Wednesday, 31 May 2006

We will not fear

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” - Psalms 46v1-3

“We will not fear” is a nice sounding motto. It all sounds well and good and it even makes a nice song. However, it is one of those things that can preach easier than it practices.

How do we “not fear” when it seems like the world is going to pieces around us? The psalmist knew the feeling and he uses the imagery of an earthquake to clearly illustrate the feeling that we all are familiar with.

We find the ability to “not fear” in such words as, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” “perfect love casts out fear,” “God has not given is a spirit of fear…”, “what time I am afraid I will trust in You.”

Like everything else faith is fear conquering. If we truly trust God we will not fear, even when it seems like the world is falling apart around us.

Tuesday, 30 May 2006

He knows the secrets of the heart

“Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.” - Psalms 44v21

It is easy enough for any of us to hide from others what is in our hearts. We are all experts at covering up what is really in our hearts. If we dress up just right and act in all the right ways it is possible to fool all around us into thinking that we really “have it together” spiritually.

However there is One we can never fool no matter how hard we try. There is holy God who desires that His people live holiness lives. Every sin is an abomination to Him. It does not matter who else we can fool - God can never be fooled. He knows all the secrets of our hearts. When our hearts are full of hidden sin He still knows.

Remind me, Father, when I am tempted to harbour sins of the heart, that you know all the secrets there.

Monday, 29 May 2006

Why are you cast down?

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” - Psalms 42v11

How often we find ourselves in a position of being “cast down.” Paul even uses the term in 2 Corinthians 4v9 when he says that amidst all his troubles he was “cast down, but not destroyed.”

I don’t think we need to try and define what it means to be “cast down.” We have all been there and know what it can feel like to try and get back up. It is easier just to lay on the mat and wallow in self-pity that it is to get back up and get going.

David found his way out by making a conscious decision. In the psalm he did several things.

· He put his hope in God
· He chose to remember what God had done for him
· He chose to see God as the Rock who which he could cling

Indeed there is never a reason for us to be cast down when we choose to set our thoughts on things above instead of things on the earth.

Sunday, 28 May 2006

Thirsting after God

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” - Psalms 42:1

I remember one time working in an attic in Alabama in August. A thermometer read 138F (59C). We were trying to work in short shifts so we would not get ill, but I had one little section I wanted to finish. As I did so I noticed that I had stopped sweating, and sure sign of heat stroke so I made my way to the ladder and down the steps. After resting for a moment I realised how thirsty I was. I could not walk, so I crawled to the nearest sink and all they had were tiny paper cups. My thirst was insatiable as I drank cup after cup of cool water. I was literally panting after water in my thirst.

As I remember that day I honestly cannot remember a time when I thirsted after God with such intensity. The picture the psalmist gives is that of a thirsty deer panting after fresh water. A deer, like all animals, will pursue water or die in the attempt. Man will kill for water.

How much so we really thirst after God. Is our desire for God all-consuming? Are we obsessed with knowing Him more.

Indeed, do we pant after God like a deer pants for water?

Saturday, 27 May 2006

God thinks about me

“But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.” - Psalms 40v17

With all that God has to do it is sometimes hard for us to imagine that He would have much time for each of us. With all the wars, weather, politics, and natural disasters to deal with it would seem to our human minds that God would be too busy to bother with our petty issues and concerns.

We are poor and needy. We really don’t have much impact or influence in the world. The “important” people of this world would never give us a second thought in the rush to accomplish their goals. It can even feel at times that no one really has the time to bother with is and our concerns.

Psalm 40v17 is a great comfort. “I am poor and needy,” the psalmist writes, But God thinks about me…” Isn’t that an amazing thought, that the Creator and Sustainer of the universe would spend time thinking about you and me?

Next time you are down and alone and think that no one knows what is going on, remember and be blessed by the knowledge that God thinks about you!

Friday, 26 May 2006

I delight to do your will

“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” - Psalms 40v8

“Help me to see how good thy will is in all,
And even when it crosses mine
teach me to be pleased with it.”

These words are from the devotional book “The Valley of Vision” and they express the same spirit as David expressed in Psalm 40v8. Our desire should be to delight to do God’s will.

Most Christians are willing to do God’s will in their lives. Sometimes was accept it grudgingly or reluctantly.

True joy in serving God comes when we delight in doing His will. We can only do that when His word is ruling in our hearts. When we truly put our faith in God and trust Him implicitly we will delight in doing His will for we will know that it is the best thing for everyone involved.

When God’s will crosses our wills, may we choose to delight in doing it His way.

The All Good

Help me to see how good thy will is in all,
And even when it crosses mine
teach me to be pleased with it.

Thursday, 25 May 2006

Count your blessings

“Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to usward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” - Psalms 40v5

One of my favourite hymns is “Count Your Blessings.” Sometimes when we sing that song we break in between verses to name some blessings that God has given us. It is a fun way to remind ourselves of His blessings to us.

When we do that however we are only able to touch on a few things that he has accomplished for us. As David says in Psalm 40v5 “they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee.” In today’s English we would say, “I can’t even list and tick off your wonderful works and your thoughts toward me. There are more than I can possibly count.

Do we have that kind of attitude towards God’s blessings? Do we always remember that He has done more for us than we can possibly imagine. It would be interesting sometime to try it and see what happened. Every breath we take and every time our hearts beat are reminders that God gives us more than we can count.

Isn’t that a great motivation to live a life of gratitude to Him?

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Many shall trust in the Lord

“And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.” - Psalms 40v3

What is going to bring people to put their trust in the Lord? It is something that too many Christians do not take to heart. Christians should be full of songs of praise in their daily lives.

When we are saved God places a new song from Him in our hearts. This song is one of consistent praise to Him. When we have this song of praise in our hearts many will see it in our lives. When they do people will see God for who He is and reverence Him, then they will put their trust in Him.

How are we doing showing the song of praise that God has put in our hearts? Does our daily song of praise draw others to fear the Lord and put their trust in Him?

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Though he fall

“Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” - Psalms 37v24

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Since his steps are directed by the Lord when he does fall he will not be utterly cast down. Everyone is going to fall, it is as inevitable as the sun rising and setting. The good man however is not utterly cast down when he does fall.

This reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul writes – “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” When God gives us the privilege of serving Him He will always empower us so that when the hard times do come and we fell troubled, perplexed, persecuted, cast down, and fallen we are not defeated.

It is easy sometimes to feel like Christian in Pilgrims Progress, flat on our back and out of strength, but even then the good man is not totally defeated! We find strength to get up and go again only in Christ!

Monday, 22 May 2006

Delighting in God’s way

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” - Psalms 37v23

The steps of a good man are laid down by the Lord and the good man takes joy in walking in those steps. Not only are we told that God has a path for us to walk, we are also told that the good man is going to take delight in walking in those steps.

Was does it mean to delight in the steps God lays down? It means that we take absolute joy in doing what God wants us to do. It is tempting to walk in God’s steps, but do grudgingly, with almost a martyr’s complex. This is not the kind of service in which God takes delight. He is delighted with us when we are delighted serving Him.

The steps He lays down are always perfect. We ought to be able to take each and every one of those steps in sheer delight that we are walking exactly the way that God has planned. That means that we delight in the lows as well as the highs.

Can we honestly say that we delight to do God’s will? The good man or woman will do so, do we fit this description of the good man?

Sunday, 21 May 2006

Resting and waiting

“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” - Psalms 37v7

What is the best evidence that God has given us the right desires and that we are trusting in Him to bring them to pass? As hard as it is, the best evidence is the ability to rest in Him and wait patiently for Him to bring it to pass.

It is like a child who has been told by his parents that they are going to make a special trip. It is not always easy to wait for that trip, even when they know it is going to happen. As the child grows older he should be able to learn to trust parents and learn how to wait for the trip.

Parents may not always be able to carry through on their plans, but God is perfect and His promises are assured. When we finally learn that we evidence our maturity by quietly waiting for Him to do as His says. That is the truest test of whether or not we have really learned to trust.

Saturday, 20 May 2006

Delight yourself in the Lord

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” - Psalms 37v4

Psalm 37 begins by trying to help people understand the seeming contradiction between how the wicked sometimes prosper and God’s people may seem to suffer. Verse three says that we are to trust the Lord and to do good. Verse four goes on to give us a vital step in doing this.

Where do we get the ideas of what we desire? Too often it comes from what we see around us. We need a new a new Provider for our desires. When we delight ourselves in the world we have the desires of the world and when that happens we get frustrated over what the world has.

How do we fix that? We need new “wanters” so that we desire the right things. We get the right desires as we learn to delight in the Lord. We desire what we delight in. If we delight in the world we want the things of the world. If we delight in the Lord we desire the things of God.

Delight in the Lord so that He can give us the right desires.

Friday, 19 May 2006

Depart from evil and do good

“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” - Psalms 34v14

Sometimes the word of God can be so basic and so simple that we can just read something and skip over it. Sometimes we as Christians can complicate that which God made plain and easy.

Here is one such example. God sets it down very clearly:

· Depart from evil
· Do good
· Pursue peace

How complicated is that. Can we even imagine what it would be like if we as believers set out every day in God’s strength to do these things. What would it be like if we simply departed from evil, did good at every opportunity, and sought after peace?

Would that day be a day that would please the Lord?

Thursday, 18 May 2006

He delivered me from all my fears

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” - Psalms 34v4

Fear is debilitating. No one can ever hope to get anything accomplished when they are walking in fear. What kind of fears are we talking about? Fear of the future, fear of failure, fear of rejection, and fear of the unknown are some of the fears that can trouble us.

What is behind these fears? For one thing it is not God, for He does not give us a spirit of fear. The basic reason for fear is a wrong focus and lack of faith. We are afraid when we do not trust God. The psalmist wrote “What time I am afraid I will trust in thee.”

Fear and faith are incompatible. They are mutually exclusive. If we are going to succeed in this life we must replace fear with faith. When we seek Him He will deliver us from our fears.

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

I will bless the Lord at ALL times

“I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” - Psalms 34v1

I will bless the Lord at ALL times? How in the world can we possibly ever make that claim? His praise will CONTINUALLY be in my mouth? Surely, that can mean what it sounds like it means. There is no way to always and continually bless and praise the Lord is there? Sometimes things are so bad that God can’t possibly expect us to bless and praise Him at all times and in every opportunity?

Yet, David, while being chased by Saul, was able to claim that he always and continually could give God praise. Praising God is a choice. It is something that we decide to do no matter what is going on and it is based on trusting that God always and continually knows what is going on and is always and continually doing what is best.

When we fail to always and continually bless and praise Him it is because we think that we know better than Him. We are acting in our pride and arrogance to say that God does not know what He is doing. It may not seem like such a bad thing, but it is the epitome of pride to not bless and praise Him.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

A horse is a vain thing for safety

“A horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.”
- Psalms 33v17

Everyone likes to have a safety net. In the days of the psalmist people and nations put their confidence and faith in the size of their armies as determined by the number of horses they had. People are no different today. We no longer trust in horses – today we trust in bank accounts, possessions, friends, and even our church.

All of these things are vain. Nothing is strong enough to deliver other than the Lord. We need to ask ourselves what “horses” we are trusting in today. “Vanity of vanities all is vanity sayeth the preacher.” If we could only learn the lesson of trusting in the Lord instead of our horses.

Monday, 15 May 2006

All His works are done in truth

“For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.” - Psalms 33v4

How often do we wonder what people are up to when they do things? We never know for sure what people do the things they do, especially if we do not know them. They may bed “up to something,” have an agenda, or have some kind of ulterior motive.

With God we need never wonder what He is up to. His word is always right and His works are always true. There is nothing hypocritical, tricky, or hidden on what He does.

Whatever He is doing in our lives we can trust that He is doing without malice or wrong motivation – He is upfront and doing what He says is right.

Sunday, 14 May 2006

Wait, I say, on the Lord

“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” - Psalms 27v13-14

Is there anyone who really likes to wait? Some may do a better job of tolerating waiting in a queue, but there are very few is any who like to wait. We all want to see the things that we want accomplished and we usually want it now/

Waiting on God is the same. When we see some perceived need in our lives we want it taken care of and we want it done now. We easily tire and want God to act according to our timetable.

The psalmist here says that he would have fainted as he waited on God save for one thing; he chose to believe in the goodness of God. When He learned to trust that God is always good he was able to wait on God to act in His goodness. When we learn to do that we can take courage and then we can learn to wait.

Waiting is the clearest evidence of faith in God’s goodness. How are we doing in trusting God’s goodness?

Saturday, 13 May 2006

In times of trouble He shall hide me.

“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” - Psalms 27v5

God never promises that our lives as His children will be trouble free. In fact, as we read the word of God we discover that man’s life is full of troubles, even when we belong to Him.

However, we can find blessed assurance that in those times of trouble we can find a place of refuge and protection in Him. “He will hide me in His pavilion.” We the midst of our troubles we need not be troubled.

Troubles will rage. The storms will blow and at times it may seem as though the storms will never stop. However, there is great comfort for us in the wonderful knowledge that we can find a hiding place in His pavilion. The things that trouble the world around us need never trouble us as we rest in God’s protection.

Friday, 12 May 2006

Show me your ways Lord

“Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” - Psalms 25v4

Many times a day we have choices to make about which way to go. When we make these choices we never know the full impact they will have. Our seemingly smallest decisions can have great impact on the future. Yet, most of the time we just glibly make a decision and go on our way without thinking of the possible consequences. We too often determine the way that we want to go on our own.

The psalmist knew the importance of seeking God’s way. He asked the Lord to show him His ways and to teach him the paths God wanted him to go. When we walk on our own paths, without seeking God we are always prone to err. God’s ways are always perfect, His path is always the right path.

Thursday, 11 May 2006

Some trust in chariots

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
- Psalms 20v7

People put their trust in all kinds of things. Some trust in their bank accounts or their personal possessions. Some trust in their houses or lands. Some trust in their intelligence or college degrees. Some trust in their own wisdom or their physical strength. Some trust in the might of their nation, and some put their trust in the numbers of guns or weapons they own.

The psalmist knew where to put his trust – “…we will remember the name of the lord our God.” Nothing is worthy of our trust other than Him. In the next verse he gives the result of putting faith in chariots or putting faith in Him – “They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.”

What chariots are we trusting in today? Every one of them will let us down, without exception. When we put our trust only in the Lord we will rise up and stand upright.

Isn’t it time to stop putting our faith in our various chariots and to start putting our faith unreservedly in Him?

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Acceptable words and acceptable thoughts

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” - Psalms 19v14

David early on realised the importance of having the Lord’s help in living a life that would please Him. He knew that apart from God’s help he could not think the right thoughts or say the right words. As Paul wrote, our only hope for the right kinds of words and thoughts is the life that Christ now lives in me.

We can make all the promises and commitments we want, but without the Lords help we will always fail.

Indeed Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight Lord, everyday.

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

The Lord liveth

“The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” - Psalms 18v46

If we were to judge by the demeanor of many Christians we would swear that God was dead. Christians worry, fret, fear, and generally act as if everything was totally dependent on them. One would never guess that many Christians have the Creator and Sustainer of the universe as their God.

Too many Christians have adopted and accepted the “God is dead” philosophy, even thought they would never admit it. We can go about our daily schedule as if God were not even there.

Why do we act like God is dead? Why do we worry or get upset when things do not go the way we want? Why do “sweat the small stuff”?

The answer is simple – it is a lack of faith that God is really alive. Think of how liberating it would be if we really comprehended the truth that God is not only alive, but that He is vitally concerned with our lives.

The Lord liveth, lets start living like we believe it!

Monday, 8 May 2006

As for God, His way is perfect

“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” - Psalms 18v30

So often is our lives the way can seem dark and difficult. Sometimes it seems that all we do is stumble in the darkness. Sometimes it seems that around every bend in the road there is a new and hidden danger. In times like this it can be tempting to get off the road and try our own path.

When we walk by sight instead of by sight, when we look on the seen rather than the unseen, these kinds of thoughts are bound to run through our minds. From our perspective the way we walk is far from perfect. However, when we learn to accept truths such as “God’s way is perfect,” then the difficulties will be far less difficult to deal with.

It does require a step of faith to accept that the path where God leads us is the perfect path. His way is always the right way for us. We can’t see around the bend, we can’t see the purpose of the trials and hard times, but we can learn to trust that His way is perfect.

Sunday, 7 May 2006

I will be satisfied with Your likeness

“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” - Psalms 17v15

Psalm 17 is a prayer of deliverance from David’s enemies. In the psalm David mentions some of the things that the enemies have that he seemingly can’t reconcile to God being with him. Yet, at the end of the psalm he closes with a wonderful statement of his true contentment with the Lord.

“When I awake Lord, I will be satisfied with seeing You,” is a rough paraphrase of what David said. David showed his true faith by declaring that all it took for him to be satisfied was to look on the face of God and realise that He was always there.

Just think if we could really grasp the concept that God is always with us. This is a key to true contentment, because if I realise He is there than I can always trust Him to sort things out for me.

Far too often I forget that God is right here with me. I look around and I seem to forget that God sees all that I see and far more. He sees the whole picture.

O that I would learn to say with David, “I am satisfied when I see Your face.”

Saturday, 6 May 2006

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance

“The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.” - Psalms 16v5

Sometimes it may seem that we are not getting our proper share in this life. The world seems to just roll on and on, prosperity is all around us, and it seems like everyone is getting a bigger slice of the pie than we are. Yet Psalm 16t is a poignant reminder that we have the best slice of the pie.

“The Lord is the portion of my inheritance.” When the final last will and testament is read my “cut” is going to be the ultimate one. God is my share of the inheritance. His inheritance is incorruptible, it is undefiled, and it will never fade away. All that we see around us is going to be gone one say. Moth and rust will corrupt, dirt and dust will defile, and fire and storms will make it all pass away.

My inheritance is for all eternity. Praise God that He is my “slice of the pie.”

Friday, 5 May 2006

I will sing to the Lord

“I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” - Psalms 13v6

Psalm 13 starts with David in desperation. He is not sure what God is doing. Since he does not know what is going on he asked God a series of questions.

· How long will you forget me?
· How long will you turn your face from me?
· How long will my enemy be exalted?

We all face times when we don’t know what to do and it is hard to understand what God is doing. Too often I know that I have spent far too much time trying to figure out what God is doing instead of trusting Him.

David did not wait for the situation to improve – he simply decided to trust in God’s mercy and put his hope in God’s salvation. When he made that decision he was able to say, “I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

We have a choice in hard times. We can get bogged down in the trial, or we can trust in the goodness of God and learn to sing praises to Him no matter what the situation.

Thursday, 4 May 2006

The Lord is in His holy temple

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” - Psalms 11v4

The psalmist here was in great distress. He was surrounded by his enemies and it seemed like the very foundations were destroyed. “If the very foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous possibly hope to do?” he asks.

We certainly live in a day and age when it seems our very foundations are destroyed. Standards of morality and decency are gone, few if any recognise that there truly is a standard. Every man does that which is right in his own eyes.

We need not be in despair. Verse four reminds us that the Lord is still in His holy temple, His throne is in heaven, and he is carefully watching over each of us. The phrase “his eyelids try the children of men” indicates that He is carefully scrutinising all that is going on in our lives.

Praise God that even as the props are being knocked out the Lord is still in His holy temple, His throne is still in heaven, and He is watching out for us.

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness

“I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.” - Psalms 7v17

When do we have the easiest time praising the Lord? The answer is obvious – it is easiest to praise the Lord when things are going well and He is doing things that seem best to us. We tend to have a harder time praising God when things do not go well. It is hard for us to praise God when sickness, death, financial struggles, and family problems dominate our lives.

Why is it easier to praise God when things are going well? Part of the problem is that we have an improper praise perspective. The psalmist had it right – he decided to base His praise of something that never changes. He decided to praise God for His righteousness. An older English word was “rightwiseness” and it gave the picture that it is God’s nature to do that which is right.

If we could learn to walk by faith that God does right we could praise Him in every situation for He is always doing the right thing. He has to, that is His nature.

This requires that we walk by faith, not by sight. May we each learn to praise God for that fact that He always does right.

Tuesday, 2 May 2006

The Lord sets apart them that are godly

“But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.” - Psalms 4v3

When we were saved we were declared godly only on the merit of the finished work of Christ on the cross. When He does that He sets us apart to Himself, divides us from the world, and sanctifies us as His own.

Because He sets us apart from the world He is always there for us and hears us when we call out to Him. We can rest assured at all times that we are His, set apart to Him, and He hears our prayers.

Since we are set apart by Him, it is incumbent on us to live as “set apart ones.”

Monday, 1 May 2006

I laid me down and slept

“I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.” - Psalms 3v5

Sleep is a precious commodity. Everyone enjoys and good nights sleep and sleep deprivation can be debilitating if left unchecked. One of the greatest threats to sleep is fretting and worrying over what might or might no happen.

When David wrote this psalm was running from his son who was trying to take over the kingdom. His life was in grave danger, yet he was able to say that he laid his head down and night and went to sleep. How could he do that? How do you think you would sleep if you knew that the enemy was at the gate?

David knew the secret – “The Lord sustained me.” When the Lord sustains us we have nothing to fear. When he sustains us we can have courage though the enemy surrounds us.

The key to a good nights sleep is simple – remember that we are sustained by Him and therefore we have nothing to fear.