Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – To Trust

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

Recently I spoke of meeting a young lady, who almost immediately was one I found trustworthy. Now of course, as you may expect, I am biased in this judgement since she has been by mate for over 40 years, But that wee fact should not take away from the bigger picture of this post.

Let me ask you a question.

Think of one whom you trust. Is it a friend, a brother, a spouse, a co worker?

Now that you have thought about that trustworthy person, define the character traits you recognize in that person that allows you to trust him or her.

Take your time. Let me help with a further question.

Are they judgmental, condemning, condescending, self righteous, a tale bearer, impatient, self centered, dishonest,….

Granted, when you meet a person of these characteristics, they may be fun to hang with, may be the life of the party, and may be great for business connections. But if you had a choice, would you find them trustworthy? Sure, some that are in your circle of acquaintances are in positions that make it so you have to trust them (reluctantly). But that niggling worm in you mind is that they will prioritize their own interest over yours. In my thinking, this is a “forced trust” I don’t want to focus on a “forced trust” in this blog post.

For this post, I would like to consider trust from a purer motive, based only on a person’s character and not on profitability, fear or peer pressure. But first lets consider what it means to trust someone, at least from my understanding.

To Trust Someone

For many, including myself, to trust someone includes an element of fear. A fear of repercussions if I don’t trust. A fear of lost opportunities if I don’t trust someone. Now some may say that to trust someone removes the fear of that person, and to that I heartily agree, if we have known that person for a period of time, went through difficult times trusting that person, and developed an abiding relationship throughout both blessings and trials with that person.

But to trust someone initially carries with it an element of fear, a fear of the unknown. I proposed to my favorite lady after knowing her for only a few weeks, and I should have experienced some fear. I can’t remember any, but I am an ol’ coot and may have forgotten a fleeting fear or two. It would only be natural to have some fear of making a mistake, of trusting another person with your life decisions, of committing to one person. After only a few weeks? Yikes.

But as I look back over the 40 years I have known my lady, the fears have melted away, and the trust remains, the commitment continues and I know she has a heart for me. (Amazing if you knew who I truly was!)

So, is a trust born out of fear a healthy thing? Is it trust at all? Can trust coexist with fear?

It seems a couple verses may suggest otherwise

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” – Mar 5:36 ESV

But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” – Luk 8:50 ESV

And yet, the fear of the Lord is often combined with trust.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. – Psalm 40:3 ESV

You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. – Psalm 115:11 ESV

Given this quick study, it seems apparent that a proper fear is a catalyst for trust, an initial (and enduring) condition of one who has met the One.

As many may know from my testimony, I felt the judgement of God in my life in various degrees for well nigh 15 yrs before I heard the good news. I sometimes wonder if my conversion was based mainly out if fear, (I am 52.4% convinced it was) and was simply a way of finding a fire escape from hell.

Yet to trust is to know someone, to experience their character and to be drawn to them out of respect, or better yet, out of love.

We are to be drawn to the one who is trustworthy in His character, not pushed to Him due to fear of reprisal.

Believers, as we journey our pilgrim path walking (imperfectly at best) with the One who sacrificed Himself for us, we will naturally will grow into a greater and greater trust because of His character, His ways, His mercy towards us.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18 ESV

Unless of course you have experienced Him as judgmental, condemning, condescending, self righteous, a tale bearer, impatient, self centered, dishonest,….

But that is not the way you learned Christ!– – Eph 4:20 ESV

Consider the character of the One you trust, and it may become evident why your trust is difficult to exercise.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – C

In our previous post, we visited verses 3 and 4, and found keys descriptors of the saints life. Trusting in the Lord and delighting in the Lord. I suggested that this is somewhat of a progression in the saints life, and have found it to be true for myself. But before we get into this post, let’s remember why we are here. Let’s consider the Bible and read the passage for this post

Psalm 37

5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

As mentioned above, in the previous verses, David spoke of trust and delight. In this couplet, he introduces the third, overall characteristic of the saint, and that is to commit to the Lord.

I will try to explain my understanding of these two characteristics of the saint, that is of trust and delight, as it relates to my relationship with my wife. I find this last admonition, of committing that is, to easily and naturally continue this storyline.

Referring to my trust in my wife, and my first understanding of her character, I easily believed her words. I found it to be an enjoyable experience to be around her, to try to understand her and to love her, to grow together and to enjoy each others company. Both of these characteristics (that is trusting in and delighting in) have continued through the years, and generally increased consistently. (Hey we are human we have a had a few bumps along the way – Mostly on me!)

But to commit. This is the topic for this blog, for David instructs the saint to

Commit your way to the LORD;….

To commit. To throw your lot in with, to pledge allegiance to, to do, perform or perpetuate. This is an action word of course, and speaks of our orthopraxy, the way we live.

Let me give a bit of an example.

I am over 60 yrs old and I shall be passing from this sphere soon. My mind tells me that to plant an oak tree would be a task that I would not likely benefit from, and yet my faith tells me that planting trees is a good thing. Now of course this thought must be carried over into every aspect of life, not simply restricted to horticulture. But I hope you see my point.

Why live a life of faith? Why continue to commit to a principal, a friend, a mate or the living God, if we seemingly have diminishing returns as we edge closer to our earthly cessation. We need to be reminded that to commit is not a bet with the odds in our favor, or to be dependent on some future occurrence, that if not fulfilled, allows an escape clause to be exercised.

We may never see many of the benefits of a life of faith, of a commitment to a living God, during this 70 odd years on this planet, but that is not the point.

No – Commitment is based on relationship, or better stated (since David said it not I), on trust, for he follows his encouragement to commit with a synonym, that is to

….trust in him…

I left the semi colon in the previous portion of the verse as a reminder to myself that the purpose of a semi colon (;) is to be placed in between a list or series of ideas that are closely related. To commit is closely related to trust, and in my experience, is a fruit of trust.

I will gladly commit to a cause that I trust, that I believe in. I will gladly commit to my wife because she is one I delight in. I will with joy commit to the ever faithful One, the One who fully committed to me in my lostness.

But in all of this discussion, I have accentuated the aspect of trust, delight and commitment, without a corresponding reaction, and yet this is not the God we serve. We can not demand from the King, but we can know his heart and that He is the ever faithful One, One we have learned to trust, that we delight in as we learn His ways and His care for His people.

David continues with the following statement, as God’s response to the saint.

and he will act.

David stated “He will act”. Remember dear friend, that David was pre-cross, a thousand years from that cruel day. And yet the ultimate “act” of God was completed, performed for us. He “acted” by hanging on that cruel cross.

Of course, as we seek to walk with Him during our sojourn down here, He blesses our feeble efforts with acts of mercy, and we surely need the encouragement as we troddle along. But never let the current blessings we may be experiencing (or the burdens either) cloud our view of that day when He acted.

Commit to the Faithful One. Ask Him for the strength to cling to Him, for in ourselves, we surely do not have the ability to.

Praise His name, and be thankful for all His goodness. His mercies extend every day.

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Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – Part C

Psalm 37

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Be still. Rest. Do nothing. Grow dumb, in that no voice may erupt from the mouth. This term actually may be translated as be astounded, or stupified. Keep silent.

Be still before the Lord. No demands or defense. How often do you enter into prayer, whether on your knees or walking into work and you are either defending some action you may be ashamed of (sometimes called confession) or boasting of your latest good deed – don’t deny you do it!

This passage speaks of time again. The lost one has little time. The saint may expect much time. And the Lord isn’t bound by time. Wait patiently for the Lord, for He isn’t on my schedule.

And yet I gotta get the widget sent off, and a dozen doohickies need to be greased, along with the thingamajig and whatchmacallit, both of them are calling to me for answers! Oh the tyranny of the time piece! Oh I am so burdened with the cares of this life and David is telling us to Be still before the Lord and wait. Wait patiently.

If I were to admit to any failure in my Christian life ( and there are many!) this particular blessing of a “timelessness before the Lord” a period of not thinking schedule or duty, of not defending past decisions or worrying about future reactions, of ignoring “possible” outcomes in the coming days.

Be still. A constant attitude of doing, running, moving, thinking, writing, working, hurrying and “being about our Master’s work” may be a trap many of us have fallen into.

Martha was there right with me, getting food ready for the crowd. Doing, scheduling, working and eventually whining to the Lord about some one else.

Mary was before the Lord, being still, waiting on the Lord for His instruction. I imagine she was in a very comfortable mind set, open to His teaching and looking up to Him, seeking to understand and not defend a previous belief. I wanna think this is the condition Mary was in.

Martha seemed to be fretting, and remember this fretting had the component of anger associated with it.

Let’s listen in to Martha’s request as read in a free translation called “The Voice”. I think it expresses Martha’s anxiety

Luke 10:40 – 41 Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.

Martha (interrupting Jesus): Lord, why don’t You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.

Luke 10:40 – 41 The Voice

Be still Martha. You seem to be exhibiting a bit of rage here with your lazy sister! Your schedule is eating you up, and you are coming off as a whiny nag. As believers, we must remember that those we venerate as saints were humans with the same frailties we experience each day. Martha was struggling, appreciating the situation of having the Messiah in her presence!

David is speaking of fretting not over the success of the evil man, and this doesn’t directly relate to Martha and Mary, yet there are similarities, there are attitudes that seem to parallel David’s concerns.

Be still and fret not.

For me, this is a herculean effort, and even in this closing, I am thinking of doing, working, performing this injunction, of disciplining my life to conform – Oh blasted thoughts.

But wait – It is not about you and I. We are to look to our Savior, and be still before Him, and wait patiently. It is good to look to Him and see how he deals with Martha

Jesus is the Savior and He loves Martha.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. – John 11:5

Jesus is the Savior. Martha was a “woman of action” and went to the Savior – He was approachable, even though He had upbraided her in her little fit above. Yet she expressed a faith in the Savior

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” – John 11:21-23

Did Martha become Mary? No – She still served.

So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. – John 12:2 ESV

It was her nature, even as it may be our nature to be about, working and scheduling, thinking and doing. But this doesn’t negate the need to be still and wait patiently on the Lord.

It is a respite for the soul to be still and to wait.

Do not refuse this great blessing Carl!

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Psalm 37

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

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Psalm 37

10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

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Psalm 37

12 The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.

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Psalm 37

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.

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Psalm 37

16 Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.

Psalm 37

18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance.

Psalm 37

20 But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish–like smoke they vanish away.

Psalm 37

21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

Psalm 37

23 The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.

Psalm 37

25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.

27 Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death.
33 The LORD will not abandon him to his power or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Trials and a Ton of Gold

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My wife and I are entering our retirement years and we are looking at moving out of the city. With that goal, we have been looking for a patch of land to build a cabin on, add a porch (to learn how to whittle) and throw a tire swing in the back yard for when the grandkids come to visit.

We have been searching for about a year, with land being rarer than hens teeth. Eventually we found a patch we put an offer on.

Of course, during the waiting period, I reached out to well drillers, septic installers, builders and finally earth movers. You see, we wanted to install a pond on site, for numerous reasons, and in my research “tripped” over Dan.

Dan is a local contractor that provides excavation and grading services for raw land, and in my discussions, found a man who had turned to Jesus. We chatted for quite a while, and he spoke of a two yr anniversary of a diagnosis. You see he had been given 2 to 6 months to live, having both brain and lung cancer.

His story was amazing, and through brain surgery and prayer, he is now back to work.

The point he drove home is that the cancer was the test that proved his faith. He said he believed in the Savior before the diagnosis, but the trial of his life was the vehicle to show him his faith. No self deception, no hypocrisy, no false hope. He knew the Master and Jesus healed him. And he wouldn’t trade that experience for a ton of gold.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2‭-‬4

He had served Satan for most of his life, until bout 5 yrs ago, when he turned to the Messiah. Since then, he has experienced multiple trials, cancer being “the big one”! The trial not only provided a confidence in his relationship with the One who is kind, but pulled him back from the precipice of the grave.

Only Jesus, the God-man can take a trial and make it worth more than a ton of gold. My mistake – He provides the trial and the blessing – How limited I am in my view of Him!

He is good!

One additional praise, in that my current supervisor, who has battled cancer for the last 18 months recently was given an “all clear” from his doctor this week. Although he suffered through horrendous pain, he attributed his success to God. He has often mentioned the peace he experienced, and became vocal of his faith amongst his peers.

God truly is good. Tell others of His kindness through your own acts of mercy, and by the story’s of His working in your life

By the way, in meeting with Dan, we were introduced to another fellow that provided information about the property that only a local might have know. Critical information that helped our decision making process.

We are now on the search for a different patch of land and we are thankful for the hand of God giving us direction through one of his servants I was blessed to meet.

God is good.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – B

In our last post, we discovered that David was speaking to us of anger and envy in the believers life, or to be clearer, of the rejection of anger and envy in the saints life. It is to be replaced with a realization that the evil doer, the one who does wrong to succeed, has a short time left. Shortness of time. No longevity, no duration, no constancy. A soon coming end of their success.

Let’s consider our next couplet of verses.

Psalm 37

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

David begins this couplet with the penultimate desire of the saint – to trust in the Lord. Trust in the Lord, and out of this trust, do good in the land, as opposed to those evil doers, those who do wrong. Do not base your life on the apparent results of the evil doers, those who find success by abandoning truth. No, focus on the type of God we have. One who is all wise, ever powerful, and yet meek, willing to bend down to our condition, to our failures and feebleness. One who is trustworthy, who exhibits His trustworthiness as we trust Him. Each time we cling to His principles, each time we believe His Word, each time we stand against the wind of public opinion or the evil doer who mocks and persecutes, He shows Himself to be trustworthy. But we must stand. We must trust in the Lord.

A brother years back tried to explain trust to me and it was when the popular slogan “If God said it I believe it’ was influencing the church. It is the very definition of trust, is it not? Sorry to say, I do not believe (trust) that it is a helpful definition.

This brother added one critical term to the saying that I have never forgotten. Trust is hearing God’s Word, understanding God’s Word and then obeying God’s Word.

We need to understand God’s word, in order to have faith. With a faith that includes understanding, or better yet, because of a faith that includes understanding, we are to do good in the land. We can have an understanding that evil doers have a limited time of enjoying their success.

What is it that David speaks of as the expectation, or reward of the saint who trusts in the Lord and does good?

He describes the saint as “dwelling” in the land. To “dwell” in the land implies an expectation of long duration, of a settled condition. Synonyms such as to settle down, to abide, to continue or to remain are found in the Hebrew dictionaries. David is not giving the impression that the saint is to expect a short lived experience, like the evil doer!

He then goes on to emphasize the duration of the saints expectations by describing the dwelling with living securely (CSB), enjoy safe pasture (NIV), prosper (NLT), enjoy security (RSV), be fed (KJV). Each of these translations give us added encouragement to expect not only a long duration, but a fruitful duration.

Delight yourself in the LORD. With verse 4, it appears David is building upon the former action of trust. Consider my earthly condition with my favorite wife.

I met my lady years ago on a bus, and her character was one of truth and conviction. I found her word to be trustworthy. I could easily trust her, understanding that what she said she meant, and what she promised she would do. Trusting her was a first step in my relationship with my wife. It is the bedrock of our marriage and as we grew together as a couple, our unfamiliarity with each of others foibles fell away and we entered into an existence of simple enjoyment. This enjoyment, as last night when she came in the door, I found myself smiling. You know, I have found myself smiling much these last years when I think of her, look to her, hear her voice on the phone. I believe this is the condition of the saint David is describing. Not something we are to work up, sweat over to create a feeling of enjoyment. Be faithful, be thankful, know the Lord and His goodness. Constancy in knowing the true God will create this feeling of enjoyment, this phase of delighting in Him. I do have to admit, this delighting, as describing in the Old Testament, has an intimate connotation. To delight is to enjoy.

In our next post, we will consider the third admonition David gives in the saints experience. For now, consider how you trust Him.

Remember that trusting is to hear a message, understand it, and to comply. Trust is a response to a faithful person, a natural response to someone who has proven Himself over and over again. Consider the many times the Father has given you direction, guidance, encouragement, strength, and deliverance. He has provided a Savior that not only humbled Himself to shame, but suffered an unjust torture and death for your salvation and deliverance. He is easy to trust if the message is not silenced with the raging voices of the world, if it isn’t garbled with the religious raucous we live in, and is not nullified by that self hating voice we sometimes hear.

Delighting is an enjoyable experience, an experience that is not a drudgery or a “grinding of the teeth” to endure. simply , and I have found that the trust has grown into a delight, into a sense of inner happiness, for I know she is always on the lookout for me. The

Try to listen to Him today. and tomorrow. And the next day. And find the delight David speaks of

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Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – Part B

In our previous post, we visited verses 3 and 4, and found keys descriptors of the saints life. Trusting in the Lord and delighting in the Lord. I suggested that this is somewhat of a progression in the saints life, and have found it to be true for myself. But before we get into this post, let’s remember why we are here. Let’s consider the Bible and read the passage for this post

Psalm 37

5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

As mentioned above, in the previous verses, David spoke of trust and delight. In this couplet, he introduces the third, overall characteristic of the saint, and that is to commit to the Lord.

I tried to explain my understanding of these two characteristics of the saint, that is of trust and delight, as it relates to my relationship with my wife. I find this last admonition, of committing, to easily and naturally continue this storyline.

Referring to my trust in my wife, and my first understanding of her character, I easily believed her words. I found it to be an enjoyable experience to be around her, to try to understand her and to please her, to grow together and to enjoy each others company. Both of these characteristics (that is trusting in and delighting in) have continued through the years, and generally increased consistently. (Hey we are human we have a had a few bumps along the way – Mostly on me!)

But to commit. This is the topic for this blog, for David instructs the saint to

Commit your way to the LORD;….

To commit. To throw your lot in with, to pledge allegiance to, to do, perform or perpetuate. This is an action word of course, and speaks of our orthopraxy, the way we live.

Let me give a bit of an example.

I am over 60 yrs old and I shall be passing from this sphere soon. My mind tells me that to plant an oak tree would be a task that I would not likely benefit from, and yet my faith tells me that planting trees is a good thing. Now of course this thought must be carried over into every aspect of life, not simply restricted to horticulture. But I hope you see my point.

Why life a life of faith? Why continue to commit to a principle, a friend, a mate or the living God, if we have seemingly have diminishing returns as we edge closer to our earthly cessation. We need to be reminded that to commit is not a bet with the odds in our favor, or is it to be dependent on some future occurrence, that if not fulfilled, allows an escape clause to be exercised.

We may never see many of the benefits of a life of faith, of a commitment to a living God, during this 70 odd years on this planet, but that is not the point.

No – Commitment is based on relationship, or better stated (since David said it not I), on trust, for he follows his encouragement to commit with a synonym, that is to

….trust in him…

I left the semi colon in the previous portion of the verse as a reminder to myself that the purpose of a semi colon (;) is to be placed in between a list or series of ideas that are closely related. To commit is closely related to trust, and in my experience, is a fruit of trust.

I will gladly commit to a cause that I trust, that I believe in. I will gladly commit to my wife because she is one I delight in. I will with joy commit to the ever faithful One, the One who fully committed to me in my lostness.

But in all of this discussion, I have accentuated the aspect of trust, delight and commitment, without a corresponding reaction, and yet this is not the God we serve. We can not demand from the King, but we can know his heart and that He is the ever faithful One, One we have learned to trust, that we delight in as we learn His ways and His care for His people.

David continues with the following statement, as God’s response to the saint.

and he will act.

David stated “He will act”. Remember dear friend, that David was pre-cross, a thousand years away from that cruel day. And yet the ultimate “act” of God was completed, performed for us. He “acted” by hanging on that cruel cross.

Of course, as we seek to walk with Him during our sojourn down here, He blesses our feeble efforts with acts of mercy, and we surely need the encouragement as we troddle along. But never let the current blessings we may be experiencing (or the burdens either) cloud our view of that day when He acted.

Commit to the Faithful One. Ask Him for the strength to cling to Him, for in ourselves, we surely do not have the ability to.

Praise His name, and be thankful for all His goodness. His mercies extend every day.

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Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – Part C

Psalm 37

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Be still. Rest. Do nothing. Grow dumb, in that no voice may erupt from the mouth. This term actually may be translated as be astounded, or stupified. Keep silent.

Be still before the Lord. No demands or defense. How often do you enter into prayer, whether on your knees or walking into work and you are either defending some action you may be ashamed of (sometimes called confession) or boasting of your latest good deed – don’t deny you do it!

This passage speaks of time again. The lost one has little time. The saint may expect much time. And the Lord isn’t bound by time. Wait patiently for the Lord, for He isn’t on my schedule.

And yet I gotta get the widget sent off, and a dozen doohickies need to be greased, along with the thingamajig and whatchmacallit, both of them are calling to me for answers! Oh the tyranny of the time piece! Oh I am so burdened with the cares of this life and David is telling us to Be still before the Lord and wait. Wait patiently.

If I were to admit to any failure in my Christian life ( and there are many!) this particular blessing of a “timelessness before the Lord” a period of not thinking schedule or duty, of not defending past decisions or worrying about future reactions, of ignoring “possible” outcomes in the coming days.

Be still. A constant attitude of doing, running, moving, thinking, writing, working, hurrying and “being about our Master’s work” may be a trap many of us have fallen into.

Martha was there right with me, getting food ready for the crowd. Doing, scheduling, working and eventually whining to the Lord about some one else.

Mary was before the Lord, being still, waiting on the Lord for His instruction. I imagine she was in a very comfortable mind set, open to His teaching and looking up to Him, seeking to understand and not defend a previous belief. I wanna think this is the condition Mary was in.

Martha seemed to be fretting, and remember this fretting had the component of anger associated with it.

Let’s listen in to Martha’s request as read in a free translation called “The Voice”. I think it expresses Martha’s anxiety

Luke 10:40 – 41 Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.

Martha (interrupting Jesus): Lord, why don’t You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.

Luke 10:40 – 41 The Voice

Be still Martha. You seem to be exhibiting a bit of rage here with your lazy sister! Your schedule is eating you up, and you are coming off as a whiny nag. As believers, we must remember that those we venerate as saints were humans with the same frailties we experience each day. Martha was struggling, appreciating the situation of having the Messiah in her presence!

David is speaking of fretting not over the success of the evil man, and this doesn’t directly relate to Martha and Mary, yet there are similarities, there are attitudes that seem to parallel David’s concerns.

Be still and fret not.

For me, this is a herculean effort, and even in this closing, I am thinking of doing, working, performing this injunction, of disciplining my life to conform – Oh blasted thoughts.

But wait – It is not about you and I. We are to look to our Savior, and be still before Him, and wait patiently. It is good to look to Him and see how he deals with Martha

Jesus is the Savior and He loves Martha.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. – John 11:5

Jesus is the Savior. Martha was a “woman of action” and went to the Savior – He was approachable, even though He had upbraided her in her little fit above. Yet she expressed a faith in the Savior

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” – John 11:21-23

Did Martha become Mary? No – She still served.

So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. – John 12:2 ESV

It was her nature, even as it may be our nature to be about, working and scheduling, thinking and doing. But this doesn’t negate the need to be still and wait patiently on the Lord.

It is a respite for the soul to be still and to wait.

Do not refuse this great blessing Carl!

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Psalm 37

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

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Psalm 37

10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

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Psalm 37

12 The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.

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Psalm 37

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.

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Psalm 37

16 Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.

Psalm 37

18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance.

Psalm 37

20 But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish–like smoke they vanish away.

Psalm 37

21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

Psalm 37

23 The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.

Psalm 37

25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.

27 Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death.
33 The LORD will not abandon him to his power or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Test All Things

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

I suppose it has been a few months since I have told y’all a story so I’m about to tell you an old one.

It turns out, all long time ago, in a country far to the north, a young hippie drug pusher got saved and got excited about the Savior, Jesus Christ. Rescued from a life of wandering in darkness, full of fear and surrounded by a desperation to have some purpose, this youngin was willing to do anything to try to please the Savior.

He happened to be attending a small Baptist church, having been delivered from a wasted life for well nigh onto 2 months, when the Pastor fellow came up to him and asked him if he wanted to serve the Lord. Obviously, this youngin’ jumped at an opportunity, especially if a pastor was asking.

“What can I do for the Lord pastor?”

Pastor set his hook and pulled – “Well we are having choir practice on Wednesday night – Come on over and join in, you may be surprised at the joy you find in singing for the Lord!”

Youngin didn’t understand his place in the kingdom, and his fervor to serve overtook his obligation to love others, for you see this youngin couldn’t sing his way out of a paper bag – dang – not even a wet paper bag!

And this story reminds me of a passage from the ol’ Book, that seems to relate in my mind to this youngin’s experieince.

21 … test everything; hold fast what is good.

1 Thessalonians 5:21

This youngin’ was willing to test this opportunity, to prove that he either had it or didn’t, to see if he could sing for the Lord, or “be better used elsewhere”. (Many saints are surely blessed by the fact this youngin did not pursue a singing ministry!!!)

It is interesting that Paul told his children to test everything. Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say this youngin’s singing is sinful, (if might seem like that to those who heard it!) but Paul seems to want Christians to get out there, test or prove aspects of life, opportunities to serve, in order to see, to explore and to find their place in the kingdom.

Many times, opportunities will be provided but due to religious or cultural bias’s, these opportunities may be abandoned or even rejected.

A case in point. A bright sunny Sunday and you on on your way to church when you see a person that is suffering, that may be without food or shelter, that may have fallen down, and you sense the Lord’s leading to stop and at least offer some assistance in this souls plight. But Sunday School starts in ten minutes and you don’t wanna be late, or maybe your boss lives close by and the association may hurt your standing in the office. So your drive by.

Opportunities are out there and we are to test them, and many of these opportunities may test out to be of no success, not of your station in life, and that is fair. As a matter of fact, you should expect it, for Paul anticipates this situation when he continues in the next verse, informing believers to ….

22 Abstain from every form of evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:22

Some opportunities may turn out to be evil in a believers life. As you may have guessed by now, choir ain’t for me. I don’t sing within 50 feet of anyone that I love. (Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not stating singing in a choir is evil, but my being in a choir may come close to it for the hearers!)

Anyway you slice it, we are provided opportunities throughout our day. Test them out – they may be the back door to some great adventure for you. (Or you may have to abandon them as evil, but your understadning of the Lord’s will will have expanded!)

Either way, your intent is that of a believer that desires to please the Lord, and I think that counts.

I look forward to comments or questions – Use the box below, and thanks for reading!


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – A

There was a time in my Christian walk when I first read Psalm 37 in it’s entirely and was literally amazed at the number of familiar verses I found in the passage. It seemed like I had heard each of these verses in conversations or sermons, study books or devotionals. Bumper stickers, bookmarks, posters, book titles – you get my point. I suppose this statement reveals that the Old Testament did not hold a place of priority for myself in my early Christian walk, and to that truth, I admit it, – I am guilty. But no more.

Our first two verses describe the content of the psalm, and the two parties discussed, that is the believer, and the evildoer. Throughout this psalm, David speaks of the characteristics that are to belong to the believer and the fruit of the life a believer is to live.

David also speaks of the evil doer, the characteristics of the life of an evildoer, and the end he will experience.

An an introduction, lets read the first two verses and consider the message the King of Israel is providing us.

Psalm 37

1 Of David. Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.

David is directing himself, and by association ourselves, not to fret.

To fret. What is tarnation is it “to fret”. My son is a guitarist and when I hear of fret, I think of the neck of a guitar. A secondary definition, I suppose is that to fret is to worry. That is so applicable to my station in life – I am a chief worrier, I actually worry about worrying too much! (I gotta get a life!)

David instructs his soul not to fret, or as I imagined, not to worry. But dang it all, according to a quick study, worry is not the way some understand this term.

The term “fret” is a translation of the Hebrew word “ḥārâ”, Strongs H2734 The good ol’ KJV translates this term in the following ways.

Worry, or any synonym of worry isn’t popping up in the list now is it? It seems synonyms for fret settle around a word meaning anger, wrath or hot displeasure. Not a description of a man in a corner, sitting quietly and worrying.

Isn’t that interesting. David is telling himself not to be angry, displeased, burn up or grieve out over the actions and seeming success of the evildoer. Not to quit worrying. Remember who we are talking of here, the great King of Israel, the man of action that took on any enemy God pointed at. He wasn’t characterized by worry.

He goes on to describe a second response of the human heart, that is of envy. Envy, the green eyed monster. Envy also has a component of a burning with zeal to it, but envy is strictly not equal to jealously. (A previous post on envy, Love Like Jesus – Without Envy may be of interest to the reader.)

Why David? Why should we reject this seemingly righteous feeling of anger and envy towards this apparent success of those who disobey and reject God’s way? Why David – It just isn’t fair!

The best way to bring justice into this condition of apparent success of the lost is to consider their end. They will burn in hell and suffer for all eternity, with no relief and no hope, writing in pain and hating God.

Wow Carl – Are you sure this is David’s message? Ok Carl – let’s just read the passage without dragging some end time theology into it. David is bringing to our attention the shortness of their time, not the result of their crime. (Wow – a poet and didn’t even know it.) David uses terms like fade and wither, an eventual ending of their success, not writhing and screaming in some afterlife that may not have been very clear to the Old Testament saint.

David is describing the here and now, and of the basis of the saints peace in that the success of the evil man will be short lived. Later on in this fantastic passage, David describes the rewards of a saints confidence in the Lord, of the fruit of a settled trust in Him, of the trophy of God’s blessing on a man or woman who shuns anger and envy, (along with a host of additional attitudes David will teach us).

What a fantastic psalm. I am looking forward to our foray into this psalm, but for now I need to close, since if I continue with the verses 3 & 4, I will surely be found to be long in the tooth. In conclusion, consider David’s admonition for the saint.

Fret not

Don’t be angry over the apparent (and seemingly very real) success of evil doers. Their day will come and we will sorrow when it does, for the very real loss they will experience.

Do not envy

Don’t long for the fruit of wrongdoers, but enjoy the blessings that God has provided. Look to Him for your source of joy. Don’t look to what others have, and envy. (The advertising industry understands the power of what “other’s have” over our desires, and we know the advertising industry is not working for the Lord, now are they?)

God is good and His people have much to be thankful for. May His name be honored in our daily lives, and may we reflect the character of our God, and not of this world.


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Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – Part A

In our last post, we discovered that David was speaking to us of anger and envy in the believers life, or to be clearer, of the rejection of anger and envy in the saints life. It is to be replaced with a realization that the evil doer, the one who does wrong to succeed, has a short time left. Shortness of time. No longevity, no duration, no constancy. A soon coming end of their success.

Let’s consider our next couplet of verses.

Psalm 37

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

David begins this couplet with the penultimate desire of the saint – to trust in the Lord. Trust in the Lord, and out of this trust, do good in the land, as opposed to those evil doers, those who do wrong. Do not base your life on the apparent results of the evil doers, those who find success by abandoning truth. No, focus on the type of God we have. One who is all wise, ever powerful, and yet meek, willing to bend down to our condition, to our failures and feebleness. One who is trustworthy, who exhibits His trustworthiness as we trust Him. Each time we cling to His principles, each time we believe His Word, each time we stand against the wind of public opinion or the evil doer who mocks and persecutes, He shows Himself to be trustworthy. But we must stand. We must trust in the Lord.

A brother years back tried to explain trust to me and it was when the popular slogan “If God said it I believe it’ was influencing the church. It is the very definition of trust, is it not? Sorry to say, I do not believe (trust) that it is a helpful definition.

This brother added one critical term to the saying that I have never forgotten. Trust is hearing God’s Word, understanding God’s Word and then obeying God’s Word.

We need to understand God’s word, in order to have faith. With a faith that includes understanding, or better yet, because of a faith that includes understanding, we are to do good in the land. We can have an understanding that evil doers have a limited time of enjoying their success.

What is it that David speaks of as the expectation, or reward of the saint who trusts in the Lord and does good?

He describes the saint as “dwelling” in the land. To “dwell” in the land implies an expectation of long duration, of a settled condition. Synonyms such as to settle down, to abide, to continue or to remain are found in the Hebrew dictionaries. David is not giving the impression that the saint is to expect a short lived experience, like the evil doer!

He then goes on to emphasize the duration of the saints expectations by describing the dwelling with living securely (CSB), enjoy safe pasture (NIV), prosper (NLT), enjoy security (RSV), be fed (KJV). Each of these translations give us added encouragement to expect not only a long duration, but a fruitful duration.

Delight yourself in the LORD. With verse 4, it appears David is building upon the former action of trust. Consider my earthly condition with my favorite wife.

I met my lady years ago on a bus, and her character was one of truth and conviction. I found her word to be trustworthy. I could easily trust her, understanding that what she said she meant, and what she promised she would do. Trusting her was a first step in my relationship with my wife. It is the bedrock of our marriage and as we grew together as a couple, our unfamiliarity with each of others foibles fell away and we entered into an existence of simple enjoyment. This enjoyment, as last night when she came in the door, I found myself smiling. You know, I have found myself smiling much these last years when I think of her, look to her, hear her voice on the phone. I believe this is the condition of the saint David is describing. Not something we are to work up, sweat over to create a feeling of enjoyment. Be faithful, be thankful, know the Lord and His goodness. Constancy in knowing the true God will create this feeling of enjoyment, this phase of delighting in Him. I do have to admit, this delighting, as describing in the Old Testament, has an intimate connotation. To delight is to enjoy.

In our next post, we will consider the third admonition David gives in the saints experience. For now, consider how you trust Him.

Remember that trusting is to hear a message, understand it, and to comply. Trust is a response to a faithful person, a natural response to someone who has proven Himself over and over again. Consider the many times the Father has given you direction, guidance, encouragement, strength, and deliverance. He has provided a Savior that not only humbled Himself to shame, but suffered an unjust torture and death for your salvation and deliverance. He is easy to trust if the message is not silenced with the raging voices of the world, if it isn’t garbled with the religious raucous we live in, and is not nullified by that self hating voice we sometimes hear.

Delighting is an enjoyable experience, an experience that is not a drudgery or a “grinding of the teeth” to endure. simply , and I have found that the trust has grown into a delight, into a sense of inner happiness, for I know she is always on the lookout for me. The

Try to listen to Him today. and tomorrow. And the next day. And find the delight David speaks of

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Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – Part B

In our previous post, we visited verses 3 and 4, and found keys descriptors of the saints life. Trusting in the Lord and delighting in the Lord. I suggested that this is somewhat of a progression in the saints life, and have found it to be true for myself. But before we get into this post, let’s remember why we are here. Let’s consider the Bible and read the passage for this post

Psalm 37

5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

As mentioned above, in the previous verses, David spoke of trust and delight. In this couplet, he introduces the third, overall characteristic of the saint, and that is to commit to the Lord.

I tried to explain my understanding of these two characteristics of the saint, that is of trust and delight, as it relates to my relationship with my wife. I find this last admonition, of committing, to easily and naturally continue this storyline.

Referring to my trust in my wife, and my first understanding of her character, I easily believed her words. I found it to be an enjoyable experience to be around her, to try to understand her and to please her, to grow together and to enjoy each others company. Both of these characteristics (that is trusting in and delighting in) have continued through the years, and generally increased consistently. (Hey we are human we have a had a few bumps along the way – Mostly on me!)

But to commit. This is the topic for this blog, for David instructs the saint to

Commit your way to the LORD;….

To commit. To throw your lot in with, to pledge allegiance to, to do, perform or perpetuate. This is an action word of course, and speaks of our orthopraxy, the way we live.

Let me give a bit of an example.

I am over 60 yrs old and I shall be passing from this sphere soon. My mind tells me that to plant an oak tree would be a task that I would not likely benefit from, and yet my faith tells me that planting trees is a good thing. Now of course this thought must be carried over into every aspect of life, not simply restricted to horticulture. But I hope you see my point.

Why life a life of faith? Why continue to commit to a principle, a friend, a mate or the living God, if we have seemingly have diminishing returns as we edge closer to our earthly cessation. We need to be reminded that to commit is not a bet with the odds in our favor, or is it to be dependent on some future occurrence, that if not fulfilled, allows an escape clause to be exercised.

We may never see many of the benefits of a life of faith, of a commitment to a living God, during this 70 odd years on this planet, but that is not the point.

No – Commitment is based on relationship, or better stated (since David said it not I), on trust, for he follows his encouragement to commit with a synonym, that is to

….trust in him…

I left the semi colon in the previous portion of the verse as a reminder to myself that the purpose of a semi colon (;) is to be placed in between a list or series of ideas that are closely related. To commit is closely related to trust, and in my experience, is a fruit of trust.

I will gladly commit to a cause that I trust, that I believe in. I will gladly commit to my wife because she is one I delight in. I will with joy commit to the ever faithful One, the One who fully committed to me in my lostness.

But in all of this discussion, I have accentuated the aspect of trust, delight and commitment, without a corresponding reaction, and yet this is not the God we serve. We can not demand from the King, but we can know his heart and that He is the ever faithful One, One we have learned to trust, that we delight in as we learn His ways and His care for His people.

David continues with the following statement, as God’s response to the saint.

and he will act.

David stated “He will act”. Remember dear friend, that David was pre-cross, a thousand years away from that cruel day. And yet the ultimate “act” of God was completed, performed for us. He “acted” by hanging on that cruel cross.

Of course, as we seek to walk with Him during our sojourn down here, He blesses our feeble efforts with acts of mercy, and we surely need the encouragement as we troddle along. But never let the current blessings we may be experiencing (or the burdens either) cloud our view of that day when He acted.

Commit to the Faithful One. Ask Him for the strength to cling to Him, for in ourselves, we surely do not have the ability to.

Praise His name, and be thankful for all His goodness. His mercies extend every day.

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Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – Part C

Psalm 37

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Be still. Rest. Do nothing. Grow dumb, in that no voice may erupt from the mouth. This term actually may be translated as be astounded, or stupified. Keep silent.

Be still before the Lord. No demands or defense. How often do you enter into prayer, whether on your knees or walking into work and you are either defending some action you may be ashamed of (sometimes called confession) or boasting of your latest good deed – don’t deny you do it!

This passage speaks of time again. The lost one has little time. The saint may expect much time. And the Lord isn’t bound by time. Wait patiently for the Lord, for He isn’t on my schedule.

And yet I gotta get the widget sent off, and a dozen doohickies need to be greased, along with the thingamajig and whatchmacallit, both of them are calling to me for answers! Oh the tyranny of the time piece! Oh I am so burdened with the cares of this life and David is telling us to Be still before the Lord and wait. Wait patiently.

If I were to admit to any failure in my Christian life ( and there are many!) this particular blessing of a “timelessness before the Lord” a period of not thinking schedule or duty, of not defending past decisions or worrying about future reactions, of ignoring “possible” outcomes in the coming days.

Be still. A constant attitude of doing, running, moving, thinking, writing, working, hurrying and “being about our Master’s work” may be a trap many of us have fallen into.

Martha was there right with me, getting food ready for the crowd. Doing, scheduling, working and eventually whining to the Lord about some one else.

Mary was before the Lord, being still, waiting on the Lord for His instruction. I imagine she was in a very comfortable mind set, open to His teaching and looking up to Him, seeking to understand and not defend a previous belief. I wanna think this is the condition Mary was in.

Martha seemed to be fretting, and remember this fretting had the component of anger associated with it.

Let’s listen in to Martha’s request as read in a free translation called “The Voice”. I think it expresses Martha’s anxiety

Luke 10:40 – 41 Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.

Martha (interrupting Jesus): Lord, why don’t You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.

Luke 10:40 – 41 The Voice

Be still Martha. You seem to be exhibiting a bit of rage here with your lazy sister! Your schedule is eating you up, and you are coming off as a whiny nag. As believers, we must remember that those we venerate as saints were humans with the same frailties we experience each day. Martha was struggling, appreciating the situation of having the Messiah in her presence!

David is speaking of fretting not over the success of the evil man, and this doesn’t directly relate to Martha and Mary, yet there are similarities, there are attitudes that seem to parallel David’s concerns.

Be still and fret not.

For me, this is a herculean effort, and even in this closing, I am thinking of doing, working, performing this injunction, of disciplining my life to conform – Oh blasted thoughts.

But wait – It is not about you and I. We are to look to our Savior, and be still before Him, and wait patiently. It is good to look to Him and see how he deals with Martha

Jesus is the Savior and He loves Martha.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. – John 11:5

Jesus is the Savior. Martha was a “woman of action” and went to the Savior – He was approachable, even though He had upbraided her in her little fit above. Yet she expressed a faith in the Savior

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” – John 11:21-23

Did Martha become Mary? No – She still served.

So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. – John 12:2 ESV

It was her nature, even as it may be our nature to be about, working and scheduling, thinking and doing. But this doesn’t negate the need to be still and wait patiently on the Lord.

It is a respite for the soul to be still and to wait.

Do not refuse this great blessing Carl!

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Psalm 37

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

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Psalm 37

10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

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Psalm 37

12 The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.

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Psalm 37

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.

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Psalm 37

16 Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.

Psalm 37

18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance.

Psalm 37

20 But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish–like smoke they vanish away.

Psalm 37

21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

Psalm 37

23 The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.

Psalm 37

25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.

27 Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death.
33 The LORD will not abandon him to his power or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – A Flashing Red Alarm

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What I do speaks volumes. To others that is. Can I learn from my own actions during the day? I can convince myself of glorious intentions and many sacrificial acts of love I have performed, (that no one knows about!) and feel pretty good about myself. But is that wise?

Self deception is rampant is this day and age, where we are encouraged to abandon long held cultural standards, and to tell ourselves anything that is pleasing to our heart and mind. Our culture will tag along and actually force others to comply with our delusion, to reinforce our self styled righteousness, that may be utterly against not only the eternal Word of God, and age long ethical norms, but even recently accepted societal standards.

Let’s Consider the Bible and a short passage in the book of Acts that may provide some guidance, but first some background. The church has been preaching in the nation of Israel for a few years now, and the political masters were stepping in. King Herod actually jailed James, and martyred him, with a reaction that may have surprised him, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Let me introduce “the Jews”. “The Jews” (a term often used for the political/religious ruling body of Israel) were the purveyor of all things God to the people, supposedly mirroring God’s actions on earth. They knew the Scripture and the key message of who God is, and of our proper response to Him of love to Him and our neighbor.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. – Mar 12:28-34 ESV

“The Jews” were the icons of righteousness, the religious leaders of all Israel, those who held the keys and had the knowledge. They often got together and reinforced this thought amongst themselves during their meetings and social affairs.

Now this has been a bit of an introduction, but suffice it to say, the Jews during the first century, and some religious groups in our current time, were self deluded. And as I have been listening to the Book of Acts in my morning drive to work, a passage popped out that helped me to recognize this and look at my own heart.

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. Act 12:1-3

What? This passage has nothing to do with self delusion Carl.

Hang with me for a moment. Note the phrase .. When he (King Herod) saw that it please the Jews… What pleased the Jews? The killing of James, an Israelite man who followed Jesus. This killing pleased the Jews. “The Jews” knew of their responsibility to love their neighbor. But the killing “pleased the Jews”

They spoke of their love of God. They spoke of their dedication to God. They spoke of their faithfulness to God. They showed their heart in the death of a fellow Israelite.

Where was their heart? This is simply a continuation and reoccurrence of the religious heart that crucified our Savior. Religious hearts have been killing for God for millennium.

If you haven’t heard the phrase “religion kills”, take a few minutes and consider what that means. How that phrase may apply to you.

Are you religious? If you claim you are a believer, and yet reveal a pleasure in something that is against God and His commandment to love Him and your neighbor, check your thoughts at the door. That pleasure meter may actually be the equivalent of a flashing red alarm to help you know where you stand.

Don’t be self deluded.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 38 – B

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.

In our last post, we considered David’s experience under God’s hand, considering verse 1-10, and 17, 18

Todays post will deal with David’s experience with men while in the same condition of sin we considered in the last post. (Psalms for Psome – Ps 38 – A)

May I simply state that there are some differences that are somewhat enlightening. Let’s take a few moments to read through the remaining verses of this wonderful psalm.

Psalm 38

11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off.
12 Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long.
13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
15 But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!”

In our previous post David refers to the light of his eyes having left him (v 10), but in relation to his distress before God, he mentions nothing of diminished hearing.

When God “remembers” ,

it is synonymous with taking action!

As a matter of fact, his groaning and cries were expected to be answered by the Lord, especially when you consider the psalm is a remembrance psalm (v 1), a psalm that speaks of God “doing” something, of remembering and acting.

David was all ears for a response from God, but not so with men. He has become like a deaf man, he “does not hear”. I am taking this as a choice on his part, not that he had for some reason become physically deaf. David makes a choice to go deaf to men.

Although I cannot say I have been under the intense scrutiny that David is experiencing, the council he provides is invaluable. How often have we heard a comment or statement from a friend or foe, that has intimidated, coerced, or simply discouraged us from the truth of God in our lives. Might it me better to be “deaf” to some of the statements made by our fellow man.

Also, it is revealing that the recounting of God’s dealing with David in verses 3 – 8, there is no mystery, no injustice or duplicity hinted at. God is dealing with his servant and the servant understands God is dealing with him. David knew of God’s actions and was asking for mercy from God, since God is bountiful in mercy.

Not so with men. Mercy isn’t hinted at in the verses David pens in relation to men. No, it is not so with men. David speaks of men seeking his hurt, even his seeking his death. David describes men laying snares, or spreading lies and treachery to inflict pain.

It appears the only way for men to relate to David is through the poisonous tongue, a lie here, and a deception there. They spend time thinking of ways to cause hurt and pain on the King. Meditate on evil intent. Spread their disinformation, trusting that others will simply accept the gossip, the lies and deception. It costs men nothing to lie (in their minds) and provides the effect they want (they think they want!)

This is instructive for those of us who are living in ‘1984’, as it seems we are slipping/falling into a culture where truth is an image and “facts” can be manipulated to an end. Blatant lies are rampant and pushed as truth, and we cannot afford to simply take every news report or headline as a fact. We must be grounded in the truth of Scripture, the hard information that David reveals to us in this passage, that there are men out there seeking our hurt, our poverty or weakness and our very lives. Simple acceptance of a human authority is a risky thing nowadays. Selective deafness, may have an advantage. Selective deafness and a discerning spirit, based on the written word of God.

19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully.
20 Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good.

Our foes are very real, and their strength may seem to be gaining in these days. As believers in the Chief Shepherd, we should expect to be hated wrongfully, and we need to follow after good, no matter the response from those around us.

David’s final prayer is worth dwelling on, for only the Risen One can help us.

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!


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Devotional · Old Testament · Psalms

Let Me Tell You a Story – Gardenias

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I love the smell of gardenias, and living in the south as we do, we have the climate to grow those bad boys. A few years ago, my wife recognized my hankering for the smell of gardenias and bought four or five plants for our back yard.

A few years passed and this year, the “hills were alive” with the essence of gardenia. It was glorious. For approx. 2 weeks, the plants exploded in blooms, and the yard was awash in the most glorious aroma. I ended up sitting on the grass for periods of time, just downwind from one particular plant that produced more flowers than leaves. It was truly unbelievable. One of those times when the goodness of God was experienced in a very unexpected way.

Since then, my wife and I have been busy with a number of tasks that have drawn us away from the back yard, but yesterday I had a reprieve and entered our gardens out back. Our nectarine trees are full of fruit, so much so that we have had to brace the branches from snapping off – our peach tree lost the central trunk three years ago from too much fruit on it! The plums are actually producing fruit this year – a first!

God is good, and the fruits of our labor in the back yard is a reflection on the work of God in nature.

But as I mentioned earlier, the gardenia bushes were my first target, hoping to smell that smell again, but alas, the bush had browned out. The bush was still plenty healthy, with vibrant green leaves, and plenty of life, but the flower had browned. out.

Sad day to say the least, but I decided I wanted to smell that smell again, so I got my pruning shears and started “hacking” (pruning for those of you who are knowledgeable of horticulture!).

As I mentioned above, this particular bush had been thick with flowers, so the hacking was fairly extensive. As I hacked and hacked, I thought of the next crop of gardenias and the joy it would bring, and also of the last crop of gardenias and the surprise and delight we experienced with the flowers.

And then I thought of Psalm 1, where the saint is described as having seasons of fruit bearing, but that the leaves were evergreen (See Psalms for Psome – Psalm 1). This gardenia produced such an abundant harvest of flowers, and in such an unexpected time, but the season of the flower had passed. After all, it was but for a season. The leaves continued, showing life, but the fruit / flower was but for a time.

And as soon as that thought settled in my mind, John 15 also nudged it’s way into my thinking, especially when I considered that my hacking was fairly aggressive.

If my wife had been there, she may have asked my to take a little less “off the sides”, if you know what I mean. No, this bush, to produce again, needed to be aggressively hacked, reduced in size so the root stock could support vigorous growth in the future.

As God may be “hacking” at your life consider two take aways from my day in the back yard.

First – Occasional Fruit Bearing

Psalm 1 speaks of seasonal fruit bearing, and yet consistent green growth. A consistent growth based on a plants roots near to the source of water, and yet fruit bearing in its season.

Secondly – Maximum Fruit Bearing

John 15 speaks of the Master gardener “hacking” at our lives for the purpose of greater fruit bearing, whatever that fruit bearing may consist of. He may be aggressive in His “hacking” at times, but His purpose is to get rid of the brown flower – it has served its purpose – and for the bush to produce fresh flowers that will please the gardener and visitors of the garden. As the hacking hits home, remember that the hacking doesn’t hurt the root, simply the branches. Not the invisible, only the visible. Not the life, but the evidence of life at one time.

Remember the importance of the root. And hack away!


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 38 – A

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.

As mentioned in our introduction Psalm 38 is a psalm of David in sin. The next two posts will consider…

  • David’s experience under God’s hand
    • Verses 1-10 with verses 17 & 18 giving a summary.
  • David’s experience with men
    • Verses 11-16 with verses 19-20 supplying a summary.

In verses 1-10, David gives us his experience in relation the the Lord, his God. One subject that David does not resort to is excuse making. He does not deny his sin. Denial of sin is not the intent of David’s cries. He is addressing the what, not the why of his experience in this psalm

Lets look to the Psalm

1 A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering. O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.

Anger and wrath. David realizes the effect of his sin on his relationship with the God of Israel. He is not denying the anger, or the justification for the wrath, the slow burning wrath that is welling up in God towards His servant. He is asking God, his God, to relent, to find mercy. Discipline is actively working in David, Gods arrows reside in David, a wounded warrior. David expresses his condition as an enemy of God, one who is at war with Him, and who is currently wounded with a God’s weapon of choice.

Both the “arrow of God” and the “hand of God” is pressing into David, a relentless piercing of a dart in David and a terrible pressure is on David, constantly present with the King of Israel. The King of Israel is not privileged in his stand with God. It doesn’t work like that in the Christian life. Sin will be exposed! As a matter of fact, he is more responsible since His ministry and work for God is so public!

Sin will be exposed. Sin may be forgiven. Guilt may be absolved, but the repercussions of acts of sin are deep, painful and may be long lasting. David, in the following portion, describes the deep, painful experience of God’s displeasure in his life. His spiritual life is in shambles and his entire existence has lost purpose. Everything he has desired is now up in smoke, and his greatest confidant has become a most powerful enemy.

His existence is tragic. Take a moment and consider.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness,
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

David, the sweet poet of Israel, is using his skill in describing his pain. Festering wounds (like on a battle field) and no soundness of flesh. Is he describing actual physical wounds on a battle field or describing the battle weary condition of his spirit? You be the judge, but I can’t help but see this as David’s inner life, his connection with God being in tatters!

It is interesting that at this time in his life, David was, to all appearances, peaking! He was the King of Israel, and had consistently led his armies to victory. Saul had been defeated, and the nation was unified. The potential for greater dominion was almost indescribable. He had promises directly given by God for his dynasty.

And yet, he was feeble and crushed, groaning out pleas of mourning and sorrow. How different our inner life may be from our appearances.

Take note of this truth, my friends. As we rub shoulders with our brothers and sisters on a Sunday morning, we get the impression all is well in everyone’s life. Not until we gain trust through relationship do we begin to know what is going on inside a brother! And this relationship is only begun in a church meeting. For trust to grow, we have to walk with a brother, share with a sister, do coffee, have lunch, attend to hospital visits, discuss loss jobs, assist in sickness, and experience disappointments.

If you are like myself, we naturally turn away from the pain of others, from those who are “under judgement”, whatever it may be. This is the recipe for a surficial Christianity, where we convince ourselves everything is good, while we sink into a despair and loneliness, a self deception that will cause us to experience our own inner battle.

David has opened up and given us a chance to view his thoughts, fears and struggles. We are reading the writings of a man looking to God, looking for relief, a ceasefire!

9 O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me.

How conflicting it must have been that the One David was in battle with, is the very One to which he longed for, that he sighed for. God is the All in All, and His position in our lives is multifaceted. He is not a simple deity that we have constructed in our vain thoughts, but the God of the heavens.

David is on his last legs. He has described his festering wounds, heavy burdens, his mourning and groaning, his failing strength and the light of his eyes – the light is gone!

17 For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me.
18 I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.

David was ready to fall. Constant pain and sorrow were all he could see in his future. There was no hope in his own efforts, and his longing for God was ever present. What conflict! What a dead end for him.

Until confession was offered, there was no resolution. Confession of sin before his holy and loving Father is the only resolution David had.

It is the same for us my friend. It is the only way we may find our way back from a time of rebellion, back to experiencing His loving kindness.

At the risk of repetition, lets consider the last two verses as a conclusion, reminding us of the Kings plea before the Almighty.

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

The King was heard. Amen.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 38 – Intro

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 38 is a psalm of David in sin. He exists in the midst of knowing his own sin before the Lord, of the adultery, the deception, the murder. He has fallen, and is wallowing in a cesspool of condemnation, both in his thoughts, emotions and feelings.

This psalm is a second in a series of psalms that catalogues David’s writings while he is in the throes of his estrangement from God. Psalm 6, our current Psalm, Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 gives us an overview of King David’s struggles in processing through this self inflicted personal and public tragedy. This psalm provides David’s inner doubts and despair, much like Psalm 6, but prior to his full confession and repentance in front of the Living God in Psalm 51.

This psalm may be considered seeing two “persons” impacting David and his sin.

First off, David describes his Experience with God. We will look at verses 1-10 and summary verses 17 & 18 in our next post. A concluding post will look at verses 11-16, recording David’s Experience with men. Verses 19-20 will supply a summary regarding men and their “mercy” (ahem) towards David.

The last two verses caught my attention this morning, and I would like to settle on them for a wee bit. It is a common refrain through the psalms that although many psalms start out in sorrow and in pain, each psalm ultimately ends with hope. This particular psalm describes a saints heart when in despair, a hope the saint may have while under trial, while being abandoned, while alone and under conviction of sin.

Let’s take a moment to read the last two verses and consider.

Psalm 38

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

Take note my friends, that David, in the midst of all the pain and loss he describes in the verse 1-20, knows Who to call out to. He knows the One that can be approached, that will act. He calls out to God, claiming three names in his relationship with him.

He calls out to God as

  • LORD (Yᵊhōvâ)
    • The God of the covenant, of the promise. David call’s out to the One who initiated relationship, who pursued and promised.
  • my God (‘ĕlōhîm)
    • The name Moses used to describe the all-powerful creator of all things. The One to whom nothing stands in the way, the One to whom David claims as his own, his God, his powerful God
  • O Lord (‘ăḏōnāy)
    • A reference to David’s personal Master, his Lord, not just the Lord, but his own Lord. Even in the midst of his pain and distress, he never disowned his Lord. The very pain he went through may have been because he hung on, he persevered with a faith that accepted his sin, that owned his culpability and brought it before his Master.

But let us not stop with the three primary names David refers to in his closing plea. He also tags on “my salvation” and I realize I may be taking license in my next statement, but consider.

Many times in the Old Testament, God is referred to as the salvation of the nation of Israel and of individuals. Two verses as examples.

But Israel is saved by the LORD with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity. – Isa 45:17

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. – Lam 3:26

Let’s remember whom God has designated as the One we are to look to for salvation, for His very name is Jesus.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” – Mat 1:21 ESV

When David tagged on “my salvation”, was he looking to the One who would walk amongst us, live a spotless life, speak truth to hearts and experience physical, emotional, spiritual sufferings we know nothing about. I like to think he was.

My salvation is found in no one else, not even my own self effort or supposed obedience to any moral code I may have erected in my mind.

David was in the midst of his deepest failure, and in the middle of this deep valley of despair, he looked to Him who was the salvation of Israel, and did not promise to “do better”, or “act nicer”. No – his trust was in someone outside of himself, in the ever living One.

Jesus is worthy of our trust. He is the only One we can approach in the midst of our sin, whom we can have confidence in that He will not utterly reject us.

He is good. Look to Him in your despair, in your pain, in your disappointment. He has suffered beyond our comprehension, understands deep despair, and disappointment and is waiting there for us.

Truly, He is good!

I do hope you will join me as we begin at the beginning of this psalm in our next posting. (I think I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself!) Hope to hear from you – Thanks for visiting!



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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Head Coverings

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In my pilgrimage through this Christian life, I have attended a number of denominational churches, some of which adherer to the practice of a head covering of the ladies heads.

The passage referred to by my brethren friends is found in 1 Corinthians 11:13-15.

Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. – 1Co 11:13-15 ESV

Many times I discussed this topic with a good friend who believed it’s modern application, and though I never fully understood both sides of the argument, I did seek to come to a settled conscience.

Of course, their were distractions, such as the couple who strictly followed this practice, but when out of the church meeting, it was obvious who was the head! Or when a fellow believer could not worship since I was not leading my wife into submission by forcing her to wear a covering.

But as I said, these were distractions, and not a basis upon which to understand the text. Eventually we moved from the town we were in, settled in Texas, and the issue faded away since we no longer attended this type of church.

Fast forward over 20 years, and as I was driving home from work on a Tuesday afternoon, lo and behold, I tripped over a podcast call “The Naked Bible” by Dr. Micheal Heiser. The podcast intrigued me since I understand our modern thinking is not what the prophets and apostles were speaking to, and if I can understand the audience the Bible writers were speaking to, I might find better understanding for myself. This is Dr. Heisers intent. And this is where the podcast on 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 gave me some clarity.

Dr. Heiser’s message speaks of the 1st century’s Greco-Roman’s understanding of a persons hair in relation to reproductive activity. It is an amazing study of which I am thankful to have found. Note that the material in this podcast is sexual in content and it may be wise to restrict it to times when no children are present.

Naked Bible 86: The Head Covering of 1 Corinthians 11:13-15

The relevant information begins about 10 mins in, and although the discussion is close to an hour long, I found it to be very illuminating.

Let me know if you listen and of your thoughts. Perfect for a listen as you travel on your way to or from work.

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 36 – 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.

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

Psalm 36

10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
11 Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.

David breaks forth in prayer. He is walking in the steadfast lovingkindness of the Lord, and is asking for a continuance of this love for the ones who know Him.

To ask God to “continue” His steadfast love is to ask God to “stretch it out”, or to lengthen out this steadfast love David experienced. And yet the psalmist, David himself, speaks of the steadfast love of the Lord as being from everlasting to everlasting in Psalm 103:17.

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, – Psalm 103:17 ESV

Here we see a glimpse of a saint praying for something that is a reality. David is praying for the extension of the Lord’s steadfast love into the future in our verse above, and yet in the 103rd psalm, David teaches us that the same steadfast love is constantly on those who fear Him. Is this some sort of contradiction?

Lets read the two passages side by side and consider the message of both.

Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you… Psalm 36:10

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him… Psalm 103:17

This “contradiction” disappears in the careful reading of the two texts, as it often is true of apparent contradictions in the Word. Notice that David is praying in Psalm 36:10 for the experience of the steadfast love of the Lord to be stretched out, to continue with the saint who knows the Lord, who is in relationship with the Alpha and Omega.

In Psalm 103:17, David is stating a fact of the steadfast love of the Lord as being “on” the saint. Experience of the saint is not considered in this verse, simply a statement, awesome as it is, of the constant, continual truth of the love of God towards those who fear Him. The lovingkindness of the Lord is on those who fear Him. A fact we can depend on, believe in, find comfort with, even if may not be experiencing the steadfast love of the Lord.

And yet we sometimes (often?) find that our thinking of the lovingkindness of the Lord is distorted, somewhat stilted or twisted. Sometimes, in our “fear of the Lord”, we see Him as One who “lords it over us”, who is scary, somewhat unapproachable, far far away, and even dangerous.

But if I am reading David’s prayer of the 36th psalm correctly, this experience of the steadfast love of the Lord must be a pleasurable, fulfilling, desirable, enticing experience. Else why would he beg for the continuance? And this continuance of the experience of the steadfast love of the Lord is the subject of his prayer, he is seeking to continue to experience this love in his life.

Fear and love, both combined in our experience with the Lord. Fear of the Lord and the steadfast love of the Lord. The fact of His continual love and the desire for the continuance of experiencing His love.

What is missing in my thinking? We all know that our experience and the truth may be completely at odds with each other. I think this is the issue I am considering. Many of my times of living in fear has taught me that it is often not based in truth. I recently posted a time in my life of learning this relationship of fear and truth in Let Me Tell You a Story – Horsehair. In this experience, a single lie settled in my thinking and controlled my thoughts for weeks!

To experience the steadfast love of the Lord is dependent on truth. Imagination, group think, logic and reasoning on their own may only cripple us regarding God and His ways with us. For us to continue to experience the steadfast love of God requires our fear to drive us to truth, to the Word where we find One who approached us, entered a dangerous condition, suffered through terrors, fears and torture, offered up His very life and finally died a cruel death on a bloody cross.

His is the life that had the steadfast continual love of the Lord on Him. He feared the Lord, and the Lord’s love was on Him. He trusted in this truth, even when the experience was excruciating, dealing a death blow to His life.

As we walk this pilgrim way, we need to remember this double pronged truth. Truth that the steadfast love of the Lord is on those who fear Him, and of our need of prayer to experience His love, to be controlled, filled and rejoicing in His love.

He is good.

Let us remember He is a completely different type of love than we naturally understand.


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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Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 36 – 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.

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

Psalm 36

7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

God’s Goodness to His Own People

David now breaks forth with the experience of the saint, the one who knows the steadfast love of the Lord, and how precious this love is to the saint. The earlier verses described a state that creation existing in, and yet did not appreciate the love of the Lord, those who did not understand or accept this love.

David now speaks of those who have come into covenant with the Lord, whose steadfast love is a constant in their lives. How precious this love is.

Precious

This particular word David uses (yāqār), refers to something that is rare or costly. Let’s consider what David may be saying.

Rare

The first time this word shows up is in 1 Samuel 3:1, where the word of the Lord is described as rare.

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. – 1Sa 3:1 ESV

Is David seeking to inform us that the lovingkindness of the Lord is “rare”?

In the time of Eli, the word of the LORD was precious / rare, in that it was uncommon, not a recurring, consistent occurrence. No word of the LORD had been given to man for quite a while, as a matter of fact for decades, and it was precious or rare. To be precious does have a component of rarity, but I see this rarity in that the love of God is of a completely different quality than that of any other love.

God’s lovingkindness is not rare or precious simply because it appears unavailable. This is the result of our blindness and rejection. No, the lovingkindness of the Lord is bountiful. The very next two verses in our psalm speak of the abundance of a feast, and of drinking from a river. These are not descriptions of scarcity!

Costly

This same word that David uses in describing the lovingkindness of God in Psalm 36, is also used of Solomon’s palace foundations. The foundations of the palace were costly stone.

The foundation was of costly stones, huge stones, stones of eight and ten cubits. And above were costly stones, cut according to measurement, and cedar. – 1Kings 7:10-11 ESV

So what is David trying to communicate to us? The steadfast love of the Lord is precious, (of a different quality) and costly.

Costly. To be expensive. The lovingkindness of the Lord is costly, but to whom is the cost associated. During the time of David, for the Lord to provide guidance or protection, cost Him. His honor and glory were often dragged through the mud in being associated with the nation of Israel, and with the occasional actions of His greatest saints. He is a God who stoops down to His creation, who associates with the lowly and poor, who exercises a patience and care for His people that we do not understand or often consider.

Of course the saint, as a beggar looking to the Master, could claim a cost in exercising patience for the Lord’s assistance, but we often forget that any assistance is an act of love toward us. Maybe the saint could claim a cost related to discipleship. This is and always will be a reality. This may be an accurate statement, but I’m not sure this is where David is going.

The cost associated with the lovingkindness of the Lord is the cost that the one who loves pays. For the Lord of glory to humble Himself for a small nation in the middle of three continents, with a young shepherd boy raised to King, and promised an never ending dynasty. This is a costly love committing to a young shepherd boy, whose children would eventually commit acts so vile that the kingdom would be lost, and one of those children would be born in a nation under the thumb of Rome, in a manger, with a cross in His path.

Let us remember the preciousness of the love of God, of the quality of the love He has for us, and the cost He paid to flood our lives with His lovingkindness. Let us not consider our cost to high, for if we do, it may be that we have forgotten of the preciousness of the love of God. His love is of a completely different character than our understanding of love, and the cost of His love was His very life.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!


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 36 – 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.

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

Psalm 36

5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.

David begins such a wonderful description of our God, with the backdrop of the wicked man, showing our Gods beauties for all of creation in these two verses.

This post will spend a few minutes in verse six.

Righteousness

When I mention righteousness, what do you think? Is it the idea of always being right? Of never having to say you are sorry?

When I think of righteousness, I think of balance.

Let me explain

God is holy. God is love. God is good. God is gracious, God is mighty, God is great, God is pure, God is jealous, God is true, God is faithful, God is light…. And God is One, perfectly aligned within Himself with each of His attributes, with each of His characteristics. I fear I am speaking foolishly here, but consider. He is not in tension within Himself as to what is a correct action, or struggles with a decision, experiencing inner turmoil as to the proper way to proceed. No, He is at peace within Himself.

Each of these characteristics of our God is not in conflict with one another, where His love is arguing with His purity, (rescue or condemn the sinner) or His holiness is struggling with his mercy (remain separate or join fallen humanity) Each characteristic provides potential conflict for us, if we seek to live within these bounds, but not so with God.

You see, He is righteous, that is, He is not in conflict within Himself, and this balance, this peace is the essence of His righteousness. He is righteous, and performs all things righteously, since He is the standard of all existence. His holiness is not ignored in order to love His creation. His jealously is not staining His faithfulness. No – all of God’s characteristics are in balance, in harmony.

Mount Hermon

This righteousness that belongs to the Lord is solid, without wavering and is a constant within the life of David. David, as he looks to the mountains, sees what he has always seen, a solid mass of immovable rock.

God’s righteousness is visible to all, for the mountains are of the greatest geological formation on the earth, and cannot be hidden.

Judgements

If you are like myself, (which, if you are, try to find a way to change!!) when you hear of “judgement” you automatically think of condemnation. But a “judgement” is simply a decision that is made based on knowledge received, upon which a course of action will be pursued.

If I see an ice cream stand on the side of the road, I judge that it would taste great to have some ice cream, and based on that decision, I slam on the brakes, backup and pull into the parking lot. Although this judgement may satisfy my desire for yummy ice cream and cause a fender bender, my point is made. The results of the judgement may be positive or negative, depending on the recipient!

God’s judgements, His decisions are mysterious. His judgements are past finding out.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! – Rom 11:33 ESV

A number of these decisions may seem to have a negative impact in our experiences, but our interpretation of the judgement may, and usually is, far from the intended purposes designed by God.

You see, God’s judgements, His decisions are like the great deep. David could see the mountains, for the mountains were ever before the psalmists eyes, but the great deep was a massive mystery. Whether he is speaking of the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, or the Mediterranean, the Old Testament prophets knew very little of life in the great depths. Admittedly, the culture was dependent on the sea in many ways, yet the ancient Israelite floated on the sea, and did not delve into the depths. Mysterious, like the judgements of God. Even the great man of God David admitted to his lack of understanding the judgements of our God.

Truly, it is good to remember that there is mystery in our relationship with God, and His Son Jesus Christ. As we walk through our pilgrim way, let us remember that God does mysterious feats that we cannot predict within our lives and the lives of others. And let us be thankful for the mystery, for in all His ways, He is perfectly righteous in all His judgements.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 36 – 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.

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

Psalm 36

5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.

David begins such a wonderful description of our God, with the backdrop of the wicked man, showing our Gods beauties for all of creation in the verses 5 & 6.

This post will spend a few minutes in verse five only, since this description of our God is such a blessing after slugging through the depressing, discouraging, painful description of the wicked man. Necessary, but in no way as edifying as the following passage.

Let’s consider our God.

God’s Goodness to All Creation

David describes four characteristics of the Lord in verses 5 & 6, as he seeks to describe God’s attitude toward all creation. Notice that in verse 6, David speaks of the LORD’s saving of man and beast. Not until the opening of verse 7 does David speak of those who know the love of God.

These verses speak of the universal love God has for His creation.

Steadfast Love

Mercy, kindness, lovingkindness, goodness. The Hebrew word חֶסֶד cheçed, kheh’-sed describes loyal love, a devotional love extending for life

This love is not an emotional love, as we often think of when we speak of love in our modern society. This is a covenantal love, a love of the will. Hosea uses this word in describing the vows God made to the nation of Israel

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. – Hosea 2:20 ESV

In my research, I found a wonderful resource (Hebrew Word Lessons) I would like to recommend to my reader if they study the Old Testament. I would like to thank Sarah E. Fisher for this work she has provided. Her comments on Hosea 2:19-20 caught my attention and expresses this devotional loyal love better than I.

“Notice the word Hebrew word for LOVE (ahava) was not in God’s wedding vows, but khesed was. Love is an emotion, and emotions can wax and wane. Khesed reflected a boundless, loyal, everlasting, love in action, and this is the kind of love God has for His people. It’s a much, much, fuller, grander love.” Sarah E. Fisher, Hebrew Word Lessons- Khesed- LOYAL LOVE in Action

David is speaking of a loyal, covenantal love, a love that is dependent on God’s loyalty, His faithfulness to his own word. A sure and steady promise is this love of God, of His will for His people, as the writer in Hebrews reminds us.

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. – Hebrews 6:17-18 ESV

David not only expresses the type of love God has for the creation – that is, a loyal, faithful love, not dependent on emotions or feelings, He expands the concept to include the extent of the loyal love. This is beyond me, since the fact that God has entered into a loyal love should be enough to satisfy creation. But David sees this loyal love extending to the heavens, it is beyond his sight, and beyond his comprehension. It is all he can see and he cannot find its limitations.

Praise to the God Who is loyal.

Faithfulness

When the word faith comes up in a conversation, I automatically think of my faith, my belief, my relation to God. In the Old Testament, when faith is mentioned, it was almost universally considered an ongoing commitment, a faithfulness. In this phrase, of course, we are not looking at any of creations faithfulness, for we are sorely lacking in any exercise of faithfulness to our Creator. Truth be told, we are a treacherous, unfaithful, and promise breaking sort.

When push comes to shove, we are a Judas.

When push comes to shove, God is Jesus, the faithful One, who would give up His rights, His glory and power, His honor and dignity in order to be faithful to God, following the Father’s will to the cross. Emotion, as discussed above, was not Jesus friend in the final days, for He cried out to God for a deliverance, and yet He was faithful to the Father.

David again describes this faithfulness as extending to the clouds. When David speaks of clouds in this passage, he refers to a thin cloud, what appeared to him as a fine dust in the skies. A wispy type of cloud.

When I first read this passage this morning, I considered this description of God’s faithfulness to be somewhat less (in extent) than the infinite description of the heavens when he speaks of God’s lovingkindness. I am not convinced that this is David’s intent. I don’t think he is comparing the lovingkindness of God as being greater in extent that God’s faithfulness. David wasn’t an physicist, or a scientist when he penned this beautiful psalm. He was a Hebrew poet. When he looked to the skies, at night, he would see the heavens, during the day, he would recognize the clouds. Both beyond his reach.

This in instructive, as the passage not only speaks of the extent of God’s lovingkindness and faithfulness, but of God’s continual availability. Whether dark or light, God is there to depend on, to relish in His promise of love and faithfulness to His creation.

My friends, when we consider the wicked man as David did in the first four verses, we find a creature that is self centered, internal, taking, plotting, lying and without resistance to evil. Our God has a loyal love and faithfulness, not to ones who deserve it, for then these descriptions of God would be unnecessary. Loyalty and faithfulness is not exercised when both parties are in an enjoyable unbroken relationship. David’s description of God was no less true prior to creation, but when creation fell, and wicked man rose up, the character of God described in these verses became a shining hope, and a benchmark upon which we can know our own state of existence.

Dwell on the lovingkindness and faithfulness of our God this fine day my friend, and rejoice that your very existence came from a loving God, One who is forever faithful.


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

Let Me Tell You a Story – Efforts and Effects

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

How often have you heard of the importance of balance in life? We all need balance. Equality. Fairness.

Another thought that is commonly referred to in our day to day lives is the Newtonian principal of “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”.

In other words, ya git what you deserve. Really? We are to apply a law on physics to our moral universe?

Not to sure of that logic.

So….. Let me tell you a story. 

A few nights back, I was reading a book on the couch (my favorite couch!) and got a text from one of my kiddos. My grandchild sent me a little video, saying “Hello gampa, I wov you!” Now this little one is not even two years old, and he was merely repeating what someone told him to say, but ol’ blubberpuss Carl – well he well nigh just about fell apart. The little video hit me right in the tear ducts and I watched it over and over again. And I thought about it, (after I wiped myself up and blew my nose). Yes I thought about it, considered it, analyzed it and came to a conclusion.

An action does not produce an equal and opposite reaction!

This little one merely repeated some noise, made vibrations from the throat and mouth, and went off to play. Probably went to play with a toy or to cause some havoc somewhere. A minor effort on the youngin’s part, a soon forgotten happening.

As for me, it will be one of many times my grandchildren have touched my heart, and made me a bit more of a softy.

It all started with my little ones, and watching each of them growing, connecting with each of them, at different times and in different ways. The memories are priceless. And my chillun didn’t understand their effect on their parents until they joined the club. The parenting club.

Now, I can see it in their eyes, when my chillun are around their chillun. The give and take is NOT equal. A little smile, nod of the head, a first step and the parent goes wild with pride, swells up with love and would give anything, do anything for the sake of the child.

No it is NOT equal.

The child’s efforts are many times small and seemingly insignificant. The receiving of a negligible act on the part of the child, causes emotional meltdowns for the parent, a recommitment of the parent to the child’s good, a sacrificial attitude that no one saw coming prior to the little ones arrival.

No it is NOT equal.

That love, that commitment, that connection never leaves a parents heart. At times, that love can crush a parent’s heart, the sorrow of seeing a child suffer. It can be excruciating.

But the effect is the same. A yearning for the best for the child, a desperate desire to guide the child into right living.

But then it hit me.

I am looking at this so horizontally.

Yes the impact of a minor effort on the child’s part can have major impact on the parent. No denying it! But isn’t that a reflection, a minor picture of the Lord’s fatherhood to usward? When we reach out to Him, is it not as a child, reaching out to their Father. Is not this truth much of the message Jesus would seek us to think on every time he calls the God of the Universe, the Holy One of Israel, the Almighty One, every time He calls Him Father?

Our relationship with God is based on familial standards. Family! Not a business. The family of God is not to be considered an LLC, or a Sole Proprietorship, with God as the CEO. That is not the picture the New Testament paints for us.

Consider the impact of your simple desire to please Him, how that must effect Him. Does your child’s obedience and affection for you not make your life rich beyond description? To think that our insignificant, bumbling efforts could impact the Living God is mind numbing. The fact that He would sacrifice His own Son in order to bring us into His Family is beyond the pale.

We were his enemies. His love brought us into His Family, and our connection with Him not only greatly benefits us, but also effects Him. This is a wonder I spend much too little time on. My efforts to please Him are insignificant, but the fact that I am His child, makes all the difference.

Truly – Effort does not equal Effect!


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 36 – 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 36

1 To the choirmaster. Of David, the servant of the LORD.

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
4 He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.

In our last post, we looked at the first two verses, and it didn’t look good. I mean, the trend of this wicked man was downward from the get go!

Let’s hope for the best, but I’m gonna warn ya. Our next two verses do not provide much hope!

Words

The very words that come out of our mouth are described as “trouble”. Deceit I get, I understand the lying tongue, my goodness I get it! But the psalmist states that the wicked man’s very words are trouble.

And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while his heart gathers iniquity; when he goes out, he tells it abroad.

Psalm 41:6 ESV

This term can be translated in a number of ways, including “emptiness” or “a vanity of words”. This may be emphasizing a hollowness of communication, but shouldn’t be considered a neutral condition that we may consider allowable. Vanity is often associated with idol worship, and we know God’s attitude towards idols!

Let us not speak vain or empty words. Empty words are definitely not associated with righteous activity, with loving actions or a spirit of mercy!

A Change of Behavior

The psalmist now describes the wicked man’s actions, his doings, his outward appearance and behavior. It is interesting that the wicked man ceases to act wisely. Does this imply that the wicked man acted wisely in the past? Was this wicked man of a better ilk in the past, of some better character prior to his listening to transgression, prior to his self flattery?

Was this wicked one of a better ilk in the past, of some better character prior to his listening to transgression, prior to his self flattery?

I heard a philosopher speak of the necessity of time in relation to our existence, and that time allows for change. Time allows for change. Change that occurs as either growth or decay.

This wicked man is decaying, rotting on the vine, becoming less as time passes, by listening to transgression, by avoiding the fear of God, by elevating his own self importance before his eyes. The decay is becoming evident to those around him by his behavior.

He begins to stop acting wisely and to stop doing good. But this is simply a point in time, a fraction of a moment, when the direction of his life is determined. To stop doing good and think we can remain neutral is a fallacy.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. – Luk 11:23 ESV

We are either with God or against God. There is no middle ground, and that is why I am stating that this stopping of doing good occurs in a mere fraction of a moment, since this state of neutrality can not be maintained.

A Leader of Wickedness

This man of wickedness now blooms into a leader of wickedness. He plots his day while others sleep, spending time on how to attain his goals. He is consumed with his thoughts of greatness, and he has no one to guide him, or to caution him, since the fear of God has been ignored, even silenced to his ears.

He establishes himself in a path that is not good. The term speaks of a steadfastness, a withstanding or refusal to be moved. He has chosen to be in a path that is not good, and his very intent is to remain in this path.

To be in a path that is not good, he eventually must lay his defenses down. He does not reject evil. He may have rejected evil before, but I tend to think this is simply the decay settling into his person, a strength of resistance simply not available to this man.

Story time

My wife and I went walking last night on our favorite path, lined with massive trees, bushes and grasses. It so happened that one of the tress we enjoyed last year had fallen, now on its side, with the trunk completely broken. No saw had come upon the tree. No – it had decayed from the inside out and the strength of the trunk had disappeared. Last year it appeared strong. One swift wind, and its inner lack of strength gave way to the wind. The tree is down.

Such is the life of the wicked man. Early listening to transgression, denial of the fear of God, speaking lies to his self in the form of self flattery, becoming “neutral” towards truth and finally setting himself in a bad path. Finally there is no resistance to evil.

I find it interesting that when the psalmist describes this man, he refers to an absence of good. Not until the fourth verse, does he use the term evil. Yes, iniquity is referred to, but that it cannot be found in the wicked man’s own eyes. I also admit trouble and deceit are spoken of as coming of his mouth. This is the beginning of the wicked mans inward decay being exposed to those around him.

This is our condition. Or should I say this is our condition, our eventual destination if it were not for the steadfast love of God. He is the Savior, the Deliverer and the One who brings us back from the edge.

I am very much looking forward to the psalmists descriptions turning from the wicked man to the righteous God. For He is good, and we certainly need Him!


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 36 – 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 36

1 To the choirmaster. Of David, the servant of the LORD.

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
4 He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.

In our last post, I veered from the specific passage above in discussing a topic brought to mind by the verses above, and that I find I am coming back to often in my thinking.

I would like to consider these verse with the approach spoken of in our previous post (Psalm 36 – Introduction). We are sinners. Yes, we have been granted the righteousness of Christ, but we live below, and David is describing the wicked man in the verses above. As mentioned earlier, we shall find good counsel in understanding this description of the wicked man as a description of our own condition while we walk with Him during our pilgrimage.

Let’s consider David’s description of the wicked man, the man we are if we are honest with ourselves, the man we are without the grace of God being shed abroad in our lives.

Transgression speaks to the heart

Even as I sit here and consider this passage, I am reluctant to admit of the times I listen to sin speaking to my heart. Do not get me wrong, I understand that the sin thoughts are not necessarily sourced in my own soul, but the fact that I listen to them is the shame I experience. Oh to be willing to turn a deaf ear to the whispers I hear in my heart. Deep in my heart, where there is more mystery than understanding, transgression speaks to me.

Transgression utters, or declares to my heart, and gains a foothold when there is no fear of God before my eyes. This term “speaks” is interesting since it is used of God speaking in many passages of the Old Testament. Now before any one tries to condemn me for associating sin with God, that is not my intent. My intent is only to notice that “speaks” is commonly used to describe a message that is “spirit” and we know that by study and experience, this includes spirits that are not of God.

No fear of God

Transgression gains a foothold in the wicked because there is no fear of God before our eyes. Transgression may “utter” all day long, and with no fear of God, will gain that foothold and progress into a growing struggle with sin. This we all can attest to and suffer under!

The fear of God. Many who read this blog may know that I spent years under the fear of God – no wait – let me correct myself – more specifically under the fear of the judgement of God. There is a tremendous difference. The fear of God, in my understanding now, is to know the living God, the fountainhead of knowledge, wisdom confidence and life.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Pro 1:7 ESV
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. – Pro 9:10 ESV
The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short. – Pro 10:27 ESV
In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. – Pro 14:26 ESV
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. – Pro 14:27 ESV

Do not believe the lies spouted by many that the fear of God produces a sour spirit. The fear of the Lord is a wellspring of life.

Flatterings

He flatters himself! But this isn’t the boastful arrogance of a loud and proud man speaking of his greatness. No no no. This refers to the quiet ruminations within himself, of his discussions with himself, where he is telling himself how great he is! And who is to argue, if the fear of God is now a distant influence!

Pride of self, a self inflicted perception of ourselves that we are better than we truly are. We flatter ourselves. To flatter is “to praise excessively from motives of self interest” This must be recognized as being so out of touch with the nature of God as to be obvious.

Is self flattery of the character of our God…

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:6-8 ESV

This too seems so obvious, if we are honest with ourselves. How often have you considered yourself better than your neighbor, your boss, your friend or your spouse? Paul addressed this danger amongst leaders, even apostles within the Corinthian church.

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. – 2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV

Even those who may consider themselves to have low self esteem, flatter themselves with their weakness, in their standing in comparison with the appearance of others, their lack of confidence, of their inabilities, or a host of other characteristics that they use to draw attention to themselves.

We are to consider ourselves with sober judgement.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3

Was it Spurgeon or some other saint who said that the believer was not to attain to a high self esteem, nor a low self esteem, but of no self esteem.

God is to be the only One we are to esteem. Consider the wise, mighty and rich in Jeremiah 9. They had attained. But they were instructed not to esteem their own selves but the LORD who practices love justice and righteousness in the earth!!! (By the way – we don’t practice love justice and righteousness!)

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” – Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV

Let us break for now and continue with the next two verses of this passage in our next post. Suffice it to say, the first two verses do not offer much hope to the wicked man. And in our next post, verses 3 & 4 will only expose more difficulty and trouble, problems and traps.

Who is able to rescue me? Who can deliver me from this awful condition!


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 36 – Introduction

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 36

1 To the choirmaster. Of David, the servant of the LORD.

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
4 He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.

The wickedness of man and the goodness of God.

This psalm magnifies the differences between our existence and the character of our God. For the first four verses, David dwells on the wicked man. As I read passages such as open this passage, where the Old Testament speaks of a “bad” fellow, I am reminded of an old pastor who focused my thoughts on identifying with the bad guy in the story.

We so often want to associate with the godly, the righteous and the beautiful (at least I do), that we often miss the truth the Word is trying to provide. Without continuously acknowledging our sinful tendencies, habits, actions, thoughts, and motives, we tend to “join the righteous” in righteously excusing our “trip ups” and condemning those sinners, and in our effort to look good, we become hypocrites in the eyes of many! This should not be so!

This concept reminds me of a time, very early in my faith, when I sought the Lord and found only sin. Everywhere in my experience, I found rebellion, acts of sin, transgression and failings. I so wanted to be close to God and to love the Lord Jesus, and yet found sin. I confessed this to a believer, and he simply stated that when we press in, the light of God exposes our nature. Get used to it!

Humility and a consciousness of our “self” is the result of facing the One who is truth. Is this not the experience of those we read of in the Old Testament.

Consider Isaiah

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” – Isaiah 6:5 ESV

Or Ezekiel

Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. – Ezekiel 1:28 ESV

David often confesses his sin, acknowledging his failings.

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 – Psa 32:5 ESV

Daniel joins in the confession of his nation’s sin

We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules Dan 9:5 ESV

You may be reminded of other instances in the Old Testament where a saint, in seeing the Lord not only glorifies the One above, but reduces his own standing in his own eyes. (Somewhat of a difficult verse for the self esteem movement!)

Consider Job

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” – Job 42:5-6 ESV

The New Testament continues with this witness.

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” – Luke 5:8 ESV

Paul was knocked down before he was called.

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. – Act 9:3-5 ESV

Paul even spoke, as an old man of God, of his being (not was) the chief of sinners, the foremost of sinners.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. – 1 Timothy 1:15 ESV

Oh the tension we find in our seeking of the truth. We have been provided the righteousness of Christ through faith in our Savior and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, and yet our sinful tendencies are ever before us. That “wicked man” that we drag behind us, constantly seeks to pull us down. Ignoring or avoiding this truth will not benefit our souls. As my favorite wifey reminds me at times….

But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out. – Numbers 32:23 ESV

The battle is real my friends. The war has been won, but we each have battles to fight. In all of this discussion, a sense of humility and a consciousness of our wickedness needs to be ever before our eyes. But in the very moment I speak of this, let it be understood that there is a danger of only acknowledging our sin. We cannot lay in the cesspool of our needs, and not be looking off to the great and mighty Jesus.

As Paul reminded the sin laden Corinthians, we need to remember the nature of our God, and of His forgiving nature, His nature of comfort, and of His continual love toward those who fall. Paul directed the believers to mimic God’s nature in the following passage when confronting a condemned believer, that they

… should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. – 2 Corinthians 2:7-8 ESV

We are to live in the truth, and that includes acknowledging to ourselves and our Father, our weakness, sin tendencies and failings. This is a bitter pill to swallow but this truth will produce within us a humility greatly needed within the church today.

And we are to rejoice in the salvation our great God has provided. A salvation that delivers us from past guilt, current sin and a future of release from the presence of sin.

He is good.

Consider where you stand, lest you fall!


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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