Monday, May 22, 2017

Psalm 142 - When There's No One Else

Poor David..... His spirit was fainting.

4 Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.

So what's a guy to do?
He cried out loud to the LORD. 
He asked for mercy.
He poured out his complaints and told God his troubles.

He knew God was his refuge.
And his portion in the land of the living. The New Living Translation says it this way, "You are all I really want in life."

And, David promised to praise God when He brought him through. 
7 Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Psalm 141

Sometimes some of us have sins that seem to track us down and catch us over and over again. The writer of Hebrews called them "the sin that so easily entangles us." Hebrews 12:1

Psalm 141 has a good plan of action for us to combat sin.

1 I call to you, LORD, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. 
2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. 
3 Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. 
4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies. 

5 Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.

Call to God - ask Him to come quickly.

Ask God to guard your mouth - to watch what you say. Don't let your words make your sin worse.
Pray verse 4. At times we can easily be drawn into sin. It's a different sin for each of us. But our old sin nature can still pull our heart strings. The Apostle Paul wrote quite a bit about his struggle with sin. Romans 7:14-25

21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.  

Have some good friends in your life - friends that you can share your struggles with. Give your friend permission to confront you when he/she sees you headed down the path to sin. (See verse 5)
You don't have a friend like that? You have to work to BE a friend like that and to develop that kind of friendship. That's a whole other blog post....

Psalm 141:4 reminded me of the third verse of the great hymn "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing."

O to grace, how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy grace, Lord, like a fetter,
bind my wondering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it, 
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Here's a modern version of this great hymn with some new words added.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Psalm 140 - Living in His Presence

After several verses of wishing the worst on his enemies, the psalmist concludes with these words.

13 Surely the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence.

In the Old Testament times people had to work hard to live righteously. They had to follow the law. Many would live righteous lives wanting to please the LORD with how they lived. But the sinful nature in everyone made it impossible to completely keep the law. 
But God promised that a day would come when He would write His laws on our hearts.

33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD , "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

In the New Testament we see that our righteousness comes from Jesus. (Read Romans 3 and the rest of Romans.

So....all of that to say - and I"m probably leaving out some connecting thoughts. 

If you have given y our life to Christ and are following Him then you are righteous before the Father. Then you will praise His name - not only in worship on Sundays, but during the week too.
And you will live your life in His presence - not just when you die and you're in heaven. 

Well.... I'm taking care of three grands after having two other grands here since Tuesday, so I"m not sure I've included all of the connecting thoughts in this post.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Psalm 139 -- Many Wonderful Truths

I've heard many great sermons and lessons taken from Psalm 139. I'm not going to try to relate them to you in this post. Instead, I think I'll just give you some good lesson or sermon titles and you can fill in the three points and a poem. (That's an old preacher joke. It used to be - probably in the 50s, maybe the 70s - I don't know.... anyway a good sermon would have three points and would end with a poem. A really great preacher would make his three points alliterate. hahaha) are some great truths from this psalm that would make for a good sermon.

The LORD knows all about us, when we sit, stand, sleep and even what we are going to say before the words are in our mouths. amazing! vs1-6

There isn't anywhere in the world that we can go and be away from God's presence. And no matter where we are God will guide us and hold us. vs.7-12

We don't have to be afraid of the dark - or things that we can't see - because even the dark is as light to God. vs.11-12

We have a great purpose in life - each of us - because we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God knits us together in our mothers' wombs. He knows all that will happen in our lives. vs.13-16

Anyone who truly believes vs.13-16 could never support or condone abortion.

God thinks about us more than we can even imagine. vs.17-18

23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 

24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 138 - Though Exalted

I love this verse because it says again one of the great wonders of God:

6 Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. 

I've always thought this - and mention it often in worship - that it is amazing that the great God of the universe, the Creator of all things, the One exalted above all things would reach out to us in love! That He would offer Himself just so He can have a relationship with us.

That's amazingly awesome!

I read an often quoted saying today that in all other religions man tries to reach God, but in Christianity we see that God reaches down to us. (I'm not sure I quoted it exactly correct, but you get the point.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Psalm 137 - Weeping for what You Don't Have

How can we sing the songs of Zion?

When things go wrong in life it is easy and I suppose it is a natural response to be sad when you think of what you have lost. How can you sing when things are going so badly?


I've tried to write about this psalm from several different angles and I just can't. I don't know what to say.... how to relate it to 2017. It's easy to understand the despair of the psalmist. Jerusalem had been destroyed and the people carried off into captivity. The psalmist wants to remember Jerusalem. He also wants to dash children against the rocks...

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Psalm 136 - His Love Endures Forever

Here's a nice family activity to do with your children or grandchildren or perhaps with your spouse. It would even work for you by yourself. Make up your own list of things that God has done in your life, or the life of your family.
Then break your list up into phrases and say one phrase and then say "His love endures forever" then say another phrase and again say "His love endures forever."

It will be a nice time of praise for you.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Psalm 135 - Whatever He Pleases

I like verse 6

The LORD does whatever pleases him; in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.

There's a lot more to this psalm
- His power over weather and storms
- a list of many of the things that God did for Israel as they were delivered from Egypt
- the nations/kings He conquered for Israel
- a comparison with idols

But I really like verse 6 tonight...

The LORD does whatever pleases him; in the heavens and on the earth.

We can complain or question or ask or plead or....whatever. But God is going to do whatever pleases him.

The world and Satan can try to stop Him or sidetrack Him or distract Him... but God does whatever pleases him; in the heavens and on the earth.

Some people think they can bribe God or corner Him into doing what they want... but the LORD does whatever pleases him; in the heavens and on the earth.

Skeptics say God is in control only in heaven, that He has lost control over things on earth or maybe that He just doesn't care anymore or perhaps He set things in motion and then is just waiting around to see what is going to happen.
God does whatever pleases Him; in the heavens and on the earth.

OK... has it sunk in? The LORD does whatever please him; in the heavens and on the earth!

That's awesome!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Psalm 134 - Praise Through the Night

1 Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD. 

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Psalm 133 - Unity - Good and Pleasant

When Aaron was anointed as Israel's High Priest they poured oil on his head. Anointing with oil was a symbol of the Holy Spirit. It was a high and holy occasion - not only for Aaron, but for all of Israel.

When God's people dwell together in unity it is good and pleasant, but it's as wonderful as when Aaron was anointed as the High Priest.

Here are some verses about "unity" from the New Testament.

23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Unity doesn't come naturally, but it is good and pleasant when God's people are living in unity. It is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit. It is something we have to work at. It is possible when we love each other. It shows maturity in our faith. 
I suppose I should have some connecting sentences and a conclusion and all.... 
On a related thought.

I am so glad to be a part of a church that shows a lot of unity. It is evident in a lot of ways at Hilldale, but of course I see it most in worship. We have people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, income levels.... and we have a lot of different preferences when it comes to music. But when we gather together on Sunday mornings we sing a lot of different kinds of music together. We join our voices in old songs, new songs, fast songs, slow songs.... and it's because we care about each other. We aren't selfish in our music. Every song might not be our favorite style,, but some of them are. But it doesn't matter because our focus isn't the music, it's Jesus. I would say that's how we can find unity in everything - by focusing on Jesus, caring about each other and not being selfish in what we want. 
There... a conclusion...and all... lol....

Friday, May 12, 2017

Psalm 132 - Righteousness and Joy

9 May your priests be clothed with your righteousness; may your faithful people sing for joy.’ ” 

My first thoughts were about how those who are called to be pastors need to be clothed with His righteousness. Pastors are under attack from many sides. Satan knows that if he can cause a pastor to stumble - especially publicly - that many others will also fall. Or if a pastor is no longer a righteous person he may continue to pastor a church, but the church will suffer as he no longer faithfully shares the Gospel. (We get our righteousness from God - see Romans 3 and lots of other chapters in Romans - but we also need to live righteously.)

So I was going to say that we all need to pray for pastors. Not just Senior/preaching pastors, but Student Pastors and Worship Pastors and Children's Pastors etc.

Then we can sing for joy because our pastors/shepherds will lead us well and the Kingdom will advance.

My second thought was - if you are a follower of Christ then YOU are a priest. 
1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSIONso that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

And a great way to proclaim His excellencies is by singing with joy!

So in addition to praying for your pastors, pray for your fellow believers, that all of us will live like we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Psalm 131 - Too Wonderful?

I must admit that I had difficulty with this psalm. It wasn't too long. It's not like Psalm 119 with lots of verses. It only has 3. It doesn't have difficult words that I had to look up their meaning. I just had difficulty understanding why verse 1 says what it says.

I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 

I think a person should study and learn and try to figure out great and wonderful things. But the more I thought about it, and with the phrase before "I am not proud" I'm thinking that the psalmist is thinking about when Job questioned God. God's response was something like "Who do you think you are questioning what I'm doing. It's really none of your business." In another passage God says that His ways are not like our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

So I decided that here the psalmist is saying that he's not arrogantly questioning God about what He's doing - like he knows better than God. Instead he has calmed himself knowing that God is in control - just like a baby rests with his mother knowing she is taking care of him. "Put your hope in the LORD." v.3

So....don't use this psalm as an excuse to remain ignorant about all of the wonderful things in the world - or the universe. Study languages. Buy a telescope and learn about the stars and planets. Go scuba diving and discover wonderful things about the great barrier reef. Study great literature or botany or molecular physics.... Go see and learn and do great and wonderful things.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Psalm 130 - Who Could Stand?

3 If you kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?

The answer, of course, is "no one."

Here's the answer to that dilemma of how we can stand before the Lord.

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

7 put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

We can't come (or stand) before the Lord the way we are with all of our sins, but because of what Jesus has done we can. By putting our faith in Him we find "full redemption."

Verse 3 is in the lyrics of this song "Lord, Have Mercy." This is from 5 years ago.

Psalm 129 - Cut Me Free

Israel has always had a lot of enemies. I suppose that's because Satan hates God so much that he will always try to attack God's people.

So since this is a song of ascents it is one of the psalms that the people would recite as they made their way to Jerusalem or to the temple. It reminded them that from the time Israel was a young nation they were oppressed by others.

But this psalm also reminds them that they were not overcome and that the LORD cut them free from the cords of the wicked.

I think what we can learn from this is that God is the one who will cut us free from the cords of the wicked. Perhaps we're not being attacked by a particular person, but maybe attacked by an addiction, or troubles at home, or any number of things. God is the one who can/will set us free and cut the cords. Maybe knowing this will make a difference in how you pray about such things. Give it a try and let me know your thoughts.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Psalm 128 - Be Blessed

There are a bunch of preachers out there - you know - on TV, the Internet, perhaps in your inbox, at the church over there.... who preach a health and wealth Gospel. And they talk about how God wants to bless you and give you stuff and make you healthy and wealthy and they tell you to name it (stuff) and claim it (saying God will give it to you) and to be blessed.

It all sounds too good to be true. And just so you know.... it is!

Well...!!! I'm happy to tell you that I have found the REAL way to be blessed. It's mentioned several places in scripture and here it is in the first verse of Psalm 128

1 Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him.

God told Joshua this

Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

"But those are Old Testament", you might argue. Let's see what Jesus had to say about being blessed. 

Jesus healed a demon possessed man (Luke 11:14-28) and a woman called out "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth."
Jesus replied to her, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

Mic drop.

And of course I should mention The Beatitudes, but that would open up an entire sermon series. The Beatitudes

The secret to being "blessed" isn't in figuring out the right words to say in your prayers to make God do something for you. The secret to being "blessed" is fearing (reverence) the LORD and keeping His commandments. 

I'm not sure what else I need to say about that. There aren't "get rich quick" schemes with God. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Psalm 127 - Verses Woven into Your Life

I'm enjoying this section of psalms that are the ascension psalms. Each of theses psalms is one that has a lot of memorable verses.

I remember these verses from my early married days. Cheryl was sometimes a little worried about things. I suppose a rather young husband didn't make a rather young bride feel as secure as living at home with her parents. I would quote the first verse of Psalm 127 to the both of us.

1 Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

I would tell myself (and Cheryl) that there wasn't any point in worrying about something because if the LORD wasn't watching over us then there wasn't any point in the two of us worrying about things. It was kind of a round-about way of saying that God is taking care of us. We don't have to worry about everything.

I think I explained that right....

The second verse we quoted a lot were these.

3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

We had talked about having a lot of children. These verses were great verses to quote if you wanted a big family. Later....after we decided two children were all we were going to have I would say, "my quiver got full at two." Ha!

Quoting these verses made them part of the fabric of our lives. (There were many others. These just happen to both be from this psalm.) It's one thing to know a verse and to even be able to quote it, but as you put it into real life it becomes part of who you are. It becomes God speaking to you in a personal way. It becomes another connection to the Almighty. As God speaks to you where you are in life through His word, that is the Word being "alive and active" in you. These weren't major life-changing verses, but they were us putting God's Word in our lives in a personal way. When more serious or life-changing things came our way we were already in the habit of using God's Word to  be our comfort, our guide, our strength to face the days ahead. 

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

I hope you have verses that you have woven into your life. I pray that you are letting God's Word be alive and active you in. Spend time reading and meditating on His Word. Take steps of faith in believing what God has said to you through scripture. Let the Bible become alive and active in you. 

Ancient words changing me, changing you...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Psalm 126 - Songs of Joy

Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is "a time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance."

Earlier in the Psalm 30:5 we read "for His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning."

Today's psalm has the same theme.

5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 

6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

We all  have times in life when we are weeping, or mourning, or sowing (working for the future) with tears. There are many different responses from people who are going through those times. Hmmm... I started to list several that are not-so-great choices, but I figure you could make just as good a list as I could.

In each of these verses the sorrow is turned to joy. Here's why.

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

So..... where are you looking, or to whom are you looking, when you are going through a time of weeping? Are you looking to something on the list of not-so-great choices or are you looking to the LORD? Choose to let Him do great things in your life. Let Him use the times of sorrow and troubles to make you more like Him. Seek Him. Follow Him. Let Him do great things for you and watch your sowing in tears turn into reaping with songs of joy.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Psalm 125 - Surrounded

2 Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, both now and forever. 

When your city is surrounded by mountains the enemy can't get to you. You put guards on the mountains to see the enemy coming and fight them off before they can get over the mountains and get to you. (I think I learned that somewhere....)

But the point is well made. Jerusalem was/is surrounded by mountains. Those who are the LORD's people are surrounded by Him! He is their protection. He fights off the enemy.

This is a continuation of what we've already read in the Psalms just a few days ago.

Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 

2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 

What does it mean to you to know that the LORD surrounds you? I'm not answering that for you because the Holy Spirit will probably say something different to you than what He says to me. Why is that? Not because God changes His mind or because scripture isn't clear, but because the Living Word speaks to each of our needs. Ask God and let Him show you what it means to you to be surrounded by the LORD like the mountains surround Jerusalem.
Bonus material found at
Jerusalem's seven hills are Mount Scopus, Mount Olivet and the Mount of Corruption (all three are peaks in a mountain ridge that lies east of the old city), Mount Ophel, the original Mount Zion, the New Mount Zion and the hill on which the Antonia Fortress was built.
Jerusalem is not the only city in the world considered or historically believed to be built on seven hills. Others include RomeBabylon, Moscow, Mecca, Lisbon, Tehran and Amman. More than nineteen cities in the United States also lay claim to be founded on seven hills.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Psalm 124 - Another Reminder

We forget. During troubled times we pray and ask the Lord to save us, get us through, defeat our enemies... and then, if we aren't careful, when times are good we forget the Lord. We don't pray as much. We don't read our Bibles. We skip worship times.

The "songs of ascent" are psalms that are recited as people - well, some say it's as they ascend the temple steps, others say it's as they walk up to Jerusalem and the temple - but either way, the people are on their way to worship. These psalms help remind them on their way to worship that their deliverance was, is and will be found in the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.

8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

We need to regularly remind ourselves of all that God has done for us so we don't fall away from living a faithful life.

I would suggest that you make a list of things that God has done for you and your family and look over that list often. Add to it. Thank God for each thing on your list.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Psalm 123 - Looking to the LORD

Psalm 123 is another psalm that reminds us to look to the LORD for our help.

1 I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven.2 We keep looking to the LORD our God for his mercy,

Where are you looking for help? The world has all kinds of advice and there are plenty of people - I've found through the years - that are more than happy to tell you what you need to do. 
I would suggest you follow the example of the psalmist and look to God for His mercy.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Psalm 122 - 2 Famous Quotes

I suppose if I just mention the two verses most quoted from Psalm 122 I might be considered a bit lazy by other bloggers....

But there's a reason these two verses are quoted. They have great things to say and good instructions for us to follow.

The first is from verse 1. I remember it from my childhood in the KJV. and there was a song to go with it.
I was glad when they said unto me, "Let us go into the house of the LORD."

This isn't it lol. The song actually starts at about the one minute mark.

So this raises the question. What is your attitude on a Sunday morning? Are you glad to join God's people in worship or do you drag yourself to church because it's something you have to do?
If you have to drag yourself there I would suggest you check your relationship with the LORD.

The second "famous" verse from Psalm 122 is "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." There have been so many times over the past 3,000 years that Jerusalem needed someone to pray for her peace. 2017 is no exception. Will you add Jerusalem to your prayer list? and pray not only for peace, but that those who live there will come to know the Prince of Peace.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Psalm 121 - He Never Slumbers

There are so many wonderful thoughts - truths - in this psalm.... and it's written so beautifully. I think you could write several blog posts from truths found here, but since we're doing a psalm a day I'll just write about one.

He who watches over you will not slumber; 

No matter how much I want to take care of - well, anything - my children or grandchildren, friends, someone at church that needs extra care or attention, I can only go for so long....eventually I have to sleep. It might be restless sleep, but I still have to sleep.

How wonderful to know that God never sleeps.

indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 

I suppose I could go on about it, but it seems rather self-explanatory to me. :-)

Of course there are great graphics for all of the psalm.