Monthly Archives: January 2018

Savior – Shepherd

Two Psalms this week in our reading are well-known by most believers. Psalms 22 & 23 have been preached, quoted and memorized for years by Believers. These two Psalms capture for us the Suffering of Jesus during the Passion Week; then capture for us the loving Good Shepherd He was and is for His people. I am always intrigued when the New Testament writers quote a passage from the Old Testament that reflects a “prophetic” word about the Christ.  For example in the writing of David about “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me” then to see it stated by Jesus on the Cross. [Mt 27:46] I wonder what David was going through that caused him to speak these words; and why Jesus repeated them exactly?  Was David’s words meant as a “prophetic utterance” for future? The same happens again in Psalms 22:14-18; which describe for us the agony of Jesus on the Cross. But again what was it that David was experiencing when he wrote these words? Albeit, the latter passage of Psalm 22 is more allegorical for us in that it describes what Jesus was going through, how are we to understand these words. Jesus did the same thing when talking with the religious leaders when he said Matt 22:44 from Psalms 110:1. Either way we find that the scriptures describe for us the sufferings of The Christ and were lived out through Jesus and His Passion. As Savior we know that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, sinless Son of God that through His unblemished/untainted blood we are washed and cleansed. Also in Psalm 22:6-8, we have the additional ridicule that Jesus goes through from the crowds, religious leaders and even the criminals on the Cross.  The other parts of Psalms 22 give us the confidence and blessing bestowed on those who “fear the LORD”.

Psalm 23 – the beloved Shepherd Psalm; obviously these verses reflect David’s time as a young shepherd with sheep. In John 10, the Good Shepherd and all that He does for the sheep [believers, church] indicates His love for the sheep. Key words/phrases: He makes, He restores, He guides; it is the work and task of the shepherd to meet all the needs of the fickle, nervous and stubborn sheep. In relating the The LORD is MY Shepherd, David gives us testimony of how the LORD has taken care of him in times past, the Psalm goes on to speak of the confidence that He will have in the future as well. In a contrast we could look at Ezekiel 34 and God’s indictment against the “Evil Shepherds” – hirelings if you will that escape as soon as there is trouble or conflict. I have a book in my library called “They smell like sheep” – the focus is the shepherd smells like the sheep he is tending because he is living and brushing up against them. Pastors/shepherds are not meant to be aloof, separated from the congregation/sheep they have been given charge over.  In smelling like sheep, two things have to happen – the shepherds must want to embrace the sheep and the sheep must be willing to be embraced. The work of the shepherd can be very difficult – sheep will not always listen or be led. Even though it is best for them, sheep will eat dirt rather than move five feet to green grass. Sheep are skittish and easily startled – so are some churches – the foundation for the work of the shepherd must be that of Trust. If there isn’t the foundation of TRUST in the sheep to the shepherd, chaos abounds. The Rod and Staff they comfort me – now that sounds a bit goofy. I know the staff had a crook head which usually was used to lift an animal out of danger or stuck spot. The ROD however was a means to correct a stubborn sheep. Obviously we all have experienced discipline, and that it was not a good feeling – yet because of the discipline, we were better off. Trusting the “correction of the Lord” speaks of His love and care for us – otherwise He’d just leave us to our own devices.  Psalm 23 has been used so many times for funerals. These words have brought great comfort to so many in difficult times of death of loved ones. It speaks of Provision, protection and presence of God. May we all be encouraged by the Love of the Lord for His people!

 

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From Weariness to Wonderment

In the readings of Psalm 15-20 we find the life of David taking various mood swings. Last week we read about how David was weary from all of the stress of being pursued by Saul. [enemies] David is weary from the constant barrage of attacks from physical enemies and spiritual enemies. In Psalm 17 – 18 David begins to find the resolve and rest from his attackers. But the relief doesn’t really appear for him until there is exhaustion. I find that our lives are like that today; while it may not be from enemies attacking us, but from stress of the culture and politics. There is enough stress and angst with just everyday living, but to compound life with health, sicknesses and other issues puts a believer in a turmoil. As we read David crying out to the LORD for relief and rest, i hear the soul of David praying and hoping for a quick deliverance. It is difficult to have to weather storms, but go through the storms we must. It is in the “staying the course” that we gain strength of our faith and resolve to press on. Our faith in Jesus Christ is our Rock, David understand the necessity to depend on the LORD only – he has a testimony during the time of Saul’s search and evil spirit to remain faithful to God. David speaks of his own faith, and how that the Father has tested him and found him to be faithful. James 1:2-5 tells us that we should count trails and struggles as joy – honestly that really sounds like dumb advice. But when we look into the “situation” that we have been through – great joy comes to us. In Psalm 18 we get an inside ear to listen to David’s great joy for being delivered from Saul and his enemies. The first verse says it all “I love you, O LORD, my strength!

When we are going through the trials of life , it is difficult to keep proper perspective and reality. It seems that when there is calamity in our life – everything, routine things of life become so overwhelming. Our senses are heighten to our surroundings, so much so we can become paranoid. Learning to trust in difficult times, when there doesn’t seem to be much reason to hope is when our faith grows.

Psalm 18:7-15 resound with the work of God in answering the prayers of His children. I have often watched a mother respond to her child’s cries. A mother will swoop in a take control of the situation. I pity anyone who got in her way! The response in the verses reflect the power and anger [righteously] in God’s response to David’s prayer. Suddenly David is no longer depressed or self-defeated in his spirit because of the circumstances – he talks of the joy and the leaping like a deer or jumping over a wall because of the freedom from his enemies. Now David does give reason why God responds as he does – David was righteous before God in his dealing with Saul. Several times David could have taken Saul’s life, even his men told him he should – but David revered the position Saul held and wouldn’t do anything against the “Anointed of God”. How many of us could say that we have been righteous towards our enemies when they attacked us?

In Psalms 19-20, there is continuation of the joy and relief of David – his words resound with wonderment at the LORD God who has delivered and rescued his life. How much more should we be today as believers who have been delivered from Satan, Sin and struggles of life through Jesus Christ. No more war, No more weariness – Wondrous Praise and Wonderment of soul; for the magnificent power and love of God towards us!!

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Reading Plan 2018

2018 Poetry Readings

2018 Poetry Readings

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Reality of Righteousness

Psalms 11-15; David has an ongoing dilemma of living in the world but not being of the world. The struggle is watching the wicked prosper and even rejoice in living. Often I have even wanted to run away, but truly there is not a place to run except “in the cleft of the Rock!” Our hiding place is in the security of Jehovah. When I read about someone wanting to take refuge, it leads me to consider Elijah when he ran from Jezebel to the cave. The LORD asked him what he was doing there; Elijah replied with his excuses. God told him to get back into life. Now this does not mean we should not have times of rest and refuge; but we are not to run away from life either.

In Psalm 12, the first verse struck me right between the eyes! As a pastor and a person I ask the same question. Where are all the righteous? We do now live in a post-Christian world; more so lately our culture has been described as a Pre-Christian world. You may ask what is the difference? The difference is the influence of Christianity on culture. In a post-Christian world, there is rejection of the Gospel. People reject the message of the Bible. In Pre-Christian thinking; God is not even a topic of discussion or thought for people. In the Pre-Christian thought; God is not on the radar, people are not rejecting the Gospel, God and eternity are not on their minds.

Which is worse? Good question, both are difficult for the believer who desires to live godly. In one respect, they are discounted as foolish for believing in God [post-christian] and rejected as irrelevant or cultic for believing in God [Pre-Christian].

Back to David’s question – where are the righteous? We are currently being inundated with all the sexual abuse in Hollywood and politics. I find this to be a bit hypocritical – why now after in some cases of 20 yrs. past? In mankind these actions have been going on since time began. This is not to excuse the actions, but the world has always acted like the world – when it begins judging itself to make headlines, what is the objective?

David outlines for us the “actions” of the wicked – deceitful, boastful, prideful and even arrogant. This is the world we live in today.

In Psalm 13, the underlining question “How Long” – how long will God put up with the evil of mankind before He does something? This question is asked in Revelation 6:9-11 by the martyrs. One wonders how long before the end of the world, and the judgment of God happens? I have heard people say that if God doesn’t judge America, that He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.  I have learned that God’s ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not mine – likewise His timing is not mine either. God desires that all should come to salvation – oh, that we would too!

In Psalm 14 – the famous verse the “fool has said in his heart there is no God.” David continues to lament the wicked that surrounds him. Verses 1b-3 are quoted in Romans 3:10 and following. The condition of man without Christ is a dead man, living by animal instincts. Why do we persist in expecting the world [lost] to live godly? Actually we want them to live morally not godly. Is there a difference? Absolutely! Psalm 15 recounts for us the expectations of God on the redeemed. Can it be that we are so concerned with everyone else that we fail to be who were profess to be? Sounds too much like the Pharisees to me. Three specific things David says are required: 1) walk with integrity 2) walk in works of righteousness and 3) speaks truth in his heart. We have a full-time job living our life – if we did maybe there would be a greater desire for the Lord on High. If we don’t like our world – let’s begin changing it by changing the way we serve and life for the LORD!

 

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Morning and Evening

Psalms 6-10, in looking at how the Psalms are written, while we find that they are often created for the Choir Master; they are more readily the thoughts and prayers of David; which are set to music. Charles Spurgeon wrote a devotional years ago called Morning and Evening. These Psalms we read are many times the Prayers of the writer from his Morning and Evening meditations with the LORD.  For example, Psalm 9 and 10 this week are evening prayers.

There is also a couple of distinct themes for the Psalms: they range from laments, to prayers of praise to affirmations of the Sovereignty of God. We talked of David and his dealing with Absalom in Psalm Three; David laments [mourns] before the LORD about his enemies and the adversaries who want to dethrone him and destroy his life. David also speaks often about the injustices that occur in daily life.

When I read these this time I keep in the back of my mind that they could be considered the “journal writings of King David.” They come across as his deep innermost thoughts.  They seem to me that the writings are the soul of David expressing a great ethos at times for the situations of Saul and Absalom towards him.

However, in similar fashion David also brings great worship to his “daily Journal inputs” – David praises God for the justice and providential care he receives. Surely you cannot read the Psalms without gaining the confidence that David has in Jehovah!

Psalm 8 is a wonderful pronouncement of the value of Life and of Mankind. As I read this Psalm, I couldn’t help but be in awe of how special man is in the scope of God’s creation and instrumental in His plans. In this Psalm as with many others there is a “high view” of God. What I mean by this is the LORD GOD is worshiped with great awe and respect. Sometimes we might even call this “High Church;” or more formal, even liturgical in form.

I am not sure, but these Psalms this week indicate a great struggle in the life of the Psalmist. Obviously being the King of Israel is not without its scrutiny; as is even our own lives. How we handle scrutiny speaks a lot about our character. David seeks the comfort of God, and the rests in the knowledge that He, David is walking with the LORD and the LORD will take care of the injustices and adversaries in His own time.  We do well to let the Lord do according to His will rather than try to fight  [devil and enemies] in our own strength. [Romans 12:19-21]

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Psalms and the Poetry books of the Bible

Well it is 2018! It is amazing to think that as I type this we are on our fourth year of blogging through the Bible. Our reading for this year will be primarily the Poetry books of the Bible; that will leave us only the History books. to follow along on our daily reading list go to 2018 poetry Readings and click on the link. It is in excel so click on it and the reading plan will come up.

Our look at the Psalms will give us a better understanding of the Author – David, a Man after God’s own heart. While David was not perfect, He was the anointed King of Israel.  The Psalms have brought great relief, lifting of spirits and inspiration over the ages. I hope the readings and blogs will lift your spirits as we read the “Songs” of David.

Psalm 1 is a great way to begin the year. It does cause us to stop and reflect on who we are in the grand scope of things. When we know that God is transcendent [outside space and time] and cannot be contained or described adequately with words; yet He is mindful of us. We are His pinnacle of creation. How is it that an infinitesimal God would care about us? Well for one thing we are made in His image. He breathed into us the breath of life. We are a living soul. We are not like the rest of creation; God has put His stamp/ seal on us.

There is a definite contrast between the life of a righteous man and the man of the world. The worldly man listens to the scoffers and the wickedness of men. The righteous will feast on the Word of God. It makes sense then that there would be two different outcomes of their lives. To be firmly planted by a stream, being filled with the refreshing flowing waters, and to know that there will be a fruitful season in our lives. Of course the opposite is true for the one who scoffs at God and lives life for himself. The chaff from the dried up leaves and grass leave an ominous scene in my mind. Looking at verse 5, brings to mind Revelation 20:11-15.

Psalm 2 really depicts the world we live in now. The rulers of this generation are out of control. There seems to be very little respect for them or the position they hold. Rather than be humbled by the awesome task of leading, they become braggarts of their own accomplishments. Its funny but not; that the Lord would laugh at us in our futility of trying to govern the world without Him. There is fair warning about those in power to be the right kind of leader. many of the Kings in the Old Testament found this out. I must understand more fully Romans 13, and the giver of the power for men to rule is God and God alone.

Psalm 3 – this Psalm affected me greatly; I looked back at 2 Samuel 15 which this Psalm is based on. To see the world of Absalom against his father David the King. Yet in all the rebellion against his father; David cries out that he would have rather died instead. Many of us have enemies; oh the sorrow when they are our family! David shows a great weakness in his dealing with Absalom. When Absalom does finally come home; David doesn’t see or talk to him for over two years. It  is in this rejection or worse yet neglect of Absalom that he tries to overthrow his father.

 

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