

"You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth." v.15

But the verses I'd like to emphasize are found right in the middle of the Psalm.

"Teach me Your way, Yahweh,
and I will live by Your truth.
Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name.
I will praise You with all my heart, Lord my God,
and will honor Your name forever." vs.11-12

This is where I find my greatest need - and from what I see in so many lives I know I'm not alone. There seems to be a disconnect between our Christian faith and how we live each day.
We have divided minds. There is the church section, the sports section, the Friday night section, the work section, the home section...

This is nothing new, but it does seem to be worse now than it was 20-30 years ago.

We trust Jesus for our salvation, but if there are things we want to do or places we want to go that aren't exactly the kinds of things or places that are pleasing to God, we do them anyway.

We tell Jesus we love Him and then moments later we are screaming at someone who cut us off in traffic or at a salesman who didn't offer us the service we expected.

We say we trust God to supply all of our needs but don't trust Him enough to bring a Tithe as an offering. "Money's just a little tight this month. God won't care."

Jesus said to take up our cross (die to self) and follow Him.
He said that no one, after putting his hand to the plow, and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

I hope these verses, Psalm 86:11-12, can not only be your prayer for the day, but that you will also put them in your life. Take the dividers out of your mind and your life so you can truly fear (reverence, obey, honor, follow) the Lord. And Praise Him with ALL of your heart - not just parts of it. Honor His name forever.

Then you will find and experience God's strength, goodness, help, comfort, faithful love... all the attributes and blessings of God we see in this Psalm.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 85

An Awesome truth is found here in Psalm 85. Verse 2 says,

2 You forgave the iniquity of Your people; You covered all their sin.

People don't miss this truth. Other religions go about it all wrong. There is nothing YOU - or we or they or anyone - can do to atone for sin. You can't be good enough. You can't sacrifice enough lambs. God is the One who forgives and God is the One who covers sin.

He first covered sin in the garden of Eden when an animal was sacrificed to provide a covering for Adam and Eve. It was ultimately once and for all "the just for the unjust" accomplished when Jesus Christ gave his life on the cross.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 84

On the surface, the psalmist in Psalm 84 is longing to worship in the temple. But I think there is more here than that. It isn't possible to live life in the temple or in your local church. You still have to go to work so you can feed and clothe your family. You still need to be in the world as "salt and light."

My thought was - and I saw this in commentaries - that in addition to the obvious literal view, the psalmist is longing to live as a follower of God - one who is keeping His commands.
"I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness."

So I suppose the question to ask isn't "which do you prefer, the house of God or the tents of the wicked?" but rather "where do you spend most of your time, seeking God, longing to be with Him or are you following wicked things?" It's easy to say I want to follow God and "dwell in His house" but truth is found in how you live each day.
and don't let the "no good thing does He withhold" phrase steer you down the "health and wealth" gospel track. Your idea of "good thing" may not be the same as God's. The gifts of God include "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Follow that line of thought for a while. I can't do everything for you. :-)

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 83

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.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Passion Play Rehearsal Schedule

Passion Play Rehearsal Schedule

March 25

3:00—“Deliver Us” Dancers (includes “river girls”, slaves, Pharaoh’s daughter, etc.)

3:30—Jesus, Egyptian dad, Micah
4:00—Micah, Dan, Joseph and Jesus

March 28
6:30-8:00—All cast and choir on stage (there are no other church activities that night)

April 1

2:30—Crucifixion scene (thieves, soldiers, angry mob, Pilate, priests, etc.)

3:00-5:00—All cast and choir—straight run-through (not in costume)

April 4 Dress Rehearsal—everyone in costume

6:00-8:15—All cast and choir

Of course you already have the performances on your calendar, April 5-7 @ 7

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 82

This seems to be a recurring theme in the Psalms (and also in many of the writings of the prophets.)

Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless;
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
Rescue the poor and needy;
save them from the power of the wicked.

I would think that anything repeated many times in scripture would be something that is important to God - so therefore, it should be important to us.

How will you follow these instructions?

Hmmmmm. In my search for pictures I came across a couple of Mormon sites where they were very excited about verse 1 "He judges among the gods" and verse 6 "You are gods." I have a lot to do today to get ready for the Passion Play, so I don't think I'll take time to respond to that, but the thought that we all become a god and rule our own world some day is not consistent with the teachings of the Bible.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 81

It looks like today's Psalm is an answer to yesterday's Psalm. If you missed yesterday, the psalmist was asking "how long" God would take to answer and restore Israel. The answer is found today. They were waiting on God, but He was waiting on them.
"If only My people would listen to Me and Israel would follow My ways,
I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes." vs. 13-14

Seems rather self-explanatory to me.

On another note ♪ ♫

I always look for pictures or music videos to add to my posts here. That's for a few of my friends who say they don't really read, they just look at pictures. Haha.

So looking today I ran across a rather - hmmm, how do I describe it - a picture of an ancient wine or water jar made of clay and decorated with erotic pictures. The post that went with it was from a man of another denomination that thinks using instruments in worship is one of the most wicked things you can do. He used the picture to prove his point that music of that time was very ungodly. Bless his heart. He said Psalm 81 cannot be used as a text to prove that instruments should be used in worship, but rather that since they used instruments in worship they were therefore punished by God and needed to repent.

Bless his heart.

I'll write more about instruments in worship when we get to the grand conclusion of the Psalms - Psalm 150. I wonder how that guy explains that chapter away. Nasty pictures of satyrs playing instruments on a Greek urn should not be the basis of the theology of worship. Just sayin'. Bless his heart.

Today is Johann Sebastian Bach's birthday. The sheer beauty of his music written for worship and for God's glory - using organ and all instruments of the orchestra as accompaniment - are a great testimony to instrumental music's ability to enhance a text and to bring praise and worship to God.
♫ ♪ ♫ Happy Birthday to Bach. ♪ ♫ I thank God for the incredible gift of music and for the musical genius of men like J.S. Bach whose music has been used for God's glory for hundreds of years.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 80

Restore us, God of Hosts;
look on us with favor, and we will be saved.

The Israelites had really messed up. God had sent prophets to warn them of coming judgement and they ignored them, ridiculed them, and stoned them. So God allowed Israel's enemies to conquer them and take them away into captivity.

The psalmist is asking God to look on them again with favor like He did when He brought them out of Egypt. I'm a little surprised that there aren't any penitent verses in this psalm since He is asking for God to save them. Maybe he felt like he had already confessed his and the nation's sins and now he was just wondering how long the punishment would last. So maybe the lesson to take from this psalm is that just because you say you're sorry - even if it is heart-felt - doesn't necessarily mean that you will instantly be delivered. We expect that in our society. We want everything instantly. But there are times when the consequences of our sin can't be immediately fixed. It's better to head the warnings from God and avoid the sins rather than try to get out of the consequences. I think that's sometimes a difficult lesson to learn.

Monday, March 19, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 79

Israel was conquered by the Babylonians around 586 B.C. They had turned their backs on God for so long that He finally allowed their enemies to conquer them. This Psalm is a plea to God for help and for vengeance.
His request isn't made based on anything good the Israelites have done since being slaughtered and taken into captivity, but rather it is based on God's name, His compassion and a sense of justice in that the other nations don't acknowledge God.

The psalmist asks for forgiveness.
"Do not hold past sins against us" v.8
"Deliver us and atone for our sins" v.9

"Atone" means to "wipe off, cleanse, cover." We will see a beautiful picture of atonement and the "covering" during the Passion Play. During the crucifixion scene the choir will sing "Cover Me." (side note - Which they sang beautifully yesterday) and at the same time we will have a flash back to the first Passover when the blood was placed on the doorposts of the Israelite homes. The blood was a covering for the home and the death angel passed over that family. What a beautiful picture of what is available to everyone through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Because of what Christ has done for us, we can join the psalmist in saying
"Then we, your people, the sheep of Your pasture,
will thank You forever;
we will declare Your praise to generation after generation."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 78

Psalm 78 is a review of the history of Israel. He talks about their wanderings in the wilderness and how God provided for them even though they complained all of the time. And then he talks about their deliverance from Egypt, the plagues, God's leading through the wilderness. Well then there's more...

bottom line. God did things for Israel over and over again and over and over again they complained, forgot Him, rebelled... sometimes they remembered God, but they soon forgot Him again.

God punished Israel, but He never totally forsook them. He rejected some of the tribes and chose another. And in the end He gave them David as their king.

So what does that mean for us? It seems like the psalmist is saying that God remains faithful and true in spite of us. It also looks like God doesn't let us mess up His ultimate plans. If He can no longer use someone because of their sin and rebellion He will choose someone else who is following Him. That's how David ended up being king.

I want to be the man God can use, not the one He replaces. What about you?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 77

I don't know if it is bad memories or little faith - probably a little of each, but we tend to forget God, or question if He is going to act on our behalf. People forget God when things are going well. People question God and wonder where He is when there are difficulties in life.

That seems to be what has happened in this Psalm. Once again the psalmist is in trouble and he wonders if God will be away from him forever. But his response is an example for us to all follow when we find ourselves in the same kind of situation.

5 I have considered the days of old, The years of long ago. 6 I will remember my song in the night ; I will meditate with my heart, And my spirit ponders

When he questioned if God had changed

11 I shall remember the deeds of the LORD ; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. 12 I will meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds.

I've used this example before, (have told this story for years) about when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River. Joshua instructed them to have a really big strong guy from each tribe get a giant rock from the middle of the Jordan and for them to pile the 12 stones up on the bank of the river.
 Joshua 4:6 "Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?' 7 then you shall say to them, 'Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.' So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever ."

Samuel did the same thing after a big victory. (I Samuel 7) He set up a rock and called it "Ebenezer" which means "Thus far the LORD has helped us."

We all should have stones in our lives. Not literal stones - unless they mean something - but memories, stories, events, etc. that help us remember what God has done for us so when we hit either good times or bad times and forget God, these things remind us of Him, His grace, His goodness, His power, etc. etc. etc. 

Haha! I guess in a way I just told you that you should have rocks in your head!

What stones are you going to put up?

Friday, March 16, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 76

Psalm 76 is another Psalm that tells how great and powerful God is. I like the picture seen in vs.7-9

And You - You are to be feared.
When You are angry,
who can stand before You?
From heaven You pronounced judgment.
The earth feared and grew quiet
when God rose up to judge
and to save all the lowly of the earth.

So often we see people who boast in their talk against God. But the day will come when God no longer holds back His anger and will rise up to judge the earth and THEN everyone is going to be quiet because they will have nothing to say when He shatters the bow's flaming arrows and they see His glory - as verse 4 says, "You are resplendent and majestic"

"Even so, Lord, Jesus, come quickly!"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Brahms and more

I have had the privilege of playing in the APSU orchestra this semester. They asked string players from the community to join in for the upcoming concert to help fill out their string section. We're playing Brahms 2nd Symphony.

When I first saw the music a wave of "what were you thinking!" ran through me. I haven't played notes that high in 75 years! "Maybe I should play 2nd instead of 1st" entered my mind several times as I tried to play through the 1st movement.

The start of the 4th movement.
"Allegro con spirito" means "hold on to your hat, here we go" (that is a rough translation from the Italian)

Now, a few months into it, I'm very excited to say that I'm playing the first violin part and those high notes aren't so scary after all!

I think the 3rd movement may be my favorite. Although there are some really beautiful parts in the 1st and 2nd. And the 4th movement is wild and exciting. Hmmm. There are just a lot of really great moments throughout.

I know I have many in the Passion Play working on acting, dancing and singing this Sunday afternoon, but for those of you who don't have rehearsals this Sunday I'd like to invite you to hear our concert. Not only are we playing Brahms' 2nd Symphony, the winners of the concerto competition will also play. One of the winners is a clarinetist who will play the 1st movement of Weber's Clarinet Concerto. The orchestra will accompany that also. It's a fun piece you will enjoy hearing. (and he does a great job playing it)

It will be a beautiful afternoon of music.

The concert is at 4:00 in the music/communications building on the Austin Peay campus. That building is on 8th street.

The Music/Mass Communication Building is located at the intersection of 8th and Marion Streets, The main entrance faces Marion Street and a large parking area is available. Upon entering, the Concert Hall is directly ahead (Basically, take College St. to 8th. Turn - hmmm, whatever direction goes into the campus area - I'm guessing West - and the next street is Marion.)

And - Woohoo! - the concert is free!

Half-way Through our 150 Days of Psalms

Whe I choose a time, I will judge fairlyl When the earth and all its inhabitants shake, I am the One who steadies its pillars. v.3
For there is a cup in the LORD'S hand, full of wine blended with spices, and He pours from it. All the wicked of the earth will drink, draining it to the dregs. v.8 HCSB

Psalm 75 reminded me of verses in Revelation.

he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
Revelation 14:10 NASB

A tapestry by Nicolas de Bataille of France from the 14th Century
He has a whole series of tapestries based on the book of Revelation

From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
Revelation 19:15 NASB

I see "strong" world leaders who lift up their horn (a symbol of power) against heaven and speak arrogantly. They blaspheme against God and persecute His Church. Because of this, I like seeing verses like v.7 "God is the Judge: He brings down one and exalts another." I've often wondered how God allows these world leaders - presidents, dictators, kings (whatever their title) - to stay in power when they are so wicked and ungodly. I remind myself that there is coming a day when the Antichrist will rule the world and that evil will seem to have triumphed - and to get to that place we have to have leaders now that will make it possible for the Antichrist to take power. But in the end we see here and we see in Revelation (and other places throughout scripture) that God is the Judge and one day He will pour out His wrath on "all the wicked of the earth."
In the mean-time, I will join the psalmist - "I will tell about Him forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 74

Psalm 74 is a prayer for Israel. There were many times in their history where they had turned their back on God and so God just said, OK, if that's what you want, that's what I'll give you and He stopped talking to them.

It wouldn't take them long to see that they needed God (especially since He wouldn't hold back their enemies.) It's my prayer that our nation will figure out we need God before we get to that place.

I like the imagery of vs. 12-17 showing God's great power. "Leviathan" (according to my fancy Holman Christian Standard study Bible notes) "also appears in other biblical texts (Ps 104:26, Jb 3:8, 44, Is 27:1). He represents the most fierce and powerful sea creature. Whether this creature can be linked to a specific animal in the known world is uncertain, although suggestions range from a crocodile to a dinosaur. There certainly is a connection in Canaanite mythology that links this creature with chaos. Therefore, God defeated chaos and fed him to the creatures of the desert,"

There are several opposites listed here

Sea monster crushed - fed to the beasts of the desert
You opened up springs and streams - You dried up ever-flowing rivers.
The day is Yours - and also the night
You established the moon - and the sun
You made summer - and winter

I think that is to show that God is over everything. So... when you feel abandoned by God as the psalmist did here, do what the psalmist did and remember that God is over everything. Make your own list of opposites (use these to start) and praise God and thank God that He is Lord of all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 73

Psalm 73 begins Book III of the Psalter. Many of these psalms were written by Asaph or in the style of Asaph's writing. According to my fancy Holman Christian Standard Bible notes from LifeWay, Asaph was David's chief musician. Wow! Would that be a cool job or what? Or maybe a very intimidating job, to write psalms under the watch of THE psalm writer, David.

This psalm made me think of all the celebrities and big money makers that are always on TV. I won't mention names, because first of all I don't want to be judge and jury right here on blogger and second because you can think of more people than I can who are like the prosperous, arrogant wicked people described in the first verses of Psalm 73.

Asaph was beginning to let their easy-looking life get to him. His life had troubles and he was hopeless in trying to figure out why the wicked who mocked God prospered and he, an innocent man, had afflictions. He had his feelings hurt. He was becoming bitter.

But when he entered God's sanctuary - when he came into God's presence - he understood. He realized that being jealous and bitter about the prosperity of the wicked was foolish. He was able to write these words.

"I am always with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterwards You will take me up to glory.
Who do I have in heaven but You? And I desire nothing on earth but You.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever."

You may recognize vs. 25-26 as the second verse and part of the chorus of Darlene Zschech's beautiful song (and one of my all-time favorites) "Made Me Glad." (That's part of why her songs are so wonderful. They are taken almost entirely from scripture. If you don't recognize her name, you probably know some of her songs. "Shout to the Lord" is another one she wrote.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 72

Psalm 72 is "Solomonic." (Now there's a word that probably won't pass "spell check.") That can mean it was written by, written for or in the style of those written by King Solomon.

What I saw in this Psalm - as a prayer for the king - was what we should hope for and pray for in our presidents. (since we don't have kings - although some might argue that our current president is acting a bit like Napoleon in all of his executive orders and such, but that will have to be part of another post)

A king or president should have justice and righteousness in all he does. He should help the poor and afflicted.

This psalm is also a prayer that the nation will have grain and crops and that the people flourish.

But as we have seen in many other psalms, the end result from God blessing the king and the people and of the king taking care of the poor is ultimately so God will be praised.

"May the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does wonders, be praised.
May His glorious name be praised forever; the whole earth is filled with His glory.
Amen and amen." vs. 18-19

Sunday, March 11, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 71

This is the man I want to be - not any time soon. I don't think I'm old yet. When someone asks, "How long have you been playing the violin?" I'll joke and say, "about 120 years." But I really don't think I'm old yet. My ankle has been aching for a few days now. I don't remember doing anything to it. I blame it on old age. But I really don't think I'm old yet. (and I'm not even going to mention how gray my beard is. I may have to get some Just for Men.

So whenever I am  old I want to have this testimony.
Psalm 71

Even though he doesn't know "the sum" of his days, he hopes continually and testifies about God's righteousness and salvation all day long.

14 But as for me, I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. 15 My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And of Your salvation all day long; For I do not know the sum of them. 16 I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD ; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone. 17 O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. 18 And even when I am old and gray
But notice that the psalmist didn't START testifying about God and His righteousness and salvation when he was old. God was his confidence since he was a youth.  
5You are my hope ; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth. 6 By You I have been sustained from my birth ; You are He who took me from my mother's womb ; My praise is continually of You

I've noticed this about people. More often than not an older person is just like they were when they were a younger person - only maybe exaggerated a little. So... if you want to be a great man or woman of raith in your old age you have to be that now in your not so old age. If you want to be gentle and kind as an older person you need to practice that as a younger type person. If you want to be a person of hope and faith and love and joy when you are old... are you following this line of thought?

Bottom line. Be who you want to be when you're old NOW. Get busy. You dont get that way by accident. You have to work at it, train, study, practice, BE that person.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 70

Psalm 70 is another cry for help. What I found interesting about it is that it is only 5 verses long. So my first thought was, Wow, David must be on the run. No time for formal fancy prayers; just a quick, "Don't forget me God! "hasten" is used three times, and it ends with "do not delay."

Maybe this is just a quick little reminder that even when we're on the run we can still cry out, "come quick and help me, Lord."

 4 Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, "Let God be magnified."

The next time you are needing a quick answer from God, when you need Him to hasten, remember also that in the end, our deliverance, our answer, needs to "let God be magnified."

Friday, March 9, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 69

The psalmist is in deep trouble. Enemies greater in number than the hairs on his head surround him, he describes himself as sinking in the mire being covered by the waters, everyone is talking about the terrible condition he is in and they make fun of him.

But his cry for help isn't based on his innocence or goodness, but rather on God's mercy.
16 Answer me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good ; According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me, 17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in distress ; answer me quickly.

Its a reminder that God doesn't reach out to us because we are good enough or because we have done all of the right things. He reaches out because of His lovingkindness.

That should make a difference in how you see yourself, how you live your life, how you relate to God and to others.

On those occasions where you find the world against you, circumstances have brought you difficulties and rather than getting sympathy others make fun of you... whatever the case, it's OK to ask God for help. Call on Him and ask for His mercy, lovingkindness and compassion.

Let your response be like the last few verses- praise and magnify the Lord with thanksgiving.
30 I will praise the name of God with song And magnify Him with thanksgiving. 31 And it will please the LORD better than an ox Or a young bull with horns and hoofs. 32 The humble have seen it and are glad ; You who seek God, let your heart revive. 33 For the LORD hears the needy And does not despise His who are prisoners. 34 Let heaven and earth praise Him, The seas and everything that moves in them.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 68

Side note - One month until Easter - Resurrection Sunday! April 8 this year.

Psalm 68

Sing to God! Sing praises to His name.

Verse 5 is a verse who's main thought is seen in several other places in scripture.

"God in His holy swelling is
a father of the fatherless
and a champion of widows."

The fatherless and the widows were the weakest members of society - and without the US Federal Government to send them a check every month. I think this shows first, that God cares about the weak and helpless and second, that WE should care about the weak and helpless. If we pray "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" then we will care about the things God cares about. So let me encourage you to find ways you can join God in caring about the fatherless, the widows, the weak and helpless - knowing this "Day after day He bears our burdens; God is our salvation."

Another thing I see in this Psalm are all the references to God's majesty and power.
  • As wax melts before the fire, so the wicked are destroyed before God.
  • the earth trembled and the skies poured down rain before God
  • God's chariots are tens of thousands, thousands and thousands
  • Look, He thunders with His powerful voice! Ascribe power to God.
  • God, You are awe-inspiring in Your sanctuaries.

One more thing to point out. There are a lot of references to music and singing and praise!
  • Sing to God! Sing praises to His name.
  • May the Lord be praised!
  • People have seen Your procession, God, the procession of my God, my King, in the sanctuary. Singers lead the way, with musicians following; among them are young women playing tambourines.
  • Praise God in the assemblies
  • Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; sing praise to the Lords,
Don't just sing on Sunday in worship. Join in today!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 67

The first two verses of Psalm 67 give the reason we should have for asking for God's blessings.
"May God be gracious to us and bless us;
look on us with favor
so that Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations."

God's blessings aren't to make our lives easier - even though that is often the case. No, His blessings are to be a testimony about HIM so that others will want to follow Him and experience His salvation for themselves.Too often when we have something good take place in our lives we say it's because we did this or that and called this person and worked longer hours and on and on...

But when it is obvious to us and then to others that God has looked on us with favor, then our testimony isn't about us any longer, it's about God.

"The earth has produced its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us."

How often do we give fertilizer and pest control the glory for our abundance?

The United States is a great nation because God has blessed us. Many are forgetting that now. The greatness of our country and the blessings we are showered with should be a reason for other nations to praise God - not us. "Let the peoples praise You, God." And that was our testimony for years, but now the politically correct police and the "separation of Church and State" folks (which have totally misconstrued the 1st Amendment) have worked very hard and very effectively to take God out of everything this country does or stands for. I'm not saying that the church and state shouldn't be separate. They should. But what has happened is that the state has become hostile toward religion. Our President has totally turned the 1st amendment on it's ear by telling churches that they have to pay for things that are in direct opposition to their teachings. The people who support him in this effort are the very ones that shout "separation of church and state" the loudest. Interesting...

But I've totally chased a rabbit here.

In a nutshell - I think the point of this psalm is that we should testify of God's blessing and favor so others will praise Him too.