Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Psalm 59 - But As for Me, I'll sing!

It's often easy to find the bad in others. Especially when they are really bad. If they are "snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets at night" it makes it easy. We can try to take matters into our own hands, but our best response is to ask God to be the one to rescue us. v.9 "I wait for You to rescue me."

Often - and David did this too - we want to ask God not to just rescue us, but to destroy our enemies. In this psalm we see that David's motivation isn't for his own good, but so that all the world would know that God reigns in Israel. It was for God's glory, not his own.

And then, at the end of the psalm David says,
16 But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.

17 O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.

Bottom line:
This seems like a good way to respond to all of the evil in the world. It's OK to ask God to rescue you. It's best for it to bring Him glory, not just for yourself. And in the end you need to choose to sing with joy about God's unfailing love. Sing His praises.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Psalm 58 - Imprecatory Psalms

Psalm 58 is one of the psalms that are called "Imprecatory Psalms." What is an Imprecatory Psalm? Basically it is a Psalm that calls down a curse on someone. Oh! Is that what you were expecting to read?

 Since I've had cough medicine today my brain isn't thinking fast enough to write well about imprecatory Psalms. However, I found a really good article/post from John Piper with a great explanation.
Do I Not Hate Those Who Hate You, O Lord?

I'll be honest. My cough medicine just wants me to take a nap. I'm having a very difficult time deciding what I can blog about this psalm. I would just suggest that you read the John Piper article.

But I keep coming back to this one thing.
There are a lot of not-so-nice things that David asks God to do to his enemies in this psalm. But I think this one is kind of funny (in comparison to dipping your feet in the blood of the wicked)

8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,

It's probably just the cough meds, but I think that's a funny imprecation. 

I suppose at the beginning of this challenge to read a Psalm a Day for 150 Days I didn't say I would blog something profound every day, just that I would blog my thoughts each day. So.... I guess these are my thoughts today. Ha! If you want to read deeper thoughts check out the John Piper article.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Psalm 57 - Be Exalted, O Lord

Psalm 57 was the bases for this beautiful chorus by Brent Chambers.It was written way back when praise choruses were something new - 1977! Yes, all you youngsters, "praise and worship" music isn't something that was invented this century.

Praise and worship music has a "shelf life" so to speak. Styles come and go. What sounds current and new one year can sound very dated the next. It's been awhile since we've sung this beautiful setting of Psalm 57, but maybe we should bring it back out.

While I'm thinking about it - and this is definitely side note - churches who only sing music by a small number of writers and only things written in the last decade are missing out on a wealth of wonderful music. How sad to think that there are many in today's churches who will never have these wonderful texts found in great songs from the past in their hearts:
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
It Is Well with My Soul

Or won't know the grandeur of singing these great hymns:
Holy, Holy, Holy
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

But it is also sad that some churches cling so tightly to the past that their people don't have the opportunity to sing fantastic songs of faith like:
10,000 Reasons
All to Us
Your Name

Hmmmmm.... it wasn't my intent as I began posting today about Psalm 57 to write about music in the church. but since I've started I'll finish up with this.

I'm so thankful to be a part of a church that appreciates music of all styles, all not just decades, but centuries! We've talked about how blessed we are that the "worship wars" are something we put aside years ago. It's part of living out Philippians 2

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Because we love each other and look out for each others' interests we sing music that every generation will enjoy. Ha! And it ends up we've found that we like it all!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Psalm 56 - Afraid? Whistle

 What do you do when you're afraid?
Whistling a happy tune helps.

But then, I'm a whistler. I usually whistle anytime I'm walking somewhere.

Psalm 56 tells us what David did when he was afraid. It's still good advice. (and better than whistling!)

3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 
4 In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? NIV

 I remember learning it as a child in the KJV.

3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

The Apostle John gave us good reason to not be afraid. The One who is in us is greater! (What can mere mortals do? Or what can Satan do?)

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Satan wants us to live defeated lives; lives where we are afraid to trust God, afraid to share our faith, afraid to step out in faith and do great things for the Kingdom, afraid to mend broken relationships.... the list is endless.

What are you afraid of? Will you, instead of living in fear, trust in God? That's the bottom line.

Bonus Material
Notice the heading.
For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David.
People have been mixing and matching texts and hymn tunes for - well, apparently since the days of David. Early hymnals had the tunes collected together at the front of the hymnal and the texts together at the back. The music leader would say something like "We're going to sing "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" to the tune of CORONATION.
So the tunes have names and the texts have names. In modern hymnals (and I mean since the early 1900s or maybe earlier) the texts and tunes are printed together with the text name as the title of the hymn. but at the bottom you'll see IN ALL CAPS the name of the tune. The Baptist hymnal has three different tunes that have been paired with the text "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name." CORONATION, DIADEM, and MILES LANE.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Psalm 55 - Cast Thy Burden upon the Lord

Dr. C. L. Bass and my dad, Bill J. Littleton, were good friends from their days at Oklahoma Baptist University. If I remember correctly at one time Dr. Bass was dad's organist - maybe at FBC, Borger Texas. That was a LOOOOONG time ago - in the 1960s.

When I read Psalm 55 today this beautiful setting of Psalm 55:22 (and other verses from the Psalms) written by Dr. Bass. I remember hearing this at Eastwood Baptist Church in Tulsa when I was in 6th or 7th grade (I think). Such a beautiful, haunting melody, lovely accompaniment and it is wonderfully sung here by the TMC choir.

How often do we try to carry our burdens on our own? "I've got this." Perhaps we're trying to prove to the world or to ourselves that we are strong and self-reliant. Ahhhhh, but how much better if we could learn to cast our burdens on Christ.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

What burdens are you carrying around? Are you trying to take care of them yourself? Cast your burden on the LORD and He will sustain you.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Psalm 54 - Snitches - What To Do?

Psalm 54 doesn't use the word "snitches" but they are there! They are mentioned in the intro
I was curious about the Ziphites. I quick search brought up two verses that mention the Ziphites. (They lived in Ziph. duh) haha.
In both instances the Ziphites were snitches. David was hiding from Saul - since Saul was trying to kill him. On at least two occasions David ended up in the area near Ziph and the Zihpites sent word to Saul.
1 Samuel 23:19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon?
1 Samuel 26:1 The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?”
In today's society, if someone ratted another person out, the offended person would very likely light up social media with all kinds of trash talk and hateful language. "He won't talk about me like that and get away with it!" "I'll show her! She'll wish she had never messed with me!"
David - who is called "a man after God's own heart" Acts 13:22 - did not respond that way. He trusted in God to vindicate him. 4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. He lived that way too. If you read 1 Samuel 23 you'll see that when Saul was getting close to catching David that God sent a distraction that took Saul and his men away form David. In 1 Samuel 26 David had an opportunity to kill Saul. Saul and his men were in a sound sleep from God, but David refused to let anyone kill Saul who was "the Lord's anointed." 

Bottom line:
We sometimes get all crazy and ready to slash and burn those who offend us. David had someone chasing him who wanted to kill him. I doubt any of us in the USA have troubles from others that begin to compare.
So what should we do? We've been offended. Someone has tried to turn others against us. Whatever our "enemies" have done to us we should follow David's example.
  • Pray to God
  • Ask God to vindicate you
  • Let God help you (You may have to wait for this. Don't run ahead of God.)
  • Give God a freewill offering (One that wasn't required by the law or a vow that had been made.)
  • Praise the name of the Lord, for it is good!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Psalm 53 - What Fools Say

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."

The psalm continues on describing the lives of these fools.
They are corrupt.
Their ways are vile.
They don't understand.
They don't seek God.
They have turned away.
No one has done good.

There is a bit of hope at the end of this psalm.
5 Terror will grip them, terror like they have never known before. God will scatter the bones of your enemies. You will put them to shame, for God has rejected them.

There are people today who are just like the fools described in this psalm. It only takes a few minutes of watching the evening news to know that. 

It may seem a bit harsh that God has rejected them and will scatter their bones. But remember - God also says that those who seek Him will surely find Him. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV God offers salvation to all. Those that are rejected by God are rejected because they rejected Him.

Bottom line:
Knowing the final destination for fools should make us try harder to share the Gospel with friends and family who have rejected God. 
The best way to share the Gospel is to live in a way that doesn't contradict the Gospel but instead shows others the new life that we have in Christ.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Psalm 52 - The Wickedness of Doeg

The world can be a wicked place. Things aren't always fair.Terrible things can happen to good people. Even when you are living life for the Lord you can still run into people like Doeg.

Psalm 53 mentions Doeg in the inscription before the psalm. He was an Edomite - meaning he was a descendant of Edom - another name for Esau, Jacob's (Israel) twin brother.

Doeg was evil. First, he told Saul about how the priest, Ahimelek, helped David. Saul, in his anger, told his army officials to kill the priests since they helped David. The officials feared God and wouldn't raise a hand against the priests. So Saul told Doeg to kill the priests. He wasn't an Israelite so he had no respect for the priests. He killed 85 priests that day! Read the story here

So what are we to take from this story?

  • There are evil people in the world who have no fear or respect of God. They do evil things. Sometimes God's people are the targets of these evil people.
  • God will bring the wicked down to everlasting ruin. v.5
  • The righteous (from David's example) will trust in God's unfailing love forever, praise Him in the presence of His people (like - at church, in worship), and will hope in God's name.

We can easily get caught up in the evil of wicked men. We want to fight back. We are tempted to give back evil for evil. 
Peter and Paul both told us not to repay evil.

1 Peter 3:9
9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Romans 12:17
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

Bottom line:
God will take care of the evil people in the world. That's His job, not yours.
Even though you are following God you may still have terrible things happen to you. (Not only did Doeg kill the priests, but then Saul and his men destroyed all the people - men, women and children - of the priest's town.
Trust in Jesus when you are attacked. Continue to praise Him in the presence of His people. Put your hope in Him.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Psalm 51 - Forgiveness of Sin

This Psalm was written by David after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan after his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. If you don't know the story you can find it here David and Bathsheba Read about Nathan confronting David here Nathan confronts David

Psalm 51 is a rather famous psalm on how to find forgiveness from sin. It is a wonderful example of how we should come to God when we realize our sin. Here are some of the things that I noticed about asking forgiveness and this psalm.

  • Even though many people were sinned against and were affected by David's sin he knew that ultimately his sin was against God. v.4
  • He asked God to forgive him. vs. 1, 2, 7, 9

In addition David asked for these things from God - things he had lost because of his sin.
  • Joy and gladness v.8
  • A pure heart v.10
  • A steadfast spirit v.10
And he promised these things to God
  • To teach transgressors God's ways v.13
  • That he would sing of God's righteousness v.14
  • To declare God's praise v.15
And David realized that sacrifices (offering bulls and goats) were meaningless without truly being sorry for sin.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

Bottom line:
Sacrifices or offerings or anything else we give to God are meaningless by themselves. What matters is our heart.
When we sin we need to ask for forgiveness with a contrite heart.
God is the one who can give us a pure heart, a steadfast spirit and can restore the joy of His salvation that He has given us.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Psalm 50 - The Sacrifice God Wants

The sacrifical system of the Old Testament was a foreshadow of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. It was fulfilled - completed - by the death and resurrection of Jesus. But even when the sacrificial system was still in place (like, when Psalm 50 was written) God wanted something different.

It's not that they were doing the sacrifices wrong. Notice that God said, "I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer." v.8 But then notice. God said He didn't need those sacrifices. Why would He? When He owns all the cattle on a thousand hills why would He need us to offer a bull or a goat to Him?

Here's what God says He wants - a sacrifice of thanksgiving! That was probably one of the things that should have been a part of the sacrificial system. Perhaps the sacrifices of bulls and goats were supposed to lead to thankfulness, but in their efforts to do things right they forgot the spirit of the sacrifices. They did what God asked, but there wasn't any thanksgiving in their hearts.

Twice in this psalm we read these words.
14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

It reminds me of Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Ephesians 5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A quick search on your favorite Bible website will give you hundreds of verses telling us to give thanks to God. (I use www.crosswallk.com to look up verses. It has a lot of translations, you can do word searches, compare two translations at the same time, read commentaries on verses and passages.... It's a great resource.)

And as we offer sacrifices of thanks God makes promises to us in return.
15 Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”
23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

Bottom line:
We don't have to give sacrifices to pay for our sins. Jesus covered that for us forever.
Live your life in thankfulness to God. Let thankfulness be your sacrifice.
Call on God when you're in trouble and He will rescue you (and you will give Him glory.)
Keep to God's path and He will reveal His salvation.

Pretty awesome, don't you think?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Psalm 49 - Redeeming the Life of Another

7 No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them— 
8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough— 

9 so that they should live on forever and not see decay. 

As you read more of the psalm you see that the writers (the sons of Korah) understand that everyone dies. The wise, the senseless, the wealthy, all who trust in themselves - all end up with the same fate - dead and decaying in the grave.

But they had this hope
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. 

What they didn't know was how God would fulfill verse 15. 
Galatians 4:
4 But when the fullness of the time cameGod sent forth His Sonborn of a womanborn under the Law
5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons

Yes. The ransom of a life is costly. It cost God the life of His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Here's the Gospel in a nutshell.
1 Corinthians 5:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

Bottom line:
Those without Christ are just like those described in Psalm 49.
Jesus came to redeem us from the grave.
He did that by dying in our place - He was buried and He rose again on the third day. 

Psalm 48

Well.... I missed a day. I read the psalm. I was going to post something late last night but I only had my phone and I couldn't figure out how to post to my blog. I know that there is a way to do that. And now that I'm typing I'm remembering there is some way I can use email...... I'll look into it.

I hope all of you who are reading a Psalm a Day for 150 days with me read Psalm 48. I posted this on Facebook.

Uh oh....I didn't get to post about Psalm 48 earlier today and now I only have my phone and I can't figure out how to past to my blog. So..... here's a great verse for you from Psalm 48. You'll need to write your own devotional thoughts. :-)
As is Your name, O God, So is Your praise to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is full of righteousness.
Psalms 48:10 NASB

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Psalm 47 - Sing Praises!

What do you do on Sundays? Do you come to worship and just kinda stand there and watch? Or do you sing?

Everyone should sing in worship. I'll admit that not everyone should sing a solo, but everyone should sing. If you consider how awesome God is and how He is the great King of all the earth how can you not sing? If there is joy in your heart express it through song.

1 Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise!2 For the LORD Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises!7 For God is the King over all the earth. Praise him with a psalm.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Psalm 46 - The LORD Is with Us

(I've been looking at Psalm 46 in the New American Standard Bible and the New Living Translation.)
It seems to me that a lot of Psalm 46 is telling how the end of the world will come about. God will destroy the nations and wars will cease. All of this destruction of nations and wars will show how glorious God is. Then God says, 10 "Cease striving (be still) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

But look how cool this is!
7 and 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. NASB
The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. NLT

The LORD of Heaven's Armies! Wow! Here with us! 

Bottom line:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Come, behold the works of the LORD.
Be still and know that He is God.
The LORD of Heaven's Armies is here among us.

That should change your entire outlook in life. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Psalm 45 - The Wedding of the King

Psalm 45 is the song of a wedding celebration. Jesus Christ is the King. We, the church, are His bride.

Now read verses 1-7 again. Do you see how well they describe Jesus?

  • the most excellent
  • lips anointed with grace
  • God has blessed you forever
  • the mighty one girded with a sword
  • clothed with splendor and majesty
  • victorious in the cause of truth, humility and justice 
  • throne will last forever and ever
  • a scepter of justice rules the kingdom
  • He loves righteousness and hates wickedness
  • anointed with the oil of joy
an English window quoting Psalm 45

And this is information about the bride (the church) .... how the bride is described and instructions for the bride.
  • at the King's right hand (the place of honor)
  • dressed in fine gold
  • forget your people and your father's house (forget your old way of life)
  • let the King be enthralled with your beauty (live life in a beautiful, God-pleasing way)
  • all glorious is the princess in her chamber (God makes the church beautiful as the bride of Christ)
  • the bride will be led into the King's presence with joy and gladness
So there you have it, (I may have missed some points. :-) ) a description of Jesus our King and us, the church.

Bottom line:
Most of what we are as the bride (the church) has been done for us by Christ. He puts us in a place of honor, dresses us in gold, leads us into His presence with joy. But we have a part too. We need to forget about our old way of life and live in a manner that will please our King where He is enthralled with our beauty.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Psalm 44 - God Deserves the Credit (He Did It)

The Israelites were good warriors. They conquered the Promised Land and drove out nations from the land.
King David killed Goliath and led his armies to battle and returned with great victories.

But in all of their victories they realized that it was God who gave them the victory. It's summed up in verse 3.
3 It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.

Jeremiah gave this instruction which says the same thing in a little different way.

Jeremiah 9: 23 Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.

What are you good at? Do you recognize that it is God who gives you that ability and any good things that come from it?
What difficulties are you facing? Do you realize that you don't have to rely on your own strength or cleverness or abilities? I'm not saying you shouldn't be prepared in life. I'm not saying that you shouldn't work hard. You should give every situation your best. The Israelites fought hard for the Promised Land. But it is God who brought the victory. It is God who will bring the victory in your life.

And here's my favorite part! Do you know why? Because of His love!

Bottom line:
If you spend some time meditating on what it means to have the light of God's face working in your life - because of His love for you - it will change your life.
Bonus Bottom line:
If you can boast that you understand and know God then you will delight in what He delights in - exercising lovingkindness, justice and righteousness. Then you will also delight in (and do) those things.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Psalm 43 - Send Light and Truth

Psalm 43 only has five verses. It has a familiar theme - asking God for deliverance.
I mentioned to my lovely wife how it was difficult to blog about so many psalms with the same theme. I know that there is a reason for the recurring theme. Life is hard. We're often surrounded by enemies. Bad things happen to good people. Life doesn't go the way we planned. We need help from God for thousands of reasons.

But I didn't want to blog the same thing again with just a little change in the wording. But then God showed me something a little different in this psalm. Or at least something I hadn't noticed before (if it was in another psalm.)

3 send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; 
Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places

All scripture speaks of Jesus Christ. (This verse is more obvious than many.) When we ask God for light for our way, for truth in any situation, we're asking for Jesus!

"I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6 (Notice that this statement by Jesus even covers the second part of the verse above. He is the way to THE holy hill - God's dwelling place.)

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men." John 1:4

Can I just leave it there? I think if I go on and on with some sort of explanation I'll just mess it all up. 
Facing troubles? Need deliverance? Guidance? Vindication? Whatever it is.... You need Jesus. Psalm 43:3 can be your "go to" verse for pretty much everything!
"Send out Your Light and Your Truth, let HIM lead me." 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Psalm 42 - Dealing with Depression (down in the dumps)

I don't mean to deal lightly with a serious condition. I know that some depressions are from a chemical imbalance or medical condition or very deep personal trauma. If that is what you or a loved one is dealing with then let me encourage you to get professional help.

Probably everyone has down times. Life didn't go the way we planned or wanted, or we feel like only bad things are happening to us, or - I don't know, there are many reasons.

Bonus material. Who were the sons of Korah who wrote this Psalm? The Sons of Korah

In two of the verses (5, 11) the psalmist asks, "Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?" There are some reasons given, but rather than focus on those (since our reasons are probably different) let's look at his response. I would suggest this is the way out of depression.

  1. Praise Him even if you don't feel like it. - Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. vs. 5, 11
  2. Long for God - As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God. vs.1-2
  3. Remember the good times with God - I remember this as I pour out my heart: how I walked with many, leading the festive procession to the house of God, with joyful and thankful shouts. v.4
  4. Look day and night at how God reveals Himself to you - The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night- a prayer to the God of my life. v.8

Bottom line:
It can be easy to let the cares of the world get you where you are feeling depressed. Take your focus off of yourself and on to your Savior and God. Praise Him and look for Him - long for Him. I'm certain your feelings of depression will be replaced with songs in the night!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Psalm 41 - Be Kind to the Poor

Verse 1
1 Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.

1 Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The LORD rescues them when they are in trouble.

1 Happy is one who cares for the poor; the Lord will save him in a day of adversity.

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that tell us to care for the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the widows and orphans....

Rather than list several verses with instructions on caring for these let me remind you of Jesus' words in Matthew 25

35 For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?' 40 "And the King will answer them, 'I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.'

Hmmmm.... maybe I"m being lazy, but it seems pretty self-explanatory to me. Each of us needs to find ways that we can live our lives caring for the weak. Find ministries in the community that you can be involved in. Start a ministry at church that meets the needs of others. That doesn't mean think of something for the pastors to do. If God gives you a great idea of how to minister to others YOU need to do it. Your pastor can give you guidance or direction or help you think through logistics or whatever, but YOU need to do it. Gather others around you to help you and go for it. Or find people in your neighborhood to minister to. Visit nursing homes. Feed the hungry. Visit the prisons. 

I hate to make a list because I don't want you to think it is an exhaustive list. You will think of things that I won't think of. Let the Holy Spirit guide you. Make a difference in your part of the world.

Oh...and then you have a perfect audience to share the Gospel with.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Psalm 40 - Parchment Skies

Do you know this old hymn - "The Love of God" - by Frederick M. Lehman ? When I read verse 5
Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.
I thought of the third verse of "The Love of God."

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trace,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho' stretched from sky to sky.

 The Love of God  was written in 1917, but look at this! Mercy Me sang it.

Even though we could never list all of the wonderful things that God has done - in our own lives as well as the lives of everyone else in the whole world - we should spend some time each day making a list. How would your outlook on life, the way you look at and treat others, the things you ask for in prayer, the way you interact with your family and friends.... How would all of that change if you looked at life with an amazed, grateful heart?

Bottom line challenge:
I have a challenge for today's "bottom line." Depending on how dedicated you think you can be, pick a time frame, 2 days, 1 week, 3 weeks.... and begin each day of that time making a list of God's deeds. Then look that day for new things to add to your list the next morning. I would be interested in hearing from you at the end of the time. How your life different? How did you see things differently? In what ways did you grow closer to God?

Here's verse 5 again in the New Living Translation:
5 O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Psalm 39 - Life Is Short - Make it Count

How do you want to be remembered? I'm often amused at funerals when the preacher is saying all kinds of nice things about the deceased and everyone's looking around wondering who he's talking about. That's not how I remember him!

Psalm 39 reminds us that life is short.

4 “Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.6 “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.We see these same thoughts all through scripture. One example is James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.Are you rushing around trying to heap up wealth? You don't even know who will end up with your wealth. You know - you can't take it with you.

The best way to make your life count isn't by piling up wealth. Invest your life in others, point them to Jesus, let your legacy live on through them as they follow Jesus. I'm not saying that wealth is wrong. I'm saying that when your life is over your wealth will end up with someone else and you have no control over who ends up with it. But a life invested in others will go on as others live their lives for Jesus because of your example and encouragement.
Bottom line:Do you want to be remembered as someone who was always chasing wealth? Or as someone whose hope was in the Lord? People are watching you. Live how you want to be remembered.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Psalm 38 - Confess or Waste Away?

Confess or waste away? That's kind of what this looks like to me. Look what bad shape David was in: there was no health in his body, his guilt was overwhelming him, his wounds fester and stink (Ugh!), he was bent over and racked with pain...fever...exhaustion.. the list keeps going.

Sin has consequences. Some are immediate, some are obvious - like you rob a bank then you go to jail - but the consequences we don't see so obviously, (or at least it seems that most people don't think about this), is a broken relationship with God.

1 O LORD, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage! 

2 Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me. 

So what's the answer for this? How do you restore your relationship with God?
18 But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done. 
21 Do not abandon me, O LORD . Do not stand at a distance, my God. 
22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior.

There you go.
Confess your sins. Be deeply sorry for what you have done. Ask God to not abandon you but instead to come quickly and help you. Confess that He is your Lord and Savior. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Psalm 37 - How to Get the Desires of Your Heart

I've been trying to not write the same things about the psalms that I wrote before (in case you just joined us, I blogged a Psalm a Day for 150 Days back in 2012.) But I've used today's psalm as an outline to tell people how to get their hearts desires for - well, decades. :-)

I like to word it like this because getting your heart's desire is sorta like an American ideal - life, liberty and getting everything you want. So when I say, "get everything your heart desires" people perk up and pay attention.

Before you report me to the anti-"name it claim it" patrol read this entire post.

Yes. You can have everything your heart desires. Here's how.

  1. Trust in the Lord and do good v.3
  2. Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart v.4
  3. Commit your way to the Lord v.5
  4. Trust in Him and He will do this v.5
  5. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him v.7
  6. Do not fret when evil people succeed vs.1, 7
  7. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath v.8
  8. Live blamelessly v.18
  9. Give generously vs.21, 26
  10. Turn from evil and do good v.27
  11. Utter wisdom and speak what is just v.30
  12. Have the law of God in your heart v.31
  13. Hope in the Lord and keep His way v.34

A shorter list would just be number 2 above - Take delight in the Lord.

I took some Nyquil so I'm going to just jump to the ending. You'll need to fill in the connecting thoughts.

If you truly delight in the Lord then the desires of your heart will be the things that He desires. Your prayers will be much like in the Lord's model prayer where Jesus teaches us to pray "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

The opposite of this would be like what James says, When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3 read it in context here

Bottom line:
When you delight in the Lord your prayers will be for things that He wants to see happen so He will be more than happy to give you the desires of your heart. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Psalm 36

Psalm 36 begins with a description of the sinfulness of the wicked. Apparently the wicked have been the same for thousands of years because it could be written today. It's easy to see people that meet this description now - and they're proud of it!

Compare that to God's incredible love that reaches to the heavens!

I think the thing to take away from this Psalm today - at least for me - is to not get bogged down or discouraged by the wickedness around us - around the world. Why? Because God's love and faithfulness are so much greater. His righteousness and justice are greater than the wickedness of the world.

Bottom line:
It's easy to get in the mode of cursing the darkness. There's so much of it! If instead we would focus on God's love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice - and live our lives in love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice. We will make a difference in the world and God will use us to push back the darkness.