Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 35 – B

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Let’s return to Psalm 35 and continue in David’s prayers

4 Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life! Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me!
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away!
6 Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them!

As I have been ruminating over these three verses a concept comes up that I would offer the reader. David is looking for the Lord to “let” his enemies be put to shame and dishonor. To “let” them be like chaff and to “let” their way be dark and slippery.

Would it be correct to see David’s prayer here as a prayer of allowance, that is of letting those who are laying traps for David to fall into their own traps. His prayer is that the Lord is to drive them away, and pursue them, and we will consider that a bit later, yet a few moments on the concept of the lost being caught up in their own devices against the Lord’s people.

Consider the following passages.

Let their own table before them become a snare; and when they are at peace, let it become a trap. – Psalm 69:22 ESV

The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. – Psalm 9:15 ESV

In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. – Psalm 10:2 ESV

In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. – Psalm 10:2 ESV

Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance. – Proverbs 28:10 ESV

A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. – Proverbs 29:5 ESV

He who digs a pit will fall into it, and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall. – Ecclesiastes 10:8 ESV

There are actually many more passage that speak of the devices of the wicked planned for the saint to turn back onto the wicked. (As a matter of fact, our next post will find this principle again in verse 8!)

The Scripture also gives numerous examples of this principle. The first example that comes to mind of this deliverance is of course the story of Esther and how the schemes of Haman were turned upon himself.

A proud man utterly humbled by honoring the very man he hates most. A ruler of nations that had the power of life and death, himself hung on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai, the believer. Take note also that not only was Haman’s fortunes turned on him, so were Mordecai’s, in that he was lifted up to great heights.

Or consider the eleven sons of Jacob and their turning Joseph over to slave traders. The brothers went from being seemingly in control over Joseph, to becoming totally dependent on the mercy of Joseph.

I can’t keep bringing examples since I do want to consider verse 5 and 6, but as we meditate on the deliverance of the Lord in our lives, lets consider the wonder of the Lord’s ways. The wicked sin against the Lord in plotting against the believer, and the sin itself becomes the very judgement they fall into.

A word of caution for those believers who may think this does not apply to their own lives since they are “positionally” on the Lord’s side, this last example of Jacobs sons shows that to be in covenant with the Lord of Glory does not remove us from this very same principle. (For those interested in this topic, consider the post The Lord’s Enemy.)

Let’s consider verse 5 and 6

Oh to think like a Hebrew. The pictures found in the psalms, as we take a few minutes out of our busy day, are so graphic and so alarming.

Consider the precarious spot David is seeking for the enemy.

Chaff in the wind. The very purpose of the wind when winnowing the harvest was to carry the chaff away. The chaff had no power of resistance over the wind.

Their way to be dark and slippery. Given that David’s request is for his enemy to be powerless against the circumstances he is in (chaff in the wind) , he is also asking that they have no knowledge or understanding of their condition, neither any ability to resist their falling into their trap.

In the midst of this self destruction, David is asking that the angel of the Lord drive them away, and to pursue them. To “drive” is to push, to push violently, to be thrust down. To “pursue” is to run after, to chase after. The term is sometimes translated as to harass or to persecute!

Not only is David requesting to Lord to allow the enemy to fall into his own wicked devices, but he is requesting that the Lord ensure this result. He is praying that the Lord push the enemy down, and to chase after him, as a victorious general would ensure a victory over the defeated enemy.

David is a military man, a man of blood and was a strategic fighter. He did not waver in his passion for the victory of the God of Israel, and his prayers were reflective of his zeal.

Let me encourage those reading that passion in prayer is often found in the Word and may need to be found in our lives. A prayer of recitation without personal involvement may be simply words bouncing off the ceiling at times. May our prayers, as we go through our days of pilgrimage, exhibit a greater passion and desire to see God get greater victories in our lives and the lives we touch.

May God bless you as you seek to follow after Him.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 35 – A

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 35

Of David.

1 Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!
2 Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help!
3 Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!”

This is the first of the imprecatory psalms, a psalm that speaks of violence upon the writers enemies. Imprecatory means cursing, and this psalm, along with eight other psalms (55, 58, 59, 69, 83, l09, l37 and l40) recites what was going on in the saints heart during times of trial and struggle.

Does the writing of this type of psalm give us license to pray down vengeance on our enemies? Can we model our prayers upon the scriptural example set out in these psalms?

This is a tough question for me since I tend to hear the Master’s comments when James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven

And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” Luke 9:54

Of course, based on the Old Testament witness, this could be an accepted course of events. In one of the imprecatory psalms, the author speaks of smashing babies heads against rocks!

Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! – Psalm 137:9 ESV

Wow!

But not so with the Son of God. Luke simply states that Jesus turned and rebuked them.

But he turned and rebuked them. – Luke 9:55 ESV

To call destruction onto our enemies is against the spirit of the gospel. The folks that have chosen to be our enemies are without the gospel and under condemnation. We are not to hurry them to their destiny. We need to persuade them towards the Lord Jesus. (Let us not talk of our brothers as enemies, for this is simply sin.)

In this Psalm, David is most likely running from King Saul, and seeking survival. Yet when he has opportunity to take revenge on King Saul, he relents and provides mercy. Why won’t he become the answer to his own prayer?

Again, this is why this type of Psalm gives me pause.

Can New Testament believers pray to God for their enemies destruction while showing mercy to them at the same time? This smacks of a double minded existence, where what we want and what we do are two different things. Talk of being conflicted!

Can we ask the Father in heaven to serve justice upon the enemies of the church while maintaining a clear conscious? Consider the slain souls of Revelation 6.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.

They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

Rev 6:9-10 ESV

Is this sufficient justification for us to cry our for vengeance on our enemies? Notice these souls are not seeking their justice, but requesting the time when God’s judgement will avenge their blood.

Are you starting to see why these imprecatory psalms give me pause?

Let’s consider the passage before us.

Verse 1 starts out with “Contend” and “Fight”. David is calling out to God to defend him, no, not to defend him but to fight for him. There is a difference. David is seeking an offensive move from God and not simply a protective, defensive stance. And yet, is this the same cry that we believers cry out as we may come under attack, pressure, or pain, and that we seek God’s ever present help?

I often don’t think of God as an offensive (as opposed to defensive, not repulsive) warrior, and that surely impacts my prayers, and most likely my general faith state.

When have you asked the Lord to fight for you, or better yet to fight with you in the deliverance of another soul, by prayer, or fasting?

When I hear of contending and fighting, I think I understand that the Old Testament saint was expressing a war like term that was related to this earth, to battle with a national or physical enemy. This is not on the Christian’s agenda. Our battle is not with flesh and blood – This is a hard lesson for me to keep focused on.

In the midst of all the requests in this portion of the psalm, for the Lord to fight for this saint, verse 3 modifies all of these requests, asking that in the middle of all of the strain and stress, his soul would know that God is his salvation. This is key to the Psalm and is a thought repeated through out the passage (v 9, 27)

As we venture through this psalm, I find I am challenged to settle back and let the Lord have the reins of the salvation He has provided. Recently I have seemingly thought it all depends on me, that I am responsible for success, for safety and for security.

I have to give these fears, doubt and burdens back to the Master and realize He is good, He is strong and He is my Salvation

How about you? Are you carrying a burden you needn’t? Are you depending on yourself for things you cannot deliver? Are you tired and worn out?

You may have the wrong yoke on!

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:28-29 ESV


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – G

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

In our previous post, I supplied an introduction to this psalm that may be beneficial for review if you have not read it. Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – A

Lets continue with Psalm 34:19-22

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

In our last post on this precious psalm, we spoke of the eyes and ears being towards the righteous. We spoke of the action of the eyes and ears of the Lord. The activity of the Lord towards the righteous one.

This portion of the psalm describes a specific instance where the Lord looks and listens toward the righteous one.

The Lord is active in the righteous ones life, whether by conviction or by comfort, and as we walk and obey, He is active in looking out for us us, and looking towards us. Specifically this psalm defines the action of the Lord in relation to the afflictions of the righteous. He is near the righteous one that is experiencing afflictions

This psalm, more importantly speaks of one Righteous One, the Messiah.

As I have read through the Psalms, I sometimes consider how the Messiah might have related to the prophecies and promises written of Him. Lets remember that the Word of God is about the Messiah and for the Messiah. He is the all and end of every passage.

This particular psalm includes information that is an obvious reference to the passion of the Christ, to the very crucifixion of the Son of God. I am of course, referring to the prophecy of His bones not broken in verse 20. What a highly specific prophecy pointing the lost to find the truth and the saved to find encouragement!

This prophecy speaks not of an affliction, but in the limits of His suffering. Therefore the psalmist must be thinking of afflictions that do not refer to His bones. Join me as I consider a few of the afflictions of the Righteous One.

Physical Afflictions

This passage speaks of the “many afflictions” of the Righteous One. When I think of the physical afflictions of the Son of Man, I think of the crucifixion, and of the torturous physical pain of the cruel cross. The cross was the culmination of His passion and opened the most Holy Place for us to enter into.

And yet, He suffered physically prior to the crucifixion, a suffering that makes me shudder.

By his wounds you have been healed.

The scourging of the Master is a horrendous physical torture, and has been described by Eusebius as follows

“For they say that the bystanders were struck with amazement when they saw them lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view” (Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, chap. 15).

Peter describes the result of His scourging in his first epistle, as our healing. Of course this represents our healing from sin, and not the temporal healing from a sickness. This is obvious for two reasons.

  • Peter reaches back to Isaiah 53:5 in relating to this healing, and throughout the book of Isaiah, healing was always associated with the curse of sin.
  • Physical sickness may be cured based on the mercy of God in a specific instance, and not a blanket promise that applies to physical sickness. This promise refers to the healing of the sin curse upon humanity.

The term “wound” in the Greek specifically refers to a bruise, wale or wound the trickles with blood. How understated!

As we have spoken previously, the entire Old Testament is a description of the Lord Jesus and of His mission. One passage in the Old Testament, when considering the sufferings of the Lamb of God may speak of this wounding of the Son of Man.

Then he shall kill the bull before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, – Leviticus 1:5-6

When Moses refers to “the flaying” of the burnt sacrifice, I understand this is after the death of the Levitical offering. I also understand that this term is usually used of the stripping of clothes.

And yet He was the Lamb of God, and the sacrifice of His life was an offering beyond my comprehension. This is offered to the reader for their consideration and meditation

Emotional Afflictions

Let us look to two aspects of His emotional life for this present post.

Sorrow

His emotional life was littered with affliction, including the affliction of sorrow. He was referred to as a Man of sorrow, acquainted with grief.

Isaiah 53:3

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Matthew 26:38

Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

Fear

He experienced fear, for He begged for the crucifixion to be removed from Him, His prayers always focused on the will of the Father, yet the struggle of His coming suffering struck fear and loathing in His heart. How could it not. He was a man of like passions as us and His life was coming to a violent death, full of pain and suffering.

Matthew 26:39

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Consider the reality of those last hours in the garden, of the terror He experienced, of the loneliness of His time, with His disciples falling asleep.

I can’t imagine a time when any of us will experience this type of emotional trauma.

Spiritual Afflictions

How can any of us imagine or comprehend the spiritual affliction of the Son of Man being forsaken by the Father in heaven, who had been in communion with the Son of Man constantly and continually. At no time had sin drove a wedge between the Father and the Son until the cross, where Jesus had been left utterly and completely alone, without any comfort, open to the taunts of His enemies and the apparent success of darkness and spiritual wickedness.

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Mark 15:34

He was forsaken on the cross. The spiritual affliction was the one affliction that Jesus questioned. He questioned the Father. He had pleased the Father constantly in His life, through all His actions and attitudes. Yet abandoned in His greatest time of need.

Victory in Affliction

Lets return to the psalm we were discussing, and remember the tone of our passage we are looking at today is one of deliverance.

  • vs 17 ..the Lord hears and delivers them out of all thier troubles
  • vs 19 ..the Lord delivers Him out of them all
  • vs 22 ..The Lord redeems the life of His servants

Deliverance of the Righteous One resulted in His resurrection, His deliverance from a life that experienced afflictions. How this must have buoyed up the Master in the midst of His trials, in the midst of His afflictions.

As the Master meditated on these passages, His purpose and mission became clearer and clearer, though full of affliction. He saw His way through it for the sake of the will of the Father, and to provide life for us.

Let us consider the Masters afflictions and understand that the Word provided Him, not only the promise of afflictions, many as they were to be for His life, but also the promise of deliverance.

As followers, we can enter into these promises.

For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:3-4

Today, many of us shall encounter various degrees for affliction. These afflictions are opportunities to follow Him in them. These are gifts from the Father and are provided for our training as we grow up into His likeness.

May Jesus become greater in all our lives! Praise Him for His loving sacrifice!


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – F

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

In our previous post, I supplied an introduction to this psalm that may be beneficial for review if you have not read it. Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – A

Lets continue with Psalm 34:15-18

15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Much could be said about the fact that David ascribes physical descriptions of the King of glory, and some folks have carried it to it’s literal conclusion. This isn’t a proper way of considering this description, other than in it’s application to the Lord Jesus, as He walked amongst us.

David was describing the God of Heaven in ways he could understand and communicate to others, but he certainly was not stating that the Father above had arms and fingernails.

What I would like to consider is the action going on in the verses, what the eyes are doing, what the ears are doing, what the face of the Lord is doing. You see, the term “towards” is ‘el, and is sometimes referring to motion.

The eyes of the Lord are moving toward the righteous. He is not passive, but looking to the righteous, looking to those who follow after Him.

Have you ever longed to be with someone, waiting for them to come home, for the door to open and to come in for the night? Have you prepped a supper for someone to come home to, to enjoy together? To sit with and converse? Is this the attitude that David is describing here in this passage, of the Lords eyes looking towards us, of actively seeking the best for the loved one?

In the next portion of the couplet, the psalmist speaks of “His ears being open to their cry. H7775 (šavʿâ) speaks of the cry of help, and the translators of the ESV have inserted “are open” as being understood from the previous couplet.

When reading the Old Testament, I think some times verbs were not inserted into the passage if they were to be understood by the reader from a previous use in the passage. If this is true, (I am no Hebrew scholar by any stretch of the imagination!), the Lords ears are of the same “attitude” as his eyes, in this passage in relation the the cries of help.

In a crowded room, with conversations buzzing, if my wife or a child, on the other side of the room, mentions my name, I hear it. If it is a cry for help, I am moving towards them before their cry is out of their mouth. My ear is towards them, friends. My ear is towards them.

Yet, to have the face of the Lord against you is some serious stuff. In the life of the righteous, He provides life everlasting. To those who do evil, He will cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

To have the face of the Lord against you will result in the life lived being forgotten. To be of nothing. To be a fact that is not considered on this earth. To be without any weight or substance in on this planet. There may be other consequences of “doing evil”, but in this passage, it is that they are forgotten.

Consider the impact of another’s face. With the slightest movement of a minor muscle with the face, one can discern and anger or a delight, a sorrow or a joy.

The face communicates the heart, and for the face to be spoken of in this passage, denotes the entirety of the persons attitude. For the face of the Lord is against evil doers does not seem to provide much hope for the one doing evil. Repentance and faith in the loving heart of the Father, found in the sacrifice of His dear Son is the only remedy.

He has placed before us life and death. Choose life. Repent of your hatred of Jesus and trust Him as your Lord and Savior.

Our final verse in this post speaks of the Lord’s response to the “evil doer” as he repents from his acts of evil.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

To be brokenhearted is to be near to the heart of God. To be crushed in spirit is to be near salvation.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – The Chosen

let-me-tell-you-a-story.jpg

I have a friend who is battling cancer and occasionally I will text him, letting him know we are praying for him and his family. He has been battling this death for over a year and his spirit has been exemplary, to the point that I enjoy hearing from him, and the encouragement he gives.

In one of our back and forth texting, he asked me if I had been watching “The Chosen” I had told him that I hadn’t heard of it and he encouraged me to check it out. He stated that the show emphasizes the humanity of the disciples and of the Lord Himself.

I find it extremely refreshing and somewhat challenging.

Just last might we watched the episode of Him healing a man with a withered hand, and the following confrontation with the synagogue leaders over the healing and of His claiming to be “Lord of the Sabbath”. The tension of these moments and the strife amongst the disciples seems much more relatable to me.

Another episode had the Messiah heal a leper on a path, and in response to the healed lepers astonishment, Jesus rhetorically answered. “Not to shabby!”

One more episode, and Jesus told His disciples “Get used to different”. He didn’t come to refurbish religion, but to provide life and that more abundantly.

Please do not go into this series hoping for King James English, and a simple recitation of the gospels as they were written word for word. The creators openly admit artistic license. So be it. Read the Bible for accuracy and study, and watch “The Chosen” for an interpretation of the lives of the One and His disciples. They were men with passions like as we, and had failings, weakness, prejudice and religion in their lives. This depiction of the Lord reveals One who loves people, has time for others, and suffers silently.

I have finished the second season, and anxiously (in a good sense!) waiting for the third to come out. I understand the producers are anticipating 7 seasons!

It is a crowd funded production and I am happy to support this effort to bring great light into the deep darkness that we are in.

It is available as an app for both iPhone and Android, and of course you can view on your laptop or tablet. https://watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen

If you have seen any of “The Chosen”, take the survey below and / or let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – E

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

In our previous post, I supplied an introduction to this psalm that may be beneficial for review if you have not read it. Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – A

Lets continue with Psalm 34.

11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Let’s remember the context of this psalm. David acted like a wild, insane man in front of the Lord’s adversary, in order to avoid the possible consequences of a terrible decision.

David will now teach us the fear of the Lord, per verse 11. But David, you are a failure in this, since you feared man in place of God in this act of shame.

But you see, that is the point! He did not let his failure consume him. Yes he failed, yet he knew his strength was not in him but in the Lord! His confession of being a “poor man” (vs 6) speaks of his humility, his admittance of inability and his dependence on the One who is able to deliver.

Many years ago I ran across a book called “Failure – The Backdoor to Success”. Never read it, and don’t know what it was teaching, but the title has stuck in my cranium for some reason. Most likely because I have had much failure in my life. Yet my failures have been some of the greatest teaching times in my life, as I confronted and learned from them.

David had failed, and yet he had the humility to admit it (in front of his fighting men) and to refocus on the LORD, and specifically on the correct object of fear. How wonderful that in the middle of some of our greatest failures, the Lord is able to shine forth and lead on!

He begins with a question that ultimately consumes each of us.

Who wants a Good Long Life?

David’s life was looking like it was going to be “short lived”, if we remember his circumstances. Still being followed by a murderous King Saul, and shaming himself in front of the Lord’s enemy, he was a man that was a heartbeat away from death.

And yet he offers counsel. Counsel that informs us that the Fear of the Lord is a learned condition. A habit of behavior that we are to exercise in our lives in order to realize, and live in, the fear of the Lord.

  1. Our Communication
  • Clean up your speech
    • This world freely spews forth whatever is brewing in their heart, with a bit cleansing to be “socially acceptable” This is not to be the believers method of communication! Paul is clear in that our speech is to be always gracious.
      • Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
  • Don’t lie
    • It is not merely the manner in which we communicate, but also the content of our message. Whether it is seemingly inconsequential chit chat or the presentation of the Lord Jesus to another, the content is to be open and truthful, understanding our own weaknesses.
    • Colossians 3:9 ESV – Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices
  1. Our Actions
  • Turn from evil
    • Early in my faith, I was struggling with the concept of how faith relates to repentance, and as the anal spreadsheet fella that I was about to become, compiled all the verses in the New Testament ( and eventually the Old Testament) and tried to analyze the relationship of belief with repentance. Although it was highly instructive for a young believer, to this day one finding still resonates in my thoughts.
      • Repentance is spoken of towards the covenant person much, much more that to those outside of the covenant.
        • 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
      • Remember that the root meaning of repentance is “a change of mind” and that as we study the Word throughout our lives, we are to expect to find areas in our lives that are in opposition to the will of God. We are to “change our minds” concerning our behavior!
  • Do good
    • Often in the raising of our children, I would be the parent that would say “no”. My favorite (and only) wife would be the one who would come along and encourage the positive side of the coin, that of doing good instead of simply stopping some bad practice. Repentance (changing my mind) is not sufficient on it’s own in order to enjoy life, but that every void that is created with a turning from evil, that void needs to be filled with acts of “doing good”
    • I also love that David did not define “doing good”, since the background of the future kings message is that of the fear of God in relation to the will of God, that is the moral code of Moses. He was truly a man after God’s own heart, and not simply a rule keeper!
    • Jesus often used the term “do good” in His teaching. How liberating that He gives such freedom in our following Him. He does not define “doing good” with some limiting action, such as only on a specific day, or only to a specific group of people, or only in a specific place.
      • Luke 6:27 But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you
  1. Our Desires
  • Seek peace
    • What is the difference between seeking peace and pursuing peace? Our last couplet spoke of two sides of a coin, but this couplet directs us to our desires in relation to others.
      • To “seek” peace is not simply an occasional thought of friendliness to those who are irritating our lives, but according to strive after peace, to crave it, to seek it to find it.
      • Of course, all though we are instructed to seek peace in our behavior, the final result is dependent on two parties. This is the truth Paul speaks of in Romans
        • Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
  • Pursue peace
    • As mentioned above, seeking and pursuing peace seems, at first glance to be the same instruction for the one learning the fear of the Lord, but I am beginning to see that David may have meant this last phrase as a magnifier of the intent of seeking peace!
    • To “pursue” has multiple definitions within one of the study websites I refer to, but I find it illustrative to consider “pursue” occasionally includes the idea of hostility. It describe a greater passion than may be described simply by the term “seek”.
      • Romans 14:19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

How badly do you want a “Good Long Life?”

David gives instruction, and we do well to heed his wisdom.

Communicate graciously, live righteously, and chase after good relations with all.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – The Used Car Salesman

let-me-tell-you-a-story.jpg

It wasn’t long ago that I was in a class, a Sunday school class, for adults that is, when the concept of the used car salesman sprung to my mind. Let me start with my thinking of the proverbial used car salesman.

Loud, talkative, self serving, overly aggressive, pushy, annoying, manipulative dishonest; need I go on?

So Carl – what is the connection with Sunday School class and a used car salesman?

Well let me tell you a story

As many of you may know, we have been church going folks for over 40 yrs, listening to a man preach and teach from a pulpit. So many different men that we have been privileged to sit under, (and some that were a blessing to leave behind).

One of those preachers was a loud man, a man who felt volume was enough, that emotion should be the prime motivator for Christian living, that thought charisma was more important than character, and that saw himself as one amongst equals – although he was more equal than the rest of us. (Get my meaning?)

Nevertheless, after a decade of conventional church life, my wifey and I tripped into home bible studies, where a group of believers join together in a home, sometimes share a meal, have a bit of a study, and fellowship during desert – Yay for desert!. This ministry style has greatly impressed my wife and I and we love being a part of a group of caring believers. It is typically the high point of our week!

Contrast this style of interactive dialogue within a group setting with the typical church service, where one man dominates with a monologue. One person directs the singing, all planned, rehearsed and practiced. One ministers and the rest of us sit on padded seats, passively receiving.

So naturally, we tend to look for a sunday school class that mimics the dialogue style of the home bible study ministry we have been involved with and blessed by. We have been blessed with a class that we enjoy in our present church, and look forward to going each Sunday.

But the used car salesman lurks about in every meeting we attend. That one who wants to dominate the airwaves, sell his scheduled teaching notes without question, plough through honest questions, and speak of their experiences and victories while others suffer quietly, feel insufficient and are downtrodden.

Is this the correct way to minister to others – that is, to bluster your way through an allotted time, with nary a care of the one “buying” the product? Is the monologue style of ministry producing thinking Christians who can stand up and declare their beliefs, even amongst their own?

I realize I am on a bit of a rant right now, but I love being involved in a group as a participant, and not as simply someone that is “buying a product” from the teacher.

Consider Paul’s description of the Lord’s servant in the following passage.

2 Timothy 2:24
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Notice the terms used in this short passage, and consider if you have met a “Lord’s servant” recently.

  1. Not quarrelsome
  2. Kind
  3. Able to teach
  4. Patiently endure
  5. Correcting opponents with gentleness

If you are in a church with a Lord’s servant, praise God. If you have a friend who lives this life, praise God even more. Even better, if you know the Lord, be the servant He wants you to be in your daily life, amongst friend and foe, loved ones and strangers.

It is the way!

Thanks for putting up with my rant! I sometimes need to realign my thinking regarding Christianity and I find that writing helps me to get my thoughts in order.

If you have a comment or question you would like to provide, please take advantage of the comment box below. Thanks again, and may the Lord bless you in you daily walk with him.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – D

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

In our previous post, I supplied an introduction to this psalm that may be beneficial for review if you have not read it. Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – A

Lets continue with Psalm 34

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Fear of the Lord. It is seldom mentioned in our churches and we are the weaker for it. And yet, what exactly is the fear of the Lord. Based on this short snippet from the hand of David, we find the following.

  • Groups who fear the Lord are protected by an angel
  • Groups who fear the Lord are delivered by the angel
  • Groups who fear the Lord are exhorted to experience the Lord
    • This is not something that would be encouraged by a “fearful” presence, so something must be more complex than what we default to.
  • Groups who fear the Lord find Him good
  • The man who fears the Lord is blessed.
    • Fear of the Lord seems to be related to refuge – Interesting!
  • Groups who fear the Lord have no lack
    • Fear of the Lord is related to the One who supplies all of our need.
  • Groups who fear the Lord lack no good thing
    • Notice that fear seems to be connected with seeking the Lord.
    • In my earthly understanding, when I fear something, I tend to think of avoiding the one who causes my fear, yet the fear of the Lord is the equivalent of seeking the Lord – Very Interesting!!
  • Fear of the Lord can be taught.
    • The fear of the Lord is not a simple emotional reaction to a threat, as I often consider fear. The fear of the Lord is a state of mind that is to be learned, practiced and lived in.

A story of relating to fear has been helpful for me. As you may know, I work with railroads, and a healthy fear of trains is a beneficial attitude on site. They are powerful monsters of mass and motion, and if I follow a few principles the Class 1 Railroads have laid down, I can work around and with these behemoths safely. At times, these massive mechanical projectiles are hurtling through a space at high velocities, unable to stop. Standing on the train I’m safe. Standing 15 ft away from the tracks I’m safe. Standing on a bridge over the tracks I’m safe. During these times, I am amazed at the trains, their shear massive size and unyielding power.

Yet if I stand in front of a train, I am doomed! A dead man. Without hope. One spot that I shouldn’t be. On the tracks. Why do I stay off the tracks. Fear of the train!

Why should you stay off the wrong side of God. You will be doomed.

Yet any location you take to view the train, other than on active tracks, you will be safe, and possibly enjoy some benefit of the train. You may find, as I have, that trains are fantastic mechanisms of strength and power.

Likewise, learn of God and His Son Jesus Christ, taste and see the benefits of such a good and loving Creator. In all of your learning of the goodness and mercy of the Lord, do one thing for me.

Stay off the tracks!


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – C

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

In our previous post, I supplied an introduction to this psalm that may be beneficial for review if you have not read it. Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – A

Lets continue with Psalm 34:4-6

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.

David speaks of three actions, all directed to the One who is the Savior.

Seeking the Lord

In David’s plight, his self inflicted trouble, in his humiliation and shame, he sought the Lord. When he had nothing but trouble, he asked for the Lord’s mercy. In his fear before Achish, he asked for deliverance from his situation. David had nothing to offer to the Lord but fears, yet the Lord took pleasure in answering David’s prayer and delivering him from his fears.

Fear.

This last two years have seen an increase (exponentially) of fear pedaling upon the population. Many nights I would fall into fitful periods of sleep, expecting to die of a man made disease. If death wasn’t chasing me, utter poverty and sorrow would surely engulf me and my loved ones. There seemed to be no escape. I begged for mercy before the Lord, and yet I continued to struggle with fear, a debilitating fear.

David tells us he was delivered from all his fears. He sought the Lord. May I suggest he didn’t seek the Lord for self preservation, but simply sought the Lord. He looked for the Lord in this time of his life. There is a difference!

Looking to the Lord

Above I suggested David looked for the Lord in his trial. In this verse, David speaks of looking to the Lord. In my mind, there is a difference, and I find it instructive to consider the difference.

To “look to” someone is an admission of dependency, of admitting of a need, and that the One we look to is the only One that can help.

Consider it this way.

So many little boxes Where are the P’s, and all the ID’s

When I am at work and chatting with my mechanical engineer, I tell him I am “looking to” him to complete the P&ID’s. I have no skill, ability, knowledge, understanding or thoughts on the package I need from him. Dang it, it has only been a few weeks that I knew what those dang letters meant! (Piping & Instrument Diagram). But I looked to him for delivering this to our client. He, that is my mechanical engineer, delivered the package. He was able. I was not. When I told him I was “looking to him” for the package, I was admitting my ignorance, and inability to perform the action.

Same with David in this situation. He “looked to” the Lord, since he had no strength, or understanding, no wisdom or ability to perform the required deliverance.

And he was radiant! This is life changing! Quit trying to fix everything Carl – You are out of your depths! Look to the One who is mighty, and joy will flood your soul, radiance will be the fruit of my admission of weakness.

In our last post we referred to John 3:30, where John the Baptist declared – “He must increase, but I must decrease.” So much could be said about this verse, yet the connection with David in Psalm 34 seems so obvious in my deliberations

Look to the Lord, and quit looking to your own self for the answers!

Crying to the Lord

When I was an itty bitty youngin, I tended to be a weepy fella. I would cry at the drop of a hat, to the point where I was tagged with a nickname that emphasized my “weakness” (No – I am not going to reveal my nickname!)

David is not speaking of weeping in this verse. This is a call out for help. This term is used in Genesis 1:5, where the Word states “God called the light day….” It is a very common term for declaring, for stating, for proclaiming. It can imply an emotional call out to the Lord of heaven, but emotion is not the focus here, but that of calling out a truth, a fact, confessing a reality.

David stated facts. Consider the following three facts in this verse.

  1. He was a poor man
  • Destitute in his strength, wisdom, understanding, conditions, situations, trials…. He stated his need. Oh the blessedness of understanding our need for the Lord.
  1. The Lord heard him
  • The Lord is one whose ears are open, especially astute to the truth, for He is the truth and the fountain of all life. He resonates with our confessing truth, (whether it be good or bad truth, from our standpoint)
  • David isn’t speaking simply of the Lord receiving vibrations of David’s vocal chords, but of hearing the need, of understanding David’s cry.
  1. The Lord Delivered him out of all his troubles
  • This is a timely reminder that in the midst of our trials and troubles, He is the deliverer. Of course we must see this as a call to deliver others out of their troubles when we are able, but the point of the verse is the the future king of Israel was at the mercy of his circumstances, with Saul nipping at his heals, and in front of an enemy king!
  • At some point in our lives our situation may seem hopeless, but remember that He is the Savior, and not we ourselves.

We need to understand our neediness before the Creator Redeemer, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

But more so than that, and primarily the source of our understanding our need, is a correct view of God, the Almighty God who is all knowing, full of wisdom, exercising mercy upon generations and Who is Love.

May His name be honored in our lives today.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – B

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

In our previous post, I supplied an introduction to this psalm that may be beneficial for review if you have not read it. Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – A

Lets continue with Psalm 34

1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

David speaks here of a decision he has made, of faithfully blessing the Lord from this point forward.

To bless the Lord. To provide anything to the Lord is impossible, since He is the self sufficient One, the eternal Father, the Holy One of Israel. How could David expect to be able to increase the blessing of the One who is the source of all blessing?

But I am thinking wrong here!

He is the never changing God. So true, yet He is the living God, the One who experiences jealousy, anger and joy. David is speaking of blessing the Lord. To bless, in it’s root meaning is to kneel, to adore, to praise and to reflect the beauty of the One who is beautiful. To praise the One who alone is praiseworthy, who rescues, who provides, who protects and guides. He is the only One worthy of all blessing.

David’s soul boasts in the Lord. Let the humble hear and be glad. Boasting and humility in the same verse? Is there a clue here as to the correct position of humility in the saint?

To Boast in the Lord is to be humble. Pride in my own person can not (should not) exist when the Lord is the One who is elevated.

2 Corinthians 10:17-18 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

True humility is the replacement of my boasting of me, myself and I, with boasting on the Lord Jesus Christ and His loving Father.

Note that this is a reality that exists in the soul, in the heart of the believer who is seeking the Lord. This internal boasting, this self admiration is to be replaced with admiration, love and blessing to the Lord of heaven!

He is all, we are not!

As we understand and live in this truth, as we grow into this maturity of decreasing in our own estimation , the humble will hear and be glad! Those of like position before the Almighty, in a position of kneeling before the Mighty One, and boasting of His greatness, find gladness in others joining them.

Decrease in your own estimation, realize your smallness before the Living God, replace the smug boasting of your person, with the boasting of the One who is worthy.

He alone is praiseworthy.

Praise Him for all His mercies, for all His provisions, for all His guidance. Praise Him for His sacrifice for our lives, for His suffering and humiliation, for His redemption of His enemies, for His forgiveness, for His grace and overflowing kindness.

Praise Him, all ye saints! For He is God, and we are not!


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 34 – A

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

This chapter is full of recognizable verses, verses that beg to be considered, dwelled upon, meditated over and to give thanks for!

Before we get into the text, lets consider the background to this psalm.

Psalm 34

1 Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.

This psalm opens, giving a bit of historical background to the writing of the psalm. David changed his behavior, and it was out of fear that he put on this front. David’s behavior, and his situation is fleshed out a in a bit more detail in 1 Samuel 21 By the way, Achish and Abimelech are the same king! Abimelech is like a title for the king of Gath

1 Samuel 21:10 – 15

And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath.
And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”
And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath.
So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard.
Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me?
Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

This is the behavior of a man after God’s own heart?

Come come now friends, before we judge the future king of Israel, let us consider our own lives. We are all made of the same stuff – weakness and dust, fears and flesh. David humiliates himself after a terrible decision to run to the enemy of God’s people. A terrible decision causing circumstances that strikes fear in David’s heart, ending up with his acting a fool in front of an enemy king.

Definitely not a high point for David!

And yet he writes this awesome psalm of praise to the Lord, not looking upon his own humiliation but upon God’s deliverance in the midst of his own foolish mistakes!

Our next post will consider the first 11 verses. Hope you can join me as we journey through this fantastic psalm.

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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 33 Part B

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 33

11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

We want to trust in anything other than God. Great armies, great strength, great weapons. All of these “idols” are ultimately red herring’s for our soul, when we abandon the living God.

He is looking for those that fear Him, and that hope in his steadfast love, that look to the mercy of God in all His actions and attitudes. He is kind, desiring to be our help and shield, our protector and defender.

Each morning as I arrive at work, I take a 15 minute walk in my parking garage, reviewing some memory verses (on the way up to the 7th floor) and praying for my family, friends and specific daily concerns on the way down from the 7th floor. All this to say, it was just a few days ago, that verse 21 of this chapter came up in my memory review and it was a blessing to consider.

Note “our heart is glad in Him because we trust in His holy name”

In our trust towards the only One who deserves our trust, we experience gladness, a rejoicing that is simply an over flow of the very life of God being worked out in our day to day lives. Our experience is to be full of joy, a rejoicing in the many benefits of our Holy Savior.

In the midst of good news, the rejoicing of our heart is to be relational, exuberant, obvious, open and full.

In the midst of bad news, the rejoicing of our heart is also relational, but with a subdued settled confidence that in the midst of the trial, God is still on the throne, that in the strength of God, our heart can not simply survive the storm, but if exercised by the Spirit, increase in hope, faith and love.

Trust in His holy Name, in the Name of Jesus and as you trust, experience the gladness of heart the psalmist sings of.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 33 Part A

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 33

1 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4 For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.

Can we settle on one verse this morning. So many great verses in this chapter but verse 5 has stuck in my craw, and it won’t let go.

Psalm 33:5b …the earth is FULL of the steadfast love of the LORD.

Is it? Is it really?

Praise The Lord Cards | Zazzle

My friends , as we walk this path with the Lord through the lives that He has granted us, we make many decisions. Out of these decisions, our lives are expanded to new understandings and appreciation of the Lord Jesus, or we are shrinking in our love and desire to know Him. Thoughts like this occur to me at the oddest time and I am thankful for the still small voice that whispers truth to me.

Let me share a time of hearing a still small voice.

As many of you know, I am an engineer, encased in numbers and schedules, with pressure and deadlines always upon me. Lately staff shortages and the winning of new work has exacerbated this condition. It was only yesterday that I was on the phone with my mechanical lead (a mechanical engineer who leads his group to complete a task I have assigned for a certain deadline), discussing how thinly spread we are in getting our tasks done, when he mentioned how ugly his surroundings are.

You see, we had to send him to a desert of California to oversee the construction of a boiler install for a couple months. Each time I have chatted about his conditions, he states that his surroundings are ugly, windy, too hot (or too cold) and too dry.

Much to complain about I suppose, but I argued there must be something of beauty in the area. He claimed none and challenged me to consider when I first moved to Texas, being in the Panhandle area, where nothing grows, the wind always blows and the ground is flatter than a pancake. I agreed that the first few months in the panhandle were barren for beauty, especially since I had moved there from the beautiful shores of Lake Superior in Canada.

And yet, after a few months of living in the area, I began to see a beauty in the area. Of course I am not speaking of the oil pump jacks, or the abandoned factories, or of the rusting storage tanks. We have to remember that man has had an effect on this world. But given this concession, there appeared to be a beauty I did not expect. A vastness, an expanse that argued for the greatness of God, and of how little I was! That is a good lesson to learn for a proud man like I!

Am I equating the love of the Lord with beauty of my surroundings? Not at all. His love is steadfast. My surroundings change. Whether I’m experiencing the rocky shores of Lake Superior, or the flat vastness of the Texas panhandle, His love is steadfast.

Modern Proverbs Woman

The earth is FULL of the steadfast love of the Lord, yet we look at our surroundings as if He provided only difficulties and hurdles to “put up with”.

Do you believe the earth is FULL of the steadfast love of the Lord?

How do you “receive” the surroundings you are in? What is your perception? How do you translate your situation?

There are a number of passages that inform me that my decisions, which result in actions I perform, come back around on me. This isn’t the karma thing that seems so prevalent, since that includes a non-personal force that supposedly reacts to our actions.

No, what I am speaking on is the realization of God’s steadfast love in all our experience, being thankful and doing all things without murmuring and disputing’s. In this decision to trust God in His communication of His steadfast love, we have the opportunity to experience His love in a deeper and fuller way. When we distrust our loving Father, and interpret our situation as being from the hand of an angry God, one who will seek to trip us up, or that is angry with us, we cause our lives to become bitter, lonely and full of suspicion. Our very fears become a reality, become a self fulfilling prophecy, and our lives go down the proverbial toilet.

Consider the following passages

Ps 18:25,26

With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.

Notice the Lord shows Himself to us in response to our character. Yet the Scripture states that the earth FULL of the steadfast love of the LORD!

What gives? If the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord, why do some experience Him as tortuous?

Consider

Psalm 109:17-18

He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat; may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones!

One more time where our decision to perform an action (cursing, not delighting in blessings) results in a similar action coming back to us.

Consider

Proverbs 3:34

Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.

This verse is in the same vain as Psalm 18, but as I began to see this pattern in the Word, it continued to become a recurring theme in the Old Testament.

The New Testament also speaks of His reactions to our actions.

Consider

James 4:6,8,10

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Will you trust the Word and believe that the earth is FULL of the steadfast love of the Lord?

Take a step back, examine your life and consider if you are one who complains, finds fault or is generally negative. Find a friend or relative that you consider to be an honest person. Sit them down and ask for an honest evaluation of your life. It may be very enlightening!

You see, your base understanding of God is critical! You have, in the past, somehow assumed Him to be one who complains, finds fault and is negative towards you. What you believe about the LORD will ooze out of your life in the attitudes and actions you live in. Your actions and attitudes will be responded to in like manner, and the downward spiral continues!

If that is your understanding of God, your understanding of God is not according to truth.

Consider the goodness and loving kindness of our God!


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 32

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 32

1 A Maskil of David. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

David was a man after God’s own heart, and yet he struggled with sin issues, sin such as murder, adultery and deception. He was a man who sought the Lord and yet fell violently into sin, into a darkness that enveloped him, that pulled him into conflict with the One he loved. He was under the hand of God, and he kept silent. Confession and repentance for this man of God was refused.

He would not admit his sin! It would cost too much, (from a purely human standpoint).

Happy Birthday Accountant Gif | Happy Birthday

How often have you experienced the hand of God on your life? In the darkness, in the quiet of your soul, you have a balance sheet, a kind of ledger that you base decisions on. You weigh the pros and cons of each decision you make in your life, some of which are instantaneous, and some of which you spend time deliberating, considering the cost of certain actions.

Deciding to commit adultery with Bathsheba was an instant decision. (2 Samuel 11:2-3) David’s decision to commit adultery with Bathsheba did not consume much of David’s time.

A different story when it comes to cleaning the mess up. David spent nights tossing in his bed, conjuring up plans of action, determining methods of escaping the hand of God on his life, calculating his next move, trying to minimize the damage and maximize the benefits. He was running the numbers, and by his calculations he had to bury the sin!

First off, a little deception! Let’s pull an innocent man, no the victim of David’s sin, into the mix!

Call for Uriah and deceive him, appeal to his desire to serve the King, offer him a privilege of rest and renewal with his wife. David didn’t see the godliness of Uriah – how could he, his vision was clouded with his sin! Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, the man David cheated against, came to David and humbly served him, seeking David’s welfare above his own. He slept at the door of the King’s house, ever ready to serve!

David was in a bad place! He couldn’t cajole Uriah to be with his wife! David got the poor man drunk, tried to bribe him, sought to puff him up, and what became of it? Uriah served his King.

David had a decision to make. He consulted his ledger of options, and decided after serious calculation through the night, that Uriah had to die!

Note that David’s decisions caused one man’s death, one man becoming an accomplice, and one child’s eventual death. One woman became a byword through Israel, and yet attained the position of queen eventually. And the king was in sin!

Joab obeyed his king and abandoned the godly man Uriah in battle. Uriah died without any knowledge of the treachery going on in his world. The sacrifice had to be made based on David’s cold and calculating schemes.

And David fell deeper into the darkness, struggling against the chains of his own making. His self inflicted burden weighed him down and tore at his sleep. Constant raging in his soul all the day long. A never ending slavery to the decisions he made based on his calculations, his balance sheet of pro and con.

Sometimes the love of God draw’s us to His side. Sometimes the pain and agony of our current situation pushes us to the Fathers side. This concept of realizing our position before our Father is a recurring theme in my thinking lately. (Consider Parable Surprises – Lost Son).

When you are in the dark spot, that period of time that the struggle with choice is so fierce, when your calculations sheet of obedience/disobedience is tottering back and forth, remember the great love of God. Remember the first time you found the great forgiveness of God. Remember the freeing grace that opened up opportunities and confidence for your heart.

Confess you sin. Admit it to God, at least primarily. Agree with God in the existence and offence your action(s) have on the Father. Find forgiveness at the foot of the cross.

If you have sinned against someone, ask them for forgiveness.

Romans 5:20 …where sin increased, grace abounded all the more

He has provided grace that abounds. The calculation sheet during times of darkness does not consider the grace of God. It is uncalculatable!

Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.



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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Forty Years

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Today, forty years ago, I found myself in a very small room, off the sanctuary of the church I had begun attending, waiting and watching for the notice.

Eventually, I heard the good news and began to breathe easier. Her brother had finally arrived, and we could get started!

You see, eight months earlier I had met a young lady that would become my wife. This lady, was the most beautiful person I had ever met, had captivated me from the very first moment I met her, and introduced me to the One who died for my life.

Since then, I have come to recognize a lady who is not only the “pertiest girl” at the dance, but has a depth of spirit that has been a rock for me, an encouraging soul that has never given up on an ol’ fool, even when I was a young “ol’ fool”

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart – You truly are my favorite! I just wanna hold your hand as we venture through this life and onto the next!


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 31

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 31

1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
3 For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD.
7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,
8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.
11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many– terror on every side!– as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!
17 O LORD, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.
19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.
23 Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

I would like to dwell on three verses from this beautiful psalm this evening. The first verse we will consider most will recognize.

5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

This is the passage that the Lord cried out while on the cross, yet He only declared the first phrase. Knowing that those who were at the feet of the cross, especially those who sought His crucifixion, were Bible scholars, and knew the facts of the Psalms, they must have recognized this phrase from this psalm. But more importantly, they knew the context of the psalm, and even as He hung on that cruel cross, He was declaring the redemption He looked for.

He was quoting from a psalm that spoke of the LORD as being a faithful God, One that had redeemed Him. In the suffering and agony He was experiencing, He declared His victory through God

17 O LORD, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol.

How contradictory this must seem. The Lord is considering this Psalm in the very act of dying for our sins, and it speaks of not being put to shame. He was spit on, beaten, mocked and humiliated. He was described as a demon, a false teacher, a heretic and a rebel. He was an outcast of His own people, a reject from the leaders who should have bowed down to Him

Oh, He was experiencing shame, but He is not experiencing this shame now, for He has been exalted to the highest, and one day, all will openly and joyfully confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

21 Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.

As He suffered, He may have considered the 21st verse. He knew of the steadfast love of the Father, of being in a besieged city. Jerusalem was a city that killed the prophets and that was besieged with anti-God attitudes. He walked amongst those who despised Him, and yet walked in the steadfast love of God, even to the witness of those whom He walked amongst.

God the Father had shown His love to the Son in many ways during His ministry amongst the besieged city, through miracles and the witness of His teaching, through His sinless life and constant love for those who had been rejected by the religious community.

This religious community acted in pride and arrogance, determining their truth when looking at the truth. Their visitation would be soon and complete!

One last verse – I know I said three earlier, but this verse sums up the Psalm beautifully.

23 Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 30

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 30

1 A Psalm of David. A song at the dedication of the temple. I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
3 O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
7 By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
8 To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!”
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

So often I read the psalms as a personal letter reflected in my own life. A psalm that describes a common struggle, or trial, or praise that all believers share in. This is a fair estimate of one of the values of the psalms. They were written with the intent of providing comfort to the battle weary believer.

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

I would like to consider this psalm from a different angle this morning, as a number of verses shout out to me that the Lord Jesus must have identified with this psalm in a completely different manner than you or I.

Resurrection

Psalm 30:3 O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

I can imagine that during our Lord’s time on earth, He dwelled on the verse above. Sheol is the Hebrew term describing the grave and it is obvious that He knew His death was the focus of His ministry for those He loved. This verse speaks of the restoration of the author from the pit, from the grave. Of course the author wrote it figuratively, since David did not actually die, and was not physically resurrected. It was a description of the danger he faced, and the saving outcome he experienced.

Not so for the One who came to die. He most assuredly understood the reference of resurrection and clung to the promise, veiled as it may be in our eyes.

Joy

30:5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

His death on the cross was His experience of anger produced by our sins against the Godhead. Our sins resulted in the “piling up” of anger that was poured out on the Son. The psalm speaks of anger, “but for a moment”. I refuse to consider the time of suffering He endured to be slight, or momentary, for it is surely something I will never fathom, understand or comprehend. It is beyond me, and rightly so.

Yet the Father’s favor is for a lifetime, to be experienced continuously. Yes, there is weeping for the night, and I can’t help but think of His suffering in the garden. His battle was in the garden, the tremendous burden He carried in those hours before His arrest.

Yet the joy was in front of Him, beckoning Him to follow through with His sacrifice for us.

Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Praise

30:9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?

This verse again speaks of the outcome of His death, of the intent of His death. Praise that will ascribe the faithfulness of God in the resurrection of His Son. The profit of His death is our deliverance and justification, but ultimately to the glory of the self sacrificing God, who stooped to our condition and entered death to provide forgiveness and life for an undeserving and rebellious people.

We have a God that is beyond our comprehension. He is above our thoughts and to praise Him is simply a natural result of glimpsing at the Son, thinking of His time on earth, seeing His focus and dependence on the Father. He is truly the only One we are to look to and to praise.

Praise Him for His mighty love.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Sacrificial Love

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When we come to the topic of love, the deepest love I can imagine is the self sacrificial love of the Messiah. It is beyond comprehension, even beyond mental belief, if we are honest with ourselves.

He has shown a way that is to be followed by those who have seen His goodness, His self sacrificial giving of Himself, or denying His own glory in order to provide for others, even His enemies, those that call for His crucifixion and death.

It is a story, real as it is, that sometimes seems unreal. I am not denying the gospel – No no no. – yet to consider the message, and the man behind the message, the Lord Jesus as a breathing walking person who suffered, hungered, felt shame and fear, sometimes escapes me.

He travelled amongst those who hated Him, (and a few that loved Him, but didn’t “get” Him), and sought to serve them, either through mercy or hardness, through tough words that didn’t reach soft hearts, but refused to respond to His call.

He never gave up on His mission, even though everyone else did. Everyone abandoned Him, even His Father as He hung on the tree, bleeding and dying for sins He never committed.

How can that be understood?

I tell you, that the depth of it cannot be understood, other than in a faint way, a glimmer of that love that shines on us through our relations with others.

Without others, the story of the Savior, through true as truth, can become almost academic. Facts and figures of the story can sometimes dull the sense of the story, the “feel” of the gospel.

Love is an action word and because of that, we understand love through the actions of the Lord, through His creation, and especially through His people.

But as I have walked this pilgrim way for the past four decades, I have found that some of the cruelest people confess Christ, and it confuses me. Sure they may be false converts, and that is something I consider, yet I fear that some have lost focus on the goal of the Christian life. I know I do.

For you see, I am a studier, I love research. I have studied numerous topics in the Bible, and when I have just enough information to be dangerous, I go on the attack. Arguing a point to no end, shaming others that do not hold my very specific point of view, elevating myself (in my own view) over my brother and sister, even spreading gossip and lies in order to protect myself from the truth.

Christ died for our sins.

We need to remember that He died for His brothers and sisters, and not just ourselves. This is a challenge for myself since I have this tendency to consider myself better than others, better that those that I love deepest. And yet, when I do give up something I love in order to help someone else, when I leave behind a dream or aspiration, a possession or activity that I seemingly can’t live without, a tremendous freedom is experienced, and lightening of my soul.

This only do I need to say. Love the brethren, and remember, even just for today…

1 John 3:16

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

1 John 4:7

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 29

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 29

1 A Psalm of David. Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

This psalm of David has him watching a storm and contemplating the LORD above. His comparisons with the lightning and thunder of a storm makes for great comparisons with the voice of the LORD, His power, majesty and glory over all creation.

As many of you know, I am a bit of a technical geek and love to find out information that gives me a relative sense of a topic being described. As mentioned, this psalm is using a thunderstorm to try to describe the power of the voice of the LORD.

I found recently the following information that helps me understand (sort of) the massive power of a typical thunderstorm.

  1. The estimated peak power per lightning stroke is 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) watts.
  2. The total energy in a large thunderstorm is thought to be enough to power the whole of the USA for 20 minutes.
  3. A tall thunderstorm cloud can hold over 100,000,000 (one hundred million) volts of potential.

I am sure there are some out there that consider this information to be just so many numbers, and it a way it is, since it is sooo difficult to understand the term ” one trillion watts” or even “one hundred million volts”. I suppose the point is, that this may be the best example David had, though limited, to compare the power of the voice of the LORD to.

David, as he watches the storm in all his travels, had seen the lightning tear apart a massive cedar of Lebanon, and felt the land shake at a crack of thunder. His familiarity with the storms of the land gave him that sense of awe that as “moderns” we so sorely lack at times!

David mixes images by describing the voice of the LORD as sending out fire, that is, lightning bolts of power that nothing stands in the way of.

David speaks of the lightning breaking the massive trees of Lebanon. We can calculate the power it takes to destroy a tree, or create some havoc, but that is not the point in this psalm. David was in awe of the power that the LORD displayed, and used the things of nature (in our opinion) to consider the greatness of our God.

As the rain pours down in the middle of lightning flashes and thunder boomers, David considers the greatest rain event in the history of creation. The flood, with it’s related upheavals of the ground and releasing of the vents, reshaped the earth and controlled all things and everything on the face of the earth!

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood, and is enthroned as the KING forever.

This is the LORD we say we know, and yet even today, I was faltering a bit, confessing my weakness of faith and lack of love to Him. How powerful is His nature and being, and how tender of a Savior to us, in that He bends down to the lowly, seeks out our best, understands our weakness and loves us to the very end.

He is surely the great KING who is the servant of the lowliest, adversary to the proud, lover of sinners and walked amongst us to teach us of His compassion and goodness, to mimic and to follow.

May we learn to be more like Him as we look to Him for strength, wisdom, love and peace.

May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 28

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 28:1-9

1 Of David. To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.

2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.

3 Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.

4 Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward.

5 Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more.

6 Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

8 The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Communication.

I struggle with it everyday, seeking to translate my thoughts into noises in order for others to comprehend my questions, needs or warnings. But that is only half the effort of communication. I may elucidate my thoughts perfectly, (in a theoretical world that is!) and if the one(s) I am addressing do not hear, understand and receive the message, it is all for naught.

David is letting us know of the communication between the God of Israel and himself. David is crying out for help, and nothing is happening. After years of open communication between the King and his King, David is calling out to God in some emergency.

The first verse has a bit of ambiguity to it when the ESV coins the phrase  “be not deaf to me”. A few of the other translations translate the phrase as “Do not be silent to me”.

There is a difference in my mind. The end results are the same of course, in that the praying saint seems to find no response from the One who can help. But David’s tone of the psalm changes based on this difference.

If the term is rightly understood to be “be not deaf to me”, David is implying that God isn’t hearing the prayer. God’s willingness (or ability?) to hear David has changed. He is not allowing any prayer to reach His understanding.

If the term is “do not be silent to me”, David is simply reiterating the same truth in the next phrase. The tone of the psalm then becomes that the saint isn’t receiving a response, though God may be hearing of the complaint.

You see, it is a different scenario if one doesn’t hear, and then doesn’t respond, than if one does hear and doesn’t respond. The ESV understands David’s complaint to be twofold. God isn’t hearing his prayer, and He isn’t responding to his prayer.

I think this allows us to see a bit deeper into David’s relationship with his God. He understood when his God heard his prayers, and when his God would answer his prayers. This is incredible, for many believers (my self included) struggle with this assurance and knowledge of God’s hearing and responding to our prayers.

Of course this may be a one-off for David, meaning this may be a specific time when David understood this situation. Therefore, I don’t mean we are to constantly know how and if God is receiving and responding to our prayers. But that is not the main point.

David had the sense, the discernment of knowing God’s attitude toward the prayer he offered up. And based on this knowledge, made his complaint anyway! He would not take no for an answer, and continued with his plea.

David pleads to the One on the throne, claiming that if his God is silent, he will die. God is the only One whom David leans on. If God doesn’t help, David’s life is over.

Get a feel for this situation.

You have spent your life seeking to hear and follow God, (imperfectly of course) and have come to a point when all is against you. At the time when all hangs in the balance, and you seek help from your God, all communication falls silent. No help comes. You are stranded, left to your enemies and the fate of death.

King David had to wait for his rescue, but it came.

Psalm 28:6

Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

David’s voice was heard. The LORD responded and saved his anointed one before he went to the grave.

Psalm 28:8

The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

David’s voice was heard and the grave was avoided. The greater David, our Lord Jesus, his prayers were heard, and yet the grave was not avoided. As a matter of fact, the grave was inevitable. Where David sought rescue from the grave, Jesus sought strength to endure entering to the grave.

Hebrews 5:7

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

David’s salvation and Jesus salvation, both men facing the grave, followed different trajectories.

David was saved from the grave. (At least in relation to the current plea!)

Jesus was saved out of the grave, in resurrection power, not only to live forever, but to become the priest of a new creation, bringing many others into the same resurrection life.

Jesus prayers were heard. God the Father’s ears were (and are) always open to the Anointed One. The Fathers answer to the Saviors prayers were greater than any may have imagined, thought or wished for

Hebrews 5:7

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

Jesus was heard by the Father. He is alive and praying for us.

Romans 8:34

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

David sought deliverance from the grave. Jesus sought to enter the grave, to go through death in order to be “taken up”.

Luke 9:51

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

He is the One to follow, if for no other reason than the incredible bravery and faith He exercised. The single minded focus of His life was to enter the grave, to obey the call of the Father on His life and to prove (ultimately) the great love wherewith He has loved us.

Love. It is the difference.

Let us love one another as the One who loved us has taught us.


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