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 existence...you can face anything this screwed up world has to throw at you because you understand what really matters...you know that God is in control...you 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 hope...so 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 again...it 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 indignation...it 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 is...you 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 does...it 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 hometown...by the religious leaders of the day...by 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 God...in 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 heart...do 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 being...it 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 mountains...to remember that God has created everything...to 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 sacrifices...now 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 truth...so 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 time...again...my head hurts.

90:12 - We must always remember that we will not live forever...life 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 leader...do 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 else...do 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 women...in means that day by day am steadfast in my love for her...it 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, etc...it 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 God...it 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, etc...you 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 crazy...it seems like everything is going against you...you 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 themselves...it 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 silent...my 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.