Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Psalm 9: Say it Out Loud

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
When my enemies turn back,
They shall fall and perish at Your presence.
For You have maintained my right and my cause;
You sat on the throne judging in righteousness.
You have rebuked the nations,
You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
O enemy, destructions are finished forever!
And you have destroyed cities;
Even their memory has perished.
But the Lord shall endure forever;
He has prepared His throne for judgment.
He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.
The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble.
10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
11 Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion!
Declare His deeds among the people.
12 When He avenges blood, He remembers them;
He does not forget the cry of the humble.
13 Have mercy on me, O Lord!
Consider my trouble from those who hate me,
You who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 That I may tell of all Your praise
In the gates of the daughter of Zion.
I will rejoice in Your salvation.
15 The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made;
In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught.
16 The Lord is known by the judgment He executes;
The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.
Meditation.[b] Selah
17 The wicked shall be turned into hell,
And all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten;
The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.
19 Arise, O Lord,
Do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged in Your sight.
20 Put them in fear, O Lord,
That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah

Praise God verbally and whole heartedly.  Really, out-loud, on your lips, say it.  Make it a part of your speech.  At first it might sound odd and awkward but the more you exercise it the more naturally it comes.
Sing praises to God, not just in church or on the radio.  Just sing!  Sometimes when I am reading scripture a verse comes along that I know a song to and I just start singing.  Yep, sing in the shower too.  Nothing makes the devil flee faster than our worship to the One True God.  Dark and light can not abide together.  This is how David starts Psalm 9 to praise, to tell, to rejoice, and to sing.
Verse 3 switches focus onto his situation.  How good are you at complaining?  Does being negative come easy to you?  I know that it slips from my lips a bit too readily.  Instead of carrying on excessively about personal needs or desires or gossip just STOP!!  Make it a point throughout the day to acknowledge God's goodness.  Like a child that doesn't seem to be listening to you, STOP and catch them being good, then say it out loud!  We too need to have a "Holy Spirit pause" (thank you Harvey) and think before we speak.  Thinking about His goodness more often will result in a more positive and spiritual frame of mind.  How does that sound?  Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Lift your gaze to the Shepherd of your soul and let His grace fall fresh upon you.

Coram Deo,

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Good News We Almost Forgot

Leui and I are really enjoying this book.  This is a wonderful resource for understanding and articulating the scriptures.  If there is "nothing new under the sun," perhaps the main task now facing the Western church is not to reinvent or be relevant, but to remember.  The truth of the gospel is still contained within vintage faith statements. Within creeds and catechisms we can have our faith strengthened, our knowledge broadened, and our love for Jesus deepened.   
In The Good News We Almost Forgot, Kevin DeYoung explores the Heidelberg Catechism and writes 52 brief chapters on what it has shown him. The Heidelberg is largely a commentary on the Apostle's Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer and deals with man's guilt, God's grace, and believers' gratitude. The result is a clear-headed, warm-hearted exploration of the faith, simple enough for young believers and deep enough for mature believers.

DeYoung writes, "The gospel summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism is glorious, it's Christ gracious, it's comfort rich, it's Spirit strong, it's God Sovereign, and it's truth timeless."  Come and see how your soul can be warmed by the elegantly and logically laid out doctrine that matters most:  We are great sinners and Christ is a greater Savior!

Psalm 8: Looking Up


I love this depiction of Psalm 8 that Karen did.  Simple yet so creative.  Psalm 8 is a happy psalm.  Derek Kidner said, "This psalm is an unsurpassed example of what a hymn should be, celebrating as it does the glory and grace of God, rehearsing who he is and what he has done in a spirit mingled of joy and awe."  
This is a description of man and his place in created order.  You can't fully understand the human race unless you see them as God's creatures and recognize that they have special responsibilities to their Creator...we are NOT animals!!  We are to praise God grandly.  He is absolutely amazing.  Just take a look around.  Step outside, fill your lungs with air, feel the warm of the sun shining on your skin.  All of these are gifts to be praised.
But what is man?  He is an insignificant piece in the vast framework of creation.  Man is teeny tiny small in the cosmic setting compared to God's exceeding greatness.

We went to a Chris Tomlin tour a few years back and Louis Giglio shared about the greatness of our God in the cosmos.  I will never forget these slides of space.
Verse 5 says He has crowned us with glory and honor.  God has given us mere specks in this enormous universe a significance and honor above everything else He created.  We are made in the very image of the Creator himself, we are to reflect His glory in a way other parts of the creation can not.  He has made us to rule over creation.
Theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote, "Psalm 8 places man midway between the angels, which are above him, and the beasts which are below.  Man is a spirit/body being.  Angels have spirits but no bodies, animals have bodies but no spirits.  Man, however, has both spirit and body and so comes between the two.  We are to look up to God since we are a little lower than the angels.  Notice scripture doesn't say to look down to the beasts.  Look up, not look down.  The sad thing is some people have turned their back on God and not looking upwards, which is their privilege and duty, they actually look downward to the beasts and so become increasingly like them.
In the Old Testament there is a story in Daniel about a King that turned his back on God.  30 The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”  This is secular humanism, describing creation as of man, by man, and for man's glory.  The words fresh from the King's lips the next verse states, "31 While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”  The king became insane.  It is insanity to take the glory due God for oneself.  King Neb was driven out to live with and behave like the wild animals. 

This is what evolution is all about.  Eliminate God and the we are only slightly advanced beasts, according to this theory that yells so loudly.  We behave like them, and even worse sometimes.  

Hebrews 2:7-8 says, 
"You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,[a]
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”[b]
God sends his own son to save us from our willful ignorance and rebellion and to fulfill Psalm 8 as we have not and can not.  The apostle Paul applies it to Jesus saying that he was made a little lower than the angels (in order to die for us) and that as a result, the Father has, "Crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet."  In putting everything under Him, God left nothing that is not subject to him.
Hebrews 2:9, 3:1 says "We see Jesus...now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death...fix your thoughts on Jesus."  What happens when we do?  At this juncture we are looking up again-by the grace of God- and the grace of God, which has saved us and redirected our affections, now begins the conforming of us to His likeness.
We are the apple of His eye!
Coram Deo,

Friday, April 5, 2013

Psalm 7: A Request for Justice

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.
Lord my God, if I have done this:
If there is iniquity in my hands,
If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me,
Or have plundered my enemy without cause,
Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;
Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,
And lay my honor in the dust. Selah
Arise, O Lord, in Your anger;
Lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies;
Rise up for me[b] to the judgment You have commanded!
So the congregation of the peoples shall surround You;
For their sakes, therefore, return on high.
The Lord shall judge the peoples;
Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness,
And according to my integrity within me.
Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,
But establish the just;
For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.
10 My defense is of God,
Who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a just judge,
And God is angry with the wicked every day.
12 If he does not turn back,
He will sharpen His sword;
He bends His bow and makes it ready.
13 He also prepares for Himself instruments of death;
He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity;
Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood.
15 He made a pit and dug it out,
And has fallen into the ditch which he made.
16 His trouble shall return upon his own head,
And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.
17 I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness,
And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

We come to the part of David's story where he is overcome with his intense feelings.  He cries out for vindication from his enemies harsh injustice to him.  Again, his worship of prayer to the Lord continues.  One prayer alone does not an issue fix.  Sometimes things get worse before they get better but we must persist in our petitions.  David is teaching us that God is just.

What are we to do when attacked falsely.  Don't level the playing field by responding in kind.  Don't retaliate at all that only helps to fan the flame.  David demonstrates how he takes these claims to God.  We can appeal for justice.  Romans 3:10 declares, "There is no one righteous, not even one."

Verses 3-5 expresses his innocence of the crime for which he is charged.  David does not take vengeance into his hands, and he very well was capable of doing that being king and all.  Instead he submitted his case before the Lord.  I think we have become somewhat indifferent to the need for justice.  We focus on the importance of forgiveness in this life to the detriment of actually working for justice.

There are three great needs of our day:
1.  Be champions for the poor and disadvantaged.  Who will help them, they are unable to help themselves.  When God places these people in you path, respond!  
2.  Have upright conduct.  We cannot honestly pursue justice for others if we do not  practice it ourselves.
3.  Vindicate the righteous.  We must see that those who do good are acknowledged to be good and that the wicked are identified as such..

To ignore these needs is to abandon the poor, disgrace our calling, and encourage the wicked.  Have a passion for earthly justice.  Walk away from comments like, "You think you are better than everyone else. or Why don't you show a little more of the forgiving spirit of Christ?"  Right is right and wrong is wrong! Period!

The 7th psalm is a great testimony of David seeking his God.  We don't know whether he was in fact vindicated, we only know that David came into such a knowledge of God that he could accept his lot.

Live righteously because goodness and integrity are their own rewards.

Coram Deo,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spicy Pasta n Chick Peas

Sometimes I am just inspired to create something of my own in the kitchen.  Look through the cupboards and what should I find?  An easy dinner to pull together all in one pot!
Spicy Pasta n Chick Peas
16 oz bag of dried pesto tortellini-cook as directed
1 can chick peas drained
2 cups of fresh spinach chopped
1 can of Rotel ( or use a can of diced tomatoes if you don't want spicy)
Package of turkey kielbasa
Salt n Pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.  In large saucepan sautee kielbasa, add spinach, simmer till wilted.  Add drained chick peas and can of Rotel.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in pasta and there's a quick healthy dinner.

Psalm 6: Dark Nights

This passage is called a penitential psalm.  The author confesses his sin and asks God for his mercy and forgiveness.  The early church would have sung this on Ash Wednesday.  These words are an emotional outpouring from being hurt.  David was heavy-hearted, depressed, and weary and calls out to the Father in his grief.  

We can divide this passage up into two parts.  Verses 1-7 shows David in great distress.  His body, soul, and mind are in deep anguish.  He senses the anger of the Lord.  He can't sleep.  A night of restless burdens weighing on you usually clouds your perspective even more.  You start another day exhausted, weary, and sad.  I have been there many times.
The second part, verses 8-10, shifts gears.  David becomes aware of God's presence once again and moves out of his deep depression into renewed faith and bold conduct.  I love Romans 5:3-4 which says, "we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope."

Thank goodness the Lord does not leave us hanging, trying to figure out our place and our pursuit within any given situation.  Take comfort to think that He knows our feelings and situations and helps us focus on how to cope.  Like a child trying to figure out a math problem they need to press on and work through it, keep trying and soon they will come to a conclusion because they persevered.  Here Romans gives us the formula to work through tough times.  God never said life would be easy, how can it be in a fallen world?  But He tells us to expect trials, then to work through those trials because it grows and changes us for the better.

Verse 1 is great advise for confrontation.  Do NOT respond in anger.  Whether it's your children or your spouse or whomever, do not engage in an angry confrontation.  Walk away till things cool down and when you can think without so much emotion hanging over you.

Verse 3 is an example of calling upon the name of the Lord when you are troubled.  Seek deliverance, request light, wisdom and discernment. God is our pathway in the darkness.  Psalm 23's famous line of "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow..."  that very shadow is from God's light.  He is there in that valley with you!  Ask for mercy.  We are weak but God is strong.

Verse 8 is an answering touch from God enabling David to rebuke his foe.  He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.  Answered prayer!  "The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping."

The Lord hears our petitions.  In the dark of the night know that He cares for you tenderly.  Press on...

Coram Deo,

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Psalm 5: A Morning Prayer

1 Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my meditation. 2 Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray. 3My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up4 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. 5The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. 6 You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. 7 But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. 8 Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face. 9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part is destruction; Their throat is an open tomb; They flatter with their tongue. 10 Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, For they have rebelled against You. 11 But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. 12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.
I love love love the end of verse 3, 'And I will look up.'  Everything looks different when you lift your gaze especially when your focus is on the Lord.  You can breath easier for one because you are not constricting your throat, which is usually tight when you are upset.  Also, you shift from zeroing in on a pinpoint to surrendering to a huge God when you seek him in an upright posture.

This psalm is about how we must approach God, if we are to be heard by Him, and what we can expect of him when we do.  This is the life of prayer.  This is a morning prayer.  This prayer is not only for protection from the wicked, but it is also a prayer of protection from becoming like them.  The first 3 verses are an appeal for God to listen.  Do you have any doubts about whether you are approaching God rightly?  Notice what the first 3 verses teach us:

1.  The spirit in which we should pray has an urgency expressed, "give ear, consider, and listen".  This is not a ritual or routine that David is praying.  He is intensely serious!  James 5:16b says, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."  Be zealous, attentive, zoned in when you pray, it's a privilege!  
2.  Prayer is persistent.  Like the widow in Luke 18:7, keep coming to the Judge, day after day, to appeal your heart's desires.  Keep at prayer even if, for reasons unknown to us, the answer of God is delayed.  God will not refuse to act forever.  Luke 18:1 Jesus spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.  God's timing is not always our timing.  After all, God is not American!
3.  Have an expectant spirit.  Pray in faith having laid your requests before God.  David expected God to answer.  James 1:5-6 reminds us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind."

There are three different types of prayers that we pray: words, in articulated prayers or sighing, and crying.  Usually we express ourselves in a well-reasoned manner.  Sometimes in our anguish our prayers are only desperate cries for God to help us.  At other times there are no words adequate for the situation but our sighing and sending up a 'prayer-flare' of a sigh is enough for God to understand and have compassion upon us.  Romans 8:26 reassures us that when we "do not know what we ought to pray...the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

Notice the relationship we are to have with God that David demonstrates; 'my King and my God'.  They show faith that is genuine and it gives his prayer firm footing!  Verses 4-6 states that God does not listen to the wicked and he has NO pleasure in them.  David distinguishes himself from the evil persons, reminding himself that he must be different if he would be heard by God-never take sin too lightly!  If we did not take sin casually we would not sin as grievously or as frequently as we do.  It's not, "How much sin can you get away with and still go to heaven?" you are only fooling yourself because you never get away with sin!  We are called to be holy and the secret to being holy is to see sin as God himself sees it.  Draw close to God and you will become increasingly sensitive to sin.

Coram Deo,


Monday, April 1, 2013

Burgers Anyone?

It's April Fool's Day...what's your prank?
Gabe made these to take to school for a special treat.

Psalm 4: Confidence in God

1 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. 2 How long, O you sons of men, Will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness And seek falsehood? Selah 3 But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him. 4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the Lord. 6 There are many who say, "Who will show us any good?" Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. 7 You have put gladness in my heart, More than in the season that their grain and wine increased. 8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

It was verse 2 that convicted me to blog my journaling through the psalms.  I can while away the hours doing some worthless things.  Even though we don't have TV the internet enters me into a time warp and I am not so sure what I have to show for it, maybe some yummy dinner ideas from Pinterest but my iphone has a word game that I like, and did I mention Facebook???  SIGH...

I am busy about a lot of things but I know I need to have more than just quiet time in the morning.  This gets me to meditate on the passage and think about what I want to say when I write here, how the psalm is teaching me and filling me with hope and truth.  It pushes my brain cells to put together some cohesive sentences (hopefully) and articulate myself to share what I am learning.

After the battle with Absalom this psalm bring us to quiet confidence in God.  This passage reflects the anguish of the innocent and oppressed.  It addressed a fundamental experience of injustice, suffering, and oppression.  David has been:
*falsely accused
*his reputation attacked
*envy pouring out from others
*others advancing themselves by stepping on/over him

That old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me," is a LIE!!  Name calling does hurt and it leaves it's mark on our hearts.  We have to rise above it but how?  David illustrates it for us in our psalm today.
1.  His urgent plea to God for help.  Pray and seek God! (verse 1)
2.  There's a moving remonstrance addressed to the enemies-giving advice to help them and solve the difficulty (verse 2-5)

3.  David expresses his security in God and is blessed with a restful night of sleep.

The key point here is prayer.  When the psalmist prays everything changes.  He moves from anxiety because of his accusers to quiet trust in God: prayer is his therapy!  Instead of turning to friends for sympathy or even taking things into his own hands and retaliate David turned to God (verse 1).

With God we are not as likely to embellish our side of the story as we might with a friend.  We might not exaggerate or be overly dramatic either.  From a friend we look for validation, from God we seek solace, peace,  and answers.  Another advantage of turning to God with our troubles is there is no pretending.  David acknowledges his need for mercy, he is ever mindful of his own sin which helps to keep things in perspective.

I love the confidence of David when he talks with God.  "The Lord will hear when I call."  Sometimes when I am speaking with my kids I can see them glaze over not hearing me anymore, not true with God.  God does not glaze-over!!

When we are confused by the attacks thrust upon us go through the psalm's procedure.  In your thoughts remind your struggle, difficulty, or mountain that God will take care of you which will simaltaneously encourage you too.  Be sure that you are not sinning or  contemplating revenge, instead trust in the Lord.  Recall victories in your past.  One of my favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:9, "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have see, and lest they depart from your heart..."
Reread God's word to prove again that He comes through and is always faithful.
-God shows his favor (vs6)
-God fills him with joy (vs7)
-God's peace is in the midst of turmoil (vs8)
If we leave our problems with God, He will shoulder them.  Matthew 11:30 "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Sleep better knowing these truths.  Be confident that God will supply your every need.

Coram Deo,