Tuesday, December 31, 2013

whose word I praise

In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? 

Psalm 56:10-11

David's words of confident praise were written out of an experience where his enemies surrounded him. It looked bad. Yet God was his deliverer. You can read the history behind the poetry in 1 Samuel 21:10-15. From the life of a warrior flows the heart of a worshiper. David turns his heart to faith and in that moment knows God at work in his life.

The God Who protects ancient warrior kings is the same God Who cares for His people today. His care and concern are upon us. We know it in Christ, Whose life, death, and resurrection offer us full hope in any circumstance. We know it through the presence of the Holy Spirit Who comforts, convicts, and controls us in just the right way that we know God is at work in us. We know it by the power and wisdom of His Word which is an always ready source of truth, perspective, and support for us as we apply it to our unique circumstances, believing what it plainly teaches.


I praise Your Word and trust You. You are always with me and for me. You deliver me from sin and comfort me in my pains. Thank You! Indeed... what can this world do to me? Nothing. Like David I know that You are my God, and in You I trust!


Monday, December 30, 2013

constant communication

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. 

Psalm 55:16-17

The accessibility of God through prayer has always been a comfort to His people. Prayer is a real experience of vital communion with God. Just like I can talk with a friend, I can come to God in prayer. It is vital spiritual communication and a soul-strengthening exercise. It is meant to be the believer's constant companion.

David made prayer a regular part of each day's activity. It does not matter the hour. The ruler of heaven and earth constantly attends us. He never sleeps. Our prayers never disturb Him, nor does He just "take a message". God is accessible and longs for us to speak to Him morning, noon, and night!

And so I am comforted and encouraged to seek God at any time, even as I struggle to seek Him at all times. I may never fully achieve the latter in this life, but I can find encouragement in the fact that I can go to The Lord in prayer at any moment and know He hears my voice.

Friday, December 27, 2013

My Helper

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. 

Psalm 54:4

I am not the one in charge here;

I ruin what I control.

But with The Lord I will not fear;

My life is submitted to His rule.

Not afraid to admit my need;

I lay it all before The Lord.

God is my helper as my soul is freed

from worry through comfort in His Word.

I may not know which path to take;

Confusion and blindness come at night.

But God rewards me as I wait

for His hand to guide me in the right.

I trust my Savior now and forever;

By faith I know His love and care.

He will guide me to the places where

He will use me for His glory as I trust Him there.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

the joy of Messiah

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. 

Psalm 53:6

David's cry encapsulates hundreds of years of Israel's longing for the Deliverer. It was the cry for salvation. And even as Israel waxed and waned in spiritual commitment, the constant hope of Israel was for Messiah to come. It was anticipated. And David knew that when such salvation would one day arrive great joy would be known for all.

And then in history God answered the longing for the Deliverer. He answered it by sending Jesus, born to humble Jewish parents. He sent the message with angelic announcement to shepherds. He sent Jesus in the midst of oppression and longing for hope. The Messiah came and that is what will be celebrated tomorrow on Christmas Day.

All that longing was fulfilled when a newborn's first breath revealed God's salvation had arrived. And there, surrounded by parents in an ox's feeding trough the Son of God would begin bringing joy to all. He was celebrated at the temple at His circumcision. He was worshiped by wise men and shepherds. He was also hated by kings and murdered by leaders who rejected His message. But He was vindicated by the resurrectin so that His death forever redeemed us from sin's hold over us. And in new life, this Christmas we celebrate Jesus, the salvation for Israel and all who believe and trust in Him!

Monday, December 23, 2013


But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.  I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly. 

Psalm 52:8-9

David's passion in this passage is to know the stability and blessing of anchoring his heart close to God in worship. He pictures himself as a flourishing, fruitful olive tree rooted in the soul of God's own home. Nothing would move him.

The psalm contrasts this stability with the inevitable judgment awaiting the unrepentant ungodly person. The evil person is broken down, torn from stability and uprooted (Psalm 52:5-7). This is the entirely opposite picture describing the one who deliberately works against God and rejects Him.

Those who trust in God and are thankful to God know a real strength. Those who wait on God and build community with other believers are blessed by God's work in their lives. They are His saints and are blessed, even if by faith they must wait and trust. God cares for His people. And in that trust, souls are nourished and lives are built.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

inside or outside?

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 

Psalm 51:6

God wants to remake me on the inside. Of course every other opinion among people seems to focus on the outside. We live in a youth and beauty obsessed culture. Billions of dollars and entire industries are devoted to the outer person. Fitness, cosmetics, fashion, even a substantial part of medicine are all fixated with keeping us all looking and feeling and acting as if everyone must have the goal of perpetually reliving their late 20's. It is really quite crazy and perverse.

The outer person wasts away. We age, sicken, weaken, and all of us will one day die. So investment merely in the outer person will be a loss every time. That is why it is wise to put our real energies where God is most concerned. He delights in truth, wisdom, and righteousness guiding our hearts. He wants to make us new creatures in the inner man. He wants us to be the people that He changes noticeably on the inside.

When David wrote the fifty-first psalm he was at a point of desperate need to change. He was repenting of some major sins: lying, adultery, murder, and government conspiracy - just to name a few. And in that confession comes this realization that God wanted him changed on the inside. He knew that in God's forgiveness the change could be real. David would discipline himself to delight in truth and learn God's wisdom. And then even the ugliest of sins that God would remove and forgive could be replaced with God's better truth. Then he would be restored to true worth and fellowship again. And in that wisdom real change would renew him.

God wants me changing on the inside. He wants me to confess and forsake sin. He wants His word and His Spirit to develop the beautiful character of Christ within me. And that is where my thoughts and efforts must first start.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

my jealous love

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. 

Song of Solomon 8:6

You are mine

a seal set upon you

a covenant love

exclusive rights to each other

my heart for you

in binding from above

My life is yours

to share as long as we live

together in the path

of life walking beside

One leads us Who gives

a greater love

And a flame burns

fills hearts, home, and bed

with a love only

we two will always share

a joining of body, heart, and head

unity from the Triune

As unrelenting as death

I cling to you

you to me agreed

we flash a holy, jealous flame

passion guards us holy and true

living in God's way and name

Monday, December 16, 2013

romance in bloom

let us go out early to the vineyards and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. 

Song of Solomon 7:12

Love is often associated with the beauty of early spring when the verdant earth is renewed with the prospects of growing life. The beauty of the season is a time for new life and new love. And that is the poetic imagery applied here. The bride wishes to be carried away from the urban confines of Jerusalem... off to Solomon's vineyards where they two can stroll through gardens and orchards and drink in the delights of their love in the perfume of the blossoming countryside.

It is a function of romantic love to fill the human heart with such idealism. Of course real life cannot ALWAYS consist of leisurely vineyard strolls, but such moments can sustain and nurture a love for a long, long time. And those private getaways are the maturing moments in a marriage. They furnish a unique shared history for the couple. And memories of intimacy in those private places are strengthening commitments for them. Strong relationships are enjoyed when a man and wife, with a twinkle in their eye, associate a place and time with the memory, "Remember when we....?"

There is a healthy dose of romantic goofiness in every great marriage. It is unique and intimate with the couple. It should encouraged, enjoyed, celebrated, and remembered. And I do well as a husband when I foster these times. Truthfully, finding a vineyard to wander among the blossoms with my beloved sounds so inviting right now! My heart should always offer the invitation to me wife: "Let's go to the countryside!"

Friday, December 13, 2013

love gushes

"Who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?" 

Song of Solomon 6:10

Love songs are full of hyperbole, stretching the limits of metaphor and simile past even the elastic ability of human language to convey emotion. That is the power of love. And to see it in scripture frankly encourages me. I think it means more Christian artists should write love songs rather than default to  the chore of churning out assembly line contemporary worship stuff. One thing is for certain, humans love to be loved. God loves us. We should love each other. And the attraction between a man and wife is proof of love's pwer to fill our hearts with great feelings and gushy romance.

Of course the beauty of the Song of Solomon is that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit every sappy emotion-filled love song is given some credence! It is OK to celebrate this in humanity. The Song of Solomon does so with great freedom. And love is the great human emotion... even worldlings may rejoice in it.

Romance leads Solomon to compare the radiance of his bride to a morning sunrise, the full moon's compelling glowing beauty, and the powerful breath-taking majesty of an army marching in full battle array.  Yeah, this love song is definitely over the top. But that is what love does... it takes us further than we would rationally consider going!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

lessons from the lovesick

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am sick with love. 

Song of Solomon 5:8

This part of the Song of Solomon portrays a lover's misunderstanding. Solomon makes a clandestine night visit to the beloved, but by the time she rises, makes herself presentable, and gets to the door to answer his knocking, he is gone. Now this could be a literary "dream sequence" or it could be the re-telling of a quarrel. Either way it is filled with a longing for love.

She chases after her beloved through the streets of Jerusalem. At some point she is detained and punished by the night watchmen. She is willing to risk such treatment for the sake of finding her angered love. Her motivation is her strong love for Solomon and the need to make things right again. She wishes to settle the misunderstanding, to reconcile with her beloved, and to find rest again in his love.

So there is a lesson here as to the lengths to which love will go. I list a few observations:

1.  Love takes responsibility for misunderstandings and seeks reconciliation in an active way.

2.  Love will humble itself for the sake of the beloved.

3.  Love will search until it is satisfied.

4.  Love will consume itself with making things right.

5.  Love will accept consequences for wrong actions and actively seek change.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

my beloved, my garden

Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits. 

Locked away until the time

that I might open the gate...

hand in hand in love

we find the garden rich with

verdant blossoms, full of fruit.

I am intoxicated by it all.

But before it was enjoyed

it was cultivated. God made the soil,

and it was prepared so that

what I planted in there

grew and thrived with 

love and patience until it was mine

to have and enjoy.

Walled off for only two

the garden is a private place

full of joys that only I

and my beloved may know. 

All is as it should be

by God's design drawn close

we linger there often.

No more in spring's blossom,

but in summer's warm glow...

nights and days of joy among the garden's bounty

And even as autumn comes

winter's chill may soon slow us,

we will tend this garden together

savoring its choicest fruit.

My beloved is my garden and I am hers. 

We have planted,

tended love there over years

of careful toil. And the fruit

is sweeter still as the garden

reaches full measure, never peaking

but always providing a sustaining harvest of love.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

worth singing about

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. 

Song of Solomon 3:5

This is now the second time this refrain has been sung for us in the Song of Solomon (see also Song of Solomon 2:7). It is both a powerful statement and also a warning of the potential dangers of sexual attraction. The statement is one of natural beauty. It is a "good" thing for a couple to experience this mutual sexual desire. It makes marriages strong. It ultimately is what creates families. It is a beautiful part of God's handiwork and should be celebrated. In the right terms and times, sex is something worth singing about. The Bible does it!

Yet there is reason for a warning. Our sinful human natures can corrupt God's good gifts. We often do so. There is a time for sexual expression. In the song, immediately after the bride sings of her intense sexual longing, the scene shifts to Solomon coming to her on her wedding day (Song of Solomon 3:6-11). That is the proper time to stir up or awaken sexual love. The warning is not to let the desire run rampant outside of wedded vows.

Celebrating sex is a good thing. Celebrating it within marriage is the righteous way to do so. Plus it is fun! And we Christians should find a way to get this truth out there. Western culture often sinfully flaunts uncontrolled sexuality. But the best and most fulfilling sexual expression is not selfishly motivated. It is found within the strong commitment of a man and a woman in marriage. Want great sex? Get married and stay married for decades! Scripture is clear on this. Sex is not dirty. Sex is sacred. Sex is beautiful. Sex is naturally a part of what God has made that is "very good". Sex is full of the glory of God like any other part of creation.

Monday, December 9, 2013

mutual attraction

As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women. As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. 

Song of Solomon 2:2-3a

There is no denying that romantic love begins and grows with mutual attraction. In this world we will meet thousands of individuals throughout the course of a lifetime. But only one person can be the love of a lifetime. And that is what is being sung about at this point in the song. The two lovers exalt the exclusivity of their mutual, marital love.

Of course, we have these same phenomena occurring today. We are mystified by it sometimes: "I don't know what she sees in him." or "Love is blind." But what we are commenting on is an outsider's view of a unique and sometimes inexplicable attraction. He sees a lily among the thorns and is mesmorized by its beauty, tenderness and assessibility. She sees an apple among the dry cedars and is drawn to it for shade, provision, and protection. They are looking at each other through attraction.

This process is good, but it has its dangers if it is not at least recognized as incomplete without more mature aspects of a relationship such as commitment and wise evaluation. If we focus just on the physical aspects, such love may not pass the test of time. I doubt that after 30 years of marriage she is still the flower of youthful beauty. And he cannot leap over mountains when he limps up the staircase. But by that time commitment's love is stronger than the power of physical attraction alone. And marriages that mature in this way find that it is the sweeter love still!

Friday, December 6, 2013

no advisory necessary

Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. 

Song of Solomon 1:15

There should be no confusion about the Song of Solomon. It is a love song. It contains romantic advice and is sexually charged. But it needs no advisory, for it celebrates love in all its essential and exquisite goodness. A man and a woman are drawn to each other with inexplicable passion. They extol their love and long for each other. They express their love without any inhibitions. And those around them celebrate their love. They commit to each other through the ups and downs of the experience of their relationship. In that sense this song is almost like a wedding ceremony. In fact, I believe the book is something of a model love story meant to prepare people for marital commitment.

I don't think it is right to ignore the physical expression of love poetically portrayed in the song either. It celebrates love, commitment, romance and sex. All of these are among the very best things we humans can experience in life. That is why popular culture tries to celebrate them in song. But this biblical picture is the best, and it ought to be proclaimed together in context and sung about with passion for others to know and enjoy what God has given to us. Sex is God's great gift! Why else is this inspired work of scripture given by God as a song? By all means, sing it!

The way to combat a sinfully sex-saturated society is not to hide from sex. The way to fight it is to celebrate sex as God designed it to be celebrated... within the marital commitment of a man to his wife. We ought to talk about its goodness to our kids, instructing the next generation as the Song of Solomon does. If Christians did a better job singing of the beauty of sex, our world would not infiltrate the church with its polluted pornographic perversions of it. These porn portraits are sadly all too common in the hearts of most men and many women. Christians should learn from this small book how to properly celebrate sex. Sounds fun, doesn't it? Well... if it doesn't, something is wrong... because it should.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Am I going through the motions?

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!

Psalm 50:23

God wants our hearts. There is no way around it. Rote ritual will not make the relationship happen. God wants us to truly express ourselves to Him with love, praise, and thanksgiving. Only then will our prayers mean something and real worship be the result. 

So it is not about a style of music, or a specific liturgy, or a regulative principle (whatever that means).... except what God says He wants in praise from the heart. He told Israel he would rather have honest giving of thanks than any costly animal sacrifice that was just mere ritual without any meaning. God will not accept us just going through the motions.


I examine my heart and give to You real thanks this morning. I don't ever want to fall into barren ritual. I want my soul to rejoice and my heart to seek You in worship all my days. I thank You for the grace in Christ to know that I am a forgiven sinner. Keep my sense of gratitude high as I think about the cost You paid to save me and Your love for the world! And may that love keep burning in my heart for You AND for the world that You love through the sacrifice of Your Son.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

the great equalizer

Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. 

Psalm 49:16-17

Rich and poor share the same earthly end. The grave is the great equalizer. No amount of wealth will stop the ground from swallowing you up! That is the fate of every person. Death does not pity the poor nor does it placate the wealthy. Everyone is mortal. No person can buy their way out of the inevitability of life's end.

I have seen elaborate funerals, but in the end, the hearse never hauls a trailer behind it for the final destination. This is meant to be a moment of reflection for the living. We will fade and be gone. Our days are as grass which grows and then fades with the winter cold. We cannot stop this. We may think that we will delay it. But nothing and no one can ever stop it.

What matters then is a two-fold understanding: 1) God can deliver from the "end" of death. He will receive the ransomed into His presence (Psalm 49:15). 2) How we live now is important. We need not fear death neither should we respect riches. We need to be balanced in the worship of The Lord, recognizing eternal realities and living for God as His ransomed children.

As Christians, we know that the gift of God in Christ is eternal life. We live beyond death. We are ransomed to be received into Christ's presence. And He gives abundant life now so that we can live with joy, wisdom, and perspective beyond our mortality. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

thinking as worship

We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with righteousness. 

Psalm 48:9-10

I wonder how many Christians might reject the notion that thinking can be worship. But it is. This great psalm of worship reminds us that real contemplation about God and His works (serious thought work) is necessary for authentic worship. To love God is not flippant ritual. It is serious and sober meditation. It is not a joyless process, for to contemplate God's steadfast love for the world is to find celebration of Him in that thought-filled process.

And I love that we don't just contemplate God in His temple without realizing that His fame must reach through us to the ends of the earth. The result of serious, thoughtful worship is a praise that proclaims God to the nations. Real meditation leads us to proclamation of the good news.


May my worship fit the pattern of scripture. May I gather in Your house with the assembling of Your saints to think on Your steadfast love in Christ. And may our combined worship spill out of our meeting like a boiling, powerful, rolling flood of praise so that the gospel flows out to every nation, every tribe, every people group on this beautiful earth!


Monday, December 2, 2013

a prayer to the God of the nations

God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted! 

Psalm 47:8-9


You are God of the nations. You reign over this earth, even as nations rage and people imagine vain things against You. From heaven's throne Your will is done and Your justice will sound forth. You call Your people to proclaim Your rule in this world, to live out the justice and peace that the gospel brings and to fight against the rebellion and injustices that sin leads among us.

You sent Your Son to redeem the nations. All the powers of Your rule subdue the powers of mankind, not by sword, nor by diplomacy, but by the foolishness of the preaching of the gospel in the death of Your Son and new life in His resurrection. He is the King of Kings and Prince of Peace Who has left His followers as His regents and representatives to do His work. It is the only way it will get done. And in the saving life of Christ we must love the world as You do, Lord!

At a time when the world stops at least to tacitly acknowledge the celebration of Jesus' birth, may we show them His life. And may the princes of this world bow heads and humble hearts to the Savior of all the world. May that vision of every knee bowed and every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father fill the hearts of Christians at Christmas.


Friday, November 29, 2013

intimate access

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 

Psalm 46:4-5

The poetic image here captivates holy imagination for me. This psalm was probably meant to be a worship song at the temple. The whole concept of God habitating with people and dwelling in the midst of the city was known by the Jews at Mount Zion where the temple existed for the worship of Yahweh. This psalm my have been part of some regular temple festival, sung as pilgrims drew near the Temple Mount.

But what is celebrated is God's nearness. He was accessible. He could be worshiped at the temple where His presence dwelt in the holiest place. Worshipers could be in the place where God Himself dwelt and they could know Him in His nearness. That's something worth singing about!

And now since Christ has, by His death, torn the curtain separating God's presence from us, we know an even more intimate access to God. The river now flows, not in the midst of a city, but in my heart. He dwells within a temple not made of hands, but of my life. And this is true of every Christian. Any believer can know this. God is with us. God dwells in us. He will never leave us nor forsake us... forever!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

the oil of gladness

you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; 

Psalm 45:7

If anything, Thanksgiving is a time for "bragging" on the goodness of God's blessings. So I will make a list of the "oil of gladness" God has poured over me this year:

1. I will start with Jesus. That is not just the "spiritual" thing to do. If I did not have my Savior's love and the change that He brings, I would be miserably selfish and probably nothing but completely disillusioned about life.

2. My amazing wife. She always completes me and my life would be unfinished without her love.

3. My kids.  For all practical purposes they have grown into mature people... and have become uniquely themselves. I appreciate their gifts and personalities. I hope that they will be my friends in their adult years.

4. My extended family.  I am blessed with Christian family on all sides of my home. They humble me and bless me with their love of The Lord and caring lives.

5. My church. I'll stand side by side with my brothers and sisters at Mill Creek through joys and adversities. And I work with the finest ministry servants (both on staff and as volunteers) that I have ever known. It is a joy every day!

6. The little joys. God gave us two great family vacations this year. I got in several fishing excursions as well. I made new fishing buddies in the process that were all times of joy and heart gladdening FUN!

7. Eternity's perspective. It is in the joys that I gain a wonder for eternal pleasures. Naturalism CANNOT explain this soul-craving for joy and the satisfaction it brings. It is from God's hand, both the craving, and the fulfillment. And in it I see I am made for eternity. Only God blesses this way!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

not in bow and sword

For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. 

Psalm 44:6-7

Self-reliance is not a biblical virtue. In fact, it is more often than not a snare to the soul. This psalm begins by celebrating God's deliverance of Israel. He established them in a land that they did not own, driving out their enemies. He fought their battles for them. The history of Israel began with God's fighting for His people.

And this historical fact was a hallmark of the nation. It was a way of defining themselves as a people. They trusted in God for protection and peace. They existed as a nation by divine providence and worshiped God accordingly. No one man could take sword or bow in hand and claim to be Israel's strength. No army was their hope.

That healthy trust in God and abandonment of self-reliance speaks to my world. I, like most of my generation, tend to idolize independence. And we Americans boast about our own strength, self-reliance, and  national defense. But that is an enemy to real faith when we fail to see God as the giver of all good things in our lives, even our security, economy, and standard of living. So at this Thanksgiving season, I am reminded to praise God Who is my strength, my deliverer, and my salvation.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

joy and praise

Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 

Psalm 43:4

Praise as a mere duty

is not very pretty

but when emotion grows

and God works... praise flows

I can go to the altar

and leave my own gift there

with joyfilled heart blazing

for the God that I'm praising

With a "lyre" of six strings

new praises I will sing

for the merciful love

of my Savior above

Difficult description

for what I'm feeling

Praise, awe, worship, relief

for God has always met my need

And in the assembly

I'll gather readily

not neglecting worship or praise

for my God all my days

It is God I exalt

His glory fills up my heart

speaking and singing

about the kingdom He's bringing

Monday, November 25, 2013

secret of soul thirst

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 

Psalm 42:1-2

I am sure that many praise songs and Christian hymns have been founded on these two verses. And I have sung a few. But what is going on with this extreme soul thirst that the sons of Korah are teaching us to know in this psalm? I'd like to understand that kind of driving passion that can only be quenched in God! In a world where such meaningless is given such importance (name a cultural icon), how can my soul be overwhelmed with a longing for God?

Thankfully, the answer is clearly elaborated in the rest of the psalm (though I have never really heard it sung about in praise songs). It is not a topic that is very popular in contemporary Christian culture... which is why you don't sing praise choruses based on Psalm 42:3..."my tears have been my food day and night." Tears are the mechanism that leads us to long for God so exquisitely. When experiencing sorrow, the soul is encouraged to seek God (42:5,11). It is in the tears that we can want God. Sorrow is the secret to soul thirst.

It appears to me that this psalm encourages us to take action when we face such emotions. "These things I remember..." indicating a choice not to dwell on feelings but instead to appeal to the past facts of God's goodness and his ability for the present and future. "Hope in God... remember Him... say to Him" ... these are calls to action when feeling sad. It is through the pain that we find our thirsty souls in need and in the seeking of God that our needs are met. God uses our pains to draw us to Him so that He can satisfy our sorrowing souls! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

KEY: relationship with God is everything.

By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. 

Psalm 41:11-12

The confidence in God is strong in this psalm. It is based on obedience to God (see 41:1 in which David knows he has cared for the poor and needy like God does). The relationship that David had with God was everything to him. It was really the summary of his life and his confidence for the future.

Things did not always go easy for David. He had his share of enemies. Both before and after his rise to Israel's throne, David had opposition that wanted him dead. These weren't just political foes... they were personal ones. But the king of Israel confidently trusted God that his enemies would not shout in triumph over him. God would guard the king because of his integrity.

David also had a confidence about the future that was bound in his relationship with God. He knew he would be in God's presence forever. He saw a relationship with God guiding his present and his future. Integrity and faithfulness to God's Word led him in the present. God's commitment to him would protect him for the future. All times were in the presence and control of God. That is security!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

what God has done

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 

Psalm 40:1

This is a song of deliverance. David rejoices in how God saved him in his time of trouble. It is a poem of praise. It celebrates God's rescue. It is uplifting to read what God did, and I can't help but see God doing the same things for us today.


He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog... Psalm 40:2a

God delivers us from situations when we are low. Either our own sins, or the sinful actions of others (even a mix of the two) can depress, discourage, and destroy us. We can get bogged down and fallen. Our joy can be lost, but God in His grace lifts us back up!


...and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. Psalm 40:2b

When God delivers, He secures. He brings stability. He is our strong rock... a place of security, defense, strength and protected position. From the altitude of His deliverance we gain a new and necessary perspective on our lives!


He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

When God saves us, we cannot help but sing! It gives our souls something in which to rejoice. We go from muddy myopic moping to wild-hearted singing with all our souls can muster! It is the sweetest song of the ages. We will always sing and rejoice at the salvation of our God! It is amazing. It is wonderful. It is a celebration extraordinaire!


Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:3b

My salvation leads to proclamation and God will use that proclamation to affect His salvation in others! The best witness to God's saving work is a changed life that gives God the glory for what He has done. God has done it for me and will do it for countless more. And in some way my story will affect that in other people when I praise God and proclaim it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

heaps of turmoil

Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! 

Psalm 39:6

I see the devastation

prosperity brings;

nice property and

the tyranny of things.

The untold suffering

of broken lives

is not relieved

with what money buys.

Yet I cravenly worship

gold, silver and gems;

forget The Lord and

turn against Him.

Bigger barns and fat accounts

might bring false confidence.

But there is a God

to Whom I answer in the end.

Wealth is an illusion

despite its glittering show.

What does a person gain

to have the world and lose his soul?

Monday, November 18, 2013

blessing & confessing

But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. 

Psalm 38:15

The thirty-eighth psalm is a song of confession of sin. In it, David is processing the raw pain of guilt and anguish over sin. Many Bible scholars see it as the companion of Psalm 51 and talk about it in terms of David's consequences after his adultery, murder and conspiracy are found out.

It very well could be that these circumstances were behind the psalm. There is however nothing to demand these specific circumstances exclusively as the occasion for its writing. In fact, I tend to think that this Psalm might be different from Psalm 51. Given David's focus on his enemies taunting him, and his struggle with not seeing God come to his aid, I think this might be referencing some other events in his life, perhaps not recorded for us. The title of the psalm indicates it was written "for the memorial offering". This was the firstfruits grain offering burned up before God on the altar recognizing God's ownership of all our blessings. It seems to be a strange rite to associate with mourning over sin... until you think about it more.

David knew that none of us "deserve" even common grace. This psalm reminds us that even the good blessings come to us "while we are yet sinners". It keeps perspective. It humbles us to know that God blesses us even when we confess our failures and ask for His mercies.

In confession we wait for God to move. That is what David does. He waits for The Lord to answer him, confident that in humble confession and repentance he is in the place where God will work. And that is something to remember as I confess my own sins.

Friday, November 15, 2013

committing my way

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

Psalm 37:5-6

The promise of this song echoes in my heart today. I can use the reminder because I am often tempted to just go my own way under my own power... to forget to make my choices with the honor of God driving me. The pressure to perform by my own strength and talent is high. It is, after all, the way of the world. And even in the church I can sadly get away with it quite often.... succumbing to a false hope.

But my ways are in Your hands, Lord. All that I do and all that I desire to do is to make Your Name known in this world as I yield to Your strength, wisdom, direction, and control. I want to give up this tendency that I have to try to control my circumstances and outcomes. My obedience and commitment to Your ways and to Your leading are what will bring me unspeakable joy and satisfaction. You will bring forth good in me and to me when I commit my ways to You. I believe that.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

the fountain / in Your light

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. 

Psalm 36:9

Darkness exists even

in beautiful places

and sin leaves destruction

even in happy faces

shine the light

the darkness flees

wash in the fountain

from sin made clean

You are a fountain

of everlasting life

Jesus brings peace

ending sin's strife

shine the light

the darkness flees

wash in the fountain

from sin made clean

People in darkness

have forgotten how to see

polluted by sin

they don't know their need

shine the light

the darkness flees

wash in the fountain

from sin made clean

"There is a fountain filled with blood

drawn from Emmanuel's veins

and sinners plunged beneath that flood

lose all their guilty stains."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his salvation. All my bones shall say, "O LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?" 

Psalm 35:9-10

Sometimes it is hard for me to relate to the psalms that are basically prayers for avenging vindication. They have what to me seems to be a dark edge to them. For instance, David asks God to pick up weapons of war against David's enemies (Psalm 35:3). He prays for them to be shamed and dishonored (Psalm 35:26). It appears to be a graceless set of requests.

But the text is also a clear list of how much David's enemies worked against God and His Law. These people exploited the poor for personal gain (Psalm 35:10). They went after David out of sheer hatred (Psalm 35:7). They lied about him (Psalm 35:11). They were without a sense of God's justice (Psalm 35:12). They enjoyed David's pains and difficulties, mocking him in his needy hour (Psalm 35:15-16). They rejoiced at his sorrows (Psalm 35:19). They hated peace (Psalm 35:20).

So David was not harboring a personal grudge or vendetta when he asked for God to vindicate him before his foes. Instead, he was asking for God to judge their sin justly... for the reality was that their sins had real consequences. That puts all this vindication prayer into proper perspective. God would be magnified when sin had its consequences clearly seen in the world of humanity. David wanted God to be great and the Law to be respected when sin was judged. That is a good thing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

fear, shame, and trouble

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

Psalm 34:4-6

David writes about the contrast between what a person naturally experiences in life as a result of wrong choices and how God counteracts our most difficult experiences. This is a call to worship God for the benefits He gives to us in deliverance. It was written after David had compromised to save his own skin... an episode of his life in which he was not so much a man of faith as a scheming self-driven, fearful person. He hid from Saul's attacks by "changing his behavior" and living under the protection of the Philistine king. You can read about the double life details in 1 Samuel 21. It was not David's finest moment of faith and trust in God.

Yet God was still there for David at that time. And God eventually delivered him from this poor choice in order to honor His promise that He made to David. God's mercies are bigger than our fear-driven selfish failures. I am thankful for that.

David mentions three very human experiences that were driving him: fear (Psalm 34:4), shame (Psalm 34:5), and troubled times (Psalm 34:6). And those things can combine in our hearts to pretty much diminish faith to a barely discernible trickle. Yet when we turn back to God, He will deliver us!

David celebrated the God Who answered prayer and delivered from fear. He worshiped The Lord for taking away his shame (and David had a lot to be ashamed of... he feigned madness to live among the enemies of Israel). David felt like a man whose life was saved when God delivered him. And to be saved from near death creates a grateful heart.

Monday, November 11, 2013

His faithful love

For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. 

Psalm 33:4-5

These are very encouraging words for the person committed to a life's pursuit of the knowledge of God. God's thoughts are found in the pages of His holy Word. If I want to know God I will find Him in the pages. And that will encourage me because His Word is truth. It is upright and makes my heart upright.

God will not disappoint me. My circumstances may test me. People might let me down. But all of God's work is done in faithfulness and in scripture I see that faithfulness lived out among people. And it gives me real hope to stay encouraged even in my most difficult times. God loves righteousness and justice. He is not a worker of wrong for me. He will move even in my pains to bring glory to Himself. And in that I will trust.

God's faithful love fills this world. He is a bringer of hope in a world of darkness. He is the God Who loves the world and calls me to love people like He loves people. And in that call I will find fulfillment. I will commit myself, O LORD, to know Your faithful love and to live within it sharing it with the people in my world.

Friday, November 1, 2013

my hiding place

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah 

Psalm 32:7

Sometimes a person needs a safe place. Life can get oppressive. People can be agressive, even abusive. Situations can be frightening. Intimidation can rule our hearts. We need a place to hide.

My soul can take refuge in God. He is my warm cover on a cold night. He is the safe place to run when every place else seems to bring my soul fear. He is a warm place of dry protection as the cold storm rages outside. He keeps me secure. He strengthens me. In the shelter of His arms I can be encouraged to go ahead and face the unknown challenge with His strength.

At some point in the worship at church we stopped singing a chorus based on this verse. For the life of me, I don't know why... I often need its comfort and I am sure others do as well:

You are my hiding place

You always fill my heart

with songs of deliverance

whenever I am afraid

I will trust in You

I will trust in You

Let the weak say

I am strong

in the strength of The Lord

I will trust in You

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My times are in Your hands.

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! 
Psalm 31:14-15

The words of an old hymn say it best:

My times are in Thy hand;
My God, I wish them there;
My life, my friends, my soul I leave
Entirely to Thy care.

My times are in Thy hand;
Whatever they may be;
Pleasing or painful, dark or bright,
As best may seem to Thee.

My times are in Thy hand;
Why should I doubt or fear?
My Father’s hand will never cause
His child a needless tear.

My times are in Thy hand,
Jesus, the crucified!
Those hands my cruel sins had pierced
Are now my guard and guide.

My times are in Thy hand,
I’ll always trust in Thee;
And, after death, at Thy right hand

I shall forever be.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

praise brings perspective

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:4-5

Praise is offered to God for the balance that He brings in our lives. Yes, we may displease Him in our sin, but He is quick to forgive and be merciful to the repentant heart. And even when sin is judged, it is tempered with a lifetime of God's grace upon the repentant. God is merciful and loving and we praise Him for being such to us at all times.

Praise puts perspective on our sufferings. Trials do come. We hurt. We grieve. We suffer in the world by the actions of ourselves, of other sinners, and from the sheer mortality of the curse upon sin. Yet even in our suffering God can bring joy. Such joy is not earthbound. It is transcendent and heavenly. It defies emotional logic because God brings joy in our suffering.

God is a God Who knows suffering. Our sins have hurt and angered Him. He sent His Son to die for our sins. Jesus suffered more than we will ever come close to understanding when upon the cross He was forsaken by the Father. And in that suffering as the Man of Sorrows He bore our griefs. And that is why joy will come in the morning. Jesus knows our sufferings and will bring us joy if we can just trust Him for the relief of His presence that comes with the dawn.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

the glory due His name

Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. 

Psalm 29:1-2

This is one of the most compelling calls to worship ever given. It describes God as He is and calls us to recognize Him and re-order ourselves accordingly. God is great, powerful, loving and glorious and deserves our worship. Thus worship involves our conscious acknowledgement of His rulership over us and His greatness demonstrated to us.

But the last phrase of this call to worship is what I find to be particularly compelling. The Lord's holiness is a quality of great beauty. It is splendorous and magnificent. It is the perfection of His Person that compels us to worship Him. I acknowledge His greatness, power, and glory, but I worship His holiness.


The glory due Your name must come from my heart to Yours. You are holy, wise and powerful. You are great and mighty. But my heart trembles at Your holiness for I am unholy. It is in that knowledge that I realize that You must change me, remake me, and give me a righteousness that pleases You. And through that newly made heart I can worship You in the splendor of Your holiness.


Monday, October 28, 2013

today's prayer

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. 

Psalm 28:7

O God,

be my strength today. I may face work harder than I knew that I could do. Empower me through Your Spirit to live like Jesus would and do what He would do. Strengthen me so that I will not shrink away from anything difficult. And do more with me than I could ever do by myself.

Dear Lord, be my shield. Protect me from the attacks of the enemy. Keep me and all around me safe. Bless me, protect me, and lead me not into any temptation, but deliver me from evil.

Lord, in You my heart trusts. When so many false allegiances advertise for my attention, please, may You be my one affection. I will trust in You. When I do, You will help me and never disappoint me. I am most at ease when I trust in You.

God, I will worship You. I center my thoughts in prayer upon You now. And in prayerful worship moments today I will give thanks to You. My heart will sing a love song for You to You.


Friday, October 25, 2013

one thing (really three)

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: 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 inquire in his temple. 

Psalm 27:4

David's consuming passion is God. PERIOD. That is everything he lived for. He desired God above all. It led him to this prayer request that was one thing yet so full that he could not ask it in just one way. He knew that to seek God would lead him to a multitude of discoveries. And one facet of worship would open up so many more.

So David's "one thing" was really three. He wanted to live in God's presence all his days. David longed to build a temple for the worship of the LORD. But God told him to wait. His son Solomon would do it. David wanted the temple so that he could always be close to God. But there was more than just wanting that.

David wanted to have the beauty of God engage his soul. He longed for more. He filled His desires with a passion for God. God was beautiful. God was worth all of David's love and attention. He desired God in worship more than anything... and as king in Jerusalem David had access to it all. What he really craved was God.

David wanted direction from God. He hoped to live in God's house so that he could always inquire of God. Closeness to God leads to obedience to God. He will lead those who love Him. And real worship leads to a life directed by the object of worship. When we truly worship God, our lives will be led by God.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Test Me

Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. 

Psalm 26:2

Lord I want to be

the man You will make of me:

In heart... a love for you;

in mind... thoughts that are true.

My prayer shall be...

Test me.

Is is easy to be

what I want to be.

But sin pulls me away

from what I should do and say,

so with intensity

test me.

If fire touches me

it will set me free

from self and sin's control

so I can let it all go.

You will set me free...

Test me!

A love not for me

and a passion to serve Thee

should fill all my heart

and in my thoughts should start

a desire to worship completely...

Test me!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

owning sins, finding mercy

Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! 

Psalm 25:7

David worshipped a God who forgave sins. And the faithful love of The Lord was better than David's own spotty faithfulness to The Lord. This is why David could repent and ask for God's merciful treatment of him. David acknowledged his sins and transgressions. He appealled to the steadfast love of The Lord for God's sake, and not his own. In other words, David sought forgiveness so that God would be glorified, and not for David's own reputation.

David admitted his failings. He confessed his sin. He pleaded for God not to bring up his past sins and youthful failings. He asked for mercy so that the goodness of The Lord might be seen in him. He knew that God was loving and merciful to repentant sinners. For David to truly worship, he had to pray like a broken and repentant sinner.

I humbly learn from David's example of worship. I am also a painfully consistent sinner. I transgress God's Law. I am filled with self importance and pride. I struggle with the results of the sins of my youth. And I pray for God to forgive them in Christ and to not remember my sins. I want God's goodness to be all that is left in me for others to see. I ask, O God, for Your glory to shine through this cracked and broken sinner. May people see less of me and only You!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

the King of glory

Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah 

Psalm 24:9-10

Have you ever wondered what was going on in the command to open the gates and doors in this Psalm? I know I have thought about it. This psalm was written by David and it seems to be a psalm of liturgy... a specific religious ceremony was associated with it. It was fitted for a specific occasion, perhaps to celebrate the ark of the covenant being brought to Jerusalem by David.

The question and answer format starts in verse three when the ark is being brought to its destination. "The hill of the LORD" is probably in reference to Zion, where ultimately a temple will be built for the worship fo The Lord. The question as to who is worthy to ascend that hill is answered with the outline of the effects of loving and obeying God's Law in Psalm 24:3-6.

Then twice (Psalm 24:7; Psalm 24:9) the priests with the ark call out to the gatekeepers of Jerusalem to open the gates so the procession can carry out the mission of bringing the ark into the city. The gatekeepers respond with the liturgical question "Who is the King of glory?" The priests answer in worshipful reply exalting God as the fighter of Israel's battles and the God of angel hosts. God is the true King of Israel. This is a royal procession.

The ancient liturgy is a piece of solid theology. It also draws the heart to worship the power of God as the glorious king. Imagining the procession going through the crowded city has me worshiping with that crowd this morning!

Monday, October 21, 2013

not a burial psalm

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 

Psalm 23:5

The twenty-third psalm is perhaps the best known and most loved single passage of scripture the world knows. It is read and seen thousands of times each day. It provides for many the only scriptural support they may ever receive. It is the mainstay of countless funeral programs and services. It is read to comfort people in pain. It is embroidered on casket linings and I am sure thousands of people are buried with its message every day.

Yet this psalm was not meant to be a burial psalm. It was meant to be a song of life. It is written in the present tense: the LORD is my shepherd. He leads me. He restores me. You are with me. You comfort me. You prepare a table. You anoint. My cup overflows... all in the present tense of right now.

There is then a powerful and beautiful shift in the psalm that calls us to contemplate the future with such a powerful presence with us in the now. "Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of The Lord forever." The twenty-third psalm explains the relationship God has with us right now and the glory we can expect with Him for eternity.

It is good to rescue this psalm from its cultural captivity as a funeral hymn. It is a song of life. It encourages us today and prepares us for tomorrow. And that is what God always wants to do for us with His Word. It is a source of strength for every day so that our cups overflow.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the big picture

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. 

Psalm 22:27

In the hustle

and the cycle

of daily human


it is easy

and self-serving

to forget about


the world You made

for Your glory

will proclaim 

Your might

and all the people

of this planet

were created to

praise You right

one day the heavens split

You came down

to save us

from sin

some future day

You'll come again

to judge the world

for their sin

Lord help me see

the things

You care about

that matter

When every knee

will bow

tongue confess the glory

of the Father

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

praise for His power

Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power. 

Psalm 21:13

So today I am going to take that admonition to praise God's power to heart. This is where I have seen God's power at work:

1) God's saving power is known in the gospel. Jesus saved me and every other Christian who has ever lived. That is a great power beyond my own. When I was without saving merit, dead in my sin, Jesus saved me.

2) God's sustaining power is displayed in my every breath. I am kept by Him. The world was made by His Word. The universe is held together by Him. In Him I live and breath and have my being. This is more than just common grace. It is the reason that everything that there is exists in the universe.

3) God's power changes me. I grow in faith. I minister to others with what God does in me. And all with my imperfections and His sanctifying work changing me. I am not perfect. I fail Him. But His power, Word, and Holy Spirit still work on me until I am home with God forever. He began the work and He will complete it.

Praise God for His power!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

in ______ I trust

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. 

Psalm 20:7-8

The temptation to put all my stock in the things of this world is strong. It always has been. But it was the same for King David. As a Bronze Age warrior king, the heighth of military technology for him was the horse and the chariot. And it would have been easy for him to tell Israel to trust in military strength. But he did not do this. His faith was not that might makes right. His trust instead was in God.

David knew that all human systems break down. He knew that to trust in anything or anyone other than God was not only idolatry, it was really weak. It was doomed to collapse. People will let us down. Things will break. But God saves us forever.

So I take these words to heart. I face the temptation to trust in the strength of human ability. It could be money or a job or a standard of living that pulls me from faith in God. I live in a place where that is the main emphasis. Or it could be national pride or a political leaning (liberal or conservative... both are often idols) that steals my faith. It could be blind ambition and selfish overconfidence that eventually lead to personal collapse. I know God will never fail me. And for stability I will throw all my trust upon Him. People will hurt me and things will fail me but God will never let me down.

Monday, October 14, 2013

shaped by scripture

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 

Psalm 19:7

This truth has been a defining conviction of my life. Even as an elementary school child an overarching belief that God's Word is the source of life and truth has governed my thinking. We used to sing the last section of the nineteenth Psalm in Christian school and church. It has served as a governing philosophy around which I have ordered much of my internal structure. It is what drives me to open the Bible in the early morning dark stillness and let God's truth enlighten and revive me.

I have not always responded well to what God has shown me. I have even been in a recent season of struggle over it. That is always the challenge. God wants to change me in the renewing work of His thoughts refining my mind. But to allow this is not a passive exercise. By faith I must put God's Word into action. There is still self and sin at ruinous waste in me. Simple laziness can destroy my obedience to God's Word.

It is one thing to hear the truth, to read scripture and think about it. It is another thing altogether to obey it. The first thing can be done in just a few minutes. But living it by obedience takes all the rest of my life. And there are no excuses, only sins, that keep me from the transforming obedience to the Word of God.


Your power and wisdom are known in Your Word. Forgive me for not living them to real change within me. I am grateful that Your Spirit convicts me to do what Your Word says. Help me to both love and to live Your Law!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

fortress rock

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 

Psalm 18:2

There is a lot of imagery in this short verse. There is a reason why these words about God's amazing protection gush forth from David. The Psalm begins with this description of David and why he wrote it: "...who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD rescued him from the hand of his enemies and from the hand of Saul..."

David had been an outlaw fugitive running and hiding in the Judean desert. He knew how to hide in a rock. And that is the imagery that pours from him in this psalm. He saw God's protection in all of the desert experiences of his life.

The words pour out the beauty of the bleak desert landscape. God is a rock, a fortress, and a stronghold. God shields David and delivers him. God is the salvation that comes at the blowing of the ram's horn. God was David's protective delivering army. And David felt secure in the stronghold of God's salvation.

Yet when you read the accounts of David in the desert, there are moments where it seems he will fall. And David does not always look first to God. There was a mercy and grace extended in the desert when David miserably tried to save himself by his own wits. God often kept David safe in spite of all of David's mistakes. You can get the context of all this by reading the history of it in 1 Samuel chapters 19 through 31. These were hard times by all definitions. But God was a good God. And that is a comfort to us all. In all times God is good. In hard times we trust Him all the more. He is our Rock.. our fortress of protection when we are running in the desert.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Satisfied: a heart centered on God

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. 

Psalm 17:15

The passion of David's heart was the presence of God. He longed to be with God, to know His presence, to serve The Lord and to worship Him in righteousness. It was the driving desire of his heart. David simply wanted to awaken to each new day satisfied in God alone.

The affections of the human heart are filled with competing desires. It is only when we really look at God and get a glimpse of His glory that perspective can come on these other desires. When our affections are centered upon God, all those other desires begin to wane in significance. The heart that is close to God will have no other loyalties than Him. Those other desires are ordered first around God and His kingdom. It is what Jesus meant when He advised His disciples to seek first God's kingdom and righteousness and everything else will be added to that.

This kind of driving passion is not easy to either obtain or maintain. It means fixing my eyes on Jesus. It means following the old sage advice: "anchor your heart on God and spend each day shortening the chain". At times my ship drifts further from that anchor. It requires conscious effort, holy fellowship with other believers, obedience to the holy scriptures, the convicting work of God's Holy Spirit and most of all the sanctifying work of God to achieve a heart that desires God above all else.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Boundary Lines

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. 

Psalm 16:6

I look all across

the landscape of life

and I stand amazed

at what I find

God has given good

to me at every turn

and all that I should

do is praise Him in return

The inheritance in Christ

is mine now and forever

and that duty that is mine

is to stay faithul in each endeavor

I see all around me

a pleasant, healthy land

as eternity stretches before me

I take the bounty from God's hand

I don't deserve it

it is all mercy and grace

I am a sinner who

fall before my Savior's face

The beautiful things I know

are what God gave

and the story I now must show

is how He came to save