Sunday, 30 April 2017

Man's ways are before the Lord

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He ponders all his paths. His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, And he is caught in the cords of his sin. He shall die for lack of instruction, And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.  - Proverbs 5:21-23

I hate to be too much of a black and white guy, but when it comes to the ways of the world there are only two ways – there is God’s way and there is man’s way. These two ways could not be much more divergent. One is high above the other. One is based on the perfect creator God and one is based on sin cursed man in a broken world full of broken people.

Man’s way is described here. Man’s way entraps him in his own sins. He traps him the cords of his sin. It is the way of death. It always leads man astray.

And it is all laid out before God.

And then He offers His way of truth and righteousness and love and justice and peace. His way does not mean we escape this broken world – His way provides a safe way through it.

Man’s way is without hope – God’s way provides the only hope. 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The principal thing

Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honour, when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you."  - Proverbs 4:7-9

I remember a course on time management I took a long time ago. A lot of managing our time is based on establishing priorities. The most important things on our ‘to do’ lists are often called our A1 tasks.

Even though we may or may not keep a ‘to do’ list on our phone or in our pockets or on a tablet usually have a list of priorities. Sometimes the only way anyone knows our priorities is by what we actually do. There is a saying that is generally true, though it is clearly not perfect. It goes like this – you do what you want to do.

I think we need to ask ourselves what the principal thing in our lives it. Here Proverbs that godly wisdom is the principal thing, so that is what we need to ‘get.’ As we get wisdom and understanding wisdom with lift us up and honour us and crown us with a crown of grace.

We need to decide what is really important to us. We need to go after the principal thing – and the principal thing is God’s wisdom. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

With all your heart

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
 - Proverbs 3:5-7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Don’t depend on your own understanding
Acknowledge God in everything you do
Don’t be wise in human wisdom
Fear the Lord
Depart from evil

That’s a pretty clear cut list. Right in the middle of it is the promise – He will direct your paths.

It starts though with a whole-hearted devotion. There is no such thing as half-hearted Christianity. It has to be an all or nothing thing. Half-heartedness is lukewarmness and we all know how God feels about lukewarm faith.

The problem most of us face in our Christian lives is that we don’t take our faith whole-heartedly. Faith is what we do when we are bored. Trust in God is what we do when our own resources run out. Acknowledging God is what we do when we mess up on our own. We fear the Lord when our awe of the world and ourselves fails us. Departing from evil is what we do when we get caught.

Yet we still want God’s direction. We can have it – all we have to do is meet his standards and forget about always getting things our way. 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Treasure hunting

My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures;  - Proverbs 2:1-4

My only real hobby is something called geocaching. It is worldwide ‘treasure hunt’ which is played in virtually every country on earth and even in orbit on the ISS. These’ treasures,’ or caches are hidden by players and posted on the website Other players go online, find the coordinates, and then use phones or GPS receivers to find them. They can be a tiny container only big enough to contain a logbook to the size of a building. When a player finds one they sign the logbook, perhaps change our tokens or other items, then log the find online. I am only a casual player with less than 600 finds in eight countries and seven states. Many folks have tens of thousands of find. Just this geocaching celebrated 3,000,000 caches around the world. It is great fun, and a lot of the fun is in the hunt.

When you find the coordinates the fun has just started. Now you have to search for the cache. Sometimes they are easy to find, but sometimes you really have to look. You dig through leaves and brush. You crawl into caves and hedges. You get down on your hands and knees or reach up as far as you can to find the cache. You cross rivers and climb mountains and some abseil into deep pits. To those dedicated geocachers nothing gets in the way.

And then the find! Even in this little game there is great joy in discovering the cache. The cache icon on game map is replaced with a smiley face.

What does all that have to do with this psalm?

Search for wisdom as a hidden treasure. Go after it. Swim rivers and climb mountains and reach into dark recesses and take a risk and don’t give up and don’t let anything get in your way. Later we are going to read that wisdom is the principle thing – so get wisdom at all costs. Search for it as you would silver – or a geocache. 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

If sinners entice you

My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. If they say, "Come with us, Let us lie in wait to shed blood; Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; - Proverbs 1.10-11

Proverbs is a marvellous collection of Biblical truth and principles intended for our teaching and application. It is hard to build doctrine on Proverbs, because they are, well, proverbs. That doesn’t affect the fact that they are the inspired word of God, it only tells us how to apply these proverbs.

Here is a proverb about what to do when enticed or tempted by sin and by other sinners.

We don’t need seminars or DVDs or books or lectures on what to do when we are drawn in and enticed by sin.

When sinners entice you don’t give in.

This really is pretty simple. When you are tempted and drawn into situations that may lead to sin you just have to learn to say ‘NO!’ When Joseph was taunted and teased and tempted and tested by Potiphar’s wife he did the only thing he could – he ran!

Avoiding sin is not too complicated. Say no. No way no how. Run as quick as you can. Get away. Turn your head. Don’t consent. Don’t give in. Avoid it. Don’t even pass ny it.

Just say no!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Praise the Lord

Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! - Psalm 150

Psalms ended simply, but brilliantly with a call to praise the Lord. There is nothing really deep or profound or theological here.

It is simply a psalm about praise.

Praise the Lord
Praise him the sanctuary and in the earth.
Praise him for what he does and who he is.
Praise him with instruments and dance
Praise the Lord.

There does not look like there is much to limit our praise. My background tends to be a bit conservative and unemotional when it comes to praise. And, that is okay. But God seems like we should be excited about our praise for Him as we are when our team scores the try to win the Six Nations or goes to Chicago and beats the All-Blacks.

Praise should never be a drudgery or a bother or a task.  Praise should come from our hearts as we reflect on all the goodness of God. Maybe if we praised a bit more those we are sharing with would be excited about what we have in Christ!

Monday, 24 April 2017

He will beautify the humble

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand,  - Psalm 149:4-6

God always blesses humility. The world exalts power and glory and fame and wealth and all those things. We know a person is great if they succeed and are famous for their acting skills or politics or their ability to hit or kick or carry a ball or a puck or whatever. These are often the ‘beautiful people’ of our world and are featured on stage and screen and print and on websites.

But God’s beauty standard is different. God loves His people and turns the worldly despised notion of humility into true beauty.

Those who humble themselves before God, realise their hopelessness without Him, confess their sins and call on Him for forgiveness will find salvation in Him.

We need not compete with the world and what they call important. We need to strive for godly humility and let Him give us that the beauty that comes with godly humility.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Young and old

Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and maidens; Old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven. And He has exalted the horn of His people, The praise of all His saints— Of the children of Israel, A people near to Him. Praise the LORD! - Psalm 148:11-14

Psalm 148 is one of those psalms which is simply a song full of praise to our God for who He is. The first part is all about creation praising God, but then the psalmist turns to the importance of people praising God and He makes it clear that all people should be praising Him.

The first part of the psalm speaks of how Creation praises God by its very nature. Then He turns to how people should praise God.

Kings and all people
Princes and all judges
Young men and maidens
Old men and children

In other words ‘let everything that has breath praise the Lord.’

We teach children the importance of praising the Lord with many of our children’s’ songs. We have times of ‘praise and worship’ in many of our services. Psalm 71 speaks of our need to continue to magnify the Lord even when we are old and grey headed.

It is never the early to praise the Lord. We are never too young or too old or too rich or too poor or to unknown or two famous to the praise the Lord.Just praise the Lord.  

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Singing with thanksgiving

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food, And to the young ravens that cry. He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. - Psalm 147:7-10

I don’t always remember to give thanks. I can take an awful for granted. When we have it we don’t think about it.

I have breath. My heart beats. My body, even at 61 years old, mostly works. I have a wonderful family. I work with an amazing church. I have food to eat and a I have clothes to wear and I know I will sleep tonight in a clean, comfortable bed. I don’t worry about what I am going to eat tomorrow.

And I am a child of God. My eternity is secure. Jesus is my Saviour, and as we remembered just last week – He is alive.

There is a lot to be thankful for, but, there are things I still am anxious about. That is why one of the answers to anxiety for thanksgiving. It changes my focus from what I don’t have to what I do have.

O give thanks to the Lord. In everything give thanks. Giving thanks always for all things. I will enter His gates with thanksgiving on my heart.

Than thanksgiving should fill me heart with joy that my heart’s song becomes a thanksgiving song. 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Don't trust in princes

Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. - Psalm 146:3

Here is a piece of advice that I think anyone can understand in these troublesome times. I don't even need to comment on current affairs. 

Saying that, I have to say that I am amazed at how many Christians seem bent on trusting ‘princes’ today. It seems like a lot of folks have pinned their hopes on having the right prime minister or president or premier in office. So many people spend more time making sure that their party is in power than in building the heavenly kingdom.

Some Christians really think that unless the right prince is in power that our existence is under threat. They think that unless the church has a friendly government power we need to march and protest and whinge and cry and complain and mock and attack and disrespect the princes in power.

It seems like we are a group would realise that we can’t expect that friendly prince to protect us. It is not the norm and God’s people can thrive no matter who is in control. When the king who ‘knew not Joseph’ took power and burdened God’s people he was frustrated because the more they afflicted them the more multiplied and grew. One of the Roman emperors was frustrated because the stronger the persecution the more the Christians loved and reached out to their enemies.

We’ve got to learn. We need to get over this. We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom. Our real leader is the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. All human princes are pretenders to the throne. Elections are not going to determine our future or our fate – that is all up to our King.

Hallelujah, my God reigns. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Slow to anger

The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. - Psalm 145:8

The Lord is gracious and He is full of compassion. He is great in mercy.

All of those are wonderful truths that we ought to pause and thank Him for.

But here I want to stop and focus on those wonderful, amazing, fantastic words – ‘the Lord is slow to anger.’

I can’t imagine what it would be like if the Lord was as quick to anger as I can be. The Lord has done a big work since I was younger, but I can still ‘lose the head’ in an instant. If the wrong thing sets me off I can just blow up. Too many times I have had to go back and apologise after a stunt like that.

If God responded to my sin the I react to the perceived wrong of others I would be in deep trouble.

The fact that God is slow to anger is a practical application of the theological truth that God is both loving and just. His justice demands a penalty for sin – His love gives every opportunity to satisfy the debt. 

I can just thank God that He is slow to anger and patient with me. May He help me to treat others the same way He treats me. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Like a shadow

Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow. – Psalm 144.4

I recently listened to a podcast about life in a small town. It was a very discouraging podcast about broken people living in a broken. It was far from Christian – but it really pointed out the vanity of life.

The key character was a brilliant clockmaker. He also loved sundials. I had never heard of this before, but he said that sundials often had Latin mottoes about the brevity of life and used the idea of passing shadows to describe it. He mentioned a couple of them and I found a few online.

Meam vide umbram, tuam videbis vitam. (Look at my shadow and you will see your life.)
Umbra sicut hominis vita. (A person's life is like a shadow.)
Vita fugit, sicut umbra (Life passes like the shadow.)
Vita similis umbræ. (Life resembles a shadow.)

Indeed, the image of a sundial, where day by day the shadow creeps across its face and then disappears is a great picture of our lives. Once that day has passed it is gone forever. The shadows of days fly by, then weeks, then months, then years.

In fact, our lives are like that shadow. As quickly as they went the sundial face they pass away. I am stunned by how fast the sun flits across the sky. In July I will finish 62 years on this earth, but those years sometimes seem like days.

What have I done with those 62 years? I can’t do anything about that, but I can do something the time I have left. I can, by the grace of God, careful redeem the time.

Only one life, ‘twill soon be passed. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart within me is distressed. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah - Psalm 143:4-6

Have you ever felt totally overwhelmed by how your life was going? Have the problems been so bad that you could not get your head above water? It’s those horrible days when you can’t catch your breath because of pressures and bad news and problems and trials that don’t have an answer.

I, of course, think about poor old Peter who jumped out of the boat and walked on water to get to Jesus until he saw the storm. When we saw the storm he sank into the water and was literally overwhelmed.

But Peter cried out ‘Lord save me.’

He turned to the Lord and the psalmist did the same thing. ‘When I was distressed I remembered what You have done before. I mused over Your works. I longed for You.’

There is only when solution when the overwhelming times comes – don’t be full of cares and anxieties. Instead in every situation with prayer and thanksgiving tell God what you need. Then His peace, His incomprehensible peace, will be with you. 

Monday, 17 April 2017

I poured out my complaint

I cry out to the LORD with my voice; With my voice to the LORD I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk They have secretly set a snare for me.  - Psalm 142:1-3

There are several times in the word of God when He has to deal with His people about their complaining, ungrateful, discontent, and questioning spirit. We ought to be able to accept and be content with God’s plan for us.

But there are also times when God’s people openly and honestly pour out their hearts to Him.

If our hearts are right and we can honour Him with our words God wants to hear from us.

I think about a Sunday morning nearly 15 years ago. Our ministry had a major setback and I had had enough. I went for a walk and sat on a bench on the canal and poured my heart out to God. I told Him what I thought. I told Him I was ready to quit. I told Him had had it. I had it out with God.

And He listened to me. He didn’t strike me with a bolt of lightning. He heard my complaint.

And then He spoke to me in a voice as clear as if He were sitting next to me on the bench. I don’t know how you feel about it, but this is one of only a couple of times when I felt like His Spirit spoke directly to my heart.

‘I’ll let you know when I am done with you here.’

Then He recalled scripture to my mind ‘Be ye steadfast, unmovable,’ ‘don’t be weary in well doing,’ ‘seeing you have this ministry do not lose heart.’

God cares. He is the ultimate parent who wants us to tell Him what is wrong. He desires to help us out of our woes. 

Sunday, 16 April 2017

What if there was no resurrection?

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. – 1 Corinthians 15:13-20

Here it is again – Resurrection Day. It is the say that is unique in world history because this was the day that death was crushed to death. It was the day that the worst that could happen became the best. Jesus rose from the dead and nothing would ever be the same again!

But what if there was no resurrection? What if the doubters were and are right? What if it was all a trick?

We don’t have to wonder – Paul poses the same question, and then he gives the answer.

If there is no resurrection -

Christ is not risen
Preaching is empty
Faith is empty
We are liars
Faith is a waste
We are in our sins
Dead Christians are perished
We are most pitiable

What a mess. In other words if there were no resurrection why should we bother? Without it we are without hope in this present world.

But there is a resurrection.

And because of that our preaching is worth whatever it takes. Our faith will bear fruit. We have the truth. We have victory over death.

At the end of this chapter Paul puts it this way when he wraps up the discussion of the resurrection:

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Because there is a resurrection we have already won. It will be worth it all. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Dark Saturday

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,  - 1Co 15:1-4

On the third day He rose.

I’ll be honest with you. I really don’t know if Jesus died on a Wednesday or a Thursday or a Friday. I have seen good arguments for all of those days. I have my opinion, and I think I am right, but I just don’t know for sure.

I do know this – on Saturday, or at least most of how we reckon Saturday, Jesus was dead and in the grave and the disciples and other Christ followers were in despair.

I can hardly imagine how that day must have felt. Many and not heard His words about dying and rising again and the disciples must have barely heard them for they too were in hiding.

But that Saturday was not the end. While the demons may have danced in the darkness and devils may have howled at the work they thought they had done* things were happening in heaven.

That Saturday might have been the darkest day in human history, but that was not the end of the story. Only a few hours remained till Sunday.

No matter what we are going through today it is not the end. God is not done. It may indeed be Dark Saturday for us today – but Sunday is coming!

*Credit to Andrew Peterson

Friday, 14 April 2017

Shut my mouth

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips. – Psalm 141.3

I am one of those people who seems to always have a knack of saying too much. My mouth in often is motion before my brain is in gear and it has caused me plenty of problems. I have a big mouth and it has gotten me in trouble far too many times.

I shouldn’t be too surprised. The book of James tells us that our tongue if the most difficult member of our body to control. Our tongues tend to always get us in trouble and they cause the kind of trouble that is set on fire by hell itself. James even says that if a person can control their tongue they can control anything else.

It’s a pretty big deal. What we say can make us or break us. Far too often I find that my words break me.

God says a lot about speech. It is to be with grace, seasoned with salt. It is to edify. It is to be without lies. It is to glorify God. It is not to be coarse.

These are all great things – but as we learn from James it is impossible for us to do.

So the psalmist prayed this prayer – ‘set a guard over my mouth. Watch over my lips.’

Since we basically can’t control our tongues we need help, and who better to help is control our words than God himself?

Please Lord, when I am about to blow it, please help me keep my mouth shut. Shut my big mouth.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The cause of the afflicted

I know that the Lord will maintain
The cause of the afflicted,
And justice for the poor.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name;
The upright shall dwell in Your presence. – Psalm 140.12-13

Affliction is a part of life. It is just a result of living in a terribly broken world. Christians are not exempt from the afflictions of the world – in fact we may be more prone to them in some ways.

Affliction is never easy to endure. But they are the worst when we have to go through afflictions alone. About a year and a half ago I went through bypass surgery. There are a lot worse afflictions, but I felt pretty afflicted for about six months. I needed help with all kind of things. At the very beginning I could hardly get around.

When I look back I think about what it would have been like if I had had to go through that all alone. But I didn’t have to, Mary was here to maintain by cause during the affliction.

When we face our afflictions in the world today we do not need to go through them alone either. God maintains the cause of the affliction. He is there to carry us through those troubles. In our afflictions we can have confidence that the King of kings and Lord of lords will support us.

The Lord is on my side, I need not fear what man can do to me.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Search me

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalm 139.23-24

At the end of Psalm 139.23-24 David prayers a prayer that is a little scary to think about praying. ‘Search me O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts; and see if they be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’

Search me
Try me
Lead me

That sound all holy and spiritual and such, but think about what it means if that we are really inviting God to do. This prayer is honestly and openly asking God to examine our hearts and show us how to deal with any issues.

It is a challenge because there are some things in our lives that we know are going that we really kind of like and are maybe not quite willing to part with. We already know what is there.

Are we willing to honestly pray search me and try me and lead me and then deal with the results? Are we willing for God expose to us our pet sins and little secrets and really get serious about striving after holiness?

How about it? ‘Lord, please search the inner reaches of my heart. Test me and see if there is ANY wicked way in me. Then lead to deal with my sin.’

Anybody want to join me? 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Fearfully and wonderfully made

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvellous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. – Psalm 139.13-16

Almost all of us have something about ourselves that we don’t like Fortunes are spent trying to ‘fix’ perceived flaws. We are too tall or too short or too big or too small. We don’t like our eyes or our noses or our hair or something about our bodies.

A lot of folks wish they were someone else – or at least that they looked like someone else.

The truth though is that God has designed us to be what we are. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.

You and are not just a bunch of random atoms thrown together by a chance of evolution. God saw us when we were not yet formed. We were already us. We were more than just zygotes or blastocysts or embryos or foetus. From the time we were conceived it was already you and me, fearfully and wonderfully made, and skilfully wrought by the hand of God and according to His plans before our conception.

As a saying I used to hear put it, ‘God don’t make no junk.’ None of us feel like we are anything inferior to anyone else. God’s blueprints for us were perfect and they were perfectly executed. We are the person God designed us to be.

I am special enough to God that He sent His Son to die for me. Though fearfully and wonderfully made my sin had separated me from God. But He had an answer. He sent His son to pay the penalty for my sin.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am fearfully and wonderfully cared for. I am fearfully and wonderfully loved.

So let me fearfully and wonderfully serve my God. 

Monday, 10 April 2017

You know

O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. – Psalm 139.1-6

It has been a good long time since I first really studied and taught on this psalm. It was early 1995 and I was serving as your pastor at a church in Tallaght in South Dublin. We were working on converting a garage used for storage into our youth room and I was teaching Sunday School to the young people.

I don’t know how I came across this passage to teach on, but it was one the studies I have done that I enjoyed the most.

I only got started when I saw this amazing verse – ‘You have searched me, and You know.’

I could go on for several verses, but all we really need to see for right now is those wonderful words. God has examined everything about, he has searched me like a detective searches about a case, and He knows it all. He knows everything about us. He knows our feelings and emotions and battles and thoughts and words and everything else about us.

He knows.

No matter what we are going through today He knows. He knows my worries and my fears and my anxieties and the pressures I am under. Though I may feel like I am very much alone and that no one else understands that is not the truth.

He knows. Praise God He knows.

Sunday, 9 April 2017


Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. – Psalm 138.6-8

Our God is in the perfecting business. He will make everything perfect in His time.

I wish I could grasp that truth. I wish I could really grasp that God is one day going to perfect all that is not perfect today. There are a lot of pieces missing from the puzzle – and that is not unusual because the puzzle is still being put together. The pieces are all there on the table, I just can’t make sense of it yet.

And the great thing is that I do not have to see it know it -  at least I shouldn’t have to. God’s ways are not my ways. God’s thoughts are not my thoughts. His ways and thoughts are far above mine, so it only makes sense that I won’t get it.

The Lord is on high – and yet He still regards that way of the lowly. He will revive me in my trouble. His right hand is going to save me. He is going to perfect everything concerning me and He is going to do that based on His ever being poured our margay that lasts forever.

I don’t know how my life is going to work out. I don’t know how my fears and my concerns are going to be sorted. There are things that I just can’t see how they are going to work out.

But the word says that God is going to perfect it. Literally He is going to bring it all to the right completion. Someday He is going to put the last piece in the puzzle that is my life and I will be able to see it all in it perfection.

In one way it is kind of scary to live that way, but at the same time it ought to be exciting to see how He is going to do it.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

If I don't remember You

If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth— If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy. – Psalm 137.6

Ouch – this one is really a bit painful. This may not mean anything to anyone but me, but I have put these up every day for about ten years so here we go.

‘If I don’t remember you I need to just keep my mouth shut.’

This is pretty profound in a world where far too many of us as believers are forgetting about the Lord in so many practical ways, but we talk about everything else in the world. If we can’t remember the Lord in our conversation, then we ought to just be quiet.

But for me there is a bit here that is even more convicting. This verse really hit home for me.

There a couple things about the future that I am having a hard time remembering to trust the Lord with. I am not remembering that the Lord has it covered. It is kind of one of those mote/beam situations. I can tell others how to sort those thoughts out, but I can't do it myself.

So Lord, help me remember You in those uncomfortable, trying uncertain times. Help me remember that You are in control and that You have the wisdom and the power to do the right thing.

Then empower me to speak of what You are doing.

Friday, 7 April 2017

For His mercy endures forever

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever: To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy endures forever; To Him who by wisdom made the heavens, For His mercy endures forever; - Psalm 136.1-5

There are a lot of critics out there about Christian songs with repetitious. There seems to almost be an attitude in some quarters that the song is disqualified because it says the same thing over and over.

I guess I see the point, but before we get too excited let’s have a look at Psalm 136. Twenty-times in as many verse we read ‘His mercy endure forever.’ After every phrase, and even mid-phrase, we read ‘His mercy endures forever.’  

Apparently there is a place for repetition. And I think I see the reason.

As a teacher I know the merit of repetition. There are times when the only way to get some things into student’s minds is to say them over and over and to drill them in class. We were at the Children’s Museum in Edinburgh one time and there was a recording of a schoolmaster drilling times tables over and over again.

That tool is not only for kids. It is something that we adults need as well. There are things that we can be fat to slow to grasp, so God just says it over and over again.

And this is a reminder that me and my thick skull need all the time. No matter what I see today, no matter where I was yesterday, and no matter what comes tomorrow, God’s mercy is still going to be there.

In the midst of Jeremiah’s lament over the state of Jerusalem he remembered something that changed everything – ‘It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.’

God’s mercies never change and the well of mercies never runs dry.

So let’s get this right Roger –

For His mercy endures forever.
For His mercy endures forever.
For His mercy endures forever.
For His mercy endures forever.
For His mercy endures forever.
For His mercy endures forever.
For His mercy endures forever.
For His mercy endures forever.

And let’s not forget when the next crisis comes. 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Things made by men

The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
The work of men's hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them. – Psalm 135.15-18

All around us we see ‘the work of men’s hands.’ The things that man makes are so obvious that we can easily forget or take for granted the things that God made. Everyone chases after the man-made things and seems pretty content to deal with the God things somewhere down the road.

Like the idols of silver and gold and stone and wood that were in the images of false gods they promise much, but they deliver little. Everyone who trusts in these false gods is going to find themselves sadly lacking.

That is why we are told to not look on the physical, man-made visible things of this world because they are only temporary. They are not going to last. They are not going to endure.

But it is the sometimes invisible things of God’s work that should draw us. They are eternal and their benefit last forever.

The things of this world, the man made things, should grow strangely dim in the light of God’s glory and grace. 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Bless the Lord

Behold, bless the Lord,
All you servants of the Lord,
Who by night stand in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,
And bless the Lord.
The Lord who made heaven and earth
Bless you from Zion! – Psalm 134

Bless the Lord all you servants of the Lord.

This is as brilliant a challenge today as it was the day it was written. If we could only learn to bless the Lord instead of focusing on the things around us we learn to live in victory. If we could only stop seeing our woes and dwelling on all the worldliness around us we could learn to live on the ‘high places’ where God wants us to live.

So what does it mean to ‘bless the Lord?’ To bless the Lord means to exalt Him, to praise Him, and to worship. It means that we elevate Him above everything else in our lives. Our praise for him replaces our complaining about our circumstances.

When we bemoan how badly we have it we are only going to make matters worse. When we instead bless the Lord and His goodness we have hope to get us through the tough situations.

In all we say and all we do may we ever and always bless the name of the Lord, lift Him up above our circumstances, praise Him for who He is and all He does, look up to Him when we start to get discouraged by all we see going on, and bless Him by trusting Him to do what He says He will do.

Bless the Lord oh my soul, let all that is within bless His holy name. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017


Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. – Psalm 133.1-2

It is good and pleasant when brethren dwIt ell together – in unity.

I think every one – those who follow God or not, understand the importance of unity in getting things done. If we are not united we will fail. A house divided against itself shall not stand. Divided nations are never as strong as when they were united.

And if it is important for nations and people to work together how much more important is it that God’s people be united. We all face a common enemy. Satan is out to destroy us and the world wants to see us fail

Yet despite that we still divide. Most often we divide over the smallest and silliest things. We divide over music or worship styles or translations or gifts or sovereignty or free will or personal standards or any number of things that we can divide over.

We are told way back in Ecclesiastes that ‘And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. This theme, like we mentioned at the start, is so obvious that the world recognises it. Here is a children’s version of one of Aesop’s fable:

A certain Father had a family of Sons, who were forever quarrelling among themselves. No words he could say did the least good, so he cast about in his mind for some very striking example that should make them see that discord would lead them to misfortune.

One day when the quarrelling had been much more violent than usual and each of the Sons was moping in a surly manner, he asked one of them to bring him a bundle of sticks. Then handing the bundle to each of his Sons in turn he told them to try to break it. But although each one tried his best, none was able to do so.

The Father then untied the bundle and gave the sticks to his Sons to break one by one. This they did very easily.

“My Sons,” said the Father, “do you not see how certain it is that if you agree with each other and help each other, it will be impossible for your enemies to injure you? But if you are divided among yourselves, you will be no stronger than a single stick in that bundle.”

Unity is strength, division is weakness. It is good for us to dwell together in unity. Sometimes it is confuse separation with holiness. Our motives may truly be to be holy, but we apply externals and then divide over the petty stuff.

I don’t have to agree with my brother in every aspect of our mutual faith. We may do things differently and sing different songs and focus on different minor doctrines and worship in different styles, but we are one and in that oneness we find strength to stand against a world which grows in it opposition to us.

Just up the road from us is the Bundle of Sticks Roundabout. I'll never look at it the same again. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

A lamp

There I will make the horn of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, But upon Himself His crown shall flourish." – Psalm 132.17-18

There is not a whole lot to share here, but I think it is just a blessed little nugget. The psalm is looking forward to the coming of Messiah who is one day going to shame his enemies but He is going to be crowned. Messiah, the Anointed, came to earth the first time to save us and will return as King.

But the reference here is a prayer for one who would prepare the way for Messiah. We see the fulfilment of the prophecy in John 35 where we read the words of Jesus ‘There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.

John was the shining and burning lamp that the psalmist prayed for and he was the prepared witness for the Anointed One. For a time the Jews rejoiced in John’s light, but was only a glimmer to be fulfilled in the Light that is Jesus Christ.

I like that God is a God of details. I like the fact that we see even the small details prophesied and then completed.

And there is one more thing. Now God has called us to be lights for Jesus as we prepare for His return. May we be as faithful as John was at being lamps lighting the way for Him and may our light so shine before men that they will see our good works and glorify our Father.

Sunday, 2 April 2017


Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me. – Psalm 131.2

‘Ah, peace and quiet.’ How often have we said something like that after a hectic and stressful day? Think about have it feels or felt when the kids were finally put down to bed and we sat down for a cup of tea and just enjoyed the peace and quiet of the evening.

But imagine having that calm, quiet, restful feeling in the midst of a world of violence and trouble and turmoil.

That is what the psalmist writes about here. The world is not going to ever find true peace and comfort and we have to live in that world. The promise here is that within that world we can have the peace and quiet by trusting in the Lord.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the kind of faith that is able to hear the latest BREAKING NEWS!!! from some disaster site and be able to not be consumed by fear and panic. The politics of this world are a mess. If I had to put my confidence in them I would be terribly afraid.

But when our faith is in the Lord we can have the same peace and quiet that a baby has in its mother’s arms after nursing. No matter what is going on that baby is secure in comfort and protection and peace and quiet.

That quietude is ours if we will simply trust Him.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

My soul waits

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning. – Psalm 130.5-6

I kind of wish the Bible did not talk so much about patience. I don’t like waiting. When I go to work on Tuesday I leave the house at 6.30 for a job that starts at 9.00 and it is only a 30 minute drive at that hour.

Why? Because I hate waiting in traffic. I’d rather drive in, sit in the car, have a coffee and read a book and maybe take a little nap than to sit for an hour and half in the traffic that comes later.

I have the same attitude with God sometimes. I don’t always want to wait for God to work. I can see the solution, I know the answer, I’ve got it figured out – why doesn’t God just do it?

As much as I don’t like it – it is a good thing to learn how to wait. It is a lesson we have to teach our children. Sometimes we have to learn patience because things don’t often come our way when we want and the way we want.

We only find real peace though when we learn to trust God enough to wait on Him. That takes faith because it means I am willing to put my desires and my wishes and my plans aside to wait on Him and watch Him work. To me patience is the great faith tester. As hard as it is for me to wait for anything it is always a test of my faith. Do I know what is best or does God? Do I know the best timing or does He? His ways are above my ways and His thoughts are above my thoughts. Only through patience can I exercise that kind of faith.

Teach me Lord, to wait.