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.


Headed Toward Home

September 10, 2019

Titus 2:11-14  The Christian life has been compared to being strangers in a land no longer our home as we live heading for home (heaven). Sometimes, it is good to think about how to live in our “now” but toward our “not yet.”

 

  • The Blessed and Anticipated “Not Yet” – Born-again Christians are to live with a confident expectation of Jesus’ return and all that means – living with a sense of looking forward to heaven and desire for God’s “not yet” blessings. There is to be an awareness that flavors our lives and calls us upward.

 

  • The Crucially Important “Now” – In the now, it is vitally important that we renounce sin and un-Godliness and embrace sanctification and Godly living, choosing loyalty to the Lord over the word and its ways.

 

  • There is More to the Package Than Heaven – In addition to heaven someday, there is in Scripture the idea of living now in a way that brings glory to Jesus and avoids shame when He returns, as well as judgment and accountability for how we have lived here as His people.

 

  • God’s Gracious Work Setting Us in the Right Direction – God has been so gracious to us in the coming of Jesus to show us God and God-intended humanity, to die for us and rise again, and to work in our lives for sanctification through His Word and Spirit.

 

If you are in Christ, because of God’s honor and your new identity, as well as what is coming, right now is vitally important and should be lived in Godliness. While you are heading toward home, live like someone for whom this is not home, and stay mindful of home as a source of joy, perspective, and motivation.

 



Responding to God’s Glory in Creation and Scripture

September 10, 2019

Psalm 19:1-14  In the busyness of life and the chaos of this world, where is God? Do you ever just see His glory and goodness revealed in nature and / or the Word? Psalm 19 helps us consider the idea of seeing God’s glory and goodness and responding accordingly.

 

  • God’s Glory in Creation (vv. 1-6) – These verses invite us to join with the Psalmist in seeing God’s wisdom, glory, and power in the heavens and, I believe, in all of nature. I am reminded of the songs “This is my Father’s World” and “All Creatures of Our God and King.” Have you ever had moments of worship brought on by experiencing nature?

 

  • God’s Glory in His Word (vv. 7-11) – These verses speak about the Law, but I believe they may extend out to the whole of Scripture. Join the Psalmist in appreciating the value of the Scripture and its truths, seeing the goodness of God therein.

 

  • Inviting God’s Glory Into our Lives vv. 12-14) – It is as if the Psalmist says here (and we might join in), “Lord, I want my life to answer well to your glory and goodness, but sometimes it tends not to. That tendency is more or less subtle, but keep me from straying Lord, guarding my thoughts and words.”

 

God has shown His glory in creation and in the Bible, but we can get so cluttered and busy in our lives and minds that we do not see it. We need to create space to see His glory and goodness. As we do, we are called to participate in that glory and to respond to that goodness in surrender and praise.

 



Lead Me in Your Paths

August 27, 2019

Psalm 25:1-22  We face difficulties and pressures that can derail us and lead to shameful choices. As we seek to walk in the Lord’s paths, Psalm 25 is a great passage to reflect on and pray, so let me suggest some prayers based on it.

 

  • vv. 1-2a – Lord, I intentionally direct my soul to you in reverent, dependent, trusting way. I chose you over any other thing I might worship, rely on, or devote myself to.
  • vv. 2b-3 – Lord, there are enemies, things that would destroy me if I let them. Keep me from being defeated by these things.
  • vv. 4-5 – Lord, I trust you and your way enough I want to know your way of doing things, so teach me and lead me.
  • vv. 6-7 – I have not always walked uprightly in your path Lord, but I want to, so please restore me to rightness with you.
  • vv. 8-11 – Lord, you correct and teach those who will receive it, and I receive it. If I let you lead and follow your way, keeping covenant, that is the path of faithfulness and the best way to live. But Lord, I have missed the mark, so I humbly ask you to make me right with you.
  • vv. 12-15 – When I am walking with you Lord, you are free to bless me as you see fit and provide into my life that which will bless me and honor you. So, I am keeping my eyes on you Lord, for you will keep me from the detouring traps.
  • vv. 16-18 – Lord, you know where I am and what I face – the condition of my heart, the difficulties of my life, and my failings. Please be my salvation in this.
  • vv. 19-22 – Lord, there are things that want to destroy my walk with you, my home, my church, and your work in and through me and others. So, let integrity and uprightness guard me; you guard me; and redeem all who follow you.

 



The King of Glory

August 27, 2019

Psalm 24:1-10   Sometimes, we might ask where God is and what the point is of the “all this” of our world and life.
I would suggest our purpose and “all this” has something to do with recognizing and responding to God in certain ways and inviting His involvement.

 

  • vv. 1-2 – We are called to respond to God’s rightful place as King, Owner, and Creator with humility, valuing others, stewardship, obedience, and worship. God brings order out of chaos in original creation, forming Israel, birthing the church, regenerating the believer, and ultimately in the New Creation.
  • vv. 3-6 – Holiness is a key concept in the Bible, so the question becomes, “Who may come to worship?” We find the requirements of clean hands and a pure heart, not lifting our souls to an idol or to vein things, and truthfulness. When we go to the New Testament, we discover a coming to God not through our own efforts at truth, purity, and cleanness, but through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus. For the Christian, see James 4:8 and 2 Cor. 6:16b-7:1.
  • vv. 7-10 – The mightiness of God is displayed in creation, Israel’s battles, Jesus’ incarnation and ministry and resurrection, Christian life, and ultimate judgment, redemption, and renewal. For God’s purpose to be achieved, the human heart and the local church have doors or gates that need to be opened that the King of Glory may come in.

 

God who created us and our world deserves loyalty and worship, but only those in covenant with Him can enjoy His fellowship. Also, Scripture makes clear those in covenant with God are a part of God’s new creation in Jesus, and this new identity calls us to Godliness. Ask God to invade your space, coming in and achieving His purpose.