Monthly Archives: May 2018

Loving kindness and Compassion

In Psalms 103-108 there is a recurring words that need to be dealt with more than having a cursory reading. Loving Kindness and Compassion show up in these Psalms no less than a dozen times. Obviously if something is being repeated, it behooves us to find out why. Loving kindness is not the same as longsuffering which relates to the mercy of God. Loving kindness carries with it the definition of loyalty, faithfulness, goodness, graciousness and godly action. In Psalm 105 and 106 the Psalmist writes about the history of Israel and Yahweh’s faithful working in protecting and sustaining them even though they were rebellious at every opportunity. The steadfast love of God is the singularly most important attribute of Jehovah – God has an unconditional love for us. Romans 5:8 tells us that “while we were yet sinners God demonstrated His love for us, Christ died for the ungodly.” There was no attribute of Israel that merited God’s benevolent and gracious love to them. Israel was/is a people who have God as their origin.

Nu 14:18. The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations. New American Standard Bible, 1995 Edition: Paragraph Version (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995),

The second word compassionate means the Quality of showing kindness or favor, of being gracious, or of having pity or mercy. In the Bible, God is described as being like a compassionate father to those who revere him (Ps 103:13). Jesus Christ exemplified God’s compassion in his preaching and healing (Mt 9:36; 14:14), in his concern for the lostness of humanity (Lk 19:41), and finally in his sacrifice on the cross (Rom 5:8). The church is to demonstrate compassion as one facet of the love Jesus commanded (Mt 5:4–7; Jn 13:34; Jas 2:8–18; 1 Jn 3:18). In scriptural usage compassion is always both a feeling and the appropriate action based on that feeling. [Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 306.]

The significance of these two words in the life of Israel; expresses God’s unchangeable love for His creation – specifically mankind. Even though there were times that He wanted to destroy Israel and start over [Ex. 32-34]; He continued to be longsuffering and merciful to fallen mankind. When I think of how much rebellion we do against the Father, I wonder why does He even bothers?

When judgement day comes, I know that every mouth will be shut, those that believe and are amazed at the grace and mercy of God, and those who failed to place their faith in God, will be overwhelmed because they knew better and refused to believe. God has done all things necessary for our salvation and godliness. Man has but to believe in the redemptive work of Jesus at Calvary, not just so we can go to heaven someday, but have joy unbounded and abundance of peace that passes all understanding. No one deserves the love of God; He lavishes it on us out of His character and attributes as God sovereign.

I often wondered why God created; some say He was lonely – but Andrew Murray states that God created so He could display His unconditional love. He created so He could see His son Jesus and display His mighty works through Him. Jesus is our redeemer, He reconciles us back to the Father which in turn through the Holy Spirit conduit shows for His mighty power to love unconditionally, supremely, compassionately and mercifully.  As Jesus said, “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father; I and the Father are one.” Knowing Jesus is knowing God the Father. Scripture tells us that he has not dealt with according to our sins. Psalm 103:10!  No wonder the Psalmist continually says “Praise the Lord o My soul!” Mercy Me sings a song formed out of Psalm 108:1-5 – How Great is Your Love Higher than the heavens above – steadfast love.

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Creation Waits

This post will reflect on Psalm 104. The writer uses literary language to give creation a personality and life. In Romans 8:20-22 tells us how that creation groans for the day that it is restored, the rule of Jesus Christ, the Creator of creation and its sustainer. Creation has been subjected to the after effects of the Fall in Genesis 3. God cursed the ground, thus bringing thorns and weeds into an otherwise pristine gardening condition. The groaning of creation because of the rebellion of man tells of the overarching effect of sin. Sin saturates everything it touches. One day [sooner than we think] creation will be liberated from the curse. In Psalm 104, the writer explains how God created creation and how even the animals are “programmed according to the instincts fashioned in them.

Recently, the Ark Adventure in Kentucky has made some news; basically from people who felt the builders and organizers were given inappropriate allowances that crossed church and state guidelines. Anyway, I would like to go see the full-sized replica and visit the creation museum that is associated with it. Psalm 104:6-9 talk of the Flood event. There is much speculation on whether the Flood was an actual event or a myth. There are other accounts in other religions about an earth-covering flood. [Enuma Elish ]In verse 8, it says that the mountains rose and the valleys went down; that the waters covered the mountains.

Also in verse 2-3, it speaks to what many have construed to be a “canopy” type covering over the earth. This canopy collapsed and the waters came down and up from the deep springs in the oceans. There have been numerous studies by modern scientists to find the beginning of earth’s origin. The problem is the scientist will always come up with erroneous data and finding if they do not take into account the Flood event. God has set creation in its place. It responds to the commands of its Creator. The waters had to obey Jesus, for His authority was known by them. If the Flood account isn’t taken into account, the finding of man will always be based on a faulty model. What I mean by this is geologically the earth scientist are exploring is not the earth that was initially created. If the mountains and ocean floor came up, which fossils and other sedimentary rocks indicate, then scientists are looking at what use to be the ocean floor, not the land mass that was exposed.

Speaking of the “canopy theory” – the terrarium affect which allowed the earth to water itself without rain becomes clear. Also the age of mankind and how long they lived. Many would like to create different days and seasons to make up for 900 year old men. But if we take into account the “collapsing canopy” we find that then the moon cause tides, which cause winds, atmospheric conditions that we call weather! Not only do we have a precisely created and balanced ecological system; we find that mankind is not exposed to “radiation” or the sun. After the Flood event, men began to die earlier, people have asked my why this happened. I try to explain to them that mankind after the Flood lived in a completely different geography and ecological world.

In Psalm 104, we find that Creation is fulfilling its purpose for both mankind and the animal world. Creation has been altered from the original, it awaits the return of its Creator Jesus to put His creation back to “Normal.”

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Shout to the Lord

Psalms 96-100 are all about praising and singing to the Lord. There is even the admonition to “shout to the Lord joyfully. This blog post really fits into a sequel from last week’s “Sing to the Lord” post. The Psalms 96-150 are almost exclusively about praising. The 85 word Psalm 100 captures the essence of the Psalmist desire. We have been reading the Psalms for months now and there has been a duel-edged sword about them. From one vantage point we hear the writer crying out in anguish and anxiety about how his enemies are hounding him and seek to end his life. But by the end of the psalm we find the writer singing and exalting God for His mercy and faithfulness to hum. In Psalm 98 we read of creation praising God – the seas roar, rivers clap and the mountains sing. This may seem strange and make us only think of the psalmist trying to give anthropomorphism to creation, however when we look at Romans 8:22 we read that all of creation groans for the time of restoration. Often we think that only mankind can praise God – yet creation itself desires for the enthronement of God and its own restoration to former glory.

We worship in song, sermon and service. If we limit all of our praising and singing to vocals, then we have missed the point of “let everything that hath breathe praise the Lord. Singing is something that can be voluntary and spontaneous from the believer. I think there are times when we should “shout” to the Lord – lifting our voices and souls in glorious exhaling!

There is a song “coming back to the heart of worship” I have heard it sung my Michael W. Smith – there is a line in the song that says “I’m sorry for the thing I’ve made it, I’m coming back to the heart of worship.”  In our modern day of technology – we have made church worship something more than pleasing the audience of one – we have made it about our likes and dislikes. The music wars rage and congregations struggle with what is and is not the proper music for services. We all have personal preferences in music; I wonder have we ever considered the desires of our Lord? I think He enjoys the “praise of the redeemed” [Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir] as His favorite song! Just as we love to hear children and grandchildren sing some melody regardless of how off key and out of order the words are! Scripture tells us that God inhabits the praise of His people. Shout, sing, hum, whistle or what ever means you can do – but “whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord.” It is the heart vibrations not the vocal cords that please the Father. When He knows that His children are “making a joyful noise” out of love and commitment to Him – He will not refuse or reject the offering from the heart.

There are times that my worship is between God and me. Other times [congregationally] it is public and I am worshipping with my family of church members. It is this corporate worship that seems to have caused such anxiety that music has become a distraction instead of an enhancement of our worship. What is the answer – heart worship and praise. Not singing of genre’s but sounds of thoughtful joy. Someone once told me that in a church song service there should be something for everyone. That every person should be able to sing something to the Lord. Maybe so; but shouldn’t there be something for God to appreciate as well. We must quit making church about us and our preferences, and more about reaching others and touching the spirit of God!


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Sing Unto the Lord

In Psalms 92/95 we are exhorted to sing and worship with our voices unto the Lord. I have found in my 21 years of ministry not everyone in church likes to sing the same songs. We have been under the “worship wars” terror for about 30 years. Just when I think that the war is almost over, it flares up again. Part of the reason the worship wars continue is because of the vast amount of generational variation in the church on a given Sunday – if you do not have some measure of conflict; one of two things has happened, you are all one generation [death is eminent] or you are a new church with your own identity. We live in a day and time where the air waves are filled with music and videos to worship by. Our local station plays plethora of contemporary music. People listen to this genre of music all week and have come to expect it to be played on Sunday by the worship choir or band. Hummmm; is this really realistic? I don’t mind listening to the contemporary music during the week – essentially it is for me; my enjoyment. But when I come to the sanctuary to worship God – the focus must shift from me to Thee. This doesn’t always happen. The music has caused many a church split and death. Now granted there are various genre’s of church music from high cathedral to bluegrass cowboy country music. Is one any better or worse than the other? Good question. I know young people who like southern gospel and elderly who like praise and worship – not so convinced that our music wars are all age related. Something I have learned though – no one likes bad music, regardless of the type or style.

So how do we solve this “my music” situation? Probably need to look at the various places we listen to music and the purpose at the time. What I mean is there is music for situation and occasions, what is right for one would be wrong for another. I have a friend whose approach to Sunday worship music – there should be music that everyone can connect with. Wow that makes for a long music portion of the service if we are trying to provide a song for all to connect with! The Audience of One principle does not mean “what’s in it for me, but How can I please and praise God in heaven with my song and singing? We have degenerated worship to music – music is only one aspect of worship; often the “worship pastor” is always viewed as the music person. Wrong, actually the Pastor is the worship pastor. I know there will be those who disagree with me on this – the music and the message must have coherence and unity of message. This is not easily accomplished. Theology and thought must be used in music and message preparation. Singing about bad theology just because we like the song isn’t right. I find in these two Psalms variation in instruments and praise but there is one focus – joyfully singing to the Lord. If we are singing to hear ourselves, we have missed what worship really is about. Time doesn’t allow me to go into deep discussion of why Churches don’t sing much or use hymnals. Singing is suffering in our worship. I find that there is an expectation of a “concert” from the praise team. They are trying to lead us to praise of the Lord. If that is not accomplished, it probably is the fault of both the Praise Team and the Pew!

Singing should have an air of spontaneity within the soul. I listen to my grandchildren sing – sometimes they know the words, other times they are just humming and letting their soul resonant with joy in their hearts. We will be singing in heaven, we will be singing TO the LORD; He is our audience; let’s prepare for the concert to the King here!

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Ethos and Exhaustion

Reading many of the Psalms one cannot but recognize that there are two worlds for the writers; the world of hurt and the world of the holy. What I mean by this is that the Psalms writers seem to “cry out” to the Lord routinely; but then resort back to praise for the Almighty. This isn’t strange, for we all find ourselves in an up and down type of living. One day we are lifted above all the circumstances and evils of the day, the next we are overwhelmed by it all. The crying out stems from the abuse or ill-treatment by the world against the writers. David wrote many of his Psalms based upon the attacks of King Saul and his armies that tried to destroy the “already anointed” next king of Israel. Familiar phrases like “incline your ear to my cry” or “I cry all day long” are repeated in these five Psalms 86-91. This has to be frustrating to seemingly live above the “junk” only to find that you get sucked back into it.

Ethos the heart ache or spirit of our humanity is very fragile. I guess I could also include the “Ego” or countenance of a person in this blog. Humanity is a very fragile spirit. It doesn’t take much for believers or unredeemed people to become “exhausted” with the constant barrage of the “ills of life.” The Psalms writers consistently ask the LORD to hear them, to answer them in their prayers and agonizing. This would seem to give the impression that the Lord God is far removed from His people – there are many who think that is what God did in creation; leaving us to our own devices and tactics to live out life without his interference or help. Nothing could be further from the truth!

I know that when my “spirit” is troubled it is hard to focus and function. The continuous grind of daily living does take it toll on us. I believe that is part of the reason the LORD God commanded that the Sabbath to be observed. The rest was of all creation, animal and man. In a “dog-eat dog world” where it seems that everyone is out for number one; so many are consumed by the evils nd the emotions of daily living. Our present culture proves this in that so many vices have been tried to ease the pain of life. The vices range from porn, drugs, illicit sex, euphoric experiences, multiple jobs, partners and the list goes on. All with out easing the frustration and pain of daily life.. Now, granted the Psalmist were being attacked, ridiculed and bad-mouthed. But if the evils of this life are found only in words against us; should we not rise above all of it? It is good that the writers to turn to the LORD for help. The LORD is our strength and ever-present help in time of need. He is our Rock, our fortress, deliverer and lover of our soul. We are the sheep of His pasture – our God empathizes with our hurts and pains. HE tells us “come to me all who are weak and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Rest – not a good nights sleep, but restored strength in the midst of harsh days. [Isaiah 40:31]

Trust the Lord with all your heart; lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. [Proverbs 3:5-6]

Do not be overcome with evil; but overcome evil with good – and none are good except God!

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