PSALMS--- Hymns About Him
The Psalms are a collection of 150 hymns and prayers which came together over a thousand year period written by several psalmists. David wrote 73 of the psalms but there were other psalmists as well. Also, 50 of the psalms are anonymous.
In our churches we sing a song here and a song there, but the Psalms were a major part of Israel's worship. In fact, their worship was based on the singing of The Psalms. Here are some interesting facts about The Psalms.
- There are 150 psalms with Psalm 1 as the introduction and Psalm 150 as the concluding psalm.
- The Psalms are divided into five books ending with a doxology. Psalm 150 is a doxology ending all five books.
- The word "Selah" in the psalms means "a musical pause" and should be not read aloud in corporate worship.
- Unlike our poems and songs, the Psalms do not rhyme.
- Psalms 146-150 are called Hallelujah or Praise Psalms because they begin and end with "Praise ye the Lord."
- Praise is expressed to God for who He is. Thanksgiving is expressed to God for what He has done.
- There are many psalms that address your particular concern. Read it to find comfort. For example: Psalm 4 for sleepliness; Psalm 23 for comfort; Psalm 51 for repentance over personal sins; Psalm 91 for safety and protection; Psalm 100 for thanksgiving; Psalm 103 for God's benefits; Psalms 3, 5, 6, 10, 59 are a few of the psalms to read when in trouble.
The Psalms are Hymns about Him. By reading them, you can find comfort about whatever concerns you.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1:3)
You can see a tree as it grows tall above the ground. But have you ever considered that most of the important work for the growth of the tree goes on underground?
The tree is rooted in solid earth and draws its moisture from the ever flowing stream. All this is unseen when one looks at the tree. The average tree absorbs hundreds of gallons of water from the ground and returns it to the atmosphere through its leaves.
Underground work must be done for trees to bear fruit. What we see above the ground depends a great deal on what has happened underground. So it is with us. Let's not assume that church attendance or busy work will automatically make us grow and bear fruit. It is underground work that causes us to bring forth fruit and have fresh leaves that do not wither.
If you want to be like a tree planted by rivers of waters, make sure your roots go deep into God and you are drawing your sustenance from God's word.
It's the underground work that produces fruit!
All They Do Shall Prosper
They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper. (Psalm 1:3 NIV)
"All they do shall prosper" does not mean immunity from failure and difficulties. Neither does it mean a guarantee of health, wealth, and happiness. What this scripture really means is that when we apply God's wisdom, the fruit (the result or by-product) we bear will be good and receive God's approval. Just as a tree soaks up water and bears luscious fruit, we also are to soak up God's Word, producing actions and attitudes that honor God. To achieve anything worthwhile, we must have God's Word in our heart.
Like a Tree
And you shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. (Psalm 1:3)
How was your week? Are you pleased with what took place in your life last week? Did you notice any positive growth at all in your life? Did you do those things you should not have done or left undone those things you should have done? What changes do you need to make in order to avoid the same mistakes next week?
This weekend take time to reflect on your life and how you are growing in body, mind, soul and spirit. Make a conscious decision today to see some change in your life by next weekend. Be like the tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit and whose leaf shall not wither. And then people will know you by your fruits (Matthew 7:16).
How Christians Are Like Trees
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bring forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1:3)
The psalmist illustrates in Psalm 1 that a Christian should have the qualities of a strong, healthy, fruitful tree. Like a tree, a Christian should soak up water and bear luscious fruit. A Christian should be planted by the rivers of water so that his roots might be nourished and his faith firmly rooted. When that happens, the Christian is not affected by droughts for he will have a never ending supply of nourishment and refreshment. His roots are firmly planted in the ground and he is not easily uprooted. He grows and produces a harvest in due season. (Galatians 6:9)
The Christian's leaf shall not wither because his faith is not transitory or temporary. His faith flourishes at all times. In other words, his spiritual life is not subject to seasonal changes. There should be so many branches that others are encouraged and edified by his growth. Finally, when the Christian is planted and rooted, his growth is rapid and he produces so much fruit that whatsoever he does shall prosper.
When firmly planted, the Christian will be able to endure storms. Strong winds might cause him to bend; sometimes almost to the ground, but he will not break. How is he able to stand tall in the midst of storms? Because, like a tree, his unseen roots are firmly planted below the surface.
Jeremiah, like the psalmist, says the same thing. "He will be like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:8)
Blowing in the Wind
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. (Psalm 1:4)
Psalm 1 gives a contrast of the righteous and the wicked. The righteous are happy when they do not take counsel from the wicked. The righteous are happy when they meditate on God night and day. They are like trees planted by the rivers of water that yield fruit in due season, and their leaves do not wither, but they prosper in all that they do.
In contrast the wicked do not flourish. Instead of being planted firmly in fertile ground, they are planted in parched places of the wilderness, in uninhabited salt lands (Jeremiah 17:6). They are like shrubs in the desert. There are no roots or stability. The wicked are like chaff blowing in the wind. Chaff is worthless and is good for nothing. It is that fine, dry material such as husks and other debris, which is separated from the seed in the process of threshing grain. In the Bible, chaff symbolizes worthless, evil, or wicked persons that will be destroyed.
Everyone has two choices. Either (1) Trust God and be likes trees planted by the rivers of water that produce fruit even in times of drought; or (2) Trust in self and be like chaff blowing in the wind.
Give Someone a Lift
But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. (Psalm 3:3)
When we see someone without transportation we may ask the question, "Can I give you a lift?" It might be obvious when someone needs a ride or a "lift." But what about the figurative lift when it isn't quite as apparent? We should always be on the alert, watching closely to see who may need a spiritual lift. We could give that person a lift of a greeting, or a lift of a smile, or a lift of laughter.
A small gift often provides the means to lift another. A card or letter or a simple e-mail could give someone a lift. These small tokens could serve as a definite lift to someone who might be depressed or down-trodden. Lifting someone's spirits is rewarding both to the one being lifted and to the one doing the lifting. For when we help others, we help ourselves. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "You can't give someone perfume without getting a few drops on yourself."
Be lifted today by giving someone else a lift.
While You Slept
Then I lay down and slept in peace and woke up safely, for the Lord was watching over me. (Psalm 3:5)
When we know God, we can have a peaceful night sleep no matter what is going on in our lives. We can be assured that while we are sleeping, God is not. He watches over us and protects us just as a new mother watches over and protects her newborn baby. Nothing deters His attention from us. We are safe. No matter how old we get, we never outgrow the watchful eyes of God.
Sleep might not come easily during a crisis. It is at those things that we need to have full assurance that God has our circumstances in control. If you are lying awake at night worrying about situations you can't change, have a little talk with Jesus and before long you will fall to sleep in His loving arms.
Can't sleep at night? Don't count sheep—rely on the Shepherd.
Renovations of the Heart
You have put gladness in my heart. (Psalm 4:7)
When a house is being renovated, no one can live in it until all the repairs are made. In fact, it is dangerous to even try to do so. While the workmen are there, the occupants should be out of the way so the job can be handled quickly and most efficiently. When all conditions are met, the occupants can return to their restored house or office and live and work in safety and in comfort.
Like houses and offices, sometimes our hearts also need to be renovated. How do we handle the renovations of our heart? It is dangerous to make major decisions when our heart is heavy and in need of repair. It is most expedient if we would get out of the way and let God do the renovations of our heart. When all conditions are met, we can again use our heart knowing that it is operating in the best manner for God, for us and for others.
But what do we do while God is working on our heart? Since our heart will be totally out of working order while God is healing it, we must operate out of God's heart. When God has finished and we can move back in, we also will be able to say like the psalmist, "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices. (Psalm 16:9)
God Wants to Hear YOUR Voice
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice. (Psalm 5:3)
Have you been away from a friend, a family member or loved one for a long time and you called to say, "I just wanted to hear your voice"?
Too often we say we want to hear God's voice; however, God waits every day to hear our voice. He wants us to call Him any time of the day but especially in the morning before we get involved in other things.
God wants us to call His name. He wants us to begin our day by looking inward to look upward so that we may look forward to a wonderful day.
Let's begin our day by speaking to God. He is waiting to hear our voice.
Sins Are Washed Away
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 5:2)
No sin is too great that it cannot be washed away. In the above scripture, David repents of his adultery with Bathsheba. In his repentance, he did not ask God to cover his sin but wash it away instead. There is a big difference between covering something and washing it away.
After admitting his wrongdoing, David asks God to give him a bath. "Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from sin" (Psalm 51:2). "Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7).
Have you sinned and have not been washed clean? God's showers are always available for your sins to be washed away. No sin is too great that it cannot be washed away.
Appointment With God
In the morning, O Lord, Thou will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch. (Psalm 5:3)
Every busy person is familiar with the necessity of keeping appointments. In fact, appointments are part of our daily lives. Managers and executives keep appointment books, secretaries keep careful schedules and itineraries, doctors and lawyers are compelled to plan their appointments.
How many of us put the name of God on our daily appointment list? How many so called Christians are willing to spend a few minutes in the silence with Him before beginning the day? Nothing in life is so vitally important as spending time in silence with God.
The way to experience the power and presence of God is to make an appointment with God early in the morning and spend a few minutes day by day in silent communication with Him. The people best fitted for getting along with everyone they meet and for having a productive day are those who meet God by appointment in the silent sanctuary of their own hearts.
When Enemies Rage
Arise, O Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. (Psalm 7:6)
Have you ever been falsely accused or badly hurt and wanted revenge?
David wrote this psalm when he was falsely accused of trying to kill King Saul. Instead of seeking revenge, David cried out to God for justice. The proper response to one's enemies is prayer, not revenge. God says, "Justice belongs to me; I will repay them (Deut. 32:35-36; Heb. 10:30). The next time your enemies come against you, ask God to take your case, bring justice, and heal your hurt.
No Matter What
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high. (Psalm 7:17)
Tragedies happen. Crises occur in people's lives. Testings, trials, and tribulations take place with everybody; believers and non-believers. For believers, there is faith to draw upon during perils and grief. For believers, there is inner strength that helps us to go on. Believers can say like the psalmist, "I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness."
Last night I prayed with a mother whose only son died on Saturday. Her family and friends gathered in a circle, and after our three-fold amen, the mother lifted her hands to God and said, "I am going to praise God no matter what." What a wonderful testimony and witness of her faith. What a wonderful way to give glory to God in spite of her pain. What a wonderful way of expressing love and adoration for the One whose only Son also died. This mother will not hold her son in her bosom this Christmas. What gives her great comfort is that she knows WHO will be holding him. Just as Jesus commended His spirit to God, so did this woman's son. Therefore, she could say those uplifting words: "I will praise God no matter what!"
When you go through life's burdens, can you still lift your hands and say, "I will praise God no matter what? Don't fall flat on your face when tragedy happens. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and He will give you strength to praise Him NO MATTER WHAT!
What's For You IS For YOU!
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him? For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:4-5)
Some people go to great lengths to be like others, to look like others and to take on others' identity. Legally, it is a crime to steal someone's identity as your own. Spiritually, it is a sin to steal someone's identity as your own.
God made us in His own image to be like Him and Him only. When you see movie stars or high paid athletes and say, "I want to be Mr. X or Mrs. Z" you are actually cursing yourself. You are wishing for that person's problems, pains and sufferings as well as that person's money, glamour and/or talent. Apparently you don't realize what you are desiring. While God has carefully made that person to endure these things, your makeup, personality, and attitudes might not be able to handle them.
Rather than wanting to be someone else, try being yourself. God has made you in a unique package in His own image for a reason: to be like Him and to enjoy the pleasures and blessings that He has only for you. When you want to take on someone else's identity, you are saying to God, "You made a mistake in making me like I am. Recall me for a better model."
When you accept yourself as God's special creation, you will begin to enjoy all His blessings that have YOUR name on them. You haven't been able to collect them because you were not yourself . . . you were impersonating someone else receiving neither that person's blessings nor your own.
What's An Inclusio?
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1)
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:9)
If you had to guess what an "inclusio" is, you might think it is a medical term involving dentistry. Or a mechanic's term..."Hand me that inclusio." Or a cooking utensil. "Don't forget to put the eggs in the inclusio. None of those answers come close to the meaning of the word "inclusio."
You will not find "inclusio" in our English dictionaries because it is a Greek word which means the first is the same as the last and there is something enveloped in between. An inclusio is much like a sandwich or an Oreo cookie; you have two identical coverings and something is in between. An inclusio is a literary device that serves as bookends to the entire passage; much like what's in between brackets [...] or parenthesis (...) .
So, what does an inclusio have to do with the Bible? The Bible is full of inclusios that you have been reading and stepping over not realizing they are inclusios. Psalms 146, 147, 148, 149 and 150 known as the Hallelujah Psalms begin and end with the same words: "Praise ye the Lord" thus making those psalms inclusios. As shown above, the first verse and the last verse of Psalm 8 are identical. That's makes it an inclusio.
So, what does an inclusio have to do with us? Our lives can be described as inclusios because we do go full circle. That's why when a body is buried, these words are said, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." (Genesis 2:7)
Let us make our lives matter with what comes in between the first dust and the last dust.
Plans That Backfire
The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. (Psalm 9:15)
In the Book of Esther, Haman despised Mordecai, and he planned to hang him. It was a custom to build the gallows to the height of one's hatred for another. Therefore, Haman built the gallows 75 feet high in proportion to the hatred he had for Mordecai. Haman's plans backfired, and he and his ten sons were hung on the same 75 feet gallows that were constructed for Mordecai. (Esther 7:9; 9:14)
David penned the above scripture to illustrate how the efforts of his enemies also backfired on them, and God allowed them to be defeated. But King David was victorious. We should learn a lesson from Haman and from David's enemies. When you plot to destroy others, your plans could backfire on you.
If you have constructed any 75 feet gallows for someone whom you dislike, today is the day to take them down. If you have dug any pits for others, today might be the day you fall into your own pit. Remember, plans do backfire!
No Hidden God
Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1)
At times we might feel the presence of God covering us like a warm blanket on a winter night. At other times, we might feel that God has left us out in the cold by ourselves. Feelings of abandonment are not uncommon even for the most devout Christians. No matter how we feel, be assured that God never leaves us. Why, then, do we feel that He is hidden from us? Perhaps because we do not seek Him with our whole heart. "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you" (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
God is always present even though there may be times when He seems so far from us. Surely, there are times when He is more approachable than others. That's why it is so important not to wait until we get into trouble before we seek Him. We should seek Him when things are going great so that He can be found more readily when we are in trouble. Then we won't have to worry about the storms we will face. We will know God is already there.
He puts the righteous and the wicked to the test; he hates those loving violence. (Psalm 11:5)
Our Christian life is based on the tests we take. No one is excluded. Tests are important for they teach us to think clearly and to constantly trust God. Tests are intended to make us, not break us. Tests are to bring us closer to God, not push us away from Him. Tests bring real priorities out in the open so God can say, "Now I know where your heart is." Testing brings out our true character. Testing helps us to evaluate what we are doing right as well as what we are doing wrong.
With all that said, prepare now for your end of the year Final Examination.
This Is A Test!
He puts the righteous and the wicked to the test. (Psalm 11:5)
When people check microphones to see if they are working properly they usually say, "Testing, Testing, Testing" or "Testing 1-2-3, Testing 1-2-3." Ever so often a television or radio program is interrupted by the words, "This is a test of the emergency system." In schools all of the world students are tested to see if they have learned what the teacher has taught. Everyone is tested and tried in some manner everyday. There is no exception.
Everyone is tested; the righteous as well as the wicked. From the time we open our eyes in the morning to the time we close our eyes at night we are tested and tried on every side. There are many benefits of being tested.
- Testing teaches us to think clearly and to constantly trust in God.
- Tests show us about making choices.
- Tests are intended to help us; not harm us.
- Tests are to make us stronger; not to make us weak.
- Tests bring real priorities out into the open.
- Testing can bring out our true characters.
- Testing gives us a clear opportunity to grow, with God's help.
So, to all my many students whom I test: Welcome the opportunity to be tested not only for the reason listed above but because testing is a way to measure and evaluate what you need to know as well as what you already know.
"How Long, O Lord?"
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1)
Admit it. You have probably on more than one occasion asked that same question as David, the psalmist asked many years ago. When we are experiencing difficulty, we ask how long will it be before God answers our prayers. We ask how long will it be before we will be healed, delivered and set free. We wonder where God is at that particular time.
As hard as it is to believe sometimes, we MUST know that God has never left us nor forsaken us. Then why don't we feel God's presence? The answer is quite simple. When we go through tribulations, our focus is no longer on God and what He can do. Instead, we focus on the problem and not the solution. We tend to forget God at the time when we need Him the most.
In Psalm 13 in the very first verse, David asked God, "How long, O Lord?" By the time he got to the sixth verse, David was singing, "I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me." David's deliverance came rather quickly because he changed his focus from his problem to the source of his supply . . . God Almighty. In the midst of our problems, we must believe that God is where He always was and will always be . . . with us!
When God Forgets
O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? (Psalm 13:1)
We forget. We forget promises. We forget appointments. We forget who we are. We forget so many things. But does God ever forget? Like the psalmist we might wonder, "O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?" Like Jeremiah we might lament, "Why do you continue to forget us?" (Lamentations 5:20)
We may think God forgets us, but He is aware of us at all times! God has not forgotten! He knows who, where, what, and how we are! God remembers us!
There is something that God does forget: forgiven sin. How, then can God remember us and forget our forgiven sin? Wasn't the sin part of us? Is the knowledge of our sin literally banished from God's memory and beyond His recall? Hebrews 10:17 answers that question by simply saying, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." In other words, God forgets forgiven sin. And being God, His forgetfulness is perfect. When God forgets, you can be sure the sin is gone and He remembers it no more.
Because Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, there is no need for us to focus on a past forgiven sin. By that sacrifice, our guilt has been removed once and for all. God has forgotten it, and so must we. If we continue to feel guilty after receiving forgiveness, we show lack of faith in the power of Jesus’ sacrifice. Instead of showing faith by remembering, we should show faith by forgetting.
Prayer: The Quicker Picker Upper
"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? . . . I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me." (Psalm 13:1; 6)
There is a paper towel commercial that favors Bounty as the "quicker picker upper." That might be true when it comes to wiping up and absorbing liquids. On the other hand, when Christians need a quicker picker upper no paper towel on earth can come close to measuring up. When tears have flooded our pillows, Bounty won't do. When our hearts are bleeding, Bounty won't do. Prayer will do because prayer is the quicker picker upper.
Psalm 13 is a perfect example of a Quicker Picker Upper Prayer. It is a prayer for God's answer — NOW! In the first verse David is crying out to the Lord, "How long will you forget me and hide your face from me?" In just 5 verses later, David had the answer even before he had finished praying. Now that was quick. The psalmist, in verse 6 says, "I will sing to the Lord." Now that's a picker upper."
If you need a lift today, and if you need your tears dried, don't use Bounty. Try Prayer: The Quicker Picker Upper.
From Trouble to Trust
But I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:5-6)
A careful study of the Psalms reveals the psalmist wrote about his troubles, then while he is praying there is a turning point, and finally there is trust in God that culminates into praise.
Psalm 13 is an ideal example of going from trouble to trust. Initially there is a complaint that enemies are camped all around the psalmist. He prays that God will deliver him. He exalts God. In his praying, there is a change of heart for his enemies. In the same breath as declaring God as his helper, David asks God to bless his enemies.
You, too, should move quickly from complaint to petition to praise. You should go directly to God about your enemies and in the process you (and not necessarily your enemies) will be changed. Then you can say, "For he has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes" (Psalm 54:7).
How Are You Doing?
I will sing to the Lord; for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:6)
While driving you might have noticed on some company vehicles a sign that reads: "How is my driving?" Or "How am I doing?" It is always good when people care how you are doing.
Sometimes we spin out of control and no one says anything. Sometimes we remain stagnant and no one offers quick solutions. Sometimes we are stuck in a rut and our family, friends, and those close to us don't even notice.
For those we care about, let's ask them the question with sincerity: "How are you doing?" And then really hear their answer (even the one they don't speak).
One final thing: "How are you doing?"
When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Psalm 16:7)
Have you ever wondered how God made us all different; yet alike? And how God can loves us all with so many different personalities and temperaments? Well, the answer is quite simple. We are all different from one another, but all of us are like God in that we were made in His image, and surely God can love Himself.
God's greatest joy is to find pleasure in His people. It grieves God's heart when we go astray and are out of His will. He delights in the pleasure of His people. So, when you think of being disobedient, remember the consequences might affect people in your immediate area, but more importantly, remember how it would break God's heart. The best way to please God is to do what He says. What did He say? Everything from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.
Come Into God's Presence For God's Presents
In the presence of God is the fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11)
God is a holy God, and when we come into His presence we feel worthless. Moses was told to take off his shoes because the ground he stood on was holy ground. The taking off of his shoes was an act of humility, reverence and respect (Exodus 3:4-5).
When Isaiah was in God's presence, he said, "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5).
We remember our sins when we are in God's presence. But in the presence of God is a good place to be. Initially we feel unworthy, but then we experience the fullness of joy. Some people want God's presents without getting into God's presence. In order to experience the fullness of joy (not some, but all that is available) we need to come into God's PRESENCE and enjoy HIM before wanting His PRESENTS.
The Lingering Presence of God
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)
This morning I deviated from my usual early morning walk and extended it by walking on the grounds of a local church in the hopes that I would be filled with joy in the presence of God still lingering from yesterday's services. As I walked through the hugh parking lot, I imagined yesterday's passengers getting out of their cars hurrying into the church as parishioners who entered into the sanctuary as worshippers. I observed the stained-glass windows that told the gospel story even though the church itself was silent this morning. I wondered what sermon the preacher preached yesterday and how the congregation responded. I wondered if the pastor proclaimed Jesus Christ and the gospel message. I wondered if the time was devoted to praising and worshipping God or if that sacred hour was used for fanfare.
I noticed the two huge educational buildings and reflected on my teaching of yesterday's Sunday School lesson from the General Epistle of Hebrews where the writer emphasized that Jesus is supreme to the angels, that He is the exact representation of God. I wondered if the Sunday School teacher at this particular church brought out the points that I did or if I could have learned from him or her. As I made my way further around the building I saw a playground with children's toys sitting idle after perhaps a good workout between services yesterday. I imagined Jesus being among them since He loves children.
Did I feel the lingering presence of God from yesterday's activities as I completed my circle around the church and got back on my regular path? I cannot say for sure if I felt the presence of God lingering from yesterday's service or if the presence I felt was from my praying over the parking lot, the church, the stained-glass windows, the educational buildings or the children's playground. What I can say is: "Jehovah-Shammah" which means the presence of the Lord was there (Ezekiel 48:35).
May the presence of God linger on and around that church so much so that when the people arrive they too witll feel the lingering presence of God.
God's Presence or God's Presents
In the presence of God is the fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11)
God is a holy God. Therefore, we should come into God's presence the way Moses did. Moses was told to take off his shoes because the ground he stood on was holy ground. The taking off of his shoes was an act of humility, reverence and respect. (Exodus 3:4-5)
When Isaiah was in God's presence, he said, "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips." (Isaiah 6:5) We remember our sins when we come into God's presence. But God is a forgiving God. Confess your sins and God will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
In the presence of God is the fullness of joy. In order to experience the fullness of that joy, we should be willing to come into God's PRESENCE and enjoy HIM for who He is without requesting His PRESENTS, the things He can give us.
The Eyes Have It
Keep me as the apple of your eye. (Psalm 17:8)
The apple of one's eye is a metaphor for the center or pupil of the eye. The highly sensitive pupil is guarded by our eyelids because damage to the pupil could result in blindness. We are precious to God and God is as close to us as the pupil is to the eye. (And you can't get any closer than that). God protects us just as the pupil of the eye is protected.
Last week I visited my optometrist who did a thorough examination of my eyes. With her modern equipment, she photographed the inside of my eyes and compared them to the last major checkup. There was absolutely no change because God has kept me as the apple of His eye.
As the optometrist explained in detail what we were seeing, she was amazed and thought it was quite funny that in one eye the veins were in the shape of a little stick man walking. While she saw it from a doctor's point of view, I saw the theology in it. Even the eyes have it. While I am the apple of God's eye, He is also the apple of my eye.
The eyes definitely have it!
In God's Face
As for me, I will see your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness. (Psalm 17:15)
Do you remember a time when you were closer to God than you are now? Do you remember a time when you were right up there in God's face? What happened to cause a gulf between you and God? If you are not in God's face now as you used to be, it is because one of you moved? Surely, it wasn't God. He is where He has always been, and He longs for you to be with Him again . . . right up there in His face.
Perhaps you are at the point in your life when you are saying like David, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? " (Psalm 13:1) If that is the case, know that God has not hidden His face from you. You are still the "apple of His eye." (Psalm 17:8) However, you feel disconnected from Him because you have allowed something or someone to distract you, and your eyes are no longer focused on the face of God.
While we know God's doesn't have a face, being in God's face simply means being in God's presence in the most intimate way. Being in God's face means being personal and up close. Being in God's face means focusing on Him even while we are doing other things. Being in God's face means letting the God in us rise up and dominant our lives in every area.
What can we do to get back in God's face or to get in God's face if we've never been there before? First of all, let's admit that we are not as close to God as we should be. Then let's be diligent about applying the spiritual disciplines to our lives. What are the spiritual disciplines?
- Praying without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Praising and Worshipping God for who He is. (Psalm 146-150)
- Thanking God for what He has done and for what He will do. (Psalm 100)
- Reading and Studying God's word. (2 Timothy 2:15)
- Meditating on God's word night and day. (Joshua 1:8)
- Fasting to hear from God and to let Him know we are serious. (Isaiah 58)
- Confessing the sin that caused the chasm between us and God. (1 John 1:9)
- Obeying God's word. (James 1:22)
Notice eight spiritual disciplines are listed above. Eight is the number of new beginnings. We can begin again when we apply ALL eight disciplines consistently. Then and only then will we be able to walk across the bridge through Jesus Christ and be back in God's face in no time at all. And "God will be merciful to us and bless us and cause His face to shine upon us."
Crying and Crying Out
In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears. (Psalm 18:1. See also 18:41; 30:2; 30:8; 31:2; 34:6; 77:1; 81:1; 81:13; 107:6; 107:13; 107:19; 138:3; 145:5)
Did you know that there is a major different between crying and crying out? Crying is the act of shedding tears over something that causes you intense pain either physically or emotionally. Crying is sounding the alarm outwardly for what aches inwardly. Crying is a natural and healthy response. It is like a baptism of the soul. Usually one feels better after a good cry whether the pain is gone or not. However, crying can be just crying and not a crying out.
On the other hand, crying out is a desperate plea for help which may or may not be accompanied by tears. Sometimes the two must go together in order for one to obtain inner peace.
The Bible records only three times when David cried. It was not over the death of his son who was born out of the adulterous affair with Bathsheba. He refused to cry over the death; however, he did cry when the baby was ill. (2 Samuel 12:22) David cried over the death of his oldest son Absalom (2 Samuel 18:33) and over the death of his friend Jonathan (2 Samuel 1). Conversely, David cried out to God throughout most of the 73 psalms that he wrote.
In the midst of our crying, we should also cry out to God. Then we will be able to say like David, "In the day when I cried out, you answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul." (Psalm 138:3)
"Give Me My Space"
He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me. (2 Samuel 22:20; Psalm 18:19).
Most of the psalms David wrote appear in the book of Psalms based on his experiences recorded in 1 and 2 Samuel. The entire chapter of 2 Samuel 22 is a psalm of praise that is repeated in Psalm 18. Both 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18 record David's praise after he was delivered from the hand of all his enemies. First, David acknowledges who God is. Secondly, he gives examples of God's goodness. Thirdly, he gives the reason God showed him favor: "He delivered me because he delighted in me."
God showed favor and kindness to David not because of God's general provision that we all get. God showed special favor to David because David enjoyed sweet communion with God. David's life was spared in many instances, and God blessed him in extraordinary ways with deliverance and space. David was especially thankful because God brought him into a large place.
What's so important about a large place? Space was a result of God's favor because David had been hiding in caves and strongholds as he ran from his enemies. David needed room to thrive. He needed room to move about.
Prison cells are small to confine, to constrain and to constrict. When prisoners misbehave, they are sent to solitary confinement as a harsher punishment where the space is even smaller. We often tell people, "Give me my space" because no one wants to be hemmed in. Space is needed for a healthy environment that will promote growth.
You have probably never thought of space as being part of God's favor. If you are in a large space (physically or metaphorically), thank God. If you are not in a large space, pray the Prayer of Jabez that God will "enlarge your territory." (1 Chronicles 4:10). Also, remember that being in a large place is the result of God's delight in you.
We are Mirrors
To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. (Psalm 18:25-26)
Did you know that the way people see us determines the way they treat us? In the above two verses, David gives four attributes of character: faithful, blameless, pure and crooked. Whichever of these characteristics we allow in our dealings with God and with others, God calls forth that same aspect toward us. In other words, we are mirrors and the image we reflect comes back into our lives.
The mirror doesn't make the determination about what is good or bad. It sees what it sees and produces that image. If you want God and others to see you as faithful, then you MUST be faithful. If you want God and others to see you as blameless, then you MUST be blameless. If you want God and others to see you as pure, then you MUST be pure. If you show yourself crooked, that's the way God and others will see you.
As you live, move and have your being, know that everything you do is mirrored back to you . . . good or bad. Show yourself to God and others in the aspect you want manifested in your own life.
How God Deals With Us
To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. (Psalm 18:25-26)
It is easy to understand what the psalmist is saying about God in reference to our faithfulness to Him. In other words, when we are faithful God shows Himself faithful. It is much like a mirror image. To those who are blameless, God shows Himself blameless. To those who are pure, God responds in a like manner. How can the psalmist say God is shrewd?
First of all, the psalmist did not say God was shrewd. The psalmist said "but to the crooked God shows Himself shrewd." Again, it is a mirror image. Though God's righteous character means He is not crooked, deceptive, or shrewd, He will still deal with people in ways that relate to the way they deal with Him.
If you want God to be faithful toward you, be faithful toward Him. If you want God to be blameless toward you, be blameless toward Him. If you want God to be pure toward you, then be pure toward Him.
Remember this: No one can outsmart God . . . not even crooked and shrewd con artists!
Facing Brick Walls
For by you I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall. (Psalm 18:29)
No matter how much you try to plan for unforeseen things, something expectantly will come up. No matter how much you try to do the right thing the right way, inevitably you will face brick walls. Brick walls appear in your life in two ways: by your own wrong choices and by the choices imposed upon you by others. Amazingly however, you can face your brick wall the same way no matter how you came upon it or how it came upon you.
How, then, do you break through, break down, crawl through or leap over your own personal brick wall? Know this: You cannot do it alone. You cannot handle your brick wall in your own strength. Identify your wall. What is the barrier that is separating you from what you are seeking? Face your wall even if you have to deal with it one brick at a time.
Make sure there is no wall between you and God because it is God who will show you what to do with your brick wall. Listen to Him carefully since He does not require all of us to handle our walls the same way. God told Joshua and his men to walk around the walls of Jericho and shout, and the walls came tumbling down. (Joshua 6:20) God told Ezekiel to dig into the wall and use the hole as a doorway. (Ezekiel 8:8) David was assured that with God's help he could run through troops and leap over a wall. (Psalm 18:29)
God might tell you to handle your wall a different way. Even so, this is a surety: You will NEVER be able to handle it on your own. The method depends on God and His perfect wisdom. Listen to God's instruction and do what He says!
Complaints or Compliments Department
Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord... (Psalm 18:49)
Have you ever wondered why most stores have complaints departments but no compliments department? There is a simple explanation. Most people are more eager to complain about poor service than they are eager to rejoice about excellent service. Therefore, stores expect complaints. Perhaps, if compliments departments were available, customers would certainly utilize them.
We, as Christians, do not have to wait until such a department is designated. There should be something inside of us that prompts us to show our thanks and gratitude first to God and then to God's people. Let's send a note, make a call, or express our thanks in some form to the people who serve us without fail. People need to be validated. People need to know they are appreciated. People need to know they are making a difference in your life.
How many times have you shown appreciation to those who make your life easier and more pleasant? Sure you pay the cleaners for their services, but a word of thanks or a note of appreciation goes a long way. What about the pizza delivery person who makes your deliveries on time? the newspaper delivery person? your auto mechanics? your dentist? your barber? your co-workers? your boss? your pastor? your teacher? etc.?
Three are pleased by your compliments: God, the recipient, and you! Let's compliment more and complain less.
A Piece of Work
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
Have you ever heard the statement: "He is a piece of work"? What does it mean to be a piece of work?
According to the WORLD, "a piece of work" is someone who is different in some way. A person who is labeled "a piece of work" is someone who has some unique qualities about him or her. These unique qualities are not always positive ones. Nevertheless, they make the person possessing them "a piece of work." According to the Urban Dictionary, "a piece of work" is someone whose stupidity and ignorance never fail to amaze you.
According to the WORD, every one of us is "a piece of work." We are all a piece of God's handiwork. Everything who God has made is marvelous in his sight. Psalm 139:14 says, "I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well."
The next time someone describes you as "a piece of work," smile back and say, "You're right, I am a piece of God's handiwork."
Your Key to Being Transformed
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:7-9)
The Word of God is perfect. It transforms the soul.
The Word of God is sure. It makes us wise.
The Word of God is right. It gives us joy.
The Word of God is pure. It reveals things to us.
The Word of God is clean. It endures because it is untouched by sin.
The Word of God is true. It gives us knowledge to live the Christian life.
When we study the Word of God we are transformed. Our soul becomes converted. We are made wise. We rejoice in our hearts. We are enlightened by what is revealed to us. Because the Word of God is untouched by sin, it never changes. It endures forever. The Word of God is the truth that we can't find on our own.
Study your Bible today and experience a transformation within!
God's Word is Perfect, Sure, Right, Pure, Clean, Enduring, True and Righteous
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:7-10)
When we think of the law, we often think of something that keeps us in bondage. But here we see that the law of the Lord liberates us instead. Why? Because it is so perfect that it revives us. It is so sure that it makes us wise. It is so right that it makes our hearts glad. It is so pure, it gives light to our eyes. It is so clean, it lasts forever. Yet the law of Lord warns us and also rewards us. How can all these things be true about God's word? God's laws are guidelines and lights for our path, rather than chains for our hands and feet. They warn us of danger but also guide us to confident living.
What is God's word doing for you?
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
According to the dictionary, a teleprompter is a device used for unrolling a magnified script in front of a speaker. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have a spiritual teleprompter in front of us every time we opened our mouth to speak?
If that were the case, then we wouldn't say anything that humiliates, offends, embarrasses or hurts anyone. If we had a spiritual teleprompter, we would always let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart be acceptable to God.
It would be so good to have a spiritual teleprompter, but guess what? We do. We have a spiritual teleprompter known as the BIBLE. If we hide the word of God in our heart, then we will not sin against God, against others or against ourselves. (Psalm 119:11)
Check your spiritual teleprompter at all times because you will be judged for every word you speak. (Matthew 12:36)
Forgotten or Unintentional Sins
Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults. (Psalm 19:12)
Was it a sin to steal a piece of penny candy from the candy store when you were six years old? Yes, it was. Does God still hold you responsible for that sin after all these years now that you are 50 or 60? Does God hold us accountable for past sins we have forgotten or for unintentional sins? Good questions, don't you think?
We have committed hundreds of sins, and sure we have forgotten to confess some of them. We have failed to confess rolling our eyes and sucking our teeth at our parents, teachers and others in authority. We have failed to confess lying to our employers when we called in sick and we weren't really sick. We have failed to confess sins we didn't even know were sins. What do we do with those sins? Are we perpetually out of fellowship with God because we forgot to confess them?
When we prayed "the sinner's prayer" and confessed Jesus as our Savior, all our past sins were forgiven. That takes care of stealing the piece of penny candy when we were six years old. But what about the sins we have committed since we have been saved? First John 1:9a says, "If we confess our sins, God will forgive us." What about the sins we committed that we have forgotten or aren't aware they are sins? First John 1:9b says, "and God will cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness." God cleanses us from anything that would prevent a believer from being right with God. Note the word "all." God will never overlook the slightest bit of unrighteousness in us, but He will cleanse the slightest unrighteousness. God cleanses us from all overt and covert sins. He cleanses us from conscious sins and from unwitting sins. In His cleansing, He takes care of sins of commission and omission. The point of cleansing us from all unrighteousness is that if we confess the sins we know, God will forgive us of the sins we forget to confess. This is grace upon grace.
In the above scripture, the psalmist says, "Cleanse me from my hidden faults." In other words, pardon my unknown sins, of which I never repented particularly, as I should have done.
Ideally, we should keep short accounts and confess our sins as we commit them. However, if we forget to do so, we could ask God to bring them back to our remembrance so that we can confess them. We should not intentionally let our sins pile up over time and then send God a form letter saying, "Forgive me for all my sins." But this writer believes that if we keep a penitent heart, God will not withhold His forgiveness from us because we forgot to repent for stealing that piece of penny candy from the candy store decades ago.
Just in case you remember stealing the candy, confess it, send the candy store owner the penny and get on with serving God.
Watch Your Language!
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Words are powerful whether spoken from your mouth are in the privacy of your heart. Negative words can cut and destroy and even release evil and negative forces into your life. Positive words release good and positive forces into your life and in the lives of those around you. Replace negative thoughts and words with those that are positive.
Your words reveal what is in your heart. The kinds of words that come from your mouth is an indication of what your heart is really like. Let your words be acceptable to God by knowing that what you say to God's children is in essence what you are really saying to God.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Would your conversations be different if you knew that your words and thoughts were examined by God first? We should ask God to approve our words and thoughts as though they were offerings brought to the altar.
Every time we open our mouths to speak, we should know that our words and our thoughts are acceptable and pleasing to God. Today and every day, let God's love guide us to say the right words and to think the right thoughts.
Meditation is Medication
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Meditation is the practice of reflecting or contemplating. The word "meditation" or its verb form "to meditate" is found mostly in the Old Testament. The Hebrew words behind this concept mean "to sigh," "to groan." The truly blessed people are those who meditate on God's word day and night; those who take it as medicine on a daily basis. Also, the psalmist prays that the meditation of his heart would be acceptable by God. Joshua was instructed to meditate on the Book of the Law night and day for the purpose of obeying all that was written in it (Joshua 1:8).
For us today, meditation means "to study," "to ponder," "to mull over," "to reflect upon," and "to think deeply and continuously about." "Medi" is also part of the word "medicine." Therefore, meditate on God's word day and night because it is medicine for your soul.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
An acronym is a word (as NATO, JAG, CLEP) formed from the first letter of each of the major parts of the word is spelled out. NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization, JAG (the television show) stands for Judge Advocate General. CLEP stands for College-Level Entrance Program. MASH, the old television show stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. SAT stands for Scholastic Assessment Test. SOL stands for Standards of Learning. Remember a true acronym is a real word instead of a combination of unrelated letters. However, some commonly used acronyms do not spell real words such as FAQ for "Frequently Asked Questions" and FYI that means "For Your Information."
An acronym saves time and space in writing, but when writing it or saying it, we must make sure people understand our acronyms. Acronyms are different from abbreviations such as P.O. for Post Office, or St. for Saint or Mt. for Mount or U. S. A. for United States of America. However, US for United States is an acronym because it spells a word.
There are biblical and religious-related acronyms that most Christians know. FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. PUSH means Pray Until Something Happen. My church is New Canaan Baptist Church and we say we are in the land flowing with milk and honey. Each person is affectionately called a GEM. Why is each person called a GEM? The G stands for Giant Slayer, the E stands for Earth Shaker and the M stands for Mountain Mover.
Other religious-related acronyms include . . .
IF means "I Fail"
DEBT means "Doing Everything But Tithing"
EGO means "Easing God Out"
ASK means "Ask, Seek, Knock"
JOY means "Jesus, Others, Yourself"
FOG means "Favored Of God"
ACTS means "Acknowledge, Confess, Thank, Supplicate"
E-Mail me any other religious acronyms that you know. (The E in E-mail means "Electronic" or well as the E in E-Messages).
By the way, ACRONYM stands for "Abbreviated Coded Rendition Of Name Yielding Meaning." That's true. I did not make it up!
Sometimes we use acronyms so frequently that we forget what the letters stand for. For instance, do you know what ZIP in ZIP Code means? Take this Acronyms Quiz to find out what ZIP means as well as to test your knowledge on other well-known acronyms.
What Does God Think About Success?
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed? (Psalm 20:4)
Is it a guarantee that those who serve God will be successful? The answer is both "Yes" and "No." If we define success the way God defines it, then the answer is "Yes." If we define success the way the world defines it, then the answer is "No."
God defines success in terms of love, joy, peace and the other fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) What God guarantees is that when we seek Him wholeheartedly, we will enjoy the success found in the source of all things and that is God Himself. When we seek success without God, we might gain material possessions that satisfy only temporarily.
It is interesting that when we seek God, we will find success. However, when we seek success, we don't necessarily find God.
If you want to be successful both spiritually and materially, seek God! (Matthew 6:33)
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)
Trusting God means placing our complete confidence in Him. Trusting God means depending totally on God. Trusting God means believing He can protect and provide for us. Trusting God means taking Him at His word and letting our life line up with His word. We encounter problems of all kinds when we trust God rather than putting our trust in people and worldly riches. Most of our problems can be avoided if we trust wholeheartedly in God. Those who are blessed are the ones who depend exclusively on God and God alone.
The primary problem with most people is "misplaced dependency." When we depend on everything other than God, then we have our faith and trust in the wrong place. When we trust in others and in things, and they disappoint us, then our misplaced dependency causes us to be depressed. On the other hand, when our dependency is not misplaced but is on God, then we are blessed beyond measure.
Is your dependency in the right place? If not, take time to put it where it belongs. . . in God! "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).
When God Seems Far Away
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. (Psalm 22:3)
It is so amazing that when things are going well, we say, "God is present in my life." If God is present in your life when things are going well, where is God when things are NOT going well? Did God move or did you?
It is easy to feel God's presence in church on Sunday when you are praising God along with everyone else on cue, but what about the midnight hour when you toss and turn because of the many problems you are facing? Where is God then? Why does He seem so far away?
God does not leave us in times of trouble. In fact, God is nearer to us in those times, but because of our preoccupation with self, we don't recognize His presence. What then do you do when God SEEMS far away? The answer is quite simple. According to the above scripture, "God inhabits the praises of His people." It is at that time when God seems far away that we should praise him even more. Yes, it is difficult to praise God in the time of sadness, turmoil and grief. But it is at those times when praising God is of utmost importance. When we give God the sacrifice of praise is when He shows up more powerfully. The sacrifice of praise is praising God in spite of what's going on. It is praising God when we really don't feel like it. It is praising God when we are alone. We don't have to be part of a praise team to praise God. We don't have to wait until the minister says, "Give God a hand clap of praise." We don't have to wait until a whole group is present to praise God. Let's praise God even if no one is watching!
What are you to do when God seems far away? Call on His name and exalt Him through praise. By the time you get to the end of your praise session, you will wonder where you got such a thought that God was far way.
Psalms vs. Proverbs
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. (Proverbs 10:4)
Our Bible includes 150 psalms. These psalms are a collection of prayers, poems, and hymns that focus on the worshiper's thoughts about God in praise and adoration. David wrote 73 of the psalms. Other psalmists include Moses, Solomon, Asaph, and Sons of Korah. Fifty of the psalms are anonymous.
Our Bible includes 31 chapters of Proverbs even though Solomon is attributed to having written 3,000 proverbs. In the 31 chapters included in our Bible, Solomon mentions 180 different types of people. See if you can find yourself there. If you can't, read what he wrote about liars.
The Psalms and Proverbs are quite different. The Psalms are vertical to God. The Proverbs are horizontal about people. The Psalms are divine counsel whereas the Proverbs are practical counsel. The Psalms include God's commands, while the Proverbs include human opinions. While the Psalms are prayers, the Proverbs are merely wise sayings.
Both the Psalms and Proverbs have value. If you want to know God, feel God's presence and have a better relationship with God, read the Psalms. If you want to know yourself and have a better relationship with others, read the Proverbs. At some point in your life, read all 150 Psalms and all 31 chapters of Proverbs.
I Shall Not Want
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
Psalm 23 is a very familiar passage from the Bible. It is heard in worship services, in litanies, at funerals, and on the lips of Christians when comforting others and even when trying to find comfort themselves.
What does it means to say, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want?" With a careful study of Psalm 23, one can readily see that since the Lord is your shepherd, you have everything you need — food, drink, rest, and shelter. All your basic needs are met. It is to say, "I am taken care of; provided for; protected and loved."
Testimony of A Sheep
The Lord is my Shepherd. (Psalm 23:1)
Psalm 23 is the most universal of the psalms. It is read at funerals, weddings, in hospitals over the sick or recited by individuals for comfort during times of distress. This short psalm of only 6 verses and 15 lines is familiar to the young and the old.
Sometimes when something is familiar, it is taken for granted. Every time we recite Psalm 23, we should enjoy it just as much as when we first learned it. Also, each time we recite it, we should learn a little bit more about it as it resonates within our spirit.
During our Wednesday Night Bible Study on January 30, 2008, I will explain Psalm 23 in detail from the perspective of the sheep because it is a testimony of the sheep instead of the shepherd as some people think. The shepherd never speaks in Psalm 23. The psalm is divided into two distinct parts. The first part is a testimony of the sheep as he talks ABOUT the shepherd. Then there is an obvious change in the second part as the sheep talks TO the shepherd. The life application for all of us from this psalm is that as long as we know the Lord is our Shepherd, surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives. The word translated "follow" in our English language is weak. Actually in the original Hebrew language, the psalmist is saying surely goodness and mercy shall "pursue" us and "overtake" us all the days of our lives.
The Lord is NOT Everybody's Shepherd
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
Many people consider Psalm 23 to be their favorite. In fact, some can quote verbatim this familiar psalm. However, the psalm takes on meaning only when you have actually made Jesus the Lord of YOUR life. Salvation is one thing, but surrendering all to have Jesus be the Lord of your life is something else. For instance, you have confessed your sins and believe in your heart that Jesus is your Savior. For Him to be Lord of your life, you need to surrender your entire life over to Him and let Him "make you lie down in green pastures." You have to allow Him to "lead you beside the still waters." When the Lord is in control of your life, you allow Him to let His "rod and staff comfort you" instead of relying on other things for comfort.
A shepherd is one who is in charge of His sheep. If you are living by your own standards, then you cannot say, "The Lord is my shepherd." Unless you allow God to take total control, you cannot say truthfully that "The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything that I need."
He restoreth my soul . . . (Psalm 23:3)
No matter how much we love God, honor Jesus and are guided by the Holy Spirit, at some time in our lives we will need to be restored. Our spirits will need to be renewed. Even David who was a "man after God's own heart" needed restoration. He needed to be reviled, to be renewed, to get a better leash on life that could happen only when his soul was restored. In Psalm 42:6, David said, "O my God, my soul is cast down within me." At times in our lives, we are like David. We cry out to God and ask the questions, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?"
When your soul is cast down, place your hope and care with the Shepherd. He will lead you like a lost sheep by the rivers of waters. And before long, you will be able to say with surety, "He restoreth my soul."
A Character Glitch
He restoreth my soul. (Psalm 23:3)
A "glitch" is usually a small or minor malfunction, mishap or irregularity. It could be a false signal caused by an unwanted surge of power. We know about computer glitches, but do you know there are also character glitches? A character glitch is similar to a computer glitch in that it is something which causes you not to operate in the fullness of God's blessings. A character glitch is a false signal which makes you operate by a power other than the power of the Holy Spirit. A character glitch is a flaw in one's character that might be so minute that it cannot be detected with the physical eyes. However, God knows it's there and so do discerning Christians.
A character glitch should be corrected as soon as it is discovered. For if it continues, your life will not operate properly just as a computer glitch will cause a computer not to operate to its full capacity. While the major things can be accomplished, the detailed functions are inoperable because of the glitch.
When a computer is malfunctioning you can take it to a computer technician to be fixed. Who can fix a character glitch? Only God. Only God can take a sinner and turn him into a saint. Only God can fix blind eyes and heal broken hearts. Only God can turn a persecuting Saul into a preaching Paul. Only God can take your character glitch and use it for His glory . . . if only you would let Him.
Turn your character glitches over to God right now so that He can renew you, restore your soul and make you whole again.
Confidence in God
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)
Death is not something that Christians have to fear, because for them death is not the end of the story. It is the gateway in a place of indescribable joy and beauty. It's the beginning of a new life. As you spend time in the Bible and with other Christians who have the same hope you do, you will grow to realize that death is only a door to an eternity far better than you could ever imagine.
My invalid mother walked through that door this morning around 6:45 a.m. She has gone from labor to reward. For her it is not the end of the story. The story continues — not on earth, but in heaven. Hallelujah!
Yea though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)
Have you ever heard the expression, "between a rock and a hard place"? Well, actually that's not such a bad place to be, especially when that Rock is Jesus. When you are between Jesus and a crisis, just step aside and let Jesus handle the situation. It is bound to get better.
Whenever you walk THROUGH the valley of shadow of death you will reach the other side. Two words are important in the scripture . . . "when" and not "if." From time to time in your life you WILL go through certain things that you might not be able to handle alone. Secondly, the word "through" lets you know you will come out on the other side.
The important message you should glean from the above scripture is that whenever you are walking through a valley, you have come down from one mountain and are heading for another. A valley is merely the space between two mountaintops. There is value in the valley. This may be the time in your life when God is preparing you to climb your next mountain. So don't despair when you are between two mountains. Reflect on the mountain you have down and look forward to the higher one God is preparing you to climb.
If This Were Your Last Week On Earth
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
This is Holy Week. This is Passion Week. This is the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. This week represents Jesus' final week on earth. Why is it called "passion" week? "Passion" is simply the translation of a Greek word that means "suffering."
All four gospels record how the last week of Jesus' life was busy before He suffered on the cross. He knew He was approaching the cross; yet He did not sit down to mourn. He did use a portion of that last week to stay with friends in Bethany (Matthew 26:6). He continued to work for the kingdom during the last week just as He had done His whole life. In fact, He picked up the pace a bit. He again chased the money changers out of the temple (Matthew 21:12); something He had also done at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:13). He cursed the barren fig tree (Matthew 21:18). He told more parables about the kingdom of God (Matthew 21:28ff). He had a final meal with His disciples in the upper room where He washed the disciples' feet and instituted the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:17). Jesus had a busy week.
What would you do if you knew this was your last week on earth? Would you be busy getting things in order or would you grieve with regrets for what you haven't done? Would you take the time to visit friends? Would you take the time to get things in order so your family wouldn't have to deal with chaos after your death? Would you go on a shopping spree just for the thrill of it knowing that you wouldn't be around when the bills came in the mail? Would you seek to find those you have mistreated to ask for their forgiveness? Would you forgive those who have mistreated you?
What would you do if you knew this was your last week on earth? This might be a tough question, but it is one we all should consider. We should live every week as if it were our last week because it just might be. We should live as though our soul might be required of us at any moment because it just might be.
Live as if Jesus has said to you, "Today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
Worst Tragedies-Best Triumphs
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death... Surely goodness and love will follow me all the day of my life. (Psalm 23:4; 6 NIV)
Many of us have faced tragedies in our lives. Initially, we thought we would never get over them. But with time and God's goodness and love, we have overcome those tragic situations. Surely, when we go through devastating experiences we tend to focus more on the situation than on the One who will bring us through it.
From the Bible we see many people who went through the valley of the shadow of death before they saw the mountain in front of them. Let us, too, know that the valley is just the space between two mountains. We have come down from one and are moving toward another. Many times there is a higher one to climb. But it will be worth it.
Also, it helps to know that a tragedy is just the prelude to a great triumph! Think back to times when you encountered a tragic situation. Didn't something great follow it? If you are going through a tragic situation, admit it and then know that your pain will not last forever.
If it is raining in your life, know that the storm is almost over. Look out for the rainbow that is sure to appear soon. If you are struggling with something right now, think of the butterfly that was once a caterpillar that struggled through its cocoon. If it had given up, it would not have brought joy and beauty to the world.
Notice how your worst tragedies can turn out to be your best triumphs!
Move Forward; Not Backward
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. (Psalm 23:4)
We should thank God when we are going through something. We should thank God when we are in the middle of something. Being in the middle of something simply means what lies ahead is proportion to what lies behind.
Let's imagine you have swum to the middle of an ocean. Even though you are tired and want to give up, it will take just as much energy and effort to swim back as it will to swim forward. You know what's behind you; the good, the bad and the ugly. You might fear to swim forward because of the unknown. That's where your faith must take over your fear and you should keep moving forward.
Your destiny might be on the other side of that next big wave. However, you will never know it unless you keep swimming forward and not backward.
Is Your Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
My cup runneth over. (Psalm 23:5)
Most of us remember the question, "Do you see the glass half full or half empty?" The reality of this question is that some liquid is definitely missing from the glass while some liquid remains. The question then becomes "What's missing?" or "What's remaining?"
This is an excellent concept to explore when you are having problems of any kind. If you are evaluating a bad marriage or a dying relationship, ask yourself if there are enough nutrients remaining to compensate for what's missing. Is anything left to be savaged?
Before you leave your dead-end job, evaluate what's missing and what's still present. Is there enough good remaining to compensate for what's missing?
Look at your problems today. If they were in a glass, would the glass be half empty or half full? Look at God's promises today. If they were in a glass, would the glass be half empty or half full? Mix God's promises with your problems and allow Him to make up the difference. When God is your shepherd, you shall not want. You will be able to proclaim like the psalmist, "My cup [glass] runneth over." (Psalm 23:1, 5)
My Cup Runneth Over
You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (Psalm 23:5)
Psalm 23 is one of the most familiar of the psalms. It is usually read at funerals and on other special occasions. Even though short, Psalm 23 is power packed with images and details of how a shepherd takes care of his sheep by leading them beside the still waters and doing those other things shepherds do for sheep.
In the latter part of the psalm, the setting shifts to enemy territory. That happens to us from time to time. We end up in enemy territory. But David gives us good news. He says, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runneth over" (Psalm 23:5). Whether you are in a safe haven or in enemy territory, your cup should overflow. It should overflow with love for your enemies as well as for your friends. When love fills your cup, there is no room for hate. When your cup overflows, those on whom love falls will be lovely and lovable also.
Let your cup and your heart overflow with so much love that there is room for nothing else!
The Anointing Comes Before the Blessings
Thou anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (Psalm 23:5b)
In Psalm 23 we see how the shepherd takes care of his sheep. He makes them lie down in green pastures, he leads them by the still waters. He even anoints their heads with oil. This is done to refresh them and to soothes the scratches and wounds they had encountered along the way.
For priests, the anointing oil is symbolic of consecrating them for their work. For kings the anointing oil is associated with a coronation. Every believer is anointed with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. This anointing guarantees riches of blessings from God. Then the believer's cup can run over. It can overflow.
Take notice that the cup will not overflow until the anointing has taken place.
What is True Thanksgiving?
The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof: the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1)
Did you know that the first Thanksgiving came as a result a life of hardship? The Pilgrims actually set out for Virginia (that's where I live...smile) but they landed in New England. Their aim was to separate from the Church of England and establish their own Christian community. The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 because they recognized the goodness of God in the midst of their troubles. They had endured the worst adversity a people could face: hunger, diseases, death, bad weather conditions, failing crops and besides their enemies (the Indians) were hostile. Thanksgiving did not come as a result of easy living, but as a result of enduring hardships. The first Thanksgiving was observed to thank God for the bounty of the autumn harvest.
What, then, is true Thanksgiving? True Thanksgiving is not limited to a day on the calendar. We should be just as thankful on Friday as we are on Thursday. True Thanksgiving is far more than a day off from work. True Thanksgiving is far more than a holiday. True Thanksgiving is far more than a reason to gather together. True Thanksgiving is far more than eating, drinking and being merry.
True Thanksgiving is realizing that God has given us everything we have. True Thanksgiving is acknowledging the goodness of God in every area of our lives. Unless God is the central focus of our Thanksgiving, then is just a gathering under the disguise of Thanksgiving. But when we gather together with the main focus on God and what He has done, then we can embrace and celebrate TRUE THANKSGIVING.
"Morning Inspection" and "Morning Devotion"
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul into vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalm 24:4)
I attended a two-room schoolhouse. In one room the teacher taught grades 1-3, and in the next room another teacher taught grades 4-7. Without fail the first activity of the day was "Morning Inspection." Each teacher lined us up around the wall and literally inspected us to see if we were clean. The teacher checked our ears to see if any wax was in them. Our shoes and socks were also inspected. We were asked to stretch out our little hands so our fingernails could be checked to see if they were clean. Before we could take our seats, we had to show our teacher that we had a clean handkerchief for the day. After "Morning Inspection" was over, we were ready for "Morning Devotion."
"Morning Devotion" consisted of our teacher praying a brief prayer and each student reciting a verse from the King James Version of the Bible followed by a song. Some of those songs I haven't heard since I left that two-room schoolhouse, but I still hear them resounding in my mind from time to time. After "Morning Inspection" and "Morning Devotion" were over, we were then ready for the day's lessons.
I have been out of that two-room schoolhouse for over 40 years now, but I still continue "Morning Inspection" and "Morning Devotion." It is not done by my teacher but by my Teacher. I allow God to inspect my heart to see if there is any unrepented sin. He checks to see if I have put on the "whole armor of God." He checks my hands to see if I am ready to do His work for the day. He checks my feet to see if they are shod with the preparation of the Gospel. "Morning Devotion" still follows "Morning Inspection." Just as in that little country school house so long ago, I still recite my scripture, pray a prayer, sing a song before I can consider myself ready for the day.
I learned more than reading, writing, and arithmetic in that little two-room schoolhouse. What school memories do have? What godly habits do you still continue?
In the Right Position to Receive God's Blessings
He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalm 24:5)
How many of you know that God blesses us all the time? The problem lies in the fact that we are not always in the right position to receive from God. God sends His blessings to us in the south, but where we? In the north. God sends His blessings to us in the east, but where are we? In the west. There is no need to continue praying for God to bless you because He already does, and He will continue to do so. Begin to pray that you will be in the right position at the right time to receive from God.
We often think of position as being in a certain locality. The word position carries other meanings as well. One's position can be a place, a situation, a viewpoint, a preference or an attitude. One's position can be a social or official rank or status. One's position can be a job for which one has been hired.
The least thought about definition of position is "the act of placing or arranging things in order." This is the one definition that pleasures God because God is a God of order. Have you ever noticed that when you begin to unclutter your life, blessings seem to overtake you? Have you ever noticed that when you begin to position or set things in their proper place, what you have longed for begins to unfold before your very eyes.
If you want to be the recipient of all of God's blessings, begin right now to organize, systematize and arrange your life and the things in your life to please God. There really is a direct proportion between your position and receiving your blessings from God. In other words, you will receive when you are in the right position to receive.
What Can You Transfer?
The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)
We own nothing! Surprised? You shouldn't be! You own nothing, but God owns everything! He gives us everything we have...money, jobs, families, friends, good health, etc. These things belong to God, but He has given them to us to manage. What God continues to give us is in direct proportion to how well we take care of what He has already given us to manage.
Since God owns everything, we should be willing to transfer what He has given us back to Him. When we withhold what is God's anyway, we keep God from giving us greater things. Let this be a principle to live by this year. Begin transferring back to God that which is His anyway.
Lift up ye heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of Glory. (Psalm 24:9-10)
Glory is primarily a quality ascribed to God and His presence. The glory of God is His greatness and power. It includes splendor, beauty, magnificence, and radiance. Glory is an image of divine transcendence as it makes itself visible to people.
The glory of God combines awe and terror as it simultaneously invites us to come closer and to keep our distance. When Moses requests to see God's glory, it was so intense that God had to shield him from the full effect and Moses veiled his face (Exodus 33:18-23).
There are 50 references to the glory of God in the Psalms. The Psalm that epitomizes the glory of God is Psalm 24:7-10 where the glory of God is celebrated as God's presence is witnessed in worship. The King of Glory has been invited to join the congregation. And He does.
Invite God and His glory into your life. God responds to invitations!
Makai's Walking Strategy
Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow.” (Psalm 25:4)
No, Makai is not a biblical character. So don't feel condemned that you have not heard of him or seen his name in the Bible. Actually, it is a Hawaiian name. Makai is my 14 month old grandson whom I have been babysitting for the last month. Makai loves to walk outside. I've made a fascinating discovery. He is extremely careful where he walks. This morning when my daughter dropped Makai off, I said, "Terri, have you noticed Makai doesn't walk on the cracks on the sidewalk?" Terri said, "He used to not walk on grass." Those of you who know me know that I am going to write something theological about Makai's walking behavior and the conversation with my daughter. So here it is...
Like David in the above scripture, Makai is already cautious about where he walks. He pays close attention to where he is going. He takes notice if something is different in his path. He hesitates if there is a crack, a pebble or something that might cause him to slip, trip, stumble or fall. We all should be just as careful about where we walk. David didn't proceed until he received the guidance from God to do so. Makai literally stops and will not move until I take his hand and assure him that it is all right to continue walking.
Let's learn a lesson from Makai and not proceed when we sense danger in our path. Let's not move until God takes our hand and assures us it is the right path to follow. Let's hesitate and not proceed until we are assured that what lies in our path will not cause us to slip, trip, stumble or fall.
Examine the things in your path. Do not proceed until God assures you it is the right path to follow.
How To Be An Informed and Empowered Christian
Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation for you I wait all day long. (Psalm 25:4)
It is tragic that people who have confessed Jesus as their Savior and Lord have not moved beyond that first act of salvation. When people do not know Jesus and the power of His resurrection, there is nothing left for them to do but to act according to their own mind. Being uninformed Christians, they have a limited view of God and what He can do to enhance their lives.
Uninformed Christians are unempowered Christians! Rather than relying on God, they rely on themselves and the world...no power. Rather than seeking God’s will, they do things on their own...no power. Rather than following God and God’s timing, they allow the tail to wag the dog...no power. Their own best efforts simply add up to being uninformed and unempowered.
God wants us to be informed. God wants us to know about Him. God wants us to experience all that He has for us. We can become more informed about God through daily readings of the Scriptures and attending Bible Study. God wants us to be empowered. God wants us to bear fruit. God wants us to do exploits for Him through the power He gives us. (Daniel 11:32) We can become more empowered through prayer, fasting, and meditation.
Resolve to become more informed and more empowered by focusing more on the things of God.
What is Integrity?
May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you. (Psalm 25:21)
Integrity is a long-term character trait. We should be faithful, honest and true all the time and not just on special occasions toward selected people. We must be faithful to God not only at the start of our walk with Him, but through our entire lives.
Integrity is being what we say we are. In the above scripture, the psalmist combined integrity with uprightness. Uprightness makes us learn God's requirements and strive to fulfill them. Integrity keeps us from claiming to be upright while living as if we do not know God. Uprightness says, "This is the Shepherd's way." Integrity says, "I will walk with the Shepherd."
What is integrity? Honesty! Truth! Faithfulness! Trustworthiness!
One thing have I desired from the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple. (Psalm 27:4 KJV)
There are six (6) descriptions of David's desire embedded in the above scripture.
David's desire was SINGULAR
as is indicated by "one thing." David did not list his desires and rank them by importance. He did not have to narrow his choices because he was focused on one thing and one thing only. And that was intimacy with God.
David's desire was a SEEKING
desire. David went after what he wanted. He put action to his desire because he knew God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
David's desire was a DWELLING
desire. David wanted to live in the presence of God, to take up residency in the house of the Lord because he knew that "He who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1)
David's desire was an EVERLASTING
desire. He didn't merely want to visit. He wanted to spend all the days of his life in God's presence. He repeats what he had already said in Psalm 23:6, "I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
David's desire was a BEHOLDING
desire. To behold means to look and see. David wanted to see God face to face; to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord in His temple.
David's desire was an INQUIRING
desire. David's wanted to know the deep mysteries of God by asking God questions about Himself.
Like David, our one desire should be intimacy with God. Our desire should be singular, seeking, dwelling, everlasting, beholding and inquiring.
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)
There is something quite interesting about "one-thing" people. They know what they want and are determined to get it. Nothing can stand in their way. "One-thing" people is a description that does not mean these people want ONLY ONE thing in life, but their focus is on ONLY ONE thing so much so that everything they do and say is related directly or indirectly to that one thing. Make sure the one thing you focus on is not sinful because it will cause a ripple effect, and most of your life will be sinful. However, if the one thing you focus on is the same as the psalmist in the scripture above, then your life will gravitate to those things that are of God.
Narrow down your list and pinpoint the one thing in your life that you desire above everything else. Then evaluate that one thing that you are seeking. Hopefully, it is a closer and more intimate walk with God.
Limit Your List
One thing have I desired from the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. (Psalm 27:4)
Most of us are quite familiar with Psalm 27:1 that says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? In this opening verse, David establishes who God is before he states his desire.
In Psalm 27:4 David is quite emphatic about his ONE desire. Without giving a long list of things, he limits his list to only one thing. We should be like David. We should limit our list. We can limit our list when we know the value of this one thing. When we want material and worldly things, our list has to be extremely long because no one thing will bring us satisfaction. David knows the one thing he desires . . . to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. David's one thing should be our one thing as well. We should desire to dwell in the presence of the Lord all the days of our lives.
Let's become "one-thing" people by limiting our list to the one thing that gives us eternal enjoyment . . . a lasting relationship with God so that we can dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Only One Thing Is Needed
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seeK; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. (Psalm 27:4)
It is amazing how busy the human is. Everyone has myriad options of what to do and what not to do. Appointment books and calendars are full with every hour accounted for with something to do or someplace to go. When it comes down to the bottom line, we have filled our times with unnecessary goings and comings. We have done those things which have no lasting value. As Jesus tells his friend Martha in Luke 10:41-42, there are so many things that demand our attention and energy. While many things are certainly important, only one thing is needed.
Only one thing is needed. And that is a vital, constant fellowship with God. Stop putting God on the back burner only to seek Him after all other worldly things have been accomplished. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). David understood this principle and it became his deepest desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. More than anything else, he longed to be in the presence of God and to be guided moment by moment by God's perfect wisdom. Like David, that's the one thing I also seek. How about you? Is this the one thing you desire with your whole heart. If so, make David's prayer yours today. Ask this one thing of the Lord: that you may dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
Crying is Baptism of the Soul
Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. (Psalm 27:7)
Everyone has something that either makes them cry or makes them want to cry. No matter how big and strong we profess to be, there is something that causes us to shed tears. It could be over someone in our family who has died. It could be over past failures. It could be over uncertain plans for the future. It could be over insufficient funds. It could be over our enemies. It could be over a multitude of things. The bottom line is we have something that makes us cry.
David was a strong king. Yet, he admitted, "O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee. (Psalm 88:1) He admitted, "I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears, my eyes grow weary with sorrow; they fail because of my foes." (Psalm 6:6-7)
Crying is NOT a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with a good cry. It cleanses you. It is like a baptism of your inner being. So, go on and cry if you want to. The problem exists when you can't control what makes you cry.
David knew what to do about what made him cry. After David had a good cry, he admitted, "The Lord has heard my cry for mercy, the Lord accepts my prayer." (Psalm 6:9) David knew the joy that was in store for him after a good cry. Remember David was the one who said, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!" David knew without a shadow of a doubt that after a good cry at night, he could expect great joy in the morning.
So, go on and cry if you must. Cry to the God of your salvation. Your cries matter to God. And joy does follow a good cry!
Default to God
Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path... (Psalm 27:11)
Computers, televisions, and other modern equipment and appliances come with pre-set features. It is up to the buyer to leave the features alone or change the factory settings based on his own choices.
There are times in our lives when we change the default settings within us. Later we find out that our choices don't work properly or give us the best results. What are we to do in a case like that? Default to God.
Default to God when you don't know how to make the best decision. Since God knows the end result and the barriers along the way, it is always best to default to God. When you don't know which way to turn or which path to take, default to God.
God knows all about you and your features. After all, you were made in His Factory!
Don't be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and he will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous. Yes, wait and he will help you. (Psalm 27:14 TLB)
Perfect timing is crucial for success in anything we do. There is a right time to make a career change, to buy a new car or house, to close a business deal, to end or start a relationship or to begin a family. But did you know the right timing is equally significant in your spiritual walk? Do you realize God requires your patience and cooperation with Him to fulfill His plan for your life?
Perfect timing requires waiting on God. Waiting on God requires patience. Patience is a deliberate setting of the mind and heart to trust God to act when it is best for us. Usually a waiting period is to teach us some lesson or to train us for some specific task. This happened to Joseph, David, Moses, and other biblical witnesses. We miss God's blessings for our lives when we move ahead of Him or even when we lag behind. We need to move when God says move and stay put when God says to stay put (like the Israelites with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night). After all, God's timing is perfect for He knows what's ahead.
The Blessings of Delays
Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)
You have heard it said, "God's delays are not God's denials." But do you know there are blessings in God's delays? God has given us pledges and promises. However, we don't always see an immediate fulfillment of the promises. Why does God delay what He has promised?
Delays are assured parts of God's pledged blessings. God gave Abraham a promise of a son but delayed the birth of Isaac for 25 years. God didn't send a deliverer to the enslaved Hebrews in Egypt for 430 years. The birth of sons to barren women such as Sarah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth were certainly delayed. Why did God make them wait? And why does God make us wait?
The promised blessing may be delayed, but there are lesser blessings along the way. While Abraham was waiting for his son of promise, God kept him in His care providing him with other things. While the Hebrews were in slavery in Egypt, they were blessed in lesser ways. While the aforementioned women were barren for a long period of time, God gave them sons at the time when the sons could do their greatest works.
Abraham had every reason to give up. But he waited. And Isaac was born 25 years later. The Hebrews waited and continued to call out to God, and they were finally delivered out of Egypt 430 years later. The barren women waited, and their sons were born when they could make the greatest impact on the nation.
Has God promised you something and there is a delay? If so, don't ever think God has reneged on His promise. He is waiting until the most opportune time for His promise to be fulfilled. You must admit that in the meantime and in the between time, God has granted you lesser blessings along the way.
When will it be your turn to receive your promised blessing? It will be your turn when what you are waiting for will make the greatest impact on the world . . . Not a moment sooner and not a moment later.
"Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14)
How Long Is Your Night?
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
Admit it! You have taken the above scripture out of context and quoted only the second half about weeping enduring for a night, but joy comes in the morning. To get the full meaning and benefit out of God's word, it is imperative to read the whole scripture. Sometimes we need to read the whole paragraph, or even the whole chapter. This is just one of many scriptures that people tend to remember only the part that sounds good to their particular situation. There is a danger in taking scriptures out of context.
The real meaning of the above scripture when put back into its intended context is that God WILL get anger with us. Like a shot given by a doctor, the discomfort of God's anger lasts only a moment, but it is good for us in the long run. When God gets anger with us it is a sharp pain that warns us to turn around and go in the opposite direction. You might be thinking at this point that God doesn't get angry. Read the Old Testament when God poured out his wrath after stretching out His arm as far and as long as He could. When the Israelites did not turn from their wicked ways, God's wrath did come upon them.
However, the above scripture does give us good news. God's anger is for a brief time only, but His love is forever. Our weeping MAY last for a night, but joy does come in the morning. Our weeping doesn't HAVE TO last a night; it MAY or it MAY NOT. It depends on our response to God's anger and His love. Also, a night is not defined by a 12-hour period as we know it. A night could be 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months or even 5 years. God is not confined to time as we are. Therefore, our night depends on how long we allow darkness to remain in our lives and God's face to be turned away from us because of wickedness.
So, the next time you read this verse or hear someone quote it, remember the intended meaning . . . God's anger is brief, but His love is a life-time. The pain is real, but will turn to joy in the morning. The morning is when you let the light of God into your life.
Restoration and Joy
. . . and I will heal thee of thy wounds, says the Lord. . . (Jeremiah 30:17b)
. . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5b)
Restoration is a gift from God. God's capacity for restoring life might be a mystery to us and is beyond our understanding. Forest trees burn down and are able to grow back. Broken bones healed. Those who grieve are able to smile again. Depression and sadness are not permanent conditions. Our tears can be seeds that will grow into a harvest of joy because God is able to bring good out of bad situations.
When you are burdened by trouble in your life, know that several things are true:
- Your trouble is real. Don't deny it. Call it what it is, and pray along those lines.
- God has not left you comfortless no matter what you are going through.
- Your trouble just might be a way for God to get the glory through your life.
- Your time of sadness will end and you will find joy again.
Be patient while you wait. God's great harvest of joy is on its way. Hallelujah!
How Can We Say Thanks?
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. (Psalm 30:12)
Thankfulness should be the prime characteristic of a Christian's life. However, one of the first signs of rejecting God is failure to thank Him. So, how can we say thanks to God for who He is and for all He has done in our lives? When we think about it, there are four (4) aspects of thankfulness.
1. You can't help but give thanks to God when you remember what He has done.
2. It's a way of thanking God when you tell others about His goodness.
3. You show thankfulness by giving God the glory in everything.
4. You thank God when you give of yourself, your time and your resources to build the kingdom of God.
How can we say "thanks"? Let's start by doing the above four (4) things.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. (Psalm 31:5)
Most of us were taught that child's bedtime 18th century prayer: "Now I lay me down to sleep. . ." We probably didn't know what it meant, but we said it diligently every night before we closed our eyes to go to sleep. Every godly mother taught their children that prayer, and needless to say, some of us still repeat it each night.
Jewish mothers taught their children a similar prayer. Jesus knew that prayer because on the cross He said, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46) which are the direct words of Psalm 31:5. In essence, we say the same thing when we say, "I pray the Lord my soul to take." If we should die in our sleep, we ask God to accept us into His hands. (And what a mighty place to be!)
That prayer is a good bedtime prayer to pray before we drift off to sleep. During the day, we should let our lives line up with God's word so that we will be worthy of praying that prayer of consecration at night.
A Hiding Place
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble. (Psalm 32:7)
Have you ever done or said something that afterward you wanted to find a hiding place? You probably wanted to hide from the world, from God and from yourself. All of us have probably experienced such a feeling. We wanted to find a hiding place to regain our bearing, to do inventory on ourselves and to set goals for a new future. We might be able to escape seeing some people in the world for a while, but we can never hide from God and we can never escape from ourselves.
There is no hiding place, but there is a refuge where we can go to feel secure. The hiding place is not a place at all. It is a Person. The place we long to go is to God. God is our hiding place! God will take us in His bosom and preserve us from trouble.
Cries From the Heart
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7)
The Psalms are HYMNS about HIM. Located at the center of the Bible are cries from the heart of the psalmists who express every emotion: joy, happiness, pleasure, dismay, pain, sorrow, sadness, complacency, turmoil, trouble, and hope. These prayers, songs, and hymns of Old Testament people speak to us today as loudly as they spoke to those in biblical times.
These powerful poems are not all formulas to make pain and problems go away. They are poems of praise and worship of God which help us to get out of self and into God. You can find a psalm to match every emotion, mood or situation.
Read these Hymns about Him daily. Find a psalm that corresponds to your situation. And see how quickly you are transformed from your own problems to the strength and security of God Himself!
CHALLENGE: Read at least one psalm for the next 30 days and be amazed how they will strengthen you!
A Good Promise For The New Year
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you. (Psalm 32:8)
Today many of us will return to work, to school, or resume whatever it was that we were doing before we took a break for the Christmas and New Year Holidays. Let's not return without first asking God to prepare us to start off on the right foot with the right attitude for an enriching year.
One of the best scriptures I know for the beginning of this year is the one penned by David thousands of years ago when he affirmed God's promise to instruct us and teach us in the way we should go. God also promised that He would counsel us and watch over us.
May all of God's promises be remembered to give us peace when we are tormented, to give us courage when we are afraid, and to give us guidance in all that we do.
Be a Fence Around Me
Many of the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. (Psalm 32:10)
The song says, "BE a fence around me" not "build" a fence around me. The metaphor is Jesus Himself being a fence surrounding you to protect you and to keep you from all harm, hurt and danger. If Jesus built a fence around you, that wooden fence or even iron fence will eventually deteriorate. Since Jesus Himself is that fence around you, it will never become faulty or lose its power. When Jesus is that fence around you, you will enjoy everlasting peace and security knowing that no one can get to you without coming through Jesus Himself.
Let Jesus BE a fence around you to keep the good and righteous inside and to keep the wicked and ungodly things out.
If My Friends Could See Me Now
O how abundant is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you, and accomplished for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of everyone! (Psalm 32:19)
You have probably heard the song, "If My Friends Could See Me Now." The essence of the song is that things are much better than the friends could imagine. Perhaps some major developments have taken place in someone's life, and they want to let the friends know that God has blessed them. Saying, "If my friends could see now" is not necessarily a negative or boastful comment. The psalmist praised God for the abundant of His goodness. He admits that it is because of his fearing the Lord and taking refuge in Him. Therefore, God lets everyone see the fruitfulness of his life. The abundance of God's goodness is revealed in the sight of everyone!
Because of God's grace on your life and your spiritual growth, can you honestly say, "If my friends could see me now.”
God Is An Awesome God
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. (Psalm 33:8)
The word "awe" is so powerful that there is really no word to define it. The closest and most human definition of "awe" is "utter amazement; extreme wonder." The Bible uses the word "awe" only three times, and each time it appears in Psalms. God demonstrates His awe or amazement many times a day to every person. We do not always recognize and give God thanks for those things that are awesome. We tend to take them for granted because they happen so often.
Many times during the day we should stand in awe of God and the supernatural things He does. Only God can turn darkness into light. That's awesome! Only God can turn mourning into joy. That's awesome! Only God can cause us to go from rags to riches. That's awesome! Only God can change our sickness into health. That's awesome. Only God can change our failures into glowing success. That's awesome! Only God can transform our desire to do wrong into a burning desire to follow Him.
Christians Can Do Better. And Help Is On the Way"
Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)
Last night Senator John Kerry began his speech by saying, "I'm reporting for duty." Several times during his 55-minute speech to the nation he echoed, "America can do better. And help is on the way." Kerry said it last night, but the concept is all the way through the Bible. God expresses over and over again that His people can do better. He urges us to obey His commandments and keep His laws. He promises us over and over again that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
Kerry said, "Like Abraham Lincoln said, 'We don't want to claim God is on our side. We want to claim we are on God's side.'" Let us be on God's side. Let us report for Christian duty every single day of our lives. Let us know that Christians can do better. And help has always been available to us if we but seek God's face.
Kerry said it last night, but the psalmists said it thousands of years before! "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1-2)
Praise; Don't Beg!
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)
Do you not know that God responds quicker to praise than to begging? There is no place in the Bible that tells us to BEG God; however, we are told hundreds of times to PRAISE God. Praise is both a duty and a delight. (Psalm 63:3-8)
So, then, why do we beg God instead of praising God? We beg God because it is our way of letting God know we are serious. We fear that God will not provide for us and supply our every need. Therefore, we beg out of fear. When we beg, the focus is on us and our need. When we praise, the focus is on God and what He wants. Begging is a selfish act. Praising God is a better way; an easier way; a more effective way to get God's attention.
We beg because of fear. We praise because of faith.
If you want God to respond quickly to your voice, PRAISE, DON'T BEG!
What It Means To Magnify
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:3)
There are two key words in the above scripture: magnify and exalt. What does it means to magnify? To magnify means "to cause to be held in greater esteem or respect; to increase in significance; to enlarge in fact or in appearance; to ascribe greatness to or to intensify. in other words, to magnify means to make larger. In the case with God, no matter how big you think He is, magnify Him and make Him bigger in your mind and spirit. God is not a fine print God; God is a God in the largest boldest print you can imagine.
The word "magnify" is closely akin to "exalt." To exalt means "to cause to be held in greater esteem or respect; to elevate by praise or in estimation." We are commanded in the above scripture to think higher of God than we already do. We are commanded to elevate Him even higher with our praise.
Even when we magnify the Lord and exalt His name to the best of our ability, we will still fall short of expressing how great God is.
Bless the Lord
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)
What does it mean to "bless the Lord"? Throughout the Psalms, we read that the psalmist praised the Lord in all types of situations. Most of the time, we think of God blessing us, finding favor with us and giving us the desires of our heart. We are commanded to bless the Lord also.
When we bless the Lord, we give Him the highest praise — the praise of our lips. When we bless the Lord we extol Him. We lift Him up high by the words of our mouth. We praise Him because He is God. When we pray a prayer of thanksgiving, we thank God for what He has done for us. When we praise God, we acknowledge who He is. To bless God simply means to praise or to glory Him.
Praise The Lord Anyhow (PTLA)
His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)
The Bible often speaks of praising the Lord. There are many reasons to do so, but the one that is at the top of many of our lists is that "God inhabits our praises." (------------ ) God makes His presence known and come to where the praises are. When are we to praise the Lord? Continually!
Do you feel the joy of the Lord in your soul? Praise the Lord. Do you feel blank and empty inside . . . Praise the Lord anyhow (PTLA). Are your children, friends, and loved ones saved? . . . PTLA. Praise the Lord in advance for their salvation. Are your bills paid up-to-date? . . .PTLA. Praizes activates God's promise of plenty and supplying all our needs. Are you enjoying good health? . . . PTLA. Healing is received by faith, and praise is the language of faith. Is today going the way you want it to? . . . PTLA because this is the day the Lord has made. Do you have true friends who encourage you in times of testing? . . . PTLA because you have a friend in Jesus.
Whether things are going good or bad for you today . . . PTLA!
When God Seems Silent
O Lord, you have seen this: be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord. (Psalm 35:22)
Many of the great men in the Bible felt the pain and often times the anguish of God's silence. In the above scripture and several other times in the Psalms, David begs God not to remain silent. Abraham waited and waited for God to act, but God remained silent despite the fact that He had made a covenant with Abraham. God remained silent while Elijah hid in a cave. God remained silent throughout the round of speeches Job's friends had with Job and throughout Job's ordeal when he begged God to "show Himself." Habakkuh questioned God throughout his entire book. Yet God remained silent.
Between the Old Testament and the New Testament, God remained silent for 400 years known as the Intertestamental Period when God spoke to no prophet after Malachi. In Matthew 27:46, Jesus cried out from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" It is obvious that God was silent.
God was silent with the patriarchs to work a work in them. God made covenant promises, but He stood back, watched and waited to see how they would handle the "silent treatment." During the Intertestamental Period, God remained silent because of the disobedience of His people. Then John the Baptist came crying in the wilderness, and God broke His silence by sending Jesus. While Jesus was on the cross, God knew that in three days, He would break His silence and His glory would be revealed through the resurrection of Jesus.
Why does God sometimes seem silent in our own lives? What may seem like silence and inactivity to us is God allowing us the opportunity to listen to "the still small voice" and to see the provisions that He has made for us by faith. If God seems silent in your life right now, He is waiting to "break His silence" at a time that will do the greatest good. He is silent while He is preparing you to receive what He has in store for you.
If you feel that God is giving you the silent treatment, now would be a good time to trust in Him more than ever while remembering these points: Silence is not absence. Silence checks our trust level. And silence doesn't mean that nothing is happening.
Fret not because of evil doers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. (Psalm 37:1)
We should never envy people, even though some may be extremely popular or excessively rich. No matter how much they have, it will fade and vanish like grass that withers and dies. But those who follow God live differently from the wicked and, in the end, will have far greater treasures in heaven.
What the unbeliever gets may last for a while, but what the believer gets by following God will last forever.
You Must First Meet the Condition
Delight yourself also in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 NKJV)
You might rejoice when you read the above scripture. However, if you read the scripture closely, you will see that God does not automatically give you the desires of your heart. So meditate on this scripture closely before you begin to do cartwheels thinking God will give you whatever you desire.
Why won't God give you whatever you desire? God will not give you the desires of your heart even if you feel confident that you are serving Him to the fullest. Perhaps you are serving Him, but you are not meeting the condition of that scripture. The problem might lie in the fact that you do not delight yourself ALSO in the Lord. Perhaps you are doing ministry for the wrong reason. If you have wrong motives, God is not obligated to give you the desires of your heart. (James 4:3)
You must first make sure your desires are shaped by your delight in the Lord. Then God will keep His promise to give you the desires of your heart according to the condition attached to the promise.
By loving, serving and delighting yourself in the Lord, your desires will match His desires for you. Then your greatest desires will be manifested as your conform your life to His will.
It's Your Time
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
God said through the major prophet Isaiah, "They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength..." (Isaiah 40:31) God said through Job, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come." (Job 14:14) God said through the apostle Paul, "In due season, you shall reap if you faint not. (Galatians 6:9) Now God speaks through Luther Barnes and the Sunset Jubilaires on their "It's Your Time" CD to encourage those faithful ones who have endured and are yet holding on. Luther Barnes says, "It's your time!" May these words encourage you as they have encouraged me.
"You've been faithful. You've been true. And you've done all that you could do. And for your faithfulness, it's your time. You applauded for the rest. Now it's your time to be blessed. And for your faithfulness, it's your time. You've waited for so long. But you held on, and you were strong. And for your faithfulness, it's your time. You encouraged everyone else when you needed it for yourself. And I want you to know for your faithfulness, it's your time.
Narration: [This song is dedicated to all of you who have been working in the vineyard for the Lord for what seems like a lifetime. You have dreamed and you've worked towards things that you wanted to accomplish for yourself. But somehow your biggest goals always seem to be just out of your reach. But the Lord told me to tell you He knows who you are. Yes, He's seen your work, and He's also seen your tears. And He wants you to know today that you are not forgotten. He's here to reward you for all your faithfulness. For He said in His word if you will delight yourself in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart. In other words, not only will He give you what you need, but He promised to give you whatever you want. So don't get discouraged. So don't give up. Hang in there and prepare yourself for your blessing. It's your time now.]
You have waited for so long. But you held on. You were strong. And for your faithfulness...Because you hung in there when times got hard and when it seemed like nobody cared, you kept right on working, you kept right on doing good things and for your faithfulness, for your faithfulness, it's your time. It's your time. Thank you, Jesus! It's your time!" [From Luther Barnes and the Sunset Jubilaires "It's Your Time" CD]
This is dedicated to all of God's faithful servants who have been working and waiting, waiting and working. In the words of Luther Barnes . . . "IT'S YOUR TIME!"
One Reason You Do Not Get What You Want
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 NIV)
There is one simple reason we do not get what we want. We do not get what we want because "we do not know what we want." Let me prove this. If you say you want money, what do you do with it after you get it? You spend it. If you wanted the money, why did you get rid of it? What you wanted was not the money. You wanted what the money could buy. We shouldn't pray for money; that's secondary. We should pray for exactly what we want. For instance, if you need a car, don't pray for money to buy the car. Pray for the car; someone just might give you one. I have known that to happen. If you need money to pay a bill, pray for the bill to be taken care of. Someone just might pay the bill for you or the bill might be cancelled. I have known that to happen. We should pray for the primary thing we want instead of the secondary thing. When you identify specifically what you want as your primary source, then perhaps that thing will gravitate to you through God's divine order.
We need to identify EXACTLY what we want. In the above scripture, we are told that God will give us the desires of our heart, but we must first know what we desire. Hidden somewhere in the recesses of our heart are things we truly desire, but we are not sure what those things are. Have you ever thought you wanted a particular mate and years later thanked God that you didn't marry that person? That's because you THOUGHT you wanted that particular person, but in the bottom of your heart you didn't. How many times did a certain job look good to you, but now you see how terrible the job is for the person who has it? Again, you thank God that you were spared from that devastating situation. God knew what your desire was even though you didn't.
If you do not know exactly what you want, seek God's opinion. Ask God to reveal your true desires to you through His Spirit. Delight yourself in the Lord; then watch out for the manifestation of those desires.
Why We Don't Get What We Desire
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
According to the above scripture, God will give us the desires of our heart. Then why do we have to work for a living? Why do we have to struggle to get some things and in the midst of our struggling some things we never get? Why don't we have everything we desire?
Merely knowing the above scripture is not an automatic guarantee that we will get the desires of our heart. The first part of the scripture gives us a condition before the promise. God will not give us the desires of our heart unless they are first shaped by a delight in the Lord. In order to receive the promise, we must first meet the condition attached to it. When we love God with our whole heart, our desires will become the desires He has for us.
If you are not getting what you desire, check your DELIGHT METER. When your desires match the desires God has for you, then He promised to give them to you under this condition . . . by delighting yourself in the Lord.
God is Enough!
Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. (Psalm 34:9)
Those of us who reverence the Lord will never lack any good thing. We will always have everything we need. Our deepest needs are spiritual, not material. While we may want possessions and things, what we really need to fill the void in our lives is God. God is enough!
If you feel that you don't have everything you need, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this really a need?
- Is this really a good thing for me?
- Will this help others?
- Is this permissible by the scriptures?
- Will this bring glory to God?
- Is this the best time for me to have what I desire?
Even if you answer "Yes" to all these questions, God may allow you to go without it to help you grow more dependent on Him. We may need to learn that we need Him more than things and stuff.
Righteous People Are Not Problem-Free
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19)
Those of you in ministry have probably heard the statement, "Since you are a minister you shouldn't have any major problems." Those of you who are not in ministry, but live righteous lives might have heard similar statements. Those statements are far-fetched, but some folks really believe that righteous people should be problem-free. People who do what is right may have MANY problems, but the LORD will solve them all. One additional problem that the righteous have is trying to convince the unrighteous that it rains on the just as well as the unjust (Matthew 5:45). In fact, it might rain on the just a little more because the unjust have stolen our umbrellas (smile).
The first part of Psalm 34:19 clearly states that MANY are the afflictions of the righteous. Consider Jesus who was righteous in every way. Did He have problems? Certainly! from being born in a stable to dying on the cross and every place in-between. Yes, righteous people have problems of every kind. It is a myth to think otherwise. The good news comes at the end of Psalm 34:19 . . . "But the Lord delivers him out of them all."
Good News for Those Who Fear the Lord
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34:7)
There is good news for those who fear the Lord. First of all, fear doesn't mean being afraid of God but revering and respecting Him in all His glory. To fear God means to honor Him and give Him the highest place in your life.
In the above scripture, the requirement is to fear God before you can experience what He is waiting to do for you. When you fear God two major things happen: (1) The angel of the Lord emcamps around you to protect and provide safety and security at all times. (2) The angel of the Lord delivers you out of trouble in all areas of your life: physical, mental, spiritual and financial.
If you are encountering any unpleasantness in your life today, perhaps an evaluation is needed to determine if you are fearing the Lord.
You Don't Have to BUY a Gift to GIVE a Gift
How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)
There is a credit card commercial where the announcer shows several items along with their prices. Then he points out an emotion and says, "Priceless." Many of the best gifts are priceless. You don't have to BUY a gift to GIVE a gift.
The best things in life aren't things!
This Christmas season as you make your shopping list and checks it twice, as you push through large crowds, as you stand in long lines, as you wonder what to give friends and love ones, consider this: You don't have to BUY a gift to GIVE a gift.
Jesus used this principle well. No record is in the Bible where Jesus bought anybody anything; yet He gave the greatest gift of all. He gave Himself. He gave His life. He gave the gift that keeps on giving. He set an example for us, but how many of us follow Jesus' example?
Be creative this Christmas season. Give the gift of love, time, caring, sharing, attention, validation, and compassion. These gifts are "priceless."
Fret Not Because of Evildoers
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. (Psalm 37:1) For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalm 73:3)
How many times have you thought or even said, "Evildoers seem to be living better than Christians?" Apparently, this subject was a great concern for both the psalmist David who wrote Psalm 37 and the psalmist Asaph who wrote Psalm 73. No doubt it is a concern for us as well. Both David and Asaph tell us, "Fret not" and "Be not angry over the prosperity of the wicked."
Evildoers seem to prosper. They seem to be able to afford the best of everything. Everything seems to be going their way. They seem not to have as much physical suffering as believers do. They seem not to have heavy burdens as Christians do. They seem to be living a happier life while we are struggling. They curse God while we worship God. So you might ask yourself, "What good does it do me to live righteously while evildoers seem to be living better?" Like David and Asaph, it might be strange to you that the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer.
David and Asaph found the answer to this paradox. Despite all appearances, the life of the wicked is NOT what it seems to be. They are walking on the slippery edge of a tall mountain. Sooner or later they will fall over to destruction. In a moment they will be cut off and swept away by the waves of terrors too horrible to understand. (Psalm 73:18-20)
Both psalmists conclude that fretting over evildoers is hurting no one but ourselves, and it accomplishes nothing. We must not be envious of the unrighteous. We must not wish we were like them. We shouldn't worry more over what they are doing wrong when we should be more concerned with what we are doing right. After all, we have a heaven to look forward to while this earth is the only heaven they will ever have.
Final words: "Fret not because of evildoers!"
How to Get the Desires of Your Heart
Delight yourself also in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
The psalmist calls us to take delight in the Lord and to commit everything we have and do to God. We are to concentrate on God and forget about our own selfish desires. When we think about pleasing ourselves and not God, we Ease God Out, and are more concerned with our own ego than with God's delight.
How do we delight ourselves in the Lord? To delight in God means to experience great pleasure and joy in God's presence. This happens only when we know God better. Thus, to delight in the Lord, we must know God intimately. Then that knowledge of God's great love will indeed give us delight. The desire of a renewed heart is to know, to love and to live just to please God.
The Desires of Your Heart
Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 KJV)
To say "delight yourself also" presupposes that some other commands came before this. In fact, two imperatives did come first. In Psalm 37:1, we are told, "Fret not because of evil doers for they shall soon be cut down." In Psalm 37:3, we are told to "trust in the Lord, and do good." Then we are told to "delight ourselves also in the Lord." Receiving from God is not automatic.
It is only after those first conditions are met that we are assured God will give us the desires of our heart. It is His good pleasure to do so, but we must be responsible, accountable and committed to obeying God's commandments.
The Desires of Your Heart
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
Does God give us everything we think we want? Certainly not! But He does give us our desires when they first are shaped by a delight in the Lord. To receive this promise, we must first obey the commandment at the beginning of the scripture. By delighting yourself in the Lord and loving God above all else, your desires will become what He desires for you. Then your greatest longing will be to conform your life to His will. When that happens, the desires of your heart will line up with the desires of God.
Therefore, it is important to read the scripture carefully without concluding that God will give you the desires of your heart without a condition. You must first delight yourself in the Lord, and surely you will experience a change in your desires to conform to the desires of God.
Have a safe and peaceful holiday . . . and may all your desires be of God!
What Do You Really Want?
Delight yourself also in the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
Some prayers are not answered because we do not ask for what we sincerely desire. We think we want something and we pray for it, but we never get it because the bottom line is we don't really want it. Deep down in the hidden cavities of our hearts is the desire NOT to have it.
God promised to give us the desires of our heart; not wishy-washy wants of our mind. When you pray for that job, do your really want it? When you pray for a new house, is it what you really want? Aren't you glad God knows the desires of your heart and gives you your desires instead of your wants? Aren't you glad God didn't answer your prayer for that mate you thought you desired ten years ago? Had you married him/her, your life would probably be similar to his/hers, but since God in His mercy saw better for you, He answered your prayer with an emphatic "No!"
What do you really want? Do you want money for a car or do you want a car? Do you want a house or money for a house? Do you want a new job or better working conditions or power or prestige that it brings? Whatever you desire, pray for that primary thing instead of money to buy it. Perhaps someone would give it to you or you would get it another way. So, it is NOT money you want! It is the things that money will buy and the secure feeling that comes along with having money. God can supply you with everything you need without any exchange of money.
That next time you pray for something, sincerely consider what it is that you desire (the primary thing). Then pray expectantly for that desire of your heart without "beating around the bush."
Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him to help you do it and he will. (Psalm 37:5)
David calls us to commit everything we have and do to God. How do we commit everything to the Lord? To commit everything to the Lord means entrusting our life, family, job, time, and all our possessions to His control and guidance. To commit ourselves to the Lord means to trust Him wholeheartedly, believing that He can and will care for us better than we can care for ourselves. We should be willing to wait patiently for Him to work out what is best for us.
While we wait for God to work things out for our own good, we should patiently and prayerful live our lives without complaining and murmuring. That's a sure way for God to withhold His promises and His power. Remember the Israelites who were in the wilderness 40 years? Ideally, the journey should have been only 11 days. See how long their blessings were needlessly postponed. Watch God work wonders in your life when you are committed to Him without grumbling about serving Him.
Fear Not, Fret Not, Faint Not
"FEAR NOT, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God." (Isaiah 41:10)
"FRET NOT yourself in any wise to do evil." (Psalm 37:8)
"Be not weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap if you FAINT NOT." (Galatians 6:9)
If you want to grow spiritually, there are three (3) things the Bible tells you not to do.
- Fear Not. The expression "fear not" is in the Bible about 365 times. This means we are not to fear any day of our lives. Notice whenever "fear not" is used, it is almost always followed by a promise or a word of comfort. In Isaiah 41:10 God says, "Fear not ... then the promise...for I am with you." Exchange fear for faith because God is with you.
- Fret Not. Because of so much evil in the world, we tend to fret. Psalm 37 tells us three times to fret not. Psalm 37:1 says, "Fret not because of evil doers." Psalm 37:8 tells us that we need not do evil just because others are doing evil, "Fret not yourself in any wise to do evil."
- Faint Not. It is easy to give up when the going gets tough, but you will get nothing to compensate for your efforts; not even for the time spent while you were hanging in there. Galatians 6:9 tells us that if we continue to stand and not faint, in due season we will reap a harvest. So if you want to have something to show for your labor, continue to press on until harvest time.
Our Christian maturity is based on these three biblical principles to fear not, fret not, and faint not. Renounce fear and replace it with faith. Renounce fretting and replace it with faith. Renounce any period of fainting and replace it with faith. Faith is the catalyst that will keep us from fearing, fretting and fainting! Glory to God!
The Hand of God
Though we fall, we shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds us with His hand. (Psalm 37:24)
All creatures are living by the hand of God. The senses perceive only the physical actions, but faith sees God's hand in all things. The physical creation is a veil concealing the profound mysteries of the divine work of God. There is not a moment when God is not present with us even in the pain we endure, in the duties we perform, or in the pleasures we enjoy.
All that takes place around us, within us, and through us involves the hand of God. Most of the time we do not recognize the hand of God until the problem has been solved or the incident is over. Then we can rejoice and say, "The hand of God was there all the time!"
Make Haste, O Lord!
Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, do not be far from me; make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation. (Psalm 38:21-22)
We all know that whenever God comes, He is right on time. The above scripture concludes Psalm 38 where David pleas for God to help him. David gives a list of things that have gone wrong in his life. He talks about his friends who had mistreated him as well as his enemies who sought his life. David suffered, but he had no problem calling on the God of his salvation for immediate help.
Let's learn a lesson from David. Let's not be ashamed or unwilling to call on the God of our salvation for help right now. Let's not say, "I'll wait and see what God will do." Let's not be afraid to seek God's face and to say: "Make haste to help." God wants to help. God is able to help. God is willing to help. He is just waiting for us to ask.
I waited patiently for the Lord, he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:1-2)
When we think of someone who was put into a pit, we usually think of Joseph. (Genesis 37:20-24) However, there were others who were put into a pit: Absalom (2 Samuel 18:17) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:8). Those were natural, physical, tangible, and visible pits. Sometimes in our own lives, we too end up in supernatural, spiritual, intangible and invisible pits. Whether physical or spiritual, what should we do while in the pit? In other words, what is pit protocol?
While in the pit, we could resign ourselves to staying stuck. We could resign ourselves to thinking the worst and sink deeper. Or we could do what David did. He waited patiently for the Lord and while he was waiting, he cried out and God heard his cry, lifted him out of the slimy pit and set his feet on a rock and gave him a firm place to stand.
A story is told about a mule who was no longer useful to its owner. Rather than killing the mule, the farmer threw him down an empty well. The mule refused to succumb to his demise even when the farmer tried to bury him alive. Each time a shovelful of dirt fell on the mule's back, he would shake it off and stomp it. Before long, the mule was at eye level with the farmer. That which was meant to keep the mule down actually raised him higher.
Is something or somebody keeping you down in a pit? In the natural, be creative like that mule. Shake off the dirt people throw on you and stomp it. In the spirit, be like the psalmist and cry out to God. When your natural is turned over to God, it becomes SUPERNATURAL and you will rise above your circumstances.
And that, my brothers and sisters, is pit protocol!
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced. (Psalm 40:6a)
According to the Hebrew law, slaves were required to be freed after serving six years. Those slaves whose masters had not been kind to them were glad to leave in the seventh year. However, those slaves who had kind and generous masters refused to leave after having obtained their freedom. Those slaves who stayed were taken to the doorpost and their ears were pierced with an awl, making them servants for life. (Exodus 21:6).
In Psalm 40:6, David said God did not desire sacrifice and offering for sin as rituals. What He really desired was for servants to stay with the Master and serve forever. Therefore, God desired pierced ears.
Both women and men have pierced ears today (sometimes three or four holes in one ear). This is NOT an indication that they belong to God. But wouldn't it be interesting if every pierced ear today did indicate that the person belonged to and served God?
Knowing God's Will For Your Life
I delight to do your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8)
It is not unusual for people to wonder what is God's will for their lives. Knowing the will of God must not be thought of merely as finding a certain vocation in life. That's only a small part of God's will. Rather, the will of God is for everyone to live in conformity to His revealed will in His Word.
First, and most important, the will of God means believing Christ. Then we must study the Bible and apply God's will to our lives. This involves commands to be obeyed, principles to be followed, prohibitions of things to be avoided, and living examples to be imitated and shunned. An attitude of delightful desire should fill all attempts to do God's will because God takes great joy in those who cheerfully do His will.
Dependent Upon God
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)
As the life of a deer depends upon water, so our lives depend upon God. Those who seek God and long to understand God find never-ending life. Feeling separated from God, the psalmist would not and could not rest until he restored his relationship with God because he knew that his very life depended on it.
The thirst for God is the most terrible thirst. As you begin this week, affirm that you will let God quench your thirst, for nothing else can!
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul thirsts for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)
Have you ever been thirsty on a hot summer day? Don't you become thirsty after mowing the lawn or running a mile? If so, you immediately drink water to quench your thirst. We should chase after God so fervently that we thirst for Him. Once we begin chasing after God, our thirst increases to the degree that nothing...absolutely nothing will be able to satisfy our thirst except God Himself.
There is something interesting about chasing after God: We chase after God until God catches us!
Let's become a God chaser. Let's have an urgency to chase after God. Let's follow hard after God (Psalm 63:8). Let's not give up until we are caught by God!
That Unquenchable Thirst
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2)
As the life of a deer depends upon water, so our lives depend upon God. Just as the deer longs for water, our soul longs for God. Sometimes we feel separated from God, and we can't explain why. Like the psalmist, we can't rest until our relationship is restored with God. Being uncomfortable with our spiritual condition, we ask the same question as the psalmist: "When can I go and meet with God?"
Notice in the above scripture, our thirst is for God and God alone. Nothing else can quench a thirsty soul...not lemonade or kool-ade or any other liquid. Also, notice the thirst is not for just any God but for the living God. No dead idol can quench this thirst. A deer thirsting for water is more than a desire; it is a necessity. A deer cannot survive without water. Likewise, our thirst for God is a necessity that can only be fully satisfied by the presence of God Himself. "When can I go and meet with God?"
Enjoying God or Enjoying God's Gifts?
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:2)
Admittedly, most of us are more concerned with the gifts of God than with the Giver. We are more concerned about what God can do for us than about God Himself. We don't long for God above all. While God is the "Giver of every good and perfect gift," He longs for us to long for Him.
We should hunger for God as one who hungers for food after a forty day fast. (Matthew 4:2) We should thirst for God so much that we could say, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for you, O God." (Psalm 42:1)
When we long for God, He is pleased. Our relationship is deepened, and the results of that relationship manifest themselves in the form of God's favors and God's gifts to us.
The most interesting thing about longing for God instead of longing for God's gifts is that when we long for God, we get both...more of God and more of His gifts. However, if we just long for the gifts of God, we might get neither...God nor His gifts.
If there is a longing in your heart. Ask yourself if the longing is for God Himself or for the gifts you want from Him.
"Where is Your God?"
My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" (Psalm 42:3)
Have you ever been through a spiritual depression and people taunted you by asking, "Where is your God now?" Because the psalmist was exiled so far from Jerusalem when he wrote this psalm, he was not able to worship God in the temple. Worse, in a foreign land and surrounded by foreign gods, he felt cut off from the presence of the Lord. Then, to make matters worst, his enemies teased him with the question: "Where is your God?" In other words, why are you so spiritually depressed? Where is the God you serve now? Why doesn't He send help to rescue you?
When we have problems, we are faced with the same type of taunts. "Where is your God now?" Why doesn't the God you serve help you? Jesus faced the same ridicule on the cross when the chief priests mocked him by saying, "He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have pleasure in Him. (Matthew 27:43)
The psalmist was the subject of mocking. Jesus was the subject of mocking. Serving God does not exempt us Christians from the taunts and nasty remarks from others when our soul is disturbed within us.
Twice in Psalm 42, the psalmist was asked, "Where is your God?" The indirect answer comes in the last two lines when the psalmist says, "I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."
Where is your God? He is where He has always been. And where He will always be...in a place where we can yet praise Him.
What to Do With Your Restlessness
Why are you discouraged, my soul? Why are you so restless? Put your hope in God, because I will still praise him. He is my savior and my God. (Psalm 42:5)
What do you do when you are restless? What you do when you are restless says a lot about you.
What King David did when he became restless impacted a lot of lives including his own. When he should have been out with his army, he became restless and ended up in an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah whom David had killed. (2 Samuel 11)
King Xerxes became restless and couldn't sleep. He got out of bed and read the chronicles. There he saw that Mordecai had not been honored for having done a good deed. The king's restlessness was the beginning of a plan that resulted in the saving of a whole nation. (Esther 6)
Pharaoh couldn't sleep because of recurring dreams. This became an opportunity for Joseph to get out of prison, interpret the dreams and become second in command to Pharaoh. (Genesis 41)
Daniel interpreted a dream Nebuchadnezzar had during one of his restless nights. The dream was fulfilled and Nebuchadnezzar was stricken at the height of his power because of pride. He was eventually driven out of office and lived with the beasts of the field and ate grass like an ox. (Daniel 4)
Of these four examples of restlessness, two of them had positive results. Two of them had negative results. Our restlessness could be God's way of getting our attention to do something. What we do with our restlessness depends on our relationship with God.
Restless? Ask God what He is telling you through your restless spirit. Then be about your Father's business.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? (Psalm 42:5)
All of us have experienced spiritual depression. Admitting it and acknowledging that it happens will help us to deal with it when (not if) it does happen. No matter how holy you profess to be, you have or will experience spiritual depression. There might be times when you're discouraged, have a heavy heart and have feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. You wonder where God is because He feels so far away. You cry out for this unrecognizable pain to go away. You feel like your soul is downcast within you. You are disturbed but you don't know why. What you are feeling is known as spiritual depression.
Now, what do you do about it? Psalm 42 expresses the psalmist's heart in the midst of spiritual depression. Let's take advice from him. Throughout the psalm, he recalls what has taken place throughout his life. Throughout the psalm, he asks the question: "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?" And then in the very last verse, the psalmist gives the only remedy for this feeling: "Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 42:1).
If you are going through spiritual depression, the quickest way out of it is to give God the yet praise!
A Spiritual Tranquilizer
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me? (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5)
Have you ever had days when you didn't feel quite up to par, but you couldn't put your finger on the problem? You couldn't shake that "funny feeling" you were having. What do you do at those times?
One of the best things to do when you have that uneasy feeling is to take some medicine for it. However, it is not advisable to take just any medicine. You should take a tranquilizer. You shouldn't take just any tranquilizer. You should take a spiritual tranquilizer. What is a spiritual tranquilizer?
A spiritual tranquilizer is similar to a physical tranquilizer. While a physical or natural tranquilizer calms the nerves; a spiritual tranquilizer calms the spirit. A spiritual tranquilizer might not be prescribed by your physician; and surely you cannot buy it from a drugstore. Where, then, can you obtain spiritual tranquilizers?
From Genesis to Revelation, of course! Whenever your spirit is restless, begin to read God's word. It's the best spiritual tranquilizer there is.
We Define Our Own Defeat
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? (Psalm 42:5, 11, 43:5)
Do you know that we define our own defeat? We define what's wrong with us when no one else had even noticed. We are usually too hard on ourselves in areas where we shouldn't be. For instance, we consider ourselves a failure if we get a "very good" rating on a job performance evaluation. We might feel defeated because we wanted "excellent" in every area. Rather than thinking of it as a defeat, we should allow it to be a measuring rod for us to do better the next time. The rating shouldn't define who we are; instead it should describe only our job performance.
A straight A student might become depressed because he received four A's and one B on his report card. Focusing on the B, he considers himself a failure, while another student might be glad to have gotten a B on his report card.
Let's re-evaluate what we think about ourselves. Let's stop defining our own defeat. Let's remember we cannot excel in everything. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any room to grow. If we would only look at ourselves through God's eyes, we might be surprised to see how marvelous we are to God.
Handle Boredom and Depression God's Way
Yet I am standing here depressed and gloomy, but I will meditate upon your kindness . . . (Psalm 42:6 TLB)
Are you bored or depressed? Do you feel that you are stuck in a rut and can't get out? Do you feel that life could be a little more exciting? Are you dying on the vine? If so, you are probably not alone. But you can do something about your boredom or depression. Get excited about God and the things of God. How?
Meditate on God's kindness. Like the psalmist in the above scripture, meditation is a quick cure for boredom and depression. Be careful that you meditate on God and His kindness instead of meditating on yourself. That is probably why you are depressed anyway. Two of the main reasons for depression are (1) living a self-centered life and not being able to have it fulfilled; and (2) having wrong priorities that do not include God. Either or both of these might be causes for depression.
Invite God to give you new directions. Then expect Him to surprise you with His creative ways of doing so.
Be willing to take godly risks. Step out in faith and follow God whenever and wherever He leads you. Trust God that if He said, "Let's get in the boat and go to the other side," no matter how violent the storm, both of you will make it to the other side together. (Matthew 8:18-27)
Don't limit God. He has more exciting things in store for you after you become proactive in the little things He has already asked you to do.
Don't blame others for your situation. Forgive those who have hurt you and move on. Let God be the wind beneath your wings. Then you will be able to soar higher right into the eye of your storm.
Put on the whole armor of God. Satan will do everything he can to keep you down and out. He wants you to stay bored and depressed. Get up and get dressed in God's armor and get back in the battle. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Give God thanks and praise. Even when you don't feel like it, praise God anyway. Give Him the sacrifices of your lips. Your depression will disappear sooner than you think. There is absolutely no way you can praise God and stay depressed.
Let go and let God take control of your life. Apparently you haven't done such a good job of controlling your life on your own. God is waiting for you to move out of the way so He can take over. Let him!
Be patient. God does not operate by clocks and calendars. He is behind the scenes working things out for your own good. The worst thing you could do is to compare yourself with others and their timetables. God knows when it is the best time to act on your behalf. While you are waiting, focus on God and His goodness instead of on your own circumstances.
If you follow the above suggestions, you will be back in circulation in no time at all. Watch for signs that put you in this predicament and be careful not to succumb to them again.
What To Do When You Are Down
Yet I am standing here depressed and gloomy, but I will meditate upon your kindness to this lovely land where the Jordan River flows and where Mount Hermon and Mount Mizar stand (Psalm 42:6).
Everyone has been depressed to some degree in his or her lifetime. Depression is one of the most common emotional sicknesses. When you meditate on God's word, you take your focus off yourself and your problems. Meditating on God's word will give you the hope you need to get up and start moving again. It will help you to see God's ABILITY to help you rather than your INABILITY to help yourself.
When you are down, do what the psalmist did. Meditate upon God's word and focus on the goodness of God. It is the only antidepressant you need.
Has God Forgotten Me?
I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? (Psalm 42:9)
Have you ever felt that God has forgotten you? Do you feel that God has forgotten you when you see favoritism on your job, in your church, in your family, and all around you? You have been stuck in the same position year after year while the people you trained are being promoted. You have been overlooked in your church for special assignments for reasons that cannot be explained. You are the "black sheep" in your family when everyone else gets the news and you are the last to know. Does this mean God has forgotten you?
If you feel that God has forgotten you, you are not alone. Most of the people God used to do mighty works felt as though God had forgotten them. Can you imagine Moses being on the backside of the mountain for forty years talking to sheep when he had been educated in Pharaoh's palace? Couldn't God find something better for him to do?
If you feel that you are in that "God has forgotten me" phase, know that God is behind the scenes working things out for your own good. When Moses had perfected his skill to tend sheep, God put him in charge of people who were just as stubborn.
If you feel that you are being overlooked on your job, in your church, in your family and in your community, know that God is working on some characteristic that you will need when he gives you your special assignment. This area that is being perfected (faith, submission to authority, humility, courage, boldness, servitude, etc.) will help a greater number of people than those in your current small circle. Learn all you can in the situation you are in because what you are going through now is not for now but for the assignment God has for you. Learn what you can from the place you are in because one day (and the time depends on how soon you learn your lessons), God will call you from that place through your own burning bush and give you the assignment you have been destined for. (Most of us are NOT in our place of destiny).
While Moses was in his "Has God forgotten me?" stage, God was grooming Moses for the greatest assignment of his life. Could this be happening to you? Are you thinking God has forgotten you when actually He is preparing you for the GREATEST ASSIGNMENT of your life? Say "Hallelujah" somebody!
How to Be Delivered From Your Enemies
Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me into your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. (Psalm 43:3)
This message is for people who have enemies, and who doesn't? Even godly people have enemies. We have enemies not always because of something we have done, but also because of who we are. We sometimes have enemies because we shine light on those who live in darkness. We sometimes have enemies because misery loves company, and when we choose not to be miserable like our family and friends, then we become their enemies, and we will be attacked. How, then, can we be delivered from enemies?
Psalm 43 is divided into two distinct sections. In the first section, the psalmist says, "DEFEND ME!" The psalmist calls for God to defend him against ungodly people. (Psalm 43:1-2) In the last section, the psalmist says, "DIRECT ME!" The psalmist asks God to send His light and truth to guide him into God's presence. (Psalm 43:3-5)
If you are living for God, you will always have enemies. Your enemies are like birds. They will not stop flying over you, but you can stop them from making a nest in your hair by asking God to defend you and direct you into His presence.
God's DEFENSE and God's DIRECTION will be your DELIVERANCE
What To Do When Your Spirit Is Disturbed
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? (Psalm 43:5)
One of the worst feelings in the world is to be down in your spirit. Something might have happened to cause this condition; however, your spirit or soul doesn't have to remain downcast and disturbed. There are some things you can do to lift your spirit immediately.
1. Read the word of God. There is absolutely no way you can stay down and read God's word at the same time. If a Bible is not available at that particular time, then begin to quote the scriptures you know. That's why it is important to prepare in advance by hiding God's words in your heart so you can call upon them when you need them.
2. Recall God's track record. Remembering how God lifted your spirits the last time will help you this time.
3. Reassure yourself that things are not as bad as they seem. The enemy might be playing tricks with your mind to make you think this is the end; that there is no hope. But the devil is a liar. As long as you believe God can do all things, there is hope. And hope does not disappoint us. (Romans 5:5)
4. Reunite with positive people. The worst thing you can do when your spirit is down is to get with someone else whose spirit is down. Misery loves company. Neither one of you will be good for the other during this time. Stay away from dark places and dark people when you need to be uplifted.
When you have done the above four things, your spirit will be lifted immediately if not sooner. Try them the next time your spirit is downcast or disturbed within you.
My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me. (Psalm 44:15)
People change. Sometimes people change for the worse; sometimes people change for the better. Nevertheless people do change.
There is a story that when the noted Italian artist, Leonardo Da Vinci painted "The Last Supper" he used live characters over a period of seven years. The first character he painted was Jesus. He looked hard and long to find a person whose face had not been affected by sin, whose countenance would depict love and kindness. He needed someone with compassion in his eyes. After weeks of searching, he found a 19 year old man to be the model for Jesus. Da Vinci finished the figure of Jesus six months later. Then he went on to paint the disciples one by one from the models he had selected. He deliberately left space for the figure of Judas for the last. Weeks later he found the person to pose for the figure of Judas. When the last stroke was made to the masterpiece, the man cried out, "Oh, Da Vinci, look at me! Do you not know who I am?" Da Vinci carefully scrutinized the man upon whose face he had constantly gazed for six months and replied; "No, I have never seen you in my life until you were brought before me out of the dungeon in Rome." Then lifting his eyes toward heaven, the prisoner said, "O God, have I fallen so low?" Then turning his face to the painter he cried, "Leonardo Da Vinci, look at me again, for I am the same man you painted just seven years ago as the figure of Christ!"
What happened to that man between the time he posed for Jesus and the time he posed for Judas could happen to us as well. If we don't take care of ourselves and do what's right in the sight of God, we will end up with a hardened look, and a rugged countenance with no feeling in our face or heart.
It is obvious that people change. Let's make sure that our change is one for better and not for worse. Let's make sure we maintain the characteristics of Jesus; not Judas.
"Beauty Is As Beauty Does"
So the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him. (Psalm 45:11)
You have heard it said, "Beauty is only skin deep." What is beauty? As defined in most dictionaries, beauty is a quality or qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses. In other words, you can be beautiful to yourself and to others. It also has been said, "Beauty is as beauty does." This means a person can be beautiful but does so many ugly things that people tend to overlook the beauty and focus only on those ugly things. On the other hand, a person can be void of what the world calls natural beauty; yet that person is beautiful because of the beautiful things he or she does.
Beauty by the world's standard is only physical appearance. It is the way a person looks on the outside. That's why there are so many cases of physical makeovers. Beauty by God's standards is not limited to physical appearance. Beauty, as far as God is concerned, is what's found on the inside; what's in the heart. Knowing God personally makes us beautiful. Living upright is beautiful; living wickedly is ugly.
My deceased mother had it right when all ten of her children gathered around her and pressured her to tell us which child she thought was the most beautiful. She merely said, "Beauty is as beauty does." I've never forgotten that!
God of the Gap
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Some people call on God all the time. They keep God involved in every phase of their lives. Some people never call on God. They believe it is a time waster, and they try to do things on their own. And then there are some people who call on God only when they are in the gap. What is a gap? A gap is the space between events or happenings; that time period when we feel that God has left us.
We go to God only when we are in trouble. We go to our "God of the Gap." That is the time we begin to use God language and Bible talk. We make promises to God. We plead with our "God of the Gap" to help us out of our present trouble. It is said that even atheists believe in God while in a foxhole. Once God allows us to get out of a bad situation, we forget the promises we made, and we go back to the same lifestyle that keeps getting us in trouble all over again. Then we go back to our "God of the Gap."
While God is certainly the God of our gaps, God is an ever present God. God promised to never leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8) That means He wants to be more to us than merely a "God of the Gap."
Let's invite God into every detail of our lives. He wants to be involved in everything we do.
God's Ultimate Desire
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
The Bible records many desires God has for His people. However, He is very specific about His ultimate desire. Do you have any idea what God's ultimate desire is?
Is it God's ultimate desire for us to build bigger churches? Is it God's ultimate desire for us to have bigger church budgets? Is it God's ultimate desire for us to have more church members? Certainly not!
Is it God's ultimate desire for us to pack up and go on the mission fields? Is it God's ultimate desire for us to be successful on our jobs? Is it God's ultimate desire for us all to be millionaires? Certainly not!
While all the above-mentioned things are good, God is more concerned about something else. What is God more concerned about? What is God's ultimate desire for His people?
God's ultimate desire is not hard for us to do. It costs no money. It requires no special talent. God's ultimate desire is for us to spend time with Him. God's preference is not for us to do MORE, to have MORE or to go to MORE places, but for us to do LESS so we can spend MORE time alone with Him. In the Bible He made it clear that His desire is to have an intimate personal relationship with us.
God's greatest desire is for us to spend time with Him. Are you giving God what He really desires? Or are you so busy doing things FOR God that you don't have time to spend WITH God?
Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
It is difficult to hear from God when we are so busy doing things and being distracted by the ways of the world. In order to hear God speak to our hearts, we need to be quiet and listen.
We need to slow down our hurried lives and give our full attention to God. Be still. Starting today sit quietly expecting to hear from God and be blessed by the whisperings of our Creator.
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
You prove the old adage "Haste makes waste" again and again when you rush through the day. You need to stop for an instant, take a deep breath, release the tension that keeps you all balled up, and exhale. Be still long enough to let God be God in your life. Be still long enough to acknowledge that God is God. Be still long enough to hear from God.
Do you not know that God speaks to us all during the day? Have you heard from today? If not, it might be because you have been too busy, too rushed, too involved with other things to hear that still, small voice.
God is trying to get your attention. Be still and hear what He is saying to you right now!
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exlted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
God's victory is final. God will be the One exalted among all peoples. We might be so busy that we tune God out of our lives now, but inevitably we will acknowledge that God is God and there is no other God. We need to be still now and reverently honor God and His power and His majesty. If we take time now to be still and to exalt God, then it will not be hard to do when we are facing crises in our lives.
God will not play second fiddle to anyone. You might think you are ruling your family or reigning at work; but it is God who should get the glory in everything you do. Be still today. Spend some quiet time with God and let Him know that you love Him, and want more of Him in your life.
How God Is Hindered
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
Did you know you can hinder God from doing what you are praying for? Did you know you can stand in God's way? And because God is such a gentleman, He is not going to push His way into your situations. You pray for God to change So and So all the while you are trying to change So and So yourself. If you would release So and So into God's care, not only will God change So and So, but He will change you in the process.
You might recognize this concept as "Let Go, and Let God." Let go of some people you are trying to change. Let go of some situations you are trying to change. As long as you are trying to give them a heart transplant yourself, God will not make a move. Let go and let God do what God does best: heal, deliver, save and set free!
Stop hindering God. Release those people and situations so God can take over. As long as you are trying to work on them, God will NOT intervene.
Stop hindering God! Let go, and let God!
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
You have heard of solitary confinement, but have you ever heard of solitary refinement? Solitary refinement is similar to solitary confinement because in both instances a person is alone. The word "solitary" means to be alone. However, the two are a little different. In solitary confinement, movement may or may not be present. During solitary refinement, stillness is mandatory. In solitary confinement, one may speak, sing, pray, praise and make verbal sounds. In solitary refinement, complete silence is a must.
Solitary refinement is the process one goes through in order to become pure or improved. To be refined is to be free of moral imperfection. The two key ingredients in solitary refinement are: solitude and silence.
The purpose of solitary refinement is to regain focus. Too often our minds are going in so many directions that no one thing gets our complete attention. During solitary refinement, you are advised to focus on only one main thing.
Another purpose of solitary refinement is to gain a deeper knowledge of yourself. While you are in solitude and silence, there is no one around to interrupt or to distract you. You will learn more about the inner you, and hopefully you and the inner you will become friends.
The ultimate purpose of solitary refinement is to enter into a deeper relationship with God. Yes, we say we love God, and we display acts of worship when others are watching. The greatest test of your relationship with God is revealed when you are alone with God and no one else is around to see what you do or to hear what you say.
Perhaps you should schedule a time when you can go into solitary refinement so that you may regain focus, get to know the inner you, and deepen your relationship with God.
Be Still And . . .
Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
It is extremely misleading to reading part of a scripture without continuing to get the full impact of God's words. If you were watching a movie and turned the television off after 15 minutes, you would not know the outcome of the movies. If you were watching a sporting event and you left at half time, you not have enjoyed the entire game. When you read only the first part of a verse, you might the point unless you take a few extra seconds to read the entire scripture. Psalm 46 is a perfect example. The entire verse witness of the voice of God as it rings out to all the inhabitants of the earth in accents of assurance and sovereignty. One would miss this blessed assurance unles the entire verse is read.
Additionally, Psalm 46:10 stills every fear and every anxiety. God's people can relax. He is victorious. God is exalted among the nations. God is exalted in the earth. Unless you read the end the verse, that point might be missed.
The Bible: God's Map
For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14 (NIV)
Whenever you go on a tour, you are given two things to help you: a map and a tour guide. The map points to major attractions, but the tour guide explains more in detail what you don't understand. In fact, you may ask the tour guide questions.
On your spiritual journey, you are given two things to help you: the Bible and God Himself to explain things to you just as a tour guide would. You need both guidance and a guide to give you landmarks and directions, and a constant companion who has an intimate knowledge of the way and will make sure you interpret the map correctly. The Bible is just such a map, and God is your guide. As you travel on your spiritual journey, lean upon both the map and the Guide.
Investments In Heaven
Truly no ransom avails for one's life, there is no price one can give to God for it. For the ransom of life is costly, and can never suffice, that one should live on forever and never see the grave. (Psalm 4:7-9)
Have you ever wondered why some people put more emphasis on riches and accumulating material wealth than they do on serving God? Psalm 49 is a psalm about the foolishness of focusing all one's attention on riches, pride, and fame instead of attending to the spiritual things that will live on beyond the grave. The rich who do not love God will have all their enjoyment while here on earth. However, whether rich or poor, those who serve God will enjoy eternal peace in heaven forever.
It is true that money can buy many things, but it simply cannot buy eternal life. Only God can redeem a soul. No amount of money can prevent one from going to the grave. And no amount of money can keep one happy beyond the grave. There is absolutely no exceptions.
The rich and the poor do have one thing in common: death. All will die. And when we do, we will leave all we have here on earth. Both the rich and the poor are naked at the moment of death and are empty-handed before God. The only riches that are recognized are those that were invested in heaven while on earth. To have treasure in heaven, we must place our faith in God and obey Him.
During these last few days of the year, check your investments. Have you more investments on earth than in heaven? Do whatever it takes to place your investments where they will really count. "Set your affections on things above, not on earthly things" (Colossians 3:2).
God's Consecrated Ones
Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice. (Psalm 50:5)
Consecrated ones are those who have been set apart or dedicated for God's use. Jesus is the supreme example of One who was consecrated to do the work of His Father. One often says, "I want to do whatever God wants me to do." While that might be true, a step has been missed. One does not just jump in and try to do whatever God wants them to do. God wants us to be consecrated first. Whenever that step is omitted, the work that we struggle to do is not for God.
Consecrated ones are those who have demonstrated their determination to fulfill their vows to God. They have made a covenant with God by sacrifice. They have paid a price to indicate they are earnest and committed to their promises. They don't just mouth empty words; they do what it takes to turn words into action.
In summary, two points should be remembered. (1) We need to be consecrated (set apart; having a clean heart) before we can do the work of God. (2) God wants us to seal our covenant with Him with a sacrifice; a price; a commitment. We need to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. When that happens, God will then say . . . "Gather to me my consecrated ones."
The Way Out of Trouble
Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shall glorify me. (Psalm 50:15)
Everyone at one time or another has been in trouble to some extent. Either you have been in trouble, you are in trouble now or you will be in trouble. The psalmist in the above scripture tells us that the way OUT is UP!
In the midst of our trouble, let's stop worrying and start thanking God. Let's stop focusing ON the problem and starting looking TO God. Let's stop complaining and start praising. Praise is the surest and the quickest way out of trouble.
If this is hard to believe, read how Paul and Silas were set free from jail when at midnight they began to pray, sing hymns and praise God. Suddenly God intervened and an earthquake caused them to be set free and the jailer was converted. (Acts 16:22-34)
Like Paul and Silas, we too can be set free from trouble when we begin to praise God. The way OUT is UP! Let's look UP to God instead of ON our problems.
Your Commitment to God
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. (Psalm 51:13)
Every one of us should make a commitment to God concerning how we will live out the rest of our lives. In Psalm 51:13-15, David outlines three commitments he made to God.
David promised to:
- Teach God's ways to sinners.
- Sing of God's forgiveness.
- Praise God.
These are David's commitments. Notice that the commitments included the psalmist himself, God and others. You may adopt these or you may list your own. It is interesting to know that before David outlined his commitments he had already asked God to create in him a clean heart and renew a right spirit within him. (Psalm 51:10) So, is it safe to say that our commitments to God have a great deal to do with the condition of our heart and the condition of our spirit?
Check the condition of your heart. Then make your commitments to God.
The Beauty of Brokenness
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
It might seem contradictory, but there is beauty in brokenness. A broken spirit is more susceptible to receive from God. You might think of brokenness as a negative, but according to the above scripture, God does not despise brokenness.
It is dangerous to have a spirit that cannot be broken. An unbroken spirit is the spirit of Satan. An unbroken spirit more than likely belongs to a hard hearted, stiff necked person who is too stubborn to be moved. An unspoken spirit is void of compassion. An unbroken person is much like an unbroken horse. It runs wild not caring who gets trampled in its path. Once a horse is broken or tamed, it is be directed to go where its master wants it to go and to do what its master wants it to do. Once we are broken, we will be guided by our Master as well.
The best sacrifice we can offer to God is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. Love, joy, peace, and God's spirit can flow through the cracks of a contrite heart. Nothing can get through a heart made of cement.
How Are You Broken . . . Broken Down or Broken Open?
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being broken. In fact, the Bible tells us we should be broken with a contrite spirit. In our time of challenges, we can still choose how we are to be broken.
We can choose to be broken down and defeated, or we can choose to be broken open and transformed. Like the phoenix bird, we can rise from the ashes of illnesses, job losses, divorces, or death of loved ones. We can return from our tragedy much stronger and much wiser and more determined to fulfill our destiny with passion and purpose.
Let's not be afraid to be broken.
Let's choose not to be broken down.
Let's choose to be broken open.
Let's choose to be broken open like a flower. Then we can bloom and blossom into the person God created us to be.
God Answers All Prayers
Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. (Psalm 54:2)
God answers all prayers even though we might not like the answers. God answers all prayers He hears with either a "Yes," "No," or "Wait." Some prayers, however, never reach the throne room of God. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear." Therefore, we must ask God to forgive us for our sins before we pray for anything else. "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" (Matthew 6:12).
When we are in right relationship with God, then He hears and answers all our prayers. When all conditions are right, God says "Yes" even before we finish the prayer. Before the "Amen" is said, our prayer is answered. God might say "No" for our own benefit. He can see the BIG picture while we want instant gratification. Perhaps you have been praying for something you really want. God says "No" because He has something greater in mind for you. Sometimes God will say "Wait" because we are not mature enough to handle that particular blessing. A single person might pray for a mate. God says wait until you have resolved certain issues in your life lest you combine your mess with the mess of a mate. When He has prepared both of you, He will put the two of you together.
So you see, God does answer all prayers. We should respect God's judgment and let "His will be done" (Matthew 6:10). After all, He wants only what's best for us.
For he has delivered me from all my troubles . . . (Psalm 54:7)
We often plead for God's deliverance. We plead for Him to rescue us from our troubles. We cry out to God with supplication, "Rescue Me." We seek God when we are going through trials and tribulations because we know God can and will rescue us.
If enemies are on your back and you need to be rescued, read all seven verses of Psalm 54. David starts out pleading with God to save him, to vindicate him and to hear his prayer. He is honest with God and says exactly why he needs to be rescued. He says strangers are attacking him and ruthless men seek his life. He prays that his enemies will be punished. Then right in the middle of the psalm in Verse 4, David says who God is and promises he would offer God praise from his lips. David says, "For he HAS delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes." Did you see how quickly David went from pity to praise; from trials to triumph? He told God about his enemies. Then he took his eyes off his enemies and put them on God.
If you are crying out to God, "Rescue me!" then do what David did. (1) Make your request known to God. (2) Tell the full story to God about your enemies. (3) In the middle of your crying, tell God who He is to you and remind Him how He has rescued you before. (4) Praise God for His awesomeness. (5) Affirm what David affirmed even before his prayer was answered: "For he HAS delivered me from all my troubles." (6) Look at the defeat of your enemies "...and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes."
Prevention vs. Rescue
For he has delivered me from all my troubles. (Psalm 54:7) "Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him." (Psalm 91:14)
Do you know there is a difference between God preventing us from danger and God rescuing us from danger? When the three Hebrews boys were in the fiery furnace, God rescued them rather than preventing them from going into the fire.
In many of the psalms, David pleaded for God's deliverance from specific problems. He did not pray that the problems would not exist. The psalmist was assured that God would rescue him. We also can be assured that while we will encounter trials and tribulations, God will rescue us.
The Bible never said God would prevent trials and tribulations from coming into our lives, or we would be exempt from them. It does say God will be with us in our trials. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Deliver (rescue) us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:13). God will not always PREVENT us FROM trouble, but He will RESCUE us while we are IN trouble. Perhaps it is time to stop focusing on what might happen, but pray that you will have that blessed assurance that God will never leave you nor forsake you, and He will be with you no matter what. God will rescue you. He will throw you a life line. That life line is Jesus. God's most important rescue was through the work of Christ on the cross when Jesus set us free with His own life.
Wanting to Fly Away
And I say, "O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. (Psalm 55:6)
At some point in our lives, most of us have wanted to escape from what's upsetting us. We have thought or even said, "I need to leave this place" or "I need to get away." Even the psalmist wished he had wings like a dove so that he would fly away and be at rest from what was troubling him.
Flying is symbolic of a quick escape. It represents getting away from it all without having a care in the world. While it is not always possible for you to take a vacation from your responsibilities, there is something you can do. There is something you can do right early. There is something you can do often. There is something you can do to make your wish of wanting to fly away a reality.
You can come into the presence of God. You can experience the depth of Jesus Christ. You can get lost in His love. When you do that, there is not a care in the world for His presence will engulf you to the fullest. You will experience ecstasy like never before. You will feel like you are soaring into another world as He becomes the wind beneath your wings. Do you still want to fly away? There is nothing stopping you.
Take flight right now!
God's "Yes" Is Louder Than Man's "No"
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? (Psalm 56:4)
How many times has man said "No" but God turned your situation around by saying "Yes"? People in high positions do have the authority to say "No" in the physical realm here on earth. God is sovereign and can turn man's "No" into His "Yes" in the spiritual realm with its manifestation for us in the physical realm.
We should not openly oppose man's "No" because we are to obey those in authority. However, we are to trust in God and not be afraid. After all, what can mortal man do to us? They can inflict pain, suffering and even death. But no person can rob us of our souls, our salvation or our inner peace.
Man's answer is not the final answer. God can reverse man's decision about your situation. God's "Yes" is much louder than man's "No." The related benefits are so much more rewarding also.
How to Become Unstuck
In God I trust; I will not be afraid. (Psalm 56:11)
There is a story about a young boy whose hand was stuck in a jar. His father told him to open his hand so it could easily slide out. The little boy said, "No, Father, if I do that I will drop the penny I am holding." This might sound foolish, but we are stuck in some situations because we won't let go of things with the same minute value as a penny.
We hold on to ideas that are no longer valid. We hold on to antiquated thoughts, feelings, and traditions. We hold on to what we think is worth something when so much more lies ahead if we would just drop that penny.
We need not continue to be stuck if we would only open our hand and let the penny go. When we do that, we will see that God has so much more in store for us. Until we let the penny drop, we will be stuck with only that penny. When we trust God, He will give us the desires of our heart that are worth much more than a penny. (Psalm 37:4)
The choice is yours. Trust in God OR trust in your penny. Lean to your own understanding and hold on to that penny OR trust God and let the penny go so you can become unstuck....in Jesus' name. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
"My Heart Is Ready!"
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. (Psalm 57:7)
In the opening scene of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" we see Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is praying to His Father about going to the cross. Jesus settles it first with God by praying, "Thy will be done." (Matthew 26:42) Then Jesus settles it within Himself by saying, "My heart is ready!"
Jesus was able to suffer the pain and agony because of these two resolves. After turning it over to God, Jesus made His own personal claim to the suffering so that the scriptures might be fulfilled. (Isaiah 53: The Suffering Servant) When the heart is ready, the body will follow along and we, too, can endure more than we think we can.
When we are going through a crisis of any kind, let's first turn the situation over to God. After we have done that, then let's make that personal claim, "My heart is ready!"
God's Love Doesn't Change
My God in his steadfast love will meet me; my God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. (Psalm 59:10)
David was hunted by those whose love had turned to jealousy,which was driving them to murder him. Trusted friends, and even his own son, had turned against him. What changeable love! But David knew that God's love for him was changeless. God's love for all who trust Him is also changeless. When the love of others fails (which often happens) we can rest in God's changeless love.
Begin Each Day Right
But I will sing of your power; yes, I will sing aloud of your mercy in the morning; for you have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. (Psalm 59:16)
David knew how to start each day. He started it the right way. He began to sing praises to God from the moment he got out of bed. Before putting on his own clothes, he became clothed in God's presence. David knew that through singing of God's power and mercy early in the morning, the rest of his day would go well. He acknowledged God as being his defense and refuge not just in good times but in the day of trouble. And David had lots of trouble. David wrote this psalm while he was fleeing from Saul who sought to kill him. David had learned the power that can be released by worshiping God no matter what the situation is.
Begin each day right by singing praises to God!
A Tower, Lighthouse or Watchtower
For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. (Psalm 61:3)
Is a tower the same as a lighthouse or watchtower? Are there differences in these three? A tower is a tall erected structure for defense. Defense is its main purpose. A lighthouse is a tall structure having a powerful light on its top that guides ships. Guidance is its main purpose. A watchtower is an observation tower for a person to stand guard and keep watch. Watching is its main purpose. God is pictured as all three in the Bible.
No matter what you call it, aren't you glad God watches over you protecting you from enemies and guiding you to follow His "Light"? "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10).
What God Wants From Us
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you...Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name, I will life up my hands...On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night...My soul clings to you. (Psalm 63:1, 3-4, 6, 8)
What does God need from us? Nothing! He has everything. And if He needed anything else, He could speak it into existence. (Hebrews 11:3) However, God wants something from us. What is it? What does God want from us?
What does God want that He cannot create or command into existence? God cannot and will not command people to voluntarily seek him. God wants us to seek Him not by force but by our own free will. (Acts 17:26-28) God wants us to love Him, and He will not force us to do so. (Deuteronomy 6:4) God wants us to imitate Him. (1 Peter 2:21) God wants us to belong to Him. (Exodus 19:6)
What, then, does God want from us above everything else? God wants a personal, intimate relationship with us. When we have intimacy with God, we will seek Him. We will love Him. We will imitate Him. And we will live in obedience to Him because we belong to Him.
What does it mean to be intimate with God? To be intimate with God means that the deepest part of us is having a relationship with the deepest part of God. Intimacy is an essential part of the very nature of God and because we are made in His image, it is only natural that our relationship with Him should be consummated.
God wants intimacy. Let's give God what He wants. He deserves it!
What is Better Than Life?
Because your love is better then life, my lips will glorify you. (Psalm 63:3)
Many people are seeking creative ways to celebrate Valentine's Day to express their love. Some will give flowers, candies, jewelry and other gifts. While these gestures are good, they will fall short of the love God has for us. The love God has for us is better than life.
Why is God's love better than life?
God's love is beyond measure. And nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)
Why is God's love better than life?
God's love is eternal. God's love is not here today and gone tomorrow. God's love never ends. (Romans 8:38-39)
Why is God's love better than life?
God's love is sacrificial. God's love is not self-centered. God gives to express His love. God's love reaches out and draws us into His bosom. (John 3:16)
Why is God's love better than life?
God's love is inexhaustible. God's love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)
Why is God's love better than life?
God's love gives us the capacity to love. Without God loving us, we would be incapable of loving others. (I Corinthians 13)
On this Valentine's Day and on all of God's days, let us love one another as God has loved us. (Mark 12:29-31)
Why Lift Up Hands to God?
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. (Psalm 63:4)
Have you every wondered why people lift their hands to God? One of the Hebrew words for praise is derived from the same Hebrew word for hand. This explains why we raise our hands to praise. Since the beginning of biblical times, upraised hands have been a visible form of praise.
The Hebrews used their hands to express dependence on God. They used their hands also to indicate their respect for God. Lifting our hands to God symbolizes an expectant attitude and trust in God. We are acknowledging that God will fill our empty hands with His blessings.
While there are other methods of praise, raising your hands to God lets Him know that you are fully exposed to Him, and you are willing to accept whatever He desires to put in your opened and uplifted hands.
Praise God right now wherever you are by raising your hands to Him.
God's True House
Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where is the house that you will build me? (Psalm 66:1)
God's desire is not to live in buildings made by man, but in us. According to 1 Corinthians 3:16, we are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in us. Isaiah points to a time when God would dwell in the church (the body of Christ) and not in earthly temples.
The Old Testament temples were only temporary. After Jesus Christ rose from the dead, it was possible for believers to become part of the spiritual temple of God on earth. When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our human personalities, we become the living temple of God because God dwells in us.
While in the wilderness, God dwelled in the tabernacle and in the ark of the covenant. In the promised land, God dwelled in temples. Where does God dwell today? What is God's true house? Without a doubt, we are God's true house!
Hear and Obey
Come and HEAR, all you who fear God, and I will declare what he has done for my soul" (Psalm 66:16). "Now therefore, if you will indeed OBEY my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people; for all the earth is mine. (Exodus 19:5).
Do you yearn for a deep relationship with God? Do you long to constantly be in God's presence? Are you willing to fulfill the two requirements for God to manifest Himself mightily in your life? If your answer is "Yes" to any of the above questions, then continue to read.
God insists on two basic requirements in order for you to have a deep personal intimate relationship with Him. #1 HEAR and #2 OBEY. You must hear what God has said. You do that by reading and studying the Bible. You listen to Bible teachers and preachers to know what "thus said the Lord." Hearing what God has said is only 50% of the covenant relationship with God. You must OBEY what you have heard. When you HEAR and OBEY "it will be well with you, and your soul shall live" (Jeremiah 38:20).
God’s Shining Face
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us. (Psalm 67:1)
A person’s disposition and emotions usually can be read from the expression on his or her face. How does God’s face shine upon us? This is a poetic way of describing God’s favor toward someone.
To say God’s face is shining upon us is simply an expression that illustrates a picture of God’s tender mercies being shown to His people. It is a picture of God’s approval. It is God’s blessings on us. So, if we want God’s face to shine upon us, then we have to do what pleases God.
What happens when we do not please God? Then, God’s face will not shine upon us. His face will be against us (Psalm 34:16). Just as God’s face can shine upon us to demonstrate His favor, His face can be against us or hidden to demonstrate His judgment (Psalm 30:7).
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us. (Psalm 67:1)
Let God Be Magnified
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "Let God be magnified." (Psalm 70:4)
When we were in high school biology class, we learned to use the microscope to view the smallest specimens. Even though they were small, under the microscope they were magnified hundreds of times larger. God is big enough not to be put under a microscope. We can say, "Let God be magnified" and no microscope is needed. In Psalm 70, David first prays for his enemies that they might seek God. Then in the above scripture, he prays that those who already know God will rejoice and love their salvation and always be willing to say, "Let God be magnified." How do we let God be magnified?
Praise God for who He is.
Lift up His name at all times.
Exalt God above everything and everybody.
Let God be the focus of everything you do.
Let your life line up with God's word.
Let God be the ruler of your life.
Give God the glory for the great things He has done.
Today is My 59th Birthday! (July 23, 2004)
From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. I have become a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long. (Psalm 7l:6-8)
Don't be surprised I gave my age. To be 59 is indeed a blessing from God. To be 59 and in good health is a double blessing from God. To be 59 in good health and in an intimate personal relationship with God is something to shout about. So rejoice with me today as I reflect on and share a few of my personal beliefs and lessons I have learned in these 59 years.
- I live as if I met with God before I was born, and we agreed together about my destiny and my purpose in life. Every person I meet and everything I do is part of that destiny. If you are reading this, you must admit somehow in someway we are connected if even by only a thread.
- I believe "iron sharpens iron" (Proverbs 27:17). I make it a point to learn something from every person I meet; no matter how minute the lesson.
- I believe I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2). That's why I try to think positive thoughts and watch what I say because I also believe we can "call things forth" into our lives by what we speak; especially by our self-talk.
- I believe that if we "cast our bread upon the waters, it will return to us after many days" (Ecclesiastes 11:1). People often remind me of good deeds I did so long ago I have forgotten them, but God hasn't. I believe I will be rewarded for those good deeds when I least expect it. I believe I have touched lives that I will not know about until I see those people in heaven.
- I believe there are no "accidents" or "coincidents" in life. I believe everything happens for a reason. I tend to look for something good in the worst situations so that it can make me better instead of bitter. I believe when I am neglected, rejected, mistreated, or taken for granted, God will make up the difference.
- I believe when I make a conscious decision to do a righteous act, the universe honors it. People and unexpected resources seem to gravitate toward me with the help I need. I believe I must participate in my own blessings. In other words, when I do my part, God will send the help I need to complete the task.
- I believe "he who hesitates is lost." When I hear from God I act immediately knowing what He has called me to do, He will certainly equip me to do. I know there will always be a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to guide me.
There are others, but these are just a few of the major life lessons I have learned that have kept me and strengthened me for all these wonderful years. And I do believe the best is yet to come! To God be the Glory
My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long. (Psalm 71:24)
In reference to the political race, we hear "talking points" from the candidates and pundits. What is a "talking point"?
A talking point is simply an excerpt taken from a speech or interview that may or not be factual, but it makes for good conversation. The talking point might not even be an important part of the conversation, but it is something that grabs people and keeps them talking long after the conversation is over.
Preachers should give talking points in their sermons. People might not remember the title or the text, but surely something should be said from the pulpit to keep the congregation talking all week. Talking points should continue long after the church doors are closed on Sundays.
God sent Jesus to save us from our sins. (John 3:16) That's a good talking point. Talking points should show up in our daily conversation either explicit or implicit.
Think back over the last talking points you heard. Repeat them to lead others to the saving power of Jesus Christ. Think back over the last talking points you made. Would you be proud if others repeated them?
From God's Viewpoint
Truly God is good to Israel . . . (Psalm 73:1) But it is good for me to draw near to God . . . (Psalm 73:28)
Psalm 73 begins with the psalmist saying, "God is good" and ends with "It is good," but between those two statements Asaph, the psalmist didn't think things were so good!
He pondered the success of the wicked and the sorrows of the righteous. He wondered why the evildoers were blessed and the righteous suffered. He challenged his faith until he realized that what he called "good" was not what God called "good." He was walking by what he saw instead of by faith. The turning point came when he went into the sanctuary and started looking at things from God's viewpoint. He ends the psalm by concluding that being successful on earth does not guarantee one a place in heaven.
Success from God's viewpoint is for man to draw near to Him, to put his trust in Him and to declare all God's works as good.
Near to the Heart of God
But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works. (Psalm 73:28)
Sometimes our family just doesn't understand us. Sometimes our friends don't understand us. And sometimes we feel that nobody cares about us. It is at those times that we need to know that there is a place of quiet rest; a place of comfort; a place of joy and peace.
Sometimes our loved ones just can't provide those things to cheer us up or motivate us to keep going. It is at those times that we need to put all our trust and confidence in the God who created us because He is the only one who knows our hearts. It is at those times when we can't find comfort with those around us that we need to draw near to the heart of God.
No Word of God . . . No Power of God
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. (Psalm 77:14)
It is always interesting to write Tuesday morning's message after our "Signs and Wonders" class on Monday night. Last night we had a powerful discussion about signs and wonders following the word of God. We all concluded that without the word of God we are just going through the motion. In other words, without the word of God, there is no presence of God. Without the presence of God, there is no power of God. Therefore, before we become quick to lay hands on people and pronounce a blessing on them, give them the word of God FIRST. The word of God gives power to the external act of laying on of hands.
Before Jesus healed or delivered anyone, the word came FIRST. You see, Jesus Himself was the word made flesh. Wherever Jesus was, the word was! (John 1:1)
Before Peter and John healed the crippled beggar at the temple gate, they gave him the word of God FIRST. "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Then they extended their right hand to help the man up, and instantly the man stood to his feet and began to walk. (Acts 3:6-8) The word came FIRST.
About 3,000 were saved on the Day of Pentecost because Peter preached Jesus Christ. (Acts 2) The word FIRST.
If you want to see signs and wonders, the word of God MUST come FIRST before the laying on of hands. This should be easily understood because the power is NOT in the laying on of hands. The power is in the word of God.
To summarize...The WORD OF GOD MUST COME FIRST. Then signs and wonders and miraculous acts will follow.
Singing Along or Singing Alone
Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. (Psalm 81:1)
It is so easy to respond to the worship leader when he or she says, "Open your hymnal to Selection #10 and sing along with the choir." We join our voices to sing the words printed on the pages. God honors your singing along with the choir and the congregation. But do you know what God honors more?
God honors your singing alone. It is so powerful when you sing aloud to God when your heart is heavy. It is so powerful when you pour out your heart to God when you sing while you are driving or washing dishes or mending a sweater.
It is one thing to sing along with the crowd, but try singing alone giving praises to God when only He can hear you.
Is Praise A Requirement Or Is It An Option?"
Sing for joy to God our strength: shout aloud to the God of Jacob! (Psalm 81:1)
Do you think praise is a requirement? Is it a law? Or is it an option? Is it all right with God whether we praise or not?
Those who say praise is a requirement, raise your hand; I'll wait. Those of you who say praise is an option raise your hand. Those of you who don't know, admit it before I continue.
Okay, for those who raised your hand that praise is a requirement: you are exactly right! The psalmist says, "This is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob. He established it [praise] as a statute of Joseph when he went out against Egypt." (Psalm 81:4-5) The law of God required praise then. But we don't live by the law. True! But the grace of God still commands praise.
Whatever God requires does not become optional with His people. "Praise ye the Lord." (Psalms 146-150)
Lord, How Am I Doing?
Hear, O my people, and I will warn you-- if you would but listen to me, O Israel! (Psalm 81:8)
On the back of some trucks you see the sign that reads, "How's my driving?" Or there is a telephone number to call to give comments about the driver. Wouldn't it be nice if we could ask God how we are doing and He will let us know if we are on the right path? He would let us know where we are failing and what to do to correct our faults. Well, we can ask God and God does tell us if only we would attune our ears to hear, our eyes to see and our hearts to feel.
God lets us know how we are doing through the smiles of others; through the kind word from others; through the witness of our own spirit, and through the fruits we bear.
When we do wrong, God convicts us. When we do right, God confirms us. When you want to know how we are doing, monitor your own heart and the hearts of those around you.
Listen To God
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. "But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would have none of me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn my hand against their foes. (Psalm 81:10-14)
Read slowly the above scripture and meditate on its words. Without hesitating, God announces who He is . . . "I am the LORD your God." He makes it clear that He is the LORD that you serve. He belongs to you. Now that you know who He is, He proceeds to tell you what He has done . . . brought you up out of Egypt, out of slavery, out of bondage. Then He commands you to open your mouth and depend on Him to fill it with words to express His goodness; to share your testimony with others; to minister His word to His people. There is no need to depend on your own intelligence. Just open your mouth wide with holy boldness, God will fill it!
The next part of the scripture depicts the sadness of God as He said His own people did not listen. Therefore, because of their disobedience, He gave them over to their own way of limited ineffective thinking. Then God says that IF His people would only listen to Him, He has so much in store for them including immediate protection from their enemies.
Has God asked you to listen to Him and to do what He has commanded? There will be no joy in your life until you listen and do what He has commanded. Your heart will not be at peace and your soul will not be at rest until you LISTEN and OBEY!
The Silent Treatment
O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. (Psalm 83:1)
Human nature tells us to be quiet and refuse to take part in arguments. Therefore, we give our spouses, mates, or friends "the silent treatment." In other words, our lips remain sealed. We neither answer nor engage in further conversation when we sense the need to keep quiet.
God also keeps quiet. He doesn't always answer our prayers by the time we get up from our knees. As with Job, God doesn't come when we snap our fingers. As with Job, God doesn't show up the way we expect. As with job, God will speak to us when He is ready to do so. (Job 38:1)
Why does God sometimes give us "the silent treatment"? God gives us "the silent treatment" to teach us to trust Him. Often God's silence is a matter of timing. It might seem to us that God doesn't hear or answer our prayers because He is waiting for the BEST time to do so. So, while we think God is giving us "the silent treatment," He is merely acting according to His timetable, not ours.
Good Things Available
The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)
Have you ever once thought that your work in the Lord was in vain? First Corinthians 15:58 tells us to be stedfast, immoveable always abounding in the work of the Lord for it is not in vain. In the above scripture, the psalmist comforts us by letting us know that God will not withhold any good thing from us when we diligently serve Him.
We might not always see the evidence of our work for the Lord, but God does. He knows exactly what we do and our motive for doing those things. When we walk upright God will recompense us in His own way and in His own time. Fret not, continue to abound in the work of the Lord. It is not going unnoticed or unrewarded!
God Will Withhold No Good Thing From The Righteous
For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)
When the psalmist said God is a sun, he was figuratively saying God is delighted to quickly comfort and give warmth to His people and will shine His radiance upon those who love and obey Him. To say God is a shield is to say God will save His people from all their enemies and protect them from all harm. To say the Lord will give grace simply means God's unmerited favor is always upon the righteous even when they deserve justice. God's glory is the honor that comes directly from God to those who honor Him.
The psalmist is careful in first saying who God is before saying what God will do. After saying God is a sun and shield, he said God gives grace and glory. The psalmist continues to say God will withhold no good thing from the righteous. One or two things exist if you are not receiving good things from God. Apparently, what you are seeking isn't good for you; or perhaps you are not as righteous as you profess to be.
Check the one(s) that applies, and then make the necessary adjustments. Remember, God will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly.
______ I am seeking what is NOT good for me.
______ I am NOT walking uprightly.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. (Psalm 84:11)
Favor is defined as "a friendly regard shown toward another especially by a superior." Everyone loves to be shown favor by another. It is human nature to desire the favor of those whom we hold in high esteem. The evidence of favor shows up in many ways. With man, the favor might be a token of some kind that is worn conspicuously, such as an award's ribbon, a pendant or a medal. However, God's supernatural favor might not be as detectable.
We walk in the supernatural favor of God every day when we obey His commands. However, we might not take the time to recognize it or to acknowledge that it was God's supernatural favor that we are who we are, that we are where we are, that we have what we have, and that we are going where we are going.
Let's acknowledge that God's supernatural favor is upon us. God will continue to bestow His supernatural favor upon us as long as we continue to walk blameless.
How to Hear From God
I will hear what the Lord will speak. (Psalm 85:8)
One of the most rewarding benefits of the Christian journey is to be so attuned to God that you can hear Him speak to you on a regular basis.
In the Bible God spoke to His people in the following ways:
- Audibly as when He spoke to Abraham, Moses, and Samuel.
- Through dreams to Joseph and Daniel
- Through His written word when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments
- Through many prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Joel
- Through circumstances when he spoke to Gideon to lead the nation in battle
- Through angels such as Gabriel when he spoke to Mary and Joseph about the birth of Jesus
- Through the Holy Spirit when He spoke to Paul to preach in Asia Minor
That was then. How does God speak today? There are four primary ways God speaks to His people today.
- Through his Word. Every word in the Bible is God breathed. The genealogies in the Bible are just as much God's Word as John 3:16.
- Through the Holy Spirit. God speaks to our spirit through His Spirit when we live a surrendered life.
- Through other people. When we are alert to God's voice, we will recognize it when it comes through other people's conversations, sermons, and songs.
- Through circumstances. God speaks through failures, successes, disappointments, sicknesses, tragedies and even extra blessings. This is the area that we miss hearing from God the most often. It is because we are so wrapped up in the circumstances that we fail to see God in every situation.
God is not silent. He speaks to us many times on a daily basis. Are you hearing God? What is blocking God's voice from getting through to your inner ear? When is the last time you heard God speak to you?
Become attuned to hearing God's voice, and affirm like the psalmist, "I will hear what the Lord will speak." (Psalm 85:8)
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepare the way for his steps. (Psalm 85:11-13)
The heavens respond appropriately to those who are righteous. As we are faithful, God responds with multiplied blessings. God promises He will give us good things. Since He is faithful to His word, by faith we can surely believe He will do what He said He will do. He will withhold no good thing from those who are faithful (Psalm 84:11).
Righteousness leads to multiplied blessings. God's route takes Him to righteous hearts that are prepared for His presence. Is your heart a righteous one?
An Undivided Heart
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. (Psalm 86:11)
When something is divided, there are at least two parts, maybe more. When one's heart is divided, it is focused in many directions. David prays for an undivided heart; one that has a single purpose. David prays for a heart that is focused on God so that he may praise God and give reverence to his name.
In the Bible, the word "heart" means more than one's emotions. It refers to the whole person. David's prayer means: "Help me aim my entire being in a single direction."
Our Life Application: Ask God to perform heart surgery and give you an undivided heart. Ask Him to help you to keep your mind and thoughts stayed on Him. When you have an undivided heart, your entire being will be pointed in a single direction: toward God.
Any Day Now
For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past or like a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4)
Our hope is built on our expectation of what is to happen. We live our lives waiting for a special date to roll around on the calendar. We always seem to be waiting for something . . . a job promotion, retirement, a birthday, an anniversary, vacation, the weekend, end of business today, etc. You name it; we wait for it. It seems the more anxious we are about the coming event, the longer it takes. It is extremely difficult to comprehend that with God a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (2 Peter 3:8)
When we can fathom that thought, then we can understand that Christ has been gone only two days. If we can understand that in the spiritual realm, then we will also be able to understand that Christ's Second Coming is any day now. And what we are waiting for in the natural is less than a fraction of a second away. So get ready for it!
Seventy Years or Eighty
The length of our days is seventy years or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10)
God is a God of Promise. God promised us that our days would be seventy or eighty if we have the strength. Even though seventy years or eighty seem like a long time, the psalmist advises us to number our days by asking, "What do I want to see happen in my life before I die? What small step could I take toward that purpose today?" Because our days are numbered, we should want our work to matter to those around us. We should want to do what God has created us to do. We should want to make a difference in the world.
God is a God of Promise. My Heavenly Father promised my earthly father seventy years or eighty, if he had the strength. My earthly father had the strength for 77 years, then he went to rest in the bosom of my Heavenly Father yesterday.
God is a God of Promise. Not only did He promise my father seventy years, He also promised him eternal security through His Son, Jesus Christ. My father did make a difference in the world. Now he has gone from labor to reward just as God promised.
Number Your Days
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
When most of us were children, we used to say, "I'll be glad when Christmas comes." "I'll be glad when school is out." I'll be glad when I get married." "I'll be glad when . . ." Now that we are adults, we probably say similar things. The Bible teaches us just the opposite. It teaches us to number our days. Life is short enough without saying, "I'll be glad when . . ." Realizing life is like a vapor, we would value it more and use our time wisely for eternal good. Taking time to number your days simply means valuing each day as a new opportunity to do work for the Kingdom of God. Take time to ask yourself: "What do I want to accomplish before I die? What small step could I take toward that purpose today and everyday?"
Everyday in some way no matter how small it is, you should do something toward accomplishing the work God has entrusted you to do. What you do could be as small as making a telephone call, visiting the sick, or encouraging someone. Instead of saying, "I'll be glad when something happens," be productive instead of passively waiting. Learn to number your days the short time you have to live.
Life is Short
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
When we were children, the wait for holidays and special occasions seemed to have been a long time. Now as adults, life seems to be shorter than ever, as if it is speeding by. That is because we cram so many things into a particular window of time with our busy schedules, appointments and itineraries. The psalmist tells us that we should number our days and realize that they are short. Therefore, we are to use the little time we have more wisely. We should take the time to ask ourselves these questions: "What do I want to see happen in my life before I die? What small contribution can I make to the world while I still have time? Do I have soul insurance?"
Life is short, and we should make a difference while we can. We do not know when we will reach the end of our journey. We do not know when our souls will be required of us. Let's be able to look back on our lives and have no regrets for any lost opportunities to get it right with God. Let's live each day as if it were our last. It just might be!
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, will say of the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 9l:1)
Today is my 911th message. The nation's emergency telephone number is 911. Christians consider Psalm 91 especially 91:1 to be an emergency number because of its promise of protection from God. While Psalm 91:1 is definitely a promise of protection and security, the first part of that verse is the key. Even though God is a good God and is in control of the entire world, those who live in His shadow are the ones who are given the promise of protection and security. Those who follow God's commands and have a personal intimate ongoing relationship with Him can also look upon God as their refuge and fortress. Those who do not fall into that category shouldn't expect to benefit from the rest of Psalm 91.
While God does give us the assurance of protection, He does so based on our abiding under His shadow. All can say like the psalmist, "My refuge and my fortress..." only when they dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Want protection and security? Dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Then you will be able to say, "My refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust."
The Secret Place
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)
Psalm 91 is known to some as the Christian's Emergency Psalm. Its theme is God's protection in the midst of danger. This psalm whose author is unknown has 16 verses of comfort and God's promise of help whenever we face danger. Several synonyms are included throughout this psalm in reference to God's protection: shelter, refuge, and fortress. However, the declaration is made in the very first verse that the one who dwells in the "secret place" of the Most High shall abide under "the shadow of the Almighty." As much as we would want these promises to be for everyone, this psalm is restricted to only the ones who dwell in the secret place. Who, then, can dwell in the secret place?
Only those who live a life of communion with God are always safe under God's protection. They can live at peace knowing that their lives are secure in God at all times. "To dwell" means "to live," "to abide," "to be at home," or "to live as a resident." Those who are at home with God can expect God's protection because they have positioned themselves to receive God's protective care. This happens when one dwells in the secret place. What, then, is the secret place?
First of all, notice that it is not "a" secret place; it is "the" secret place. In order to reach the secret place, one must go beyond the veil to where God is. It is God's inner chamber. This is the most intimate place of communion with God. This is the place where God longs to bring us.
It is true everyone gets some general protection, but only those who dwell in the secret place will get full coverage. Dwelling in the secret place is the position of the Christian. Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty is the privilege of the Christian. It is only after your position is set and your privilege is acknowledged that you will get full coverage through God's protection plan.
When you are fully covered, you need not worry about the fowler's snare or deadly pestilence (91:3). You need not fear the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day (91:5) or the ten thousand enemies at your right hand (91:7). When you are fully covered, God says: "I will rescue you, I will protect you, I will answer you; I will be with you in trouble, I will deliver and honor you and show you my salvation" (91:14-16).
Let us dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty for continual protective coverage!
Under the Shadow of the Almighty
You who dwell in the secret place of the Most High, who abide under the shadow of the Almighty will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1-2)
While many think Psalm 91 is the Christian Emergency Psalm, they should be aware that this psalm is not for just any Christian or so-called Christians. These verses clearly state that in order to be under God's protective care, one must live in the shelter of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. In other words, one must be so closely connected to God that God is always near as one's own shadow.
God is ever present with us, but we don't notice His manifestation when we live in perpetual sin, in darkness. In order for a shadow to form, there must be light. As we walk in the light, God hovers over us as He hovered over the waters at the Creation in Genesis. He hovers over us and guides us just as the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night led the Israelites in the wilderness.
When we dwell in God's presence we are protected from dangers all around us. God's providential care is always present if only — and if only — we abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Under the Shadow of the Almighty
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide under the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust. (Psalm 91:1-2)
Psalm 91 is often referred to as the Christian Emergency Psalm. Psalm 91 is the assurance of God's protection. You might think you are in trouble when you begin reading the psalm, but by the time you get to the end, you will have the peace, comfort and joy that you seek.
Throughout the psalm, you will experience the presence of God. Verse by verse the psalmist gives examples of how bad things might look in the natural, but when you are under the shadow of the Almighty none of these things will harm you.
If you are experiencing loneliness, heartaches, pain or suffering in any manner and you need to get that blessed assurance that God is there by your side, read Psalm 91 in its entirety.
In Protective Custody
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:11)
Many of us know that when you witness a crime and tell it to the authorities, you are subject to being violated by the criminal. When you expose the criminal, he retaliates and you might fear for your life. Don't you know that when you work in the kingdom of God, you bring the sins of the world into the open? You expose the enemy and he seeks revenge on you. Even so, you need not be afraid or fear for you life. Why not?
Eyewitnesses are put into a program to protect them from any danger the enemy might impose upon them. For full protection, it does mean changing their names, identities, previous likes and dislikes and moving away from jobs, families, and friends. And even then, there is no foolproof guarantee that they might not be found and harmed.
God has a better protective custody program for those who witness and testify concerning His Son Jesus Christ. Yes, the devil is going to mess with our mind and make us believe we are in danger. But the words of Psalm 91 should give us great comfort: "You will not fear the terror by night; nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. (Psalm 91:5-6)
When you are in God's protective custody, then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. (Psalm 91:10)
The Most High God
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High. (Psalm 92:1)
Most High is a name for God which appears frequently in the Old Testament, particularly in the Psalms and the Books of Isaiah and Daniel. The name emphasizes the might and power of God.
God is all powerful. He is the all-powerful Lord who created all things and sustains them by the Word of His power (Genesis 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:3). Storms may come in our lives, but God calms the storms because of His power and His love for us. There is nothing — absolutely nothing too hard for God, for God can do everything.
How To Say Thank You
It is good to say thank you to the Lord, to sing praises to the God who is above all gods. Every morning tell Him, "Thank you for your kindness," and every evening rejoice in all His faithfulness. (Psalm 92:1-2)
Thankfulness ought to be the prime characteristic of a Christian's life. When someone gives you a gift, do you say, "That's very nice, how much do I owe you?" Of course not! The appropriate response to a gift is "Thank you." Yet how often do some Christians, after they have been given the gift of salvation, feel obligated to try to work their way to God? Because our salvation and even our faith are gifts, we should respond with gratitude, praise and joy.
Signs of Thankfulness
It is good to say thank you to the Lord, to sing praises to the God who is above all gods. Every morning tell him, "Thank you for your kindness," and every evening rejoice in all his faithfulness. (Psalm 92:1-2)
A complaining person is not a thankful person. You can tell a thankful person because he demonstrates it by his life on a daily basis instead of reserving it only for celebrations.
There are five significant aspects of thanksgiving. Unless you do all five on a consistent basis, perhaps you are not as thankful as you should be.
1. Remember what God has done.
2. Tell others about what God has done.
3. Demonstrate God's glory to others by your lifestyle.
4. Offer gifts of yourself, your time, and your resources to the Kingdom of God.
5. Replace words of complaining with words of thankfulness.
If you are truly thankful to the Almighty God, your life will show it. When thanksgiving becomes an integral part of you, your attitude toward life will change. You will become more positive, more gracious, more humble and more loving.
It is good to be around a thankful person. Are you one of them?
Being Fruitful in Lebanon
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” (Psalm 92:12-15)
On your spiritual journey consider stopping by Lebanon today. Lebanon takes its name from the Lebanon Mountains, which run parallel to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea for almost the length of the country. The scenic beauty of the country has inspired many symbolic references in the Bible. The rich vegetation of Lebanon has become a symbol of fruitfulness and fertility.
Originally, the famed Cedars of Lebanon covered the region, but conquerors destroyed the forest by using the wood for palaces, furniture, ships, coffins, and musical instruments. Yet, Lebanon is still known for its cedars that grow up to 100 feet tall with a trunk circumference of 40-50 feet.
While visiting Lebanon, reflect on how fruitful your life has become. Also, reflect on what you can do to make your life even more fruitful.
Because of its beauty and year long sports, Lebanon is often called “the playground of the Middle East.” Enjoy your day in Lebanon.
Useful; Yet Not Youthful
The righteous will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green proclaiming "The Lord is upright, he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him." (Psalm 92:14-15)
Many people might wonder how useful they will be when they get older. The reality of the matter is that even though the righteous will certainly lose their youthfulness, they will not lose their usefulness. Like a tree that continues to bear fruit, older people will always be useful to God.
Moses lived to be 120 and his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. (Deuteronomy 34:7) This does not mean that we will stay youthful forever but that we will stay useful to God as long as we live no matter how old we live to be.
Remember, the righteous will always be useful; yet not youthful.
When Life Becomes a Slippery Slope
When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O Lord, supported me. (Psalm 94:18)
It is not unusual for us to sometimes feel that we are falling down a slippery slope. A slippery slope is simply a metapor describing a place in our lives when we feel that we are spiraling downhill and we have no control. It seems impossible to continue the ascent and equally impossible to attempt a descent. While being on a slippery slope seems to be an awful position to be in, there is value in slippery slopes.
When we are stuck on a slippery slope, we have to depend on God. The people who have made it to the top are unlikely willing to come back to take our place. The people at the bottom who see our slipping and sliding are fearful to attempt a rescue. While that seems to be an awful position to be in, there is value in being stuck on a slippery slope where human help is not an option.
When life becomes a slippery slope, we could stay there and die trying to figure out how we got there in the first place. We could blame others for making us get there. We could be envious of those who made it to the top. We could be embarrassed that those at the bottom were counting on us. OR we could grab the rope God throws us and be rescued.
God is in charge of slippery slopes!
What To Do With Doubt
When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. (Psalm 94:19)
What do you do with doubt? Do you hold on to it like a treasured friend? Or do you replace it with a more positive emotion? The psalmist knew what to do with doubt in Psalm 94:19. He transferred his doubt into something positive: comfort, hope and cheer. He couldn't handle his doubts, so he gave them to someone who could.
Paul cared deeply for the Christians in Rome. His prayer focused on the hope they had through the power of the Holy Spirit: "So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13). Paul acknowledges that it is God who gives hope which will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What is the best thing to do with doubt? When in doubt, kick it out! When in doubt, make a divine exchange for hope. In the most doubtful situations, there is ALWAYS a glimmer of hope if you will just stay focused enough to recognize it.
Why Kneel to Pray?
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker. (Psalm 95:6)
Kneeling to pray has been practiced since biblical days as an act of humility, reverence and respect. Kneeling is just one of the many ways to express honor to God. However, many people choose it as their praying position.
It is interesting that on many occasions, Jesus stood while praying. He was standing when He taught the disciples to pray that prayer we refer to as the "model prayer." (Matthew 6:9-13) However, kneeling was Jesus' position of choice when He prayed that unforgettable prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knelt down and prayed. (Luke 22:40-41)
Throughout the Bible we read about people clapping, shouting, dancing, playing musical instruments, standing in awe, raising hands, bowing heads, lying down and kneeling. Clearly all these actions are acceptable and appropriate to worship God. God is pleased and hears our prayers no matter what position we choose. The important thing is that we come to Him in humility with a sincere heart.
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker. (Psalm 95:6)
O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, fear before him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:9)
Three years ago I spent three weeks in the Middle East; a week in Jordan, one in Egypt, and a week in Israel (the Holy Land). That wonderful week in the Holy Land changed my life. I no longer read the Bible as just a history book. Now when I read about the places, I still remember the sights, the sounds and the feeling I had when I was there.
The one thing I experienced and truly miss is being part of true worship. Our group attended services at different churches. At one church we couldn't even understand the Ethiopian language. At another church the preacher preached the sermon first in Hebrew. Having taken Hebrew I did understand a few words of the sermon. But then the sermon "The Miracle at Cana" from John --- was also preached in English. Had it not been preached in English I still would have been blessed because of the universality of true worship. I could not help feeling the presence of the Lord because of the scarceness of the environment. I could feel the glory of the Lord even without understanding the language.
True worship is forgetting about everything else and focusing only on God. True worship is not thinking about what you will do after leaving church. True worship is entering into the presence of God through the coming together of the community of faith. True worship is when we allow ourselves to get lost in God's love. True worship is letting our hearts be open to receive God in all His holiness. True worship is been able to honor God whether you are in your own local church or in a church thousands of miles away even when you don't understand the words.
God is worthy of our true worship.
Joy To The World
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn — shout for joy before the Lord, the King. (Psalm 98:4-6)
Issac Watts' hymn, "Joy to the World" is based on Psalm 98. Through the words of this hymn we can see why Watts explains emphatically the words to this well-known Christmas hymn. Notice he says, "Joy to the world! Then he tells why. "The Lord IS (not has) come. The Lord is come is in the present tense verb which means Jesus is ever present. Then Watts continues with "Let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare Him room . . ." Jesus brought joy to the entire world if the world would receive Him as King. The directive for every heart to prepare Him room simply means that we should open our hearts to receive Jesus and not crowd Him out with other things. Unlike the innkeeper who said there is no room in the inn, we should always have room for Jesus.
If the innkeeper had only known that Jesus was "Joy to the World" he probably would have made room for Him. Since you know Jesus is "Joy to the World" let your heart prepare Him room.
Before the Lord; for he comes to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity. (Psalm 98:9)
If you have ever been mistreated, there is good news for you. If you have ever been controlled by someone else, there is good news for you. If you have ever been treated unfairly, there is good news for you. If you have ever been the recipient of the short end of the stick, the above scripture is good news for you, and it should give you hope.
God does not treat us like man. God treats all His people with fairness and equity. He judges the earth with righteous judgment. He does not base His judgment on who is popular and who is powerful in the world. God does not look on the outward appearance. He looks on the heart. God judges us based on our relationship with Him and how obedient we are to His commandments.
One might be successful in man's sight but not in the sight of God. One might be a failure in the sight of man, but those who do the will and work of God will reap God's eternal blessings.
Where Has All the Holiness Gone?
Worship the Lord in holy splendor... (Psalm 96:9) Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he! (Psalm 99:3)
The Psalms illustrate the psalmists' passion for holiness. The leaders of the early church respected God's holiness and taught and set examples for holiness. Paul preached the holiness of God and how we, as God's people should be holy because God is holy.
Where has all the holiness gone? Is it recognized in our modern churches? Where is God in the singing? in the worship service? in the hearts of God's people? Holiness is not as prevalent in our churches today because people exalt themselves instead of God. They take the glory that belongs to God alone.
Where has all the holiness gone? It has been replaced with loud and lengthy songs so much so that no one can hear the still small voice of God. It has been replaced with things other than the proclamation of Jesus Christ. It has been replaced with people yelling out the commands, "Praise, the Lord!" "Praise the Lord, EVERYBODY!" "I said, 'Praise the Lord EVERYBODY'" If only those people knew that saying "Praise the Lord" IS NOT praising the Lord. It is merely repeating a command. True praise is honoring the awesome name of God. True praise is adoring God and getting lost in His glory. True praise is acknowledging that Jesus is the lover of your soul. True praise is allowing the Holy Spirit to rise up on the inside of you causing you to respond the way He guides. It might be something as silent as a single tear streaming down your face.
Where has all the holiness gone? It has certainly gone away from God and has been replaced by too much legalism and unbiblical practices. Let us decrease and let the holiness and power of God come back into our churches. Let us please God by worshipping in a way that honors Him and Him alone!
We Are His People
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3)
There are some wonderful connections in this scripture that we should not overlook. Here we learn the Lord is God, and we are His. This tells us that even though He is above all creations, He is still intimately nigh. God is our Creator; we did not create ourselves. Many of us live as though we did create ourselves and center on our own little world making our own rules as we go along. But when we realize that God created us, we are then able to understand that He knows how to take care of us better than we know how to take care of ourselves.
God knows the plans for our lives because His thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8). Let your Creator be in charge of you today just as a shepherd is in charge of his sheep, leading, guiding, protecting and caring for them at all times.
We Belong to GodKnow that the Lord is God. It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. (Psalm 100:3)
It is a natural and a normal feeling to want to belong. Everyone wants to belong to someone or to something. The problem exists when our belonging is misplaced.
Our trust always should be in the God who made us. When we get our priorities straight and realize that since we belong to God, He orders our steps and puts us in those places that are best for us. He puts the right people in our midst at the right time to fulfill His plan not only for us but for others as well.
Let us remember to thank God for the opportunity to belong to Him. Let us also remember that the God who has made us in His own image is using us daily for His plan to be fulfilled through us.
We Did Not Make Ourselves
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3)
There are some wonderful connections in this scripture that we should not overlook. Here we learn the Lord is God, and we are His. Therefore, we should depend on Him for everything. The above scripture tells us that even though God is above all creations, He is still intimately nigh. God is our Creator; we did not create ourselves.
Many of us live as though we did create ourselves and center on our own little world making our own rules as we go along. But when we realize that God created us, we are then able to understand that He knows how to take care of us better than we know how to take care of ourselves. God knows the plans for our lives because His thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8).
Let your Creator be in charge of you just as a shepherd is in charge of his sheep, leading, guiding, protecting and caring for them at ALL times.
Put Thanks Back in Thanksgiving
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:4)
For Christians, every day is a day of thanksgiving. First Thessalonians 5:18 tells us "to give thanks in ALL circumstances." The following will remind you of the things we should be thankful for not only on the last Thursday in November every year, but also everyday of our lives.
- Truth..."You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32)
- Hearts... "Let not your hearts be troubled...in my Father's house are many mansions." (John 14:1)
- Abundance..."I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
- Newness of Life..."We are buried with Him by baptism into death... in order that we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)
- Kingdom of God... "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." (Matthew 6:33)
- Salvation..."He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him." (Hebrews 5:9)
- Goodness of God..."The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." (Romans 2:4)
- Identification..."You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God." (I Peter 2:9)
- Victory over Death..."Death has been swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15:54)
- Inheritance..."And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." (Romans 8:17)
- No Condemnation..."There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)
- Gift of the Son..."For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Let's thank God for who He is as well as for what He does. _____________________________________________________________________________________________
Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations. (Psalm 100:4-5) COMMANDS:
- (1) Be thankful unto God.
- (2) Bless His name.
- For the Lord is good.
- His mercy is everlasting. His truth endureth to all generations.
There are four (4) significant aspects of thankfulness.
- REMEMBER what God has done.
- TELL others of God's marvelous works.
- SHOW God's glory in your life.
- OFFER gifts of self, time and resources.
If you are truly thankful, then let these four (4) aspects of thankfulness be present in your life. Why? Because God commands it, and He gave reasons to back them up.
Successful or Faithful?
Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me. (Psalm 101:6)
In the Bible, Jesus NEVER called anyone successful. However, on many occasions, He called people faithful. Is there a lesson in that for us?
God NEVER said He would reward success, but He often said He would reward faithfulness. This is not to say that successful people aren't faithful. But it does say we shouldn't trade one for the other. We shouldn't rely solely on success. We should rely on the One who will call us faithful.
A person's success could quickly fade away and become a thing of the past. A person could be successful one day and a failure the next day. That's because we live in an imperfect world where people measure success by numbers: the amount of money they have, the cost of their house, the number of televisions they own, the number of cars in their garage, and the expense of their last vacation. Having those things is great, but NEVER expect God to call you faithful because you have them. He calls us faithful and rewards faithfulness when we serve Him with our whole heart; when we love our neighbor as ourselves and when we show love to ALL His people and not just to the ones who we think can do something for us.
God NEVER called us to be successful. God called us to be faithful.
The Set Time
You will arise and have mercy on Zion: for the time to favor her, yes, the set time has come. (Psalm 102:13)
Timing is important in everything we do. You might have a good idea to do something, but your idea must coincide with God's timing. God might ordain you for a mission, but it could be many years later before its manifestation. For example, Joseph dreamed prophetic dreams when he was a teenager. It was 13 years later when he was 30 years old when his dreams were realized. Abraham was given the promise of a son. Isaac was not born until 25 years later. It took Moses 40 years to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. David was just a ruddy kid when he was anointed to be king. He was 30 when he finally sat on the throne.
Timing was essential in the birth, life, and death of Jesus. At His first miracle, he told his mother that his time had not come. There is a time and a season for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3). Many are trying to chart the time of Jesus' return. It cannot be done. The time of the Second Coming is unknown. As He came the first time, in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4), so will the Second Coming be. No one can know when He will return; not even Jesus Himself. Only the Father knows. We don't know when He will return, but we know that He will, and when He does . . . it will be "the set time."
Bless the Lord With Your Soul
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me. (Psalm 103:1)
Many people claim Psalm 103 as one of their favorite passages in the Bible. In these 22 verses, David focuses on God's goodness. He itemizes God's benefits and tells his soul not to forget them. The list of benefits includes the forgiveness of sins, the healing of diseases, and the redemption from death. We receive satisfaction, righteousness and justice because of God's grace and love for us. If you have ever studied Psalm 103, surely you saw all these things. However, here is a liberating lesson you may not know. David is NOT talking to God in this psalm. David is talking ABOUT God. He is talking TO his soul. He is telling his soul to do what his mouth is powerless to do.
When David says, "Bless the Lord, O my soul" he is saying "O my soul, bless the Lord." He is calling on his soul, his inward being to bless the Lord because blessing God with his mouth is weak and insufficient. Lip service can't measure up to how the psalmist wants to praise God. The psalmist says he wants to thank God with every fiber of his being. He wants to thank God from the inside, from deep within.
Sometimes saying, "Hallelujah" is not enough. Sometimes saying "Praise the Lord" falls short of how you want to express thanks and gratitude for all that God has done. Sometimes you need to speak directly to your soul and say, "O my soul, bless the Lord."
When magnifying the Lord with your mouth doesn't measure up, bless the Lord with your soul instead.
Passion or Position? Job or Career?
People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening. (Psalm 104:23)
Do you know the difference between a job and a career? Do you know the difference between working with passion and working just because you are in a particular position? If you said, "No" to either one of these two questions, then perhaps you are working in a position without having the passion for it. If so, you might be most miserable. However, if you have a passion for what you do, then you are truly blessed. You are doubly blessed if you are passionate about what you do and you also get paid for doing it.
There is a high percentage of people who work just to get paid. They routinely do what they do only to be motivated by the check they receive. But where is the passion? Paul was passionate about what he did. He was so passionate about his calling and his mission that even while he was under house arrest, he continued to work. The Books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon were all written while Paul was chained to two guards on both sides. Ephesians 6:11-17 gives a beautiful illustration of what Paul saw when he looked at the guards. That's why he could say, "Put on the whole armor of God" because that's what the Roman guards wore: belts, helmets, breastplates, shoes, and they carried shields and swords. The Book of Philippians is known as the "joy" book. From prison, Paul told us to rejoice in the Lord. Colossians is a short epistle Paul wrote to tell the people in Colosse how to live. Here is a man in prison telling free people how to live. That's passion for people! Philemon was written to advise a slave owner how to manage his own work. Paul had a passion for the position he was in; even in prison. He didn't just work because it was a job.
By the way, a job is a task that has to be done. A job is a temporarily position that you maintain on the way to your career. A career is a profession one undertakes as a permanent calling. Work is a daily task that is part of your job. Having a passion for your work is having a strong desire for or devotion to it. A true test to determine if you are working because of the passion or position is to ask yourself, "Would I do this job if I didn't get a paycheck for it?" If the answer is "No" then it is just a position and not a passion. Admittedly, a paycheck is a strong motivator!
What do you have? Passion or position? Job or career?
Seek God's Face; Not His Hand
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. (Psalm 105:4)
We are asking for the wrong thing! While we should be asking for God's face, we make the mistake of asking for God's hand. In other words, instead of wanting more of God Himself, we merely want what God can do for us.
Let's change our request and see how quickly God will begin to manifest Himself to us not only in His presence but also in His presents.Pop Quiz:
- What should we ask for...God's face or God's hand? God's face is correct.
- What will we get when we ask for God's face? We will get both...God's face and God's hand.
God's Mighty Acts
Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise? (Psalm 106:2)
When a person prepares a resume, all his accomplishments are listed to prove that he can do the job. We often like to tell people what we can do based on what we have done. It would take a lifetime to list all the mighty acts of God. God's mighty acts cover every aspect of life from our birth to our death and even beyond the grave. The more we think about what God has done, the more we can look forward to the unfulfilled promises He has made to us. They, too, will be fulfilled in due season.
You will no doubt remember the mighty acts of God in your life, with your own family and among your own friends. Then multiply those mighty acts by the millions of God's other people. You will then know that the scripture above is a rhetorical question: "Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?" The answer is a resounding: EVERYONE!
Reminding God of His Words
Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people. (Psalm 106:4)
If you want to talk to your boss about a raise, the first step is to get on the boss' good side by engaging the boss in a conversation about something other than the raise. For instance, if your boss loves sports, start a conversation about sports. Your children do it to you all the time. When they want something, they give you all kinds of compliments just to find favor with you.
While we are not tricking God into a useless conversation, He does want us to establish communication with Him before making requests. In fact, God wants to be reminded of His own words. God is not absent-minded, but He delights in hearing His own words repeated back to Him, and it is also good for us. If you are desiring something, remind God that He said, "Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). When you need a financial blessing, remind God that He said, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). Then remind God that He said, "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:10). Don't limit God. Don't ask for just one cattle. Ask for one of the hills. Are you sick or in pain? Remind God that He said, " . . . and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Speak God's words back to Him and remind Him what He said. Then God will delight in you, find favor with you, protect you, and "no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11)
How to Walk in Divine Favor
Remember me, O Lord, with your favor you have toward your people. (Psalm 106:4)
No doubt everyone wants to walk in divine favor. However, only a few people know how to do it. Favor is on God's agenda (Psalm 102:13) and among the righteous, there is always favor (Proverbs 14:9). If you want to walk in divine favor, obey God and follow His commandments. Then follow these guidelines:
- Believe it. Believe that you deserve God's favor.
- Affirm it. Acknowledge that God's favor is on your life.
- Act like it. Begin to act like you have divine favor even if you don't know it at the time.
- Speak like you walk in divine favor. Watch what you say because your words become action, and your action become deeds.
- Embrace compliments. Just say "Thank you" when people compliment you. Don't downplay any compliment.
- Disown unwarranted criticisms; however pay attention to constructive criticisms. Constructive criticisms could help you make needed changes to those things you were not aware of. The best thing to do is to heed the advice of someone you trust. He or she will tell you the truth.
When you do all these things while obeying God, you are sure to walk in divine favor.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so . . . ! (Psalm 107:2a)
God has done so much for us, and we have so much for which to thank Him. He wants us to tell everyone all that He has done. When we live in God's presence we will not be able to keep glorious experience to ourselves. Also, we overcome the enemy by the words of our testimony (Revelation 12:11).
What has God done for you? If there is something that you can tell, then say so!
How to Handle Your Storms
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. (Psalm 107:29)
Do you know some people who almost always say they are going through a storm? Do you know some people who almost never say they are going through a storm? Does that mean God plays favorites with the second group? No indeed! It's not about the storm. It's the attitude concerning the storm.
The first group more than likely tells God how big the storm is. Contrary, the second group more than likely tells the storm how big God is.
Big God or Big Storm? To which group do you belong?
How to Handle Your Storms
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. (Psalm 107:29)
Do you know some people who almost always say they are going through a storm? Do you know some people who almost never say they are going through a storm? Does that mean God plays favorites with the second group? No indeed! It's not about the storm. It's the attitude concerning the storm.
The first group more than likely tells God how big the storm is. Contrary, the second group more than likely tells the storm how big God is.
Big God or Big Storm? To which group do you belong?
Wounded For A Reason
For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. (Psalm 109:22)
There is no one on the face of the earth who has not been wounded to some degree. We all have been wounded by family, friends, church folks, employers, co-workers, teachers, classmates, etc. No one is exempt. How we handle our wounds determines how long we will stay wounded.
If you focus on the reason you are wounded, you will learn from the experience. Ask yourself how your wounding could have been prevented. Ask yourself how much you contributed to your own wounds. More than likely, you invited the wounds into your life because of something you did or because of something you did not do.
If you are having a hard time understanding the principle of being wounded, let me explain that God allows us to be wounded a little now in order to prevent greater wounds later. If a parent punishes a child when he steals from her purse, perhaps he will not spend time in jail for robbing a bank when he becomes a man. If an engagement is broken before the marriage, surely feelings of both the prospective bride and groom are wounded. But isn't it better to be wounded before marriage than to end up day and night in a wounded marriage?
Look for the reason you are wounded. Then get over it and get on with your life. It is always better to be wounded a little now than a lot later. Then if you are still having a problem with your woundedness, consider this: "But He [Jesus] was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him." (Isaiah 53:5) No matter how severe your wounds have been, you have never been wounded like that.
Make Thine Enemies Thy Footstool
The LORD said unto my Lord, "Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." (Psalm 110:1)
Have you ever prayed that your enemies would leave you alone? Or rather that God would make your enemies your footstool? If you have, do you know what your are really praying for? Do you know the custom or the biblical background for this saying?
Customs are important in the Bible. Therefore, it is imperative that you know what the custom means in order for your Bible study and life applications be effective. Making one's enemies thy footstool goes back to an ancient custom when a conquering monarch had the image of defeated kings carved on his footstool. Then, seated upon his throne, he would put his feet on the stool, signifying the trampling underfoot of the enemies. The prophetic statement "until I make thine enemies thy footstool," was used by Paul in Ephesians 1:20-22 with reference to Christ's final triumph over Satan, making him His footstool, putting him under His feet.
So, now you know what you are really saying when you say you are "making your enemies your footstool." You are victorious and your enemies are defeated.
Pay Your Bill
He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever---holy and awesome is his name. (Psalm 111:9)
Modern technology has made it so easy for us to check our bank account, transfer funds and pay our bills online. When we enter a secure credit card site, we must first log in using our own user identification and our own password. Then we are given several choices. We may view our statement, check our recent activity, pay our bill or seek information from customer service. After we have completed our transaction, we may log out.
Our coming into God's presence is quite similar. We must enter our secure site by confessing Jesus is Lord. That is the only way to gain access to God. Then we are given a new identity which we use every time we want to connect with Him. When we seek God's face through prayer and praise, we make a connection and enter into His presence. Then we may do several things: enjoy His presence, adore Him, or give Him thanks. Unlike the credit card site, we will NEVER see "Pay Your Bill." Our bill has already been paid in full. Jesus paid it all when He died on the cross and God raised Him from the dead. The conviction of our heart by the Holy Spirit will confirm if our recent activity was pleasing in His sight. And since we are in His presence, we may inquire of the Lord about how to serve Him better rather than asking for blessings to satisfy our own selfish motives.
Do you want your bill paid? Log in to God and discover that your bill has already been paid.
How Do You Want To Be Remembered?
The righteous will be remembered forever. (Psalm 112:6)
Kind words are often spoken over the deceased at their funerals. If the decreased had a choice, they probably would not have chosen those scenarios to share. I teach a course at The Way of Life Spiritual Development Center where I instruct students to write their own obituary and design their own funeral program. This is beneficial because the students come to terms with their own mortality. Shortly after this assignment, one of my students died and his family used the obituary the student had written in class.
How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to remember about you? How do I want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as being a "Life-Application Theologian." I find a life application in every person I meet and in every situation I experience.
Case in point: I am now babysitting my six-month old grandson, Makai. As I watch him trying to crawl, I observe numerous life applications. The object he tries to reach is right in front of him. However, he crawls backward. That's the way we are. God has our blessing right in front of our face. Instead of crawling toward it, we back up and oftentimes go in the opposite direction away from our blessing. At other times, instead of Makai reaching and stretching for the object, he gives up, puts his head on the floor and cries. Don't we do the same thing? If only we would reach just a little farther and stretch a little harder, we would get what we so much desire. At times Makai gives up on crawling because he is better at pulling up. Don't we do the same thing? We change our strategy too soon. While the blessing is just inches away from us, instead of sticking with it until we are fulfilled, we find another task to do.
Because I am a "Life-Application Theologian," there are not many things for which I can't find a life application. Even the babysitting itself has becomes a life application. Besides being inspired to write an E-Message about it, I embrace what this infant is teaching me about life principles. I thrive on being a "Life-Application Theologian." That's the way I want to be remembered. How do you want to be remembered?
What Shall I Render?
What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? (Psalm 116:12)
Literally, the above question means "What shall I return?" In other words, what portion of what you have received FROM God should you give back TO God? Everything you have came from God. What should you render unto Him? God wants you to render unto Him a portion of what He has given you. Have you received additional money? It was from God, therefore, give a portion of it back to Him. Have you receive more time? It is from God; therefore, give Him more of your time. Has God given you more wisdom and knowledge? Use it for the building up of God's kingdom.
There is no doubt that we cannot repay God for all He has done. It is impossible to compensate Him for creating us, for sending a Savior for our soul or for the multitude of other things He did and is still doing. But what we can do is render unto Him what is due His name. There should be an inward desire to respond to His grace in some appropriate way. That way should include expressing thanks by worshipping Him as a special act of devotion in recognition of His "new mercies every morning" (Lamentations 3:23). Don't let today go by without giving Him a portion of what He has given you.
The Shortest Psalm
Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 117)
Do you know what the shortest chapter in the Bible is? The two verses above make up the entire chapter of Psalm 117. While Psalm 117 is short, it answers three questions.
- WHAT? "Praise the Lord! Extol Him!"
- WHO? "All you nations; all you peoples."
- WHY? For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Notice, in the shortest chapter of the Bible, everyone is included. Everyone is called to do something. And what are we called to do? To praise the Lord!
Today: A Transitional Day
This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
You have probably heard it said, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." Well, that's true. Today IS the first day of the rest of your life. Today is a transitional day from yesterday. Today is the link that connects your past with your future. You cannot change what has happened in the past, but you can change what happens in the future. If you dwell on the past and wallow in the "Woe is me" syndrome, you will probably continue to have the same "Woe is me" experiences. However, if you use the past as a steppingstone into your future, then all your hurts, pains, and sorrows can proportionally be transformed into joy, peace and pleasure.
Let today be a transitional day in your life. Whether this is your birthday, anniversary, or just an ordinary day, let it be the firstfruit of many days just like it. Let today be different. Do something different. If you have been drinking stale coffee just because it was convenient, make yourself a fresh pot. Why? Because you deserve it. If you have been having a half glass of orange juice, you are entitled to a whole glass today. Whatever you have been doing, kick it up a notch today. Why? Because you deserve it, and today is an exceptional day. Today is a transitional day. Today is the day that divides the past from the future. Today is the day that links yesterday with tomorrow. However, today may be the only day that you have to make a difference in the lives of the people you come in contact with. So make today count!
Today is a transitional day. Let's pump up our prayers. Let's praise God more. Let's forgive those who have hurt us. Let's trust those who love us. At the end of THIS day, let's look in the mirror and say..."Yes, today was a transitional day."
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
We hear this scripture quoted all the time. You have probably quoted it yourself. Do you know what you are saying when you quote it?
Notice the acknowledgment is made first about the time period . . . "This is the day." Which day? The day that we are presently in. This day...right now. This day is the time period God has designated to favor those who are in it. The pre-requisite for joy and gladness is to be alive. If you are reading this, you have met the first requirement because you are alive and in this day.
Since you are in this day, you are in a good position to receive two things this day: joy and gladness.
Oftentimes, we delay our joy and gladness by saying, "I will be glad when..." God wants us to be glad this day.
When we quote this scripture, we are acknowledging our awareness of God's favor on us right now at this particular time instead of in the future. God doesn't want us to delay our joy and gladness. God wants us to rejoice and be glad right now, this very minute. God wants us to have today's joy.
Now that you know what it means, say along with me, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
In 1955 Fats Domino recorded a hit song, "Blue Monday." The lyrics went like this: "Blue Monday, Oh, how I hate Blue Monday..." Actually this song was one of the first rhythm and blues songs to make the pop music charts. What was Fats Domino thinking to record such lyrics? And what were the people thinking to buy such a record? And why do I remember the lyrics 51 years later? The reason is simple. Everyone can relate to a Blue Monday. Everybody has a blue Monday once in a while. The problem, however, occurs when every Monday is blue.
What, then, is a Blue Monday? The meaning has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the day. The meaning has more to do with you and your weekend experiences. A Monday is considered blue when you are depressed because it is a workday in contrast to the relaxation of the weekend. A Monday is considered blue when you were on a high during the weekend and reality sets in on Monday when you have to return to the order of business. Again, it is not the day that should cause concern. It is your attitude about the day.
Preachers might have a Blue Monday after having preached a spirit-filled sermon on Sunday and realized on Monday that most of the people in the congregation were really asleep during the service. A teacher might have a Blue Monday with the thought of starting a new course. A student might have a Blue Monday when he realizes he hasn't studied for a major test. Oh, the thought of seeing a big red F in the corner of his paper. Lovers might have a Blue Monday after a serious weekend fight. A toddler might have a Blue Monday if it's the day she has to go to the pediatrician. She remembers the four shots she got the last time; two in each leg. One might dread his Monday's dental appointment. Oh, the thought of a drill in your mouth after a good weekend!
What color is your Monday? Are you saying like Fats Domino, "Blue Monday! Oh, how I hate Blue Monday!" If that's your tune today, here is how to change it. Remember, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Find something to celebrate!
An Extra Day
This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24
It is not every year we can write February 29. While everyday is a day which the Lord has made, today is an extra day in February that we experience every four years since leap years occur in every year which can be divided evenly by four. Leap year was added to the calendar to make the calendar year nearly the same as the solar year, which is the time required for the sun to pass the vernal equinox twice. The extra day is added to the end of February and occurs as February 29 once every four years. Those born on February 29 may officially celebrate their birthdays today . . . the first time in 4 years.
Adjustments have to be made on February 29 in some organizations. For example, I teach a particular class every odd numbered day, which usually means every other day. February 29 and March 1 are two consecutive days, and they are both odd numbered days. Therefore, it is the only time in 4 years that I have to make that particular adjustment.
You, too, should use this extra day to make adjustments. Use this day to evaluate your life and make assessments. The top priority of today and everyday should be to live so God can be glorified. What are your plans for this extra day? Do you plan to share the love of God with someone who doesn't know God? Or is it just another day for you?
Respect God's Laws
With my whole heart I seek your commandments. I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you. (Psalm 119:10-11)
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the entire Bible. It has 176 verses and only three of them do not include reference to God's laws, commandments, statutes, ordinances, word or precepts (Psalms 119:90, 122, 132). God's laws were respected by the psalmist who expressed passion and compassion through 173 verses.
The psalmist gives many benefits of respecting God's laws. Here are just a few:
- "Happy are those who walk in the law of the Lord." (Psalm 119:1)
- "Those who follow God's law are not put to shame." (Psalm 119:6)
- "There are wondrous things out of God's laws." (Psalm 119:18)
- "God's laws are counselors and guides." (Psalm 119:24)
- "God's laws give strength." (Psalm 119:28)
- "God's laws give understanding." (Psalm 119:109)
- "God's laws give great peace and keep us from stumbling." (Psalm 119:165)
Read Psalm 119 in its entirety to discover more benefits you will receive by respecting God's laws.
Why Hide God's Word in Your Heart?
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)
Have you ever wondered why God wants us to hide His word in our heart? Is the God we serve into playing "Hide and Seek" like the game we played as children? Not at all! God is not interested in us hiding scriptures in our heart so He can find them. God's command to hide His word in our heart is more for us than for Him.
Why hide God's word in our heart? The second part of the above verse tells us that if we hide God's word in our heart we might not sin against Him. The word hide in this particular verse means "to keep." Hiding or simply keeping God's word in our heart alone will not prevent us from sinning. It will however be a strong deterrent to sin. In other words, when we keep God's word in our heart, it becomes a vital part of our lives, and we might not sin against God. God's word will become our own built-in treasure chest that will enrich our lives. God's word will become our road map guiding us every step of the way. Like Jesus, we can use God's word as our strongest weapon against our enemies, and God's word will be our response to temptations. (Matthew 4:1-11)
How do we hide God's word in our heart? We hide God's word in our heart by reading God's word, studying God's words, meditating on God's word, memorizing God's word and obeying God's word. Then God's word will begin to shape our thinking and our behavior.
If you are faced with a dilemma today, find a scripture that pertains to it. Hide it in your heart and watch what happens.
Why Hide God's Word in Your Heart?
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the entire Bible with 176 verses, and each verse concerns God's word. In verse 11, the psalmist tells why he has hidden God's word in his heart. God's word is hidden in the psalmist's heart so that he might not sin against God. How do we hide God's word in our hearts? We hide God's word in our hearts by studying His word, memorizing scriptures and meditating on His promises. God's word will go down so deep within our hearts that it will cause us not to sin.
How, then, does God's word keep us from sinning? Sin is failure to do what God requires. When the word is hidden deep within our hearts, it keeps us from deliberately sinning. Knowing God's word is a way to know God's will. And when we know God's will, we are less likely to sin because we want to please Him every way we can.
Let's please God by hiding His word in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him. Do you know about God and His word?
Open mine eyes that I may see wondrous things out of thy law. (Psalm 119:18)
Have you had an eye examination recently? When your eyes begin to fail, you immediately make an appointment to have them tested. The doctor tells you to read a chart to determine the extent of your eye problem. Tests are given to see if you are nearsighted or farsighted. More tests are given to see if your words are clear or blurred, whether bright lights bother your eyes, or if you can see well enough in the dark to drive at night. This examination is necessary if you are to continue to see clearly with your physical eyes.
Just as you make every effort to preserve your physical sight, you should also take an examination to determine if you are seeing properly with your spiritual eyes. The main way to keep your spiritual vision in tack is to always focus on God; to gaze upon His face each morning when you first open your eyes. Then you should check your vision daily by reading His word. This will not only help to chart your spiritual vision, but it will also improve your spiritual vision. Receive maximum benefit from your reading by beginning with a short prayer such as "Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." (Psalm 119:18)
I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me. (Psalm 119:19)
When Dora the Explorer gets lost, the first thing she asks for is the map. Whenever we go on a tour or visit a place for the first time, it is wise to consult a map. As strangers on this earth, we need a map to guide us along the way.
The psalmist in the above scripture admits he is a stranger who needs guidance. As we live out our lives here on earth we too need a road map to show us the way to go. If we have no map we encounter twists and turns, roadblocks, delays and even potholes. When we know where we are going we can avoid obstacles and unsafe routes.
As pilgrims, we need to use God's map to learn where we are to go and how to get there. If we ignore the map, we will wander aimlessly and risk missing our real destination.
Where is the map and where can we get one? The Bible is God's map to guide us. You probably already have one in your possession. It would be wise to make it a habit to check your road map on a daily basis. Without it, you are sure to get lost and end up someplace that is off limits for you.
Read, study, meditate on and obey God's word. Consult your map TODAY!
Affliction . . . A Good Thing?
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. (Psalm 119:67)
No one asks for affliction, but it happens to all of us. At some point in our lives, we hurt. We suffer. We ache. We have pain. Is affliction, hurt, suffering, aching, and pain good things? Not necessarily. But they can be.
Affliction is good when it causes one to do what the psalmist did. Before he was afflicted he went astray and did not obey God's commandments. After he suffered for a while, his lifestyle changed, and he began obeying God's word. So it is with us. Affliction causes us to spend more time with God. It teaches us to appreciate God's presence, His truth and His faithfulness. Affliction can also motivate us to study and obey God's word. We search the scriptures to find something to comfort us; something we would not have done otherwise.
Some people have testified that afflictions have brought them closer to God than pleasures and prosperity. We don't necessarily desire affliction, but with the right attitude, we can make the most of it when it comes.
Why Is It Good To Be Afflicted?
It is good for me to be afflicted, so that I may learn your decrees. (Psalms 119:71 NIV)
Yes, you read it correctly. The psalmist did say it is good for him to be afflicted. Can you say it is good for you to be afflicted? Perhaps after you know what the psalmist knew, you too will be able to acclaim, “It is good for me to be afflicted.”
The second part of that scripture says, “...that I may learn your decrees.” This simply means that while things are good, we will not turn to God for instructions. When we have money in the bank and perfect health, we neglect God and the things of God. Sometimes we turn to God only after we have been afflicted. When that happens, we are eager to learn His statutes. Why? Afflictions are only for a moment, but the benefits are forever. God’s statutes overrules our suffering for an everlasting purpose.
Like the psalmist, some will learn God’s statutes during times of trials and sufferings. That is the time when we will appreciate God’s presence, His truth and His faithfulness. Affliction will teach us to study and obey God’s word. We don’t desire suffering, but with the right attitude, we can make the most of it when it happens.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. (Psalm 119:93)
Amnesia is defined as the loss of memory due usually to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression, or illness. It could also be defined as a gap in one's memory. Still it can be defined as the selective overlooking or ignoring of those events or acts that are not favorable or useful to one's purpose or position. The first two definitions are unavoidable. However, the third definition indicates that the person has some control over amnesia. He chooses to forget when it is convenient for him to do so.
As in the natural so in the spiritual when it comes to selective forgetfulness. We tend to overlook the word of God when we want to go against the word of God. Sometimes we neglect the word of God, revise the word of God, or simply ignore the word of God.
Right is right and wrong is wrong even if we pretend to forget what God has said. God's word still stands whether we have a sudden case of spiritual amnesia or not.
You might as well rid yourself of spiritual amnesia. God's knows how much you remember, and He doesn't look with favor on those who profess to have spiritual amnesia!
Oh, how I love your law? I meditate on it all day long. (Psalm 119:97)
It is amazing how many pills the average person takes per day. Health food stores and drugstores have pills of every kind, including vitamins. There is a vitamin for this ailment and a vitamin for that ailment. But all the vitamins are for the body. While there is nothing wrong with taking vitamins to help maintain a healthy body, there should be a balance with maintaining a healthy spirit as well. So, when is the last time you took a spiritual vitamin?
What is a spiritual vitamin? A spiritual vitamin is that discipline that energizes your spirit just as a vitamin might jump start and energize your physical body. For example, a daily dose of God's word will raise your spiritual metabolism and keep you going strong all day. By keeping a prayer on your lips, you keep evil spirits away from you just like some medicines keep aches and pains away from you. Your spirit, like your body, might sometimes feel low and run down. Praise is a good tonic for those times. What about those spiritual migraine headaches? Meditating on God's word is always good medicine. In fact, there is no coincidence that both words start with "medi." Medicine is good for the body as meditation is good for the spirit.
In summary, take a dose of spiritual vitamins every day without fail. Read and study God's word, meditate on God's word, pray to God and praise God for who He is. When you do all those things, you will always maintain a clean bill of spiritual health.
Loving the Word of God
Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. (Psalm 119:97) "Great have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (Psalm 119:165)
This message is especially for those who love to read and apply God's Word. Psalm 119 is both the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. This psalm has 176 verses and is a repetitive meditation on the beauty of God's Word and how it helps us stay pure and grow in faith.
Psalm 119 has 22 carefully constructed sections, each corresponding to a different letter in the Hebrew alphabet and each verse beginning with the letter of its section. Out of the 176 verses, 173 verses mention God's Word. Psalm 119 has 10 synonyms for "Word" such as percepts, statutes, commands, commandments, decrees, law, ordinances, etc. The only 3 verses that do not mention God's Word are Verse 90, 122, and 132. Why don't you see for yourself by reading verses from Psalm 119 today?
The Pattern and The Power
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. (Psalm 119:105-106)
The pattern by which God desires us to live is outlined in the Bible. However, that is not enough to change us. The Bible is our PATTERN. But we can be changed only by God's POWER. God's power enables us to live by God's pattern. The pattern shows us what needs to be changed. The power is what changes us. The pattern shows us what to believe, but God's power helps us to behave.
In summary, the PATTERN we should live by is the Bible. (Genesis 1:1-Revelation 22:21) It instructs us to do the right things. However, it is God's POWER that enables us to do the right things. (Genesis 1:1-Revelation 22:21)
I hate double-minded men, but I love your law. (Psalm 119:113)
Unlike the English language, Hebrew has no comparative or superlative form of its words. For instance, in English something can be good, better, or best. In Hebrew it is either good or bad. There is no in between. The same thing exists with love and hate. They are opposites and no in between. In reference to double-minded people, the psalmist comes right out and says, “I hate double-minded men, but I love your law.” There is no in between.
What, then is a double-minded man or woman? Double-minded people are those who hold two different opinions at the same time. They try to play it safe by not making a commitment or decision. They are half and half. They are for God one minute and the world the next. They speak out of both corners of their mouth. They change their opinion depending on who is listening to them. Double-minded people are traitors to God’s law.
What did James, the brother of Jesus, say about double-minded people? According to James 1:6-8, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. He is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
What is the remedy for double-minded people? Both the psalmist and James suggest the double-minded person should make up his mind one way or the other and stop straddling the fence. Double-minded people will find that making a firm decision and sticking with it is a major step toward getting things accomplished.
Good Sayings; Not God's Sayings
The entrance of thy words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple. (Psalm 119:130)
God loves to hear His own words spoken back to Him instead of hearing cute man-made clichés. There is power in saying what God said. While there is nothing really wrong with using catchy phrases and cute buzz words, they have NO power whereas the word of God is filled with power and it gives light. When we use God's words instead of man's words, our spirits become strengthened and others understand. Therefore, let's use more of God's sayings instead of good sayings.
A few years ago somebody said, "God is good . . . all the time." Somebody thought it was cute and catchy. It did catch on, and now as soon a person says, "God is good," the listeners yells out, "ALL THE TIME." Then to update the phrase, they reverse it by saying, "And all the time, God is good." Again, there is nothing wrong with this. The statement is true, and it sounds good. But it has no power. As Christians, we should go beyond man-made phrases and say what the Bible said. "For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations" (Psalm 100:5). Now that's Bible!
While praying people frequently say, "Thank you, Lord, for a REASONABLE PORTION of health and strength." This is the opposite of what the Bible says. Third John 2 says, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." That's more than having a reasonable portion. Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life [including good health] and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Jesus did not heal partially by giving people only a reasonable portion of health. He healed completely; making people whole. Let's stop limiting God. Pray for wholeness and abundance instead of a reasonable portion of anything. God has cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). Let's ask for one of the hills instead of asking for only one cattle.
It is all right to occasionally say, "I have come empty to a full fountain." But as Christians, should you always come empty? Shouldn't you be able to say like David, "My cup runneth over" (Psalm 23:5)?
Let's watch our language and our catchy phrases. Words have power; especially God's words. Others are listening and will repeat what we say. Let's be biblical! Let our words be the same as those Jesus spoke. For He spoke only what His Father told Him to speak (John 17:8).
Out of Order
Order my steps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Psalm 119:133
Simply put, "God is a God of order." "God does EVERYTHING in order." God does nothing haphazardly, casually or matter-of-factly. Everything God does is part of a bigger picture; part of a bigger plan. We are all part of God's order. When you do not keep His commandments, then you are out of order. You might as well be wearing a sign around your neck saying, "Out of Order." When you don't do what you were created to do, you are just like a telephone that doesn't work or a broken computer or a malfunctioning elevator. At that time an "Out of Order" sign is quite appropriate for you. The "Out of Order" sign might not be visible to others; but to God, you are wearing an "Out of Order" sign when you are disobedient to His commandments. God cannot use you to do greater works until you are back in commission.
If you are wearing an "Out of Order" sign today, go to God's repair shop. Repent of your sins, ask God to remove your "Out of Order" sign, and be made whole again.
The Cause Behind the Effect
Plead my cause and redeem me. Revive me according to your word. (Psalm 119:154)
Nothing happens out of the blue. Nothing happens just to be happening. Nothing happens without a reason for it. The problem lies in the fact that we don't always know why something happens. There is a cause behind every effect. What, then, is a cause?
A cause is a reason for an action or condition. A person, a thing, or a situation could be the cause. A cause is something that makes something else happen. Out of two events, it is the event that happens first. If you get a flat time, you will look for the cause so that you can prevent it from happening again. If a nail in your driveway caused you to have a flat time, surely you would remove the nail. If doing a certain thing causes you to have headaches, unless you enjoy having headaches, you will remove the cause. Finding the cause of a headache is not as easy as discovering a nail in your driveway. The cause of a headache is more mental or emotional. Know that there is a cause even though it might not be as obvious.
Every cause has a corresponding effect. What, then, is an effect? An effect is the result of a cause. An effect is what happens because of the cause. Of the two related events, the effect is the one that happens last. It is the end product of something that has come before it. There can NEVER be an effect without a cause. The flat tire was the effect of running over the nail in the driveway. Had the nail not been there, there would have been no flat tire. Getting rid of the cause of a headache requires a much deeper investigation.
If some unpleasant effect is in your life, know that it didn't just happen for no reason. It happened because something or someone caused it to happen. It is worthwhile to determine the cause behind the effect. Then ask God to help you get rid of the cause so that all your effects will be pleasant ones.
Why Relationships Should Be Triangular
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. (Psalm 121:1)
We often think of the wedding ring as an outward and visible token of an inward spiritual bond by which man and woman are united into one by the power of God. The wedding ring is a circle and its shape is symbolic of an unbroken relationship. Its shape is also quite convenient for the ring to be worn comfortably on the finger of a married man and woman, if they so desire.
Another shape should be considered in relationships. Even though it would be awkward for one to wear a triangular shaped ring, every relationship should be triangular. Usually one thinks a triangular relationship has to be a situation in which one member of a couple is involved in a love affair with a third party. Actually, both members should be in a love affair with a third party?
As you know, a triangle has three elements; three lines; or three units. It is in the shape of a pyramid with the base being much wider than its narrow and pointed top. For illustration purposes, let's say the man and woman are at each end of the wide base and God is at the pointed top. What happens when the man and the woman both focus on God and move upward toward Him? Yes, Yes, Yes, they grow closer to each other. And miracles happen in any relationship when both people look to the same hill where God is.
The beauty of a triangular relationship is that when two people grow upward toward God, it is utterly impossible for them not to grow closer toward each other. Let's thank God for all shapes of the world, but let's thank God especially for the triangle. And while you are thinking about the triangle, TRY to solve problems from every ANGLE keeping your eyes stayed on God. (Notice the play on words).
Put God to Work
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:4)
God never sleeps. Instead He watches over us night and day. God created us, but unlike a watchmaker, He did not make us only to wind us up to continue on our own. God is with us every single minute of every day. He is closer to us than we are to ourselves. However, we sometimes forget that God is that close to us because we do not feel His presence.
Even though God is always with us, circumstances come upon us to see if we will put God to work. How do we put God to work? We put God to work by our prayers and our praises. Yes, God can and does move without our asking Him to, but He prefers that we cry out to him in our distress. (Psalm 107)
Jacob put God to work when he wrestled with Him and said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." (Genesis 32:26) David put God to work when he was running and hiding from King Saul who was out to kill him. (I Samuel 18ff; Psalm 18) Daniel put God to work when he was thrown into the lion's den, and God shut up the mouth of the lion. (Daniel 6) The apostles put God to work when they were imprisoned for preaching the gospel. They praised God so much that the gates of the prison were opened. (Acts 5:18-19)
What are you waiting for? Put God to work concerning your own situation. God responds to praise. God responds to prayers. God responds to genuine worship. So go ahead, put God to work!
What to Do When Life Hits You Hard
The Lord is your keeper and the Lord is your shade on your right hand. (Psalm 121:5)
We know God will never leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8) We know God's word will not return to Him void. (Isaiah 55:11). We know God is a provider. (Genesis 22:14) We know the Lord is our keeper and our shade on our right hand. (Psalm 121:5) But when life hits us hard, we forget all those things.
How, then can we stand and not waiver, when life hits us hard? A few things come to mind.
1. Remember what God has already done and then look for evidence of Him at work during your present situation.
2. Know that God uses adversity to develop your character and dependence upon Him. God uses your trials so you can become a blessings to others.
When life hits you hard it is because God is using that situation to prepare you for what He has waiting for you ahead. Read the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. Read the entire book of Job. Read about Jonah, and Jeremiah, and Jehoshaphat and Jacob and Jeroboam. Then read about JESUS! You will then conclude that what you are going through is just a light affliction in comparison to these biblical people.
When life hits you hard, hit back with the WORD OF GOD!
Lo and Behold
"Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward." (Psalm 127:3)
"Behold, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it." (Job 13:1)
The word "lo" is a shortened form of "look or see." The word "behold" means "look or see." Both are attention getters. The word "lo" may be used alone. The word "behold" may be used alone. Both may be used together as in the expression "Lo and behold, . . . "
One or both of the words introduce a surprising or unexpected fact. Therefore, these words have a greater impact when they appear at the beginning of a sentence. Notice that a comma separates the imperative "to look" from the important fact that follows. (See the two scriptures above.)
In the Bible, the words "lo" and "behold" are frequently used in the narratives and prophetic books. In narratives, the words often mark a change in viewpoints (Amos 9:8). Also either "lo" or "behold" is used when God invites the prophet to share his viewpoint (Amos 7:8) or when the prophet invites us to join him (Amos 7:1). The expression, "Lo and Behold" could also mean "indeed" as in Amos 4:2.
Whenever you see "lo" in the Bible, pay close attention to what follows. Whenever you see "behold" in the Bible, pay close attention to what follows. Whenever you see "lo and behold" in the Bible pay extra special attention to the surprise or unexpected truth that follows.
Your True Purpose
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever — do not abandon the works of your hands. (Psalm 138:8)
God does not make mistakes. Everything He does, He does it with a purpose in mind. He created us for a purpose. Unfortunately, most people do not understand their true purpose for living. People die with songs in them that have never been sung. People die with poems in them that have never been read. People die with ideas in them that have never been implemented. They did not understand their true purpose while they were alive. And the world is cheated because of what they did not leave behind.
God created each one of us for a unique purpose that only we can fulfill. Until we discover what that uniqueness is, we will never be satisfied. We will forever chase after rainbows. We will continue to go round and round in that revolving door refusing to enter into a world of possibilities.
One of the main reasons people never find their true purpose for living is because they spend most of their lives trying to do what others do and trying to be like others. God in His infinite wisdom designed each one of His children alike yet different. While people are trying to do what others are doing, they are leaving their own assignments undone.
Do what God created you for and fulfill your true purpose for living.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:8)
Too often we try to fulfill the purpose we think is best for our own lives. That's our mistake. It will NEVER work that way. God has a purpose for us that may or may line up with the purpose we have for ourselves. However, God will fulfill HIS PURPOSE!
In Psalm 138, David begins with praise and acknowledges that God is great and all the kings of the earth should bow down and praise Him. (Psalm 138:1-5) David continues by admitting that while he has walked in the midst of trouble, God has always been there. God has even fought against his enemies.
David concludes that God will fulfill his purpose for him. And he calls on God to remain faithful. (Psalm 138:8b) Why does David ask a faithful God to remain faithful? On one level, it is unnecessary to remind God to remain faithful because He is always faithful to all His promises. There is no chance that God will forsake His people. However, we sometimes feel that God has abandoned us. From this perspective, there is nothing wrong with being honest enough to acknowledge our need for a faithful God to remain faithful in order for His purpose to become a reality in our lives.
Take time out now to ask God to remain faithful as He fulfills His purpose for you. Remember, God is faithful to fulfill His purpose for you, but He is not obligated to fulfill the purpose you have established for yourself!
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 138:23-34)
A "Search Me" prayer is dangerous because when you ask God to search your heart, He will. The Holy Spirit exposes those closed-off areas in your life that need to be changed. Seriously committed believers pray "Search Me" prayers to eliminate the sin in their lives and help them mature in their Christian walk.
When you ask God to search your heart, be prepared to be exposed. Be prepared to be shown what is holding you back from a fuller life with Christ. Be prepared to be shown yourself as you really are in God's sight. This type of prayer is dangerous for you might be totally surprised when God reveals to YOU who YOU really are. Yes, this prayer is dangerous, but it can be so rewarding. Pray the "Search Me" prayer right now.
God's Video Camera
O Lord, you know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I go from your presence? If I go to the heavens, you are there: if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. (Psalm 139:1-4, 8)
Usually we pose for the camera when our picture is being taken. We smile and say, "Take my best side." Momentarily, we put on our best face and hold our breath until we hear the click of the camera. Did you know God sees everything we do and hears everything we say and knows every thought we have ever had? With His eyes constantly on us, we should always show our best side. We should always be radiant and presentable not only for God but for others as well.
Knowing that God is always watching us, we should be intentional about pleasing Him. Here is something else to think about: God sees everything you do now, but when you meet Him face to face, He will play the video tape of your life, and the two of you will watch it together. Will you be ashamed of the life you have lived? Or will it be one you are proud of?
A Mosaic Life
Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. (Psalm 139:12)
A mosaic is a design made by inlaying small bits of colored stone, glass, tile, or other similar objects in cement. When arranged, the small pieces depict a pattern or a picture of some kind. One's life is a mosaic. Everything that happens to us becomes part of a distinguishing design.
Have you ever seen a plain mosaic with only white pieces? Have you ever seen a mosaic with only black pieces? I doubt it because then it would not be a mosaic. The mixture of colors is what makes it mosaic. So it is with our lives. Into every life there must be a mixture of experiences. No life is without some type of pain, sorrow, misery, grief or suffering. On the other hand, no life is without peace, joy and happiness.
When you see the different types of things happening in your life, know that it is a mosaic laid out before God. Sure, there will be some red, blue, and green pieces, but without the white pieces symbolizing the brightness of life and the black pieces symbolizing the darkness of life, there would be no balance in your design. Remember this as you go through certain trials.
Inspected and Approved
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (Psalm 139:14)
I believe everything we do, say or experience has theological significance. Case in Point: This morning I took my car to be inspected. On previous occasions, I have sat anxiously awaiting the news that this is wrong and that is wrong, and in order to pass the state inspection, I would have to get this done and that done. This morning's inspection was so much different. Here's why.
I was totally at peace during my wait for two reasons. (1) I took my car back to the dealership, to the owner. (2) I had a warranty on my car after having purchased it last January. What's theological about that? Quite a bit. First of all, we can be assured that when we take our problems back to God who made us; who owns us, He will know exactly how to inspect us and detect what's wrong in our lives. After all, He made us. Secondly, God is able to fix the problem because we belong to Him through the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross. Therefore, we are assured of our salvation. And with a warranty like that, there is no reason to worry or be anxious. We can be totally at peace. As Christians we should be willing to be inspected and approved by God.
By the way, my car did pass inspection, and it was approved. Assuredly, so am I!
Never Say, "If I Were You"
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
One of the worst things you can say to a person is: "If I were you ..." When you say, "If I were you," you are minimizing that person's judgment about who he is and what God has purposed for him to do. When you say, "If I were you..." you indicate that your thoughts are better than the other person's thoughts and your ways are better than the other person's ways. When you say, "If I were you..." you are putting yourself above that person and above God's plan for that person.
While we all have much in common, God made each one of us unique. Even identical twins have something unique about them. God has placed within each one of us His plan for our destiny. With that destiny in mind, He gave us the personality, the talents, the gifts, the passion and all the requirements to fulfill that destiny.
When you say, "If I were you..." you not only subjugate that person, but you also subjugate yourself. If you were someone else, you wouldn't be able to do what God has created you do.
Surely, you can offer godly advice without taking away the person's right to be who he is. There is no need to be two of you when one of you will do. Be yourself, and let others be themselves.
Think twice before you are tempted to say, "If I were you..." And if someone says it to you, be kind and say, "You are not. So there!"
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
When you bake a cake and discover that you have left out an ingredient, you might throw the cake into the garbage and make another one. When you make a dress and the right side is longer than the left side, you simply take the stitches out and make the dress over. When you make an error on a report, you do the report over. When God created us, He did not throw us away no matter how many flaws we think we might have. And if God had thrown us away, He would be admitting He made a mistake when He created us.
Everything God created has His stamp of approval on it. We should never ask God, "Why did you make me this way?" Trust that God had a very special reason for making you the way He did. He gave you your personality, your looks, your gifts, and all your characteristics to go along with the plan He has just for you. These qualities will open doors for you while these same doors will be closed to others. In other words, you are the only key that unlocks the door to your future, your life and your destiny.
When you begin to question God about your makeup, know that God made you just the way you are to match up with the special plan He has for you. Some people take a whole lifetime to discover what that special plan is. God wants us to identify quickly why He made us the way He did so that we might enjoy the rest of our lives living out that plan.
Know that you are who you are because your total being matches up with what God has in store for you. And as far as God is concerned, you are fearfully and wonderfully made to match up with all that life has to offer.
Behind the Scenes
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
If you have ever watched an Academy Award or other type of awards show on television, you probably noticed that there are major awards not only for the actors or actresses themselves who are seen on the screen, but for others associated with the show. Just as many awards go to the director, the producer, the writers, etc. After a regular television program is over, the credits are listed for an array of people whom you did not even see in the story. My point is this: Things go on behind the scene to make thing work properly on the screen. What we actually see is the finished product of some inner workings.
We are the finished product of what God has done within us. The things God does IN us are manifested on the OUTSIDE of us. God works behind the scenes to perfect us. We can't see salvation taking place within us. Yet we have it. Like Nicodemus, we don't understand how the Holy Spirit came to live in us (John 3:9), but He does. We are amazed how we can pray to God whom we do not see; yet He answers our prayers.
We can be comforted knowing that God is always working behind the scenes even when we doubt His presence. Life is a stage in which we are real players. One day we will receive our award for living a life worthy of God's good pleasure.
How Am I Doing?
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
While driving behind a company truck, you might have seen a little sign on the truck that reads, "How is my driving?" with a telephone number to call to report any driving infractions.
We do not have a sign on us or on our hearts that reads, "How's my spirituality?" or How's my Christian living?" From time to time we should, however ask God, "How am I doing? Am I pleasing you? Am I serving you in a way that is pleasing in your sight?" Like David in the above scripture, ask God to search for sin and point it out, even to the level of testing your thoughts. This is exploratory surgery for sin. God will then reveal to you anything that is distasteful to Him and will give you the strength to make necessary changes. Make an appointment for heart surgery today!
How to Pray for Evildoers
Do not grant the wicked their desires, O Lord; do not let their plans succeed, or they will become proud. (Psalm 140:8)
It is not a good thing to pray for an evildoer to be blessed! Believers should pray that God does not grant the desires of the wicked or allow their plans to succeed. If an evildoer is blessed in his wrongdoing, there would be no motivation for him to ever do right. Why should he do right if he is doing wrong and is blessed anyway? The wrongdoer needs to be convicted so that he will see his need to turn from his sinful lifestyle to a sacrificial lifestyle that brings glory to God. The worse thing you can pray for a wrongdoer is for God to bless him.
Rather than praying for God to bless the person who is doing wrong, pray that God will withhold blessings from him until he repents. Pray that the evildoer can't help but be miserable, that he would have such a heaviness of heart and such piercing guilt that he would be driven out of his sinful ways and into the arms of God. Pray that God will remove the scales from the eyes of the evildoer so that he may see his wicked ways. Ask God to let the evildoer feel so uncomfortable that it will cause him to come to his senses and immediately fall on his knees before a loving and forgiving God.
On many occasions, David prayed that God would pour His wrath and righteous judgment on evildoers. (See Psalms 5, 11, 35, 59, 69, 109, 137 and 140).
Two Types of Blessings
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; The upright shall dwell in Your presence. (Psalm 140:13)
Everyone loves to receive God's blessings. We even pray that God would bless not only ourselves but our family, friends and loved ones as well. In our haste to ask for blessings, we don't take the time to balance them. We tend to ask for generic blessings or blessings that benefit us physically or materially. God wants to balance our blessings.
How can our blessings be balanced? Our blessings can be balanced when we become aware that blessing are categorized by two major types: Body Blessings and Soul Blessings. So, what's the difference?
Body blessings are those blessings that pertain to God's provisions for physical things such as food, drink, shelter. "He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant." (Psalm 11:5)
Soul blessings are those blessings that pertain to the presence of God. While God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, He wants to give us the gift of His presence. Why? Because "In the presence of God is the fullness of joy." (Psalm 16:11) God wants to spend time with us, and we need to spend time with God. It will result in joy for our soul.
The next time you pray for a blessing, remember to balance your request for both body and soul blessings.
In Everything Give Thanks
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thessalonians 5:18) Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence. (Psalm 140:13)
It seems unfair to give God thanks for some things and not for others. We shouldn't pick and choose what we should give thanks for. After all, God is God in the small things as well as the big things. God is God in crises as well as in celebrations. God is God in trials as well as triumphs. God is God in pleasures as well as in persecutions. God is God in tests as well as in testimonies. Therefore, in everything give thanks. Whatever happens is not complete in itself. It is part of a bigger picture; part of a bigger plan. Whatever we experience is only the portion we see as the parade moves in front of our window. There is much more in the parade. Some of it has passed, and some of it is still to come. Our present situation is just one float in the long parade of life.
In everything give thanks, for the God who created you is the same God who will sustain you, uphold you and give you peace. The righteous shall always dwell in God's presence; therefore, in everything let us give thanks.
What It Means to Lift Hands to God
Spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. (Psalm 143:6)
Uplifted hands mean both praise and petition. The Hebrews used their hands to express both their respect for God and their dependence on Him.
When we lift our hands to God, we too are honoring and adoring Him and giving Him the praise He deserves. In essence, we are saying, "We love you, Lord!" Lifting our hands also symbolizes an expectant attitude and trust in God. We are expecting Him to fill our empty hands with His blessings. One of the Hebrew words for praise means "hand" as in "holding out hands in worship and expectancy."
"I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands." (Psalm 63:4)
Happy are the people of whom this is true; happy are the people whose God is the Lord. (Psalm 144:15)
Today is Friday. At one time when your thoughts were not always on spiritual things, you probably thought you deserved to celebrate on Friday after having worked all week. You did this by meeting the gang at the local pub during "Happy Hour" when the drinks were cheaper. In fact, you might have looked forward to "Happy Hour" all week.
"Happy Hour" doesn't have to be only on Friday after work. "Happy Hour" can be any time you focus on God and make Him Lord of your life. With God "Happy Hour" can be in the midst of the storm, or when you are at peace on a sandy beach. No matter when or where, the time you come into the presence of God is . . . HAPPY HOUR.
Five G's to Describe God
I will exalt you, my God the king; I will praise your name forever and ever.(Psalm 145:1)
Psalm 145 is a Psalm of David in which he extols God to people in general and to his own people in particular. David specifically gives five distinct characteristics of God, and they all begin with the letter "G."GOD'S GREATNESS.
"Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom." If all the minds of the world were combined, all the minds together could never understand God's greatness. (Psalm 145:1-6)GOD'S GOODNESS.
"The Lord is good to all, he has compassion on all he has made." God is good. God is good to all. (Psalm 145:7-10)GOD'S GLORY.
"They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men might know your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom." God's divine kingdom is glorious and so are His mighty acts. (Psalm 145:11-13)GOD'S GUARANTEE.
"Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations." God's promises will surely be fulfilled. We have His guarantee on that. (Psalms 145:13)GOD'S GRACE.
"The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down." God's grace is sufficient in all circumstances. He lifts up those who have fallen. He feeds those who are hungry. He rescues those who are persecuted. (Psalm 145:14-21)
God's greatness, God's goodness, God's glory, God's guarantee and God's grace should give us eternal hope.
Prayed Up and Praised Up
Every day I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever. (Psalm 145:2)
What does it mean to be prayed up? What does it mean to be praised up? As Christians, we should be both at all times in order to combat the wiles of the devil.
To be prayed up means to PUSH; pray until something happens. To be prayed up means to have a lifestyle of prayer. The Bible teaches us that "we ought to always pray and not faint." "The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much." "Pray without ceasing." (Luke 18:18; James 5:17, 2 Thessalonians 5:17).
To be praised up means to bless the Lord at all times and have a continual praise in your mouth. Over and over in Psalm 145, David declared that he would praise God every day forever and ever. Here is a summary of five (5) major things that happen when we praise God.
- Praise MAGNIFIES God. Just as a magnifying glass enlarges, praise lets us see the greatness of God. When you give God total praise, nothing else can enter in. God is the center of your attention.
- Praise MODIFIES man. Praise brings us down to where we should be. We are not elevated in praise because it is not about us. It is all about God.
- Praise MANIFESTS our devotion to God. What we are devoted to shows up in what we do. If we are devoted to God, the end result will be praise.
- Praise MOTIVATES us. Praise gives us that "get up and go" to get up and serve God. If you don't feel like praising God, do it anyway. Once you start, you will be motivated to continue.
- Praise MINISTERS to our spirit, soul, and body. Because praise is so powerful, it generates humility in our spirit causing us to be totally dependent upon God. It releases joy in our lives and strengthens our faith. Praise gives us a clearer vision of God and calms our emotions. Praise releases tensions in our physical bodies and we become energized.
With benefits like these, let's praise the Lord. How often? Everyday like David. If you need help to get you started, read and meditate on Psalm 145. It tells of the greatness and goodness of God.
Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:2)
Many people designate certain days to do certain things. For instance, there is a certain day of the week to wash clothes or to scrub floors. There is a certain day to eat certain foods. There is a certain day to go bowling, to go to the movies or to go out to dinner. There is a certain day to shop and a certain day to visit others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having certain days to do certain things. However, there is something that we should do without having to look at a calendar or an appointment book.
What is it that we should do every day?
Every day we should read God's word to find out what God wants us to know.
Every day we should communicate with God to find out what's on His mind and what's in His heart.
Every day we should praise God for who He is.
Every day we should thank God for what He has done or is about to do.
If we include God, then we will be able to do with ease what we are planning to do.
Do nothing without including God on your certain days.
Go With the Flow
He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow. (Psalm 147:18)
We often hear the expression, "Go with the flow." That expression is a true warning because when a person does not go with the flow, he is fighting a losing battle. The swim uphill is tedious, tiring and non-productive. However, when people "go with the flow" everything is much easier, less tiring, and indeed effective.
The first night on the cruise to the Bahamas I became seasick as I was sleeping. It wasn't long before it was revealed to me that the position of my bed caused me not to go with the flow of the water beneath me. Being unable to reposition the bed, I merely repositioned myself and slept at the foot of the bed to be in alignment with the flow. It worked tremendously, and I didn't have that problem again during the 6-night cruise.
Often we reel and rock in life because we do not go with the flow. Instead, we fight against the currents and kick against the pricks. (Acts 9:5) We will experience more joy and pleasures in this life if we would follow the plan God has established for us. So reposition yourself and "Go With The Flow!"
Pass It On
One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
God works through generations. The older generation should pass on testimonies of great miracles God has performed to the newer generation. One reason young people are so rebellious is because their forefathers and mothers have not passed on it spiritual guidance. Godly parents should pass on to their offsprings a powerful spiritual heritage. When young people see the spiritual growth of the older generation, then they are willing to want the same relationship with God. But if nothing has been passed on, what are the young people to do?
Recognize every opportunity to pass on the goodness of Jesus to your children. They just might be waiting to hear it from you and to see it through your lifestyle.
Pass it on!
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 145:8)
Jesus, like his Father, demonstrated tremendous compassion. Everything he did was motivated by compassion to reach out and help those who were in need. Many people have physical and spiritual needs you can meet, either by yourself or with others who are also concerned.
Often times people try to give advice to those who are hurting. Hurting people really need compassion more than they need advice. Human needs should move all Christians to compassionate action; not just words. Be compassionate to someone in your midst this weekend.
We All Fall Down . . .
The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:14)
If you watched the 2006 Olympic Winter Games last night, you probably saw Zhang Dan, a Chinese figure skater as she crashed to the ice with her legs split wide within seconds of starting her routine. As she doubled over in pain, the crowd gasped. She was escorted off the ice by her partner Zhang Hao, and no one thought they would continue. But they did! The referee let the pair continue from the point of the fall.
Why did they continue after Zhang Dan had fallen and was probably in much pain? They continued because they knew that if they had given up completely, they stood no chance for a medal. If they continued, at least there was a chance. They went on to complete a flawless routine in spite of the obvious pain. At the end of their performance, the entire crowd gave them a standing ovation and cheered their effort. Zhang and Zhang earned the silver medal last night. Had they not returned to the ice, they would have received nothing.
What does this say to us? It says that we will fall sometimes. It says we should get up after a fall. It says that if we don't get up after a fall, no one will cheer us on. It says if we don't get up after a fall, we will definitely not get what is in store for us. When we fall, we might struggle to the sidelines and debate whether to continue or to stop. God wants us to get up, dust ourselves off and continue. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are cheering us on. They want us to continue where we left off. We might not get the gold medal, but getting the silver isn't bad at all!
When you fall down, get up and continue!
Bartering For Blessings
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. (Psalm 146:17)
The word "barter" is both a verb and a noun. As a verb, barter means to trade or exchange one commodity or service for another. As a noun, barter is the thing given in exchange. In other words, we barter for God's blessing by telling God we will do something for Him if He does something for us. That's the act of bartering (verb). What we give God in exchange is the thing bartered (noun).
It is easy to barter for blessings. However, it is unnecessary, and it doesn't please God. It is a form of blackmail, and we serve a righteous and loving God who needs not be blackmailed into doing anything for us. When we promise God that we will do something or stop doing something in exchange for a blessing, we attempt to lower God's standards by entering into a bargaining session.
God doesn't need to pay us for giving up some bad habit. God doesn't need to pay us to be fair and just. God doesn't have to give us an allowance if we behave. With God it doesn't have to be "quid pro quo" (a Latin term that means "something for something" or "favor for favor").
God is so much more than bartering and bargaining and begging and blackmailing. God is not pleased when we impose our world system on Him. He is not pleased when we expect Him to act the way we act. God is holier than that. And besides, our favors could never be equal to God's favors.
If you have been bartering with God, STOP IT NOW! If you have been bargaining with God, STOP IT NOW! If you have been begging God, STOP IT NOW! If you have been blackmailing God, STOP IT NOW!
Instead of doing those four things or making deals with God, accept God's promises at face value, and know that the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are also our blessings.
What Pleases God?
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. (Psalm 147:10)
We spend so much time trying to decide what pleases God and what would make Him happy. The above scripture is extremely clear about what pleases God and in whom He delights.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to be the best we can be at our jobs, with our ministries, with our studies and in our relationships with others. What God really wants is for us to fear Him, to give Him reverence in everything we do and not merely in those things done in church. When we show reverence to God, we will soon see that God uses what we do for Him to enhance our relationships with others.
Go With the Flow
He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow. (Psalm 147:18)
We often hear the expression, "Go with the flow." That expression is a true warning because when a person does not go with the flow, he is fighting a losing battle. The swim uphill is tedious, tiring and non-productive. However, when people "go with the flow" everything is much easier, less tiring, and indeed effective.
The first night on the cruise to the Bahamas I became seasick as I was sleeping. It wasn't long before it was revealed to me that the position of my bed caused me not to go with the flow of the water beneath me. Being unable to reposition the bed, I merely repositioned myself and slept at the foot of the bed to be in alignment with the flow. It worked tremendously, and I didn't have that problem again during the 6-night cruise.
Often we reel and rock in life because we do not go with the flow. Instead, we fight against the currents and kick against the pricks. (Acts 9:5) We will experience more joy and pleasures in this life if we would follow the plan God has established for us. So reposition yourself and "Go With The Flow!"
Praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:1; 6)
Psalm 150 is the last of the Psalms and the last of the "Hallelujah" or "Praise" Psalms (Psalm 146-150). All of these psalms begin and end with the same command: "Praise the Lord." Psalm 150 is quite unique in that it not only tells us to praise the Lord, but it tells us also where, why, how and who should praise the Lord.
WHERE: Praise the Lord in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens (verse 1). The sanctuary refers to the temple in Jerusalem, the basic center of worship. The mighty heavens refer to the sky. In essence, praises should be given EVERYWHERE whether on the inside of a sanctuary or outside with all creation!
WHY: Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness (verse 2). Praise God for all that He does . . . his healing, deliverance, protection, provision, love, mercy, care, compassion and power throughout all creation. Praise Him for his greatness that surpasses everything.
HOW: Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, harp, lyre, tambourine, dancing, string, flute, and cymbals (verses 3-5). Praise God with everything that we have. God is worthy of the best we can do in worship.
WHO: Let everything that has breath praise the Lord (verse 6). "Everything that has breath" beautifully summarizes the variety of praises that ALL of God's creation can give to Him.
What Praise Does; What Worship Does
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:8)
God is Spirit and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and truth. (John 4:24)
Too many people still don't understand the value of praise and worship. God wants us to praise Him. God wants us to worship Him. However, there is a difference between the two.
Praise is much more than singing a few songs before a worship service. Praise is much more than people coercing others by saying, "Praise Him." Praise is acknowledging to God and to others who God is (adoration) and what God has done (thanksgiving). Praise is talking about the awesomeness of God. By the way, the word "awesome" should be reserved for only God. Anything else falls far short of being "awesome." It is true that "when the praises go up, the blessings come down." However, to praise God with only that thought in mind is not genuine praise at all. Praise may be in song or prayer. Praise may be done individually or corporately. Praise may be spontaneous or prearranged.
Worship, on the other hand, is different from praise. Worship is expressing through praise the "worthiness" of God. Worship is honoring God. Worship is revering God. Worship is showing genuine devotion to God.
A dear friend who knows how to praise and worship God, summed it up in a very simple and profound manner when she told me, "Praise is getting God's attention. Worship is getting God's heart." Also, "praise brings God where you are and Worship takes you where He is."
Praise ye the Lord. (Psalms 146-150) Worship God in the beauty of holiness. (Psalm 29:2)