Who Am I?

January 21, 2020

 
Psalm 8:1-10  Does anything ever stir you to awe and wonder, and do you ever notice evidence of God’s majesty and glory? Do you ever wonder what our place is in all of this and relative to God?
  • Declaring God’s Majestic Glory (v. 1) – Remember the name is not the label but refers to all that God is, and we hear the Psalmist basically say, from everything down here to everything up there in the heavens, your glory and majesty shine forth!”
  • Observing God’s Order of Things (v. 2) – We go on to hear the Psalmist point out how different things work with God than in the world – the praise of God from those without power or position who acknowledge who He is. In fact, Jesus said that simple, trusting faith is necessary to come into the Kingdom.
  • The Question and Call (vv. 3-8) – Reflect on these verses and how the Psalmist points out humans’ smallness and place under God and yet our God-intended place of honor and responsibility. However, we have marred the image of God in us and we need Jesus to restore it. Thankfully, He has come to fulfill God’s intent and bring us into God’s purpose in restoration and redemption.
  • Simple Sweeping Declaration (v. 10) – The Psalmist has come full circle, not understanding the glory and intention of God but receiving it.

How have you seen the glory and majesty of God? Have you marveled at it, and what does it stir in you? Have you wondered about your place and the place of humanity in all this we are part of? Have you wondered about the expression of God’s glory in and through us and the call on us to show that glory? Would you ask Jesus to help us see and reflect His glory?

 



Let Fools Become Wise

January 21, 2020

 
Psalm 14:1-7  If I mention wisdom, what comes to mind? What is the mindset of the wise person? What about the fool (Biblically-speaking – We need to distinguish between the Bible’s use of “fool” and the derisive human use of the term.)?
  • The Fool’s Declaration (1) – As we hear, we find denial of God leading to corruption and vileness. Also, realize there is the denial of God from a belief standpoint, but there also is the denial of God in practical actions by those who acknowledge Him in their words.
  • Humanity’s Corruption (2-4) – God is searching for those who seek Him, but He keeps finding corrupt people whose lives have jumped the track and left the path – the path of wisdom, Godliness, and fellowship with God. In John 3:19-21, Jesus makes a similar observation about humanity’s condition. It is easy to see the corruption, and Scripture makes it plain that none of us is good enough for God. So, we either can deny Him or come to Him with that problem.
  • The Foolish and the Wise (5-6) – Notice, there is to be enough of God’s presence among the righteous that fools who deny God are faced with His reality and experience dread because of it.
  • The Lord’s Salvation (7) – The Psalmist conveys, “Those who deny God, have gotten off the path, and who are vile sure make things difficult. Oh, that the Lord would do something about all this.” Could we join in that prayer, looking forward to the Lord’s salvation, and could we pray that the fools who deny God would come into His wisdom? Because, we know that, before Christ, we also were among them, denying God, until we came to repentance.

 



Rejoice and Sing a New Song

January 07, 2020
 
   Psalm 33:1-22  Do you ever feel like shouting or singing – when and about what? Does thinking about God ever stir a song in your heart and make you want to sing and shout?
 

· The Call to Joyful Song (1-3) – We hear the Psalmist call us to sing and shout with joyful thanks and praise. You might have had times of being stirred in this way by God’s greatness, or you may need that experience.

· The Lord’s Word (4-9) – Basically, we hear the Psalmist say, “Here is why we are singing and why I am calling you to praise. God’s active Word that gets things done is right and true, and what that Word accomplishes is always faithful. Look around and see the evidence of His creative Word – and respond in reverence and fear of the Lord.

· The Lord’s Plans and People (10-12) – We get the idea that, whatever people are up to, God’s ultimate purpose will prevail, and it is a blessing to be part of His people walking in His purpose and redemption.

· The Lord’s Knowledge (13-15) – We move forward to the Lord’s ultimate vantage point and knowledge and reign, and we are called to rejoice in His knowledge – He is not distant and unaware.

· The Lord’s Saving and Sustaining Work (16-19) – There are things people trust in, but those who are God’s people hope in Him and He saves and sustains. Do you need His saving and sustaining work and would you praise Him for it?

· Rejoicing in Hope (20-22) – Basically, we hear, “Lord, of all the places we might anchor or trust, it’s you, and that results in joy. Lord, as we are grounded in you, let us walk in your unfailing love.” Would you seek the Lord in that sort of way today?

 



Defined by Devotion to the Lord

January 07, 2020

Deuteronomy 6:1-12  I hope you had a good Holiday season – a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. New Year’s is a good time to reflect and look forward. As we head into 2020, Deuteronomy 6 reminds us to allow our devotion to God to be what defines us.

  • Vv. 1-3 – Defined by devotion to God means we are in a relationship of reverence expressed in obedience and resulting in blessing. God calls us to be the kind of people, families, and church whose starting point, anchoring place, and focus is God.
  • V. 4 – Defined by devotion to God means all of life begins with God and is centered in Him.
  • V. 5 – Defined by devotion to God means responding to God with covenant love that involves all that we are, want, say, and do – the totality of our lives, homes, and church.
  • Vv. 6-9 – Defined by devotion to God relates to His commandments. The Old Covenant was one of Law but also one of love and faith. The New Covenant in Jesus is one of grace through faith, but does not exclude the fruit of righteousness that Jesus wants to grow in our lives, homes, and church.
  • Vv. 10-12 – Defined by devotion to God means we live with an awareness of God all the times, not just in the hard times.

Are we living a life of devotion to God in all areas?  Are we teaching others to live this way – in gratitude, worship, and obedience? What has defined you, your home, and our church up to now and in this past year? Would you consider devotion to God ought to be what defines us and move in that direction?

 



Another Look at Jesus – The Cross of the King

December 10, 2019

Matthew 26:1-2 & Romans 5:6-8  Jesus lived His life and conducted His ministry toward the cross. There is the shadow of a cross over the cradle of the King. Let’s walk through five scenes that help us reflect.

 

In the Triumphal Entry, we find Jesus receiving a hero’s welcome and bringing peace as the Messiah, but that peace will be on God’s terms. In the Garden, we find that, at the cross of Jesus, submission is required. That place of submission is a place of struggle, a place of meeting with God, and a place of action. Through the Trials, we find that, at the cross of Jesus, court is in session, and decision is unavoidable. We are reminded that Jesus is Messiah (who gets God’s work done), King (a spiritual one), and God. What will we do with Him? At the Cross and the Tomb, we find that, at the cross of Jesus, He pays for our sin. We find the cross is a place of participation where we all are involved. The cross is a place of pardon where we see sin’s awfulness and the work of God to deal with it. The cross is a place of     profession, where we will profess mockery, rejection, or faith. At the Empty Tomb, we find that, at the cross of Jesus, there is resurrection power for coming to new life and for living for Jesus. On the cross, sin was paid for, and at the empty tomb, new life is found.

 

The cross of Jesus stands at the center of time and eternity as the means by which God’s loving plan was made reality, and His redemption was made available. Reflect on the purpose for Jesus’ birth and the shadow cast across the cradle. There is so much more than a manger, as we celebrate Christmas.

 



Another Look at Jesus – The Birth of the King

December 10, 2019

Matthew 1:18-2:12  The point of Matthew’s Gospel is that God had made a promise, and God had a purpose for that promise – that promise was carried out through Jesus. One theme of the book is royalty, and Jesus is the King.

 

In 1:18-25, we discover He was so much more than a baby. Jesus was not simply human but also God, as indicated by the virgin birth. Jesus identified with our humanity and joined us, showing us God and God-intended humanity. We are pointed to the work of the Holy Spirit, and Word Biblical Commentary suggests this mention of the Holy Spirit points to the Christian age   characterized by His work and presence. We find in His names the presence of God with Christians and salvation from sin available in Jesus. And, Mary and Joseph’s work points us to the partnership of God with people in Jesus’ Kingdom work.

 

In 2:1-12, we find a new King of a new Kingdom can be a troubling thing. We find Herod threatened by a rival king and troubled, but we also find the people of Jerusalem troubled. Why would God’s people be troubled by God showing up? Were they worried about Herod’s response or just so caught up in the world they didn’t want to be bothered or want anyone to “rock the boat?” In the Magi, we find those who heeded the signs pointing them toward Jesus, followed God’s    leadership to Jesus, esteemed Jesus highly, and worshipped Him. May we be like them!

 

Now, the rest of Chapter 2. Herod’s attempt to destroy Jesus was horrible, but he realized the issue was not the baby but the man he would become. He grew up to be redeemer and Lord. Some Christians leave the baby in the manger. Instead, let Him be King in your life and home.

 



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.