Monthly Archives: June 2009

Passage: Psalm 31-35

Scripture:   

“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever; the purposes of his heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)(NIV)

 Observation:       

The Bible is perhaps the consummate exercise in perfect timing.  Stories of near-misses, last-minute rescues and thrilling victories abound.  I think of Abraham and Sarah’s incredulity at the announcement they would have a son in their old age (Gen. 21:2).   God’s timing is not ours, and because of this, I believe He often spares His people from knowing it.  How could Abraham have possibly waited those 30 long years after the promise of a son was delivered to him, had he know just how long it would be before he held the child in his arms?  Wouldn’t his heart have failed him?  There was a plan at work in Abraham’s life – a blessing beyond imagination – but it was entirely beyond his control.    

 “As passengers, it is not for us to interfere with the charts and the compass.  We should leave the masterful Captain alone to do his own work.” – Robert Hall  

 Application:                  

I am a control freak.  I often find it hard to accept that I cannot make a desired end materialize – even after doing all I can.  But at times, I also find it comforting to know someone else is in control.  The prospect of someone bigger, smarter and more loving than me at the helm of my life is soothing.  It is encouraging, also, to know that nothing can thwart God’s plans for me, that His plans “stand firm,” no matter the circumstances.  As we move forward through our lives in faith, we may have to wait – for an answer, for a sign, for what we want.  We may have to wait for “perseverance to finish its work” (James 1:4).  But we know that as we wait, there is nothing but the best of intentions – the best of plans – at work for our benefit.  And God’s grace is always sufficient for the waiting (2 Cor. 12:9).  

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I have never liked waiting.  Like a child, when I am obedient, I expect an immediate reward.  But that type of relationship with You doesn’t foster the kind of obedience You require – the kind borne out of love.  Strengthen my heart when I’ve done what You ask and then have to wait.  Help me to remember that sometimes the waiting is part of the plan.  I prefer you as the Captain of my life to all others, so help me to be faithful and enjoy the ride.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

– Sarah

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Psalm 23-30

Scripture

“No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame…”

“…my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:3, 5, NIV)

Observation

As a child: “I hope we can go to the park.”

As a teenager: “I hope he likes me.”

As an adult: “I hope we have enough money to pay for it.”

Over the years, I’ve hoped for many things…possessions, relationships, provision. I hope for health and wealth–or at least “enough” wealth. But in this passage, David knew a better way. He knew not to hope for things, because things won’t last and won’t satisfy.  Instead, David hoped in something.  He hoped in God.

Application

It sounds like a minor distinction–hoping “for” to hoping “in”–but it makes a major difference.  When my hope is in God, I won’t be put to shame.  When I hope in him all day long, I will know the peace, joy and life that comes from a heart wholly centered on him.

Prayer

God, I need a perspective change. Will You help me to hope in You, rather than for the things that won’t last? Thank You that You fulfill and surpass all my hopes. I love You. Amen.

amystorms

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Psalm 18-22

Scripture

I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And You lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.

Psalm 22:14-18 (NASB)

Observation

The flat meaning of this passage clearly speaks of a time of great turmoil in David’s life. Yet there is no time in his life that is recorded which corresponds to what he describes. David suffered many trials and tragedies in his life but nothing in his experience corresponds to what he writes in this poem. For David this writing is clearly hyperbole; he uses the language and description of an execution to describe what he was going through internally. For David this Psalm was a poetic analogy. We, however, know something that David may not have, this Psalm perfectly describes the execution of Jesus. This is truly astounding because there is absolutely no evidence that what David describes was known to the writers of the Old Testament. What is more, Jesus death from hypovolemic shock, which corresponds to the statement “my heart is like wax, it is melted within me,” was not the usual way in which those crucified perished. It is doubtful that anyone reading the Old Testament and looking forward could have realized the significance of the meaning of this passage* but the New Testament writers clearly saw that God was revealing the work of Messiah through David’s pain and poetry because they quote this Psalm frequently. It is amazing to behold what God has done in His Word, revealing real history a thousand years before it was to occur.

Application

The only application that comes to mind from this Psalm is the reminder of the awesome nature of God. Before any of this happened He knew exactly what would occur and planned it. He then wrote it down for us to see before it happened so that we could marvel at the work and plan of God. What is more is what this all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe told us. He told us that he would allow His own anointed one to be despised, brutalized, and executed so that we might have life through Him. God would redeem us through a suffering servant. Our God is astounding in His power and even more astounding in His love. In light of this how can we not pursue the love of the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength?

Prayer

Lord God, thank you for your amazing Word. Thank you that you wove a thread of hope within your word proclaiming what you would do in history that we might see your work clearly and trust in you and live. Thank you above all that you were not content to let your Word reside in books alone, but sent the Word to fulfill your Word. Thank you for Jesus who actually endured what David did not so that David, Israel, and all the world might find life in you. Thank you for working all of this for the glory and Jesus and the good of those who love you. Thank you that I get to behold it.

Amen.

Mike

* I think it is important to explain my wording here. When I wrote “It is doubtful that anyone reading the Old Testament and looking forward could have realized the significance of the meaning of this passage.” I chose my words very carefully. I wanted to distinguish the significance or application of the passage from its meaning. I do not think that this passage means more for us today than it did for David. The meaning has not changed, the text speaks of an execution and David knew the meaning as well as we do. What David did not know, that we do, is that this description foretold the death of Messiah. This is not more meaning, it is just an application of the meaning of which David was unaware. Biblical texts have only one meaning but might have significance or historical out-workings about which the author or reader is unaware.

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Psalms 10 – 17

Scripture

The words of the Lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times. Psalm 12:6 (NKJV)

Observation

In this psalm the writer contrasts a wicked man’s words and God’s words.  God’s words are pure, while the wicked man’s are proud and deceitful.  God’s words are compared to silver and they have been purified seven times.  The difference between the sinner’s word and God’s words is stark.

Application

I read in a commentary about this verse “that the purity of God’s person assures the purity of His promises”.   The way to know someone’s character is by their words and actions.  God’s words and actions are perfect; they can be trusted and depended upon.  I thought about the comparison of God’s word to silver.  Silver has to be refined to get rid of the impurities to make it pure. The Lord’s words are pure from the start.  Silver is imperfect in of itself.  God’s word is perfect by itself.  The writer wants to make it clear that this silver he is comparing to God is perfect because it is refined seven times.  The number seven represents perfection in the Bible.  

Prayer

Lord your word is amazing. Thank you for the gift of the Bible.  I praise and worship you today because you are worthy.  You are perfect, but thank you Lord Jesus you have provided a way for me to stand in perfection.  Thank you for making me complete like the silver is this passage.  Amen

Jon

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Psalms 1-9

Scripture/Observation

I love the Psalms.  I love the soaring expressions of faith and praise:  “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (8:1,9).  I love the honesty.  In the Psalms it is OK to be afraid:  “O Lord how many are my foes!  How many rise up against me!” (3:1).  It’s OK to ask imponderable questions:  “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? (2:1).  It’s even OK to ask God to take vengeance on your enemies:  “Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked” (3:7b).

The Psalms do not stand on pretense.  They show us how to call out to God.  It can be a simple cry:  “Arise, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God” (3:7a).  Or, we can appeal to God’s own nature in asking for His help: “Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (6:4).  The rationale can also be based in our continued praise: “No one remembers you when he is dead.  Who praises you from the grave?” (6:5).  Regardless, though, there is always a firm confidence that the Lord will hear and respond: “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” (6:9).

Application

I read a little book some time ago that encouraged “praying the Psalms.”  This meant, essentially, taking the words of the Psalmist and lifting them up to God in my own prayers.  I’ve found that to be an invaluable addition to my time with God.  Sometimes I have also written my own “psalm,” following the tone and pattern of the psalmist in crying out for help, being honest with my fears and questions, basing my requests on God’s attributes, and affirming my confidence and faith that He will hear and respond.

I want to slow down as we read these ancient songs and let God use them to remind me of His unfailing love and His immeasurable greatness in the midst of all my circumstances.

Prayer

I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.  I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.  The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment.  He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.  The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Ps. 9:1-2,7-9 NIV)

Amen.

(wordisalive)

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Job 41 & 42

Scripture – “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6 ESV)

Observation – Job has lost everything – his family, his health, his reputation, to some degree even his friends. His suffering is unparalleled. He’s held on to his faith, while at the same time challenging God’s “decisions.”

Just before the end of the story, God speaks. Something profound changes in Job, he moves from knowing about God through the “hearing of the ear” to “seeing” God – seeing Him for who He really is. This is all it takes for Job’s perspective to be radically adjusted and his countenance to be comforted. He is still sitting in “ashes and dust”, nothing has been restored – his material wealth and physical health are irrelevant, all that matters is God’s presence. It is God’s presence that ultimately brings Job “comfort.” (Repentance aligns us with God and brings us comfort.)

Application – I’ve had far too many complaints against God, we all do, don’t we? Every time I complain about a co-worker, a wayward child, the loss of a friend, rainy weather, cold coffee or my BG&E bill – I’m complaining against what God has, in His sovereignty, permitted in my life. When I’m complaining against God, I may be hearing of Him with my ears, but I am failing to see Him. I become lost in the “fog of life.”

The truth is, in my myopically finite human state, I simply don’t see what God sees, I don’t know what God knows. Like Job, my complaints are self-centered and born of ignorance. Not ignorance of my experience, but an ignorance of God.

I’m not suggesting that temporal things don’t matter to God.
I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t pray about our circumstances.
I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t “complain” to God. In a sense Job’s story gives us permission to do so. I think God understands.

What I am suggesting is that God’s presence “trumps” everything. So the next time I find myself down, alone, frightened, or simply “ticked-off” – I pray I have the awareness to see past my present circumstances and see the God who IS. His presence will always be more than I could ever hope for, and all I ever need. His presence “comforts.”

Prayer – Lord, You are good, it just doesn’t always look that way from here. You are perfectly loving – sometimes love hurts. I recognize now that I oftentimes don’t see clearly – ok, most of the time – the fog of life is thick, please hold my hand and guide me through it. Amen

Paul

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Job 38-40

Who this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Job 38:2

Among men Job was unparalled. Then God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him: He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. Job 1:8 Throughout his ordeal he maintained his innocence. His friends intimated that his suffering was caused by sin. Elihu testified of God’s power and justice. All of them were right, but their facts were incomplete. They lacked the full knowledge of God. They shed light on some things while obscuring the whole truth with their well meaning opinions. They were all darkening God’s counsel.

All of us speak words without knowledge and even the most righteous person on earth is still a sinner.  All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 Job finally saw the truth when confronted with God, the ultimate Judge, and he was humbled into silence.

I am unworthy- how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. Job 40:4

Last week I stood before a judge in an adverse possession case.  She admonished both sides and told us to check our attitudes at the door.  I knew I needed to immediately “put my hand over my mouth” and listen.  I had become so self-righteousness about my position that the best solution evaded me.  In the judges chambers she laid out a compromise.  Though it was not what either side wanted it was clearly our best shot at restoring peace and goodwill. The judge asked us if we agreed to the settlement.  As each person said yes I could hear in the voices – defeat, brokenness, humility, relief, and resignation.  No one was walking away with high fives, but the knowledge and experience of a higher and wiser authority had brought light to a unseen resolution.  God gave us less than we wanted, but blessed us with more than we needed.  I may think I don’t deserve the trials, but I don’t deserve God’s unconditional love and mercy either.

Mighty Counselor, Prince of Peace thanks and praise to you for giving me more than I could ever ask or think in life and in life eternal. Thanks you for your mercy and grace throughout these trials. Help me to not become arrogant in regard to the hard won righteousness that is mine through Jesus Christ. Help me to extend that same mercy and grace to all those who are like me – sinners. You are an awesome and true God. Forgive me for all those times I have doubted. Thank you for never leaving nor forsaking me. Thank you for your promise to complete a good work in me until the day you return. Please bring salvation swiftly to those who are lost without you. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.

yicareggie

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