Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Satisfied with God

For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God. - Psalm 86v10

You are great. You do wondrous things. You alone are God. That all sounds pretty simple, but at the same time it says so much.

While we pursue all kinds of things to satisfy our perceived needs and while we try to figure things out ourselves we miss the point.

We look for greatness and we forget that we already serve the Great One. We chase after wonders and forget that our God does the most wondrous works. We follow after all kinds of false gods and forget that we possess the only true God of the Universe.

Maybe this is why God addresses the issue of contentment so often in the scriptures. Contentment is choice and a realisation that what God gives us is enough. If we are not content with His greatness, with his wonders, and with Him alone as God chances are we are not going to be content with anything else.

'Be content with what you have,' God says, 'for I will never leave you or forsake you.' Considering who He is, that certainly should be enough. 

Monday, 30 May 2011

Righteousness and truth shook hands

Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. - Psalm 85v10

I like history and politics. Therefore I have been aware of political news and historic events for most of my life. One of the images that sticks out in my mind is from September of 1978. With flags waving and all kinds of hoopla President Jimmy Carter announced the Camp David accord. It was a great chance for a photo op and they took advantage of it. President Carter stood between Anwar Sadat and Manacheim Begin. With smiles all around there is a triple handshake as the Camp David Peace Accord was announced. It was happy days all around. Those happy days did not last, but that is not the point here. At the moment two enemies were shaking hands in agreement.

It is the image of the handshaking that stuck in my mind when I read this passage. If the peace talks had not been hosted by a westerner the agreement would not have been sealed with a handshake, but with a kiss on each others cheeks. It is this kiss of agreement that is our focus.

The psalmist writes that mercy and truth have met together. What a great truth that is well worthy of expansion, but today I want to focus on the second half of the verse – 'righteousness and peace have kissed.' For us westerners we might say – righteousness and peace shook hands.

So what does that mean? Why is it such a big deal?

God's righteousness demands perfect justice. Since He is perfectly right in all that He does He cannot ignore sin. Sin must be dealt with. Sin makes us enemies of God. It creates what could be an irreconcilable difference between God and man.

On the other hand we have peace with God. There is this perfect, harmonious, loving, and restful status with God.

How then are God's righteousness and His peace drawn to the point where they can shake hands?

'Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.'

Christ is the great mediator between righteousness and peace. On the cross he drew the two together to shake hands in agreement. Righteousness was satisfied, peace was assured.

While Carter's peace agreement between Begin and Sadat was fleeting, the peace that Christ mediates between righteousness and peace lasts forever.

Praise God that righteousness and peace shook hands at the cross. 

Sunday, 29 May 2011

A Doorkeeper

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. - Psalm 84v10

We live it what is very much a success oriented society. Partly because of that many of us have a desire to do something that seems successful or something that makes us look important. Some jobs are seen as being really important. Doctors, lawyers, executives, and others like that are important people, at least in the eyes of society.

Other jobs are not so 'important' to society in general. One of the jobs that would fit into the ''less desirable' category would be a doorman. Anybody can do that. All you have to be able to do is open the door. It doesn't take a lot if education, skill, or experience to do that. Even a monkey can be trained to open a door.

Of course, in reality, there is no such thing as a bad job. Every job is honourable when it is done well. Our perceptions are based on our success oriented culture.

The psalmist states here that he would rather take the most menial of jobs in the Lord's house that to live amongst the wicked. He knew that any work done for God is more important than any job for the world because of the eternal consequences.

Sure, it is possible to be a success in the eyes of the world and serve the Lord. That is not the issue. The issue is that we seek to serve God, no matter what our task in doing it. 

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Valley of Weeping

As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools. - Psalm 84v6

This is simply a beautiful picture. The word 'Baca' means weeping. If we translate 'Baca' with the rest of the sentence we see 'As they pass through the Valley of Weeping, they make it a spring...'

I don't think anyone needs an explanation of what the 'valley of weeping' means. If we have any experience under our belts we know what it means. Most of us spend a good deal of our lives in the Valley of Weeping.

The Valley of Weeping is a tough place to be. Sometimes it seems like we just can't get the tears to stop. Every bit of news simply adds to our tears. Every word brings more sorrow. It just keeps coming.

So what do we do in the Valley of Weeping? For one thing we can do what comes naturally. We can simply wallow in our tears. We can just settle in, give up, and resign ourselves to a lifetime of despair.

Or we can do what these people did. They turned the Valley of Weeping into a spring of water. A spring of water is cool, refreshing, and invigorating. Somehow these people were able to take their tears and make something good out of them.

When living in that heartbreaking valley we need to decide how we are going to handle it. Will we feel sorry for ourselves and wallow in misery, or will we ask God to for the strength and wisdom to turn those tears into springs?

Friday, 27 May 2011

Open your mouth wide

I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. - Psalm 81v10

'Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.'

What an amazing statement. God reminded the people of who He was and what He had done, then He simply tells them to open their mouth and receive His fullness.

When I read this my thoughts immediately go to a picture of hungry birds in a nest. They have their mouths open as far as they can go to receive from the mother (or is it father?) bird dropping a big, fat, juicy worm in one of their mouths.

I don't think my picture is too far off of what God is offering in this passage.

We are as helpless and weak as those baby birds. The only difference is that these birds are naturally inclined to trust the parent bird for their food while we think that we can do better. Instead of looking up I get busy doing my own stuff and seeking my own solutions. My solution would be like one of those baby birds grubbing about in the bottom of the nest looking for aphids while the parent has that lovely worm waiting for them.

Sometimes I wish I had the sense of those baby birds. I am tired of pecking for aphids when there is a fat juicy worm waiting for me if I would just turn my face upward. 

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth, And they lied to Him with their tongue; For their heart was not steadfast with Him, Nor were they faithful in His covenant. - Psalm 78v36-37

Any of us who have been saved for any amount of time know how to talk the right Christian talk. We can go to church or talk to other Christians or write the right emails or post the right things on Facebook and everyone things everything is okay. We do a good job of 'flattering God with our lips (or keyboards) and look like we really have it together.

Giving a good impression is easy. Backing it up is not so easy.

The people the psalmist writes about here had a problem. While they flattered God with their lips, they were liars. How do we know they were liars?

'Their hearts were not steadfast and they were not faithful.'

God doesn't demand or expect stellar success. He doesn't necessarily look for results. The real test of our walk with God is our steadfastness and our faithfulness.

We know that is true. We read elsewhere that it is required in God's stewards that they be found faithful.

If I look at this passage and examine my own heart I have to wonder if my heart is always steadfast. Does my life manifest that steadfast spirit by staying faithful?

Do my heart and my actions back up my words? If not I am a liar in the worst sense. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Passing it on

We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. - Psalm 78v4

I am starting to get on a little bit. I heard recently that we are not old till our kids turn 50. That is my new view of oldness, at least for a few more years. We are at the point now where our actual in the home parenting role is about to draw to an end. Though our parenting role changes as the years go by, that does not mean by any means that our parenting responsibility ends.

As those years do role by I begin to think about what it really important. I have talked to a couple of friends my age or a little older about this. We realise that we can't change or do everything so we start to see what we can do.

Believe it or not there is a connection in my thoughts here. They apply to the psalmist's words in the verse above.

We are reminded that there are something worth passing on as we get older. After speaking of the works of God the psalmist write 'We will not hide these things from our children. We will tell them of God's praises, His strength, and the wonderful things He has done.'

While we cannot be neglectful of all our tasks, we do have a primary responsibility. God gave us children. They are our primary responsibility. They are the ones who are closest to us. If we lose them have we really succeeded in any other tasks?

Passing it on our children is not something we only do to our children in family devotions. I remember all those days sitting down together and reading 'Keys for Kids' with our little ones. Those were great days and a lot of foundations were laid.

But it really doesn't stop there. We do have a responsibility to be passing it on today. It may not be reading 'Keys for Kids' but it is still there when we face victories and defeats and trials and triumphs with our own next generation.

Let us never stop passing it on. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

But I will remember

And I said, "This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High." I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? - Psalm 77v10-13

Sometimes all it takes it choosing to remember the right things. The psalmist was in the middle of, as he puts it, a time of anguish. The entire psalm speaks of his pain and anguish.

But in the middle of it he made a wise choice. He decided instead of considering all his troubles that he would remember some things. Those remembrances brought him to a comforting conclusion.

'I will remember the years at Your right hand. I will remember You works, Your wonders, and Your ways.' Not only did he decide to remember these things, he also decided to meditate on them and talk about them.

I know that I can get caught up in the doom and gloom talk. The economy is in a shambles. Wickedness is rampant. Politics are a sham. I love to talk and I love to talk about politics and economics so I find myself focusing on these things. When I do that I always find myself discouraged and defeated.

But what would happen if I decided that, instead of focusing on things I could do nothing about I decided to look back and remember what God has done for me? If, instead of dwelling on the wicked I could dwell on the work He has done for me. What if I talked about the goodness of God and my faith in Him instead of all the stuff around me.

Now if I could just remember to remember. 

Monday, 23 May 2011

The proper time

"When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly. - Psalm 75v2

In my lifetime there have been a number of date setters who have told us that Jesus was going to come back on a certain day or time or season. They have used all kinds of convoluted logic to name any number of people as the Anti-Christ. It seemed much worse back in the 70s-80s, but it still goes on today.

I was amazed this last weekend as Harold Camping, once again, had announced the rapture for Saturday just gone. For some reason, be it Facebook or Twitter or a lack of real news or whatever this prediction grabbed the world's attention.

I guess he figured that things just can't get any worse, so it must be time for the Lord to return.

Of course he was wrong. Saturday came and went and we are all still here and there was no world shattering earthquake.

The problem is that we want God to work in our time frame. We get impatient. We forget that He really knows best.

This psalm is God's answer to man's impatience – 'When I choose the proper time I will judge uprightly.' God will do the right thing at the right time. Always.

We have a hard time understanding that at times, but those of us who have children or grandchildren might have an advantage understanding this though.

Children are impatient. When our children were little we often had to deal with that impatience. They wanted what they wanted and they wanted it then and there. Now we have grandchildren and we have the same attitude. They don't really get it when we say 'no' or 'wait.' We know that sometimes their requests are not for the right thing. Sometimes we know that it is just not time. The difference is that we know things they don't.

The same is true with our Father. He knows things we don't. He will do what is what when the time is right. It's about time we stop trying to double guess Him. 

Sunday, 22 May 2011

It is good for me

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works. - Psalm 73v28

Tough times are tough. There is no other way to put it. In the middle of the tough times mentioned yesterday the psalmist came to a conclusion. There was something he could do about it. There was a good to come from all of this.

Psalm 73 is all about trouble, as are many of the psalms. I think God does that because troubles are something everyone can identify with. Though are troubles vary, the concept of trouble itself is a universal one.

So what does the psalmist say in the midst of his own troubles? 'It is good for me to draw near to God.'

Why is that good? Because, 'I have put my trust in the Lord God.'

And what should be the result? 'That I may declare all Your works.'

When the troubles come, and they surely will, it is good to draw close to the Lord. We have, after all, put our trust in Him to get us through those times. Then we can continues to declare His wonderful works to those around us. 

Saturday, 21 May 2011


But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, But their strength is firm...When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me—Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end. - Psalm 73v2-4;16-17

Everything was a mess. I could not figure it out. It seemed like I was getting behinder and behinder and the bad guys were getting better and better. The wicked seemed to prosper while I seemed to suffer. I was always tripping up. I could not get a foot hold. I started to become envious of the wicked around me. They all seemed to have a great time while I struggled with everything. I just didn't get it.


So often in the Bible one word turns things around. The psalmist used most of this psalm to describe how rotten things were. It really looked dark and dismal.


Until what? 'Until I went into the sanctuary of God.' I the psalmist's situation it was when he finally looked to God for answers that he understood the eventual fate of the wicked. When the psalmist looked to the Lord, things fell into place for Him.

We are fortunate in that we can find the answers near to hand. We don't have to 'go' anywhere. Our confusion about life comes from the fact that we, like the psalmist, are seeing the problem instead of the solution.

We too are going to see all the mess, until...

Friday, 20 May 2011

Only wonderful things

Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things! - Psalm 72v18

I will be the first to admit that I don't always 'get' passages like this.

This has been a tough week for a lot of people. Close friends have had a very difficult ministry situation and are looking at a major change to their lives and something of an uncertain future. Another friend has been through a difficult situation involving a relationship. Yet another is facing a whole package of family struggles. Michelle is in another round of treatments and is starting to lose her hair. And so it goes on and on and on.

But the psalmist writes, 'Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things?'

Only does wondrous things? I have to say, from my perspective, His workings don't always seem so wondrous. Sometimes life just stinks. Sometimes it seems like it just doesn't make any sense.

The problem is pretty simple. I am not God.

Joseph had the right perspective when his brothers came to him. They were afraid because they knew that they had plotted against him. Joseph had it right when he said 'You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.' We are reminded in Romans 8 that 'all things work together for good, to those you love God and are the called according to His purpose.'

Everything God does is indeed full of wonder. They are right. They are magnificent. Because He is the only One who is God He is the only One who is going to ever 'get it.' Every time I see these kinds of things I try to go back to the end of Job. It is an awesome reminder of who God is and who we are.

If I don't get it, it is because I am missing His wonder. 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

In the strength of the Lord

I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only. - Psalm 71v16

I saw a Winston Churchill quote on Facebook yesterday. Like many Churchill quotes it is short, succinct, and to the point.

'When you are going through hell, keep going.'

Churchill is also noted for his famous 'Never Give In' speech. 'Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense”

All of that sounds great. It is all inspirational and motivational and all that. When you read it or hear it sitting in a pew it is easy to say 'Amen.'

But the time comes when this preaches a lot easier than it lives. The time comes when our strength runs out. The time comes when we are worn out. Despite the scriptural admonition we do get weary. There is a deep, settled, intense weariness that we all face at times.

Sure, when those times come it is wise to pull apart and get some rest and refreshment.

But at the end of the day we do have to pick ourselves up and go on. The problem is when we go back to doing that in our own strength. We think that we can either keep on going or get back in the battle based in our own ability.


The psalmist knew how to keep on going when the battle got tough – 'I will go in the strength of the Lord.'

That works. That works because nothing is impossible with God. It works because He is our All-Mighty God. It works because He, not us, laid the foundations of the earth. He, not we, controls Pleiades and Orion. It works because He, not we, beholds all things. It works because He, not we, inhabits eternity.

'If we in our own strength confide our striving would be losing. Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God's own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He. Lord Sabboth, his name, From age to age the same, And He must win the battle.'

We must go on. We cannot quit. We cannot give up.

But we must go on the the strength of the Lord. Not our own. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

No limits

My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits. - Psalm 71v15

It seems like I am coming across a common theme these days. Though it is not always obvious from my perspective, that does not change who God is.

In times when it seems like the bad news keeps rolling in, it is easy to get our eyes off of the goodness.

Yesterday was a day of really good news. We had a couple of very clear, very direct answers to prayer. It should have been a day of pure celebration, but I still found myself focused on a couple of situations where I just can't see any good.

Why does that happen? I really wish I knew.

Look at the psalmist here – 'My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all he day, for I do not know their limits.'

I guess it all comes down to how choose to see things. I also think the the Deceiver loves to remind us of the negative so that we forget about God's goodness.

Another enemy is the flesh. When I focus on the negative I focus on my own pride and my supposed ability to solve it.

And still I have to deal with the world. When I see things from the world's perspective I replace but a system on the throne instead of God.

The truth is that God's righteousness and His salvation are blessings without number. While every other power is limited, His ability to deal with things in a righteous manner and to continue to deliver is unlimited.

Father, help me to see your limitless righteousness and salvation when things look so dark.  

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Hoping and hoping and hoping

But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. - Psalm 71v14

Hope is a tough thing sometimes. It can get so tough and confusing sometimes that we are tempted to give up on hope.

We all face times when it seems like there is no reason to hope. Trials and problems and opposition seem to just keep coming and coming.

I recently heard of a book title 'Swamplandia' written by Karen Russell. One quote from the book stuck out so much that he jotted it down. I think it is appropriate here. 'I didn’t realise that one tragedy can beget another, and another--bright-eyed disasters flooding out of a death hole like bats out of a cave.'

This is the reality. This is the way that life really plays out. Most folks reading this can really identify with the author's feelings.

I can't imagine a life like that without hope. It is easy, however, to put our hope in the wrong place. We hope in our own ability. We hope in our bank accounts. We hope in other people. We hope in our governments.

But all of these will fail.

In the midst of his troubles the psalmist the psalmist nailed it. While talking to the Lord he prayed 'I will hope continually, and will yet praise You more and more.'

As hard as it is to understand more troubles are the time for more hope and more praise. I have a hard time with this at the moment, but times of difficulty give us the opportunity to exercise our hope and our faith.

How far short I fall of this continual hope and this continual praise. Lord, I really do believe. Please help me with my unbelief. 

Monday, 16 May 2011

Holding on to sin

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. - Psalm 66v18-19

I have been aware of this verse for a good while. Normally I come across it when I am teaching or preaching on prayer. It is usually a part of a list of verses under the category 'hindrances to prayer.'

That is true. Holding on to sins in our hearts and not dealing with them is indeed a hindrance to prayer. That is not to say that God refuses to hear prayer every time we sin. If that were the case we would be without hope, because we are always going to have to deal with sin.

The problem is that sin that we just don't want to deal with. We harbour sin in our hearts. We treasure our sin more than we treasure our relationship with God. We are serving one master while wanting another Master to hear our prayers and answer our requests.

We really can't have it both ways. We can't serve one master and still expect another to take care of things for us. If we choose to serve sin then we can expect to suffer the consequences.

But I really like the next verse where the psalmist writes – 'But certainly God has heard me, He has attended to the voice of my cry.'

While the concept of 'if I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me' may have negative overtones, 'but certainly God has heard me' is a wonderful blessing.

The answer is simple. If we want to be able to say 'certainly God has heard me' we just need to deal with that sin that we have been 'regarding in our hearts.'

But I really like the next verse where the psalmist writes – 'But certainly God has heard me, He has attended to the voice of my cry.'

While the concept of 'if I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me' may have negative overtones, 'but certainly God has heard me' is a wonderful blessing.

The answer is simple. If we want to be able to say 'certainly God has heard me' we just need to deal with that sin that we have been 'regarding in our hearts.'

Sunday, 15 May 2011


Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men. - Psalm 66v5

Those of us who a little bit older remember when the word 'awesome' became a fad word. While I don't remember the show, there was a television character back in the 70s or 80s whose catch phrase was simply the word 'awesome.' For a while there everything was awesome. The word became sort of a synonym for other slang words like 'cool' and 'groovy.'

Because of that when we see the word used in scripture it seems to have lost some of its impact. Another translation for the word used here is the one the King James translators chose when then picked the word 'terrible.' That doesn't seem to suit either today because our modern minds tend to think of terrible always in a negative sense.

I don't know what word we would use to give us the right idea. The original meaning of the word 'terrible' meant something that is 'formidable in nature.' The word 'awesome' meant what it sounds like, something that inspires awe.

Both of the these words deal with the concept of reverential awe. It is this concept that the psalmist is pointing out here. 'Come and see the works of God; He is awesome (terrible) in His doing toward the sons of men.'

My issue is that sometimes I get so caught up in my own issues and local problems and challenges that I miss seeing the awesome works of God. I see the miserable works of Roger and what he wants to the point that I miss what God is doing.

God is doing an awesome work toward the sons of men. I need to get my eyes off of my failures and desires and wants and wishes and instead focus on His awesome works. 

Saturday, 14 May 2011


Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple. - Psalm 65v4

Satisfaction is something that I think most of us don't know a lot about. We live in a culture that always demands more. It seems that we always want just a little more. We begin to think it is normal to want more and more. We desire a little more and a little better and as long as we do that we are never satisfied.

The problem with satisfaction is that we seek it the wrong place. We seek satisfaction in the things of this world where, we 'can't get no satisfaction.' We have our affection on the things of this world. We look at the things we can see instead of the things we cannot see. The problem is that the things that give us the most satisfaction are the the things that 'moths and rust' corrupt and where 'thieves break through and steal.' These things are the temporal things that pass away. Its funny that the things that give us the most satisfaction are the things that are not going to matter in the long run.

The psalmist had it right. 'We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house' he wrote. The goodness of God's house is one thing that does not pass away. It is the eternal thing.

We don't find satisfaction because we want the wrong things. Pretty simple.  

Friday, 13 May 2011


Iniquities prevail against me; As for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them. - Psalm 65v3

This is one of those cases where I really like the good, old fashioned, KJV. (Which, by the way, is celebrating it's 400th anniversary this year.) Though the word 'atonement' fits my devotion I like this wording - 'Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.'

'Purge them away' really is a perfect picture of what atonement is. Atonement is the process by which a sinner has his sin debt with God satisfied. Atonement deals with satisfying, putting away, placating, Or, as the KJV puts it – a purging away.

After all these years I still like the simple explanation for atonement which I learned WAY back in Bible college. I learned then that atonement provided 'at-one-ment.' It is the process by which Christ makes us 'at one' with God. Christ's blood cleanses us, purges us, and satisfies the sin debt. The righteous wrath of God is placated by the gift of His son.

How is at-one-ment accomplished? 'What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.'

Praise God for His atoning power!  

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Night watches

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. - Psalm 63v6

I have mentioned here before that I am not much of a sleeper. I know what it is like to experience the night watches that David talk about here. I often lay asleep at night and often my mind goes wandering off in all directions. I have found through the years that the directions my mind wanders off into are not always pretty.

I might wander off into lustful thoughts. I might wander off into fearful thoughts. I might wander off into angry thoughts. I might wander off into scheming and planning. I might wander off into all that I have to do the next day.

Sadly, unless I force my thoughts in the right direction I rarely wander off into godly thoughts.

David had learned the lesson of remembering God in his own night watches. He knew that the only way to find peace in his own night watches was to remember God and meditate on Him.

Think of the blessedness of doing that. When sleep eludes us and other thoughts press on us. In the middle of the night, when it is quiet and peaceful and there is nothing to disturb us we can stop and mediate on the One who loved us enough to give us this beautiful world. We can consider the love shown by sending His son to die for us. We can stop and think about the many blessings He provide. We can rest in the fact that even in the hardest times we know that He understands and there by our sides.

Instead of letting our natural thought in those night watches, lets stop and consider our Lord and meditate on Him. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

At all times

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah – Psalm 62v8

Sometimes it is the simplest truths that have the most impact. I think this is one of those verses.

The first few words seem simple enough – 'trust in the Lord.' Most of us could say that we generally agree and practice that. We tend to trust the Lord. We know that He is in control and that He has the ability to take care of us. We know that He has ways and plans that are not the same as ours, so we can basically trust Him.

It is the next three words that make it tougher. 'Trust in the Lord – at all times.' At least, that is where it gets tough for me. I do really well trusting the Lord in the everyday stuff. I do okay when there are the little difficulties that we face. My truster, however, doesn't normally work so well at those times when it is really hard to understand what is going on.

But the verse still challenges us to trust the Lord at all times. How do we do that?

The nice thing is that the end of the verse has the answer – 'Pour out your heart to Him because He is our refuge.'

We can trust Him at all times because He asks us to pour out our hearts to Him no matter what. He is constantly our place of refuge.

I also like the end of this verse – He is a refuge – for us. He really does care. He doesn't want us to fret and worry and despair. He provided a refuge for us if we could just learn to apply that truth at ALL times, even when things seem dark and hopeless. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

I will wait

I will wait for You, O You his Strength; For God is my defense. My God of mercy shall come to meet me; God shall let me see my desire on my enemies. - Psalm 59v9-10

And here we are back to waiting again. We just flew back from the States on Saturday and Sunday. There are a lot of things you are unsure of while flying. Will the food be good? Will the plane be full? Will the weather be good? These questions and others are what makes flying so, shall we says nicely, so exciting.

There is one thing you can always be sure of though – you are going to wait. You get to the airport and wait to check in. You get to your gate and wait. If you make a connection you go through the whole process again.

Then you have the added waits. In our recent trip three of the four flights were delayed on the tarmac after we had loaded. Those are the most frustrating delays because you are crammed in that plane and not going anywhere.

Sometimes the problem is just paperwork. Sometimes it is rude people who just don't get to the gate on time. Sometimes it is incompetence. For the purpose of this illustration we are going to leave those aside.

Sometimes we sit on the plane and wait because there is some last minute maintenance that has to be carried out. These can be very simple things, but when you are flying even the simple things can be important. I once a documentary about a flight that crashed just because a piece of tape was left over a pressure sensor. The problem is that we don't know wall this so we sit on the plane at wait, and wait, and wait.

I find that there is a lot of waiting in life. We don't always know why, but God knows. He knows when some maintenance needs to be done in our lives before we 'fly.'

Maybe we need to trust God to perform the required maintenance on us before we get in such a rush.  

Monday, 9 May 2011

Hunkering down

To the Chief Musician. Set to "Do Not Destroy." a Michtam of David When He Fled from Saul into the Cave. Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by. - Psalm 57v1

Sometimes the calamities of life get so bad that we just really feel like we cannot cope. I think we have all been there. We know the truth that we have to get up, to stand, to hold on, or to fight back. That's great, it is wonderful, it is Biblical.

But sometimes the storms and calamities are just too much.

I think back less than fortnight when the storms battered North Alabama. As wave after wave hit there was nothing people in the paths could do about it. All anyone could do was to find a safe place, hunker down, and wait it out.

This is the kind of situation David addresses here. I normally kind of skip over the introductions to the psalms, but this one sets the stage for the psalm itself. The psalm was set to the tune of 'Do Not Destroy.' David wrote it when he was hiding from Saul in a cave. He was physically hunkering down.

While there he makes a wonderful application. He asked God for mercy. He trusted God. Finally, he 'hunkered down' under God's protective wings until the current calamity had passed.

I wish I was a writer sometimes. I can think of the wonderful picture of tiny birds sheltering themselves under their mother's wing when a storm hits. I can see her gathering them and settling in preparing for the winds and rains to strike. I can see the wind howling and the rain pelting down an her as she protects her children. I just can't put that down in flowery writing and picturesque words.

But hopefully you get the picture. No matter how bad the storms we can find protection. We are not just crawling into a cold, hard cave or storm shelter. While the worst storms are raging we can find protection under the loving wings of the one who can always keep us safe.

'Till the storm passes over. Till the thunder sounds no more. Till the clouds roll forever from the sky' God offers us the protection of His wing.

Sometimes we just need to shelter there. 

Sunday, 8 May 2011

I will praise His word

In God (I will praise His word), In the LORD (I will praise His word), - Psalm 56v10

What could inspire the kind of confidence that David wrote about when he said 'God is for me?' How did he know that everything was going to be okay. How could he know that eventually the enemy would be defeated?

The answer is right there before us – 'In God (I will praise His word). In the Lord (I will praise His word). David put his faith and his confidence in the Lord because He knew that the Lord's word was trustworthy. That is where he found his confidence – in the word of God.

David only had a glimpse of the word of God. He only saw it in bits and pieces. We have the whole thing intact, right here before us. If David could praise the word of God as his confidence how much more should we praise it today? We don't have to wait for a proclamation form God or from some prophet to come along and tell us something about God's word. All we have to do is to take it off our shelves and use it.

What a shame when we something for which we should give praise and we don't give it the praise it is due!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

God is for me

When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the LORD (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? - Psalm 56v9-11

These are scary days. I spoke with a pastor friend last night who is going through a very through a very tough time with his church and some people in it. It seems like no matter where we turn or how we try to serve we run in to opposition. We expect that opposition to come from the outside, but sometimes we get hit by it from the people and sources and people we would least expect it.

This is tough. Most of us don't like conflict. We like things to go along peacefully and amicably. It would be wonderful if we could just go through a peaceable and quiet life without fears or opposition.

But that is not how it works. When we try to serve God and please Him the great enemy himself will oppose us at every turn. He will fight us tooth and nail. He can even turn our friends against us. Our enemy is not them, our enemy is not even the lost who oppose us. Our enemy is the wicked one, the old dragon, Slewfoot, 'ye olde deluder Satan,' the devil, the accuser, the adversary, the evil one, the father of lies, Lucifer, the serpent, the tempter, the wicked one, and the enemy of all righteousness.

So what do we do in the face of this great ancient enemy? We say with David, 'When I cry out, my enemy will turn back, this I know because God is for me.' The thing Satan most desires is for us to sense despair and defeat.

We need not give in. The great liar will one day be defeated. If God is for is, and He is, who can stand against us?m, our enemy is not even the lost who oppose us. Our enemy is the wicked one, the old dragon, Slewfoot, 'ye olde deluder Satan,' the devil, the accuser, the adversary, the evil one, the father of lies, Lucifer, the serpent, the tempter, the wicked one, and the enemy of all righteousness.

So what do we do in the face of this great ancient enemy? We say with David, 'When I cry out, my enemy will turn back, this I know because God is for me.' The thing Satan most desires is for us to sense despair and defeat.

We need not give in. The great liar will one day be defeated. If God is for is, and He is, who can stand against us? 

Friday, 6 May 2011

Wanderings and tears

You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? - Psalm 56v8

This is such a beautiful picture of a tender, caring, compassionate God. The psalmist was in forced exile. His enemies were pursuing him. He was away from home and family. It was a time of great despair.

And yet he knew that he was not going through it alone. He knew that there was Someone there who was watching over him. He had Someone who cared. God was keeping track of his troubles. He was keeping his tears in a bottle. He was keeping track of at all in a book. God knew.

I especially like the picture right in the middle. 'Put my tears in Your bottle,' David wrote. Some Bible scholars speak of a 'lachrymatory.' This was a 'tear bottle' which the Romans and some other used in times of mourning to collect the tears of those hurting as a remembrance of their sorrow.

I have always wondered about that illustration. When I try to imagine someone with a little bottle trying to scrape tears off the cheek of someone in mourning it doesn't click to me.

Spurgeon and others have a different view, one that makes sense to me. The psalmist uses the word for 'wineskin.' Here is what Spurgeon writes - 'His sorrows were so many that there would need a great wineskin to hold them all. There is no allusion to the little complimentary lachrymators for fashionable and fanciful Romans, it is a more robust metaphor by far; such floods of tears had David wept that a leathern bottle would scarce hold them. He trusts that the Lord will be so considerate of his tears as to store them up as men do the juice of the vine, and he hopes that the place of storage will be a special one--thy bottle, not a bottle.'

I like that. I certainly cannot 'outword' Spurgeon so I won't even try. It is a great comfort that in our times of deepest pain and despair God knows all about it. He cares enough that he holds and remembers our greatest pains. He is there by our side.

Praise God that He is with us in our pain. 

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Whenever I am afraid

henever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? - Psalm 56v3-4

We all know that fear can be debilitating. I have a few things that I am afraid of. I guess my biggest fear is heights. Well, not heights actually, but the fear of falling off of them. I can almost make myself ill just by thinking about looking over an edge. I can't even watch a video of someone climbing a tower out in the open air. In fact, I am feeling a little queasy even thinking about it now.

I am also afraid of rats. Those little monsters terrify me. In fact, I don't like any little four legged furry creatures.

We all have these kinds of fears. It is just a part of life and we learn to deal with them or ignore them. We get used to them and they usually are not that bad.

There is yet another kind of fear though. There is that life wrecking, heart stopping, gut wrenching fear of what life is going to bring. It is the fear that comes when we get 'that' phone call or 'that' email that just rocks us to the core.

This is the kind of fear that the psalmist addresses here. He writes that in the times that he is most afraid he will simply put his trust in God as He reveals himself in his word. He knows that flesh and blood can do nothing to him outside of God's will because greater is He that is in him than he that is in the world.

'How can I fear,' the songwriter writes, 'Jesus is near. He ever watches over me. Worries all cease, He gives me peace. How can I fear with Jesus?'

Life is scary. It doesn't get any better as the years roll by. You would think that by the time a guy gets to middle age and been saved 35+ years ho would learn to put his trust in God and not be afraid, wouldn't you?

I think part of the problem is that what I mostly fear is my inability to handle those situations combined with an unwillingness to trust Him.

Lord, remind me in the times that I afraid that there is no need. Help me to trust You instead of myself in those times. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Storms and sustenance

Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. - Psalm 55v22

At the moment we are away in Huntsville, Alabama. A week ago today we awoke to the weather alert radio screaming and weather sirens howling. Starting about 5.30 in the morning a series of massive storms hit this part of the country. High winds, heavy rain, and hail hit in wave after wave. Mid-morning the tornadoes started. After a brief reprieve things turned ugly in this part of the state as a whole series of massive tornadoes hit the region.. Stores and shops were destroyed, homes damaged or wiped out, and people killed and injured. It was a day of incredible tragedy and a week later things are just getting back up and running.

One of the things destroyed was the connection to the power source for virtually all of North Alabama. All of the connector feeds to the nuclear plant which provides power were cut. The massive towers which carry electricity we twisted like toys. As a result virtually no one in the northern half of the state had electricity. While a minor part of the overall picture the source that most people rely on for their daily sustenance was cut off. Those fortunate to still be alive or have their homes had to find an alternate source of sustenance as the days went by. The Red Cross and other agencies, including a massive army of volunteers stepped up to provide food, clothing, water, and other necessities to those most affected. Those of us who only lost power soon found ways to sustain ourselves until the crisis was over.

The worst is past. This series of storms has gone and left death and destruction in its wake. People are picking up the pieces and moving on. They mourn the loss of loved ones who were taken, but realise that we have to get on with life.

While many will never have to face this type of natural disaster, we all face times of storminess in our lives. At times it seems almost like last Wednesday when the tornado sirens just kept sounding. I remember thinking, several times, 'Oh no, not another one,' and yet they just kept coming. Life can be that way sometimes.

In those stormy times we may wonder how we are going to get through it. I walked through one of the most affected areas last week and wondered, 'what are these poor people going to do?' I have been in places of my life when the storms have hit and wondered the same thing. How do we get through our times of spiritual or emotional storms?

Praise God for the amazing good will of the volunteers, the emergency services, the churches, the Red Cross, and so many others who have stepped up to the plate to provide sustenance for those most affected. Praise Him even more that He will be our sustenance in the storms of our life. People have had to put their lives in the hands of others to take care of them. They have had to 'cast their burdens' on the good will of friends, family, neighbours, and even strangers. I thank God that in my own personal storms we calls on me to cast my burdens on His and rely on Him for sustenance.

If you are reading this during this time, please pray for those without homes and businesses, for those injured by the storms, for those out working to clean up the mess, for those who are still missing. Over 350 people died last week, These are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, and other family relations. Please pray for the families of these folks as they come to grips with this terrible loss.  

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Evening, and morning, and at noon

Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice. - Psalm 55v17

While I find this passage terribly convicting I just have a simple little thought about it this morning. The problem is not with the verse, but with the challenge it presents me.

'Evening and morning and at noon will I pray, and cry aloud,' David wrote. That reminds me a lot of things like 'pray without ceasing' and 'men ought always to pray and not to faint' and things like that.

My problem? My prayer life is more like 'evening or morning or at noon will I pray, well if I think about it.' There are times when my prayer life is not too bad, but there are times when I am more like, 'men ought always to pray, but I too often faint.' 'Pray without ceasing' becomes 'pray when I think about it.' I do okay at home and in a routine, but take me out of that and this kind of praying is the thing I let slip.

That is terribly sad. I am challenged once again by David's words here. I am just grateful that we have a God who doesn't give up on us. I want to be that 'evening and morning and at noon' kind of pray-er. I want to he that 'pray without ceasing' and 'always praying' kind of guy.

Thanks for the gentle reminder Lord.