Wednesday, 30 November 2016

My hiding place

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah – Psalm 32.7

We are seeing a lot in the news today about safe places and hiding places to deal with bad news. A lot of people have a lot of opinions about these ‘safe places.’

We can’t let all of these comments our ‘safe places’ distract us from the real truth that we all do need safe places, or as the psalmist puts it, a ‘hiding place.’

It is true that we have to engage with this world. There is no other way for us to reach it if we don’t engage it. That means we have to be out then in the world day after day.

And as we are out there we are going to encounter things that run contrary to our thinking and philosophy and beliefs and way of life. The pressure to submit or conform can be awesome.

But no matter where we are or what is going on around us we have a true hiding place of safety and security. Even in the midst of a ‘crooked and perverse’ generation we can run to our hiding place and commune with our God had find comfort and solace with Him.

We all need our hiding place from time to time – thank God we find our sheltered in His loving arms.  

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Our preserver

Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.  – Psalm 31.23-24

Thank God for His mighty power of preservation, especially in the light of what is going on all around. We would have no power to preserve ourselves in this mess.

I think about me and how easily I can slip into the ways of the world. The evil corrupting influences of this world are seeking to get in. When we want to preserve food for a while we make sure that it is in a sealed and airtight container. If there is any way for bacteria to get in it will affect the food and eventually spoil it. Food producers add preservatives to keep food from rotting.

As Christians we are susceptible to rot setting in. We won’t be destroyed by it, but us sure can make us stink. If we don’t keep on guard and let God preserve us from this present evil generation we are going to find ourselves in trouble.

But we can rejoice that God will preserve us for the rot and the stench of the world. Because He preserves us we can be the ‘sweet smelling aroma’ that Paul writes about to Corinth.

We don’t have to be stinking Christians if we will trust God to preserve us from the rot around us. Then we can make a difference in that world. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

I shall not be moved

Now in my prosperity I said, "I shall never be moved." LORD, by Your favour You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled. – Psalm 30.6-7

I am old enough that whenever I read this words the first thing that comes to mind is the old song that was sung in the protest marches of the 60s. Even if people don’t remember it will have heard it.

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's standing by the water
We shall not be moved

Originally this was an African-American spiritual with its roots in slavery. It expressed the faith that no matter how bad things got the people’s faith would never be moved.

I suspect, though I don’t know, that the song was based on a passage like this one. The psalmist was sure that God’s favour made his mountain strong and because of that he would not be moved no matter what happened.

I wish my faith was more like that. Too many times I have been shaken by that phone call or that email or that text or that letter or that Facebook post. If I had the psalmist's faith I too would not be moved when this stuff happened.

There is a great old gospel song I love that we don’t hear much anymore. These words from ‘Beulah Land’ still encourage and bless me. We need not be moved when stuff happens to us. We can stand firm and solid with our God as our salvation.

Far away the noise of strife upon my ear is falling;
Then I know the sins of earth beset on every hand;
Doubt and fear and things of earth in vain to me are calling;

None of these shall move me from Beulah Land.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The voice of the Lord

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; The God of glory thunders; The LORD is over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; The voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, Yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; The LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth, And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, "Glory!" – Psalm 29.3-9

The first time that we read about God we read that His Spirit is hovering over the unformed heavens and earth.

But the first time we encounter God in His word, appropriately enough, we hear His voice. The first thing that we meet God we hear His voice – and God said ‘let there be light’ and  for the next week we hear the voice of the Lord over and over again speaking all of creation into existence.

Then we come to this psalm that talks about all that the voice of the Lord does

The voice of the LORD is powerful;
The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, Yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; The LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth, And strips the forests bare;

God speaks – and things happen. God speaks – and things change. It is His voice that reflects His nature. His voice reflects His power.

And yet God’s voice can be that still small voice that spoke to Elijah when he was hiding in the cave in despair.

And His voice is also a voice of comfort. It is God’s voice that Adam and Eve heard in the garden as they walked with Him. The songwriter captured this in the hymn ‘I Come To the Garden Alone.’

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

God’s voice was indeed heard to disclose Jesus when He said ‘this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’

God’s voice – what a concept. Let’s be sure we listen for His voice. Then let’s be sure we listen TO His voice. 

Saturday, 26 November 2016

He has heard

Blessed be the LORD, Because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.  - Psalm 28:6-7

I think we have all been in situations where we are talking to someone and then we suddenly realise that they have not heard a word we have said. Chances are that we have done the same thing to others and suddenly realised that someone is talking to us and we have totally missed it.

I think sometimes we think that may think the God does the same thing to us. We pour out our hearts to God and then what we think should happen doesn’t happen and then we start to think that maybe He didn’t hear us.

But God does hear his children when we call out to Him. David said ‘bless the Lord because he has heard the voice of my supplications.’ David said that he was helped in his trouble when his heart trusted God.

And then He rejoiced because God heard him pray.

There is great comfort in knowing God hears our prayers because even if we don’t get what we want we know that God heard and we can trust Him to do what is best.

For us to succeed when we don’t see things going our way there are two things we must trust by faith.

We must trust that God hears us
We must trust that He is going to do best

With that in mind we can always pray in total confidence and rejoice even before He answers.

I too can bless the Lord because I find comfort in the fact that He hears me! 

Friday, 25 November 2016

How can I be afraid?

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident. - Psalm 27:1-3

There seems to be an awful lot to be afraid of today. Politics, the economy, terrorism, crime, and corruption are all rampant. The future is scary. If we stop and think about it too much I think most of us would be terrified apart from one thing.

That one thing is what David clung to. He knew he need not be afraid because the Lord was the strength of his life. That’s a really good thing to remember because if I were the strength of my life I would surely be defeated because I am nothing but weakness.

If I could truly trust that the Lord was the strength of my life how could I possibly be afraid? When my children were little they never worried about food being on the table or bills getting paid or any of those kinds of things. They trusted me to take care of those things and didn’t worry.

And yet, even after all these years, I go through spells when fear can almost overwhelm me. Sure, I don’t like to call it fear. I call it worry or even fretting, but those are just nice words for fear.

But how can I fear if I really believe that God is who he says he is? I don’t face the same kind of military enemies that David did and still worry sets in. When we worry, and I hope I am not the only one, we really aren’t trusting the God who we claim is Father.

Lord, I need the faith to say that no matter what comes my way, I will be able to say with David ‘My heart will not fear…in this I will be confident.’

I do believe Lord, help my unbelief. 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

A voice of thanksgiving

That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works.  – Psalm 26.7

It is just coincidence that we came across this passage on American Thanksgiving. We have been in Ireland for a long time now. Thanksgiving is just another day here. Everyone goes about their business, schools are in session, and apart from maybe a brief mention of radio or the telly no one would even know.

But, for all these years, it is the one Americanism we have clung to. We still do the whole dinner bit and focus on the things we are thankful for. We have loads of family for dinner and even more friends and neighbours in the evening. It is one of highlights of the year.

I like keeping this day because of why it exists. In a culture where the majority of society saw what they had as a blessing of God we had a more grateful attitude in general. As the early settlers of Massachusetts celebrated their autumn feast with their new native friends they knew that God was worthy of their thanksgiving.

What a great reminder for us on this day. The psalmist prays that he would speak out with a voice of thanksgiving as a testimony to his people. All of us should have the goal of being a voice of thanksgiving in this world that needs to hear from a thankful people. It may not seem like there is a lot to be thankful for with the news we hear every day. If we are not careful we can forget about all that God has done for us.

As the children of God we ought to be the ‘voices of thanksgiving’ in a world that is mostly unthankful. What a difference we could make if we Christians were known as thanksgivers instead of complainers and whingers.

Lord, help me to be a voice of thanksgiving, not just today, but every day and in every way. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Guide me

Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. – Psalm 25.4-6

Show me Your ways
Teach me Your paths
Lead me in Your truth and teach me in it
I will wait for you
Remember Your mercies and love

What a wonderful prayer of submission and supplication.

David was seeking answers. He knew deep down in his heart that God was in control.

But David was a man of flesh just like us. We know from other scriptures that there were times when his faith was weak.

But here he sucks it up and turns his thoughts toward God. David decides to let God sort things out.

He asks God to show him the right way to go. Only God’s way will work in the long run. There is a way that seems right to us, but end of those ways are death. He asks God to teach us His way – and He does that through His word. He asks God to lead him in truth and teach him in truth – something God does for us in the Holy Spirit.

With that knowledge we ought to be able to wait on the Lord because of His love and His mercy. There really is no place for our fears and anxieties if we believe that He is leading us and guiding us and directing us and teaching us.

How can I fear, indeed. Jesus is near. And He ever watches over me.*

*From ‘How Can I Fear’ by Ron Hamilton

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The king of glory

Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. – Psalm 24.8-9

The first part of Psalm 24 sings praises and exalts the king of glory and describes His power and might. These are great words of encouragement.

But just to make sure God makes it clear. The psalmist ask the question ‘who is this king of glory?’

We might ask ourselves the same question. Who is the king that gets the glory in our lives? For some, sadly, we might try to be the king of our own lives and we might glory in all that we can do or all that we have done. We may think that we are the ones who have the strength and the might to carry through the years to come. We might trust our bank accounts or possessions or our own ability to be the king to glorify in our lives.

But there is only one king of glory and here he is revealed to us as the only one who can come in and receive the glory.

The Lord, Jehovah, Yahweh, is our king of glory who is ready to come in and take control. The Creator and sustainer of the universe is our king of glory. He wants to come in to our uplifted heads. We don’t need to be looking down hearted because this is of our King of glory!

Monday, 21 November 2016

The Lord's my shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever. – Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is probably the most well know passage in scripture. These 117 words in English have been a constant source of support and blessing and comfort and encouragement for a whole range of people, some of whom don’t even recognise the Shepherd as their Lord.

That’s fine. If the word of God can provide some comfort in a tough time that is a nice added benefit.

But for those of us who are His sheep these are more than just a few comforting words. They are mighty promises that we can hold on to in this troublesome old world.

Our Great Shepherd meets our needs. He gives us rest. He guides us. He restores us. He leads us in righteousness.

Even in evil days I don’t have to fear evil because God is with me. We find comfort in his shepherd’s hook and in his staff of protection.

We know from Jesus’ words that He is the Good Shepherd and that the Good Shepherd goes so far as to give His life for His sheep.

The beautiful bit of world literature is more than just a classic piece of writing. It is a precious reminder of our own Great and Good Shepherd. It is a reminder to us of what He does for us.

I hope we never get accustomed to its words. 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

I will declare

I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard. My praise shall be of You in the great assembly; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him. – Psalm 22.22-25

It is interesting to think of ways that God could declare Himself and His works to the world. He could have said ‘let there be light’ and posted a great big lit up sign on the sky every day declaring Who he is and why he is worthy of our praise. He could have laid out the stars so that the heavens were lit up every night with His message. He could have carved His words on the sides of the mountains. All those would have been pretty effective – but eventually we would have grown used to it.

But God chose what to us may seem like the most impractical, improbable, and incredible way of all to declare His word.

What did He do?

He chose us. He chose you and he chose me and he chose all of is weak creatures to proclaim the most wonderful message of all to His creation. We are so flawed and prone to error that it seems impossible. We are so prone to fear and pride that is doesn’t seem like anyone would do it.

But still He leads it up to us, and that is where Psalm 22 comes into play.

I will declare Your name
I will praise Him
Let the whole nation glorify Him

Great principles that don’t change.

When Jesus left earth before going to have He let us know that His plan for proclaiming His word was still up to us when He said ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel.’

If we don’t do the job nobody will. Are we proclaiming His name in our world? Are we sharing His praises? 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

We will sing and praise

Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength!
 We will sing and praise Your power. - Psalm 21.13

When things look the darkest most of us tend to get down. We let the news get us depressed and down because we don’t see our way out. If we’re not careful we can easily forget all about just who our God and all that He is due.

Psalm 21 is a recounting of all that God had done for Kin. He had protected David and his army from the enemies. David knew it was not his strength or his leadership that had protected them. Things were not yet perfect, but God was doing His job.

David was wise enough that he knew he was not due the glory. He had seen what happened when he tried to do things in his own wisdom. He knew who was to be praised.

So he prayed these great words of praise. ‘Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength and we will sing and praise Your power.’

The truth is that God is worthy of our praise-songs in every situation we face. He is worthy of our praise-songs no matter what we are going through. They key to doing this is that we praise God for what He is because that never changes. Our situations are going to change every day, but our God does not.

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Sing, O Earth, His wonderful love proclaim!
Hail Him! Hail Him! Highest archangels in glory;
Strength and honour give to His holy Name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children,
In His arms He carries them all day long.

Praise Him! Praise Him! Tell of His excellent greatness;

Praise Him! Praise Him! Ever in joyful song!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Some trust

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright. Save, LORD! May the King answer us when we call. – Psalm 20.7-9

Some trust in chariots. Some trust in horses. Some trust in dollars or pounds or euro. Some trust in their flags and banners. Some trust in armies and guns and rockets. Some trust their presidents or prime ministers or taoisigh.

All those seem to be worthy of our trust. They are visible and clear and it is easy to sense their presence.

But the problem with all those things is that they are fleeting and apt to fail. Actually, they are more than apt to fail – they are sure to fail. They will always let us down. To some extent everything will let us down eventually.

That’s why David said ‘but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.’

There is only One who will never fail. There is only One we can always remember when things are going wrong. There is only One we can always trust.

We will remember the name of the Lord our God.

Sometimes it is easy to forget God when things get dark. He doesn’t force Himself on us. He is always there, but it is up to us to focus on Him instead of focusing on the bad stuff.

So when things get bad, as they sometimes will, we can choose to focus on the badness and cry and complain. Or, we can choose to remember the Lord our God who has always proven Himself worthy of our trust.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Let the words of our mouths...

Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.  – Psalm 19.11-14

Psalm 19 is a wonderful psalm about how God reveal Himself to the world. We read of how creation itself reveals God to us in what we call natural revelation. We read about how God reveals himself through special revelation in His word. We also read how God reveals Himself to man through our Redeemer as the One who can cleanse us and make us innocent of what David calls ‘the great transgression.’

Those are nearly incomprehensible truths, but a day with growing anger and rancour and discord something else stuck out to me today. Its is David’s prayer at the very end when he prays ‘let the word of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight.’

The ‘meditation of our hearts’ and the ‘words of our mouths’ are inextricably tied together. Our hearts are the source of our words. Our words reveal our hearts. It seems like nearly all sense or politeness and decorum and decency in our speech have flown out the window.

As God's children we must be sure that our words are different. We must be sure that our words reveal God by our testimonies.

So in this psalm we see God revealed through creation. We see Him revealed the His word. We see Him revealed through His son.

And we ought to see Him revealed though our speech.

So let the words of OUR mouths and the meditations of OUR hearts be acceptable in God’s sight.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

I will call upon the Lord

I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies. - Psalm 18.1-3

The psalms are a great source of encouragement and reminders to us when we start to get anxious about what is going on around us. David wrote about how he dealt with the opposition around him.

Here, for example, David starts the psalm with the simple declaration that he is going to love God. He is a determination about what he is going to do. Even when opposed and attacked and surrounded or how things seem in his eyes he has determined to love God.

He gives a lot of reasons for that choice. God is his rock of stability, his fortress of protection, his deliverer, his strength, his trust, his shield and salvation and his stronghold.

So in his despair and the midst of his trouble and fear, and based on his decision to love the Lord no matter what David says ‘I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised and then I will be delivered from my enemies.

There is a deliverance from all this wackiness and evil and brokenness – call on Him who is worthy to praised and choose to love Him no matter what comes our way.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The apple of my eye

Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings - Psalm 17.8

The phrase ‘apple of my eye’ is ancient. Most people think that Moses coined in about 1500 BC. Shakespeare also used the phrase in Midsummer Night’s Dream. The literal translation from Hebrew means ‘the little man of my eye.’ It references the tiny reflection of yourself you can see in someone else’s eye.

This fascinating phrase also refers to the pupil of the eye and the pupil of the eye is connected to the word for pupils in the classroom.

So when we use the ‘apply of your eye’ we are talking about something that is precious and special to the beholder.

When I think of the phrase I think primarily of a parent speaking of a child or a grandparent of a grandchild. It could even include students as the apples of a teacher’s eye. It is someone you love deeply and are proud of.

And that is the context here. The prayer is that we would the apples of God’s eye. That in His sight we are precious and special and something to be proud of. We are God’s ‘peculiar people’ as the wonderful old King James translation put it.

Let’s pray that we would indeed be the apples in God’s eye. We are precious in His sight and we ought to be extra grateful that He holds is in such a special position.

Think about ‘apple of my eye’ feeling for our children or grandchild and remember that we are the apple of God’s eye just like they are too us.

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.  

Monday, 14 November 2016

At my right hand

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope. - Psalm 16.7-9

In this fearsome world we can sometimes get very lonely and that loneliness can cause great fear. There is a lot of bad stuff out there and evil seems to reign so going through day to day life can cause great anxiety.

But David knew the answer. He knew that the key to success was to keep the Lord always before us. We can find stability because God is at our right hand.

I love that image. Although our children are all grown we still have grandchildren around. I love it when they reach out to hold hands. It gives them a great sense of peace and security to have someone they love hold their hand, especially in unusual or different or new situations.

We can have that same sense of security because as we go through our life we can be assured that God is walking by our side to lead and guide and protect us. So we don’t have to fear. We can have hope. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

How does the godly person treat others?

He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbour,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; - Psalm 15.3

Psalm 15 describes the person who walks close to the Lord. It describes several aspects of their character. For these thoughts this morning I want to look specifically about how the godly people deal with their neighbours and with their friends.

A godly person does not backbite (gossip)
A godly person does not do evil to his neighbours
A godly person does not take up an attack against his friends

Godly people are marked by how they treat others. It seems like a lot of Christians have fallen to the ways of the world and mark their spirituality by how tough and mean they can be.

I don’t think it is really all that different today, but social media has made it all that more obvious. Anonymity is no excuse for bad behaviour. Anonymity does not cover up ungodliness.

Godly people are not ugly people. Godly people are not jerks. Godly people are kind and nice and trustworthy. Godly people are good folks. 

Saturday, 12 November 2016

The fool has said

The fool has said in his heart,
 “There is no God.”
 They are corrupt,
 They have done abominable works,
 There is none who does good. - Psalm 14.1

Psalm 14 starts out with the rather well-known words ‘the fool has said in his heart that there is no God.’

Those words make me sad. They make me sad because the majority of the world has decided that there is no God to be reckoned with. If there is no God there is no universal right or wrong and anything can be acceptable depending on the situation. With ‘no God’ as their motto there is only corruption, only abominable works, and no one to do good.’

So it’s not surprising that the fool says no in his heart to God.

What is really sad though is that sometimes God’s people act foolishly when we act like there is no God.

‘How do we do that?’ you might ask.

We act like fools when God is our Father and makes all His promises to us and tells is to trust Him and then we get all out of sorts and doubt that He is there or that He is able.

God says – ‘Lo, I am with you always’ and we say ‘why do I have to go through this alone?

God say that He will provide all of our needs, but we worry and fret about the future and say ‘no God – this is too hard for You. I need to sort this out.’

When we act that way we are no better than the foolish people who boldly say ‘no God.’ In fact we deny the power of our own God to do what He says. If that’s not saying ‘no God’ I don’t know what it is.  

So let’s act like we believe in who God says He is. That’s just foolish.

Friday, 11 November 2016

God has dealt bountifully

But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
 I will sing to the Lord,
 Because He has dealt bountifully with me - Psalm 13.5-6

A lot of living as God’s people is a matter of perspective. Do we look at things from God’s perspective, or do we see it from a spiritual perspective? Do we look at the seen temporal things or do we look at the unseen eternal things? Do we walk by faith or by sight? Do we focus our thoughts on earthly things or heavenly? The answers to these questions are going to determine how we view God.

David was in trouble from his enemies as usual. On the surface things looked bleak. I think we all know what that feels like. We have all been there.

When that happens we can get discouraged. We can feel overwhelmed and defeated.

Or, we can do that David did. David chose to trust God’s mercy. David chose to rejoice in God’s salvation. David chose to sing to the Lord.

Because God had dealt bountifully with him.

This reminds me of what Paul wrote to the Philippians about how to have joy.

Paul wrote ‘don’t be full of cares’ but instead to instead pray and to pray with thanksgiving in mind. Paul wanted the believers to focus on the bountiful blessings that God has poured out on His people.

We may not always see the bountiful material or physical blessings. Sometimes the things we see do not seem like bounty.

But our spiritual bounties will never fail and it is those eternal unshakeable bounties that we can rejoice in and be thankful for, and when we do we can know the peace of God that passes all understanding in our lives. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The words of the Lord

The words of the Lord are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times. - Psalm 12.6

Psalm 12 is all about how God preserves His people from enemies and opposition. Right in the middle of this passage about God’s preserving power is a wonderful passage of something He uses to preserve us.

God’s words are pure words like they have been tried in a furnace and purified seven times.

The picture is a clear one. Years ago I was with a friend in Birmingham, Alabama. Too put it simply we were lost in one of the industrial parts of the city. As we drove by massive steel mills we could look over and see molten steel being poured from one vat to another. The steel was being purified by heat.

God’s word has been tested over and over and over again though history. There have been many attempts to destroy it, but still it stands purified by the test of time – and God has kept it pure and it will preserve us as His people no matter what we face.

God’s word will endure forever and as long as God’s word endures His people will also endure. The gates of Hell will not prevail against God’s word or His people. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

He loves righteousness

For the Lord is righteous,
He loves righteousness;
His countenance beholds the upright – Psalm 11.7

Righteousness is not one of those popular common place words today. We don’t talk about righteousness a whole lot. He seems kind of old fashioned and passé. We have a lot more to deal with than righteousness.

The older word for righteousness was rightwiseness. At its simplest it is simply doing right. Theologically it is the state of being right with God and acting right with God.

God is righteous. God loves righteousness. God looks with favour on the upright.

God is righteous, no man is righteous. So how does all this work out?

At salvation the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. We become righteous with His righteousness. When we finally get to heaven our righteousness will be perfect and complete.

But in between we have the problem that even though Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us we still live in our flesh. That flesh makes living a righteous life just a little difficult.

So in between our imputed righteousness and our perfect righteousness we are called to strive to live in righteousness today. We have the power to live righteously because of what Christ did on the cross. Our challenge is to make those righteous choices from day to day to day.

We can’t do that on our own. We need His help to live righteous lives. But since He loves righteousness He will give us what we need to live righteous lives. 

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Lord is king

The Lord is King forever and ever;
The nations have perished out of His land.
Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear,
To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
That the man of the earth may oppress no more.- Psalm 10.16-18

I think it is pretty common knowledge that today is the day of the presidential election in the United States. With this particular election and these particular candidates the whole world will be paying attention. It seems to many of us like a certain lose-lose situation. It does seem like ‘the nations have perished out of His hand.’

What is going to happen? What news will we wake up tomorrow? Which of the two choices is going to have a huge impact on the US and on the world?

I don’t know. No one knows for sure.

But dare I be so trite as to say ‘it really doesn’t matter’ to the believer? Of course it does matter how our lives might change. It does matter when it comes to laws and political freedoms and such.

But when it comes to citizens of the heavenly kingdom God is still king. He still sits on his throne and despite what some claim no one can kick God out of schools or governments or societies. God is still there and always has been. He is king and He sits on His throne and there is nothing any American president or any other national leader can do to change that.

Our God is King. The Lord is still on His throne. He is in His holy temple. Nothing about this election will change that for America or any place else on earth. Tomorrow morning we will probably know who wins the election, and that’s fine. There will almost certainly be an uncertain future. But we can always, always know that our God is still our true King.

God will still be King tomorrow, so let’s not get too upset about the news tonight.  

Monday, 7 November 2016

Nothing but men

Arise, O Lord,
Do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged in Your sight.
Put them in fear, O Lord,
That the nations may know themselves to be but men.
 Selah- Psalm 9.19-20

The world thinks it is in pretty good shape at the moment. There seems to be a mindset that we have finally thrown off all the constraints that God would put on us. And, to be honest, it looks from our news feeds that they might be right. There is not only a sense of godlessness but an exalting in that godlessness.

Man has grown to think he is a lot more than he is. Apart from God’s love and His mercy and His grace man is nothing. Apart for what God allows man can do nothing. There would be not great technologies, no great nations, and no great advances apart from the gifts that God has given all men.

One day the world will have to realise that it is only made up of mortals. While we are so precious and loved by God that He sent His Son to die for us, without God we are not really that great. Mortals thought they could build the Tower of Babel so they could stay close together and make a great name for themselves, but God put an end to their works.

And mortals today are still mortals. We are just men and God is God. There is a great gulf between us and Him and only we can span it. All of our best human efforts come to naught without Him.

We are nothing but men, limited in our abilities and our wisdom and our logic. That is why we need an all-knowing, all-seeing, ever-present, eternal, and unchanging God to guide us. 

Sunday, 6 November 2016

What is man?

O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!
Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him? – Psalm 8.1-4

God’s creation was perfect. God’s name was excellent and He showed that excellence from the smallest of the small to the greatest of the great. David said that as he saw the heavens and the moon and the stars he was struck by the question – ‘what is man that God should pay him any attention?

But God is mindful of man. We are created in His image and are precious in His sight. We deserved to be overlooked when Adam and Eve sinned, but we are worth so much more to our God.

The key evidence of that is the last verse – what is the son of man that You visit him?

We don’t deserve any interaction from a holy God. But not only does He pay attention to us, He intervenes on our behalf. He, as the psalmist words it, visits us. He visits us in His care and protection and provision.

But I think there is more here. It seems like we have a hint here of an even greater visitation.

On the horizon is the promise that God is going to visit man as man Himself and bring redemption to mankind. One day Messiah will come to visit man as God veiled in human flesh.

What is man? He is God’s precious creation worthy of the death of His own Son. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Deliver me

O Lord my God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me,
Lest they tear me like a lion,
Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver – Psalm 7.1-2

In these tumultuous days people are looking to all kind of sources for protection and deliverance. As I think about world situations and some human reasoning going on it seems that an awful lot of people are making decisions as though their future depends on this or that politician or this or that political party.

We too often look for deliverance from this broken world by this broken world itself.

There is only one source of deliverance for God’s people.

In you, O Lord my God, I put my trust.
Save me from me persecutors
Deliver me

We are not going to leave this world until God’s perfect time. We may have to face enemies and oppression. God may allow us to endure persecution.

But he can still deliver us in the midst of our problems. He delivers us, possibly not by letting us escape the problems, but by allowing us to live above the problems no matter what is going on.

Habakkuk lived in a time of real distress. He talked to God about it and God told him that the trouble was coming, but that Habakkuk needed to trust Him. Eventually Habakkuk came to a wonderful conclusion that explains how God delivers even when the situation doesn’t change in our eyes.

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk chose to see God’s deliverance in the fact that God strengthened him even when there was no visible reason to rejoice. He chose joy because God allowed him to live above all the problems of the world.

We can walk each day with the assurance that we don’t have to live captive to the world, but that God can deliver us with a new attitude to the troubles we face. 

Friday, 4 November 2016

The Lord heard me

I am weary with my groaning;
All night I make my bed swim;
I drench my couch with my tears.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
It grows old because of all my enemies.
Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity;
For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my supplication;
The Lord will receive my prayer. – Psalm 6.6-9

David continues on with a theme here as He once again refers to our beds and sleep and what goes on in our heads during those troublesome night hours. I envy those who read these posts and have no idea what I am talking about. Some folks just go to bed and that’s it. Some of us don’t.

Those of us who don’t sleep well can identify with David here.

I am tired of the midnight moanings and groanings as sleep eludes me. I am tired of the tears, or near tears that consume me in those hours. I grieve because of my fears. My enemies and their attacks grow old.

We may not face real flesh and blood enemies, but our inner enemies beset us with worries and frets and fears.

When we face those times it is the last part of this psalm that we need to remember –

For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my supplication;
The Lord will receive my prayer.

In those hours we must remember that the Lord is hearing our prayers and our tears and He understands us and that He will always receive our prayers.

Those hours are not wasted – God knows.