Posts Tagged ‘Psalm’


“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3

In case you haven’t noticed, our world has dramatically changed. It wasn’t long ago that it would have been unthinkable that nearly 40 million unborn children would be murdered in America. There was a time when kids could pray in public schools. Nativity scenes dotted the lawns of county courthouses and municipal parks—without protest. Marriage was strictly a guy-girl arrangement. And you could even pray in Jesus’ name at graduation ceremonies.

I’m not interested in being like the grump who said, “In my life I’ve seen a lot things change and quite frankly I’ve been against them all!” But if you are talking about changing the face of America to the point where God is out and everything else is in, then I have a problem with that kind of change. My problem is wondering how to handle my heart and attitudes. Wondering how to live and respond in a world where the foundations of righteousness are being eroded on nearly every front.

How do we, as followers of Jesus, process right and wrong in a world that tells us there are no absolutes? How do we proclaim that Jesus alone is what people really need—that He is the “way and the truth” (John 14:6)—when most people no longer believe that there is such a thing as true truth?

You don’t have to be an industrial-strength theologian to realize that the current thought patterns of most Americans fly in the face of what we hold to be true. If there are no absolutes, you can forget about the Ten Commandments. If nothing is ever right or wrong, there is no sin and no need for a Savior. It’s easy to see that believing in what God tells us about righteousness, truth, and godly living leaves us marginalized and outdated. So our hearts cry out with David: “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).

Let’s start with knowing what not to do. Notice that David didn’t wring his hands in despair. He didn’t “flee like a bird to [the] mountain” (Psalm 11:1). Instead, he decided to take refuge in the Unchanging One. His confidence was bolstered by the fact that God was on His holy throne and that His eyes were well aware of what was going on. Reminded of the ultimate judgment that God would pour out on wickedness, David knew that, in the face of unsettling change, staying on course with God is indeed the best and safest alternative. Looking at all the change from God’s point of view, he realized that though the change seemed overwhelming, God is still very much in charge and ultimately victorious.

Why would any of us want to go soft on God and His truth in order to feel more “with it,” when we know that the “with it” party train is headed for a disastrous train wreck? So, let’s quit all the hand wringing and feeling sorry for ourselves. Let’s cheer up, knowing that the things that can’t change—such as God’s righteous eternal reign—are still in place!

You can go with the change if you choose. I’m going with my changeless God!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Has the changing philosophies of our world changed your approach to life, sin, and righteousness in any way? Be specific.
  • What are some things that God loves and some things He hates? Do you love what He loves and hate what He hates?
  • Are you willing to take a few hits for God because you stand with Him and His truth? To what extent? In what ways was Jesus unwavering in His willingness to take a hit for you in this ungodly world?
  • Have you expected this changing, increasingly godless world to be a friend of Jesus? Read what Jesus had to say to us in John 16:33, and rejoice!

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/a-world-of-change/


When He has come, He will convict the world of sin . . . —John 16:8

Very few of us know anything about conviction of sin. We know the experience of being disturbed because we have done wrong things. But conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit blots out every relationship on earth and makes us aware of only one— “Against You, You only, have I sinned . . .” (Psalm 51:4). When a person is convicted of sin in this way, he knows with every bit of his conscience that God would not dare to forgive him. If God did forgive him, then this person would have a stronger sense of justice than God. God does forgive, but it cost the breaking of His heart with grief in the death of Christ to enable Him to do so. The great miracle of the grace of God is that He forgives sin, and it is the death of Jesus Christ alone that enables the divine nature to forgive and to remain true to itself in doing so. It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. Once we have been convicted of sin, we will never say this again. The love of God means Calvary— nothing less! The love of God is spelled out on the Cross and nowhere else. The only basis for which God can forgive me is the Cross of Christ. It is there that His conscience is satisfied.

Forgiveness doesn’t merely mean that I am saved from hell and have been made ready for heaven (no one would accept forgiveness on that level). Forgiveness means that I am forgiven into a newly created relationship which identifies me with God in Christ. The miracle of redemption is that God turns me, the unholy one, into the standard of Himself, the Holy One. He does this by putting into me a new nature, the nature of Jesus Christ.

http://utmost.org/when-he-has-come/

 


“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16

Douglas Coupland is a best-selling author known for his books about cultural trends in America. In his book Life After God, he no doubt surprises his readers when he shares:

Now here is my secret. I tell it to you with an openness of heart I doubt I will ever achieve again . . . My secret is that I need God—that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love.

Amazing—an author who has admittedly bought into the godless secularism in our world has let his godless philosophy of life run its course, and at the end of it all he recognizes that something is missing. The unanswered longing in his soul leads him to admit that his “life after God” has left him barren and hopelessly in need. He calls it his secret because it would be almost scandalous in post-Christian America to admit that we do need God after all—the God who has been banished to the outposts of irrelevance.

I love Coupland’s candor. Life after God—or actually life without God—inevitably leaves us hollow and disappointed. And if someone like Coupland feels this way, you can bet there are a lot of others who feel the same—a lot of others who live and work where you live and work. A lot of others who just may be in your family or your circle of friends.

Well, those of us who live life with God have a secret as well. Our secret is that God exists (Hebrews 11:6) and is all He has promised to be (Psalm 145:13). That He is indeed the answer to our deepest longings (Psalm 34:9-10), and that only He can give us the motivation and power to give, to be kind, and to love (Philippians 2:13). And not only that, but that He gives us the wisdom we need to navigate life’s most complex and confusing problems (Colossians 2:2-3). He brings meaning to suffering and peace in the midst of life’s storms (Psalm 119:50). And most importantly, only God can wipe our slate clean through the death of His Son (Isaiah 53:5). Our secret is that God is all He promised to be!

So, when you feel discouraged that no one in your world has any interest in God, remember Douglas Coupland. It takes time for life to come to the disappointing end of itself when it is lived without God. And you never know who around you is coming to the same conclusions as Coupland. When they do, will you be ready to share your secret? Will they have seen enough of the reality of God in your life to want to listen to your secret? And will you have the confidence that your secret is without a doubt exactly what they need and the boldness to share it enthusiastically?

My wife tells me that I am not a good secret keeper—and in this case, that would be a virtue! Come to think of it, the fact that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16) should be on the tip of our tongues ready to be proclaimed whenever we get the chance!

I wonder if anyone who knows our secret was near to Doug Coupland when he shared his secret?

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Get alone with God and meditate on salvation. How do you know you are saved? What has He saved you from? Why are you thankful for your salvation?
  • If you had the chance to tell someone how to become a Christian, what would you say? Write down the essential elements of the message of the gospel. Then commit them to memory and look for a chance to tell someone your secret!
  • Take some time to read through the verses referenced above pertaining to your “secret.” How do these verses encourage you to share the joys of life with God?
  • Have you ever been ashamed of the gospel? If so, ask Jesus to forgive you and to replace your fear with boldness to tell people about Him.

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/the-secret-that-should-not-be-kept/


“Sing to the LORD a new song;   sing to the LORD, all the earth.”Psalm 96:1

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And yet, as human beings we tend to be creatures of habit even as we wish for different circumstances in our lives and in our world. As Einstein makes clear, however, there is only one way to change the circumstances we see in our lives:  If we don’t like the results, we need to change the equation.

The psalmist seemed to understand that when he wrote: “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD all the earth.” When will the whole world sing a new song? According to Jewish belief, that will only happen in the messianic times when the world reaches a state of perfection. In fact, Jewish tradition teaches that in the messianic era, an eighth note will be added to the seven-note musical scale. The music will be unlike anything that anyone has ever heard before! But this addition to our musical repertoire is more than just a change in human perception. It will be a reflection of a serious change in human behavior.

For far too long humanity has sung the same song. A song of war and sadness. A song of depravity and deception. We have sung dirges of hate and ballads of oppression. Yes, there have been high notes in history, and at times, even a great symphony. Yet by and large, our song has stayed the same with the same sorry chorus. History tends to repeat itself. But it doesn’t have to.

Friends, it’s time to change our tune. It’s time to do something different so our world can be different. And the changes start with us. Do you dance to a song of worry all day long? Try to tune in to the wavelength of faith. Do you walk to the beat of an angry drum? Try to slow the rhythm and sing a tranquil tune instead. An amazing thing happens when even one person whistles a happy, catchy new tune. Everyone around them wants to join in!

So “sing to the LORD a new song,” your new song, and soon others will be singing it, too.

http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/sing-a-new-song-3


May the words of my mouth      and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you,      O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Growing up, one of my heroes was a Presbyterian pastor named Ben Patterson. He was the speaker at many of the Christian conferences I attended as a teenager, and I was gripped by his theological insight and poetic skill. When I began work as a young pastor, I listened to dozens of Ben’s tapes, seeking to learn from him how to be an effective communicator of the Gospel.

One of the traditions I picked up from Ben was to pray, right before I preached, a version of Psalm 19:14. As I recall, he would pray something like this: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts together be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.” I didn’t always use this prayer in the pulpit, but I often did because it expressed the yearning of my heart as a preacher: that my words would honor the Lord, as would the thoughts of the whole congregation. Using this prayer reminded me that my effectiveness as a preacher did not depend on me, on my insight or skill, but upon the Lord, who was “my rock and my redeemer.”

I still think Psalm 19:14 is a fine prayer for the pulpit. And I still use it at times when I am a guest preacher. But I have come to realize that this prayer belongs not just in the pulpit, but also in the world. For one thing, the identified poet of Psalm 19, David, was not a priest or a prophet. He didn’t do “religious work” in the usual sense. Rather, he was a shepherd, a warrior, a musician, a poet, and most famously, a king. David did, if you’ll pardon the expression, secular work. Nevertheless, he sought to please the Lord with his words and thoughts, not just in his private prayers, but in every sector of life.

You and I are privileged to live for God‘s glory in all that we do, in every word, every thought, and every deed. This means we ought to borrow David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14, not just if we happen to be preaching a sermon, but all the time.

How would your life be different if you began praying Psalm 19:14 in the day-to-day situations of your life? What difference might it make if, before you participated in a meeting at work, you prayed, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer”? How might praying this way transform your language and actions on the athletic field, when you’re out on the town with your friends, when you’re writing a letter to a client, or when you’re negotiating a contract? How might it affect the way you speak to your spouse, your children, your roommate, or your colleagues?

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Use whichever questions in the previous paragraph fit your life to consider how Psalm 19:14 might change your life. Feel free to add other questions that make sense for you. How might your life be enriched if you were to pray often: “May the words of my mouth…”?

PRAYER: O Lord, my rock and my redeemer, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you:      at work and at home,      at church and at play,      with friends and family,      in meetings and in solitude,      in every situation, all the time. To you be all the glory. Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/prayer-thats-not-just-pulpit


Smoke poured from his nostrils;      fierce flames leaped from his mouth.      Glowing coals blazed forth from him.

Psalm 18 celebrates God’s deliverance of David from danger and distress. “The ropes of death entangled me,” he writes, “floods of destruction swept over me” (18:4). Yet, as David cried out to the Lord, God heard him and came to deliver him.

The prose version of what happened next would read unimaginatively: The Lord rescued David from his enemies and kept him safe. But the Psalms are poetry, not prose. Psalm 18 delivers, not just the facts, but rather a vivid picture of God’s coming in awesome power to deliver David. This portrayal utilizes a variety of stirring images, including a mighty earthquake and a spectacular thunderstorm (18:7, 11-14). In verse 8, God is pictured as a sort of dragon: “Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him.”

Now that’s enough to get the attention of a ten-year-old boy! But what does it tell us about God? And how can we relate to a God with smoking nostrils? The images of Psalm 18 aren’t meant to convey literal truth about God’s nature. Rather, they are poetic, culturally embedded, and theologically powerful representations of God’s strength and judgment. In particular, they point to the mighty acts of God in Exodus, when he parted the waters of the Red Sea (Exod. 14:15-31) and visited the Israelites on Mt. Sinai with thunder, lightning, smoke, and an earthquake (see Exod. 19:16-20).

The good news of Psalm 18 is not only that God is mighty, but also that he is mighty for us. When we cry out to him, he comes to save us. Of course, one of the greatest ironies of God’s salvation is that it is ultimately centered in the apparent weakness and defeat of the cross. Yet, through the cross, God took upon himself the fire of his righteous judgment. In the death of Christ, God bore our punishment for sin, thus defeating the power of sin and even death itself. Psalm 18 invites us to celebrate God’s salvation in Jesus Christ: “I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies” (18:3).

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Why do you think God inspired the psalmist to depict his nature in such bold and shocking images? What images might you choose today to convey the saving power of God? Have you ever experienced a situation like that of David in Psalm 18? How did God rescue you?

PRAYER: Thank you, Almighty God, for the poetic images of Psalm 18.

You are indeed my rock, my fortress, my savior, my shield. You protect me in ways I can see and in ways I’ll never know. In you, I am safe for eternity.

You are a God of power, whose presence is like smoke and fire. Your word thunders. Your judgment strikes like lightning.

You are the one who reached down and rescued me from the deep waters of sin. You have delivered me again and again from the pits into which I have fallen.

O God, you are faithful, with complete integrity. You are pure in your grace and your judgment. You light my way. Indeed, you are perfect.

All praise be to you, God of power, God of mercy! Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/god-dragon-0


Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Moral chaos breeds chaos.  David’s immoral behavior would bring calamity on his household.  David’s forceful taking of Uriah’s wife made it more likely that women in the palace would be vulnerable to another man’s violation.  Weakened from within, David was not able to protect those dearest to him.   What happened in the palace would be mainstreamed “in broad daylight for all Israel.”

Violence begets violence.  Despising God brings God’s judgment upon oneself.  How could David have fooled himself into believing he could “take” Uriah’s wife as his own!

Thus confronted, David repented.  Remorsefully he confessed,  “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13).  God accepted David’s sorrowful lament.  Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin.  You are not going to die” (2 Sam. 12:13).  David’s life could have been “taken” from him, even as he had taken Uriah’s.  David could have lost the right to rule as king, even as did Saul, whom David was anointed to replace.  David and Bathsheba would also endure the additional grief of their firstborn child’s death.

God doesn’t want us to visit the dark side. When we go there, he doesn’t want us to stay there.  Recovery through repentance from sin is the way out.  This good news applies to all sins; adultery is not excluded. Broken trust can be restored.  An afflicted husband and wife may have to work hard for years to get through the pain, but by God’s grace it is possible “to love and to cherish…for better or for worse” and go forward.

David wrote Psalm 51 in remorse for what he had done.  With guilt and shame, he owned up to his sins before God.  Re-establishing trust is built on remorse, repentance, and renewal.  Remorse stops us in our tracks.  Repentance turns us from going in a sinful direction to living godwardShuv, the Hebrew word for repentance means literally “to turn around and go in the opposite direction.”   Renewal is the result of our misdirected life being redirected.

Our life is determined by the choices we make at home, at work, and in our community.   Believers are sinners saved by God’s grace.  The work I do as pastor includes helping people who are caught in sin by showing them that there is a better way to live, and to begin living that way.  When Nathan said, “David, you are the man who has done this!”  He showed David  the consequences of his sins. But God’s amazing grace saved the shepherd king.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you become enslaved to habitual sin? Can you see God’s escape route? Are you feeling salvation’s joy at home, at work, and in your community? Are you enjoying life by dancing to the rhythm of God’s grace?

PRAYER: Lord, I get Your message.  The purer my heart, the more I can see of you.  By being with you in prayer, I trust that you will burn away the impurities in my  heart. Have your way with me so that I will live in your ways. David’s prayer becomes my prayer, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and renew a right spirit within me.” Amen.

A Note from Mark Roberts: This week’s reflections have been written by my friend and fellow pastor, Dr. Leslie Hollon, Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. Leslie (known also by the nickname Les) is a noted preacher, pastor, professor, and author. He is a gifted biblical teacher who connects the deep truths of Scripture to the realities of daily life. Every time I hear Leslie preach, I am encouraged to consider in new ways how the Word of God speaks to me. I know you will find Leslie’s reflections on temptation to be challenging and encouraging.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/restoring-joy-your-salvation