Thursday, December 30, 2010

Proverbs Chapters 22-24

22:2 - All men and women are God's children - material wealth and worldly power mean nothing with regards to actual worth, yet we find that so hard to really accept. I believe the disrupted connection with God caused by sin and the inherent selfishness of man leads us to base our own worth on the faulty standards of the world. No matter the reasons, these feelings are ungodly and must be fought at every turn.

22:6 - This is a great parenting verse...this should be the driving force behind the words and actions of every Christian parent.

22:24-25 - When you surround yourself with people who live in opposition to God - why should it surprise you that you start to look/talk/act like they do? We will always be shaped ad influenced by the people we surround ourselves with...never forget that!

23:15-16 - Another great verse for parents here...more than anything I want my kids to grow up to be God-fearers and wise. It brings the greatest sense of pride and joy to the heart when you watch our children do the right thing without is beautiful!

23:32-33 - Solomon paints a picture f the consequences involved with giving in to the lure of alcohol. Alcohol makes all these promises - relaxation/fun/warmth/comfort/fitting in, etc...but the deeper you sink into dependence on alcohol the more it only offers twisted perception and unfulfillment.

24:8-9 - People who allow thoughts of vengeance to overwhelm them and who take time to plan out the evil they are going to partake in, are an abomination to the family of man...pretty strong terminology there, huh? This speaks to the difference between sins of commission and sins of omission. We all sin (not an excuse, but a fact), but some of those sins happen int he moment when we let our guard down...while these sins are still SIN, they do not speak to the corruption of heart and soul represented by sins that are coldly planned out ahead of time.

24:17 - This is very difficult advice for me to follow. It is hard not to revel in the failure of one's enemies...sometimes it seems like justice has been served when the people we dislike fall, but finding joy in anothers' destruction is always wrong. It is not a godly attitude and therefore it should have no place in my life as a follower of God.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Proverbs Chapters 19-21

19:3 - Often, people blame God for the consequences of their own sinful actions. Probably not the best way to deal with the fallout...just sayin'.

19:8 - It is imperative that we take good care of our soul. We usually spend all our time worrying about our physical needs and totally neglect our spiritual needs, which are the more important of the two by far.

19:13 - LOL! I just imagine the irritation of a slow drip of water that just keeps falling over and over until it drives you absolutely insane.

19:18 - Alright, hold on for a second...before you go crazy and strangle (overstatement) your insubordinate child (teenager probably)...don't forget - there is still hope. Discipline them out of love and you may find that redemption you have been looking for.

19:21 - All of us, in our arrogance, have big plans and expectations for how the world is supposed to work. The world according to Brandon sounds like a great place in my head, but it would be as twisted as I am. The only thing that is certain about the future is the will of the Lord...and we know that will be the perfect plan of the one and only perfect God.

19:26 - Another great verse for dealing with rebellious teenagers.

20:5 - It may not always be easy to find the purpose for your life, but a wise man will keep on digging and searching for it. Like a deep water well, you keep working with God to drill into your innermost being and you will find the purpose.

20:7 - Make it a point to live as a person of integrity and you and the people close to you will be blessed by that choice.

20:22 - Vengance is the Lord' is not our place as petty, sinful human beings to seek out revenge for the wrongs that have been done against us. One of the aspects of trusting God, is having the faith that He will make all things right eventually.

20:27 - We have a spiritual nature and a flesh nature. The flesh is bent on satisfying itself at all times...the spirit within us is what God uses to plumb the depths of our soul. Build the spirit man up and wage war against the flesh.

20:29 - The older I get, the more true this verse gets...

21:3 - God cares ALOT more about me fighting for justice in this world than He does about me practcing religious rituals as a means of somehow earning my salvation (But how can a free gift be earned? It can't).

21:21 - This verse encourages me to keep pushing forward in the spiritual disciplines. If you pursue will find life!

21:26 - Generosity is a sign of righteousness - and as we saw in verse 21, righteousness leads to life...the selfish man only desires more and more - he is never content.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Proverbs Chapters 16-18

16:2 - Every person can justify everything they do. We can all make excuses for why we had to do something...or how it was really somebody else fault that we messed up, but there are absolutes in the world. Right and wrong exist, and God knows the motivations of our heart. Stop making excuses and live to bring honor to God.

16:8 - It is always better to have nothing and be focused on godliness than it is to have riches because of selfishness. Being content in the midst of a lack of material possessions is a beautiful picture of faithfully following God. Doing everything you can to hoard as much wealth as possible in your life, is a sign an extreme lack of faith.

16:17 - I live in the Houston area and my mind instantly connected with the highway imagery the writer uses here (We have a lot of highways). Make sure in your life that you take the loop that goes around Evil Town, because that is not where you need to be! If we all pay attention to what is going on around us and keep our eyes open for the things that could cause us to crash into sin, we will be able to avoid trouble.

16:18 - How many times have you heard, "Pride comes before the fall."? I would guess, alot. I really like the ESV's version of this famous text. It says - pride comes before destruction. This conveys a much more serious message to me and that is important. Pride is the root of every human sin...we believe that we can reject God and make our own way...and the arrogance of that prideful sin will lead us to destruction. Never forget that.

16:20 - The ESV says, "Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good." I like that translation, because if you take the time to study God's scripture and to write it on your will find true wisdom. Trusting that God's way is better is a huge step in faith and the beginning of the road to a better more fulfilling life.

16:27 - People who sit around and try to figure out how to make other peoples' lives miserable and drag other people into sin with them are evil. Their thoughts are twisted and their words are destructive...don't allow people like this to influence you.

16:31 - A little shout out for all the old people of the world...Wes Vance this verse is for you my friend (He has had silver hair since his 20's). If you live long enough to get gray hair...then you probably learned something in the process.

17:5 - When you discount and mistreat the poor you are actually disrespecting God. Those are His children just like you are. A proliferation of material wealth does not make a human being more valuable. Remember that you are a part of the brotherhood of man and honor God by respecting ALL His children.

17:10 - Even when an idiot is being repeatedly shown the truth...being hit over the head with the 4x4 of reality over and over, he does not see it! The moral of this proverb...don't be an idiot! Listen to the words of trusted friends, even if they are hard for you to hear...because loving rebukes put us on the path to understanding.

17:17 - Get in the trenches with your brothers and sisters in Christ. It is in the midst of hard times that we truly become family. Friends love all the time, but the person who becomes like a brother is the one who is there for you in the darkest hour...the one who's got your back. Do you have brothers/sisters like that?

18:1 - I don't ever want to hear "Christians" spouting off again about how they have a personal relationship with God and they don't need church to be saved. Of course you don't need church to be saved...only Jesus saves...but after that you need to be plugged into a community of people that are gonna hold you accountable and challenge you to grow! We are made for community not solitude.

18:2 - All an idiot cares about is that his opinion gets heard...a fool always wants the last word. They don't care that what they have to say makes no sense - they just want to be heard. It is the epitome of arrogance and the opposite of wisdom.

18:10 - What is the name of the Lord? It denotes His character...His strength...His personality...the name of the Lord is to be praised. We must connect ourselves to the person and character of God. In Him is the only place we will find peace and shelter.

18:24 - It is far better to have just one true friend, then it is to have tons of friends who you cannot trust...who don't know the real you...who don't have your back.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Proverbs Chapters 13-15

13:1 - Take heed Dane and Aidan...this is your new life verse! (Those are my sons)

13:3 - The wisdom of Solomon is so simple, yet for some reason we find it hard to live out. Life is truly better when you watch what you say and carefully consider your words. It is all the times when we just open our mouths and let the words just pour out unbidden that we bring pain/hurt/ruin/destruction/etc.

13:13 - This passage is really very clear...those who have respect for the Word of God will be rewarded: with wisdom, understanding, guidance, strength, hope, peace and much more. Those who refuse to accept the validity of God's Word heap destruction on their own lives.

13:20 - This is important truth for every person to consider - the company you keep will shape who you are. How are your friends influenecing you? It is a lot easy to get dragged away from God then it is to drag people towards God.

13:24 - Can't tell you how many times I heard this verse growing up. Parents who refuse to discipline their kids and just try to be firends with the children are doing them no translation says that the parenst actually hate their kids if they do that. Why? Because trying to keep your kids happy and be their friend is about you...not is about your kids liking you - it is selfish. Forget about your kids liking you...if you train them up in the way they should go through godly disicpline, they will one day love you because of how you have helped shape them.

14:6 - Those who spend all their time destroying people and tearing people down will never actually gain wisdom. How could you learn anything about life when all you do is try to mock people and show that you are better than others? Those who are gracious and understanding of the situations going on in other peoples' lives are the ones who will be able to find wisdom.

14:19/15:25 - In the end the tables will be turned and the evil strong will be brought to their knees. God is just and justice will be served. The humble will rise to places of honor at God's side and the arrogant wicked will be brought low.

14:21 - Again, very simple...greed and selfishness are sinful. Not caring about the lives of those around you is sinful. The people of God are generous and loving...they are true neighbors.

14:30 - The contented, peaceful heart brings life to you and the people around you...but the envious heart, that is never satisfied only brings destruction for you and others.

15:4 - If you allow perversity to inbfiltrate your speech, it will spread on to impact all areas of your life negatively.

15:15 - This is such a sad truth. There are no good days for the malcontent. For the ungrateful, every day is a miserable experience...they see the bad in everything. Yet for those who seek the joy of the Lord, every day is a feast of blessings and love.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Proverbs Chapters 10-12

Wow! There are a lot of proverbs in those three chapters and every one of those little bits of wisdom is gold...this blog post could be huge! So instead, read through the chapters and comment on a couple of the proverbs that really jumped out at you.

10:8 - This is a theme that runs all through the book of Proverbs. If you are someone who seeks to be wise (Which I hope we all are!), you will listen to what the Words of God and the words of godly people. You will find the path to righteousness through these words. But for those of us who are too busy spouting off our own opinions and meaningless blather to listen - we will only find ruin (And probably not have many friends).

10:11 - The words of God-fearing men and women bring life...they bring hope, fulfillment, guidance, truth and they quench thirst. But the words of the wicked only bring destruction to the lives they touch? We all need to ask ourselves - what are my words bringing? Life or death? Creation or destruction?

10:25 - When hard/tragic times come, the lives of the people who have no faith are absolutely shattered (You can see this first hand at the funeral of a non-believer). Yet, those who stand firm in their faith can find hope even in the worst of times.

11:1 and 20 - Wow - abomination...that is a strong word! I think it is really important for us to focus in on the things that God absolutely abhors, so that we can understand more deeply the character of God. What does He consider an abomination in these passages? People who try to take advantage of other. God cares about His children and He cares when the weak are wronged...He cares when evil people seek gain at the expense of others. Don't let yourself fall into this category.

11:14 - I think this proverb makes a strong case for making sure that you have mentors in your life. We need people who we respect that we allow to speak into our lives. Without guidance and accountability, we will be lost...we will fall. But we will find safety and integrity when we surround ourselves with trusted God-loving advisers.

11:21 - We must never forget that God's justice will be met out in the end. There are some things that are so sick and wrong in this world, that it just makes you want to take vengeance into your own hands...we scream out to God wondering where He is when evil runs rampant in the world. We always have to remember that God is just and He will make things right in the end...and it is actually His patience with us that allowed us to find the redemption He offers to all.

11:22 - This is a great verse for young ladies of the world to remember (I am going to be bringing this up with my baby girls when the teenage years come around) would never take a precious gold ring and put it in the nose of a pig, so don't take the precious beauty of your youth and wallow in the depths of impurity and indiscretion. Don't let your purity wallow in the mud with the are the daughters of the most high God!

12:1 - If you can't take a are an idiot. Never forget that Brandon!

12:4 - What does a crown do for a man? It turns a normal man into a king among men. A godly wife will make her husband a better man...that is what my wife has done for me and that is one of the many reasons I love her.

12:11 - I think this proverb applies to all facets of life - especially spiritual disciplines. If we take the time and effort to till the land of our own make it fertile, then we will reap great rewards...we will get closer to God, grow in faith, grow in wisdom, etc. If we choose to spend all our time pursuing meaningless things...we will gain nothing.

12:22 - Here we go again with that "abomination" word...this time we find that God totally despises lying. I am starting to get the clear picture that God does not appreciate it when people deceive one another and tear one another down. He created us for community with Him and with each other and ever act of our lives that brings destruction to those relationships is an utter attack on the fabric of creation.

12:26 - We must remember that our lives are always preaching to somebody...somebody is always watching. Are you leading people towards God through your life or away from God?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Proverbs Chapters 7-9

7:22-23 - Solomon continues on with his warning about adultery. In my experience, it seems that people often rail against the things that were a plague on their own lives. And all you have to do is take a look at the wives and the harem of Solomon and you know he had some issues with sexual overindulgence. By the end of his reign, he was following his pagan wives into their idol worship...he was giving in to the call of the adulteress. Solomon is speaking from experience when he says that the man who follows the adulterous woman is like an ox being led to slaughter. We should all listen closely to Solomon, because he had everything any man could ever want and in vast quantities...and it never brought him satisfaction.

8:11 - I look at this and I feel guilty. There are so many things that I desire more than wisdom...if fact, it is a very rare occasion when I even give the thought of acquiring wisdom a moment of my mind's time. The reality of the situation is that wisdom is more valuable than any of the things I seek in this world and through the acquisition of wisdom all the areas of our life become better.

8:13 - I appreciate the literary skill in which Solomon contrasts the cries of the world to prostitute ourselves to her evil ways and the righteous call of wisdom to follow her towards fulfillment. Wisdom is absolutely opposite to the temptations of the world. The world tempts with arrogance, deception, perversion, self-worship and wisdom hates all of those things...wisdom knows that all of those things lead to death.

8:22ff - Solomon changes tracks here, but still gives wisdom a persona. It is nice that he rewards the audience with creative ways of describing wisdom. In this instance, wisdom speaks as if it were a living being that assisted God int he creation of the universe. The point this drives home for me is that wisdom, like love, emanates from is a staple of His character. If we desire to live in this world as the people of God, then we need to seek wisdom with everything we have verse 35.

9:8 - There it is...I have seen it played out in youth ministry countless times. If anyone tries to instruct or hold accountable the arrogant/self-server, their words will always fall on deaf ears and the only response thy will receive is one of hatred. There is nothing that rebellious believers despise more than being called out on their rebellion. (F.Y.I. - Christians must always be weary about becoming "righteous" judgmental jerks, but there is a place for accountability in the midst of loving Christian community) When a person who seeks wisdom is called on the carpet, they respond with humility and life change. You can learn a lot about a person by speaking tough truths to them out of love.

9:17-18 - The way of folly constantly tries to convince us that rebellion and selfishness is better..."No seriously, the woman you don't have is far more desireable." "The car you don't drive is better." "If it is done in secret and nobody knows about it...who is it going to hurt?" Folly calls to us to turn from God and live the "better" life...the only thing is, that the way of folly is not better - it is bitter.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Proverbs Chapters 4-6

4:18 - The path towards righteousness is like a sun rise...the longer you walk the path, the brighter and brighter it gets. This is a beautiful picture of the main point that Solomon is trying to get across throughout the Book of Proverbs...when you seek out a righteous life, you will be blessed with wisdom and understanding. For the Christian...we understand that righteousness comes through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ - but we honor that sacrifice and live out our faith by walking the path of righteousness.

4:23 - This was a verse that we used as a covenant on on mission trip to Thailand. We knew the trip was going to be hard and that dark forces were at work in the country which is crippled by polytheism, idolatry and demonic we covenanted together to keep vigilant watch over our hearts. At our times in our lives it is essential to watch the state of our hearts, because it is from the heart that who we are flows.

4:26 - Think thoroughly about where you go, what you are doing and why you are doing it, so that you will make the right choices. This seems like common sense, but I really don't think we take the time to actually contemplate the things we do.

5:3-4 - The temptations of the flesh bring bold promises of pleasure and fulfillment and only bring guilt and bitterness. In Solomon's time the common arenas for adultery would come through prostitution and illicit affairs, but today, adultery can is always waiting on a computer screen...a movie channel...a chat room...a phone call. We must be wary of the lies that these temptations spew.

5:15-20 - (verse 20) Why...why do so many people become intoxicated with what they do not have - why do we chase after the forbidden? The grass is not greener on the other side! True value lies in the commitment of the godly wife...the God sanctioned woman that brings guiltless joy and pleasure...don't let yourself be led astray from the reality of things.

6:1-2, 5 - Do not let yourself get into debt...that is Solomon's advice. He says, "Do everything within your power do get out from under the thumb of debt." If you can, it is like the prey escaping the is an experience of freedom. One of the easiest ways to avoid debt is to live within your means.

6:17-19 - In all the lists of things that God abhors and hates throughout the bible, it is always shocking (and sobering) to come across things that are fairly common in the midst of Christian communities. God absolutely abhors lying, yet it is something that happens frequently int he lives of Christians...we have all the excuses down for why we justify our lies but that changes nothing about the fact that God hates it (And usually you don't want to spend time doing stuff that God hates - not good for your life or the future). I work at a church and we frequently see people within our church body that actually sow the seeds of discord among brothers and sisters of we all understand that God finds that absolutely detestable? God's people being so self-centered and self-absorbed that they are willing to cause rifts in the community of God's people - that is sick!

6:32 - Another very clear point here from the are an idiot if you choose to live an adulterous lifestyle! Whether you are a physical or mental adulterer the end is the same...adultery brings destruction on your life - stay away from it...guard yourself.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Proverbs Chapters 1-3

1:7 - Humbly understanding the power and perfection of God (i.e. fear) is the starting point of wisdom. Why? Because, before a man can start the process of truly becoming wise, he must understand that before God he knows nothing. This beginning place of humility is the fertile ground in which God will plant the seeds of wisdom.

1:17-18 - Evil, selfish, greedy people like to set traps for others. They like to try to take advantage of the weaker...they like to prove their "superiority" by earthly standards - all the while smugly believing the have really won...conquered another person. What they do not know is that the only trap they are truly setting is for themselves. They are tightening the snare of destruction around themselves. Their supposed victory is a precursor to utter defeat.

1:22 - How long will we continue to do the same stupid things...remain in the same destructive patterns that have never truly brought us satisfaction before? Have you ever asked yourself this question? I have...a million times...why do human beings continue to go through the same cycles that have brought nothing but pain in the past?

2:1-5 - If you humbly seek out wisdom...if you chase after it with everything you will understand what it means to fear God. You will understand that fearing God leads to worship of God, which is what we were made for. And in the midst of worshipping you seek His face...He will give you the wisdom that you are looking for. He will write His character and nature on your heart.

2:7 - I like this description of wisdom...wisdom is like a shield that protects you from the fallout of idiotic living. As you grow in wisdom you will be more and more protected.

2:16 - Wisdom will give you the vision to see the lies and the unfulfilled promises of the flesh...wisdom will help you see the destructive, selfish, toxic nature of lust and adultery.

3:3 - Make sure that love and faithfulness are written all over the core of your being and on every aspect of your life - then all aspects of your life will be successful. Does this mean that you will be rich and everything will be perfect? No. It means that you will understand what true success means that you will understand the richness of loving relationship and knowing that God is in control.

3:9 - When we give to God first from our wealth, we are living out our trust of Him and our humility before Him...and these things are essential ingredients to an wisdom seeker's life.

3:11-12 - Do not be angry and resentful when God allows you to wallow in the consequences of your own sin choices. I know this is easier to say than to live out, but it is through these consequences that God disciplines and instructs us. Through the pain we are experiencing, God wants us to return to Him...God's discipline is a sign of His love for us.

3:19-20 - I love this beauty picture of wisdom...Solomon writes that the Lord created the entire universe through His wisdom and understanding. Wisdom is the brush with which God created all things. What can you and I create in your lives by seeking wisdom? Better lives? Better relationships? Peace? Joy? A better world? Yes - I believe we can.

3:30 - This hits very close to home with me. Why do I feel the need to compete and contend with everyone around me? Why do I constantly feel the need to try to prove myself "better" than another? Am I that I that fearful? The need to contend over mundane/meaningless events is a sign of arrogant selfishness...not the mark of a wise person.

3:35 - Pretty cut and dry - the life spent seeking Godly wisdom is honorable...the life spent rejecting God and His wisdom is a heartbreaking disgrace.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Psalms 144 - 150

144:1-2 - I love the imagery that God is our defense...He is our fortress...our shield. Not only can we stand firm in our faith knowing that God is with us, He prepares us for war so that we might be able to stand against the overwhelming forces of evil in this world. I am not alone...I am not unarmed...I am armed with the Word of God...I am armed with the knowledge of truth and a better way. May I stand strong.

145:5-6 - We must remember to always think back to the way that God has moved in our lives. Think about the times when you have seen Him bring redemption and change to your life and the lives of people around you. Think about how you have seen His hands at work in the world...think about the miracles He has worked in people's lives. When you remember these things and focus on them, then you will be able to powerfully testify to the greatness of God. You don't have to know everything about God and the bible to teach others about need to speak from the heart about how you have seen Him move.

146:3-4- There is no hope found in the lives of other human beings. How often have we seen ourselves and others crushed by putting their hope fully in the life of another person? Remember the pain, the heartbreak, the letdown that comes when we find out that they cannot be our salvation...they cannot give us what we seek. Our hope...our salvation...our fulfillment can only be found in God.

147:6 - God's kingdom is totally upside down from the kingdom of this world. In God;s kingdom it is always opposite day with regards to how we know the world operates. In God;s kingdom the lowly and weak are lifted up and honored...they are the people who garner is the evil, arrogant, strong that are brought to their knees in humility before God. Which group do you associate with more? Which group do you strive to be a part of?

148:5 - This verse really sums up the chapter. Everything...everything in all of creation must praise the Lord because He is our creator. Do you understand - we don;t exists without Him? I meet people that think it is unreasonable that God demands worship...they think it sounds arrogant and selfish, but my question is, "How arrogant and selfish is it for human beings who only exist by the power of God's presence to deny Him His rightful place of honor in their lives?" We are nothing without God, so He deserves everything from us.

150:6 - This is such a fitting way to close out the book of psalms - let everything that has breath praise the Lord! AMEN!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Psalms 136 - 143

Psalm 136 - This is a powerful psalm of praise, thanking God for His faithfulness. It would be a really good practice to go through your life and literally thank God for everything you can think of, repeating "for His steadfast love endures forever" after speaking each blessing...great way to focus in on the love of God and the powerful way He has worked in your life.

137:5-6 - A conservative Jewish reggae-style rapper named Matisyahu has a great song called "Jerusalem" based partially on this passage (I believe). I love the challenge that the psalmist throws down for us - if we forget about the kingdom of God, we have forgotten our identity...we have forgotten who we are and why we serve. We become useless. May we never forget what is important in life and who we serve.

138:6 - Is it not incredible how God operates? He is the most powerful being in all existence...He existed before there was even a concept of existence...He is the definition of perfection, yet He is drawn to the helpless and lowly. He loves most deeply those who are the least like Him...those who are powerless and weak. We need more Christians in this world who live out these characteristics of God...who seek to love the lowly and lost.

139:13-14 - Isn't it beautiful that God has always known you? He knew me before there even was a "me"! It is amazing and uplifting that He cares that much. When David writes that he is fearfully and wonderfully made - there is a poetic depth and power to that phrase that is rarely paralleled. Wonderfully - God has created each and every human being as a work of art...we are walking miracles of life and creativity...we are help together by the force of God's nature and the depth of His will...we are wonderfully made. Fearfully - Have you ever thought about the danger involved in God creating us? Because He wanted to create and expand His love and give Himself away on a greater level...He created us. He created us to be a part of the community of Himself (Father, Son and Spirit). Yet we are fearfully made, because God loves us completely and within each of us is the power to reject, rebel, and sin...within each of us is the power to break God's heart. He knew this possibility and loved us so much hat He made us anyway.

139:23-24 - This is a great and scary prayer to ask of God. Give me clarity Lord...let me see the vileness and twistedness within me and please show me how to change. Please show me how to walk the paths of righteousness. Bold prayer...and one that will enable you to take the first steps in living a God-honoring life.

142:5 - Never forget - God is the place where we will find rest and peace. God is the only treasure that we can seek that will actually give us fulfillment and understanding. And we're not talking about a future hope here...we are not just talking about our rest and fulfillment being in heaven some day - God is offering himself to us right the world of the living!

143:5-6 - When faced with difficulties of life, these verses show what David is doing to seek out God. He is giving us a picture of what he does to quench his soul thirst for God. He remembers back to when his faith was at its most firm and powerful. What can we do to reclaim that? What has changed? He meditates on the things that God has done. Do we spend time genuinely thanking God for the blessing in our life? He lifts his hands and worships God. What are you doing on a daily basis to live our worship to your God?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Psalms 121 - 135

121:2 - The psalmist keeps everything is perspective here...I can see him saying this to himself to bring encouragement. He knows that God is on his side and reminds himself that this is the one and only God who created heaven and earth. If God can create heaven and earth in a whisper, I think He can give us the help we are searching for, right?

122:1 - It should be a joyous occasion for believers to gather together for community and worship, yet it seems that more and more in current day Christianity that we are all looking for excuses to skip out. Why do you think that is?

123:2 - When we think about God and look to God in our lives it should be from a position of humble service. Do you wake up each day wondering what you can do to serve and please your master, or are you the master of your own life?

125:1 - When you trust in God there becomes this clarity of can face anything this screwed up world has to throw at you because you understand what really know that God is in know how this story ends and you are willing to confidently stand by your hope when you trust.

127:2 - So often we push ourselves and run around crazily trying to bring achievement and success, but that is all absolutely meaningless without God. Take time and look at your life and figure out why it is that you do what you do...where is God in that picture?

128:1 - Blessed are those who fear God, because godliness streams from their lives positively affecting the lives of all of those around them.

130:3-4 - Everyone is unrighteous, vile, sinful, twisted, etc. before God...if God wanted to wreak judgment on us all - who could stand? Nobody. But instead God in His infinite love has offered us all a chance at forgiveness. He has given Himself to die in our place so that we might have that we might be able to fear Him. See when He offers forgiveness, we get the chance to enter into His presence and when we enter into His presence we experience what it is to have beautiful, holy fear. The fear that we might not be able to remain int he presence of God drives us to live to serve Him. We don't save ourselves through righteousness, but we attempt to live righteously to bring honor to our awe-inspiring master.

131:2 - This is a psalm of David where he explains that he has freed himself of worldly distractions. He says that he has weaned himself from the meaningless things that become an obstacle in his relationships with God. What do you need to be weaned from?

133:1 - Powerful and to the point - unity among believers is a beautiful thing. On the flip side, disharmony among fellow Christians is as detestable as things can be.

135:13-18 - Another passage about the fruitlessness that results when men try to worship things they have created. Our creations are worthless and our lives start to become worthless when we bow at the altar of these idols. Our ability to serve as God's hands, feet and voice in this world is destroyed when we spend all our time chasing after the meaningless.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Psalm 119

If you are ever wondering why it is so important that we study the Word of God, go read through Psalm 119 has all the answers to that question! A 178 verse poetic dissertation about the power of the Word of God - very nice.

9-11 - Great verse to remember with regards to personal purity. The psalmist knows that the key to fighting temptation is to keep the word of God written on your heart and to meditate on it. For example, if you struggle with lust you could meditate on Job 31:1 - "I have made a covenant with God not to look lustfully upon a woman." or Matthew 5:27-28 - "You have heard that it was said "Do not commit adultery" but I tell you that anyone who looks lustfully upon a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Find scriptures that you can use to help keep you on the path of righteousness.

18 - I know there are times when you are reading God's Word that it seems confusing...that it doesn't seem to be practically applicable to living "today," but we cannot give up on it - the Word of God is far too important. Instead we should do what the psalmist does and pray to God that He would open our eyes so that we could see the wonders of His truth.

27 - If you want to understand the Word of God, it is important that you spend serious time meditating on it and delving into it...don't give up and walk away...keep seeking it - the answers you need are there.

37 - We so often waste our eyes...our times...our lives on things that are absolutely meaningless - when we could spend that time writing the Word of God on our souls.

53 - Another thing that God's Word does for Christians, is that it drives us to stand up for what is right. It drives us to righteous forces us to be the people of strength that God expects us to be in this world.

76 - What does God's Word do for you? Why do we study it? Well it offers us comfort when everything else around us is falling apart.

104 - What does God's Word do for us? It is the only true path to wisdom and understanding. If you want to have a realistic picture of what is going on in the world and what truth will look to God's Word to find it.

105 - What does it do for you? With the truth of God written on your heart, you will be able to see clearly how you are supposed to live your life and you will know the paths that you need to take.

120 - Why read God's Word? Because sometimes what we need as spoiled, selfish human beings is a good kick in the pants...we need a 2x4 upside the head sometimes. God's Word when studies will give us a clear picture of what areas of our lives are being lived in opposition to God.

131 - Do I chase after God's Word like the psalmist says that he opens his mouth and pants for the Word of God. I get the picture of a dog who is desperate for some kind of snack from his master...the dog doesn't care if he looks like he is begging...he doesn't care if he looks desperate - he just wants the food. This should be the experience of Christians chasing after the truth of God's Word. Are we desperate for it? Do we ignore what anybody would think about us in effort to get more of God's Word inside of us?

136 - It breaks my heart when I see Christians who love to use the Word of God as a weapon with which to bludgeon the unbelieving "sinful" masses of the world. Psalm 119 clearly shows us that God's Word should drive us to look with compassion on the unbelievers of the world. Is it not heartbreaking that they do not know this truth that we have? Should we be riven to introduce as many people to this truth as possible?

160 - The Word of God is TRUTH...period.

175 - Our souls were made for worship...we were made to be connected with our creator God. If we want our souls to be doing what they were created to do...then we must let the Word of God guide us.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Psalms 115-118

115:1 - I love the song that was inspired by this verse. This is a great reminder to consistently focus on bringing glory to God and not to yourself. I believe that most of the things we get upset about and offended by are exacerbated by our selfish need to be glorified in some way. If we are seeking only God's glory and not our own, then we be able to take most imperfect situations in stride.

115:2-3 - People ask, "Where is your God - why doesn't He show Himself?" There are a good deal of people that throw this out at Christians around the world. After reading the description of the idols in verse three I want to throw out my own question to the doubters, "Where are your gods? Why do the "real" things you worship never fulfill and only make your life worse?" When has serving money ever made somebodies life better - truly? Possessions? Flesh? Beauty? Pride? These "gods" are the true silent gods, leading their worshippers astray.

116:8-9 - The purpose, identity, salvation, hope, etc...that come from God bring us deliverance from soul death - from walking the world as zombies in a state of meaninglessness. God brings us joy in the midst of a world of pain and suffering. He guides our path on a journey full of pitfalls. With God life is good.

118:8-9 - These verses make me think about all the Christians that buy into the philosophies and ramblings of human beings even when they stand in direct opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How many times do we allow empty words, scare tactics, and self-centered drivel dominate out thoughts after getting hooked by some human message. Mae sure that you always take refuge in the Lord - not in the ways of men.

118:25 - This is a prophetic verse about Jesus Christ. He was rejected by his the religious leaders of the everyone who didn't like the Kingdom that Jesus brought to earth - yet it was through this rejected God/man that the whole of salvation for humanity rests. He is the capstone.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Psalms 107 - 114

107:10-11 - This is a description of the fate of those who refuse to listen to the voice of God that is calling to their souls. Trapped in darkness and shadow...prisoners of affliction. This is what life is like for those who do not have the hope and light offered by the truth of God. Heartbreaking...and all around us.

108:1 - I love that phrase - I will worship with all my being! That is the state in which we should worship which we should live our lives...offering every part of ourselves to God. I have nothing to be ashamed of - I worship the Most High God! No shame - just praise.

109:1-2 - I appreciate that when people around David turn on him and started trying to tear him down, he immediately turns to God. He listens diligently for the Word of God to drown out the evil lies of the people around him. Allow God to speak truth into your not allowed other flawed people to determine your worth.

110:4 - This is the verse that is quoted in Hebrews chapter 7, which is basically a description of Jesus. He is a priest int he order of Melchizedek which means he is greater than the Levitical priesthood according to the author of Hebrews. Melchizedek had no recorded lineage so he was not a priest by birth - he was chosen by God. Melchizedek blessed Abraham - so he was greater than all Abraham's descendants including the Levites. Jesus is the ultimate High Priest because he was chosen by God (He is God)...because he is greater than all who came before him (Again, he is God)...and because unlike the Levites he did not need to make sacrifices for his own sin (He was perfect). We have the ultimate high priest representing our name to God in heaven and that lets me sleep better at night.

111:10 - Question - how do you practice fearing the Lord? What do you think?

Psalm 112 - Now that is a description of what a true man of strength and honor looks like right there! That is a man that I want to pattern my life after...that is a man who leaves behind a legacy of faith in the lives of his children and the people he influenced.

113:3 - My life should revolve around praising God - from the moment I wake to the moment I fall asleep...worship should be at the very core of my is what I was created to do.

114:7 - May I always tremble int he awesome presence of my God.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Psalms 103 - 106

103:11-12 - Classic verse for reminding ourselves of the incredible love of God. Never forget - that God has removed our sins because He is gracious...we do not save ourselves...we do not earn His favor. He makes our sins into nothing...forgets our failure because He is mercy. Take heart in that truth and offer yourself completely to that mercy.

103:17 - Again, we do not do anything to save ourselves...His love does the work...we just choose to accept it and Him...choose to fear the Lord and after He has made us righteous, we live to bring honor to His name.

104:26 - I love this description - that God has created Leviathan (great sea creature) to play in His oceans. God created the world and all the things in it for His pleasure. There are deep sea creatures that have never been seen by human eyes - why do they exist? Because God takes joy in their existence...He takes joy in their creation. Psalm 104 would be a great Psalm to read up in the remember that God has created think on the vast creativity and love of our God who relishes the moments when His creatures live in the freedom He created them for.

Psalm 105 - This entire psalm is a psalm of remembrance. The writer is thinking back to all the things that God has done for the nation of Israel. He is letting the history of His people fuel his worship of God. Never forget your own story. Never forget how God has moved and worked in your life. Let that knowledge drive you to worship your God.

105:4 - This reminds me of the spiritual discipline of practicing the presence of God. Where you try to consistently enter in to God's presence no matter where you are and what you are doing. As His people, we must continually seek God and rely on His strength - not our own.

106:3 - Blessed are those who observe justice and who do righteousness all the time. Amen to that! God, please let me be such a man.

106:20 - This reminds me of the beginning of the book of Romans - it is heartbreaking. In Romans is says people rejected God and worshipped images of wood and stone. Here we read about the Jewish people rejecting the living God to worship a statue of an animal that God created who eats grass...does it get any more absurd than that? We must make sure that we do not allow ourselves to turn away from worship of the one and only living God, to chase after things that are inferior and meaningless.

106:28-29 - What are the things that we yoke ourselves to that drag us away from God? Do we make sacrifices of our heart, wealth, time, mind, gifts, etc - the the idols of this world?

106:37 - As horrific as this sounds - this still goes on today in the lives of believers. Only now, we do not offer our children as blood we offer the whole life of our children to the twisted value systems of this world by encouraging them to look and act like our humanistic culture.

106:47 - Psalm 106 is yet another psalm of remembrance, but this one is much different. 105 focused on the good things that God has done for the people of Israel. 106 focuses in on the way that the Jewish people rejected God over and over throughout their history. It is important to remember when we have made mistakes, so that we will learn from them and so that once again we will be driven to worship God because of His wonderful mercy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Psalms 94 - 102

94:12 - He goes on and on at the beginning of the psalm about how God has yet to punish the wicked, but in verse 12 the psalmist says it is a blessing for those that the Lord disciplines. What does that mean? Discipline often drives us back to God. We may feel it is unfair for those who reject God and live seemingly "happy/successful" lives, but they are heading towards their own destruction with know clue as to what awaits them. I would rather experience suffering that brings me back to God - than go untouched and live on in rebellion.

95:7, 8 and 10 - If He is our God and we are His people, then we will listen to His voice and praise His name - that makes sense right? That is what the people of God do. We see in verse 10m that those who do not listen to His voice and those who do not praise the name of God will go astray. Astray is a place I don't want to be.

96:7-9 - We must do everything we can in our lives to give glory and honor tot he name of God. Is that something that motivates you day in a day out? It should be.

97:10 - I love the simple view of faith that so many of the biblical writers have. I think we make things too complicated most of the time. This psalmist says, "Hey, if you love God - hate evil!" It is that simple for him.

98:2 - I love this verse - God has made His salvation known throughout the world! This psalm was written before the time of Jesus on earth, but the writer is still confident in God's salvation message to the world. How did people get this message? Through creation itself. Through the example of the Israelite people...God's priest nation. There are no excuses for rejecting God, but that doesn't mean that we as His people should not keep sharing His salvation message with the world.

99:4 - True might is used to bring justice to the world...when men use their power to bring honor to themselves, abuse others, overpower the weak, etc...they are corrupting the power that God has given them.

100:3 - We are the people of God - that is our birthright. Never forget who you are!

101:3-5 - These verses gives us some clues about how to seek out a righteous life. We must do everything we can to seek purity and innocence...we must look different than the rest of the world. Do not waste your eyes, your mind, your life on interacting with things that are toxic and worthless.

102:18 - This psalmist is a great forward thinking leader - I like this. He wants to make sure that the people who read this psalm are leaving behind a legacy of faith...a legacy of God's that the generations that have not even been born yet will be taught the Word of God.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Psalms 88-93

Notice in the heading of Psalm 88, this psalm was written by He-Man. He-Man! How cool is that?

88:10-12 - The Hebrew people at this time had a vague and undeveloped understanding of existence in the afterlife. The psalmist asks, "Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the dead rise to praise you?" Fortunately we know as Christians what the trued answer to these questions is - YES! God continues to work His wonders in the presence of the believers for all eternity...death is really just a door to true existence. And yes, we rise to praise God as we live in His presence.

89:14-16 - This is a great description of the nature of God. Righteousness and justice make up the foundation of His throne. Steadfast love and faithfulness emanate from His person. Those of us who allow God's nature to shape our lives will be truly blessed.

89:36 - The psalmist is referring to the lineage of David. He says that God promised that David's family line would endure forever, and it does - Jesus was born into human form from the line of David. So that means David's line has actually endured since the beginning of time because Jesus is God. Whoa - my head hurts.

90:4 - Here is a cool description of God's unique temporal existence. Time puts no constraints of God...He is the creator of time. God is outside of time and beyond the reach of head hurts.

90:12 - We must always remember that we will not live is very short and you never know when yours is going to be over. Make sure you make the best use of every day that you have. We must seek to do things of value in this life and we must seek out the wisdom of God, because His wisdom is eternal.

91:1-2 - Dwell in the shelter of the Most High...find refreshment in the shadow of the Lord - is this what I try to live out every day? If I trust in God, I will be able to find peace and fulfillment in His presence. Who do I trust? Myself? Others? Money? Security?

92:1 - This is a great outline for living out a meaningful Sabbath time. Thank God. Praise God. Tell people about His steadfast love. Tell people about His faithfulness. I could see that outline leading to a powerful experience in the presence of God.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Psalms 80-87

80:8-11 - Very great analogy...God took a vine out of Egypt, planted it in the Promised Land and helped it to grow. But when the vine began to produce corrupt fruit, God allowed it to be cut back. We must all make sure that our lives are connected with the true source so that we will produce true fruit.

81:10 and 16 - God offers us bread that sustains and fulfills (His Word, His Presence), yet we always seek the bread of the world which drives us to continually consume while never filling us up.

82:3-4 - God sits in judgement over all the rulers of the earth/all the they give justice to the weak and fatherless? Do they rescue the needy? Do they help the least of these? If they don't - they have God to answer to.

83:4-5 - This evil covenant has been lived out in generation after generation of people on the face of the earth. The forces of evil, probably spurred on by Satan, have always tried to extinguish the people of God from the world.

84:1,2 and 10 - These are the verses that inspire one of my favorite worship songs from the old days - Better is One Day. I love the conviction of the words - better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere. It is better to be in the presence of God than anywhere you seek that out on a daily basis?

85:10 - These are godly characteristics that go hand in hand and support one another. The faithful are steadfast in their love. Example: If I am faithful to my wife it takes so much more than just not sleeping with other means that day by day am steadfast in my love for means that I work continually body and mind to commit myself to the vows I gave to her. Those who have been made righteous by God should always seek peace...something for all Christian to think about.

86:11 - Please Go...write this on my heart. Knowing your ways starts with fearing you. Why? Because when I fail to understand your incredible awesomeness...when I allow myself to lose the fear and awe I should have of your presence...then I begin giving my worship to other things. God, unite my heart with holy fear so that might finally be pulled free of my obsessions with the meaningless things of this world.

87:3 - We the people of God, are the Holy City. Jesus said that the Christian life should stand out in this world like a city on a hill that can be seen from miles away. We are the light of the world. We are representatives of the name of God. Are we living lives that cause glorious things to be said about the name of God?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Psalms 73-78

73:1-9 - Asaph questions God as to why evil people seem to have all the power and catch all the breaks.

73:10 - The literal translation says, "They drink down the whole cup" instead of "The people turn back to them." I like the literal translation because it gives you imagery to go along with what is happening. People are seeing that evil seems to be stronger in the world, so they start to drink the the kool-aid...they start to buy in with the worldview that says to serve yourself at any cost. Aspah is on the cusp of following suit...

73:16 - Yet he goes to the sanctuary of the Lord and once there he is able to see the through the lies of the world. Once in the presence of God his vision is cleared and he knows that the way of evil leads only to destruction. Sometimes when we are struggling with is or struggling with doubt we need to remove ourselves from whatever situation we are in and seek the presence of the Lord. In His midst, human systems reveal their true nature - corrupt.

74:12 - Throughout the psalm, the psalmist has been questioning God and wondering where He is. But he still understands that God has been ruling creation from the beginning...God knows what He is doing. God is also patient with the world and wants people to come to salvation, so sometimes judgment is pushed back to offer second chances.

75:4-5 - The more we boast in our own strength...the more we lift ourselves up and try to glorify ourselves...the farther we have to fall when we experience the humility of entering into the presence of God's perfection.

76:7-9 - This ties in nicely with the verses on boasting from above. Who can stand before God? (The answer is no one) All will be humbled...and I want to make sure that I have humbled myself and lived a life of humility, before I reach the end and it is forced upon me by God's presence.

77:11-12 - The psalmist fears what is going on int he world around him and he questions God as to why it seems like He is not acting quickly enough. But then Asaph decides to remember back to the God he is addressing...he remembers the power of God...he remembers His deeds, and Aspah is able to find peace. Great peace of advice for those of us who are struggling with questions and doubts...spend some time remembering what God has done in your life and the lives of others and you will find the peace you seek.

78:5-7 - Since we have been gifted with the truth of God - His word, His legacy, the way of Jesus, is our sacred task to pass that on to the generations to come.

78:32 - This is a heartbreaking account of the history of Israel. God saves them - they turn away. God punishes them with hope of bringing them back to Him - they turn away. In spite of everything God has done to bring the people to Him, they are still plagued with rebellion and unbelief. Sounds a little like my life from time to time. How do we combat unbelief in the face of all that God has done for us?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Psalms 68 - 72

68:27 - The last shall be first...sound familiar?

68:32-33 - I love this description of reminds me a lot of C.S. Lewis' descriptions of Aslan in the Narnia series. "He rides in the ancient heavens." I just think about Aslan powerfully/effortlessly bounding across the expanse of the newly created Narnia in The Magician's Nephew. The evil witch tries to kill him by throwing an iron bar at him, but when it hits him in the head he doesn't even pause his run...evil is powerless before him! "He sends out His mighty voice." Aslan sings the world into creation with a voice of such beauty and power that all present finally understand what life and hope really feel like (Except the witch and the magician - they are absolutely terrified!)

69:9 - This is the verse that is quoted as prophetic when Jesus drives the money-changers from the temple. This verse carries such responsibility and weight. David says, "zeal for your house consumes me." He lives to defend the honor of God's name and to bring Him glory. Is this a description of my life? Yours? What do we need to do to have this holy obsession with the kingdom of God?

69:13 - I really like the attitude of the psalmist in this verse...God, when you decide to act I know it will be the right time...I will trust in your faithfulness and wait for your answer. Great picture of trust and respect for God's sovereignty.

69:33 - God always hears the cries of the needy. They are not forgotten...they are not ignored. As followers of God, we should pay more attention to the poor - we may be God's plan for bringing them hope.

70:4 - Sounds like a great bendiction...may those who seek you rejoice and may those who love your salvation proclaim - God is great!

71:14 - Over and over in the psalms we see that this is the answer to dealing with difficult times. If enemies are against you, your world is falling apart, sin is destroying your life, must continue to place your hope in God alone and you must continue to priase His holy name.

72:12-14 - When you see the word "for" at the beginning of the verse, you know that what has just come before plays a role in the verses that come after. In verses 8-11 the psalmist hopes that the king will be honored by surrounding peoples and rulers...why? Because of what comes in verses 12-14...because he is a compassionate ruler and defender of the oppressed. These are the keys to godly leadership. Maybe people from both ends of the political spectrum should take notice of what honorable leadership really looks like.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Psalms 58 - 67

58:10-11 - I have to admit, this is a little disturbing and graphic for my taste. I have no real desire to see anyone utterly destroyed or bathe in anybodies blood. I do however want to see God's justice poured out...I do want to see God make things right. There are so many wrongs that need to be righted and one day they will...what can I do in the mean time to right as many wrongs as possible in the name of God?

59:16-17 - Even when life is seems like everything is going against are under huge stress, etc. - we need to make sure that we are regularly praising God and reminding ourselves about who He is. Our "huge" problems look a alot smaller when held up next to our incredible God.

60:11-12 - When men and women try to save is always in vain. Salvation can only come through God.

61:5 - When we commit our lives to God, we receive a new heritage...a new family. We are the sons and daughters of God! That is the name we carry and the name our lives should represent honorably.

62:1 - Maybe this is why my soul often remains soul responds only to God. When I chase after other things...when I fill the "void" with whatever comes to mind...when I stay busy so as not to be overwhelmed by the silence - I am ignoring what my soul thirsts for - the living God.

63:6 - This reminds me of something Tony Campolo said once - he said that he often just lays awake in his bed and tries to meditate on the name of Christ. He said that he didn't always need to use jumbles of words to cry out to God - he would just lat there and say the name "Jesus" over and over. Seems like the pslamist is doing something similar saying, "I meditate on you in the watches of the night." When we are alone in the dark, it is great opportunity to meditate on the truth and the light.

64:7-9 - When God brings people to their knees - they finally see...they finally fear and that fear causes them to ponder their relationships with God. Do they blame God and turn away? Or do they finally figure out that there is nothing they can do to save themselves and turn to Him?

65:1-3 - Some more verses describing the character of God: God is worthy of praise. God hears all our prayers. God is gracious and forgiving.

66:3-4 - In the end, all will bow before God. Some will be cringing in fear before Him, finally knowing the cost of their arrogant rejection of their creator. Others will finally on their face in worship finally experiencing the hope they had longed for.

67:1-3 - When God's face shines upon us it is reflected into the world to make His name great. God pours himself into us and Christians should pour themselves into the world. That is how it works...this is a great picture of the way we live out our purpose on this earth. We seek God's face so that when we interact with the citizens of this world they will see His light shining through us.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Psalms 50 - 57

50:3-4 - I think we often forget who God is...His awesome power...the holy fear that His presence would strike in the heart of any man. God demands obedience...He demands righteousness from our lives.

51:3-5,10,13 - This is the what genuine repentance/forgiveness looks like. 1.) He repents of his sins before excuses...he simply turns to God and admits his utter failure. 2.) He asks God to renew his heart and wipe them clean and create within him a spirit that seeks out what is right. 3.) In response to the wonderful forgiveness of God, he will share that truth with any other broken people he can find (i.e. everyone).

52:7 - To those who have tasted real reconnected with is abundantly clear that trying to save yourself and trying to find fulfillment in things of this world inevitably leads to destruction. It is clear to the faithful and will one day be clear to all.

53:3 - This is the legacy of the world of man. This is the dire state of mankind. There is no one good! No one. How many times have you heard somebody say, "But he was a good person." No he wasn't - there is no one good. Every human being who lives and has ever lived is in desperate need of salvation that only comes from God. (See: Romans chapter 3)

54:3 - The psalmist really targets the root of evil - people who put themselves before God. When you are created to worship God and you choose instead to worship yourself, only depravity will come. People who worship the self become vile, ruthless and self-serving - there is no future for those who do not worship God.

55:4-5 - I have felt like this before...have you? For me, the times when these feelings come upon me are lying awake - late at night - in the dark. There have been times where I was shaking in fear...where terror seemed about to completely overwhelm me...where I wondered if any of it was real - faith, hope, eternity. When I have been overcome with fear there is only ever one place to turn and it is stated clearly at the end of chapter 55...


56:3-4 - This is the attitude that we need to seek. We need to understand fully in our hearts and live it our daily in our lives - faith is everything! Faith is everything! Why do we allow ourselves to be destroyed by the words and actions of others - faith is everything. People can hurt your body and tear at your emotions, but they can do nothing to your soul! If we had an eternal view on life, we would much better be able to handle the difficult things we face in this world.

57:7-11 - I love how David ends this psalm. He is surrounded by enemies...there are people literally trying to kill him...he feels like the whole world has turned against him, yet he turns to God with praise. He worships his God. Like we talked about with chapter 56 - David has his priorities straight...he knows where true value lies.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Psalms 42-49

42:1-2 - Does my soul thirst for the living God? Does yours? Is that what I chase after and pant after on a daily basis - reconnection with my creator God? Everything outside of God eventually leaves me empty and soul is made for living water and there is nothing in this world that can quench my soul thirst.

42:5 - Why do we often have inner turmoil going on like the psalmist? Because we put our hope int hings other than God and they always let us down. His answer to the problem is simple - PUT YOUR HOPE IN GOD!

43:3 - What a powerful prayer request...I want to make this my prayer. God please send your light to guide me, so that I might enter into your presence. That's what I need on a daily basis.

44:15-18 - Here we see some of the raw feelings and truthfulness that are presented int he psalms. The psalmist believes that he and the Jewish people have remained faithful to God, yet it feels like God has forsaken them. They do not feel His presence...things are not like they used to be. The writer is confused that it seems like everything has turned against him even though he has remained faithful. Ask the disciples what they would have to say about that. Many of them remained faithful to the point of being jailed, mocked, tortured and killed for their faith. Faithfulness does not always = an easier life...but faithfulness always ensures a future hope.

44:23-24 - The writer continues to pour out his heart...he is hurting and confused and he is letting God know about it. The thing I like about this passage is that it reminds me that God can take whatever I can dish is better to me to pour out my confusion and anger on God then to bottle it up and turn away from Him. The psalmists ask why it seems like God is doing nothing about the terrible situation going on around him - you ever been there?

45:2-4 - This is a great psalm for sons and young men...I cannot wait to read and pray this over my sons some day! "Prepare for battle my son and know that through faith you are a reflection of the image of God in this world. You are a warrior priest. Son, ride out victoriously in this world to fight for the cause of truth, for the meek and for righteousness. Let your deeds be deeds that shout to the world that you are a son of the Most High God!"

46:10 - SHHHHHHHHH! BE QUIET! Stop allowing yourself to get distracted by the things of this world...stop distracting yourself by allowing your mind to endless speak and question and doubt. Be still and know your God. Be quite and listen for His voice. He is worthy of exaltation, so take some time out of your day to seek Him.

48:12-14 - I like this passage about the city of me it speaks of understanding God's characteristics. Study the traits of God. Spend time walking in His presence...walking in His ways. Get to know God's heart like you know the back of your hand. When you know your God, you will be able to pass that knowledge on tot he next generation.

49:13-15 - Those who blindly place their faith in wealth and humanity are setting themselves up for a bitter end to a bitter life. They are like sheep being led into a chasm of nothingness by the shepherd Death. It is a futile existence. Thank you God for offering a different path. Thank you God for ransoming my soul and giving me hope!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Psalms 36-41

36:1 - Sin twists the heart - it is like a cancer that spreads and we give in to sinfulness the corruption sets in and we convince ourselves not to fear God. Without the fear of God that leads to worship we separate ourselves from God and spiral deeper into the pit of self-worship fueled rebellion.

37:1-4 - We must not allow evil people to control our lives and consume our thoughts. There is evil in the world. There are people that give into evil desires and do terrible things, yet the God-fearers of the world cannot allow these things to paralyze them. In reality the evil strong are nothing more that specters that are passing away and will leave no significant legacy behind them. The only fulfilling life is found in trusting God...that is where true strength is found. We do not have to fear the evil int he world because we know the one and only God that is going to set everything right in the end.

37:30-31 - As Christians we have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ. If we are the righteous, then this passage gives us an excellent picture of what out lives should look like. The mouth of the righteous utters only wisdom, not foolishness or filth. The tongue of the righteous seeks to bring justice to the world, not to bring honor to bring honor to self. The righteous has the law of God etched on his heart and he allows that to guide his path.

38:4-5 - The psalmist, David, is drowning in the consequences of his sin. He feels like he is being crushed under the weight of guilt over what he has done. The sin and guilt within him fester and rot his life...this is the price of sin...this sit he reward for those who choose to ignore God and go their own way.

39:11 - Sometimes God has to destroy or take away the things that we worship, so that we will once again be free to worship Him.

40:2-3 - This is powerful imagery: our of the pit...out of the bog...lifted out of death and destruction. There is utter hopelessness in a life lived in separation from God. Yet, God has come to the rescue of the psalmist..."He sets my feet on solid rock" - "He put a new song in my mouth." When salvation comes we no longer have to sing the funeral dirge of sin and death...God's forgiveness allows our lives to sing with joy and life!

41:1-2 - Those who are compassionate with regards to the poor and helpless will be blessed by God. What we have to understand is that this blessing does not necessarily mean that we will receive more material means that it is a blessing to be the hands and feet of God in this world. That is what we were made for...we were made to connect with worship find our fulfillment fully in God and this happens when our heart is beating in unison with God's. We will be truly blessed when he see as God sees and feel as God feels...that is what we should strive for.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Psalms 29 - 35

29:1-2 - I love the attitude of this an alternate translation it says, "Ascribe to the Lord, you sons of might!" True power is found in serving the Lord. Those who understand what strength is seek to worship the by living holy lives. We use the will, mind, creativity, characteristics that God has given us to fight for holiness...that is how we bring Him honor.

30:5 - Passing through this life and all the problems that entails is like the blink of an eye in the scope of eternity. It may seems like pain and sorrow are everywhere, but one day we will awake with God and have a true understand of what living is really like - forever!

31:7-8 - No matter what you are going through...God sees it. God feels what we are going through...God understands suffering, and because He knows what we agree going through He is always there to offer us strength and hope.

32:1-4 - David speaks eloquently of the joys of forgiveness, yet as beautiful as his words are they do the reality no justice! We are blessed by the forgiveness of a perfect God who was willing to pay the price for our sins - MY SINS! Such undeserved grace! Yet, David follows up by explaining that people will also be cursed by guilt and separation from God if they refuse to turn to Him in repentance for forgiveness. Sometimes instead of turning to God instantly in our sinfulness, we run away from Him and wallow in our transgressions, living under a crushing weight of failure. Don't live like that when the joy of forgiveness is so close at hand!

33:13-16 - God knows everything that is going on in our lives. No matter how big or small, He is interested. Isn't that amazing? That is how much we are loved - He is intimately involved with every aspect of our lives.

34:5 - When we allow our worth to be determined fully by God - we will never be ashamed...we will never become obsessed with what other people think of us...we will have a confident radiance about us because we understand fully that we are the children of God - we understand who we are. Never forget who you are.

35:13-16 - David is dealing with some tough real-life experiences here. Just because we serve and love other people, does not mean that they will always return the favor. Just because you were there for someone when they were down does not mean that they will be there for you when you are down (Anybody in church leadership has run into that truth face first!). We have to remember that we do not serve...we do not care...we do not help others to receive the same in return. We serve because it brings honor to God. There are always going to be people who are so insecure with themselves that they will rejoice in the failure of others (Talk about an intense line - "like profane mockers at a feast.").

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Psalms 19-28

19:5 - I really like this verse..."like a strong man runs his course with joy." A true sin of godly strength is being able to work and do what you have been called to d with joy in your heart.

19:7-9 - This is a great list of some of God's characteristics and the blessings they offer us: renewal, wisdom, joy, discernment, hope, righteousness, etc. The very nature of God gives us the soul food we need to be sustained.

20:7-8 - People who put their trust in the things of man are always let in the Lord!

21:6 - This verse can also be translated, "you make him a source of blessing forever." I like the thought that the Lord pours our Himself and fills us up to overflowing, so that we in turn can become a blessing the the lives of others.

22:1,8,16 and 18 - This is a prophetic psalm. David is speaking about his own trials, but as he connects with the Spirit of God, he paints a picture for us of what the sacrificial death of Jesus will look like. Jesus cried out from the cross, "My God, my God - why have you forsaken me?" (v.1) Men at the foot of the cross mocked Jesus, saying, "Let his God rescue him now!" (v.8) His hands and feet were pierced on the cross and the soldiers cast lots for his clothing. (v.16 and 18) David is predicting the crucifixion (probably unbeknownst to him).

22:28 - Jesus is the ultimate king. He is the universal king. He showed that true power comes through sacrificial leadership as he conquered sin and death through humble service. Is that the kind of leadership we value?

23:1-3 - We all have our own wants, but we shouldn't become obsessed with those...the Lord will give us exactly what we need. In fact, there are times when He will make us receive the things we need.

24:5-6 - Those who seek God's face will receive righteousness and blessings from God. That sounds pretty good, maybe we should make that part of our lives...that whole "seeking God's face" thing.

25:14 - Interesting...God's friendship is for those who fear Him? This seems like such a foreign concept to me...I don't think we generally equate friendship with fear. How does this work? Fear in regards to God is a picture of humility and respect...humility and respect are things that are essential to all relationships. To have that intimate connection with God that He desires to have with us and that we so desperately need...there has God to be a humble respect (fear) of Him.

26:2 and 3 - This is a pretty bold request from David. He specifically asks God to test his faith. I find it interesting that David also says right out that it is God's steadfast love that gives him the strength to remain faithful and true. He God to test him over attributes that only exist because God is sustaining him...this is kinda like a sneaky praise of God. He says, "God, you can test me, but you will only find faithfulness because your love is so awesome - I couldn't possibly turn away!"

27:4 - This verse was actually given to me as a life-verse by a missionary friend of mine named Steve Allen who led us on a trip to Thailand (6/28/08). The Lord put this verse on his heart for me and I cherish to this day. It has become a verse that I want to embody...I want to walk with God daily...I want to live in constant connection with Him...I want to reflect His beauty in my life...I want my words to be laced with God's wisdom. Thanks Steve!

28:8 - Our strength can only be found in God and nothing else...never forget that!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Psalms 11-18

11:7 - Okay...if God is the embodiment of righteousness...and He loves righteousness in His people...why would I not seek to live a righteous life? Am I going to be perfect? No. But I can fight and claw and scratch every day to give my life as an offering to God. I will not attain righteousness, but I can seek it - it is the least I can do to honor the sacrifice of Christ that truly does bring me righteousness.

12:3 and 6 - I find the comparison of these verses very interesting. People with lying lips and boastful tongues are living in total opposition to the person of God. God speaks only pure, powerful, truth. It is never good to be on the opposite end of the spectrum away from God!

13:1 and 5 - Here are another set of verses that compliment one another. At the beginning of the psalm Davis questions why it seems that God is absent from his life, but he knows the character of God and chooses at the end of the psalm to trust in His unfailing love. Too often people (myself included) turn away from God when they feel disconnected, which makes little sense because these are the times when we most need Him.

Chapter 15 - I preached on this a couple months back. David asks and answers his own question. He says, "Who are the people that will be able to rest in the presence of God?" The people who seek wholeness (i.e. having a oneness in their lives that centers on honoring God wherever they are)...the truthful...those who speak honorably...those who are generous and kind. People who live out these kind of values in an effort to live their lives as worship, will never be moved from the presence of God.

16:1-2 - David understands the bottom line...he says, "There is nothing good in my life apart from what God has put there." He knows that ALL good things come from God. God is good...goodness comes from God...we have nothing to brag and boast about other than the fact that we have an awesome creator God.

17:4 - This made me sit back and say, "Huh?" David the battle king has the audacity to say that he avoided the ways of the violent? The man that was unable to build the temple because of all the blood on his hands? What is going on here? Well, as I think about it, during the early part of David's life (When this psalm was probably written), David really did try to avoid violence. He was not a violent man, he just fought to protect sheep and people. When David was being pursued by Saul, he did everything he could to bring about a peaceful solution to the problem. So okay, I'll buy it David for that part of your life.

17:14-15 - True satisfaction can only be found in God. David sees men around him who only seek material gain int he world...yet he also sees that this wealth does nothing for the men. It serves only to be handed over to their kids when they die - it is truly meaningless. David just wants to be with God and he knows that one day he will awake in the presence of the Lord and he will finally understand the meaning of satisfaction.

18:24 - This kind of talk seems very foreign to our current day Christian ears. We like to talk about how messed up we are and would never utter words like these from our mouths. David claims he is being rewarded by God for his own righteousness? That's bold. But we have to understand that they had a different understanding of how God worked, and David truly did act honorably in regards to the situation with crazy king Saul. He honored God...he showed respect to a king that was vile and evil...he refused to do violence against the king...and when the situation was resolved, David sees it as God honoring his choice to seek peace. Do you want to argue that logic?

18:46 - I grew up singing a good old hymnal praise song based on this passage. This is a beautiful and truth-filled verse. God is alive! God is an immovable presence int his universe and in my life! God is the bringing of salvation for all! That is a great verse!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Psalms 1 - 10

At the pace we have been going it would take a year to get through just the Psalms, so I am going to read 4 pages of Psalms each day (In my ESV journaling Bible), which should take about 20 blog entries. Enjoy!

1:1-2 - I love that the Book of Psalms starts out with this passage. Blessed are those who make sure they stay away from evil things that are in opposition to God...blessed are those who spend time reflecting on God's truth and writing it on their hearts. There's a simple plan to live you life by!

2:6-7 and 12 - This is actually a prophetic Psalm about Jesus (See: Hebrew Chapter 1). God says, "You are my Son whom I have begotten." If God, Jesus and Spirit are One, how can the Son be "begotten"? In my mind the "begotten" happens when God places Himself into human form. Jesus became man, but remained God. There are too many NT scriptures that declare that Jesus and God are one (Hebrews 1 says that Jesus is the exact imprint of God - the SAME!). Blessed are those who dwell in Jesus.

3:3-4 - Good verses to remember when you are feeling attacked and defenseless. God is our shield and our protector...He lifts up our head from shame...He hears our cries and answers them. We know that it is going to be "okay."

4:7-8 - God will give you more joy than earthly success and riches ever could! That is so true, yet somehow I allow myself to forget that from time to time. I also love verse about lying down at night with peace in our hearts because we know God is with us. There are times when I am kept awake at night struggling with doubt and turmoil and fear...and the only thing that can bring peace to that chaos is finally clinging to the hope that comes from God.

5:4-6 - Be sure you never forget the full nature of who God is...He hates wickedness, conceit and violence...these are things that are opposite His nature and will bring His wrath.

6:4 - I love the raw emotions spilled out as David throws himself on the mercy of God. He knows that there is nothing he can do to save himself...he knows he is not worthy of deliverance, but he throws himself on the mercy of God's ever present love.

7:14-16 - David gives a great description on the creation and consequences of evil in the human life. As men seek to create evil, that evil gives birth to lies and vileness. These things take on a character of their own and become instruments of their creator's downfall. Men who give birth to evil will eventually see it come back to destroy them.

8:3-4 - Look around at the magnitude and the beauty of creation! Take time to see the fingerprints of God in the sky and on the earth (even here in Houston). How is it that the creator of all of this actually cares about me? How is it that you know me God? It is a sign of Your incredible love...thank you Lord.

9:7,9,12 and 18 - Look at the heart of God described in these verses: He is a ruler of justice. He is always concerned with the oppressed and afflicted. He is the one and only hope for the poor. As His followers...created in His image - should we not feel the same way?

10:1 - The psalmist is brutally honest here: God why does it seem like you are so far away when things are going terribly and people are being oppressed? The Psalm continues on like this for some time, but look to the end of the chapter...

10:17-18 - Even when it seems like God is far, the psalmist puts his trust in the fact that God is actually near. We must do the same. We know that God's heart is for the hurting and the oppressed and they will receive their justice.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Job Chapters 40 - 42

40:2 - God comes out guns-a-blazin' and immediately puts Job in his place. He says, "Shall a whiner who can only focus on what is wrong stand before God and accuse Him?" Seems like God doesn't have much time for people who only look for the faults in everything and seek a way to pass on the blame. (v.7) He wants Job to put on his big boy pants and take what's coming like a man. I think we can learn a lot from this interaction. In times of struggle and turmoil, we need to face what comes with strength and not just look to blame somebody. We need to be able to see our own faults and look tot he wisdom of God for answers...not just look for excuses and scapegoats.

40:15-18 and Chapter 41 - I always love these passages, because they seem to be clear descriptions of dinosaurs to me. If you take the biblical creation account literally instead of symbolically (Which I do)...then dinosaurs and man would have coexisted. God is talking to Job as if these creatures are running around the earth.

42:3 and 6 - Job understands pretty quickly that he has overstepped his bounds. He says, "Okay God, I'm sorry...I started speaking about things that I had no understanding of." So Job in the midst of the suffering and turmoil of his life repents before God. Another good lesson for current day Christians. When it comes to making bold statements about theological "absolutes," we need to be careful, because in the end, I think there are going to be a lot of things that we just didn't really understand fully.

42:8-9 - Eliphaz and Bildad are confronted and rebuked by God. In fact, God asks Job to pray to Him on their behalf so that they will be shown mercy for speaking without understanding. Amazing that the two most vehement, judgemental people who thought they knew exactly what God wanted were the two that were the most absolutely wrong! This should be a word of caution to Christians who like to point out the flaws in other peoples' lives. Also notice that Elihu was left out of the accusation...I guess this means he was right in his assessment of the situation (The young guy figured it out!).

42:11 - Finally some people in Job's life show up and actually bring comfort to him. And this verse very boldly states that it was God who brought the disaster upon Job's life (As we already know from reading the least he allows Satan to bring the disaster). And God never really explains the situation to Job. He doesn't tell him why these things happens...he never really tells Job anything. Job sends the entire book questioning why this is happening to him and God answers him with a series of questions...were you there when I made everything; can you control leviathan; do you open the floodgates of heaven to bring rain; etc. All Job needed to understand was that God was in control...and that's all we need to understand too.

42:14 - I find it really interesting that the only children who are mentioned by name in this book are Job's three youngest daughters. This is not common in Jewish scripture, so that tells us that these women were very important to Job. Most scholars guess this means that they brought him much joy in his life. Jemimah means "new day." Job gave her this name because of the radiant beauty of the new day. Keziah means cassia, which was an ingredient used in very fragrant perfumes. Her name also denotes in the beautiful fragrance of perfume. Keren-happuch means horn of stibium, which was a plant used to make eyeshadow...and as you can guess it was also a name that represented great beauty. Needless to say, Job thought very highly of his daughters and let them know about it. I believe it is a father's sacred duty to give his daughters confidence by speaking love into their lives...Job does a great job of this!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Job Chapters 31 - 37

31:1-3 - As part of his case, which he hopes will prove that he has not intentionally done anything to bring calamity on his life, Job states that he has even made a covenant with God to protect his eyes from lust. This should be something that every man does. Job implies that the only things lust brings to a man are unrighteousness and disaster. I would agree.

31:13-15 - Job wonders how people could belittle people of "lower" status or ignore their requests. What is it that makes one man think he is better than another? Are we not all formed by God in the image of God? Are we not at the most basic of levels...equals? Job feels that all people should be treated with decency and respect...all people whether they are believers or not are the children of God.

31:24-28 - Those who love wealth and serve it have been disloyal to their creator. They reject the one and only God who alone is worthy of worship.Loving wealth is greed...greed is idolatry - it is really that simple.

32:8-9 - It is not the age of a person that makes him/her wise, it is the Spirit of God within that person. Wisdom comes from understanding your own foolishness and relinquishing control of your life to the Spirit of God. Elihu, the youngest man present, rebukes his elders.

32:17-19 - I would be interested to hear what people think about this passage, because it is a little confusing for me. Elihu believes his is speaking out of conviction from the Spirit of God and the things he is saying are definitely true, but he still does not fully understand the situation that Job is in. So the questions is - is this section correct...or is Elihu misguided like the other friends?

33:27-28 - This is a great passage about the merciful nature of God. A sinful person that does not deserve redemption is offered mercy and saved from the pit...from this point forward their life is always looking to the light. This should be a picture of our lives. As Christians we were undeservedly forgiven of our sins and that should drive us to constantly seek the path of godliness.

34:11-12 - Even Elihu has a very simplistic understanding of God's justice. Yes, God repays evil, but not always on our time table and not always in the earthly realm. Yet the fact of the matter is that God does not ever pervert justice...He cannot, He is the definition of justice! So I think we can all assume that if something seems unfair and unjust in the world...there is justice yet to come. Things will be made right in the end.

37:23-24 - Elihu closes his statements with simple truth - he speaks about the character of God. God is great in power, great in justice and great in His righteousness. May I never forget this truth.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Job Chapters 25 - 30

Sorry about the long has been a crazy month!

25:4-6 - These verses serve to show how incredible God's love for us is. Who can b right before God? Compared to God, the moon and stars are nothing...they are dim and much less significant is man? With all our flaws and our failure to reflect the image of God that was created in us, we are so far beneath the creator it is impossible to fathom...yet God's love for us in never ceasing. It is easy to love those who are like you and deserving of love, but God offers His sacrificial love to those who are beneath Him and deserving of death.

26:14 - Job speaks of the power of God and then says those things are just at the fringe of what He can do. Mankind hears but a whisper of the incredible deeds of God...understands little of what He does...those who are weak cannot understand what true power is...cannot understand the power of God.

27:8 - There is absolutely no hope for the godless...Job understands this and will not turn away from God. He doesn't understand why he is going through the trials that are before him, but he knows it is insanity to turn away from God.

27:20 - There have been nights where I laid awake and experienced this feeling of overwhelming terror...there have been times in my life where I could only be saved from drowning in sorrow by putting my trust in God.

28:1-13 - Man has explanations for every aspect of's inventiveness and creativity discovers much and explains away the miraculous, but these roads do not lead to wisdom...

28:28 - Wisdom comes only from fearing God...true understanding is shown only when we turn away from evil and towards God.

29:12-17 - Job lists off a bunch of attributes that I believe should be a major part of every Christians life. Christians should be...
- a help to the poor
- parents to the fatherless
- protectors of widows
- the eyes for the blind
- the feet for the crippled
- defenders of those who cannot defend themselves
Are these the attributes that define my life? Do they define yours?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Job Chapters 21-24

21:7 - Job is dealing with questions that have plagued mankind for all time. I here high school students ask this question every year. Why does it seem like the bad people get away with everything? I love that the Book of Job, one of the oldest accounts in history, is dealing with relevant philosophical/theological questions in every age.

21:14-15 - Job continues firing back at his "friends" who insist that he has done some major sinning and brought all the calamity of his life down upon himself. He tells them, "I have seen men who reject and scorn God, live comfortable and safe lives." Job brings this up, because he believes this also means that there are God-fearing men and women who experience pain and suffering.

23:8 - Again Job is expressing feelings that are common to all people at one time or another. He is searching high and low for God, but he cannot feel His presence. Job feels like he cannot connect with God. It feels like God isn't there to him. Have you ever experienced a time like this?

23:10 - This is such a great answer to the problems he is facing. Even though he feels like God is distant, Job chooses to remind himself of who God is. He chooses to remind himself that God is just and that God is going to bring him through this terrible situation a better man...he is going to be refined like gold through the fire of suffering. I have often had people come to me and tell me they cannot feel God like they used to be able to. I tell them to do what they used to do when they felt close to God. Choose to believe what you used to believe about God...choose to seek Him in prayer and study...stay faithful to God even when it feels like He is distant and you will once again find that connection.

24:1-14 - Job describes the people in the world who are starving, poor, broken, and suffering...some of these are people who have not turned away from God. He says, "Look around guys, there are people in this world who are suffering that are not God charges with no wrong...they are just suffering because they live in a fallen world, not because they have been unfaithful to God."

24:14-25 - And he compares those people to those who are clearly evil, yet who live comfortable lives. Again he points out that there are good people who suffer and evil people who prosper. He doesn't understand why this is the case, but in verse 24 he chooses to once again remind himself of the truth about God. The people who reject God may prosper for a little while here on earth, but in the end they will be gathered up and harvested like wheat for their crimes. They will pay the price for their sins. Justice comes...but it comes in God's time. This is something that all of us need to remember - there will be justice, but it may not come until the afterlife.