Forgiveness Graciously Given and Joyfully Received

November 19, 2019

Psalm 32:1-11  What comes to mind when I say “forgiveness”? Christian apologist William Lane Craig says biblical forgiveness is not simply the removal of negative feelings, like we think of it, but carries a legal-type idea of expunging the record. Given that explanation, let’s hear these verses.

Verse 1 – We begin the Psalm hearing an overarching exclamation of the blessedness of one who knows the reality of sin in life, the need for forgiveness, and receiving that forgiveness.

Verses 2-5 – Notice the two parts, forgiveness and a spirit that is honest about the sin. Basically, the Psalmist says, “There was a time when I had sin in my life, and I didn’t get right with God about it for a while, but I was miserable because I was under the Lord’s discipline. I decided to get right with Lord and went to Him with it honesty – and I experienced His forgiveness.” Have you experienced the blessedness of forgiveness when you came to Christ or after a detour in your Christian life? Have you experienced the discomfort of being under conviction or discipline and    remaining silent?

Verses 6-7 – Here is an invitation to others to get right with the Lord and receive His forgiveness. We note that sin breaks fellowship with God, but when we get right with Him, He is our hiding place.

Verses 8-10 – Here, the Psalmist lays out the life lived in a right relationship with God. Keeping things in context, I believe the idea of following God’s counsel is tied to the protection and hiding place ideas in the previous verses.

Verse 11 – The flavor of the Psalm is summarized here as we refer again to the twin ideas of purity of heart and righteousness, along with the reason to rejoice.

 

1 John 1:9 (ESV) – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 



Following God Faithfully

November 19, 2019

Psalm 16:1-11  How solid is your loyalty to the Lord, and what does it look like? Let’s think about following God loyally through these verses.

  • Verse 1 – Basically, we hear the Psalmist say things like, “Lord, of all the places I might put my faith, I place it in you. Of all the possible refuges, you are the truest and best. In the face of life’s challenges, guard me.” What are the challenges to your faith and faithfulness that you face, and where do you turn?

 

  • Verses 2-4 – I basically hear the Psalmist say, “Lord, as good or bad as things in life are, I have nothing good apart from you, and even if I had the best of everything earthly and all success, if I didn’t have you, I would have nothing good. Beyond that, Lord, the people I find pleasure in are the other people around me who are faithful to you, and those not following you are headed for trouble. Is your sense of connection with and loyalty to the Lord strong enough to say to Him, “Lord, apart from you, I have no good thing?” Is there a mixing in of loyalty and worship of other things and reliance things go against God?

 

  • Verses 5-11 – We hear the Psalmist testify to God being his portion and the blessedness of that relationship with God in present faithfulness and future promise, as I heard one preacher put it. Have you experienced the kind of fellowship, guidance, peace, stability the psalmist speaks of? Are you looking forward to forever with Him in His presence?

 

Could we truly say, “The Lord is my portion, and the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places”? Could we truly say, “I refuse to mix in other loyalties and worship and allegiance that violates God’s heart”? How deep and close is our connection with the Lord?

 



In Troubled Times, Be Still and Know

November 05, 2019

Psalm 46:1-11  As we think about the times in which we live – inner challenges and outer strife – we live in troubled times. In those times, we need a help, a refuge, a source of strength.

 

  • When Foundations are Shaken (1-3) – The Psalmist implies, “When need refuge, it’s found in God; when we need strength, it’s found in God; when we need help, it comes from God. When the foundations crumble and chaos exerts itself, we won’t fear.” What are the things you see as foundations, and how are they crumbling?

 

  • When All is in Upheaval (4-7) – I hear the Psalmist contrast the surging waters of chaos with the refreshing stream of life and the security of God’s people with the turmoil of the nations. Have you found or do you need God’s refreshing and keeping presence in tumultuous times?

 

  • Be Still and Know (8-11) – We are called to consider what God has done – Creation, Israel, Salvation History, Jesus and His Church, etc. We are invited to eliminate the clamor, quiet our souls, and find stillness and rest in the Lord in spite of the turmoil.

 

Additional Considerations – This Psalm does not point to being kept from difficulties. Jesus said we will have tribulation. But, we find strength, refuge, and help in God. Here are some verses to help us with that: Matthew 10:28-31, Luke 21:25-28, 1 Peter 3:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:3 &16, John 16:33. Being still and knowing He is God gives perspective and calls us to find peace with Him and in Him; calls us to take refuge in Him; calls us to let Him be our present help troubled times. I pray you find His strength and help.

 



Living in Fellowship With God

November 05, 2019

Psalm 27:1-14  The context for this Psalm is difficulty of some sort, but I believe it is about fellowship with God that results in confidence and flows out of His presence. This would include troubled times but is for all the time.

 

  • Confidence in God’s Refuge (1-3) – We hear the Psalmist imply, “Sometimes, trouble looms large, but I don’t place my faith in my own resources. I find refuge, light, and salvation in the Lord.” Since Jesus said we would experience very hard times, I see this shelter for the Christian as the light into our darkness, the keeping in our distress, and the salvation in our troubles that guards our well-being and God’s purpose in our lives.

 

  • Abiding in God’s House (4-6) – The confidence spoken of above is grounded in a relationship with God and a disposition of seeking God. Can you relate to this delight in, dependence on, and seeking the Lord and His presence? Do you desire to experience Him and see His glory?

 

  • Seeking God’s Face (7-12) – I don’t know if the Psalmist’s confidence has wavered or if this is just digging deep as he realizes his need. It is as if he says, “Lord, I need your guidance on the inside and your sheltering help on the outside.”

 

  • Waiting on God’s Goodness (13-14) – The Psalmist may be letting us know the storm did not just loom large but broke upon him, but the storm is not all there is. Our call is to wait on Lord, strengthening our heart and finding courage in Jesus so fellowship with Him lets His goodness unfold in us and through us.

 

I pray the Lord will be your light, your salvation, and your stronghold in whatever you are facing.

 



Sanctified and Praising the Lord

October 22, 2019

Psalm 26:1-12  What would you think if you heard someone praying and telling God how blameless and pure she or he was and how faithful he or she was at keeping their distance from others who were not as good and Godly?

 

  • Claiming to Live Uprightly (v. 1) – We basically hear, “Lord, hold me up against your measuring stick, because I measure up.” I see myself praying more along the lines of, “Lord, O that I would be more and more blameless and trust you more and more without wavering.”
  • Inviting Examination (vv. 2-5) – We hear, in essence, “Lord, I open my heart and mind to your examination and refinement, as I keep in mind your love and walk in your truth. I also guard the company I keep.” Scripture makes it clear that the Christian is to demonstrate our new holiness in Jesus through the practical holiness of sanctification of actions, heart, mind, and associations    (Titus 2:11-14, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
  • Praising God in God’s Presence (vv. 6-8) – The Psalmist claims to be able to come before the Lord and to delight in experiencing the special presence of God in worship. Do we delight in God’s presence? Do we come before Him in innocence and joy in declaring His great works? (See James 4:8 and 2 Timothy 2:19, 21.)
  • A Contrast Between the Un-Godly and the Godly (vv. 9-12) – Paraphrasing, I hear, “Lord, there may be people in church who come with wrong motives and whose lives do not line up with being your people, but when you deal with them, don’t let me get swept away too. Lord, have mercy on me, redeem me, and let me stand established and firm in the assembly of your true and faithful people because I am a true and faithful person.”

 

Scripture makes it clear that justification is by grace through faith, but we are called to sanctification that answers to the righteousness of Christ whose name we bear.

 



Blessed for God’s Glory Unto God’s Purpose

October 22, 2019

Psalm 67:1-7  As you think about God, what do you believe His involvement in our lives is or might be? When you think about God’s favor or blessing, what is that blessing for?

 

  • God’s Gracious Blessing (v. 1) – I basically hear the Psalmist say, “We are God’s people and may He pour out in us, on us, for us, and through us all the good, life-sustaining, covenant blessings in line with His goodness and our place as His people!” Thinking about our lives as Christians, the Bible tells us we are blessed with many things in Christ. What are these blessing for, and what are our motives when we ask for God’s favor? As we listen, we find the request for blessing is…

 

  • Toward God’s Purpose (vv. 2-5) – We basically hear, “Lord, we want your gracious favor and blessing so that your Word and salvation go out among all the nations as people see what happens when people walk in God’s blessing.” God’s heart for the born-again follower of Jesus is to show His glory and extend His purpose…

 

  • Of Fruitfulness and Praise (vv. 7-8) – We basically hear, “When the nations see the fruitfulness of God’s people living under His gracious blessing and favor, they will fear Him.” Thinking about our lives, God wants us to be fruitful, but He wants that fruitfulness to further His Kingdom purposes for His glory and praise.

 

We were created and redeemed to bring honor to God and further His purpose as His favor blesses us in ways that point people to Him. So, seek the favor of God for the glory of God unto the purpose of God.

 



Our Rock, Fortress, and Salvation

October 08, 2019

Psalm 62  What do you think of when I mention refuge or fortress? I think of the church basement or the storm cellar at Nolan during West Texas storms. Now, think about that idea spiritually.

  • A Confident Declaration (vv. 1-2) – Reflect on this disposition of seeking, turning to God, trust in God, anchoring in God for guarding and stability. This is the position to take before trouble.
  • In a Time of Distress (vv. 3-4) – Christians are not immune from things that assault our well-being and threaten to undo us. These include lying people, our own weaknesses, temptations, disappointments, discouragement, setbacks, and tragedies.
  • Becomes a Reminder to Self and Others to Trust God (vv. 5-8) – Notice the repetition of the first verses, with the addition that salvation and honor depend on the Lord. Sometimes, when a new challenge comes or a challenge becomes long-term, we have to dig deep in our faith and faithfulness. Also note the counsel to others to join the Psalmist in turning to God for refuge.
  • Based Partly on the Inadequacy of People and the World’ Ways (vv. 9-10) – Sometimes, when things get hard, we may be tempted to place our trust in people or we may be tempted to be a respecter of persons based on social class, but the Psalm tells us people are not our source. We also may be tempted to adopt the world’s ways and values, but the Psalmist again warns us not to stray.
  • And the Nature of God (vv. 11-12) – Sometimes, we need to, like the Psalmist, recall and confess the Lord’s strength and love available to keep us from being greatly shaken and remind ourselves of the reward of long-term faithfulness.

Sometimes, things threaten to undo us, and we are reminded to draw up into God as our anchoring place and the One who keeps us from being greatly shaken.

 



From Distress to Peace

October 08, 2019

Psalm 4  How do you end your days when they have not gone well? Some suggest this Psalm is for ending the day, but we can apply it more broadly.

 

  • Turning to God in Our Distress (v.1) – Have you ever been in a season of distress? What did you do with it? The Psalmist shows us by example to call out to the Lord for a merciful hearing of our call and relief in our distress.

 

  • When the Godless Turn Glory Into Shame (vv. 3-4) – As I read this Psalm, I think about the distress caused by false accusations and the distress we feel when people choose un-Godliness and turn the glory He created us for into the shame of sin.

 

  • Calling the Godless and the Godly to Turn to the Lord (vv. 4-5) – The Psalmist may be calling his accusers to not sin, but rather to get right with the Lord. In other words, turn to the Lord instead of delusions and lies or false gods. When I read this, I also hear a call to myself and to other Christians to, even though we might be distressed, not sin in our anger but rather ponder it and take it to the Lord.

 

  • The Need for God’s Light in the Darkness of Discouragement (v. 6) – When there is so much un-Godliness in our world, people may begin to question the possibility of good, but what other believers, as well as the lost, need to see is the goodness of God in our lives.

 

  • Finding Joy and Peaceful Rest in the Lord (vv. 7-8) – Here, we see the Psalmist finding joy in the spiritual rather than the temporal, even if the circumstances do not change. Here is the ability to find well-being in the Lord in spite of the world around us.

 



The Path of Life and Fruitfulness

September 24, 2019 Psalm 1:1-6  Have you ever tried to get someplace and taken the wrong road or had someone give you bad directions. The idea of two paths is a recurring theme in the Bible, and Psalm 1helps us ponder these paths.

  • Nourished and Fruitful (vv. 1-3) – The person on the God-honoring path avoids the advice, lifestyle, and company of the wicked who have no use for God. This person delights in and meditates on God’s Word. This person is grounded, rooted, nourished, and fruitful in what matters to God. This does not deny the reality of challenges but points to the overall place in relationship with God.
  • Contrasted With Chaff (vv. 4-6) – The Psalmist contrasts with the fruitful righteous those who are wicked and whose ultimate end is destruction.
  • Three Types of People Hearing This Psalm
  1. There is the genuinely born-again person who wants to honor the Lord. Here, you find encouragement to guard your influences and meditate on God’s Word, trusting God to help you bear fruit to His glory.
  2. There is the professing Christian who is unchanged by the Gospel and delights in the world. Jesus said that a good tree will bear good fruit, and it seems clear that a born-again person will want to honor God and produce fruit for His glory, so the call is to be sure you are in Christ.
  3. There is the person who is not a follower of Jesus but who may suspect there is more to life than you currently are living and may see the “chaff-like” trajectory you are on. There is a path of life in Jesus Christ, a path grounded in God and nourished by His Word. The call is to come to repentance and faith in Jesus.


No God Like Ours

September 24, 2019 Psalm 115:1-18  Evidently, in the Psalmist’s day, people were asking about the Israelite’s God, “Where is there God?” I suppose this might have been because they did not use idols to worship Him or because the Jews were downtrodden and it seemed He was not working. It seems to me people today sometimes ask about us, “Where is there God?”

  • vv. 1-2 – If we were to pray this, it might come from a heart that understands God’s rightful place, His works on our behalf, and our own need, as well as a heart that wants others to see His glory and honor Him. Lord, move and work in a way that causes people to see the glory of your character and attributes.
  • vv. 3-8 – Any other god or image of a god is part of the created order, and idols are the work of humans, made from some part of creation. Anything you can make not big enough to be god. In our culture, idols are harder to identify but they are things we worship, serve, honor, and prioritize in God’s place.
  • vv. 9-15 – This section calls God’s people to stay faithful. The blessings here are typical to the Old Testament covenant, while the NT points to the blessing of new life in Jesus, the ability to honor God, the fellowship of God’s Spirit, and heaven someday for those who are redeemed in Christ.
  • vv. 16-18 – Praying along these lines might sound like: Lord, it is easy to see that, even though things may be free from pain, sin, darkness, and brokenness in your heaven, it is so obvious that we are free to mess things up here. Lord, in and through our lives and work, infuse your heaven into our earth. Lord, it is not enough that we will praise you in heaven someday; the call is to praise you now.