Preventing Drift

Psalm 130 reminds us of a stark truth

“if you, LORD should mark iniquities, who could stand?”

In other words, if God actually treated any of us like our sins really deserved we should be treated NONE of us are standing.

Here’s the but – “but with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” The astounding thing about Gods mercy and grace is that he offers us forgiveness. He does this so that others will see his grace and honor, revere, esteem him. (Or in Bible language ‘fear’ him)

God accomplishes this in Jesus, the work has already been done, what remains is to take that step of faith and to honor, revere, and esteem him with every area of our lives. To live a life of love for God and others, out of a grateful heart for his work in Jesus.

Verse 7-8 are good reminders, perhaps even one of those passages where because of Jesus, we can put our own names in it – “O, Mike, hope in the LORD. For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Mike from all his iniquities”.

We can never move on from this core message of the whole Bible, we must always keep it central – Gods redemptive plan in Jesus. We need to preach it to ourselves,
it central as our hope. As Hebrews 2:1 encourages us -“Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. ”
We must also and proclaim this message to all – for there are many who think differently of God and are not aware of the simple pure truth of the Gospel.

Psalm 34

I read Psalm 34 yesterday, today I was to read Psalm 35…which was also good, but let’s just say that I re-read Psalm 34.  I know…my fellow OCD brethren are twitching right now…I didn’t stick to the plan.  Just another theological tension point – God’s plans vs. my OCD.

I will bless the LORD at all times;  (All? Surely not ‘all times’…)
his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (not grumbling?)
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; (not boasting in me?)
let the humble hear and be glad. (not the proud?)
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the LORD, and he answered me (actively seeking…)
and delivered me from all my fears. (Put off our fears…)
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them. (Put on fear of God)
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, (More fearing of God)
for those who fear him have no lack! (and yet more fearing of God…)
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (God doesn’t withhold good..Ps 84:11)
(Psalm 34:1-10 ESV)

The writers of Psalms didn’t have a bold font like I do, so when they want to emphasize something – they repeat is.  ‘Fear’ is repeated a lot in this passage – first our fears, and we all have them.  Who delivers them?  God.

Then note how much the ‘fear’ of God is repeated.  To fear God means to revere, honor him, hold him above everything else in your life.  Those who do this well, will most likely see their own fears (self-oriented) dissipate in view of the greatness of our God.  We all fear, don’t let our feelings inform us — inform your feelings from the Word of God.  (For more on feelings, see a previous post.) Bottom line:  Don’t fear – fear God.

This is a turning, repenting – a putting off/renewing/putting on – just like our passage says in v14:

Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
(Psalm 34:14 ESV)


Prayability of Psalms (119:33-37)

Psalm 119:33-37 (NIV) says

Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees, and I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands for there I find delight.Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes from worthless things. Preserve my life according to your word.

A great prayer to start the day and the week. May we truly seek to understand his word (the Bible) for therein is contained God’s truth, which in Jesus leads to a life of light and joy. Notice it’s in Him, not ourselves (selfish gain) also that the Psalmist is asking his heart to be redirected to.

I’m praying today that God’s will is my will – in other words that my heart is transformed increasingly to desire his ways, not mine and not sin.

As Valley of Vision says in “God the All” – “I am well pleased with you will, whatever it is, or should be…”

Prayer and the Psalms

In reading Psalm 119 (half of it) this morning, I quickly realized it is a great Psalm to read and pray your way thru it.  Praying through Scripture isn’t as complicated as you may think…

  • v5 “Oh that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!”  There’s a verse that has immediate “prayability”  – ex. ‘Lord God today (let’s focus on one day at a time here!) let me be faithfully consistent in obeying you, in doing things that please you.’ It kinda goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway –   In order to know more of how to live a life that pleases God, we have to know God’s word, read it daily, soak in it…but dare we think that just ‘obeying his decrees’ is what it’s all about.  Obedience comes from our identity as children of God, we don’t obey in order to become children of God.  Children of God are those that believe in whom God has sent – Jesus – our reconciler.   In all things, in all situations…we never get a pass from obedience in glorifying God – that is our primary purpose – always.
  • v6-7 show the blessings of obedience – we will ‘not be put to shame‘ and we will ‘praise you with an upright heart‘ – obedience protects us from running off the path and getting into sin and incurring shame.  That harsh word we shouldn’t have said, that lustful thought we shouldn’t have let our minds dwell on – or much worse.   Sin brings shame always – obedience to God brings praise with a clear, joyful, peaceful (upright) heart.   Remember too, that when we do sin, there is forgiveness and grace because of Jesus – but may be avoid sin, and pursue truth.

We need the help of the Holy Spirit to (1) want to obey God’s word in the first place – may he renew our hearts to have the desire to follow him steadfastly and (2) the endurance and perseverance to do consistently and “steadfastly!”   The Psalms encourage us to pray for these things, let’s press in.

Psalm 15 – Morning Punch in the Face

I got stuck in Psalm 15 this morning…OK, more like “I got punched in the face by Psalm 15 this morning.”  It’s only 5 verses…but yikes.

The question is in verse 1 “Who shall sojourn in your tent, who shall dwell on your holy hill?”  As ESV study note says it is really asking what the “ideal worshiper of the Lord” would be…of course it goes on to tell us what that person is and is not…

  • Walks blamelessly (your faith and life match)
  • Does what is right (you live out the will of God – he tells us what that is…it’s called “The Bible” – keep reading.  Do it.)
  • Speak truth in your heart (in other words…your THOUGHTS.  Are they truth?  See 2 Cor 10:5)
  • Do not slander (you do not slander someone, nor participate in hearing or receiving slander against another brother/sister)
  • Do no evil to your neighbor
  • Take no reproach against a friend (look down upon, cast shame on, be overly critical always of, taunt, scorn)
  • Despise the vile, honor the godly (do not value Godlessness – value Godliness)
  • Keep your word – even if it hurts
  • Deal honestly with money

Here’s the promise – “He who does these things shall never be moved.” (…never be shaken up, fall…in other words you will be stable, strong, and steadfast…)

This is the kind of worshiper God is looking for.  I got some work to do, how about you?

This is the power of God’s word.  Many ask “what is the will of God for my life.”  He just told you.  Start with Psalm 15.  Walk it out.

Note that this is not earning salvation…Christ has done the work on the cross to earn our right standing with God.  We are justified by faith in Christ – and we walk out our faith by living like Psalm 15!

Psalm 9 for 9/9

Sometimes as I go to prayer I will meditate on a few Psalms.  Don Whitney has spoken often about praying scripture and the Psalms are a great way to do that.  A suggestion is pick a Psalm by the day of the month – so today is the 9th so I checked out Psalm 9.  (You can also keep going “up” in the Psalms by adding 30 – so read also Psalm 39, 69, 99, 129…)  Odds are one of these Psalms will hit you, or more accurately – the Holy Spirit will grab you.  That’s why it’s so important to pray before we read the word of God – ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to what is in the text – He will do it!

It sure didn’t take long this morning for me.  He nailed me in the first 2 verses:

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;

I will recount all your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.  (ESV)

So the first thing I see is the four “I will” statements – talk about setting your mind right!  The author of the Psalm is telling himself what to do. That is very important that we tell ourselves truth instead of lies.  We cannot be slaves to how we feel.

  • I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart – Meditate on all that you have to be thankful for and thank Him.  With your inner person, your core, your whole self.
  • I will recount your wonderful deeds – “recount” – KJV says “I will shew forth” – another meaning of the Hebrew here is “rehearse”  – So, resolve to rehearse, to recount, to take account of His wonderful deeds – not past sin that he has paid for and is gone; not the enemies lies.  Dwell on the wonderful deeds he has done.  He has done them!
  • I will be glad and exult in you – telling yourself how to feel.  I love it, Martin Lloyd Jones would be proud!   Another translation of “exult” is “rejoice.”   Set your mind to be glad and take your joy in God in Jesus Christ.  He has done the most wonderful deed ever by reconciling us to Himself through Jesus death on the cross. (Rom 3:21-26)
  • I will sing praise to your name, O Most High – determine yourselves to praise his name in singing.  Of course as a worship leader this makes me happy.  We should be praising our Lord in singing – even if it’s out of our comfort zone.  Focus on the truth in the lyrics of the songs and praise him with a heart full of joy.  Get over your personal preferences and musical style issues and praise the One that is higher than us all.   [I expanded on this rant in an earlier post…]

Now, don’t feel like doing any of these?  Great!  Pray that you will.  Pray that God will enable you, through the Holy Spirit to give thanks to Him with your WHOLE heart, recount his wonderful deeds – start thinking of them…naming them.  I’ll bet you’ll start to become glad and exult in Him, focus on Jesus in the ultimate expression of the Father’s goodness, mercy, grace, and love for us.  And sing.  Even if you can’t and even if you may not like the style or the worship leader’s hair (or lack thereof).  Sing out with a heart full of the joy of God.